Wednesday, 31 July 2013

a sunday of goodbyes

One of the great things about my family is how often we see each other - every few weeks, we get together at my Gran's house for dinner. This Sunday we had everyone around for a late lunch to celebrate my leaving and my cousin Laura's bithday, including a new member of the clan! 

Emma with my newest little second cousin. Meet Alexandra Scout Margaret More! 

Hi bro. 

All the men of the family took turns with the wee newbie, who proves to have amazing stare-out abilities already! 

Spot the raspberry blower. 

I love these taking these candid shots when everyone's preparing for a photo. 

When everyone had trooped home G and I decided to work off the strawberry tarts with awalk on the beach. Excuse me for the cheesy couple shot, but I won't see him for maybe 6 months! Can you blame me? :P I feel entitled to all the cheesiness I want!! 

The sunset was absolutely gorgeous 
I'm going to miss my little beach, but hopefully I'll find another spot of my own in Miyazaki.  

Saturday, 27 July 2013


It is now 1 week only until I leave Scotland - or Scoterando- for Japan! It's finally hit me that I won't be seeing certain people for a very long time, and some perhaps never again, which is quite scary to think about. However, the more I prepare to go the more excited I am for this entirely new experience in my life. 

One of the things I'm doing is buying tons of omiyage, or gifts, for my future colleagues and neighbours. Gift giving is an important part of etiquette in Japan and JETs are encouraged to bring things that represent their home country. Roll on the Edinburgh tourist mementos!!

It felt pretty strange actually entering the tartan houses with their obnoxious 'Red Hot Chilli-Pipers' bagpipe music blasting out...

Plenty of rock to rot my future pupils' teeth! And some whiskey for the kocho (principal) of my school

After a hard morning's gift shopping I met my chums Hamish and Natalie at my favourite place to eat in Edinburgh, the Mussel Inn. Much to my dismay, their fantastic 1/2 kilo pots were out of the equation due our recent heat wave, but luckily their lunch menu was still going and we enjoyed mussels with blue cheese, moroccan spice and red pepper sauces respectively. Nat was kind enough to model the Och Aye Jimmy hat... hope the junior high kids enjoy it as much! 

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Tumblr, Girliness, and the Blogger Generation

One of the amazing things about growing up in the noughties was being part of the blogger generation. The angst and pangs of being a teenager and forming your own identity was offset somewhat by having access to countless sub-cultures, communities and support networks. And, whatever you think of the Yahoo takeover, tumblr was one of those corners where you could find kindred spirits over just about any subject - from Unhappy Hipsters to Chicks With Steve Buscemeyes to Local People With Their Arms Crossed

Celebrity face mash-ups aside, these spaces have given voice to people who are oftentimes marginalised in the popular media, like LGBT communities, or those with mental health issues, for whom the human connections to be found through blogs and tumblrs can constitute a lifeline.  

So, what are we to think when these supposed channels for counter-culture end up conforming almost completely to the paradigms presented to us by the mass media: does it lend those paradigms validation, or just indicate a kind of auto-repression?

This is what occurred to me when I stumbled upon the immensely popular Just Girly Things, which consists basically of pretty photos and an overlaid caption in white.  Often parodied, things which are apparently girly range from the predictable - 

to the utterly random -

Some posts express sweetly old-fashioned and original ambitions - 

And indeed, there is room too for members of the aforementioned oft-marginalised communities - 

But I guess what I found most surprising, perhaps naively, was how much the preoccupations of the blog, followed and reblogged by thousands of young girls, mirrored so closely those of mass media. Weddings and wedding gowns, being skinny, being tan, being like other girls, buying shoes, and being generally unabashedly materialistic - 

Celebrities are still regarded and held up aspirationally, but so are the girls out there doing the exact same thing as you.

Sometimes, the ideas portrayed about what it is to be 'girly' and by extension, a young woman, are downright worrying. 

Everything Cosmo ever told us was important seems to have been noted down, digested and spat out in a new, grass-roots, hipster-style form. Can we talk of certain stereotypes as being repressive if they are not only absorbed but regurgitated by young girls?

If even in the most permissive and open-ended creative digital spaces, young girls are fashioning codes or standards  for themselves like Just Girly Things - in which ‘Just wanting a boy to hold you’ translates as ‘What you should want is a boy to hold you’ – what does that say about the way traditional female ideas are perpetuated?

Now, I appreciate that teenagers are always going to feel the pressure to conform and to express that in their creative output, whatever that may be. And both the nature of tumblr as a medium, the nature of the average adolescent, and the varied expectations of girls mean that contradictory messages are somewhat inevitable… 

Yet these digital spaces prompt us to remember, when discussing the portrayal of women in the media, that we should look also to their own representations in order to understand its effects. This approach discourages viewing ‘the media’ as a conspiracy rather than an umbrella for actors with countless motivations and influences. And it highlights the biases and presumptions that underlay our own representations and constructions of female identity.

Then again, there's no accounting for why these are apparently girly things - 

Okay, I may have made that one up. 

All images sourced from Just Girly Things. Except the last one

Saturday, 6 July 2013

the turning of the year

I finally got around to making another little film today with bits of video from Christmas, New Year and Peru. Music by The Velvet Underground.