Sunday, 18 March 2012

Budgeting Like a Bawse... or Not.

I shall list the events of last week in no particular order:
  1. I found myself rummaging through bins with French rubbish collection men on a freezing Tuesday morning.
  2. I decided to start living on a proper and strict weekly budget, starting with €45 a week.
  3. The cold and fever I had that was slowly ebbing away came back in full force on Tuesday afternoon along with swollen glands.
  4. I lost £290. I put it in a brown envelope, and chucked it away with my rubbish without realising it.
These events are clearly not mutually exclusive. Yes, I on my year abroad lost money. I cried and cried. Seriously, beyond Halle Berry Oscar acceptance speech - I wailed and sobbed.

Ah well, not much I can do about that. But I did also start a budget plan this week too! I need to get my affairs in order and lend a less haphazard approach to shopping. One week I'll walk into Lidl and come out with a bag of veg, water and some other simple goodies... but then the next I'll go cur-azeh and run in screaming, 'BUY ALL THE THINGS!!!! PRINGLES FOR €1.09??? I'LL BUY 10' and then make a mad dash to H&M and buy those cheap, unsightly earrings I suddenly and so desperately need.

Well, no! This has all stopped. Yep, that's right, no more.

Or so I thought. Due to losing my cash, I ended up spending ages on the phone with French authorities discussion what I had to do to recuperate it. There goes my credit. I had to buy more: €10. My monthly 'Grand R' Bus and Tram Pass ran out: €27. St Patrick's Day celebrations that I was positively roped into attending: €6 and a further €5 on drinks. Major 'OHMAHGADMYLIFEISSOCRAP' feelings resulted in MacDonald's meal: €6.80. Let's not forget various 'Oh hem ghee vending machines! Chocolate! Win win win!!!' type situations that happened way too often this week.

As you can see, the budget flew out of the window. There were some successes though! I steered clear of any retail therapy (aided by the fact that H&M here is so rubbish and Zara is trop cher... we don't even have any of those cool acid bright tees!). I had a limit on how much I would spend on drinks on nights out and stuck to it. My grocery shop was well and truly under budget and I still have food to spare!

So what I have I learnt from this eventful week?

  • When carrying cash in an envelope, label it with 'DO NOT THROW AWAY. LOTS OF CASH INSIDE.'
  • Find other things to do when feeling down, binge eating junk food and buying clothes doesn't really make you feel better in the long term
  • €45 maybe too little to survive on in a week? I've upped it to €50-€55 to see if it's any better
  • French rubbish collectors are lovely people. French people who work in welcome desks, receptions or any sort of customer-facing role are not.
I hope you had a better week than I did...

Friday, 9 March 2012

Being a Skinny Black Girl - A Curse?

What a hottay. Adaora Akubilo for Sports Illustrated 
It was an unapologetically hot summer's day, the heat interrupted by the gentle breeze that danced through the faded green-walled room. It was around 2002 and I was on holiday with my mother, visiting family in Nigeria. I stood in front of a frail elderly lady, her skin wrinkled like leather, the brown deepened by a lifetime of living under the hot African sun.
 "This is your Grandma's sister, this is where you get your height and shape from," my mother beamed at me from ear to ear.
 "Mazi," I greeted her respectfully in a language that felt clunky on my lips.
She smiled back. Even then, I was unsure how well she could see me through her milky eyes, but I felt a certain warmth meeting her. Even with all my insecurities at being of Nigerian descent yet born and raised abroad, I felt an ever growing sense of belonging that came with discovering more about my background and my family.
  Even now, when I look at my family, I see the lean athletic shape I have occur again and again. I see it in my friends - those of African and Carribbean descent. As well as the stereotypically 'Black Female' body shape of larger bottoms, thick thighs and larger breasts, I see the long, lithe and athletic shapes. Therefore it really irritates me when I read such baseless and damaging material such as this tripe written by Mica Paris for the Daily Mail (what do you expect, eh?).
 The notion that all proper black females have more curves and that the men find only this body type attractive is frankly an irritating generalisation.

"Caribbean men love curvaceous women. I apologise for reinforcing a stereotype, but it’s a fact.You won’t find any man in Jamaica — where my family come from — casting appreciative glances at a skinny female. In my culture, women have hour-glass figures, generous bosoms and wide hips. 
Flat chests, skinny midriffs and size zero are boyish; women with those characteristics don’t get a second glance. Look around, and you won’t see many skinny black women. We’re likely to be built generously and we’re not ashamed to celebrate our curves."

"When I co-presented What Not to Wear with Lisa Butcher, I couldn’t believe the self-neglect I encountered. It shocked me to see so many women — all white — who had given up on themselves.
They had the potential to be beautiful, but they hadn’t been to the hairdresser in years. Their clothes were scruffy and dowdy, and they’d burdened themselves with commitments to such a degree that they’d lost any sense of self-worth. So I’d sit these women down, work on their wardrobes and polish up their style, and there would be tears when they saw the rut they were in."

Read more:

Oh, thanks very much Mica. She managed to turn what was arguably a positive topic into a pathetic and simplistic tirade against white females and 'skinny' black women. I cannot really speak on behalf of white females but I surely can speak on behalf of smaller black women. I suppose we freakishly gross 'skinny' types should just stand and mooch around in the corner, unhappy and alone because that's what it should be like, right? If I had read something like this just a few years ago, I would have been crushed. During my teens, I quickly realised I was not going to have the curves of my peers and was positively distraught when my little cherries didn't grow to be more that fried eggs and my hips remained decidedly narrow. I furiously tried to put on weight and began to avoid exercise in order not to risk becoming smaller.

I am going to state that this kind of mentality and attitude is what gets a lot of young women into trouble - avoiding exercise just to stay 'thick' and putting their health into jeopardy. Furthermore, I do not see why an article about female body image should unashamedly link black female's self-worth to male desires - that irks me completely.

Fact of the matter is while the study shows that African American females are more happy with their body types 'even though they weigh more', there is variation within the black community. This attitude of bashing other groups to make other groups feel better is completely reductive and silly. I see this on countless groups and blogs - things such as 'let's put real women on magazines,' 'she looks like a 7 year old boy,' etc are useless. Yes I am aware that fashion industry is extremely warped in its perception of beauty and should stop the use of underweight, underage and sick models as beauty icons. But believe it or not, there are actually some women who do not starve themselves yet remain decidedly slim, therefore making the assumption that skinny women aren't 'real' is totally detrimental. You see, all the shapes and sizes that women come in, regardless of race are real. Not every female with body types like this are anorexic. More importantly, although a cheesy note to end on, we should all embrace the bodies we've got and do our best to take care of it - 'love the skin you're in' as the saying goes.

(Thankfully, since my teenage years, I slowly began to embrace my lean frame - embrace and love it, not accept and deal with it... you can probably guess this from my blog name! I now exercise regularly and eat well, not for the sake of weight loss, but to feel better and for my health. My fried eggs and I live in harmony ^_^)

Monday, 5 March 2012

Twistout Lovlieness



Argghh yeah - good hair day or whhuttt??? New camera too - Olympus E-PL1 - seen in the last photo. he's very handsome and to be honest, I think a bit too handsome and intelligent for me. I have been have great difficultly getting to grips with him and cannot for the life of my figure out how to take decent photos on my tripod as apparently, the auto function doesn't come with continuous auto-focus. If you have no idea what that means... basically my photos come out super blurry :s 

I can take good shots without a self timer though! As for the mirror shots, they're here for a while until I become more comfortable with my new man camera.

Hair: result of medium twists left in for two weeks, then unravelled for a night a revelry and passion. I lie, the night was not filled with passion. My hair was stroked a lot though O_O

Sunday, 4 March 2012

From French Cafes to Domino's...

Yummah creamy spinach pasta with lamb's lettuce salad. One of my have pasta dishes to make! 
What I normally eat for breakkie: oranges and grapefruit with some oats and honey

BAM. Some Domino's takeaway pizza fo' yo' a$$. Apparently squashing to death an EDF letter. Oopsie.
Felt rather bad so made up for it the next day with goats cheese salad. It was rather wholesome with bacon, eggs and two slices of white bread with cheese on top. *Licks lips*
These are some yummy photos I had loitering on the old lappy just waiting to be unleashed onto the inter webs and gleaned by the Curious and Rather Peckish. All photos were taken by me in France... apart from the Domino's pizza one, where I went on a quick trip home to London. As you can see, my Year Abroad is filled with good food... apart from that minor slip up on home soil. I try to get as much veg as poss, because you know, it's good for you and I actually like the taste of fruit and vegetables. Besides, I like my plates to look very colourful, nothing as fun as eating a pretty plate of food, non?