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Eradicate Insecurity. Empower Posterity. Engender Invincibility.

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Mirror Mirror on the wall

January10


I wrote this quite a while ago and just stumbled across it in my old archives. Enjoy:

Imagine you are looking into a mirror. What do you see? A reflection of yourself, a depiction of your appearance, an image of who you are? This is not the case. This mirror distorts, deceives and disappoints. It paints a picture of something you know is untrue: it’s not you. You step forward, you step backwards, you reach out and touch the mirror. It doesn’t change. This tainted image of yourself remains: it haunts you. Where can something so enthralling be found? In the enchanted woods of Narnia, on the yellow brick roads of Oz, or perhaps in the castle-like dwelling of Prince Charming? No. What if I told you this mirror was here, on Earth; in fact, you look into it almost every day…

The Media. The Media is one of the most powerful tools in the World; it has the ability to shape who we are and how we think. Yet if we young people take a look, unjust stereotypes and ludicrous labels is what the Media reflects. I say hard-working, the paper says “Hoodlums”, I say talented, the Radio says “Troublemakers”, I know we’re creative but the TV shouts out ”Criminals”. When we look to the Media, instead of seeing and hearing about the vast majority of us who do make positive contributions to our society, the reflection is only ever of those select few who decide to do wrong…but how do they represent us all? Why should they symbolise the youth? We are individuals! He is not her and she is not me and I am not you. The bad choices of one young person should not affect the options of another and the crime-filled past of one youth should not affect another’s future. The Media is a catalyst for many pessimistic preconceptions regarding the youth and it needs to change.

The Media is capable of hugely influencing our identities as young people; the labels supposedly spell out who we are and the stereotypes tell us how to behave. Well, once they’ve created a mould, why not try to fit it? Society expects us to act a certain way, so why not comply? Why build up a good reputation when there’s no expectation? This broken mindset is something that constant negative portrayal can cause and it is an attitude we desperately need to rid ourselves of. There needs to be more media focus on positive representation of young people. Less condemnation and more inspiration, encouragement rather than judgement; stories not on past and present gang leaders but of future world leaders.

Here is a poem I wrote which explores this issue further:

Life is a double-edged sword

December10

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As soon as the lofty lyrics of “there is beauty in our tears” echoed out of my speakers, I remember inwardly contesting this claim. How could pain and suffering ever be deemed beautiful? Moments that are breath-taking and moments that are heart-breaking rest on such different ends of the puzzling spectrum that is life; how can they possibly be intertwined?

The little voice of cynicism which pops up in all of us (yes, even us who paint smiley faces on our walls and have memorised every inspirational quote that exists) cried out ‘No. There is not beauty in our tears. Have you seen the horror that is my face when it’s scrunched up with hurt? (That’s right, the movies lie to us. No, you don’t look pretty and tragic when you cry). At the time, this seemed to me to be the overwhelming, resounding truth.

This changed however when recently, I had to deal with a huge disappointment. A hope, an aspiration, an image I had created in colour – envisioning the future- suddenly turned to grey, and crumbled under the blow of rejection. Lying in my bed that night, after having had quite enough of my own sobbing and snivelling, it dawned on me that this was it. This. Was. Life. In all its gritty fullness. We often hear that ‘life is not a fairytale’ but I only partly agree. We undoubtedly are not always blessed with ‘Prince Charmings’ and ‘Happily Ever Afters’, but there is likeness in the restlessness embodied in Goldilocks as she endeavours to discover perfection, there is kinship in the rejection reflected in the lowliness of Cinderella, and if you think there couldn’t possibly be a family as crazy as yours, imagine what Snow White had to deal with living amongst the seven dwarfs? What I’m trying to get at here is that life should not be and is not a Hollywood film where the bad bits are edited out and the good bits are enhanced but more like a home-made video where we are stripped from falsities; our fears and failures as well as our smiles and successes are on display. With this realisation came an absurd sense of freedom. The trouble and turmoil I face simply means that I am getting older and will get wiser in the ways which I overcome. I am growing. There is a heightened awareness of the richness of life and the individual experience.

Does disappointment still suck? Yes. Does pain and suffering remain sad? Yes. Don’t negative emotions still cloud over a previously bright day? Yes. But without clouds, there could be no rain. And without rain, there could be no rainbow.

An Everlasting Voice

November21

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http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-24978685

Nelson Mandela is a universal icon of ‘liberty, equality and fraternity’. He is the epitome of unyielding determination. In light of the news of his declining health, so much that he is reportedly ‘still unable to speak’, I began to reflect on my gratitude that he did once speak up; he refused to remain silent about the racial injustice which surrounded him. He may have momentarily lost his ability to be vocal, nevertheless, he represents the voice of all those who rise up against the challenges of a dysfunctional society.

How many of us are saddened by horrific news stories, let out a despairing sigh and then flick over to our favourite channel; ready for some light-hearted humour, instantly forgetting the weight of reality. How many of us are so quick to criticise the problems of ‘Society Today’ but are so slow to act? I am…I was. And I regret to admit it. Those bursts of passion we feel when we know something is not right are sparks within us, and they are set alight for a reason. They should ignite that inherent quality in all of us, that feeling of invincibility that wants to ‘Change The World’. We must fuel our fire with perseverance and zeal and ward off the waves of fear and self-doubt which threaten to snuff it out.

We are in no way ‘Superheroes’; we don’t possess cloaks of invisibility, we can’t fly, nor can we read minds or teleport but we don’t need to be. The world is a masterpiece and we, as humanity, are the artists. We have the power to add colour to the dark shades of society. Paint red with love the houses that are filled with hatred, paint yellow with joy the places full of pessimism and paint blue with peace the corners of conflict. The world is in need of more voices, of those who will sing amidst the silence, dance amidst the stillness and shine amidst the darkness.

The song of the universe is not a one-part melody. It is a harmony.

N.B. R.I.P. Nelson Mandela who passed away on the 05/12/13, two weeks after I posted this. Your legacy lives on.

Catwalk

November15

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It hit me like a UFO falling from Space.

I was lucky enough to attend a Charity Fashion Show for an emerging Maternity Clinic in Uganda. As I watched and cheered and laughed at the models strutting their stuff down the catwalk (secretly wishing I could walk on heels without the risk of falling into train tracks/tumbling down stairs/breaking everything precious in sight) – all shapes, all sizes, all skin tones – it made me wonder why on earth the fashion industry still refuses to embrace diversity. Why is it only at a Charity function, with volunteering models, and not at London Fashion Week, that we can witness a plethoric presentation of body images? Why settle for monochrome when there could be a metaphorical rainbow?

Fashion is for everybody. It is a mode of expression, of self-definition, of creative liberation. It therefore does not make sense that when we celebrate style, there is only one type of woman on show. Surely, one is more encouraged to invest in clothes when there are people who look like you in them, and “work it” (excuse the colloquial cliché but it had to be done). A catwalk should be like a mirror, reflecting who we are, commemorating our individuality, whilst bringing us together in our connection to fashion. At the moment, however, there is a chasm between what the media deems as “beautiful” and then the remaining 6 billion of us. Beauty is not an intricate code of DNA found only in a select few, it is whatever we as society, choose to deify. This power of definition lies within us, so why limit ourselves? If we would flaunt our “flaws”, smile at our so-called shortcomings, disregard the digital enhancement and focus on our own advancement… you never know.

The word “ugly” may someday cease to exist.

Can I go to Neverland now?

November8

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Eternal childhood, escapism and an excuse to believe in fairies. My eighteenth birthday is fast approaching and with it, the desire to travel to a place where I can be a child forever is sounding more and more appealing. Oh I know, I’m still young, not exactly drawing up retirement plans or heading out to Bingo every Friday night (although, who doesn’t love a game of Bingo once in a while?). The point is, as I embark on the journey that is adulthood, the constant flow of “Wow, you’re growing up so fast!” and “What do you want to do in the future?” is transforming into the theme song of my life. My vocabulary is no longer “You’re it!”, “Play-time!” and “Cinderella” but is “Exams”, “University” and “Careers”. Does babysitting the ‘Lost Boys’ and brushing Tinkerbell’s hair count as a long-term plan?

Nostalgia seems to encompass everything I do. I see a kid running around and wish that I could get away with pretending to be Superman. I hear a child sing their heart out and feel sad that no one would ever smile and clap if I sounded that tone-deaf. I smell their chocolate-tainted breath and sigh because when you’re seventeen, biscuit crumbs around your lips are in no way adorable. I touch my round face and regret the fact that the cuteness of “chubby cheeks” has an expiration date. Childhood is bliss. It’s magic. It’s the time when if you announce that you want to be a Scuba-diver or a Princess, an awkward silence won’t be what follows, but rather cries of joy and encouragement. It’s like a snow-globe; with every shake and sway, every twist and turn – excitement, vitality, and life erupts and we are protected by the shell of simplicity.

My glass shattered many years ago with the dawn of the “Teen Age”. After hours of pondering and deep thinking, sitting on green hills, pretending I’m in a movie, I’ve come to the conclusion that this is not necessarily a bad thing. I’ve always thought that broken glass looked beautiful; its glimmer, its irrevocability, each piece, akin, yet flaunting uniqueness. I have broken through the age of infancy and face the mountain of adulthood. The broken snow-globe is my reality; I await the challenges to come with a tender heart, embodied in the fallen fragments and with the ferocity of the sharp edges. Like broken glass, I will reflect the light of every song, every story, and every memory that shaped who I am today. My childhood will not be limited to the ages of four to twelve but with every fond recollection, I will re-live each moment. So sorry Peter Pan, you can’t fly me to Neverland. There’s no need. It’s in my heart.

Go on, hold hands.

November1

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As I was sitting at the back of an auditorium, listening intently to the notices (or at least putting on my “intense listening face” whilst dreaming of what toppings to get on my Ice-Cream Sundae) a young girl, accompanied by her guardian came and sat next to me. She was both physically and mentally disabled but she instantly lit up the room with her smile and infectious laugh. She had this particular eagerness and curiosity about her: she was captivating. I had never seen nor spoken to this girl in my life but about ten minutes after her arrival, she reached out and held my hand. Now, I have no idea what was going through her mind when she did this and whether she intended it to have the sentimental value which I took from it. But all I know is, it touched me.  It was one of the sweetest things I have ever experienced.

I began to ponder on how great life would be if we all had her fearlessness; if we all said the things we’ve wanted to say and did the things we’ve wanted to do – irrespective of what people might think or how they may react. If we dared to be different, if we braved that bully, if we overcame those obstacles. There would be such an unquenchable spark of empowerment and fulfilment set alight in each of us. What is it about us humans that we restrict ourselves based on boundaries that only exist if we submit to them? It’s as if there’s this invisible force-field separating us from the person we truly want to be, labelled ‘SOCIETY’S PRESSURES’. Well, get out your light-sabres/your chainsaws/your swords…your magnets? (Awkward moment when you have no idea what destroys force-fields). Whatever it is, get it out and exterminate that wall.  There’s no way you can let what people think of you or their expectations define who you are.

If you love someone, tell them. If you want something, ask for it. If you have a dream, chase it.

Go on. Be fearless.  Hold the hand of thing you love. No, don’t just hold it, grab it! And never let go.

 

posted under I Dare You. | 1 Comment »

Epiphany

October25

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What comes to mind when you think of the word ‘Epiphany’? Just the sound of it is somewhat fantastical. A moment of divine truth? An enlightenment? A shifted perspective? The scene should most certainly be encompassed by twinkling lights, angelic song and fairy dust. Your face will be magically illuminated at this precise moment of revelation (no one has a clue where this light comes from but hey ho, it doesn’t matter, you look like Aphrodite)…right? Wrong. Very wrong. My so-called “epiphany” came on a cramped and smelly tube on the London Underground. Twinkling lights? No, just the cheap, yellowy tint of artificial lighting. Angelic song? Nah, just the sound of an old man farting, hoping his straight face would keep others from noticing. Looking like Aphrodite? Far from it. My sudden outburst of tears left me with blotchy eyes and a runny nose, perhaps the resemblance of a bloated frog is the more fitting description. But did these grim realities take anything away from that unforgettable moment? Most certainly not.

Being a Londoner for seventeen years, you’d think I’d be thick-skinned and hard-hearted towards beggars by now. You see them in train stations and street corners all the time. But as this man walked onto the train, torn clothes and worn face, asking for money, the response (although it really shouldn’t by now) shocked me. Not one person looked up, people did not stir: he was completely ignored. It was as if his presence was non-existent and his cry for help was just an echo of the moving train. My heart broke. I could not believe the utter lack of compassion. As I gave the man some change, the condition of society began to dawn on me. I am in no way above it, I used to think this way and still do sometimes. But it has been ingrained into our minds that your career, money and power is what we should ultimately strive for in life. It’s not. What is the point in being the richest person in the universe if we cannot show kindness to our (metaphorical) brothers and sisters? Oh I know, it’s so cheesy…but it’s true. That man on the Tube was a human being, no different to any of us onlookers; he deserved to be noticed. If it was a celebrity that walked on, no doubt they would have the undivided attention of the whole carriage. Since when did fame and money determine the value of a person? We need to re-evaluate what really matters in life.

Love matters. Peace matters. Joy matters.

“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those who are perishing. Yes, speak up for the poor and the helpless, and see that they get justice”.

-          Proverbs 31:8-9

 

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