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the next top model...

Brit readers may be well aware of the BBC3 show on for the past 6 weeks, Britain's Missing Top Model, but it might be interesting for others to hear about. The ever politically pushy BBC created an ANTM rip off but used eight girls with disabilities. They ranged from two deaf girls, a girl in a wheelchair paralysed from the waist down, girls born with missing limbs or lost limbs as a result of car accidents, and less obvious-to-the-eye disabilities such as ME. I already wrote about this at the start of the show on the Birmingham Post blogs but after seeing the whole series and the crowning winner tonight, it gives a better judgement.

The main fault of the show was it's very shaky message. All the reviews and articles I've read have totally different views and even the judges argued about what they were really trying to do. Find a model or a spokesperson? I initially compared it to Britain's Next Top Model. The name suggests it's part of that franchise but really it was a watered down version with similar ideas. The riding theme was questioning if the fashion world is ready for disabled models, almost as though they're discriminated against already for apparently not being used. It was about awareness and controversy and finding role models.

From the start this annoyed me because there are models similar to some of the contestants on the show! Remember Elle did an interview a few months ago with Brenda Costa, the deaf Brazilian model? Funny how she's been in loads of runway shows, on the covers of Elle and been the face of L'Oreal. Every time they questioned whether a deaf model could survive in the industry I wanted to shout hello, there already are deaf models! It's funny how the judges never mentioned it or even seemed to know about it. It proves for having a disability doesn't need to hold you back from anything and how there are probably disabled models all over the place and we don't even realise.

Also in my opinion, a model with a disability could be an advantage. The fashion world loves controversy, just look at the Italian Vogue hype and that's barely outrageous. Omg black models, how crazy! (jokes) Imagine if Lily Cole had half her arm missing. For editorial shoots, wouldn't it be even more beautiful and interesting to see a missing limb? Designers use albino people as muses. Alice Dellal has half her hair shaved off. If you look at the top models they're not what the world deems perfection in terms of attraction. Look at Erin O'Connor and Masha Tyelna. The show was very closed minded in the way they described the fashion industry.

In the end the winner was the girl below. The two finalists were both great but to me she was the girl who was the most extreme in not considering her disability to rule over her life and represent who she was. Sure she had half an arm missing but her personality shone over that. I thought it was great to have a role model whose disability wasn't their first attribute? Yet the other finalist was equally as gorgeous and she was very persistent in wanting to make an impact and change some minds. Being in a wheelchair may have been the hardest challenge of the show.

The main thing that bothered me and the most outspoken judge was that some of the other judges were very adamant that their disabilities should rule over their future possible modelling careers. The second to last photo shoot didn't showcase them, Kelly's arm was hidden, Sophie was out of her wheelchair and posing on the floor. Two of the more politically correct and out to please judges called it an insult that their disabilities weren't shown. Throughout they didn't want a girl to win where her disability wasn't obvious, such as the deaf girls. This is how the competition was warped, although by the end I'm glad they picked the girl who does have a face and body for modelling rather than the best spokesperson for disabled people, although I thought Sophie took some of the best photos. After they have their winning prize of a Marie Claire photo shoot, they will go on real castings and for real shoots where 99% of the time there won't be a need or a want for a disability.

P.S. Some commenters are thinking I've been deleting their comments! For some reason there's a set amount of comments that can be shown and if you look at the end of them, there is an arrow to go to the next few, and so on. I'm not ignoring you! If you have asked a question or posted a disagreeing comment usually my reply will be on the last page :)

cycle wear

Since uni I've got into the habit of playing documentaries in the background when I'm doing stuff on my laptop. I've just been listening to some BBC programme while packaging eBay dresses called Dr Alice Roberts: Don't Die Young and a study made me stop and listen.

It may have seemed obvious but when we girls are ovulating we are more attractive, even though there is no apparent change in our appearance. A study photographed women on high and low fertility days and compared them with their faces obscured. Results showed women subconsciously tried to look more attractive when fertile. They wore more feminine clothes like skirts and dresses, exposed more flesh and added eye catching jewellery. They also posed in ways to highlight hips and waists with suggestive tipped heads and pointed legs, which is a point to consider for us bloggers who photograph ourselves all the time!

It's strange to think that those days where you wake up and instinct tells you to reach for jeans or a little dress aren't just random thoughts or brain waves, they could be dictated by days when our body tells us we need to attract men or when it doesn't matter so much. In our mental file of our wardrobe, maybe we shuffle around in order each month. It's funny to think about what we would wear on these days. I can't decide whether, when I wear my most girly dresses with white tights and hair bows if I'm feeling most feminine, or when it's the tight jeans and bandage dresses. It feels like the first thing I thought about when I got dressed today was 'it's so hot!'

one of a kind?

It was a bit of a coincidence that I saw a dress I'd just sold on eBay in a vintage shop in oxford, and then today Six O'Clock Style discussed how she's found twins to her vintage dresses. On Friday I went to a nearby high street and found a bag I loved but left on a bus almost two years ago. It's really weird as I remember it was the day I went to Melissa's house because she was plaiting my friends hair with pink and purple extensions ready for the summer festivals, so it could have even been the exact same day! I even remember what I was wearing, a polka dot skirt as a dress with my black belt and a royal blue kids school cardigan. These memories could be because I really liked that bag! It was the perfect size and I used it all the time as the nude/peach colour went with everything. So I was gutted when I stepped off the bus and then watched it drive away with my bag on the back seat; painful! It also had my forged birth certificate in haha.

So it was a marvy surprise when I was in the legendary too-expensive-or-no-finds charity shop Oxfam and saw the exact same bag, even with the tag still on. Crazy! I had a friend called Dani who first opened my eyes to charity shopping and she had a dress that we found loads of duplicates of, including once when she was actually wearing it on a day trip to London and found two in the same vintage store in Camden. Of course if you loose something vintage you'd have the hardest time finding it again, but its funny how things will just pop up and surprise you. I have too many bags already though and may need to give some more away again, although looking back at a random, ancient post at the ones I gave away before, I know I'll regret it! The red heart bag is from Topshop and I can hardly fit anything in it because it's such a strange shape!

P.S. I just saw Angus, Thongs and Perfect (or full frontal) Snogging and it wasn't half bad! Every joke you already knew though so the funny words and embarrassing moments weren't so entertaining, but I liked the differences they'd added and the cast were fab! The only stupid thing was that your average bunch of school boys are never that good looking, even Peter Dyer could have been way, way worse! I went with my sister and she told me that my Mom asked her if her kind of boyfriend had any friends for me?! Haha how embarrassing, I don't need your help thanks Mom. I never should have said her friend had a nice afro!

put on a show

Delving into worlds of designer makeup is kind of annoying because once you've sampled what's best, how can you go back to average, even if there isn't much difference? Like I said in the Teen Vogue questionnaire, I love mascara! I'd have to rate my eyelashes as my best feature, which is kind of sad if you think about it! They're very long and thick and near the middle I have two layers for some reason. The bad thing is they're very light so you can't even tell! I remember using clear mascara as one of my first makeup experiments and it does nothing so its been dark brown ever since. People ask if I'm wearing false ones a lot.

Like I said the other day when I was feeling slightly blue, my Mom went on holiday for a few days and I weighed up the opportunity for duty free! I asked her to get me a DiorShow mascara which is around £18.50 in shops but it was even £15.75 at the airport, in hindsight that's at least three Rimmel products. I got it in Chestnut, so I can't vouch for the black, and I wanted to believe the hype but I don't think I would stop a perfect mascara quest at this...

The tube is very thick and tall so the price can be justified by the size. By the way, if you think your mascara has run out, sit the base in a bowl of hot water and you'll have much more left! Anyway, it strangely has a really nice smell, a bit like talcum powder, which I don't know whether is much of a bonus as no one smells your lashes? The wand is a total beast, it's like a Christmas tree! Definitely impressive compared to stubby high street bands. It means you do really only need one coat, applying more doesn't seem to make a difference at all, which is unusual as normally it's all about the layers you put on. It makes lashes very thick but not necessarily full, yet when you turn to the side you see why people love this, the curl is amazing! The brush has wondrous effects because from the front your lashes don't look any longer but from the side you see that the length has been added for the amazing curl. Throw out the eyelash curlers! No more sharp pointy lashes. I wouldn't say this gives catwalk eyes at all or the look of false lashes because it doesn't make you look like you've got lots of lashes. That's the pro of a skinnier brush which separates eyelashes to give the effect of more.

So all in all, the thickness is great and the curliness is amazing, but it doesn't seem like you've got a set of full lashes and they don't look really long like I had hoped. It doesn't clump though and I'd give it 4/5 because it is the best I have used. I've had Rimmel Glam Eyes for the past few months as the comb is great for separating lashes so they still look good for daytime but aren't over the top. Before buying I would definitely recommend going to all the counters and asking for samples, and then maybe taking notes or even a photo once you use them? I hope this helps anyone who was eyeing it up!

reasons to go to new look... and reasons not to go to new look

I'm horribly aware that I have to shop for a family holiday to Spain at the start of September. I haven't been on holiday since I was at an age where it was probably OK to wear only bikini bottoms, so have been putting off the inevitable swim suit hunt for as long as I could! Catwalk Queen listed some retro swim stuff which I would prefer, including some Skinny Dip costumes. I thought the prices were quite high but if you on eBay almost all their best bikinis and cut out costumes are there for much, much cheaper!

Today I was walking down my high street as passed the massive New Look. Despite being a very unfashionable high street with the only other clothes shop being a small Dorothy Perkins, it caters to the masses of chavs around here, thus I usually avoid it. But they are known for massive sales and they had rails and rails jam packed with swimwear. They've got a range from Kelly Brook (what is she famous for?) which satisfies all my pin up style bikini wants with major discounts. They had at least 40 different styles. So if you're not too keen on spending much on something you'll hide as much as possible when wearing, check out their bargain offerings. I got a cheap but cheerful cherry number with frilly bottoms and a frilly gingham red one which leaves not so much to the imagination. My thinking is that my body will probably be in the best shape it will ever be now so I might as well not try to conserve dignity. Lets hope my brothers don't decide to suddenly dunk me or I go down a stupidly fast water slide, oh the stories I could tell...

At the till though I remembered why I never go in there. I wouldn't have taken a photo if it weren't necessary to prove my point. There was a group of chavy girls with the standard lanky boy and the girl with the white plastic bag was wearing what could only be a corset that was meant to be underwear. The photo doesn't really do justice to how much her belly was pushed down by the tightness to hang over the front and sides of her jeans that slipped down when she picked something up, argh! She also wasn't small (or lifted) in the bust department. There was also some cheapie baby pink stilettos to balance on. Some people may look at my outfits and smirk but I nearly wanted to drop my bikini pile and run all the way home!

floral nights

My sister is having a party in the garage. It's 1.20am and she thinks I don't know she has loads of friends in there, including my two younger brothers and plenty of beer. These are the perks of being the oldest and in charge, you're not invited to a party in your own house!

I'm feeling a bit lonely. I really, really want to go out and dance and party but for the whole summer friends have had no money or new priorities such as a bun in an oven, etc. While swanning around charity shops is lovely, what about the rest of the summer? I miss being with friends every day and going out whenever you want. Today I went to the cinema with my Nan and her friend from bingo; if that isn't bordering on sad I don't know what is. Mamma Mia was extremely marvellous though, the kind of film you watch and it makes you all tingly and happy, but it did strike the chord of summer romances, or in my case lack of them. Oh well, it's just one of those nights. This morning I got this dress from Vintage Virgin which said was ready to wear but smelled like someone had certainly partied hard in it. It's not my normal style but I said before I was looking for a floral bandage dress and it's more interesting to shake things up. I would wear this dress if I was going out any time soon. All dressed up and no where to go!

Btw, my hair is wet, not straightened. I'm filling the summer voids with day tripping alone! Is anyone from around/live in Nottingham? After the amazing Oxford recommendations, I'm hoping the rumours are true of large vintage warehouses?

finally 60's summer!

I said ages ago I wanted it to be a 60's summer and finally I found a mod dress in a charity shop that wasn't too big or a strange colour! This one is a little roomy on the waist so I'll take it in a bit. I like that it's white and the right length, fab for £2.99! Sadly this means I would never be able to wear it to a club because drink spills would be lethal, and knowing me most of them would be from my own drink! Otherwise I would have worn it with these false Stargazer lashes with mini white balls on the end. Even though I think they look slightly strange, I love having that hazy black shadow at the top of your view!

bubble gum

I have the biggest pile of things to sell as I've been collecting for over a week but my sister is so hard to get hold of!! We only get through about ten before we got fed up and she starts pulling funny faces so I'm only selling this stuff but should have the rest up next Thursday! Chloe, my sister, has lots of nice guy friends too so I've been browsing men's sections but to no avail.

I'm selling a vintage sailor dress so it will be interesting to see how it compares to the other ones I'm selling with quite scary bidding. I didn't realise how many people wanted dresses like that and feel like I'm almost exploiting people when they bid so high! Also there's this amazing pink and purple romper that I got on an impulse on eBay US without thinking that pink and lilac really don't suit me. Imagine having to wear a dusky orange scarf with everything your whole life? That's what I must consider! It also doesn't fit but my sister looks ten times better in all my clothes as she has boobs and now she can sneak into clubs she borrows them all!

I went to the library on Wednesday and got off a stop later on the bus to pick up my Nan a birthday card and found a new charity shop has opened! This sort of fills the huuuuge hole in my heart from the closing of Barnardo's as it's the YMCA and they aren't afraid to stock bad-but-good 80's stuff. That's where I found those crazy hammer pants that are exceedingly awesome! An old lady was with an even older lady who was her mother and rabbiting all over shop about how her daughter hits her and her husband is dying, not in a depressed way, just in a 'I'll talk to anyone about anything' way. I chatted to her for a bit when she came up to me and the lady at the till said 'you handled that well, do you want a job?!' jokingly and I said well yes I do! I've been asking all the charity shops if they need volunteers but none did until now so I can satisfy my guilty conscience from profiting off people (I could never own a real shop) and fill the hours I will waste this summer, plus getting first dibs on stock! My auctions are here!

Also I'm Teen Vogue's blogger of the moment! What an honour! Like I say, it's fitting as I first discovered Style Bubble and then the world of fashion blogs from a Teen Vogue mention so I am so pleased! Teen Vogue know I exist, wow!

a day in oxford, sailor girl style!

I would definitely recommend Oxford to you day trippers as it was lovely! Huge thanks to all the people who suggested shops, I would never ever have found them other wise!

Of course the most striking factor of the town for an urban inner city person like me is how many cyclists there are! I've never seen so many bikes in my whole life, not even in a bike shop! We arrived quite early at 9am after a slightly scary train journey where a conductor announced 'Would the owner of the unattended black suitcase in carriage F please claim it immediately or it will be removed from the train and destroyed' over and over again, while all us passengers looked at each other nervously!  It was OK though and we got to Oxford in an hour, armed with my hand drawn map and lots of recommendations.

The town is SO pretty, loads of old architecture and trees, it just flows history and tradition. I can see why you wouldn't want to get round in a car. We went to Unicorn first and from your reviews I was expecting what we saw- a window into a very small shop but crammed to the rafters FULL of stuff! It looked like a cave and the window was a wall of clothes. I was excited to go in but like we found out, most places aren't open until 11. My Mom and I went to a cafe, of which there are loooads to choose from, and we kept seeing students in their graduation gowns, some even with fur round. You really get a sense of how academic the place is, especially as the streets are so calm and dignified, and so clean!

My Mom's friend was about to arrive so I went off to search out the other shops and then meet up for lunch. Another thing is the hoards of international students on trips wandering round in big groups. I was pleasantly surprised by Age Concern charity shop because it was stuffed with stock to rummage through. I wandered down Cowley Road but found the places I wanted to go weren't open yet so I carried on and looked in more charity shops, finding some sunglasses and the best Laura Ashley dress ever!

I waked back up the road into Bead Games which was a dressing up shop come vintage store with loads of second hand toys and even a huge range of pic'n'mix! I asked if I could take photos but the owner didn't really want me to, in the future I should stop being so polite and be sneaky! There were some original pieces and loads of extravagant tutu skirts and piles of glasses and bow ties. It was more theatrical wear than plain old fancy dress.

I walked back down the road the other way again as Reign Wear was now open. This is a usual vintage stuff but the shop has loads of stock compared to an average boutique and it's all beautifully set out on cushioned hangers in a bright, airy shop, which is always a bonus. Also their range of dresses were all wearable, clean and very cute, rather than having strange vintage stock that you couldn't imagine anyone looking great in like some places. I found a Laura Ashley dress in blue identical to the pink one I sold on eBay last week, weird! There was a lot of guys stuff too, all carefully labelled and set out.

The guy let me take photos so I used the chance and took loads to show. Speaking of him, there are a load of hot guys in Oxford! Maybe it was the feeling that they were all smart and refined but I saw lots with style too. I only saw two girls who caught my eye, one with a big floppy hair bow, which I think is how I'm going to start wearing mine, and one in mustard tights.

After feeling a bit shopped out all before 11.30 I walked back up to the town centre to Unicorn. Walking in was crazy, there was just enough space for me and the owner to stand near the door and the rest of the shop was full to the max with piles and piles and piles of stock. I've never seen so much in my whole life, it was mental! The owner was really friendly but didn't want me to take photos because there was a fire or something? She started showing me some things and I looked through a rail but it was so full I had to dig! Every time I tried to pull something out I nearly knocked over another pile. I could have spent all day hunting but didn't have much time so I didn't buy anything but she said a few dresses were around a tenner and one that I would have bought was for hire, though maybe she just wanted to keep it! I then met my Mom and her friend and she took us round the city to other boutiques and markets and cute little corners.

By the afternoon the city was packed full of bustling shoppers and it was time to go! You have to visit Oxford once, it's like a different realm! Seriously it's like the total opposite to Birmingham. I wore my sailor dress which gets creased so easily and took this photo at 6am, eeek that is not an hour I hope to see again this holiday!

This is the dress I got today with the crazy cape thing on the back, I might alter the front so it's shorter but with the back still long.

go collect it!

As I post packages every day I get lured by the thick rack of magazines in WHSmith, as the post office is situated at the back of the shop. I've already bought or at least flicked through almost every magazine out there, mainly from wasting hours in Borders with Melissa! Btw, Vogue Italia- bit of a let down? And what's Alice Dellal doing in there? A bit confused...

Anyway, I trooped in today with some post and had a look for an extra copy as they're selling well on eBay (there's a tip for you!) and spotted Elle Collections. I love UK Elle for straight forward reports and no fluff or stupid articles about rich life and classy people (hint: Vogue!). I flicked through an issue before and it seemed just rows of catwalk pictures but this issue is fantastic! It's like the whole of the future season's catwalk reports in one magazine rather than stretched across four, in great detail. It goes through the top trends, fabrics, embellishments, models, shows, key pieces, moments, accessories, beauty trends and is full of those great backstage photos where the models look human! The best thing is there are no lengthy descriptions with invented words, although I do love them, especially Elle's usual start of season essay; this magazine is simply a look book for ideas and lets next season ease into your brain nicely.

It's a steep £5 but I bet this is mainly for the printing costs and it's A3 and full of massive pictures, which as you can see from this blog, I am a fan of! The bigger the better I say. Also, whenever a trend is mentioned, it provides loads of examples, so letting them loose a bit and not stating 'this is a trend, you must wear this item' but showing lots of variety and room for your own input.

I seriously want to hack it up and make scrap books but no, I must step away from the scissors! I'm keeping this for something to flick through when inspiration flounders and to breathe in that fresh ink smell, though I can't decide whether I like it or not!