Do people even read blogs anymore? Who knows (I clearly don’t). Here I am writing one anyway and if you have made it thus far congratulations you have a better attention span than me! I’m back to what seems like a new normal, let’s face it we have all changed in some way, shape or form over the past two years, I am hoping for the better but this world is currently a bit of a mad one so I thought what better way to improve it than to start rambling once more openly to the internet!
I am going to be filling this blog to the brim with all things Vegan and vintage (the 2 V’s) skincare and beauty, hair, fashion as well as body confidence, showgirl content and just anything else my random brain decides to hyper focus on, so if you want to come along for the ride, great if not that’s fine too just don’t be a dick about it!
Don’t worry those who come for the risqué stuff that will also be around and about too! My journey into the world or burlesque is definitely something that will feature heavily along the way. I am really looking forward to sharing all of my bits and bobs with you all again here. If you would like to be kept “a-breast” (get it!) of what is going on here on my blog then please subscribe or join my mailing list so you don’t miss a thing! All blog posts will also be shared on my Facebook page too! You can also subscribe to my Youtube Channel where I will be posting Vlogs.
Throughout my whole life as a northern performer especially as a child, London has been a place of myth and legend for me, the Unicorn of the UK. I have a bit of Puss In Boots-itus when it comes to our capital, but I definitely don’t think that this is my fault and honestly the older I get the more unfair it seems. In this age of media influence (I realise the irony of me stating this through media) we are increasingly taught that London is the place to be, you’ve made it if you live or work there, you’re a big player, someone to take notice of, a success. I even had it from an ex-boyfriend of mine after stumbling across him in a pub (not literally) a year or so after we split “Oh hi, so what are you doing now? I thought you would be living in London by now?”. It’s everywhere! People get taught it at universities, particularly in the dance and performance industries after all most castings are held in London even for companies that aren’t even based there.
So my question is WHY? Why do we have to have such a segregated community that is so influential and greedy? Yes it might sound a bit harsh to call it greedy, but for me it feels that way. At the moment as a Northern artist 100 miles north of Leeds, I feel like we are really getting the crappy end of the stick and I for one am sick of it. As a country the arts have been hit hard when it comes to public money, funding and general support and recognition, it is a struggle for anyone to get their hands on any kind of funding or commercial success and with the extra kick in the teeth by Brexit and Global Pandemic the industry is setting up to recover from even harder times. So isn’t it only fair that as artists and arts industry professionals we make sure we are spreading what we do have across the country as much as we can? Is’nt it only fair that we make these changes as we come into a new era post pandemic after watching shows from all over the UK online, participating in classes and workshops that we now, more than ever ,should be make casting and just our communities in general less london-centric, particularly in the film and TV sector.
Now I know at this point some of you maybe feel like I’m not appreciating what we do have, such as some of the fantastic theatres and organisations we have in let’s call it the ‘North-North’, which really isn’t the point of this blog, I really believe we have some amazingly talented and hardworking arts venues and arts professionals . However there is so much more we can do to put a stop to this over idealisation of our capital and I feel like we all need to be aware of doing this and try to stop it or at least tone it down. Why can’t a northern city not be just as amazing to live and work in as London as a performer, producer etc? Why can’t the big companies come to us? It’s all about how we see and value ourselves or our region and often as hard as it is to admit we feel or have been made to feel by others because we have a regional accent and/or because we are based 300 miles from London that we a are not as important as good or as valid as artists, companies or organisations.
Now I will admit that this blog has been triggered by a few things happening in my own life, so maybe I am completely on my own with this and just ranting to make myself feel better, or maybe this is something you all feel at times? I can tell you this is not a negative thing for me, if anything it has made me more determined to put the effort into working together with other companies and organisations to bring opportunities in the “North North”. But I would love to hear your thoughts and start a bit of a conversation
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As you may or may not have noticed, since July 2019 I have been on a little mission to explore the cabaret and burlesque scene in the North East as both a performer and producer. In the past I have maybe been a bit cheeky with performances but kept things pretty family friendly all in all. But Since I took that little jetè into cabaret last year (ending 2019 with my first paid burlesque gig in December with the amazing House Of Trixie Blue ) I have noticed a shift happening in my following as a performer, how people see me as a performer and a person since I began to show my body more. I have never been one to be coy about the showing of flesh on or off the stage when it comes to other people however when it comes to me it has been a constant struggle with confidence and the worry it will not be accepted.
My second professional Burlesque performance happened a few months ago and I decided to up my game lingerie-wise and wore a thong and removed my bra. For me this was a hugely positive thing and I was so excited I wanted to share it with the world…so I did! What I wasn’t prepared for was the influx of unfollows on a few of my social media platforms. I haven’t experienced any disgruntled messages or negative comments however the amount of people deciding they no longer wish to engage with me due to the fact I have shown my body speaks volumes!
This left me with many questions! Number one being, what have I done wrong? Why is this such a big deal? Now before this looks like a cry for love, confirmation and attention, it really isn’t, I have so many amazing followers, fans, friends and colleagues who absolutely love seeing me “flash my fandango”(Helen Borthwick quote). I have so many more positive people in my life and barely any negativity, which is why this group of people really stuck out! Some of these people are friends, colleagues and businesses I have supported for years, people I have worked with, people who I thought would not bat an eyelid and whom I have actively helped in the past and some are people who I barely know or engae with myself. This post is more about the curiosity of why they feel so uncomfortable looking at a plussize female body? Why is a bit of sexuality not acceptable? Is it me? Is it my body type? Is it my sex and gender? Or is it them? Is it society as a whole?
There has been a lot of emphasis on self love (oi, oi not that kind cheeky) and self acceptance over the past few years for women within the media and social media, there are tonnes of people fighting the good fight for society to accept people’s natural bodies on social media and in general society… however there is still so much judgement and stigma placed on women who are open with their sexuality, after all it is a huge part of life, it is the reason we are all here! So why do we get our knickers in a twist about it so much? And why is their a disparity between the sexes when it comes to sharing our bodies with others?
So I would love you to use this post to help me find out what is going on? Why are both men and women upset, offended or put off by seeing me and my body (and I’m sure many others too) having some flirtatious fun as an adult on adult social media platforms (although well within their rules)? I feel like in ignoring or hiding our sexuality we are missing a vital connection with ourselves and others. It is us who sets the limits to what is acceptable within society and I think closing off our sexuality is more dangerous, it makes growing into a well rounded person more difficult. Let’s face it making anything a taboo activity or taboo subject that should not be spoken about is something that eats away at you if it’s something you enjoy or are drawn to, we should not be shaming people. In doing this it also teaches our teenagers as well as just…well everyone to be ashamed and normalizes the commercialized idea of what bodies and sexuality should be. But if we were all a bit more open with this conversation it might change something don’t you think? People would not feel like they HAVE to keep dirty little secrets, women might not get slut shamed as much for what they wear in public and sex workers might be more accepted and not get the shame they receive too…
Just a thought…what do you think?
There will definitely be a follow up to this post
Like this post? Or want to support me? Or even see me take it off for real?
Let me start by saying I have wanted to write something about the effects of pandemic and the performing arts for a while now but really struggled, this is not a pity me post, more of a cathartic release of the struggles. Everyone has had their hardships during this tough time by no means are mine more important or valid than others, I’m just hoping by sharing I can bring myself some peace, my fellow artists the knowledge that they are not alone in their struggle and people who may not understand an insight into the situation.
As Dance schools, gyms and weekly classes begin to go ahead in a post covid-19 world I’m struggling. I see many colleagues who run regular classes in studios starting up again, be it with a very difficult task ahead and lots of hard work behind them too. I’m over joyed that they can now resume and am very much rooting for them all to succeed. However I can’t help but feel left out. I do teach dance regularly (weekly post Covid) but I do not use regular venues and am reliant on hen parties/birthdays/events/private functions etc for these weekly workshops to go ahead and at the moment this is not able happen. It feels a bit like the town in footloose! Sometimes in a day I will teach at 3 or 4 different venues with varying numbers of groups with different requirements. Most of us in this teaching sector are not expecting to get back to this work until 2021 a devastating but realistic estimation. I am also predominantly a performer mostly singing and dancing, the performance industry has suffered and even more devstating blow with lots of venues just not surviving and the remaining ones unable to do viable business at limited capacity.
Performing arts and dance have been the constant in my life for as long as I can remember. I first stepped on stage as a 4 year old dancer in 1993. I did a tap dance to “Never smile at a crocodile” as I recall, we wore little green skirts and green t-shirts with sequins on (I always thought that was to make us look like crocodiles but looking back…probably not!). I remember the whole event as if it were yesterday it is etched into my mind. From that moment I knew I wanted to be a performer no doubts about it and I have only ever doubted once since then, but that is another story for another day. I have worked hard for 27 years since that first ever performance learning and becoming the performer, choreographer and theatre maker you see before you now! The work I have put in however is probably not that different to most performers and creatives within the performing arts, we live and breath our work, we work for bad wages or often no wages with sleepless nights, physically and mentally exhausted bodies, some of us even change our bodies to do what we feel we were born to do or be.
So in March 2020 when the pandemic hit I was devastated to have my passion taken away, all of my work for the foreseeable future cancelled and my whole career hanging by a thread, however I was more concerned at that time with safeguarding myself, my family and others around me. I have never been a supporter of the tory government however I did at that point believe that they would do the right thing and support everyone because well….they had to right? Wrong! Oh how wrong I was! It wasn’t until April hit I started to panic. By that point I and countless other freelancers and self employed people had not been really mentioned, by this point I had lost over £3000 worth of work, I had nothing, no savings, no rainy day fund no unspent holiday money nothing, luckily for me my fiancé is a key worker so thankfully my essential bills were sorted. My business bills however have been an ongoing struggle to fight through the influx of online classes and shows on platforms saturated with other freelancers desperate to keep some kind of business alive.
So as the Pandemic develops and changes I wonder how my industry is going to cope, there has been funding from the government for venues but still not an improvement in help for freelancers (which a huge majority of artists are). I am working on making sure my immediate financial needs are met by online means so I am more robust as a business and as a freelancer to work anywhere with anyone. It’s tough and a huge learning curve but it’s what needs to be done. But this does make me wonder, what everyone else want from these changes to the arts and culture you enjoy in your lives. How difficult is it to engage with arts and culture online? Do you have anything stopping you from doing that? What kind of arts are most important to you? What are you wanting to spend your money on within arts and culture if at all? How important is art and culture to you in a time when we have been stripped back to a more essential life style?
Well if you have made it this far through my rambling pandemic saga, I would love to hear your views on those final questions…help me understand this post-covid world and navigate it in a way which will hopefully bring some much needed happiness and content to my audience through new mediums and hopefully engage with new people too!
PLEASE GIVE YOUR VEIWS IN THE COMMENTS OR EVEN SEND ME A PERSONAL MESSAGE OR EMAIL AT email@example.com
I have struggled my whole life with how I look. I have always had issues with my weight, my face, size of my head, how much body hair I sprout, having an uneven upper lip, having skin tags, dark skin pigmentation and so much more. I have spent years letting these imperfections and insecurities keep me down, but recently I have become more aware that in not embracing what I am naturally, I am holding myself back. This is MY body and I am responsible for it and the way I feel about it, so I made the conscious decision to stop hating it and decided to try and love it instead. I’m not saying I always feel great about myself because I definitely don’t but allowing myself to accept my imperfections and embrace them as a part of who I am, has honestly changed my life.
I feel like I have been on this quest for so long, I tried to change myself so many times to fit in with what the world sees as general beauty. As a performer and in particular a dancer, society tells me I should be thin and traditionally good looking, often tanned skin and definitely make up clad and I shouldn’t have body hair (or much of it at least). With these standards set for us how are we ever supposed to just enjoy what we are and be who we are? It’s difficult to override the standards and expectations that have been imposed on us by society and start to enjoy and appreciate our bodies for what they are. There is always a bit of a backlash to people being “proud” of certain aspects of their body, so let me be clear that I am not talking of pride in appearance but more of an acceptance, love and above all care. I have found in being an overweight person almost my whole life that hating myself and what I look like has got me nowhere and in fact has made my situation worse. In dark times of self hatred I have began to not care about myself and that is where things deteriorated both mentally and physically.
What I propose is that as a collective (in particular women but men are not excluded) we begin acceptance and re-focus our efforts on how we make ourselves feel and how we treat our bodies, trying to align with ourselves and our natural strengths rather than focussing on how weak, bad and wrong we think we might be. Positivity if shared can be an amazing travelling gift which I am hoping to pass on to you today in writing this blog
My journey to finding myself beautiful has meant changes but not the changes I always thought they would be such as weight loss, hair removal, permanent make-up or keeping the perfect beauty regime. It has been a change within me to accept what I am and decide to care for it and love it, stop telling it that it looks wrong, stop thinking it is bad and stop using it as an excuse not to enjoy my life to it’s absolute fullest.
I wanted to write this particular blog to emphasis the strength of accepting your body and yourself as they are, because as I have witnessed first hand within myself, it is only after that acceptance that you can start to move on to truly be our best self. So if there is anything other than a spot of self indulgence you can take from this b post, please let it be this, don’t waste time hating your body and how you look, it’s not worth it, don’t let it stand in the way of anything you want to do, it might be hard and scary but you can honestly make a difference not only to yourself and your own life but those around you.
Let’s be brave together and please do feel free to use this post to start conversations with myself an others!
A beautifully touching, strong piece of theatre, A Thousand Splendid Suns is a window into another culture, destroyed and rebuilt with an oppressive and extremist regime leaving women vulnerable and desperate! The play covers a plethora of uncomfortable and difficult subjects, domestic abuse, extreme religious laws, death and miscarriage however within this there are light hearted moments too which for me give the show a realness rather than just playing on the drama of the setting.
The more relatable parts of everyday life and the extreme situations the main female characters found themselves in due to war and extremism are wonderfully fused together which for me is what makes this a powerful piece of theatre. It draws the audience in with relatable foundation whilst showing us an extreme truth which is shocking in both cases evokes emotion and draws the audience closer.
Credit to Pamela Raith
We see our main character Laila develop from a bright young girl into a surpressed woman stuck in a loveless marriage to Rasheed alongside the long suffering Mariam. It was really interesting to watch their relationships grow and change with such a subtlety that you almost don’t realise it is happening. For me the most unsettling part of this story is the manipulation of a vulnerable girl and the genuine misogynistic beliefs that the girls and women of Afghanistan face everyday, as if the war wasn’t enough for them to endure.
This piece of theatre seems so relevant right now! Although we don’t hear too much about Afghanistan on the news anymore it is a stark reminder of how lucky we are here in the UK. In this time of prejudice against migrants and refugees, this piece will be a great education to some on just what people face in these war torn countries and why they leave for the chance to live a better life.
Credit to Pamela Raith
I would definitely recommend going to see A Thousand Splendid Suns, it was a really human piece of theatre and brought home and affirmed why as a world we need to be more empathetic and care more about our fellow humans. So don’t forget your tissues, it will be an emotional ride, and take some change for the charity collection at the end of the show.
Credit to Pamela Raith
A Thousand Splendid Suns has a wonderfully long run at Northern stage from 30th May- 15th June. if you would like to see it for yourself you can book your tickets or find out more about the show on Northern Stage’s website HERE.
I do very few theatre reviews which don’t involve dance in some way, shape or form however, when I was invited to review The Lovely Bones at Northern Stage I could not resist. There has been a great deal of hype on the scene about the arrival of this collaborative play at Northern stage which has joined forces with Birmingham Repertory Theatre and Royal & Derngate, Northampton co-production and Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse to bring this disturbing, funny, heart wrenching and heart warming show to the stage.
Unlike many of the other audience members I had never read the book or even seen the film which is surprising as the film stars Saoirse Ronan one of my favourite actors of the past few years. I have been trying my hardest not to encounter any spoilers. I love to see new theatre as new rather than tainted by things I have seen, heard or read in the past. Usually a very hard thing to do most of the time but this was one of the rare occasions I succeeded almost completely. So needless to say I was really excited to see the show and experience it exactly for what it was.
I will try to give away as few spoilers as possible but I would like to warn fellow theatre goers of the startling opening to the performance as I did very nearly shower my theatre neighbours with pepsi max when a loud blast of audio and flash of light caused me to jump out of my skin! The play begins with us meeting our main character Susie Salmon played by Charlotte Beaumont. She has been murdered, throughout the play we journey with her as she tries to evade heaven and remain with her living friends and family. There is also the matter of her unsolved murder and how she can get justice for her death.
The main thing I took from the show was how uniquely it looked on such a savage and horrific death of a teenager. The news in the world is constantly filled with the rape and murder of young people, in particular young women abused and murdered by older men. This play brings us the side of the murdered and abused young woman who is so much more than what befell her. She is strong, capable, funny, loveable and even hopeful that things can still some how work out well in some way.
Her character is brought to life from the confines of her own personal “heaven” which at times is not as heavenly as you might think. The story is set in the early 1970’s through to 80’s so you can expect some great music to accompany this drama with a twist of deep meaning, philosophy and a touch of humour. I really feel like the feeling of youth shone through in this production not only through the way the material was created but through the performances of the younger actors, it really brought a fresh tone to this kind of drama. There were lot’s of very strong performances particularly Susie, her father Jack Salmon played by Jack Sandle and MR Harvey Susie’s murderer played by Keith Dunphy, I also enjoyed Ayoola Smart as Lindsey Salmon (Susie’s Sister). Not to say that the rest of the cast weren’t great too although I did get a couple of little accent cringes now and again but I think when a British cast are doing an American play that is always bound to happen.
The piece is really creative with it’s doubling up on characters use of puppetry and even actors playing animals at some points. I really think this story of such a sensitive nature was told to perfection with some really strong thought put into how they could do such a story justice and inject humour and that feeling of youth without being dis-respectful to the sensitive themes explored within the storyline. The whole cast and creative team truly have succeeded with “The Lovely Bones” and I would recommend you go and see it! It’s running from 9th-20th October at Northern Stage then moves on to Birmingham Repertory Theatre and New Wolsey Theatre.
What a few weeks I have had! I don’t know about anyone else, but to me it always seems like you need copious amounts of time to be healthy. That is probably just me making excuses for myself but being busy always seems to impede my progress to being a healthy human being. The fact that I have terrible organisational skills when it comes to my personal life probably doesn’t help.
In my last post “Hildy’s Health Adventure: Psychotherapy with The Good Nature Company, what I’ve learnt so far.” I wrote about rewarding myself with food and how I had been advised by Julie my psychotherapist from The Good Nature Company to create another way to reward myself. She mentioned how prominent my inner child seems, as if that was a surprise to anyone, so suggested that a good way of keeping on top of rewarding myself without food would be to make a sticker chart! So that is exactly what I did. Now everyone who has seen this chart doesn’t really get it, basically because the chart doesn’t reward anything good in particular, I use it to stick a sticker on when I feel like I have done something that deserves one. So for example if I get a good chunk of my to do list done for the day I would usually treat myself later that day to some crisps or something I would consider to be a treat, now I have my chart I have tried to exchange that for a sticker on my chart. I also have a section for being upset or sad, so if I’m having a bit of a bad day instead of drowning my sorrows in cake I will put a sticker in that section ( this section needs enlarged!).
If I feel like the reward needs to be bigger than a sticker I have written some other bigger rewards on the back of my chart which I can dish out to myself where/when I feel I need to! I have definitely treated myself with quite a few small treats already and one or two medium treats too! I hadn’t realised it until writing this piece but this also shows you all how un-rock ‘n’ roll my life is. Yes Gardening is a treat! One of the fall backs of this chart is that in no way does putting a sticker on a chart feel as good as eating cake, I think getting used to that change will be very hard, which is why I have been dishing out the small treats from the back of my chart like there is no tomorrow.
One of the issues I have really struggled with in this reward swap is time. I don’t know about anyone else, but eating a packet of crisps for me takes no time whereas most of the non-food treats I have thought of and put into practice tend to take up a lot more time. I already struggle with not having enough time in the day as it is, so with these little things on top of that has taken it’s toll on my work load and I really can’t say they are as convenient as cake. This is something I suppose I just need to make time for and accept but over the past couple of weeks been so busy that I have still used food as a reward.
I know that this is not going to be an overnight change, the temptation is high and the rewards at the moment don’t quite fill the gaps of the old ones (food). I have rewarded myself with food since creating the chart, I know that this habit is so ingrained inm e it will take a long time and lot’s of effort to make the shift.
But I’m working on it and have tried to at least do half and half over the past couple of very busy weeks. Let’s see if I can keep it up!
Anyone reading this in the same position as me I would really suggest giving this a go it certainly gives you a better idea of when/where and why you reward yourself with food.
Well the past few weeks have been an interesting few! I have been seeing Julie a psychotherapist from The Good Nature Company. (If you want to catch up then visit my previous blog HERE). Our first session was great we discussed lot’s, mostly about me, and got to know each other a little bit better. I was expecting these sessions to be quite emotionally charged with me being such an emotional person, but somehow I was calm and collected. Speaking to someone like Julie was kind of like seeing myself from an outside perspective which was quite refreshing. I often get bogged down in the should have, would have, could have scenario and I think addressing my issues from the root cause is what is going to help me accept myself further. From all of the soul searching i have done over the past year or too I know that eating healthily and exercising just isn’t enough! I don’t just have a fat body, I have a fat brain! If I can’t accept my fat self how am I ever going to A/get to a healthy weight and B/ accept myself when I get there. Won’t I just want more and more and the acceptance will never be there?
In this first session we set some, I’m going to call them “Goals of Discovery”, meaning certain things I wanted to find out and understand about me/yself. As I have discussed in previous blogs, I am an emotional eater and it’s not just when I’m sad or upset, but when I’m happy, when I have achieved something etc. I use food as a reward. If I have had a really good day I feel I deserve something “delicious” and if I have a terrible day or something bad happens or I’m just generally feeling a bit sad or out of sorts I think something “delicious” will cheer me up. Which is why I am on a mission to break this cycle and finally start moving forward with a healthier way of thinking about food.
Baby Hildy age 4
Julie and I discussed a lot about my family, who else had weight problems and where/when these emotional eating habits started to kick in. We worked through from being a very small child to my teenage years. We discussed life events and why these habits may have come into my way of coping. We also decided that I have a very strong inner child which came as no surprise to me. We got talking about how my inner child is basically my emotions and my adult self is my practical mind. My emotions need acknowledged they can not be ignored and when they are not satisfied they throw a tantrum and end up being all controlling. What I need to do is satisfy both and find a balance between them in order to take complete control responsibility for myself or “Own It” as the kids say.
Baby Hildy age 3
So I was given a bit of homework to start weaning myself off rewarding with food and satisfying the creative child within (and out) by making an amazing sticker chart with small and large rewards for achievements and emotions I would usually cope with or reward with food.
I know I have been slightly quiet for a while, but it is mainly because I have really had to delve inside myself over the past few weeks and that can take it’s toll mentally which hasn’t left much time for blogging at the same time which I really never expected to happen. I felt like I needed some time to come to terms with what at the moment feels like a rather large job ahead!
There are a few issues which I just need to put my whole heart and mind into solving, which I will tell you all about later.
But for now here is an introduction to the lovely Julie from The Good Nature Company who will be giving me some Psychotherapy sessions we will be looking at the reasons I have emotional eating patterns and how I can take control of that.
Here is a little video from our first session and an introduction to what we will be exploring over the coming weeks.