‘Double Standards’, Really??

There’s a few things which crop up every now and then, whether they get shared on your favourite social media site or come up as just click-bait, sometimes you can’t help but see the same thing again and again. The whole double standards thing is one of them. It’s usually an article showing how ‘wrong’ society is in the way we see certain things, and to be honest, most of these are complete and utter bollocks.

double-standardsThis is the image in particular that at the moment, has got me…let’s just say a little riled. Two images. One of a skinny girl with a larger guy, and the other of a larger girl with a skinny guy. The comments beneath are obvious. I can’t help but assume whoever wrote these is a guy. Maybe a guy who needs to sit down and have actual conversations with women. Because, hell, maybe there are some girls like the ones above, but most women I know are completely and utterly not like that.

Here’s a secret for you guys; yes, looks are important. Love flourishes with attraction. Of course it does. But realistically, personality will always win out. Always. IT IS NOT JUST ABOUT LOOKS. I can’t say if guys feel the same way. I don’t know. But the fact is I have known more girls go for guys who others would deem to be ‘below them’ than the other way around. Not that it matters either way. Let’s face it, the kind of guy who thinks the above statements are real, are probably not nice guys to begin with.

Personally, I’ve been attracted to all sorts of guys. I’m not exactly skinny myself, and I know I’m not going to get swept off my feet by some tall blond guy with a rock-hard six-pack. And I’m okay with that. Because the type of guys I go for have more than just good looks. They’re funny, charming, witty….and hopefully, on my end, they see me as more than just a pretty face. There is nothing wrong with either of the above pictures, and whoever added those comments beneath them seems to be missing the point of the drawings themselves (if anyone knows who created them, please let me know so I can credit and link to them). Look at the text at the bottom. Look what it says.

“People should fall in love with their eyes closed.”

Girls could be attracted to the best looking guy in the world, and be turned off when they find out he’s an arse-hole. Similarly, they could meet someone who isn’t conventionally good looking, but as they get to know him, personality shines through and changes the way they see him. It’s happened to me. It’s happened to others I’ve known. And yeah, opposites attract. I said there’s nothing wrong with those pictures, and there’d be nothing wrong if it showed a skinny guy & girl or a larger guy & girl. Or two big guys, two skinny women, or any other mix that could be thrown in.

If any guys are reading this and honestly do believe those comments, do me a favour. STOP. Take a few seconds to really think it over. Don’t be nice because you think you might get sex out of it. Don’t be a dick because you think that’s what girls are attracted to, and don’t sit at home lamenting the fact that no one has looked twice at you. In truth, girls are really bloody subtle at checking guys out so in reality, you don’t know if some hot girl might have been staring at you while you were in the queue at Tesco. There might be a really good reason you were turned down by  that girl you liked or, hell, maybe she really isn’t attracted to you and THAT IS OKAY. Sometimes attraction doesn’t happen, but please just don’t turn around and claim all women are horrible or even that that one girl is a bitch, because they didn’t reply to your message on POF or refused that drink. There are plenty of fish in the sea and believe me, if you go through life pretending to be nice (referring to the point above about trying to get laid) we will see through it. If you actually are a nice person, who is fun to talk to and fun to hang out with and act like a friend, you never know what they friendship might grow into.

Just don’t let stuff like the above get into your head. It’s bollocks. Be yourself is the best advice for any guy (and woman) looking for that special someone. Yeah, try and be healthy. Try to look after your body because you don’t want to be half way through round #1 and find you have no energy to go on. But understand that people aren’t idiots. Guys and girls know that not everyone is going to be small. Not everyone is going to have a ‘perfect’ body and, once again, that is okay. It’s okay to have a bit of a stomach. It’s okay to not have a six pack or have slightly broad shoulders or whatever. Very skinny isn’t sexy. Neither is massively big. Healthy….healthy is. And I am saying this as someone who has taken themselves off the dating scene for the time being because I am not at a level of health I like. That’s my choice. I am never going to be super skinny. Never going to have a perfect body. But once I feel fitter and happier in myself then sure, I’ll probably put myself out there a bit more. But for now….

Just take my advice. No one knows what you want except you, and no one knows what that hot guy/girl in the corner of the pub wants except them. So rather than moaning that there’s no way they’re going to be interested because they obviously like a different type of person, strike up a conversation. Talk to them. Treat them like, well, a person. Because that’s all they are. Another person. Not some god/goddess. Not some alien from another planet. Another person. Just like you. Just like me. So treat them like it.

Okay. I’m done.

Rant ended.

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A World of Pure Imagination

Today I received some good news. A story of mine has been published on the website CommuterLit.  The story itself (titled The Mountain’s Reach) is actually part of a much larger world, and I’m currently working on a novel plus a few other short stories set in the same world. So I figured I’d use this blog to talk a little bit about it, and about where the story idea came from. Before you read on, please check out The Mountain’s Reach on CommuterLit.

The story itself came from a sort of prompt. I was reading the brilliant Writing Magazine one day, and came across a competition run by a tea company. The idea being to use one of their product titles for a short story. Things such as Jade Dragon and, the one I used, Emerald Mountain. Originally, then, the mountain described in the story is much more magical and mystical than it ended up being in the final draft. It was emerald, shrouded in mist, slightly more attractive and yet, I’d hoped, menacing too. The deadline for that came and went but the story stuck with me, and when I went back to it I realised how easily it would slip into a world I’d already created, a world where the northern land of Shaylae is pretty much the last known destination before people reach the mountains and, beyond, the cold, snowy waste lands.

As mentioned in the story, there are two other lands here; Tarka and Sharn. In the centre of these three is the desert. Each land has its own capital, rulers, and characters. The novel follows three main characters; Arrow (Sharn), Rayne (desert) and Jackson (Tarka). The village which the characters in The Mountain’s Reach come from, however, is in Shaylae, which is mostly considered a religious land, with lots of temples, priests and priestesses and, unlike Tarka, the desert tribes and Sharn, is accepting of magic.

So these three – this small family – set out for the mountain. They go past the mountains at the northern part of Shaylae, and most of the story takes place in the unknown lands beyond.

When I started writing it, I didn’t have a clear, solid idea of where it was going to go. (Again, I urge you to read it if you haven’t already; the next bit contains spoilers) I don’t plan out huge amounts before I write, and what I usually find happens is the characters seem to take over. And if I try to make them do something they don’t want to do, or push the story in a direction they don’t want it to take, they push back.

I knew when I started writing it that the father would love his family, of course, and that he would be taking them to a place that haunted his dreams. Turned out, to my surprise, he had been there as a child. The mother does not want to go; the daughter is excited for the adventure. But as they travel, she loses her enthusiasm, and both females become, to him, a nuscence, simply trying to stop him reaching this place he knows he has to get to.

This is the point where the story took a turn I sort of didn’t expect. I wasn’t sure throughout if I was going to end it with the family at the mountain, though that seemed too easy, or if things were going to be a little darker. As it turns out, they never do reach the mountain, and the story ends with the man trudging through the snow on his own.

The world itself is currently unnamed. I’ve been playing around with different ones (Raeg is currently written at the top of my map). But it’s taken shape a lot since I started writing the novel. Every village is now marked down, every city, port, and change in scenery – for example, as one character leaves the desert and encounters grass. These small details are important for me, and crucial for me to remember. I found out a while ago that something like a map was very important for a world you’re creating from scratch, and partly hated myself for not having really, fully used them before.

I described the general geography above, but here’s some other facts about this world (if you’re interested).

  • South of the desert is a land simply known as ‘the wilds’, which most people agree is too dangerous to travel across and better left unclaimed.
  • Tarka borders Shaylae only slightly, and the border contains mountain passes and treks which make it very easy for bandits to hide in. So, most people travel by sea between the two.
  • East of Sharn is the sea, and across this another land which some traders go to but most don’t explore. There’s a story here though, a legend passed down of two brothers – one a prince, one a bastard – and their sister who disappeared mysteriously from her room, shortly before her coming-of-age ball. No one quite knows what happened to her…
  • The world has a mixture of different religions and gods; the tribes worship a full Pantheon of gods, and each tribe takes their name from them – Zeus, Hades, Aphrodite, Ares, etc. The Ares tribe was wiped out, with only two people left alive. And it’s fairly easy to tell those from each tribe apart, as they have varying characteristics and different appearances. The temples in Shaylae usually have areas set aside for multiple gods for people to worship, and the High Temple is home to the High Priestess, who can apparently see the future and helps guide people to their destinies.

So there we have it. A bit of background, and some information, on these lands, and some information about my short story for you.

And if you’re a writer, let me know if you’ve made up any lands yourself – any books you’ve used as reference? How do you plan it out? Do you use maps or something else? I’m always keen to hear about how other writers work, so please feel free to let me know (or link to your blog/site/stories) below.

Image above belongs to my good friend Beckie, who can be found on Twitter @beckiejphoto