On Beauty: Contributing To Hello Margaret

holly cassell photography
Hello everyone! I’m sorry I haven’t posted in a little while, I’ve just been insanely busy with life, London, friends, work and dramatic bullshit. I just wanted to share a little thing I did recently with you, before I do a full post shortly. I contributed to the super-cool zine Hello Margaret! the other day - a photo-essay about my relationship to beauty. The photo is from a shoot I did with the lovely Katie Parker, and I’ll bring you more as soon as I’m done editing them. I hope you like.

Night Time, My Time

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Boob-tube, Ebay // Sunglasses, Primark // Collar, Slap Leather at Cyberdog

This series was basically some experimentation in graphic overlays and chemical burns. I hope you like the effect, I think it’s quite visceral in a way – I wanted it to look as if there was music in the air, or like the vision of an intoxicated clubber. 

Boo, you whore: Twitter chats, Guru Gossip, and The Bloggers We Love Tag

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I’ve had a post like this germinating in my mind for a while now, steadily taking shape as I have become more involved with the social networking side of blogging. At times I have wondered whether it would be well received, or simply exacerbate matters; but I think now, in light of all this drama that has been going on lately, some things need to be said, and ideas need to be challenged. I’m sure there’ll be many of you that disagree with me, and that’s fine. If you came here to see a list, then scroll to the bottom. There you will find some names of people who have helped me along my blogging journey and who deserve credit, love, and thanks. But first, let’s talk about hate.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, due to the GuruGossip scandal. I won’t dwell on it too much, because it was a fucking boring shit-storm to say the least, and I’m sure we’re all sick of hearing about it. I will say that there was a lot of baying for blood. Loads of people wanted the bloggers who made those comments named and shamed, or even prosecuted. People started attacking each other, making accusations. People took sides.  Almost everyone wanted to know who they were so that they could unfollow them. To be honest, this attitude did remind me more of that scene in Mean Girls when the Burn Book is photocopied and thrown up into the air then it did of a community of creative adults; but, in reaction to this blogger-on-blogger hate, a new hashtag was born, #bloggerswelove, which started trending on Tuesday night. My notifications were flooded with mentions from some of the loveliest people I have been privileged to meet in my entire life. There may be no team spirit, but there are some truly beautiful individuals.

When I talk to non-bloggers about my online life, I often get the feeling that people want to hear that blogging is a giant cat-fight full of snobby wannabe-models; it would satisfy their misogyny and help them reduce what is, proportionally speaking, a female territory, down to a mud-slinging between hot fashionistas; but this assumption is just as naive as the uber-positive cupcakes-and-cat-face-ballet-pumps blogging bubble, and here’s why: Men do not ever get derided for not ‘sticking together’ or being helpful, or being modest. Male industries do not get dismissed as trivial when the men within them cannot agree, or create a blissfully supportive community. Those things are expected of women, and so they are expected of us as bloggers. We should not expect them from ourselves, or each other. To expect a collective of millions of women 9 and men) to all get along and play nice is a double-standard that we should not force on ourselves. We are already winning just by making friends, and finding a place to be seen and acknowledged for our talents. There is jealousy, sure. There is a lot of politics, as there is in any creative industry. That does not condemn us, or our community.

I take part in a lot of twitter chats. When the most popular chats come around of an evening, my timeline is always flooded with girls discussing their summer favourites or their dream cameras. They can be competitive places; full of women who want to make blogging their job, and those with less long-term  (but equally as self-promotional) reasons - getting more followers, more retweets, more hits. Advice, blogging ‘rules’ and other sage wisdoms are batted around a lot. There are cliques. But there is also plenty of calling-out of these things – girls who haven’t failed to notice the bitching and the preaching and the massive egos, who want to spread encouragement and kindness. There are some who do not even see the bad, and talk about the amazing, supportive parts of blogging  as if it were the last bastion of sisterhood. I think there are also a good few who don’t want to acknowledge the bitchiness for fear of reinforcing negative stereotypes about how women interact with one another. I include myself in that camp. That being said, the SocialBloggers (#socialbloggers) chat, run by my friend Corinne from SkinnedCarTree, is overwhelmingly positive; StudentBloggers (#sbloggers), founded by Charley is another great one. But if I see a topic such as ‘the importance of stats’ or ‘working with brands’ on one of the larger chats, I tend to smell bullshit pretty quick, and steer clear. To me that is just common sense, because I don’t want that kind of competitiveness to control how I blog. It is up to each of us to decide what media we consume; what we listen to, what we surround ourselves with. I don’t want to be that girl, tweeting at a frenemy over something she may or may not have said about my tits on a chat forum.

I enjoy interacting with other bloggers, even if it doesn’t necessarily mean that they’ll ever visit mine in return. I like swapping tips and knowing I’m not alone in this solitary hobby/job/vocation/lifestyle/obsession. On the whole, I think we’re a lovely bunch, who just want to share our thoughts, feelings and lives with people who share the same passions; people who will listen. We can never expect love and support in this community, or take it for granted. But we can choose to give it. What you focus on, grows.

Clockwork Lolita

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Dress, Love at Topshop // Sunglasses, Primark // Septum Piercing, Blue Banana

This is a series of self-portraits I did, just as a documentation of how I look lately and this period in my life. Everything around me right now seems to be pink. The one of me playing with my phone, and the very last shot of me screaming into it, are definitely my favourite photos of me I think I’ve ever taken. I recognise myself in them. If you like my page on Facebook then you might have seen a couple of these, but I hope you don’t mind seeing them here again, in a better size. Tiny Facebook-share images really frustrate me.

A couple of people have asked about this make-up, so I thought I’d add here that I’m wearing Mac lipstick in Ruby Woo, L’Oreal Infallible foundation in Porcelain, the Bourjois chocolate bronzer in shade 51, and Benefit They’re Real mascara.

Let’s Go Down To The Island

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A little while ago I did a photo-shoot with the lovely Charlotte from Step Into My Closet, and it was the coolest. We went down to the fun-fair near where my boyfriend lives, just outside Cardiff, ate chips and lollipops, and shot the shit about blogging, fashion, buffing brushes and annoying YouTubers. She was such an awesome model – not just because she’s gorgeous, although that certainly made my job a lot easier – but because she was such a good sport. I had her in a see-through dress down Barry Docks train station at one point, and we attracted quite a crowd. She laughed through all of it and never seemed to give an ounce of fuck. And that’s exactly the kind of girl I love to shoot.

You can find more of my work on my Facebook page, so if you like these pictures please hop along there and give me a thumbs up, even if you can’t be arsed to comment. I’ll be your bitch forever and ever if you do.

Let’s Talk About Pants

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Most of my life I’ve been a confirmed lazy cow when it comes to lingerie. It’s always been one of those things that I love to look at, but never really get around to spending my money on. Given a spare 20 quid, for most of my life I would have spent it on magazines, make-up, a new top or a big plastic bag full of junk food. This is largely due to the fact that for most of my teens, I was seriously unhappy with my body. I didn’t want to think about how I looked in lingerie, let alone try some on in a shop; a shop with evil mirrors and thin, petite sales assistants (I live in Wales, all our sales assistants are petite and tanned and so friendly it makes me want to cry). I was a girl-boxer-shorts-from-Tammy nightmare until I was about 19, and then finally lost all my puppy fat, and my crippling body shame with it. I’m by no means a stick-thin girl (I’m usually an 8 or a 10, and in no way tiny at 5’10) but the main difference is that I simply don’t give a shit any more. My boyfriend has rid me of any lingering shame I had left, and now I spend the majority of my time indoors naked. Not naked and sucking my stomach in. Not naked and in complete darkness. Naked naked. Eating pizza hunched over my laptop with sauce on my boob naked.

But anyway, this post isn’t about nakedness, it’s about pants. Naturally as my attitude to nudity has changed, as has my attitude to underwear. I wear less and less the older I get. Nowadays I wear the kind of pants that to my Nan, resemble something you would truss a ham in. You may have seen on my Twitter that I recently discovered, much to my amazement, that g-strings ARE actually comfortable, and now I don’t really wear anything else. VPL is a thing of the past (or should I say, thong of the past, haha haha ha) and recently some very pretty garters and corsets and stockings have filled my drawers. I still own a few dodgy pairs of ‘period pants’ (and the Most Awful Phrase Award goes to….!) but there’s also some very lovely stuff from Westward Bound, Boux Avenue, Ann Summers and Topshop that I make a habit of wearing every day, rather than ‘saving it’ (for what?! FOR WHAT?!). Primark has been my favourite hunting ground lately, especially for 3-packs of pastel stripper-thongs and g-strings. I feel the most confident in a high-rise design with very little detailing. For me that is the magic formula, but everyone is different, and in order to discover your magic formula, you have to try things on. Nobody likes a muffin top, so I always suggest trying knickers out for size (over your own, obviously) before you buy. It just saves money and self-loathing.

The only thing left to talk about, really, is hair. Yes, I’m going to go there. I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t go there, would I? Some people don’t like wearing tiny pants when they have a big bush sticking out the sides, and I get that, I do. But life is short. So don’t match your briefs to your bikini line if you don’t want to. Being shaved is nice if you like feeling smooth. Otherwise, let it all hang out. No shave, no shame.

And if anyone says they can see your bra, tell them you’re glad, because it’s cute as hell and cost you 40 quid.