Nobody Wants Your Safety Pin: 5 Actually Useful Things To Do Post-Brexit


Here in post-UK Brexit, where hate crime and racism are on the rise, an American woman in London came up with the idea of wearing a safety pin to show your opposition to racism and to single yourself out as an ally. Continue reading

Brexit: confusion, fear & shame

On Friday morning I woke up at 7:02am and in my first few waking moments, blinked at twitter. No. Surely not. Tears sprang into my ears before I’d even fully processed the information, both the shock and the doubt merging with the disbelief. The UK has voted to leave the EU. Even as I read the facts through blurry, angry tears, my mind was refusing to accept the information.
Continue reading

To Remain.

_MG_0305 Hey! It’s me. Laila. The author of this blog. The girl in the photo. The editor and the scribe. The immigrant’s daughter. Continue reading

A Response: What It’s Like Not Being White

writing, notepad, pen and paper, bedroom, laila, bed, journal, journalism, article, want to writewriting, notepad, pen and paper, bedroom, laila, bed, journal, journalism, article, want to writeThree weeks ago I finished a post that had been knocking around in draft for about 7 months. I’m a chronic perfectionist. I wrote about my life and my experiences, as I always do, and I didn’t hit publish until I was happy with it. Whilst I’m pretty open, this post was a little more personal than usual, and I thought it might get a few more hits than normal. 40, 45, maybe even 50.

After an hour the post had reached 100 views. It’s a very, very rare day when I hit more than 100. I ran downstairs to show my housemates – look, this is insane, I’ve gone from 12 views yesterday to 100 in an hour. I kept running back downstairs as the stats skyrocketed. 300, 400, 500. It was 1000 by the time we went to the pub; we joked; maybe it’ll go viral. I thought that was it, a weird fluke day, but the views kept climbing over the weekend. 3000 on Saturday, me frantically checking whilst out on a date, 5000 on Sunday morning, me frowning at my dying phone, 8000 that evening, laughing it off with my housemates whilst feeling utterly confused.

By the time I left London on Monday things were crazy. Comments by the hundred, comments that were actually lengthy posts about other peoples lives rather than the two-line comments I normally receive. My inbox overflowing; requests for interviews, names of journalists, people who just wanted to reach out. I went to Edinburgh, away from the internet at the largest arts festival in the world, out of the house for 18 hours a day and living utterly in the moment, partying, working, drinking. Fleeting moments of internet catch-up were overwhelming with my stats up by 5000%. I was on the front page of BuzzFeed, I was Freshly Pressed on WordPress, I was trending on Medium. Most of the madness happened without me really observing: catch-ups with friends would start “so you’re on BuzzFeed?” before moving onto safer territory like work, friends, the festival around us.
writing, notepad, pen and paper, bedroom, laila, bed, journal, journalism, article, want to writeA lot of people thought it may have been cathartic or difficult to write my last post. It wasn’t. I wasn’t speaking up. I wasn’t raising my voice. I wasn’t trying to start a discussion. I just said what I was thinking: the same thing I do every day in my posts, in my songs, in my stories. Evidently, this was something that needed to be said. I really didn’t think my experiences would be that widely felt. I received hundreds of comments and retweets from all over the world, and the vast majority can be distilled into four words: “thank you” and “me too”. So many of us, it seemed, feeling the same things and thinking “it’s just me”. It’s not.

There was little backlash: I prepared myself for an onslaught of negativity which really never came. A few people told me I’m hypersensitive, that I need to chill, that I’m obsessed with race, that I’m the problem – attitudes I addressed in my original post. There was one comment saying they wouldn’t have read had my “attractive” pictures not lured them in, another saying I was beautiful despite my decision to write the post, a number of people saying that it’s equally hard being white. I responded to all of them.

Many of you responded to each other. Every comment was published, and every question that was asked, I answered. This is my blog, and these are my words, and I want to be accountable for them. I’m SO grateful to all those who read them, for sharing them, for responding and sharing their own words with me. I feel a lot stronger with 5000 strangers supporting me from afar. If your comments taught me anything it’s that we all need to speak up and call it out, we can’t laugh stuff off and ignore it and just suck it up or it will never end.writing, notepad, pen and paper, bedroom, laila, bed, journal, journalism, article, want to write

I live in London, in the UK. Where people like Katie Hopkins and Jeremy Clarkson are allowed to throw stereotypes and racial hatred around in the name of entertainment and journalism, where “immigrant” is a dirty word, where just 6.6% of our parliament is not white. I didn’t write about topical issues in this country or mounting racial tensions or social crisis in other countries. I wasn’t trying to share the “London perspective” my local MP Jeremy Corbyn is accused of having. I just wrote about myself.

I’d like to write more. I’d like to write more about my experiences, more about growing up in a white society, more about being mixed race; I’d LOVE to write about what it’s like being mixed race. I don’t get paid to write this blog, it’s my personal space, and it takes time just to get through the comments as I want to read them all and take the time to reply appropriately. But there’s more to come, I have more to say. I hope you’ll read my future posts.

If any of you have any ideas where I should write more, or what about, then please get in touch. And in the meantime you can follow me on bloglovin, or twitter, or wordpress, or my blogs Facebook or sign up directly for my e-mails or my personal facebook. It means a lot. And let me know when you have to #callitout with me – just this morning this happened. Thank you.

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SOME OF YOUR COMMENTS – if you’d rather not be quoted here please let me know, and I would really refer everybody back to the entirety of the comments on the last blog, as there were so many valid and interesting points raised: here.

“Even if people say we’re being overdramatic by pointing out micro aggressions, we really aren’t and everyone needs to be properly educated on the impacts of these types of discrimination to stop them” – Abby R

“Telling you to ‘not make a fuss’ is people not wanting to admit they’ve made mistake, don’t doubt yourself because other people are too afraid to confront their own shortcomings. Society needs people like you to stand up and make a change.” – richardhp

“The ‘exotic’ thing is seen as a compliment when really it is a vocalisation of ‘difference’. You are different, you are not from here.” – impublications

“Most people don’t intend to be racist, but intent doesn’t have to present.” – GamerDame

“There are an army of us out here, batting away the insult and marching on.” – Nadine

What It’s Like Not Being White

mixed race all the places people think I'm from what it's like not being white
tindereditedI received the above opening line on Tinder last week. I quickly posted it to Facebook with the comment “Just so we are all clear, “you don’t strike me as English” is not an acceptable chat-up line”. My initial reaction was shock and disbelief along with a weary resignation. Amongst the 60-odd likes on were a number of comments which were largely jokey. I can play along to a degree, but the thing is: I wasn’t joking. It’s not an acceptable line.

I’m mixed race. I was born in London. I have a non-Caucasian name. I have brown skin and thick dark brown hair. My name and my colouring, two aspects of myself which I have no control over and were mere circumstances at birth, have far too often become the sole distinguishing features that people latch on to. These features single me out as not being white. Though 13% of the UK and 40.2% of London are not white, being not white still means I am different.

I am reminded daily in the way people talk about me or to me and by the assumptions implicit in conversations. I’ve long been resigned to how things are, but the anger I feel about this is growing. I am made to feel strange and unusual; I am made to feel “other”. I am literally forced to identify myself as “other”, because I am “Mixed Other” on the drop down menu of racial backgrounds on HR forms and the national census.

I take the piss out of this a lot. I jokingly describe myself as being “foreign” or “ethnic” because the alternate option is to wait for that label to come from somewhere else, probably somewhere with fewer laughs. I take the piss, because otherwise I would be too angry to do anything. mixed race all the places people think I'm from what it's like not being white 4The older I get, the more exhausting it is to laugh this stuff off; casual racism, instant stereotypes, pre-assigned tropes. I am in disbelief that things don’t seem to change despite more people calling it out. I call it out every time whether it’s a friend, a colleague or somebody I’ve just met. The more I call it out, the more aware I become of the fact that these race-based assumptions are deeply ingrained into our society, so much so that people often aren’t aware they hold these assumptions. People deny that their remarks were meant to cause offence; I’m sure they weren’t, but it doesn’t change what’s been said and assumed. Nobody wants to think of themselves as racist.

The more I call it out, the more I’m told I’m making a big deal out of nothing. I’m tired of being told that if I want to take something intended innocently as a racist remark, then that is my issue to deal with and that the problem lies with me. It’s never the problem of the person who made the remark: they didn’t intend any offence and so do not accept offence caused. I’m fed up with being told that I’m trying to draw attention to myself, that I take things too seriously, that I should have picked a less visible career instead of placing myself on stages. I’m fed up with trying to patiently explain to everybody why their words might hurt. I’m tired of hearing that people’s other non-white friends have never called them out, so what’s my problem?

I’m not an angry person, and I tend to see humour in all situations, but not being white feels more and more like a daily slog I can’t turn off. I’m writing this post so that you see why it might get frustrating. You’re probably thinking, what kind of incidents is she referring to? What comments does she call out? How bad can it really be in 2015? Well, let me try to paint a picture.

mixed race all the places people think I'm frm what it's link not being white 23When participating on the panel at a Q and A session I noticed my name had been spelt as Lola on my name badge. Lola is not my name. On informing the event assistant she replied “Well it’s close, isn’t it? We’ll leave it at that as people know how to pronounce THAT name – we don’t want any embarrassing situations”.

At least 50% of the time after people find out I’m a musician they ask immediately if I play Indian music.

I have my teaching details listed on different websites. My profiles are exactly the same, except I created one using my mother’s anglican maiden name and one with my actual surname. The maiden name profile received 75% more interest in the first couple of months. The profile using my fathers surname received 5 separate requests asking if English is my first language and if I can speak enough English to teach, despite the fact the profile was written in English.

Being asked if my vocabulary is sufficient enough to teach Music at GCSE Level in 3 separate job interviews, despite my CV explaining that I am a British national, English is the only language I teach in and that I possess a Masters in Music from a UK institution.

Being described as “beautiful” or “pretty” is always followed by “in an exotic way” or “you look so tropical” or even “for/despite being brown”. Only twice has a person called me beautiful and just left it at that.

Related “compliments” include, “you could be an Arabian princess”, “do you ever wear one of those scarves? I think they’re sexy”, “can you do a belly dance?”, “you’re like a harem girl”.

Walking past a man wearing a UKIP rosette who shouted “we’ll be getting rid of you soon, love!” and spat on the pavement after me.

The recruitment agency who advised using a picture of me where I looked “brighter” as schools want to employ “a friendly face” – it was a black and white photo (making me look lighter-skinned) rather than the colour one I had provided. Everybody else on the books was white and had a colour photo.

Another man on a bus telling me to “fuck off back where you came from before you blow the bloody place up” before shouting at a fellow passenger “there’s a fucking terrorist on this bus!”. I was holding my bassoon.

Being turned down for a job interview at a school, phoning up to ask for feedback and then being greeted with laughter and “oh! we assumed you didn’t speak English very well” and then more laughter, as though this was hilarious.

About 3 days after our latest election result, two men on the street talking, first said “Cameron’ll send all that gross Asian scum home now” to which the second one replied “Yeah, except them, I like something tropical every now and then” whilst nodding at me.

After listing my role models as Kate Bush and Lindsay Cooper in an interview I was asked “do you have any role models like you? You know…” and then, whilst gesturing to my face “we wanted to play that whole thing up a bit more, you know, it’s an interesting angle.” I’m so happy I provided you with a ready-made interesting angle! God forbid you’d have to find the interest elsewhere, for example my career or business!

On arguing against peoples nationalities being listed after tragedies and fatalities abroad I was rebuffed with “You wouldn’t understand because you’re not a proper nationality.”

School nicknames including Osama, The Terrorist, Paki, Gorilla, Monkey Man, Suicide Bomber, Ahmed, Bollywood, Curry House and Saddam.

Being told by a gross man in a bar that “girls like me” make more money as lapdancers/pole dancers because we look less pasty under bright lights and (again) also look more “exotic”.

Aged 6, local press – “Can we have the little brown girl to sit near the front? It looks better.”

Aged 14, school press – “It needs to look more diverse – Laila, can you come and stand in the front?”, worth pointing out I was the only non-white girl in my year.

Using maps on my phone in Brighton to find a cafe, a guy came up and said “are you looking for the language school?”. I said no and asked if he knew where the cafe was, and he said “Oh! I didn’t realise you spoke English. I thought you were looking for the language school. You know, because of..” and then gestured at my face whilst laughing, as though this was a hilarious mix-up.  mixed race all the places people think I'm frm what it's like not being white2 THINGS I HEAR ALL THE TIME:

“So where are you really from?”

“So where are your parents from?”

“You’re obviously not English”

“When did you come to this country?”

“Do you feel part of British society then?”

“I just think brown girls are more interesting.” – most recently heard from somebody 5 months into a relationship

“So you don’t really have a race? What kind of a person are you?”

“Do you still consider yourself a person even though you don’t have a country?”

“Well, obviously you don’t count because you’re brown/ethnic/mixed” etc or “You wouldn’t understand because you’re brown/ethnic/mixed” etc

“Are you vegetarian for religious reasons?” – a question never asked of my vegetarian white friends when we eat together

“You wouldn’t say that if you had a country of your own.”

“You’re so dark and mysterious, it’s like you’re a stranger from another land.”

“I’ve always liked exotic girls” – again most recently heard from somebody 6 months into a relationship

It’s like, when you go out with somebody from another country it makes your whole life feel more tropical, you get that tropical holiday feeling. You’re basically like going on a holiday.” mixed race all the places people think I'm frm what it's link not being white

One or two of these incidents could be brushed off as an unfortunate confusion, but when it happens week in and week out I become jaded. I can’t comment for everybody that’s not white, and much of the above is coupled with being a girl or being mixed race, two things which I could post about separately. I do seem to get more comments than a lot of my non-white friends, so maybe I just come across like a particularly antagonistic member of society who needs taking down a peg. But from my perspective it just seems like there is a huge amount of racism that I have to navigate on a daily basis, and at no juncture do I have the luxury of going about my life without my heritage challenged and called into question.

A lot of the assumptions can easily be avoided by re-wording questions. “How long have you lived in this area?” will get the same information as “When did you come to this country?” without implying that I’ve moved here from somewhere else. “What kind of musician are you?” lets me explain myself as opposed to guessing with “Oh, Indian music? Like in Bollywood?”, and if you’re genuinely interested, why not put “Why don’t you eat meat?” to everybody in the group rather than singling me out and assuming I’m religious? It’s simple wording and phrasing, but it’s wording a lot of people have probably never had to think about, because they have never been on the receiving end of it of that particular line of questioning.

From now on I’m going to broadcast every time I encounter a racist comment or scenario – call it out with me if you like on twitter (@tapeparade) or facebook ( and I hope people are aware of it, and I hope at some point, people will call themselves out on what they say, and do, and eventually they’ll have to start calling themselves out before they say or do anything but when they even think that way. But until then I’ll keep calling it out.

The Summers that Shaped Me

Today I thought I’d tell you about some of my summer holidays in years gone by, complete with a lot of dodgy pictures. Let’s time travel! This post is part of a collaboration called #WeBlogSummer, set up by lovely Sophia – read more here – and the theme this week is summer holidays, but as I’ve actually already posted about my thoughts on summer holidays and my “goals” for this particular summer I’ve decided to cast the gaze back into years gone by.

IMG_1605IMG_1596me looking the wrong way, typical  IMG_1607Summer 2005 is the last summer prior to this one I spent entirely in the UK. I was underage back in 2005 and my friends and I were at that awkward level of teenager life where you’re too old to go for dinner round somebody else’s house, but not quite old enough to go clubbing or to the pub. I mean what are teenagers meant to do? No wonder they just congregate in parks and shopping malls. It’s tough. My friends and I spend the summer alternating round each others houses. We went to my house every Thursday, which we titled “the gatherings” and… I don’t know what we did? Played Playstation, had water fights, climbed trees, had sleepovers and barbecues I guess.I started learning the guitar on one borrowed from a friend (still in my bedroom ten years later). I think at one point we were writing a film and shooting bits of footage? Or maybe we started a band? That’s the kind of thing you can do as teens.

2005 was also the summer 6 of us went on a trip up north; we spent 1 day at Alton Towers and 2 days chilling out at home, watching the Saw films, “cooking”, learning to tango, god knows what else but the time passed. I tried to find some non-awful pictures to show you, but 2005 is the year I attempted to grow my fringe out. Although shout out to that brown skirt – it was made from this weird stretchy fabric that was exclusively sold in Camden during 2003-2007 and I adored it. It was the summer I enjoyed the lazing around and the joys of just bedding yourself in with people; as a teen my life tended towards fast-paced and busy but that summer was my most chilled out time on record. I just spent about half an hour going through old photos and now feel very nostalgic for that mundane time. We didn’t even have facebook to distract us!

MEANDS~1 moi en room IMG_0050tonis (41)stuffThe early part of Summer 2007 was magnificent. Although tragically this was my second attempt to grow out a fringe (why didn’t I learn), study leave seemed to start in about March and I lose count of how many breakfasts, shopping trips and garden parties happened up until June. It was somebody else’s birthday every weekend and house parties became our default social scenario. I suffered a huge blow in my life quite early on that summer and that ended up being quite traumatic. It’s actually one of the very few incidents in my life that even today I can’t laugh off or joke about. I went from the best period of my life to one of the very worst and I just really unravelled; I was way too young to even begin processing what had happened to me and although I had a lot of friends, I didn’t really have the capacity to properly talk to anybody.

The reason I’m including this in my summer round-up is because I stayed in a lot and started just writing song after song after song. I filled notepads with songs and most importantly they started to improve. One of the songs from this time is still in my setlist now. I feel like summer 2007 is when I just sort of ceased developing and my gears stopped changing. Growing up is a gradual process and it sounds ridiculous but I feel like most aspects of myself and the way I operate can be easily and directly traced back to that event and that summer, especially when examining the way I deal with things and create things today.

Scan 13    IMG_1479  IMG_1581 IMG_1583   glastonbury 18Scan 7

Summer 2011 was such a big summer for me it kind of split into two parts. It was the year I left university and I had absolutely zero plans for the summer and zero plans for the year after. The first part of summer was spent completely surrounded by all my friends; I saw a lot of my friends from back home, I saw a lot of my theatre friends and I even got to reconnect with my old school friends at a party which was wonderful. I spent a lot of time with all the friends I’d made over the last 3 years, a long and drawn out goodbye to my degree and the corner or South London that had become my home, as well as all the years that had come before that. I leapt at every opportunity and ended up with plans that would take me far across the country for the second half of the summer. The first part of the holidays culminated in one of the best and most emotional nights of my life; flanked by my best friends Danilo and Pete it was the night I left London.

quartz brown 112IMG_3099IMG_3093IMG_2467  quartz brown 98 quartz brown 82 quartz brown 41    IMG_1867

After I left London my summer was spent surrounded by completely new people who had no link to school, university or anything I’d done before. I had leapt at every opportunity that turned up in the last few weeks and ended up spending the second 2 months of summer running around between two different music courses and a month-long run with a show at Edinburgh Fringe. I didn’t know anybody on any of those projects but ended up making lifelong friends with a lot of people I still work alongside today (such as the company I just toured with, half of Quizcats and as you can see from the pictures, James). I’ve written about how it was the summer Amy died and I started singing; finally finding an outlet. That first time I got onto the stage and stood in front of a microphone, as myself, it was literally like the world had shifted in front of me. It was in some crappy venue with about 12 people but I just thought “I knew this is what I wanted”. If I hadn’t met James and we hadn’t been in Edinburgh that may have never happened. So the whole summer was an amazing way to learn that even with no plans and no idea of what to do, life works out for the best. That even if the worst happens, friends are to be found everywhere.

So there we go! I hope you enjoyed this nostalgic look back. There are lots of other awesome bloggers taking part in #WeBlogSummer – if you head to Sophia’s blog you can read everybody else’s posts, and if you enjoyed this delve into my early years I’ve written a couple of other “growing up” posts here and here.

Apple Tea and Annie – Perceiving Ourselves

copper leaf flower ivy dorking halls arts exhibitRecently I’ve been thinking a lot about how we present ourselves. I’m not the kind of person who really goes in for a lot of care or thought when it comes to my outward appearance – and I don’t just mean my physical appearance, I mean my outward behaviour, the things I say, how I’m perceived. I suppose I’m quite self-involved in that I never stop to think how people see me, and on another level I guess I figured I can’t control how people see me anyway, so why bother? How I come across to other people isn’t on my radar at all and consequently I’m not very self-aware – I leave most of the observations to others.

One of my friends takes pride in essentially curating herself – heavily editing her online profiles, her outfits and even her life choices so that they fit in with the aesthetic and ambience she wishes to inspire in people. She spends a lot of time on pinterest and blogs, looking for people she’d like to be like; Brigitte Bardot, Lolita, Princess Peach. She has a thousand self-portraits. I have another friend who celebrates wearing bright clothes and has an “edgy” style, something that has come to define her and which she says makes her appear more confident to other people, despite her insecurities. I’m the opposite of both those thought processes. I rarely base my choices on what fits in with how I wish to be perceived. In fact, I’m the opposite. I obviously choose to wear clothes I like, or listen to music I like, but I don’t think apart what all these disparate choices combine into and what kind of impression they, and consequently I, might leave on a person.

london exterior view outside pretty

I’m aware that perhaps if I cared more about how I came across I could create a more interesting persona for myself, or build a bigger audience. Maybe I’m naive to think that just allowing myself to do what I want and letting that dictate who I am is enough to make for an interesting, likable person. I’m now in my mid-twenties, and it’s an interesting perspective. Most of my friends are a few years out of university and in the creative sector, like me, and my friend tapestry is a patchwork of those achieving their dreams, those taking the scenic route and living life to the full, those stuck in a bit of a rut and those stressing out that they have no idea what to do next. I tend to think of myself as largely ok; certainly nowhere near the top of the success stories but doing alright in my chosen career and happy with myself.

I choose the things I like, and whatever jumbled, mixed-up collage that creates (for example, right now: drinking apple tea, listening to Frank Sinatra, sat in the garden in shorts and an Annie Golden t shirt, writing) is who I am. I just accept it. Perhaps a more stylised ideal of myself would be sat in a London park, wearing a pretty gingham dress and eating fresh bagels. Or drinking coffee, listening to Chet Baker and wearing black. Who cares? I don’t really aspire to be either of those tableaus. All I am is the version of me that’s happened today. I don’t really aspire to appear any different to who I actually am and whatever I actually do, and I don’t read too much into this; the tableaus are what they are; guided by my tastes and impulses alone with no guiding hand to curate, to edit, to align. I never think “I want to be the kind of person who does this”. I just do what I want. And maybe as I get older, that’s not enough?

On Not Feeling Part Of The Sisterhood

Laila tapeparade red skirt floral jumper feminism womanhood sisterhood feeling a part of somethingYesterday was International Women’s Day. Amongst the articles celebrating women who broke the mould there were posts all over the place about how great it is to be a woman. Feminism is a hot, trendy issue and the supposed markers of womanhood seem to be everywhere.

Certain attributes seem to crop up more often than others. Wanting to make the most of your appearance. Playing around with the way you look. Harnessing your sexuality in order to get what you want. Having long, rambling friendships with other women. Getting catcalled on a daily basis. Life-long girlfriends who “get” you. Having the upper hand over boys by being alluring and mysterious. Hating your periods. Having days where you sit around and do nothing and imagine you look gross. Knowing how to be glamorous. Being simultaneously sexy and smart.

I would categorise the above markers as being different from the traditional stereotypes associated with women because these are the kinds of things women are saying to each other in an effort to bond and connect. I’ve seen these things on countless reports and articles – and more worryingly, on the blog posts of my peers. The prevalent message is “we’re all in this together because we all know what it’s like”. Statements like ‘Hey sister, period pains? I feel you’ or, ‘Ooh look, even *blah female celebrity* has those days in a sweatshirt with no make-up, she must be a real woman like us’ or ‘I was just having one of those days where I felt shit – you know when you can’t even look in the mirror’.Laila tapeparade red skirt floral jumper feminism womanhood sisterhood feeling a part of something I’m sure lots of people can read that list and nod along in renewed camaraderie. That’s great. However, anybody not covered in that self-constructed manifesto gets shoved out. I can’t even describe the number of times I’ve read a post supposedly celebrating all the best bits about being female – or alternately, reflecting on the trials of being a woman – and been left feeling like some weird alien who doesn’t get it. The bad parts must be awful, and the good parts must be great, and I’m happy and sad and conflicted for all the women who experience these good and bad things. But I can’t correlate my own life into that mix.

I end up feeling completely invalidated as a woman because none of those things apply to me. I actually feel more comfortable when people jokingly describe me as a “lad” or an “alpha male” because at least those words have some identifiable tropes I can connect with, rather than the self-perpetuated ideas I’m offered by my own gender. It’s ridiculous. There’s not one way to be a woman. I’ve tried to talk about this to other women in the past and I am primarily met with disbelief. “But everybody has those days” or “You must feel like that sometimes” and so on.

The message is that I’m either lying or weird; NOT feeling the same as everybody else isn’t an option. Other times I’m met with anger or disregard- “Well, you must be one of THOSE girls then” or “We can’t all be like that!”, followed by an abrupt pause in the conversation. I feel like shouting, one of what girls? What are you talking about? When was this secret code of womanhood created and why didn’t I get a copy? Laila tapeparade red skirt floral jumper feminism womanhood sisterhood feeling a part of something I’m all for equality. And if you want to specify further to gender equality, then I’m still all for that. Let’s fill this town with feminists. But let’s not use shallow generalisations to inspire a feeling of community and empathy with our fellow females. In our efforts to bond and rally round each other, let’s make sure we don’t fall into crass generalisations.

It’s never a good idea to speak on behalf of everyone. It’s ridiculous to imagine every female on the planet could feel the same as every other female and it’s stupid to think we all go through the same things. Let’s not use random made-up tropes to communicate with each other. Let’s just talk. Let’s not create empathy with things women are supposed to understand. Let’s just find common ground and empathise over that, on an individual level.

Let’s get over these universal signifiers to communicate with people and just BE PEOPLE. Let’s not ostracise (even accidentally) people who don’t fit the mould – let’s welcome everyone in. That’s what equality means. The great thing about equality is that you get to be whoever you are and it’s valid. You can be a woman without an opinion on menstruation, or a girl without girlfriends, or a tomboy who has never once harnessed her appearance, or a magical solider wielding a flamethrower mohawk, or whatever the hell you want, and it’s still valid. Let’s make that the marker of our sisterhood.Laila tapeparade red skirt floral jumper feminism womanhood sisterhood feeling a part of something