Body Image | Internet | Manchester | Mental Health

A Body Project: Cynthia Rodriguez On Her Chin(s)

By on 13 June, 2017

A few months ago, I went to Manchester for a photoshoot for the online magazine Bustle. It was for the series A Body Project, led by the talented journalist Marie Southard Ospina and portrayed – on its Manchester leg – by Paddy McClave. The series highlights people of all genders, races and sizes, and particularly focuses on what each of these people might consider “their trouble areas”, that particular body part they can’t seem to make peace with no matter how far they are into their self-love journeys. My monstrous body part, of all the possibilities, was my chin. My chins.

The photoshoot itself was fun, albeit a bit soul bearing at times – chin bearing? Sitting inside an egg talking about Rebelde, scratching my head doing that comedy pose all the Russells love to do in their tour posters, cuddling Marie and Paddy’s beautiful baby Luna. Trying not to hide, trying not to use flattering angles for the first time in perhaps decades. Later, the bigger challenge came when answering Marie’s questions by email. That was a lot bigger and harder to hide than the chins themselves.

Either way, here is the article for you to read. I warn you, some bits are quite heavy as I talk a lot about extreme bullying in primary school, CSA and internal and external fatphobia and self-loathing. But it’s got a bit of a happy ending, I hope. At least I hope it does to you too, and you get to make things, take up space and be awesome.

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Film | Films | Internet | Media | Mental Health | Poems | Poetry | Spoken Word | World

The Tube of You

By on 22 July, 2016
All these tubes are yours. Image: MorgueFile.
All these tubes are yours. Image: MorgueFile.

Dunno if I’ve mentioned it already, but when my therapist found out I was trying to do “poetry stuff”, she told me to film myself and upload the videos on YouTube. It sounded terrifying. I mean, I’m going to therapy and stuff. Why would I want to be so “exposed” to mockery and disdain? That’s why I uploaded most of my film work and footage to Vimeo instead. No chance of sick comments, very niche, from filmmakers to filmmakers. Plus, none of that soul-selling copyright nonsense. I didn’t know YouTube let you register your films under Creative Commons!

Image: MorgueFile
Image: MorgueFile.

Then, Pangaea World Poetry Slam came. Submit your videos, people can vote, you may win money, and will definitely get to be known internationally. However, you have to upload them on YouTube. Nowhere else. Get naked. Also, there are some cool free workshops on Hangouts that will help you to improve your game.

Thank you, Pangaea, for making the impossible, possible.
Thank you, Pangaea, for making the impossible, possible.

So I followed my therapist’s advice and here goes nothing! The official Cynthia Rodríguez YouTube channel. I’ve been uploading pieces for Pangaea once a week for the past three weeks, and will upload one very likely next week. From live footage to just talking to the camera from interesting places to full-blow film montage, I’m just looking for different ways to share stories and messages as they might benefit, amuse or *inspire* others. It’s already helping me improve and become less camera shy, and people have already started doing their own spoken word/films and looking for open mics to share. Sharing is caring!

Last week’s delivery was “How to Leave the House in Times of Trouble”. I want as many people as possible to see that one because the world needs you, obvs. Before that, it was footage of “Pepper Spray” from the open mic at Coventry Pride.

This week, the weather was so nice I sat on the grass at Victoria Park and relaxed a bit. I was so chilled out that I ended up filming and uploading my entry for Pangaea right there and then. An old-ish poem, from three months ago or so. It’s called “Frivolous”, and I wrote it after the Open Stage at The Y where I read a lot of my hardcore pinko shit and then came the adorable Anna My Charlotte with an ukulele (she plays harp too! <3) and said she would see a bit frivolous after all my stuff, and then proceded to sing and play the most charming and nostalgic stuff ever. The perfect songs to play in the park on a peaceful sunny day.

So yeah, follow, like, share, whatever, and if you have videos and words, share them to the world!

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Culture | Films | Gender | Internet | Mental Health | Poems | Portfolio | Race | Sexuality

VIDEO: How to Leave the House in Times of Trouble

By on 15 July, 2016

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The world sucks sometimes. You’ve read on “Craig David” about a lot of the boogers that happened in the world, and that was just for ONE WEEK. The following weeks kept getting worse and worse in small and great scale: police brutality, terrorist attacks everywhere, your parents damning this country to hell and validating those who hate us to be more outspoken about it, horrible people inside and outside taking sneaky pictures in the changing rooms and laughing at those who don’t exactly please Grandpa Hugh Hefner’s rotten standards, etc.

It can be awful daring to step outside with the piercing fear of being attacked one way or another, but then there’s also the fear of ourselves that, if we stayed indoors all the time, we might never be able to come out and our voice will be muffed and lost. The fear of not coming home alive, the fear of not leaving house alive. This is for you, for us.

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It’s a poem/film/guide thingie called “How to Leave the House in Times of Trouble”. For those of us trouble by agoraphobia, being members of one or many “minority” groups and seeing our worst fears come through every day. There’s still a world outside, and this world still needs you. So get ready and earn some courage however you can, if possible.

The poem was written as an exercise at a Writing Poetry Google Hangout Workshop with Dean Atta. He gave the queue of making a how-to poem on any topic of our “expertise”. Later, I turned it into a short film for the Pangaea World Poetry Slam, who organised said workshop. It was lovely to merge three of my loves — writing, filming and sharing — and use them for a good thing.

Here comes the fun part: click, like and share with as many people as possible. Particularly people who would benefit from the message. You never know the ordeals someone could go through just to live a “normal” day. If I ever make money out of the streams, shares and likes (LOLS), I’ll give it all to a mental health organisation, particularly one which helps queers, POC and/or people who may not speak English and need someone to advocate for them. It comes with subtitles/captions if you don’t understand my accent, and I’m working on a Spanish translation. Subtitles in any other language are more than welcome. <3

There are a couple of things that might be misunderstood. The “wear something that doesn’t attract negative attention” is not slut-shaming. We should be free to wear whatever we want, but some people don’t know or don’t want us to know this, so they attack. On low “spoons” days, you don’t even feel like fighting or defending yourself, so you keep your energy levels to a minimum and just try to roam by in a way that attracts as few bigots as possible.

Also, the “you’re still a woman on trainers, you’re still a man on stilettos” bit includes cis and trans people alike. A lot of trans people I know fear wearing items that are associated more with the gender they were forcibly assigned at birth. They don’t want to be “read” as “impostors”. A trans woman is still a woman on her Nike Air Force Ones. A trans man is still a man on his Louboutins. An NB is still an NB on whatever they want. Also, the fear of fragile masculinity or the fear of not being “seen as a woman” even if you’re cis because your exterior doesn’t match the “desirable standards” (women of certain colours not recognised in feminininininity, fat chicks like us seen as “one of the boys” by our crushes, et al). So yeah. I love you. If you find any fuckups in my work, let me know.

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Afghanistan | Braunschweig | Germany | Internet | Nottingham | Poetry | South Africa

Rediscover Communication II: Restless Pens and Foreign Tongues

By on 9 June, 2016

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Last Bank Holiday, the lovely peeps at Mouthy Poets organised Restless Pens & Foreign Tongues, a workshop/open mic as part of Neat Festival and held at Nonsuch Theatre. The month-long festival, based in Nottingham, aims to bring and create interactions in arts and performance within an international context, particularly in the relationship of Britain as part of Europe.

The workshop was led by Melanie Irmey, member of the German collective Loewenmaul and based in Nottingham while she worked with Mouthy Poets for a few months. From the local corner, Chris McLoughlin facilitated the workshop too, and inspired us to write, read and share.

The idea was to explore the complexities and connections of the spoken language, not only in English but — preferably, rather — in other tongues, native, learned or even unknown. Sounds, ideas, new names for old feelings, old words for new images.

Even the WiFi is international at N_Space. :P
Even the WiFi is international at N_Space. 😛

It didn’t mean you had to know another language, but that you had to be willing to know, or even guess one or another. The vast majority of the students only knew English and whatever they could remember from holidays and GCSEs. Leanne Moden, a marvelous writer and pivotal part of poetry in the East Midlands, says she only speaks “English and Bad English”; yet that was certainly not an obstacle. There were a couple of Afghan boys in the beginning, alas they were a bit intimidated and left within an hour. It’s a shame, because it would have been beautiful to listen to their words.

Exploration was key. We were encouraged to describe pictures and concepts in our own language, borrow other people’s, incorporate their words into our work, take fragments of our work and translate them into dialects we had never heard before thanks to the imperfect powers of Google Translate.

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Later, the magic of technology took our interactions to the next level. Thanks to Skype, we held an open mic for and from the members of Loewenmaul all the way to Braunschweig. Through a massive projection on the wall, the poets shared collective and individual pieces in German, English or both. Albeit my knowledge of German comes mostly from hilarious Rammstein song titles (“You Smell So Good“, anyone?) and the most metal egg-free cookies recipe ever, the sentences were strong and powerful. There was one, shoulders naked, who proclaimed something quite immense about how — paraphrasing — “your mother is dead, but she was never alive in the first place”. If any Loewenmaulers could share her name and, in fact, the names of all the lovely performers, it would be majestic.

loewenmaul_chrismcloughlin

Then, from our side, works in English and more. Moden scuba diving into Icelandic, me trolling everyone with Mexican pop culture in Spanish, and this badass South African dude named Pete — again, share name and more work, please — shared an Afrikaans account on the current situation in his country. He later read the English translation, but even the original writing was engaging enough.

That’s what I mean with rediscovering communication. In the end, the words stop needing translation. We sort of develop internal devices like the ones from Stark Trek or Mass Effect, even environmentally-controlled programmes like the one from the TARDIS, and we speak the language of the world and the world speaks our language.

A lot of the people who want to close borders, a lot of the people who want to leave the community, don’t even bother understanding their motherland tongues.

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Canada | Las Vegas | Media | Music | Poems | Poetry | Portfolio | Sports | United Kingdom | United States | World

El Gordito Goes to Vegas (FTRW Speed Poetry Challenge)

By on 28 April, 2016

It was a fun challenge to do my first stint at a Speed Poet at Find the Right Words. The instructions are easy: people shout topics at you, you go off to write a poem involving some/all of these topics, then you come back and read the results. Here is mine, on the junior doctors strike, Martin Castrogiovanni preferring to party in Las Vegas over playing against his former team, Victoria Wood and Prince leaving Earth, and the Hillsborough disaster verdict. How the feck did I manage how to connect these subjects? I have no idea.

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Culture | Events | Leicester | Podcasts | Poetry

What You Saying? Poetry Podcast

By on 19 March, 2016

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Poetman is a superhero in the making. He has only been doing spoken word for the past 18 months, but he’s already a staple of the local scene. A wonderful thing that differentiates Will Horspool from other poets — besides his use of cool pedals and musical gadgets — is that not only he wants to create and share, but he wants other people to create and share as well. “Spoken word is not dead”, was the name of his open mic in Glenfield. And to keep it alive, he knows it’s very important to constantly plant new seeds.

That’s what What You Saying? is about: a venue for people from all walks of life to share their words and incept new ideas. Rather than sticking to good ol’ reciting, What You Saying? is a poetry podcast and event aiming to inspire new ways to write and speak, perhaps connecting to other disciplines such as music and comedy.

Shed_Poetman
Poetman

For a start, it happens every month (or at least it’s meant to) in the basement at The Shed, the oldest alternative music venue in Leicester, mostly focused on rock and metal. Not your average theatre or jazz café, but what other people would call “a dive bar”. Not really a place to take your parents to (unless your parents are Lemmy Kilmister and Cherie Curie, in that case you’re fucking awesome), but certainly a place full of character and love.

The first What You Saying?  happened last Wednesday 9 March, and started around 8pm. It was meant to be split in two halves, but the response was so overwhelming that it was arranged into three halves (?). All of them with the same gravitas, and mostly recorded for the poetry podcast afterwards.

Here is the list, or most of the list, of the performers that evening:

  • Ruby Kelman, a young promise and regular at Find the Right Words. She recites in an adorably awkward manner, like she is confessing her love to you and fears you won’t reciprocate (of course you will, who wouldn’t). One of her love declarations was dedicated to Amy Winehouse, the doe deer blinded by the paparazzi flashlights, and not the fabricated product of said members of the press.

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  • Stefan Seniuk, a rock and roll poet and “The Devil’s Bard”. Clearly influenced by the Beat Generation, punk and rock icons and the teachings of Dr John Cooper Clarke, he invites people to join the chorus like they do with bands in the arena. “We’re All Whores”, he made us chant at some point, and it was actually kind of true.

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  • Tyga, again someone relatively green in public, but delivering words way beyond her years. A street image with street stories, taking us out to clean our own rubbish and mop our own vomit as members of society. Someone to definitely watch out for.

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  • Joe Doyle, mainly a musician, and compère of his own open night at Manhattan 34. One of his stories was about a fly-killing bully, a monster who uses all kinds of items to catch those (apparently) smaller than him, yet performed in a funny voice and poise to remind us that these bullies are nobodies in reality.

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  • Jodie Hannis. She likes fish tacos over sausage sandwiches, and is not afraid to say it. A recent tenant at the House of Verse, and someone we will certainly keep seeing around.

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  • Oscar Prince, who still relates the name “Fergie” to a certain Scottish duchess and not the lead singer of Black Eyed Peas.

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  • Trevor Glyne Locke, who has been writing for decades before we were a figment of our parents’ imagination. Surprisingly, this was the first time he read in public, and he took us back to a decade we didn’t live, riding his scooter all over the world.

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  • Some broad who talked about pepper spray, swimming, cutting your hair in the loo and paraphrasing R.E.M.

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  • Philip Petersen, roaring laughter and roaring voice. An impressive presence in and out of stage.

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  • Douglas Deans, reciter of truisms and complainer of the same things that annoy me in life. Quite a figure on the rise in local theatre. You can’t miss him.

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  • K12, who is only in college and yet he can demolish you with his turbo fast speech and his pulverising topics. A previous contender in Heard of Mouth, and someone who needs to come out and slam more often.

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  • Daniel Nicholas, the enfant terrible of East Midlands comedy. He was attacked by bears, yet he didn’t win an Oscar. You will see him around because of course, you will.

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  • Zeropence, also in charge of his own interdisciplinary open mic night: ANERKI, every last Thursday of the month at The Turkey Café. Excellent tempo and flow, whether a capella or in a musical collaboration.

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  • James Cull, a metal musician who hadn’t read poetry in public before and ended up sounding cuter than a lot of us. Appearances can betray those who don’t know that metal folks can actually be the nicest.

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  • Pavel Peytchev, another metal poet with a soft heart, worried about the woes of today, sensationalism, deceit and the way media manipulates the masses.

In between acts, Poetman performed both by himself and with Peter Prick, prick by name and prick by nature, rambling over funky guitars and making us question ourselves as he questions himself.

Shed_PoetPrick

If you want to hear and download (because you do, right?), just click on this as you please. Also, visit Poetman’s website and follow him on all social media to stay in touch and know everything he does.

The next What You Sayin? live Poetry Podcast is on Thursday 21 April, again, at The Shed.

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Culture | Leicester | Literature | Novel | Poetry | Radio | Short Story | Television

Leicester Writes Festival

By on 21 July, 2015

leicesterwrites-logo

A brave little writing festival happened during the last weekend of June. It was brand new and modest, but full of illusions and aiming to fill in the gaps in our local and national literature scene. And it succeeded.

Leicester Writes Festival was conceived by Farhana Shaikh from Dahlia Publishing as a way to showcase the microcosmic and diverse writing scene in our city and connect all of us as colleagues and potential friends. “Leicester” might not be a word that comes out from the general public’s mouths when talking about writing scenes and communities, but there is something big happening and it can keep developing only and if only we are aware of it and stay connected.

Damien G Walter. Picture:  twitter.
Damien G Walter. Picture: twitter.

The festival began on Thursday 25 June at Leicester University’s fairly new Centre of New Writing. It was a pecha kucha presentation about literature development in Leicester, condensing the answers that many writers in the area gave to a survey that was filled in in advance. Later that night, on that massive venue called twitter, there was a Q&A with Damien Walter, one of the first columnists to pay attention to indie writers and publishers in the digital era. Throught the hashtag #AskDamienW, he answered in a clear and honest way to several enquires about online publishing and offering alternatives to mainstream outlets like Amazon, “not the writers friend, but […] a business that presents big opportunities if you are savvy”. One of the plans he suggested was to join Patreon and build a fanbase with exclusive online content in exchange for regular income. Something worth checking out.

Jacob Ross. Picture: The Word Factory.
Jacob Ross. Picture: The Word Factory.

Friday was more “in the flesh”, back to Leicester Uni for edifying masterclasses. I was fortunate enough to attend The Art of Short Writing, a morning masterclass hosted by Jacob Ross. Delicious, juicy and visceral. We had to read works in preparation to see how something as brief as a short story could hit you harder than more extensive pieces of literature. Stories by Olive Senior, Mark Hanks, Elise Muller, Raymond Carver, John Cheever, Patrick O’Brian and Carys Davies; authors from different walks of life, bringing their realities into our worlds, sometimes harsh, sometimes witty, always like punches to the stomach. To Ross, short stories are meant to be singular, economical, with one dominant result or outcome, and an implied story arch inferring that nothing will be the same. Above all, short stories must have truth and integrity, blend the different with the usual and convince the reader that this can happen, even if it’s fiction.

Saturday and Sunday at the Phoenix were just busy, busy, busy. I will only speak about the events I attended, as they were so many of them and I have heard they were all fantastic.

Kerry Young. Picture: Leicester Writes.

Kerry Young and Rod Duncan spoke about writers on writing. Young comes from a youth worker background, and she writes not as therapy, but as a voice for those who can’t speak. Her novel Pao may have earned her a seat in the pavilion of contemporary literature, but it took her many years of discipline and crafting to become “an overnight success”.

Rod Duncan. Picture: Leicester Writes.

Duncan is still taken aback by the how fast his reputation has changed: he has gone from hopeless waster to promising new voice and respected novelist; with his Bullet Catcher’s Daughter as a finalist for the 2014 Phillip K. Dick award. However, he doesn’t write for external validation but for internal improvement. Just like characters have inner and outer journeys based on what they achieve in and out of themselves, writers have inner and outer journeys. The inner journey is what motivates us to write.

Bali Rai. Picture: Help for Writers
Bali Rai. Picture: Help for Writers.

Bali Rai was another novelist sharing his journey and results. A lot of his comments were sharp reflections on the general unspoken theme of the festival: unprivileged voices navigating a circuit full of privileged shouting. Growing up, he struggled to find books about the multicultural life he lived in Leicester, and all he found was the Adrian Mole series by Sue Townsend. After briefly living in London and spending his Odeon wages on Brixton bookshops, he came back to write about what he knew and to continue the Townsend tradition of putting Leicester on the map. Through the years, he has noticed that “the concept of diversity is [being] hijacked by the white middle class”, and that “the voices least heard in literature are the voices least heard in society”. That’s why he keeps writing about life in the city, making his voice and those of his neighbours heard, speaking about the true colours of modern-day Britain.

Divya Ghelani. Picture: Kajal Nisha Patel.
Divya Ghelani. Picture: Kajal Nisha Patel.

We moved briefly to the Curve to see Divya Ghelani read her “Imperial Typewriter”, a story created exclusively for the Hidden Stories compilation and part of a multimedia project about the past and present of the Cultural Quarter. It’s a story about rebellion, dignity and trying to rewrite history as it happens. Ghelani is an intriguing storyteller, and listening to her narration transports you right to where the events took place — not far from the theatre, actually. Also, as someone who wasn’t alive nor here when the Imperial Typewriter strike happened, it was appalling to see the way people back in those days referred to Asian Ugandans and foreigners in general. To think that the smell of curry they certainly despised would take over town and actually turn it into one of the most attractive things about this place…

Speaking of which, An Indian Summer was happening during the same week and spreading its wonders, colours and flavours. Many talks and panels for Leicester Writes Festival were brought in association with AIS, including the audience with Bali Rai, Divya Ghelani’s reading and Nikesh Shukla’s keynote on being a contemporary novelist.

Nikesh Shukla. Picture: Catherine Dunn.
Nikesh Shukla. Picture: Catherine Dunn.

I was particularly excited to see Nikesh Shukla on Sunday, as his Meatspace speaks to my soul in ways people like Nick Hornby or Douglas Coupland never will. He slaps you in the face with truth and gets your arse into action. Some of his points on how to be a writer include jewels like “aspire to nothing”. If your twitter bio says you’re an “aspiring writer”, delete the “aspiring” bit. You are a writer, because you write. Social media is not the enemy, but a tool that can be used to share your exciting news and create a following. Another thing Shukla mentioned, to destroy the stereotype of the “starving artist”, was that there was nothing wrong with having a 9-to-5 job and being a writer — he personally thinks being a barista is where it’s at. But where do you take the time? Josie Long’s Golden Game seems like a good solution: write 90 minutes a day. I should try it. We should try it.

Really needed this today. ❤ #validation #meatspace

A photo posted by Cynthia Rodríguez Barni (@cynstagrammy) on

For a first edition, Leicester Writes Festival was quite complete and exciting. It brought us together and not only established links within the writers community, but between cultural and geographical communities in general. There were people who came from places like London or Glasgow, and they had never seen anything like this before. This sense of union and equality is what sets us apart from larger cities that may call themselves “cosmopolitan” but are all about hierarchy, elitism and segregation. Here there are no secrets and no crabs-in-a-bucket mentality. No one-ups. Just mutual support. There may be few people who still behave like prima donnas, want all the credit for themselves even on team work and don’t support anyone but their niche little friends, yes. But those people do not belong here.

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Fashion | Internet | Lifestyle | Television | United Kingdom

Plus Sized Wars

By on 23 April, 2015

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Due to its artificial nature, generally involving an extensive process of planning, selection, filming and post-production, including severe editing and formatting to be technically suitable for screening, television is never going to be a 100% accurate representation of real life. That fact does not exclude so-called reality television and documentaries. Directors, producers and a crew consisting of up to hundreds of people will always set a default filter on every project in order to fit an specific agenda or storyboard. Even — and specially — if they aim to present their results as a source of information; approved by science, history and anthropology.

These days, the world of fat acceptance and plus size fashion has been a frequent subject for educational television. Under the general weather and matching the zeitgeist, the concept of people inhabiting larger bodies and taking advantages of opportunities and overall human guarantees like everybody else has rarely been portrayed under a positive light. At best they have been met with freak show curiosity, at worst they have been treated as monster-like experiments. But always as things and not humans, as riddles to be deciphered and, a general conclusion, errors to be exterminated.

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That’s why I was sceptical when Channel 4, house of finger-pointing jewels such as My Big Fat Fetish and Embarrassing Fat Bodies, released the rather hip and perky Plus Sized Wars. What is it about? It’s not about cringing while staring at Gilbert Grape mothers stuck in their couches eating themselves to oblivion. It’s not about laughing at creepy weasels who display their objectifying tendencies by grabbing large bellies instead of small waists. It’s about celebrating fashion and its wider possibilities today. Rather than judging bodies, the show judges business plans. Instead of headless fatties, we have full faces, bodies and personalities having fun at the dressing room. Multi-dimensional humans with friends, lovers and a scorching sense of style.

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The “Wars” in the title are not between women and their scales, but between different fashion companies. In the pink heart-shaped corner, we have Yours Clothing, an idea that came from a necessity like successful companies do: Andrew Killingsworth, an entrepreneur by nature, noticed that his plus size uniforms sold more frequently than his straight sized stock. He saw a gap in the market that needed to be satisfied; and he focused on larger clothes for office and leisure. Five years after his initial idea, Yours Clothing has over 70 stores all over the United Kingdom with about 30 more in the pipeline.

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In the old and dusty corner, we have Evans. For decades, considered the sole source of plus sized clothes in the entire country and still seen as the franchise boutique where old ladies go to die. With the boom of plus/fatshion/fat acceptance blogging, Evans is now trying to reach a different target audience: young femmes with a spark in their eyes and who just have started to live.

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And in the trading docks, we have Taking Shape, the latest ship to hail from Australia. With 30 years of success down under, Alla Buinowicz has now opened a few shops this side of the pond. They may have a few staples on offer, including anti-chafing shorts, but their matronly catalogue is not catching many eyes.

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Squeezed in between, MiLK Model Management prides itself of being one of the best plus size model agencies in the island. Founder and former model Anna Shillinglaw may say all she wants about breaking rules and offering a catwalk and editorial alternative, but her selection standards are still ridiculously rigid: being hourglass, tall, with perfect eyebrows and not larger than a UK size 16.

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Unless, of course, you are Tess Holliday, aka Tess Munster, today’s hottest plus size model. Hailing from Los Angeles, Tess is an imperfect UK size 24, wide limbs wrapped up in tattoos, not exactly statuesque in height, but overwhelmingly beautiful with her pursed lips, impeccable hair and Tex Avery pinup aesthetics. When she was brought to England by Yours Clothing for a lingerie campaign, she caused a sensation in both traditional and digital media. Her presence has saved the lives of bullied teenagers and adults, now glad to see that weight is not obstacle to achieve their dreams. People like to see themselves, and Shillinglaw saw the financial and popularity “potench” in signing Ms Munster.

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Plus Sized Wars still had its bias: the interviewer tried to play Devil’s Advocate several times, attempting to shoehorn concern trolling whenever she could. “Are we at a point where it’s OK to be fat?”, she would ask. “But are you normalising obesity? Do you think you’ll get a lot of questions about the obesity? Do you sort of think that’s… OK?” Fortunately, the business owners knew how to reply with professionalism and diplomacy: “I’m not a doctor”. The matter is fashion, not health. The matter is being treated with dignity as a human being regardless of your size and whether you’re ill or not — and people of all sizes get ill. What do they expect us to do? Be naked?

Thank you, Tom.
Thank you, Tom.

Plus size fashion is not a glorification of fatness, but a glorification of humanity. Full-frontal democracy, where everyone has the same rights and we have the same choices in matters of presentation and representation. Plus size fashion is an essential tool to navigate the world and achieve social, individual and collective goals. Freedom to feel excellent without bringing others down.

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Something Taking Shape and its infamous Skinny Bird Watching fail to consider. “All publicity is good publicity”, flaunts Buinowicz; but the solution to low sales in the circus tent department is not to treat other humans like animals or objects but to stop selling circus tents and start selling edgier and more appropriate garments for today’s civilisation.

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Even Evans gets the message with its latest collaborations with graduate students and fashion houses such as Scarlett and Jo, Lovedrobe, Ronen Chen and Clements Ribeiro; while paying extra attention to their audience by featuring fatshion bloggers as models. Through the power of blogging, the consumer joins the producing line by becoming the perfect model and the best publicity. Looking at someone like you instead of laughing at someone who is not like you.

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People like Callie Thorpe, Bethany Rutter, Danielle Vanier, Hannah Boal and Georgina Horne seen as figures of authority and good reference points to estimate how something would fit your shape. Even if it’s ever-changing and if bloggers like Horne take personal decisions. Remember: they are people like you, and like you, they are multidimensional, something that documentaries and pseudorealities often fail to portray.

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England | Literature | Media | Novel | Southampton | Television | United Kingdom

Nerdsville Book Club: M.J. Arlidge – Eeny Meeny

By on 31 May, 2014

This post is a review for the Nerdsville Book Club. Eeny Meeny was the first book of the month, as selected by Apple Charlotte. Read her review here, as well as reviews by Isha, Marie and Ragini.

Eeny Meeny Cover

Let’s play a drinking game, shall we? I know it’s quite early in the day, but we all can do with a shot of tequila or two in the morning. Or three? Or even more?

It’s quite easy: grab a crime novel, any crime novel, and whenever you encounter any of the following tropes, pour in your favourite alcoholic drink into a shot glass and gulp it. Are you ready? Here they are:

  • The events happen in Yorkshire, London or the West Country.
  • The main investigator is a tough person who doesn’t let anyone in…
  • … because she has a tortured past…
  • … and she also have a secret sexual “deviation”…
  • … such as S&M.
  • Her sidekick is quite reckless, but talented…
  • … a divorcé…
  • … and alcoholic…
  • … but a raw diamond nevertheless.
  • There is sexual tension between the sidekick and the main investigator…
  • … and they obviously shag.
  • There is a pretty, clean and perfect cop…
  • … who goes through a horrible incident in the story and is quite never the same again.
  • There are clean and perfect victims…
  • … who turn into shells of themselves once they go through their ordeal.
  • One of the apparently clean and perfect victims actually has a dark past…
  • … like the main investigator, LOL.
  • The main investigator only opens her heart and kindness to a few other people…
  • … who are misfits like her…
  • … and the criminal goes for them.
  • There are dead or endangered sex workers…
  • … and one of them is transgender…
  • … and not even the force respects them and their preferred name/use of pronouns after death.
  • There is a lot of monitoring and the investigators are in constant contact with the survivors…
  • … except the misfits and the sex workers, because who needs those.
  • The main investigator goes through on and off changes concerning her sexual “deviation”.
  • There’s a sneaky journalist everywhere.
  • There’s an initial suspect…
  • … who is actually innocent, but is still a person of doubtful morals…
  • … and gets done by the actual criminal.
  • The main investigator is somehow connected to the victims…
  • … so the criminal is obviously going after her.
  • “It’s all about me, me, me, ME!”
  • There’s a red herring who just comes and goes, is actually irrelevant and would make Chekjov grab his gun.
  • At the end, the criminal comes from the main investigator’s dark past…
  • … and was actually going after her!

If you do this while reading Eeny Meeny, by M.J. Arlidge, you will certainly get annihilated. Not by the story, which seems to be drowning in clichés and stereotypes, but by the drinking, which would make the reckless sidekick look like Ian McKaye next to you and your empty bottles of sambuca.

But don’t get me wrong. It is an engaging read. It is over 300 pages long, but you can jug it down in a couple of days. The chapters are brief, and the fast-action pace leaves no room for fillers and boredom. You can easily put it down, go get some errands done, then come back and get quickly hooked again into the story. If you’re a Frequent Flyer, this will be definitely more thrilling than whatever you find for in-flight entertainment. Unless they show Frozen. Then watch Frozen instead.

 M.J. Arlidge

M.J. Arlidge has been in television writing for several years, mostly as a producer, and is currently writing for the quintessential British crime series Silent Witness. While the setting for Silent Witness is currently away from the stereotypes I was mentioning earlier – Nottingham -, Eeny Meeny follows the seaside West Country setting we can find in common TV and literature places like the highly-acclaimed crime drama Broadchurch. This time, the main setting is Southampton, with irregular visits to Portsmouth, Essex, a mention of Bristol, and, of course, South London. We cannot have crime if we cannot have London.

You can tell Arlidge’s TV-centric mind, as this is begging to be turned into a miniseries. Maybe ITV would grab it. My mum would watch this, and so would my mum in-law, partly to pass the time and partly to see familiar landscapes – as it happened with Broadchurch, a few miles away from my in-laws headquarters and with someone’s cousin’s friend or two featuring as extras.

The sequel, Pop Goes the Weasel, is coming up in September. Would I read it? I think I’d pass this time. I may watch it on the telly when there’s nothing left to watch.

Nerdsville Book Club

Charlotte

Isha

Marie 

Ragini

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Culture | Lifestyle | Media | Monterrey

ANUNCIO ESPECIAL: Febrero en Monterrey

By on 17 January, 2014

Estoy muy contenta de presumirles que pasaré todo febrero en mi hermosa ciudad natal de Monterrey, al norte de México.

MonterreyFebruary

Durante esta visita, escribiré exclusivamente sobre las cosas que suceden allá: museos, eventos, tocadas, artistas, comida, tanto en inglés como en español. Quiero que conozcan lo positivo, negativo y neutral acerca de la ciudad que me dio a luz; para que nos den una visita al menos a través de mis escritos.

Para que sepan, no somos un rancho y no todos usamos sombreros de vaquero ni botas picudas. De hecho, las botas picudas son de San Luis Potosí, y no todos allá las usan. 

Así que, ¡quédense aquí! ¡No se arrepentirán!I am very happy to tell you that I will spend the entire February in my beautiful hometown of Monterrey, up north in Mexico.

MonterreyFebruary

During this visit, I will write exclusively about things happening around there: museums, events, gigs, artists, food, in both English and Spanish. I want you to know about the positive, negative and neutral things about the city that gave me birth; so you can pay us a visit at least through my writings.

Just so you know, we’re not a farm and not all of us wear cowboy hats and pointy boots. Pointy boots are from San Luis Potosí actually, and not everybody there wears them.

So, stick around! You won’t regret it!

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