An Open Letter To The Mainstream Media: What Bum?

Dear Mainstream Media,

There is a particular issue you’ve been bringing up over and over again, and it’s been happening for the last five months.  For the life of me I just can not get my head around it.  My eyes have also rolled up on many occasions and said to me: “Wendi why are you putting us through such strain, there’s nothing to see here.”  And there really is nothing to see.  I’m speaking of Pippa Middleton’s bum.

Where??

Since April 29 when she fulfilled her duty as Maid of Honour to her older sister Kate at her Royal Wedding, you have been using the printed and online press to throw her derrière in our faces, as something to be admired and revered, and a lot of us just do not understand why.  What exactly is it that you see?  You did the same thing with Kylie Minogue many years ago, when the video for her song ‘Spinning Around’ was released.

The same nonsense we were subjected to with Kylie, we are now experiencing with Pippa.  Features on exercises to achieve ‘Pippa’s bum’, jeans we can wear, and even invasive surgeries including fat injections to achieve a “fuller and more rounded rear”.  How can you have the words “fuller” and “rear” in the same sentence, and liken it to Pippa Middleton?  I just don’t geddit.  The latest thing I have seen is an email I received from a friend, which featured a press release for pants that give you bottom cleavage, based on Pippa arse.  How my friends and I laughed.  Really?  Look again at the photos above – What. Do. You. See?

Now let me show you something, Mainstream Media.  When I, and a lot of people, speak of a naturally amazing backside, this is what we’re thinking of:

Wow…

Now try and tell me this isn’t simply glorious!  I’m a heterosexual woman, but if Serena Williams were to walk past me, I’m pretty sure the expression on my face would be the same as that of a man standing next to me.  But mine wouldn’t be sexual, it would be envious.  I would love to have a booty like that.  THIS is what you should be showing me the exercises for.  THIS is what bottom enhancing pants should produce when I put them on.  THIS is a butt (and a half)!  Look at it.  Just look at it!

Do you see what I mean, Media?  Pippa may well be a lovely girl, and I don’t mean to offend her in any way (plus she didn’t ask you all to draw attention to her glutes), but even she would have to look at Serena and realise that there is simply no competition.  So please Mainstream Media, get a grip and stop leading the lemmings astray.  It’s almost like a case of ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes’, and it is just not fair on them.  There is nothing there.

Thank you for listening, and I look forward to your co-operation.

Kind regards,

Wendi xx

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The Big Conversation

Last Saturday (17 September) I attended an event called ‘The Big Conversation’, which was a conference/seminar hosted by the man known as the “real life Hitch” – Paul Carrick Brunson.  Paul is the ‘modern day matchmaker’, and along with his wife Jill, runs a relationship coaching service – One Degree From Me – from his native Washington DC.  UK women’s magazine Ivy Munro organised the event, so that those of us here could be treated to a sample of what Paul’s business offers.

Now I would just like to branch off from the professional route for a second, because this post wouldn’t feel complete if I didn’t express to you how totally, amazingly, and devastatingly handsome this man is.  It’s actually mesmerising.  If you’re not careful, you could find yourself speaking to him face-to-face and not hearing a single word, because you’re just trying to understand how someone can be THAT good looking.  *Sigh*

Fortunately, being the professional I am, I was able to pull myself back and focus on what he was saying during the seminar, and it was really rather good.  Now, I’ve been to a few relationship-based seminars, but this one was slightly different, because Paul encourages us to be honest with ourselves and tell it like it is.  The values you hold, i.e what you are willing to die for, are important in choosing a partner, and they should match as closely as possible, so it doesn’t just begin and end with enjoying the same movies and music.  We also learned of the four personality types:

Analyst – one who believes they are almost always right

Supporter – always likes to feel valued

Promoter – usually has big ideas, but they don’t always materialise

Controller – very goal orientated

I’ve identified myself as a Supporter (and a couple guys I have asked since have said they are a mixture of all – help a sista identify with you at least !).  Paul then made everyone in the room (including the bar staff) stand up, then to take a seat when a value he named wasn’t relevant to you.  I sat down when he told those of us who identified ourselves as a Supporter to sit.  It turned out that various life values he was suggesting were based on those of a pre-chosen male attendee, who was then invited up on stage for a possible live match-making!  Paul chose a lady who was still standing to go up on to the stage and be honest and say whether she was attracted to the guy. She said no, but the second lady invited up said ‘yes’.  I don’t know if anything has progressed between the two after they walked off stage hand-in-hand, but it would be a nice result!  As much as it made me cringe to see the young man judged physically in front of a crowd, I was impressed that Paul acknowledged that physical attraction is important.  I find that a lot of people try to downplay this fact, maybe for the sake of being politically correct, but I think that no matter how much you may have in common with someone, if there is no physical attraction then the relationship won’t be 100% the way each of you deserve it to be.

The rest of the first half was both educational and entertaining.  Three female volunteers from the audience were invited to show the rest of us what their techniques are when it comes to approaching/chatting up an attractive man they might spot. It was hilarious, but I completely rate those ladies, because I don’t have a clue what I would do – especially in front of a crowd!  The simplest and most effective way is to smile, give your name and pay him a compliment… Hmm… I’ll try…

We discussed the true or false nature various newspaper headlines in relation to the mainstream media’s portrayal of black people in the UK and the black family.  Paul also gave us homework that encourages us to work on self love, including listing five things you’ve done over the past 24 hours that you love yourself for, acknowledging mistakes you’ve made in the past 24 hours and what you’ve learned from them, and standing in front of the mirror looking at your full body and telling yourself that you love you.

Musical entertainment was provided by Obenewa – extremely talented and very engaging

The ‘conversation’ part of the event featured a select panel of media and culture experts.  They included, among others, comedienne and producer Angie Le Mar, ITV news presenter Charlene White, my good friend and fellow blogger & journalist Uche Chukwu (Let’s Go Deeper), culture media expert Chrissa Amuah, journalist & social commentator Roger Ajogbe and my co-Blogger’s Delight-er Simone Bresi-Ando (founder of I’mPOSSIBLE).  Each panellist made valid points in relation to the questions raised regarding black relationships and self, and at certain times it got a little heated, which definitely proves that a part two is necessary!

The panellists

The after-party is where Paul Carrick Brunson proved to me that he is the man and very good at what he does.  He arrived fashionably late, but wasn’t impressed with the way guys and girls were not mingling and interacting with one another, so he took to the mic and ordered all the men in the room to line up at the front, and once the DJ started the tunes, the ladies had to go up and pull whichever guy they were attracted to and dance with him.  I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but I did it. I went up to the guy I sort of had my eye on through the day and pulled him for a dance.  Shout out to Roger Ajogbe! (Note: I’m currently typing this with one hand because I’m hiding from my embarrassment behind the other!).  That move by Paul is what got the party going the way it should.

Well done to Tayo Arewa and everyone from Ivy Munro for a well organised and enjoyable day.  It proved that whether you are single or taken, we can all learn something new about ourselves and each other. More, more, more!

New Beginnings

Spring time is considered the season of change, the time for a fresh start, a “spring-clean.”  We’re so used to using New Year’s Day as the date we decide to start afresh, and we always say that’s when we’ll give up smoking, we’ll lose weight, we’ll find a new job – the list is endless.  It always feels easier to use a landmark as the date that things will start to be different – a Monday, the first of a month, a birthday, and especially the 1st of January.

Realistically though, if we want to make a change, we don’t have to wait until the start of a season.  We should do it now.  I realised it last year and made a change of my own.  I was very unhappy in my day job, and decided to quit to pursue my journalism dream.  I was working in administration at an accountancy firm  and becoming frustrated because it was nowhere near what I wanted career-wise, so after a lot of thinking and a little deliberation with friends, I decided to take a risk and make the leap.  I didn’t have any concrete plans, just knew that come Christmas I wanted to be out of there, and that’s just what I have done.  The death of my cousin also helped me put into perspective that despite the fear of the unknown, life really is too short not to at least attempt to achieve something we want.

It takes a whole world of reasons for people to decide to change something, and more often than not it is sparked by a certain event in their lives.

Depression

Adam Brown:  “Back in 2008, I was recovering from Meningitis and after that it was clear that I needed to change my life.  I was working in a high pressure job in IT support for a finance company.  I decided to make a radical change in my life, so I moved city (from London to Bristol) and changed job.  As a lifestyle I stumbled from relationship to relationship, looking for love and not finding it.  My family was (and still is) a wreck. A father with a alcoholic past has caused me much hurt.  I suffer from SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) and back then I did have thoughts of suicide and self harm. I was also unhappy in my job – a very bad manager.

The turning point came when I found God.  My turn to faith has changed my life beyond measure.  I was invited to a gathering by a friend at the time, just a small church, nothing fancy.  I wasn’t entirely sure I wanted to go along, but it was better than staying at home, as there would have been a large chance I would have hurt myself.  The speaker was talking on a passage in Luke, and it really resonated with me. It was then I decided to give my life to God to change my life.

If you want to make a change in your life I would say take slow steps. Think about your life and what you would like to change.  Keep your goals achievable and clear. Do not beat yourself up about things that have happened or chances that have not been taken – you can’t change the past, only the future. If you want something, get it. Do not be afraid.”

Loss

Eddie Ofei:  I changed the direction of my life in all aspect – friends, career, and lifestyle.  My parents split up when I was young, and my dad left to go and live in Ghana. My mum was left to raise my brother, sister and I alone and so growing up was quite unstable in terms of us being settled in one home. 

Although I finally graduated from university in 2008, I was unemployed for many years, and so was generating income from clandestine ways.  I was financially comfortable, but I wasn’t happy, because I felt that I wasn’t fulfilling my full potential, and I knew I could do better if I was around more ambitious people who wanted to make something of themselves, instead of the circle I was in.  If I wasn’t careful it would have only been a matter of time before I’d end up in jail or dead. 

The turning point was fuelled by the deaths of so many close friends.  At one point I lost three friends in one year.  I believe I am still here for a reason, and you definitely have to quit while you’re ahead.  The kind of people I am around nowadays are not from the same background as me.  They are all mainly highly educated “goody-goody” types, who haven’t really experienced the situations I have. 

I now live in Ghana, and import and distribute commodities – I wouldn’t change it for the world!  It took me a while to get used to being around such different people, but humans are made to adapt.  My stress levels are minimal.  I would tell someone who is contemplating making a change to take the leap and don’t look back. Grow some balls!  It’s better to shoot and miss than to not shoot at all, and always wonder what could have been.  You have to forget all the “ifs” and the “buts”, because without sacrifice you will get nowhere in life.

First published in Candy Mag UK, June 2011