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April 10, 2014

#Barebeauty raised $1,200 for the Barbados Cancer Society


The #Barebeauty #nomakeupselfie campaign with LIME Barbados raised over $1,200 for the Barbados Cancer Society! THANK YOU to each and every one of you beauties who supported this campaign by posting selfies & donating from near and far. The campaign raised a lot more than expected and it's really exciting to see so many people join together for a great cause. 
This isn't a huge amount, especially when compared to the millions raised in the UK, but for a small island with a quarter million people, it's pretty awesome. It also says a lot about how our local social media landscape works and highlights the potential for greater social media fundraising campaigns in the future. I'll be working with the Barbados Cancer Society to show everyone how the money raised will be used in the coming months. 


April 9, 2014

Happy 4th Bloggy Birthday


I caught myself telling someone that this blog is now 4 years old, and I couldn't quite believe what I was saying. I know it's not a big deal to some, but it's been a part of my life for long enough that it's like a young child. A child that needs constant love and attention in order to grow and develop. Just like raising a child, you can't be fooled into thinking that blogging is all fun & nice pictures. A successful blog takes a LOT of work, and sometimes I wonder where I find the time to do it and how I can be better at it. I envy those who can blog consistently without posting crap, and those bloggers who seem to have it all together. How do they DO it?! It used to be my favourite procrastinating tool, but now that I take it a bit more seriously I tend to get stressed out about it (and I turn to Pinterest instead). Nobody wants to read a half ass post, or to read about the boring stuff I get up to, so I gotta stay on top of my game if I'm going to consider myself a real 'blogger'. That means setting aside time to do it properly, to think about what I write, and to try my best to bring some value (or entertainment) to every person who reads my posts. 

My feelings towards this blog and blogging in general haven't changed that much since my 'blogiversary' post in 2012, and I don't want to end up repeating myself, so you can read a bit more on that here. Clearly, my love of cute dogs wearing silly party hats hasn't matured either.

Thank you to everyone who's given a little bit of love to Skip to Malou* over the years and shown their support by reading, sharing, critiquing and following this blog; it really means a lot to me.

April 7, 2014

What did Kim Novak have to do with the #nomakeupselfie trend?

The #nomakeupselfie caused such a stir these past few weeks around the world; sparking debates, raising questions and even forcing some of us to explain what a selfie is to our grandmas. Since it sprung from nowhere and made waves through social media, the no makeup selfie trend has raised millions for cancer organisations around the world. The trend hit Barbados a little bit late in the game but people still snapped away and raised money.


As someone who was actively involved in the campaign locally, I've thought long and hard about what this campaign said about crowd funding, online participation and selfies. Getting people, young people in particular, actively involved and interested in a cause is no easy feat. I wrote my Master's thesis on youth participation in politics, and investigated the ways in which social media can act as a driving force to engage them. As a generation who is often accused of being selfish, complacent and disconnected from society, we can learn a lot about how to get people to do two things: Give (donate) and give a shit in general. The campaign mirrored quite a few points made in my thesis; a few of which I'd like to talk about, because it both upset and excited quite a few people.

Firstly, I found myself having to explain the link between taking a selfie & raising cancer awareness in general. This was one of the main points raised on a daily basis! In order to do so, I had to explain where the whole  #nomakeupselfie trend is rumoured to have started for it to make a bit more sense. Though it's not 100% clear, it all started with Kim Novak. Here's what I've put together after quite a bit of research:



1.) Kim Novak attended the Oscars last month, the former on screen siren was criticized for her 'shocking' appearance; at 81 years old, her face looked distorted by plastic surgery. The response was as rapid as it was vicious and Twitter exploded in snark over the frozen look of Novak’s face. People fumed that she had not aged “gracefully." 

2.) The novelist Laura Lippman shared a photo of herself without make-up "in solidarity" with Kim Novak after being mocked for her appearance. "I looked at her photo and thought, 'Well, damned if you do, damned if you don't' … all I could think was, God love you, Kim Novak. We criticise women for ageing. We criticise women for not ageing. We criticise women's bodies. We criticise women for bad plastic surgery. Calling herself "Team Novak all the way", Lippman took a photograph of herself and shared it on Facebook, challenging readers to share bare-faced photographs of themselves as well. Lippman said that some people thought she challenged only writers to do this, but it was open to everyone, men and women. Some thought it was about the very concept of selfies, but she only cared only that the photos be raw. "The only thing I asked people to do was share photos of themselves without make-up — in solidarity with Kim Novak. The point isn't that she look good without make-up, the point is this is what she looked like. The selfie part was never meant to be mandatory."


3.) The link between the thousands of selfies posted in response to Laura Lippman's blog post & breast cancer awareness is still unclear. Days after her initial tweet, the internet attached the "no make up" idea to cancer, and you could argue that the connection makes no sense. Because of the nature of the campaign (linking cancer with 'selfies'), it resonated on an emotional level rather than an intellectual one. 

4.) Because the campaign was linked to cancer awareness, people assumed Cancer Research UK was involved, even though they weren't. They cleverly caught on to the trend really early in the game, and posted a photo offering a shortcode as a way for people to donate to the cause. People also seemed to buy into the campaign it because it wasn't engineered deliberately by Cancer Research UK. It was a rare example of pure, not manufactured, virality and they were doing it because their friends nominated them to.


Unfortunately, somewhere along the virtual line, a lot of meaning was lost. People started posting the selfies because they were following the trend, and not donating or talking about the cause. I think people were reading into it too much by suggesting the most valuable response a woman could have to a huge problem like cancer is to take off her makeup, as though this is a meaningful sacrifice. To be clear, it’s not a huge sacrifice, and it cannot be compared to anything as brave as facing the public when you are undergoing cancer treatment. That’s what taking your makeup off was being compared to though. Posting a picture of yourself looking, as you imagine, your worst, was understood as somehow demonstrating empathy with those of who've been through what it really looks and feels like to have the dreadful disease.

The fact that this campaign incorporated the buzzword of 2013 surely didn't hurt either. Some people are obsessed with selfies! But on a deeper level, posting a selfie made people feel good about themselves; it was about affirmation, self-confidence and authenticity. The crazy thing is that for some, taking a selfie without make up was incredibly difficult and awkward. Some of my friends, who I consider to be the most beautiful women I know, struggled to see the beauty in their photo without their 'make up' mask. That's a HUGE issue, and one which is being addressed in many different ways recently but I don't think that this was the point of the nomakeupselfie trend.


My understanding of posting the selfie was more strategic though: images are very powerful, and people relate to them. 'Going bare' simply prompted a gimmick - people need an easy way to get involved and relate to something. Asking people to text the shortcode wasn't enough, you had to include an image and a way for them to pass the 'baton' along to their networks. The real secret weapon was the call to action. Initially, many selfies included links to charity pages. But the campaign only really achieved critical mass when the text donation element came to dominate: no forms to fill in, no credit card details to enter. Whether you were posting a photo, or donating money, all you needed was a phone. And that's the fundamental lesson here for fundraisers: anyone who hopes to achieve virality of any kind needs to think about how their message will work on mobile. The bigger something gets, the more mobile comes into play. Phones turbocharge the spread of ideas.


I was really excited by what I was seeing on my newsfeed - SO many of my friends were taking part, regardless of age, location, or usual social media behaviour. The best one I saw was from a friend who has lived in 3 countries and she included text donation numbers for all the countries where she had friends - it made the ones that didn't mention it all the more irritating. Some of my friends also explained that they didn't see the link between a selfie and cancer, so they posted images that they considered more relevant such as diagrams showing how to conduct a self examination.  Even if they disagreed with the campaign, they were voicing their opinions online, raising even more awareness. I don't blame them for not seeing the link, I was just happy to see that they cared enough to post SOMETHING and spread awareness to their networks. Anything is better than nothing right?

The bottom line for me was this: in order for people to get involved in a cause, they're going to need some sort of emotional attachment to the cause, or the action they're going to take to get involved. For young people in 2014 and beyond, that action is most likely in the form of social media and mobile, and it has to be easy as cake. Some say this trivializes the whole concept of charity and giving, but I don't think it does. Those who wouldn't usually care enough to take part in volunteerism or to donate to a cause, are more likely to if they see others doing it (virtually or physically) and I'm all for whatever it takes to get them involved. Every little helps, and the Cancer foundations around the world are happy for it.

Read my other posts on the #nomakeupselfie trend:

Practise what you preach: An exciting #nomakeupselfie follow up



April 5, 2014

Digicel hops on the bandwagon

And just when you thought you had seen enough selfies.... Digicel Barbados is getting on board with the #nomakeupselfie campaign! They're now offering all Digicel customers the opportunity to text 'HOPE' to short code 5152 to donate $5 to the Barbados Cancer Society from now until the end of April. Digicel has also pledged to donate an additional BDS$5,000 in addition to the money raised! It's not too late for all of you who couldn't participate before to get involved.


March 29, 2014

#nomakeupselfies in The Nation

The local #nomakeupselfie campaign was featured in today's Saturday Sun! We have until April 4th to spread the word & raise as much as possible for the Barbados Cancer Society, so keep snapping those selfies!


March 27, 2014

Let's talk about Boobs.

Selfies aint her thing, so when my friend Marta of Bombshell Health was nominated to take one for the #nomakeupselfie campaign, she decided to share some breast cancer facts instead, alongside a handy breast self-examination card to help ladies get acquainted with their ladies. 





According to the World Health Organization, breast cancer is the most common cancer among women worldwide, claiming the lives of hundreds of thousands of women each year and affecting countries at all levels of modernization. Breast cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the tissues of the breast. The damaged cells can invade surrounding tissue, but with early detection and treatment, most people continue a normal life. Cancer remains the second leading cause of death among women, however, death rates from breast cancer have been declining since about 1990, in part to better due to screening and early detection, increased awareness, and continually improving treatment options.








In recent years, perhaps coinciding with the decline in prescriptive hormone replacement therapy after menopause, we have seen a gradual reduction in female breast cancer incidence rates among women aged 50 and older. Death rates from breast cancer have been declining since about 1990, in part to better due to screening and early detection, increased awareness, and continually improving treatment options.

March 25, 2014

Selfies, Breast Cancer Awareness & LIME Barbados

It's time to snap your best selfie!

We need your help with a breast cancer awareness campaign that's kicking off in Barbados this week, in aid of the Barbados Cancer Society. 


What is this all about?
The #nomakeupselfie started trending throughout social media in the UK on Tuesday as women posted pictures of themselves without make-up on Twitter and Facebook, and urged their friends to do the same.
Cancer awareness became the theme, selfie posters pledged donations to cancer charities and Cancer Research UK set up a text number to make donating even easier.
But the cancer charity did not kick-start the trend - it grew organically, making a huge impact on social media and getting attention in national newspapers and on radio and TV news. To date, the campaign has raised over 2 million pounds for Cancer Research UK!
How can Bajans get involved?
We're bringing #nomakeupselfie to Barbados! LIME has come on board and is offering a $5 shortcode (8690) for all LIME customers. Each text donates the entire $5 to the Barbados Cancer Society. This offer is only available to LIME customers between now and April 4th, but that doesn't mean we can't all do our part to get others involved! Don't forget, guys love a good selfie as much as the ladies do, so be sure to get them to join in the fun!
What do I need to do?
1. Text "Bare Beauty" to 8690. Your LIME account will be charged $5.00 - whether postpaid or pre paid. Here's a step by step guide on how to send this text. No LIME? No problem. Just ask a friend with a LIME account to send a text on your behalf! 
2. Take a photo of yourself (a 'selfie') with no make up, anywhere, anyhow. You can be as silly, serious and creative as you'd like! Share this on any platform you'd like: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, E-mail, using the #nomakeupselfie and #barebeauty. Here are some tips on taking a good selfie.
3. Nominate and tag 5 friends to do the same on social media and spread the word!
4. Remember to include the shortcode in your message on social media, so that everyone knows how they can get involved in the fun!
5. Send this email to any person, organisation or company who you think would like to get involved in the cause. The possibilities are endless, so let's try our best to raise as much money as possible before April 4th!
You can get in touch with me via my Facebook Page if you have any questions.
More Info:

March 24, 2014

Practise what you preach: An exciting #nomakeupselfie follow up




Friday morning started out quite strangely for me. I did a post about the #nomakeupselfie campaign on Facebook and my post prompted quite a lot of discussion amongst my friends throughout different social media platforms, both positive and negative. Some people messaged me privately saying that they agreed with what I was getting at, whilst others told me I came across as quite dismissive of those who were trying to do something good by posting selfies. Feedback and criticism comes with the blogging territory, and I'm always grateful for it because it's an ongoing process for me. 

Let me reiterate that my main point was not to bash those who were taking the selfies but to suggest that they remember to donate to the cause locally. I have nothing but respect for those who take a good cause seriously and do their part to contribute, but I felt like those who were simply posting a selfie without donating were missing the point. I'm not blaming them either, because unfortunately, the opportunity wasn't there for girls to donate to the local Cancer Society in Barbados, as we simply didn't have the means to do so and there wasn't any mention of it in local media. This really bothered me, and I saw this as a great opportunity for our local service providers to work together with our local Cancer Society to raise some money for a great cause. I also don't like to sound like I'm preaching from behind my computer screen without doing something about it...

I got in touch with a contact at LIME Communications, and pleaded my case. I asked her if there was any way that we could get a shortcode for those who want to post the selfies and donate and whether we could get it together quickly. Luckily, she was interested in the cause and asked me more about it. About 10 emails later, we realised that there was little that could be done at that point because it was 7pm on a Friday evening, and all of LIME's technicians were out of the office. Unfortunately, no matter what we tried, it just wasn't coming together. We reluctantly agreed that we had given it our best shot and accepted defeat.

It kept bugging me throughout the weekend though. I kept telling myself, "If only I had gotten in touch with her sooner..." I hated knowing that this could have worked with better timing.

Things happen for a reason, and this morning I received an email from her saying that the shortcode had been put in place and that she still wanted to help me get it together. I spent the morning on the phone with the Barbados Cancer Society, trying my best to explain what a selfie was and how it has the potential to raise money. Better yet, I had to explain how a campaign with no real 'coordinator' managed to raise over two million pounds for Cancer Research UK.

So, finally, after lots of liaising, nagging, emailing, calling, coding & pushing, we got it together. It may be a bit behind the global #nomakeupselfie trend but better late than never right? I'm so excited to work with LIME on this project and can't wait to see more selfies supporting the cause! 

Stay tuned for the shortcode and more details on the local #nomakeupselfie campaign tomorrow! 

March 22, 2014

Makeover


The blog got a much needed makeover today, thanks to a pre made template I found on Etsy. I've been putting off the 'construction' of this space for too long now and I just couldn't stand the sight of my blog anymore, so something had to be done quickly.  It still took quite a bit of HTML tweaking and tinkering though, and it's still not quite what I wanted, but it's always going to be a work in progress! What do you think of the new look?

I can't believe I spent my Saturday afternoon blogging when my girlfriends were outside tanning....my nerdyness has sunk to a new level.

I take comfort in knowing I'll make up for it by spending the entire day on the beach tomorrow instead #paradiseproblems

March 21, 2014

#nomakeupselfie





I've been nominated to take part in the viral #nomakeupselfie campaign to raise breast cancer awareness but I'm not sure how I feel about it. The hashtag wasn't started by a cancer charity, and nobody can quite pintpoint the link between a #nomakeupselfie and cancer. It's a very organic, grassroots campaign that started on Tuesday and charities in the field have been quick to jump on board the trend. A Cancer Research UK staff member posted a makup-free photo with the message "the campaign isn't ours but every £ helps", holding up instructions on how to donate, and other charities followed suit. The hashtag #nomakeupselfie has now been used 51,000 times on Twitter and raised over £1 million for Cancer Research UK. This is how it works: You take a photo of yourself (a.k.a a 'selfie') and you post it on your social media platform of choice. You 'nominate' friends to do the same by tagging them in your post, and they then take a photo and tag their friends in it. This 'chain letter' structure has aided the campaign in spreading its net so widely. Twitter, Instagram and Facebook are blowing up with these images of women who have taken the plunge to expose their naked faces on the internet. A lot of people, including a host of celebrities, are posting links to their favourite cancer charities along with their photos. As a woman, I find it worrying that daring to go 'bare' is such a big deal. If women not wearing make up is deemed as brave, what does that say about society today? Don't get me wrong, it’s great to see so many people getting involved to help raise cancer awareness amongst their friends and family, but I feel like a lot of us are missing the point if we don't donate to a charity as well as post the selfie. So for those of us in Barbados who can't text Cancer Research UK, I suggest you check out the Barbados Cancer Society & related pages Champions In Pink,The Little Pink Gift Foundation, The Gift Foundation &BCS-Movember to see how you can donate locally.

March 12, 2014

Carnival Chronicles: {Day 2} Passports, Port of Spain & a Pan yard


I'm not going to bore you with all of the details of my day Friday because it started with a passport renewal appointment at the Dutch Embassy. I don't know why I thought it was a brilliant idea to squeeze this in during my trip, but I did and I regretted it the moment I woke up with a killer hangover and spent an hour navigating the one way streets down town Port of Spain. It also didn't help that my passport photos weren't accepted and I had to get back in the car and find my way to a studio to have new photos done, sans make up and feeling like death. It was quite the adventure, especially since I had no working phone and traffic was crazy thanks to everyone starting their weekends early...


The plus side to this early morning chaos was that I could explore a bit of the city by myself. Port of Spain is an eclectic mix of old and new; colonial buildings standing next to high rise office buildings, hustle and bustle everywhere. It's a unique 'urban Caribbean' atmosphere that I've never experienced before. My favourite area is definitely the Queen's Park Savannah, it's a beautiful, open green space that acts as a perfect point of reference for a clueless tourist like me. It reminded me of a good book I read a while ago called 'The white woman on the green bicycle', where the author recalls Trinidad in the 1950's in vivid detail and talks about the political rallies at the Savannah.

Still no news about my suitcase at this point, even though I spent hours frantically trying to reach someone at LIAT. Late that afternoon, I finally got through to a human being and was put on hold, only to be told that my bag was not one of the selected 8 that were brought over from St.Vincent that day (8 out of 50+ forgotten bags!) I didn't see the point of complaining, but I can imagine they got an earful from the female passengers who weren't as lucky as I was with great housemates whose clothes I could borrow. Depriving a girl of a suitcase on Carnival weekend is just plain mean.They told me it wasn't looking hopeful either, as every flight was fully booked until Sunday.

The highlight of the day was going to a 'pan yard' after dinner with a group of friends. We walked down to the end of a narrow street and followed the sound of 60+ steelpans playing in unison. 


Anyone who's ever heard a steelpan orchestra knows how amazing it is! We sipped on beers, limed and I had my first taste of Trini corn soup :) We were told that this was one of the smaller yards, so next time I'd like to check out the others as well.


As Christina's aunt joined the group, she casually mentioned that she had my suitcase from LIAT. I thought she was joking (especially after the fiasco that afternoon) but it turns out they contacted her when they were delivering the suitcase that evening. I had written down about 5 contacts in Trinidad whom they could call when delivering my suitcase, and she was lucky number 5! As you can imagine, I was both relieved and saddened by the prospect of wearing my own clothes again. I was starting to get used to being styled and dressed for every outing....


March 11, 2014

Carnival Chronicles: {Day 1} LIAT, Rolly pollys & Crowd control at TRIBE

Declaring that I'm not a morning person is a slight understatement. I HATE waking up early, but the one exception is when I'm waking up to catch a flight. The only thing keeping a smile on my face on my way to the airport was knowing that I was one step closer to Carnival.


Unfortunately, LIAT had other plans. We flew via St.Vincent and it was while we were chilling on the tarmac waiting for the new passengers to board that I noticed my bag being unloaded. I told the stewardess that my bag shouldn't be taken off because I was continuing on to Trinidad, but she smiled and told me it was going to be brought back on to the plane shortly. As this conversation was going on, the plane started to tilt backwards. As in, the front of the plane lifted off of the ground and it actually tilted backwards. Apparently they let too many people board the plane through the back door, and the plane started to lift off at the front. Cue raging panic amongst the passengers who were seated and the stewardess screaming as she ran through the aisle: 
"GET TO THE FRONT OF DE PLANEEEE! DON'T PANIC! JES MOVE FORWARDDD!" 

Panic continued on the tarmac as well, as ground handling personnel ran towards the plane and hung like monkeys from the front wheel. Panic then subsided as quickly as it arose as the plane levelled itself and a man seated behind me joked:
"De big bumpas and rolly polly ladies mek de plane tilt! Who let dem on board?"
Lucky for LIAT, everyone was too excited about Carnival to care about the near disaster.


LIAT continued to impress me as I arrived in Port-of-Spain, by informing me that my bag had in fact been left in St.Vincent and would 'maybe come later tonight.' Mine was amongst 50+ bags that had simply been taken off of the plane to accommodate the rolly pollys and big bumpas who got on. I was too tired to throw a fit, and the LIAT personnel seemed way too used to this sort of thing to give a shit. Silly me, I should have just packed everything in my hand luggage. First time flying with LIAT was an epic fail but at least I was finally in Trinidad.

I was picked up by John, a family friend who was kind enough to lend us his car for the duration of the trip. After a quick bite, he dropped me to our apartment where I was reunited with Chris and the girls who had arrived in Trinidad earlier that day.

Lots of squealing and giggling later, we chilled at the apartment until it was time for me to go to the band house to collect my costume with J (As the only male in the house, he was hereby known as 'Justine' for the week)


I felt like a kid on Christmas morning when we got to the band house. It was organized chaos as hundreds of people queued to collect their costumes. Feathers and beads were everywhere and Harts did a great job of keeping people happy by offering free beer and wine to everyone waiting. Thanks again for taking us Dans & Philou :) 


I felt slightly deflated when I got my costume, because I couldn't believe I had paid so much money for something that was stuck together with glue. Everyone justifies the cost of the costumes by saying that they're hand-made/stitched  so that they'll last through two days on the road, but this was not the case. I also paid an extra 1000 TT (US$150) for my collar, and though the feathers were beyond beautiful, I was shocked to see that it was poorly constructed and had 'end' bits sticking out, which rubbed against my neck. Luckily, I've made and fixed my fair share of costumes so we spent Sunday evening making a few adjustments. A few glue sticks, some extra material and lots of re-designing later, my collar looked like new and fit snugly across my shoulders.

I quickly got over my costume issues as we got ready to go to see Machel and Bunji at Tribe Ignite.

I might add here that I still had not heard a peep from LIAT about my lost luggage, so I was left at the mercy of my amazing housemates. The girls quickly put together a cute outfit that I could borrow for the night, and I ended up being more fashionably dressed than usual.


Free premium drinks, shots bars, shooter girls and promotions left right and centre makes Tribe feel like a cool fun land for adults. Most of the sponsors also have booths with photographers and games set up to entertain the crowd before the acts. 


 Apparently a group of girls who arrived early at a fete like that are treated like show ponies; it was quite funny to be stopped by every photographer in sight to pose for a "pikcha."  I have yet to see how or where any of those photos ended up but I'm pretty sure I was making funny faces in half of them. I pity the promo girls dressed like eskimos for the night...


The music started, the crowd was happy and it was starting to look like a great night. Just as we were getting hyped up, Machel announced that he had to lip sync so as to preserve his vocal cords for Soca Monarch the following evening and then suddenly stopped his performance altogether. Apparently the organizers had oversold tickets and there was a crowd waiting to get through the gates when they heard Machel come on. They stormed the gate and the police panicked, demanding that Machel "calm the crowd' to help the situation.


If it's one thing I was looking forward to going crazy for, it was Machel. I LOVE his high energy performances and I've always enjoyed myself thoroughly at his concerts. I couldn't wait to bounce, jump, scream and sweat for this man, so I was really offset when he told us that the police were trying to control the crowd by making him sing more mellow tunes. 30 mins of Barry White-esque serenading later and the crowed had been completely drained of all energy. The highlight for some was Usain Bolt making an appearance on stage next to Machel, doing his thing to wow the crowd and get everyone excited again. It was pretty cool to see Usain in the flesh like that, but I'm not sure that anything could save the night after Machel's big let down. This was before the main act, Bunji Garland, was scheduled to come on but I'm not even sure that he showed up that night because we went home shortly after Machel. 



It was unfortunate that some of the carnival parties we attended were simply OK and not the hyped-up amazingness they were made out to be. TRIBE was one of those parties. 
Carnival or not, parties can always be a hit or miss but I think the added pressure make the disappointment that much more sour. 

March 10, 2014

Carnival Chronicles: An honest review of my Carnival experience


The glitter has settled, the fake tan is flaking off and though the Soca is still ranging in my ears, I've been trying my best to wrap my head around the past week. 

I sometimes feel pressured to limit my blog posts to all of the fun stuff I get to experience, knowing that nobody wants to hear about boring, mundane or sometimes terrible stuff. But since returning from Carnival I've felt pretty discombobulated- and it wasn't just because I was sore, exhausted and hungover (though that played a big part). After months of counting down, working out & looking forward to Carnival, I ended up feeling conflicted and slightly guilty about the whole experience and I couldn't figure out what was wrong with me. I wasn't sure if my experience was even worth blogging about, because nobody wants to hear about the only person in the world who didn't really enjoy Carnival right?

I've spoken quite openly about my thoughts on Carnival to friends and family, and they've all reacted differently. I expected them to glare at me and call me a grump, but most of them could understand where I was coming from and know me well enough to see that I just needed to give it another chance.


Firstly, let me set a few things straight before I start telling you about my experience - I've thought longgggg and hard about how I'm going to write these posts. I've written and re-written them because I have so many things to consider when talking about Carnival and the people who I shared this experience with. The bottom line is, I personally didn't enjoy Carnival as much as I would have liked to because I didn't know what to expect and I was thrown off by a lot of things. Everyone talks about how amazing Carnival is but I've never actually heard anyone talk about the adverse aspects of it, which could have helped me prepare and plan a bit better instead of just going with the flow. I think I built it up too much in my head, without considering how certain elements of it would affect my time, such as the lack of sleep and feeling stressed out as a result. 

Secondly, I'm including these somewhat negative aspects of Carnival in my posts because I like to be as realistic as possible when blogging about the things that I experience. However, I did really enjoy MANY aspects of it (which I will also be highlighting of course) and don't want to insult anyone with my personal experiences. I'm just going to lay it out there for anyone who cares to read it.

Finally, when asked whether I would ever go again my answer is undoubtedly "Yes!" I want to try it again, just differently next time. 


I would also love to explore more of Trinidad itself; it was my first time in Trinidad and I was surprised to find that I loved the organised chaos of Port-of-Spain, the green Savannah and the beauty of the surrounding areas. The food was another highlight; give me Shark & bake at the end of a fete any day! The islands off of Port of Spain (a.k.a 'Down Di Islands' or 'DDI') was incredible (one day of it was not enough) and I wish we had that kind of boating culture here in Barbados. I need to highlight how friendly everyone was too; Bajans joke about an inter island 'rivalry' with Trinidadians but people went out of their way to make me feel welcomed that week and that meant a lot to me.

It truly is an incredible experience to be in Trinidad for Carnival; to hear steel pans playing in the distance around the clock, to see people high on life (and alcohol) and to soak up the energy, chaos and excitement 24/7. The energy is like nothing I've ever seen or felt before. It's intoxicating and unfortunately, it was too late before I realized I wanted more. That craving for more is what will draw me back to Port-of-Spain for another attempt at the Greatest show on Earth.

Stay tuned for the good, the bad and glittery of Carnival.

February 24, 2014

Carnival Chronicles: the crew has landed!

My best friend and her two friends from London just landed in Barbados for a few days of sun & sea before we head off to Trinidad on Thursday. Poor J is outnumbered, though he doesn't seem to mind that much...Carnival countdown is on!


February 21, 2014

Carnival Chronicles: Make up tips & tricks by Kia


Make up artists are booked a year in advance for Trinidad Carnival and prep people throughout the night before Carnival Monday and Tuesday. We stupidly waited until the 11th hour to book a make up artist and our Trini friends laughed at us. Not only were we a group of 4 girls but we were actually expecting to find someone available TWO MONTHS beforehand when the MUA had been booked from a year ago. Silly girls! 


Then, we got a call telling us that someone backed out of their booking and we were so incredibly lucky to get a spot with a MUA....at 2am. Unfortunately, no amount of make up is going to hide a serious lack of beauty sleep after a night of partying so we politely declined.

I've 'done' my own face every time I've played Carnival until now, so I'm not too worried about our ability to look 'road ready'. Thankfully, my Carnival buddies share these sentiments and we've been planning our own make up strategy since our 2 am offer by checking out different YoutTube videos (they're addictive) and seeking advice from the experts.

We happen to know a kick ass Barbadian MUA by the name of Kia who not only gave us suggestions as to what 'stage' make up to buy, but she went the extra mile and wrote this bombastic guest post on Carnival make up in general. Carnival brings out my inner 5 year old and I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the extravagant make up so I'm really excited to try out some of the tips Kia suggests :) If you like what you see, you can check Kia's work out online, on Facebook or on Instagram @makeupbykfb

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"First off, I just want to say a big thank you to Malou for letting me be a part of her Carnival posts! I hope my tips will be useful to those going to Carnival this year or taking part in anything festive and in need of a few tips and tricks.
Make up Base
To start off your perfect carnival look you must start with your base! Please remember to put on sunblock of no less than a 50+SPF and let that sink in while you have a bite to eat perhaps; this is also very important before a day of drinking and dancing in the sun. This can be any sunblock of your choice, perhaps one you already have so that there is no need to spend moola on a new one but I recommend Neutrogena Ultra Sheer.


Foundation
Once that is on and settled in you can move on to your foundation! Foundation is a tricky thing with most girls and there are many different types out there to choose from. I would recommend MAC Prolongwear Concealer and/or MAC Prolongwear foundation for a long lasting, flawless face all day. It's recommended that you go and get your skin 'matched' to the perfect colour that MAC offers before buying anything online.

  1. Apply your base starting at the inner parts of your face, around and under your eyes, nose and forehead and working it outwards, you want to use as little product as possible but still focusing on all the areas you may need to cover.
  2. Once you have your desired coverage, let that sit a little and then apply your powder of choice to really hold it all in place and prevent oiliness. 
  3. Bronze and blush is completely up to you! But for those ladies doing crazy carnival eye makeup, maybe leave your blush till the end when you can best choose a pink undertone or a coral undertone depending on your eye makeup.
Eyes

Fake lashes are so important - they give that extra pop and will make your look FANTASTIC!

Glues - Please do not try to use Spirit Gum on the eye. It contains chemicals that do not allow it to be used on sensitive areas such as these. Please purchase DUO lash adhesive - I would recommend the waterproof one to ensure your lashes stay on all day. This glue comes in Dark or Clear, and this refers to how it dries. If you are not great with the lashes, perhaps get the one that dries clear in case of any mistakes.



Gems - there are SO many designs to choose from, so it really depends on the shape of your face, the size of your eyes and how dramatic you are willing to go! I added some inspirational pictures of some gem placement ideas below. These gems can be glued on with duo, but if you can get your hands on Spirit Gum, this works a whole lot better with gems. Be careful though, and don't ever use Spirit Gum on your lashes.
I love gems, Go crazy ladies! 


Fix/Hold Spray
When your carnival makeup is all ready to go, don't forget to set it so that it stays all day. I love MAC's Fix+ and it is a staple in my kit for any client I do. This bottle will last you forever and is a great investment for any island girl partying like us island girls do!


Have an amazing carnival girls, and don't forget to tag me your carnival looks on Instagram #muabykfb !
xxx Kia

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