Uplift is nominated for a Cosmo Blog Award!

What fantastic news to bring Uplift back from a mini-hiatus (I’ve been moving house!) – and a huge thank you goes out to all you lovely Uplift readers who nominated us!

Back when I attended the launch event for the Cosmopolitan Blog Awards last month I was intrigued and excited; Since this is the first ever Cosmopolitan Blog Awards, ‘Aimed at celebrating the crème de la crème of the blogging community’, every blogger at the launch was entering into un-chartered territory. But, as Pat Mcnulty (Acting Web Editor at Cosmopolitan.co.uk) explained, Cosmo are simply hoping to tip their readers off about all “those ‘can’t-get-through-the day-without-clicking’ blogs”.

So, I am absolutely chuffed that Uplift has been nominated as one of the best News/Current Affairs blogs out there! And that’s not just a purely personal pleasure; I’m especially pleased that a publication such as Uplift (that mixes feminist analysis, women’s news and pop culture) has been tipped as a vital web-destination for women who may not otherwise have discovered it.

Thanks once again to all who nominated Uplift, to all those who spread the word about the awards, to Yasmin and Dearbhaile for their fantastic blogging work on Uplift and everyone who has contributed to the site!

You can VOTE FOR UPLIFT in the News category here up until Wednesday the 18th August – That’s not far off, so get your skates on and get voting!

By: Sarah Barnes, 12.08.2010 | Comments (0)
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Cosmopolitan Blog Awards: The Launch!

It was with great excitement, and more than a couple of tummy-dwelling butterflies, that I attended the launch event for the Cosmopolitan Blog Awards this morning. Sharing my excitement in the pink-ified surroundings of  The Future Gallery were some of the best bloggers you’d ever hope to meet, all dying to find out what Cosmopolitan had up their sleeves for their first ever blog awards. As the various speakers from Cosmo explained that they had gathered us together because they felt we represented a fresh wave of voices, communicating directly and distinctly with women, I felt even more honoured to be invited to be a part of it!

The butterflies I will blame on the fact that, as a blogger who dishes up women’s news and feminist analysis of pop culture, I felt sure I’d be in the minority amongst a sea of style bloggers. This wasn’t entirely true, though, as I got chatting with people and was reminded that the great thing about blogging is that it’s so personal a medium that most blogs will encompass a bit of everything; be it fashion, feminism… or Sylvanian Families! Still, as Emily at Fashion Foie Gras noted on her blog ‘anyone that is anyone in fashion blogging was there’. Even Cosmo themselves couldn’t resist ogling the shoes of all the attendees – there really was some fantastic footwear in that room (something fellow feminist blogger Lori of Rarely Wears Lipstick also noted as we nibbled on strawberries and did a bit of ogling ourselves)!

After getting to know our fellow bloggers and munching on mini pain au chocolat, it was down to business. We were welcomed by Justine Southall, Cosmo’s Publishing Director, who gave us an insight into why the magazine is still going strong after 38 years in the UK; “It speaks to core human needs. It’s empowerment, uplifting, motivating, sexy, glamourous… These are not part of the zeitgeist, they are fundamental things that women will always want.” After a speech from Beth Wont, Managing Director of Aigua Media, we were then introduced to Pat Mcnulty, Acting Web Editor at Cosmopolitan.co.uk, who gave us a little background as to why Cosmo have decided to start awarding us bloggers.

Pat identified that as a “multitude of fresh voices” us bloggers make the internet a very exciting place but, she acknowledged, that the amount of choice can be pretty bewildering for even the most media-savvy women out there. With their new awards, the Cosmo team hope to “weedle out those ‘can’t-get-through-the day-without-clicking’ blogs” and let their readers know about them.

Right now we are only at the stage where you can nominate by voting (just the once!) for the blog you think deserves to be recognised, but later Cosmo will then choose five semi-finalist blogs for each category. The public will then vote for the winners, which will be announced late August!

Of course, I would be over the moon if Uplift were to be nominated as a vital blog stop for women’s news and thoughtful things (hint hint!) but I had such a great morning (and got such a ridiculously amazing goody bag) that right now I’m just so happy I was invited! And, of course, it was great to meet loads of bloggers (Including Angharad at Edible Glitter, Alex from Domestic Sluttery, Kate at Sticky Lips, Kristin aka The Clothes Whisperer and Simon G at The Very Simon G) who I am looking forward to reading up on. Now, who am I going to vote for… ?

Read more about the event and cast your vote here!

L-R: Justine Southall, Beth Wont and Pat Mcnulty. All images from the Cosmo event gallery… and there are more great pictures from the event over on Fashion Foie Gras!

By: Sarah Barnes, 01.07.2010 | Comments (1)
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Growing Old Glamorously

Currently, when I’m not being a feminist*, I fill up my days working at an online fashion magazine. During these fashionable days I trawl through many, many, many fashion blogs (searching for, um, ‘Now-ness’ or something like that)… but not many are quite as thought provoking as one I was pointed to today.

Found via modelling and diversity campaign All Walks Beyond The Catwalk (who had discovered it on The Telegraph), the blog in question is called Advanced Style. A compendium of ‘Straight-Up’ style street portraits by Ari Seth Cohen, the defining difference is that these images are of women and men in the over-60 age bracket.

What I love about this blog is that it presents the older generations in a way that we never usually see them in other media; distinguished, vibrant, intelligent, interesting and vital. Ari generously allots each person with their own independent post, taking his time to talk through their encounter – illuminating us with the name, age and often fascinating back story of the the subject.

That’s pretty refreshing in a blogosphere which is full of snap-and-run photographers (who wouldn’t have loved a little personal background on this controversial street style pic?), but it’s especially refreshing in a media-scape that so very rarely focusses on older people at all.

Okay, so it’s not like it’s on a par with the work that organisations like Help Age International are doing, but it’s certainly a nice little step in the right direction!

*Don’t worry sisters, I never switch off!

By: Sarah Barnes, 08.04.2010 | Comments (2)
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Talent Spotlight – Stephanie Phillips of ‘Don’t Dance Her Down Boys’

After the demise of Plan B magazine you would be forgiven for thinking that, if you wanted to read a publication that takes female musicians seriously, Borders had little to offer you nowadays. But, never fear, blogs are here! And one blog in particular has recently given me hope for the future of female focused music journalism…

Dont Dance Her Down Boys

Don’t Dance Her Down Boys is ‘a blog run by one woman on a mission to share her love of female musicians and artists with the world’. That one woman is Stephanie Phillips, and her approach to music writing is warm, witty and, importantly, lady loving!

What I especially like about the blog is Stephanie’s totally individual and heart-felt take on music (check out her song of the month entries), a quality that is reminiscent of Riot Grrrl per-zines. She takes the time to dig up old gig and obscure interview footage so that we don’t have to and she also thoughtfully creates virtual mix tapes so that her readers can be aurally tickled whilst reading her words.

It’s obvious the passion and knowledge Stephanie has for her subject, so I couldn’t wait to chat with her more about her blog…

Stephanie Philips

So Stephanie, tell us a bit more about yourself…

I’m 21 and I just graduated from Kingston University where I studied Journalism & English literature. I still live in Kingston Upon Thames. My day job is constantly changing; I work as an administrator at my university careers department for extra cash but I also work part time at myvillage.com as the Events Editor. Ultimately I want to work as a music journalist, which is one of the reasons I made my blog, Don’t Dance Her Down Boys.

What inspired you to start the blog? What are you providing that other media outlets aren’t?

Since my first post I’ve known what I wanted to do with my blog. I’ve always felt that the internet and blogging can be used to show the reader a new way of looking at music; a way that isn’t defined by advertising and sales. With that view in mind I came to the conclusion that many bloggers weren’t using the opportunity and freedom that the internet has given them. They can, say, turn their backs on the status quo, deny their given idols and make their own history, or herstory, but they don’t. This is something I’ve been really interested in and want to examine more through my blog.

You are nearly at the end of your first year of ‘Don’t Dance Her Down Boys’. How has this last year been for you?

Well it’s gone very quickly. It started out pretty rocky. I found it hard to keep posting when it was pretty obvious that no one was reading, but after a while I got into the swing of it and more and more people started to read. It’s still pretty small compared to most blogs about women in music but it’s fine for me. Every comment makes me smile so I would be happy even if I had just one reader.

I guess the biggest thing I have learnt is to persevere even when there doesn’t seem to be anything to gain. Recently I’ve been getting offers from PRs to review CDs and promote events which makes me feel like more than just another blogger.

What has been your proudest moment?

This interview is probably one of my proudest moments and I will be telling everyone about it. My second proudest moment is when I received my first comment. Someone replied to my post about the new rise of women in pop music with a detailed, thoughtful response that made me want to write a thousand more posts.

Who are your favourite bands? Who have inspired you in the past and who are you following at the moment?

This could go on forever, there are so many bands that inspire me in so many ways but I’ll just list my top five.

My favourite artist of all time has to be PJ Harvey, she just makes the world seem a little brighter when she sings. I love Sleater-Kinney’s riffs, high kicks and Corin’s astounding voice. They are the only band where I have high respect for every member. I obviously love Bikini Kill because they were the band that led me to riot grrrl and showed me there was a different way to look, hear and live music. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs were my first love. I didn’t care about boys when I was a teenager I just loved Karen’s antics. Last, but not least, I love The Pixies, I have no choice but to love them they inspired every band I loved from the 90s.

Except for one band there is a running theme with my favourite bands; I really love strong powerful women, it’s just my thing.

What are your thoughts on the apparent new upsurge in female fronted outfits at the moment (La Roux, Little Boots, Florence and The Machine…)The media is giving these women plenty of attention, what do you make of it all?

Well it’s interesting you asked this question because I wrote about this strange phenomenon on my blog. While I am proud of these girls individually for making money in a male dominated environment, for women in music as a whole it has not moved things forward at all. There is only so far you can go as a minority (black, female, gay etc.) on a major label in mainstream society. You reach a certain point where your thoughts, beliefs and originality become diluted. For me this is most obvious in the success of Florence and the Machine. She started out as a quirky indie songstress and has now developed to caricature of herself.

I compared this new movement to the Spice Girls and their watered down version of feminism. They would tell girls, myself included, about ‘Girl Power’ and then give them nothing to back it up with. It was all empty promises to sell us their well marketed junk.

My main problem with it is not the girls really but the media for over-hyping them and misconstruing them as the saviours of women in music.

How will you be celebrating the first year anniversary of ‘Don’t Dance Her Down Boys’? Have you got any exciting blog posts coming up for us?

I’m not sure how I would celebrate the first year anniversary. It would be great to have a blogger meet up of all the cool girls I’ve met since starting. In terms of posts there will be a lot more gig reviews, as I have decided I need to do more things I want to do. I love writing comment and analysis pieces, so hopefully you’ll be seeing more in depth features. There will be more pieces on new bands too! I love writing about the old girls but we’ve got to look to the future to show the world what girls can do.

What next for ‘Don’t Dance Her Down Boys’?

Well the next thing I definitely want to do is write a zine. I’m a bit strapped for cash at the moment but I’m just in love with the printed press. Hopefully in the next couple of months I can get started on it. For the blog I think I will just keep going and see how it develops. I have no exact plans for the future, just like I had no real plans when I started.

Lastly, what advice would you give to any women out there thinking of starting up their own blog?

Just do it. Even if it’s just scrambled thoughts or nonsensical stories, just do it. It is a brilliant way for women to express themselves. Outside of the blogging world I’m a very shy person but when I’m blogging nobody knows me and I can say and do what I want. It is also a great way to build up a community. I’ve met quite a few cool girls that I would have never met if it wasn’t for blogging.

Thanks for the inspiration, Stephanie!

Follow Stephanie Phillips on Twitter, and don’t forget to pay a visit (and leave a comment) at Don’t Dance Her Down Boys!

By: Sarah Barnes, 23.11.2009 | Comments (2)
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