Hot topic: feminism

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Feminism seems to suddenly be talked about quite a bit nowadays. First Emma Watson launched the HeForShe campaign for UN Women and now Elle UK has published a Feminism issue which also presents their line of “This is what a feminist looks like” apparel in collaboration with Whistles (soon more on this on my blog). The topic appeals to me very much and I find it important that people think and talk about it. So in this post I’d like to share my thoughts on the topic and invite you to share your opinion with me and others. But first let me clarify some things.

A feminist is someone who supports gender equality, this doesn’t mean you have to be a woman in order to be a feminist, nor does it mean you have to look a certain way.

As Emma Watson said in her UN speech on gender equality: “fighting for women’s rights has too often become synonymous with man-hating. If there is one thing I know for certain, it is that this has to stop”. Feminism is not some kind of battle of the genders, it is about getting equal rights and opportunities for both men and women. So that means that women should get paid as much as men for the same job, but also that men should be able to ask for help when needed without being seen as weak or a loser. Because even though in some places women’s rights have been formalised on paper, stereotypes and certain expectations of both genders prevent women and men from being seen and treated as completely equal.

Personally, I find it very important that people are aware of the fact that there’s still inequality between the genders all around the world. A couple of years ago I wasn’t really aware of this issue myself either. I had lived in the Netherlands for all of my life and I was never limited in anything I wanted to do because I was a girl. But that changed when I started taking courses in coding and other computer science related topics. I loved what I was studying but whenever I read articles about careers in tech, it suddenly became painfully clear that it happens rather too often that women in tech are not treated equally to men in tech, like in these two articles:

“Women In Tech: It’s Not Just A Pipeline Problem” (TechCrunch)

“Julie Ann Horvath Describes Sexism And Intimidation Behind Her GitHub Exit” (TechCrunch)

Also the fact that people were often surprised (rarely pleasantly) when I told them I was taking computer science modules, and reacted by saying things like “but you’re a girl..”, made that I felt I had to prove that I, as a woman, belonged in tech just as any man.

However, I believe that simply making people aware that men and women are not always treated in the same way in tech (or any other field) is a big step into the right direction. I feel like most people (especially in the Western world) are not not willing to solve the problem of gender inequality, but they are just not aware that it is a problem that (especially) women are struggling with. I hope that once people are made aware, they will help tackle this problem and embrace the fact that they are feminists.

Nobody should be ashamed of standing up for gender equality, and thus, being a feminist shouldn’t be seen as a bad thing. I can imagine it might be especially hard for men to support a cause that might not seem to be directly geared towards them, but as a man, wouldn’t you want your mother, your wife or girlfriend, your daughter, your sister, or your best friend to have the same opportunities and rights as any man?

I’m curious to know what you think about feminism and how the problem of gender inequality could be solved, so leave a comment 🙂

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Paris, je t’aime!

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Isn’t Paris just a wonderful city? My last trip was my fourth trip to Paris, but I just can’t get enough of this beautiful city. Just look at these pictures I took:
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I just love wandering around the different arrondissements and I was especially lucky to have someone living in Paris to show me her favourite places 🙂 Places I’d recommend going to that are a bit less touristy are the Centre Pompidou where they have a very extensive collection of modern art, The Broken Arm or KB Cafeshop for delicious coffee, Miznon in Le Marais for a quick and tasty Israeli dinner and the outside club Wanderlust to dance your feet off!

Bisous, Merel

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Living the London Life

 

Screen Shot 2014-09-08 at 20.59.02About a week ago I moved from Amsterdam to London, and thus far I’ve had a fantastic time! The first couple of days I was mainly busy moving and arranging stuff at my future uni, but after all of that was done, I went out to explore the city. I’ve been to London before, so I tried to visit parts of the city I’d not seen yet. But of course I did some touristy things as well 😉

First of all, I went to the glorious department store Liberty. If there wouldn’t have been so crazy many tourists, I would probably have walked around the store for the whole day. It’s not just their collection, but the whole building that breathes luxury. I love walking around every floor and making a wish list in my head of all the pretty things I want to buy with the famous Liberty print. Yes, one day I will walk out of that store with one of their signature purple shopping bags containing a fancy gift for myself. But that will probably take a while, since I basically have to spent all of my money on rent..

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Luckily, not everything in London is expensive. For example, the temporary World War I memorial at the Tower of London is really a must see, for free! It’s there until the 11th of November, so if you’re going to be in town before that time, you should definitely go see it 🙂 Another free, and awesome thing to do is go to the Sunday Up Market at Brick Lane. There you’ll find a lot of interesting stalls selling clothes, crafts, and food from all over the world. Afterwards, you can relax a bit on the rooftop of the Queen of Hoxton with a real British Pimm’s (or any drink of your liking).

 

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If you’re lucky to find yourself in London on a sunny day I’d recommend you going to Hampstead Heath. It’s a big natural park in the north of London and a fantastic place to relax and get away from the hectic city life for a bit. Close by, you can get a great coffee at Ginger & White. I found this place through The London Coffee Guide which leads you to the best independent coffee places in London. So no need to go to Starbucks anymore 😉

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But of course, London has enough to offer for rainy days as well. I’m a big fan of the Victoria & Albert museum, where they currently have the exhibition “Wedding Dresses”. The collection displayed features wedding dresses from the early 19th century until the dresses Kate Moss and Gwen Stefani wore to their weddings. And their permanent collection is great as well, my favourites are the fashion and jewelry ones.

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My last visit of this week was to the British Library. I have loved libraries since I was a little girl, so maybe this visit was more exciting for me than for the average person, but I was quite impressed with what I saw. The building itself is not very special, but their permanent collection of ‘treasures’ is really cool. The library owns, amongst others, original documents from Leonardo Da Vinci, Shakespeare, and The Beatles. I am definitely going back there, and would recommend it to every literature lover.

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So this is how I spend my first week in London. Let me know if you have tips about things I have to see or places I should go 🙂

 

Avatars coming to fashion land

Photo: style.com, Chanel Fall 2014 Couture

Photo: style.com, Chanel Fall 2014 Couture

Today, both Techcrunch and the Dutch Vogue announced that it’s likely that avatars are coming to the world of fashion. The first introduced Fitle, a tool that functions as a virtual fitting room that allows you to try clothes on a customized 3D avatar of yourself. By taking pictures of yourself from different angles and filling in your height and length into Fitle, the tool can create an avatar that looks exactly like you. This avatar will try on clothes for you when you’re shopping online and in that way you can see whether they actually fit you or not. Check out the video to get an idea of what it would be like to use Fitle.

While this type of avatar makes me really excited about future online shopping experiences, the avatar that Vogue was talking about makes me question how much we should let technology into fashion. The magazine announced that it could be possible that in the future models will be replaced by holographic models. Researchers from the Manchester Metropolitan University experimented with creating avatars for ballet dancers in order to provide them with better coaching, and would like to extrapolate their research to other fields, such as fashion. (You can read the article they published here).  If they would introduce the avatars just for the sake of training models that would be great, but I would prefer to see designers’ creations on humans.

What is your opinion on introducing avatars into fashion, will it be for the worse or the better?

The Non-internship

Nowadays, it seems that every student has to do an internship at some renowned company. It isn’t necessarily a bad thing if you don’t, but it is definitely a good thing if you do. A few weeks ago a friend of mine came with the idea of doing a non-internship; Instead of trying his best to get a prestigious internship at a big company, he decided to create his own internship by teaching himself new things he’d always wanted to learn about. Teaching yourself new stuff is actually a lot easier than you might think, especially with all the online courses that are available on the Internet. So I thought this was a pretty brilliant idea and since I was finishing my degree at the end of May, I decided to do my own non-internship until I’m starting on my postgrad.

One thing I always wanted to learn was how to make my own website. I already knew some HTML and CSS, which I taught myself through Codecademy, so I just sat down and started to design my own site. Now about 2,5 weeks later I have launched my site and the result can be found here.

The other thing I did thus far, is the Web Development course from Udacity. From which I also learnt a lot of stuff that I used to get my website up and running (for example, how to use Google App Engine).

The last thing I aspire to do is to make my own dress. I know that’s completely different from my other projects, but I have a true passion for fashion and would like to challenge my creativity in a less digital way. I’ve not made that much progress on this project yet, and I think this will also be the hardest goal to reach, but we’ll see. I know that at least I will learn something from trying.

So for those people out there who didn’t yet get themselves an amazing internship, don’t despair! You can learn so much by yourself, you don’t need a company for that. Some sites that offer amazing online courses (taught by people from Stanford, Google, etc) are: Udacity, Codeacademy, and Coursera. The first two focus mostly on Computer Science and coding, but Coursera also offers courses in other fields of study.