Monday, 30 January 2012

Things to do and all the time to procrastinate

Procrastination is my one true weakness, I really do have the mind of a toddler. Today I have off from uni and I wrote out a list of things to do. 

-Call doctor
- Pestle and SWOT analysis of political events
- Find and analyse marketing articles x 
- read/skim chapters 1-4 of my managing peoples textbook
- Laundry

So far, I have written this blog article, made scrambled eggs on toast with spring onion, drank uncountable cups of tea, and generally been doing nothing of worth. I endeavour to do my best at all the things I put my mind to but I am a terror for putting things off until the last minute. I will get these things done, I will but gak I am putting them off. I always do.

Belinda Stepford

Monday, 23 January 2012

The Plan

I know I'm a little late with the new years resolution plans but I decided to really think about what I want. As an exercise for Events we where asked what we wanted in our life in one, five and ten years. I thought I should write up a brief plan and expand on it. The plan might change, the plan might but unattainable 

This year 2012, age 19- 

  • Graduate first year University with a not embarrassing score  (2.1!)
  • Get 5 followers on my blog 
  • Have a proper holiday abroad (Paris <3)
3 years 2015, age 22-
  • Get a proper job that I enjoy
  • Graduate University with at least a 2.2
5 Years 2017, age 25-
  • Move somewhere exciting and new (preferably buying or part buy)
10 years 2022, age 29-
  • Start my own company 
  • Have a house filled with music, art, people, chickens and books
Belinda Stepford

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Why I object to the term 'real woman'

Skinny bashing, the latest trend of 2012 has surfaced. Late 2011 saw an onslaught of media articles promoting 'real women' and the fuller figured ideal. That sticks insects lack sex appeal, that you need curves to be a proper feminine beauty. Just look at the headlines 'UK  MEDIA FIRST: REAL WOMEN STAR IN 'MODEL FREE' SPECIAL','This is What a Real Woman Looks Like'  Watch the video here and you'll see what I mean you know what? It really angers me. I am a size six to eight UK female, I am five foot nine and a half. I am a skinny boy figured girl with D cup boobs and boney hips to match. Why because clearly I'm starving myself to make myself fit in. WRONG. I'm skinny despite eating like a horse because I like to exercise and just happen to have the genetics of a skinny arse girl. This does not mean I am unhealthy and it most certainly does not make a woman two, three, four sizes bigger than me a better woman than I am. Some of the girls in that video are slim, but they are basically being told they are less worthy than the other girls because they are closer to the medias twisted ideal than the other girls there. 

Yes the media in recent years has favoured using emaciated models (in the 80's it was athletic women, in the 50's it was fuller figures) and I'm not arguing that there shouldn't be greater representation of diversity in the media all I am asking is that people stop making those of us who are naturally slim feel belittled, to stop reinforcing the negativity. There is a constant bashing of girls like me from the occasional comment of 'eat a hamburger' to 'your collar bones look disgusting' why thank you I do eat burgers and I'm actually a healthy weight because I have muscle mass without going over board, I could work harder and get a more defined pack. Yet that isn't considered feminine at all, no ladies with muscles are disgusting butch beasts that aren't real women either because they have no curves. Its acceptable for anyone to comment on weight, if you fall either side of the average you are ripe for comment.

The picture above shows my family at Christmas, as you can see my Mim is a beautiful larger lady, my sister and I fall into the skinny side and my father is a good healthy weight for his age. We are a diverse range of weights, heights, athleticism and builds. We all eat real food not ready made salt filler microwaveable store bought nonsense. We are healthy, we are real human beings. From Slim to Large weight does not and should not be our defining feature. Being skinny should not make you any less real than a larger lady.

What I think this latest trend is actually trying to do is make obesity socially acceptable. People keep bandying about how models used to be 8% slimmer than the national average and now that figure is closer to 24%, yet hasn't the national waist line been bulging? In our society obesity is a major epidemic so surely we should be promoting a range of healthy body images as the ideal, not curvaceous ladies who are in fact obese. They may be real women, like every other woman on the planet, but they are not good role models. Stick thin celebrities aren't either, I'd like to point out announcing their latest diet craze that damages health and encourages crash diets. A sickening number of young girls diet these days, they wouldn't feel the pressure to diet as badly if they where raised with realistic body images and healthy life styles to begin with. The image above states most models have a BMI that states that they are anorexic, well anorexia is a horrific thing that shouldn't be the promoted ideal but bmi is notoriously unreliable, I myself have had a bmi that was ridiculously low during high school, not because I starved myself but because I was young and tall. Being tall throws the measurements, being naturally slim threw them just as much. The image above I believe shows to beautiful women both who could be equally healthy or unhealthy as the other. We need to stop the use of terms such as 'real women' as they are damaging to women as a whole, they masquerade as empowering for the larger lady but they really keep us locked in a mind set that there is a ideal way a woman should look, when this is simply not the case.

Belinda Stepford

Friday, 20 January 2012

Skype is The Best Invention Ever!

My mim called me today on skype to show me the puppies. I had a squee fest, they have grown so much. They aren't walking yet but they are getting ready too, their eyes are opened and they are really active now. Blossom the whiner is getting even more vocal and the others are following suit. Please ignore my girly mush face, no one can look lady like when presented with puppies.

Belinda Stepford

A Journey Into The Ethics Of Real Fur

I wear fur, I always have and over the years I've been told I'm 'cruel', 'disgusting', 'evil' and a numerous other things. I as a meat eater I always believed that wearing fur was just another part of that, being a by product of the food industry after all. Real fur is considered unpleasant by many people whom wear leather shoes and eat meat themselves. To write this blog I wanted to find out all I could about Real Fur and Faux Fur, to really get an understand about it in an unbiased way. My views are changeable, I try and live as ethical a life as I humanly can. I eat meat, I wear fur  but I have a code of ethics. I have always believed in balance, I'm an Apex predator so its my duty to eat meat to fulfil my role in the food chain, don't eat something you aren't willing to kill personally, that sort of thing. In the Europe we produce roughly 85% of the worlds fur production so my aim of this blog was to expand my knowledge on the subject and see if my fur habits change.

The first major road block I came up against when researching this entry was the fact so much of this debate is opinion, even BBC which is supposed to unbiased in an article about the fur industry describes fur wearing as vanity though this article is comparatively very balanced. This over bearing opinion without factual evidence and statistics was reflected time and time again. The websites that pop up on Google are PETA and anti cruelty websites. I want a rounded view, and I struggled to find it. for instance on their Fact page states that "Every aspect of an animals life on a fur farm is living hell. Animals are confined to small and restrictive cages for their entire lives. From birth, animals are torn away from their mothers and forced to live either a life of isolation or a claustrophobic life in a small cage cramped full of other animals. Due to the severe lack of space, animals become extremely psychologically and physically ill, often resulting in premature death.  Animals may resort to cannibalism and chewing off their own limbs, a direct result of their desperate situation. The constrictive and squalid cages become filled with excretion and are rarely cleaned or maintained. This lack of cleanliness causes many animals to contract illness and disease, causing the animals immense pain. Because there are no regulations on most fur farms, animals do not receive veterinary care so they are forced to endure continuous suffering. " Now my first pondering on this so called fact is that surely fur from an animal in the above conditions wouldn't be of a quality that could be used. When your pet gets sick their coat dulls, if its not clean it mats together... So how could it be profitable to keep animals in conditions where they damaged their furs with excrement? Fur farming in Europe is not the same as that of asia, fur from asia is cruel, I am not debating that but so little percentage fur comes from asia and the majority of anti-fur propaganda uses evidence from asia... European regulations on fur are incredibly tight, mink for instance are kept in cages that have nest boxes and allow the animals to stand on their hind legs. This is a greater level of care than intensively farmed chickens so although it can't be a defence of the industry that it is not as bad as others, its a valid point. The second major point I had with that article was the emotive language used, I felt it particularly manipulative and lacking in fact. 

Faux fur has the benefit that it doesn't kill animals in the making of it, unless its actually real fur labelled as faux fur which does happen under trade laws.  Faux fur also doesn't get moth eaten and damaged in the warmer months.  The energy that goes into producing a faux fur garment is also not as high as the energy required by a real fur garment, so the carbon foot print of real fur isn't as green as faux. Though real fur is biodegradable, faux fur is not indeed it can take anywhere from five hundred to one thousand years to break down. Faux fur isn't as good for the skin either as it does not allow it to breath properly.

Real fur insulates incredibly well against the cold, a property that faux fur has yet to master. It is a natural resource from a pest animal, that is used in the food chain. So if more people ate rabbit fur would be  a cheaper commodity as it would be considered waste. Unfortunately the preserving process of making a real fur garment is incredibly polluting, the fur is sprayed with formaldehyde to preserve it but then again so are human bodies before they are put in the ground.

From my research into this controversial industry I have learnt a lot. I have also decided that I am not going to stop wearing fur. The fur industry is not perfect, for this reason I only buy vintage furs that way I can avoid promoting an industry that is flawed. There is no way currently to tell which furs are wild caught and which are farmed. This is a mistake on behalf of the industry, I believe as people would choose to pay more for ethically sourced fur and it would be good advertising for the industry. You have to remember that culling animals is required, particularly in the UK where the majority of the natural predators have been killed off and to sustain a healthy ecosystem animals need to be managed or they over populate. If the population numbers are controlled by predators, then over populated animals destroy habitats, slowly starve to death and face increased chances of disease.  We need to provide the role of predator, or we are being unethical, we are not providing our role in the food chain.  This is most relevant with invasive species, mink in the UK are not a native species, they have no natural predators and damaging our song bird, rodent and aquatic populations. Unlike most people believe the main cause for them is not releases made in the 1970's by activist, though this exasperated the problem populations where already established from unregulated fur production from as early as the 1940's.  Mink control is necessary in the UK. The only way this is possible is culling. Now if you take this role of thought, you have to use the fur anything else is disrespectful to the creature. Wild fur is absolutely the way to go, though until the industry stops classing fur by grade and not source new fur is not as ethical as you don't know its provenience.

The most notable thing I learnt from looking into this is that I don't trust, support or believe Peta are anyway a just organisation. They are simply scamming idealistic fools for money thinking they are making a difference to animals suffering when in fact they are funding arsonists. The Peta animal shelters have a shockingly high kill rate figure and that leads me to believe that they are not an animal rights movement. Any true animal rights movement would not destroy a healthy animal, there is even rather strong rumours that they staged many of the propaganda photographs used in their advertising, which would frankly be sickening. So for that reason I urge you to research your beliefs, you might find out they aren't as trust worthy as their advertising makes them.

Belinda Stepford

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Tooth whitening week 1

So far on my journey in to tooth whitening I've discovered Carbamide Peroxide tastes bloody awful,that mouth trays are a pain to sleep in and that tooth pain is the worst pain ever. I woke up at two am this morning with the worst pain I'd ever felt in my life, screaming from my left canine, which coming from a girl who has smashed her face in, had atrial bleeding and more broken bones than I'd care to count is a lot of pain. Let me tell you vanity isn't easy. Yet tonight the trays are back on, why?, I'll tell you why because it is worth it. White teeth are beautiful so I'm going to put myself through hell for them.  I still have a discoloured patch from where the teeth formed strangely because they came through so early but its getting better. The top ones are frankly messed up, but veneers will fix that. 

The whitening process is pretty simple. I had a mould taken of my teeth at the dentist, within half an hour he had made a plastic tray, similar to a mouth guard, that slots over my teeth. Before bed, or during the day as long as i leave it on for at least an hour, I put Carbamide Peroxide gel into the trays, focusing it at the front. I have 16% and 10% gels. As long as I use the same percent on both sides of my mouth it is fine.  I then sleep in the trays and let the Peroxide work its magic. Its already noticeable. So to hell with the pain I refuse to let nature helm my insecurities any longer. I'm going to buy some Sensodyne tomorrow and get on with my life.  

Belinda Stepford

Monday, 16 January 2012

Humus adventures.

While shopping for my meal plans I made a silly mistake, and picked up borlotti beans by accident. Oh well mistake made, so I did what any proper cook would do and improvised. I decided on humus, seeing as humus is basically mushed up bean anyway.

what you need;
1 can of borlotti beans/chickpeas/butter beans/whatevers
2 large tablespoons of good olive oil
1 clove of garlic
1 small teaspoon of paprika

First open the can of beans and drain them onto a seive or coloder, then rise them throughly. The add them to a food processor, you can do this by hand but it takes an age to get the right conistency. 

Then peel the clove of garlic, remembering to remove the top and bottom where the rough bits grow. Then also add that to the food processor.

Give the mixture a blitz on the highest setting for about thirty seconds, then knock what is stuck around the edges down into the blades and add the oil. Blitz it for another thirty seconds.

Finally add the paprika and blitz until it reaches a consistency you like. If the mixture is too thick add one table spoon of oil or a water. 

Then scoop out into a bowl and either chill in the fridge or serve. 

Belinda Stepford

Thursday, 12 January 2012

News from the Pack

My mim sent me an email this morning about the puppies it made me miss them all the more. She also held them up on skype for me to see, no eyes open yet.  Beneath is the email she sent to up date you. She also had a phone call from a lady interested in a black and cream, so we might have found Blossom or Clem a home already. 

Good morning daughter darling,
 as promised daily news re the pups, just weighed the hungry little 
 monsters and can't believe how much they weigh:
 Angel was 273 yesterday and now comes in at a whopping 334g
 Blossom or should I rename her Buster? was 371 and now is a fighting 
 Clem well you can stop worry warting about her as she has gone up from 
 273 to 314g overnight!
 Ditzy is looking like the rotti in the box and is now 462g up nearly 
 Feeding Lily salmon and meat rather than dry dog food is putting good 
 stuff in that milk.
 Love Mim and the pack x

Belinda Stepford

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Shoes and Sales

Sales shopping is one of my favourite things ever. I know some people think spending anything less than they can on clothes and that out of season is out is a social faux pas but they can go boil their silly little heads. Saving money and looking fabulous is amazing. I do not like following fashion, I believe fashion to be a disease, now style that is another thing entirely. To be stylish is one of the most important lessons a lady can learn. You can be unique, outlandish, plain, radiant, scruffy, classic, simple... whatever you want but if you wear it with thought, personality and love. If you follow those rules you will never look bad, you will look like you. That is my belief anyway, you don't have to like my outfits but they are ultimately my second skin. They reveal myself and the face I choose. 

This sales season  I found some awesome little finds. I usually shy away from regular shopping as there are too many people, choices and bad lighting tend to stress me out. Slight kink of the autistic child left in me, despite my work to suppress it. So the first trip out was a bit of a bust, I spent most of the time flitting about.  I bought a dress in Debenhams, its cotton, light and totally inappropriate for winter. I'm still wearing it anyway. In the photos please excuse the state of the room, that is my sisters, my room currently doesn't have a mirror. I know all ladies should have a million mirrors but thats what you get when you live in temporary house. I bought a cardigan from Next on this trip as well, it has a real vintage look with sweet lace sleeves.

The second trip later into the sales was a lot better as it was later in the season. So again I headed back to Debenhams as I was desperate for new shoes. Being away at uni in a tiny country town meant there weren't many shoe shops and I'm so rough on shoes I needed new one. Alas I'm not a proper girl, I hate shoe shopping. I'm a Uk size 8 which is difficult enough, but I'm picky. Added to that I hate too many choices. So sales shopping where there is limited choices is best for me. Honestly I prefer charity shops, ebay and trawling for second hand goodies. You shouldn't wear second hand shoes though so I have to do regular shopping with them. I got some lovely brown riding style boots from Red Herring, real leather with a low heel. Great for winter. I'm really difficult with boots as I don't own jeans or in fact any trousers; boots tend not to go as well with dresses and skirts. Its so difficult to stop your legs looking chubby in boots and a skirt. So I had to trawl for the ones I got, I'm still not sure I like them but I had to buy shoes.

They weren't the only shoes I got, as a professed shoe shopping hater I managed to get quite a haul this trip. I got some beautiful patent leather party heels, with a low hidden wedge that makes them really comfy. They are delightfully cushioned so a really springy on the balls of my feet. They are also Red Herring.

My Mim found me some really adorable little ballet pumps, which actually look like ballet pumps, in pink satin. They where the amazing price of four pounds twenty as well which makes me love them all the more. They might not be the best buy in the rainy English winter but who cares. They will go with so many of my outfits. They are also Red Herring.

The last pair of shoes I bought where these really unusual maroonish coloured suede pumps they are John Rocha, they feel like you are bare foot but cushioned which is great. I love being bare foot, so they are perfect for me.

I didn't just buy shoes, I also bought a boat load of socks to go with said shoes. I tend to wear ballet pumps so I'm often sans socks. I also like to spend my time bare foot so winter isn't so kind on my toes, wooly socks are a must.

I also bought a skirt from Marks and Spencers'. I love Marks and Spencers', even though it is designed for older ladies I find it to be of really good quality. Even their things that I've bought second hand from charity shops has lasted me really well and ended up back  in the charity shop when I've done with it.  The skirt is a size too big for me but as its a tight wiggle type skirt it fits me all over except for the waist is a bit loose. Please excuse the photos I was on my own and don't yet have tripod; also the weird buldge isn't there when I'm not awkwardly bending forward to see the viewfinder on my camera. Damn angles. I've been looking for a business suit for a while, doing Event Management its kind of needed but I just haven't found one that suits me. I'm five foot eight with a long torso, with a bigger than average chest, scrawny little hips and stupidly long skinny but muscular arms from the years of trapeze I did before going away to uni. Unless I get something professionally tailored I doubt I'll get one. So for now I'm getting by with bits of business wear and tinkering with them.

From Marks and Spencers' I also got a swim suit, Laura and I are going to start going swimming as our new years get fit plan. I've hated not doing exercise since I've gone to uni. I chose Marks and Spencer as they do a great range in bust sizes and fit sizes which is ideal for me. They also have hidden support and tummy flattening in as they are designed with the older lady in mind. I love them and think mine is so cute. I haven't worn a one piece since I was about twelve and I'd forgotten how great they are, so flattering. 

I also popped in to Wittards and bought some tea to tide me over at Uni for a while. I got a mixed lot of world teas at the grand total of six pounds. Today has gone unbelievably well.

I almost forgot to mention I visited the dentist in the morning and had moulds taken for teeth whitening strips. I'm starting the process to perfect teeth, all right. I am so excited to finally be getting my one insecurity gone. I truly believe that someone should present themselves as best as they can, a small fault that impinges their self confidence should be dealt with before deeper insecurities set in. I smashed my face in when I was six years old and ever since then I've been in and out of dentist offices. I was promised a brace before I even had fresh teeth, yet the NHS kept pushing it back saying I could get it when I was older, then they decided my teeth where not bad enough to get braces. After years of fixating on my crooked teeth as was told they aren't that bad. So I went private, the only problem I'm not 19 so a brace is not ideal, I've just started uni and a brace would impinge me. It also wouldn't fix the problem that some of my teeth are irregularly shaped from impact damages. So veneers it is, the oddly shaped ones will be veneered and my crooked ones slightly shaped and whitened. The moulds feel very weird in, they make my teeth feel too big for my mouth. I don't care though they are worth it.

Belinda Stepford