Life After Death: A personal account of dealing with the death of a loved one.

Content note: although not graphically, this post does detail some elements of my mums terminal illness and subsequent death and should be approached with caution if you feel that discussion these topics and of bereavement may distress you. Whilst I have done my best to give insight for those going through a similar ordeal, or whose loved one may be going through a bereavement, I am not an expert and all I can do is call upon my own experiences.

Life After Death: A personal account of dealing with the death of a loved one.

Today is February 4th. Exactly one year ago today, my mother passed away following a prolonged battle against cancer and my own blinkered little world crash landed. In the past year, I have done my very best to deal with the premature death of an extremely well loved, cherished and deeply missed parent. I have learnt a number of lessons with regards to dealing with death and getting on with life following a death. My hope is that by sharing these insights and lessons learnt I can help any other people dealing with a similar situation.

The first and most important thing that I learnt is this: there is no right way to deal with this.
Everybody deals with loss differently. Do not feel pressured by how other family members are reacting, or with how you feel you should be reacting. I didn’t cry for months following mums death. I think perhaps that this is due in part to the nature of my mums illness; we’d known for a long time that she was terminally ill and that eventually she would leave us. I think I did most of my mourning and coming to terms with it a long time prior to her eventual passing. Do not feel guilty if you feel a sense of relief. This is one thing that I personally really struggled with, especially given I hadn’t cried about losing my mum. When the nurse came and told me and my dad that mum had gone, I was struck by an enormous wave of relief as well as sadness. Everybody reacts differently. My reaction was one of mingled relief that the ordeal was over – for both mum, and for the rest of us – and absolute fury at the world. How dare the world steal my mum, how dare fate chose her. This is a feeling I’m still wrangling with a year on. My point is this; however you are feeling right now is perfectly fine. This is a great emotional upheaval. Of course you’re gonna be feeling some weird, horrible, conflicting stuff. Don’t beat yourself up about it.

Accept help when it’s offered. Don’t be afraid of being a burden. If there’s ever a time to accept offers of help, it’s now. If you’re offered counselling, special allowance during exams or compassionate leave from work, don’t be afraid to accept it if you feel it would aid you. Obviously if you really don’t feel comfortable doing so, you needn’t pressure yourself in to it either. Just know that generally when people offer you warm thoughts and help if necessary that they do tend to mean it sincerely. I was very dubious, but found that I needn’t have been. People tend to come together in times of crisis and very few people will want to allow you to suffer if they think they can help. People are well meaning - I know it may become a bit wearing to hear constantly how sorry people are to hear of your loss, but try to take it as it is meant.

Take as much time as you need. When my mum passed, I was 2 weeks away from my already deferred dissertation deadline in my final year of my degree. This, mingled with the general sense of anger I was directing at the world, made me extremely unpleasant to be around. After I handed in my dissertation I had a series of (deferred) coursework deadlines, followed by my final year exams. It was at around this time that I became extremely active on Twitter and published a great wealth of angry and/or self pitying blog posts. In my blinkered determination to carry on as normal, I returned to my part time job within 4 days of mum dying. I ended up making myself ill. I was unhealthy, angry and exhausted. With the gift of hindsight, I wish I had been a little kinder to myself. Self-care is extremely important. Since graduating in July, I have been working part time at my 0 hour job, fitting children’s shoes. I have nurtured my hobbies; taking up swimming again for the first time since I was about 13, watched a lot of junk on TV, baked a lot of cakes and generally concentrated on getting myself back in to a happy place. Given everything that happened from October 2012 (mum’s diagnosis) to about July 2013, I feel I owe it to myself. It’s been a year since her death and 7 months since I graduated, but having driven myself in to the ground I have decided to give myself as long as I need to get back up speed. Has this already been too long? Maybe. But frankly, I need to be kinder to myself. That’s the most important lesson I give you, if you’re going through something similar: be kind to yourself. 

Remember that everybody reacts to bereavement differently. This is evident within my immediate family. I reacted with absolute fury, and a blinkered determination to get on with life regardless. My brother went the opposite direction; becoming extremely introverted and avoiding talking to people about what had happened. He certainly didn’t speak to me about it, although I don’t know whether he turned to his friends. My dad went down another route again. He attended bereavement groups and became more deeply involved with his Christian faith. The important thing to remember here is that although we all reacted different, none of us reacted wrongly. Of course you’ll hear stories about people who developed a drink or drug problem following a bereavement, or who took out their emotions on themselves in a destructive way. Be kind to yourself, allow yourself to grieve and don’t beat yourself up about how you’re feeling.

Advice for those supporting the bereaved

One thing I learnt is that it is extremely important to have a good support network in place. Your loved one is going through some horrible feelings right now; if they need their space, give it to them. Keep an eye on them, but allow them to come to terms with what happened in their own way and in their own time. Remember that when they’re shouting at you for putting an empty milk bottle back in the fridge and becoming unfathomably hysterical about seemingly inconsequential things that it probably isn’t the milk bottle at all. Be a shoulder to cry and a crutch to hold them up if need be.

I hope that this has been a least a little bit instructive or encouraging for somebody going through an extremely difficult time in their lives. Obviously this is dealing with death following illness and I don’t know how the reaction to a sudden death differs, but I’d say the fundamental points stand: allow yourself to grieve, give yourself time, don’t beat yourself and be kind to yourself. This is a difficult time but time is a great healer.

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Ask.fm: friends, trolls and why I closed my account.

Ask.fm is described by Wikipedia as being “social networking website where users can ask other users questions, with the option of anonymity.” When I first heard about and noticed people using it on my Twitter feed I was immediately dubious. I had had a little experience with Formspring – a predecessor with a very similar format – and although I hadn’t used it very often, I hadn’t enjoyed it. Over time, people on my feed – who tend to be people that hold political or social views that challenge the status quo – began singing Ask.fm’s praises as a platform through which people could begin engaging with activism and politics, asking those with greater knowledge and experience potentially embarrassing questions without having to worry about looking like an idiot. Gradually I came round to the idea. Eventually I set up my own account.

My use of Twitter is pretty varied. Followers of mine are treated to daily doses of complaining about public transport, kitten pictures and – occasionally – politics and current affairs. I wouldn’t call myself an activist. I’m an armchair activist or a keyboard warrior at best. I use Twitter to vent my rage at journalists, companies and politicians grossly abusing their position of power, and have acquired a little following of a few hundred like minded people. I knew that some of the women I looked up to and admired used it regularly and found it extremely useful so (grudgingly) I set up an account.

At first, my Ask.fm experience was surprisingly positive. People asked my thoughts on current affairs, whatever Twitterstorm was currently blowing its course, things about my life that I had eluded to on Twitter but which people wanted more details on. Mostly my boyfriend, who is a talented jazz guitarist on the London circuit, and make-up. It all started going downhill when somebody asked my opinion on abortion. Without going in to detail, it transpired that the askers views were wildly different to my own. I tried to remain calm so I could respond in an articulate and thought out manner. I posted my answer.

A feeding frenzy ensued. I was set upon by pro-lifers telling me I was advocating murder and that by doing so I was “murdering whore.” I was also set upon by pro-choicers claiming I hadn’t been harsh enough on the asker. I stared at my screen in bemusement. However I had answered, somebody would have been angry. I dealt with the criticism as best I could, blocking the worst of the pro-lifers and eventually turning my phone off so I could get some sleep. The next day, the frenzy had dulled. I breathed a sigh of relief. 

About a week later, I received another horrible post. This one wasn’t even a question. The “asker” had contacted me anonymously to inform me that they had a theory – that I did not love or cherish my partner, but was rather dating him to further my “textbook leftist agenda.” The reason for this theory – my boyfriend is Asian. I snorted with derision. The assertion didn’t even warrant a response. What worried me the most was the fact that this person was using Ask.fm – a platform that I understood was to ask questions of people that you didn’t want to ask in person – not to ask me anything, but rather to send me thinly veiled racist abuse because of my partners ethnic origin. They were using it to attack me and the person I hold most dear. It also concerned me that, as far as I was aware, I had never tweeted about my boyfriends ethnic background. I sank in to a sea of paranoia. Tweeting that I was receiving horrible “questions” on Ask, I was flushed with friends posting me positive messages. But, again, in amongst the care was abuse. Name calling. The worst thing about it is that, because of the very nature of Ask.fm, you have no idea who is posting it. You don’t know whether it’s somebody you otherwise trust and cherish, or whether it’s somebody you’ve never met. Again, the furore died down, I blocked the sender and everything went back to normal.

This morning, as I was sitting in Costa Coffee in Croydon drying off from the rain, a man sat down at my table. I hadn’t seen him come in or approach me, but he leaned forward and asked “Hey sexy. Do you mind if I sit here?” I looked around. It was 9.30am and there were plenty of vacant spots. “Why?” I asked. “There are loads of free tables.” I was frightened. Costa was virtually empty and the staff were busy doing something behind the till. “I just wanna look at you beautiful!” he explained, leaning forward over the table. By this point, I could feel my heartbeat inside my head. I had a burst of adrenaline, as all my instincts told me to run. “No,” I replied, “go away.” I tried to look as steadfast and fearless as possible. He stood up with a start. “Fine! Fuck you, whore.” he said, turning and walking in the other direction. I breathed a deep sigh of relief. The woman on the next table asked me if I was okay. I nodded, although I was actually pretty shaken.  
When I was calm, I tweeted about it.

I was met with an outpouring of kindness and support from the people of Twitter. Later, I received as Ask.fm question, accusing me of exaggerating what had happened to get attention. Again, I sank in to paranoia. Was this a person from inside Costa that had witnessed what had happened? If it were then they would have seen that of course I’m not exaggerating. Why would somebody send me this? Why is Ask.fm being used in this way, so far from its intended purpose? Are there any safe guard in place, to protect people from malicious abusers on the site?

When I got home, I did a little research. Ask.fm has been at the centre of scandal recently, surrounding the subject of cyber bullying. The site has been linked to a number of suicides, mostly of teenagers who have been bullied anonymously. I think the most worrying thing about Ask.fm is the lack of regulation: although they claim that they have monitors, comments are never deleted and as such the website has come under heavy criticism. They claim that users troll themselves so that their peers will protect them (see this interview) and that the problem of cyberbullying is vast and not restricted solely to Ask.fm. This is certainly true. Cyberbullying trascends platforms. However, I feel that the format of Ask.fm is particularly problematic, what with the anonymous nature of posts and the potentially vulnerable nature of their predominantly teenager users. I have found through my experiences of Ask.fm that my initial fears were entirely well-founded. Ask.fm is abused by people who want to fire hate at people that they dislike. They are cowards, who do not want to fight a fair fight or let the person know who it is that is sending them these accusations. 

I closed my Ask.fm account today permanently and I don’t intend to reopen it. As a platform it is far to open to abuse from cowardly individuals with nothing better to do that send anonymous abuse. With greater regulation, Ask.fm could be a brilliant site serving a useful service. As it is, it is a way for people to hide behind a veil of anonymity, saying things to people that they would never have said if they didn’t have that anonymity. I concede that cyber bullying goes beyond Ask.fm, but argue that as a format it is particularly useful to abusers and unhelpful to the abused. Stay away from Ask.fm folks. It has a dark underside that I don’t want to re-explore.

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Living with phobias

As I write this, I am sitting in a dark, dingy bar. It is the middle of the day in July, the weather is beautiful, and I am lucky enough to be on a campus of a college of the University of Cambridge; my boyfriend is providing music for a very well to do function and I am playing the “I’m with the band” card to sneak in and soak up the ambience. There are rose bushes and Pimms is flowing readily. The band are set up in a gorgeous marquee, decorated with hanging baskets and bunting. People are playing croquet on the lawn.

I am sat in an ugly 1960s concrete bar, trying to recover. You see, I have a phobia of flying insects. This ranges from houseflies, nats, mosquitos etc, through bumblebees, moths, butterflies and up to the unmentionables. Even writing the word sends me in to a fresh tizzy: wasps, hornets and all variants there of.

A phobia and a fear are different things: I don’t know when I became phobic, or why. When I was about 4 an old friend of mine was stung inside his mouth and throat when an unmentionable snuck on the end of his hot dog. He cried, a lot. At roughly the same age, somebody told me that the reason that unmentionables buzz is because they were carved by the devil and forged together using his tears as glue. A year or so later I watch a programme on CBBC about a heroic young man rescuing his sister from a swarm of angry unmentionables, with a paramedic solemnly explaining that too many stings can kill a child.

Then the nightmares started. I’d dream hideous, vivid nightmares, on which they would swarm in my bedroom, covering my toys, clothes and sometimes me, all in a writhing mass of disgusting wriggly bodies. Not every night. Not even particularly often; just often enough.

I am aware that this is (for the most part) unreasonable, unnecessary and irrational. I know, my God I know. “Just stand still and it’ll go away” I’ve been told. “It’s more afraid of you than you are of it!” I’m told to calm down, get a grip. People bestow me with their priceless pearls of wisdom, uninvited for the most part. Some are down right cruel: buzzing in my ear, because they’re so fucking original and oh so hilarious. These people need to understand that when somebody has a phobia, even an unexplained, irrational one like mine, that this advice is unhelpful and is probably falling on deaf ears. Everything about them provokes a physical reaction in me. Flight mode kicks in.

I have climbed under tables, through windows and over strangers on a train to escape them. I’ve hidden in cupboards, physically injured myself in my flight, slept in the corridor or on the sofa to avoid going in a room with one. I nearly abandoned my car on a dual carriageway when one came through the window. I do not eat outside, ever. I avoid floral gardens. Summer time is not a good time for me.

That is why I am sitting in a dingy, nasty bar on a beautiful day in July, nursing my wounded pride and my tattered nerves. This doesn’t so much have a moral, more a plea. If somebody is phobic, do not try to reason with them, treat them with derision or mock them. Just help them get away from whatever it is frightening them. They’ll thank you for that far more than “Just stand still and it’ll go away”.

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The Quarter Life Crisis: part II

A while ago, I posted this piece on my impending Quarter Life Crisis. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the phrase, a quarter life crisis is a period of a persons life, spanning from their late teens to late twenties, during which some individuals face tough existential questions. What am I going to do with my life? Am I going to be stuck in this hideous dead-end job and hate everything? Will I work as a wash-up girl at the local garden centre forever? I don’t think this is a recent phenomena. I’d wager this has been happening to young people for a good long time to be honest, it’s just that given the ease with which young people can express themselves to an audience these days – through blogging, social media etc – us Quarter Life Crisisers are becoming more vocal.

My quarter life crisis hit during my first year of university. I’d done what I was told and expected to do by my parents and my teachers without question up until this point, going from high school to sixth form and now, to university. I was a “bright girl” with “great potential” and us “bright girl’s” should to university. It was only right. I hadn’t really known what I wanted to do or what I wanted to study so had plumped for Geography because I was good at it and liked holidays. By January 2011 I was living in halls of residence at Royal Holloway, studying Geography and… it was fine. I was doing well. My mum wasn’t very well and I had a lot on my plate but I was a-okay and on track for a decent degree. I don’t know why I suddenly started questioning my very existence but at some point at around this time I did. I dabbled in meditation. I read a lot of Beat generation literature. I considered running away with my tent and living on a mountainside somewhere, not worrying about “real life”. Oh God. Real life. I started blogging, I got in to politics, I met a whole load of amazing, inspiring people. I realised what I wanted to do with my life.

I am now a graduand. I worked fecking hard and got a 2:1, despite my mum passing away in February, going to a crappy Croydon comprehensive school and most people expecting me to bomb out at some point in the past few years. I am proud of it. I want to write for a living; it’s what I’m good at, it’s what my passion is and I feel it will add greatly to my happiness. Quarter Life Crisis over.

 

… or is it? Upon leaving Royal Holloway and entering the real world, it has become apparent to me that the real world is a horrible place. Even now I know what I want to do, I must jump through hoops to get there. As such, my quarter life crisis has entered a new, even more frightening phase. Now I know what I want to do, how the HELL am I going to do it? Is the world actively conspiring against me? What if I never get to do what I want to do and end up washing plates at the garden centre again? Oh god, not the garden centre.

It’s a tough, scary world out there. I suppose the message of this blog is that, through the process of university, my experiences and my quarter life crisis thus far, I have learnt that all you can do in life is try your best. Keep plugging away. Pursue happiness. If anybody reading this would like me to write for them, please drop me a line. I’m happy to make tea and photocopy and I really am a good writer, I promise.

Anyway, if plugging away and trying my best doesn’t work, I’m going Jack Kerouac on you and running away with my tent. 

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Here’s why Online Feminism rocks. #FBrape, Elizabeth Fry and activists kicking ass!

My name is Laura Martin and I am an internet addict. There, I’ve said it. I’m one of those irritating people who tweets about what they’re having for tea, that kid on the train that won’t stop screaming, the colour of my toe nail varnish. Although a large proportion of my tweets concern kittens and biscuits, a substantial amount concern my other great passions: feminism, politics and my meagre attempt to change the world. People snort when I tell them I’m in to online politics. “What has online activism ever achieved Laura, seriously? Is this because you don’t like crowds and drizzle? Man up, get your rain mack on and tie yourself to the fencing at Downing Street like a proper activist.” Well, no actually. Online activism is changing things and I have two excellent examples of how.

The #FBrape campaign. No, I’m not referring to when you leave your account signed in on your friends computer and they change your display picture to one of David Cameron (which, incidentally, has happened to me and I was mortified). I am referring to some of the images circulating Facebook depicting disgusting violence against women, trivialising rape and abuse. Before I get comments telling me to get a sense of humour I will give you a couple of examples. (Massive TW here!)

1) A photograph of a woman with two black eyes, a split lip and the caption “this bitch didn’t know when to shut up.”
2) A photograph of a woman lying unconscious at the bottom of a stairwell with the caption “next time don’t get pregnant”.
3) A photograph of a woman lying limp in a man’s arms with the caption “Rohypnol – For when you want NO to mean yes.”
These are amongst a plethora of repulsive images I saw personally. Now, maybe I am a humourless feminist but to me, that is the opposite of humour. Granted I am juvenile but to me humour includes fart jokes, word play and people falling over. Not rape. Not violence. Many of these images were reported to Facebook, who did… nothing. Apparently these images did not violate their terms of usage or policy. Meanwhile, images of women nursing their children were removed as you could see the woman’s nipple. DAFUQ?
The FBrape campaign was spearheaded by Women’s Rights groups Women, Action and the Media and The Everyday Sexism project and involved hundreds of other groups, over 60,000 tweets and over 5,000 emails, aimed at companies that advertised on the site and Facebook itself. Within a week, Facebook conceded that these images were not properly dealt with and promised to retrain moderators, change their policy on hate speech and put tighter restrictions in place. Now, I don’t know about you, but that sounds like a victory for online feminism. V I C T O R Y.
Personally, I hope that this is not just empty promises and that we are not being fobbed off with a kiss arse statement to placate us. I sincerely doubt that we will be placated. We rocked it and we will rock it again.

My second example is one which is yet to be resolved and one that I beseech you to get involved with. The Bank of England recently announced that social reformer Elizabeth Fry is to be removed from the £5 note and replaced with Winston Churchill. I have nothing against Churchill really. The problem is that by removing Elizabeth Fry, the Bank of England has removed the only woman (aside from The Queen) depicted on our banknotes. Caroline Criado-Perez, co-founder of The Women’s Room UK and generally completely badass lady, took exception to this, quite rightly. The online petition Criado-Perez started currently stands at over 20,000 signatures. The Bank of England has been threatened with legal action under the 2010 Equality Act. Criado-Perez writes on the petition site that

An all-male line-up on our banknotes sends out the damaging message that no woman has done anything important enough to appear. This is patently untrue. Not only have numerous women emerged as leading figures in their fields, they have done so against the historic odds stacked against them which denied women a public voice and relegated them to the private sphere – making their emergence into public life all the more impressive and worthy of celebration.

People will perhaps say that the Queen appears on all the notes. But the Queen would be there whatever she achieved – she was born into her position. The men on the banknotes – Charles Darwin, Adam Smith, Matthew Boulton, James Watt, and soon, Winston Churchill – are all there because of what they have done, not because of who their parents were.

This decision by the Bank of England is yet another example of women’s considerable achievements being overlooked in favour of the usual (male) suspects – and yet another example of how the establishment undervalues the contributions of women to history – and indeed to the present.

If successful, this petition will make a real impact. Make it happen guys

http://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/bank-of-england-keep-a-woman-on-english-banknotes

Online Feminism is raising awareness and engaging women (like myself) who don’t feel comfortable attending marches and rallies. It is an inclusive, engaging form of activism that everybody can get involved with. So what are you waiting for? G E T  I N V O L V E D ! Follow @TheWomensRoomUK, @EverydaySexism and of course moi (shameless plug) @nitramarual!

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To my Granddaughter.

Hello darling,

If you’re reading this it means that I managed to have a child and that child has managed to have you! Go us! I’m writing to you from a time before the revolution; 2013. I want to tell you a little bit about my life. I hope that you will scarcely be able to believe what you’re reading as I hope that my the time my grand daughter is old enough to read, all this nastiness will have been cast in to the annals of history. As I said darling, it’s 2013 and I am 21 years old. This morning I went to the BP Garage to by croissants, coffee and a newspaper – the BP Garage is a place in which we pump petroleum in to our cars without thought, despite the fact that petroleum is running out and the fumes emitted through it’s use are slowly suffocating our environment and ecosystems! Yeah, I know right, unbelievable! Anyway, I digress.

I picked up my newspaper from outside, selected my croissants and made my way towards the till. A newspaper is how we used to get our news before the internet; they’re already slightly outdated but I am old fashioned and enjoy a good crossword. I bought my newspaper and croissants, before heading across the road to the little Portuguese cafe to get a latte. Inside the Portuguese cafe there was a man reading a magazine. Not just any magazine though little one; a magazine which specialises in “male entertainment” – essentially, it is a magazine in which women are presented in very little or no clothes at all, purely for the enjoyment of the magazines readership. Now, I am not a prude darling. I know you don’t want to here about your grandmothers dirty mind but let me assure you as my own grandmother assured me; we’ve been there and done it all before. Frankly little one, I have no problem with pornography generally. It’s just this particularly breed of pornography, which I hope to whatever deity is up there will have died out by the time you’re old enough to read this, portrays only a particular kind of woman with a very particular kind of body. Women that most real women in 2013 do not even look like! I know darling, it’s ridiculous! I’m sure you’re laughing now! “What! Granny Laura says there were magazines for men that had naked women in them, that didn’t even look like real women!? Hahaha!” You may laugh little one but unfortunately in the days before the revolution, this is what happens!

And it gets worse! You see, women are made to feel terrible that they don’t look like the women in these magazines! Even magazines aimed at us women ourselves perpetuate this tired old image of a perky young woman with perfect skin, tits, arse, make up, figure, partner and profession! I know darling, it is ridiculous! But it doesn’t even stop there little Laura. NEWSPAPERS join in! You know, those old fashioned vehicles for finding out what happened around the world that I mentioned earlier? Yeah, those. On Page 3 of some of these papers they have a large picture of a woman with no clothes on. “But Granny Laura,” I hear you protest, “I thought you said they were newspapers?! A vehicle for the news?!” Oh, I know little one. It is bizarre. But don’t worry, Granny Laura and her friends are on it. I hope and pray that by the time you read this, this archaic tradition will have been exposed for what it is; degrading women and perpetuating the notion that we are nothing but a pair of tits. Sex and nudity are not the problem – systematic and misogynistic objectification of women is.

Love and cuddles
Granny Laura

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Samantha Brick: Abusing her Platform.

I am not generally in the business of slating another individual. I will slate groups of people and I will slate opinions I feel are harmful and invalid but never before has a person enraged me to the point where I’ve felt compelled to write about them as a single entity. My reasons for this are simple; I like to give people the benefit of the doubt and I consider how I would feel if somebody were to pick on me. The reason I’ve decided to bypass my normal judgment on this occasion? This person has picked on people ruthlessly, using her public platform to shame others for not conforming to her and her husbands idealised social norms. She didn’t stop to consider the effect her words may have on those reading them. She didn’t consider the nuances of different experiences or the reasoning behind people’s actions being linked to their own lives and feelings. She went in headstrong and thoughtless like a bull in a china shop, rearing her head and smashing everything surrounding her.

The person in question: Samantha Brick. I’m not going to post a link to the article Samantha Brick published in the Daily Mail this week as I don’t want to be responsible for it gaining any more hits than absolutely necessary so I will summarise; all “self respecting women” want to be thin. Fat = failure, fat = ugly and thin is the absolute ideal. Women should strive to be thin at all costs. She speaks of her extreme dieting during her 20s, glorifying the fact that she would survive on one meal a day and once passed out from hunger, justifying it as a means to an end as she was being asked on so many dates. Her emphasis on the need for women in particular to conform to these norms at all costs (she doesn’t mention men at all) speaks volumes. Why, Samantha, should you worry so greatly about your figure while your husband (who you speak so highly of, claiming he will divorce you if you gain weight) looks, to quote you directly, like a “sack of potatoes.” Normally I would shy away from using such a derisive term to describe another human being – it’s hurtful and completely lacking in compassion. For you Samantha, I will make an exception.

It’s this lack of human compassion and consideration of other people that worries me most deeply. I wonder whether Ms Brick stopped to consider the effect her words may have on somebody suffering with an eating disorder? I am not, thank God, but upon reading her hateful article I started grabbing at my love handles (size 10 Samantha, is that acceptable to you?) and wondering whether to skip lunch. She doesn’t consider that obesity is not caused solely by over eating or a lack of self control – it can be as a side effect of medication, it can be genetic. Obesity can effect people who are already very vulnerable – people taking anti-depressants and gain weight as a side effect. Would you claim Samantha that they should stop taking them? That being slim is of paramount importance and is the be all and end all? If so I think you need to take a long, hard look at yourself.

Samantha Brick has used her position of power and her platform at the Daily Mail to spread vicious messages that undermine the confidence of people who could potentially be extremely vulnerable. She didn’t stop to consider the effects of her words on those suffering with eating disorders, those who gain weight as an effect of medication or those who find it extremely difficult to lose weight for whatever reason. Not to mention the basis of her argument is inherently flawed – she ends on asserting that fat is a sign of failure. I don’t think I really have to justify why that is incorrect and if you need it explaining I can’t help you. The most important thing (in my opinion at least) is a persons well being, emotionally and physically. There is no point in making yourself unhappy in pursuit of a slim figure; that is no way to live. Her contemptible attitude towards those she feels are inferior to her on the basis of something as inane as dress size is not only anti feminist but in my opinion, anti-human. If you were adversely affected by Samantha Brick’s hateful article remember this; it was the biggest crock of shit ever written. End.

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