Transphobia in feminism: where did our empathy go?!

The hostility towards trans women that we are seeing from well respected feminists at the moment it utterly horrifying. I am especially disheartened to see it coming from the UK – a country that I have always thought to be fairly decent with trans rights. This lack of empathy for trans women, and the reluctance to fully embrace and support them because of their past is absolutely disgusting. As a cis woman I definitely haven’t been vigilant enough about the rebirth of terfism in feminism, so here are a few thoughts.

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The idea seems to be that trans women have ‘benefitted from living as men’ and therefore enjoyed all kinds of privileges that cis women never experience. Apparently being born with a penis means you automatically have it easier than people born with vaginas. Seriously? You actually have no idea in what ways a trans woman may have experienced life while presenting as male. She may have actually had to fight every single day to get out of bed and face the world in an existence she found humiliating. Maybe it’s true she could walk home at night without feeling afraid before she transitioned. But instead she had to be afraid of other things, like losing her family and friends or the threat of transphobic violence. PERHAPS while people listened to her and took her seriously as they would do a man, she wasn’t able to benefit from it because inside she feels like a black hole opens up inside her when she’s called ‘Mr’ or ‘Sir’. Yes, men didn’t leer at her in bars or talk over her in meetings. But what kind of empathy-less jerk do you have to be to think that dealing Gender Dysphoria is ‘better’ or ‘easier’ than experiencing sexism, especially since trans women experience sexism after they transition anyway!? Also, why do people even assume that these women experienced male privilege? Because many of them actually don’t, thanks to their feminine nature (aka the fact that they are women and obviously so).

And WHY does it have to be a competition?

Maybe some of her ideas about being a woman don’t sit in line with yours. But she’s newer to it than you and no one taught her to be a woman like they did with you. Being a woman is horrendously complicated, we have to process every message about how we should be, how we should act, what we should want, and align that with who we actually are as people. I’ve had 27 years to do that, and to do it openly, and it’s still difficult. I cannot fathom how hard it must be for trans women and I can’t imagine feeling hostility towards them simply because one time I heard a trans woman repeat something sexist (because HOW many times have I heard cis women say sexist shit? COUNTLESS TIMES). What do these transphobic fake feminists think is going to happen? Accepting trans women isn’t going to lead to defunding of prenatal care or contraception just because they don’t need it. We aren’t going to suddenly stop being allowed to talk about sanitary towels. This is ridiculous (and very, VERY selfish) thinking. And it’s SO reminiscent of the way men reacted when women fought for the vote, and the way many British people talk about immigrants today. It’s prejudice born from selfishness and ignorance.

Women need to work together as a cohesive team who support and listen to one another. Trans women should unequivocally be welcome in all female spaces and we should stop obsessing over the fact that they are ‘different’. I’m different from you as well. It doesn’t matter. Some women have HPV. Some have endometriosis. Some have penises. Some are black. Some are white. Some are fat. Some are thin. Some can’t use their legs. We all have different needs that need to be addressed by our healthcare providers, friends, family, the media and society. The list of different things we can be is endless. But we are all women, and we all get treated like shit by the society we live in because of that. Some of us have it worse than others. Trans women, by and large, actually have it pretty fucking terrible. Stop trying to push one group of us out into the cold just because of the body they were born with. We are all women.

I had actually intended this to be a short post where I would mainly just share some resources, but I guess I had a lot to rant about. Cis women have been pretty shit lately. Here are some excellent places you can go to hear female trans voices; it’s time we listened to them:

Katelyn Burns: writes for all kinds of different publications, is great on Twitter too.

Kat Blaque: Excellent Youtuber, tackles the important questions head on.

Riley J Dennis: Another great Youtuber, like Kat talks about lots of other topics as well.

Everyday Feminism: Great resource for being a better human all around and has some especially great articles by trans women.

The Establishment: An intersectional, political lifestyle website with fantastic articles by trans women.

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Yoga and cultural appropriation

It’s almost impossible to cope in our narcissistic, capitalist, violent and fragmented society without something to help. For an ever-increasing number of people, that thing is yoga. And that’s great. Yoga is a wonderful thing to do – it helps with anxiety, stress, poor posture, flexibility, joint health and muscle tone, which in turn can help support your immune, digestive and even endocrine systems, as well as improve your patience, sleep and mood. But yoga also has a long, dark history of cultural appropriation and class exclusion. No one is saying that westerners should stop doing yoga (although they certainly could) because of this, especially if it already forms a part of our self-care routine. However, it is extremely important that we are educated about it, and that we take steps to ensure that our yoga is inclusive and respectful.

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If you practice yoga, you have almost certainly engaged in cultural appropriation of some kind. This video is the ideal starting point for learning about cultural appropriation in yoga, as well as this article on Everyday Feminism. It’s pretty much a certainty that all western yoga students have done something disrespectful, ignorant or arrogant at some point. It’s frustrating to hear, of course, whether because you feel guilty or because it’s inconvenient for you to acknowledge it, but either way, lets move on to some practical ways for you to be a better yoga practitioner!

Call it what it is. It’s difficult to know exactly what to do when you realise just how deep the issues of colonialism, religious oppression and cultural appropriation go. If I’m not spiritual, but yoga is, should I just say to people that I’m going to a ‘meditative stretching’ class? Of course I shouldn’t. The stretches are yogic stretches and if I call it ‘lying on my back in the dark’ instead of savasana, I’m erasing the fact that it was invented in India thousands of years ago. Learn about the ever-developing history of yoga, and keep in mind that yoga is founded on religious teachings. There is nothing wrong with learning lessons from different religions. But there is a lot wrong with benefitting from something and not knowing about, or giving credit to, the culture that created it. And if you are only engaging in the physical aspects, perhaps you could consider clarifying that when talking to your teachers, to give them the choice about if, and how to engage with you.

Two things growin outchea…. Aloe… and the yoga booty #SquatsNotShots Photo cred: @glorychildproductions

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Step away from the skinny white rich people. Western yoga is notorious for classism, racism and fat-shaming, and really doesn’t do well when it comes to inclusivity and acceptance. The fact that the most popular yoga instructors on instagram and youtube are white, skinny and able-bodied is sickeningly reflective of our society, and it needs to change, because that is not what yoga is about. Please stop following that tidal wave of brand-endorsed whiteness, or at least cut down. Instead, why not follow some of my faves: @biggalyoga@yogaplegic@nolatrees,  @daughteroftheuniverse, @mynameisjessamyn, @curvygirlmeetsyoga@justferd. It’s so important to show diverse bodies participating in yoga, because everyone deserves to benefit from it, and how will people know that yoga is for them if no one like them does it?

Join, or support, a more physically and financially inclusive yoga group. The relationship between yoga and money is complex, and an unfortunate by product of capitalism. But there are some things you can do. Practise yoga somewhere that makes an effort to be actively inclusive. People on low incomes, children with learning difficulties and pregnant women are almost certainly in need of the healing properties of yoga more than you, so support a group that supports them (unless you belong to one of those groups, in which case, here are some places you can go!) My suggestions are all based in London because I’m only one woman, but do your own research and I’m sure you’ll find one where you live too! Yogarise in Peckham do pay-what-you-can donation classes (so if you can’t afford Yoga you can donate a little, if you can afford yoga you can donate more). Donate to Special Yoga which is just about the most amazing idea I’ve ever seen. The West London Buddhist Centre does low cost and community classes. There’s pay-what-you-can yoga at the DIY Space for London where you can pay more so other people can pay a little, and St Margaret’s House in Bethnal Green does the same thing. Triyoga offers discounts to seniors, jobseekers and students, so if you are one you could sign up with the discount, and if you aren’t, sign up anyway so they can continue offering the discount to those that need it! And the Iyengar Yoga Institute is an incredible charity that offers free classes to pregnant women and kids, as well as being extraordinarily knowledgeable about the practise.

You're already stronger than you know, and it's not just about what it looks like. Photo by @mixtapedonthate

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Don’t perpetuate the show-off culture so prevalent in westernised yoga. Yoga is not a trend, it’s not cool and it’s not a sport. It is a culturally significant, physically challenging, deeply spiritual practice that should be approached responsibly and sombrely. Make sure that your attitude towards yoga is in line with the intentions of yoga. You aren’t better than someone else because you have expensive yoga pants, or because you pulled off a headstand on your first try. Be nice to everyone in your class, take steps to ensure you don’t make anyone feel embarrassed or self-conscious. In the UK for example, black women practicing yoga can often feel like outsiders. That’s not fair, or in line with the intentions of yoga. Obviously you shouldn’t be going up to women in your class saying ‘hey, you’re welcome here!’ but you could at least be nice to them and ensure that no one is being actively excluded.

Buy ethical or inexpensive yoga clothes/mats. You don’t actually need special yoga stuff (again, that’s not really in line with yogic intentions). But if you don’t have anything that can comfortably accommodate a warrior pose sequence, or the Lululemon yoga pants that you got when you didn’t know any better have sprouted an unfixable hole (hi, that would be me), then you need to get something from somewhere. It’s extremely difficult to find ethically made (or any, actually) yoga pants for less than £45, and most are £60-£70. This isn’t right, and if you’re financially unable to buy adapted yoga pants you shouldn’t feel like you can’t take part – all you need is a stretchy pair of leggings that you feel comfortable in, and a top that doesn’t ride up or fall down. You don’t need a £62 bra, £18 thong, £52 yoga mat or a £138 cardigan (yes, I just went on the Lululemon website to find all those…feel free to browse for a great lesson in white privilege…they sell a ‘namastay put’ thong. Seriously?) As for mats, well you don’t actually need one, but again the most ethical are the most expensive. If you can afford to spend £50 on a jute mat, get one, but if not, please don’t feel guilty about buying a £6.50 plastic one.

Yoga is not perfect, and neither is anyone who has been, or is, is involved in it. That’s kind of the point. No one is perfect and we’re always learning. You are benefitting from yoga, so you must take it seriously, treat it with respect and approach it with humility. Avoid explicitly capitalist behaviour like buying expensive clothes, or paying loads for classes in studios that only benefit themselves. There is a fantastic website called Decolonizing Yoga that you should definitely visit if you want to continue learning to be a better western yoga practitioner.

Murad Sensitive Skin Soothing Serum

Murad is a brand I’ve always been curious about, and on my seemingly endless hunt for the perfect serum this one jumped out at me as a perfect way into the brand. I’ve tried Avene’s Hydrating Serum, Weleda’s Pomegranate Serum and Caudalie’s Hydrating Serum and while I loved the Caudalie one, but the bottle didn’t seem to last very long. Long story short, I don’t recommend any of them. REN’s Omega 3 Serum was good for a while but a few months ago it completely stopped working for me. So I went back to the drawing board, and decided to give Murad’s Sensitive Skin Soothing Serum a try…

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The Sensitive Skin Soothing Serum is part of their Redness Therapy range, which is formulated to tackle the causes of irritated redness, and soothe the effects of it too. By intensely hydrating the skin with hyaluronic acid and glycolipids the Soothing Serum helps the skin to maintain its protective barrier. There’s also chamomile, cucumber and camellia extracts to soothe and calm any redness or irritation. Mallow extract provides an invisible protective shield to support the moisture barrier, and there’s also goji berry extract for, I assume, antioxidants. I was really surprised to see all these plant extracts in the formula (there are even more than I’ve mentioned here; ginseng, elderberry, ivy, arnica, seaweed and yeast extract all feature) because it looks like such a plain, basic product on the outside!

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I am so incredibly impressed with this Skin Soothing Serum. The texture is a bit like hair gel, but without being sticky. It leaves my skin super calm, it sinks in immediately and my skin is soft and plump all day, and it lasts for ages (I’ve been using it for months and it isn’t even half gone). It was nothing like I was expecting – I think Murad have struck the perfect balance between pharmaceutical and plant based skincare, and even though this serum is really simple, it’s amazingly effective. It’s perfect for anyone who’s skin gets tight after cleansing, or blemish prone skin types that can get dry patches (as these are usually caused by dehydration so you need to hydrate your skin rather than add oil to it). It’s also perfect for anyone with red patches or sensitive skin, and according to Murad you can even use it to soothe razor burn, sunburn and after waxing so you know it must be gentle!

I really like Murad’s Sensitive Skin Soothing Serum. If you’re looking for a good starter serum because you aren’t sure where to start with them or you have sensitive skin, this is definitely the one for you! Get it here for £47.

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Let’s reform Valentine’s Day

With a capitalist society like ours it is very difficult to maintain the line between what is important to us, and what marketing departments want us to think is important. This is how Valentine’s Day, Christmas, Easter, Halloween, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day etc, have become vile spectacles of consumerism. I do not think it is possible, or wise to get rid of deeply entrenched cultural traditions that don’t actually do anyone any harm (you can’t exactly make buying a red heart-shaped cushion illegal, or organise a protest against Easter eggs, can you). What I think we can do though, is change them for the better.

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These consumer-driven festivities obviously didn’t start out that way. The first iterations of many festivals were Celtic celebrations of seasons changing. They were rooted in the environment, focused on celebrating life and the world. When Christians invaded Celtic lands the religions were combined, creating the festivals we celebrate today like Christmas and Easter. During the industrial revolution, these religious festivals morphed again to encompass the concept of ‘wanting stuff’. And with the subsequent invention of marketing, they developed again thanks to this new method of ‘making you want stuff’. And here we are. As for Valentine’s Day, it began as a feast celebrating a Saint, and then morphed (I think because of his martyrdom?) into a celebration of love, and then into the plastic-wrapped red-rose travesty we endure today.

I find it deeply upsetting to think about the way our society revolves around wanting and getting stuff. It’s bleakly shallow, meaningless and unsustainable. However, I’m also very lucky. I was raised by people who find mindless consumerism revolting, and in our house we wouldn’t really celebrate any festival apart from Christmas (which I think my parents realised they couldn’t ignore without making me a total weirdo at school). However they taught me that it was about sharing a day with your favourite people – having a relaxed, cosy time with people you genuinely like. Gifts were always thoughtful and nothing was bought ‘for the sake of it’. As a result, I don’t have a super negative attitude towards Christmas. I see Christmas as a time to spend with my loved ones, show them how much I care with thoughtful gifts, and eat good food that we all helped to cook. Christmas is never going to go away, and it is therefore better to reform it into something sustainable and meaningful than just to try and avoid it all together – because that way lies bitterness, anger and loneliness.

This has also made me more open to other festivals. Valentine’s Day is one in particular. Consumerism has made it into a fucking horrible celebration. Red hearts everywhere, shitty force-grown roses shipped in from somewhere that definitely doesn’t have ethical labour laws. Novelty chocolate flavours. The horrendous cis-heteronormativity of it all. All manner of gendered shite. I completely understand why people get so bitter about the whole thing – I think these things are utterly revolting. It should be noted that if you only hate Valentine’s Day because you’re single and not because of all that shit I just mentioned, you need to get a grip. I was single for 25 years and I never had a problem with people in relationships celebrating their love, don’t be so selfish.

ANYWAY. I guess maybe I could have cut out those 700 words and just got straight to the point, but the Philosophy student in me will never be able to make an argument without fully explaining it, so well done if you got this far. It’s time to rethink our approach to celebrating our love. What is Valentine’s Day about? Here are five ways you can help make Valentine’s Day something we can be proud to celebrate:

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Here are the gifts my partner and I got each other this year. We were both so excited about what we’d bought the other that we ended up giving them as soon as they arrived, which is actually what inspired this post! Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay available here (non-Amazon link), the Choose Love Help Refugees t-shirt available here

Do something with your friends if you’re all single. You love your friends, right? Lesley Knope it up and do something together! Get each other gifts! Have fun!

If you’re if you’re the only one who isn’t single (I’ve been there) then spend the day fucking the bejeezus out of yourself. Masturbation is an act of self-love, reclaim the it for yourself and make V-Day 100% about you. Or alternatively, have a bubble bath, put on your favourite film and ENJOY an evening alone. You shouldn’t feel obligated to go to some cringe singles event, or find someone on Tinder to spend the night with because the idea of being ‘alone on Valentines’ freaks you out. Own it. Your relationship status is not a measure of your worth as a human being.

Don’t buy the tacky shit from the shops. Get your partner something that will be meaningful for them, and them alone. Even better if you can make it something that will do good – a charity donation or a purchase from a charitable organisation, ethical chocolate, you get the idea. Brands are watching you, and if you demonstrate that you are 100% uninterested in their nonsense, they will stop making it. Trust me, I work in the consumer goods sector, I haven’t just seen it done, I’ve done it. Don’t click on the ‘Gifts for Her’ links – we notice.

If your partner loves flowers, go for it. But DO NOT get them those shit supermarket red roses. They are unethical, unsustainable and unimaginative. Get them a plant, or find their favourite blooms. The most important part? If you’re buying a bunch of flowers, always get them from an independent, small florist like Rebel Rebel.

Talk about it!! Tell people what you’re doing for Valentine’s. You can inspire others to make more positive decisions about the way they spend the day without tearing down their own choices or writing a 1k word blog post about it (sorry). All you really need to do is plant the seed in people’s minds and for many, it will grow into and idea for their own wonderful way of expressing love and affection.

A Feminist Engagement

A quick note: In this blog post I will talk about how my partner and I got engaged. This is in no way intended to criticise any one else’s proposal – ESPECIALLY LGBTQ+ couples who have had to fight for their right to just to have access to the traditional, patriarchal symbolism of marriage and engagement. The story is in essence heteronormative because we are a middle class cis man and woman, but the actual message is intended to be highly inclusive. I am not going to compromise when sharing my opinions on engagement traditions, because if I can’t share them here, where can I? But I don’t mean for you to feel hurt or judged if these formed part of your (or your dream) proposal. I believe that we have a responsibility as feminists to challenge the way things are done. It’s not a personal attack on you or your relationship, I know that there are many factors to take into account when considering how to get engaged and married, and I respect your right to choose your own path. Just as I don’t know your backstory, you do not know ours. 

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A year and a half ago, walking down Tottenham Court Road at the weekend, my partner James and I were talking about the future. We’d spoken about it many, many times before, about love, marriage, relationships, children. But this time, the conversation bent a little and we drew ourselves into a discussion about when. We stopped outside Boots, with half of London pushing past us unnoticed, and hesitantly, emotionally landed on 2017 as the year we wanted to get married. A consensual agreement, whatever form it takes, is essential to any feminist engagement. Springing a marriage proposal on someone out of nowhere has been widely misrepresented as romantic because of the misogynistic, heteronormative assumption that women are always ready to get married. These surprise proposals can range anywhere from a bit misguided to emotionally manipulative, and there’s just no need for it.

Over the next few months we frequently discussed the idea of a ‘proposal’, and whether or not we wanted it to be a part of our love story. James asked me about rings, saying he didn’t want to get me a diamond because not only are they horrifically unethical, their value came purely from a marketing campaign by De Beers in the early 20th Century (and also, as a geologist he has serious opinions about rocks). But I was adamant that I didn’t want a ring, and his response was relief. We both think that ethically sourced wedding rings are a beautiful way to symbolise your dedication to your partner. But engagement rings are yet another example of imbalanced, gendered expectations between women and men. ‘Marking’ a woman as yours when you have no such mark yourself. ‘Buying’ her. I’m not saying I think they’re inherently bad, especially since it’s becoming more mainstream for non-heteronormative couples to have them too, but for us it just seemed like pointless consumerism. There was absolutely no way that one of us was wearing an engagement ring while the other wasn’t, but we also didn’t see the appeal in both of us wearing one.

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However, the idea of proposing just seemed so lovely. A declaration of love, a statement of intent and a memory that we could share. Plus, neither of us had cried over the sheer weight of our feelings for each other since we first said ‘I love you’, and it’s nice to do that occasionally. We were immediately in mutual agreement that I would be the one to do it. Much of this was from a desire to challenge the status quo of course – engagements have a very sexist history, there’s no denying it. But also, I am bisexual, so until I met James I never knew who I’d end up with. I never really imagined being proposed to, but often thought about myself doing it, because that’s just who I am – it’s the kind of gesture I live for.

If you’re wondering how James, ‘as a man’ felt about the subject – he simply didn’t. As a feminist the idea of anything being a ‘threat to his masculinity’ is laughable to him. I’m not sure what else to say on the subject, other than by him being strong enough to free himself from oppressive, fragile ideas about how to ‘be a man’, he was able to experience the joy and excitement that comes with the person he loves making a grandly romantic gesture of love towards him.

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So with that decided, the task fell to me to decide how and when I was going to do it.  I had a vague idea in mind but it didn’t fully form until we decided to go on holiday to Paris. James’ birthday fell in the week we planned to go away and I thought to myself that it would be the perfect opportunity to ask him. But Paris didn’t seem like a particularly personal choice, so I suggested we spend a few days there and then travel south to explore the Calanques National Park on his birthday (a beautiful national pack on the coast near Marseille that consists of incredible rocky cliffs leading into little beaches, the perfect holiday spot for a geologist). He enthusiastically agreed to this, because one of our favourite things to do as a couple is hike. I think it must have been pretty obvious what I was planning at this point, and he tells me he was pretty sure after I suggested a ‘birthday hike through a beautiful outcrop of rocky cliffs’, haha.

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Location decided, my plan for how to actually go about it came to me almost immediately. We briefly discussed the idea of gifts like watches and bracelets instead of a ring, but we were both totally disinterested and a bit uncomfortable with the whole ‘here is a gift, will you marry me’ thing. We definitely felt like there was something missing from the whole thing, and I realised that it was the idea that our love should benefit only us. I decided to spend the money I would have spent on a ring on charity donations. I worked out that if I were to save up to buy a ring in my current financial situation, I could afford to spend £500 on it (another thing that we really need to stop doing? Selling the idea that a proposal has to be extravagant. Not everyone has disposable income and people shouldn’t feel the need to empty their bank account for love) so I set that as my donation budget, and that’s when the full idea came to me:

I chose five charities that reminded me of something I love about James. They were things that are external to our relationship, aspects of his personality that I deeply admire but have nothing to do with me. I donated £100 to each charity, and asked them if they would be able to send me a ‘thank you’ letter (all but one said they do this anyway so I wasn’t putting them out, the other emailed it to me so I printed it and put it in an envelope). On the back of each of the envelopes, I wrote the reason why I’d donated to that particular charity.

5 reasons2.jpgThe charities chose were WaterAid, Women’s Aid, Woman Kind, Amnesty International and Mind.

After spending a magical few days in Paris, we travelled down on the TGV to Marseilles, and the next day was his birthday. I packed us a picnic in our backpack, hid the five letters in different places in there and put a note on the top saying ‘five reasons’. I wouldn’t let him go in the backpack until we had hiked to our picnic spot – one of the hundreds of secluded beaches dotted along the Calanques coastline.

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After we had settled on the beautiful stony beach, I told James he could finally look in the backpack. He drew each letter out and read the notes on the backs (I told him not to open them until he found them all) and was completely confused, but touched by whatever I was doing. After he had found them all and had opened a couple, I took his hands and said that these charities all worked on areas that are related to things I admire about who he is as a person, and then started telling him all of the things I love about the way he is with me. The way I love how safe he makes me feel, how patient he is with me, how he makes me laugh so much and how he is so open, so kind, so affectionate. Obviously we were both crying at this point, and through my tears I managed to say ‘I want to marry you’, to which he responded ‘Of course’ and kissed me. Then we both realised I hadn’t actually said what I meant to say, so I pulled away and said ‘Will you marry me’ to which he again responded ‘Of course’, and we kissed. So yeah, I messed that part up lmao.

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We cried a bit more as he read all the letters. We had our lunch (brie and tomatoes on still-warm bread from the patisserie next to our AirBnB), and splashed in the freezing water for a bit. It was absolutely perfect, and I was so happy and proud that I was able to make my partner feel so loved and wanted.

Everything about our proposal was intensely unique to both of us, but at the same time it also helped other people. Me being the one to do it ended up being the least important part. Our proposal’s unique, personal nature, combined with a concerted effort to help make other people’s lives better is what made it feminist. And we will always be proud of that. I hope that weddings and engagements don’t go away, because they are a wonderful way to express dedication and love. But they are steeped in years of oppression, negativity, consumerism and selfishness. I’m absolutely not saying people should do what we did and I’m definitely not saying that I created the perfect proposal. Rather, I just want to share this and use it to communicate the idea that we all need to work hard emotionally, creatively and intelligently to make these gestures as beautiful and inclusive as they have the potential to be.

Collection Velvet Kiss Moisturising Lip Creams

Watching people apply liquid lipsticks on Instagram is one of my favourite ways to spend a bleary-eyed morning or long train journey – there’s something so satisfying about watching people perfectly swipe these gorgeous pigments onto their lips! But I was always dubious about doing it myself because I have full lips, a very feathery lip line and they aren’t symmetrical, so I always feel like highly pigmented products look like I put them on in the dark. That was, until I was given Collection’s Velvet Kiss Moisturising Lip Creams* to try…

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The first thing to note about these Lip Creams is that they are sooooo cheap. At £2.99 each there’s no reason not to try a couple! Not only are they the perfect choice if you’re on a budget, they’re also brilliant for trying out a risky shade, or like me, working out if liquid lipsticks are for you.

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I’m wearing the shade ‘Cotton Candy’ in this photo, and I have to say that it’s become my my favourite lip colour, ever. It’s SO pretty! But let me show you the rest of the shades before I talk more about that…

Mango

Vibrant but not quite neon orange shade – perfect for anyone who wants to try an orange lip without going too bold.

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Rosie

Looks much darker in the tube – a gorgeous muted red with and amazingly consistent pigmentation and smooth texture. My second favourite shade.

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Mulberry

Beautiful purple shade with brown undertones, doesn’t apply as smoothly as Rosie but still pretty great. Make sure you exfoliate and moisturise your lips first because this one clings.

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Blackberry

Cool purple shade – the hardest to apply in terms of consistency but a really awesome colour. Definitely need more than one coat, as you’ll see in the swatch at the end.

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Cotton Candy

Requires no effort with application, smooth, thick formula that spreads perfectly and lasts all day. I love this shade.

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Here are all the shades together in the same order as above so you can compare. I did double layer Blackberry here and the coverage is much more consistent.

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In terms of the formula, I can confirm that these lip creams are really moisturising – I’ve worn them all day and my lips haven’t flaked AT ALL, unlike other matte lipsticks I’ve used that make my lips so tight, flaky and itchy that all I can think about it getting it off at the end of the day! They also don’t make my lips sticky, which I have found the some other brands to be really bad for. And while they’re long lasting, a quick swipe with micellar water and they’re gone. I absolutely love these lip creams, and really recommend that you give at least one a try sometime! There is one other shade called Caramel, but there was no way that one was gonna suit me so I didn’t bother with it. They’re available from Boots and Superdrug, whichever you prefer – have fun!

Aesop Parsley Seed Facial Cleanser

Aesop is fast becoming one of my favourite brands, so when my boyfriend presented me with their Parsley Seed Facial Cleanser on my birthday, I was so excited to try it! This is a cleanser unlike anything I’ve used before, and I can’t wait to share it with you.

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The idea behind Parsley Seed Facial Cleanser is that it helps to keep your skin immaculately clean in polluted environments. Something I recently learned is that microscopic pollution particles stick to your skin like you wouldn’t believe – even after cleansing. Unless you have a layer on your skin protecting you during the day (obviously many of us wear foundation, but this is a flaky layer which doesn’t actually stick to the skin consistently) then you will end up with this sticky pollution layer which is slowly absorbed by your skin, and is almost impossible to get off with conventional cleansing. Because of the way Parsley Seed Facial Cleanser works, it is uniquely able to combat this problem….

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What looks like a pretty normal gel cleanser is actually an acid exfoliator as well. With lactic acid in the formula, it very gently eats away at the upper parts of the stratum corneum (layers of dead skin) – not just to leave your face smooth, soft and radiant, but also to completely remove that pollution! To use this cleanser, you gently dampen your face, then gently apply it all over, without massaging. Then, leave it on for a couple of minutes (they say moments but uhhhh, it’s £27 per 100ml, you leave that stuff on your face for 2-3 minutes baby). After that, you wet your hands and massage it into a lather, then rinse it off. My favourite way to use it is just before a shower, because I can wipe the excess gel onto my neck and chest without worrying that I’ll create a huge mess when I wash it off.

I was really expecting my skin to be at least a little bit red, flaky or irritated after using this, but it’s been completely calm. This is an incredibly gentle cleanser, and the exfoliating effect is just absolutely perfect! My skin is left feather-soft just after leaving it on for a couple of minutes. It’s been radiant and bright, and much softer than it usually would in winter.

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Along with the lactic acid, this cleanser contains a mixture of antioxidants – parsley seed extract, liquorice root and blackcurrant seed oil to help the skin to process the free-radicals it has already absorbed. There’s also soothing, anti-bacterial lavender, and two types of chamomile to calm the skin. The cleansing base is SLES, the more skin-friendly version of SLS, along with olive oil cleansing compounds. This means that it effectively washes away dirt, without upsetting the balance of the skin. The bottle has an open mouth, which I expected to make it difficult to dispense the right amount, but the gel is very thick so you have good control over it. The scent it a light herbal/floral concoction that is absolutely wonderful – soothing and refreshing all at once.

Aesop Parsley Seed Facial Cleanser is absolutely perfect for people in their 20s and 30s, looking to prevent ageing but also to give the skin what it needs right now – oil balancing, soothing, radiance and redness prevention. Yes, it’s a bit expensive for a cleanser, but you only need to use it in the evening, and you can use it 3-4 times a week to make it go even further. I’m confident that it will make a huge difference to my skin in the long run, as it’s made such an amazing difference already. Get the 100ml bottle from Beauty Expert, or the 200ml from Cult Beauty.