27.5.14

We Should All Just Be A Little Nicer To Eachother (And Ourselves)

I've been doing a lot of reflecting in the last few weeks, taking my time to absorb what's going on around me and really think about how women as a collective behave. We started off with the blogging drama that could've been straight off the pages of a Mean Girls script, quickly followed by a barrage of body shaming and abusive comments left on some of my favourite bloggers sites. Simultaneously, Dove have been partnering with Selfridges to bring to life their 'Beauty Project' - a celebration of women and an educated and articulate platform for debate. I was lucky enough to attend a session discussing the future of beauty, which inevitably digressed into photoshopping and realistic expectations within the industry. My conclusion from all of this? Why aren't we all just a little bit nicer to each other, and ourselves...


From the age of twelve I attended an all girls school. Although there was little comparison and competitiveness when it came to boys, an all female environment only led to constant bitching and derogatory comments being thrown around as if they were free lollipops. It seems that from a young age we learn to put others down in order for ourselves to feel better. Six years later, when I flew from the nest and into University, it seemed that unless you were wearing Topshop's latest t-shirt and had perfectly sleek hair, then you simply couldn't sit with the popular kids. I was always the one equally as interested in celebrity gossip and clothes as I was in learning the art of business and statistics. Always happy to go shopping and play with makeup, I equally enjoyed doing my set work and attending 99.9% of my lectures. The way the popular kids dealt with this lack of categorisation was to tell me I had a fat arse.

Nearly ten years since I graduated, I don't feel the world has really moved on. I love a Twitter debate, I'm extremely opinionated and I don't back down easily; I'm a strong woman who knows who she is and won't take sh*t from anybody. However, when in the midst of a debate (or simply having an opinion someone else doesn't agree with,) it seems that insults are the easiest thing to throw - because intellect is so much harder to verbalise than telling me I have a fat head. (Ironically because that's the only thing they can see in my profile picture.) In the four years I've been running this blog I can probably count the number of times I've willingly featured my own face - not because I'm ashamed of it, embarrassed or have a debilitating self-confidence issue, but because I always ALWAYS get comments telling me I'm fat.

I could do with losing a couple of stone, but you know what? I like cake more than I like fitting in skinny jeans. I'm a happy 31 year old woman with a job she loves, a boyfriend that I adore and a home I can call my own. So why do hurtful comments put me off sharing more of myself than I currently do? When the 'Gossip Guru' episode exploded a little while ago (if you're not up to speed then ask on Twitter!) bloggers were distraught that people they thought were friends were actively discussing them and slagging them off online, picking apart their every flaw. No woman loves herself completely (unless you're Kim Kardashian,) so what other people are picking out as a negative is probably what they already think about every time they look in the mirror. We're all amazing, unique and beautiful creatures in our own right, so why don't we start celebrating that rather than putting ourselves down?

As part of the Beauty Project debate I attended, we discussed the impact of the media on our expectations of beauty and how we all strive to reach an impossible goal. However, as the discussion progressed we all started to realise that women are their own worst enemy. Men will always pat each other on the back, celebrate their successes and congratulate themselves for a job well done/great bone structure/large genitals/insert relevant topic here. Women always seem to focus on the negatives: focusing on cellulite, wrinkles, saggy boobs, bad fake tan and roots that need doing appears to be much easier than celebrating intellect, achievements or strength of character.

Instead of picking women apart, why don't we start celebrating their strengths and discussing their admirable qualities? I for one am in awe of fellow blogger Callie Thorpe, who has to put up with a torrent of online abuse because she just happens to be bigger than a size ten; she's beautiful, stylish, sassy, fun, inspiring and articulate - but some people simply can't see past her size. I would've killed for an ounce of her confidence in my twenties, knowing that it's ok that my backside is twice the size of Kate Moss and that I'm never going to look good in a bandage dress. She inspires me every day and I wish I had someone to look up to like her when I was growing up, rather than a plethora of skinny twenty-somethings that carry designer bags and look flawless in all their pictures. (People know they spend three hours getting ready and take 2000 pictures just to get the perfect shot, right?!)

My current niggle is how frequently women are celebrated for simply being beautiful. Watching television talk shows and interviews of celebrities, nine times out of ten they're introduced as 'the beautiful generic celebrity'. I'm pretty sure they'd be more appreciative if they were introduced as an 'award winning actress', novelist, charity campaigner or mother - something that MEANS something. While watching the British Soap Awards this week, it struck me how out of touch we are when it comes to celebrating individuals for more than just their face; how can it be in 2014 that we're STILL awarding 'sexiest female' gongs? These may seem like minor issues that don't really affect anyone or anything, but this is what women are being exposed to on a daily basis; this is the behaviour we're learning and the qualities we're being told are worth celebrating. If we all admire people for nothing more than the lucky genes they were handed down, how will we ever encourage young women to look past a pretty exterior and to stop insulting one another?

I know I can be as guilty as the best of them, talking about bad hair extensions during Made In Chelsea and picking out the horrendous outfits featured on the Daily Mail, but I also like to think I support and celebrate other women too. We need to stop putting ourselves under so much pressure to lead the perfect life, have amazing hair and toned legs to match Gwyneth Paltrow. I do believe bloggers perpetuate certain expectations, as well as social media helping us all to cultivate the perfect image of ourselves - but it's important to realise these are just the edited bits. Nobody is perfect. Nobody has the perfect life. We're all going to age, get wrinkles, discover cellulite, find grey hairs and lose our bouncy boobs... But that isn't the end of the world. You can't lose your intelligence, your passion, your talent or your compassion. Maybe we should just learn to love those bits we can hold on to and stop focusing on the bits we can't.

I've made a decision in the last few days to stop giving a sh*t and to 'put myself out there' a little bit more, regardless of the consequences. I'm starting YouTube. I know I'll be in for a load of abusive and unnecessary comments, but I also know I'll enjoy helping others and sharing a little bit more of myself with my readers. I'm done with the haters, the trolls and the bitches that transfer their own self-hatred and lack of worth on to others. If enough of us say 'we don't care' then we'll all be in a better place to start loving ourselves and each other, celebrating our great qualities rather than pondering and worrying about our imperfections. I'm going to start sharing the love a little more and talking about women (and blogs) that inspire me, and I hope you'll do the same....

Why not start by leaving a comment below and telling me what woman inspires you and why.
You may just make their day.
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32 comments

  1. Great feature Hayley - I've certainly isolated myself more really as a message to myself to not take any notice of what others are doing, and just keep doing my own thing just so I don't get bogged down in all the game playing. I think you will like YouTube - I certainly have had very little trolling and it's been really positive. Mainly, I think because it's small and if it stays that way, then I won't mind a bit because it's lovely to get comments that are on the whole, really friendly and kind.

    We didn't know, back in the beginning of blogging how it would all turn out - we still don't know really - most of us are still feeling our way around and hoping for the best! You're right that women aren't kind enough to either themselves or each other and I'd certainly like to be more mindful about how I'm behaving in social media situations. I'm definitely trying to regram and retweet more. I think maybe sometimes the success of others can take a little bit away from ourselves and nothing intensifies those feelings like the internet. I'm just back to blogging how I used to and not worrying about what anyone else thinks or more importantly, what anyone else is doing.

    This is such a great post, I don't know what else to say - I'm looking forward to your YouTube - we're buddies in IRL so I know there is no reason why you shouldn't be doing it!

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    1. Thanks Jane. I always value your support and an ear to listen. XX

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  2. You inspire me! It takes a lot of courage to put yourself out there like you have especially with his post and I love it. Never be ashamed of who you are, in the grand scheme of things who cares if size 10 jeans aren't hanging in the wardrobe when you are intelligent, creative, successful and beautiful in so many ways. Thank you for always being honest whether you're reviewing a foundation or tackling real important issues (the post you did on smear tests helped several of my friends get over their fear and book appointments). You are an inspiration Haley and don't let anyone tell you any different.

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    1. Also I've just noticed I spelt your name wrong (unforgivable) Sorry Hayley!

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    2. Thanks Anna - your words mean a lot x

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  3. This is such an amazing post, Hayley, you've really hit the nail on the head. It's so sad that in 2014, the media tells us what is sexy, what men love and what we should look for in other women - these women that are put on such a high pedestal just for being beautiful. Everybody should read this, I'm sure we could all use some of the encouragement and positivity that you'd put into this post.
    Daniela | danielascribbles blog xo

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  4. MontyC27.5.14

    You go girl!! Fantastic post and here's some big love right back at ya :) Really looking forward to seeing you on YT! X x

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  5. What a lovely blog post, a sentiment we should all take to heart :) Thinks can get so bitchy in the blog/vlogosphere, and it's important to take a step back & think about the damage you're doing.

    Emily xx // www.beautybunnyy.blogspot.co.uk

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  6. Amazing post Hayley,so true and honest.I love your blog and trust your opinions.I will watch your Youtube videos, too....Don't let anyone change your good mood,you're an inspiring blogger X

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  7. Fantastic post. We are sisters and we have so much to contend with being female in this male dominated work you would think us gals would stick together more. I agree judge me for what I stand for not if I fit into a marketing ideal of how a woman should be. Bravo!!

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  8. Hi I'm new to your Blog, I'm a Brit living in Australia and echo your sentiment of being kinder to each other. I don't care for size, it's all about personality for me and if a Blog I read has great content then that's all that matters, I wish Women would be more supportive of one another. I have to say I feel there is far less bitchiness over this part of the world, there is less of a class issue. Love your Blog BTW!

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    1. Thank you! I think it's a British thing - we're too reserved to call people out, so bitching and leaving anon comments is how we deal with things.

      BTW, so jealous of the sunshine you must be getting while it's pouring here! x

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  9. Great post, if you haven't already you might like to check out beauty redefined, a great website about changing how women are objectified etc. it's very inspiring.

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    1. Thanks Adele, I'll check it out! x

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  10. I could not agree more with what you have written. We all need to embrace what we have got and not try to be what other people think we should be. We are all different and life would be so boring if we were all the same. I have had confidence issues nearly all my life and it is very hurtful when people say something about you. These people need to grow up and take a long hard look at their attitude. They probably have a lot of insecurities of their own and take it out on people. There is no need for hurtful comments, it would be great if everybody could be respectful to each other but unfortunately I am sure the way some people are to others is never going to change.

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    1. I think you're right - negativity is always the result of unhappiness with oneself. x

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  11. This is one of the reasons I'm not socially interactive on Twitter when it comes to my blog, I think most bloggers have so much in common and we all started off in the same way, It seems a lot of positivity is being taken over by negativity and bullyinging. What happened to the days where people supported one another and helped others reach their goals. Seems a lot of people are all about themselves and don't care who they stab in the back to get they want to get in life. I love your positivity on what seems to be an awful time for bloggers with trolls. X

    Kate | A British Sparkle

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    1. Thanks Kate. You're right - things have definitely changed and there's a lot of bitterness, which I think stems from competitiveness when the freebies and paid campaigns started to roll out. I couldn't care less about free things, but I wish people would go a little bit back to basics x

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  12. Fantastic post and it really rings true to me also. My facebook is a good reflection of this as I only have people who inspire me, friends or positive people on there. I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia (that illness that isn't real, I wish!) My life was turned upside down. I had to give up a great job as a PA as my brain doesn't work the way it used too and I am in constant pain. I also have acute Osteo. I also put on a LOT of weight during this time. I managed to drop 2 stone since then but always battle with weight due to my medication and more sedentary lifestyle. I had some horrible online spats with people who accused me of being lazy and not wanting to work and also the fat comments. After 5 years I am finally at peace with myself and I am constantly trying hard so that I can have some semblence of normlancy in my life and my families. I have brought up two beautiful daughters, one of which is now a MUA for Urban Decay, single handed, now have a brilliant boyfriend who after 5 years actually understands that yes I am actually ill and supports me. I deleted the negative people from my life and my social media, even blocking his mum, which in turn meant we got on better in reality and away from the net. I have started painting again, abeit slowly, which was always my passion and feel so together (with the slight allowed hiccup due to depression). Haters are always gonna hate and you seem a tough cookie with a heart of gold from what I have seen so far. Success of another always will breed contempt from those who have issues with themselves, taking it out on people they really aspire to be like. Jealousy is a bitter pill to swallow. So just keep keeping on as you are fab my lovely! JuJu xxxxx

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    1. So glad you've come out the other side Julie. My mum also has Fibro and has undergone all sorts of ops and physio to get her to a happy place. People are so quick to judge and weight always seems to be the easiest thing to insult. Lots of love x

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  13. Amen to this Hayley! I love reading your posts like this, there are not many people who speak as much sense as you do! I was definitely bought up with the attitude that if you don't have any thing nice to say, simply don't say it. I can't think of anything worse than leaving a negative comment on someone's blog! I love giving the girls at work compliments, I think it just brightens everyone's day! I love so many people I look up to in so many walks of life that it's hard to pick just one! Most people who I admire, know it already, which I think is really nice!

    Stephanie
    http://missstephanieusher.blogspot.co.uk/
    http://www.bloglovin.com/blog/3436251
    xxxx

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    1. Thanks Stephanie! It's great that you share the love around... It always brightens an otherwise dull day x

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  14. Anonymous28.5.14

    So spot on! I just love your blog, You're simply lovey!
    -Also random question what are the capsules in the photo?

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    1. They're from Elizabeth Arden!

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  15. I too wish I had just 10% of Callie's confidence and beauty.. she's an amazing person. I was trolled on GG by 'friends', and I so wish it didn't bother me but it did (and still does), probably because I know that I could never write such horrendous things about someone even I knew them in real life. I even had one of my followers say to me that because I'm a blogger I should expect being slagged off? Why should we 'expect' vile comments, just because we blog.. it's a ridiculous mentality to have!

    You summed it up brilliantly Hayley, as always xxx

    Gemma ♥ | Miss Makeup Magpie

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  16. One of the reasons I read your and Jane's blogs regularly is because your lives sound very similar to mine - and because I could imagine going down the pub with you! Haven't come across Callie's blog, but will check it out. We need a variety of voice's talking about beauty.

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  17. This is something I've been thinking about a lot in the past few years and while I do agree with the core message of "be nice", there are some things that are really bugging me about this.

    First of all, the assumption that men are nicer to each other than women. I've been very active in online communities since i was 14 years old (i.e. 14 years by now) - some mixed gender, some primarily made up of women, some primarily made up of men. In my experience, men were much less concerned with hurting another person's feelings since being considered likeable was less important than being known as smart and witty. There were many below-the-belt jokes and eye-rolling on my part. It's true though that when men attack women, they don't need to be creative, they usually just attack them for being female. As a woman, you are still "the other".

    Communities dominated by women were completely different - every once in a while there'd be an existential discussion about "people being too mean" and the need for more "positivity" (frankly, having to read the word "positive" used as some kind of mantra has made it sound moronic to me). Debates went quickly emotional and hostile and many people seemed to be uncomfortable with dissent per se.

    Women were also always quick to point out that they struggle with too low self-esteem and that we need to support each other. I do believe that the sentiment is true and honest but it does surprise me because i know from psychological research that the one universal feature of most human beings is a self-enhancement bias. People usually believe they are smarter, more accomplished etc than the average person. Men more so than women but I personally don't think that's something my gender has to strife for.

    There are people out there who are just enjoying putting someone else down. I won't lie, i've spent hours crying my eyes out in front of my computer because some asshole insulted me in a way that touched a nerve and made me feel like a failure as a human being. I was bullied and ostracized in my childhood and the psychological damage has had an impact on my ability to lead a normal life. I could not deal with the kind of vitriol that i see directed towards people that are putting themselves out there (i think I'd get an intern to delete nasty comments for me ! ;). Creators of any kind are my fucking heros.

    Hatred does not deserve a platform but all this talk about haters is not helpful. For example, Lime Crime has a history of calling people "haters" that have called them out on their shady business practices. Some haters are not jealous, they are just critics (although the vast majority seems to be assholes). Most of the time though, the majority of people is supportive anyway - most people are not that bad and love to see someone else succeed (otherwise, there wouldn't be this collective craving for "inspirational" stuff).

    On the matter of weight I agree 100%. The increase in fat shaming is much more concerning to me than any "obesity" crisis ever could be. The "health at every size" movement is something I fully support and i try to do my best in challenging people when they make disparaging comments towards people based on their weight. Something that i found very helpful is subscribing to blogs, tumblrs etc that feature bigger people to work against my own stereotypes. In the subreddit Makeupaddiction it's still always the conventionally attractive, thin girl that gets the most upvotes, often regardless of technique and i believe we need to make a conscious effort for more variety in the beauty community.

    So that's why, although she's not a member of the beauty community, the person that inspires me to be braver and stand by my beliefs is Ragen Chastain from Danceswithfat.wordpress.com!

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  18. I liked your reference to the film "Mean Girls ".I think one could address the phenomena of destructive criticism right there. That is, at the Meanness syndrome. If you saw the film you'll recognise that the operating premise of the mean girls was that it was 'cool' to be mean.
    Contrast that with what the Dalai Lama has said: "If possible , be kind…." He then goes onto say, " its always possible".
    Buddhists ( Iam not one BTW) make a big thing of practical kindness, assigning it great value as a life skill. They argue persuasively that Kindness is a durable life skill found on a solid base of inherent human empathy. Be kind , if not for the benefit of the other, then on your own account. In other words , being kind to another is good for you. Theres a line in poem i love: The gentle gravity of kindness…
    Its cool to be kind ; if only the world at large would agree on this point!

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  19. I have a blog, for fun, and for family and friends to keep up with. I love taking pictures, and use it as my hobby, my outlet for creative side. Recently, however, I discovered how cruel people can really be. I came across your article as I sat there trying not to replay a million times over, the disgusting and cruel things one person wrote to me in SEVERAL emails. I wondered if it was just me, but as I have been researching, it seems to happen to quiet a bit to women bloggers. It made me sad, but in a way helped to realize that they aren't worth my time. There will always, for some reason, be people who want to put others down and their success. It's sad. But, I'm glad that there are people like you out there, who stand up for themselves and help others!

    X Jewels

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  20. I just stumbled across this post... As I read it I nodded so many times.

    You know what? I'd rather read a blog & recommendations from someone that's not airbrushed. Someone who is attractive, intelligent and normal- that'd be you.

    It's not just women that can be bitchy - men too. Did you read the comments Jane from BBB endured when she did an article in the Daily Mail.

    What do I celebrate in other women? Someone who is intelligent, likes to help others and doesn't apologise for wanting to look and feel her best.

    As for a few extra pounds, so what???? I do wish there was a lot less of me, but I love my curves. I also love my chocolate and red wine..

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