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Thursday, 28 January 2016

The Liebster Award!


Well this is exciting! The ever-wonderful Kitty of Kitty Rambles A Lot nominated me to take part in this fab post! The rules of the Award are simple and open up the possiblility of finding new blogs, and learning more about the people behind them!


Here are my questions as outlined by Kitty, see below for both my nominations and for the questions I'm asking!

1) What is your favourite food?

I think it's got to be Pizza- as predictable as that might be! For a long time I struggled with guilt after every time I ate pizza as it's definitely seen as a food related to gluttony and the damaged image of fat bodies represented by the media, but I've learned to be nicer to myself and just enjoy it!

 2) Where would you love to visit?

Copenhagen. I'm actually yet to leave the UK, the furthest I've travelled North is Edinburgh and furthest South is Newquay, so I'm at the 'anywhere-will-do' point! But I've wanted to go to Copenhagen for a few years now, so much of it appeals to me and it just looks so beautiful. My craving for Copenhagen shenanigans was only encouraged more by the recent episode of Travel Man in which Richard Ayoade and Noel Fielding had a delightful little toddle around the sights.
Image found at http://nomadicpursuits.com/top-photo-spots-in-copenhagen/

3) Who is your ultimate crush?

I should probably say my partner Dom but at this point you all already know that, right? He's pretty great and definitely my ultimate crush. Aside from Dom, my biggest celebrity crush at the moment is comedian Cameron Esposito- she's so wonderful! My other celebrity crushes are Elly Jackson of La Roux, Mark Kermode, Sue Perkins, Mark Ruffalo and Gwendoline Christie. Also, I'll say that Copenghagen wasn't the only appealing aspect of Travel Man!

 4) What is your favourite clothing piece you've ever owned?

This dress from when I was a kid/hobbit. Since growing out of it, I've laways longed for a 'grown up' version and I'm always collecting things with the same daisy pattern. A couple of years ago I found a daisy dress from Red Herring and barely took it off all summer!




 5) What is your worst fashion faux pas?

This haircut. I remember it painfully. An avid hater of visiting the hairdresser's, I decided to try to trim my own fringe, aged 15. Attempt after attempt at levelling it out resulted in me chopping a large portion off, leaving baby fluff on my forehead instead of my usual emo kid sweeping fringe. It took ages to grow back, and the worst thing was that it happened just a few days before school photo day, THE HORROR.



 6) Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?

Always a scary question! In five years I'll be almost 29, and I'd like to think by that point I'll still be still Illustrating, and maybe have a few bigger commissions under my belt. Maybe I'll still be in Lincoln, or maybe I'll be someplace new! As long as I'm still making Art and I'm happy, I don't mind where I'll be in 2021!

 7) Who are your favourite bloggers?

These are just a few of my favourite bloggers, soon I'll be sharing a more detailed and through list of my regular reads!

Fellow Illustrator and blogger Phie Hackett who not only posts about great topics in a wonderfully relatable way, but illustrates them beautifully too!

Tara aka Catstello of Cattitude & Co- I love that she raises awareness of topics many shy away from but that should be discussed, like sex , periods and feminism. 

Leah of Just me Leah Leah is a fierce force of nature in the plus size community and isn't afraid to shout her opinions from the rooftops- and her opinions are great! Unapologetically awesome and truly fascinating blog posts!

Jenna at Princess Parasox. Jenna's blog is definitely one of my faves- her fashion style is amazing but what really steals the show are her incredible insights on feminsim, gender and sexuality. I'm so happy to have found a fellow queer blogger, and Jenna is fabulous!

...and I may be biased but Dom's blog, It's Dom Clark is pretty neat! His main specialism is fashion and style, but is also passionate about calling out ignorance and prejudice, as seen in his social media!

8) If you could be any animal for the day, what would you be?

I thoroughly enjoy being a fairly tall woman, and while I'm willing my body to have a second growth spurt to Gwendoline Christie proportions, if I had to be an animal I'd definitely be a giraffe and take full advantage of the extra height. Giraffes usually seem pretty rleaxed and I bet they get a great view of everything!

9) Do you have any pets? Share photos! If you don't, what would you have?

Sadly I'm not in a situation where I can have pets, but if I could I'd definitely have a house rabbit. As a kid, I had a beloved pet rabbit for ten years, and I've always missed him. I also really like cats! We're lucky to be in any area with A LOT of cats so we never have to go far to find a fluffy companion.

My beloved childhood pet, Benji


10) What was your dream job as a kid?

Mine's a bit of weird one- I had dreams of being a Paranormal Investigator! I had so many books about ghosts, vampires, aliens and science fiction and was convinced that's what I was going to do (Dear Past Melly-you had great ambition!) I saw myself proving the existence of the paranormal, and discovering crashed UFOs, the whole thing! As I grew up, as well as realising it's an incredibly niche job, my belief in things that go bump in the night has wavered. I'm 80% sure ghosts/vampires/werewolves don't exist (but pretty convinced aliens do) yet I find the topics so fascinating still, and I've kept all of the books...just in case.

11) What is your favourite thing about blogging?

I love writing about things I'm passionate about! During School and University I loved essay writing, and since leaving Uni I haven't had many chances to write, so I welcome blogging with open arms! I've read blogs for roughly five years and I love learning more about people I admire, from their favourite TV shows to their polictical views! Also, I spend a lot of time finding fashion inspiration from fellow bloggers, and head staright there when I'm looking for reviews! While I've had other blogs in the past, The Melly Em Blog is only a couple of weeks old, but so far it's been a blast!

My nominated blogs are Phie Hackett, Princess Parasox, It's Dom Clark, Just Me Leah, Nadine Danielle , Spiked Black Tee, ChloEllio , Fat Girl For Life, Rad Fat Feminist, Tetris And Cheesecakes and A Dress Is For Life 

My questions for you are:

1. Describe your blog in six words
2. If you could have the life of any fictional character for the day, who would it be? 
3. In the movie of you and your blog, who would play you? 
4. Do you have a particluar blog post you're proud of?  If so, why?
5. What brings you happiness?
6. Describe your perfect night in
7. Who are your inspirations in life?
8. If you could choose one celebrity/icon to become a loyal follower and reader of your blog, who would it be and why? 
9. Why did you start blogging and how long have you blogged for?
10. What do you love the most about yourself?
11. What's the best book you've ever read?


Thank you again to Kitty for the nomination, and I can't wait to see all of your answers!

Stay wonderful!
Melly






Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Contemplating Carol

Carol Illustration Available To Buy Upon Request- simply contact mellyemclark@gmail.com -Please do not share images without permission

In December, like many queer cinema fans, I flocked to the cinema to see Todd Haynes' highly anticipated movie, Carol. On its opening weekend I ran, cash in hand, to my nearest Odeon, eager to see the movie I'd waited so long for. The trailers promised a sweeping tale of romance and drama, with a talented cast and swoon-worthy cinematography. It definitely delivered!

The film's plot follows the development of a chance encounter between the introverted and sensitive Therese and the enigmatic, charismatic Carol, and is an adaptation of Patricia Highsmith's 1952 novel The Price of Salt. The film shares its name with the later-published version of the book,  this adjustment a more fitting encapsulation of the story- though both the book and the film are from Therese's point of view, all that matters is the eyes of the protagonist is Carol. Being set in 1950s New York, the film not only depicts the relationship between the two central characters, but also addresses the impact the relationship has upon the environment around them.

Carol draws a lot of inspiration from one of my favourite films, Brief Encounter, a 1945 David Lean picture. Todd Haynes reportedly wanted to imitate the movie's framing device as a narrative- the film opens upon the characters going their seprate ways, and then backtracks to the story's origin. This way of storytelling keeps you guessing the context of the opening scene, and by the time we reach it, we are desperate to know what happens next. We've all sat in a restaurant or coffee shop and spotted conversations that have intrigued us, and in the cases of both titles, we get to see the tales behind them. Both Carol and Brief Encounter discuss relationships in a world where their love is taboo due to societal expectations- Brief Encounter featuring the tale of unfaithful affairs, and Carol of course depicting a lesbian relationship. Both films are also beautiful in thier subtelty and poetic dialogue.

While many romanctic pictures portray love as an ultimately positive emotion and experience, Carol gives us something more realistic, more relatable and more tantalisting. Through Therese we see the entire emotional spectrum of falling in love- happiness at finding a soul to attach to, confusion and hope as to the reciprocation of feelings, sheer pain at seeing the beloved tortured, and for some, betrayal (no spoilers here) and the rebuilding of your spirit. While in the film there are many moments of joy and optimism, there is an overwhelming sense of sadness, of complication and circumstance, as we see the story through the eyes of worrier Therese. We will the characters through the issues they face, and triumph whenever they seem to be back in control.
While we are primarily captivated by the story of these two fascinating women, the film also presents us with two interesting stories of how the men in their lives cope with rejection. Many queer women have to confront negative male attention, from street harassment to any possible past lovers, and the film addresses this theme of attempting to live alongside a woman in a world so geared towards being with men.

There's been much fawning over the film's visuals, and I can't say I disagree- the entire film is crammed with beautiful shots and luscious set peices, and Sandy Powell's costume designs are a stand out quality-I could talk for days about everything I loved about the movie's aesthetics. Lead actors Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara step into 1950s clothing perfectly, completely believable and flawless in period costume. Blanchette and Mara have received deservedly wonderful acclaim for their work in Carol, and it's hard not to swoon for their chemistry. The attention to detail in their body language, characersitsics and diaolgue make for that perfectly subtle yet perfectly powerful combination. Even in its final scene, an event that could have been drawn out and exaggerated as they are in so many tales of romance, the downplayed gentleness undoubtedly wins the audience over.

While I adored the performances both actors gave, the argument could be made that these roles should have been given to queer actors. While there have been rumours regarding Blanchette's sexuality, the only 'Out' perfomers in Carol have considerably smaller roles. I was delighted to see Sarah Paulson wonderfully depict Carol's best friend and former lover Abby-I was previously besotted with Paulson in her work in American Horror Story (especially as the lead role in second series Asylum) and her smaller, yet brilliant part in The Notorious Betty Page.  We see Abby as Carol's confidant and trusted friend- there's a point to be made about Abby and Carol's close friendship despite the end of their romantic associations, and how Carol wants to keep that part of her history close. This isn't a depiction of a jealous and bitter ex- this film covers loyal and loving female friendships as well as intimiacies. Another queer actor featured in this film is Portlandia star Carrie Brownstein, though her part was severely shortened and we barely see her appear at all, despite the intriguing nature of her appearance. If you are interested in these roles, I highly recommend reading the original novel as there's far more character insight within the pages than there are on screen. 

Another concern of mine is the complete whiteness of the movie. While I love to see a film with a majority female cast, a female writer (Phyllis Nagy did an incredible job fighting to get the film made) and the visibility of queer characters in mainstream cinema, this film still contributes to the racial inequalities of Hollywood. This film features no none-white actors and by now, film makers should really be considering making positive changes. Representation and casting is a huge part of Hollywood, and they have the control to inforce a more fair casting process within cinema. We've recently seen the backlash to the appalling Oscar nominations, leading to a widespread boycott and leading The Academy to make changes to its process by creating a more diverse board of Governors, but things need to drastically improve, and the sooner the better.

A positive to take away from Carol is its happy ending (I won't go into too much detail for those who haven't seen it yet). Queer audiences are used to investment and infatuation with an on-screen couple before the relationship is destroyed by either an untimely death or the passing of a sexual 'phase'. Carol's positive ending feels triumphant and groundbreaking, though it's a pretty undemanding request for a queer relationship to stay in tact, and so very rarely the case. I hold high hopes for future lesbian cinema- Carol has proved that queer stories don't have to be tragic to be successful, rejecting the romanticised grief and loss in so many titles.

Carol has currently finished its run at most mainstream cinemas, however the original novel is incredibly accessible, and the DVD is available to pre-order, ahead of its release in March.

Did you see Carol? I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Stay wonderful!
Melly










Friday, 22 January 2016

24 That I Adore- Part Two!

Hello beautiful, and welcome back to my blog! Earlier this week I kicked things off with numbers 1-12 of '24 I Adore'- a list of things I love to celebrate my recent twenty-fourth birthday. Today's post is numbers 13-24!


 13. Sisterhood

While in Part One, I discussed feminism as something important to me, I felt I had to dedicate a little space for my own Sisterhood of wonderful women. I'm incredibly lucky to have a lot of supportive sisters in my life- both the bioligical variety and those with whom I have a sisterly bond. The sisters I grew up with inspire me in so many ways- my older sister Cat is the epitome of love and kindness, with an infectious laugh, while my sister Robin is a fierce and fabulous force to be reckoned with. My 'sisterhood' of friends also mean the world to me. In the past I'd always been wary of female friends, intimidated by the girls that taunted me at school and a few dodgy friendhsips as a teen. Meeting my friends Alexandra and Pip during University taught me that I could have female friendships in my life that were not only healthy, but incredible. We've navigated our way together through the stress of a degree, and are currently finding our way through the awkward post-graduate days. I've partied hard and cuddled gently with these women, and I love them from the bottom of my heart. In the past year or so, I've found a new friendship in the form of the wonderful Jasmin. The first time we hung out (a movie marathon) we chatted for hours non-stop and left the DVDs discarded on the side. Every time we meet, my affection and admiration for her grows even more, and she's just such a cool presence in my life! I really treasure my gang of creative, queer friends that I can always rely on, no matter how many miles are between us all. While I've basiclaly fangirled over them all, my point is that a great sisterhood can change your world, and make you feel so much stronger. Personally I high recommend it! 

14. Period Dramas

As an artist, I love beautiful things. I also love films. When these two come together with a great narrative, I swoon. While I love many films with a contemporary setting, I have a real soft spot for pieces set in the past. If cinema is escapism, period dramas are time travel. I love titles that make me want to climb into the screen and raid wardobes (even if bad representation of plus size characters means nothing would fit me). There's been some gorgeous costume design I've revelled in during the past few years- in particular, Odile Dicks-Mireaux's work in An Education (2009) Kasia Walicka-Maimone's utterly lovely designs for Moonrise Kingdom (2012) and, more recently, the unforgettably beautiful creations for Carol (2015) by Sandy Powell. The increase in television show production values of late have led to some incredible visuals in TV too- my top recommendations (aside from the obvious Mad Men!) are American Horror Story:Asylum, and Masters of Sex!

15. Frankie Magazine

Women's magazines can be vicious. Simply pop into your local newsagents and you can see women being torn down and pulled apart by the cruel words of gossip mags and lifestyle publications. Within the past few years, I've made an effort to stay away from these types of magazines and either find more positive reads, or stay well clear of them all. I was incredibly happy to find Frankie-for me it's the perfect companion to curl up and read with! Frankie is mostly about arts and crafts, celebrating female makers and shakers and displaying gorgeous art and photography projects to leaf through and fawn over. Between the double pages of luscious art, there are fascinating articles covering a variety of subjects and giving wonderful female journalists a voice. Frankie is a soothing, friendly gal who certainly has a lot to say!

16. Clashing Patterns

Fashion is fun! One of my favourite aspects of fashion is matching items together, and in particular I find clashing patterns simply wonderful. I love contrasting textures and prints, block patterns and smaller details. Adding a second pattern into the mix can make an outift really stand out. Some say it's garish- but to me, garish means eccentrically brilliant. Some of my favourite combinations are ditsy florals with leopard print, tartan with breton stripes, and 60s monochromes with bright 70s floral illustrations. Mixtures of textures always catch my eye too, I love tweed and faux leather, fake fur and knitwear. Two of my style icons are Vivienne Westwood and Jean Woods (of Fabulous Fashionistas fame) and I think they clash patterns perfectly!

17. My Body

This fleshy vessel (or a flesshel) has been through a lot of self hatred in the past, for the same reasons a lot of women hate their bodies- we feel we are supposed to. At the start of 2015 I vowed to appreicate and love the body that I have, whatever form it takes on, and it's one of the best decisions I've made! I altered my social media intake, unfollowed unhealthy influences, did what I could to carve a positive space, and was generally a bit kinder to myself. The body positive movement has made an incredible impact on the way I view not just my body, but the bodies of others. I've grown to love my wobble, my jiggle, my belly, my stretch marks and cellulite, because I've wasted enough time hating it! It's not an easy journey and some days it can be the hardest thing to do, but moving from self acceptance to self love can be so powerful. Of course I still have my bad days, but I can always rely on the inspirations in my life to fill me with warm fuzzy feelings again. I take time to appreciate how my shape works, how my clothes hang from my frame. I love my tallness, my big butt, my squishy thighs- but if I had a completley different body, I'd still love that too. I feel the 'bo-po' movement needs to adapt to become more diverse in order for everyone to feel empowered, confident and truly love themselves, because it's a great feeling that everyone should know!

18. Foxes

Aren't foxes the cutest? As  my partner Dom will tell you, I love them! One of my first larger tattoos was a fox-I have a fox-patterned dress, a fox necklace, fox socks and more! I'm not sure where the obsession has come from, but I'm a long time fan. In Primary School I even wrote to Tony Blair, asking him to ban fox hunting, illustrated with crying foxes (I didn't get much of a response). Obviously, the baby-biting thing wasn't a wise move for the fox community, but I'll always love the cuties.

19. Movie Soundtracks & Scores

We all love a good movie soundtrack, ones that make every scene feel more grand, more sad, more uplifting, but also ones we can listen to independently and love just as much without the visuals. Some of my most treasured soundtrack CDs are: 
 -Amelie (2001)
-Where The Wild Things Are (2009)
-Juno (2007)
-A Single Man (2009)
-(500) Days of Summer (2009)
-The Graduate (1967)
-Donnie Darko (2001)
-Billy Elliot (2000)
-School of Rock (2003)
-Singin' In The Rain (1952)

20. Sex Positivity

To me, sex positivity is an integral part of feminsim. I truly believe that, if done safely and consensually, sex is a great thing! While sex in relationships is awesome, one of my favourite times in life was when I was casually dating and living a healthy sex life without a partner! The idea that you should only have sex in a relationship simply is not for me, and many others agree! If you're in the both in the mood and a safe opportunity arises, why shouldn't you go for it? I love that the Sex Positive movement has created such a backlash against slut-shaming and societal expectations, and I'll never be ashamed of my decisions regarding my sex life. As some of you may know, I worked in an adult store for eighteen months and it proved to be an interesting experience! I learned a lot about the industry and its customers, and one thing I took away from it is that there should be more accessible resources for people to learn about sex-in particular anatomy, and what we class as 'normal' sex. I think it's vital that, while we have conversations about consent, sexuality and provide safe information, we must support and not alienate victims of sexual assault and the asexual community, and ensure the message is intersectional, fair and welcoming! 

 
My illustration of singer/songwriter Mary Lambert

21. Mary Lambert

Growing up, I found queer role models incredibly hard to find. So many pop songs centred around a boy-meets-girl theme, and with so many music videos focused on attraction from men- a lot of you will remember how the 2002 release of TaTu's All The Things She Said was deemed shocking and explicit, while heterocentric pop videos bumped and ground their way through without censorship. In the years since then, very few out queer women have found mainstream success within the industry-the biggest success probably being that of Lady Gaga. Last year I discovered the music of Mary Lambert. Featuring on Macklemore and Ryan Lewis' track Same Love catapulted her into the charts and into the hearts of many LGBT+ music fans. I remember hearing She Keeps Me Warm and rejoicing at finally hearing a lesbian love song! She Keeps Me Warm is a simple and gentle ballad, and proudly projects the message that love is love, and none of us should be denied a relationship that keeps us warm. As a plus size woman, Lambert also takes on the topic of body image in her work- most memorably her spoken word-piece Body Love. Any follower of the Body Positive or Feminist movements should really give this track a listen- her choice of words and clear frustration at the issues we face bring me close to tears each time I hear it. In her more upbeat track, Secrets, Lambert sings of wholeheartedly embracing personality aspects some see as 'flaws' - her mental health, sexaulity and body image amongst others- and invites us all to do the same. Mary Lambert is such a positive prescence in the pop world, providing both catchy, well written songs and a strong message of self-love. If you're on the lookout for more queer musicians to add to your playlists, check out the musicians  Soko and St Vincent too!

22. Charlie Brooker

As the end of each year approaches, when we reflect upon the events of the last twelve months, I always love hearing writer Charlie Brooker's summary. The yearly 'wipes' are a ritualistic rant of all the crappy situations the year has found itself in, and the crappy people that put us there. It's easy to paint him as a cynical critic, pointing and laughing, but listen to what he's saying and he's simply dissapointed and angry at the world, and uses great comedy to let off steam about it. His heart is definitely in the right place, and I'm constantly watching old episodes of Screenwipe (which totally needs to come back to our screens please!) My personal highlight of 2015 Wipe was contributor Philomnea Cunk (real name Diane Morgan)'s take on Feminism

23. Zines

Zines can be an incredibly powerful thing. A throwback to the Riot Grrl music scene of the 90s, feminist zines are a raw and passionate projection of frustration and anger at ignorance and prejudice in the world. I love the combination of art and feminism, but above all I adore the concept that anyone can make a zine. You don't need a degree in bookmaking or a Masters in Feminist theory to be able to create! All you need is passion and access to a printer! To read more about making zines, Whatcha Mean, What's A Zine? and Make A Zine! are wonderful books full of advice and inspiration!

24. Tove Jansson

Recently, you'll have seen this adorable gif from the TV adaptation of book series The Moomins doing the rounds online, and rightly so! It has a wonderfully body positive message that we could all benefit from. What I love about Tove Jansson's The Moomins is the simple and peaceful message of it all- about a small community of characters living in harmony, without hatred or judgement, something many of us see as an ideal way to live! Tove Jansson could probably be seen as one of the few truly successful female artists of the twentieth century, and one of even fewer successful lesbian artists of the same period. The longevity of the success of the Moomins boils down to the fact that Moominville is a safe and positive place to escape to, away from the harshness of today. That, and Moomins are so damn cute. Check out this awesome article about Tove Jansson and representation within the Moomins! 

What are the things you adore in life? Let me know what makes you smile!

Stay wonderful!
Melly x 




  

 



Monday, 18 January 2016

24 That I Adore- Part 1!

Hello beautiful, and welcome to the first post of my blog! This is my little corner of the internet where I share my thoughts on fat fashion, film, feminism and the art I create as a full time illustrator!

Last week I celebrated my birthday, entering my twenty fourth year on this planet, and thought what better way to kick things off than by listing twenty four things I love!

Hair Colour: Coral Red by Crazy Colour, Checked Shirt: Yours Clothing


1. My Hair

My hair is pretty rebellious- it frizzes, it kinks, it's dry and exhausted from years of finding the 'right' colour and rarely does as it's told, yet it's one of my favourite features and brings me a lot of happiness- from the bright colour in the mirror lifting my mood, to receiving many compliments on its vibrancy! On days where I feel shy and introverted, my hair does the talking for me! I get a lot of comments on my flame coloured, messy barnet and though I've returned to my natural dark brunette many times, I always find myself reaching again for the hair dye!

2 & 3. Feminism & Body Positivity

I first discovered feminism during my A-Levels- I was studying Art & Design and Media Studies and found these to be two subjects that made me ask questions, especially as both industries are frustratingly male dominated. My Media teachers were both incredible women- fiercely dedicated to their jobs while also teaching us to look deeper than the core facts we needed to pass. The English & Media department had a reputation for being 'full of feminists'- a term I was yet to understand. A story spun around about one teacher calling out men that patronisingly called her sweetheart and I found that reaction fascinating and exciting! Over the years I've learned more about feminism and today it means an awful lot to me. To know that there's a large amount of people both dissecting and confronting awful issues in the world gives me hope that things will improve. I constantly find myself feeling exhausted at the state of things- not just sexism but racism, homophobia, transphobia, ageism and classism, and knowing that not everyone agrees with the injustice in the world brings at least some comfort, though I feel we can always do more.

An overlapping movement with feminism- Body Positivity- has had a hugely positive impact on my life. Over the years I've been many sizes, with a similarly yo-yoing confidence. The notion that confidence is not a specific size or shape, but a way of thinking that brings happiness, love and peace of mind, is revolutionary. You could be all kinds of sizes in your time here, but if you vow to be kind to yourself, the number on the label of your clothes will simply be a measurement of circumference and not of worth.We are all different in how we look- we all measure differently and with varying proportions-some of us have large stomachs and small breasts, or wide backs and small calves, but the members of the body positive community all share the same simple idea- that all bodies should be celebrated, appreciated and represented fairly. Loving yourself makes it easier to love those around you, which is why the body positive and feminist movements online are such a joy to be a part of!

4. Lincoln

My love affair with Lincoln began in 2010 when I applied to the city's University to study Illustration and was completely besotted when I visited on an Open Day. I remember feeling like it was the perfect place to live- it has all the qualities of a city- a good high street, a brilliant University with a great nightlife, but being a small city, it doesn't feel overwhelming or too busy. There are so many stunning sights around Lincoln, and I've spent many days exploring both Lincoln and its surrounding areas-I'm always finding things I've never spotted before! While I'd love to try life in various different cities, for now Lincolnshire is my very beloved home. If you're ever thinking of visiting, hit me up for recommendations!

5. Horror Films

Look through my 'Watch It Again' Netflix category and you'll see that I watch a lot of horror films. My love of them began during my childhood, the love of horror being passed down from my Dad. He's a huge fan of the Alien franchise, and I have no doubt that my thirst for incredible leading ladies was initiated by Sigourney Weaver's fierce Ripley. While, admittedly, many of the horror films I love don't have female leads (including The Evil Dead trilogy, Eraserhead and classic Theatre of Blood) the horror genre has always been more willing to embrace a female lead than other genres traditionally associated with a male audience (action or political dramas for example). While of course the representation of these women can be filled with problems and deep seeded slut shaming, within the past years I've enjoyed seeing more interesting and inventive female roles in scary movies (more of this topic in a future post!)

6. My Sexuality

I identify as Pansexual- for those unsure of what that means, I basically have the potential for attraction to any gender (more information here). I've felt this way since my early teens but only recently discovered the term for it, and in 2015 I came out to my family. After years of confusion, I'm so happy to be able to explain exactly how I feel attraction, and I'm proud to be a queer woman! At times it's hard not to feel that being in a relationship with a man makes my queerness less valid, but I know many don't see it this way, and I've been accepted and embraced by many! I'm also very lucky to have close-knit circle of queer friends and relatives, so I never feel isolated or alone, which isn't the case for a lot of people. I'm always looking for new groups and events to take part in, so if there's any I should be attending, let me know!

7. My Tattoos

Since my days as a teenage goth, I've adored the idea of tattoos. I got my first aged 21- a small Claddagh design on my wrist. Three years later, I have eleven- a collection of both small and larger pieces, all with great memories, but no sentimental meaning. I don't believe all tattoos have to have an intricate story behind them, in the same way that art doesn't have to have a backstory. Of course I appreciate they can act as symbolism to many, but all of mine just came from a love of the imagery and wanting pretty designs upon my skin! My tattoos have increased my confidence by no end- instead of hiding away parts of my body I felt embarrassed by, I want to show the world the art on my body! I'd like to think I'd have found self love without getting inked, but it definitely sped up my self love 'journey'. Though I congratulate those who celebrate themselves without body art, for me personally I saw it like decorating a room I love-I'm going to be spending a lot of time there, and I want the walls to be lavishly decorated! I would definitely like more and as long as I can find space, I won't be giving up any time soon!

8. Mark Kermode

As a loyal film fan, I like to keep up to date with the latest releases, but find many critics problematic. The focus of female actors' worth being based upon appearance rather than talent is a huge bugbear of mine (amongst others), however Mark Kermode's commentary of the film industry is a breath of fresh air. A huge supporter of female made films and films with female casts, he champions many films that others cast aside, and frequently calls out sexism, racism and homophobia within mainstream cinema. He's my go-to-guy for film reviews, and I loved that his Top Ten Films of 2015 were predominantly stories by women, starring women, or both!

9. Make Up

For me, make up has almost always been about self expression. As mentioned before, as a teenager I was heavily into goth fashion, and while my school uniform limited me fashion-wise, using cosmetics I could present exactly who I was. My eyeliner pencil was my weapon- a distinctive 'fuck off' to my bullies created through a series of thick black lines, giving me the front I could never express though words. In my late teens I discovered pin-up fashion- anyone who knows this style knows make up is seen as an essential piece of the costume- red lips scream Hollywood glamour and your winged eyeliner precision can 'make or break' your outfit. Today, while I subscribe to no particular style or look, I still adore make up but I can step outside bare faced and not feel ugly, though I know it brings many others a strength and confidence. When I wear make up, I see it as an optional accessory- pink lipstick may make the pattern of my outfit pop , an eyeshadow may bring some extra colour or sparkle to my outfit. While a bold lipstick no doubt makes me feel more bold in my appearance, for me it's all about trying new looks and experimenting, in the same way I approach my art. I think it's crucial that we respect the choices of others- if someone chooses not to wear make up, they're not boring or anti-femininity, and those who don cosmetics aren't necessarily anti-feminst or desperately trying to attract the opposite sex.


10. Mary Shelley's Frankenstein

Mary Shelley's Frankenstein: or, A Modern Prometheus, is a beloved read of mine, and in my opinion, the book that gave birth to the horror genre we know today, as well as heavily influencing science fiction. I read it some ten years ago and was completely hooked- the concoction of death, deceit, abandonment and tragedy is a completely fascinating mixture that has rarely happened since within gothic horror, or at least to such an effective extent. The concept of telling part of a horror story from the view of the perpetrator is something we always credit to films like Michael Powell's Peeping Tom or John Carpenter's Halloween, yet Mary Shelley used this in such powerful and innovative way back in 1818. Today, so few women are given the chance to direct, write or produce horror titles, despite the genre's origins being in the pages of a female storyteller.

11. Being An Artist

The past decade or so (at least) has seen an increase in both young people studying to become illustrators, or differently trained art graduates turning to Illustration for job prospects. It's definitely an exciting time for Illustration, and I'm definitely having an exciting time Illustrating! Social media gives artists a voice that was much harder to project before- within seconds we can upload our views and opinions along with our artwork, there for the world to access. Many of you will have noticed the growth in feminist art lately. Artists like Gemma Correll, Joanna Thangiah, Carol Rossetti, and Murder of Goths are reblogged, reposted and shared not just for the aesthetics of their art, but for their message. Illustration, by definition, is the depiction of a concept in an image, and more and more illustrators are sharing their views through the techniques in which they are trained. Add to this the vast amount of self taught artists finding success on sites like Tumblr and Instagram, and we can see the start of a shift in the art world, proving that you don't have to be educated or based in wealthy, elitist areas to establish yourself as a creator of art. Historically, the art scene is also notorious for only promoting the art of white, heterosexual cisgendered men, but thanks to the internet, many other artists are making sure their work is seen and their names are known, and I think that's incredible. I love being part of an industry that is constantly altering, and I live in hope of more diversity within the arts!


12. Dom Clark

February 4th marks three years that I've been in a relationship with plus size blogger and professional photographer Dominic Clark and what a lovely three years it's been. We met on dating site Plenty of Fish in early 2013 and became a couple after simply two dates. He's incredibly patient and understanding of my mental health issues (even during a panic attack at our first date at a crowded gig!) and is such an inspiration to me. He's always appeared to be a confident guy, but within the past year or so, I've seen him really love his body, and seeing someone you love completely love themselves is a wonderful feeling. Contrary to popular belief, we're not married! We simply share the twenty seventh most popular name in the UK (and are definitely not related-we checked!). Dom has an incredible talent for photography, and is one half of wedding photographers Boutonniere Photography , as well as running an awesome blog that focuses on loving yourself and your life to the full, and looking damn good throughout!





Part Two of 24 That I Adore Coming Soon! 

Stay wonderful!

Melly Em Clark on Twitter and Instagram