Leg Day | Race for Life 2017

A sunny Saturday morning would normally entail a lovely walk to work before spending all day feeling jealous of all of the beach-goers (I work at a shop near the sea front) with their ice-creams and smiles. Today, though, I got to “Saturday,” and though you might scoff, it was up there with one of my favourite reasons to have a day off- running. Mum and I had an early start, setting off to Windsor (I only realised the day before where exactly we were going- it’s an hour or so from our home oops!) with our pink t-shirts and excitement to run a 10k in the name of Cancer Research.

Race for LifeRace for LifeeThe run took place at Windsor’s racecourse and it was an incredible route. Two laps around the BE-AU-TIFUL racecourse, surrounded by water, trees and thankfully, a warm sky- even at half nine in the morning! My mum has been injured for the last few weeks but us taking part in the run was one of her final challenges remaining (I set her 50 challenges to do as a present for her 50th birthday) and she did a very good job considering! I’ve got a pretty cool mum, even if I do say so myself.

It was amazing to see the bubbles of pink; the numbers of women who turned up on a Saturday morning for a brilliant course. There was a great sense of togetherness. Running events do this as it is; but when we are all clubbing together for a specific course? It was inspiring. Reading the signs on women’s backs (whether there is a name or two or a more general reason for running) is always particularly poignant. Mum and I haven’t managed to raise any money yet (we WILL though). If you would like to donate to us, you can check out our page here: 50 Ticks Race for Life.

On a particularly selfish note, I haven’t taken part in an organised run for a over half a year because of university. This morning has got me so so pumped to book some runs for the near future in. Someone asked me yesterday if I actually enjoy running because, although he ran a race in a super respectable time, he doesn’t enjoy it. But I do. I love the buzz and I love races. On my urgent to-do list is, book in one race. If you’re looking for a race to sign up to in the near future, definitely check out a Race for Life run near you- they really are brilliant.

~ Kat ~

Feminism Up: Issue #1

The last couple of weeks have been massively driven by this date. June 1st is the first release of a writing project I am so super excited about: Feminism Up (like “man up” but better). It is a monthly newsletter  aiming to encourage discussion about sexism and equality, and thereby the need for feminism as well as the necessity for us to define what feminism entails. The newsletter wants to collate a sea of experiences that tell of so many different experiences. If you wish to check it out, you can sign up to the newsletter HERE and follow the Instagram HERE for updates and further discussion. If you sign up to the newsletter, issue #1 should pop up in your inbox at 8pm tonight (if all goes swimmingly) providing you confirm your subscription and add Feminism Up to you address book- or, alternatively, check your junk mail!

IMG_1939I dreamed up Feminism Up on a train home from Cardiff. My friend had just told me about an experience lined with careless everyday sexism. The nature of the experience frightened me. I have always talked about everyday sexism much like many of my friends but realised none of us do even nearly enough. Maybe if we did tackle these issues (and realise how many more experiences ARE fuelled by sexism even if we don’t think so at first glance) while talking about massive, global sexists issues, we can fight sexism, altogether. I had this idea that it could be released on the first of every month and considering I wanted to write a little about feminism and the election, I knew it had to be released on June 1st. I also knew if I wanted it to be representative I was going to need so guest writers. *Enter my brilliant, talented and amazingly helpful friends.* I knew it was a big ask but I told my friends Callum and Kirstie and only went and produced fantastically thought-provoking pieces for me. I am MORE than grateful.

So, what’s #1 about? It begins with thoughts that are constantly echoed on Binging on Beetroot: why we should ALL be a feminist. My friend Cal then writes about not being a conventional “manly man” and why that doesn’t make him any less of a man. He made me laugh but more importantly, think. Kirst was a 10/10 friend and wrote me a piece a few days after I sent her a message and this article (I am hoping to have a piece a month about all things books/films/that kind of stuff) is all about why Legally Blonde is such a perfect example of a feminist film- it’s SUCH a good read. I finish the article by mentioning that thing that’s happening in the UK next week: The Election (dum dum DUUUUUM). After hearing someone say if you don’t vote May, you’re not a feminist, I had a thing or two to say.

Most of this newsletter was so very inspired by the chat my friend and I had about her experiences. I took to Instagram to have a “rant” about a few Sexist Stories I had heard in the weeks prior to the Instagram, and after a lot of my friends agreed and seemed somewhat happy to see a lot of concerns addressed, I knew a newsletter where we could shape our thoughts into words, could just do some good. Further, I am looking at editor and writer jobs, and although it is a little project that formed in the comfort of my own bedroom, I have learnt a lot about collecting other people’s and my own work to form what hopefully is an informative newsletter.

I want Feminism Up to be all-inclusive. I want to hear about everyone’s experiences; everybody’s thoughts. I most certainly want to learn from the writers who help me out; I don’t even want to agree all of the time. While the latter is definitely true, I am also having to make sure writers are aware that the newsletter is a reflection of me and to some degree, I have to vet it. But mostly, I want everyone to be free to just write. There are next to no guidelines and I want to hear about anything and everything. If you would like to write a piece for Feminism Up, please email me at feminismup@outlook.com. I would really adore it if you signed up today- I’m super excited to hear what people think!

Please let me know if you sign up- I am after any feedback!

~ Kat ~

The Monthly Scrapbook | May | BEDIM

Not only has May been defined by finishing university, but it has been fuelled by my blogging every day and decision to cut my meat consumption. It’s be an interesting and brilliant month; a very, very non-stop one too. Last month I collated my month in one post and I thought I’d continue this idea. May, you were tiring, but you were ace. And I most definitely made the most of your weather.

May Bank HolMay ResultsMay SushiMay RoseeMay Dinner.jpgMay LondonMay OsbourneMay BBQMay TarrynMay started with a bank holiday trip to the beach with Aaron, his sister, Hannah, her boyfriend, Joe and Aaron and Hannah’s dog, Bud. It was the last week or so of essay-writing and exam-preparing and one of the only big breaks I was allowing myself. It was a humid day and we walked through the trees and across the cliff tops before skimming some stones and chilling on the pebbles. A week or so later and the second picture shows a few friends and I feeling smiley in the rain because we FINISHED OUR EXAMS! We celebrated with a trip to Spoons (classic students, ey?).

I was home to work at the weekend and after a pub day with my friend Sarah on the Sunday, Honor and I (picture 3!) spent a day shopping and trying my new favourite thing: sushi! It was a Monday which meant YO! Sushi had their Blue Monday deal on- a lot of popular dishes being £2.80 each. It was beyond yummy. The next day entailed getting on a train to Cardiff to celebrate with my housemate Rose (picture 4!) and my coursemates for our last ever English social. The next morning meant heading back home (I was the visual representation of “Zzz…” on the train) to have dinner with Aaron to celebrate finishing uni. He surprised me with a trip to Tapas Barcelona (our favourite type of food) and it was DELICIOUS. The service was brilliant and the food: incredible.

The end of the month has involved getting myself into a routine at home. Applying for jobs/consistently going to Zumba EEK/working/seeing friends/not worrying about university work. Mum and I visited London, Aaron and I popped to the pub after work, had a BBQ on the beach with a friend and I had a Nando’s trip with Tarryn and we took a million selfies. What more could you ask for? After this, I must add that I went to see the new Pirates of the Caribbean with my brother and it was AWESOME. I have a tendency to feel sleepy in the cinema and I didn’t ONCE in this film.

A fun few days off ended with making s’mores with Aaron, Hannah and Joe before we played too many card games as the evening turned into night. The month ended as it started, I’ve completed my blog every day this month challenge and I’ve adored reducing my meat consumption. *Breathes slowly.* See you later May! 

~ Kat ~

How to Use the Lonely Planet Books | BEDIM

My brother introduced me to the Lonely Planet guides which have proved so useful in the planning process for our trip to Rome next month. It has also inspired me to collect one every time I travel! They are so brilliantly packed with information and advice; ideas and pictures that are making me SO excited for my visit to Rome to roll about. Through having flicked through this guide many a times now, I have worked out a kind of formulae to help get the best out of the Lonely Planet books. First? Grab a cuppa.

Romeandmug1. I began getting my planning on by thinking about what I want to get out of the trip, and equally, what I don’t. While some may go to Rome for a bit of retail therapy, that’s not my jam. And for this particular trip, we don’t have time for watching or taking part in sports. For this reason, apart from a quick scan through, I’ve avoided the two sections devoted to shopping and sports. This has allowed for more in depth reading up about food, important places, food, nighttime culture, food and shows and whatnot. In being a little economic with how I allocate my time (I’m taking this planning very seriously), I can research about the restaurants and places that really catch my eye.

2. Teeny tiny rectangular sticky notes are essential. Start by popping a sticky note onto the pages that talk of experiences and places that seem exciting to you; use relatively generously. Next time you go through, be sensible, and say bye to a few ideas until you’re left with just a few more ideas than are capable. If plans go wrong, you have back ups!

3. Take advantage of the Lonely Planet’s intricate planning and helpful features. My brother and I will be following one of the four day plans that the book sets out. We will carry it out on our first day so we can get a feel for Rome and get accustomed to our surroundings! Similarly, as my edition is a 2017 edition, I looked straight at the year in Rome section to find out what we can get up to in Rome’s June.

4. This may be particularly helpful prior to booking (if you have the book at this point) for budget booking or background information about transport and accommodation. Considering your budget and the way you intend to travel, carefully consider the book’s tips and tricks- SUPER useful!

5. A far more fun version of our lecturer’s instructions at the end of a lecture, extra reading is key. The Lonely Planet’s Rome guide is full to the brim and I’m excited to carry out its advice. However it’s not how I have been planning alone: you can read more about that HERE!

~ Kat ~

P.S. I am nearing the end of my self-inflicted silly May adventure: blogging every day. Yesterday I wrote about Cardiff (it… sucks… don’t follow that link).

The “Things I Wish I Knew About Cardiff” List | BEDIM

I started writing these posts in order to talk about particular holidays or city breaks and the gifts hindsight gives me: What I should have done or what I wish I knew about such a place prior to travelling there. I have written one about Dublin and Paris and although I had a three year stretch to explore Cardiff, I believe our being acquaintances that evolved into a friendship, meant my eyes were opened to all the more mistakes I made in my exploring. And there are a few things I wish I did- and I definitely wish I became friendlier with Cardiff in my first year of uni. But as they say: hindsight is a funny thing.

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I wish…

  • … I found out about the Cardiff Parkrun sooner- it’s amazing!
  • … I (similarly) signed up for the 2015 Cardiff Half Marathon
  • … I went to the fruit and veg market stalls more frequently. When I’d buy a punnet of strawberries, I’d say I should go back “next week”- oops!
  • … I tried out the rowing boats at Roath Park. I adore watching people having fun in them and think I’d make a hilarious mess of it
  • … I visited the New Theatre to see a show
  • … I tried out a Welsh lesson or two
  • … I hopped on a train to a local Welsh town more frequently
  • … I explored the lesser known parts of Cardiff more. There are a plethora of small, independent bars and restaurants dotted about where you least expect it- there are so many on my imaginary Cardiff Bucket List
  • … I had mastered the Welsh accent better. Or at least mastered Stacey’s voice from Gav and Stace

Despite this list and a rocky start to my friendship with Cardiff, the last couple of years have been well-spent in Cardiff. I think it’s a special city, and the people in it are pretty fab too. I’ve taken advantage of a lot of Cardiff and its local towns. Although there are many places I wish I tried out or found earlier, I have so many favourite places and memories that it’s hard to feel hard done by.

~ Kat ~

P.S. I  have been blogging every day this month and yesterday’s post can be read HERE!

The Bank Holiday Afternoon Tea | BEDIM

My mum has been raising money for Macmillan through hosting a fair few tea parties with her friends and our family. This morning and afternoon (we worked long hours- even if the aesthetic outcome doesn’t look Mary Berry cookbook worthy) mum and I made chocolate and salted caramel eclairs, white chocolate and cranberry slices, scones, smoked salmon and cream cheese sandwiches as well as cucumber (with a cheeky trick we learnt last week- soak in salt!) sandwiches. There were smiles, there were tears (Sandwich Chef [me] nearly quit because she sucked at preparing them so much) but it all went down in a very British fashion: with a mug of tea and red, happy faces.

IMG_1803IMG_1801IMG_1807IMG_1800IMG_1802When our tea party commenced, we considered The Important Questions. No, no, not who to vote for next week, but what is The Right Tea Routine: teabag; water; milk? Teabag; milk; water? And oddly, milk; teabag; water? I could be politically correct and say there is no right answer, but of course the first is correct. And then, the ultimate British question that supposedly determines posh or not posh (when results are just so inconsistent): “Scone” or “scon”? (Of course it’s the former, though.) Such a question of course lead to, cream first… or jam first? I simply propose the idea that cream is a really solid foundation for wibbly-wobbly jam. Cream floats fearfully when jam is spread first. Which leaves us with only one sensible process: cream followed by jam.

Jokes aside (I’ll consider them jokes only if you got a 100% score), everything tasted (don’t judge a book by it’s cover) delicious. With the rubbish week the UK has seen and the constant commentary on the election (not that I even think that’s a bad thing- it’s definitely good for democracy and all that good stuff), something as quintessentially British as an afternoon tea makes the world seem less crumbly- even if the scones were due to my terrible slicing skills.

Due to the demand (that we put on ourselves), mum and I faced a few challenges. The bread seemed incompatible with our bread knife (hence the tears); the salted caramel was very confusing; I moved and ruined the cake and maybe the whole day for a second there. We might have been told off and put in our place as Less Than Mediocre Bakers at our cookery lesson last week but today we sported a stiff upper lip and bloomin’ well got on with it. Well, after genuine distress in the face of sandwiches that laughed at me.

~ Kat ~

P.S. “BEDIM” you ask? (You didn’t ask.) I have been blogging every day this month and you can read yesterday’s post HERE!

The Instagram Anxiety | BEDIM

Instagram has been hitting the news this last week; for some disturbing reasons. Its characteristics, the way it is used (and encouraged to be used!) and unique features have handed it the title of, worst app for our mental health. And I’m not surprised. Many responded (ignorantly), “as if!”/”it’s just an app”, but while I adore Instagram and don’t feel a victim of most of its ways, I can completely understand. And boy do I know I almost strictly follow the unwritten Instagram-User Guidelines. This survey has got us chatting about how we use it; its definite flaws. And this IS a good thing; those who suffer with its relentless ways will feel less alone. Since many scroll and scroll, feeling left out or not “good enough”, it’s good to see us all agreeing that there is often a certain “way” of using Instagram and it can’t quite be labelled “harmless”, because evidently, it is.

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A photo I thought was ICKY ICKY at the time and definitely not Instagram Worthy, but now? It was a fab day, a brilliant memory and the person behind the camera made me smile!

The perfect snap is more than emphasised on this social media platform. Not everyone falls for it; some can’t be chastised for it (it IS a brilliant platform for photographers!). Hands up if you feel personally victimised by Instagram’s Perfection Expectations? *Kat’s hand shoots up.* Mostly it’s because I like having a neat and consistent theme (21st Century problems, ey?) but I think there is that weird social media “be our ‘best’ version of ourselves” element too. My friend voiced a very strong opinion on this kind of thing. He believes that confidence means posting photos on social media where you’re looking silly rather than photos of us all made up and ready for a night out. Alas, I don’t agree, but I am unlikely to post a photo I feel just a few sprinkles of “meh” about. I can take waaaay more than one snap just so that it is p-e-r-f-e-c-t. And, yeah, people are right to say that isn’t a legitimate representation of the moment, event or day. But it’s a case-by-case situation and it’s not clear cut to say whether this often false representation is okay or not.

However, in the last year or so I very much so got into photography. I am not very arty (unless you consider my love for eyeliner “arty”) and I don’t claim to be GOOD at taking photos, but I really love taking them- and sharing them at that! I like my Instagram feed (and I am very aware few people will check if my recently shared photo matches the theme) to look on fleek (I recently watched a more than convincing YouTube video where it explained how much of a waste of time an Instagram theme is which made me re-consider my ways). Mostly, I need to feel 100% about the photo – whether its of me or not – because I want my theme to be consistent. I have also been mildly aware that I do succumb to the Perfect Selfie Theory (this is… not… actually a theory) and I’m not sure I do actually want to think too deeply about that. But it raises other questions.

Instagram does provide a persistent feed of “perfect” lives and a lot of dishonesty (few photos on my camera roll would make the Kat Cut; sometimes I hate them all so much I don’t even post). While social media can seem like an uncontrollable force, a lot of us do control our online persona. We pick and choose what we want our followers to see. And we follow account upon account of online personalities who are ‘always’ have an amazing time; ‘always’ looking Instagram Ready. Naturally, this is not the case. But we fall for it. And of course this will be damaging, like this research suggests. I’ve seen young people on Twitter tweeting about their constant comparing to other people who are “more perfect” and it’s pretty soul-destroying. Although I think it affects those my age too, I am lucky to have just escaped this trend (for a lack of a much better word).

To be a successful Instagrammer (sarcasm), we have to boast. I know I do! We must be busy bees; we must Instagram us doing something, being somewhere or being ready for the greatest adventure ever. Anyone can predict the feelings that arise from this constant stream of kind of deceitful story-telling. It’s surely tiring for the user. It allows for the viewer to question their own day while they feel sad, left out and rubbish. Considering I can see so clearly how these anxieties and feelings are synonymous with Instagram, it freaks me out to think how it must feel (and I think I could definitely experience this) to feel really disheartened by the apps endless (literally!) flow of photos and fun.

Of course Instagram is not all bad. It is for sure my favourite app and I adore the control I have and the (to some level) arty expression I can portray on my account. This research has made me question it, and my own usage, though. I’m not sure how we can address the results. It’s not as simple – and it wouldn’t be right – as us to putting photos we don’t actually like or just not post at all. At the very least, I am glad this research has got us talking. Social media can be scary – sometimes terrifying – and there is a lot to talk about. Instagram (and other forms of social media) can cause intense anxiety and despair regarding missing out or thoughts that make us feel that our lives are “worse” than others; we suck compared to others. And we do need to keep addressing this. What do you think?

~ Kat ~

P.S. I have been blogging every day this month and you can check out yesterday’s post HERE!

 

The “Fem” in “Feminism” | BEDIM

I have been blogging every day this month and I thought post exams I’d have all of the time in the world to create brilliant and aesthetically pleasing posts. I… was wrong. Despite still adoring getting my fingers tip-tapping on the keyboard once a day, I am excited to go back to my three-post-a-week unwritten routine I’ve got myself into so I can publish posts without a slight cringe. When I woke up unsure about what to write about today, I thought about that thing I like to talk about pretty often on here: Feminism. I’ve recently had a lot of thoughts, brilliant conversations and researched about the sometimes seen to be controversial, sometimes very celebrated morpheme, “fem” in “feminism.”

IMG_1695.JPGMost of us feminists encourage everyone – any gender, any age, any class: everyone – to call themselves a feminist. I promote the feminism so many others and I believe: equality for everyone. The idea that this movement looks out, cares for and supports everyone. A very interested friend asked me, “But why, FEM-inism?” He wasn’t being malicious; he wasn’t angry; he wasn’t anything but interested, wanting to enhance his understanding. And as much as I would love everyone to come together under the label, “feminist”, it doesn’t have to be that way. All we really need is a mutual understanding; labels are by no means everything; sometimes they are limiting- sometimes harmful.

So I said to my friend, while men have by no means had or have it easy, historically – and to this day – women have been dealt a really rough hand. As have transgender people; those who don’t identify. A terrible, terrible hand. So while the world is not directly represented by the word “fem” (men; many transgender people; those who don’t identify), it naturally has stuck from a time when women started to realise – or better, started to voice – the inequality they were facing. And in comes the word, “equalist.”

I have read many convincing (and by no means wrong) arguments that the term “feminism” isn’t needed. Equalism entails everyone – not matter “what” – should be equal. But all in the same token: these two concepts are the same thing. And for this reason, I do support the movement and manifesto attached to “feminism.” Maisie Williams distances herself from feminism and instead suggests everyone who isn’t a feminist, is “sexist.” Emma Watson, one of my feminist heroes, promotes and talks brilliantly about feminism but says that you don’t have to call yourself a feminist, but understand if you believe in its qualities, we are standing together- label or no label.

Feminism is definitely not black and white; with such a difficult past, how could it be clear cut? The “fem” in “feminism” exists because the patriarchy has seen and still does see women as the lesser gender. And I more than accept – I scream it at the top of my lungs that – the patriarchy has limited and terrified men; been more than not accepting of the LBGQT+ community (these groups’ problems are absolutely not “lesser” than womens’); been less than kind to everyone. The patriarchy is a bully. And we are supposed to stand up to bullies, right?

I think peoples’ questions about the make up of the word feminism are more than valid. I do wonder, though, if we spent less time investigating the word (and I’m an English graduate- I adore investigating words), we could get more done. I like Masie Williams’s concept. If you are not one with feminism’s and equalism’s beautifully open guidelines, then you are sexist. It’s an unforgiving statement, but when you think about it, it really is true. More than anything, I do support that if we keep asking questions and keep having equality as a centre to many conversations, things could get a little brighter.

~ Kat ~

P.S. These were thoughts that just spilled out. I think I have a lot more to say on the subject of the morpheme “fem.” It’s an interesting one; one I like hearing different theories, thoughts and questions about. What do you think?

Where to Find Fitspiration Online | YouTube | BEDIM

YouTube is one of the first places I go when I need health and fitness inspiration. There are a plethora of brilliant and free workout routines, What I Eat in a Day videos and general health and fitness advice and I can feel so pumped just after a 5 minute video. There are platforms and people that display dangerous and unhealthy advice and information, but I follow some amazing people and sources for information. Along with those I wrote about in my Instagram post (who also do YouTube), here are four YouTubers who are like my online cheerleaders in terms of health and fitness.

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Niomi Smart – Niomi’s YouTube channel is the reason I incorporate a lot more variety in terms of “types” of lifestyles into my own routine. She eats a plant-based diet and it has most certainly inspired me to chuck in more than a few sprinkles of quinoa and plant-based variety. I adore her videos where she documents how she’s eaten as well as any fitness-related videos. She has quite a few examples of HIIT routines or bodyweight sessions she’ll do and they are so helpful for me when I am on holiday and wanting to get a quick workout in, in particular. As shown in the picture above, I particularly love her morning workout video!

Zanna van Dijk – Zanna has the type of personality that makes you feel pumped whilst also making health and fitness seems possible and plausible- exactly what is needed in an online personality. She has a very honest attitude and reiterates such an important value to me: Don’t feel guilty about food. Her What I Eat in a Day videos are always so varied and honest! I’m definitely looking to buy her book, Strong, as soon as possible.

Madeleine Shaw – Madeleine is the most positive, calming vibe on YouTube for me. The kind of food she shows is exactly the kind of food I love to eat. I have been wanting all of her books for so long (the absolute dream is to go on Amazon and order all of these books I keep chatting about) and I have read so many good things about them. Madeleiene is a nutritionist and  find the way she talks about food and fitness very refreshing and a brilliant supplement for motivation. Her takes on food seem so doable- one video that showcases this is her lunches to take to work video!

The Happy Pear – The Happy Pear is made up of Irish twins, Dan and Steve, who are vegan and the happiest chaps to come across on the internet. All of their recipes are short and sweet and motivate me to include vegan recipes in my lifestyle more and more whilst informing me a lot. They show how healthy eating doesn’t have to be intimidating or expensive and they show just how varied and amazing a vegan diet can be! I plan on trying their creamy tomato pasta this weekend!

I have to reinforce that Carly Rowena’s YouTube channel (who I spoke about in my Instagram post) is my saviour. I adore watching her videos and think she’s a massive credit to the internet! Let me know if you have any fitness go-tos on YouTube or any other platforms below!

~ Kat ~

P.S. BEDIM is the iconic acronym for Blog Every Day in May and you can check out yesterday’s post about 13 Reasons Why and Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig HERE!

Two Representations: One Topic | BEDIM

13 Reasons Why, the Netflix original has received a lot, a lot of attention. It tells the story of Hannah, who commits suicide and leaves behind 13 tapes, blaming 13 different people for her tragedy. Reasons to Stay Alive is a deservedly well-respected book where we learn of Matt Haig’s struggles with depression, while he lists reasons to keep going. The former of these two pieces of art that represent suicide – a subject that needs to be dealt with delicately but poignantly – is a revenge plot; the latter is a potential relief and help to those suffering; also a brilliant source for those who have not had a direct experience with depression and want to understand. *Potential spoilers for 13 Reasons Why in this post.*

IMG_1772I binge watched 13 Reasons Why in three days. Despite the uneasy feeling in my stomach, I enjoyed it. It’s addictive. It has a lot of the traits a modern series needs to survive and become a staple I Must Watch for so many young people. I decided not to address my unease while watching the series and I believe, selfishly so. I think what I enjoyed about the show was the relationships we get so attached to in these teen shows. I fell for the tragic love story. I congratulated its addressing of important issues society has tabooed. I was able to watch in an upsettingly chilled out way (while so often feeling devastated and heartbroken for the story we were told) because I haven’t had any close contact with suicide. That, ladies and gentleman, is a kind of ignorance that is so damaging because it can overlook unsettling characteristics just for the sake of a bit of let’s-not-think-too-much escapism.

Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig is a brilliantly important account of his experience that opened my willing-to-learn eyes to the hard truths of mental health and suicide. So many of us have and/or will experience mental health problems; I want to be as educated as possible about mental health so as to remove this awful stigma society has attached to it. I want to be of help to those around me suffering; I want to be clued up on how I can help- what I can suggest. I want others to not feel alone. As Matt Haig says, we so often jump to sympathise for those with physical illnesses. Mental illnesses, we can’t see. Ignorance likes to prevail and people choose to make ill-informed comments about what “really is” an illness. Now THAT is not an ignorance I (as no one should) have; and anything I do not understand, I want to.

So, why has someone who so ardently wants to help rid the world of its prejudices, lack of understanding and “shhh, keep quiet” nature fallen for a programme that made her feel super uneasy?

Like I’ve said, I was able to gain escapism from 13 Reasons Why, and in indulging in such a selfish practise I am only encouraging some of the really terrible things the show promotes. I think the difference between this show I watched with rose-tinted glasses on and one of the most eye-opening books I have ever read is, hope. While Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig is an honest depiction of a person’s harrowing suffering but will to carry on even when it seems impossible, 13 Reasons Why can definitely be seen as another teen series that trivialises such a serious topic that needs to be addressed in a way that reaches all of us- not blind us with gossip and drama in order to allow some of us to forget about the scarily senseless portrayal of a suicide. Reasons to Stay Alive could just be a friend to those who feel alone; it could encourage them to seek help; it could let them feel hope. I don’t believe 13 Reasons Why can reach audiences in such a way.

While it definitely has its fans, 13 Reasons Why has sparked a massive discussion. In a lot of ways, this is a redeeming feature of the series; talk is GOOD. What I fear is that this insensitive portrayal terrifies other writers, artists or anyone to talk about suicide. To talk about this massively important taboo; to un-taboo it, once and for all. We can’t be scared to contribute to this discussion. Maybe – I’d hope, probably – 13 Reasons Why had good intentions. It does at least portray a story about suicide that has seen a reaction that talks about how we need to look out for everyone; to treat people well. It does BRING UP rape- another taboo culture fears talking about when if we did, we could bring about change.

The “but” with this show is a really, really big one. Not exclusively, but this show’s predominant audience are young people. Vulnerable young people; some feeling the darkness of mental health; some considering suicide. Many have picked up on its giant flaws- the lack of explanation behind the process behind considering and carrying out suicide; the fact the show doesn’t show the protagonist to seek much help, and when she does, she doesn’t get any; the fact the show is a romanticised revenge plot that leaves (although many characters did some terrible things to Hannah) behind blame. We need shows to encourage understanding about mental health and suicide and show how it is as much of an illness as others society so easily accepts; to encourage audiences to speak about our mental health and our problems; we need those who have suffered from loved ones attempting or committing suicide to not feel blame. I realised far, far too late, but 13 Reasons Why does not do these things, plus a multitude of others.

Since I am no professional; just someone who wants to understand, here are links to a just a few places that might help you if you are suffering, or wanting to help a loved one:

Mind

Samaritans 

SOBS

We all need to be as clued up as we possibly can be. We all need to talk. Read Matt Haig’s honest, brilliant, sometimes funny but always informative and helpful portrayal of his depression while you’re at it. It’s considered to be a comfort to those suffering and man, it struck many a chords with me. 13 Reasons Why is easy to “just” watch a show; without a critical mind-set on. But sometimes we need our critical thinking hats on and I believe 13 Reasons Why – if to be watched – requires this hat. If you really have to watch it, don’t fall for the characters and the way the show tells the drama as blindly as I believe I chose to. While 13 Reasons Why encourages us to treat people better, it doesn’t teach us to seek the help that is out there should we be suffering.

~ Kat ~