Friday, 20 March 2015

PARTY IN MY PANTS


A Lithuanian designer named Robert Kalinkin is trying to bring a new type of denim jeans to market with the help of good ol’ Kickstarter (a forum I know that has good intentions, but wow, really, we’re opening up the floodgates to the fray to fund any old idea that pops into one’s head? That can’t be a good idea) – because that’s what we need on this planet, more denim. What sets these jeans apart, or shall I call them their proper given name, ‘play pants,’ (his coining of phrase, NOT mine) is that their pockets have dual functionality. One: to serve as a pocket to hold your things (or your husband’s. seriously, get a man bag already) and two: to grant yourself easy access to your private parts.

Yes, you read that right. Apparently this (ahem) designer, saw a gap in the market and jumped right into the crevice (I couldn’t resist) with these very, necessary trousers (yes that is sarcasm). According to the designer, these jeans are not only made of the finest denim and meant to be literally indestructible (which begs the question, when man is extinct, is the earth going to be littered with pairs of play pants?) but these play pants have a plethora of uses, according to the designer. Say um, you have an itch, and voila, in your pocket you go (and see a doctor while you’re at it); a lonely night at the movies? Yeeehah, it’s now a party in your pants (um, again, you  may want to see a doctor); a…and I quote cause this one is just too good, ‘boring corporate meeting.’ Cause yeah, nothing gets me more jazzed up then a boring meeting at the office. Look out boss man, my hand is taking a groin dive! And his final cherry on the Sunday (yes, I suppose that could be a double entendre), play pants just may be the answer to a boring love life; what's more exciting than a zippy little pair of jeans to spice up things in the boudoir.

Dear god, is this what fashion (and the human mind) has come to? What is even better claims the designer is that these pockets can be unzipped with one hand; because who doesn’t want easy access on that long road trip without having to take both hands off the steering wheel. "I'm sorry I was swerving officer, but these new jeans of mine, well, they just beckon naughty behaviour."  Listen, I don’t have a problem with people thinking outside of the box, and I’m sure my husband would beg me to get a pair when they hit the market just to prove we’re young, wild and well, not boring (we’re not honey, don’t worry). But to be frank, despite their apparent functionality, the play pants are just…well, ugly.

Now, a pair of jeans that makes my ass three sizes smaller, sit up to attention and tells passer by's to bugger off when they're gawking and my new and improved backside, now you’re talking. Get on that, will you design industry.


Tuesday, 10 March 2015

GREEN WITH ENVY


There is a moment before the King falls asleep that I experience true envy. After books, etc, it usually takes him about three minutes to settle in, get comfortable, utter something about what he wants to do the next day or who is taking him to school and then I hear his breathing change, and his quiet little snore kick in. It is at this moment I think to myself, my god I wish I were four. Obviously, aside from what snack food to have, or what activity is on deck, one’s four year old brain is not that complicated (then again, it is at times erratic as hell, but that’s another story) or full of what weights the average adult brain down. It’s not like the King is thinking about house prices or looming taxes. Hence, I would fully hope he would fall asleep in four minutes flat. But there is such a pure surreal quality to it, especially to an insomniac, that I literally lie next to him, praying that some of it rubs off on me.

By nature, I’m not an envious person. Maybe the odd flicker here or there when I see a tall person (yes, I will fully admit I have tall envy) or the eternal possibilities possessed by the youth (that is often wasted, damn them!) but overall, I don’t spend too much time looking over on someone else’s side of the fence wishing I had what they did. But when it comes to watching someone who possesses so much unbridled energy as a four year old does, it’s hard not to want to bottle some of it. The other day, the King ran down to the public pool (he’s now decided he wants to run everywhere while his father times him), swam for 40 minutes, then road his bike two miles to the west end, then walked part of the way home, then ran off to the park with his friend later that afternoon. At that point, I was in need of a pillow, but with a few dips here or there (usually solved by copious amounts of food), the King was ready to kick ass and take names by dinnertime. How this is possible is beyond me. I often just follow him around asking him, 'aren't you tired yet?' I'm sure he thinks I'm a total drag trying to rain on his energy parade.

The other thing that is hard not to envy (aside from their skin of course, god I wish I had that much collagen) is their view of the world. There is humour in pretty much anything; half the time I’m trying to figure out what is so funny (esp about poo-poo. Really? why?!) Simplistic pleasures are plentiful and tantamount (I mean, give a child chocolate and it’s as if you have bought them a new car). They do not get hung up on colour, race (funny enough, the King truly believes he and his father are three shades darker than they are, no clue why he thinks this as we have never uttered a word about it, but it could be due to my deep seated love of Idris Elba) religion or politics. Can you imagine if they did? 'Well, I think David Cameron is just a poo-poo head.' Profound words, King. Their emotions are pure and unrestrained, and in their mind, the world is not only black and white/bad or good (the King is obsessed with telling me how bad the food is in jail), but it’s pretty much their world. In their minds anyway. 

So you see, a confident little person that spends their time laughing, loving and talking about jail and poo-poo, with cheeks full of collagen, that falls asleep in three seconds flat. 

What’s not to envy, really?

Friday, 27 February 2015

SHAKE YOUR BIG THANG


A friend of mine, who has a child in the King’s class, just called to tell me that she was just kicked out of a music class with her other son. She wasn’t dragged by her hair or anything (although I wouldn’t put it pass these particular people who run this class) but she was told that the leaders of this music class have decided that her 2-year-old son is not 'Blank’ material. I shall withhold shaming them (for now).

The King and I used to go to this same music group when he was the same age. From the start I was not a fan, as you have to become a member (for a fee of course, for a sodding music class) and then pay on top of that for the class itself. Fine, I can live with that; they’re running a business. But from the get go, as they have been in operation for many years, they give you this diatribe as if joining this group, you are being inducted into the Rock ’n Roll Hall of fame and you should count yourself lucky. Um, you’re singing to my kid dressed up in costumes, this is not the West End people.

Now don’t get me wrong, the women leading the group had fine voices and they were quite creative in terms of costumes and what they’d sing. And some of the songs, and we’ll get back to the word some, the kids ‘were allowed’ to join in the dancing and take part. The King of course used to think this was pretty damn amusing, as most children would. The problem was (and IS, as my friend just got kicked out), that if it wasn’t a song they deemed participatory, your child had to sit on your lap like a stone and not move an inch as they performed for you. If your child did get up and move, they would lead him back to you by the hand with a stink eye that would fill you with mother shame. I hate mother shaming, in any form. They would then after class remind you that in their class, children must be kept under control. (Clearly none of these witches had boys).

Now keep in mind, most of these kids that take this class are under two. Can you tell an under 2 year old to sit still? Cause I sure as hell can’t. In fact, Benadryl couldn’t make the King sit still back then, even if I poured the whole bottle down his throat (don’t panic, I didn’t try this). Not only would the King hear the music and want to get up and dance, stroll, bend, skip...what have you, he would also want to play with their props and interactively participate (this was sometimes hysterical as they’d be mid song and he’d just walk up, pick something up and take off with it). I'd of course cheer him on from the sidelines, 'run boy, run!!!'

So in short, after being scolded and stared at one too many times by these ‘Take That’ singing, wig wearing militants, the King and I decided that we needed a more free form sing and dance class, where he (like his nutty mother) could shake his groove thing with reckless abandon and not be hemmed in by rules. (Don’t they know there are no rules in dancing?!)

So, according to my friend who was just asked to leave the class, apparently their stringent manifesto is still in place. Her son, similarly to the King, is another boy (ahem, toddler!!) who finds sitting still challenging at the best of times. And fine, in principle I get it, from an early age you want to tell your children that there will be times when they will have to sit still and obey the rules (zzzzzzzzzz, sorry, was I saying something?), but from where I stand, dancing and rules have no place at the same party!

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

DO YOU SEE ME NOW?


Like many people, I have a love-hate relationship with social media. Or a ‘Seriously, is this what it has come to?!’ relationship shall we say. As much as I know that technology is a freight train that is near impossible to slow down, sometimes I contemplate jumping off this speeding train of voyeuristic narcissism, into a nice boring field of luddites reading books and drinking chamomile tea without anyone having to know about it (happily I still read and drink tea, so all is not lost).

But in today’s voyeuristic culture, as we all have surmised from one glance at Facebook, for some reason people want and need to show everything. In some ways it’s a good thing. One can connect like never before, it’s a community of sorts in an age where communities are short supply (although I’m thinking we need more tangible ‘in the flesh’ communities as opposed to those in the cyber world, but alas), movements can be started, politics debated, friends reunited, and it’s a brilliant PR tool depending how you use the various platforms. 

Conversely, as we all know, it can also be a bad thing (for the above reasons!) as some are compelled to share every last solitary detail of their lives and do not feel like they exist unless they are doing so. I know this is a human compulsion that was not born with the Internet – our need to be seen, to matter, to exist, but now that we have the platforms to show the world we indeed exist, it’s safe to say that things have run amuck. People post what they had for breakfast; what their breakfast had for breakfast; how long their husband’s nose hairs are and so on. And as most of us have surmised by now, like ourselves, people choose to put their best foot forward. It’s not often you see someone posting a photo of themselves without make up, in front of the mirror in a bikini with their gut hanging over, whilst in a fight with their husband, with their child in the background screaming on the floor because there is no more cereal. BUT no, that would be far too real for social media. (And that would also be too much information, but it’s certainly never stopped anyone before).

There is also an in built pressure that goes along with things like Twitter, Facebook and the like, in regards to the 'friending' process. I’ve hated this whole side of things from the beginning and hence why I basically use certain platforms purely for work related matters (i.e. writing) and other social media avenues are kept much more private. But I’ve always been amazed by those that are actually shocked if one actually chooses to exercise some power over one's social media accounts. “You’re not friending me? Gasp, how could you? But I knew you 20 years ago, don’t you remember?!!” And you know that sometimes you feel the peer pressure to give in, don’t you? Go on, admit it, how many times have you been sent a friend request that you felt obliged to accept? (If you never have experienced this, you must not have been raised Catholic. My guilt is always rearing its head despite my having left the flock). You literally have that moment where you feel badly for not ‘friending’ someone despite knowing them for ten minutes when you passed them in the hallway in the 2nd grade. So note to all those that keep friending despite getting rejected or ignored the first time round. It’s not personal, honest, it’s a choice on behalf of the individual you keep trying to friend, for whatever reason that has nothing to do with you, that you should respect and well, move on.

I suppose from time to time, our society may want to ask themselves what drives our obsession with social media; then again, if you're not self reflective, perhaps you simply don't give a toss about why you cling to your devices like your life depends on it. [For me, it's solely to see how many creepy and hysterical John Travolta photos can go viral in a given year]. Is it to truly show the world how great we are, that we're cuter, better, thinner and more accomplished than the next guy with above average children/pets/relatives who can succeed at anything and travel to the coolest places, whilst eating the best food? (And of course most of these boastful posts are crude exaggerations or mere glimpses of reality that make life a lot more serene and utopian than it really is). Or is to purely scream to the universe I'm here and I'm leaving a big fat footprint so that when I die, someone will know I existed (or of course, it could be, and most likely is the third option: advertising and marketing at its finest and most pervasive, disguised as harmless connection).

Sadly from where I sit, social media and all its offshoots are as much of addiction as any other. Have you ever tried not to look at email, tweet, Facebook or Instagram for an entire week? Not easy is it? I usually try to do this once a year around Christmas as we head off to the sticks with no Internet in sight. It's not easy at first and often my hand for the first few days keeps reaching for my phone like an awful tick, but after a day or two it's frighteningly liberating and I realise that barring a few work emails that can certainly wait until after Christmas, every thing else can wait, or simply, isn't that sodding important. And of course I find that I'm more present with every task, and more importantly, the world didn't stop spinning; the King still grew and accomplished things (or didn't). My relationship with my husband still carried on in all it's bumps and glory, breakfast was eaten, words were written, and yet, gloriously, the world didn't have to know about it. 


Friday, 6 February 2015

BABY GOT BACK


[ONE FROM THE ARCHIVES TODAY]

A well-known department store over on this side of the world has published several shots of a bikini model in which they show how a photo is retouched and to what lengths magazines/advertisers go to achieve this image of perfection. On the heels of this, this store also proclaims that from now on they will be using non-airbrushed photos to launch their new swimwear line. Their goal: to sell just as many swimsuits whilst showing a ‘real woman’ in one of their suits than one that looks like she came from planet perfect. The funny thing is, the photo they show as a before photo, the woman was thin, in shape, and attractive and didn’t need much help to look better.  So in short, we're still using models who clearly take care of themselves and have good genes, and don't spend all their time sitting on the sofa shoveling in potato chips as they watch Jeremy Kyle. 

I suppose I’m now wondering what the definition of a ‘real woman’ is; is a real woman indeed the one in the photo who looks after herself? Or the one I saw stumbling out of the pub last night with a tank top two sizes two small squeezed over her ample beer belly, or is it the woman on the corner that sells The Big Issue (a local magazine over here sold by the homeless) who is missing three of her teeth. Trust me, I make no judgments here, the woman is very sweet and is trying to make her way in this world, I’m just wondering who is defining a real woman these days and what exactly that entails? And furthermore, how much realness do we really want to see in our ads? Cause trust me, I see REAL every time I go into a changing room under that florescent lighting and it scares the crap out of me!

On the other hand, let's be honest, clothing looks better on tall thin models who are hot. That's the truth, and I can take it. In fact, I’m not sure I want to see women ladened with cellulite trudging down a runway like a Clydesdale as they do their best to squeeze into some haute couture number. Fashion - to me anyway - is a world of fantasy, (have you seen some of those outfits, who would wear that stuff anyway??) I know that these women are starving their asses off - and I like food far too much to starve - but damn can they make a dress look good. I also understand that if you don't quickly realize that you have to work with what you've got, you're going to have one tortured existence. I'll never be Amazonian like most of these women, but I'd like to see any of them wrap one of their legs around their neck - I may be short, but I'm bendy as hell. And that my friends can be a definite asset. :-)

Don't get me wrong – along with millions of women out in the world – I do my fair share of retouching before I leave the house. (Studio Fix by Mac, how I love thee!) But what has been happening for some time is that retouching has gone from a few simple fixes - remove some cellulite here, a dark circle there - to an all out whitewash that makes the model or celebrity look like some wax-like freak with skin like the Velveteen rabbit, who doesn't exist in nature.  The funniest photos are those of the celebs over 40 that end up so bleached and wrinkle free, that their faces look like they’ve been blasted into oblivion. And the irony, the next day you’ll see a real photo of them out and about clutching to their oversized glasses that cover half their faces and they look nothing like their photo. Cause well, they're human and humans AGE. Trust me I wish we could get around this, but it's not going to happen anytime soon.

It's a business, and there is product to sell, so I understand the clients wanting to put their best foot forward. But I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m not buying so and so's latest night cream cause Julia Roberts looks like a five year plastic doll old in her photo. I’ve been around long enough to know that most creams don’t do squat. In fact, I think I’d be more compelled to buy a product if the photo showed me a woman who had a few wrinkles, some eyebags for good measure, and then showed me how this product helped cover up some of that damage. Here's a campaign I could get behind: "Do you look exhausted, those wrinkles and sun spots starting to show? Here's a cream that won't work miracles - cause honey you ain't 20 anymore -  but at least people won't turn and run from you screaming in the supermarket." Now that I could get behind.