you do everything that they ask you to...cause you don't mind seeing yourself in a picture, as long as you look far away, as long as you look removed

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Photo-credit goes to my lovely brother Ben, who snapped me messing around in the woods
Being a woman comes with a world of expectations. There are things that we do, day in, day out, not because we enjoy them or even because they are necessary, but because they are expected, and much as we may deny it, we are scared of the reactions it would cause if we were to stop. It has always bothered me when women (both self-proclaimed feminists and those who are weary of the term) announce that they ‘enjoy being a woman’, when what they are really trying to say is that they enjoy using make-up, or going shopping, or waxing their genitals. As if those things are the marks of a woman, and inherently feminine, rather than cultural. There is obviously nothing wrong with enjoying any of that, and no need for anyone to defend themselves for doing so – but they are choices we make as consumers, not the signs of femininity.

The term ‘girly-girl’ is batted around a lot in life. That phrase frustrates me, because again, it implies that  when we are in touch with our feminine nature, we would gravitate towards activities and interests that serve only to make us more attractive. If someone wants to call themselves a girly-girl, then that’s awesome. What I don’t like, is society using that term to describe a category of women. I love glitter and cosmetics and clothes. But I’m uneasy with the idea that those things  define my essential femaleness. I would like my own physicality, thoughts, and sexuality to define my femaleness, if it must be defined. I don’t want to feel ‘pride’ for these girly things, as if they say something about me. They don’t. I wonder why they are considered girly in the first place, rather than, say…reading? Or hiking? If a woman doesn’t enjoy shopping, then I would never think she was less feminine than me. Her skeleton is just as female as mine. But the world would have us believe that femininity does not go that deep, but is something we have to buy for ourselves. A commodity. They show us ways we can ‘get back in touch’ with this femininity, as if it is something we have lost. All they are really offering is body lotion, or cheap jeans.

It takes so much work just to live up to the standardised image of a female – let alone a beautiful female. Because of this, so many of the young women I know say that they simply ‘do not feel like a woman’, and that it makes them deeply miserable. I, personally, do feel feminine now. I haven’t always, which is absurd when you think about it. That is not to say I feel beautiful, or smart, or talented, most of the time. But when I get horrible mood swings, or bad skin, or gain weight, it all takes place within a feminine body. Those things might make me unpleasant to be around, but they don’t make me any less of a woman. The standards we have set ourselves, with regards to our own bodies and gender, are twisted. Some people would say they are too high - that they are unrealistic. But that implies that those standards are still aspirational, only not, sadly *cough* within reach of us mere mortals. What I would choose to call them, is twisted. I don’t want to resemble most of the images I see in the media, because I know what it takes to do so.  I’ve been sample-size, and it was wretched. I don’t want a body that can’t keep itself warm, or that won’t even let me sleep on my front, because my hipbones stick out so far it feels like they could tear through my skin.  And yet if we say that out loud, we are hardly ever believed. We are told that deep down, we must be jealous or insecure, and that is why we complain when every model in a magazine is the same size, or when a female actor is contracted to do a nude scene, even though it has nothing to do with the plot, and her male co-stars can keep their pants on. But don’t worry, they say, all you have to do is buy this new thing, and then you can look like her too, and then you won’t mind so much.

Nothing external can ever make us feel like a real woman, if we don’t feel that way already. No lover can make us feel that way, and neither can our make-up, or what we wear. Fashion can do a lot of amazing things - it is a true art form. But we give it too much power when we judge ourselves by our involvement with it. Our femininity is our gift to the world, not its gift to us. It would be easier, it’s true, if we could simply spend money, and buy our true selves. But we can’t. And that is a very hard thing to accept, because, let’s face it, we’re all lazy. I know I haven’t accepted it as deeply as I want to yet. But I am starting to observe myself, and what it is that really makes me want a certain dress or pair of shoes. Because sometimes, I know I’m being sold a concept, an idea of what it means to be a beautiful woman, that will always be just out of reach.

we’re up all night ‘til the sun


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My life is strange and beautiful lately. Sometimes I wake up, and am paralysed in my bed for a little while. I look around my room, and the things around me begin to change, until they resemble something else entirely. I lay there, unmoving, as I hallucinate, and am unafraid. I think I see a giant cockroach on the other end of my room, and become fascinated by it. In reality it is just  my wardrobe. Last night I thought I saw a bearded man’s face, with a blue-glass eye, coming out of my wall. It was merely my chest of drawers. I know exactly why this is happening, and there is no need for anyone to worry. Even though it might sound like a frightening experience, it really isn’t. Not to me. I am used to vivid dreaming, and living in a world of my own imagining. I know it will pass, and I am in no great hurry for it to do so.

So much has happened in the last few weeks that I cannot process yet, cannot articulate. I know I will need to, at some point, try to MAKE SOMETHING out of everything I have seen and done – but for now I am just so grateful for the turn my life has taken, and to be living it. This is a fertile period, where everything is happening so fast and so unpredictably that I cannot get enough distance to analyse it. I am in the eye of a beautiful storm. I would not know where to begin, so for now I won’t try. Just listen to Daughter instead. Corinne recommended them to me, and now I’m hooked.

immersed in water, immersed in dirt

I’ve been going through a little bit of a creativity draught recently. I’ve been spending my time having mindless fun, and pushing my limits in the physical world. I often do this, with the intention of making something out of my experiences afterwards – of channelling what I have seen into my collages or photos, or here in writing on my blog. But sometimes I find it hard, in the immediate aftermath, to write about things that have happened in the spinning, colour-saturated hours of my escape, when there has been no organised thought, or pain, or opinion – only sensation, and the presence of my friends, and moments of random human connection. This is partly because I simply can’t get enough perspective yet, and need to let everything ferment for a little while before I can make sense of it – and partly because my brain is just not in a creative place. I find it easiest to create when nothing is actually happening in my life. So I apologise for the lack of posting recently. I would hate people to think that I’m losing interest in the blogosphere. That isn’t the case at all. I just have another festival to go to this weekend, so I hope you will all bear with me while the contents of my mind and heart are shaken-out, so that they can be replaced with something better.

I thought I’d tell you what I’ve been up to anyway. I have been making a new shrine, for starters. I thought it would be fun to create one based on a theme – and for this one I went with Girlhood. I like themes that aren’t rigid, but that help me redefine, unearth, create, and rediscover my ideas around the concept(s), and help me make mental/creative connections and associations that I haven’t made before. A lot of the stuff here has personal significance rather than generalised significance, so it might not be obvious why I’ve included some things…

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The beautiful scrapbook with my name on it was made for me by the ever-amazing and creative Maija, who runs The Sequined World, and it is literally my new favourite thing. I’d just run out of pages in my old one when I got it in the post, along with a beautiful letter and more presents that I’ve put on my shrine, too. I’ll show you the collages I’ve been doing in it soon.
 
If you follow me on Twitter you may have seen that I’m in the (very) early stages of getting together some girls for a blogger meet-up in Cardiff. I have no idea what it will consist of yet (probably lots of web-chat, shopping, drinking of frappachinos, taking of photos, eating of cupcakes, and other montage shit) but I’m excited about it. I would like to organise something fun and informal, with loads of crazy fan-girling and swapping of ideas. If you’d like to get involved, then you can email me at contactpersephone@gmail.com, or drop me a tweet. I would also like to start running a regular feature here on my blog, highlighting creative women who are putting their art online. By ‘art’ I mean anything truly creative, personal, and inspiring – not necessarily paintings and drawings. I would be just as interested to see someone’s collages as I would to see their photo-stream, or their handmade jewellery, or their poetry. If anyone would like their work to be featured, then you can contact me at the address above, or simply leave a comment with links to whatever you would like me to see. I’ll keep you all updated on both those projects as they take shape.

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Also, I’ve been buying a hell of a lot of clothes recently. Mostly from charity shops, car-boot sales, and market stalls. Unfortunately, due to my lack of a tripod (and my fear of breaking yet another camera by balancing it on something and then setting it to a self-timer, only to have it fall and smash while I’m posing like an idiot), I haven’t really been able to take any good outfit shots. I can take some on my bed, which is good enough I suppose. I’m really getting into soft, printed trousers (the kind that Jenna from GIRLS would wear, not the kind that Sideshow Bob would wear) and I found these the other day in New Look. I honestly can’t stop wearing them, as I feel so damn chic when I do. The photos really don’t do them justice. And they look awesome with heels. The top is actually a multi-purpose snood/wrap/top/skirt/dress thing that can be worn loads of different ways. I picked it up from a stall at Secret Garden Party after I saw my friend looking so lovely in hers. It’s by Forage, and they’ll give you a discount if you like their page on Facebook. The flower in my hair was another lovely present from Maija.

This is another thing I found completely by chance. It’s a good thing websites are so scarily stalker-ish, or it might never have found its way into my YouTube suggestions. Thanks, YouTube, for spying on me with your demon cookies, and judging me by my musical choices, and using that info to market more consumer products in my direction! Yay! I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little bit creeped-out by the fact that you have so much information about me that you can practically READ MY MIND, but still. Cheers.

lie for a while with your ear against the earth


Natural Beauty Bloggers Cruelty-Free
I’m been burning the candle at both ends lately. When I stop to think about that sentence, it’s hard not to laugh at the sheer ridiculousness of it. It’s probably more appropriate for someone who’s been, say, working really hard during the day, worrying about bills, and trying to maintain a decent social life, rather than, for example…someone who’s been spending their days watching naked dance-offs, pumping their immune system full of drink, smoke (et cetera...), walking around King’s Cross half-dressed and covered in paint, cuddling up to a tarantula, swimming in lakes with Belgian unicorns, hurling glow sticks through the rain to the rhythm of MGMT, and falling asleep at 8am still dressed as a Playboy bunny.

However, the party must end somewhere (even the Secret Garden variety) and when it does I always look a complete mess, let’s be honest. I’m a huge fan of all-natural, organic, plant-based cosmetics and skincare (check out the hypocrisy, man… my eco-conscious moisturiser TOTALLY cancels out my weekend spent sucking nicotine out of random dude’s mouths, for sure) and I’m lucky in the sense that I have some pretty decent connections in the alternative health/beauty industry (thanks, Mum) so I get to recover in luxury, while my burns/scrapes/lung damage/mystery bruises all heal themselves.

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Klorane Peony Shampoo for Irritated Scalp // Natural Collection Liquid Foundation for Combination Skin // Blistex Relief Cream for dry, cracked lips // Dr. Hauschka Cleansing Milk // Dr. Organic Virgin Coconut Oil Lotion // Neal’s Yard Power Berry Moisturiser for Youthful Skin // chamomile and rosehip skin healing oil // Dr. Hauschka Facial Toner // Decleor Aroma Night Cream