A Book and Film Blog

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Binge by Tyler Oakley

Firstly halo ! How's it going? I'm back at uni and it's all very busy and a bit stressful and slightly chaotic but wonderful but also did I mention a bit stressful? It normally takes me quite a long time to settle in anywhere as I do not like change so I'm  quite resistant to it and maybe subconsciously, I don't want to settle in?  But a week after moving in, I'm feeling pretty chill despite everything that's going on around me so yeah, #blessed and all that. 

Today I bring you a mini review of Binge by Tyler Oakley - by far the best book cover on my shelf. Go find yourself a copy and just feel that ish up. Thank me later. 

You may know Tyler as a YouTuber but at this point in his career, he's also a presenter, social rights activist and arguably one of the most prominent LGBTQ+ voices on the internet. I'll also add, that this is one of my favourite essay collections. I spend a good chunk of my time reading personal essays - they're pretty much all I've reviewed in the past year so maybe you guessed as much. An essay collection of course has to be engaging and thought provoking but what sets a good one apart from a great one, is its ability to form a personal connection with the reader. 

Whether you know who Tyler is or you don't, his personality and voice jumps straight out of the page from the get go. It's as if he's adopted the role of your best friend and you're having all these really long deep chats and he's laying on the pearls of wisdom and insight and its all so heartfelt. But this is also your best friend let's not forget so you're also laughing for a good amount of time - life isn't always super deep. 

And what makes Binge so much more genuine, is that it isn't trying to be preachy or a self-help book. He just writes with a confidence and sense of authority essentially about experiences that have made him who he is. Everything from suicide, abusive relationships, hyper masculinity, eating disorders are covered and all, written with such care and substance. At the same time, there are essays about internships and coming out and who the Top 10 Hottest Disney Princes are (of which we'll have to just  agree to disagree, to be honest because some people were overlooked and I'm still in my feelings).  

It's also offers a necessary and important narrative about eating disorders among men, especially in the LGBTQ+ community. And it's one more voice that is normalising this conversation. 



Saturday, 23 September 2017

Finding time to Blog

... and do just about anything else I enjoy doing. 

Impact Magazine Nottingham Flat Lay

 I've been getting increasingly unhappy and frustrated at myself, for never getting stuff done or done well or done on time. 15 minutes ago, I had one of my routine meltdowns and as I write this post, I feel incredibly overwhelmed by everything I have to do by the end of next week.

When push comes to shove, everything urgent and pressing always gets completed. At this point in my life, that's normally work for uni. Yet I still feel so unhappy with myself because everything I love doing gets neglected due to; being a scatterbrain, procrastination and frankly laziness. I love blogging but never make time for it and, it's taking me SO LONG to finish any book I pick up. FRUSTRATION. There's no other word I can use to describe it.

And this isn't a new feeling either. Year after year I feel this way and nothing changes and I just find myself sinking into a pit of anxiety and low moods then I binge watch TV and binge eat and forget for a while and then I remember and this is my life and I'm doing this to myself !

Uni starts on Monday and already, everything has caught up with me. I said yes to way too many commitments and fooled myself into thinking I have all the time in the world and now here we are. Final year. I don't want to be here this time next year, in the exact same mental space I'm in now ... plus I'll probably be unemployed?! Nah. I've devised a life plan to sort my head out a bit.

Sleeping early waking up early.
Even after sleeping for 10 hours I STILL do not enjoy waking up before 8am. But that's all going to have to change. I hate myself every time I wake up early but it always feels so good about an hour later. You can actually seize the day because there is more of the day to seize?! Revelation.  And I call myself a night owl but you just can't do that when you actually have places to be in the morning. I woke up in the worst possible mood this morning (I'm actually still dead inside if you must know) and it I think sleeping late all the time, doesn't give me the right mindset to do anything well the next day.

Do all the fun things, first thing
My days of waking up and doing uni work and struggling at it while also struggling to even open my eyes at 6 in the morning are ovaa. I'm going to try writing for 40 minutes, four times a week. Might be blogging, might be just writing. But writing is one of my favourite things to do and I just think it'll put me in a good mood for the rest of the day. Plus I need something to look forward to, to be able to consistently wake up early.

Plan before going to bed.
I've recently started planning things in the order I'm going to do them in the next day, on my phone. What we may call, a list. I have a love/hate relationship with lists. I started obsessively making them when I was about 9; to the point where I planned every last detail of my day and then when I couldn't complete them because they were frankly ridiculous, I would have a little mental breakdown. And then I tried again the next day. And then the next and the next. Now I do them on my phone (so out of sight and can easily be deleted)  and only put 6 things down. Too early to say whether it's actually working but we'll see.

Eat better
When I eat badly I just feel really guilty and decide to continue eating badly and be a slob  for the rest of the day and make it up to myself. I'm now taking meal planning a lot more seriously because it feels really destructive when I don't eat properly.

Choose to read
Issa choice guys and recently I've been choosing YouTube. Now I'm reading books that would take me about 3 days, 3-4 weeks. And it's not even fun anymore. Reading 2 pages and then falling asleep or getting distracted by Twitter takes the fun out of reading and half the time I don't even know what's happening. So we're not doing that anymore. Susan 2.0 reads 40 minutes before bed and hides her phone and laptop - AMEN.

Am I having a quarter life crisis? Sure does feel like one.


Sunday, 10 September 2017

Hunger by Roxane Gay + the body positive movement

Hunger by Roxane Gay Flat Lay

Where do I even begin with this book? It is honest and raw and gritty and acutely self aware and beautiful. It is all those adjectives to the 100th degree ... and then some. Yes I'm being very extra right now, because even after a month of finishing it, I still can't really articulate/process everything I felt reading this, but I'm really going to try.

Hunger is a memoir of the author's body. At 12 years old, Roxane was gang raped by a group of boys from school. Ashamed, she kept this attack a secret for the best part of thirty years. Life went on and one hand, she prospered in many areas of her life. At the same time, she was going through depression, gaining weight and battling eating disorders.

The book is about how trauma has changed her; how its changed the relationship she has with her body. It's also about how she treats her body, how she nourishes it and how she can be so brutally cruel to it. It's the story of everything her body has gone through. As she puts it, it's also "a confession. These are the ugliest, weakest, barest parts of me. This is my truth. This is a memoir of (my) body because, more often than not stories of bodies like mine are ignored or dismissed or derided. People see bodies like mine and make their assumptions. They think the why of my body. They do not. This is not a story of triumph, but this is a story that demands to be told and deserves to be heard."

Roxane Gay's writing, especially in Hunger is so fearless and unflinching and if you've never read anything by her before, treat yo self. Now I'm going to preface this by saying, the body positivity movement is an amazing movement that has really been a source of consolation during some of my darkest days. What I don't see or read a lot of, are accounts that really delve into the darkest parts of ourselves. I guess noone wants to revel in all that negativity. I don't think Roxane Gay "revels" in her struggle. She just digs really deep and explores what feels like every painful nook and cranny of her body image issues and, what it feels like to carry and bare it all. There are a chapters that feel like she's made progress and is feeling better but then; they're followed by chapters that almost seem repetitive, that draw you back into her despair at what she describes as her "unruly" body. Her frustration and exhaustion at her own body is something that leaps of the page and I felt like I was taking on a lot of the emotions as I reading this book.

She also talks about the societal pressure no woman can really escape to be slender and small, petite and dainty, seen not heard and the body being a way of rebelling against this.

Whether I like it or not, my body is so linked to how I see myself. It is the vessel that houses well, me. And while it's pretty hard to see someone talk about their body in the way this book does, we've all been there. The things you say to your body, the way you treat it; I'm not overweight but I do relate to being really cruel to your body. I don't particularly like my body. It's not something I'm really preoccupied with but when I really think about it, I don't think I do like it. I pinch at it, pick at it, peel it, sometimes I deprive it of food and then stuff it with sugar the very next day. And that's quite hard to have to admit to myself and pretty cringe. But, it's also quite sobering.

Narratives that thoroughly acknowledge and reflect on our pain and trauma are just as important and can be just as powerful in challenging us to really see ourselves. In talking to myself the way I do, I feel like I've let myself down. I'm not really sure where I go from here but I am pledging this term (ooo "pledging"look at me) first and foremost to nourish my body properly and not punish it. I did feel as though Roxane Gay is beginning to heal by the very last chapter but it's almost as though she had to go through this process and lay it all out there first. Funnily enough, I did also walk away from this book feeling really empowered. Our bodies are pretty badass; they go through a lot but mine is still fully functioning 🙌, getting me places, keeping me safe and has essentially survived. 💗<3 p="">



Saturday, 2 September 2017

Reflections on No Filter by Grace Victory + new September blog series !

It's September already ?! Madness. On the plus side  - AUTUMN IS COMING 🍃🍂🍃🍂 I'm not allowed candles in my flat next year, I don't think so currently trying to figure out how I'll be getting round that one.

I decided to do a little series on the blog this month about body positivity, self care and all that good stuff. As it's that time of the year when I start to get ready for uni , I pay a lot more attention to my mental health, how I'm talking to myself and so on. It just so happened that last month, I bought 3 books that address body image, self care and mental + physical health. So I thought once a week this month, I'll talk about one here (ofc there are 4 weeks so I've added one 1 read in 2016 and lovedd!) and share a few thoughts. Now, as this woman was on BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour yesterday and killed the interview (guys she  mentioned bleached arseholes in porn on Radio 4 ugh love it so strong so pure), what better book to start with than No Filter by Grace Victory.

Grace has been pinned as "the internet's big sister". On her blog and YouTube channel, she talks about beauty, fashion, mental health, body image, sex, being a girl boss - everything. So how would I describe No Filter? It's essentially a memoir + advice/reference book written by the wiser big sister who's been there-done that-knows what she's talking about, that you wish you had. It's the kind of book I wish I read when I was like, 13. It's the kind of book that at 13, will let you know how the world is and give you a few pointers on how to navigate it. So I'm so glad it exists and is in the world for younger girls (school libraries better be stocking this you know) but even as someone in my 20's, I was still really touched by this book. Grace opens up SO much; everything from her childhood trauma, eating disorder and her career made for really raw and candid reading which I loved. At the end of each chapter are lessons to take away from her experiences, as well as resources if you need help in a particular area be it, domestic violence or bullying.

One thing I really didn't know much about, was Grace's career before YouTube, the blog, the documentaries - as a social worker for younger kids. Her love and passion for the emotional,physical wellbeing of these, puts her whole vibe into so much context ! This is someone who takes on her role as an influencer and title as "the internet's big sister" really seriously and genuinely cares about her audience. I'm a fan. Could you tell? Here are few other thoughts/lessons I had when reading this book:

- Don't hold on to painful memories and bury them.

- Grace says she didn't grow up with role models but I'm growing up with Grace as one and I'm so grateful.

- Kids are mean. I didn't need this book to know that I mean, I went to school too lol. But wow I'm so glad those years are overrr

- She went out with  Aaron Taylor Johnson guys !! 
Impromptu story time: I was reading this on my Kindle. So when she mentions that she was going out with this child actor and he'd had a few big staring roles, she named a film and said his name was Aaron ... I thought 😯 .... is this Aaron Taylor Johnson ?! Tweeted it because I tweet before I think. Then googled it to verify, twas true, tweeted again because in case you didn't know, here I was having done my detective work and sharing with you all. Put my phone down to continue reading, it was on the next page. Don't read with your phone folks. 

- Self harm manifests itself in multiple forms. Was very ignorant about this. 

- So do eating disorders.

- Daniel Radcliffe, what a top guy,

- Female friendships are so great and powerful and don't let anyone or the media make you think otherwise. I also love how that this book gives so many shout outs to strong women doing amazing things. 

- As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.

- The pressure to be perfect is really debilitating and I've wasted so much of my life being bothered by that it.

- Listen to your body and eat accordingly :) 

- Do NOT wallow in self pity. Okay sometimes you need like, a moment to do so, but then pick yourself up.

- Your body in't there to please anyone. Look after it and it'll look after you. It's there to help you move around and be free and happy. More about this in this video by Grace. 


Friday, 1 September 2017

Film Review: The Big Sick

All the crap weather we've had this week and will probably continue to have for the rest of the week #optimist reallyyy draws a line under the fab bank holiday weekend that was, last weekend! Mine was filled with good food, friends, fab music and top films.

I saw The Big Sick in an offensively expensive independent cinema so you now, stakes were high because I was like already a bit pissed off going in. And it didn't disappoint! It's been a hot minute since I saw a good rom-com and this film has made its way onto my all time favourite list.

The film's writer Kumail Nanjiani plays a younger version of himself, a struggling comedian and part time Uber driver living in Chicago. He was raised in a traditional Pakistani Muslim family who at this stage of his life, are trying to arrange a marriage for him. There are these really funny scenes pretty much throughout the film, where women "spontaneously" turn up for dinner at Kumail's family home,  just "passing through the neighbourhood" as his mum puts it. He does seem to separate this part of his life from his life as a comedian . During one his shows, he's heckled by Emily (played by Zoe Kazan) a woman in the audience. Long story short, they hook up, begin to date and not before long, fall in love. This all comes crashing down when Emily realises that Kumail is not prepared to a. meet her family or b. tell his family about her - scared that they'd disapprove and disown him.

A few days after they break up, Emily's rushed into hospital and put in a medically induced coma and suddenly, Kumail has to face his biggest fears all at once:  his two worlds colliding, meeting her parents and, the prospect that he can't live without her.

The Big Sick is a really sharp comedy in the way it navigates  that strange dichotomy of being raised at home in one culture and growing up in another. Issues surrounding family, love, personal identity and health are conjured, giving us a film that slips into being quite serious and intense at times, yet always underlined with a sense of warmth thanks to the top performances of its two leads: Kumail Nanjiani and Zoe Kazan. Kazan is at her best here, she's funny, vulnerable and smart, has a quiet confidence, all rolled into one. But as she's in a coma for a good chunk of the film, I'd say it's  very much Nanjiani's story. After all, he's the one who has to navigate these social and cultural barriers.

The film also gives a really measured portrayal of arranged marriages. While it's clear from the onset that its not for Kumail, we still see two really positive portrayals of successful, loving relationships in Kumail's brother and sister in law, and his parents - both of whom had been arranged. It just goes to show again why diversity in the industry is so important. Writers of colour, writing about their own experiences, telling their own stories, are the only way we as an audience, can trust that these are told faithfully !

Go watch this film, it'll make your heart burst with - it's that good ♡


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