Why I’ve Stopped Using Deodorant

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Apologies for the slightly Take a Break-style sensational title to this post, but you should know by now that I’m a pretty straight forward kind of lady. I, friends, have stopped using deodorant. Here’s why:

I’ve never had a great relationship with deodorant. It makes my armpits itch terribly and I tend to jump from brand to brand, using each one until the irritation begins. I’m similar with shampoos, if I’m honest, and I think it might just be an all-over sensitive skin issue which causes the problems. Also, because of my diabetes, I sometimes get ingrown hairs or boils under my arms, which make using chemicals under there a real problem.

Just recently, I discovered a lump in my armpit, just behind where my breast meets my underarm and initially it was quite tender, so I went to the doctors and got some antibiotics, which took the tenderness away. In the meantime, Husband suggested that I stop using deodorant on my underarms to avoid exacerbating anything if it was a cyst or something else causing the lump, and keen to try anything which might help, I stopped. Obviously, I still showered every day and wore clean clothes, but I started to notice that I wasn’t having any obviously offensive body odour issues.

This was all about 4 weeks ago now and I’ve worn deodorant just once in that time. Weirdly, the day that I wore deodorant, I ended up washing it off because I seemed to be producing bad body odour. Husband has a bit of a conspiracy theory about certain cosmetics, such as face washes; use them on clear skin and suddenly, BOOM!, you’ve got a bunch of spots – so, you’d better carry on using the facewash, hadn’t you? I’m not saying that cosmetic companies are giving us spots and BO, but the products we’re encouraged to use don’t always protect us as well as we think and are mostly intended to make us buy more products. I even put this theory to my GP, who said that she actually agreed to a certain extent, and that her friends daughter, who was at medical school, actually wrote a dissertation about something almost identical.

Interestingly enough, I read a little while ago that the concept of B.O. (body odour) was actually invented by advertisers who were trying to sell a new product to the masses. They effectively decided to convince us all that the smell of a normal human was offensive and needed to be covered up, and wouldn’t you know it, they had JUST the product to help! Up until this point, we’d all gone happily about our days, washing our pits when they needed it and understanding that humans sometimes sweat, which isn’t the end of the world.

While I’m not saying that we should all walk around stinking, I’m not sure that we all need antiperspirant as much as we think we do, and my armpits certainly feel a lot healthier without being caked in deodorant every day. I’ve noticed that certain fabrics, such as stretchy nylons, will sometimes make my armpits a bit whiffy but I think that’s because the air doesn’t circulate as well through these materials. Other than that, my pits have been fine – my Husband is very particular when it comes to personal hygiene and even he’s agreed that I don’t stink!

Do you have issues with deodorant and would you ever consider giving it up, or it the thought of laying off of the roll-on a massive no-no for you? Leave me a comment below!

Mum’s the Word 4th Anniversary Giveaway!

prizesOn 4th October, I realised that it had been 4 years since I started Mum’s the Word (you can find my first ever post here) and it felt like something which should be celebrated. You see, I’m rather flighty when it comes to personal endeavours and I’ve never, EVER stuck at a hobby or pastime for as long as this, although seeing as blogging is now my job as well as my hobby, I guess you could say it’s evolved into being so much more than a way for me to get my ramblings out.

ANYWAY.

To celebrate, I thought I’d do a bit of a giveaway and I’ve got some lovely things to be won! Each prize has it’s own Rafflecopter widget below and you can enter as many of them as you like.

Firstly, my lovely friend Donna at Little Lily Pad Co. has given me a gorgeous pink baby sock bundle (seems appropriate seeing as 2014 was the year I gave birth to my second baby girl!) to give away, which you can win by filling in the Rafflecopter Widget below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Next up is a gorgeous handmade treat from a lady I love dearly and who is insanely talented, Mary from Keynko. She’s giving away a pair of handmade bookends and a handbag which has been upcycled from silk scarves. I’m seriously wishing I could enter myself to win these! a Rafflecopter giveaway

Our next prize is something that I’m so in love with; my friend Jenny, who blogs at Cheetahs in my Shoes, is one of my favourite photographers in the world – she was recently commended at an awards ceremony by the Zoological Society of London for her nature photography and is going to be published in one of their books! She’s given us a canvas print of a rose that she shot herself, my favourite flower.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Next, we’ve got a truly beautiful prize for all you babywearers, a Rockin’ Baby pouch in their Peacock print, which fits newborns up to 18kg. BB and I have been testing one of these recently and will be giving you our review next weeek! a Rafflecopter giveaway

Last but definitely not least is a brand who BB and I absolutely adore, Sophie La girafe, who’ve given us an utterly adorable dress-up tabard which comes in sizes 3 months to 3 years.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Please do enter as many of the giveaways as you like, and here’s to another 4 years of Mum’s the Word!
Terms and Conditions
Winners will be chosen at random on the closing date of 31st October 2014. All decisions are final. Winners will be contacted thereafter. No cash alternatives will be offered.

Too Much Choice?

CluelessStill11As parents, we’ve always tried to maintain what we felt was a good balance of gentle guidance and egalitarianism in the household. Sausage is a bright child and we’ve tried to allow her the freedom to make choices for herself, in the hope that this would both encourage her to learn how to make good decisions, as well as make her feel respected, and like her voice is heard as an equal member of the family. In a lot of ways, it’s worked really well and she can be assertive when she needs to be, without the need for foot-stamping and demanding behaviour, which is something she has never done.

However, I’m starting to wonder if, by giving her too much choice, we’re overwhelming her and putting too much pressure on her?

We’re not the sort of household which is very regimental; dinner is ready when it’s ready and more often than not we wait until after the school run to even work out what we’re having, which usually means a quick trip to the shops of an afternoon. Most days, I’ll ask Sausage what she wants for dinner, applying a little of the gentle guidance mentioned above when she requests things like Supanoodles or Coco Pops, but largely we work together to work out what our family dinner will be.

We do it with other things, too; on our walk to school in the mornings, there are two routes we can take and most days I’ll ask if she has a preference over which way we walk. I let her choose her own clothes when she’s not in uniform and she has freedom over what books she reads (although Husband and I both took a sharp intake of breath when she eyed a copy of Lady Chatterley’s Lover last week!), TV she watches and what games she plays.

Just lately though, I’ve been noticing a pretty dispassionate response to my questions. She’ll often answer “surprise me”, which I think is a way of removing the pressure on her to make a decision, and just this morning, I asked what she wanted on her toast and she answered “I don’t know, Mummy. You decide”. Is she shying away from making decisions because she’s feeling the weight of expectation on herself too heavily?

Husband came from a household where dinner was on the table at roughly the same time every night, everyone ate the same thing and there was no discussion about what it would be, by and large, it was simply prepared and served by his Mum. My upbringing wasn’t quite as regimented, but there certainly wasn’t anywhere near as much autonomy Sausage is afforded and, while I always thought this was a good thing, I’m unsure now.

Parenting means doing things in the way that you think is right for both yourself and your kids, but sometimes the way you do things can end up being the exact OPPOSITE of what your kids need and I’m really keen to identify issues like this and change them before they become too much of a problem. Husband has been telling me for months that we should just give Sausage her meals rather than asking her what she wants all the time, because of the stress she’s started to show and I’m starting to think I should have listened to him long ago.

Are we, in giving her so much choice, ladling too much pressure on her? Do you give your kids a say in every day decisions or do you make the majority of their choices for them? Do your kids ever show signs of being overwhelmed by too many options? Leave me a comment below.

 

Guest Post: Mummy, Why are They Being so Mean to Me?

On the blog today, we have a guest post from Helen Neale, who writes at both kiddycharts.com, a parenting advice and tools site offering free personalised kids charts, and stickersstarsandsmiles.com, a much more personal blog where she promises to tidy up, but never quite gets around to it. She can be found far too much on social media, particularly Twitter.

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As the teacher passed, she could hear sobbing. She looked across the wooden hall floor, but couldn’t find where it was coming from. She tilted her head to try and concentrate. In the corner of the hall was a gym mat, positioned delicately against the climbing frames that the school children used in PE. She moved silently towards the sound, and as she approached the noise got louder. Leaning in, she peered behind the mat.

Standing pressed against the wall, tears streaming down her face, was a small girl.”

Thirty-five years ago, that was me.

Even after all this time, I can still remember vividly the teacher who found me, and helped me. But even now, I can sometimes still feel like that little girl, hiding from harsh and cutting words.

My time at school has shaped me into the woman I am today, I am sure of it. It has made me into someone who hates confrontation, so much that I will apologise for anything just to move on, and not create tension.

It has made me desperate to be liked. I turned to bribery in secondary school. Eventually, a close friend told me that I didn’t have to use my dinner money to buy her sweets to get her to speak to me. It was only then that I finally came to realise that I didn’t have to pay for friendship. Friendship was something that is freely given, and gratefully received.

Despite finally finding a wonderful friend, I was still singled out by some of the older girls as the weaker one; sensitive to criticism. I often wondered if I “just had the face for it” as I grew up.

I avoided catching the school bus home to my village if I could. When I did brave the ride on the first bus home, I would sit near the front away from the other children. I would then spend 45 minutes listening to the kids behind me, talking about me, calling me names, deliberately waking past, and flicking my hair, throwing my bag down the bus…anything to upset me. Never physical, but the constant niggles were enough to cut deep.

Suddenly though, it stopped.

The main culprit left the school; as simple as that.

The other players didn’t have their heart in it. Having finally told my mum, she helped too; giving me the confidence to stand up to them, to speak to the teachers and not to try and handle everything on my own. After the bully left, my bus trips started again. However, my anxiety and my wish to be liked has remained ever since.

If I had my time again, I do sincerely wish that it hadn’t happened, any of it. Of course I do. Thinking about those times, still stings my eyes.

But, the sensitivity it has instilled in my heart; how we should listen, and love, has made me into someone who has understood many of my friend’s darkest moments. Once, it helped save a life.

The determination to carry on despite being bullied lives on in me now too; that survival instinct has moulded me both personally and professionally.

I made it.

I was able to come out the other side. That has given me a confidence in myself that I didn’t think, as that little six-year old, hiding behind a gym mat, I would ever have. I am still desperate to seek approval from others, but it isn’t as all encompassing as it was when I was a child. It doesn’t choke me, it doesn’t mean I feel that every friend I have is just here for a while until they find someone else more exciting, funnier, or with more money for sweets….

However, I realised this week that I find myself seeking approval from my kids in a way that I wish I didn’t. Anything from the simple questions about whether their birthday party was any good, to whether they liked the dinner I made them. This even extends to the friends they invite to those parties, or sit down to have that dinner with them.

Despite all that I have achieved, there is still a wee six year old in there, desperate to be liked.

How have you overcome this need for approval if you have it too? Is there anyway to do so? Shall I just give up and have a biscuit?

If you or your children are experiencing bullying, please seek help. There are some wonderful organisations out there. Relevant sites in the UK include:

http://www.bullying.co.uk/

http://www.beatbullying.org/

http://www.anti-bullyingalliance.org.uk/

It would be wonderful if we can lend a little support to these and other organisations supporting anti-bullying campaigns, including this campaign from fellow blogger, Gammon and Chips, in the memory of a wonderful 16-year old girl, Izzy.

Shaving Tips for the Man in Your Life

This post was written by my lovely husband!

mens electric shaverIn recent years the so-called art of shaving has made a comeback. More and more men are switching over to the time honoured ways; the hot towels, the luxurious lather, the hand-picked Japanese or Russian blades, and it has to be said, treating yourself to a good, old fashioned shave is a great experience and one which I enjoy on a regular basis.

Some followers of the arcane art are vociferous in their opposition to any other way. You’ll hear stories of people ripping their faces apart with sub-standard disposables and giving themselves a nasty shaving rash or even ingrown hairs, rushing the process with an electric shaver. You’ll be told that there isn’t a middle ground – but there is.

Using an electric shaver for convenience needn’t be a painful and destructive process. Of course, it requires a little attention from you, but with a few simple steps you can have your cake and eat it too; a quick, easy shave without any ill effects.

The first and most obvious thing is to ensure that you have a decent electric razor. Thankfully, they don’t cost an arm and a leg these days and you can easily order a decent model online (Tesco Direct has a wide range available). Do bear in mind though, while some affordable models are excellent, more often than not you get what you pay for. Do your research first. My personal favourite is the new Braun 7, which is bristling (pardon the pun) with tech and draws upon Braun’s years of experience to deliver a first-class electric shave.

Once you’ve got your shaver, you’ll need to prepare. Give your face a wash using glycerine soap and dry it thoroughly on a clean towel. Once you’re done, use a good alcohol-based (yes, alcohol based!) pre-shave to ensure your mug’s clean and free of oil. Use it twice if you’re prone to oily skin.

When you’re ready to get going, start with your neck and work your way up. Use light, deliberate strokes of the shaver – don’t press hard on your skin, that’s a sure-fire way of leaving yourself with red, raw skin.

Try and pay attention to where the whorls are in your facial hair. I have two on either side of my throat, and they’re a pain to get clean shaven. Work out what direction the hair’s growing in and go across the grain in either direction, then against it. You should find that delivers a good finish in difficult places.

Once you’re done with the neck and whorls, go over the rest of your face. You don’t have to drag your heels, modern shavers are made to be used quite briskly, but remember to go over each patch with the head of the shaver at the right angle (right angled to your face).

After you’re done, rinse your face with cold water and apply a liberal coating of alcohol-free aftershave balm or lotion. I swear by Geo F Trumper’s skin food myself, but you’ll find what’s right for you. You’ll want something which will rehydrate your skin, as this will help prevent irritation.

After that, you’ll want to clean your shaver and lubricate it. Yes, it takes a couple of moments, but a well maintained shaver is what you want coming into contact with the sensitive skin of your face, not some dirty, unlubed machine full of month-old bristles.

Don’t expect lightning fast times on your first couple of attempts. Take your time, dial-in your technique. Once you’ve done that, you should be able to get up in the morning and give yourself a fantastic shave in no more than 3 or 4 minutes!

Dentinox, Snufflebabe and Cold Season #littlesniffles

As a parent, dealing with an ill child is always tricky. Being unable to help them when they’ve got the sniffles can be heartbreaking, especially when they’re still tiny – you can’t explain to them why they’re unable to breathe and suck at the same time, and they can’t tell you when and where they’re hurting. Recently we were sent a few products by Dentinox, designed to deal specifically with the symptoms of colds which can make babies so miserable and they couldn’t have come at a better time.

BB has been teething for what seems like an unfeasibly long time and as with a lot of babies, she’s been getting gradually more snotty and miserable as the teeth are closer to emerging. Just a couple of nights ago, she was unable to breathe through her nose but dog-tired and therefore wanting to suck a dummy to soothe herself to sleep. Obviously, sucking a dummy when your nose is blocked is nigh-on impossible so we ended up with a very cross, very sleepy baby. That is, until I remembered our stash of goodies.

332500Now, let me just say, if you’d have ever told me that I’d be sucking the snot out of my baby’s nose, I’d have laughed in your face (and quite possibly have gagged, too), but this little device is AMAZING. The Snufflebabe Nasal Aspirator was awarded the Queen’s Award for Outstanding Innovation is a simple and instant solution to clearing baby nasal congestion from birth. There’s a filter in the middle so you get maximum suction without the mucus ever actually reaching you and it really helped with BB’s congestion.

downloadOnce we’d done the snot-sucking, we gave BB her Snufflebabe Inhaler dummy, which has a really clever compartment into which you can drop a special vapour oil. Baby can suck the dummy for comfort while the vapours from the oil ease congestion. This really helped BB to get off to sleep and stay snuffle-free long enough to get a good nights sleep.

332496On a couple of occasions, BB seemed to be in too much pain to settle so we resorted to giving her some infant paracetamol. Now, given the fact that our child drinks dairy-free formula milk which tastes like raw potato juice (seriously. It’s grim), you’d think that the sugary wonder that is infant paracetamol would taste like nectar in comparison, but no. So distressed by medicine is BB that she tends to act a little bit like Mummy is water-boarding her. That’s where the Dentinox Medicine Dispenser comes in, a dummy shaped contraption which allows you to load the correct amount of medicine for the baby to then suck out. Let me tell you, honestly, I almost wept with joy when I didn’t have to wrestle with BB to get her to take some medicine.

All in all, the few quid that these products would cost are well worth the outlay, not just for the relief they offer baby, but also the sanity that they give to parents during stressful times. BB’s teething snuffles were made exponentially less uncomfortable by the products and Husband and I felt so much better able to help her, knowing we had several new weapons in our arsenal. While I may have never considered the possibility of sucking the snot out of my baby, I’m so glad I gave it a try!

Should Unvaccinated Kids be Allowed Places in State Schools?

Should Unvaccinated Children Be Allowed Places in State Schools?With flu season upon us, my thoughts have been turning frequently to vaccinations. I’m passionately in favour of vaccines and feel that the results of mass vaccinations are indisputable. Anti-vaccination advocates often peddle myths regarding vaccines and their dangers, such as the link to autism, which has not only been found to be completely scientifically debunked but the journal which published the report have actually now retracted it because of the inaccuracies. Smallpox is one of the biggest vaccination success stories as it was declared eradicated by the World Health Organisation in 1979 after mass global inoculation programmes.

However, there are still estimated to be almost 2 million unvaccinated children in the UK alone, putting us 7% below the WHO guidelines for protecting the population from the spread of diseases. With more and more cases of measles and other potentially fatal illnesses popping up (remember the measles epidemic in Wales last year?), it got me to thinking how I’d feel if my children were being put at risk by unvaccinnated classmates.

It’s easy for parents of vaccinated children to feel that, if their child has been inoculated, they’re no longer at risk of the spread of infectious diseases, but this is not the case and its this mentality which is causing the problem. Here’s some of the ways in which unvaccinated children pose a risk to others (from the Vaccine Times):

  1. There are many children that cannot be vaccinated, for various reasons such as an autoimmune disease, allergies, or simply being too young to have received the vaccine. These children have no protection against the disease. If they are exposed to it through an unvaccinated peer, they are at risk of suffering and/or even dying.
  2. Unvaccinated children are protected by the herd immunity created by the vaccinated children. Herd immunity basically means that if enough people are vaccinated it becomes really hard for the disease to find hosts it can survive in and spread. The more children are unvaccinated the greater the risk that herd immunity will fail. If herd immunity fails, all suffer for the reasons described below.
  3. Vaccines do not offer 100% immunity towards disease. The efficacy varies; some vaccines offer higher rates of efficacy, some lower. Having received a vaccine doesn’t guarantee that a child will not get sick when exposed to the disease. Vaccines reduce the risk of contracting the disease, if exposed, dramatically, but there will always be a number of children for whom the vaccine will not provide protection. Those children will be at risk, from other unvaccinated children who may contract and spread the disease.

I feel I must say that I do struggle with this issue; I’m passionate about the right to make personal decisions freely, especially when it comes to ones children, but I also wonder what the implications of those decisions are when putting lots of other children at risk. Should schools be asking to see a completed vaccination schedule before kids are placed into mainstream schooling and should unvaccinated children be refused a place in publicly funded schools? After all, not vaccinating will directly undermine Government initiatives in public health concern, so why should the public majority, most of whom have vaccinated their children, fund their education?  Should certain standards be met before we hand out places?

In Sausage’s school, if a child has an upset tummy, they’re asked to stay off school for 24 hours until after the last episode of diarrhoea or vomiting to protect the other children. If they have chicken pox, they cannot return until all of the spots have dried up, not only to protect the other children but to safeguard pregnant mums or staff, as well as adult males who can be left very ill and potentially infertile if they contract the illness as an adult. Why, if a child has the potential to spread measles (which can cause encephalitis and death), mumps, rubella, whopping cough etc. are the rules not the same?

One thing I’ve gathered whilst researching this post is that the vast majority of anti-vaccination literature peddles lies and propaganda; vaccines don’t contain high levels of mercury, nor do they cause autism, SIDS or any other potentially fatal side effects. The WHO website has a great page dedicated to squashing the myths surrounding immunisations, which you can find HERE.

So, what’s your opinion? Should unnvaccinated children be allowed in state-funded schools? Would you be happy to send your child to school with unvaccinated children? I’d love to hear your opinion on this so please leave me a comment below.

11 facts about vaccinations:

  1. In the past 60 years, vaccines helped eradicate one disease (Smallpox) and are close to eradicating another (Polio).
  2. Vaccines prevent more than 2.5 million deaths each year.
  3. The impact of child vaccines is magnified when used in conjunction with other health efforts like antibiotics, oral rehydration salts, bednets, and vitamins.
  4. New and underutilized vaccines could avert nearly 4 million deaths of children under the age 5 by 2015.
  5. Vaccines cause “herd immunity”, which means if the majority of people in a community have been vaccinated against a disease, an unvaccinated person is less likely to get sick because others are less likely to get sick and spread the disease.
  6. Vaccines helped reduce measles deaths globally by 78 percent between 2000 and 2008. In sub-Saharan Africa, deaths dropped by 92 percent in the same period.
  7. There are existing vaccines that could stop rotavirus and pneumonia—two conditions that kill nearly 3 million children under the age of 5 every year.
  8. New or improved vaccines are currently being developed for HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, and neglected tropical diseases. Researchers estimate that a viable malaria vaccine could be ready for children in the developing world as early as 2015.
  9. Not all vaccines are given as shots. Vaccines for rotavirus and polio, for instance, are distributed orally.
  10. The GAVI Alliance has supported the immunization of more than 288 million children and as a result averted more than 5 million child deaths since 2000.
  11. Most diseases prevented by vaccines are no longer common in the United States. If vaccines weren’t used, just a few cases could quickly turn into tens or hundreds of thousands.

McCain Find the Perfect Scarecrow for Emmerdale!

McCain Emmerdale Scarecrow auditionsEvery now and again, I receive a press-release that’s just too fun to not share with you guys and when this one popped into my inbox, I knew I’d have to give you all a giggle:

Star-crows from Mobberley in Cheshire have hit the big time and won a part on the small screen in the Emmerdale sponsorship ads!

‘The Scarecrow Farm Shop’, created by the Ellison family, made the long journey to London to take part in potato specialist McCain’s first live scarecrow auditions at the Arts Theatre in the heart of the West End. Hopefuls from up and down the country queued around the block for their chance to impress celeb judge ex-Emmerdale actress Sheree Murphy and a panel of McCain judges.

Nicola Ech-Channa, McCain Communications Development Manager, said “We loved seeing what the scarecrow contestants had to offer, and we particularly enjoyed the Scarecrow Farm Shop. Scarecrows are a great British tradition and the festivals put a lot of care and attention into producing their entries – just like we do with all our potatoes. Each scarecrow was created with its own distinct personality and we are awestruck at the amount of time and dedication put into this. It’s a shame we couldn’t let all the contestants win, and it was a close-run race. The makers of Scarecrow Farm Shop should be very proud to have been awarded first place as it was hugely competitive. It’s going to be great to see how they interact with the existing McCain scarecrow clan!”

Sheree Murphy put the hopefuls through their paces and had a tough choice to make in picking McCain’s scarecrow stars. Sheree said “I have been really impressed with the creativity and originality of all the contestants – the level of talent has been phenomenal! It was a very difficult decision but the winner has to be The Scarecrow Farm Shop. What left me in no doubt that we had found our star-crow was the level of thought and detail that went into it. I love that these ‘farm owners’ really had products to sell, and I adored the traditional scarecrow elements that were incorporated.”

The lucky scarecrows will appear as extras in an upcoming series of Emmerdale sponsorship bumpers alongside McCain favourites ‘Granny’ and ‘Straw girl’, plus they have won £5,000 for their village festival next year.

Cheshire can also be proud that as well as first place, another scarecrow – Sarah Jane Sunflower – did very well, being awarded fifth place.

McCain Foods was unveiled as the new sponsor of Emmerdale, one of the UK’s biggest and most loved TV programmes, in March 2014. Like the soap, McCain has long established links to farming, having worked with some of its 300 British Growers for three generations. McCain is also the largest purchaser of British potatoes, buying approximately 15% of the total UK crop each year.

The Scarecrow Farm Shop’s makers, the Ellison family, said “It’s a dream come true to win, we can’t thank McCain enough for giving us this opportunity. Now The Scarecrow Farm Shop can share their star quality with the nation. We can’t wait for next year’s festival, our star-crows will receive a hero’s welcome when they return to Cheshire. And the winnings will make our 2015 festival the best yet!”

Find out more about the winning scarecrow on the McCain Facebook page!

The Fappening

Jennifer LawrenceUnless you’ve been living in a cave in deepest, darkest Guatemala for the past three months, you will no doubt have heard of ‘The Fappening’. To be fair, you may not have heard that particular (and fairly distasteful) expression, but you’ll definitely have heard about the hackers who are breaching the iCloud security of various celebrities and selling their intimate photos to the highest bidder. The likes of Aubrey Plaza, Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Upton and many more have had their images splashed around the internet and other media.

There’s been a lot of discussion, from all angles. Some idiots people have been saying that these women are public figures and shouldn’t take intimate pictures if they don’t want them leaked, others have said that they must’ve wanted people to see the images if they took them in the first place and I can’t even begin to explain how much this kind of victim-blaming bullshit annoys me. Privacy is a basic human right, no matter how public your chosen career. Just because Kate Upton makes her money in bikinis, it doesn’t mean we own the right to see her personal, private photos, any more than being an accountant means you’re obliged to do the tax return of everyone you know during your spare time (very skewed analogy, I know, but BB’s not sleeping well)

Then, Jennifer Lawrence said this:

It is not a scandal. It is a sex crime. It is a sexual violation. It’s disgusting. The law needs to be changed, and we need to change. That’s why these Web sites are responsible. Just the fact that somebody can be sexually exploited and violated, and the first thought that crosses somebody’s mind is to make a profit from it. It’s so beyond me. I just can’t imagine being that detached from humanity. I can’t imagine being that thoughtless and careless and so empty inside.

Now, I’m a huge fan of J-Law but I’ve got to admit, I stepped back from that statement with a sharp intake of breath. Branding this is sexual violation seemed like a very strong statement to make. I started thinking about women who’d suffered sexual abuse, rape, sexual violence and it made Jennifer Lawrence’s assessment seem rather grandiose to me. Being looked at is in no way comparable to rape, is it?

Then I thought back to something which happened to me when I was 20. I was walking to a careers evening at my local hospital, which was at the end of a busy dual carriageway with a tree-covered path on one side. As I was walking along, I saw a man in the bushes at the other side of the road, trying to catch my attention and as I looked over he started masturbating. As he stood there in the bushes touching himself, my anger kicked in and I actually chased him away, before stopping and realising he was a fully grown man who could hurt me a lot more than I hurt him.

No, this man didn’t touch me in any way but his act still felt like sexual violence. He was gratified by my shock and disgust and used me to get sexual satisfaction in his depraved way. While I’m not comparing any person who’s enjoyed J-Law’s image to a sexual criminal, I completely understand how you can feel violated by someone’s unwanted attention. Incidentally, the police never caught the flasher, but I saw him a few years later in a local paper after having been convicted of several rapes and sexual assaults, so what happened still haunts me.

It’s easy to write off what has happened to these women as ‘just photos being looked at’, but having your most intimate images splashed across the internet for all to see must be absolutely mortifying and the thought that so many people are viewing them is enough to make your skin crawl. These women should be able to take whatever damn pictures of themselves on their mobile devices without the fear that they’re going to be stolen and I’m really sad that we live in a world where privacy is so undervalued and can be sold off to the highest bidder.

So, what do you think? Is this an act of sexual crime, or is Jennifer Lawrence undermining ‘real’ sexual assault by saying so? Has anything similar ever happened to you? Leave me a comment below.

The Sticker Club – Review

I’m pretty sure that if you were to perform an MRI on Sausage, you’d see that half of her internal organs were actually plastered with stickers. The kid LOVES stickers. A quick stroll around our house reveals stickers stuck to various surfaces and Sausage loves nothing more than choosing a special sticker for her Dad or I with which to adorn our possessions. Up until recently, my Cath Kidston purse had a rainbow unicorn on it and my laptop is sporting a stripy Furby! When The Sticker Club got in touch and asked if we’d like to review their weekly subscription service, I knew I couldn’t say no. The Sticker Club

Each week, 9 sheets of original stickers turn up in a striking yellow envelope, and I have to admit, even get excited about seeing what’s going to be in there each week! All of the stickers are original Sticker Club designs and the package is addressed directly to the child, so that get that lovely little thrill of getting something for themselves in the mail.

Sausage’s imagination has been stimulated wonderfully by the stickers; she’s constantly making pictures around the images, sticking them onto paper and using pens, pencils, crayons and paint to turn them into a full-on piece of art and the designs are so wonderfully quirky. I also love the fact that there’s no ‘girls stickers’ or ‘boys stickers’ – every pack includes gender neutral stickers which appeal to all kids. Sometimes there’s football and aliens, back to back with flowers and adorable fruit people, but all of the stickers are well designed and attractive to everyone.

There are various subscription options, starting at £1.99 a week and also gift options if you wanted to give The Sticker Club for a birthday or Christmas. I actually think an annual subscription would make a brilliant gift as it’s something which would last for a whole year and would keep on giving, rather than being something which ends up forgotten, at the bottom of the toy box.

I’m genuinely impressed with The Sticker Club; every package has arrived on a Monday without fail, all of the stickers are well designed and unique, and they’re perfect for stimulating little imaginations. Once our complimentary subscription period is over, Husband and I will definitely be subscribing to this for Sausage – and there’s even a sibling subscription option, too so perhaps in a few years BB will get her very own subscription too!

As for the lady herself, here’s what Sausage had to say about it all: “I think it’s exciting and they do brilliant sticker pictures. There’s nothing I’d change about it at all! The stickers are cool and I love getting things in the post. “

High praise indeed!