Tuesday, December 06, 2011

I'm not a tourist, I live here

It is a funny old life, being an expat. I suppose when you tell people you are an expat it gives the impression that you have chosen a life of fun, excitement and adventure by choosing to wear the expat hat, when in some (namely my own) cases you were simply offered an opportunity to leave your country of birth and hopefully ended up somewhere better. I came to Baltimore, USA eleven years ago without much of a clue as to where I was moving to. The locals told me 'Baltimore grows on you' which sounded much like an unwanted wart on the sole of my foot! But I have to say I did grow to love Baltimore more with every passing year. It has a real community feel to it and pretentious people are thankfully few and far between. In fact, I was reading through the The Expat Explorer survey (The largest survey of its kind. In 2011 over 3000 expats answered questions relating to their finances, quality of life and even what it's like to raise children abroad) and must say it's a really fascinating read.

It has a neat little function where you can compare and contrast two countries to see which one is the better deal. I typed in the UK and the US and you can see the results here. It did feel great to find out that in most ways I was doing better in the USA. I also have still not gotten over the fact that people here say 'has anyone ever told you you look like Kate Winslet?' The answer is 'No, well no one outside the USA.' The Americans here hold the Brits in high esteem are always gushing about my 'cute British accent.' I don't want to burst their bubble by saying, 'Yeah I am pretty unique, there are only about 60 million of us back home!' What I'm saying is if you become an expat you become a somewhat unique person in your host country especially in a smaller place like Baltimore where I have only met maybe 30 other Brits.

But what about the rest of the expat world? If you are an expat check out the survey and see how your new country compares to your old and if it is doing better then give yourself  a slap on the back.

And remember, if you are a bored expat sitting by the pool idly fiddling with your iPad that our fabulous book Cocktails at Naptime - A Woefully Inadequate Guide To Early Motherhood by Gillian Martin and Emma Kaufmann is now available for download worldwide. It can be downloaded to an Apple device such as an iPad or iPhone at the ibookstore here.

The book is a laugh out loud guide to the first year after birth and is the funniest book about childbirth since the New Testament. So what are you waiting for? Download it now! And if you want to know how two authors wrote a book in cyberspace go here.


Monday, November 14, 2011

The Geography of Style

The divine Bourbon and Pearls has got me thinking about the connection between geography and style. If like me, you are an expat, do you find that when you moved to your new country you took on the fashion mantle of your new home? I must say I did!

I do feel a bit like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz since getting to sun drenched Baltimore many a moon ago. I have stepped from black and white into technicolour although thankfully I have yet to encounter any flying monkies.

My UK look except less Maria Rinaldi more M&S (posed by model obviously)!!

When I lived in London I dressed in dreary black, grey, off-white, eggshell, navy, sludge, taupe, with a touch of dark red. I also covered my body up a lot with layers of wool and thermal undergarments. That is mainly because it is freezing in England for much of the time.

Emma's US signature look: Hot Pink and bare to dare skirts

Eleven years on my wardrobe screams with clashing shades of hot pink, black, white, light blue, light green, and is peppered with short skirts, shorts, barely there t-shirts and flimsy linen blouses. That is because it is mostly very hot here.

I don't really emulate Baltimore style because I don't think much of it. It is preppy and boring and when taken to extremes can look just plain hideous:

I think New Yorkers are more stylish but there is not much individuality there alas. On a trip to Manhattan in February every single woman was wearing black leggings, knee length boots and a black long anorak coat. It looked hot though and I snapped up a dozen pairs of black leggings and some flat boots!

The New York look that is somehow insanely hot

What about you? How has your signature style changed since you moved to hotter or colder climes? And do add pics if you have them!

Also do check out my fabulous new interview over at Blog Expat where I dish about ex-pat life warts and all:

Expat Interview


Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Having your Cupcake and Eating It?

So a revolution of sorts has occurred apparently, with curvy models recently featuring in Italian Vogue. Now some people think this is great and some see it as a symptom of the continuing objectification of women. I say these curvy ladies are serious hot and it is great to see women with a bit of meat on them in a fashion magazine.

Arguments abound that women are objectified and the argument is always 'men oppress women by sexually objectifying them.' But isn't the reality that no one is really oppressed just by having a man look at you in a lustful fashion? If you are talking about the fashion industry well yes that is an extremely distasteful industry on every level. Models are certainly dehumanised and just treated as clothes horses. In all the babble coming from the chattering classes about 'going green' I suppose no one has noticed that following fashion is not only pointless but perpetrates huge suffering amongst fashion workers in the third world. If you really want to do something radical for women's rights then boycott fashion!

As for objectification of women in real life much has been made of the rise of retro femininity and the fact that many women in public life seem to have embraced a purely decorative function, coupled with an obsessive interest in baking cupcakes and wearing frilly aprons. Tanya Gold wrote in an article recently that she was appalled at going to John Lewis and finding out that:

"Sales of crafting fabrics are up 31 per cent on last year. Jam pot covers – remember them? – are up 50 per cent. And cupcake cases are up a howling, punched-by-Kirstie-Allsopp 65 per cent. I wish I could paint that sentence pink so you could see how important it is. We are living in a time of retro femininity."

I'm not sure what's so appalling about that as I love making cupcakes and wearing frilly aprons and apparently it's not just me. Gold states that Samantha Cameron, Duchess of Cambridge and Michelle Obama are little more than Stepford Wives in that they are seemingly playing second fiddle for now to their spouses (but are they really?)

To which I say you can look pretty, bake cupcakes and wear frilly outfits without losing your feminist credentials and if you make the stuff yourself surely you're saving the women who work in the Indian sweat shops from a life of hell. Also women are always going to be objectified because men like to look at pretty women. Also women like to be looked at by men. There, I've said it.

No one is forcing women to look pretty. If you want to go out looking like a dog's dinner it's your right. But there has always been a rather bizarre feminist link made between men's economic dominance and looking at women. Some clap trap about because they earn more that gives them the right to look at women, somehow diminishing women via their gaze sort of like how Alice in Wonderland might shrink after drinking some patriarchal potion!

Well enough clap trap. Looking at women does not oppress them okay? (Although obviously sexual harassment is another story). But my real point is this, do you think feminism has gone off course with the advent of more women wanting to look pretty and have a nice home or can you have your cake and eat it too?

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