Introducing The ‘Hold Your Own’ Series

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Image: Manjit Thapp

How many times has a topic you feel passionately about come up in a group discussion?

How many times has a person said something controversial about this topic, which you strongly disagree with?

How many times has this made you feel uncomfortable and want to speak up, but your mind’s gone blank?

I know I’m far from alone when I say, this doesn’t just happen to me, and very often at that…

In heated discussions it’s easy for anger, shock or sadness to cloud over our knowledge on any given topics. It’s how you find yourself after listening to an incredibly insightful podcast on feminism that morning, getting tongue-tie trying to explain to a burly man “what are feminists still fighting for?”.

This is why I’m launching the ‘Hold Your Own’ series.

The series will provide comprehensive and succinct guides to the fundamental principles behind feminism, racial inequality and other subjects I feel passionately about. Each post will pose one question or statement (i.e. “I don’t see colour”). The post will then deconstruct this question or statement, providing you with a concise counter-argument which considers the point within its wider context and bigger picture.

My hope is if you ever find yourself in a charged discussion where you feel about to draw a blank, you will be able to fall back on the fundamental knowledge provided in these guides and apply it to any discussion, as you see fit.

This is called ‘Hold Your Own’ because this series is not about memorising lots of dates, stats or other things which could leave you flustered. It’s about understanding the key principles which can serve as the foundations for your knowledge and having the confidence to hold your head high and know what you’re talking about. Because if you didn’t back yourself before, you will after this series.

Watch this space for the first installment: ‘I don’t see colour’…xo

7 Films With The Most Dreamy Colour Palettes

We all love a bit of eye candy – and by that I don’t just mean the buff, bearded barista from your local coffee shop who’s basically Jamie Dornan and Kurt Cobain’s love child. I mean other things which make your eyes go ‘oooo’, like that epic eye rub after your 9-5. Besides our crushes, nothing’s more like music to the eyes than pretty pastels and dreamy hues; in more Pinterest-perfect shades than MAC’s entire counter. So without further ado: here are seven films with the most gorgeous colour palettes – full of fashion and beauty inspo, guaranteed to make you swoon…

1) Jawbreaker

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Life before Mean Girls, The Plastics and ‘fetch’ meant one thing: Jawbreaker – the 90s most deadpan teen comedy. (Where Rose McGowan was bossing resting bitch face, before Regina George even knew it was a thing…) In this cult classic, three of the most popular girls from High School end up killing the fourth member of their ‘Flawless Four’ clique, when a kidnapping prank goes horribly wrong and she ends up choking to death on a jawbreaker – bible. But that’s not the only thing to die for: so are all the film’s sassy, citrus coloured two pieces, bubble-gum tinted eye shadow and deliberately clashing prints. Trust us, Jawbreakers’ 90s nostalgia will give you all the feels.

2) The Love Witch

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Anna Biller’s The Love Witch is a sinfully stylish, candy-coloured horror-meets- comedy. Elaine is a witch on one mission: to find a man who loves her. With a mixture of seduction and spells, Elaine lures her suitors in – at a fatal price. But Elaine doesn’t give a toss – as long as she’s taken from men exactly what she needs. This tongue-in- cheek, feminist flick isn’t just a fab exploration of female sexuality and gender roles, but its 10/10 colour-coordination, tea rooms’ drenched in head-to- toe millennial pink and Valley Of The Dolls vibes are totally spellbinding.

3) Marie Antoinette

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This Sofia Coppola film will make you sign: blushing pinks, punchy peaches and sky blues – who said you couldn’t have your cake and eat it? Marie Antoinette stars Kirstin Dunst as the infamous French Queen who was Louis XVI’s wife – following her lavish days at the Palace of Versailles, which eventually caused some heads to roll…This isn’t just one of the prettiest period dramas ever with all the frills, but the film’s rose cupcakes are stunning enough to shed a tear.

4) The Royal Tenenbaums

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Wes Anderson’s The Royal Tenenbaums is the epitome of indie cinema and 70s fashion. None more so than Margot Tenenbaum (yes, we’re looking at you Gwyneth Paltrow) – all panda eyes, poker-straight hair, hair clips, striped polos and f*** off fabulous fur. This film’s coffee, beige and caramel colour palette will leave you thirsty for seventies style for days. Throw into the mix a film about dysfunctional families, child geniuses, quirky characters, screw-ups, betrayal and an unexpected reunion – who could say no?

5) Romeo & Juliet

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Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo & Juliet isn’t just a classic which gets us blubbing every time. Its oversaturated colour, the Montagu’s Hawaiian skirts and Leo’s floppy haircut didn’t just smell like teen rebellion at the time but were sexy AF – and still are now. This remake’s loud colours and bold attitudes made it a timeless hit. (The image of Leo crying into a yellow sunset will forever remain ingrained into my heart.)

6) Amelie

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This film’s red and green palette feels like a nice, warm hug. French rom com Amélie is all about a shy Parisian waitress, who lives in her own bubble. Amélie tries to find her own way in the world, while looking out for others, and just happens to fall in love along the way – it’s really quite gorgeous stuff.

7) The Grand Budapest Hotel

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Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel looks like something in-between pink paradise and a pretty extra Mr Kipling French Fancy cake – where wild adventures and unlikely friendships begin to take place. Never have colours given a film a dreamier feel and brought a fantasy world more to life.

 

15 Years On From Frida: Revisiting Salma Hayek’s Biopic In The #MeToo Era

Today marks the 15-year anniversary since Frida, Miramax’s 2002 biopic starring Salma Hayek as Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, first premiered in UK cinemas.

Unfortunately, what should come as celebratory news feels bittersweet.

Frida used to be a film I only had the fondest memories of, as I’m sure many others did. The biopic, directed by Julie Taymor, brought to life the complex and charismatic Mexican artist I so deeply admired. The progressive painter whose work destigmatised women’s bodies, liberated female sexuality and taught others how to draw strength from vulnerability.

Mexican novelist Carlos Fuentes praised Kahlo’s self-portraits for revealing ‘the successive identities of being still in the process of becoming’ – equally, I found Salma Hayek’s performance in Frida embodied Kahlo’s strong, yet malleable self. While the film’s portrayal of Frida and her husband Diego Riveria’s (played by Alfred Molina) toxic and all-consuming relationship is compelling viewing – in the film’s second half producing raw and visceral performances from both – it was Hayek who ultimately breathed life into my childhood idol.

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But the following seems more problematic now than it did 15 years ago; in light of Hayek’s harrowing account of the sexual harassment and abuse Harvey Weinstein – Miramax Film’s ex-head honcho – subjected her to throughout the film’s production. In one instance, Hayek alleges Weinstein threatened to axe Frida because he didn’t believe the biopic was ‘sexy enough’ and blackmailed Hayek into performing a full-frontal nude, lesbian sex scene with her fellow actor Ashley Judd.

Frida was undoubtedly a career-defining role for Hayek, earning her a Best Actress Oscar nomination, in addition to the film amassing five further nominations, and walking away with two Oscars on the big day. Hayek described the biopic, which she co-produced, as a passion project to The New Yorker:

One of the forces that gave me the determination to pursue my career was the story of Frida Kahlo, who in the golden age of the Mexican muralists would do small intimate paintings that everybody looked down on. She had the courage to express herself while disregarding skepticism. My greatest ambition was to tell her story. It became my mission to portray the life of this extraordinary artist and to show my native Mexico in a way that combated stereotypes.’ Hayek goes on to recount how: ‘The Weinstein empire, which was then Miramax, had become synonymous with quality, sophistication and risk taking — a haven for artists who were complex and defiant. It was everything that Frida was to me and everything I aspired to be.’

In the end she succeeded, but this feeling would soon be outweighed by the price she had to pay, being the subject of Weinstein’s repugnant demands. These included letting Weinstein watch her shower, perform oral sex on her, and letting his naked friend give her a massage.

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After learning it was Frida’s 15 year anniversary today, I wanted to rewatch my favourite film for old time’s sake. But I felt uneasy doing so in the post Weinstein era; privy to Hayek’s disturbing account of what happened behind the cameras. Surely this would taint the film irrevocably? With this mind, I wondered to what extent we can truly separate the art from the artist.

As I rewatched Frida,  one half of me was emotionally invested in the film, while the other half was invested in my external knowledge of it. With the latter constantly weaving in and out of my consciousness, I appreciated the film considerably less than I had previously. While I believe any good film remains a good one in its own right, once armed with certain background knowledge, it becomes impossible for emotional responses to not infiltrate our thoughts. The knowledge viewer’s enjoyment had come at its female cast member’s expense, proved all too fresh to absolve the artist from his crimes.

One part which made unsettling viewing was rewatching the nude, lesbian sex scene which Hayek claims Weinstein blackmailed her into doing. Seeing Hayek and Ashley Judd playfully rolling around in each other’s embrace, makes Salma’s accounts of the ordeal all the more horrifying:

I arrived on the set the day we were to shoot the scene that I believed would save the movie. And for the first and last time in my career, I had a nervous breakdown: My body began to shake uncontrollably, my breath was short and I began to cry and cry, unable to stop, as if I were throwing up tears…It was not because I would be naked with another woman. It was because I would be naked with her for Harvey Weinstein. But I could not tell them then…I started throwing up while a set frozen still waited to shoot. I had to take a tranquilizer, which eventually stopped the crying but made the vomiting worse. As you can imagine, this was not sexy, but it was the only way I could get through the scene.’

The suffering, pain, mental and physical abuse Hayek had to endure, mirrors these forces which Frida had to contend with in her life. But just like Frida’s fierce determination to not let life’s adversities crush her down, Hayek’s story becomes a tale of perseverance; a woman against all odds finishing a film – under Weinstein’s near-impossible demands, including Hayek raising $10 million for the film and rewriting the script for no additional payment – because Weinstein was dissatisfied with the film’s sexual appeal.

Although there are no winners in situations like these, Hayek emerges victorious by speaking out against her oppressor and hopefully encouraging more victims in the #MeToo movement to find their own voices. One aspect which certainly troubled me the most, is how many other sex or intimacy scenes have we watched where victims have suffered in silence at the hands of their oppressor? If there’s one thing I’ve realised, it’s in the era of #MeToo we can’t look at things with the same set of eyes we once did before. This, at least, plants some seeds of hope.

How Netflix & On-Demand TV Disrupt Your Family Living Room’s Vibe

Its prime time as Specimen Family A gather around the living room TV:

Dad: ‘Let’s watch the second episode of Spiral?’
Daughter: ‘Binged them all yesterday – McMafia?’
Son: ‘Didn’t rate it.’
Daughter: ‘Derry Girls?’
Dad: ‘Christ alive…’
Dad: ‘An episode of Would I Lie To You we haven’t seen twice?’
Daughter: ‘Good luck with that…’
Mum: ‘The news?’
Son: ‘Too depressing.’
Daughter: ‘Celebs go dating?’
Mum: ‘Shall I sell my soul?’
Dad: ‘Clearly.’
Daughter: ‘Yeah, let’s go our separate ways…’

Let’s caveat one thing: the offering on TV is generally crap. Like the soul-destroying dregs of Bountys and Snickers leftover in a tub of Celebrations – you’re hardly going to pursue these Z-listers like a bull pursuing a matador. But when one just happens to land in your lap – needs must.

Of course, this is where the joy of on-demand TV lies; where we can create bespoke TV schedules, tailored around our fast-paced lives; where we can play God and magic up that celestial Malteaser Celebration every, single, time. We’re blessed with technology which streamlines and simplifies our time-poor days; at surface level, it seems all too accommodating.

But after speaking to friends, and from personal experience, conversations like these play out among families all too often. Which begs the question: are on-demand TV and Netflix killing the living room’s vibe? Has the advent of both made us more selfish with our time and more unyielding as people? Are those wholesome, community-spirited, Goggle Box moments becoming endangered in the digital age? A number of factors might suggest so…

Our Viewing Habits Are Becoming Out Of Sync
Overall, the number of consumers who watch live TV once a week has fallen from 92% in 2014 to 80% in 2017. But as a nation we’re not only watching less live TV; various age groups are consuming it in different ways.

First up, forget Netflix and chill; there’s no rest for the wicked. A whopping 40 million of us now binge shows back to back. More than half (53%) of 12-15 year-olds indulge in weekly binging bacchanalias, compared with a more reserved 16% of over-65s. For the latter, 59% prefer the more orthodox approach of one episode being released per week. This substantial difference in bingeing attitudes amongst younger and older age groups, means within a family dynamic, our viewing habits are becoming increasingly out of sync.

For younger generations, instant gratification is making us impatient and giving us an insatiable desire to always remain current and in-the-know. Our compulsion to imbue an entire series in the shortest time possible, often means we won’t wait around for others, in fear social media will let some spoilers slip. But if you thought keeping up with the Kardashian’s pregnancies was hard, trying to keep up with the cutthroat era of mass TV production is a whole other kettle of fish, which means sacrificing family viewing time along the way…

Watching TV Is Shifting From A Shared To Solitary A Experience
A new Childwise report revealed for the first time in history, children aged between five to 16 are more likely to watch programmes and videos on their laptops and mobiles, instead of a TV screen; with the prediction in two years’ time children’s internet usage will overshadow the television – the cornerstone of our parent’s and grandparent’s living rooms. Research from Ofcom shows 45% of us will watch a programme or film alone every day, while nine in 10 will watch a show alone every week. Watching TV – previously a communal and shared experience – is becoming a more solitary and private pastime.

You Don’t Choose? You Lose.
Somehow we have found ourselves inhabiting a world with ‘To Watch’ lists longer than the Bayeux Tapestry – and still – it’s harder agreeing on something watch, than getting Piers Morgan admit he’s a little shit, without sounding like he’s been awarded an OBE. There’s now such an overwhelming array of programmes stockpiled for our viewing pleasure, from the likes of Netflix, Amazon, HBO, 4OD, iPlayer etc., their sheer enormity is debilitating enough to rob you of a decision. Such is the paradox of choice. What should be a liberating pursuit becomes an imprisoning one, as we’re paralysed by the vast abundance of options. As WIRED’s Jason Parham aptly discusses this phenomenon, ‘The universalization of streaming platforms brought with it an overabundance of content. The response was near berserk: major networks and cable channels infused respective programming, stuffing screens fat with competing shows, some of top-tier quality—but many more, as critcs have pointed out, that were merely good. The Era of Prestige TV evolved into the Era of Too-Much TV.’

Often indecision means resorting to ‘the box’, letting it become background noise, as we mindlessly scroll through the phones we don’t particularly want to be on; Insta stalking your third cousin thrice moved (at which point you’re uncertain you’re still related) and amuse yourself looking up hopelessly abysmal cheese puns like R’n’Brie (‘cus they’re so bad, they’re gouda…). Can someone please save us from ourselves?

We’re Using Communal Spaces In Isolated Ways
We’ve all been there – the annoyance you feel, having taken an age to agree on something to watch with your mate, only for them to spend the next 120 minutes fanatically WhatsApping, Depopping and chirpsing on Bumble, as if it’s their final seconds on Earth. The frustration you feel making comments about a show, only to look up and see everyone has zoned into their phones and popped you on mute (tough crowd). Then again, maybe you’re completely oblivious to the following because that person is normally you… Nowadays, we tend to use our communal livings areas in far more isolated and disconnected ways. The irony being, while on-demand TV enables us to determine when we are ‘present’, how can we really be with a myriad of distractions constantly pulling us away from our communal spaces? Of course, on- demand TV isn’t really to blame for this, but our phones and social media mainly have a lot to answer for: striving to stay switched on to everything all the time, is actually preventing us giving our undivided attention to anything.

What Next?
We’re spending less time watching TV as a family in our living rooms, as younger generations spend more time binging programmes online. Netflix and On-Demand TV have gifted us with TV shows of the very highest calibre – which should, in theory, bring us closer together. But our different viewing habits are fracturing family down time, as we stop using communal spaces like we used to. While the wealth of choice is phenomenal, it’s phenomenally daunting and fresh breeding grounds for disagreement with the family. While younger generations are playing such a knackering game of cat and mouse to see who can stay the most relevant all the time, it’s giving us premature wrinkles.

But, in-keeping with the cycle of life, some traditions come and others must go. So what does this mean? The whole family craning their necks around a laptop screen in the evening (cute) or more time spent ‘chilling ‘together’ in the living room, as we all silently text on our phones? Who knows what the future holds… But in our haste, we should remember, one way or another, to carve out some quality family bonding time when you are all together.

Whether this means coming to a compromise or agreeing on a show to dip in and out of each week with the family (and accepting you won’t spontaneously combust if your mate finishes it before you), then that’s something at least. Failing all the above – would watching a rerun of Would I Lie To You with the family for the umpteenth time really be such a crime? (Besides, what’s the harm in telling a little white lie?)

All The 90s Shops That Made Our Childhood’s Lit

Does sauntering around your local high street ever get you down? Does it make you jaded, fatigued, and uninspired? Does it leave you feeling like the soggy, lopsided bowls of porridge your dinner lady dolloped out at your school canteen? 
 
Why, who can blame you? Nowadays the high street with its myriads of Prets, Superdrugs and JD Sports is losing authenticity faster than an army of White Walkers tumbling down The Wall. But this world was not always such a vanilla place; once the high street had more personality than all 5 Spice Girls marinated together. If we just cast our minds down memory lane, we arrive at the high street’s golden era: the 90s. (As a millennial, call me biased – because I’d have to agree.) 


T’was the time when Woolworth’s concoction of pick’n’mix, toys and video games made us luminous with glee, and you could address serious, first-world pin-up problems in Athena – like would you rather have The Fresh Prince of Bel Air or Hanson mount your bedroom wall? T’was the time when you could stroll into The Gadget Shop and get the jellyfish aquarium, lava lamp and inflatable chair you always wanted and never needed – because Dexter’s Laboratory was your jam. The era when you stepped through The Natural World’s doors and became David Attenborough in Borneo, unearthing fossils to a toucan’s mating call. Finally, it was a time, when you could wrap up your day in Tammy Girl and confirm to Milton with euphoric tween tears, paradise had truly been regained.  
If anything, it seems we’ve got to look towards the past, to fuel hopes of our clinically generic high streets having a more soulful future. So without further ado, here is the definitive list of shops which made the 90s bliss and have dented a hole into our hearts which yearns for them now (albeit some more than others…).



Tammy: 

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The sassy seventh heaven where you could purchase Sk8er Boi trousers, spiked dog collars,  acid yellow mesh tees, badges for ‘Babes with attitude’, and your first G-string  which said ‘Snap!’  – all under one roof. Quite simply, a wondrous place.

Gamleys:

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Dream Phone; Mr Frosty; Fashion Plates; Tamagotchi; Polly Pockets; Guess Who?; Furby; Baby Born; Talkboy; Hungry Hippos; My Little Pony; Cabbage Patch Dolls; Mr Potato Head – walking into Gamleys was like walking right into Santa Claus’ satchel and our parents would have to bribe us with a gift, if they ever wanted us to leave…

Woolworths:

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Whether you wanted your fix of Black Jacks or Candy Sticks, Bop It Or Bratz, Britney or Christina’s latest single, or the new Dawson’s Creek video – you’d get it here, ‘cus Woolworths was the 90s.

Morgan:

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The tres chic french boutique which its brought a certain je ne sais quoi over here. Basically a suave Jane Norman, albeit one which also had a penchant for plastering its logo across the entire surface area of your school bag.

The Natural World:

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The days when healing crystals, volcanic rocks and rainforest soundtracks, tried to go mainstream…and failed – sob. Natural world, we need you more now than ever!

Dolcis:

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The shop which made manufactured all the kitten heels which crushed our date’s heart in one second flat (because they were so goddam awful).

Athena:

Athena  Chris / Flickr Plymouth, Devon, England

The fine art print shop we’d stride into, pretending to act all cultured and bouji – only to spend the entire time salivating over posters of a young Leo and Ryan Phillipe.

Blockbusters:

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Strictly for nostalgia – NOT for practicality. Fuzzy videos and £10 late fees can carry on chilling in their crypts. 

11 ICONIC PVC OUTFITS TO MAKE YOUR SOUL SHINE

Vinyl, plastic, PVC: gloss galore. Our recent appetite for sumptuously shiny clothing has been insatiable. After an explosive revival on the AW17 catwalks, the high-shine trend isn’t showing any signs of shying away. Just cast your eyes over the SS18 shows – from Fenty x Puma’s vinyl utilitarian jumpsuits, to Kenzo’s lacquered trench coats; Calvin Klein’s asymmetric wet-look rubber dresses, to Gareth Pugh’s sculptural and surreal collection – all as polished as a shellac manicure.

Bella Hadid, Daisy Lowe and Alexa Chung have all been bossing vinyl off duty, while Kim Kardashian opted for a skin-tight, strapless black PVC dress to debt her fresh platinum blond tresses at NYFW. For the VMAs Nicki Minaj clad herself head-to-toe in pink latex, for a plastic fantastic ensemble that would have made Barbie light up with glee. All the while, high streets heroes ASOS, TOPSHOP & Urban Outfitters have heard our hearts mewing for the shiny stuff and have just kept on reeling out the gloss.

Assimilating high-shine into our everyday attire has never been easier. Now we can slink into our PVC trousers or drape on our vinyl coat, with a knitted jumper underneath and an air of nonchalance. Gone are the days where this meant you were either an extra in The Matrix or on tour with The Corrs. See, life was not always this way – back in the 90s and 00s the high-shine looks were….shall we say…sometimes a little bit…extra? More was more, or so it seemed. So let us pause and give thanks, to the good, the bad and the most iconic PVC outfits from the 90s and 00s. Where zero f*cks being given was the sweet elixir of life.

1. 

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Geri & Posh: you said you’d give us everything – bring us all the joy you could bring – yes, you swore. What joyful tidings you delivered, in the form of these vinyl delights. Say You’ll Be There sees our five fave spices channeling their ninja alter egos and strutting their stuff in the Mojave Desert. It’s an irresistible poppy mishmash of Pulp Fiction, Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! and a ton of PVC – guaranteed to keep magpies blissfully chirping for days.

2.

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Kiss ass feminist, 90s cult royalty and seasoned jawbreaker – Rose McGowan – was working millennial pink before it was even a thing. This pink plastic two-piece is so Tammy Girl we could shed a shiny tear.

3.

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Destiny’s Child’s coord outfits are always max. squad goals and the glossylicious Say My Name is no exception. High-shine was made for blasting away shady men.

4.

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Oops! She did it again…obviously no PVC list would be complete without this bad boy in it. (Yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah…)

5.

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OK…so maybe not all of these are iconic for quite the right reason. But it’s all part of the fun, no? The studded choker, painfully laboured highlights and the eye shadow overload – it’s the 90s gift which keeps on giving. Polish this look off with two awkward jazz hands positioned on your squeaky PVC, as your glassy eyes dream of distant horizons – a new stylist perhaps?…We love you Cam.

6.

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When grunge, combat and hip-hop influences collide its 90s girl band magic: TLC sure know how to scrub up well.

7.

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“3LW, I almost forgot about them!” You squeak. Me too, I must confess. But lest we never forget Adrienne’s pink PVC playsuit and her diamanté encrusted initialed belt – it screams Party Rings, Mizz Magazine and silly string. Surround yourself by equally funky chicks donning feather boas and navel gems, as you roll deep into the school disco.

8.

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3LW really know how to light up our lives. This picture speaks 1,000 words, but if we could only condense it down to one: poetic.

9.

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Work, just a little bit. Hot, just a little bit. Yes, its Liberty X and while our insides are cringing (just a little bit), none of us millennials can deny what a sucker we were for this banger and these catsuits. The Mission Impossible style music video left us all desperately searching for a diamond encrusted pole, so we could wind our bodies around it and emulate the feisty dance routine – or if beggars can’t be choosers – your dad’s gardening pole. Soz dad. (Just a little bit.)

10.

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What happened when Maleficient met The Power Rangers? They styled Blaque at the 1999 Billboard Music Boards. Consider them your knights in shining armour 2.0.

11.

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Finally, please put your paws together for the high-shine OG…the vixen who initially got our mitts itching for a little bit of PVC. Give it up for catwoman and see how her outfit roars.

How Unstable Work Is Damaging Millennial’s Mental Health

‘@Temp.com?’ The client threw his head back with laughter. ‘Bit of a crap email, isn’t it? Surely you deserve a name by now!’ He carried on howling as he waited for my response, but I couldn’t bring myself to smile.

I’d been temping at this company for four months, and in so many respects, I wasn’t a temp. I knew my team inside out by now. Right down to the minutia of how precisely they liked their coffee – Tess liked hers the colour of dirty sand, while Ed was your toffee fudge kind of guy; down to their signature moves on a night out – Denise was a twerker circa 9PM and Dan emulated Napoleon Dynamite jiving to Jamiroquai. The team and I would always have a laugh at work and conversation flowed like a meandering river. But still, one massive elephant remained in the room: four months down the line, my work ID and email address were still branded ‘temp’. I was a faceless user – disposable and indistinguishable – one unworthy of a name. That’s the real problem with being a ‘temp’: it’s not unusual to feel like you’re all three things.

A new report from the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) and Business in the Community revealed younger workers in part-time jobs are 43% more likely to experience mental health problems and poorer well-being than those in permanent and secure jobs. Meanwhile, if you’re a temp worker, you’re 29% more likely to struggle with poorer mental health than your peers in full-time, contracted employment. As someone who has been temping on and off for three years and struggled with mental health issues, I can totally relate.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re temping, in part-time work, freelancing or self-employed: the volatility of an unstable income, uncertain future and leading a life which lacks routine and control, can leave you feeling deflated, lost and stressed. Ultimately, it can make you feel like a failure. It really comes as no surprise that young workers, who think they are more than 50% likely to lose their job, are also twice as likely to experience mental health problems than those with a stable job. Speaking from personal experience, the fear that you just might not be good enough to get a job can begin to eat away at you – to point where you start believing it’s a self-truth and you become convinced you’re just not good enough at anything in life, period.

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Lower levels of concentration, sleep deprivation, low self-worth and self-esteem, heightened uncertainty, depression and anxiety are just some of the many ways unstable work can impact your well-being and mental health. This is made all the more disheartening by the irresistible urge to compare yourself to your peers in secure jobs: stable, together, going places…Although I, just like so many others, didn’t foresee I’d still be in this situation now.

After spending three of the most amazing years at Leeds University and graduating with a 2:1 in a subject I adored, I hoped to go far; I knew I was hard working, enthusiastic and positive. I naively thought my quest to becoming a writer would be more or less smooth sailing from here. But I don’t think anything could have prepared millennials like myself for how tough pursuing their chosen career path and securing a job would be.

IPPR’s report states young workers nowadays tend to be in jobs that they’re overqualified for, withyoung workers in non-professional or managerial jobs being twice as likely to graduate in 2014 than they were in 2004. Increasing competition and over-saturated job markets, coupled with a strained economy and immense political instability, have made it a bitch of a journey – to say the least. The figures speak for themselves: in the first three months of 2017, 2.7 million people were underemployed – 42% higher than in the first three months of 2002, when 1.9 million were underemployed. Economic pressures have clearly being felt by employers, as the number of 21-25 year oldsin low-paid work has increased by 82% between 1990 and 2015. In many cases, this will have meant exploiting cheap labour and zero hour contracts. Sadly, feeling undervalued and being left without a secure network to fall back on, mentally takes its toll.

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All in all, this paints a pretty depressing picture and begs the real question we should all be asking: where do we go from here? IPPR’s report highlights there’s a clear correlation between our unstable, flexible job market and young people’s mental health. We can only hope the Government and employers will take note and start working together to promote better quality jobs.  By creating more benefits for those working under flexible practices and giving them more control (i.e. entitling workers to flexitime or working from home), this could help to empower employees. Meanwhile, developing progression schemes could prevent young workers from becoming trapped in low-skilled and low-paid work; instilling each with a greater sense of purpose and direction. However, it’s important to remember one thing – in theory, while these all sound great – until they’re put it into practice, they just remain romanticised ideas.

One of the report’s more encouraging findings revealed 16% of young people who experienced mental health problems in 2014 reported them; in comparison to 2004’s lower 13%. The increased number of disclosures is likely attributed to the stigma around mental health gradually diminishing. While we still have far greater leaps of progress to make in this field, it’s promising to see things are moving in the right direction. Our voices are our weapons and our vehicles for change: the more we utilise them, the faster the Government and employers will be triggered into action. Because it doesn’t matter why you’re temping, or whether or not you know what you want to do later on in life; if we should be granted one certainty in life, it should be that our mental health and well-being always comes first.

Illustrations by Rachel Denti (from Everyday Thoughts on Everyday Things)