31 December 2016

Small great things by Jodi Picoult // review

This book was written by Jodi Picoult, author of 'My Sister's Keeper'. Like 'My Sister's Keeper', this story revolves around a trial which will change the hearts of everyone involved.

The themes of racism, power and privilege are portrayed through the eyes of White Supremacist Turk Bauer, lawyer Kennedy McQuarrie and Ruth Jefferson - African-American labour and delivery nurse at the Yale-New Haven hospital in  Connecticut.

Ruth is ordered to not touch the baby of Turk Bauer and his wife Brittany Bauer due to her skin colour, but is then left to care for the baby alone. She realises that the baby can't breathe and has to make the decision of whether or not she is supposed to help him or not touch him, unsure what she is supposed to do. After teams of nurses and doctors attempt to save the baby, he dies and this leads to a whirlwind of events where Ruth is blamed for the baby's death. Her lawyer, Kennedy, becomes very involved in Ruth's life and begins to see the world around her a little differently.

This book forces readers to confront their prejudice and privilege as Kennedy McQuarrie does as she begins to get more involved with Ruth. We see how skin colour is not seen by those who it does not affect, we see how Ruth is treated differently by ordinary people just because she isn't white, even in this day and age.

There are many twists and shocks throughout the story which keep us readers on the edge of our seat.

4/5 - mostly enjoyed it, really good!

// Jeani

18 December 2016

Being Blonde

Are people judged by how they look?
Have you ever noticed someone's perception of you changing because of a change in style, in makeup, in hair colour?  Undeniably, there have been many movies which have represented a girl with new-found confidence using a big reveal of her new look: suddenly she is sassy, witty and can get any guy she wants due to her eyeliner and straightened hair.  The previous, less confident, less popular version of herself did not wear makeup, wore knee-length skirts and glasses and was obviously a natural brunette - she just wasn't enough.  My point is: people, young girls especially, are heavily stereotyped by how they look and often negatively.  

My mum is a frequent hair changer. Almost monthly, she once again becomes anxious to change it, sometimes due to boredom, sometimes due to uncomfort or many other ridiculous reasons that not even I can comprehend. When I approached her about why she is constantly changing her hair-style she told me "hair is you", that your hair represents your identity, who you are underneath - it needs to be perfect. Evidently, the idea of perfection affects women of all generations as there has always been the idea of a direct connection between looks and personality.

I have been through several different phases of fashion myself: I dressed identically to Taylor Swift for months, I went through a stage when I was 12 of wearing black lipstick, my ever returning Anne Hathaway in Devil wears Prada, and finally the boho style vintage maxi skirts that I fell in love with summer this year.  I can assure you, through every different phase, the brain underneath continued to have the same thoughts and I remained the happy and motivated person that I am.  Now, I am blonde. Some may argue that the colour of someone's hair represents a choice they have made and that that choice correlates with either an aspect of or the entirety of their personality. I disagree. Perhaps, yes, someone made the choice to dye their hair a certain colour to make a statement about their teenage defiance, or bubblegum pink show that they are have fun personality, but you cannot then assume that every person with bubblegum pink hair has a fun personality. It is easy to assume that a colour represents the entire spectrum of someone's personality, but if the above theory of portrayal is true then said person is choosing one aspect of themselves that they want to display, therefore, there is much more to them than meets the eye. I believe we all see each other in black and white as it is very easy to generalise and assume things about a person. We see ourselves in bright, burning, shattering colour because we understand the multitude of things that have scarred our souls and lifted our hearts. We forget that others have these scars and rainbows of colour underneath and try to paint them one colour because it's easier for us to understand that way. 

Are Blondes Ditzy?
So, eventually, we get to the real point of this blog post. Recently, I redyed my hair blonde and I was asked (ironically) "do you feel more stupid yet?" and it made me consider the stereotype of the ditzy blonde. Across the media, blondes are represented as stupid, materialistic or bitchy. Take Taylor Swift: an incredibly talented writer who has been totally stripped down to being a bitter girl who only writes about her heartbreaks in order to destroy the man who broke up with her, when any Swift fan could give you a list of at least ten reasons why this is utterly incorrect. The idea that blondes are ditzy or bitchy is a result of hundreds of movies and TV shows representing girls in this way. A few examples: Karen Smith in Mean Girls was one of the dumbest girls in TV history, she couldn't even spell orange! Poppy Moore in Wild Child, originally portrayed as a vain, spoilt, materialistic bitch who thought she was above everyone else, it was only once she dyed her hair brown to look more "natural" that she reformed and became the loveable girl that we see in the end of the movie (sorry, spoilers!). Phoebe Buffay had a difficult background and although she was very street smart, witty and a loyal friend, she was also very slow and a little bit strange. The list could go on and on.

Obviously, this interpretation is wrong. As previously discussed, hair colour does not accurately represent who you are, there is so much more to a person than the outward appearance. There are many intelligent, professional women in the world who are blonde. Here are some examples: Hilary Clinton - previously an election candidate and former secretary of state, she is an incredible, motivated woman who has clearly achieved so much, despite being beaten by a sexist wotsit in the presidential race. Elle Woods proved everyone wrong in Legally Blonde (I understand that she is fictional but bear with me), she showed all girls that you can do anything you put your mind to and you can do it in heels too, she is a really big inspiration for me. Reese Witherspoon, who plays Elle Woods is a fabulous woman too, I watched a speech she made a few weeks ago and was very impressed by her attitude. Meryl Streep - an incredible actress who has aged with grace, she is very passionate and a brilliant woman. J.K. Rowling - author of Harry Potter, one of the most successful series of all time - despite facing rejection from seven different publishers, Rowling remains one of the most influential women of our generation. Karen Nyberg - medical engineer and NASA astronaut, she spent 180 days in space last year! Marissa Mayer - CEO for Yahoo, in fact, the first female CEO of any search engine! Other names include: Lisa Randall, Jane Goodall, Michaela Strachan, Taylor Swift, Amy Poehler, Amy Schumer, Marilyn Monroe, Cameron Diaz...

So what's the problem with the ditzy blonde stereotype?
First of all, as proven by the Poppy Moore example that I previously mentioned, girls have to alter their hair colour to be taken seriously. Women are constantly having to alter their appearance to be taken more seriously - rapists are being excused because the victim was wearing a "provocative" short skirt, girls in schools are dismissed by their teachers because of their mascara, politicians are accused of using their sex appeal to persuade an audience when they have more than one button undone and even I have been ignored. For example, I once anxiously told my bus driver that there was a hornet on the back of the bus (because there was) and he totally demeaned me and said "what, you mean a bumble bee?" in a very sarcastic tone, which I did not take kindly too because this hornet was massive. I seem to have digressed. 

Like the example above, there are many incidents where women and girls are disregarded due to their gender and their appearance These people are simplifying girls who could potentially be very intelligent and very useful completely unnecessarily! Once again, women are dehumanised. A point not yet discussed: what's wrong with caring about how you look anyway? What's wrong with wanting to please a man? What's wrong with being a little materialistic? We are human! No one can be perfect and if these things are flaws then we all have them and it is silly to judge someone on them. On the other hand: what's wrong with being a little nerdy? What's wrong with never wearing a dress? What's wrong with people being different? With having different interests? With liking different things? When we segregate because of our appearance, we are missing out on creating unbreakable bonds and friendships that may never have existed without the different interests. 

 I have been a blonde, a brunette, I've had pink hair, slightly ginger hair and the truth is, the brain underneath all that hair remains the same no matter what colour dye I put on it.

// Jeani

2 December 2016

What kind of person do I want to be?

1) Positive and optimistic
2) Happy
3) Motivated
4) Inspirational
5) Organised and prepared
6) Confident
7) Someone who gives good advice
8) Determined
9) Hard-working
10) Honest
11) Open-minded
12) Understanding
13) Involved
14) Empathetic
15) Philosophical and deep
16) Intelligent
17) Respectful and polite
18) Advocate for education and school
19) Supporter of self-love
20) Friendly
21) Helpful
22) An active feminist

Once you have your basis of the kind of person you want to be, you can change your ways and live to be a better version of yourself.

// Jeani