Thursday, 31 December 2015

10 discoveries of 2015

Like, oh em gee, can you believe it's the last day of 2015? I can. Cause every damn blog I've read for days has asked me if I can believe it. End of year blog posts are funny, because they usually feature highlights or significant moments or memories from the year. 

My 2015 has been a bit underwhelming. Nothing bad as such happened, but nothing significant or life changing either. It's been a bit of a stuck-in-a-rut year. I could list all the amazing things I've done or what I've achieved, but that's probably be quite boring cause honestly, there's not much. 

Instead, here's 10 things I discovered in 2015...

1) Netflix. I know, I know, I'm super late to the party, but it wasn't til January of 2015 that I finally got Netflix. Many a sleepless night watching terrible documentaries followed, but also I discovered 'Unbreakbale Kimmy Scmidt' and rediscovered 'Suits' so all is well. Mike Ross = swoon! 

2) The Real Techniques foundation brush. Can we just discuss this for a moment? I featured it back in my September Favourites and it has completely changed how I feel about my skin and covering my acne scarring and hyper pigmentation. 

3) Backpacks. There's a running joke in my work about how much my boss loves a backpack and this year, she finally talked me into getting one. A real grown-up one too, quilted leather and Chanel-inspired chain straps. A step up from my band patch covered Eastpaks bags of my teens and having both hands free is my favourite thing ever!

4) Baths. I mean, obviously prior to 2015, I'd had had baths, but I was never really much of a bath person. His year though, especially in autumn and winter, I've really enjoyed having long relaxing baths. Special mention to Lush's Lord of Misrule shower cream, which is by far my favourite bath time treat.

5) The West End. This summer, I finally ticked a massive thing off my bucket list and saw my first show on the West End, none other than the amazing Les Miserables (full post here) I've always loved stage shows, musicals, theatre etc. but the West End was a whole other world. If I'm in London again in 2016, I'd love to go to another show. Or five.

6) Liverpool. I didn't manage to travel much in 2015, 2 trips to London which I've been to before (one of which was for work), a weekend in Manchester where I've been a million times and a few days in Liverpool for my birthday back I'm February. I love discovering new cities and although Liverpool wasn't at all how I pictured, it's such an interesting city with so much to see and do. 

7) Blog photo backgrounds. This year, I really worked hard to improve the quality of my photos and although there's still a few not-so-great ones from throughout 2015, I'm mostly really proud of them. Special thanks to my DIY marble effect board and my white living room floorboards.

8) Lush. Similar to the discovery of baths, I was obviously aware of the existence of Lush before this year, but I've only recently started branching out from baht bombs and Snow Fairy shower gel into skincare, haircare and makeup. I wrote in my post about my trip to London in July that I found Oxford Street, Lush to be a bit of a let down, but now, I wish I'd made more of it!

9) Pita chips. This doesn't really require much explanation. If you've not tried them, I strongly suggest you do. Like, now. Marks & Spencer, £1.49 for a giant bag. Thank me later.

10) 'Reasons To Stay Alive' by Mark Haig. This book has been all over the Internet in 2015 and for good reason. I bought it back in July when I was going through a bad patch and although its quite harrowing to read at times and I never read huge chunks at any one time, it's such a powerful and honest book.  I strongly recommend everyone reads it whether you or a loved one struggles with mental health issues or not. One of the loveliest bloggers ever Kayleigh did a whole post on it here if you want to read more. 

What have been your best discoveries of 2015?

Monday, 21 December 2015

Blogging at Christmas, Money & Mental Health

Christmas. They say it's the most wonderful time of the year. Maybe if you're the head of a retailer, rolling in money as the common folk scramble to prove their love for the families and friends via material possessions. Christmas in blogging means excessive materialism too. I mean, even more than the rest of the year. Those expensive makeup sets for gift guides, that limited edition eyeshadow palette, the latest sparkly party shoes for an OOTD, another bottle of Lush's Snow Fairy, those Instagram-perfect red Starbucks cup, a new Christmas tree theme every year made up of John Lewis baubles that cost £6 each, it all adds up.

Don't get me wrong, I love Christmas as much as the next person, but the pressure to spend money at Christmas, especially if you're a blogger, is all too real. On one hand, I'm university educated, have a full time job, have no debt and no dependants and I don't drive or smoke. I should be able to afford the Christmas I want. On the other hand though, I struggle to be able to afford everything I need to do Christmas how I'd like. Almost all of my gifts have been bought using some kind of discount or promotion, I hand delivery cards to save on the cost of stamps, I recycle gift bags, my wrapping paper is from Poundland and although I donate to Glasgow Womens' Aid every Christmas, it's not as much as I wish I could give. I'm by no means poor or financially hard done, but Christmas is a time for spending money and I, like many people, struggle. 

Blogging as a whole, especially beauty and fashion blogging, are full of falsehoods in regards to money. Whether that's someone saying in an OOTD post that a dress is from Topshop when it's actually from Tesco or pretending that a PR company sent you that Urban Decay palette when you actually just bought it yourself. It's kind of universally known but never discussed. 

In December though, it really goes into overdrive. I've never claimed to be super careful with my money, but I can honestly say I've never purchased something solely for my blog or made out as though I thought something was reasonably priced when it was actually expensive - ie. 'This skin serum is super affordable, it's only £55 a bottle!' I do love Christmas in blogging, it makes me happy to see people that I care about enjoying the festive season but sadly there are certain elements that I know for a fact are exaggerated to create the allure of the prefect Christmas. 

Working in retail, I see Christmas for what it really is, while I know people in other professions don't always. For instance, Black Friday. If you don't work in retail, you probably think of it as a shallow excuse to shop, for exploitative retailers to take advantages of shoppers and for people to make purchases they'd never intended to make just because it's a bargain. 

I love a good moan about work as much as everyone does, whether they work retail or not, but I will never, ever complain about my shop (or any other shop) being busy. Ever. I love being busy, I love people buying and enjoying shopping. What I don't like is rude, aggressive or impatient shoppers. I'm not going to pretend I like Black Friday because I don't, but I love the buzz of people getting a bargain and I do appreciate that in such a consumer obsessed world, it provides financially strapped people with an opportunity to give more at Christmas than they would otherwise be able to afford. Making fun of people who shop on Black Friday is a form is classism and I've seen a lot of bloggers doing just that.

Another thing I've noticed, what I like to think of a organisation shaming. Or rather lack of organisation shaming. If you've finished your Christmas shopping in mid November, good for you. If you're Christmas tree is up in the first week of December, that's fanatic. If everything is wrapped and under that tree three weeks before Santa comes, amazing. However, can we stop making a huge deal out of people who haven't? I can't afford to start my Christmas shopping in August and I simply don't have time to spend weeks watching Christmas films while sipping on hot chocolate. My Christmas is more of a stressed few weeks of running around like a headless chicken, and that's just as valid as your super organised festive season that starts as soon as Hallowe'en ends.

A final important thing worth mentioning I feel, which I'm very happy is mostly openly discussed in blogging, is mental health. I follow loads of bloggers who suffer from mental health issues but sadly I've only seen a few who are open and honest about how much harder the festive period can be. If you struggle with depression, anxiety or any other mental health condition, chances are, it's worst at this time of year. Everything is heightened, everyone is stressed and rushed, it's busy and loud and overwhelming, it's full of emotion and alcohol and spending time with people you don't often see. It can be lonely, it can be scary, it can be a lot to handle. 

But I don't see that in blogging. I see bloggers being super happy. I see people giggling and laughing with their friends and family. I see cheesy board games and snuggled up on the sofa in tacky festive jumpers watching Love Actually. And to an extent, I get it. We all show the best and most interesting elements of our lives on our blogs, but at a time of year that I know I'm the not the only one who really struggles, it's alienating. 

Last year I took on the ambitious challenge of Blogmas (and admittedly, kind of failed) and looking back, I was that blogger, my posts were cheesy and a very polished version of my Christmas reality. This year, I've posted twice in as many months, but that's a more accurate reflection of how this time really is to me - stressful, anxious, worrying, non-stop. Ultimately though, it will all comes together in the end, it always does and we'll get through this festive season like we do every year. And hey, I have a whole 42 hours of festive fun between finishing work on Christmas Eve and starting work on Boxing Day which is the most I've had in 8 years...!

If you're struggling at this time of year, or any time of year for that matter, here's some useful resources to keep handy should you need them...

0800 1111

116 123

0800 838587

0300 123 3393

0800 917 7650

0800 585858

0808 802 9999

0300 123 2523

08000 502020

0333 323 3880

The website Support Line also provides a huge directory of other helplines and websites for a whole range of issues and conditions

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Blogging Events : Confidence & Anxiety

I've had my blog for a little over 4 years now, and have actually thought of myself as 'a blogger' for over half of that yet it still it comes as a surprise to me when anybody besides myself takes any interest in my little slice of Internet magic. Whether that's people reading my posts or following me on social media. brands wanting to work with me or companies inviting me to their events, it's truly amazing. I'm still surprised because those things signify that my blog is actually a real thing and that it means something, even something tiny, to people other than me. I'm truly grateful for every opportunity that my blog has allowed me so it always comes as a shock to me when I decide not to out of going to events like I did recently.

I remember the first blogging event that I ever went to. It was a Lush event for the launch of Mira Manga's book 'Cosmetics To Go' and I was absolutely petrified. I didn't know what to expect, what to bring, what to wear. I was awkward, scared to talk to anyone new through fear of feeling inferior and hung around the few bloggers that I did vaguely know like flies around...yeah. It was a great night and like most things that make me feel anxious, I look back on it with good memories and I don't regret going at all, it was a great night and probably kick started me being 'a blogger' rather than someone who just so happens to write a blog. 

Since then, I have been to a ton of events for loads of amazing brands and companies and while I always have a good time, often the daunting prospect of entering a room of people alone puts me off. If I was immune to that feeling, I'd have definitely been to a lot more blogger events. I work with the general public, luxury fashion retail to be exact so while I'm great at making small talk with total strangers, I could go for hours, when it comes to people I sort of know (ie. follow on Twitter but have never actually met in real life) I freeze.

You see, while I don't suffer with 'anxiety' as such, as in the medical condition, 'anxiety' as a feeling rather than a diagnosis is certainly prominent in almost every aspect of my day to day life, particularly my life as a blogger. I'm a worrier, tiny things play on my mind for days or sometimes weeks and really eat away at me and I'm great at talking myself out of things if I feel uncomfortable or nervous about them. Better safe that sorry, right? Or usually in my case, better safe at home than sorry out in the big bad world. 

Recently, I was invited to an amazing blogger event which I was flattering about and had every intention of attending right up until the day before it. Then, after finishing work, I was hit with a bout of anxiousness and dread. I couldn't quite put my finger on why (which isn't uncommon for me when it comes to anxiety) but I just feel nervous and drained. 

Normally I'd have loved to go, but I was searching for any excuse in the book why I was unworthy. I was supposed to be working 11am-7pm on the day of the event and it started at 7pm. 'Nope, I simply couldn't go if I were going to be late,' I thought. Did I mention the location of the event is literally less than 5 minutes walk from my work? Then I had to go into work a hour early. So naturally that hour had made me so completely exhausted that the thought of doing anything after work was too much to bare. And of course my hair wasn't looking it's best. And didn't have my camera with me. The tiny little things all began to mount up and like clock work I'd talked myself out of it. I walked past the location that the event was being held in on the way home and gazed in the window from afar like a kid in a candy store. Any normal person would think 'Um...well, just go in then?' but I couldn't bring myself to. I still now don't know why and that's a really frustrating feeling. 

I love my blog and as I said, am still incredibly grateful for all the opportunities which I get as a result of it, so it really tears me up when I feel like I just can't bring myself to take up these opportunities and worst of all, I don't even know why. As a beauty blogger, do I feel I should I be more attractive? Or as a writer, do I feel I should I be able to walk into any social gathering and come across as intelligent and well versed as I effortlessly engage in idle chit-chat with glamorous strangers? Is it maybe that because my friends and family don't know about my blog, I perhaps feel conscious about actually vocalising it, even amongst other bloggers? It could be a combination of those factors, or it could be none of them, I really don't know. 

For the duration of my time as a blogger, anxiety has dictated what I post. In the past year or so, I've been more open on Twitter about certain aspects of my life, health etc. but still worry constantly about judgement from people in my life or from blogging friends. 

This wasn't intended to provoke sympathy (I'm not sure it would anyway, as it's basically just been me complaining about the amazing opportunities which I get and coming across as super ungrateful) but I find it funny (albeit ironic) how something like blogging that gives me so much in some ways is so affected by anxiety in others...

Monday, 12 October 2015

A day in Edinburgh - Roy Lichtenstein & David Bailey exhibitions

Hi all! 
One of my favourite ways to spend a chilled out day off, is to visit exhibitions and galleries. I've always been a very visual person a with a huge passion for art and photography so last Sunday, my mum and I decided to take a day trip to Edinburgh to see the Roy Lichtenstein and David Bailey exhibitions. 

For anyone who doesn't know, Roy Lichtenstein is hugely influential figure in the pop art movement, while David Bailey is a amazing photographer, mostly celebrity shoots from the 70's and 80's but also fashion images and portraits. I'm a big fan of both their works so we exciting to see both in one day.

The Roy Lichtenstein exhibition was in the beautiful Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, just outside of Edinburgh's city centre. Beautiful buildings and grounds house a small but inclusive collection of Lichtenstein's work, including one of this most famous pieces, 'In The Car', which the gallery purchased in 1980. 

The exhibition is completely fee of charge and is on until 10th January 2016. More info on it here.

After visit it the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, we headed to Wannaburger for spot of lunch. I've heard great things about their food from friends who live in Edinburgh, comparing it to Five Guys. In reality, I'd say it's better! I had the cheese and bacon burger with Cajun fries while my mum has a spicy grilled chicken burger. Oh, and they serve Minute Maid lemonade too, my absolute favourite! Such a delicious lunch before heading out for a little shopping and off to see David Bailey.

David Bailey's exhibition, Bailey's Stardust, is on in the Scottish National Gallery, a spectacular building right in the middle of Edinburgh's busiest streets, Princes Street. 

Having worked a photographer since he was a teenager and now in his late seventies, David Bailey sure has shot a huge range of well known people from music (The Beatles, Noel Gallagher, Damon Albarn and The Rolling Stones) to film (Michael Caine, Susan Sarandon, Jack Nicholson and Meryl Streep) to fashion (Kate Moss, Twiggy, Alexander McQueen and Zandra Rhodes) and everyone else in between, The Kray twins, Desmond Tutu, Margaret Thatcher and The Queen and it's all here. Plus, family portraits, photos from his travels to Asia and Africa and photos from the streets, pubs and clubs of London in the 60's. Overall, an amazing exhibition, with such a variety to see. 

Bailey's Stardust is on in the Scottish National Gallery on Princes Street in Edinburgh til 18th October 2015 and costs £11 (£9 for students) but it's worth every penny. More info on it here

Visiting exhibitions, museums and galleries is such a lovely way to spend a day off, soaking up a little culture and in my experience, you never leave disappointed. If you're near Edinburgh and fancy something fun and cheap to do, I highly recommend both of these shows - and Wannaburger!

Monday, 14 September 2015

H&M Beauty Haul

H&M is undoubtedly one of my favourite shops. Affordable, stylish, great selection of basics and statement pieces and fabulous accessories to compliment any look so a few months ago when I heard that they were releasing the makeup line, I was instantly excited. Technically they already did some makeup, but it was a small, low key offering which was never really what I went in for.

Last Thursday, the H&M just along the road from my work launched their new beauty department and I have to say, the collection is far more amazing than I ever dreamed. Not only is the product selection fantastic (basics like lipstick, nail polish and eyeshadow to more unusual finds like lip scrubs, a colourless lip liner to suit any shade and individual pods of face masks for travelling) but the huge variety of shades is astounding too. Here's what I picked up...

Firstly, I bought 4 of their high impact eye colour eyeshadows - left to right, we have...
Way Past Midnight- A browny purple
Anthracite - A super glitter dark gunmetal grey
Mojave - A pale warm toned taupe
Sun Worship - A bronzy gold with a slight hint of khaki

All of the colours I picked are shimmers and I tried to go for quite Autumnal shades that I can get a lot of wear out of. I adore the cream and gold packaging but the product inside is what sealed the deal for me. The colours are beautiful and blend together really well and how highly pigmented they are is amazing, especially for drugstore products. The range of eyeshadows is so huge that there's so many more I want ('Cinnamon Roll' and 'Fig Figment' are next on my list) mostly more neutrals but a few amazing glitzy blues and purples too!

I also bought 2 lip products, their lip definer pencil in 'Bramble Ripple' and their Cream Lip Colour in 'Brunetter Ambition'. I've been after a berry lip liner for a while, one that I can wear with reds, purples and berries and this colour is a gorgous in between which could work with a lot of shades. The formula is cream which I really like in a lipliner so it doesn't pull or drag and once on, it doesn't budge at all. 
The lipstick is a stunning nudey-brown. Although I love nude lipsticks, I've never gone quite this brown before but I'm so glad I did, I'm obsessed with it! Like the name of the product suggestions, the formula is so creamy and applied like a dream, but it still very opaque in colour. 
As you can see, both extremely pigmented! Over all, I'm so pleasantly surprised by H&M's amazing new beauty range. Beautifully pigmented products, huge variety of shades and pretty gold and white packaging. There's so many more pieces I want to try but for now, I can't wait to play around with my new bits and create some Autumnal looks!

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

My 4th Birthday

Good morning all and a very happy Wednesday to you all!
Today is my birthday! I am 4! I should clarify that I mean my blog birthday, not my actual birthday. Sadly, my actual age exceeds my blog age by two decades! Yep, it was exactly four years ago today that, after much deliberation and doubt, I finally put pen to paper (metaphorically of course) and started my own blog. 

I was in 3rd year of university and I was desperately longing for a way to express my love of fashion without it being graded or having a word count or a deadline date. I want free reign over my love of writing without judgment or approval. While blogging isn't what I expected in most ways (not necessarily I'm a bad way) I think than 4 years later, I have managed to create someone close to what I'd envisioned and I am very proud of my little corner of the web and all I've achieved. 

When I first started blogging, I had no idea. I had no structure to what I was posting, I didn't really care too much about photo quality or blog design and I was certainly blissfully unaware of the entire blogging community. There were a few people I knew ran reasonably small local blogs, but other than that, my extent of bloggers all had hundreds of thousands of followers and I didn't know that it was something 'normal' people (for lack of a better word) did alongside their everyday jobs, hobbies, families, friends and personal lives. Considering how unaware of all this I was, I guess it was ridiculously brave to try my luck at something that, as far as I knew, only consisted of Zoella et al. Why did I think stood a chance?

The first fashion blog I ever followed (and I did so religiously) was a girl called Jessica, from the blog The Vintage Virgin. While she doesn't blog any more, at least not under that name, her posts are still up and her style continues to amaze me. She was who I longed to be. She always looked flawless and always had the most original pieces from thrift stores, vintage boutiques and independent fashion brands. Again, I was aiming extremely high but I had this idea in my head that I was some cool fashion student who people who care what I wore. I wasn't. I was a skint fashion student when occasionally picked up the odd scarf in a charity shop but who mostly shopped in Primark & H&M. I was, and still am, no different from any other 'normal' fashion blogger out there.

My blog started out as a place to share my outfits. Looking back, what I wore, how I photographed outfits and how awful the posts where, I'm surprised anyone gave a damn about my terrible excuse for a blog. It wasn't until I discovered the wonderful world of social media, mostly Twitter, that my blog started to get any followers or recognition. I remember how happy I was when I got my first comment. It still amazes me to this day that with so many, quite literally hundreds of thousands of bloggers out there, that people care what I have to say, enough to comment on it and share it. That's such a fantastic thing that I ever imagined blogging would give me.

Fashion and beauty were the main topics I wanted to write about. I've always love makeup and experimenting with new products but with so many beauty bloggers being professional makeup artists, I was initially put off sharing my love of cosmetics on my blog through fear that people would think I was conceited or shallow. Two of my friends from uni, the ever lovely Sami & Lisa from Beauty Aesthetic were nominated for a blog award and were planning a trip to London for the weekend to attend the cereomy shortly after I started my own blog. They were my first tangible example of 'real' bloggers who wrote a blog alongside their own normal lives. I remember one day at uni Lisa asked if she could take a photo of my nails for something for their blog and it was from there that I thought, if they're interested in my nails and they run a blog successfully enough to be nominated for awards, maybe there is a place for my amateur love of beauty on my blog.

Lifestyle blogging was something I had absolutely no idea about until at least 2 years into my blogging 'career' - again, for lack of a better word. I had a very black and white idea of what blogging was. Either it was based on materialism like makeup and fashion or it was serious stuff like current affairs, politics and social issues. Despite having huge passions for both, I somehow never imagined that the two could ever live happily in the same blog. The first 'lifestyle' bloggers I ever remember reading were two people who I now consider to be a blogging friend of mine, the fabulous Becky from Becky Bedbug and the lovely Sophia from Tattooed Tea Lady. Their blogs struck me as such amazing collection of variety - everything from beauty and fashion to travel and food to books and films. They had so much variety yet still maintained a continued theme throughout and I was amazed. Becky and Sophia's blogs are still an inspiration to me and I know a lot of other bloggers today, but finding their blogs lead me into discovering the whole world of lifestyle blogging and from there, I felt like that identity allowed me the freedom to write what I wanted without backing myself into a corner or a genre.

In the time since I began to break up the fashion and beauty with other topics, I've felt it only like I enjoy blogging more and have a ton more ideas, but that people seem to enjoy and share my blog more too. Since then, I've covered food, travel, culture, art, feminism, politics and mental health and this variety has only helped me to build my blog.

This year has been the most incredible year so far in regards to my blog. While I don't quite have my own ghostwritten book quite yet, I have had some great opportunities to work with amazing brands, meet a ton of fantastic fellow bloggers who I now consider friends and increase my scope as a freelance writer as well as blogging as a hobby. At the start of 2015, I began to take blogging more seriously if you will, I now post on set days and make more of an effort to get involved in chats as opposed to just takin part if I happen to be on Twitter. I've even hosted a chat for the first time too!

I started my blog during a really uncertain and testing period of my life and retrospectively realise just how much it helped me to come through that time stronger. Now, 4 years on, I am once again going through quite a tough time but now I cannot imagine my life or my daily routine without my blog. Having been a lover of writing all my life, blogging gives me complete control to share exactly what I want and channel my thoughts into something productive and proactive. The community that I'm now a part of is so unconditionally supportive and amazingly accepting and without a shadow of a doubt, Filthy Paws & Silky Drawers would've quickly burned out very early on without the community.

Armed with support, confidence in the huge skillset that I'm proud to have taught myself via blogging and an overflowing brain full of ideas, I can't wait to see what the next 4 years has in stock...

Friday, 21 August 2015

The Edinburgh Fringe 2015

Hi all! On Sunday, and then again yesterday, I undertook a Summer ritual which has been a part of every August since I was a child, the Edinburgh Fringe. The Edinburgh Fringe, sometimes called the Edinburgh Festival is the worlds biggest arts festival, bringing hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world to Edinburgh every August for 3 and a half weeks of comedy, music, performance, art, song, dance, food and entertainment. 

With quite literally thousands of things to see and do, and a lot of them either free, or much cheaper than usual, it's always a good way see performance in intimate settings or previewing new material. This year, my choices seemed to specialise in female comedians - I saw Katherine Ryan, Laura Lexx and Mae Martin all doing stand-up. I'm sure you all know who Katherine Ryan is, but if you don't know Laura or Mae, you absolutely need to check them out. Before you go any further with this blog post, click their names for a little cross section of their comedy. Thank you, now we can continue!

While I adore comedy, I hadn't actually seen any live stand-up until about 5 years ago. I believe that stand-up comedy is a highly underrated art form though, can you imagine how difficult it must be to stand up front of a group of people with only you to make them laugh and nobody to bounce off of? I find it incredible to watch, even more so in person.

As well as seeing these amazing shows discussing important topical social issues like the much-disputed gender spectrum, #BlackLivesMatter and the internal battle of wanting to be a 'good feminist' and the desire to be a housewife, the buzz of Edinburgh during the Fringe is like nothing else. Every street you go down has something happening, the streets are full of performers, art & craft markets, street food and just generally, Summery positive vibes. 

As so much to do and see is completely free, I do recommend planning your time well and getting to venues/shows early and please oh please, if you enjoyed a free show, give a little to the performers. Do you know just how many performers actually loose money by coming to the festival? The money for travel and accommodation doesn't come from people taking advantage of free shows, and as Mae Martin said, people are paying upwards of £10 to see Ted 2 at the cinema right now. Think about it like that! 

I'm lucky to live only a little over an hour away from Edinburgh on the bus and can get there and back for under a tenner (if you're thinking of going, MegaBus all the way!) but even if you don't, I can't recommend both Edinburgh as a city, but especially the Edinburgh Fringe highly enough. Rich in Scottish culture (not that I'm biased or anything!), arts and beautiful scenery and buildings, what's stopping you?

Monday, 17 August 2015

5 Topics We Need To Educate Young People On

Last Thursday evening, a programme aired on Channel 4 called 'Sex In Class'. It featured world renowned Dutch sexologist, Goedele Liekins coming to Britain and educating a group of teenagers about the realities of sex, not the glamourised porn version of it that young people are lead to believe is how it always is. Newsflash, it isn't. 

The programme wasn't perfect (very heteronormative and didn't once mention pregnancy, contraception, STI's or asexuality)  but it did highlight just how flawed the UK's sexual education system is and how ill informed our youths as a whole are. You can watch the programme here, or read the lovely Olivia Jade's post on it here if you missed it. Sadly though, it's not just inclusive, thorough and realistic sexual health education that our education system lacks, there's huge important areas of adult (and teenage) life that school just does not prepare us for. Here's just 5 topics that we need to be teaching young people in the classroom...

Mental Health
In addition to sexual health, the school curriculum needs to make room for mental health education too. When I was at school, I know people who suffered from depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder and my school didn't once, in six years of education, mention any of those illnesses, what they involve, what to do if you think you might be suffering from them or how to help a someone else who suffers with them. Both mental health issues amongst young people and the stigmatisation of mental health are at an all time high and getting people talking about these topics as openly and honestly as possible needs to be top priority. 

First Aid
The extend of first aid that I ever learned at school was extremely basic CPR (without dummies, just 'CPR theory' if you will!) and that was in primary school. It was very minimal and I can remember none of it. Knowing that to do in a medical emergency is so important and schools need to be teaching young people about administering CPR, how to give the Heimlich manoeuvre, how to put someone into the recovery position, what to do if someone goes into labour or how to help someone having a fit, seizure, stroke or heart attack are crucial. I cannot see how this isn't a completely compulsory part of education? 

Inclusive History/Social Studies
How often were your history or social studies lessons about white men? How often is the national news about white men? That is not a coincidence. While it'd be impossible to teach children about every historical event that's ever taken place, a more varied and inclusive cross section wouldn't go a miss. When our history lessons feature nobody female or gay or of any racism background apart from white, there's a problem. 

Most teenagers believe that money and a job just kind of come to you and that whatever happens, you'll probably be okay financially. For some people, this is true, but from the security of being at school and often being paid to be there to adult life of potential unemployment, benefits, taxes, mortgages, bills and insurance, our education system does not prepare teens for the financial pressures and responsibilities of real life. I really believe that teaching young people the basics of the above as well as how banking works, how to budget, what to do if you're a victim of fraud and just what exactly a hedge fund is (plot twist : no hedges were harmed in the making of this blog post!) would not only benefit their own lives, but their careers and the economy as a whole.

All my school ever covered in regards to politics was how voting systems work and the very basic ideas of what the main political parties concern themselves with. Given that it has been 8 years since I left school and in that time, there have been massive political changes in Scotland, perhaps political education has improved since then too, but in order to full utilise our democratic system and ensure everyone gets the most out of it, unbiased education about the rights and responsibilities of living in a democracy, how to join a political party, how to lobby, petition or how to even go about contacting your local MP is absolutely crucial.

Do you agree? Or if not, what topics do you think we need to be educating our young people on? I'd love to know!