Posted in Journalism

The Right Kind Of Inspiration

The ‘twenty-tens’ have become synonymous with a culture in which people are ‘famous for being known.’ Although not a new concept, it has exploded in recent years thanks to, in large, reality television and social media. As a result of this, a new wave of celebrities have come to the forefront of the British press and are now acting as role models for our youth. I believe that our role models should be hard-working, ambitious and genuine, which is no longer always the case in 2017 . Therefore I have round up a list of celebrity profiles, currently in the public eye, who I believe our youth should be looking to for inspiration.

1.       Emma Watson – How refreshing it is it see a child actor that has not gone off the rails. Defying the trend set by the likes of Lindsey Lohan, Miley Cyrus and Amanda Bynes, Watson spends her time fighting for gender equality and is even a UN ambassador. She has graduated from Ivy League college Brown University and focuses her time more on intellectual pursuits and making positive changes than what she looks like and what she wears (and yet she still remains a fashion icon!)  Watson officially makes smart girls cool.

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2.       Holly Willoughby – With such a huge television profile comes a huge responsibility to set an example for young women. Holly is very aware of this and so uses her position to encourage young girls to value the right things. Who can forget when she shot down a journalist asking about her diet by saying: “Talking about diets all the time encourages eating disorders, and I don’t want to encourage eating disorders.” A girl after our own heart.

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3.       Claudia Winkleman – Claudia is best known for being Tess Daly’s edgy co-host on BBCs Strictly Come Dancing but she is so much more than that. She began her career as a travel writer, working with The Sunday Times, The Independent and The Metro, before branching out into radio and television. She has also written on more general topics for Cosmopolitan and Tatler. What’s more, she is a Cambridge Graduate with an MA in Art History and is not afraid to fight for what she believes in. For example, she teamed up with Heat magazine for a make-up free shoot in a bid to prevent extensive airbrushing, calling it “pretty terrifying.”

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4.       Janet Street-Porter CBE – at 70 years old, Janet Street-Porter has done it all, and managed to come out the other side with as strong a media presence as ever before. She is a media personality, journalist and broadcaster and quite a controversial figure. She is a great role model because she has admitted her past mistakes and taught us that your mistakes do not define you. She left university without a degree but with hard-work and persistence, scored a job with the Daily Mail, and soon became its deputy fashion editor. She has never been one to shy away from controversial subjects within journalism and in 2016 was appointed Commander of the British Empire for her services to the industry. Who wouldn’t want a CBE as their role model?

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5.       Michelle Obama – Obviously, the once first lady is so much more than a media profile but her inclusion into the article was a necessity because she is one of the best role models for females everywhere. She is a writer, a lawyer and a powerful public speaker and has graduated from two Ivy League colleges, Princeton and Harvard Law School. Obama is an advocate for LGBT rights, gender equality and even healthy eating. Above all, she is a role model to the youth of today because she believes in the power of this social group, stating in her recent farewell speech: “I want our young people to know that they matter, that they belong. So don’t be afraid young people. Be focused. Be determined. Be helpful. Be empowered.” Obama is simply glorious.

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Posted in Journalism

Where the creative kids at?

As a writer, there is nothing better than working somewhere inspiring; a pretty, intimate hub surrounded by fellow creative souls can often inspire one to complete their best work. However, in these creative neighbourhoods, it is not all work and no play. Often there are exciting opportunities to let your hair down while surrounded by fun, imaginative and like-minded people. And so I have round up five of the best creative neighbourhoods in Europe where we can explain the travelling as ‘creative inspiration.’

Belleville-Menilmontant – Paris

Originally a very working-class neighbourhood, Belleville-Menilmontant is quickly becoming a go-to for creatives with a booming nightlife and art scene. There has been an emergence of a youthful art scene in recent years as it is home to two of Paris’ busiest and most exciting venues; the Bellevilloise multidisciplinary arts centre and the La Maroquinerie concert hall. Jim Morrison and Oscar Wilde are rumoured to have spent time here while Edith Piaf once called this neighbourhood home. So why not pay it a visit, and spend a few days living your very own Parisian dream?

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Sodermalm – Stockholm

In this neighbourhood, you will find vintage stores, designer boutiques and independent bookstores dedicated to art, architecture, graphic design and, particularly, fashion. This neighbourhood is particularly popular with fashion creatives as it was named as the coolest neighbourhood in Europe by Vogue magazine in 2014. It is undoubtedly an inspiring place for fashion and yet it remains completely authentic with the hip, cool locals making it a fun-filled place to hang out. The perfect place for fashionistas to get their creative juices flowing.

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Northern Quarter – Manchester

Easily to coolest place to hang out in the north of England; the Northern Quarter is packed full of artistic people with innovative ideas. The small area has only existed as a distinct area since the mid 90’s but has fast become a centre of alternative and bohemian culture. So whether you’re working in intimate coffee shops or authentic book stores, or planning to make a night of it in the array of bars and restaurants available, it is THE place to be for fun and games with like-minded creative students/professionals.

Maladana – Madrid

Maladana harbours strong creative and cultural roots stemming from La Movida (a movement in the early 80s) which saw an eruption of art, music and a more relaxed way of life in the area. Since then, this area has attracted an international, youthful crowd who fill the atmospheric streets night after night. Whilst the area is contemporary and continually appeals to new crowds, it has managed to maintain its traditional roots through authentic markets, bookshops and record shops making it ideal for inspiration. How cool!

Kreuzberg – Berlin

One of the most famous places in Berlin, Kreuzberg is now the hippest neighbourhood to visit brimming with art galleries, bars and clubs, and street art at every corner. Kreuzberg, once one of the most downtrodden areas, (largely because the Berlin wall enclosed the vibrant community) has since become the place to be for creatives and the stylish youth thanks to its high-energy, alternative music and art scene, and the wild nightlife available. The neighbourhood certainly boasts a rebellious, dirty-punk vibe and with something inspiring on every street, it is the ideal place for alternative creatives to let their imagination run wild.

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Posted in Journalism, Opinion Blog

Higher Education: How Much ?

With countries such as France, Germany, Greece and Malta all offering a free complete education for its citizens, Britain’s incredibly high-priced University education must be brought into question. With fees currently standing at £9000 per year, and continually rising (universities such as Manchester and Durham have already announced plans to charge £9250 in 2017) for an undergraduate degree, it has become increasingly apparent that the UK government is completely unjust towards its youth. Moreover, using ones ambition for further education as a way of exploiting the young citizens of this country, particularly those from working class backgrounds, makes such little sense since education benefits the whole of society. Therefore we must ask, is the price of education in Britain too high?

The Tory government have made several reforms to the Education System since they took control of the country in 2010, many of which have seemingly attacked students from low-income households. Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) originally introduced to help 16-18 year olds from low-income households stay in education was scrapped in 2011. Later, in 2015, the government announced that maintenance grants, used to help university students from low-income households with their finances, was also scrapped. It is clear that the Tory government is openly targeting the poorest students with NUS Vice President Sorana Vieru describing this decision as “a disgrace that basically punishes poorer students, simply for being poor, so that they have to take on bigger loans than those from privileged backgrounds.” Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn had previously stated that the abolition of these grants was another betrayal of young people and implied that this was not a labour-backed decision. Further to this, the Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner described this government of “slamming the doors” on talented students with low household incomes; a fact which is truly harrowing. People cannot change where they are from, but they can certainly try to change where they are going. And yet, the very government that is supposed to protect them is persecuting them for their backgrounds. How is that fair?

Another factor in questioning such an expensive higher education system is quite simply whether or not it is worth the expense? In a survey by the National Union of Students (NUS) it was stated that less than 4/10 people believed that university was good value for money. A similar study, published in 2015, stated that 47% of graduates live with their parents for a minimum of 6 months after leaving university, with many citing money worries due to the debt of education keeping them off of the property ladder. Finally, research conducted in 2012 by the IFS, stated that 56% of graduates would have their debts wiped off after 30 years because they simply could not pay back the huge amount of debt with their earnings. To say that this system is doing very little to help students of all calibres and from all backgrounds is an understatement.

Without a doubt, a change in the higher education system is needed with the reviewing of student financing being a complete necessity if we are to maintain the large numbers going into higher education. Since better educated people benefit society as a whole with their skills and knowledge, why anybody would want to limit this is beyond me. Similarly, more needs to done by the current government to create a society that works for everybody, not just for the privileged because education should be a priority for all, not just the supposed ‘elite.’

 

 

Posted in Journalism

Political Debate on Social Media: A Mockery or a Miracle?

From the astonishing referendum that saw Britain leave the European Union to Hillary Clinton being named the first female presidential candidate for a major political party, it’s safe to say 2016 was a year content with making political history. With this however, comes a huge responsibility on the shoulder of the masses to use their vote, and use it well. Therefore, discussions and debates are essential in the run up to such big political moments, and in today’s world, the biggest medium in which to undertake these conversations is social media. Democracy is an incredible thing while political knowledge is a necessity to exercise your right and so comments such as “I didn’t realise everybody on my homepage had a politics degree” and other ridiculous statements are both ineffective and infuriating. The idea of the masses having more of a political influence is an occasion worthy of celebration, not ridicule.

Undoubtedly, social media is the most powerful form of communication in 2017, making it an ideal place for opinions to be discussed and knowledge to be taught. Those arguing that social media is no place for political debate need to reassess its importance; it is a powerhouse of a tool that has revolutionised the world. It is used daily for recruitment, public relations and so much more therefore this snobbery that it is not a good enough place to discuss the future of our world is, quite frankly, ludicrous. Those arguing that social media is not the place to have these conversations often attribute this to a concern that the tone of such debates is worrying, even suggesting it borderlines harassment when people “don’t know what they’re talking about.” However exchanging views is at the heart of democracy and everybody is entitled to share their opinions regardless of their education. You do not have to be a politician to have an opinion on politics, just like you do not have to be a film director to enjoy a trip to the cinema. 

For many people, social media platforms are a way of communicating outside of one’s immediate circle and canvassing public opinion on a much wider scale. In addition to this, it can also be used to express opinion and certainly people can be intense when doing this. However this is on a minority scale and should not affect the way in which political debates on social media are viewed because mostly they are engaging, insightful and above all, completely relevant. This is exactly what Britain needs because thankfully, social media appears to be making politics cool again with the EU referendum offering the largest 18-25 year old vote in UK history. In 2016, we can attribute Kim Kardashians naked body and Kylie Jenner’s lipsticks to breaking the internet, but how amazing would it be if the youth of today were so engaged in politics that their responses to a big political decision had the same affect? Now, that’s a thought.

 

 

Posted in Journalism, Lifestyle

Pamela Anderson: Hypocrite or Expert?

“Porn is for losers — a boring, wasteful and dead-end outlet for people too lazy to reap the ample rewards of healthy sexuality.” – Pamela Anderson

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It is safe to say that when Pamela Anderson co-wrote an article for the Wall Street Journal describing porn as being “for losers” and claiming ones infatuation or obsession with porn can affect the institution of family, that many were surprised at her taking such a stance. After all, Anderson has two sex-tapes circling the net and has more naked playboy covers to her name than any other model. The question presented following the article is whether or not somebody with such a colourful history has any right to urge the public not to buy into the porn industry?

The article entitled ‘Take the pledge: no more indulging in porn’ was co-written with author and public speaker Schmuley Boteach and came about following the US sexting scandal involving politician Anthony Weiner. It has faced a barrage of criticism since its publication on August 31, with many arguing that her ‘backwards’ view on pornography is laughable given she is one of the poster women for sex and nudity. Readers around the globe have been quick to criticise Anderson for her sex-tape with ex-husband Tommy Lee is widely available online thanks to a deal that they made with a video distribution company twenty years ago. Certainly when it comes to being lectured on the dangers of porn, one would not expect Pamela Anderson to be said lecturer.

However, what has so often been overlooked when discussing this article is the relevance of Anderson’s past with the chosen subject. In short, does her past not in fact make her more qualified to pass such judgements on the industry? There is little question that Anderson would have moved in circles with more experience of porn and sex tapes than your average writer, therefore she possesses much more knowledge to back up her argument. Anderson’s views on the porn industry came from research; research which certainly contains more substance than that of a conservative personality with no real experience of the industry other than what they have heard or assumed. Anderson has seen for herself some of the detrimental effects of an addiction to sex, which was one of the reasons she documented when filing for divorce from husband Tommy Lee, thus only serving her to be more qualified to make the judgements that she did in the article.

After reading the article several times, there is a temptation to say that Anderson and Boteach attempt to baffle you with bullshit at times however they also make some incredibly valid arguments. Anderson claiming that porn effects families, and in particular, a man’s attempt to be a father appears to come from personal experience, and there is no research more solid than this. The idea that porn is so easily accessible that the average child is exposed to porn by the age of eight is quite frankly scary as can be, and Anderson, hypocrite or expert, has done an excellent thing by getting people talking. But is porn responsible for the unhealthy attitudes towards sex in today’s society? That is the real question.  

Posted in Journalism, Lifestyle

Not So Grim Up North…

Considering itself to be the cultural capital of the north with a population of almost half a million, Manchester has completely revolutionised in the last thirty years. With an array of bars, shops and restaurants, a booming music scene and a more affordable cost of living than many options in the south, it is no surprise that many young professionals are choosing to settle here. Manchester sees you get the big-city lifestyle without the mighty price tag. So I have count down the top 5 reasons why the Manchester population is on the up…

1.      Job Prospects – The city’s financial and business industry is huge; with the Manchester Chamber of Commerce being the biggest in the UK, it is ideal for those wanting to get into the financial sector. It is also a huge attraction for technology and media subjects following the £650 million investment into Media City UK, located in Salford Quays just outside of the City Centre. Manchester is also home to the largest commercial and retail floor space outside of London making the job market a continuing attraction to outsiders.

2.      Cost of Living – A major reason why Manchester is becoming increasingly more attractive to young adults. The rent prices in the city are fifty percent cheaper than London, according to 2015 statistics, helping the average graduate to have greater control over their finances and much more disposable income to play with.

3.      Arts and Culture – Manchester boasts everything from exceptional theatres, award-winning museums and the biggest football stadiums in the world. Whilst strolling along the river Thames may be glorious, strolling along the Manchester Ship Canal through the glorious Media City UK, and even stop by the Imperial War Museum, is also divine. Or, if art is more your thing, visit the award-winning Whitworth Art Gallery or the Manchester Art Gallery, both of which are free entry for all. Whatever your taste, the cultural scene will cater for you.

4.       Music – Quite simply, Manchester has best music scene in the country. Oasis, The Smiths, The Stone Roses and so many more began their careers in their home town with the Manchester music scene becoming legendary thanks to the famous hacienda back in the 80s/90s. Boasting everything from large scale artists at Manchester Arena to up-coming bands playing at hidden gems like Band on the Wall, as well as the famous techno nights held at The Warehouse Project, the music scene remains, to this day, the pride and joy of Manchester.

5.      Nightlife – The array of restaurants, bars and nightclubs in Manchester is unlike any other UK city. Boasting one of the biggest china towns in the UK, the legendary ‘curry mile’ (yes, that is a real thing here) and a clubbing scene that booms every night of the week, there is no time to stay in when up north. From the quirky Northern Quarter to the suave cocktail bars in Spinningfields, there is something to suit all tastes.

Manchester is the thriving heart of the north of England with exciting and prosperous things ahead for this amazing city and the people in it. Whether coming for a weekend, a fortnight or a future, simply get here soon and see what all the fuss is about.

Posted in Lifestyle

The Real ‘Bae’

Find your tribe… love them hard.

Female friendships have been the bedrock of women’s lives for as long as we have existed. In early eras, marriage was often a financial decision made within a family in an attempt to climb the social ladder. It was rarely a true love story. Instead female friendships were the biggest form of honest, selective companionship. For many of us, our female friends are our primary partners throughout the entirety of our life; forming friendships as youngsters, seeing one another through adulthood and everything it has to offer (good and bad) and, if we’re lucky, remaining with us until the end. Female friendships are often our strongest support systems, as I have recently discovered, and ultimately they are the wisest investment that one will ever make.

Friendship groups do not have to consist of lots of people, they can be a small and intimate circle that just gel together. Finding the kind of personalities most suited to you can sometimes be a difficult task; it can be time-consuming and challenging and as people change and grow, so does your friendship circle. But there is no better feeling that when you find your tribe. These friendships will see you through the brightest moments and the darkest days of life. So spending a little more time with your friends, supporting them and showing how much you value the friendship is one of the best ways to spend your free time (and if you haven’t got much free time right now, your tribe will understand.)

Throughout life, there will be those inevitable relationships with partners that are all-consuming, where you want to spend every day with them, and may naturally neglect other aspects of your life for a while. Friends will understand that and accept the role of second best if the friendship is true, but naturally there comes a time where you need to nurture said friendship too. It is important to note that seeing your friends all the time is not essential to maintaining the bond that you share, and naturally, as time progresses you will see them less (unfortunately school/university does not last forever and the big, wide world awaits!) However, this should only make your get-togethers more special, and if they are filled with love, laughter and support, you cannot go wrong. Losing a friendship can be like a break-up. To avoid such heartache, always make time for your girlfriends. During busy times in life, be sure spread your wings and allow them to do the same, but remember to always return, for there is nothing better than spending a night with the girls, putting the world to rights over a bottle of red and a tub of Ben and Jerrys.

Posted in Journalism

Is Body-Shaming Ruining Our Sisterhood?

Inappropriate, negative statements and attitudes towards another person due to their weight or size; or as we know it today, body-shaming. Over the last decade, the world has become increasingly obsessed with this negative activity, with unrealistic expectations of beauty feeding ones habit to criticise. The general consensus of society today is that, regardless of how you look, you should be ashamed of your body for all its imperfections. It is this constant desire to find the ideal body that it causing women to reject the ideas of sisterhood. Choosing to criticise other women as oppose to empower them is cowardly and, as a society, we should not partake in this despicable activity.

Body-shaming offers neither encouragement nor concern; instead it is a judgemental comment that often has a greater detrimental effect than ever thought possible. Body issues stemmed from childhood can affect your entire life; at twenty three years of age, I am still fighting demons stemmed from teenage name-calling. According to studies published in the journal ‘behavioural medicine’ in 2016, people who are ashamed of their bodies have poorer overall health and become ashamed of natural bodily functions such as menstruating and eating. Is this really the kind of impact we want to have on other females because we’ve judged them in the most superficial of ways? Realistically, it is not very often that we walk the streets in our neighbourhoods to find a clone of Gigi or Kendal, so why compare people to a standard of beauty that does not fit with everyday reality. Nevertheless, this is not to take away from people who work hard to keep a trim figure, but if you do, own it. Cut out the “I don’t exercise, it’s just good genes” rubbish and be proud of how hard you work for your banging bod.

There is no right or wrong when it comes to how one looks and yet we are forcefully told on a daily basis that a thin, tanned, young, rich, tall woman is the beauty ideal through so many media sources. You can open a magazine to articles entitled “lose five inches in two weeks for your bikini,” or open Instagram to be told that only supermodels can be deemed as ‘angels.’ You can even turn on your television and be hit with a plastic surgery advertisement entitled “Make Yourself Amazing.” Well I say that it is time for normal women to fight back. If I were to lose inches it should be stemmed from health advice and a desire to be fit and actually, I don’t believe I need a boob job to make myself amazing; I’m pretty great as it is.  These unrealistic expectations of women are having an adverse effect on our society and it is time to make a change.