Sunday, February 19, 2017

Beauty as a black woman in the media

Jumper - Zara
Highwaist Trousers - Zara
Heels - Primark

So I've been riding high on black power for the last while. It all started with seeing Black, powerful, successful women like Taraji P. Henson, Serena Williams, Viola Davis and most recently Lupita Nyong'o on coveted Fashion & Lifestyle magazines like Vogue, Vanity Fair and Sports Illustrated. It filled me with a sense of empowerment that came from being able to relate to these women if not by color alone.

The feeling of empowerment was fuelled even further after watching Hidden Figures with my dear friend and seeing the movie fill her with that same sense of empowerment and identity. It was then that the thought occurred to me that the topic of black people in the media might be something I would like to address on the blog.

Before I go any further, I do not speak for the entire Black community, these words and opinions are my own, drawn from my own experiences and thoughts.

So a couple things going through my head as I write this. 'Who's going to want to read this' 'Do you want to be one of these people that turns everything about black people?'

And to these thoughts I silence with  'I don't know who's going to read this or who is going go want to read it. And yes I am going to be one of those people but not just about black people, about all people and cultures!'
The thing that finally pushed me over the edge to take the time out of this very hectic few weeks* for me was Vogue's 'Diversity' issue. In this issue, unless you've been living under a rock, you know about Karlie Kloss' six page spread as a Geisha. Why was this a tipping point for me? Because 'whitewashing' as it's called doesn't just happen to black people, it happens to all races all over the world and it's laughable in a way that having my eyes gouged out of my head is laughable. Lol right? No.

The effect of a lack of representation in the media as a young black woman rooted itself in me long before I was even aware of it. From as young as I can remember to just a few years ago, about two, how I see myself has transformed greatly. You know that little version of yourself you conjure up in your head when mentally trying on clothes to see how they'll fit? Well for a very long time that little version of me...was nothing like me. She was white, I am the deepest shade of black I know, she was blond, I had thick deep brown hair. Tall where I was short and a skinny I never thought I could be. I use to go to sleep and tell myself that if I believe enough I could wake up white or at least a nice caramel.

These days I can see myself for who I am when looking at that little version of me. And I admit, sometimes I still slip into the whitewashed version of myself. That is the volume of the effects of the media and the lack of representation of black women on my own self image. Of course there are other factors to take into consideration like our own cultural pressures etc but that's another story.

I am now at a point in my life where I am truly happy with the person I am and am very aware of the powerful influence of the media, its psychological and emotional effects on me and the little ways I try to deal with the insecurities it creates for me sometimes. But then there are all those young girls who are trying to figure out the minefield of insecurities and questions of life called adolescence. Young girls like my little sister whom are bombarded constantly by media and yet not in a way that inspires them or fortifies their identity.

As I said, at the height of my insecurities etc. Bebo was the greatest thing on earth and Facebook was just coming up. Now it's different, there is Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr, Facebook etc. I see that my little sister has liked a pin, added said pin to 'Fashion <3', Hairstyles' etc.The picture of a young tall girl wearing black high-waist ripped jeans and a crop top, long wavy hair tumbling down her back is pretty and I like the pin. Partly because I like the image and partly because I want the good karma from the Pinterest algorithm to boost my content too. I'm a blogger, sue me.

Instagram activity list, I see she's liked similar images on IG too. This is all great and the pictures are lovely but what does she see in them, how does she relate to these images? I honestly don't know. When I hear her call herself fat or ugly, it makes me question to what extent does she believe this and how much of that is influenced by the media. It saddens me to think she doesn't see or believe how beautiful she is.

The thing with a lack of representation in the media is that it feeds into the notion that you're identity is not socially accepted. That those portrayed in magazines and ads etc deserve to be because they are more attractive and appealing to the masses and thus worthy of a six page spread whilst others get a page each. And such a notion is damaging no matter what age, race, size, gender you are.

The fact that entire races and groups of people could be replaced by a better alternate white version is insulting and hurtful. Putting a white model in Geisha dressing on a six page spread, throwing in one or two women of color and slapping the word diversity on it is not being diverse, it is a joke. To me seeing Karlie Kloss' appearance in the Vogue issue was like watching a child play dress up. Ashley Graham's slimming hand on her thighs while all the other women hug each other's waist. Frankly, it's disappointing. The media should be a medium to build up our identities and not tear people down and yet, in subtle ways and sometimes not so subtle ways, it does just that.

Seeing the likes of Serena Williams showing off a different body type, strong, athletic and just as beautiful is inspiring and relatable for it of people like myself with my broad boxy shoulders and athletic build. It is issues like these that gives me hope that things are changing and will continue to change for the better.

The media of a country should represent the people in the country and not just a selected few.
My sisters and I might be growing up in a world of whitewashed media but I'd like to hope and believe that my children and their children on will be able to grow up in a world where they too can feel empowered and gain a stronger sense of identity from the people like them that they see in the media.

Being a young black woman in today's world I can't help but feel like there is still a fight to be fought for our voice amongst many other races and cultures to be heard and represented in many different ways. The fight for beauty is by no means on par with ending world hunger ( I'm not that petty) but it is a fight I am proud to be behind, if not for my own benefit then that of my children and theirs to come.

I am black and proud and beautiful. What are you?

Till next time my pretties xxx

* Subscribers to the Albatroz & Co. newsletter know I've been working 2 jobs and it's a little crazy at times to get posts out on time if at all. If you're not subscribed to the newsletter, click here to be added to the inner circle. I've got some big news coming up in the next issue tomorrow Friday 24th! This is a change from Mondays, so there's plenty of time to come join us. Subscribe now.

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Thursday, February 09, 2017

Discovering Ireland: Aungier Danger

I remember a time when the words Aungier Danger were completely unknown to my ears and then one day at school my friend Lauren tells me about this donut shop she goes to sometimes for donuts and suddenly I hear about it everywhere, from other people, on the radio etc. It felt as though I had been let into a secret group that not many people knew about and I didn't even know that much about either.

I was to have my first donut from there sometime last year in the small shop swallowed into it's surrounding business competitors and tall buildings. And it was pretty good coming from someone who doesn't have much of a sweet tooth. Back then I had only known of one of it's shops which was located on Aungier Street, however it seems these days the name is popping up everywhere. There is now another branch opened u on South Georges St. right across from the Yamamori Japanese Restaurant which I reviewed last week! It's also pretty close to Bunsen and The Mongolian Barbecue too so you can always pop round there for some dessert.

 If you missed any of the three reviews I have mentioned, you can check them out here, here and here respectively.

The donuts in Aungier Danger are pretty good, I mean as good as donuts can be. I particularly like and suspect that their whole aesthetic, and quirky named donuts are a part of the attraction for people. My favourite branch and the one I've visited most has to be Aungier Street. It is very quiet with most of it's customers being nicely dressed business men and women in suits or other and students from the university directly across the road. The music is left in the hand of the Sales Assistant on duty which lends greatly to its different yet always vibrant atmosphere.

At €3 per donut which I thought and still think is a little much to pay for a single donut but it is no different from the likes of Boston Donuts or The Rolling Donut etc. You won't regret having one but it'd be hard to stomach more than that at any given time because they are VERY sweet. My favourite is the Crime Scene but avoid the Oreo Marshmallow because as tasty as it is, it is so. damn. sweet that you may or may not be able to finish it.

In conclusion, I personally love Aungier Danger hence why I'm choosing to write about it. It's great for a treat every now and again but as a lifestyle eating habit I wouldn't endorse having donuts be a part of it...obviously.

What are some of your guilty pleasures? Have you had Aungier Danger donut? What did you think of it. Let me know below in the comments.

Be sure to subscribe to the Albatroz & Co. Get In The Know newsletter HERE and keep up with the fun behind the blog! Last week's issue will be made downloadable in Sunday's post. The next issue will be sent Monday so subscribe to make sure you're not a week behind everyone else.

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Sunday, February 05, 2017

Dare I Call Myself A Fashion Blogger?

Blouse - Mint Velvet
Skirt - Mint Velvet
Bag - New Look ( similar here )
Statement Necklace - Mint Velvet
Boots - Primark ( Similar here and here )

DISCLAIMER: This post is not sponsored by any brands named nor I'm I affiliated with any of these named brands.

In many ways this outfit is love hate one for me. Not hate, that's too strong a word but not fully love. Individually I love the pieces. For example the skirt is very easy to work into many different outfits, the jersey material is comfortable and warm which is a bonus for the frightful weather we've been having the last week or so here in Ireland. However it can be a little restricting to walk in which really puts a bit of a strain on my knees after a few hours of wear.

The top, I absolutely adore. It's simple with subtle touches like the bow sleeves and the colour is flattering especially with my new grey hair. These pictures were taken a week or two ago with thanks to Stephanie from Wasting Colours hence why my hair is in it's natural 'fro state. The top itself is not tight fitting but quite flowy so perhaps it was not the best match for the skirt which looks better with a simple long-sleeve shirt or tee tucked in with some white or metallic runners ( Americans read: sneakers ).

The bag is one of my favourite accessories pieces right now. Borrowed from my mother and never returned, it has been a staple outfit piece this season. I am not a handbag and purses type, I much prefer a backpack in which I can carry all the unnecessary crap I carry around with me. You can pick up a similar one from Forever 21 for much cheaper than this one cost.

The boots which you've probably seen in many of my outfit posts was originally from Primark/ Penneys and unknowingly donated to my wardrobe by my little sister and has lived there since. I have been unable to find any very similar to it. I did however find two from Asos that both incorporate certain elements of it. Check them out from the links up above.

You can catch the bag and boots in action again in my Shop The Sales post which showcases my favourite outfit of the year so far and where to pick up the bargains in it. There are still some clothes and sizes available so hurry!

The part of this outfit I'm not mad about is the ... outfit. I don't know, for some reason I just feel like it doesn't quite work for my body shape? I adore the pieces individually but put together the outfit seems too grown up for me. I like wearing outfits that I can confidently say speak to my personality so I must've felt very grown up the day I put together this ensemble. I guess I'll just have to keep trying out different outfits and see which I love, oh isn't life hard? Keep your eyes peeled because these pieces will definitely be making a comeback to the blog.

Also the first Get In The Know Issue will go out to those subscribed tomorrow ( Monday 6th ). Thank you so much to everyone that has subscribed already, I am so incredibly happy to have you all on board and supporting me.

 If you've subscribed and have not confirmed your subscription through email you will NOT receive the Get In The Know update so be sure to check your emails for that confirmation email, confirm and you'll officially be in the know.

If you have no idea what I'm talking about then open up your ears and hear me. The Albatroz & Co. newsletter has arrived. At the start of the year I set myself the goal to set up a newsletter and I am glad to say that it is happening. I have set up my Newsletter and I'd love you to be there with me from the very beginning. You can join me, and all the other people in the inner circle here and find out what goes on behind the Albatroz & Co. blog. I'd love to have you along for this journey.

What has been some of your favourite pieces of your wardrobe from the winter season? And on another hand, did you set yourself any goals for the year? How's it coming along?

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Till next time my pretties xxx
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Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Discovering Ireland: Yamamori Japanese Restaurant

So last week M and I, as we very often do, went in search of somewhere to eat. As it was late and I eat at a snail's pace we had to find somewhere that closed late enough for us both to eat and enjoy our meal. M was in the mood for some sushi and so we looked up Japanese restaurants in the city and went from there.

Yamamori the restaurant is located on South Georges Street and Yamamori Izakaya, it's nightclub sister is right across the street but they only serve dumplings after 10:30pm so... we went for the restaurant. Driving by for parking, the restaurant itself looked pretty empty and that didn't really fill us with confidence. For a four star google rating I thought it'd be a little more full. In hindsight it was quite late on a Tuesday evening and therefore you can't really expect the place to be packed.

The location of the restaurant itself is not very far from Temple Bar district, just around the corner in fact. It's great for people looking for a bite in the city at night as they do open quite late 10:30pm and 11:30pm Friday and Saturday. And Gino's gelato is on the same street so you can grab dessert right after!

Inside the atmosphere was quite relaxed. Not in the laidback way of Bunsen from my last Discovering Ireland post but a sophisticated relaxed vibe. The tables with their lit tea light candles created a romantic ( at least that's how I took it ) air and the fact that each table had seated couples just fueld that romantic vibe.

The service wasn't exactly fast but it wasn't slow. The waiting staff were not on top of you for your order which one might expect when it's late into the night and about two hours from closing time. They were friendly and helpful in answering any questions about the menu that we ( that's a lie, mostly me ) had. They're water topping skills though, that was lightening speed and you were not interrupted in you conversations to witness the refilling which I was grateful for.

M went for his much craved sushi and some Chicken skewers and I ordered their dinner meal deal which consisted of:  Miso Soup, 3 Piece Norimaki, 2 Piece Lemon Sole Tempura, Lamb Burger and Chicken wings with a side of Black Rice so basically a lot of food. And all for €19.95!

I'll start with my favorite part of the meal, watching M fall in love with his sushi platter. I'm not the biggest fan of Sushi, I like it but not as much as M. So watching him eat his food and enjoy it as much as he did, was pretty funny for me because he kept nodding his head and telling me how good it was.

For someone who says she doesn't like sushi that much, I started my meal with the only sushi option. The Norimaki. It was a chef's choice so I'm not sure which one exactly it was on the menu. It was black rice, cucumber and tuna I believe.

The Lemon Sole Tempura is more or less battered fish. It was lovely, especially with the ginger and soy sauce but in parts there was more batter than fish for me.

The Lamb Burger came on a bed of noodles, lettuce, string beans and runner beans. Although I am not a fan of the veg in it, it looked to be a filling portion. The burger alone, which I ate last could barely be fit into my stomach after all the eating I had done so good luck to ya!

My least favorite part of the meal was probably he Miso soup because get this...I don't like Miso soup apparently. It was my first time trying it so I'm not writing it off. M did finish it for me and he loved it so take his word for it not mine.

The Chicken Wings, which I did not expect to find on a Japanese menu, were quite lovely. Tender, juicy and nicely seasoned. 

By the time we rolled out of the restaurant and went in search of dessert I was so full I didn't think I could fit in anymore. Which is off course is ridiculous because we had hot cookie dough cookies right after.

If you're a fan of Japanese food and sushi, Yamamori is great for dinners and their lunch meals are worth having a look at too although I can't speak for it. I think even if you decide to go for a meal deal you will not be disappointed because I definitely was not. It can be pricey depending on what you are eating but you can be assured the quality of food will reflect that price.

Have you ever been to Yamamori? What did you think of it?

The plan is to return there for some sushi feasting this coming Saturday. Be sure to subscribe to the Albatroz & Co. weekly newsletter HERE to know how it goes and keep up with the fun behind the blog! The next issue will be sent Monday.

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Sunday, January 29, 2017

30 Day Challenge: December/January Reflection & February Annoucement

Top - Bershka
Leggings - H & M
Shoes - Zara ( on sale right now! )
Bag - Primark ( similar )
Fishnets - Claire's

Hi everyone! So my last challenge update was back in December where I announced my challenge for that month, Journaling, and then proceeded to drop off the face of the earth. I am glad to say that although I didn't mention it again on the blog, I was in fact still  invested in the challenge and doing it almost everyday. And it was brilliant.

The challenge itself was sparked by a time of anxiety for me, something I at the time classed as over-thinking. I had begun to over-analyse everything I did and said to the point where every action had to have an in depth explanation behind it in case someone asked and I was forced to explain myself. The aim behind the challenge was to help relieve that anxiety and need to chronologically explain everything with scrutinising eyes. Whatever was to be written in the journal was to be left in the journal and that was to be the end of it. That way I could move onto the next day with a clear mind. Easier said than done eh?

Finding the time to write was an easy hurdle to overcome. Every night before I go to bed. I tested the idea of carrying a small journal around for a day or two but the images of losing that journal and someone finding it and reading my most vulnerable thoughts was a little too much so I put that idea to rest.

Finding the energy to write then was a difficulty in itself. Each night I'd settle into bed to write and be hit with a brick of tiredness and suddenly I'd have no energy or desire to even pick up the pen and put it to paper. And when I did start writing there was so much writing that I could be going anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour so my motivation to continue suffered too especially when the a lot of things were seen with self-deprecating eyes. "You're crazy. You're just thinking too much into this. Normal people don't need to write down thoughts to get on with their lives'

They say the pen is mightier than the sword and I was putting it to he test to overcome this anxiety ridden person I had suddenly become. That was another reason why I chose to continue this challenge into January as by the end of December I felt things had actually gotten worse, not better like I hoped.

I began to rely on writing in my journal so much that when I didn't get to write for a day or two, I'd hold unto everything I wanted to write down instead of dealing with it and moving on. I became fixated in the idea of 'If it doesn't go in the journal it cannot be forgotten' and therefore would continue to be scrutinised in my head and grow a billion legs.

For the month of January then I tried focusing on dealing with the issues at the roots of my anxiety, dealing with them and using the journal as an aid to record the journey and end result. It didn't fix anything but things had started looking up.

I finally managed to bring up how I have been feeling with my GP. I'm not a self-diagnosing web-doctor reading sort and try not to label myself with illness without professional input. What I had been calling over-thinking was actually signs of anxiety. Anxiety. My GP gave me two options: Cognitive Behavioural Therapy or a referral to talk to someone. I chose to go with CBT as I feel like my level of anxiety at this stage is something I can handle. Equally the idea of talking to someone, something I actually have wanted to do in the past feels a little scarier when you have an issue to delve into. I'm not sure if this is denial about my anxiety or not but we'll see.

All in all the December/January challenge which I plan on making a lifestyle habit has been good for me in helping me identify and begin to deal with my anxiety. We all suffer from times of anxiety and depression etc some worse than others and we have to find our own ways of dealing with it and improve for the better.

Did you take up my challenge to do this Journaling with me or do you already journal? How has it helped you?

 So what's in store for February you may be asking? Well in my last post ( which you can check out here ) I touched on how disorderly things were beginning to feel and instead of falling into a self-pity hole for myself, I'm going to call on an old challenge to stop whining and do something about it. How am I going to do this you ask? I had one comment on the said post from a lady called Rin. As much as I loved reading and responding to your comments, her's stood out for me for a lot of reasons. I could relate so much to what she was saying and found the way she dealt with her sitiuation very helpful. I've taken on her example and instilled them into the 5 simple changes and new habits I plan to enforce in the month of February to bring bring more routine to my life. This is not a srtict day to day complete plan just little changes here and there.

1) Sleep

Sleep. I love to sleep, there's no doubt about that. And I get enough sleep, sometimes too much sleep but not effective deep sleep. The rest you get from going to bed before 11pm and after 1am differ in it's benefits more than you'd think. I want to reap those benefits of getting a deep, good night's rest. 

I did a sleep challenge a few months ago and it went well so I think it's it's time for me to reboot it again. If all goes well I'd love to be settling in early and rising up early to get the most out my days.

2) Exercise

My Atheltics Club trains five times a week and whereas before I'd have made it to a Monday gym session, Thursday evening and the odd weekends, I haven't trained consecutively for a good while now. I cycle to and from work which amounts to about 5/6 hours a week, I've become so used to my route and it's different gradients that some days I feel nothing at all.

So for the month of February, the plan is to exercise three times a week, either with my club wherever possible or at home. I'm thinking of testing out a few workout apps while I'm at it and reviewing them from best to worst. Would that be something you guys would be interested in?

3) Meditation, Yoga & Journaling

In keeping with the journaling challenge, I will continue through to February and also add meditation and yoga to that. Meditation is something I do regularly anyways during the day from a previous challenge so it'll be nice to make more time for it and yoga is something I haven't done in awhile so it'll be nice to go back to it on days in-between exercising. I want to continue to work through my little anxieties and overcome them. 

4) Blogging & Work

There's so much that I want to do this year in terms of blogging and in work, and I know I keep saying that but I'm going to make it happen  I'm making it happen. I've started my new blog series Pretending To Be An Adult Being, which documents my time so far having moved out of the family home, working until I return back to college and all the little bits of adulthood you learn along the way. It's actually second to my Skin Deep series which I did very early on in Albatroz & Co's life. That series looks at basically me and how my values, ideals and perceptions of myself have changed from a very different time to be a better person I can be proud of.

I work mostly evenings and without college to take up my day time, I have a lot of time on my hands, at least for now and it's about time I put that to use. I could be doing shoots for posts days in advance as opposed to rushing to get it done the day before or that very morning. It's time to build my self-discipline up again and start getting sh*t done.

5) Cognitive Behaviour Therapy

So I've avoided it long enough. I'll take on my doctor's advice and start on some online CBT courses to work on this anxiety. I've no idea where to start other than typing CBT into google. I haven't even gone as far as that. If you know of any good courses online or books, I'd love to hear of them. You can message me on any of my social media platform or link me below in the comments. Much thanks in advance.

That's the start to finish on the challenge situation. I am excited for February and cannot wait to see how it pans out.

Do you set yourself monthly goals or challenges? What has been your latest and how's it going? Let me know below in the comments!

Also did you know that the Albatroz & Co. weekly behind the blog newsletter I've been harping on about is finally here? Subscribe and be the first to know about giveaways, travel destination announcements and all the fun that doesn't make it to the blog.

 Click here and be your your way to becoming a part of the inner circle.

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Till next time my pretties xxx
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