Let's Talk About Body Image


As a young female I am constantly exposed to the media’s often harmful portrayal of body image that is extremely influential to the way women view themselves and their bodies. I mean real talk, we live in a world that makes profit from pointing out our flaws (even the ones we didn’t know we had) and finding expensive and impossible ways to eradicate them. But guess what, women aren’t barbie dolls and we aren’t all from the same cookie cutter. Which is kinda awesome.

I know that on the rare occasion I post, it’s usually centred on a recent read but today I wanted to spice things up a bit. Because if you can’t rant about the media’s influence on female body image during adolescence on your own blog, then where can you? It is a subject that I am really passionate about and recently decided to research for a school assessment (I got full marks too). I learnt so much through my research that I’ve decided to adapt the same presentation to better suit a blog post so that I can share it with you all and maybe even inspire you to further question the unrealistic standards of our patriarchal society. So here goes!
Body image is the perception that a person has of their physical self, but more importantly the thoughts and feelings one experiences depending on what they think about their body. These feelings can be positive, negative or both.
During Adolescence we become more aware of our bodies, and form opinions about them that can affect us for the majority of our lives. Body Image is an important part of who we are and how we present ourselves in daily life, and an increasingly significant factor in forming our identities. Especially when heartbreaking studies conclude that more than half of girls as young as 6 to 8 think their ideal weight is thinner than their current size.

I’d like to recognize that Males also suffer from low self-esteem and are equally influenced by the media. However, I have decided to discuss female body image because that is my own experience.
Media in its many forms, is significantly powerful in communicating to the multitude. Through various means of mass communication such as radio, television, digital media, social media and print media, women are exposed to a socially constructed idea of beauty that is often unrealistic and unachievable – and it is my personal belief that the promotion of this ideal within the media heavily influences the way women view themselves and their bodies.

The media all too often amplifies the sexist and harmful voices within our society that are either set on telling us what we 'can't' be, or preventing us from embracing what we are; i.e. women who come in a myriad of shapes and sizes, all of which are beautiful. A blatant ignorance of this diversity is woven throughout most forms of media. Although we are gradually seeing a greater variety in shape and size celebrated in the media.

This socially constructed idea of beauty portrayed by the media targets every size and every woman, even those we see as perfect. We face societal pressures and standards and can even see them directed at famous women on the covers of magazines or comments on Instagram posts. From the ‘thigh gap’ to the Nicki Minaj booty, there is a clear distinction between the physical aspects society typically views as desirable, and the ones it does not. You just can’t win. Tina Fey perfectly describes the double standards and impossibility of this ideal when she says:

“Now every girl is expected to have Caucasian blue eyes, full Spanish lips, a classic button nose, hairless Asian skin with a California tan, a Jamaican dance hall ass, long Swedish legs, small Japanese feet, the abs of a lesbian gym owner, the hips of a nine-year-old boy, the arms of Michelle Obama, and doll tits. The person closest to actually achieving this look is Kim Kardashian, who, as we know, was made by Russian scientists to sabotage our athletes.”

It is important to acknowledge that there is nothing wrong with naturally having any of these or wanting to. However it is extremely damaging to women to present this image of beauty, as the only acceptable version of beauty. Especially when studies suggest that 80 percent of your weight and body shape is determined by genes, therefore rendering it physically impossible for some women to obtain certain features.

When low-self esteem and serious body dissatisfaction can have severe consequences such as harmful eating disorders and serious mental and emotional distress, it makes you wonder why we allow the media to hold such power over the way we view our bodies. The very temples that allows us to live and breathe each day 24/7, impacted by a forum that has little consideration for how confident we feel in that cute new dress.

To understand just how serious this issue is, I conducted a survey on the role of the media in influencing female body image and found that 100% of responders (99% of whom were female) had felt or were feeling self-conscious about their body image. The majority sharing that the features which majorly contributed to this low self-esteem included their legs, stomach, thighs and face. Additionally, 51% of respondents said they would call themselves confident whilst 39% stated that they would not.

Now I don’t know about you, but this is horrible and what makes it even more horrible is that these results were not at all surprising to me. I mean we live in a society where the usual feminine behaviour is to watch our weight and count our calories. But the thought of my beautiful class mates not feeling like the badass warriors they are, saddens me deeply.

Even Buzzfeed somehow missed the point with this headline, despite their article being pro body positivity.
Interestingly enough many of my responders noted mental state as massive contributor to their confidence or lack there of and many of the non-confident responders said their confidence could be improved with the help of clothes, makeup or hairstyles that made them beautiful. Well keep on wearing that lip gloss, because you deserve to feel like a queen!

I know you’re thinking, how is the media involved in all of this? Why are they suddenly the bad guys? And you know what, the media well and truly doesn’t totally suck. But they really gotta up their game when it comes to discussing women’s bodies as an overwhelming majority of 93% agreed that the media significantly influenced their body image.

One respondent said, “Yes, the media creates an ‘ideal’ body image based on the shape of a woman, which is ridiculous because every individual’s genetic makeup forbids one from having the same shape as another person”. Another respondent agreed to this sentiment but stated, “The media's influence has saturated my view of my body, so I sometimes feel as if my own body shape is inadequate or not the right shape”.

This feeling described in my results of not being the ‘right’ shape is in part provoked by the media’s representation of physical perfection and extreme thinness, which is reinforced through the use of digital manipulation – a form of editing just about present in almost every photograph of a model or celebrity. Photoshop is now allowing us to eradicate natural imperfections, change shape and size and distort things entirely so that an average woman appears physically perfect (in some cases baring no resemblance to their actual self). Say what? That’s crazy.

A member of the focus group I ran believed that airbrushing was okay to an extent however when over done, can be harmful. “Women are getting the impression that even models and celebrities need photoshopping - these people are looked up to as perfect, and if these 'perfect' people supposedly need photoshopping, what must 'normal' women think they need?”.  So basically the ladies in the magazines don’t even look like the ladies in the magazines!

The media also negatively influences our body image by failing to represent and appreciate a variety of body types. Consequently making us question where exactly we fit in, if we don’t fit the image of beauty the media presents. An example of this failure being the exclusion of plus sized models in mainstream media.

A member of my focus group said; “The presence of plus size models is important for girls who aren't a size 0 to see that their bodies are also appreciated. I'm sure it's also really encouraging for 'larger' girls who dream about modelling to see what they can achieve”.

Representation of larger models in the media is undoubtedly important (as is representing the sizes between and beyond) in promoting a message of self-acceptance for all sizes. As I noticed through my investigation, an overwhelming desire to be thinner. In fact when I asked my survey respondents what features made up their ideal bodies, 48% stated that they wanted to be skinner (particularly in their thighs and stomach).

Models who do a great job at promoting self-love: Mina Mahmood, Dounia Tazi, Diana Veras, Barbara Ferreira, Tess Holliday and Ashley Graham.
A clear lack of representation within the media can be partially blamed for this reoccurring unhappiness with weight. Especially when in some cases average sized woman are wrongly labeled plus size, causing larger women to feel misrepresented, rendering the label inadequate.

Meanwhile, some individuals argue that the label itself is just another way of segregating women and making them feel unnatural for not being thin. A survey response said, “I see what people call ‘plus size’ and they’re nowhere near so. Also, they trash gorgeous woman for being “fat” and that makes me think less of myself”.

A recent surge in the exposure of plus size modelling has allowed us to normalize things like stretch marks and cellulite, which are totally normal things yet hardly seen in the media. I know that seeing plus size models of varying shapes, sizes and ethnicities has really inspired me to work towards self-love so I think the media should really zone in on this diversity in order to encourage others to feel the same.

Gabi Gregg (GabiFresh) creator of the swimsuits for all range.
To combat the increasing number of body image issues, it is important that the media encourages body acceptance and diversity. Which although may seem difficult, 76% of my survey responders believed that it is possible to celebrate one type of body without discrediting the other. Wonderful campaigns such as Gabi Fresh’s #Fatkini movement, Aerie and its unretouched #AerieREAL campaign and Twitter’s #BodyPosi, are changing the way we perceive beauty and prove that it is possible to spread positive messages in the media. Because ultimately, beauty isn’t a size and that is the message we should be sharing.

*images are not my own

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4 Years + 1 Month: A Blogoversary sorta?

Hey ya’ll! Happy February, I hope this month is kind to you.
Today I’m excited to let you know that as of the 3rd of January 2016, A Sunny Spot turned four years old! Now you may be looking at your calendars and thinking “WTF Sunny that was a month ago”, and you’d be absolutely correct. However, it occurred to me that on the first day of my 4th year as a blogger, I was unable to celebrate it with you guys due to being away and a heap of other issues I won’t bore you with.

Anyhow, I feel like it would be such a shame to let this occasion pass without word so I’ve decided to celebrate this tiny but cool milestone with a 4 years and one month blogoversary giveaway. Your blog only turns four once, haha! Unfortunately my giveaway is for Australians only, but have no fear international readers because I’m working on someday hosting a giveaway that you guys can enter as well. It’s a goal of mine.

Before I leave you guys to enter away, I wanted to thank some people. Firstly, I’d like to direct a massive massive thank you to Bloomsbury and Allen and Unwin Australia for providing the wonderful books I’m giving away today. It wouldn’t have been possible without you so thank you x10. Secondly, I want to thank to the awesome book loving community in Australia. That includes authors, publishers and fellow bloggers, ones I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and ones I have not.

We really are an awesome group and I can’t thank you enough for not yet ruling me out every time I pull one of my infamous disappearing acts! Thank you! Especially thank you to the Sydney bloggers who I’ve seen throughout the past few years at various events, who still wave to me and have a chat, even if I’m being awkward and can only stay for a short period of time. Also Francoise, I don’t think I really need to tell you this but.. you’re my home girl, thank you for all your support.

Lastly, despite being bias to the wonderful Australian community, how could I not thank all of the bloggers and readers who comment on my posts and chat with me, from other countries? I've got to interact with some ridiculously cool and lovely people because of this blog and I appreciate you all! Fi, even though we almost talk about everything except for blogging (unless we're discussing our internal guilt), we met through blogging and I'm so glad we did. Ambivalently Yours, we also got to meet online and I've really appreciate all of our thoughtful conversations and all thats come of them.

PS. Also because I really just gotta, thank you Mom because at the end of the day this blog wouldn’t have been in creation without you, and nor would I.

I hope you guys enjoy this giveaway, there’s a tone of great books up for grab! May the odds be ever in your favour.

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Top Ten Books I've Recently Added To My TBR

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and The Bookish, every Tuesday there is a different bookish theme for bloggers to participate in.
Happy New Year! Notice anything different? You guessed it, I've finally set up my shiny new blog url *launches confetti*. It's been a long time coming but I'm excited to say that this blog can now be found at this dashing new address -> www.asunnyspot.com.au

Anyhow exciting news aside, today I'm writing to share with you the "Top Ten Books I've Recently Added To My TBR". If any of you have read some of the books listed below, I'd love to hear your thoughts on said novels! I especially need some help deciding which one to read first. 
1. A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin—one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.
As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she's been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow grows over the faerie lands, and Feyre must find a way to stop it... or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever.

2. Asking For It by Louise O'Neill
It's the beginning of the summer in a small town in Ireland. Emma O'Donovan is eighteen years old, beautiful, happy, confident. One night, there's a party. Everyone is there. All eyes are on Emma.
The next morning, she wakes on the front porch of her house. She can't remember what happened, she doesn't know how she got there. She doesn't know why she's in pain. But everyone else does.
Photographs taken at the party show, in explicit detail, what happened to Emma that night. But sometimes people don't want to believe what is right in front of them, especially when the truth concerns the town's heroes... 

3. My True Love Gave To Me: Twelve Winter Romances edited by Stephanie Perkins
On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me . . .
This beautiful collection features twelve gorgeously romantic stories set during the festive period, by some of the most talented and exciting YA authors writing today. The stories are filled with the magic of first love and the magic of the holidays.

4. Fans of the Impossible Life by Kate Scelsa
Mira is starting over at Saint Francis Prep. She promised her parents she would at least try to pretend that she could act like a functioning human this time, not a girl who can’t get out of bed for days on end, who only feels awake when she’s with Sebby.
Jeremy is the painfully shy art nerd at Saint Francis who’s been in self-imposed isolation after an incident that ruined his last year of school. When he sees Sebby for the first time across the school lawn, it’s as if he’s been expecting this blond, lanky boy with mischief glinting in his eye.
Sebby, Mira’s gay best friend, is a boy who seems to carry sunlight around with him. Even as life in his foster home starts to take its toll, Sebby and Mira together craft a world of magic rituals and impromptu road trips, designed to fix the broken parts of their lives.
As Jeremy finds himself drawn into Sebby and Mira’s world, he begins to understand the secrets that they hide in order to protect themselves, to keep each other safe from those who don’t understand their quest to live for the impossible.
5. This Raging Light by Estelle Laure
Can the best thing happen at the worst time?
Her dad went crazy. Her mom left town. She has bills to pay and a little sister to look after. Now is not the time for level-headed seventeen-year-old Lucille to fall in love. But love—messy, inconvenient love—is what she's about to experience when she falls for Digby Jones, her best friend's brother. 

6. Did I Mention I Love You? by Estelle Maskame
When sixteen-year-old Eden Munro agrees to spend the summer with her estranged father in the beachfront city of Santa Monica, California, she has no idea what she’s letting herself in for. Eden's parents are divorced and have gone their separate ways, and now her father has a brand new family. For Eden, this means she's about to meet three new step-brothers. The eldest of the three is Tyler Bruce, a troubled teenager with a short temper and a huge ego. Complete polar opposites, Eden quickly finds herself thrust into a world full of new experiences as Tyler's group of friends take her under their wing. But the one thing she just can't understand is Tyler, and the more she presses to figure out the truth about him, the more she finds herself falling for the one person she shouldn't – her step-brother.
Throw in Tyler's clingy girlfriend and a guy who has his eyes set on Eden, and there's secrets, lies and a whole lot of drama. But how can Eden keep her feelings under control? And can she ever work out the truth about Tyler? 
7. The Boy Most Likely To by Huntley Fitzpatrick
Tim Mason was The Boy Most Likely To:
- find the liquor cabinet blindfolded
- need a liver transplant
- drive his car into a house
Alice Garrett was The Girl Most Likely To:
- well, not date her little brother’s baggage-burdened best friend, for starters.
For Tim, it wouldn’t be smart to fall for Alice. For Alice, nothing could be scarier than falling for Tim. But Tim has never been known for making the smart choice, and Alice is starting to wonder if the “smart” choice is always the right one. When these two crash into each other, they crash hard.
Then the unexpected consequences of Tim’s wild days come back to shock him. He finds himself in a situation that isn’t all it appears to be, that he never could have predicted . . . but maybe should have.
And Alice is caught in the middle.  
8. Only Ever Yours by Louise O'Neill
Where women are created for the pleasure of men, beauty is the first duty of every girl. In Louise O'Neill's world of Only Every Yours women are no longer born naturally, girls (called "eves") are raised in Schools and trained in the arts of pleasing men until they come of age. Freida and Isabel are best friends. Now, aged sixteen and in their final year, they expect to be selected as companions--wives to powerful men. All they have to do is ensure they stay in the top ten beautiful girls in their year. The alternatives--life as a concubine, or a chastity (teaching endless generations of girls)--are too horrible to contemplate.
But as the intensity of final year takes hold, the pressure to be perfect mounts. Isabel starts to self-destruct, putting her beauty--her only asset--in peril. And then into this sealed female environment, the boys arrive, eager to choose a bride. Freida must fight for her future--even if it means betraying the only friend, the only love, she has ever known. 
9. Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson
It was Sloane who yanked Emily out of her shell and made life 100% interesting. But right before what should have been the most epic summer, Sloane just…disappears. All she leaves behind is a to-do list.
On it, thirteen Sloane-inspired tasks that Emily would normally never try. But what if they could bring her best friend back?
Apple picking at night? Okay, easy enough.
Dance until dawn? Sure. Why not?
Kiss a stranger? Um...
Emily now has this unexpected summer, and the help of Frank Porter (totally unexpected), to check things off Sloane's list. Who knows what she’ll find?
Go skinny-dipping? Wait...what?
10. Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas

Consumed by guilt and rage, Celaena can't bring herself to spill blood for the King of Adarlan. She must fight back...

The Immortal Queen will help her destroy the king - for a price. But as Celaena battles with her darkest memories and her heart breaks for a love that could never last, can she fulfil the bargain and head the almighty court of Terrasen? And who will stand with her?

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Hello, It's Me.


Hey guys! It’s me Sunny, the one who used to write on this blog until she abandoned it yet again. I know, I know. I promised many a time that I wouldn’t resort to old habits but I did, so I guess this is the blogging equivalent to the walk of shame. The guilt is real.

I guess I should probably start by saying that it wasn’t my intention to go totally M.I.A. these past few months, however I realise that’s what’s happened. My blog is basically covered in cobwebs and I reckon its definitely time to dust then off – oh and update my blog link, that too! Do I have an excuse for my inactiveness in the blogging community other than busyness? Not entirely. I just think truthfully, I haven’t had it in me. I don’t have much energy to do anything other than eat chocolate and re-watch Supernatural episodes these days.

I haven’t read much either (much to the disappointment of my bookworm heart) or should I say anything. It’s horrible, I literally look at my bookshelf and am plagued with guilt. It’s not because I don’t want to because my heart is aching for an incredible YA contemporary right about now, but there’s just something blocking me. And if you’ve been reading the few posts I’ve published this past year, you’ll know that there has been for a long time.

I feel disappointed but mostly guilty, because this is not the first time I’ve left only to briefly return with promises of change that I did not deliver. I feel like I owe it to myself and other bloggers to be a proper blogger again (whatever the definition of that may be). I want to be able to call myself a book blogger without thinking “oh well you used to be, not so much anymore”.

I haven’t quite figured out what it is that’s been blocking my creative juices, but I’ve realised that blogging and reading aren’t the only thing that’s been affected by “whatever” this is. *insert mystery music here*. So while I’m working on getting back to my old self, I just thought I’d just be truthful instead of making promises that I can’t keep. They do say that the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem, right?

So while I am here, I wanted to share with you some things that I have been doing. You know, gotta balance the bad out with the good. Make myself feel less guilty.

  • Starting, catching up on and re-watching Supernatural; Why did it take me so long to jump on the SPN train? That show is my new religion, I could write essays on why Sam and Dean Winchester deserve all the happiness in the world and not just because they're unbelievably attractive.
  • Completing my final exams for the year; All I can say is good riddance. 
  • Working; *plays "For the Love of Money" by the O'Jays*
  • Becoming grape friends (grape was intentional) with Fi from Books for Birds; You get weird when I compliment you so I'm not gonna but ily.
  • Occasionally reading awesome and amusing as hell celeb autobiographies; Yes I’m looking at you, “You’re Never Weird on the Internet (almost)” and “Why Not Me?”. Sidenote: Read these books, they were seriously great. Felicia Day & Mindy Kaling need to befriend me stat. 
  • Screaming my lungs out with 76,00 other Taylor Swift fans at the 1989 World Tour; I was reborn that night.
  • Becoming a frequent Ice Coffee Frappé buyer at MacDonald’s; Shout out to the peeps at Maccas who make my Frappé's so delicious every time.
  • Meeting Little Mix in October; Long story short, I died.
  • Becoming even more Feminist AF (did I just say that?); I have a lot to say about the topic and if you’re bored enough to wanna hear some of it, click here
  • Loving The Walking Dead Season 6; I told you suckers that _ _ _ _ _ was alive.

Before I go back to wasting time on netflix, I wanted to apologise again but also to say thank you for all of the bloggers and authors who still interact with me on twitter and the publishers who still send me books. You guys rule and inspire me to crawl out of hole and try again. Without promising anything, I'm gonna hopefully kick this slump in the behind and I'll see you next when I see you next. 

PS. Anyone have any books that are so awesome even book slump me will swallow it whole?

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Bookish Spinsters: What is Feminism?


Hiya guys! Long time no speak. I realise I've been MIA lately but I'm super pumped to be back with the first Bookish Spinsters post all about Feminism. Jo from Once Upon a Bookcase contacted me and asked me if I'd like to be a part of a bookish and feminist feature which I of course said yes to. Thank you Jo for creating this and letting me take part!

My name is Sunny and I am a Feminist.
Why? Because I believe Feminism is a movement that benefits people of all genders, ethnicities, sexualities and religions and allows us to be equal.

Firstly, let me clarify that this post isn’t intended to be some form of propaganda, I’m not looking to recruit. I’m merely sharing my personal views on Feminism and why its important to me. I’m not saying these beliefs are universal or should be believed by everyone. Also shocker: I do not hate men. Nor do most Feminists. Because in my belief those are extremists and extremists are a minority who are representing something different all together. 

As an individual, I believe Feminism is about gender equality and although we’ve made a great advancement in society and I acknowledge my privilege as a white female in Australia, we live in a society where males and females aren’t equal. I mean when we live in a world where a female earns less than her male co-worker for the same job, how can we be? That’s just never made sense to me. Why should I be paid less for putting in the same hard work because I was born a female? Why should the biology of a person define the way they are treated or the opportunities they have in life? Every woman is just as capable as a male and should be treated with that same respect. I was raised to believe that every human is capable of greatness, so why should I be underestimated and disadvantaged because of my down under?

A awesome illustration by one of my favourite artists ‘Ambivalently Yours’ that I feel sums up everything.

 Feminism is such an important movement because it allows us to feel empowered and beautiful in our own bodies. It gives us the chance to express our differences and many uniqueness’ when society tells us we shouldn’t. Every day the media is telling us we have to be this big, this small, this tan, this whatever but there is more than one way to be beautiful. Everyone looks different and that’s awesome! Beauty doesn’t have a size requirement.

One of my wonderful friends Louis, decided to share why he labels himself a proud Feminist; “I’m a Feminist because I believe that woman should be paid and treated the same as men. Woman are independent and are no way inferior to men. I’m a feminist because I believe in equality no matter your age, sex, race, and sexual orientation. We are all equal”.

Feminism means there’s more than one choice and that we get to make that choice ourselves. It means recognising that not everyone will make the same choices as us and respecting that. Some of the choices will be about our bodies and Feminism allows us to have control over our own body and the choices we make. E.g. the choice to shave or not.

As a female I’m more than a sexual object, and I shouldn’t have to accept objectification (nor should dudes). I mean lets be real, in what world is catcalling flattering? Thanks creepy guy, I totally wanted to hear what you thought of my ass. Real talk though; You don’t owe your body to anyone, its entirely your own.

I believe in Feminism because it gives me the chance to be whatever I want to be. It means at the end of the day I’m the one calling the shots. I can be a CEO if I want to or I can be a stay at home mother instead.

I’m a feminist because as a pdhpe student I’m tired of not being passed the ball. I’m tired of living in a society where a girls value is often tied down to her cup size. Because we are all so much more than that!

Feminism also allows us to defy our gender stereotypes. Who made up that stupid rule that banned guys from crying? We’re only human and having a penis (excuse my French) doesn’t suddenly mean life isn’t gonna suck from time to time!

When boys and girls are little, they’re divided by the girls and boys toy section. Pinks vs the Blues. But why can’t girls build things and drive cool trucks too? When a girl plays with a so called “boys toy”, she’s being unlady like and when a boy plays with a “girls toy”, he’s seen as weak. But I say that's plenty normal. Instead of labelling others, we all need to learn a bit about acceptance.

Also just think, its fantastic that there are boys and girls sport teams, but do you ever see the girls teams air on TV? No. That’s because they don’t get the same funding or attention. Girls can play sports just as well, Viola Hastings in She’s the Man proved this. So why are our wide variety of skills underestimated?

But girls aren’t always taught to kick the ball around in the yard, instead we are taught to bake and play dress up (there’s nothing wrong with wanting to do those things or wanting to do both). Basically they’re saying we all have to be Cinderella.

My lovely friend Avalon on why she's a Feminist; "I am a feminist because I believe in the equal rights for women. My mother has raised me to believe not only am I an equal to any man, but I can be better and that my sex has no persuasion on how I should be treated or how I live my life. All the sacrifices men and women have made towards the near equality we have today should not be for naught, and I should not only be grateful for my privileges as a woman in the 21st century but also continue on the work until we live in a world were being female is only affiliated with power and equality."

On a more serious note, I believe in Feminism because a girls choice in clothing does not give you permission violate her. But hey you know, don’t go out by yourself after dark, it’s not safe for a young lady. *Eye roll. Woman are often held responsible for rape and sexual harassment but there is never an excuse, and a victim is never to blame. Her consent matters! Feminism is a movement that spreads awareness of this. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have the potential to be a wrestler who could kick some serious butt, so don’t come at me. That’s right, fighting like a girl is a good thing!

To end this post I wanted to say that you are awesome. Yes you!! The one reading this. No matter what gender, age, sexuality, religion or race you are awesome, I believe it and so does Feminism. Hopefully I haven’t left you feeling like you’ve just been lectured by your mother. I hope you guys enjoyed this post and I’d love to hear your opinion on what I’ve had to say.

Sidenote: I’m totally not going to be offended if you open the door for me or pay for my meal (not that you should feel entitled to) but I actually think its really lovely when someone lets me go first and I’ll also show that same respect to others.

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Interview with Feminist Artist Ambivalently Yours

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I’m thrilled to be featuring my favourite online artist, Ambivalently Yours, in a special interview between two people who believe badassery also comes in shades of pink! In case you haven’t heard of Ambivalently Yours, she’s a anonymous artist who illustrates feminist art throughout various social media platforms such as tumblr and instagram. I’m a big fan of her work and was thrilled when she accepted my request to interview her on my blog. I’m hoping this post is the start of many discussing Feminism on A Sunny Spot as it’s a topic I feel passionately about. Enjoy!

1. Hi Ambivalently Yours, How are you?
I’m good, thank you!

2. Could you tell us a bit about what you do and the art you create?
I first started Ambivalently Yours when I was studying feminist art and working in the fashion industry, which seemed like a huge contradiction. At work, I was the feminist killjoy every time I raised a concern about the sexist undertones in our campaigns, and in art school I was the fashion girl who many assumed was duped by the patriarchy just because I liked cute clothes and girly colours. I felt caught somewhere in-between two worlds that I both loved and hated at times, in other words I felt ambivalent. Eventually, I decided to stop worrying about what others thought of me and embrace my contradictions. Ambivalently Yours became my fierce alter ego, giving me a way of exploring my feminist questions from this in-between place where things are undefined and pink can be powerful. 

3. How is your current project, #91daysofdrawing going?
It’s going really well. The project is part of an artistic residency I’m doing at the Centre for Contemporary Arts in Glasgow. I’m actually in the final week of my 91 day residency. My goal was to answer as many online messages as I could for three months and post drawings as responses to the messages. I had 310 pending messages in my inbox when I arrived here, and even though I’ve answered over 200 messages since I’ve been here, I now have 695 pending messages in my inbox. So obviously the work has grown a lot since I got here. This residency has also given me the opportunity to reflect upon the work I do and think about how I can expand my practice when the residency ends. (For more info visit: http://91daysofdrawing.tumblr.com/)

4. What is the meaning behind your name, Ambivalently Yours?
Ambivalence means loving and hating simultaneously, which is often confused for an inability to make up one’s mind, or not having a strong opinion.  Embracing ambivalence has given me the freedom to resist defining myself too narrowly. Part of being a feminist is about advocating for a woman’s right to choose. This right, however, does not imply there is only one choice. For example, my commitment to feminism could only occur once I gave myself permission to also embrace my love of fashion and the colour pink, two things often associated with the patriarchal domination of women. This refusal to choose between traditional femininity and radical feminism allowed for another space to exist: not a space of indecision but rather a space of undeciding. I call this space: Ambivalently Yours. My commitment to ambivalence is about learning to ask more questions rather than get stuck with incomplete answers. 

5. You proudly label yourself a Feminist, but for those who are a little confused about what the term really means, would you mind telling us what  “Feminism” mean to you?
In an article for the Glasgow-based zine TYCI  Kate Bailey wrote:  
“Feminism is the tool by which we achieve equality, Feminism is not a result nor tangible goal.” 
Feminism is often misunderstood as a desire for female dominance or dismissed as man hating. Feminism actual advocates for equal rights for men and women. By equal rights, I don't just mean take the rights that men already have and give them to women too, but also acknowledge that people are different and may have different needs. People of all genders deserve to be valued equally, even if they are different.  The same goes for people of all races, religions, and sexual orientations. 

6. Do you think it’s important that young woman call themselves Feminists? Why?
I know that a lot of people have a problem with the word “Feminist”. Feminism has a complicated history, and the word itself can be somewhat problematic for some. I don’t think the word itself matters so much, as long as you are fighting for your rights and those of others. There is this great quote by Isabel Allende that sort of sums it up well:
“For most western young women today, being called a feminist is an insult.  Feminism has never been sexy, but let me assure you that it has never stopped me from flirting and I have seldom suffered from a lack of men.  Feminism is not dead, by no means.  If you don’t like the term, change it for God’s sake.  Call it Aphrodite or Venus or bimbo or whatever you want.  The name doesn’t matter as long as we understand what it’s all about and support it.”
- Isabel Allende: Tales of passion, TED conference, March 2007 
7. In what ways does your artwork engage directly with the idea of feminism/do you consider them feminist works?
There is a huge support system for women and by women that exists online, especially on Tumblr, so this is not a format that I invented, but rather something that my work sort of mutated into as it adapted to it’s online environment. What it really boils down to is empathy. The act of reblogging is in itself an act of empathy. It is a way of saying: “Yes I get this” or “I feel this way too.” People began writing to me because they could empathise with my drawings, by responding to their messages with drawings I am acknowledging that I can empathise with them too. The drawings become an expression of that empathy, often illustrating things that words alone can’t. To me, this collaboration and support system that has grown out of my work is definitely a feminist statement. I also try to include a lot of quotes and links on my blog to the work of other feminists, to inspire people to learn more about feminism and to give people more tools to help them think critically about world issues. 

8. Are your aesthetic choices (colour, line, subject matter) chosen in relation to this feminist line of thought or are they just pleasing?
I’ve always loved pink and I do think it is a pretty badass colour, but many people strongly disagree with me. I decided to make all my drawings light pink because people kept telling me not to. The use of pink is actually my rebellion against everyone who told me that pink was not a powerful colour, or that my work was too feminine and not confident or strong enough, or that I should use darker pink or black because they are somehow perceived as stronger colours. I know that girls are brainwashed from a young age to like pink, and maybe part of my affection for it is rooted in that, but I disagree that everything associated with girlhood should be automatically be seen as weak.

9. What materials or programs do you use to produce your art?
All of my drawings start out the old fashioned way, on paper. I usually use cheap ballpoint pens, colour pencils, markers and watercolours.  Then I scan my drawings and clean them up and make them all the same shade of pink using Adobe Photoshop.  I also use Photoshop to create the animated GIFs.

10. As an artist, did it take you a while to find your own voice/style and way of expressing it?
I’ve always liked drawing girls and using girly colours, but it took me a long time before I developed a cohesive visual language or artistic style and it took me even longer to figure out what my drive to make art was all about. I studied art in university, then pursued a masters degree in art, and also worked in fashion in-between; my work experience and my education have all inspired and shape my artistic voice.

11. If you could go back to the past and tell your younger self anything, what would it be?
Everything you think you want, will look very different when you actually get it. So pay attention, and be prepared to change your mind a lot.

12. If you could ensure your viewers took one message away from your art, what would that message be? You’re not alone.

13. When you initially started up Ambivalently Yours, did you imagine you’d receive such a following and the recent recognition that you’ve achieved?
No, not at all. I never thought so many people would be able to relate to what I’m doing. It’s really encouraging, and it makes me feel like I’m not so alone.  

Ambivalently Yours
Tumblr: ambivalentlyyours.tumblr.com
Twitter: twitter.com/AmbivalentlyYou
Facebook: facebook.com/ambivalentlyyours
Instagram: instagram.com/ambivalentlyyours

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REVIEW: P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han

Edition: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers Hardback
Release Date: May 26th 2015
Pages: 337
Series: To All The Boys I've Loved Before #2
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Source: Bought
Links: Goodreads | Author's Website | Buy the book

Lara Jean didn’t expect to really fall for Peter.
She and Peter were just pretending. Except suddenly they weren’t. Now Lara Jean is more confused than ever.
When another boy from her past returns to her life, Lara Jean’s feelings for him return too. Can a girl be in love with two boys at once?

P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han is a charming and adorable young adult contemporary that won’t disappoint fans of book one, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before.

I had a lot of fun reading To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before earlier this year, however I finished the book feeling extremely conflicted. I then felt even more argh, once I read the synopsis for P.S. I Still Love You which hinted at another possible love triangle.

So to start my review I'd like to quickly assure readers who had similar anxious thoughts when the synopsis screamed *love triangle alert* , that there is no need to stress.
Lara Jean was a lot more likable in P.S. I Still Love You. It was quite noticeable that she matured greatly, which came in handy throughout the novel. In book one I felt as though Lara Jean was a little too naive and that she acted much younger than her age, but her character definitely grew and developed throughout the story and I believe that’s probably because she started listening to her head and not just her heart.

I wrote in my review for book one that I thought Lara Jean wasn’t always 100% true to herself and I’m happy to say I feel as though she finally found her feet and I’m so proud! Gosh, damn Jenny Han and her lovable characters to whom I grow so attached to.

In To All the Boy’s I’ve Loved Before I enjoyed the scenes between Peter and Lara Jean, however they didn't excite me. But that totally changed in P.S. I Still Love You. I read a majority of the book at school and my friends can tell you that I squealed multiple times. The cuteness was too much for me to handle and I gotta say, they were pretty much goals.

Yet, at the same time Peter and Lara Jean certainly didn't have the picture perfect relationship that is all too common in Young Adult fiction these days. It was realistically flawed as were Peter and Lara Jean as characters. They had their fair share of high and lows which only contributed to the honesty and realism of their romance.

These highs and lows were often quite big, Lara Jean has some fairly stressful complications thrown at her. I wanted to give her a good old hug but I couldn’t cos you know… she’s sadly fictional and all (there goes my dreams of scrapbooking with Lara Jean). But I think Lara Jean and co handled those situations really well. P.S. I Still Love You also discusses some of the double standards between girls and boys and included some feminist talk, which I think is really important so I’m glad Jenny Han went there.
“Society is far too caught up in shaming a woman for enjoying sex and applauding a man.”

—  P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han

I really admired that Lara Jean didn’t change herself once she was in a relationship, nor did she abandon her family or friends. She kept her curious and sweet nature and never compromised her values. Go girl! I also love that Peter never made her do anything she was uncomfortable with, he was a much better guy than I thought and I think even I am fell in love with him just a bit (well a lot in a particular Kitty and Peter scene).

Lara Jean's family were majorly present throughout the whole book. This was a relief as parents often go missing in YA. Also, Lara Jean's bond was one of my favourite focuses in book one so I was glad Jenny Han continued to write in some sweet family moments rather than making her grow distant once she got a boyfriend.

As I mentioned earlier, the synopsis of P.S. I Still Love You, hinted at a love triangle which made me very nervous. Yes, there is another potential love interest introduced but I wouldn’t call it a love triangle. I’m so glad it didn’t play a bigger part in the plot. I wanted to dislike John Ambrose but he was super sweet so it was almost impossible, but Team Peter for the win.

While I really enjoyed the storyline of To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, I think I liked P.S. I Still Love You even better! I adore this series and I'm predicting a re-read in the very near future. It's a light and fun read but that certainly doesn't mean it wasn't emotional or hooking, it left a lasting impression. The ending was very satisfying, yet it also left some things to the imagination which makes this series being a duology very bittersweet. I miss it already.

If you haven’t jumped on the Jenny Han wagon, I recommend you jump on it right this moment! I mean if the glowing reviews don't convince you, just take a second to admire those gorgeous covers! They literally make beautiful hardcovers, I am in love.
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