Internalised Misogyny & Cinderella

As children, there is a constant pressure to never conform to femininity. In the media, we see feminine women objectified. Rather than get to the root of this problem, young girls are taught that femininity is feeble and weak. Therefore the ‘not like other girls’ phenomenon is formed. Disney Princesses like Merida, Rapunzel and Elsa are spoken of so highly due to their independence and non-conformity to the patriarchy. But are these models in fact the polar opposite?

My interests as a child ranged from Doctor Who to dolls, although I was definitely on the tomboy side of the spectrum. Looking back, it’s hard to define whether that boyishness was authentic me, or simply a reaction to the feminine figures I saw in the media. I hardly wore dresses because I didn’t want to appear ‘too girly’. As a young girl, men seemed to be strong and powerful. My goal shifted from being ‘less girly’ to being ‘more manly’. I wanted to be the Doctor, not the companion. It sounds so pathetically egotistical when put into terms like that.

A couple of months ago, I put on Cinderella – my favourite Disney princess film (although I’ve hardly watched any Disney princess films in my time on this earth). Watching this again but as a teenager, not a child, sparked the idea for this blog post. I noticed that Cinderella was rarely mentioned as a ‘favourite’ of the Disney princess franchise (although she does have some tough competition). Why is it that young girls are so turned off to the idea of admiring feminine figures?

Of course, I can only talk from my personal experience. However, I went over my Instagram stories to ask you a few questions on this topic. Here’s how you responded:

I then asked you who your favourite Disney Princesses were (these are only a few responses, couldn’t fit them all on!)

It’s clear to see that the strong, badass, independent princesses are the favourites among my followers. That’s awesome! They are truly brilliant characters. When we take Cinderella as an example of a less popular princess in these suggestions we can uncover that:

  • Cinderella loves animals, and her kindness towards these creatures is very prevalent through the original film and all of the sequels.
  • There is little talking in this film – as it is a 1950s motion picture – so Cinderella doesn’t get much chance to speak up for herself. In comparison to Belle, she does seem quite ‘passive’, but this is just how the movie is constructed.
  • This lack of dialogue, however, means we never get to learn much of Cinderella’s character. It is all seen in her actions: working for her step-family, scrubbing floors, singing, feeding the animals.

This may not be why she is less popular, but just a few suggestions.

Although there is nothing ‘wrong’ with Cinderella in its essence, the way it is interpreted has a lot to do with its popularity. I feel as though we grow up and everyone’s favourite is Cinderella so we try to pick something different to be ‘unique’ or something (“I’m not like other girls”) Cinderella gets whisked off her feet by a prince she has only just met. Is this love? (well, she actually sings a song about that one) Or, was this just to escape her abusive family? Or perhaps, falling in love coincided with her escape as an excuse – but she was going to set free anyway?

For some of us, it’s hard to admit that we would very much enjoy to dance with a Prince, in a ballgown. We don’t admit it because… well, we don’t want to be like other girls? It’s all very pathetic at its roots.

Sidetracking, but Cinderella emulates the highest Virgo vibes, which as a Virgo myself, I can see.

Virgos commonly conceal their emotions because they do not want to trouble others. They like helping other people with their problems, rather than solve their own. They enjoy being kind to others; however, a downside of a Virgo is that they don’t want to worry their peers and will therefore conceal their own emotions. Cinderella, it seems, would never have the bravery and pack up and run anyway because of her own discomfort as she doesn’t want to burden others.

Meeting the prince is her excuse. She falls in love. She can get away.

Obviously this poses an issue, because Cinderella needed the Prince to escape her abusive family. She depended on the Prince for her own happiness. This is an issue because Disney are conforming to gender roles, and gender roles that are favoured by the patriarchy ie. dominant male figure saves woman in distress.

As a woman, I will be biased. However, ‘alpha male’ characters aren’t always a good example for boys either. It is wonderful to be headstrong, independent, witty, well-versed (the list goes on) but there is a point where it becomes toxic.

Toxic masculinity is a long-lived idea, but in recent years the term has become more popular and social media is opening up more conversations on the topic. Toxic masculinity is represented by the lack of emotionally transparent figures in the media. Masculine types are more favoured, and less emotional figures are seen as ‘stronger’. The fear of judgement about opening up with mental health discussions is why “three-quarters of registered deaths in 2018 were among men (4,903 deaths), which has been the case since the mid-1990s” – data on England, Office for National Statistics (https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/birthsdeathsandmarriages/deaths/bulletins/suicidesintheunitedkingdom/2018registrations)

As a woman, it doesn’t feel like my place to write about this topic pretending to know what it feels like, because I will never experience anything close to that pressure. However, it is everyone’s duty to share the stories of lives lost and from that encourage destigmatise men opening up about their mental health. We should collectively be doing our best to make the men in our own lives feel comfortable enough to talk about their feelings if they need to. ‘Prince hero’ characters are allowed to exist, of course, just as a ‘damsel in distress’ is allowed to be represented in media. But in balance there needs to be more complexities to characters. Different twists on traditional tropes, and completely new and original ideas that don’t conform to tradition at all. Everything has a place!

Cinderella has so much opportunity to becoming a more complex character, and in live-action adaptations we definitely see this more. But, because of the main focus – getting whisked off her feet by a prince and they live happily ever after – somehow its overlooked.

I truly believe the patriarchy has led us (women) to think this way. I say this because as soon as we (women) see that a woman needs a man to be happy, we don’t like the idea of her. This is a prime example of internalised misogyny. We don’t see past the whole masculine hero thing, so we don’t accept that she can be a strong woman. But you can have a male hero, and still be a great woman. That Cher interview has been popping off of TikTok and Instagram for a good couple of months now, and I will put it here just in case you haven’t come across it:

“You said a man is not a neccessity, a man is a luxury”

“Like dessert, a man is absolutely not a neccessity”

“Did you mean that to sound bitter?”

“Not at all, I love dessert, I think men are the coolest but you don’t need them to live. My mum once said to me ‘Sweetie, one day you should settle down and marry a rich man’ and I said, ‘I am a rich man’

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dZsL5R_CR-k

Over the course of the last few weeks, I have been watching/listening to lots of video essays on the ‘not like other girls’ trend. If you’re new to the idea of internalised misogyny (unfortunately we’re all subject to it, aware or not), or just want to be a better feminist, I can recommend these videos:

Grab a cup of tea or coffee, put it on in the background while you work; they make the overwhelming discussion feel more digestible. Do not feel patronised for the length of these videos, I swear time will fly.

On the same topic, I asked you all on Instagram what ‘not like other girls’ means to you. It was interesting, but unfortunately not surprising, to see the responses I received. I’ll leave screenshots of the answers here so you can read through, and maybe even spot your own contribution!

Thank you so much for reading today’s post! Those of you that keep up with me on social media will be aware of how long of a process writing this post has been (mainly due to my extremely practised procrastination skills… oops). I hope you enjoyed it and if there’s anything you’d like be to add or take away, please let me know. This is a topic I have never written about publicly before and if I say anything wrong or out of place please educate me. We’re all learning at different paces and I would appreciate patience as I try to navigate this topic in the most respectful way possible.

What are your thoughts on the ‘not like other girls’ trend? And, just out of interest, who is your favourite Disney Princess?

Mine is probably Merida because I love Scotland with my whole heart, and cannot wait to live there in the future. I love the comedy in the film, and the relationship she has with her mum. She is one of the only Disney Princesses that has parents, my friend pointed out the other day.

Catherine x

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Filters + Their Impact

Filter means to pass through a device to remove unwanted material. 

They are designed to ensure that the consumer/viewer gets a refined, perfect perception of the product – or the person. 

Water filters: get rid of dirt and tiny bacterial particles – removing impurities. 

Snapchat filters: don’t allow the story viewer to see anything that doesn’t keep within the highest beauty standards. They also remove ‘impurities’. 

So, as a consumer, all we see is a ‘perfect’ picture. We don’t get to see what flaws, according to our unattainable beauty standards, were present before. We try out the filter ourself, noticing how it sculpts our jaw to a perfect point, adds blush to our pale cheeks, ensures freckles are dotted on the nose to make it look ‘somewhat natural’.

Filters are deceiving, especially those that change our outward appearance.

Notice a Year 7s Instagram, and how every selfie has a Snapchat filter on it? Apps such as Snapchat, and even Instagram now, prey on people’s insecurities. Young teenagers who are only just beginning to notice these negative inward thoughts are being provided a solution in the click of a finger. A flawed solution, might I add. Because filters only contribute to a further downward spiral.

Where the Internet used to provide a happy escape from these insecurities, now people have to escape from the Internet. The Internet, social media in particular, has become so experienced at looking sharp, refined and ‘perfect’ that it’s hard to distinguish what is fake and what isn’t. 

Without the ‘before’ images, how will we ever know what has been changed?

And Instagram posts – they have filters and presets too.

I use my own Lightroom preset to make my feed look coordinated. It lifts the brightens of my photographs, changes reds to deep browns, affects the way people see my life. Because everyone does this, we think we can get away without sharing the before.

But no.

Every now and then, its important to display the raw, unedited photographs compared to the ‘after’. Otherwise your followers are receiving a warped perception of your life – which leads to declining mental health over time.

And you wonder- how can an edited photo do so much?

Despite our efforts to prevent it: comparison. 

You look at your desk – and it doesn’t look like the photo with 1000 likes on Instagram… “am I doing something wrong?”

“My garden never looks that green… ugh why is my life so dull?”

“I wish my face looked that glowy. My only glow is my greasy acne scars.”

“I can’t understand why their life looks so aesthetic.”

We know that what we’re seeing on Instagram is purely a highlight reel, yet we can’t help that part of our brains that believes their life is perfect all of the time. 

When you are catching yourself having these thoughts regularly, step down from social media for a bit. Enjoy life. Unfiltered life. Appreciate the beautiful trees that dot the landscape on your daily walks – even though they’re not bright green or ‘beautiful’. Understand that what makes life special is its imperfections: the things that don’t go to plan, and the spontaneous solutions to unexpected problems. 

Learn that nothing is ever perfect. 


Any long term readers of my blog will know that this isn’t my regular style of post! My friend Rachel reached out to my a few weeks ago, about her project on discussing the impact of filters. After forming a group chat – where there were many submissions – Rachel brought snippets of everyone’s writing on the topic together, to form a short, impactful video. You can check that out my clicking here. I really stretched outside of my comfort zone, discussing something I never have done before. It was really testing of my writing ability, too! Of course, Rachel couldn’t include all of my piece. So I thought it would be nice to post the full thing on here for any of you that haven’t seen the video.

I really hope you like it. Let me know if you want to see more posts in this style in the future!

Catherine x

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How I Personally Approach Self-Care

Hi everyone! I hope you’re all well and safe. Excitingly, today’s post is a group collaboration with some amazing teen bloggers. I will link them right at the end for you to check out!

The announcement of a national lockdown last Monday sent ripples all across England. It’s been a difficult few months – suffering through the winter of a pandemic with the future being uncertain. My Instagram feed has, thoughtfully, been saturated with self-care posts. The group has decided to hop on to this bandwagon, although some of us are going to be taking a different approach. 

Over a year ago, a post of mine ‘These Aren’t Your Regular Self-Care Tips’ gained a mass of attention. Looking back, there are points to further explain and add on to. Consider this post the ‘sister’ of last year’s. I’m going to share ways I personally practise self-care.

Everyone should accept that they have different perception of self-care. Where a relaxing bath works for one person, a walk works for someone else. Personally, I find ticking off to-do lists and reducing procrastination therapeutic. It’s hard for me to ever relax when there are deadlines to be met. Of course, I don’t over-work myself. By 6pm I try to shut off from all forms of work. I just find getting things done now helps my future self feel less stressed – which is a form of self-care. Occasionally it’s important to not care at all, make your future self cope with the consequences, and have a day off. 

Although I did in the past, now I don’t think I should share ‘self care ideas’ on my blog because it is so individual – and without knowing the circumstances it’s hard to advise what people should do. This post is going to be a little list of things I do to take care of myself, and you can take away what you want, but this is just what works for me. 

  • Have a bath pamper
  • Put on a comfort programme (namely Doctor Who, Miranda, Downton Abbey, Gavin and Stacey)
  • Watch YouTube under a blanket
  • Read a book
  • Journal
  • Do some colouring with an audiobook as company
  • Go for a walk with a friend
  • Have a One Direction dance party (this really boosts my mood – just to dance like no-one is watching)
  • Bake! Trying out new recipes is always fun
  • Watch comedy with my family on the sofa downstairs, perhaps with a fire lit
  • Knitting 
  • Scroll through Goodreads and add yet more books to my TBR
  • Video call a friend
  • Go for a solo walk
  • Explore a place I haven’t been before

There is no routine to my self-care, I just do these things whenever I’m feeling anxious or overwhelmed. Normally I take Saturday as a complete day off social media and schoolwork. Although throughout the week I will do something for ‘me’ every day so I never hit breaking point. Of course I absoutely love being on social media and interacting with everyone! Fortunately my feed is such a postive space, and I have cultiavted to be that way. However, being costantly updated with 100s of people’s lives does get exhausting. Taking a step back allows me to appreciate my return. But from a health perspective, online school increases my interaction with screens so there is a certain point where I just need to say ‘no’ and be less digital for a day. I have had frequent problems associated with blue light in the past, even white paper and lights makes my eyes water sometimes. I don’t know why they’re so sesntive to light (I’m a vampire?) but I put precautions in place – like my day off social media!

I really hope you enjoyed today’s post. To see more self-care related posts as part of our group collab, simply click below!

Beth Lucy Blogs

Infintely A Day Dreamer 

Imaan Aziz (her’s will go live as an Instagram post!)

Meghan’s Teen Life

Pati Cool

Christina And Camera

Isabella Kate Blog

Zainab Chats

I love these girls so much and their blogs are (in my opinion) some of the best teen blogs out there. Enjoy your visits to their awesome websites!

How are you going to care for yourself today? 

Catherine x

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How To Make Effective To-Do Lists (That You Will Tick Off!)

Writing daily to-do lists has completely changed the way I approach productivity, and I don’t know where I would be without my handy lists. After 4-5 years of consistently using this method, I have found my own preferred way to write to-do lists. Now, it might sound stupidly obvious: just write down what you need to get done. But to prevent feeling overwhelmed, you have establish a good to-do list writing method. In this post I’ll be sharing my top tips to creating to-do lists that you will actually complete. 

Write a Huge Master To-Do List

Let us first establish everything you need to do. Absolutely everything: short term, long term, even tasks with no timeline. Empty all of the things you need to get done out of your brain and into a digital Notes app: such as the one that comes free with iPhone. This might take a long time, but believe me, we’ll create direction to them later.

Draw Out a Week at a Glance

I do this in my bullet journal, on to spreads that look like this. Just a box every day for seven days. Now, this is where you master to-do list comes in, write down the time limited tasks into the appropriate boxes. So if you have an assignment due on Wednesday, but ‘submit assignment’ into your box allocated to Wednesday. Also make sure you do this timetabling in a place that you will reference and look at throughout the week. There is no point writing it in a bullet journal is that notebook stays shut on your desk all week. Whatever works for you, plan there. And it doesn’t have to be fancy! 

And also, once writing time limited tasks into your boxes, remove them or tick them off your master to-do list.

Work Backwards 

You have put all of your tasks-with-deadlines in the correct boxes. Now, work backwards one task at a time. You may have put ‘submit assessment’ on Saturday, for example, so work backwards. Monday you finish off research, Tuesday you begin writing, get it all finished my Thursday, proofread on Friday and make sure you’re at the correct word count, submit on Saturday. This breaks down your bigger tasks and ensures you don’t ‘forget’ about your deadline. I recommend this method to absolutely anyone and it’s so helpful with studying in particular. 

Put One Smaller Task Per Day

On your fat master to-do list you might actually have small tasks that will only take less than an hour. Allocate one of these tasks each day. Don’t get too ambitious, because throughout the week you’ll be adding to the list as life goes on – you know. At the end of the week that’s still 7 little tasks completed! 

Put One Bigger Task Per Day

Along with that, put one big task per day. Such as the example we previously discussed: starting to write an assignment! That’s a big task (in my eyes anyway) so prioritise that on your list. Sadly, life means we can’t just do one ‘big’ thing per day. We have to do more. But in your forward planning, just put one thing down. You’ll add to it.

An Enjoyable Task

Try to enjoy every little thing you do, of course! However, at the end of a hard day’s work, treat yourself to something you can do for you. AND PUT THIS ON YOUR LIST. Because self-care hands itself to productivity, and prevents overworking and burn out. I, for example, might put ‘watch Torchwood and bullet journal’. Something I enjoy. I don’t force myself to put a ‘fun’ task on my list everyday, because that would completely destroy the idea of it being ‘fun’. You could put something as broad as ‘me time’ as a check box, and do whatever you feel like that day. That could mean half an hour on Instagram scrolling (allow yourself that if you enjoy it). 

Exercise

You’re really supposed to exercise everyday, but putting it on my to-do list makes it feel like an extra little win.

Weekly Tasks

Finally, go over your master to-do list again to look at tasks that you need to get done before the week is out but on no specific date. Perhaps make a separate box for this on your timetable!

Throughout this post I have said ‘you will add to it’. The model I have explained in this post is for a week in advance. Weekly planning is so much more efficient than daily. However, tasks will come up day to day that you need to add to your list. You might be set something on Tuesday due on Wednesday. Of course add this to your list. That’s why you should never bombard yourself with too many tasks at the start of the week, because things will crop up. 

I really hope I explained myself well here, although it is hard to show weekly planning through writing. It’s not that complicated – but through words it makes itself out to be! 

There will be other tasks that don’t fit within these categories or maybe there are too many big tasks to put for one week! They can be allocated to the next week. Or you can do them when you get free time throughout the week. Keep this master to-do list so you can use it for the next week’s weekly planning session. You might have more time that week than the week before! Flexibility is key. Too much structure is hard to stick with, too little means you get nothing done. Balance and flexibility are key to productivity 🙂 

(ooh, I just made that phrase up myself but I kinda like it ;))

What’s on your to-do list today? How are you going to get it done?

And if your to-do list just looks like: wake up, shower and eat food that should not be invalidated. You’re doing so well. Don’t allow hustle culture to make your day seem ‘less productive’ just because you aren’t moving at a million miles per hour. 

I shared this on my Instagram stories a few weeks ago: ‘productivity is making the most out of a given situation’. Are you feeling ill? Rest. That’s productive, because you’re making the right decision in that given situation. If you forced yourself to work when you were feeling ill, you’ll not only tire yourself out but probably produce something you’re not happy with and have to do it all over again. 

Productivity is relative. Do what is best for you.

Catherine x

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A Week Of Vegan Breakfasts | Quick, Easy + Yummy

Hey everyone! Welcome to the start of a new year. I hope you all had safe yet enjoyable New Year’s celebrations. In alignment with the Veganuary trend, I am today going to share a week of vegan breakfasts. These are all going to be realistic, budget-friendly and energising!

Just to clarify, I am not a vegan. As a teenager still living at home my parents simply can’t accommodate for a vegan diet. Although, I am vegetarian and this year will be my 3 year ‘veggie-versary!’. I am looking forward to making some veggie themed posts for that celebration on August. 

Meals I make myself (breakfast and lunch) I always try to make vegan. It’s a simple little lifestyle change I have been implementing for some time now. It’s really important that when trying to eat with more environmental consciousness, you don’t go in with an all-or-nothing mindset. Change is gradual and should be treated as a journey. It’s not a simple ‘flick-the-switch-and-done’. Rather than become fixated on a diet – like veganism – I think more about short term impact. If there was a chocolate bar made by a local farm, I would choose it over the plastic wrapped vegan choice (recyclable or not). Cow farming is of course destructive to the planet, but so is sourcing virgin plastic, growing soy plantations and shipping these beans to the UK. Balance is integral to sustaining good choices. So don’t be deceived by heavily processed vegan products! 

I don’t eat fruit with my breakfast to make a ‘health’ statement, it’s just simply because I love it. My vegan tendencies are made because I care about the ethical nature behind food. 

If you find the mention of food triggering to your recovery or otherwise, kindly click off this post. We won’t be discussing disordered eating but it is nonetheless important to stay away from any potential harm.

I am so, so grateful to be in a position where I can eat without restrictions and not feel guilty about the food I consume. And it is worth pointing out in a post about food. Because ‘vegan’ has the connotations of being ‘healthier’ than other diets. But that’s entirely untrue. It might seem as if I am restricting myself through eating such a diet, but I couldn’t feel better. From starting this diet/lifestyle I have grown in confidence. I feel amazing. Even using the label ‘diet’ makes me slightly quiver. Because it is more than that. I wish we could remove the stigma around veganism as being ‘the healthy solution to weight loss’. It’s not that at all. It’s a lifestyle, and a choice, and not a fad.

But without further ado, I’d like it introduce to you Catherine’s Culinary Corner (the name is a work in progress XD)

Monday

Porridge is an absolute staple for my breakfast! I would have it for every meal if I could. Instead of measuring out my oats, I just pour the amount I’m feeling that morning. I make my porridge with a splash of water instead of milk and top with fruit of some kind. Today that was banana! Then alongside I sprinkled some vegan muesli stuff. I’m not a nutritionist and have absolutely no clue whether this bowl was balanced or healthy or anything. But it was tasty and filling (all that counts)

Tuesday

Shaking it up a bit today with a slice of peanut butter on toast with an orange. Since having braces this meal has taken longer to eat! But loving the excuse to read a few more pages before the chaotic day ensues. Reading while eating my breakfast is a habit I absolutely love.

To make the whole family happy, we buy this Roberts sliced white loaf that is vegan friendly and palm-oil free.

Wednesday

Back to porridge! Today I topped it off with some frozen fruit. These were quite sour by themselves although mixed with enough porridge it tasted yum.

Thursday

Cereal had to get a feature somewhere! Thursday’s brekkie was a lovely bowl of Bran Flakes with almond milk. If you can’t tell already, I’m obsessed with bananas 😂

Friday

End of the *working* week! And no better way to celebrate than with a filling bowl of porridge topped off with frozen fruit and more of that vegan muesli stuff that I LOVE!

Saturday

Nothing speaks weekend more than a good bowl of plain cereal. To incorporate some fruity goodness I sliced an apple (that I ate leisurely on the sofa as I read my book with a cup of tea). 

Sunday

Returning to my signature dish: porridge, for a cosy winter Sunday morning. Topped with some of the muesli stuff I love and a little bit of frozen fruit – it set me up for a relaxing reset. Using Sundays as an admin day is a great habit to help subside the potential stress on a Monday morning. And these mundane and repetitive tasks require nothing more than an energising bowl of goodness to get started!

Thank you so much for reading my week of breakfasts! I hope they inspire some of your own morning meals. Vegan doesn’t mean just eating a salad leaf – you can really enjoy food while being kind to the planet in the process. 

What’s your favourite breakfast?

Catherine x

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