Thursday, 29 December 2011

How to go something and stay it.

That's is a very vague title, but it was that or a long and possibly confusing one with specifics within it. This is for those wanting to join a subculture, or change their dietary make-up, and anything similar. As a goth, a wiccan, and a vegetarian, I'm using stuff I've read, stuff I did, and even my own mistakes to help y'all.

  1. Research. This is where Mallgoths and wannabe hipsters go wrong. Look up a variety of sites that are specific to your interest. Find as much information as possible, even if it is negative or just a little bit of genuine info; all your other sources will help you determine what's true and what's false. For music-based subcultures, listen to as much of the music as possible. Again, make sure you know what the real music is. If you can, then talk to people already part of what you wish to join. My best mate has been a veggie for two years, and he helped me get all the needed help for going vegetarian. There are also forums and virtual communities that can be either general or specific. I recommend Mookychick and it's message-board.
  2. Plan before you do. Find recipes and brands you enjoy if going veggie or vegan. Figure out what part of the subculture's fashion you wish to use. If said subculture has several fashion sub-sets, such as how goth has cyber, punk, corporate ect., then decide on which sub-set(s) you will use. If you're converting to another religion, make preparations, such as buying key items and learning how to pray/worship/meditate/cast spells.
  3. Ease into it. Don't suddenly start point-blank refusing meat or dressing in PVC with acid green cyberlox. Not only will you have those close to you freaking out, but you could quickly get bored and having it become "just a phase". Start by choosing veggie options at restaurants, wearing a single element of subcultural fashion (such as plain dark clothes, a kitsch wristband), or basic worship/spells/meditation.
  4. Don't give in to your peers. I'm not a big supporter of violence, so if you get people criticising your choice in a negative manner, just tell 'em to get lost. If it turns into a hate campaign against you (and you'll sure as hell know when that is) then feel free to deliver a headbutt or smack if the time feels right. They don't control you, and everyone has at least one thing that is not liked about them. If the response is neutral/civil, however, just explain why you chose to get into whatever it is you've committed yourself to. If met with stereotypes and myths (who hasn't the old "all emos cut themselves" statement), simply tell them why it's a load of crap. Make sure you're nice about it though; a witch speaking aggressively when explaining why she and her fellows do not use curse magic will just feed the trolls and haters.
  5. The transition never really ends. You'll always have room and opportunity to develop and get deeper into the interest. This is where the whole concept of easing into it helps. Even now, my personal style keeps changing, and will keep on changing for years to come.

Thursday, 22 December 2011

How to get the most out of charity shops.

  • Be open-minded. Or, at least, not determined to get a specific item. Many a time I have walked into Oxfam expecting there to be a pretty black parasol, only to be greatly disappointed. Don't go looking for objects that are usually hard to find on the high street, because that way you aren't left feeling like your browse was a waste; alternatively, you could end up finding that item by pure chance, which is always a great surprise. If you want something quite exact, such as a sheer Victorian blouse, prepare to be looking through numerous shops. On a similar note...
  • Avoid harsh budgeting. There is much variety of prices between shops, and some have store-bought goods that are dearer than the donated goods. Thus don't walk into Bernardo's thinking the prices are as low as they are in Oxfam, nor expect the new scarves at the British Heart Foundation to be 3 quid like the second-hand ones. However, it is advisable to have a limit on how much you spend, for there could be a case of manic-buying if you decide that £20 is enough for a top that turns out to be three quid. Having, say, a tenner aside for a couple of dresses is a good idea, as it will cover the wide price-range amongst charity shops.
  • Some things will never be in a charity shop. By law, they are not permitted to sell large electronics, furniture, or house appliances, such as washing machines and sofas, unless they are specialised in selling that sort (there's an Arthritis Research homeware shop in my town, for example). Also, most charity shops don't accept/sell magazines, vinyl, or cutlery unless there are in sets or, in the case of cups and the like, if they are one-of-a-kind or originally sold alone. However, some shops will sell cassettes, video games ect.
  • Don't just stick to one charity shop. Self explanatory, really. Variety is the spice of life, is it not?
  • VOLUNTEER! As a volunteer at my local British Heart Foundation, I cannot stress enough how beneficial it is. Firstly, there is the discount you gain at the shop; it is usually 25%, which can, for large splurges, be a huge bonus. You can sometimes even snag some things that are rejected from being sold for free. I got myself a lovely black/grey tie-dye vest due to it being out-of-season, and a black feather fan before that. Secondly, there are the professional positives. Not only does it make you look good on your CV (which, if you are hoping to enter university, is important), but it also gives you the opportunity to develop skills for future jobs, notably for positions in retail. Such skills include communication, teamwork, and dealing with the infamous "bullshit customers".

Saturday, 12 November 2011

The Occupy Movement: What is it?

 Let's start at when and where it actually began, shall we? The Occupy movement began with Occupy Dataran on July 30th, 2011. It was organised as a peaceful protest for reformed democracy, and equality amongst everyone. The inspiration for the movement came from the Spanish protests in May, the 15-M Movement, and the Democracy Village set up by the UK Parliament in 2010. The Occupy Movement managed to gain mass attention from both the media and the online group Anonymous, who are, ironically, a group of hackers originating from the infamous 4chan; the group called for protesters to "flood lower Manhattan, set up tents, kitchens, peaceful barricades and Occupy Wall Street".

 Occupy Wall Street is, without a doubt, the most famous protest of the movement, and, here in the UK, Occupy London is big news. For London, the protest was organised to take place outside London Stock Exchanged, but protesters are now camped outside St Paul's Cathedral. The main purpose of this Occupy London (I'll just refer to it as O.L. from now on) is to protest against economic inequality, the lack of affordable housing, social injustice, corporate greed, and the influence on the Govt. from lobbyists (For those who don't know what this is, lobbying is a method used by insider pressure groups to attempt to influence Govt.). A main group that supports O.L. is UK Uncut, which protests against tax avoidance and the cuts being made by the Coalition Government.

 O.L., as with the rest of the Occupy movement, is very controversial, and very much a 'love or hate' topic. However, there is much misunderstanding about the aims of the movement. A common phrase used to describe it is "The 99% against the 1%"; the 1% represents the wealthiest people in the country, or even the world, and the 99% is, to be put simply, everyone else. However, many people not involved with the movement believe that it is people challenging the Govt. for the sake of challenging, or something like that. In reality, it is people coming together to stand up against injustice. Another misconception is that it is working and middle class people claiming that they are part of national poverty; it is important to highlight here that the movement is not necessarily 'rich' v 'poor', but is more the public calling out against how money is distributed by the Govt.. An interesting statistic I found states that, by 2007, a mere 1% of American households owned more than 34% of private wealth, and just 19% owned over half of it. (Full article, written by the Guardian, can be found here.)

 Coverage of the Occupy movement has also been increased by celebrity support. Occupy Wall Street has seen Kanye West, Tom Morello (of Rise Against the Machine), David Crosby, and many others have spoken or performed to the protesters. Also, it was revealed that Lemony Snicket had observed from afar, and wrote about it in his own darkly humorous style. O.L. saw fashion designer Vivienne Westwood join the protesters, and is thought to be using the movement as inspiration for her next fashion line.

 Finally, there is evidence of some success for Occupiers. On the 1st of November, the Dean of St Paul's Cathedral resigned after a backlash when he attempted to forcibly evict protesters, and 170 members of the extreme right-wing group EDL were arrested on Armistice/Remembrance/Poppy day, after they attempted to attack campers.

  Below is the "Initial Statement" issued by protesters in London on the 16th of October
  1. The current system is unsustainable. It is undemocratic and unjust. We need alternatives; this is where we work towards them.
  2. We are of all ethnicities, backgrounds, genders, generations, sexualities dis/abilities and faiths. We stand together with occupations all over the world.
  3. We refuse to pay for the banks’ crisis.
  4. We do not accept the cuts as either necessary or inevitable. We demand an end to global tax injustice and our democracy representing corporations instead of the people.
  5. We want regulators to be genuinely independent of the industries they regulate.
  6. We support the strike on the 30th November and the student action on the 9th November, and actions to defend our health services, welfare, education and employment, and to stop wars and arms dealing.
  7. We want structural change towards authentic global equality. The world’s resources must go towards caring for people and the planet, not the military, corporate profits or the rich.
  8. We stand in solidarity with the global oppressed and we call for an end to the actions of our government and others in causing this oppression.
  9. This is what democracy looks like. Come and join us!

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Victorian clothing: The lower classes

 For my first article, I have decided to write about Victorian fashion, namely that commonly worn by those working class or lower. This is mainly inspired by the Filthy Victorians of 2012, created by Miss K Lovett, which challenges participants to dress in Victorian clothing for a whole year. Though not all historically accurate, I hope to dress in lower class styles, simply for practical reasons; I have school and a job to attend, you know.
For those interested in the F.V. 2012, information can be found here and here.

 Servants often obtained any worn, unfitting or unwanted garments their masters and mistresses discarded. However, these items of clothing would be possibly played down or not matched with appropriate other items, showing that they were still considered well below the upper classes. However, their pay would mean that they were able to edit the garment, be it to make it look like new, appear simpler, or to actually make it fit the new owner.

A group of servants.

 Once the clothing was no longer wearable by the servants' standards, it would be sold. Back then, stuff originally made for the rich was still considered expensive, thus making items such as handkerchiefs valuable for even lower classes. Fagin's band of jolly little thieves are a good example of this, despite never actually singing whilst they picked pockets. Eventually, clothing would keep getting passed down until it became worthless and was worn by the penniless on the streets.

 On the other hand, clothing could be, and was, made for the lower classes, and would usually be a decent price, but would often become worn and ragged quickly, especially by those working in mills and down the pits. Also, there was emphasis on handmade clothing amongst the working class. Cheap fabrics such as wool or felt were used to make shawls, socks, mittens, and many other garments, and some would fix or remake clothing through needlework. Scrap pieces of fabric were used to cover holes in clothes, and if something was too big or long, it would be shortened/re-sized, and the remains either saved or sold.

 There were some defining features to help distinguish the different types of lower class. The homeless' clothing was ill-fitting and on the brink of falling apart completely, prostitutes wore revealing tops and/or had their legs out (they often flashed their ankles at men. How scandalous!), and the fortunate working class owned better-fitting clothing.

Prostitutes with a client

Starting off steady: My life goals, and reasons for posting things.

This is, without a doubt, the dullest thing I can start a blog with, after the obvious introduction, but I just want to go a little deeper into why I will be posting certain things here.

  • I want to eventually write for a respectable national newspaper or magazine, and I need lots of experience writing articles to build my portfolio. This means that I shall be writing articles about a variety of subjects here; some of these I hope to get published on Mookychick, which would certainly boost my writing rep. and confidence.
  • I'm a student, more specifically a teenage student, so I will obviously be very rant-y from time-to-time. However, to separate such posts, I will post something along the lines of "Rant Alert!".
  • I love to write flash fiction/vignettes, so expect lots of them. I'll post "Creative" or something to help distinguish them from other posts.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

I've moved up in the world...

...of blogging, that is.
I am Amaranth Lethia: a gothy teenager living in a nice little town near Leeds. Some of you may know my through my Tumblr. If you do, then hello again! If not, it's a pleasure to meet you!
I decided to create this blog for personal use, rather than my "personal" Tumblr account, which, to be honest, is more role-playing and reblogging than actually posting. So here I am, hoping to actually inject my entire personality into a part of the internet without being too random (sure, I can be incredibly spontaneous, but that's not really the point).
My first "proper" post will be up relatively soon. Until then, see you!