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By Anna Murray

Has anyone else found themselves justifying why they watch Love Island? Or even worse, justifying how they can watch a show that pits women (and men) against each other for entertainment?

I’ve always considered myself a feminist. However, over the last few weeks I cannot count the number of times I’ve been greeted with shock-horror after revealing that I do indeed, watch Love Island. This has been by friends and  family and basically anyone who doesn’t watch it 'on principal'- many believe the show is more of a 'Shag Island' than Love Island.

I couldn't get my head around why being a feminist meant the decision to watch Love Island had to be constantly justified. I then turned to my good friend Scarlett Curtis (okay we've never actually spoken) and listened to her episode of her podcast, Feminists Don't Wear Pink. This particular episode featured Dani Dyer, last year's winner, and they two girls spoke about all things feminist within the Love Island context, such as girls supporting girls. It struck me that watching a show like Love Island could be a very feminist act indeed…

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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The fact that the villa is full of strong, feisty- albeit conventionally beautiful- gals, is one reason Love Island appeals to feminist viewership. It also plays host to several caring and chill lads who respect the girls they live with and have emotional and meaningful friendships with each other. However, there are a few more reasons why Love Island is feminist AF if you look a little deeper…

Firstly, the word CHOICE is key. Every person in the villa from Maura with her vibrant personality to Yewande with her reserved demeanour, has autonomy. The people you watch are making choices about their lives in every episode, whether they are men or women.

Many of us cringe at the thought of consenting to being observed by an audience of 3.3 million every night. We are horrified that the producers may select scenes of their choice, condensing 24 hours into one, to paint any Islander in any light they wish (anyone notice how WE don't like Amy but EVERYONE in the villa adores her?) BUT in the same way we strive to accept women who are empowered by showing skin or covering up, we should also respect the choice these women have made to appear on Love Island.

Image result for love island 2019

Critique is also key. Doesn’t the ending of each episode herald the buzzing of conversation, after a Love Island gathering or in a WhatsApp group entirely dedicated to the show? We judge the hell out of the behaviour of every contestant. We debated whether Maura was wrong to go in for the gob with Tommy several times when he was clearly resisting. We were split down the middle when Lucie stated she wasn't a girls girl. We discussed Joe’s inability to accept that Lucie preferred Tommy as a friend to the girls in the villa. Was he controlling? A bit. Did the people have their say about him? Yes.

Image result for love island 2019 yewande

We can also broadly criticise the lack of diversity and body positivity in Love Island. Sparking debate is the only way to improve diversity on a broad level, and feminists who speak up may even encourage the powers that be to up the game on diversity in Love Island, over time. 

Feminism is ALL about allowing women (and people in general) to be themselves. It's about calling out hurtful behaviour that stops others from being themselves. Love Island has unknowingly sparked some VERY feminist conversations, even within the most unlikely groups of people, and that is the beauty of it: It is what it is.

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As more and more accusations roll in about famous and powerful men doing unspeakable things and getting away with it, more terrible apologies come in at the same time.

The non-apologies of abusive men frequently divert blame away from themselves and use language to distance themselves from facing the consequences.

So many of them deny the incidents which they are accused of due to a lack of memory, but how would they remember those moments which are so normalised to them, yet so horrendous for their victims?

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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First up: it’s resident gross misogynistic and inherently mediocre comedian Louis CK.

Louis C.K.’s memorably controversial apology definitely concealed the truth, gaining flack for using words like “regret” and “remorse” instead of a straight-up “I’m sorry.”

He fesses up to his behaviour, most likely because of the overwhelming amount of evidence and accusations of harassment going back years, but doesn’t say he is sorry. It’s certainly an deflective rhetoric, which points out the seeming reverence which women apparently had for him.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Donald Trump

The Access Hollywood footage of him bragging about “grabbing women by the pussy” was widely circulated and showed the entire world his ruthless perpetuation of rape culture.

He has never apologised for his behaviour, even deflecting to Bill Clinton: “Bill Clinton has actually abused women, and Hillary has bullied, attacked, shamed and intimated his victims," he said.

Kevin Spacey

In one of the worst apologies known to mankind, Spacey totally deflected his part in sexually assaulting Anthony Rapp when he was only 14 by coming out, essentially implying that he was a predator because of his homosexuality. Needless to say, it offended a lot of people.

Rapp said Spacey picked him up, put him on his bed and "was trying to get with me sexually" in 1986, when Spacey was 26.

“I honestly do not remember the encounter,” in other words, and possibly more disturbingly, his abuse of power never dawned on him as memorable because it never dawned on him as abusive.

James Franco

James Franco offered a statement after five women from his acting class accused him of demeaning and exploitative behaviour, which was about as respectful as R. Kelly lyrics. Busy Phillips has recently claimed that he was a bully on the set of Freaks and Geeks in her new memoir

Franco responded by telling Stephen Colbert on the Late Late Show:

“Look, in my life I pride myself on taking responsibility for things that I have done. I have to do that to maintain my well-being. The things that I heard that were on Twitter are not accurate. But I completely support people coming out and being able to have a voice, because they didn’t have a voice for so long. So I don’t want to shut them down in any way”

He is desperately trying to portray his support for a movement which should be taking him down. The entire statement reeks of narcissism, Franco solely recalls his own choices, words, and tone as HE remembers it.

Harvey Weinstein.

The movie mogul whose sexual and physical predations started the campaign and led to his arrest, issued an apology quoting a fabricated Jay-Z lyric:

"Jay Z wrote in 4:44 “I’m not the man I thought I was and I better be that man for my children.” The same is true for me.."

His contrition partially hinges on how he phrases his remorse, but this man clearly couldn’t care less about how he treats women or his family. Let his terrible apology rot alongside him in jail, if he even gets a sentence longer than a month.

Remember: these are only the apologies of men who have been caught. Some men who have been caught or accused have never apologised, nor have they felt the true consequences of their actions. 

Choices, words and tone sound entirely different to women who live their lives in a culture that still canonizes men as the ultimate figures of intrinsic authority. Our culture regularly denies women agency over their own bodies even as it exploits and commodifies them simultaneously.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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“Boys will be boys” as they say.

To which we respond: “Boys will be held accountable for their actions.”

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Oh Nicki/Barbie/Chun-Li/Onika or whatever it is that you prefer to be called.

While I respect a woman who infiltrated and somehow dominated the male rap game, I  have some MAJOR issues to discuss. Yes, we all danced to Starships back in the day, but it's time to get real.

Our roast beef with the rap queen includes having a convicted murderer and sex offender as her new beau, collaborating with a gang member who used a naked 13-year-old girl in his music video, and the Asian stereotyping. 

While Minaj has been praised and lauded for her ability to remain powerful and confident in an industry which, in general, uses completely misogynic and homophobic lyrics to perpetuate toxic masculinity, there are other cards at play here.

Specifically her consistent collaborations and relationships with violent men.

The internet has descended into chaos on Monday over the Instagram posts which Minaj uploaded of her new boyfriend, Kenneth Petty.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Barbie® (@nickiminaj) on

The controversy over her new Instagram-official relationship was predominantly due to his criminal record; TMZ are claiming that Petty is a registered sex offender with at least two convictions under his belt.

Prosecutors claimed that he attempted to force a girl into engaging in intercourse with him using a sharp object in 1995, when he was 15 and the victim was 16.

This led to a first-degree attempted rape conviction and his name stuck on the sex offender list for life, seeing as he is 'moderately' likely to be a repeat-offender. Yeah… that's pretty damn scary.

Minaj's new man served almost four years in a NYC state prison for the attempted rape, and served another seven years for a first-degree manslaughter conviction after he shot a man several times.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Oh they wanna talk? Let’s give’m smthn to talk about.  *Shania voice*

A post shared by Barbie® (@nickiminaj) on

On her account, Nicki was forced to disable the comments section after her fans understandably went into absolute meltdown.

Instead of addressing the whole problematic debacle, she captioned the post; "Oh they wanna talk? Let's give them something to talk about." Um, okay, why don't we talk about safety? Like, not dating a criminal?

Sexual violence and domestic assault is still rife in society, with Times Up and the #MeToo movement only showing the tip of Hollywood's iceberg.

The music industry has it's own qualms to tackle regarding violence against women; R Kelly remains the most notorious example of alleged predators who are still being given a platform.

When Chris Brown viciously attacked Rihanna in 2009, his career continued to thrive, despite the outrage and shock which ensued when graphic images of Rihanna went live all over the world.

The reaction to XXXTenacion's death, instead of focusing on the fact that he admitted to stabbing nine people, and was on trial the week of his murder for assaulting his PREGNANT ex-girlfriend, the response was to mourn him as a hero.

The ex-girlfriend Geneva Ayala's harrowing testimony was obtained by Pitchfork, and detailed a pattern of intense psychological, emotional, sexual and physical abuse and assault by XXXTenacion.

Nicki could have criticised such a problematic man in her own industry, or even have kept quiet, but she expressed her sorrow at his passing instead;

“XXXTentacion may not have been the biggest artist, but his murder hurt us like we knew him, or like we were the biggest fan.” 

Of course, none of this is Nicki Minaj's fault. That goes without saying, yet her continued support for infamously harmful men such as Tekashi69, Kenneth Petty and XXXTenacion needs focus.

The Young Money artist was in a relationship previously with hip-hop mogul Nas, who had an extremely toxic relationship with R&B legend Kelis. The Milkshake singer recently claimed that Nas abused her during their marriage, and that Rihanna played a part in their divorce.

While these claims haven't been proven, it does appear to be a pattern that Minaj enters relationships with controversial male figures, who seem to embody toxic masculinity.

Her latest collaboration with Tekashi69 is another bone of contention, her defence of a man who is since imprisoned on racketeering charges, possession of firearms and armed robbery. 

Tekashi69 legitimately pleaded guilty to being involved in a 2015 sex act with a 13-year-old girl, which he filmed and posted online, so there's no denying his criminal scumbag status.

Yet Nicki Minaj collaborates with him on their hit single FeFe and on another track for his new album, Dummy Boy. The lack of concern is rather alarming, TBH. 

"Danny, I love you and am praying for you, your Mother, daughter & her Mom during this time," Minaj said in an Instagram caption dedicated to the rap artist following his arrest.

Many of her fans are presumably young and highly impressionable, who see the rapper as an influence whose actions are worth paying attention to, hence the concern over willingness to align herself with harmful men.

Issues with race and homophobia have also followed Minaj throughout her career, most recently in regards to her latest album Queen.

The rap goddess was accused of homophobia following the release of song lyrics on her new musical offering, with lines consistently using slurs such as 'sissies' and 'f*ggots'.

LGBTQ+ advocates criticised Minaj's choice of words on Twitter;

“I am a gay man who grew up being taunted by words like ‘fag,’ ‘homo,’ ‘sissy,’ and ‘fairy,’” wrote Mark Zustovich.

“These are more than just words that offend and deeply hurt people who identify or who are struggling to identify as LGBTQ — they are designed to make boys and men feel ‘less than’ or feminine, as if having feminine characteristics is something shameful. On the contrary, we as men should be embracing that more.”

Let's not forget the Chun Li Challenge, which clearly perpetuated Asian stereotypes in pop culture.

The #ChunLiChallenge went viral, and featured rapper Asian Doll (who isn't Asian…) sporting chopsticks in her hair — an act which is considered extremely disrespectful in Japan.

The rapper has referenced geisha and samurai in previous tracks, and Nicki (real name Onika) has also cosplayed as a “Harajuku Barbie” persona.

The use of harmful rhetoric in rap is well-documented, including within the albums of Drake, Chingy and Childish Gambino.

Asian writer David Yi commented that;

"The way people are interpreting the #ChunLiChallenge with signifiers like double buns and chopsticks as hair accessories is yet another instance of people co-opting another culture with impunity."

*Sighs* It doesn't take much to do some research into other cultures for the purpose of understanding and respecting them, especially when you have millions of fans from that part of the world, Nicki.

All in all, I question Nicki Minaj's disturbing willingness to align herself, collaborate and have romantic relationships with violent men, as well as her ignorance of other cultures and sexualities.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Barbie® (@nickiminaj) on

She's 35, she's a grown woman and can date whoever she wants, but she must remember the power which she has over her fans.

Her influence is unquestionable- he’s appeared on nearly 100 singles that charted on the Billboard Hot 100, each of her albums have amassed five million sales and she has become a household name, despite working in a world that degrades women constantly. 

Not to mention society's obsession with only supporting one female rapper at a time, either Nicki or Cardi B, despite hundreds of male rappers saturating the music industry.

Yet the question has to be asked, is Nicki Minaj contributing to the normalisation of male predators and cultural appropriation?

At the moment, she's the farthest thing from an inspiration to me. 

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Beauty means something different to everyone. An episode of Sherlock I distinctly remember had the protagonist declare while giving the Best Man’s speech at a wedding; “Beauty is a construct based entirely on childhood impressions, influences and role models.”

At the time, I was roughly 16 years old, obsessed with changing absolutely everything about my appearance. During my school days, everyone wanted to look the same.

The same tanned skin, bright blonde hair which is pretty much only natural if you are of Scandinavian descent, contoured cheekbones and slender figure with a waistline that most likely requires a corset to maintain.

Being different was not only seen as unattractive, it was even feared.

It was only when I entered college and saw beauty expanding its traits that my eyes were opened to different types of aesthetically pleasing looks. As well as this, I began to understand that confidence is beauty.

Happiness is beauty, intelligence is beauty, generosity is beauty. And that beauty is often the least interesting thing about a person.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by rupi kaur (@rupikaur_) on

However, the ideal of beauty which had been prominent during my secondary school years remained the same until the Kardashians exploded onto the reality TV scene, and over the course of the last decade have altered the idea of beauty as we know it.

With their bum and breast implants, nose jobs, cheek implants, lip fillers, whitened teeth among other procedures I don’t have the vocabulary to describe, somehow the idea of what was beautiful drastically changed.

Body modification became far more normalised, as well as the fact that social media gave audiences the power of knowledge.

While celebrities were undoubtedly changing their faces and bodies for decades, especially ones on our cinema and TV screens, social media and the internet now gave us the tools to recognise when ‘work’ had been done.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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One fascinating case which has attracted massive public attention in the last few weeks is that of Elliot Joseph Rentz, otherwise known as Alexis Stone.

The make-up and drag artist garnered public furore after revealing a massively drastic surgical transformation to his large social media following, uploading reveal videos to his YouTube channel which were bombarded with negative comments spewing hateful language and even death threats.

Rentz began the process on August 1 of last year, explaining to his following in a video;

“I don’t want to look the way I look today. I don’t connect with what I see. I never have. So I’m changing it all. I’ve been called crazy. I’ve been called botched. I’ve been called an addict. I’ve been called ugly. I’m told every single day that I’ve ruined my face,” he claimed, emphasising that every last cent he owned would be given to his surgical dream of metamorphosis.

“You name it, I’m having it done,” he explained.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Alexis Stone (@thealexisstone) on

Alexis uploads a video titled “The Reveal”, which has since racked up over 450,000 views. In the diary-like visual film, the drag artist shows off his brand new face, which included fat grafts to his nose, forehead, and chin, as well as chin and cheek implants and an eye lift.

“This had nothing to do with vanity and everything to do with sanity,” he quotes, directly from Pete Burns’ biography.

One month later, Rentz uploads a compilation of comments, each more vicious and negative than the next. Some of them are hard to read.

Stone later claimed his so-called friends and family members often joined in on the vitriolic, with some people even telling him to take his own life, and that his ex-boyfriend committed suicide because of Stone.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Alexis Stone (@thealexisstone) on

Roll on January 1 2019, and Stone reveals in a lengthy YouTube documentary that the whole six-month journey was a complete hoax – his new ‘botched’ face was a complex mask.

Working with Academy Award-winning makeup artist David Marti, a stunt mask was even developed from prosthetic facial materials to be worn outside of the house. Months of effort and secrecy had led to this, and the result was fascinating.

He referred to the stunt as a social experiment, while others called it a cry for mental health help, an attention seeking performance or even a show of disrespect for those who have undergone extreme surgery themselves for whatever reason.

So why did he do it, and what did his social experiment show about society’s idea of beautiful versus ‘botched’ surgery?

Ireland’s perception of the cosmetic surgery industry is vastly different from the reality.

Dozens of clinics have popped up all over the country – Westport in County Mayo is even the predominant creator and exporter of the world’s botox – and yet there is an element of hushed secrecy to the entire organisation.

It is rare to find an Irish person who opens up about having plastic surgery, we are a country of people who lament so-called ‘narcissism’, yet self-confidence issues remain potent within our society.

In a society that profits from self-doubt, liking yourself is an act of rebellion.

Jameela Jamil has frequently found herself in the public eye for her scathing indictment of the Kardashian family, arguing that their world is one which 'recycles self-hatred'.

Yet the reality TV clan have essentially transformed the perception of beauty over the last decade, morphing women into self-obsession with curves, plumped up lips, tanned skin and bodycon clothing.

“You’re selling us self-consciousness,” she claims, portraying her deep disappointment of the ‘double-agents to the patriarchy’. Her main issue with the Kardashians is their weight-loss product endorsements, which are basically a fancier packaging for laxatives in protein shake form.

The family have abundant riches which can afford the best photoshop, photographers, airbrushing, personal trainers, stylists, dermatologists and cosmetic surgeons the world can offer.

Even a glance over websites aimed at young women such as Boohoo, Missguided and PrettyLittleThing shows the huge changes in the beauty industry.

Their models have hyper-miniscule waists and voluptuous curves, glossy brunette locks, tanned skin and full lips, highly reminiscent of the Kardashian family’s idea of what beauty means.

The #10YearChallenge has proven at least one thing; those who have money have a greater control over their appearance than those who don’t.

Body modification has become normalised in society, whether it’s permanent or semi-permanent. Contouring, filters on our social media apps, airbrushing, make-up tutorials on YouTube and cosmetic surgery all reflect the culture we live in, which constantly tells us what we look like isn’t enough.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Muriam Waseem (@muriamwasi) on

And yet, if a person who changes their appearance is genuinely happier and finds improvement in their mental health and self-esteem as a result of body modification, who are we to judge their lifestyle choices?

Choice is the vital word here. Our society and law consistently shows that it believes it possesses the right to control other people’s bodies. Specifically female bodies.

If another person has the funds and is of sound mind, shouldn’t they be allowed to alter their body if it sparks joy in them, to reference the iconic Marie Kondo?

What struck me most was the understanding which the public has for those undergoing body modification for the sake of their physical health.

Whether it’s a nose job for aiding breathing, a breast reduction surgery to alleviate back pain or even just braces, the level of support appears to be significantly higher when physical health is taken into account, rather than perceived vanity.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by River Medical (@rivermedical) on

Yet if a person’s mental health is suffering as a result of their appearance, is this not still a health reason? On an ‘extreme’ level, is transitioning from a male or female gender to the opposite biological sex classified as body modification?

In this case, a person’s mental health would presumably suffer as a result of their appearance, should they not identify with who they see in the mirror.

Cases of body dysmorphia are higher than ever in Ireland, obsession with one’s flaws can cause great emotional pain. Yet we fixate on the reasoning for a person’s body modification, we presume we have the right to judge them for their choices.

SHEmazing spoke to a young woman named Gráinne, who underwent breast reduction surgery at the age of 19, and never looked back. She was plagued with back pain throughout her secondary school years, but the daily toll which her chest took on her confidence and mental health was the final straw;

“For my own personal experience I would say, I think my chest came in in like first year when I was 13, and got bigger after that. I’d say it probably crossed my mind, a chest reduction every once in a while. You’d be trying on clothes and things just wouldn’t fit, whether it was bikini or swimsuits or whatever, I couldn’t buy clothes that fit. You’d be thinking, ‘just chop them off and be done with it’.”

“Throughout secondary school if you had that idea, you’d just dismiss it, because we don’t do that. I didn’t take it seriously, it was a passing thought. It was first year of college that my cousin, who had a bigger chest than I did, got a breast reduction surgery done. I thought, ‘If she could do it, why can’t I?’ It dispelled the taboo a bit, I guess.”

Gráinne noticed the unspoken way which Irish people often have of burying a topic until somebody else is brave enough to unlock it.

“I hadn’t really thought about it, but that took away the wall up around it. The summer before I started second year in college, it was just getting to me. It affected everything in the way of confidence, everything I wore, playing sports just wasn’t a thing, I just felt vulnerable. My mum always compared it to wild games of tennis at Wimbledon, everything’s going the wrong direction. You’re very self-conscious about it. I was starting to get dints in my shoulders, I would have been 19 at the time so I couldn’t believe I could get them so young”

Gráinne discovered that she qualified for the surgery through the state on medical grounds, and her life greatly changed after that pivotal moment;

“I got my chest done September of 2015, so I would have been 19 when I started. I went to my GP about it, and he referred us. It was on medical grounds, I couldn’t straighten my back or stand for five minutes without a pain in my back because it just couldn’t hold my breasts. You feel like a hunchback all the time because you’re always bending over. I remember when I was going to the consultant, I was more nervous because I thought ‘If he tells me I can’t get this surgery, what am I going to do?’"

"I went in and found out I could have it on health grounds, and I was the right BMI for them to justify it. We had to wait for the insurance to approve it. The only funny thing was that they told me there would be scars. I never cared about this, I knew I could deal with them if it meant that I could have a smaller chest. To this day, I don’t care about the scars. They’re there, they’re fine, they’re healed.”

The process of the surgery itself is a journey, from the initial thought pattern, to the planning, to the operation itself and then recovery. Nobody takes on cosmetic surgery lightly, nobody does it on a whim or doesn’t think it through. They don’t think about ‘ruining’ their looks, or what other people think.

They have been on their journey for a long time, they are of sound mind, and they have ultimately made a choice and will handle whatever consequences arrive afterwards;

“Having the surgery itself, people would ask me if I was nervous. I kept telling people, ‘Why would I be nervous, I just have to lie there? It’s the doctor’s job.’ I wasn’t nervous, I was excited about it because it meant that so many other things were going to be open to me. When I finally got the surgery done, I was just ready for it. After the surgery, you had to have a week of bedrest to recover, and take care of yourself. It was fine, I had protein and scrambled eggs because the nurses said that it would help the healing of scars. I never put any kind of stress on it, I was always just excited about the chance to have it done. I can’t imagine what my life would be like without having it done, if I was still in the mental headspace of constantly being conscious of my chest like that.”

What changed in Gráinne’s life after her operation, and how does she feel today about it?

“It was just such a thing that you hid before. Everyone in my family had adapted to wearing big jumpers and scarves to hide it, we were a big chested family. I have no problem talking about my surgery, I have no problem talking about my chest size. I was never vulnerable about it, I kind of own it. Every year around the anniversary of my surgery, I think of it like a little victory. It’s an attitude, it’s another year on of not having to deal with my chest. People who knew me and knew how important it was for me were supportive."

"I wonder if there was someone who wanted implants for their chest, would it have been the same reaction? My flat chested friends always joked ‘I’ll use whatever you don’t want!’, I wonder if someone had gotten implants, would it have been the same reaction? Would people have been as supportive? Even if it was for their own mental health because they can’t stand being so flat-chested, I don’t think it would be as accepted.”

I asked Gráinne how her life changed after the surgery, in more than just a physical way;

“It definitely improved my mental health and the way I see myself. It’s made me more accepting of other parts of my body, of me as a whole. My physical health has also improved, I’m more active. I used to do so many after-school activities in primary school, but once my chest developed I stopped those. Sports bras didn’t improve it either. No one in my life ever commented on me having a big chest in a negative way to me, I don’t think. It was just something I wanted.”

Ariel Winter chose to have a breast reduction surgery following years of public and online ridicule, complications involving acting roles as well as intense back pain. Speaking about the difficulties to Glamour in 2015, she said;

“We live in a day and age where everything you do is ridiculed. The Internet bullies are awful. I could post a photo where I feel good, and 500 people will comment about how fat I am and that I am disgusting. On red carpets, I just said to myself, "You have to do your best to look confident and stand up tall, and make yourself look as good as you can in these photos," because everyone is going to see them. I definitely seemed confident; I'm an actress, that's what we do. But on the inside, I wasn't feeling so happy.”

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by ARIEL WINTER (@arielwinter) on

For Gráinne, Ariel Winter’s story deeply resonated with her;

 “I saw her on Ellen, and just understood everything she said. You’re so self conscious of it. It would have affected my confidence going on Erasmus, I always hid behind scarves and jumpers. I’m far more confident now, and whether that was just growing up or having my chest done, I feel the chest was a major contributing factor. I’m still a curvaceous figure, but it’s manageable and I’m not weighed down by it. It wasn’t about anyone else, it was about me and no one else. If that’s what someone else wants, then they should go for it.”

When asked her opinion on Alexis Stone’s stunt, Gráinne was struck by the thought of going ‘too far’, and why that seemed to offend so many people. The idea that if you transform yourself to look less like the culturally accepted beauty standards, you are committing a grave sin in some way;

“For the whole Alexis Stone side of things, I think the problem with that was, did he go too far in people’s eyes? He didn’t fit with what society wanted him to look like. Kylie Jenner’s lips, she was self-conscious about them, and had been over-drawing, she got them done, but now we forget that she ever got them done. We accept that this is her face. But with Alexis, everyone thinks he went too far. People getting things like that done are often afraid of other people seeing their insecurities. There’s a model of what society wants people to look like, and you’re either reaching that model or you’re going too far."

Image: youtube.com

"Rachel Green in Friends, it’s so overlooked that she got a nose job, because it was to fix what they saw as a flaw. If Alexis Stone pretended to get work done for what he saw as a flaw, but society didn’t, then it’s a problem. Other people didn’t know about my chest, but I felt that it was a burden for myself and how I viewed myself. It was literally weighing me down. Kylie Jenner’s lips were a flaw to herself, and she ‘fixed’ them and she’s happy. It’s about ‘fixing’ what people’s perception of beauty is.”

What a large group of people perceive to be aesthetically pleasing offers a mirror to that society itself. Sociological factors have a major impact on why we see certain shapes, sizes, faces, skin types, hair and eye colours etc as the desirable way to look. Despite the fact that millions of young women ache to look the same as the Kardashians, it’s what is unique to each person that is the inherently beautiful part of them.

What's 'beautiful' today may be off-brand tomorrow. Why try to keep up?

As well as their appearance, their worth is so much more than what they look like or what they way. What they feel, what they offer to the world, their identities, their language, their flaws, their intelligence, their kindness; these factors are often greatly impacted by appearance, but beauty is more to do with the mind than what the eye envisions.

“Society has an issue with it if it’s pointing out flaws that they see in themselves as well. If you see something that you really admire in someone else, you feel self-conscious about it yourself in some way.”

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Love Island is back on our screens for the next eight weeks, but there are more than a few issues which need to be addressed.

We're talking racism, we're talking homophobia, we're talking ablism, we're talking sexism, we're talking class, we're talking body diversity…the whole can of worms.

Each of these topics deserve to be tackled individually, no doubt. Bear in mind during this article that, as a Caucasian woman, I cannot speak for the experiences of other ethnicities and it's incredibly important to listen to their personal stories rather than another white woman's take on their livelihoods.

In this article, it's time to talk about the racial bias in the infamous reality television show, which sees Islanders couple up in the hopes of winning the £50,000 cash prize. Does everyone have a fair chance, though?

One tweet in particular did the rounds last night and is currently on 37,000 likes and 5.7 thousand reweets for the point it made about former contestants-of-colour.

From Malin and Marcel in series two and three, to Samira in the fourth season, and now Yewande in the latest episode: People-of-colour are always chosen last for the coupling.

These statistics are troubling when we hear how much racial abuse has been sent to Yewande Biala, the Irish candidate who works in cancer research as a scientist. 

Members of the public are literally questioning her nationality despite the fact she has an Irish accent and refers to herself as Irish, and trolls persistently send abuse her way online.

Former Love Island contestant Samira Mighty has now expressed her fear that Yewande will experience the same micro-aggressions and racism as what she was subjected to last season.

She ultimately failed to find love on the show, with the male contestants evidently not finding her attractive. She left the show after a failed coupling with Frankie Foster, but is now speaking out.

Yewande Biala (left) and Samira Mighty (right)

"I feel like there has been so many comparisons between the two of us," she told Metro.co.uk. "The only thing that is similar – it’s not even the colour of our skin – it’s that she is a shade of brown.

"I was trending on Twitter when the line-up came out because of the comparisons. I’m different from her. I’m a theatrical person and she’s a scientist. I think our personalities are different. You can even see it in the first introduction video."

23-year-old Yewande is of Nigerian descent, and has faced criticism online for her choice of men and even her preference for wearing a wig instead of a weave. The standards aren't the same for Caucasian contestants.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Yewande (@yewande_biala) on

Samira also expressed frustration about the pressure for people-of-colour in the villa to choose each other as a couple, such as Sherif and Yewande:

"If Sherif does pick her, people are going to say “Oh okay, there is a black couple” and then it’s going to be cliche. It’s just weird. Everyone chill out. It’s now 2019, we should be able to do whatever we want."

Another ex-Islander, Marcel Somerville, has bemoaned the racial bias in the show after the contestants coupled up, and Yewande was picked last.

"Love Island flashbacks," he tweeted. "Black guy, black girl and mixed race guy all left unpicked. Mad!!!" the former Blazin' Squad member wrote,

None of the female contestants stepped forward to indicate their attraction to him back in 2017 while he was in the competition.

This year, newbies Yewande Biala, Sherif Lanre and Michael Griffiths were all sidelined during the first episode, with Scottish contestant Anton Danyluk causing trouble already.

Before the start of this year's series, fans of the show asked ITV to remove Danyluk after an image of him wearing blackface makeup was discovered from six years ago.

Somerville explained the deeply offensive nature of blackface on his Instagram story, explaining that it "invokes a racist and painful history". Blackface only conceals racism, and yet ITV allowed him to stay on the show.

Last year, Samira was the first woman-of-colour to take part in the show's history, and only one man out of sixteen in the villa were interested in her. A gorgeous West End performer, who boys aren't attracted to? What?

In Samira's time in the villa, Megan Barton-Hanson (the blonde and slim contestant) was referred to as “everyone's type on paper”. It seems that Lucie Donlon, the blonde, slim surfer model, is this year's Megan.

Anton and Joe are already vying to win the heart of the 21-year-old, with Anton seeking to ditch Amy (another slim, blonde contestant) who he's been paired up with presumably very soon.

Is it just micro-aggressions, or are narrow-minded Eurocentric ideas of beauty unavoidable in this show?

From a huge lack of body diversity as well as racial, the reality show is catering for a miniscule amount of the population when it comes to representation.

It's easy to dismiss it as just car-crash tv, but millions of people watch Love Island, and seeing the same type of beauty ideal over and over again is disturbingly damaging.

Jameela Jamil opened up on Twitter about her sadness and anger at the lack of body types represented by the show, whose bosses claim it's because they want the contestants to be "attracted to one another."

Jamil and the show's host, Caroline Flack, disagreed on their stances about diversity, with news websites painting Jamil as angry and irrational.

In reality, she was just trying to express concern for under-represented body types, ethnicities, gender and abilities.

The show is undoubtedly telling us that only slim, toned, blonde, white, big-breasted women are beautiful enough to catch a man, and only tall, white men with bronzed abs are good enough to be deemed attractive for women.

Stereotypes and tropes surrounding people-of-colour are undoubtedly present, such as Jamil's experience of being the 'angry brown woman'. 

However, it's women-of-colour that appear to be experiencing the most difficulties.

Valerie Ross of Scientific American wrote about the non-verbal behaviour towards reality tv stars of different races affecting the viewers' prejudice, and her data is overwhelming.

On-screen body language towards people-of-colour can increase unconscious prejudice in viewers, according to Tufts University research.

Esteemed journalist and researcher Cheryl Thompson has also written about the portrayal of black women on reality tv, pointing out three key tropes; the 'Mammy', the 'Jezebel' and the 'Sapphire'.

Three racial stereotypes of black womanhood which came to light at various historical moments in Western media culture. 

The 'Mammy' has links with servitude and the trademark subservient, mothering figure. The 'Jezebel', born out of chattel slavery, was seen as a sexually depraved, immoral and lascivious black woman. The 'Sapphire' was born on television; angry, emasculating and loud black women. Recognise the signs?

Lack of representation on television can be seen outside of the reality genre, but the experiences of Love Islanders-of-colour speaks for itself. Everything is trying to tell them that they don't fit the ideal of beauty, just like the lack of ethnicity on runways, ad campaigns and film.

Serena Williams could never get the amount of sponsorships in fashion as her blonde, slim tennis players, who weren't even close to her talent. Naomi Campbell and Tyra Banks revolutionised modelling for black women, but experienced immense difficulties in the process. Black women still rarely get cast in lead roles in film, theatre and television.

What does this tell you about who the public want to see on their screens? Not to mention the lack of care they give towards the mental health of Islanders. The damage which a lack of body diversity and ethnicities does to viewers is undeniable, if you don't see yourself then you assume you aren't enough. You would feel invisible.

One argument I have heard for the lack of diversity is that 'token' candidates such as a plus-sized Islander or woman-of-colour, face a barrage of abuse online as they are clearly the lone representatives.

It's important to take their mental health into account, can they handle this level of online racial or body-orientated abuse? The fact that they have to choose between being represented but abused as a result or not seeing themselves on a screen at all is depressing and unfair.

Yet the less the public see of other races, genders, classes, body types and abilities, the more they will misunderstand them and hold high levels of ignorance. Ignorance leads to consequences.

Feature image: ITV

 

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Opening up about your mental health struggles is a major step for anyone, famous or not. Telling your mum that you have depression or confiding in a friend about your battle with bipolar disorder takes a lot of strength. It is a massive step that shouldn’t be tainted by stigma or judgement.

Game of Thrones star Kit Harrington recently disclosed, via his representative, that he was spending some time at a wellness retreat to help cope with his personal issues.

When news broke that the actor, who plays courageous and noble Jon Snow, was seeking help for his mental health struggles tabloids were quick to shame him.

Image result for Kit Harington smile

The headlines made it seem like getting help for your mental health issues is shameful, dirty and something we shouldn’t do.

Surely we should be championing the fact that one of TV’s biggest stars is getting help for issues that darkened his life.

As author Matt Haig said, “Rehab is such a negative word. Thanks to pop culture. Thanks to the media. Going to rehab is a positive thing. It is the moment someone recognises their problem and plans to recover from it. It's a brave, wonderful, healing thing, and no-one should be stigmatised for it.”

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Matt Haig (@mattzhaig) on

Kit should be commended and respected for his decision to go on this wellness retreat because anyone who has gone through similar issues knows all too well that reaching out and saying ‘I need help’ is one of the biggest hurdles you have to overcome on this journey.

His name shouldn’t be splashed across headlines with the word 'rehab' in capital letters just to dramatise the story. Stories about previous low moments in his life shouldn’t resurface at a time when he is clearly struggling mentally.

He should be allowed recover in peace because regardless of his fame, his roles and his status, he is just a human. A human who was struggling and needed help.

Men are so often told to be strong and to man up, it's no wonder they are the ones who find it harder to cope with mental health problems. Men account for eight out of ten suicides here in Ireland.

They are suffering in silence, denying themselves the right to be treated and fight this heavy battle alone because of stigma, fear and a pathetic lack of support by both the Government, the media and the public.

We have made great strides in recent years, especially with the help of the See Change campaign. Wearing the green ribbon on your jacket may help people feel less alone, but it can only do so much.

Leo Varadkar and co. can wear a green ribbon upon their expensive suit jackets but what they really need to do is invest in mental health support. Show the public, show Ireland’s men that there is help out there, suicide isn’t your only option and that things can get better with the right help.

We shouldn’t look upon Kit Harington with pity, but with pride. He found the strength to seek help and proved to men that they don't need to 'man up' because there is no shame in your suffering.

If you or anyone you know are struggling with mental health issues, please call Samaritans on 116 123.

You can donate to Pieta House here

Support the See Change campaign here.

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By Anna Murray

Depending on what life stage you’re at, Mother’s Day will mean different things to different people. 

For some, it’s a time to spend time with you’re little ones, celebrating mum-hood. For others, time away from the kids might be exactly what you need.

If you're a grandparent, you may have a whole extended family to celebrate with you. If you are a new mum, you may think about establishing key Mother's Day traditions like lie-ins and breakfast in bed- so you can make sure they STICK.

Though we all have ways of marking the day, there’s one thing we all seek: Appreciation. Recognition. The nod that acknowledges that you are doing your best at a VERY difficult job. The world has become more vocal about the difficulties of being a mum. The emotional turmoil mixed with sheer joy is the tip of the iceberg- and we all know it at this stage…

But what if you don’t look like a mum? What if people’s eyes widen in disbelief when you mention you’re rushing home to make the school run or that the reason you look like a zombie is that you were up all night feeding a teething baby? 

When you’re a younger mum, recognition may not come as frequently. Many assume that your little surprise is being raised by a granny or by a more capable family member. That you couldn’t possibly put in the same hours of housework, or parenting or even work-work as those who had their lives 'sorted' before raising a family.

Us young uns’ tend to feel like we need to prove ourselves to others. To show we are 'able', even though our childhood ended only yesterday.

We may not have the same financial resources, living space or lifestyle to be 'in' with the mum-crew from our kid's school. Many of us have lost the friends we had before we became parents because our lives took off at a different speed and in the opposite direction.

We have few people to vent to or to share struggles with. Though all mums feel the sting of isolation, being on the very young end of mum-hood means the risk is even greater.

Many teen mamas spend their pregnancies hiding from the world, feeling like they have disappointed those they love as well as society as a whole. Many do the entire messy thing alone.

They forfeit opportunities, face stigma and battle the loneliness, with only a baby to confide in. 

So this Sunday, I wish to give the nod to the babies with babies of the world who are unfamiliar with appreciation. Those for whom moments of mummy-recognition have been few and far between. Whose decision to be a parent has been met with anything other than a smile.

We see you.

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Queen of social media, Chrissy Teigen, has raised a vitally valuable question about the differences of interviewing men and women.

The world has a pop culture fascination with Chrissy and her husband John Legend's relationship; they're both witty, socially aware and created ADORABLE children.

However, there's taking an interest in their family life, because they do share quite a lot with their following, but there's also taking questions way too far.

Chrissy revealed this week that John constantly gets asked, "How do you deal with your wife", and we are not happy. 

She tweeted a thread about the type of questions her husband gets asked in interviews, and it just seems like some MAD double standards to us; 

"I feel like a very common question when interviewing john is basically “how do you deal with your wife” and … I don’t love it." We wouldn't love it either, because she would never get asked how she deals with John.

She elaborated on the question and how she feels about it, and it's relatable as always. 

"It happens a lot. “Does she ask you if certain things are okay to say?” …it’s just very weird to me," she said. 

"No. He doesn’t. I don’t care. and he doesn’t care. End of question." she tweeted, continuing the thread. Shut that sh*t down, Chrissy. Asking how you "deal" with your wife implies that she's difficult to live with, and causes hassle in his career.

Chrissy has her own illustrious career, and yet never gets asked the same question about her husband.

"He usually does the standard “No…she knows what she’s doing…” but it’s not even that. It’s just that I am a different human than him? It is the most common question with him. Please stop."

Rightfully so, Chrissy said John usually shuts the question down fairly easily, but emphasised that she's actually a different person than him with her own life and goals, who isn't just tied to him while he goes out and earns.

She concluded;

"I’m not mad at anyone who has asked this. I get that we are very different. It happens a lot though and I’m just not very into it. You don’t ask me how I deal with watching MSNBC every night or what I do while he’s silent for a week."

Damn straight, Chrissy. They're basically implying that she's mouthy and loud and controls the voice in the household, and how does he COPE with that as a husband?

Teigen isn't afraid of using her social media platform and sharing her opinions on mum-shaming, body-shaming, IVF, postpartum depression and the political situation in America right now.

Translation:

By asking John Legend but not Teigen about his coping mechanisms when it comes to his partner, the basic tone of the question is that it must be a hardship to be married to an outspoken woman, we think.

*Eye roll* The man has an EGOT (An Emmy, several Grammys, an Oscar and a Tony) and THAT'S the most common question he gets asked? How does it feel being married to an opinionated and thoughtful lady?

We can think of far more complex things to ask the hugely successful musician, to be honest, that don't involve the notion of a woman using her voice for empowerment. They're separate humans with separate careers, people.

Feature image: Instagram/@johnandchrissy

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Good morning only to Cardi B.

First of all, let it be said that nobody knows the ins and outs of anyone else's personal relationship, so this opinion feature is purely based off the recent chain of public events involving Cardi and her (*cough* loser) hubby.

tonight show yes GIF by The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon

The infamous American rapper has hit the headlines time and time again since her meteoric rise in 2016, for a variety of reasons.

Most recently, it’s as a result of her estranged husband and fellow rapper Offset, of hip-hop group Migos.

After a string of alleged affairs and cheating scandals, Cardi announced their separation earlier this month, stating that they “grew out of love.”

That was all fine and dandy, until Saturday night, when Offset decided to gate-crash her headline show.

Oh, by the way, this was the FIRST EVER FEMALE headliner show of Rolling Loud in Los Angeles, but he decided to take this moment away from her in order to beg for her forgiveness.

He ruined the moment that was years in the making, so instead of the attention being on the rap star, it was transferred to her estranged husband.

After saying that he loved her and would do whatever it takes to get her back,  his embarrassment of Cardi did not result in reunited love. Shocker.

Naturally, he abandoned the stage to scattered boos. Of course, the internet had it’s weave snatched, and targeted her ex-husband with (semi-deserved) enraged tweets which only worsened the issue at hand.

He doesn’t need more attention than he’s getting, attention is power, and only Cardi deserves empowerment at this time.

Now where in the world could Offset have gotten the not-so-bright idea to interrupt her mid-show to roll out flowers that spelled out the words ‘Take Me Back Cardi’?

Maybe, from every rom-com ever?

Where normally the male protagonist does something unforgivable, or at least extremely disrespectful to the female character, and then carries out a grand show of his affection and apologises in public before she gives in and kisses him, cue the credits rolling?

love actually christmas GIF

Yes, I’m looking at you, Love Actually.

Most people claim that, by declaring his love for her so publicly and essentially opening himself up to media frenzy, he is profiting and capitalising off their relationship issues.

Problems which he and only he caused by cheating on a rap goddess who has worked incredibly hard to get to where she is now.

black cardi b GIF by 2017 MTV Video Music Awards

It has also been pointed out that he is emotionally manipulating her by using an audience to sway her into accepting his apology.

Needless to say, Cardi was NOT impressed with his actions. Rolling Loud are also deservedly getting dragged for allowing the whole charade to take place.

Tariq Cherif, co-founder of the festival, has even released a statement to Us Weekly saying:

"Headliners and their teams have full control of the stage and who is allowed on it during their set at Rolling Loud. The festival does not interfere with or influence a headliner’s set list. We have never and will never do anything to change a headliner’s set."

The big reunion which Offset had hoped for did not happen, but maybe the entire thing was just for publicity sake. If it was, it worked.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by OFFSET (@offsetyrn) on

He’s now firmly the focus of the entertainment media for the next week at least, and then he’ll most likely be yesterday’s news.

Anyone online who demands that Cardi return to a relationship where she was not being treated as she deserved to be need to called out for this gross error in judgement.

Offset wanted his ego stroked, and stormed into her place of work, calling to mind that absurd episode of Friends where Ross crashed into Rachel’s office with a picnic because he felt threatened by a male co-worker.

Toxic relationships become the centre of the stage, rather than the talent of the women involved. It’s as if they aren’t allowed to have love and a career.

His obvious display of toxic masculinity squashes any sense of true love, he simply shifted the power towards his side of the net by making himself the victim.

He most likely knew that his show of humiliation wouldn’t be met with joy by Cardi, but by putting himself in that position, he now has millions of fans feeling pity for him because of her rejection.

It’s a classic tactic done time and time again by people who want to have their cake and eat it too, they never hear the word ‘no’.

The entire debacle is problematic for a rake of reasons.

First of all, Cardi has been open in the past about her experiences with domestic abuse, and dating an incarcerated man. Both to escape abusive behaviours such as violence as well as poverty, Cardi B then turned to stripping.

She was in the Bloods gang from the age of sixteen, and in an abusive relationship at just 19. Exotic dancing was her key to success; her videos describing her experiences in the trade racked up millions of views online.

After already suffering at the hands of men she was in relationships with, before building up a HUGELY successful career, watching her allowing herself to be associated with a man who (allegedly…but pretty obviously) cheated on her is painful for her fans.

She is a much-loved personality whose music is an emblem of her own fiery energy.

Her music has broken hundreds of records, from SEVEN Grammy nominations, MTV VMA awards, to Billboard Hot 100 accolades such as the longest running female at the top of the charts for Bodak Yellow.

Her official debut album, Invasion of Privacy, has already broken streaming figure records and is Certified Gold in the US. She’s also a self-proclaimed feminist who believes in boosting other women, not to mention equality for men and women.

She is so unapologetic in the rap scene, dominating American charts especially because of how women relate and respond to her.

Her take-no-prisoners Bronx attitude and accent have attracted fascination and fans worldwide.

She is a figure who is far more complex than people give her credit for, and deciding whether or not to find the energy to forgive the father of your child for breaking your heart must be incredibly hard.

The day after all of this drama, the 26-year-old asked her fans to abandon their tirade against her ex, saying;

"I know I see a lot of people bashing me because I'm defending my baby's father, they think I'm gonna get back together with him. I'm not saying that I'm gonna get back together with him, I just don't like that bashing online thing.”

She’s being the bigger person after having her gig interrupted, suffering infidelity and humiliation as a result of his actions, and yet he thinks he deserves to have her back?

If he actually cared about her at all, he would give her the peace needed to heal from the damage which he has caused, and leave her the hell alone.

Cut off the negativity and toxicity from your life, and you will see how much you are worth. Only you can decide your worth, not some guy who thinks it’s okay to cheat on someone as amazing as you.

Cardi doesn’t waste her time, she doesn’t waste her money, and she certainly shouldn’t waste her life on someone like Offset.

Rant over, mic dropped, bodak yellowed.

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On November 29th, Deborah Ross of The Times wrote what can only be described as a SCATHING article about influencers which began like this;

"I have a dream. It is not a big dream. I am not Martin Luther King. I only do dreams on a small scale, so it is a small-scale dream and my small-scale dream is this: might there be any way we could do a find and replace on the word “influencer” so it is replaced by “detestable freeloader” wherever it appears? So we all know what, in fact, we are dealing with."

Yikes. To add to the drama-fest, YouTuber and Blogosphere's Influencer of the Year 2018 Melanie Murphy has responded. 

We have to say, Murphy makes some noteworthy points;

Starting off her 13-minute YouTube video with a cool "Okay Deborah, calm down", she proceeds to explain the hypocrisy behind Ross' points with a level of clarity which is hard to deny.

Ross essentially slated influencers in her article, describing them as 'detestable freeloaders', essentially people who deserve to be hated because they receive complimentary items and give nothing in return.

Murphy responds by issuing the point that the media in general is funded by advertising and marketing, for example, on the bottom of Ross' article had a sponsored post, without which the article possibly would never have been read.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Melanie Murphy (@melaniiemurphy) on

Promotion and marketing absolutely surrounds us, from celebrities such as David Beckham for Adidas, Beyoncé for Pepsi, Justin Timberlake for McDonalds, Jessica Simpson for WeightWatchers, Brad Pitt for whatever cologne he's feeling that day, Julia Roberts for Lancôme, Hannah Witton for PlayStation, Holly Willoughby for Marks & Spencer etc etc.

It's inescapable. However, just because they receive free objects doesn't mean that they give nothing in return. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Happy Holidays from the House! @house99 #House99 #HomeToYourNextLook

A post shared by David Beckham (@davidbeckham) on

The issue which Murphy takes with Ross' article is the sheer hypocrisy as well as the generalisations which she makes. She places every influencer in the same category, when many of them promote noble causes such as LGBT+ charities and organisations, cruelty-free and paraben-free beauty products, health foods, nutrition, sexual health organisations, disability and accessibility rights, chronic pain activists, and more.

Jameela Jamil's i_Weigh movement has become hugely successful, and empowers people to weigh themselves on their overall worth as a person rather than their body mass index. Jamil suffered from an eating disorder for years, and now uses promotion and Instagram to create a unified group of people who value and respect themselves. She also is a major campaigner for banning airbrushing.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by I Weigh (@i_weigh) on

Melanie Murphy claims that every successful creative has the support of brands behind them, and receive freebies. Many of them self-fund their projects, and use the money for other causes, others simply give away any freebies which they receive.

Murphy also points out that just because they gain complimentary products does not mean that those people aren't extremely hardworking. Many influencers balance their life online with their family and a side-job.

"95% of what I show, what I wear, I pay for myself," she claims. Through advertising and word of mouth, companies can use influencers for their branding, but this doesn't undermine the level of thought which goes into choosing which brands to work with.

Murphy works with Always pads to talk openly about periods, Barclays, who sponsor Pride, a show which explores bisexuality, PicMonkey, Wella for hair dyes which work against allergies, Holland and Barrett for cruelty-free health and nutrition products.

Numerous influencers and their agents are hugely picky about who they work with, the brands must make sense for the influencers for them to collaborate with them.

"I'm always so bloody proud of my paid-for content, always. The money these brands pay me enables me to write a novel and work on more artsy things like short films which I invest in myself but don't get money back."

According to the Youtuber, the media wouldn't survive without branding and advertisements. From YouTube ads to websites, podcasts, radio, television, newspapers and magazines, advertising is saturated in our industry.

For Deborah Ross to call followers of influencers 'morons' is entirely unfair, from Melanie's point of view;

"Under-researched drivel such as this which contributes to the negative rhetoric that surrounds bloggers and influencers, thousands of hard-working people. Some of which juggle a family or another job."

Many believe for Ross to declare that influencers have done nothing to merit this lifestyle is flawed and reductive, Murphy herself demonstrates a great engagement because of how she chooses brands to work with;

"I never try sneak anything in, I'm never shady. I am lucky and I'm very grateful, I don't swan around."

Lastly, Murphy places emphasis on the fact that YouTube is a community which supports one another, they collaborate and shout each other out and lift each other up. In the journalism industry, there is minimal collaboration and no support between competing publications;

"You sit and write and you get aid to do that, there was a time where people would scoff at your job and say that that's not a real job. We actually support each other. You're not going to see The Times supporting an article from another publication."

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

It's International Day of Disabled Persons. This year's theme is “Empowering persons with disabilities and ensuring inclusion and equality.” I think about this every day. Empowerment, inclusion, equality. It's in every story I tell. In every adventure I have. Every relationship I am in has navigated it to some extent. The other day I was talking to a friend who said, "I don't even see you as disabled, you just sit a lot for someone so active.” "I think I know what you mean, but I am disabled, it's not bad to me to be seen as disabled. When people say that, it's like they're saying, in order to accept you, I have to separate you from this thing I have a problem with. 

A post shared by Erin Clark (@erinunleashes) on

She describes the loneliness which perpetuates society, and how YouTube can be used as escapism, or for self-help, for comedy, entertainment, advice or even just to connect;

"A lot of people are lonely and it's a beautiful thing to be able to connect with people through words through a lens. Families are smaller, the Church has collapsed, community has gone to shit. I feel like through my monthly blogs I encourage people to connect with their real-life friends and family"

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Róisín (@r0_is_in) on

As Murphy points out, building a following of thousands or millions doesn't just happen for no reason.

'Detestable freeloaders' aren't just empty vessels of advertisers; they're entertainers, they're singers, actors, writers, comedians, models, creatives, editors, lighting experts, agents and so much more.

Do you agree?

Feature image: teneightymagazine.com

Article by Kate Brayden

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A photograph taken of our Lord and Saviour Queen Bey and arguably the world's current most popular singer-songwriter has sparked a MAJOR debate online about gender and an artists' 'brand'.

Why? Well, mainly because Ed was dressed like he was popping down to the local Spar to grab a one litre carton of milk, while Beyoncé was dressed, I mean, like BEYONCÉ. Fierce, fiesty and fabulous.

A few Twitter users have claimed that this displays an attitude towards gender norms, showing the expectations which women have on their shoulders to look stunning 24 hours a day, while men can wear whatever they damn well please.

The two global superstars performed together in Johannesburg, South Africa last weekend to celebrate the Global Citizen Festival: Mandela 100. 

The duo paid homage to the late Nelson Mandela, who Beyoncé claims has hugely impacted on her parenting principles with her three children; Blue Ivy, Rumi and Sir.

Of course, the pair simply had to perform the gift of their huge worldwide hit, Perfect, which the crowd essentially sang louder than them. Yet their choice of clothing has grabbed nearly the entirety of the focus.

Beyoncé has always worn the most EXTRA outfits in the business because it's part of her essence, her brand and her overall look.

She is a massive lover of fashion, even designing her own lines, while Sheeran has always been open about stripping back everything so that only his musical talent is on display. 

Singer-songwriters always perform with the hope that their stories within the songs are what is focused on, whereas Beyoncé is a performer.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by The Mode Mistress (@themodemistress) on

She uses choreography, graphics, lighting, backing vocals, political statements, her own music AND fashion to make her statements.

Lest we forget, her iconic Coachella performance was famed for the fashion choice as well as it's artistic mastery. Her On the Run tour outfits have changed the GAME of musical attire, her Formation hats especially grabbing the attention.

They exacerbate her talent, but we all know that if we strip Queen Bey of her dress choice, her choreography and her light show and graphic background, she would still deliver an incredible performance.

Yet numerous Twitter users argue that male artists can stand on their talent alone, whereas women must always have a more-than-presentable appearance, they must always have something else for their audience.

Ed Sheeran could wear a pin-striped suit if he so desired, but this would not run parallel with the branding behind his music. His image is the fact that he has no image; it's all about his own chill, laid-back vibe.

He has gained notoriety especially in the States for his appearance, or seeming lack of effort, yet this normal attitude towards fame is what allowed him to stand out in the first place.

He wasn't trying to get attention, he simply became a phenomenon for his musical gift alone. He was relatable, a man of simple taste with a great voice and immense penchant for songwriting. Artists should be able to decide their own looks and style, without their labels, the media or even their fans interfering.

Other humorous online statements are simply trying to dispel all the tension…

Do their outfits say more than we think?

Plenty of female singer-songwriters wear less elaborate, glamorous clothing, such as our new best friend Sigrid, who noticeably wears zero make-up onstage and sports only a plain white t-shirt and jeans.

Perhaps it would be best if we simply allowed artists, not to mention the general society at large, to wear whatever they please without having to worry about the incessant judgement of fans and random Twitter users.

Just a thought?

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What does it mean to be an ‘empowered woman’ in 2019?

The phrase ‘empowered woman’ is intrinsically loaded with underlying meaning and misunderstood perceptions. When many of us hear the phrase, most people envision a sexually-promiscuous woman who refuses to have children and most likely drinks scotch.

Arguably, its meaning has dramatically changed in the last year, ever since actress Alyssa Milano’s ‘Me Too’ tweet went viral.

2018 has not been the easiest of times for Irish women.

Watching the news everyday has been a tortuous experience, with violence against women splashed across every publication, the media raining debilitating double standards upon anyone remotely famous and the paparazzi splashing unflattering female body images across the internet.

Two massively painful rape trials have illuminated the imperative need for changes in the Irish law regarding sexual violence and assault, and the horrific way in which women are treated and cross-examined in the courtroom.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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The Repeal movement was draining for everyone involved, the right to bodily autonomy is still undeniably under threat.

It’s worth noting that standards are changing all around us, lines are being drawn, boundaries are being set. Finally, I might add.

Women are always hyper-aware of the need for self-protection, especially when it comes to sex and dating.

We’ve all held our keys in between our knuckles as we walk down a dimly-lit road at night, we’ve all experienced unwanted attention on nights out, and we’ve all worried about what we wear, and the negative consequences our clothes could potentially bring.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Standards of relationships are changing in conjunction, as women entering the dating world have new questions which they are asking of potential lovers.

This also stands for workplace relationships, women are fighting back against pay inequality and sexism which are prevalent even in first-world countries such as Ireland and the UK.

Watching Little Mix and Ariana Grande fight back against Piers Morgan's recent sexist comments has been such a breath of fresh air.

The #MeToo and TimesUp movements have been eye-opening experiences for men, women and intersex people worldwide, with every facet of society examining its own behaviour with a new lens.

Unlike most men, women are expected to be looking for love around every corner.

During our teens and 20s, being single is depicted as a hugely empowering, freeing experience, yet a shadow dawns on the eve of our 30th birthdays: the misogynistic view that our biological clocks are ticking, and where on earth is our husband?

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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I have learnt many things from relationships, mainly that learning who you are can often only become a reality when you face tough aspects of life alone.

This is not true for everyone, of course, but many women in this day and age have to shrug off countless societal pressures and notions which are veiled in misogyny and shame.

Female empowerment in this article can only be relevant to my personal experiences, women are extremely complex beings and each feels empowered in totally different ways.

For women with disabilities, of different ages, gender binaries, classes and ethnicities, feeling good about ourselves comes in all shapes and forms.

Sex is power, #MeToo has taught me that. I cannot speak for other women, especially those in the LGBT+ community, but as a heterosexual woman, I have also learned many other hard lessons about the need to empower myself and have control over my body and mind.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Women are not therapists, we cannot be expected to handle the emotional baggage of other people.

We have enough of our own. Watching Ariana get blamed for Mac Miller's death is a primary example of the degradation placed on people for leaving toxic relationships.

 Ariana Grande has entered ultimate female empowerment mode, sporting a friendship ring instead of her recent engagement rock, and regularly posting images of classic film stars and female icon moments on her Instagram account.

Her new music video will be a tribute to classic movies with female leads such as 13 Going On 30, Mean Girls, Bring It On and Legally Blonde.

Thank u, next; Ari’s latest phenomenally successful single, pays homage to her past loves before declaring that her relationship with herself is now a priority.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Reports claim that her ex-fiancé, Pete Davidson, did not support her sufficiently following the death of Mac Miller, her former love.

Ariana explained how toxic her relationship with Miller was; she endured the pain of watching someone they love struggle through addiction but realised that it was expected of her to ‘fix’ his pain, to mother him through his issues.

Her realisation that she could not carry out this burden was imperative.

When Davidson joked about swapping Grande’s birth control pills on Saturday Night Live, the reaction was mixed.

Many wondered why controversy erupted over the comment, yet many reflected on the notion of literally trapping a woman into staying with you through pregnancy, a huge emotional and physical ordeal for women.

Realise that we are not defined by our relationship status, and to have a relationship with yourself can be an incredibly growth experience.

Letting go of the pressure to always have an ‘other half’ can be freeing in itself. Don’t underestimate the value of your friendships, especially female ones.

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SEX is empowering:

Learning what you like (this applies to anyone with a sexual partner- in a relationship or not) is CRUCIAL.

Women have always been expected to satisfy men in terms of sex, the language was never granted to us regarding how to communicate our desires, and how to find pleasure.

Consent in this country has always been a murky topic, hidden under the surface.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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I never heard the word mentioned until I went to college, and by the time I learnt the word’s true meaning, I had already had unconsensual experiences without truly understanding them at all.

Educating ourselves about consent, and only having relationships with those who truly respect us and our bodies can be incredibly empowering.

Learn how to say no, be selfish.

Women cannot be expected to please everyone, all the time. Often we have to work incredibly hard, in our employment or relationships, to get the achievements we deserve.

Learning to put yourself first can be a massive way of respecting our own mental health and practicing self-love and acceptance.

Ask yourself, what do YOU want, instead of what does everyone else want of you.

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Learning new skills

Self -defence classes, a new language, a skill such as website building, graphic design, even calligraphy. Why not?

If you have valuable assets such as the ability to drive, and even do nitpicky jobs such as online banking or tax can be empowering in terms of releasing yourself from co-dependence.

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Don’t let opportunities pass you by.

Go with your instincts. Do what you’ve always wanted to do, but always found an excuse never to do it. You miss 100% of the chances you let pass by, and you never know how much you can gain from letting your fears dissipate and challenging yourself.

Mental health

The importance of having a health mind can never be underestimated. Take personal time whenever you know that you need it, don't succumb to pressure. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Body confidence

Society makes it so damn hard to allow you to feel secure in your own skin. In a world with such fascination with image and beauty, loving yourself is a completely rebellious act.

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Everyone is unique, so don’t try to fit a beauty mould which will undoubtedly change in the next five to ten years.

In the 90s it was bone glamour with malnourished models such as Kate Moss on the runway looking like all they needed most was a McDonalds, and now the Kardashians have transformed cosmetic beauty into plastic surgery-induced curves, glossy brunette hair and big lips and bums.

Who knows what the next big trend will be, but why force yourself to look like someone else? You are worth so much more than what you weigh or what you see in the mirror.

Taking control of your love life

The laws of dating have transformed recently, with apps such as Bumble finally realising that women don’t always want to wait around for the right person to ask them on a date.

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Try asking someone out, the worst that can happen is that they say no.

Food and health

I lived in San Francisco for four months and had the most atrocious diet, and when I came home I vowed to learn at least ten easy home-cook meals that are quick to make, and have health benefits. Having independence in terms of your body and health can be crucial to an empowering mindset, especially for women with chronic health problems.

Career

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Finding career success can be a huge morale boost, especially for women. Success shouldn’t be based on how much you earn, but how much you love your job and how you contribute to bringing a positive energy to the world around you.

Fight to be heard at the table, realise how intelligent you are and how you should be valued in your workplace. Don’t let anyone invalidate you.

You have the key to your own happiness, no one else.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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To be totally independent, ‘empowered’ single gal has countless benefits. Find your own definition of ‘empowerment’, some women are empowered by their style, their job, their relationship, their sex life, and others are empowered simply by being happy in their own skin.

Whether you're feeling great and powerful totally covered up or completely naked, do whatever makes you happy.

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As Ru Paul the Great regularly claims, “If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell are you gonna love somebody else?”

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