"Betty Leopard": March 2013

Sunday, 31 March 2013

Fitspiration and Body-Shaming

This isn't something I'd ever given any thought too before last night when I was messing around on Pinterest putting together a Bad-Ass Body Motivation board.

I have gained a fair bit of weight over the past six months, through the combination of doing little other than sitting down to write my thesis, stress and comfort eating, followed by Christmas indulgences and now, comfort eating because it's cold! Getting back into exercise, shedding the extra pounds and getting back into decent shape was one of my primary goals on completing my thesis - unfortunately I have struggled getting off my butt and actually doing anything about it so far. Hence the inspirational pin-board.

It was while searching for fitspiration pins that I came across a whole raft of #stopfitspiration images, which really surprised me. It seems that, for the people promoting #stopfitspiration, fitspiration is more-or-less the same as thinspiration - promoting unhealthy body image aspirations that are ultimately harmful and addressing the problem in entirely the wrong way. #stopfitspiration-ers take the view that you should love yourself before you change yourself, not work on changing yourself to help you love yourself. Whilst I will acknowledge that that is an admirable stand-point, I honestly don't think it's practical for most people and I also don't think that wanting to improve your body and your health through increased fitness is actually that unhealthy (unless of course you take it too extremes, which I'm not advocating).

So, in your opinion, is fitspiration - or, in proper English, encouraging exercise and fitness - just another form of body-shaming? Is promoting a healthy lifestyle and improved fitness really a bad thing and sending the message that the way you are/look now is deficient or wrong?
Maybe it comes down to the way you look at it - is fitspiration about encouraging exercise to change the way people look or encouraging exercise to improve people's fitness and health?

As far as I'm concerned, it isn't. I see the promotion of fitness as a promotion of health, and there's no way that can be bad, right? From my point of view, it isn't about saying that any body shape or anything about the way you look is wrong, it's about saying that everyone benefits from being fit, any changes in the way your body looks are just a side effect - if you're fitter, you'll feel better no matter what your shape, size or style.

I'd really love to hear your thought on this as it still baffles me a bit,

Saturday, 30 March 2013

My Favourite Magazines: The Simple Things


Over the past year or so I have really got into magazines - not Fashion magazines, I have no time for that dross, but craft magazines and slightly different lifestyle magazines.

When I came across The Simple Things I was intrigued by it's stripped down take on the lifestyle magazine, about enjoying the simple things - simple food, the outdoors, family & friends, collecting, tradition and seasonality - rather than the numerous, overly consumerist, high-end, designer, glossy lifestyle magazines that promote shiny, polished, expensive perfection that I really don't think is a genuine route to fulfilment or happiness.

My interest also stemmed from where I was in my life at the time - really wrestling with my PhD and feeling lost and discontented with life - and a growing realisation that I needed to focus more on the beautiful, simple things in everyday life; which is exactly what I feel this magazine celebrates.


I love all of their regular features; tasting notes and articles on good, honest food - bread, cheese, chocolate, features on food traditions from around the world - from the Full English to Churros to Merenda (mid-afternoon Nutella on bread for Italian children), personal, intimate guides to great, interesting cities by people who really know them, seasonal garden observations and activities and loads more on interiors, collectors, days out, tea and books. I like that encourages you to take a step back, to look at  the things that most of us take for granted and really appreciate them and take joy from them instead - I think everyone needs to do that at least every once in a while.
I will also always love a lifestyle magazine that features real, muddy dogs as part of that lifestyle!

Although, now I think about it, I hold the writers and editors at least partly responsible for my recent weight as their articles definitely led to my nearly month long obsession with croque monsieur and my (fantastically successful) experiment with toffee apple crumble - both simple and both brilliant.

It's a really great magazine to properly chill out with - the autumn and winter editions have been lovely to snuggle up with and always make me feel warm (especially the bonfire night edition that featured hot chocolate with pink peppercorn syrup). Hopefully the spring editions won't have to keep me warm for too much longer as I'm still holding out hope that the sun will be bringing some warmth soon and I'll be able to get outside and put the gardening features to good use!

If you're also sick of the same old nasty lifestyle magazines and believe that there is more to life, and that the little things matter, check out The Simple Things - I think you'll like it.

Love



Sugar & Vice

A few weeks ago I discovered Sugar & Vice, a great company designing and creating awesome laser-cut acrylic and wood jewellery.

I'm a big fan of acrylic jewellery anyway and I kinda knew I was going to love their stuff as soon as I saw their Twitter profile picture of their Magpie Necklace! Looking through their website it was really hard to not seriously splurge, but I managed to limit myself to just the necklace (which I bought myself as a reward for having handed in my thesis).



I absolutely love it! Magpies are probably one of my favourite birds, I think they're absolutely beautiful and so is this necklace. I'm really sad I haven't been able to wear it yet as it's been so cold and I've been so wrapped up it would just be wasted!

As I'm super-broke at the moment, the thought of buying anything more from Sugar & Vice (or anywhere else for that matter) is nothing more than a fantasy at the moment - but that doesn't stop a girl making a wish list (or wish collage in this case).

Photos from Sugar & Vice website
Clockwise from Top Left:

They have a great range of designs and I think most people would find something that catches their eye - from skulls, to unicorns, hearts, food, Russian Dolls, Roller Derby and Heavy Metal. I would really recommend checking out their website, especially as over the Easter weekend they have 15% off everything! It's not a discount code, just a discount on all their items - I really wish I had the surplus cash to justify a purchase but at the moment I'd be giving up a day or two of food :/

Hope you are all well and enjoying the long weekend,
Love



Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Lure of the Dark Side

Those of you who follow me on Twitter or Facebook may have noticed one particular topic that has been dominating my thoughts lately - the colour of my hair.

Ok, so me changing my hair colour isn't really that big a deal, it's not like I haven't chopped and changed colour regularly over the past few years and I have been just plain blonde for quite a while now. The problem is that now I have submitted my thesis and am looking for a big, proper, grown-up job, I can't really go indulging my desire to have funky coloured hair (as hard as it is to resist).

Me - Blonde or Black? I haven't found this particularly helpful as I like my hair in all these pictures!

I first started going blonde three years ago, and I have loved it, but I am increasingly feeling the pull to go back to black. However, in the three years of being blonde there have only been a very few occasions when I have actually achieved the shade of blonde I have wanted - pretty much platinum - without any nasty yellow variation at the roots. Also, after three years of bleaching, with the addition of re-colouring, stripping and toning, my hair is in pretty poor condition :( Which are the main reasons why I'm considering the change.

I put together this little collage of two of my big hair inspirations - Dita Von Teese for Dark and Gwen Stefani for Blonde. Ultimately I think it comes down to the fact that, while I think I'd prefer to have Gwen's hair, I've never properly achieved it and it's slowly wrecking my hair. Given that, it seems like dark might be the way forward, and using Dita as inspiration seems like some pretty decent motivation.

All Pictures from Pinterest. Each Section, clockwise from Top Left
Dita 1, 2, 3, 4
Gwen 1, 2, 3, 4

Also, I figure I know a lot more about hair colouring and bleaching now than I did when I last went dark to blonde, so if I do want to change back sometime in the future (which is, let's face it, is quite likely) - but my hair probably deserves a bit of a break.
I think I have, eventually, come to my conclusion, but I do wonder what other people think, actually, genuinely think - I just don't buy these "Well you look fine either way" responses, I want to know your preference!
I'll keep you updated on what I do, but at the moment I'm thinking of heading to Boots tomorrow to buy dye and an intensive conditioner.
Hope you are well,
Love,

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Blog Design



A few days ago I came across a video tutorial on the basics of awesome blog design by Something Swanky,  and I'm so glad I did.

As you can probably see I've already started playing around with some of what I learnt and have added a new header and menu bar - (not all of it is fully functional yet as some of it is for new content I haven't created yet!). I'm going to try and not go too overboard with graphics and constantly changing my design, but there are so many options that I'm getting a little carried away with all the possibilities and trying to create the perfect look for what I want my blog to be (it's kind of a good thing I don't have a job at the moment!).

Now most blogs I read already look absolutely amazing and professional, so I may be the last one to the blog design party - but I thought I'd share some of the tools I've learnt about so that you can have a play too if you aren't already.


  • PicMonkey - great user-friendly photo and image editing software with an awesome range of fonts, colours and overlays
  • Image Maps - an online tool for mapping links onto an image, I used this to create the links in my new header - it does all the html for those of us who aren't fully html literate (I'm learning, but I'm not great)
I hope you like the new look, and that I don't annoy you all too much with graphic overload! I have plenty to be posting about now I've got past my week of job interviews (I didn't get the job, but have another very promising opportunity on the horizon, so I'm not too upset about it).

Hope you all have a great weekend, despite the weather,
Love

Friday, 15 March 2013

Bloglovin'

You may or may not have heard that Google are closing down Google Reader - the service which Google Friend Connect works through. As such, it looks like we might be losing the GFC service for following blogs!

However, fear not, dear readers - in order to make sure you stay up-to-date with all the goings on here you can follow my blog in a number of other ways;


  • Bloglovin' - http://www.bloglovin.com/blog/3060514
  • Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/pages/Betty-Leopard/144508135655904?fref=ts
  • Google+ - https://plus.google.com/112738166382069301116/posts
  • Twitter - https://twitter.com/BettyLeopard
I have been keeping myself busy lately with sorting things around the flat that I kept putting off while I was finishing writing my thesis, and now I have a job interview to prepare for for next Tuesday! I really hope to be able to find some time to put a few posts up over the weekend.

Hope you are well,

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith

Today is World Book Day, which I thought was wonderfully appropriate for introducing the first instalment of what I hope will become a regular feature of the blog - Betty's Book Club,  which for a large part is likely to be Betty's Vampire Book Club. I'm a massive vampire freak, although fear not, no Twilight book will ever, ever, ever show its face in my home let alone on my blog!

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith

"Don't judge a book by its movie adaptation"

I actually read Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter over a year and a half ago now, well before the movie, and I loved it. Honestly, I could barely put it down. When the movie came out I was massively excited to see it, but bitterly disappointed when I finally did.

Obviously, movie adaptations of books never contain all the detail and all the events of the books themselves, but in this case it seems like the movie took all the naffest bits of the book and cut out all the fascinating detail, backstory, character development and dramatic events that made the book so good!



The book focusses on the contents of Abraham Lincoln's secret and previously undiscovered journals and letter, in which he recorded and reported his exploits as a vampire hunter. The journals follow Lincoln from being a boy, when he first discovers (and suffers as a result of) the existence of vampires, through to his young adult life hunting vampires, how and why he became involved in politics, the vampire origins of the War of Independence and, eventually, his death.

Whilst the book is (obviously) ultimately fictional, what I found particularly fascinating is how well the author blends the historical facts of Abraham Lincoln's life with the fictional details of vampires and his vampire hunting - including the addition of a number of illustrations providing 'evidence' of the existence of vampires. The story works so well it's almost plausible and I really think I learnt a lot about Abraham Lincoln as well as enjoying the story.
I also enjoyed the style of writing and found it so easy to read, with a mixture of modern prose alongside suitably old-fashioned, poetic language in the form of quotes from Lincoln's journals. I do have 'Pride and Prejudice and Zombies' to read soon, also by Seth Grahame-Smith, and hope it is equally well written.

Whilst my enjoyment of the book likely benefited from my existing interest in vampires, I would really recommend it to everyone, especially if you saw the movie and thought it was awful (it really was). It's got drama, suspense, action, happiness and sadness - I genuinely read the whole thing in under a week. I could happily read it again as well - but I'm not sure I'll ever forgive the movie :(


Happy Reading,



Friday, 1 March 2013

Freedom, Sweet, Sweet Freedom

Dear Readers,

I am positively delighted to be able to announce that I finished and submitted my PhD thesis yesterday! While this isn't the end of the process and I don't get to call myself Doctor Betty yet, it does mean I don't have to look at or even think about it for a while.

As I don't have a job to go to just yet (not for want of trying!), I now have some time off - some of the first proper time off I've had in four years, with no guilt or anxiety of work hanging over me. I have to say, it's pretty brilliant :)

My celebrations so far have been pretty low key. I am immensely happy to have finished, but it all still seems quite unreal and dreamlike, plus all the effort of finishing has left me really tired.

Last night I stayed in with Pete and Alf and we had Indian take-away and a lovely bottle of Prosecco that my Mum and Dad sent for me, along with some pretty flowers, to say well done.



Today I have been quite lazy, enjoying being able to lie-in guilt-free, then I went out for a walk with Pete and Alf for the first time in ages. It was pretty cold but there are signs of spring coming through, including some crocuses beginning to emerge from the grass.


I have a few plans for what to do with my time, some of which aren't so exciting (like tidying up all the mess I've been putting off while I finished up) and some of which are a bit more interesting (including getting back to blogging and some new ideas I have for posts!). In the next few days I'm definitely looking forward to being able to read something that isn't a scientific paper. I have several books, comics and graphic novels that I have accrued in recent months and am very much looking forward to reading.




Thank you all so much for sticking around during my absence, which was a fair bit longer than I intended. I hope you will like what I have planned.

Love