Barbie Must Die!

barbie

 

The top 10 reasons why Barbie must die and be with us no longer.

10 Goes out with Ken.

9 Drives very slow cars.

8 A bit too fond of Pink!

7 Delicate and brakes easily.

6 Does nothing other than leisure activities.

5 Injection moulded, resulting in her looking like every other injection moulded Barbie.

4 Her only function is to play dress up.

3 Is a stereotypical babe, cliché of straight, blond 3/4 length hair, fair-skinned and       representational of Aryan culture.

2 Literally an airhead, she has nothing between her ears.

1 Not a real woman!

1950’s Girls Annuals: the Homemaker

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Seventy years on from when the girls annual of the 1950’s were being read in the  pink bedrooms of the post-second world war generation we look back at there content. Where they looking to inspire the girls who would grow up to lead second-wave feminism through the seventies, or were they looking to indoctrinate the next generation of Housewives?

Girls literature of the 1950’s painted a world of domestic bliss. The role of sewing, the adoration of flowers and the wearing of impractical clothing prevailed across the pages of mid-century girls annuals. Poems encourage the practice of cleaning, baking, being house-proud, having the most perfect hair and awaiting the kiss of a man. The role of the party planner is put forward, a caregiver role projected. However, not to be forgotten in Britain, the concept of making tea in a crisis is ever-present.

Pressures on young girls to be lady-like

The continual pressures on young girls to be lady-like. Any matters of rebellion from this notion are lame and akin to stories of naughty schoolgirls. Images of impractical sports clothing, skirts worn for tennis and golf. Dancing is in full costume and skiing is shown to be gentle and relaxing. With sports like rowing, women simple sit back as men take the oars. Similar scenes are shown with motor vehicles, males are strong and take the wheel, steering away from danger and girls watch on. Generally, the women are beautiful, appear to be sunning themselves as the men do all the work. They are gorgeous, pale-skinned, flushed cheeks with bouncy blond hair adorning their slim bodies. Looks of women pleading with men as they carry all the heavy items. Delicate women prevail as they receive kisses on the hand from admiring men. Many of the tales inscribed simply escalate to men saving the day as the women look on in awe.

Boys literature of the period was in starch contrast to that of girls. They masqueraded daring adventures, escapades and the dangers of warfare so prevalent on the minds of those growing up in the years which were the aftermath of World War Two. Presenting depictions of action sports, space exploration and tackling monsters. Many of the tales bore similarities to the ever-popular Westerns of the time, cowboys, Indians and hunting. Cops and Robbers was an ever-present theme. We were also introduced to the world of large, expensive motorcars, Bentley’s of the era. Top athletes, racing and highly competitive sports dominated the pages of the 1950’s annuals. Men were shown to be strong and capable, getting into fights and adventures took place across the globe. Incidentally, many of the representations of black people were tribal in origin. Images of women seem simply to depict a gorgeous girl who sits there as the man wins her with his actions. Cigars are also present, as a male indulgence, not something to be discouraged. Work and logic puzzles were headlined around ‘Shoot’ and ‘Hit’, evoking a strong sense of competition. Practical skills were encouraged through narrative’ around tools and making exercises were played out.

Contemporary girls literature has modified immensely from the 1950’s. Positive, empowering statements ‘I can’ and ‘You can do anything’ embrace our pages. Girls are now dressed as action figures and take on space exploration. Females from ethnic minorities are now included and girls vary greatly in their appearance. We are presented with different faith groups and the idea of unconventional family groups are put forward. Those with disabilities are shown and take on powerful roles.

Becoming a ‘Leader’ is suggested, women are no longer here simply to do as men instruct them.

Inspirational positions and occupations are presented as life choices. Becoming a ‘Leader’ is suggested, women are no longer here simply to do as men instruct them. Positive real-life role models are presented through photography and text. Girls are shown to be practical, using tools and building projects. The former male domains of math’s and science are promoted, the aesthetics of wearing goggles for experiments put in a positive light. Environmentalism is a new agenda, current affairs and politics are embarrassed. Tea parties are now of the fair trade variety and healthy pursuits of foraging for food are encouraged, taking from the male hunter, gatherer role. Making projects develop skills in science, numeracy levels and encouraging activism.

The nostalgia of the fifties is enjoyable to re-collect, the role of the mother and the home-maker not to be discredited, contemporary girls literature id clearly more inspirational. Modern-day girls Annuals promote positive female aspirations, leadership and activism, not being lady-like and waiting for a man to save the day. Female literal sources which will create a more positive power balance for women of the future.

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I must be Miss Liverpool!

Miss Liv image copy

I must be Miss Liverpool!

We are seated, lined up, eventually at the final of Miss Liverpool. The seats of the room arched around, judges desks empty for now. They have demobbed to a side room, making the final, ultimate, life-changing decision.

I must be Miss Liverpool!

It’s taken me four years to get here, I am twenty-two now, applying since eighteen, each time getting a little further, this time to the final. The extra cash borrowed for botox being the bar heightener. Four years of casual work to fund; hair, make-up, nails, extensions, tanning, designer brand gear and finally botox.

I must be Miss Liverpool!

When Daniel Lloyd won it she really became someone. She got Miss Liverpool, Miss GB and even got put in the Miss World contest. She did FHM, Playboy and even bagged the Face of Ladbrooks. She should have won Celebrity Big Brother, if it hadn’t been for that Shilpa ‘Shitty’. And then after having three kids with Jamie O’Hara, I bet the divorce settlement was massive. That’s want I want, a line of footballing boyfriends to make me the ultimate WAG.

I must be Miss Liverpool!

Then there was that Christine that got married to Paddy McGuinness, she was only eighteen and him in his forties. I wouldn’t mind being with an older fella if you got all his money and the celebrity lifestyle. She even got to go on ‘The Real Housewives of Cheshire’.

I must be Miss Liverpool!

Lots of the winners get signed by Impact modelling agency. There the best glamour agency around, on your page you model in just your bra and knickers and they list your vital statistics. Image, everyone who wants looking at you, men wanting you and women wanting to be you.

The judges are coming now, I look down and chant:

I must be Miss Liverpool!

Through my teeth, I repeat the words as the third then second placed are revealed. This is my last chance, I will be too old next year at twenty-three.
I must be Miss Liverpool.

I recoil as the winner is read out. No, not her, barely eighteen, a bookworm at college, a bore. Actually looks like she let her hair dry naturally and it’s not straightened or dyed or anything. Her heals are only three inches high and that’s not even a designer dress. I cannot believe it, with the title she wants to go the Alder Hey and visit the cancer ward as she has promised her Aunty who is a nurse there, ridiculous!

No night club openings, no botox, no boob job, simply visiting boring sick kids. What could have been, I could have been a leading WAG, I could have had my own line of product, gone on ‘Celebrity Love Island’, I could have married a footballer…. I could have had another boob job….I could of had a maximum divorce settlement.

I will never be anyone!

‘I must be Miss Liverpool’ is a flash fiction works from Alison Little. It was performed at the The Athenaeum as part of the Light Night 2019 festival.

More about Light Night

A Letter to your Former Self

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‘A Letter to your former self’ was a prompt for a sketch. It comprises of a mixed media image, pen and ink in addition to hard and soft pastels which are fully exploited. The figure representing the artist is almost angelic as it rises above the dangers of the personalities depicted below. The people are given the surround of an inferno to show the evil nature of their ways.

First, on the left we are presented with a girl who’s hair is entrenched by grease. From her mouth, vomit in projecting or possibly lies. A man, colossal in scale stands next to her, clothed in a T-Shirt brandishing Maine County. His body actions appear to be jerk driven and almost overacted. The face is blocked out, the visualisation of the facial features in denied, possibly a survival mechanism. Dreadlocks take control of the next character, malnourished but extremely confident through his stance, a drug dealer perhaps. We then see the image of a bore rising up, unfitting with the other figures. Centrally located, is a small but shifty character, the eyes look stoned as he hides under a well-worn woollen hat. A push-up bra babe then slots her way in, a true beauty with large eyes to match her breasts. Adjacent a geometrically formed man with glasses to match is present. One of his legs appears to be shorter than the other, a birth defect perhaps. A large, overweight women take over the majority of the space available. The next bound security pass shows her profession: a social worker, the fat drizzled features of her face depicting a falsehood of caring. Penultimately, the row is finished off with a dangerous man associated with the RAF. The final member of those present is a soldier, possibly a Para slotting his head into the image.

In ‘Letter to my former self’ the girl tells herself to avoid any other the characters, to rise above and not to allow any of them to cause her harm.

The sketch was completed by Alison Little, the prompt was provided by Allyson Bright:

30 days of Art Journaling Class

 

Do we need a Miss Liverpool?

Miss Liverpool copy

The ritualistic process of crowning a Miss Liverpool is an annual event in the city of Liverpool. Initially, relating to the ancient custom of Marriage, the ball-like gown paraded by the contestants often being the traditional white. The notion of a maiden passing of age is also conjured up by the generation of the contestants, the latest winner; Elli Wilson, being a tender seventeen, most entrants are in there later teenage or early twenties in terms of age. A tall slender figure with a bikini perfect body relating to the process of fertility selection. Often a ‘Barbie-esque’ girl, a typical Arian with pure long straight blond hair. Images of Snow White and the Sleeping Beauty are conjured up by this fairy tale heroine, types of girls. Equally, does the pageant relate to the Debutante Balls so common with the Aristocracy and the Jane Austen novels we treasure as a society? Is the crowning of Miss Liverpool so different from the most recent Royal Wedding of Megan and Harry?

Should a contest be based simply on looks, it this merely an act of male objectification and is this wrong? Do modelling agencies like ‘Impact’ who often sign contestants degrading to women in the way in which they present the model’s ‘Vital Statistics,’ measures in terms of the figure and cup size of her bust?

Lucy Whittaker, former winner, Impact modelling

Does the beauty pageant relate to sovereignty and are the winners so different from Kate Middleton and Megan Markle? Is the process similar to a traditional Debutante ‘Coming Out’ ball and do we need this in contemporary society?

Does the Miss Liverpool contest promote child pageanting, is this the sexualization of children and is this being encouraged?

Are we happy with Nightclub culture, the final awards ceremony for the contest being held at the Olympia in West Derby Road? Does the winner simply go onto make nightclub appearances worthy of a role model figure? There have been long term associations between the Olympia and the Grafton Rooms which has long been known for prostitution within the city. Is the contest helping to create a rape culture which we should be aiming to suppress?

Is the Pageant simple a tool for creating minor celebrities leading to appearances on hyper-reality shows. Was the former winner, Daniel Lloyds appearance on Celebrity Big Brother a positive or negative matter? Many of the winners seem to become minor celebrities, fund cosmetically enhancing boob jobs and is this a process we want to be part of?

Is the contest simply a symbol of White able bodies hierarchy? Winners are seldom from minority groups, in term of ethnicity Miss England has only ever been won by a singular Muslim girl. Are those with disabilities, same-gender sexual orientation or trans women ever present as winners or participants?

Previous winners

Does the concept of beauty contests, celebrity culture and the vanity which surround our advertising agencies lower self-esteem and put pressure on women to be more beautiful and ultimately younger. Is the contest ageist in term of participants and winners?

Answer the ultimate question: Do we need a Miss Liverpool?

A) Yes, she is the ultimate female idol.
B) Yes, it’s just intended as a bit of fun, she can be seen as someone to aspire to in addition to leading women from other industries.
C) I would prefer for the Miss Liverpool contest to be changed to eliminate objectification and to promote skill and intelligence of women and to include women from BME communities.
D) Miss Liverpool must go….

Please Comment below.

Love of the Second Hand

Arabian Night

The book was beautifully bound, in impeccable condition and filled with the love of being read and enjoyed. Modern publishing of the classic ‘Arabian Nights’ I had the audio version, or what you used to call tapes when I had been a child. My brother and I had been passed them on from our cousin and we had played them repeatedly from our flat one speaker cassette player common of the period.

My favourite story had been ‘Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves’ because my name was Ali and I thought the story was fantastic. Now there are numerous companies who produce personalised storybook for children, but in the eighties, it was something special. Arabian Nights have been reproduced by many different publishers but this copy was really something special.

My fingertips run over the arches of the front cover I can hear the low volume singing of a tune I had never heard before. I was in one of the larger charity shops at the top of Liverpool famed Smithdown Road. All the books are displayed in the window and I can’t seem to walk on by and not have a look inside. I turn to see where the singing was coming from, before me I can see a man, the vision of cool but in personality much more than appearance. However, not bad looking in saying that, ginger hair and a very contemporary matching ‘Tash’. He was shorter than me but very broad in contrast.

As I had turned around he had stopped singing:

‘No don’t stop!’

I insist,

‘Sorry, I didn’t realise I was singing out loud, I was working through the lyrics for the band’s new track.’

‘So you sing in a band then?’

I try not to sound so very impressed.

‘Yes, lead vocals, among other things, engineering work and single parent of two teenagers.’

Pausing for a second, I look at the copy of Steven Gerrard’s biography in his hand:

‘Is that for you?’

‘No its for my son, I am picking up some books for them for now, then I will start getting in some real Christmas presents later in the week.’

He continues to explain that he is trying to encourage his son to read, but always ensures he gets his daughter a book as well as she actually reads more of his books than he does in addition to her own.

I look around to suggest something good for a teenage girl, I spot a hardback called ‘Feminist don’t wear pink’,

‘This is good for teenage girls, it’s actually new out and fresh in Waterstone at to moment, I am surprised it’s second hand already.’

He picks up the book with an accomplished look on his face. As he flicks through he stops and reads aloud;

‘The first time I looked at my Vulva in the mirror………………………………………..I am not sure I am ready for this as a parent yet.’

I take the book off him and take a look inside, after reading a few headings;

‘Yes, it’s a bit too much isn’t it, is this what teenage girls are reading now?’

‘I think I’ll go for this one.’

He answers in haste with a copy of ‘I am Malala’ in his hand.

‘Good, that’s a much better choice, I’ve read that myself and it’s really good, her life in Pakistan and the build-up to her getting shot by the Taliban.’

Again, he looks enthused and smiles back at me:

‘I might read it after her myself.’

I smile back wistfully.

‘I think I best get the pink feminist book and keep in touch with the younger generation are thinking. I might only read it in small section though.’

We pay separately but leave together, stopping by the exit we smile at each other, as he leaves he utters:

‘See you again some time.’

‘Yes..’

As I walk toward Allerton, passing the Sali Army playing Christmas carols, my smile brims ear to ear and I chuckly silently to myself.

Eco Chamber

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Eco Chamber is the latest sculptural commission from North West Based artist Alison Little. As part of the Liverpool Independents 2018 Biennial it will form part of the Rimrose Valley Country Park environment art trail.

 

Concept: Eco Chamber is to be a form created solely from re-claimed materials, a large pod-like structure, fully spherical. The skeleton of the structures is formed from waste car tires rims structure into spherical forms giving the impression of large atom-like shape. The tire rims are wrapped in bio-degradable green garden waste bags adapting traditional crochet techniques to contemporary practise. Plastic bag usage is essential to the ‘Green’ methodology with them being a major contributor to waste culture in the UK and globally. Some element of green incorporated within the mainly white forms, adding to the ‘Green’ credential but not taking complete control of the colour spectrum. The intention is form to forms to stand out, but not to obscure the urban landscape, Sculptural form which will work will the existing environment. Although made entirely from man made materials and 20th and 21st century manufacturing processes the materials and the working process produce a very organic form. Similar in appearance to traditional thatch works, the medium of plastic bag having straw-like qualities and the use of circular forms commonplace . Using foliage adds to the environmental elements of the chamber, use of beans and sweetcorn plants which are in season at the proposed period adding purpose to the aesthetic. The chamber will be around 2 meters high, a strong visual forms which stamp an environmental message on the festival.

Biennial Independents

Rimrose Valley Country Park