Wednesday, 14 February 2018

The Truth About Blogging

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. I love that images are subjective and can be interpreted in so many different ways, with or without words. Naturally, I prefer the former. I really enjoy creating content for my blog, both the images and the words go hand in hand to tell a story. Everything is considered, from the location and look to the poses. Sometimes I know the story they will tell before we shoot and sometimes the words come together after I see the final images. Either way, one supports the other. 

And what story does this shoot tell? Actually...didn't want to weave a lovely story with these images. To tell the truth, it's not my favourite shoot and I want to tell you why. All of's hard work and on the day of the shoot it was just too much, I was dead on my feet and had nothing left to give. I went to bed at 4 am the night before and I was up again at 8 am. Ashanti was shooting this look at around 2 pm, I hadn't eaten all day and it was bloody freezing outside. I always say we create magic on our shoots but honestly, I was totally out of sparkle during this shoot. 

I'm not feeling sorry for myself in the slightest and I don't want to put a dampener on my work but the reality is: shoots aren't always fun and blogging isn't always a laugh. That's the honest truth. Blogging is a real graft. A blogger is essentially a one-person publishing army - you're a writer, subeditor, fashion director, editor-in-chief, photographer, social media manager, PR and many other things all rolled into one.  

I've been part the blogging community for years and I have witnessed a lot of change in that time. One of the major differences from a blogger's point of view is the sheer amount of content that needs to be created now. When I started, I was self-shooting in my bedroom and social media wasn't really a thing. Fast forward a couple of years and I feel like a content factory, planning shoots for my blog and shooting additional content for Instagram as well as engaging on all social media platforms. Algorithms have evolved and essentially need you to live on their platforms, constantly engaging to see any growth. It's a full-time job...on top of my existing full-time job!

Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love blogging, creating content and sharing it with all of you. It's not always easy, but nothing worth having in life is. I've fallen in and out of love with blogging over the years, sometimes taking months off at a time when I've had severe writer's block or burnout. Last year, I discovered my blogging rhythm again, fell in love with writing once again and I couldn't be happier. Wearing so many different hats has taught me so much and I love seeing the progress I've made, especially over the last year. It's one of the most rewarding things I have done and I can't wait to share the next shoot with you already! 

Jacket - Tommy Hilfiger (similar)
Dress - Tobi
Belt - Off White
Boots - ASOS

Photography by Adorngirl


Friday, 9 February 2018

On Women Being Eligible to Vote and Indian Suffragettes

As you may have seen online, this week marked 100 years of women getting the vote. My heart was felt so full seeing the celebrations and acknowledgement of women who fought the good fight. I'm beyond grateful to the men and women who have fought so hard for equality and those who are still fighting for it. I'm a huge advocate of feminism and equality, it's a cause very close to my heart. I love celebrating and standing in solidarity with women. 

While this anniversary marked a huge step forward in gender equality in the UK, it doesn't actually mark ALL women getting the vote - only women over 30 who owned land or were married to a man with property were eligible. It wasn't until a decade later that all women were granted equal voting rights. This just one example of the inequality within feminism and how biased it has been towards white, middle-class women. 

As a woman of colour, the concept of intersectionality is super important to me. Intersectionality is essentially understanding an issue as multifaceted and being inclusive of race, gender, class, ability and ethnicity. So while we celebrate 100 years of some women getting the vote, let's not forget that working-class and women of colour were excluded from this. Of course, the likes of Emmeline Pankhurst, Emily Davidson and Millicent Fawcett made huge contributions to the suffragette movement and are rightly celebrated but what about working-class women and women of colour? 

Have you heard of Sophia Duldeep Singh? She is the most prominent woman of Indian heritage in the suffragette movement and has been largely ignored by the media. Sophia was involved in the women's Tax Resistance League and shared the view that women shouldn't pay taxes as they didn't have the vote. She also led the 1920 Black Friday suffragette demonstrations alongside Emmeline Pankhurst. 

Another important but often ignored Indian woman is Bhikaji Cama, who started campaigning as a suffragette in London and also fought for Indian independence from British rule - she became known as The Mother of the Indian Revolution due to her efforts to free India. She spoke out about poverty and oppression under the British Raj and even designed the first Indian flag. Sadly she passed away 11 years before Indian finally achieved independence in 1947.

Why are these women not equally celebrated? 

The lack of women of colour within the suffragette movement is rooted in the ideas of imperialism, colonialism and the objectification of women of colour - British suffragette campaigners simply didn't think of including women of colour into the conversation. The below image of Indian women taking part in a suffragette procession is super important - although these women were living in Britain with their families, they were in an 'Empire section' of the procession alongside Australian and New Zealand women.

The fight was predominantly for white women to get the vote and speak on behalf of women of colour. Dr Mukherjee, a fellow at King's College researching Indian suffragettes states that there was "an implication that white women felt they were more able to speak for Indian women than Indian women themselves. So although I’m not sure I’d say it’s overtly racist, it is imperialist.”

Times have obviously changed but despite diversity being a huge buzzword for the last couple of years, British Asian women's voices are still rarely heard. In the past, I've been vocal about issues to race and particularly representation for South Asian women. It's a cause I'm very passionate about, particularly as we tend to be written out of the narrative so frequently. I'm so happy to lend my voice to speak about my experiences as a British Asian and particularly women so I was thrilled to be asked by the BBC Asian Network to take part in a campaign to talk about the issues faced by British Asian women today and also share what I'm grateful for. Here's a snippet of the show, it coincided with a larger programme which you can listen to here


Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Safer Internet Day 2018 with UNICEF

In one of my recent posts, I wrote about how I learnt to love Social Media and the inevitable downsides of being active online. Despite always practising 'Safe Social', I realised that a woman who I'm indirectly connected with was obsessively viewing my IG Stories a few dozen times a day (!) despite not following me or ever having met me. I felt unfairly taken advantage of. As a blogger and human being, it's inevitable to share part of your life online and while people viewing your content are generally doing so innocently, sometimes people will have malicious intentions. It's so important to keep this front of mind when posting content online. This is such an important issue and I'm thrilled to announce that I am partnering with UNICEF to share my thoughts on staying safe online today for Safer Internet Day 2018. 

The internet is a weird one. Despite being hyperconnected globally, we tend to gravitate towards others with similar views and thus experience our own microcosm online. My experience online is lovely and overwhelmingly supportive; I have great IRL friends and Twitter/IG friends who always like/comment/share my content so it's easy to forget that not everyone is nice. Your innocently-shared content can be unfairly exploited by anyone who comes across it. Despite being a digital-native, I was reminded of this recently and wanted to share my tips for staying safe online, what to do if someone is bullying you and a little challenge to share love and positivity today. 

Tips to stay safe online

1. Don't post personal details online
It's very, very easy for people to exploit the information you innocently put out there. Aside from the email address for my blog, I never post any contact details online. Always keep your mobile number, email address and physical address confidential. It can be super easy for people to not only find ways to contact you but also this information can be used to hack your accounts. 

2. Keep your location off or vague

Similar to the above point, be careful of how much information you share about where you are. It's really easy for people to figure out where you live if you post your exact location or every time you go to your local coffee shop. As a blogger, I tag my location on IG to increase visibility but I rarely post in real-time so it's hard to track down where I am exactly and I always keep it slightly vague, for example posting London or my borough rather than where I actually live. 

3. Review privacy settings

Every couple of months, I review the Privacy Settings for each social media platform as they change so frequently. I want to make sure my online information is kept as safe as possible. A couple of years ago, Facebook updated their privacy policy and made it possible to find your profile publicly through Google, which I felt was way too exposed. I amended this immediately and my profile is only visible to my friends. I feel a lot safer restricting who can view my profile and information. Here are the links to Privacy Settings on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook

4. Two-Factor Authentification

Most Social Media sites offer two-factor authentification and you should definitely switch this feature on! It essentially means that a password isn't enough to log into your accounts, you need to enter additional information such as an access code which is sent via text message. It makes accessing your social media accounts much more secure as it's much harder to hack your accounts. I have this switched on for everything from Facebook to Twitter. 

What to do if someone is bullying/harassing you online

1. Keep a record
It can be tricky to know when to take action against someone who is bullying or harassing you. I'm really quick to report someone who is behaving out of line towards someone else but when it comes to me, I'm always hesitant. If I notice the same person is making comments or targetted harassment, I tend to take screenshots as proof just in case I need to escalate an issue. 

2. Block them

The 'block' button is there for a reason! If someone is being problematic or I don't feel comfortable with them seeing what I share online, I will block them. The most important thing is that you feel safe and secure online so don't hesitate in hitting the block button to protect yourself. 

3. Report them/tell someone

In addition to blocking someone from seeing your content and contacting you, you can also report someone on every single social media platform. Again, I've used this several times to report accounts which are racist, sexist or otherwise abusive. Twitter is great as it gives you an update on the action they have taken. It's also important to tell someone about bullying, especially if it is someone known to you through school, work or in the real world. Bullying is completely unacceptable and people need to be held accountable for their actions. 

Spread A Little Kindness

As a blogger, I'm really exposed to negative comments. I will never forget the first blog post I posted which received negative comments, everything from my lipstick choice to my outfit was completely ripped apart by anonymous strangers in comment after comment. Each felt like a punch to the gut and left me feeling sick. But I realised that comments by trolls say a LOT more about them than me, being that negative and hateful towards a stranger is not normal behaviour. 

Today more than ever it's important to spread kindness online so I invite you to join me in a little activity to spread some kindness online. I'm normally pretty good at hitting the like button and leaving comments but today I want to make a conscious effort to leave at least 10 positive comments on blog posts, IG posts or on Twitter to spread a little positivity. Let's reclaim the internet as a safe, happy and kind place today. Will you join me? 

Jacket - Topshop (similar)
Dress - Rick Owens
Belt - Off White

Photography by Adorngirl


Thursday, 1 February 2018

How To Be A Blogger In 2018

There has been a lot of chatter online recently about what it takes to be a blogger in 2018. It is serious business these days, you need a Canon 6D, a vlogging camera, ring light, lightboxes, a MacBook, an Instagrammable desk, fresh flowers every week, a designer wardrobe, a photographer boyfriend, cute dog and a partridge in a pear tree. it possible that we're actually overcomplicating the entire thing? 

Have I ever shared the story of how I started blogging? Picture this, it was 2008 and I was living in my parent's gorgeous home in a picturesque village in Hampshire. Surrounded by rolling fields, deer grazing in the fields, an actual farm just down the road - I was bored bloody senseless. My days consisted of driving to work, working, driving home, eating dinner then bed. I was yearning for something more. I was an avid reader of fashion blogs, particularly Style Bubble and Kingdom of Style, and one day I thought I would try starting my own. I had zero expectations and armed with my laptop, a somewhat stable internet connection and plenty of time on my hands, I metaphorically set pen to paper and started blogging. 

Back then, the blogging landscape was totally different. There were no glittering events or gifting; you were a blogger because you had a passion and wanted a creative outlet. It wasn’t about notoriety, freebies or press trips. In fact, PRs weren’t blogger-friendly at all. I just wrote about my take on fashion and shared "style posts" taken in my bedroom with my compact camera's timer on. All I had to offer was my perspective and my imagination, but it worked. 

Of course, blogging has evolved a hell of a lot over the last decade. I wouldn't dream of putting up a dodgy yellow-hued self-timer picture with my head cut off now! I organise monthly shoots with the incredible Ashanti of Adorngirl and I love putting together concepts based on what I want to write about, planning outfits and shooting. My blogging style has clearly evolved, as has my taste in fashion and the digital landscape as a whole. Truth be told, it took me a while to embrace the change and put myself out there, which is generally required by bloggers. You are your brand and you have to take centre stage. 

My shoots with Ashanti have really shaped how I approach blogging, they helped me find a new way to express myself and embrace the way that blogging has evolved. We organise shoots with a mixture of editorial shots which we know will slay and more down-to-earth street style shots which are more relatable. These shoots form the basis of my blog content, whether I’m writing about how to wear vinyl pants or about my identity as a British Asian woman.

Aside from my shoots, I’m pretty light on the old blogger kit - I mainly shoot on my Canon 550D or my iPhone, which I actually prefer. I don’t have a lighting set up or even an instagrammable desk to write from but I guess I’m fortunate to be based in London. It provides a great backdrop for shoots, I’ve shot everywhere from Hampstead to Shoreditch and each area has a completely different vibe. 

I say I feel fortunate that I live in London for my shoots but you don’t NEED to live in London to make it as a blogger. I also see a lot of really great bloggers tweet about not being in London and how it hampers their blogging career. I understand that the majority of events do take place in London and it’s frustrating, however as long as you have a passion, are creative and want to write, that’s all there should be to blogging, right?! Truth be told, you won’t see me at a lot of events because I don’t find them very enjoyable. What I love is creating content, planning shoots and writing. 

The question of what it takes to be a blogger has been playing on my mind for a few weeks and gave me a great idea - why not shoot in some everyday locations to show that you can shoot absolutely anywhere and still slay? I didn’t want to rely on the pretty gardens of Hampstead or the gritty graffiti of Shoreditch to tell a story. I wanted my styling and creativity to be front and centre. We chose to shoot in a launderette and a tube station - two of the most mundane and functional spaces you could possibly find! I really love how these shots have turned out and I want them to be a reminder that anyone can be a blogger, as long as you have a phone, laptop and internet connection. 

I love blogging for democratising media. You don’t have to look a certain way to be a blogger, you don’t have to be from a certain background to get your foot in the door. Everyone has an equal opportunity to make it and use their voice as a platform. It’s such a beautiful and simple thing and I’m so happy to be part of the community, creating content and sharing it with you. 

T-shirt - Off White
Boots - Topshop

Photography by Adorngirl


Tuesday, 23 January 2018

On Loving Social Media...Pitfalls And All

I might be alone in this but I've really been enjoying Social Media recently. I'm somewhat of an early adopter as my day-job is in Digital so I've been active on Social Media back when it was called Web 2.0...which really makes me cringe! I've had so many ups and downs as it's evolved over the years, it feels nice to be in a happy place when I'm posting and sharing content. 

I know we're all supposed to hate Social Media at the moment. As a blogger/influencer/whatever, complaining about the IG algorithm is practically part of the job description. I should be complaining about falling levels of engagement, stagnant followers and people cheating with comment pods, bots and the like. All of the above is true of course, it's frustratingly difficult to grow on IG but I realised that complaining about it isn't going to change it in the slightest. The only thing I can change is my attitude, so I decided to care less. And let me tell you, it's one of the most liberating things I've ever done (apart from taking my bra off after a long day). 

Deciding not to care has really taken the pressure off and sharing content has become fun again. Of course, I still want my posts to do well and I check whether the number of likes a post received is 'acceptable' or if my number of followers has gone up. But I don't let it affect my day. If a picture does 'badly', I let it go. If I have a net loss of followers in a day rather than gaining any, so what? I realised everyone is in the same boat and obsessing over Social Media is so unhealthy, there are so many other things to stress about in the grand scheme of life. It reminds me of the tipping point in blogging when everyone stopped obsessing about page views and put the focus back on why they starting blogging and just creating great content, without the stress of eying numbers.  

As a result of caring less, I've actually been MORE active on Social Media. Spending less time worrying about what to post and engagement after posting meant I had more time to post on IG Stories, which I really love at the moment. As Instagram has become a more polished and curated space, I love the candid nature of IG Stories. I've been sharing a look at my life - what I'm cooking, where I'm going and also which collections are inspiring me. It's triggered lots of fun conversations with people, which is what I missed on Social Media - the social element! 

Last week, I had a timely reminder of the pitfalls to sharing, or oversharing, your life on Social Media. I consider myself to be pretty savvy; I don't share details of where I live, I have my location off and never post where I actually am in real time because you can never be too careful. These are things that I consider common sense to anyone who uses Social, especially women. 

Despite practising safe Social, I found myself in a bit of a predicament over the last week. I noticed that I had a little fan on Instagram who would pop onto my profile at least 10 times a day to watch my Story...but she didn't like me enough to actually follow. It was weird to think a stranger would think of me throughout the day, type my name into the search bar and watch my story! The plot thickened when I realised she was connected to my ex. Her motivations suddenly became crystal clear. 

It's hard to explain but I really felt like my privacy had been violated.  This person had had such an intimate look into my life, I noticed it a week ago but really had no idea how long it had been going on. I started wondering whether it was my own fault for sharing my life on IG Stories. I regretted using it. But then I realised that it's not my fault. If someone wants to find out information about you, they're going to do it. 

Her behaviour was unacceptable but in a way, I get it. Women are so unfairly pitted against each other in the media that we all compare ourselves to each other. It's human nature to check out the ex or the competition, but in this situation, I might have been the former but I certainly wasn't the latter. Although I can empathise with the situation, it didn't mean it was ok. 

You can't really help who views your content, especially as a blogger. But I've become acutely aware of how much we all innocently expose on Social Media and how much it can be abused by people.

It all ended ok - there's a block button on Instagram for a reason! I took a slight step back from Instagram Stories for a while as I felt so self-conscious about posting about my life and who could possibly be watching and for what reason. But I realised you can't really help who views your content, especially as a blogger. But I've become acutely aware of how much we all innocently expose on Social Media and how much it can be abused by people. I'm just living my life and I love sharing certain aspects of it. I love the social aspect of Social Media. So I'm not going to let one person with bad intentions tarnish that for me. So...see you on IG Stories?! 

Coat - Max Mara
Hoodie - Palace
Skirt - Zara (sold out)
Boots - Isabel Marant (similar)

Photography by Adorngirl

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