GIRL TALK

Girl Talk is the place where women celebrate each other’s achievements. Read articles about inspiring women, the latest female-related debates and commentary on women’s representation in the media.

DON’T CALL IT A COMEBACK: HOLIDAY REJUVENATION

Get Away and Come Back with an even Greater Will to Succeed

Rejuvenation. Now that’s a bloody good word. It’s one that I’m particularly enjoying throwing around at the moment, but that’s honestly because it’s a word that I’m genuinely feeling right now. 

I got married two weeks ago (*pause for applause*) and we had a couple of days in Portugal to decompress, eat pizza and generally not move, unless it was to eat said pizza or sip from a poolside cocktail. But we both ended up spending most of the time plotting and planning everything we wanted to achieve on our return. This sounds like I’m about to tell you we’ve decided to become ultimate comic book villains, but alas, no. 

beach holiday

After going through the truly agonising choice of rose or raspberry flavoured macaroon favours, then building the wedding playlist to beat all playlists, and top that with designing stationary that perfectly blended tattoo script with a countryside setting – and what you’re left with is a GREAT, BIG, WEDDING shaped HOLE in your life. 

Instead of getting bummed out about it, we realised now we’ve got an EPIC marriage to plan for. And that’s going to take some serious planning. Here’s some questions that feel easier answering while you’re away from the hectic everyday life at home – and “don’t call it a comeback” because this is simply about reaffirming what you probably already know, but making sure you live the life you want.

 

Holiday Rejuvenation – Don’t Call it a Comeback.

pool holiday

1. Where in the world do you still want to visit?

Bucket list time! I’ve already done mine (see 30 Things to do After 30). At the moment we are planning our honeymoon (which is looking like safari in Kenya then on to the Maldives *fist pump air*) and it’s really reminded us how good it is to have adventure holidays and to explore. Already I can’t wait to plan our next trip. Don’t waste your time or money going somewhere you don’t really love and feel desperate to experience (I know I have in the past). There’s a whole world out there and unless you are a permanent traveller, we normal folk need to use our holidays wisely. 

2. Do you have some big life purchases in you? 

Then you need to earn serious money. FACT. Don’t get me wrong, I am more motivated by life experiences that owning fancy things, but at the same time it would be nice to roll around town in a cool car one day and welcome my friends into a beautiful home I’m proud of, plus those lovely life experiences also cost moolar. This should lead you into the next question nicely. 

beach holiday

3. What’s the end goal with the career? 

We’re not talking about a promotion next year or winning a dream client next month, this means: what is your ultimate boss role? Think ‘peak career moment’ and even be totally unrealistic about it – it’s your dream for goodness sakes! Now work backwards – how would you get there? It might not be as unrealistic as you thought. It will however, always take hard work, so be prepared and don’t settle, because you’ll only regret it. 

4. What have you done to promote yourself? (Especially important if you’re freelance, like moi!)

I am currently going through a business rebrand in terms of my service offering, with an entirely new website, sales packages and the all important business cards (need I remind you of American Psycho?) Having gone through my career and life goals I realised working backwards I needed to make it clear what I offer so I can win more clients. Simple really. 

Even if you’re not freelance, we live in a digital society where anyone is able to have their own personal brand. Just think, if you’re known in your industry for being an absolute queen (or king) at one thing in particular, you might just get head-hunted for a job you hadn’t even thought of, but could be perfect for you!

5. If you haven’t already, do you want to start a family?

OK, so this is a big one, and a very personal one, and for that reason alone not that much needs to be said on it – because each individual and circumstances are completely different. However, if you are making some serious career / life / travel plans, and you do want to start a family as well, then it’s worthwhile considering it all together, while you are away and have a clear head. 

 

sand beach

Proper Grown Up – Be Yourself, No One Else Can

Holidays are like therapy; they allow you to break away from the norm and think about the bigger picture. They have always helped me re-evaluate my life and I often come back and make major changes when I get back – just ask any of my old bosses! (See this old Break Away post from 2015). After all is said and done, life is short, so just make sure you’re doing what makes you happiest. 

life quote

Don’t call it a comeback. I’ve been here for years. I’m rocking my peers. Puttin’ suckers in fear.

 – LL Cool J, Mama Said Knock You Out

Career Crush: Travel, Work and Friendship

The summer time for many people means that the holiday you booked and planned months in advance is finally near. You get to go out and purchase new swimwear, research the best beaches and finalise your travel itinerary. 

We do this because let’s face it; work sucks. Holidays are when you switch off the work email and have fun with friends. But what if your holiday was your job, and your work colleague was your best mate? And you basically got paid to travel? Whaaaaaat?

Well that’s what Natasha Oakley and Devin Brugman, or Tash and Dev as they call themselves, have achieved with absolute perfection, with their blog and brand, A Bikini A Day

A Bikini A Day Back Story 

It doesn’t sound like it was much of a rough starting point to the average girl living in the North East England as such, but it’s definitely a small-time to big-time success story. So, Tash and Dev were living and working in Hawaii shooting look books and videos for local swimwear brands. Sounds like a pretty good job so far, right?

Then they went travelling but kept their connections with the swimwear brands and started sharing pictures wearing said bikinis on the relatively new social network, Instagram. They took this simple idea and turned it into a fully fledged blog with travel and swimwear related content and named it, A Bikini A Day. Amassing a huge following this hobby quickly became a full-time job for both women.

A Day in the Bikini Life

OK so a comparison here would be helpful…

My social media: A snap of my lunch, quick video of my dogs and possibly a picture of my trip to the gym for good measure. 

Their social media: exclusive fashion party in the Hamptons, photoshoot on a beach in Turks and Caicos and definitely boat trips off the Amalfi coast. (I would love to share tons of their pictures but can’t because they aren’t my pics to share! – So head to their Instagram here or I have embedded a few Tweets of theirs throughout). 

This might make some people envious or slightly irritated. But these women are always working. The difference is they have managed to carve a career out of doing something they love and other people want too. In Tash’s own words:

“It’s a full-time, all-consuming job to be constantly creating content.” – Harpers Bazaar, 2016

Moral of the story is: find something you love and turn it into something that’s useful to other people too. 

A Blog that Works

With an endless stream of the type of share-worthy content everyone loves; from bikini reviews and healthy recipes, to the best suncreams and stylish beach bags, A Bikini A Day is a blog designed to fuel the ultimate traveller day dream. 

Starting out as photographers and bloggers themselves, Tash and Dev have continued to shoot and edit their own blog content, even with an audience well into the millions, located all across the globe. 

Making Waves

Tash and Dev now have their own bikini brand; Monday Swimwear. The reason for the name..?

“Because when you’re in a bikini on a Monday, you’re having a good day.” – Monday Swimwear

Fair play. As bikini experts they have managed to source the best fabrics in mix and match shapes and sizing to suit a variety of body shapes (only up to size 16 though I would mention as a downfall). But I really want one. They price at around £120 though, so this is unlikely for me. They also launched an activewear range; Monday Active and have multiple design collaborations with brands including Guess, Revolve and over in the UK, Missguided

Travel and Life Inspiration

If you’re looking for travel inspiration, or even if you have just booked a holiday, don’t forget to check in with A Bikini A Day blog as they have lots of tips for the best products for skin and hair protection in the sun as well as unique places to visit. Plus, if you have started working on a project with a friend that you love, just look at how it’s turned out for Tash and Dev – anything is possible. Dream big, work hard and have fun.

30 Things To Do After 30 – A Bucket List for Grown Ups

For most people, the bucket list is reserved for before you turn thirty. Everyone seems to want to cram everything in before this milestone birthday to feel that renowned sense of achievement. But why? What happens when you turn thirty?  

30 things to do after 30

When the hotel tries to romance you on your birthday. 

I turned thirty on 4th June and I spent the first few hours hungover in Palma airport with a cut knee, waiting for a second flight having missed my first (in my defence it was also my hen do). In this moment I realised I am not quite the person I expected to be at age thirty. However, having got over my hangover and made it safely back to the UK I have since realised I’m totally fine with that – and not just in a Ross from Friends kind of way – genuinely content. 

30 things to do after 30

View from my balcony in Palma (my hen / 30th holiday)

I never made an official bucket list before I turned thirty – so I’m doing one now and it doesn’t have a time limit, so feel free to pinch some ideas if you are looking to also create a no-pressure-bucket-list. So here it is  – my bucket list, after 30 – including travel experiences, goals for personal improvement and plenty of life ideas that are just plain sensible. 

30 Things To Do After 30

  1. Write a book. 
  2. Write a blog for Huffington Post.
  3. Learn to surf in a surfers paradise e.g. Hawaii, Gold Coast, Malibu… etc
  4. Win a bet in Las Vegas. 
  5. See the pyramids in Egypt.
  6. Learn another language.
  7. Quit smoking.
  8. Be a success in my own right (i.e. actually consider myself successful career-wise).
  9. Have a child or two. And raise them well. (Note to mum: remember this has no time limits). 
  10. Raise money for charity and / or give time to charity. 
  11. Eat sushi in Tokyo.
  12. Fly something better than economy class. I’m realistic: it might not be ultra first class, but a step up would be great. 
  13. Get really fit. Stay fit. 
  14. Save some money. Spend it on something worthwhile. 
  15. Read lots of the classics (in addition to all the other crap I read). 
  16. Swim with sharks in the Maldives. (This was a childhood one and I am already regretting adding it). 
  17. Go white water rafting in Canada. (Another one from childhood but I would do this tomorrow. Can you say: ‘The River Wild?’)
  18. Salsa dance in Havana. 
  19. Spoil my partner with an expensive gift or lavish holiday. 
  20. Learn to play guitar. (I own a guitar but don’t know how to play it. Got the first step down, just need the main step covered now).  
  21. Buy a piece of art that makes me feel happy.
  22. Print and frame lots of family and friend photos.
  23. Ruthlessly clear out entire wardrobe. And general possessions. If you haven’t used it in the last year – bin it (or charity shop of course). 
  24. Say ‘yes’ more. Events, gigs, holidays, a night out – whatever it is just saying yes could lead to so much more. 
  25. Call friends and family more. 
  26. Be an absolutely awesomely badass auntie (nephew coming soon…).
  27. Make fresh pasta. Ohhh yeahh.
  28. Deep clean the house more regularly. Not just when guests come. 
  29. Be more knowledgable about politics and world news. 
  30. Take my make up off every night. 

30 things to do after 30

Buy more flowers for the home? Nearly made the list, but that’s a job for other people. Like when it’s your birthday. 

The point is, turning thirty has not been a big deal, but it has made me realise how much more important it is to collect memories instead of things. So having a bucket list might just help me on my way to pursuing a fulfilling life – or at least, one without regret. 

What’s on your bucket list?

This Girl Can – and Phenomenal Women Will

Sport England’s This Girl Can campaign sparked a conversation a year ago that hasn’t stopped. It returned to our TV screens and social media a week ago and is already having phenomenal impact – especially with it’s new message to women; that it’s OK to start again. 

You’ve got two burpees left and your legs feel like two planks of wood, but you’re not stopping when every single person at the bootcamp is screaming your name. You sit down at the leg press machine at the gym and today, you’re going to push yourself a little more, so you move the metal pin down a notch pressing the heaviest weights you ever have *smug face. There’s never enough hours in the day, but a quick run around the block is better than nothing at all, so you go for it and with your short window, you actually achieve a personal best… 

This Girl Can

Lydia, 29, hated P.E., loves roller derby.

This Girl Can – but how do you get there?

Working out can fill you with an enormous sense of pride and achievement, but what about if you stop? When you stop for a week, a week can easily become a month and a few months all of sudden can become a year. The impending doom felt walking back into that class, gym or just stepping out solo on the tarmac, is enough to weigh heavy on anyone’s shoulders. Quite frankly, it’s awful. 

I used to go to dance school three or four times a week plus doing sports at school. During uni and my working life I’ve tried a few different things; I tried the gym and even going to dance classes again. But the gym was a whole new world of intimidating machinery and dancing felt embarrassing as I couldn’t do anything I was able to do all those years ago. Group classes at the gym were tough and without even a basic fitness level, (I smoke cigarettes and drink wine like it’s water) I started telling myself I needed to go to the gym alone before starting again at a group class, just to make sure I could do it (excuses, excuses). 

This Girl Can – and it’s OK to feel nervous

When I looked into the latest campaign for This Girl Can, I was actually relieved to see so many other people shared this feeling of anxiety about getting back into working out (not that I want people to feel anxious, but it’s nice to know you’re not alone).

“Many of the women we’ve featured talk about stopping, then starting again. It can feel like the hardest thing in the world to return after a few weeks off, when you fear you’ve lost ground or fitness, but we want to surface this as a discussion point, to say it’s normal to take a break, but that needn’t stop you for good.”

 – Sport England chief executive Jennie Price, Feb 2017

This year, I have a motivating factor that I’m getting married and I just want to be fitter and healthier. So I’ve started learning kickboxing, because I need something that keeps me focused on learning something new (running on a treadmill is mind-numbing to me). My partner and I also do a weekly strength and conditioning session together with our trainer. Plus, I’m starting to get into weights more at the gym in my own time. 

So I’ve finally found my way back to sport and more than anything I feel like me again. I always considered myself a busy and active person, and now I really am, plus I’m aiming to be the fittest I’ve ever been. Because, why not? 

This Girl Can

This Girl Can – and she’s going to make waves

Sport England has returned with it’s latest advert for the This Girl Can campaign to keep the positive momentum going and to continue to inspire and connect with a female audience – because believe it or not there is still a big gender gap in sport participation. 

“…the job is far from done. With a gender gap of 1.73 million fewer women playing sport compared to men, we need to keep getting the message out there that women come in all shapes and sizes and levels of ability, and they should all feel able to exercise and play sport.”

– Sport England chief executive Jennie Price, Jan 2016

This year, the target age demographic has widened; originally targeting 14-40 year olds, this year’s campaign focuses on 14-60 year olds. If the success of the original campaign is anything to go by, with a whopping 2.8 million women saying they did more sporting activity as a result of the campaign, (Sport England, Feb 2017) then this year’s is set to inspire even more, including that older demographic.

this girl can

Sue, 67, cold water gives her a buzz.

Just check out 67-year-old Sue who enjoys cold water swimming (!) To overcome the anxiety of getting back into something, or even starting something new, maybe consider what motivates you to be active then find the right activity to suit your lifestyle – there’s so much out there to choose from! There’s everything from aerial trapeze to rave trampolining, but cold water swimming is absolutely not for me. I couldn’t possibly think of anything much worse, but props to anyone that chooses to do this! 

This Girl Can – and nothing will stop her

Personally, I have always whinged about going to fitness classes. My mum used to tell me as she pushed me towards the car, “you’ll be fine when you get there” (a phrase that covered a multitude of foot-stomping situations, see also: ‘getting to school when feeling sick’). But I always was fine. In fact, I was more than fine, I was really happy. So take the advice from my mum, because ‘Mum knows best’ and tell yourself, ‘you’ll be fine when you get there.’ Then you can feel extra surprised when you feel phenomenal when you’re done. 

This Girl Can – watch the full advert

 Click to watch the full 2017 This Girl Can advert from Sport England.

Featuring words by Maya Angelou and soundtrack by Beth Ditto. 

  View Post

Three New Lady Adverts – Two Epic Fails & One Winner

When brands try to be ‘down with women’.

Back in the day it used to be cringe-worthy when brands tried to be down with the kids, but today I feel like we are in for an onslaught of brands trying to be down with women. Brace yourselves; this could get uncomfortable.

I saw three different brand adverts in the last couple of weeks that are getting in on the issue of the misrepresentation of women in the media. On a positive note, two thumbs go way up to big brands stepping out of their comfort zone and raising this subject. However, it also shows some brands haven’t quite got their heads around this utterly mind-boggling issue of the diversity of women yet.

 

Wrangler – More than a Bum

Yes, that’s the strapline; ‘more than a bum’. So many times in my life I have looked at my pair of jeans and said “you know what? I am more than my butt!” Finally, Wrangler has come along and addressed this burning issue that’s been affecting women globally for decades. OK, so you may detect a hint of sarcasm.

I actually watched this advert twice in a row the first time, because I couldn’t quite believe this was what a world leading brand, a group of professionals at the top of their game and what I would imagine would have required a lot of time and money, had produced. I started out with mild interest – a brand trying to talk to women – cool. Then the confusion quickly set in. The advert shows women in varied job roles and lifestyles – good, but then the background song is lots of women saying ‘bum’ repeatedly. And then they show close ups of women’s bums. I’m actually giggling a bit as I write this because I envision someone in a boardroom pitching this idea and somehow everyone looking at each other and nodding, ‘yes, this is it’, ‘this is the winner’. REALLY?!

I do feel bad for Wrangler as well though because people really went to town on them for this. Wrangler has tried to make a change, take a stance on a hot issue and unfortunately mixed its messaging in the process. It got so bad they have actually been accused of being sexist – the complete opposite of what they were aiming to achieve.

Having read their media statements (they had to issue statements because everyone was so ‘WTF?!’) I can at least see how their thinking started out. They wanted to move away from traditional jeans industry advertising approach, which for many years has focused on women’s figures, and so that’s how they arrived at ‘more than a bum’. However maybe they shouldn’t have actually used this SO LITERALLY in the advert, and continuously zoomed in on bums, and said bum. A lot. Bum, bum, bum, you’re more than a bum, here’s a bum, bum, there’s a bum. Bum.

Fingers crossed they get it right next time. Don’t give up Wrangler, you can do it!

Or Click Here to watch it on YouTube. 

Always – Rewrite the Rules

Next, here comes Always. Now this may be because it’s the advert that I see most frequently, quite regularly in fact, but I REALLY dislike this advert. At least Wrangler’s was laughable. There are two versions I have seen for this campaign now, one features a goalkeeper and another features a DJ – the premise being that having your period shouldn’t hold you back from doing the things you love. OK so far; you can see how having excellent sanitary products would be beneficial in either of these situations. But it’s what is said in the advert.

Goalkeeper Stephanie Labbe says: “Because I’m a woman, do you think I’m going to crack under pressure or conquer the field?”

Well, personally Stephanie I wouldn’t think either of those things based on you being a woman.

DJ Pheobe D’Abo says: “As a woman, I can either step aside or step up the game.”

No Pheobe, you don’t even have to consider stepping aside just because you’re a woman, who told you that? Always, probably…

And then there’s the strapline: “Defy expectations. Rewrite the rules.” So, Always is suggesting that people expect women to crack under pressure and then probably just step aside. But with the right sanitary product you might just surprise people! *Facepalm*.

I’m surprised there hasn’t been more said about this one to be honest…? It’s also such a shame as their previous ‘Like a Girl’ campaign hit all the right notes. 

 

H&M – She’s a Lady

Finally is the advert for H&M’s Autumn Collection 2016, which has actually received really positive feedback. Phew! The advert challenges society’s depiction of what makes ‘a lady’ and ‘ladylike’ behaviour.

The advert features lesbians, armpit hair, a trans woman, a muscular woman and lots more people and actions not normally associated with advertising, but very much associated with normal, everyday life.

Using this kind of imagery in a major ad campaign makes women feel proud and free, and for many women it’s the first time they have actually been able to identify with someone featured in a media campaign. Personally, I actually feel relaxed watching this advert, whereas with the Always and Wrangler adverts I feel my hands creeping up over my eyes!

Unfortunately H&M still has a long way to go with being completely sincere promoting an issue like this, especially considering the recent reports of exploitation of their factory workers.

 

Real Women For Reals

As brands try and find their feet in this scary new world of real women that don’t all look the same, think the same or want the same things in life, let’s hope it is a change that is here to stay. I hope it’s not just a fashionable topic that will also go out of fashion, because for women it’s real life. Dove made a bold statement in its advertising and hasn’t looked back. Other brands probably look at Dove as owning that conversation, but there are many different ways of taking steps forward. Brands: just be clear on the messaging, practice the ethics as a company as well as in advertising and hopefully you won’t hit a ‘bum’ note. WAHEY!