Thursday, 27 June 2019

Catcalling isn't a compliment, it's disgusting

Catcalling isn't a compliment, it's disgusting. 
In the mirror I worried about my outfit being.... too bright, too revealing, too noticeable? A green neon jacket, over-the-knee length boots, a short skirt. Would I get hassle for the outfit? Stares and looks of disapproval? Trouble? Unwanted attention? Oh, fuck the lot of them - I'll wear what I bloody want, the reckless side of Sophie that I much prefer to derail the sensible side of Sophie shouted somewhere in my subconscious. 
But my worries soon materialised in front of my eyes - in the form of two male builders high on some scaffolding, pointing down and laughing at me. As my boyfriend stood taking a mere few photos of me on my phone, the builders started talked loudly about Instagrammers, making fun. I hoped they weren't referring to me but it was blindingly obvious they were, seeing as we were the only ones around getting photos. Trying to stay calm I went over to Graham and we paused the pictures momentarily. "Ignore them", he said. "They're probably not even talking about you", I knew he was trying to make me feel better, but unease was already spreading through my system. We attempted to get some more photos. I was happy to let their ignorance wash over me and leave things. Until. Until in clear view of the busy walkway they joked that "we won't be finishing our job today and we can tell our boss it's because we've been watching this blonde girl doing her photoshoot", further whistles and jibes were made, more pointing and laughing, directly this time. 

I felt vulnerable and violated, like I was standing there practically naked. They made me feel embarrassed, humiliated. Scared and targeted. And for what? Daring to stand there in a skirt? To exist? To be female and in front of their eyes for a mere few minutes?

Occasionally in my life there have been wonderful moments of rare courage where I've been pushed too far by people, and an explosion of anger, truth and vitriol comes pouring out like petrol. It happened with my mum's friend, who is renowned for being a bit of a nasty cow, and, two days after my Grandad died, she started getting arsey with me so I told her exactly what I bloody thought of her and her bitchy behaviour. It happened with my driving instructor when I was taking my practical test - he was being a sexist pig and thought he could get away with it, until I gave him what for. We argued in the car before he told me I'd passed my test. It also happened with an old man who once called me over just to tell me how awful I looked in my jeans. Let's just say after the shouty lecture I gave him I don't think he'll be bothering young girls in the street again about their fashion tastes.
And it happened when the catcalling did. My blood boiled, and unable to stop myself in front of the public, I decided those vile oinks needed a few reminders of how to respect females - and stop wanking each other off over a bright coloured jacket and a Topshop skirt. "DO YOU HAVE A MOTHER? DO YOU HAVE A SISTER? WOULD YOU LIKE OTHER MEN TO TREAT THEM LIKE THIS, YOU SEXIST DICKHEADS?! HOW WOULD IT MAKE THEM FEEL?" No response came from Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum. Quelle surprise. 

I think they were a bit taken aback that someone was actually challenging their behaviour. Two grown men, egging each other on, showing off, were suddenly silenced and didn't appear to understand the connection between their mothers and sisters and myself. So thick and dense that they couldn't fathom the notion of other males treating their mothers or sisters or (god forbid any self-respecting woman dates one of those parasites) girlfriends in the same way as they were treating me in the here and now. After the initial confusion had left their little-boy-lost faces, one of them piped up: "Calm down, it's only a photo". Great comeback, really sensational. Award-winning. Only a photo? Exactly. We're only getting a photo yet look at you two up there, on your scaffolding, making such a big fuss and showing the world how thimble-sized your dicks are. I turned away, but that reckless side of me couldn't let it go before yelling a few more colourful phrases their way. It felt good. I'd tried to reason with them, to make them see what they were doing but they couldn't be reasoned with. So calling them a few choice names under the sun seemed more fitting.
As we walked off I was shaking so hard I dropped my sunglasses and bag on the ground. I was in a state, my nose started running and tears stung my eyes. To my dismay a few people around were giving me disapproving looks, most of them women. Everyone around us had completely ignored the catcalling and carried on as if it were perfectly normal, acceptable behaviour which speaks worrying volumes in this supposedly modern day and age. One older woman muttered about "maybe now we'll get some peace and quiet". This to me was just as sickening as the catcalling; for it was fine for two men to be abusing me in the street, making lewd remarks and treating me like a piece of meat but here I was, the villain of the piece for wanting to defend myself? I'm usually quiet and reserved. Guarded. But sometimes there are times in life when loud is needed. I wasn't willing to walk away without fighting their harassment first. 

I wasn't willing to be objectified because of what I wore that day. I certainly wasn't willing to let them think it's OK to carry on behaving this way to every future female that happens to walk past them wearing a skirt. 
Later that night, I spoke on my Instagram stories about what had happened. Initially nervous about opening up and being so vocal about the catcalling, I was overwhelmed by all the kind messages I received in response. It made me realise how vital speaking out was, and it also gave me strength and faith as encouragement, power and hope rang through each reply. It took me a few days to realise that out of a horrible experience came unity and girl power, empathy and wisdom, promise and hope from other beautiful and spirited women I'm lucky enough to know and love. It reminded me that women are fucking powerful, and will only continue to shine harder and glow brighter. The catcalling was a nasty reminder that it still occurs unwanted and unprovoked on a daily basis, but that we aren't prepared to take it. That we won't stop until things change. Speaking out about it scares me, this post makes me nervous, but no way in hell is leaving it unwritten any kind of option after what happened. 

After the catcalling incident, I started to remember other similar situations I'd been in, made to feel vulnerable and powerless by men. At 17, back in 2007, I was walking across my street when two builders on roofs whistled and yelled after me. "Alright darling?" Laughing pathetically as I turned and told them to fuck off. "She said fuck off! She said fuck off!" They parroted. At 20, my boyfriend and I were walking in the park when a van roared past "Up your fanny, love! Up your fanny!" One man yelled, leaving me speechless and shocked. Naively I wondered whether it was my fault for wearing a shorter dress than usual, as my mum told me not to be so ridiculous and it didn't matter what I was wearing, no-one should ever think that behaviour tolerable, whilst Graham managed to see the company name on their van and reported it. A woman answered the phone and once we'd explained what had happened told us there'd be an investigation and at the very least a suspension. At 23, a gang of builders turned up unannounced to do some roofing work (my dad had forgotten to tell me) and I saw ladders and thought they were coming to break in. Caught unaware I opened the door and they found my fear hilarious, all gathered in a gang around my front door, enjoying the intimidation. When I rang the company to complain the male manager brushed it off "it was just lads being lads". And at 27, two old men making light of me in an interview, leaving me hot with humiliation and making me feel like a failure. Only last week two different men made two inappropriate remarks about an outfit I was wearing, both unnecessary and alarming.
I'm writing this post because cat-calling is still poisoning, prominent and not seen as the problem it so clearly is in near 2020. Catcalling isn't complimentary or harmless; it's frightening and vile. Catcalling isn't flirty banter or desired attention, it's unwanted harassment. Women should be able to walk down the street in any outfit they choose without having to feel scared of car horns, thugs shouting suggestively out of the window and sexual remarks yelled after them. Catcalling isn't a compliment, it's disgusting. When the world finally awakens to this fact fully, only then can things change for the better ♥︎

Saturday, 8 June 2019

Styling a candy bikini

I'm a candy girl in a candy world ♥︎ 

Welcoming this look from Candyland; wearing sweets has never been such a sugar-rush rollercoaster! The days of eating 90s candy bracelets and bikinis are dead, in the new millennium we wear them as style inspiration instead. The beaches are a blast of blue, so long as you bring your candy shades with you. In this post I'll be sharing what to expect when you visit Candyland, with a few top tips thrown in ♥︎

Bring sugar-screen 
The weather forecast for June hits tropical temperatures, so don't forget to bring your sugar-screen and sunhat! On a cloudy day expect rainbow drops with the odd flying saucer zooming overhead. Bubble jugs are provided when temperatures hit blistering heights and chocolate umbrellas are stacked near the sherbet fountains when it rains candy canes. 

Pool a pink diamond! 
Jelly rings not your thing? Pink diamonds are a hotter alternative, buried deep in the sparkling seas. You'll have to battle through bubblegum webs and pink shrimps to unearth yours, but I can confirm it's 100% worth it when you reclaim your booty. As you can see I took up the challenge and the glimmering pink diamond was worth every mermaid-escapade. 

If your bikini snaps... 
You can pay a visit to the Love Hearts, always sickly sweet, they'll fix you with a brand new candy bikini. The candiest babes ever, they'll even take a few candid shots of you in your candy bikini if you ask nicely. Candyland is full of sugarcoated souls; some good, some bad. Stay away from the sours, with their acidic attitudes, and the frosties with their glacial air. The Nerds and Dweebs are just misunderstood, and all the Astros will lecture you about scientific matters. 

Candy killings 
Don't worry, you don't get hundreds and thousands of murders at Candyland but if you see roads sealed off by Hubba Bubba tape, you'll know some serious Gum Girl sh!t has hit the fizz whizz. 

Hit the fairground!
Carousels of caramac and sugar plum funfetti, what's not to love? Candy floss carts and sugar plum pixies dispatched at various marquees. 
Music & entertainment 
WHAM plays on a constant loop around Candyland, with occasional melodies heard from The Sugababes and The Sugarhill Gang, not forgetting lots of bubblegum pop! Movies such as Candyman  and The Sweetest Thing are broadcasted now and again, with ridiculous re-runs of My Super Sweet 16 on a constant loop.  

I hope you enjoy your trip to Candyland!