Thursday, 11 July 2013

A Kinderwhore in Heat

If you're from the UK or USA, you'll probably be aware of the insane heat some parts of the countries have been experiencing. Here in northern England, we're not used to anything above 20C, so imagine our pain at the recent 26C temperatures we've been experiencing!

When you combine hot weather and kinderwhore fashion, disaster is possible; to combat this, here's a little guide to coping in the heat whilst still looking very much like a kinderwhore princess!

  • Go sleeveless
This is a simple ides; sleeves, even the cute little cap ones, will cover your armpit, thus increasing how bad you sweat (I think that's the reason, I ain't a scientist!). I would recommend going for the sleeveless peter pan dresses that sometimes become popular in summer, though sun dresses are much better and can be turned into something more grungy! If you cannot afford to buy any sleeveless dresses, channel your inner punk and hack off the sleeves yourself! The result may also look more improvised, making it more true to the kinderwhore aesthetics.

  • Look at the material and shape of the dress
Cotton is the perfect summer material, due to it's thinness.Satin is also good for the weather, though it will stick to you in sweaty areas more than cotton. To find out the material, just check the labels; it should be with the washing instructions.

As for the shape of the dress, go for something that hangs off the body. My summer survival dress is a sack-like dress, though you can go for more babydoll dresses, i.e. tighter at the bust and baggy from the waist down. Length-wise, anything below the knee is not a good idea.
Britney Spears, who was the most unlikely kinderwhore back in the ol' days, shows that bralets and short shorts can look kinderwhore if done right!
  • Colour is key
Blacks and very dark colours, as any goth or emo will tell you, is the worst in summer. This is because black absorbs heat, making you considerably more sweaty. The easy solution is to wear light colours, such as white and pastels; combining this with thin materials and loose dresses could create a dreamy, Virgin Suicides-esque look.


  • Lose the heavy makeup
Thick powder and red lippy is not that good an idea in high temperatures, as it will melt and look worse than you may ever intend to make it look! Instead, opt for glittery lipgloss or heroin chic eyeshadow. Alternatively, go bare-faced; the rest of the outfit can do all the talking.
Ms. Love knows what's up when it's summertime.
  • Put your hair up
Long hair in the heat is not ideal, what with how sweaty your neck will become. Instead, opt for pigtails, ponytails, or plaits. This is a good chance to use your arsenal of childish hair accessories, especially ribbons and bobbles. Speaking of children's accessories...

  • Kid's summer stuff!
Summer is the season in which colourful plastic sunglasses become a common sight in shops, so don't ignore it! Also, take advantage of the summery girl's hair stuff, such as pineapple hair bobbles or sun-shaped hair grips. At the end of the day, ignoring the kinder in kinderwhore will lose you brownie (or should I say grunge?) points.

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Going Past the Babybat Phase

Rule 1 of Goth: You will regret every choice you made during your babybat phase.

This truth is ignored or denied when one first delves into the subculture, sometimes followed by proclamations of how one "knows better". This is very rarely true, as some new goths will have a helping hand, either in the form of a goth friend or the internet. In my case, I relied on a short Wikipedia article that didn't really explain much, hence why my babybat phase lasted much longer than I like to claim. This is going to be a mix of story-time, common mistakes, and tips I wish I'd either known or listened to.

STORY TIME

I discovered goth after my dad died (I'm not one to delve into sob stories, so moving swiftly on). I initially spent my first week of being a babybat claiming to be emo, though I knew even less about that subculture, but "decided" goth was better when I realised that emo hair was just darker scene hair, or something like that. After becoming a brief but dedicated Within Temptation fan and reviving my inherited love for Evanescence, I finally found out about actual gothic rock. Long story short, I fell in love with many classic and modern bands, like the Sisters of Mercy and the Cruxshadows. Since then, I've expanded my tastes, though I prefer EBM more thanks to my pre-goth love of electronic music genres.

As for the fashion side of the subculture, well...I was here, there, and everywhere; Trad one week, Romantic goth the next. I made plenty of mistakes in this area, including the cliche bondage pants and studded chokers. The difference between my experiences in music and fashion, however, was that took a long time, up to right now actually, for me to realise what I enjoy to wear. One thing I found difficult about combining the two, however, was that, whilst I used to dress in long skirts and ornate tops, I was listening to mostly dance-based genres.
Me during my babybat phase. I thought the whole one-eye-showing thing was cool for well over a year.

COMMON MISTAKES, AND TIPS


  • Thinking you must wear certain things to "look goth". The first goths ever didn't have any brand names or templates to follow, so perhaps start by getting ideas from the first-wave folk rather than charging towards the first pair of Tripp pants you see. Try Googling for photos of goths from the 80s, and I'd also check Tumblr; there are blogs dedicated to the original scene. If you already want to go for a certain look, just search around using terms closely relating to the fashion.
  • Only sticking to gothic metal. Goth rock and goth metal are very different, including origins and components. The best advice I can give here is to listen to Bauhaus, Joy Division, Siouxsie and the Banshees and the Sister's of Mercy; they are the first bands to be described as goth (even if Andrew Eldritch denies he is). However, don't feel limited to just gothic rock itself! It's common for goths to branch out their musical tastes and find their ideal genre, be it ethereal, new-wave and industrial. Again, just snoop around until you find something you like.
  • Acting creepy or spooky doesn't really work. Just be nice to people. Better yet, just be yourself. Just because you dress in black and listen to rock, doesn't mean you have to act out the stereotype. As a well-known Lady (of Manners) once said, people are more freaked out by a polite goth than a scary goth!
  • Don't go around yelling about how goth you are. This is something both babybats and elitists do. It's okay to say that you're goth, but don't be pushy about it. In a way, this is just an extension of the politeness thing. Additionally, you are free to tell people that you're goth when you're ready, not necessarily when you first join the subculture. I'd also recommend mentioning when asked about how goth you are (if you are) that you are still new to the subculture. When faced with elitists, especially online, this could prevent any drama going on.
FURTHER READING

Monday, 8 July 2013

How NOT to Bake a Cake

Now, I am no culinary expert, far from it to be honest, but I do know firsthand how to not bake a cake. To be blunt, anyone who says baking a cake is one of the easiest things to do is lying; baking is very much a fine art where mistakes come plenty at a time!

The easiest mistake is not balancing the ingredients right. Be it from misreading the recipe, using the wrong type of sugar, or winging it and not using a recipe at all (I am most guilty of this), mistakes with the choosing and measuring of ingredients are very common. Similarly, putting the ingredients into the mix wrong is also very, very common. My most common mistake is not beating eggs before adding; I just chuck them in at the same time as everything else and hope it mixes alright. Also, warm or melted butter/margarine is a must, as cold it will just clump everything together, which is an utter nightmare to whisk by hand!

If you put the mix in an non-greased tin, then there will be serious problems getting it out, often the result being the bottom of the cake being only half-present. A worse mistake, as I discovered yesterday, is coating the tin in tin foil. This makes the oven's rays reflect off of the foil, ruining the middle of the cake top, as you can see below.

Ovens are annoying on their own, with each one operating differently. Add trying to bake a cake into the mechanical mix and disaster is likely. The whole Celsius/Fahrenheit/gas mark issue makes reading the recipe's instruction hard, especially if only one form is specified, as then it's a case of converting and/or guessing. Speaking of which, guessing = BAD. I'm always assuming X temperature is okay, only to discover it's too hot or not hot enough. To make matters worse, fumbling with the temperatures and settings whilst the cake is still baking will result in varied results, from sunken cakes to burnt tops.
This disaster of an almond and poppyseed cake was caused by  guessing the temperature and messing around with the oven settings whilst it was still cooking! EDIT: Also, tin foil is a big no-no.

The simplest oven mistake, however, is putting the cake too high up. I've lost count how many times I've used the top rack of my oven for the cake, and wondered why the top is blackened and burnt whilst the rest is still raw mix! To avoid, pop it on the bottom rack, or lower the top rack (if possible). Another mistake is opening the oven door when the cake is still baking; this results in a flat or sunken cake. This is worst when the prior mistake is also made, as you're opening the oven to check what it even looks like, making it worse!

So there you have it; a little guide on how to ruin a cake from start to finish. I hope for everyone's sake that we all learn how to bake a half-decent cake, but I've never learnt my own lesson!

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Going Veggie

Converting to Vegetarianism sounds hard when considering what you can and cannot eat, but it's surprisingly easy when you get the hang of it. Here's a little guide of what I learnt when I went veggie a couple of years ago.

  • First thing's first
Vegetarianism is usually not some fast track to losing weight, nor will you magically become a superhero immune to all illness. Veggie diets can often cause deficiencies such as anemia (I had it twice from different deficiencies) and a very poor immune system. Unless you are going to tailor the diet to make up for the lost nutrients, I'd really recommend getting some good multivitamins and minerals, particularly with iron, vitamin B12 and vitamin C. Most supermarkets will have their own Vegetarian Multivitamins, so grab these if you are unsure.

Silly tip from me: I found that not eating meat made me eat more chocolate and bread (of all things), which was worse than eating loads of meat! Moral of the story: eat healthily. At the end of the day, you should just be eating normal meals, just without meat.


    Lisa Simpson: most famous vegetarian?
  • Decide on far you will go
Some veggies eat fish. Some eat milk and cheese. Some eat eggs. Some use commercial toothpastes. What you decide to eat in terms of grey area stuff is up to you. Many veggie cookbooks will have a introduction to what is generally accepted to not be eaten by vegetarians. Otherwise, just go on the Wikipedia article, which lists the different variations of diet.


  • Make a list of what products you cannot eat.
When people think about vegetarians, they just think they cannot eat actual meat. This is mostly the case, however there are lots of hidden stuff, such as glycerin, that also also bad. This is because there are foods that use animal fats, for example marshmallows and gummy bears, and even party rings!

To avoid accidentally eating animal fats or meat, make a list of all the ingredients that you cannot eat. Most will be obvious, but be sure to ensure that you don't forget about the sneaky meaty foods.

  • Look at the packaging
Most food (at least here in the UK) is reviewed by the Vegetarian Society prior to commercial release, so check packets to see if there is a green tick, or a tick shaped like a V. Some stuff will instead simply state it is suitable for veggies, so check for this if there are no visible ticks. If in doubt, though, check the ingredients list for any meat products. Many crisp brands only use flavourings made to taste like meat, and not actual meat, but just check to be sure. If I hadn't realised this, I wouldn't be happily munching on a pack of Smokey BBQ crisps!

  • Get yourself a good cookbook
I swear by the Vegetarian Student Cookbook, but there are plenty of good other options. After reading an interview and some of her recipes in a magazine, It's All Good by Gwyneth Paltrow looks like a lovely choice, though it mainly focuses on minimising what is consumed in terms of food groups (some recipes are Vegan, others contain meat), so tread carefully. If you are instead looking for some veggie recipes for weight loss, The Skinny 5:2 Fast Diet Vegetarian Meals For One seems to be good; I may buy it and review it later!
From It's All Good, by Gwyneth Paltrow. Source
  • If you miss meat, get flavoured alternatives
Quorn and Linda McCartney will be your best friends if you are struggling to resist a bacon butty. These often cost similar prices to meat, but don't be surprised if they cost more. However, those sticking to an all-natural veggie diet will have to avoid these, due to them often being made from processed fungi (yes, you are pretty much eating meat-flavoured mushrooms!).

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Anti-Fashion (In a Nutshell)

Anti-Fashion is, put simply, anything going against the mainstream fashion of the time. This means it is constantly-changing thing, most forms with the same intention: refusal to conform to fashion standards. Here is a quick guide highlighting the key things of anti-fashion, from origins to its integration into the fashion landscape itself!

Source
In the Victorian era, women's fashion options were very restrictive, what with the tight walebone corsets massive bustles. Such clothing also made hobbies such as hunting and cycling difficult, so in the mid-19th century rational dress was introduced. This introduced trousers, or, rather, bloomer costumes and short-skirt combinations, so that such hobbies could be enjoyed more safely. High society appeared to criticise these alternatives, even when it was trousers being worn in the mines!
Mods and Rocker. Source
Anti-fashion seems to have died down during the first half of the 20th century, probably due to the sheer amount of international conflicts going on, however there was a return to non-conformist fashions in the late 50s and majority of the 60s, with the rise of the Mods and Rockers. Both groups sported unique fashions, such as parkas for Mods and leather jackets for Rockers, but it was their actions that caused the securing of their anti-fashion statuses. Both subcultures were prone to fighting, and soon riots and large-scale conflicts between the two were common, with them being called "folk devils" by the media. Rockers went on to evolve (sort of) into punks, whereas the Mods live on.
Hippies. Source
The sexual revolution of the 1960s saw the rise of the hippy movement, which rejected the societal ideals of the 50s and promoted free love and peace. Hippy fashion went against the popularity of the mini and tailored  suits seen during its time in the media spotlight in favour of long floaty clothes, usually made from eco-friendly materials. Essentially, the clothing of choice went against the mainstream's increased use of mass-production and cheap materials. Like the mods and rockers, the hippy movement was also damned by the media, which emphasised the use of drugs such as cannabis and LSD, which hippies used to have psychedelic trips as a means of self-discovery.
Two punk ladies on the Underground. Source unknown.
The 70s saw the rise of Punk, a strongly anti-establishment movement that went on to define the alternative scene and its subsets. Punk fashion, with staples being heavily customised jackets, army boots and anarchy symbols, was a great contrast to the bell bottoms and hippy-chic blouses of the 70s, and quickly became the definition of anti-fashion. Needless to say, punk's successors, in the forms of goth, emo, post-punk and metal, all further demonstrated the prominence of anti-fashion in subcultures.

The most popular (not sure if that's the most appropriate word for it) anti-fashion subculture was the grunge movement of the 90s; the visual aesthetics were non-existent, with anything cheap and practical sufficing. This was seen as the ultimate anti-fashion statement, especially with the emphasis on high fashion and mainstream clothing seen during the decade. However, the media's obsession with grunge after the mainstream success of Nirvana's Nevermind album led to the apparent trivialising of the subculture, hence why it is argued that, like punk, grunge is dead.
Kurt, Courtney and Francis: Grunge's own royal family.
Anti-fashion has enjoyed an estranged and complex relationship with high fashion. Originally ignored, anti-fashion was introduced into high fashion in the 90s via minimalism; the reduction of fashion into a blank canvas. This was considered revolutionary by the big fashion houses, with Calvin Klein becoming the leading minimalist designer. Recently, minimalism has being revived, again with CK leading the way, providing a stark contrast to the florals and decedence seen in other collections of recent seasons.

Another key link between fashion and anti-fashion was Vivienne Westwood, whose use of punk and BDSM elements in her fashion shocked the fashion landscape; fitting, considering she considers the shock value of punk a key influence. Ms. Westwood's iconic designs may have led to punk fashion becoming more mainstream, but it's safe to say that her collections made a proud statement against the repeated trends and apparent importance of high fashion.
Minimalism - the anti-fashion within fashion.
In the 21st century, anti-fashion has sunk back into the shadows, however the rise of the hipster scene, which has brought in the revival and mainstreaming of goth and grunge, has led to anti-fashion existing as a sort of artistic release. This is best seen by pastel goth, which uses both high street fashion and alternative elements, and is beginning to separate itself from its mainstream origins. Goth, meanwhile, has evolved and introduced cybergoth; a mix of traditional goth and modern science-fiction. This can be considered worlds apart from popular fashion, what with its use of neons, gas masks and goggles, and synthetic hair and fabrics. Soon, we may see a new, unique subculture rise with its own stance on anti-fashion, but until then, anti-fashion is a fading art, and has somewhat lost its meanings established during the rules of the hippies, punks and grungers.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Living With Low Self-Esteem

[I'm no longer a student! My last exam was a few weeks back, but I had a period of avoiding anything that involved writing, hence the lack of posting. I'm making it my mission to actual be more active, even if that means a day of non-stop productivity followed by weeks of queued posts!]

Self-Esteem is very important, despite how much people seem to ignore it. If you have low self-esteem, or like me have had periods of none at all, then you understand how difficult it is to cope with certain stuff. I've made a little guide to help you, built by experience and advice and insight by my counselor. This is by no means a quick-fix, but I believe some tips to help improve esteem is a good start.


  • Try and think of the positives.


People with low self-esteem tend to always jump to the worst-case-scenario, and it can result in feeling useless, upset, and pathetic. For example, if you're not invited to something the rest of your friends are going to (eg. a shopping trip), you'd feel left out and rejected.

To cope, try and look at it from a different perspective. If you haven't been invited out with friends, it may have been a short-notice thing and you weren't quickly available, or maybe they had a limit on how many people could go? Stress from stuff such as work or school can also make you think the worst, so consider that when pondering. If you didn't get a job you wanted, you could look for one better suited to you, or look at how to improve you CV. Feel ugly? List what you like about yourself, both internally and externally.

  • Do something different.
There must certainly be some correlation between productivity and self-esteem; it seems a lot of people with low self-esteem don't do as much as those with higher self-esteem, though I may be wrong here.

If you spend loads of time by yourself with just you thoughts to accompany you, try going outside and doing something more productive, such as volunteering or attending social things. Case in point: I use my mum's political career as a means to keep myself occupied; socialising with strangers at gathering is much better than being by yourself.

  • Think beyond yourself.
I don't mean this in a bad way! Many people tend to have their thoughts focus on themselves, often with trivial things such as what to eat, what to wear, or where to go. When you have low self-esteem, these thoughts can become dangerous, as they center on negativity regarding themselves.

This can be remedied by thinking about other people or things; think about why a person is running down the street, or what the person in the same restaurant as you has ordered. Sometimes, thinking about the trivial thoughts of others is better than thinking about yourself in a negative light.

  • If you're struggling, see a counselor.
Sometimes, self-help just doesn't help. If this feels like it is the case, consult your doctor for a referral to get counselling. Alternatively, see if there are any drop-in centers that cater for self-esteem problems; these will often be places that deal with young people, and also deal with drugs, sexuality, and family problems. Universities usually have on-site counselling services, as do some schools, though I'm not sure about colleges or any non-UK institutes.