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society's standards ruin everything and your girl is sick of it
hi, hpft. it's been a while, but your resident ratTM hath returned from the dead (or: twitter) to hash out some of my inner dialogue once again. today's topic: the toxic environment we've created for teenage girls. bit o' light reading for your commute, you see
what spurred me to write about this? well, my little sister: twelve years old now and in her first year of secondary. secondary is a big change from primary school and though it's been a few years since i was there, i still remember the culture shock from year six (you know, when you were convinced you were the Coolest Person Ever since you ruled primary school and all that jazz) to diving into secondary school more or less blind just a summer later. our local one is a bit... rougher than some (although it's improved since i left) so that adds to the pressure again. as an older sister, i've tried to guide her the best i can, but there's only so much you can do, especially since i'm not at school to guide her like our big sister was with me. and as my little sister - let's call her... strawberry (get it? because i'm plums 😜 ) - navigates her way through teenagehood, i've come to realise a lot of things i really don't like about the mindset she's being conditioned into.
number one: the pressure to be 'pretty'. sometimes strawberry will talk about friends she's made in school and she'll add in a little line like she's so pretty, you don't understand which is a fairly valid (and nice) thing to say. but then later if i compliment her, she outright refuses to believe me. if i'm going through my phone and i find a picture of her and melt over how cute she is, y'know bc she is literally my baby sister, she says i'm lying. or that i'm just saying that because i have to since she's my little sister. and i'm like ?? in what world. like. why. she flat-out refuses to accept any compliments about herself.
number two: the need to be 'skinny'. listen, i'm someone who struggles with confidence about my weight too. it was worse when i was younger, but i've learnt not to measure my worth in how much i weigh on a scale (i don't use one anymore) and i'm still learning to accept myself. i don't want strawberry to get to the stage where she has to learn how to accept herself. but she's already saying things like "when i lose weight, i'll have to..." or "does this make me look fat?" and i cannot put it into words how much i hate it. the other day, i discovered that she had started a DIET BOOK. SHE IS TWELVE AND SHE HAD A DIET BOOK. i can't put it into words how wrong that is. there is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to fix up your diet so you're consuming less, say, crisps and more fruit - but monitoring what you eat?? that's exactly what i was doing when i was fourteen and literally so obsessed with my weight i felt like i couldn't sit down for fear of putting on more pounds. and no matter how many times i approach the subject with her, i can't help but feel like i'm getting nowhere.
number three: social media galore. i understand that social media is such a huge part of the world we're in and that kids have more or less always had it around. but i hate how easily it can be weaponised for cyber-bullying, especially with things like snapchat where messages can disappear in the blink of an eye. this isn't a sudden and new problem, but just being on the other side of secondary school really makes you realise how people can get swept up in all that. there's a pressure to be plastered all over social media when you're younger. to have more friends than other people, to have loads of views on your snapchat stories, to rack up likes. and the influencers on these platforms glamourise impossible aspirations, making their livings off of presenting their lives as perfect. while i think that social media has many benefits (it is, after all, how i keep in contact with everyone here), i also think it can be really damaging to someone when they're growing up. it reduces their worth to arbitrary and ultimately meaningless measures.
these are just some of the problems that i think are pretty toxic for all teenagers, not just teen girls even if they're the demographic i'm focusing on. i just really hate how society as a whole has reduced the value of women to their physical attributes, whether this is through social media or through the conditioning of people all around us. as much as i hate it, i know that strawberry is being directly influenced by the older female figures in her life: my mum, who panics once she goes over eight stones on the scale, and my sister who frequently calls herself fat despite going to the gym four times a week and averaging a size 6/8. it's the thoughtless comments of so-and-so is pretty but her sister is prettier instead of saying hey did you know suchabody was accepted into cambridge, she's doing really well with her life. it's how media seems to thrive off the male gaze, off expecting girls to smile like this and be this skinny and behave exactly like this.
and for all my anger and awareness of the problem these past few years, it never really hit me how hard this bothers me until it affected someone i have an innate desire to protect. i don't want to see strawberry turn from this quirky, cheerful girl who was never too self-conscious for anything into someone who is self-conscious about everything. why should she have to go through all that? quite frankly, i'm sick and tired of society's bullshit standards. i look forward to the day they crumble.
the musical muse challenge: results + awards!
Hello HPFTers! It's been a while. Maybe too long of a while. I honestly meant to have these results up a lot earlier, but I'm just kind of lowkey going through it right now? Uni + the future are both daunting and I just really wish I could put a pause on the world for a few months. Anyways, now that I'm done oversharing, let's get down to business
So a few months ago, I hosted a challenge called The Musical Muse Challenge in which anyone who was interested dropped me a comment, I stuck my Spotify playlist on shuffle and then assigned them a lyric from whatever song it fell on. Then it was up to the participant to take it from there! I was interested in how they would be inspired by the lyric and whether it would be different from what I'd consider. (Spoiler alert: they were.) The entries were lots of fun to read and I had a hard time whittling it down to the top three because every entry had something I loved about it But before I announce who won, check out who entered!
1. beautiful fantasy (t) by @Alwynse
2. dum vivimus vivamus (m) by @sunshine_locks
3. out of the magical world (m) by @StarFeather [ch7-8]
4. rinse and repeat (m) by @VaguelyCreativeName
5: sisyphus (m) by @ShadowRose
6. six segments of a satsuma (t) by @Aphoride
Make sure you send them all a lot of love! ^.^ Now, onto the winners of the challenge
In third place, we have dum vivus vivamus by sunshine_locks! I thought that this was such a beautiful piece because it made me feel so many things. Certain aspects of Radha's personality and life resonated with me deeply and I really appreciated the growth in her character. It was interesting to me how the lyric I used to recognise myself/it's funny how reflections change reflected the growth in her character whereas I probably would've written something a lot darker haha. Ultimately, it was the little details that were scattered throughout the one shot that really won me over. The 16k+ didn't feel like too much at all ❤️
As a reward, you have earned 2 reviews and some WJ questions! If you want me to review anything in particular, just let me know
In second place is rinse and repeat by VaguelyCreativeName! After reading this one shot, I just had to honour the entry with an award. The reason for this is because the lyric that was given was a lot more ambiguous than others in the challenge - and i don't know what you're saying but you're talking so loud from intention by kiiara - that I didn't know what I would've come up with if it was me who had gotten it. But 'rinse and repeat' really surprised me by how well it took the prompt and ran with it. Remus' internal monologue was really powerful and evoked something strong in me. Julia articulated Remus' struggle very beautifully and did so in less than 1000 words.
You have earned 3 reviews, WJ questions and an aesthetic/picspam. Lemme know what you want your picspam on as well as any specific stories you'd like reviewing (or if you just want me to have at your AP)
Aaaand in first place, it's Aphoride with six segments of a satsuma!!! ❤️ My review for this was largely incoherent because I was just blown away by everything in it. I adored Scorpius even though he made my heart hurt and the pure lyricism in the one shot amazed me. The lyric given was the power of youth is on my mind from 'Old Money' by Lana del Rey. When I assigned it, I personally envisioned something to do with the wizarding wars, something action-packed and all viva la revolucion. This was not that and that's precisely why I set the challenge. The one shot encompassed the same atmosphere of the song (though that wasn't a requirement) and weaved in the lyric in a more philosophical, poignant manner.
Your prizes include 4 reviews, WJ questions, an aesthetic/picspam and a spot on my (seriously needs to be updated) recs page on tumblr! Again, let me know if you want anything reviewed in particular as well as what you'd like in your picspam
As for everyone who entered my challenge, thank you for doing so! It was tons of fun to read what your lovely minds cooked up.
note: graphics made by me. unfortunately, they're looking a little blurry even though they weren't like that when i downloaded them so. i luv interneting.
cassie clare: why she makes me tired
(a spoilery criticism of some of the reasons i am losing interest)
Okay so I planned to write this post a few days ago, but then midterms and assignments claimed my soul I am living the dream life, people. Every day is a dream.
Anyways, I was inspired to write this particular topic when I was scrolling through tumblr the other day and I saw Cassie Clare had released another snippet of QoAD (which I didn’t read because your girl doesn’t need any spoilers tyvm ). I’m pretty sure I saw the name ‘Alec Lightwood’ as I noped the hell out of there which, for some reason, incited such a visceral reaction in me that I had to come here and say something. Because apparently I think I know a lot. Feel free to disagree.
This post is essentially a criticism of Cassie Clare and the Shadowhunter Chronicles. I know a lot of people don’t read her stuff because they disagree with her behaviour and her past actions. However, I was already invested in TDA by the time I fully looked into it, so I kind of really want to see how it ends? That doesn’t mean I don’t have my criticisms, of course. It’s been a while since I’ve read any of the books in the entire Shadowhunter series and I have to reiterate that I do enjoy them a lot. I think Cassie Clare is a great writer, if a little too heavy on exposition and describing every-little-thing, and her characters really hold up her stories.
That being said…
1. She really needs to learn to let go of her characters.
I get it. It’s hard to let go of your characters, especially when you’ve poured so much into them. I’ve been there myself actually with the Dormitory 2.6A series because it was so significant to my development as a writer and I had so many ideas about them that didn’t make it into the original story. Writers get attached.
Regardless, my girl needs to learn to let them go. "Them" meaning the cast of The Mortal Instruments.
When she wrote TMI, she had a bit of overlap with The Infernal Devices, the biggest being Brother Zachariah (my one true love ❤️), but most of it was quite subtle. A passage here about Magnus remembering “the gas-lit streets of London”, or a mention of a book with a faded note from a Will Herondale there. It was very organic.
This is not the case with TDA. At every chance she gets, Cassie Clare mentions TMI characters in TDA and quite frankly, it doesn’t make sense. I don’t understand why Clary, Jace, Alec and so on have such an invested interest in Emma or Julian and the rest of the Blackthorns when they were just some of many children who were left distraught by the Dark War. Actually, I do know why – because Cassie Clare doesn’t know how to let them go. Their contributions to the TDA storyline are so bizarre and out of place. At least Jem has a viable reason to turn up in Lady Midnight – he and Emma are both the last living Carstairs – but Clary? Not so much.
Like. I don’t understand why she would tell Emma out of all people a secret she can’t reveal to anyone else. Like. A seventeen year old kid. None of it makes sense. It just frustrates me because it bogs down an otherwise really good book.
2. Speaking of bogging down… she has so many unnecessary scenes in her books.
Look, I love TDA. Mostly because of the characters, yes, but I still really enjoyed reading Lady Midnight and Lord of Shadows (more so the first). But there’s a reason why each book keeps getting bigger and it’s because she doesn’t cut the unnecessary scenes. You can really tell with LoS because it takes like five chapters for one event in the Seelie Realm to occur and I’m just like,,, pls. We know you can do better.
It just takes away from the book in the end, I feel? Because it just means that the subplots are going at a pace slower than what I would usually be hooked by since there’s so much to cut through. I don’t understand why her editors aren’t telling her to trim down the unnecessary bits. It’s not even about characterisation because her characterisation is amazing without all of these extras.
3. Love triangles.
I’m not really a fan of love triangles, but Cassie Clare apparently is. Throughout the entire Shadowhunter Chronicles, she has had:
- TID: Jem, Will and Tessa (the only love triangle I’ve actually been okay with)
- TMI: Simon, Clary and Jace (a v boring and unnecessary one)
- TMI: Maia, Simon and Izzy (…just… why)
- TDA: Emma, Julian and Mark (I’m really glad this didn’t go the direction I thought she’d take it)
- TDA: Kieran, Mark and Christina (probably going to be a polyamorous relationship tbh)
- TDA: Kit, Livvy and Ty (again: why. just why.)
There are probably more that I’ve missed out, but you get the point 😕 I don’t understand why there always needs to be a love triangle, even when the two protagonists have been in love with each other for years (like Emma and Jules). It’s not a very interesting or original way to make their relationship turbulent, especially if you’ve done it so many times within one world.
4. She’s… never going to stop
I’ve decided that I’m probably going to stop reading after QoAD 😕 As in, I won’t be buying new installments because my girl is not finishing with TDA. She has plans to write a trilogy set after TID called The Last Hours and another one set after TDA with the younger Blackthorns called The Wicked Powers.
And that doesn’t include all of the special releases such as The Bane Chronicles, Ghosts of the Shadow Market or The Tales of Shadowhunter Academy.
I personally believe that we don’t need to know everything about the world of Shadowhunters. We don’t need to know if and how everything gets resolved with the Clave’s corruption and the dated views of Nephilim society. It’s nice to leave a few things unresolved! I actually really like it!
Idk everyone, I just feel like a lot of it might be a money grab? Don't get me wrong, I do think Cassie Clare clearly enjoys writing in this world, but I also think she manages to conveniently include a lot of fan favourites in series that should otherwise not feature them and that loyal fans buy them for that. For example, Jem has turned up in TDA and his involvement in GOTSM was really pushed. Will, Tessa and Jem all featured in TOTSA as did the story about Malec adopting a warlock baby. TLH will naturally include Will, Tessa and Jem/Brother Zachariah since the main characters are their children. TWP will probably include Jem and Tessa again. And probably Malec. You see what I mean?
Anyways, I know I’ve just ranted for a long time, but I guess I’m just tired of it all? Sometimes, writers just need to learn to let go. I guess that's what I'm trying to say ultimately. Another shining example would be JKR. The HP series doesn't need any more additions imho, we have it all sorted
maggie stiefvater: a discussion
i feel like i need to start this off with a disclaimer that none of this is hate.
hello dear hpfters! it's half 5 in the morning, i've vacated my bedroom because a spider has fallen somewhere onto my bed, and i decided to write a blogpost because why not. this one is brought to you by sinner by maggie stiefvater which i finally finished today after about... two weeks?
i've actually read quite a few of maggie stiefvater's books and yet i still spell her name wrong on the first attempt ever since i was a teenager. i've read scorpio races, i've read lament and its sequel, i've read the raven cycle and i've read the wolves of mercy falls aka the shiver series with varying responses. scorpio races didn't do it for me, but lament did. as for the raven cycle, i enjoyed it thoroughly and am definitely looking forward to the tv show (whenever that arrives), though i do have little things i nitpick here and there. but that's not why we're here today.
we're here because of sinner, a standalone/spin-off to the main trilogy of the wolves of mercy falls. if anyone doesn't know what this series is about, it's actually really interesting. the premise is this: grace brisbane lives in a small town in minnesota where she was once attacked by wolves and since then, she has been obsessed with them. this isn't really a spoiler since it's more or less mentioned in the blurb, but the wolves aren't just ordinary animals - they're werewolves. the reason i called it interesting is because maggie puts a little twist on the concept, as she often does with her books, and the shift into wolf-mode is not triggered by the moon but by the cold. it's involuntary and it lasts months.
bear in mind that i read the series a good few years ago, but i did enjoy the first book [shiver] a lot at the time. if anyone's familiar with her writing, they'll know that maggie (i can't for the life of me continue to accidentally do the typo in her surname so sayonara to that) often focuses more on the characters than a solid plot jam-packed with lots of events. the conflict is more often a conflict of the mind or the self and there's often a lot of introspection. even with the various supernatural settings, the characters are often shown when they're doing something mundane or ordinary, even if they're written as quirky or cut from a different cloth (for lack of a better term). a quick look at goodreads suggests that a lot of people found it too slow, but i honestly don't remember shiver being too much so. it moved along at a pace that worked for the characters and for the general feel maggie was going for imho and it ended at a satisfying place.
the sequels? i could've done without them.
i think they told a story that didn't necessarily need to be told. that being said, however, they did introduce some interesting perspectives and/or characters, namely cole st clair. sinner follows the story of cole and another character, isabel, after the events of the main trilogy. maybe i just left it too late to read, but i just... couldn't get into it. i finished it, of course, out of a faint curiosity but it didn't enrapture me. i wasn't fully engaged. i kept glancing at how many pages were left. which, y'know, isn't a particularly good sign.
i wanted to like it. i think isabel and cole are fascinating characters on paper - imperfect and aware of it, not necessarily nice, and their personalities sharp enough that they can't help but catch on each other's edges so that they're constantly dancing around one another. i think this, coupled with maggie's general style of writing, is what made me lose interest.
here is my take on maggie s.'s writing: she focuses on characters, particularly the parts that aren't so public-friendly and a little rough around the edges. they are a little off the beaten path and well-aware of it, a little lonely and get lost in their heads a lot. there's a real emphasis on the imperfect. these characters often communicate in gestures that might not seem like they mean much, but they do, which maggie often highlights with simple phrasing e.g. "She raised an eyebrow. He took a card." lol that's not a real quote but you get what i mean; maggie loads small actions with many implications, often creating an anticipatory air. sinner includes all of that and more. the characters are imperfect and cynical and they overthink a lot of things while doing very ordinary things.
and for some reason, i could not hack it.
it's not because cole was an arsehole or isabel was mean and the true definition of an ice queen. they're meant to be this way. it's that, when paired with the overall style of maggie's writing, i could not handle that level of narcissism, cynicism or the forwards-backwards dance of their relationship. there was something that was almost egotistical about it all. there's this whole sense of L.A. and california being this unreal state of artificial aesthetics and manufactured glamour that reels everyone in like a plastic spider on its web. cole and isabel are meant to be a stark, gritty contrast to it and i guess they are? but in a way that i couldn't really connect with either of them much better than i could connect to the bright lights of the city. i didn't hate them or anything. i just couldn't bring myself to care about their problems (as serious as they were).
all in all, i think that's the gamble that's taken with maggie's favoured style of writing. it worked in the case of TRC because i absolutely love ronan, who existed by being difficult on purpose, but i think the intended effect of her writing fell short here.
anyways, this was a little ramble i went on while i killed time before a bed clears up upstairs if you've somehow read this far, i'd love to be hollered at in the comments. whether you've read some of maggie's stuff and agree/disagree with my opinions, whether you have had similar experiences with not enjoying a writer or a book that you (or the masses) thought you would - comment away
dreams: a world of nonsense
I'm a very vivid dreamer.
Always have been and I hopefully always will be.
I have a distinct memory of describing a dream to a friend when I was twelve years old and how she lamented that the most exciting thing that she'd dreamt about was falling down the stairs. There I was recounting an action-packed plot where my family was escaping town to avoid war and I suddenly realised we'd left my little sister behind so I threw myself out of the car and ran back for her, but couldn't escape in time so we were hiding in the walls of a block of terrace houses while we waited out the soldiers - but I digress.
Point is it didn't occur to me that not everyone dreams such vivid dreams. Many of mine have appealed to me so much that I've tried to make them into stories albeit a lot more coherent and logical. I mean, I failed, but that's not the point.
To be honest, I find dreams to be really fascinating. I've seen facts in the past that state some people don't dream in any colour and others that say you're completely paralysed while dreaming. I find that one to be pretty cool actually. Your body's locked down while your mind is racing at a mile a minute.
All this thinking about dreams was inspired by two I had last night, or what I remember of them anyways. I've been considering making a blog on HPFT for a while now as a way to be more active in the community, but my unoriginal butt couldn't think of anything until now. (Hi, by the way! I'm Plums if you don't know - which you probably don't tbh because I am a well-seasoned Lurker who just hangs about for a bit until I come out for like two minutes to chat lmao.) If I'm being really honest with myself, this is all an elaborate way to let me talk about my dreams because my sisters are too busy doing unproductive things with their time like revising for exams or socialising. Pfft. Honestly.
Anyways, DREAM ONE:
I'm pretty sure this one was inspired by my sister showing me Blackpink's latest comeback, but basically I was part of this talent competition where the winning group would debut as part of the next big band. I managed to make a deal with five other people as per the rules to form a group and the entire dream was about us struggling to make it through the competition. One of the managers/judges was really supportive throughout the entire process as we learnt some intense choreography, made some pretty humiliating public appearances and trained our voices... only to vote against us in the final round and tell us that was just how cutthroat the industry was.
Really, the highlight of the dream was one of my fellow members responding with this pretty amazing retort that I sadly cannot quote as it includes mature language, but we had to make a break for it afterwards lol
This was one was more action-packed. In the dream, I was this Elizabeth Swann-esque character who had run away from home with a bunch of pirates. Somewhere along the way, we managed to anger the most notorious pirate gang on the seas - I think we were after the same treasure? I can't remember, but it all culminated in this insane battle on a stormy sea where NPG (Notorious Pirate Gang) nearly won, but we managed to turn it all around in the nth hour. Tbh my most vivid memory from this dream is swordfighting with a bunch of the NPG and then turning around to see the Captain of the NPG land on the captain's deck at which point I grabbed a rope to swing myself around and kick him in the chest so he went flying down to the deck below. The guy tried to kill me afterwards, but it was well worth it to be frank
Anyways those were my dreams from last night. To make this entire thing less about me: what are some of the dreams you have all had? Are your dreams ever really vivid and complex? Do you have any recurring dreams? Can you lucid dream? I would genuinely love to know <3
First blog post woohoo