This Is Why You Are Voting Today

Sitting in a packed Central Line tube carriage a couple of days ago, I was feeling pretty lucky. Firstly, I had a seat and, secondly, I had some reading material to pass the time on my commute. But the third reason I was feeling lucky was that the particular piece of reading material I had laid my hands on was LOOK magazine, and the piece I was reading was called ‘We Fought For The Vote – Don’t Waste Yours’.

How could I not feel lucky, living in a country, and at a time, when I have the right to vote – and can do so freely and without intimidation of violence? This realisation struck me as the article detailed the stories of women struggling to vote around the world; Of  Taliban members threatening to cut off the ink-stained fingers Afghani women voting in 2009, of the women of Zimbabwe being beaten and raped for daring to vote in 2008… even, of course, the struggles of women here in the UK fighting to get the vote just less than 100 years ago.

Feeling enormously privileged, I was suddenly reminded that not everyone shares this opinion. A young girl had been reading my mag over my shoulder and questioned her mum, sat across the carriage; “Mum, why are you not voting again?” The answer? “Because I think they’re all full of crap.”

Whilst you could be saddened, as I was, that here was a woman taking her right to vote for granted you could also argue that, well, she does have a point! That’s certainly what a report by fizzy booze brand Lambrini (Yes, really! Although it was using research carried out independently by Opinion Matters) seemed to say, as it told how 1 in 5 women surveyed still don’t know who the main party leaders are, and surmised ‘Policy, not Personality’.

The report, entitled Lambrini Lady – The Lost Political Generation, is written by Steven Fielding who says;

These women care about how the country is run, but not necessarily who runs it. They are a generation of women who hold strong opinions and are very clear about what issues matter to them, but they don’t traditionally vote because they feel ignored by politicians and the political process.

So, basically, such women are actually very politically minded BUT don’t feel that the political world is relevant to them, or values them, and that politicians are… well, full of crap! And can you blame these women? I mean, the face of politics hardly looks female-friendly at the best of times, but then women are excessively (and insincerely) courted when electioneering. And yet, that being said, there is only one way to let politicians know that women do count, and that is by exercising your voice as a woman by voting! If you can’t stand the leaders, ignore the mouthpiece and look to the policies. Which party do you want governing the country? Which best represents you? And then, after the election, keep using your voice by letting your local MP know what concerns and queries you have.

Thankfully, not all women seem to be apathetic ‘Lambrini Ladies‘. LOOK magazine (yes, them again!) carried out a snap survey on their readers last weekend to get a feel for how young women would be voting. Of the 119 readers questioned, aged 18-35, 88% of respondents said that they will definitely vote. Considering only 61% of British women voted in the 2005 election, that’s a really promising glimmer of hope.

Don’t be a ‘Lambrini Lady’ today, get out there and use your right to vote! And use it wisely – if you are still undecided as to how to use your vote, check out these sites;

votematch.org.uk

voteforpolicies.org

theyworkforyou.com

hustings.com

Image from LOOK magazine

By: Sarah Barnes, 06.05.2010 | Comments (0)
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Feminists in good Company

When I’m in dire need of a magazine fix, I currently find myself consistently drawn to Company Magazine. In a world without Borders (No Bust! No Bitch! No Nylon!), Company is one of the few mainstream mags out there that gives me food for thought rather than just pictures of shoes. So, between picking up the latest issue and actually reading it, I was interested to read Holly Combe’s take on the magazine, and its blossoming interest in feminism, over on the F Word.

Okay, so the image of a burning bra doesn’t exactly add credibility to the feminism piece (can we get over this myth, please?!) but I was still absolutely ecstatic to read an article in a women’s glossy that was putting forward the point that feminism is still relevant to women’s lives today. It was great to see Catherine Redfern (F Word founder) interviewed, as well as Jess McCabe (F Word editor) and Anna van Heeswijk (of Object) being profiled as women to watch.

Not only that, but we also got mini interviews with Spare Rib co-founder Marsha Rowe and Pamflet co-creator Anna-Marie Fitzgerald. AND  there was a distinctly sisterly initiative from Company themselves; a campaign called Pay It Forward that encouraged women to compliment their friends in order to boost body confidence.

Speaking of body confidence, this month’s issue of Company just happens to be the annual Model-Free issue (which I have written about previously) where all photo-shoots feature Company readers rather than professional models. The women all looked fantastic, and the variety of women chosen was fabulously diverse (something I’d been keeping my fingers crossed for!).

All in all, I was really happy to see such positive promotion of feminist thoughts in Company this month. Of course, Feminism is never going to be perfectly portrayed in any media… but, surely, that’s because Feminism means all things to all people. We can only express our own truth as we see it. Despite the clumsy ‘they’re not all man-haters’ lines, this issue of Company provided an easy and accessible insight into the UK Feminist movement today… and I really hope some young women will be motivated to discover more about feminism because of it.

By: Sarah Barnes, 27.04.2010 | Comments (1)
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French Elle’s ‘Spécial Rondes’

Following on from V Magazine’s foray into plus-size appreciation, April’s issue of French Elle, released today, is a ’spécial rondes’ or…erm…round special. Yes, that’s right, the plus-size championing charge has made the difficult jump from edgy style mag (who can push these kind of concepts before others, since breaking boundaries is their currency) to mainstream fashion publication. The issue features models Tara Lynn (the cover star, above, who also featured in V mag) and Johanna Dray. It’s quite a first, and a very exciting new development for the representation of women in mainstream women’s press.

A couple of comments have highlighted both sides of the coin on the issue of plus-size specials. First, from InfamousKai on the V ‘Curves Ahead’ shoot;

I just realized something: The way I find these girls incredibly sexy is probably comparable to the way people that I’ve been with have found me sexy. I really thought it was my personality and cute ass smile, but you know what? I can looks as good as these gals, and I HAVE. Thanks to V for showing the world, thanks to Jenna and Jezebel for showing ME just how hot I am.

Can’t argue with that, really! But then, secondly, here’s a comment from Emiloo on the FrenchElle April Issue;

I’m always excited to see plus size girls in magazines (I am one!) but why can’t they just be integrated into regular spreads like, I don’t know, *normal* people? BUST Magazine has been doing this for quite some time and I hardly notice now. Why do the fatties have to be separated into their own “plus size” or “shape” issues? It always seems like the editors want us to notice how inclusive they’re being by giving plus girls their own issue– but it’s not really inclusive at all. This will frustrate me to no end.

It’s a valid and important point and, I guess, one that will only sort itself out in time as plus-size becomes less extra-ordinary and more, well, ordinary. Here’s hoping it’s sooner rather than later!

More on Uplift about diversifying the modelling landscape;

All Walks Beyond The Catwalk at London Fashion Week

Speaking of Diversity in Modelling

V Magazine Gets Big

…and, also, this post I wrote on the Company blog about the subject.

By: Sarah Barnes, 26.03.2010 | Comments (0)
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Hijabi Barbie

Since my post about ASOS’s advert for their range of little-black-dress Barbies got picked up by Sociological Images and Jezebel (thanks Lisa!)  Barbie, and all that she stands for, has been preying on my mind. So, I was happily surprised to see Barbie all dolled-up (groan) in a hijab and gracing the cover of Muslim Lifestyle magazine Emel (‘M-L’… geddit?!).

This issue of Emel takes a look at what it’s like to grow up as a Muslim in a world obsessed with body image. With incidents of anorexia on the rise for Muslim girls, and Iran becoming the nose-job capital of the world, Emel asks; ‘How can we stop Muslim women turning into little more than Hijabi Barbies?’

In her introduction to the series of articles around this global search for body ‘perfection’, Sarah Joseph writes;

Taking on the hijab made sense for a whole host of other reasons. The hijab for me was the antithesis of the beauty fascism that had surrounded me since birth. The hijab represented not just a religious injunction, but a weapon in the war against an industry that demanded women reach unattainable goals of beauty and weight. The hijab was the Muslim equivalent of burning the bra and cutting off the hair.

There are more interesting articles to read; Tahereh Hadian meets the Iranian women ‘paying through the nose’ for cosmetic surgery, Aisha Mirza explores what Barbie means for The Beauty Myth, and Sarah Joseph examines the new dolls looking to take their share of the Muslim market.

All fascinating reading, but these are all just online tasters. To read the full articles you’ll need to buy the latest issue of Emel which can be done here for just £3.50 and free P&P.

By: Sarah Barnes, 21.03.2010 | Comments (0)
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Speaking of Diversity in Modelling…

Okay, so this whole “We need to re-imagine the entire modelling landscape” argument has really come to the fore-front of my mind lately. Whilst I could blame the fact that I’m reading Crystal Renn’s autobiography, Hungry, for the re-emphasising of this long held belief, I think my resurgence in interest actually came when Company Magazine announced they were going to publish another Reader Issue this year. (more…)

By: Sarah Barnes, 04.03.2010 | Comments (0)
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Venus Zine; Bright, Bold and BACK!


Venus Zine, like my other US printed crushes BUST and Bitch, was a classic American Dream feminist publication; a true rags to riches tale. Starting out as a black and white photocopied zine in 1995, Amy Schroeder’s college creation went from strength to strength over the years to become a full colour, glossy, quarterly mag. Women were clearly thirsty for a publication that profiled and celebrated women in music, art, entertainment, literature, fashion and DIY culture… and Venus Zine delivered in a bold and visionary fashion.

Venus delivered right up until Autumn last year, but then something went awry. I’m not sure what that was, but I’m guessing (like many feminist leaning magazines, hell, ALL magazines in these harsh economic times) that the ‘riches’ in Venus’ rags to riches tale were a richness in female creativity rather than piles of US dollars.

But never fear! The women over a Venus towers have announced that they are bouncing back with a new issue in April and I can’t wait! It’s great to know that such a fabulous outlet for talented female writers covering exciting emerging culture has not fallen by the wayside. There’s been a bit of a shake-up at the mags offices, which could explain Venus’ re-emergence. Here’s what they have to say about their new family;

Venus Zine’s new owner and publisher, Sarah Beardsley, is thrilled to lead the magazine into its fifteenth year (can you believe it??). Meanwhile, editor in chief Jill Russell, music editor Selena Fragassi, fashion editor Andrea Kasprzak, and art director Denise Gibson are working hard to uncover the best new music, designers, film, books, visual artists, and more – along with fresh commentary and criticism.

Whilst you’re counting down the days to April, get your Venus fix on the updated daily Venuszine.com, with their Twitter feed, and by buying up a stack of back issues.

By: Sarah Barnes, 22.02.2010 | Comments (0)
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Kinki ‘tache bleaching…

What better way to set off your Oscar De La Renta robe than with a smear of Jolen bleaching cream on your top lip?

This image, from German magazine Kinki, totally tickled me – and so I just had to smuggle the mag back from Berlin (that’s where I was this weekend, for all those wondering about the lack of posts from Fri to Sun!) and share it with you all.

The editorial is called Taking Pictures of Myself and the set-up (which is false, since the photography is credited to Filippo Del Vita) is that the model is idly messing about, dressing up and snapping away with a remote trigger. The style is faux-intimacy, with a feeling that these ‘personal’ images were never intended to be made public. Though it’s all a fiction, I still love this defiant daring of portraying, what is to many, an intensely private beauty regime.

The rest of Kinki is a complete visual feast; all sexy typography, delicious fashion and brave new art. And the smell! Oh, the smell! That thick paper sure has slurped up it’s fair share of ink. For Mag-Addicts like me, here are some choice Kinki cuts;

Read Kinki for yourself (if you can read German, of course) online here.

By: Sarah Barnes, 04.02.2010 | Comments (0)
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Lesbian Mothers are in Glamour

An array of February issues are beginning to hit the newsstands and love is most definitely in the air down in the ‘editorial well’ of many women’s publications.

To celebrate all things Valentine’s Glamour Magazine has a piece entitled ‘Secrets of Happy Couples’ where 6 partnerships give their formula for a real-life happy ever after. What is striking about this piece is that Glamour has clearly been thinking outside the heteronormative box; they chose to represent a lesbian partnership within their collection of couples. Not only that, but a lesbian partnership raising a family!

If you can’t read the text, scanned above, here’s an insight;

Cat – We wore traditional white wedding dresses. Now we have three sons. Jen carried my embryo for number three, and I’m pregnant with number four, hers!

Jennifer – But, really, we’re an ordinary couple.

Cat – It’s true. We’re so blessed to have been able to create our own destiny.

For me, this is a cause for a little ‘Yippee!’; coverage of same-sex attraction and lesbian relationships in some women’s mags usually only goes as far as questions from confused individuals on Agony Aunt pages or tips on how to do some Katy Perry style experimenting. As David Gauntlett says, in his chapter on Women’s Magazine’s and Identities, in Media, Gender and Identity (2005 ed);

It is regrettable that lesbian sexuality is not routinely included within the magazines’ celebration of sexuality – which could cause misery and psychological trauma to young women trying to come to terms with their excluded desires.

So, well done Glamour on making this small step to show readers that all forms of female romantic (mustn’t forget the romance, we are coming up to Valentines after all!) and sexual expression are valid.

An Aside

The title for this blog post is a little nod to an old tutor of mine, who worked as an artist creating billboard interventions under the name Saatchi and Someone in the early 1990’s. His first intervention was changing a United Colours of Benetton poster so that its ‘logo’ read Lesbian Mothers are Everywhere. This piece of ’subvertising’ coincided with the Conservative government’s introduction of Clause 28, an infamous legislation which outlawed the presentation of gay relationships within UK schools.

More to read;

A piece in The Independent today about Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg’s pledges for furthering gay rights.

By: Sarah Barnes, 13.01.2010 | Comments (0)
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V magazine gets big

V Magazine January’s issue is the latest fashion magazine to embrace larger sized models entitled, rather obviously, the Shape Issue, it features models all sorts of shapes and sizes. “Big, little, pint-size, plus-size —every body is beautiful. And this issue is out to prove it,” says V editor Stephen Gan. Erm, I think we may already know that Stephen. But you’re right, a few stragglers in the back may still be berating themselves for eating that extra mince pie, slice of Christmas cake, bowl of trifle or Christmas pudding.

In a somewhat refreshing take on the plus size issue, V’s Size Issue has opted to celebrate the female form in two of the shapes that mother nature bestowed on us. So, we have not only women with rolls and curves, but also women with small boobs and bones. In one editorial entitled One Size Fits All (shown below), Crystal Renn (the former category) and Jacqulyn Jablonski (the latter category) are pictured in identical outfits on adjacent pages. Not only does this simple technique highlight how unattainable certain Karl Lagerfield-esque ideas of the figure  are, but also allows the viewer to decide what counts as a healthy figure. The other editorial that has been released, called Curves Ahead, features 4 plus sized models photographed in a various stages of dress, further beautifully proving V’s point. (more…)

By: Dearbhaile Kitt, 12.01.2010 | Comments (1)
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BUST Christmas Craftacular Tomorrow

Bust craftacular LONDON

By: Sarah Barnes, 11.12.2009 | Comments (0)
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