Let’s talk about sex, baby

 

Is the sex education provided to children in the UK really teaching them everything they need to know?

That memory of awkwardly sitting in your Year Six classroom, cringing while the teacher talks about the birds and the bees. It’s something that – cringe – stays with most of us forever.

These days, children are being exposed to much more than they’re potentially ready for at a young age, due to social media and society’s ever-changing attitude towards sex. It may pose the question of whether or not the basic sex education provided to children is enough, or if children should be made more aware of sex from a wider perspective.

School teacher Alison Lewis, 38, has had the pleasure of teaching children between the ages of 11 and 18 for the past 16 years, and feels that not enough is being done to give children realistic ideas about sex and body image – which she says are inextricably intertwined.

“When a couple has sex, there’s always a chance a baby can be made, even if the couple doesn’t want this.”

“Boys definitely need to learn more about girls’ bodies. They are clueless about periods etc. and they also have unrealistic expectations of girls’ bodies because they get too much of their information from watching porn,” she says.

“It upsets me to think of the pressure upon teenage girls nowadays to try to fit into that supposedly ideal image. Women come in all shapes and sizes and boys need to see what is actually normal.”

Current UK laws outline that schools must provide sex education from key stage three. The National Curriculum states that from the age of 11 it is compulsory for children to be taught about reproduction, sexuality and sexual health but parents can withdraw their children from the lessons if they wish.

Some schools use BBC Teach videos like the above to teach lessons about sex education.

Lewis has a three-year-old and feels this has impacted her opinion on sex education. She is already concerned about the impact sex education may have on her daughter.

“It definitely changes perspectives a bit, being a parent. I know Daisy is only three but I already worry about stuff like that for her in the future,” she says.

“I think they need to be taught frankly about respect within a sexual relationship. Boys not having unreasonable demands and girls having the self-esteem and confidence to say what they do or don’t feel comfortable doing. I probably sound like an old prude but I think there is so much peer pressure nowadays and I’m not sure what the answer is. The education needs to be open, honest and perhaps a bit more shocking than it is currently!”

“When you’re in the changing room or the school showers, you’ll probably notice other boys’ penises. Don’t worry, everybody glances at other people sometimes.”

There are a lot of things children aren’t being made aware of in sex education, which some consider a godsend. Full-time mother of three Tracey Brodie, 46, feels that this is a way of engaging with her children about these issues at home rather in the classroom.

“I personally feel they give them enough for the age they are in Year Six,” she says, “now that Jess is in Year Seven they are explaining it all in a little more detail. As a mother who has a good open relationship with my daughter we are both open and honest and she will often ask questions as she knows I will be open to anything she asks.”

Brodie was also in agreement that there may be some things parents feel uncomfortable discussing and may wish the school would address these issues in more detail.

“Maybe a mother who is closed or shy might complain they need to know more at school. I feel I am happy with what they do at school as it just allows us to talk more openly when she comes home.”

“The first time your penis squirts semen, it can be very surprising.”

In March 2017, the Department of Education announced that all children from the age of four will be taught about safe and healthy relationships, and when they reach an appropriate age, they would go on to be taught about sex.

Fortismere Secondary School in Haringey follows a “well-being” curriculum to teach their students sex education. According to the PHSE co-ordinator, Jo Arrowsmith, the school take different routes to teach the children about healthy relationships and sex which was outlined to parents in an email.  

“As part of Year Nine’s “Well-being” curriculum, the Theatre in Education group, “Face Front” will be presenting the play SEX FM.”

“Semen is wet, and it leaves a mark on your pyjamas and sheets, but it washes out easily.”

“The play will complement lessons that are part of Fortismere’s “Well-being” curriculum, for Year Nine. Students will be building on their previous subject knowledge and skills enabling them to develop healthy relationships. Our focus is on the following aspects of a healthy relationship; qualities of a positive relationship, gender identity, consent, sexual health, STI’s, safe sex and contraception and the negative impact of alcohol abuse on wellbeing and happiness.”

As well as talking to the children about the physical aspects of sex education, the school also try to address issues with sex and social media.

“We will also revisit the negative impact of sexting, body image and pornography.”

One method commonly used by schools in England for teaching sex education is through books such as Usborne’s “What’s Happening to Me?” which are simple yet informative to say the least.

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This book is used by Oakhurst Grange Independent Prep School for Year Six sex education and specifically covers topics such as bodily fluids, coping with periods and also addresses gay relationships.

“It can be quite confusing because it’s common to fancy someone the same sex as you, especially growing up.”

Other organisations have argued that a more informative approach weakens the influence parents have on their children’s sex education. Christian Concern, the religious organisation, have been vocal about what they think should or in this case, should not, be taught in schools.

“Children need to be protected, and certainly when they’re [still at primary school], we need to be guarding their innocence,” the chief executive of Christian Concern, Andrea Williams told the BBC.

“We need to be protecting them from things, working with parents to ensure that what they might need to know – which will be different for every child, different in every context across the country – is properly looked at.”

But what may be considered “protecting their innocence” could in some cases put children who aren’t being taught anything about sex education at home at a disadvantage. Many argue that faith schools, for example, don’t teach children the relevant information about sex that is necessary for them later in life.

In accordance with new government proposals for compulsory sex education, faith schools are also obliged to teach sex education to children “in accordance with their faith”. This means that they may teach that same sex relationships are immoral and they can also ignore any LGBT issues within their teachings.

“The extra blood fills up a spongy substance called erectile tissue, making your penis bigger and harder.”

Lisa Hallgarten, a coordinator of the Sex Education Forum (a membership organisation aiming to improve the quality of sex and relationship education) believes that young people’s needs are not being met, and that the government need to act.

“There is ample evidence that sex and relationships education is not meeting young people’s needs. The Sex Education Forum has been campaigning for statutory, good quality, evidence-based SRE for 30 years so we were delighted that statutory SRE (to be called Relationships and Sex Education) was made law in the Children and Social Work Act 2017.”

Hallgarten and the Sex Education Forum are still fighting for more in depth and informative education for children.

“There is still a lot of work to do to ensure that the regulations and guidance support teachers and schools to deliver a comprehensive, evidence-based curriculum which really reflects children’s developmental needs, and the context in which children and young people are growing up.”

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Year 10 student Tilly Knowles thinks that sex education goes from one extreme to the other.

“In some schools it’s ‘when a man and a woman who are married love each other very much…’ In my school they have changed it and we are learning about freaking polygamy and polyamory, which I think is good because we get to learn about different types of relationships. We learn a lot about different types of relationships, we’re not just told what is good and what isn’t.”

Full details of the National Curriculum for sexual education can be found on the government website.

 

 

Moving Kate

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One of my latest assignments for uni was all about going to different art events and write up a log about them so I ended up going to have a look at SHOWstudio’s exhibition- Moving Kate. 

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The exhibition was a showcase of images of Kate Moss through the eyes of 30 fashion illustrators commissioned by Nick Knight celebrating the model and the fashion surrounding her throughout her career.

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The gallery is kind of pretentious and you get that vibe from walking around it, which doesn’t take long. This was probably a reflection of the artwork and the industry from which Kate works within.

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Greeting you at the front door was a large photograph of Kate Moss which had a paragraph below outlining the meaning behind the exhibition and why SHOWstudio decided to celebrate Moss in their studio space. This had a lot to do with her achievements within the fashion industry and I think this was shown in the art they put on the walls.

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In order to try and portray her personality through the art, headphones and iPads were set up where the viewer could listen to old interviews. I found this interesting and a bit of a modern touch on a typical art exhibition.

One of the things I enjoyed most about the artwork was the colour scheme that seemed to run throughout most of the pieces. The aesthetics were soft and easy to look at which was surprising due to the fact that they were done by completely different artists.

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The best thing about the exhibition in my opinion was unseen footage of Kate they had playing on iPads around the room. It made it feel more exclusive and gave the exhibition more of a purpose.

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Although the atmosphere in the gallery was less than welcoming, one other enjoyable factor to me was the way each artist was polar opposite in style. The illustrations of Moss went from bright, bubbly cartoons to nude paintings and simple pencil drawings. Some of the pictures were barely recognisable.

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At first I wasn’t sure how to feel about this but as I looked over more of the images I began to appreciate that the illustrations are just interpretations of how the artist views the subject, and that will never be the same as anyone else’s interpretation.

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My favourite part of the exhibition was the “Pinpression: Kate Moss 2005” which was literally an impression of the side of her face with yellow, green and orange glitter. I think this was creative and it also made the event feel more personal despite it being about a very non-personable person.

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There was something new and different to be seen in every image and I think that says a lot about how diverse Moss is as a model herself.

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La La Land

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La La Land can only be described as everything that you want to hate but you can’t help loving. It’s soppy, honest and heart breaking all at the same time and you can’t help but forgive it for the slight air of cringe flowing through the oh-so typical love story. 

The film begins on a high with a feel good musical scene on the motorway leading to Downtown LA, and ends on a sort-of low, with an up and down love story floating somewhere in-between. The storyline is brimming with false hope as it tricks you into believing that a happy ending is on the cards before aching you with heartbreak.

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The romantic and musical atmosphere running through the film is true to writer/director Damien Chazelle’s classic style used in his past writing such as Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench.

Sebastian who is played by Ryan Gosling is a jazz pianist and dreams of one day opening his own club. Mia who is played by Emma Stone is a hopeful actress searching for her big break. 

Gosling and Stone both portray their role as the star-crossed lovers wholeheartedly and although the singing was adequate, their performance was oozing with chemistry. This comes at no surprised as La La Land will be the third time the pair have co-starred as a loved-up duo after their roles in both Crazy, Stupid, Love and Gangster Squad.

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The aesthetically pleasing set designed by David Wasco and Sandy Reynolds-Wasco was a modern twist on old school Hollywood with bright colours and dramatic scenery. The charming costumes also clash with the bittersweet story of two lovers who are forced apart by a fork in the road moment when they are both faced with a choice; following their dreams or following their heart, and the realisation that they can’t do both. 

Although the storyline is nothing we haven’t seen before, it’s easy to quickly become mesmerised by this style of storytelling. If you aren’t the type of person who usually entertains a musical, don’t be too quick to judge.

The jazz music which flows through the film from beginning to end is part of what makes the film so enchanting. “Mia and Sebastians Theme” by Justin Hurwitz is the perfect piano track to reflect the rocky love story along with “City of Stars” which is sung by Gosling and Stone.

Sun’s Out

It’s finally Spring! What better way to procrastinate a 2500 word essay than to put on a summer dress, drink a bottle of prosecco and take some pictures on the roof? There isn’t one.

When Pat suggested we do this as a “break” from our hard work I jumped at the chance. Especially since I got to wear her white Zara smock dress which is a dream.

I’m obsessed with this outfit and officially can not wait for summer. I might even go as far as saying its no longer tights weather.. but with London you never know. 

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The dress is from Zara last season but since Zara are the king of smock dresses I had a quick look on their website to see if they have any new arrivals and was pleasantly surprised. These were some of my faves. 

Crepe City 2017

For those of you who haven’t heard of Crepe City, you need to educate yourself ASAP. Especially if you love wearing trainers because it’s kind of the be all and end all in that department. Long story short they describe themselves as  “a lifestyle, footwear and fashion festival” and it’s been going strong for 8 years. 

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Lucky for me I managed to get hold of a press pass for the event this weekend so I could do a write up about it for the magazine I am working on for uni (@tackiemag). The best part of this meant that I got to stroll in past the hundreds queueing outside, press wristband on, no questions asked. 

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The event was at the Old Truman Brewery and once inside you were greeted with endless stalls jam packed with as many pairs of trainers as you can imagine. 

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One great thing about the event is that although it is mainly a celebration of sneakers there was also so much more to enjoy. The DJ booth, food stands, arcade games and even art work made it a great day for almost anyone. Even if you’re not that into trainers there was so much going on and I definitely think it’s worth the £15 general admission. 

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For those who are obsessed with buying trainers it was an absolute field day, with exclusive releases, custom designs, cleaning services and competitions to win a free pair of Nikes. Also I can honestly say I’ve never seen so many Yeezey’s under one roof. 

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Overall I am really glad I got to go and experience it and I would definitely go again. Maybe not in a pair of dirty vans next time. 

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Alexandra Moura AW17

So this may be very belated but February ended up being an absolute nightmare for me with uni deadlines hitting me left right and centre so, posting anything had to take a back seat for a while.

Anywho, as you all probably know last month was London Fashion Week and once again I was lucky enough to have to chance to help out as a dresser backstage for the unbelievably talented Portuguese designer Alexandra Moura.

The show took place at Banking Hall which was the perfect location to match the modern yet romantic collection on the runway.

I was assigned to dress a model called Naomi and honestly, it’s always a bit intimidating when you have to physically dress models because you end up stood there looking like a bit of a weird midget .. but I love being in the middle of it all too much to let those thoughts take over.

Naomi was given two outfits for the show, the first was a suede, brown high-neck top with a blue stretchy skirt which had an oversized knot on the hem. Very sleek. The outfit was paired with a chunky black denim jacket and thigh high black boots.

The second outfit completely stole the show for me. Moura layered a sheer red floral dress over a blue and white pinstripe lining and again paired it with the same thigh highs and a ribbon in the same fabric tied around the neck.