Caitlin Moran’s “Manifesto of W’evs”

Caitlin Moran In Conversation At The National Concert Hall

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Photo by David Mannion. More here: http://on.fb.me/18c1cpI1

Last Thursday, Caitlin Moran appeared to a sold out crowd at The National Concert Hall as part of the Dublin Writers Festival. Since publishing her second book, How To Be A Woman in 2011, Moran has ascended to household-name status and is lauded as the hilarious, gregarious big-haired feminist who made not-giving-a-shit a basic feminist principle. More significantly, she’s revered for making feminism cool again, and for liberating the subject from stodgy textbooks and ITV period dramas.

Last week, when Moran finally appeared on stage, the excitement was palpable and the audience, which seemed to absorb every age category imaginable, cheered and clapped as she waved at her 1200-strong fans. This was feminism’s Beatlemania moment and Moran was determined to get a photo of it.

‘Stand up,’ she beckoned. Duly, the audience took to their feet and Moran whipped out her phone, declaring, ‘I’ve got to tweet this!’

Photo taken and audience still standing, she shouted, ‘Now, I want all the women in the audience to say ‘AY OH.’ ‘

AYYYY-OOOOH, chorused back the female-strong audience.

‘Now the men; say AY OH.’

‘AY OH’, chimed the significantly smaller (but equally enthusiastic) patches of men dispersed throughout the hall. Everyone laughed at this and sat back down.

Immediately the show was underway with Sinead Gleeson attempting to field questions and Moran firing into non-stop chitchat and anecdote, which nearly always ended with some kind of eloquent, hilarious zinger.

From the moment Moran appeared on stage and increasingly throughout the night there was a funny sense of camaraderie about the event as though this were a town hall meeting and Moran was the town’s representative. When the questions were turned to the audience, women asked and spoke about everything from comedy and classism to ‘what should I do if someone makes fun of my vagina?’ (Answer: resolve this like a twelve year old and sit on their face.)

There were also hysterical pokes directed at Moran’s second generation Irish father who discarded a Guinness Moran had specially brought back from Dublin Airport (“The old country”) to Wolverhampton, wrapped in Cellophane; “it’s flat,” he pronounced. She also described her experience on The Late, Late Show last year (‘if I laugh telling this very sad story, it’s only because I’m nervous’) and how The Duchess of York became her feminist icon (or at least was until she chose to name her first child Beatrix.)

‘Did you know much about feminism growing up?’ Asked Sinead Gleeson. ‘Kind of. Whenever my mother got cross, my father would say ‘Alright Germaine Greer, keep your hair on.’ So I knew who Germaine Greer was but I thought she was a baddy.’

Overall, it was an incredible, hilarious and dare I say it, inspiring evening. After the questions, Moran duly signed books till 11, meeting and greeting everyone in her queue and taking photos and answering questions.

As Marian Keyes wrote on twitter after the event, ‘Come back! We miss you badly!’Let’s hope Caitlin Moran will be back soon to inspire more people and tell more swear-y tales about her family, the royal family and the nun who was knitting a scarf the last time she appeared on The Late, Late Show.

Bourjois Rouge Edition Lipstick

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Bourjois Rouge Edition in Fraise Remix (11)

I bought this lipstick with a hint of trepidation. The woman I sit beside in work had one on her desk and I asked her whether she thought I’d get away with such a bright colour or if I’d look like some kind of 1980s, Cindy Lauper throwback. She’s a professional make-up artist, so when she told me that the colour would complement my fair skin and pink cheeks, I figured she must know what she’s talking about.

I was still a little anxious when I bought it though. Despite being a drugstore brand this lipstick is still pricey, and at €10.99 it would have been a particular waste of money if it had wound up being too pink or too tacky and relegated to a drawer in my bedroom for the next 12 months. But even though I only bought this last Thursday, I’ve worn it everyday since and am so far really happy with the colour. I’ve tried pale pinks and light corals before and all of these have given me a washed out look as well as being several shades lighter than my natural lip colour, calling for lip liners – an absolute no-no in my books.

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Anyhow when I bought this lipstick I sort of expected it to be slightly more corally but instead it’s a very vibrant pink that’s also incredibly pigmented. For something that’s so bright however, I love that I can apply it quite liberally and not have to stress about drenching my lips in too much colour or needing to use a lip brush to keep it from looking over the top.

As for staying power, well, many lipsticks claim that they have a ridiculous amount of the stuff. Personally, my view is that if I find it difficult to sleep for more than 6 hours a night, how can my lipstick be expected to hack six hours of eating, drinking, talking, biting my nails and whatever other run-of-the-mill things my mouth does over the day? It doesn’t seem possible, so while this one lasts about two hours before a quick re-app is needed, I think that’s about standard.

Overall, I’m really happy with this purchase. I think the colour really works with my skin tone and it isn’t sparkly (yuck!) or drying (groan) although if you’ve dry lips this might exacerbate any flakiness. I can definitely see me using this and continuing to like it although I think I might try and invest in a similar colour from Mac, which I imagine would have an hour or so additional staying power and wouldn’t have that perfume-y budget lipstick smell, which, to be fair, isn’t that strong in this case.

Straighten Up

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Originally published by Image Magazine: http://www.image.ie/Beauty-Health/Health-Fitness/Straighten-Up/ 

It’s Thursday, it’s 10am and you’re absolutely spent. You battled your way onto public transportation at 8am, or crawled down the Dual Carriageway for a good hour. So, now you’re sitting at your desk, one leg wrapped around the other and your bum planted somewhere in the middle of your seat. Sure, you could sit straight and put your feet firmly on the ground but this 45-degree angle between your backside and the chair frame is sooooo comfortable…

Well you know what? We say, sit up! Here’s why.

Bad posture makes you tired: Your energy levels depend on various factors and naturally, they ebb and flow throughout the day. Sitting up straight might sound like a chore but slouching is a known source of fatigue that causes more than mere backache.

The facts: Every time you slouch, your bones are out of alignment, which means your internal organs are out of step. This misalignment causes poor digestion and increases pressure on the heart. It can also cause arthritis in the long term, while contributing to stress and headaches in the short term due to increased pressure on the neck and facial muscles.

How do you know if your posture is good or bad? If you’re standing, then glance down at your feet. If you can see your shoes without craning your neck, then you have good posture – Congratulations! If you’re sitting down, then your head should be lined up over your body, so your ears are directly over your shoulders. If your head’s sticking out, then you need to rethink your position on that chair.

Easy ways to get perfect posture at your desk: We all fall victim to The Crimes Against Posture charter; staring at our screens and slumping over our desks like Quasimodo with a laptop are the norm. But there are simple and immediate ways to tackle your posture woes.

  • Put your feet flat on the floor
  • Place a small pillow at the small of your back. This will support your spine and mitigate undue back strain.
  • Place your elbows at your side and touch your shoulders with your hands – an easy one to do next time your webpage isn’t loading or a tweet isn’t sending.

Handy gadgets to get your back on track: While you might have every intention to sit straight with your feet on the floor, sometimes a little outside help is called for.

Backjoy Posture+ works by lifting the pelvis forward to correctly align the spine. This allows the body’s weight to be properly distributed, alleviating pain and strain on the spine.

The PhysioRoom Seat Wedge Posture Spine Cushion: As names go, this one’s a mouthful but as claims go, this one does a lot for a small price. The inflatable wedge-shaped cushion works by tilting the pelvis forward, which helps to prevent slouching – sort of like an MBT shoe for the bum!

Still not sold? Statistics show that people who slouch are deemed ‘less attractive’ by their co-workers. Okay, so we made this up and there isn’t a shred of evidence to corroborate our theory but we’re certain that if we grabbed a pen and rounded up everyone in the office, they’d agree with us, so sit up straight, readers.

iPhone Appaholic

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Originally published by Image Magazine http://www.image.ie/Life-Work/Working-it/Shortcut-Apps/

Five apps to make your (work) life easier:

Expensify: If paper isn’t your thing, then maybe you need Expensify to keep you in cheque – I mean check! This free app syncs with credit cards to track purchases in real time, pulling in electronic receipts using the iPhone camera and producing a PDF that can be emailed to your accounts department.

Mailbox: Is there anything more tedious than having to work your way through a neglected mailbox? Mailbox, a free app, allows you to cut through the junk and read only what’s important. Now, you can put off messages with a swipe and a tap. Snoozed mails return to your inbox automatically so you never lose anything either.

Asana: Got a list you need to share with your team? This app is ideal for freelance groups who need to interact within email but don’t want to sign up to a particular service. Now no one can say that they didn’t get the memo!

OneSafe: Hacking is becoming more prevalent and when you think about, your secret question on Gmail or Dropbox probably isn’t that big a secret. OneSafe allows you to save and encrypt documents as well as credit cards and web passwords using one pin or password. Not only that, the app will alert you if someone is trying to break into your personal, password-protected accounts. It costs € 5.49 but is a genuine time and hassle-saver.

HulloMail – Call us anti-social but is there anything more irritating than having to listen back to your partner/friend/sibling babbling away on voicemail? Then halfway through remembering that you’re paying for this terrible privilege? It’s time to cut the middleman and have those voice messages texted to your mobile phone where you can delete at a glance. After all, how 1990s is the whole pen-and-paper thing?

Girl Crush: Helen Steele

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Originally published by Image magazine: http://www.image.ie/Real-Women/Girl-Crush/Helen-Steele/ 

So, what do the Danish supermodel, Helena Christiansen and the inventor of the wrap dress, Diane Von Furstenberg, have in common with the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi? A shock of white-blonde and pink hair plus a duck farm in Monaghan, it seems.

No, no, neither the Prince nor Helena has gone punk or signed up to Big Brother in rural Ireland – but what a weird and wonderful changeup that would make. Nope, what this lot have in common is their shared interest and collection of the Irish abstract artist (who last year added Fashion Designer to her CV), Helen Steele.

And before you say it, we’re aware that a punk called Helen who lives on a farm sounds like an oxymoron.

Indeed, maybe we’re reading into her punk sensibilities a bit much, but with funky hair like hers and an abstract, print-oriented fashion label carried by twenty international stores plus a past pinned-down as the front-woman of a punk group, let’s just say she’s more Courtney Love than Simply Red.

So, other than her client list being almost as varied as her biography, what makes this lady and her label, Helen Steele, different from the rest? Well, this stuff is art. Literally.  Steele explains, “[My plan was always] to put into practice what I do on canvas in the studio onto fabric… The process always starts with the paint.”

Indeed, her methods sound somewhat in keeping with Jackson Pollock’s paint splatters – all chance and chaos – except the outcome is far more psychedelic.  “Myself and my team propel layers of multi-coloured paints into the air with the aid of wind machines, leaf-blowers and chainsaws. We ground the busier bright prints with little bits of black and blue, and then use mad fluoros to balance that out. We then film the process, taking stills from the footage and creating our prints from this. The print dictates the shape of the garment.”

Perhaps most significantly, Steele describes how she picked each colour with colour therapy in mind, adding, “To me, what I am creating is a work of art that you can wear.”

So, whoever quarrelled that fashion couldn’t be art, or said that a good outfit wasn’t a legitimate pick-me-up for when you’re feelin’ blue, Helen Steele would beg to differ.