Tag Archives: Girls

Education is Far Beyond Toys.

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BY ABBY MAC

You may have heard recently of the new girls’ toy, GoldieBlox, designed to encourage young girls into engineering and thinking beyond pretty pink Barbies and dolls.  As the GoldieBlox website words it, they desire to “Get Girls Building”.  The whole concept is quite original and has attracted support world-wide for providing girls with a broader range of toys than the typical “Pink Aisle” offers.  Now, before you stop reading because you think I am going to either criticize the toy or totally jump on board and go way over the top with what a cultural revolution this toy is, I’m not.  I have an immense amount of support for this addition to the girls’ toy aisle, it supplies options to those who aren’t interested in playing dolls or caring for babies, however, this is about something a little bit different.

When I was investigating for this post, I read quite a bit of research stating something along the lines, that continued lack of interest for science, technology, engineering and mathematical (STEM) subjects by girls, is due to culture, as in the toys they play with.  Other studies revealed that if you don’t expose your girl child to toys such as Goldieblox, which promote building and engineering, before the age of five, then they will be less likely to show interest in any STEM subjects or career options.

GoldieBlox

The GoldieBlox Toy.

Don’t call be pessimistic about the whole idea of GoldieBlox or showing young girls the importance and value of STEM subjects and careers in life because I’m not.  What I deeply worry about is that parents and significant adults in children’s lives will feel “complete” after letting their girl child play with a GoldieBlox toy and feel no obligation to nurture their learning more.  Adults might enter a stage of complacency thinking if they have let their girl play with GoldieBlox before five, then their world will be open to an infinite world of career options and abilities in the building field, and if they haven’t, well then, let’s go back to Barbies.

As I have grown up, I watch parents stress about missing events in their child’s lives such as their first word, first steps or first day of pre-school, however, once they enter mid to late primary school, events in their child’s lives aren’t as important and missing every music recital or sports games don’t seem that bad, when it is quite the contrary.  This is when the child needs and wants the parent the most and a continued interest in their child’s life should be never-ending.  Hence, I am concerned that with all these new studies and statistics claiming that exposing your child to toys such as GoldieBlox before five will almost guarantee them an interest in engineering, that parents will just stop playing, teaching and quenching the child’s want to be always learning; right from cooking, to engineering, to swimming.

With the release of GoldieBlox, many generic girls’ toys have been criticized with their limiting features of pink, make-up, dolls, pink, pretty, pink or caring for babies dressed in pink clothes.  Parents, the media, experts and general commentators are appealing that having this depleted options of toys for girls are instating in their minds that all they are made for are being housewives.  And, I agree, however, just like thinking that the GoldieBlox toys will solve the answer to girls’ lack of interest in STEM, nor are pink toys the direct reason for some girls thinking they are limited to cleaning.

When I was small, I played shopkeepers and teaching and with my dolls but did I grow up thinking that all my skills encompassed caring and interacting with other people and in fact men were more capable?  No.  My dad use to tell me that he worked in the Poo Factory, as a joke, and for years that’s all I wanted to do was work in the Poo Factory.  Now, I want to work as a writer, author and in diplomacy but I don’t remember ever playing with a Barbie who internationally worked and wrote.

Children are influenced by their toys, but most of all by the people and places they are exposed to.  Growing up, I have been guided by people from all ranges of life that have taught me ambition, simplicity, health, your own personal influence, kindness, humor, knowledge, the power of questioning, success, equality and integrity.  My doll didn’t teach me that.  People did.

I am not trying to undermine the incredible advancement that the toy industry have made with developing something for girls beyond pink and dolls.  We have begun a step to empowering girls with more knowledge about building and creation but toys do not donate all factors to success or the likelihood of being an engineer.  As a society, we can actively enrich girl children to positive culture, people and places and in turn, enhance more positive movements to a girl’s personal self-belief and career diversity.  No doll, Barbie, GoldieBlox, My Little Pony or Lego block could ever do something as powerful as that.

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The Way to Solve Bullying Is Not Through Awareness

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BY ABBY MAC

Through all the seminars, awareness programs and group chats at school that revolve about bullying and the urge to stop it, none have succeeded.  I am probably bursting dreams of many of the motivational speakers which have come to schools trying to convince various people not to bully and how to cope with bullying best, but the fact of the matter is; THEY’RE NOT WORKING.  I am sorry to break it to you but unfortunately, the hours spent promoting and having various “Say No to Bullying” days is not putting an end to bullying.

I have been severely bullied most of my schooling life (so far this year there has been none – let’s not jinx that) so I think it is fair that I have an opinion on this.  There are many different ways to attack the issue of bullying and each method will work better for a different victim and put a stop to the bullying faster.  There is no “one-size-fits-all” and sometimes that can be the largest problem with teachers, adults or anybody trying to solve bullying.  Approaches have to be different depending on the situation, type of bully and who the victim is.

Before writing this post, I questioned what I thought could end bullying and to be honest, I don’t know 100%.  I can provide advice and how I would have liked to seen the bullies be dealt with but they aren’t definite answers either.  Who knows what goes through the mind of someone that openly chooses to demean, degrade, criticise, inflict pain and damage another person?  Sometimes, nothing at all.  Below are a few things that I think need to be actioned more and unfortunately, more harshly.

1.       Accountability

Throughout the years that I have been bullied, not one person who has bullied me has ever had to apologise.  Not one.  Ever.  Quite frightening?  Not once have that had to admit to bullying me and apologise.  People not being made accountable for their actions means that haven’t had to see any fault in their behaviour.  It means that they aren’t being told that they’re behaviour they are showing is wrong.  Consequently, no effort has to be made by them to change.

Most time incidents of bullying has occurred, I have reported it to a teacher or if matters become worse, a year co-ordinator, deputy principal or headmaster.  Each time, they have either denied the bullying is occurring (Yes, because they would know sitting in their offices) or promised some sort of action which has never been followed through with.

Ensuring that bullies become accountable for their actions can firstly help to recognise their behaviour is wrong and in doing this, it tells them they have been caught and an excuse is not going to be provided for their behaviour.  Hopefully, this will lead to a cease in the bullying.

2.       Identifying all types of bullying

Bullying is not just punching someone.  It is not just calling them fat.  It is not just writing them a mean message.  Bullying can also be being a bitch.  At my last school, bitchiness, what the prime type of bullying I received, however, bitchiness is sometimes the hardest to identify and the easiest to cover.  Many people underestimate the power of people, particularly, girls being bitches to each other because bitchiness, is most of the time silent and adapted to directly hurt the individual intended.

Bullying is not okay

Bullying comes in all forms. And none of it is okay.

For instance, I was standing in line at school waiting for a class and a group of girls came up to our class and waved and said hello to everyone standing there.  Apart from me.  They did this every time we had that class for one and a half terms.  To an adult, it’s something you should just get over.  But when that happens every day, in front of everybody else, it hurts.  Or a group of girls playing “What Do I Hate” in class.  They were all sitting around me and it started with, girls with blonde hair, girls who wear their hair in plaits (I was wearing my hair in plaits), girls in White House (I was in White House), girls whose names begins with ‘A’.  It’s bitchy.  And it sucks.

Trying to tell an adult that them simply death staring you every time you go to your locker and following you to your next class but they aren’t in your next class, can just sound petty.  Most of the teachers I told said that I was just interpreting their behaviour wrong or for me to just grow up.  And that’s because they just don’t understand that bitchiness hurts and is hard to stop.  Identifying this and all types of bullying is key to stopping it.

3.       Why?

Most of the bullies that I have encountered they either suffer from issues at home or have reasons (not always directly linking to the victim) for why they bully.  Some have been bullied at home by parents or siblings, are acting by rumours they have heard or from friends and jealousy.  None are justifiable for the bullying but it helps to understand why.

Identifying and fixing the biggest question of all – why, is the greatest milestone of stopping individual cases of bullying.  Though it is the greatest achievement, it is often difficult to discover.  In some circumstances it is embarrassing, not yet understood or they are found out to be wrong.  As an example, in grade one I was bullied by another girl and it started because she was being bullied and abused by her mum.  Now, what she was doing to me wasn’t acceptable but it helped to explain why she was acting in the way that she was.  She clearly wasn’t cared for or had any control over her own life and so she needed to inflict the pain she was on me.

Questioning and attempting to understand the thought process of the bully can also be hard for them as speaking their reasons aloud can be embarrassing on their part.  Now, embarrassment isn’t always the solution but it aids in ceasing the bullying.

4.       Enforcing punishment and change

I don’t always source complete agreement on this point, however, I believe enforcing stronger punishment is crucial to stopping bullying.  Solving the root of bullying, which I addressed above, is the real solution to stopping bullying though this process is time consuming and in the meantime, we solve the more immediate issue with direct punishment – showing that for every action there is consequence.

As an example, I came out of the gym one day to the sports notice board.  For a couple of days, photos from our school touch football team were on the board and there happened to be one of me about to pass the ball.  As I walked out towards the board a group of girls from my team were standing around the photo of me.  When they saw me, they looked back, giggled and walked away.  The photo of me was now a photo of my body with my head ripped out and in the team photo, my face was scribbled out with pen.

Nothing happened to those girls.  The photo was simply taken down and replaced with a new one after I reported the incident.  These girls continued their parade with refusing to pass the ball to me on the field and different tactics to get me out of the team.  There was no punishment.  No consequences for their actions.  In this incidence, immediate punishment would have stopped their behaviour.  The school instigating that they will not play any games until their torments stopped.  I can almost guarantee I would have no longer been bullied if quick enforcement of the rules had occurred.

More action needs to be taken to bring an end to bullying instead of pitying the bully for the punishment that they might get or giving them one more chance when they have clearly abused the amount of rope you have already supplied them with. In cases like this, how much the victim suffers and will continue to suffer without punishment towards the bullying, is far worse than small punishment for poor behaviour.

5.       Becoming real.

Many teachers, parents and adults don’t like to believe that the perceived Good Girl is oh so bad.  As parents, I can imagine it would be hard to think that the son or daughter you brought up could not be the person that you thought they were.  Though, it is better to make small admissions and fix their behaviour than letting it continue and escalate.  At my last school, they refused to admit that girls were bullying each other and preferred to live in a perfect world of perfect people.  Such action caused the dux of their grade, most valuable hockey player, needed touch player for the undefeated team and competitor in swimming and athletics to switch to a different school.  Just because they didn’t become real.

Having pictures around the school with a big, red zero around it does not stop kids from bullying.

Bullying

These sorts of posters. They don’t help.

If schools think this is a good enough solution to bullying then they are very stupid and frankly, partly responsible for bullying.  I have witnessed first hand the commence of “Bullying Awareness Week” and having a discussion in class about actively trying to stop bullying, and kids walked out and impersonated and bullied a boy in our class.  Bullying awareness isn’t the answer.  It also isn’t completely invaluable.  It helps in some aspects of bullying, but it does not solve it.  When the world works this out, so will bullying.

Have you been bullied?  Was it fixed?  If so, how?  

Being Careful: It’s Not Victim-Blaming

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BY ABBY MAC

After recent tumultuous events involving women being violated, hurt and even murdered, a fight for women, but not limited to, to be safe on our streets, has ignited.  People from all ages, no matter what their gender should be allowed to walk down the streets at any time of night, by themselves wearing whatever clothing they choose and not be frightened of predators.  As women, we should be allowed to feel safe walking wearing high heels and a skirt, at 11:00 p.m. down a shadowy alley.  That would be wonderful.  I would never feel afraid again.  However, expecting this is unrealistic.

Girl Alone

We live in a world with many positive aspects and many rapidly improving negatives, from the fight for gender equality to environmental considerations.  We are constantly changing and with these changes, I enjoy seeing parts of our world blossom.  And as much as I would like to add to the list, women feeling comfortable on weird streets late at night, I can’t because it’s simply not true.  Sure, there might be some exceptions to this rule but generally, I stress this generalisation, I would be called a liar. 

We see horrifying stories flash on our television screens describing the despicable acts committed to women whilst trying to walk home or to their parked car.  We are then reminded of the reassuring statistics such as that it is more likely than not that, that women will sexually assaulted a male they know than a stranger.  80% of sexual assault victims know their perpetrators (Better Health Channel).  We are then falsely placed in a sense of security.  Why?  Because there is still that chance that we can be hurt by a strange man on the street.  True, right?

Being oblivious to the fact that you can still be attacked by a strange man is surely just being ignorant?  There are tips my mum and other adults have given to try and be safe on the street like holding the sharpest key between my fingers, how to stop and quickly defend myself against attacks, not wearing high heels and if I am, how to use them and other implements as weapons.  I know, I know.  Some may say slightly over the top, however, it is being equipped with the best possible plans of attacks and knowledge if I was to be put in a similar, unlikely situation.  It is not victim-blaming.  It is being real.  And living in the world that not following safety measures is your way to be a feminist or show the world that not being a victim-blamer, then you’re not being real.  

I am outraged that people suggest that women need to stop going out at night or have a drink in case a man attacks them.  There is victim-blaming.  This is where the line stops, where people suggest it’s the women that need to change than the indescribably contemptible men who commit such acts.  That is victim-blaming.  Being careful is not. 

Mia Freedman, author of mamamia.com.au, conducted a controversial interview with feminist and fellow author Caitlin Moran about the idea of victim-blaming, where the real and on-line world was erupted by their thoughts.  Outraged by their opinions.  Criticising their positions as feminists for their comments.  Here is part of the interview:

Mia and Caitlin

Mia Freedman and Caitlin Moran

“M: There was a very tragic case in Melbourne recently, about an Irish girl who was walking home from a bar, and who was married and lived 800 metres from a bar, and was walking home and was just randomly abducted and raped and murdered. And it’s really been one of those watershed moments for the whole country.

There have been peace marches, and reclaim the night marches, because it is that thing that we all fear, a woman walking alone, randomly taken from the streets, and it’s really divided a lot of women. Because there have been those who have said, “don’t blame the victim, we need to be free to walk the streets at any time, it’s men who need to be taught not to rape and murder.”

And of course it should never be about victim blaming but I worry about the idea of saying to women “don’t change your behaviour, this is  not your problem!”. I feel like that’s saying, ”You should be able to leave your car unlocked with the keys in the ignition, or leave your front door unlocked, and expect nobody to burgle you.”

C: Yes. It’s on that basis that I don’t wear high heels – other than I can’t walk in them – because when I’m lying in bed at night with my husband, I know there’s a woman coming who I could rape and murder, because I can hear her coming up the street in high heels, clack-clack -clack.  And I can hear she’s on her own, I can hear what speed she’s coming at, I could plan where to stand to grab her or an ambush.

To be honest, I agree with them completely.  There are definitely times where victim-blaming occurs.  Where people assume that just because a woman gets raped means that she is a slut.  Definitely.  No doubt.  But helping yourself be safe is not.  We don’t live in a perfect world surrounded by perfect people who all want the best for us, so we need to stop treating it that way.  Not recognising this is simply lying to yourself.  It’s not blaming the victim.  It’s helping you not become the victim.

What is your perspective on victim-blaming?  Is being safe victim-blaming? 

Uh. Oh. I still have a teddy.

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BY ABBY MAC

It’s time for me to make a confession.  It may change the way you think of me.

I. Still. Sleep. With. A. Teddy. Bear.

I know, I know.  From the looks of other teen’s lives, I should have dropped this relationship when I was 10.  My teddy bear, Honey, and I have been together since I was one.  She has travelled across houses, states and watched me grow up.  She does come with me to my friend’s houses (when I stay the night) but that’s not because I can’t sleep without her.  I take her because I can.

Abby and Honey

Honey and I

Don’t get me wrong, she isn’t secretly hidden in a back-pack wherever I go, we have space.  I don’t play tea parties with her (not that that’s a problem), she isn’t dressed in different outfits every day and she is not in a relationship with another teddy.

She simply lays on bed during the day and when I go to bed, she is tucked underneath my arm and we sleep.  Is there something so wrong with that?  I don’t think so.  According to Parenting-Advice.net, teddy bears support the child and makes the child feel supported and accepted.  They can make the child feel loved and help with emotional distress.  Tick, tick and tick.  That’s what Honey is for me.  But I am no longer a child.

Honey

Honey is excited!

When I was about 10, I stopped bringing Honey away to friend’s houses with me, simply because at that age, people do judge you for it.  You are transitioning between child and tween.  And, at the time, it seemed uncool.  However, I think as a teen with friends who know me very well, I can take Honey to their house and they can bring their unicorn, bear or mouse to my house.  Having a teddy bear, or whatever animal you have, is now something that is funny and just accepted.

I don’t want to leave Honey anytime soon.  Please tell me you feel the same.

Do you have a teddy bear?  When did you stop sleeping with a teddy bear?  How does having a teddy bear make you feel?

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I love my sisters. It doesn’t mean I get to see them.

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BY ABBY MAC

When I say sisters, they’re not my full sisters.   I sometimes say step-sisters or half.  Though, to me, it doesn’t matter whether we don’t share the same blood or family tree, they are still my sisters.

I dearly love my sisters and everyday I cherish the moments I did get to spend with them, however, just because I love them doesn’t mean I can see them.  Just like my dad, I haven’t seen my sisters for four years and that isn’t going to change in the near future.  The eldest of my two sisters is eight and the yougest is five.   My brother has had brief contact with my dad and he says that the eldest one remembers me and the youngest one doesn’t but she knows of me.

Every Christmas and birthday I receive a card from them and I rip open the envelope, shut the door to my bed room and sit and have a cry.  I sit and cry a mixture guilt, love and sadness.  I feel guity for not being with them, watching them grow and nurturing them.  I am sorry for not being the sister I should be.  I can only watch both grow through their handwriting skills, from just scribbles to carefully copied dotted lines and now legible writing that slides downwards.

The last letter I wrote to them I decided to add photos of my brother and I.  I know this may seem a minute step to most, but I never receive a reply to my letters where I ask a thousand questions.  The worst they could do is not reply and possibly stop talking to me forever, but I was willing to take the chance.  If they accepted this step, it would hopefully see the end to my unanswered question and a progression in our relationship.

I know that it is not their choice to not reply.  I understand that is my dad and his wife that limit the contact but it still hurts to never hear anything back from them.  When I decided to not see my dad anymore, it wasn’t a hard choice.  Part of our difficult relationship stemmed from his new family and he preferred to spend time with the girls than me.  For a long time I resented them over his choice and so when I left, I was definitely saddened that I couldn’t see them anymore because I did love them, but I did think that I could move on from whatever a one year old and ten year old could share.  Unfortunately, I was unsuccessful.

As I grew up, I found that I did not resent the girls, I resented his choice to priortise them over me.  I no longer resented my sisters but deeply missed them and felt a sense of guilt from choice to leave them.  Even now, I would still choose to not see my dad but I know the decision would be harder for me.  I know that if I stayed with my dad, I would have continued to become an angry and unhappy girl which is something that would be hard to undo however, I hope that I will one day rekindle a relationship with my sisters when they aren’t influenced my dad or his wife.

A part of me understands that there will come a time where we won’t talk.  I am predicting that my dad will try and persuade them to lose contact with me and he will tell his side to the long and complicated relationship we had.  Though, I do hope that they will want to one day find out for themselves what really went down.  That is something I have to accept.

Everyday I miss my sisters more and I will never stop caring and loving them.  I feel like I should be painting their nails and combing their hair.  Helping them with school work and talking about movies, friends and boys with them.  But I can’t do that.  I don’t know what school they go to, what type of clothes they like or want sport they both play.  I sometimes feel as though I have failed them.

For the first time yet, the girls have replied to my letter.  They sent back photos of themselves.  As usual, I cried.  I stuck the photos up in my room and I feel grateful for what I have now been granted.  I know that the youngest one has brown curly hair and the eldest likes tie dye clothing.  It’s minimal information, but it still feels like too much.  I can now compare how much they have grown from the images of the their baby faces in my mind, to their now grown-up ones.

Even though I love my girls to pieces, it doesn’t mean I get to see them.

From one the cards the eldest sister wrote to me:

‘…Dear Abby….I miss you so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so much and I will love you forever.   I can’t wait until I can see you again…roses are red, violets are blue and I will never stop loving you.’

Accompanied by a beautiful drawing of the day we see each other again.

Have you been separated by a loved one by choice? Do you still keep in touch, if so, how?  How do you feel on this topic?

We have a different opinion. Can we still be friends?

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BY ABBY MAC

Is it possible, as teens or at any age, to be friends with someone and have differences of opinions? Not just a difference of opinion on a dress or a boy, but on a topic that you are passionate about or directly affects you. Many people often believe that you must be perfectly in sync with all your friends and all share the same opinions and same values. At some time, this delusion of perfect must be corrected. No two people share the exact opinions and values and so therefore no one can be your perfect match, in that aspect.

I watch friendships at school somersault into the depths of no goodbye just because they don’t agree on something or other. They attack each other, not their opinons or reasons. They say things that you can’t take back. Is that really necessary? I try to respect everyone’s opinions, but I often fall flat in respecting their arguments. Uneducated, ignorant arguments make me angry and it is these opinions that I can’t respect.

Difference in Opinon

Can we still be friends? Help.

I was sitting in class and a friend of mine whispered under her breath ‘ew’.
I looked around and said ‘what’?
‘Gays.’
‘What about them?’
‘They’re disgusting.’
‘Why?’
‘They just are.’

Uneducated. Ignorant. And I was angry. This is a fight I decided to pick. I often choose to leave an argument before it starts because it doesn’t affect me or it’s just not worth fighting about, but this one was worth it. I feel very passionately about equality worldwide, whether it is between men and women, adults and children, wealth to poor or homosexual to heterosexual. I believe that everyone is born with equal rights and they deserve to be treated with that respect.
So, as you can imagine, my friend unjustly commenting on homosexuality left me annoyed. Her opinion on homosexuality did not stem from her religion, culture, family up-bringing but her fear and ignorance to gay, lesbian, bi-sexual or transgender persons. She had no reason to hate them or be disgusted by them, but she did all the same. People’s opinions are formed by their religion, culture, family and friends, fear and ignorance. Especially when we are young, our opinions are similar to our parents because that’s all we know. At a young age, all we know is what we are brought up with but her opinion was only influenced with fear and ignorance. Not any other.

I was initially  angry about her opinion and at her. I needed to take a step back and leave it. I needed to sort through and find a position on the difference of opinion and whether it was worth our friendship, time or a fight. Of course, I considered all avenues and realised that it wasn’t worth a fight or our friendship. It was worth understanding, though. Both of ours.

I still don’t completely respect nor understand her opinion and her arguments. But that isn’t worth sacrificing our whole friendship. I try my best to educate her and possibly grant her an opinion that is educated and fair. Not necessarily my opinion or the ‘right’ one, but one that has reasoning behind it. I can’t stop being friends with someone because of their fear and ignorance but I can only hope one day to change it.

It’s difference of opinion which makes friendships diverse and not the same. I think friendship and life would be incredibly boring if everyone felt the same way.

Just as I did, I think one should pick their battles. Deciding to discuss a difference opinion of means you have to be respectful, just like they should for you.

Don’t you agree with me?

Can you still be friends with someone and have a difference of opinion? What do you disagree upon? How do you fix it? Why do you feel this way?

Make-Unders.

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BY ABBY MAC

I love them. I really do adore them. And I think it’s time we brought them to Growing Pains.

I found the idea of having a make-under on the television show ‘Snog Marry Avoid’ where girls (and boys), who wear a little bit too much make-up and buy masking tape as T-shirts, are made-under to their natural and more attractive look. The public is asked at the beginning of the show whether they would snog, marry or avoid that girl (or boy) and once the make-under has been completed the public is asked again. Most times, the majority of the public prefers the made-under version of one girl (or boy).

Even though ‘Snog Marry Avoid’ may seem like a tongue-in-cheek television show, the fundamental idea never ceases to amaze me. The girls that enter the show are completely dependent upon their makeup and skimpy clothes to ‘hide’ what is on the inside; mostly insecurity and self-consciousness.

Public Analysis

Would you snog, marry or avoid her?

I have read many articles which list all the reasons why girls wear make-up and they wear it not because they are insecure about their looks, but because they enjoy wearing it. I get that. Totally. I am not a big make-up wearer (because I don’t know how to apply it) but I do use it on certain occasions; weddings, eating out etc.

For some, make-up is like a hobby or playing sport. It is something that they are thrilled and interested by, however there are people telling them to stop using it, for no reason. I wouldn’t let someone tell me to stop playing hockey or shopping for no sufficient reason because I LOVE to play hockey and go shopping. People feel the same about make-up. Make-up can be worn so the user can look more professional, more polished, coverage from the sun and coverage of blemishes and pimples. But when I see girls of all ages wearing more make-up on their face than I have in my life, I start to question the extreme of this ‘hobby’.

Transformation

Who would you prefer?

That’s why I’m calling for a make-under to all those who can’t even go to sleep without make-up on. I’m not asking for all application of make-up to be immediately stopped, that’s unrealistic and not necessary. But, we need to empower those around us with the knowledge that you don’t need to wear gallons of make-up and instead a light foundation, mascara, concealer, eye shadow and gloss. For whatever purpose you wear make-up for, it doesn’t necessarily improve you. You deserve to feel natural.

Did you know?: Make-up affect people’s skin differently. Though, this does depend on the brand, how long you wear it for and how much you apply. Typically, skin can react in two ways; irritant contact dermatitis and allergic contact dermatitis. Irritant contact dermatitis can be felt as a burning sensation or itch on the skin, however, the allergic contact is a ‘true’ allergic reaction resulting in sores and blisters.

Make-up can also be the cause of or worsen acne. If make-up is removed by the end of the day and after exercise, your skin won’t react or as badly, however certain oils will have negative effects on your acne.

To avoid all these symptoms, look for make-ups that are oil and fragrance free and hypoallergenic (less likely to cause allergic reactions), noncomedogenic (they won’t block pores – the cause of acne) and nonacnegenic (shouldn’t cause acne).

7 Tips on Make-up:

  1. Eye shadow can sometimes be the worst offender. The skin around this application zone is extremely sensitive and will easily react to eye shadows, kohl pencils and mascaras.
  2. Be careful when rubbing your eyes with nail polish on, this can also affect the sensitive skin around them.
  3. The best way to retain the moisture in your skin is to not use cosmetics every day. Eczema, dermatitis and inflammation around the eyes can also be caused by cosmetics.
  4. Never share your make-up. Even ask for a new sponge when applying make-up at a store. The brushes and sponges will always carry bacteria from the skin. You wouldn’t share a lollipop, would you? So don’t share your make-up brush.
  5. Don’t ever sleep with make-up on. For instance, if you were wearing mascara and the flakes from it fell in your eye; it can cause itchiness, infections or blood shot eyes the next morning.
  6. There are certain ingredients that are used in make-up that can cause harmful repercussions as serious as cancer. They include:
  • Bithionol
  • Mercury compounds
  • Vinyl chloride
  • Halogenated salicyanilides
  • Zirconium complexes in aerosol sprays
  • Chloroform
  • Methylene chloride
  • Chloroflurocarbon propellants
  • Hexachlorophene

8. The preservatives in cosmetics are the second biggest causes of skin problems. Here are some of the preservatives you should avoid:

  • Paraben
  • Imidazolidinyl urea
  • Quaternium-15
  • DMDM hydantoin
  • Phenoxyethanol
  • Formaldehye

Do you wear a lot of make-up? Why? Are you going on a make under? Why do you feel people apply too much make-up?

Abby: Why I Deleted My Facebook Account.

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BY ABBY MAC

Facebook can connect us to friends and family all over the world. It allows us to share photos, videos and information about ourselves and as the viewer; we can like and comment easily on people’s lives. But for me, Facebook can no longer offer this glossy cover. As a teen, it has been infiltrated with hate, misery and falseness which is enjoyable to the people causing it.

I deleted my Facebook account for a variety of reasons but the biggest one was that some of the users, particularly teens, had lost sight of what the true purpose of it was. It was hard every day to see some form of bullying and sadistic comments from these faceless people behind their computer screens.

Media and other adults often portray the biggest threats online to be strange predators that are 50 year old men looking to find you, though they are serious threats, there are other predators which can easily be friends of Facebook; the people that you share your photos, videos and information with, every day.

For me, Facebook was no longer a place of sincerity but teens sharing their lives only to be let down and bullied by their ‘friends’ (friends on Facebook; not necessarily friends in real life).

It seems that your Facebook profile is meant to be perfect and glossy with perfect pictures of yourself, or stupid pictures of yourself which still make you look cute and sexy. But that’s not my life. I don’t take a perfect picture every time. When I look stupid in a photo, I genuinely look stupid not cute and sexy.

Un-Facebookfied

This is un-facebookfied. It isn’t perfect! But look! Do you like my pyjamas?

When I say ‘Facebook’ as a general term, I mean the Facebook world constructed by teens. Facebook, by teens, is no longer about sharing our lives, not the real ones anyway. It is a fake, perfected life for all those ‘friends’ to ‘hate on’ or ‘like’ and then ‘unlike’ only to be mean. You’re not meant to share the photo of you still in your pyjamas eating birthday cake at 9 am but in fact the beautiful, already ‘Instagram(med)’ photo with all your friends wearing high heels and way-too-short dresses in the city. Apparently, I’m unlike the rest of the teenage population on Facebook and don’t own a way-too-short dress (that I wear in the city at 9pm at night) and I don’t celebrate my birthday by taking enough cute and sexy photos to fill a real photo album.

This perfected Facebook life isn’t fair on the rest of us ‘normal’ or ‘unperfected’ people. People like me. People who then strive to have a perfect Facebook page. It became that a lot of photos I took and activities and I joined in on, were based upon what I could get out of it for Facebook. For instance, ‘If I go to this dance, I’ll be able to take these photos with my friends and then upload it onto Facebook’ or I went into this weird extreme place thinking if a photo isn’t good enough to be on Facebook, it was deleted. It didn’t matter whether it was going on Facebook or not.

Facebook-fied

That’s ‘perfect’. No, it’s just boring. My pyjamas were way cooler.

Fake photos, videos and the status updates don’t connect our lives to people. They only share very fleeting parts of our lives that are ‘Facebook-ready’ and are good enough to not be attacked online. The photos that girls put on Facebook with their flat tummies and beautiful bikinis aren’t real. They have most likely stood there for 50 or so shots, with either the peace sign, sitting down or pretending that they don’t know the photo is being taken to find the ‘Facebook-ified’ one. And my least favourite part – when they then have the caption ‘ew my bod is disgusting. just want to die.’ That’s not fair. It’s not fair on so many levels but the biggest one is, they have taken a photo of their beautiful body and then demean themselves in hope to be presented with 189 likes and 67 comments all saying ‘ew no. your bootfiul. i just want to die now.’ or ‘get some ugly.’ It’s these photos and comments which make the rest of us all sit back and be brain washed with all these beautiful girls saying their ugly and as a result, we are feeling twice as ugly as them.

It would be nice to think that Facebook is still living up to its true purpose in the teen world, but it’s not. I can’t stand the bullying and the falseness. People trying to be someone they’re not. Whilst we continue to be tricked that everyone’s life is just so perfect, we will continue to feel how imperfect we are.

Facebook is like a reality show; it’s meant to be real but it is just so fake.

Did you delete your Facebook page? Why? How do you use Facebook? Do you think Facebook is changing?

Simple Pleasures.

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BY ABBY MAC

In a world where we often spend years, or our life, searching for people or items that make us happy, I think it is safe to say, that we could so easily miss simple things that have the potential to make us the most happy. On Christmas Day, I saw so many simple pleasures, many were missed and others were appreciated.

They varied from the care and delicacy one took to wrap the gift (not necessarily the gift), to the true beauty of a meal or the presentation of the dinner table. They made me happy. They made me smile. And they were extremely simple.

Unfortunately, peoples’ lives are cramped with such meaningless tasks and planned pleasures that these simple pleasures can’t be enjoyed. We forget the people we love and dedicate our precious time to those we feel the need to please or will get us somewhere.

When my two cousins arrived on Christmas Day, I found my favourite simple pleasure. The girls arrived with a basket full of different dolls, craft sets and lip glosses, with dazzling smiles which only ever masks faces once a year. They made it hard not to smile at the sight of their grins.

They showed me each doll and why they were so special to them; they chased me with their toy cars and set up games for us to play. I think it was many Christmas’ ago which I was able to ‘play’ with my toys not apply them, wear them or soak up their smells and colours. And I thoroughly enjoyed those games only recommended for children aged 4-12.

Blingled

My Laptop was ‘Blingled’

After we played with all their toys, they asked me what gifts I was given. And so I listed the lotions, candles and gift cards. Most of that seemed rather boring to them, however they were most interested in what I was going to spend my gift card money on. BOXING DAY SALES, OF COURSE! It was then to my delight that the eldest one wanted to go shopping with me. And there was my simple joy. She wanted to spend time with me. Without a true purpose. Not because it was Christmas or a birthday, because we were two friends and wanted to spend time together. That was the most pleasurable joy of my day.

Simple pleasures are so spontaneous and spectacular which make them just so special. They’re missed for other, less important people or tasks, and aren’t often recognised for actually being pleasurable. How can spending time with a 12 and 7 year old be fun, some may say? It’s often presented as a chore, when really it shouldn’t be. It is your privilege to be together. As a family. Safely.

If I think back to when I was 12 and 7, I would have certainly embraced the idea of having a friend or family member, older than me, open to spending time with someone younger – not being a chore. My simple joys are very simple. My cousins feel free to ask for me to spend time with them. And I am more than happy to willingly do so.

Simple pleasures aren’t planned, they’re spontaneous. They’re pleasures which would never strike you as something you would enjoy or notice, however, when they do, they are the most pleasurable pleasures of all.

Auto Corrected Text Messages.

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BY ABBY MAC

They’re those text messages that everybody hates. They’re inevitable. But, nevertheless, everybody tries to do their best to avoid them. We read and reread our text messages just make sure our text messages haven’t been ‘auto corrected’ and therefore made that sentence completely incorrect.

One day, my friend ran madly into school, screaming ‘Oh my gosh! I accidentally sent ‘give me sex’ instead of ‘give me a sec’ to Ben [her boyfriend]! Heeeeeeelp!’ Although it isn’t a text message, I almost published a post titled – ‘What do you want from Satan?’instead of ‘What do you want from Santa?’

Though these sorts of mistakes can be humorous (if explained), many don’t result in the way which we ever predicted. Technology is not as instant as speaking face to face and sudden errors like the ones before cannot be so swiftly fixed. What happens if you’re not even aware that you asked for ‘sex’ instead of a ‘sec’?

We’ve compiled a gallery of all those awkward text messages. (damnyouautocorrect.com)

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Just another first world problem to add to the list.

Have you ever sent a text message where silly ‘auto correct’ has ‘helped’ you? Have you received an ‘auto corrected’ message? What do you do?