Children aspiring to be like their favourite Disney character or insensitive mockery of culture?

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For anyone who hasn’t yet heard of the movie ‘Moana’, it is a popular Disney movie which was released in in 2016. The story follows a young Polynesian girl who befriends Maui, a rather large, tattooed demigod whose voice is played by Dwayne Johnston. They then go on to return the heart of the ocean etc etc. (I have a three-year-old so I have only seen it 64,296 times.) ‘Moana’ was a massive hit with children everywhere. And therefore, without any hesitation the Disney store, designed costumes to replicate the characters from the movie. (I will be honest I may have purchased the over-price tiny piece of material for my daughter.)

All was well until Halloween last year, when it emerged in the newspapers that parents should not dress their children as a different race from their own as it could be deemed racist. This statement was specifically aimed at The Moana, Maui and the movie Frozens’ character Elsa’s costumes.

 

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It was suggested that Disney’s Moana who is seen as a Polynesian warrior should not be replicated unless the person dressing up is actually Polynesian. The same was suggested for Elsa from the Disney movie frozen, as dressing like her was seen to be promoting ‘white beauty’. So, do we now have to be dead to dress as a ghost? Or from Egypt to be a mummy at Halloween?

The initial blog actually suggested that dressing your children as though from a culture other than your own was ‘cultural appropriation’. In more understandable terms, this suggests that you are taking something from a culture which you don’t belong to and using it for a purpose it wasn’t meant for. Surely dressing as a fictional movie character cannot fall into this category, and is being blown way out of proportion?

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I believed that dressing children up as a character from their favourite movie, whether they are of a different race or not can cause no harm? WRONG, according to activists it is insensitive and can be seen as ‘making fun’ of someone else’s culture. I know I found this incredibly shocking as harming anyone’s feelings while watching my daughter prance around the living room singing ‘see the line where the sky meets the sea’ did not even cross my mind.

Surely, we should let children be children and if they like a movie they should be able to rein act it by dressing in a costume without being deemed as racist? I can definitely understand how we should be respectful of other people’s cultures and ethnicity but I’m pretty sure my three-year-old daughter does not care about race. All she cares about is looking like a strong-willed Polynesian princess or queen Elsa from Frozen and I most definitely am not going to stand in her way.

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On Halloween night, there were plenty of small children in masks at my door. Who knows whether under the masks if they were Black, White, Asian, Indian or any other race. It was Halloween and that is not what we should be thinking about. As long as the children get into a fun costume and go out and have a good time is what’s important. So, we should embrace our children’s innocence, let them wear the costumes, let them watch the movies, let them sing the songs. There is plenty of time to discuss race, power and privilege with them in the future.

Georgia McCalmont is a final year BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University.  She can be contacted on Twitter @04Georgia or Instagram @Georgiamac26

 

#MeToo what is it and why should I care?

It is no secret that in the news recently there has been a lot of allegations against stars in Hollywood and the emergence of the Me-Too hashtag has left a lot of people confused. Is it related? Why has my friend put it on Facebook / twitter / Instagram? Should I? I’m here to explain what it is and why it’s so important.

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GM5Unfortunately, sexual harassment and sexual assault is still seen as a ‘blurred line’ (don’t even get me started on that awful song) and far too many people have experienced it in their lives – the prevalence of this hashtag proves it. Facebook reported that over forty five percent of their United States users had a friend who posted the term.

This hashtag was created to encourage any women who have been affected by sexual harassment to come forward and speak up. It came into existence when the actress Alyssa Milano posted on twitter a call to arms from her friend that women who have been harassed or assaulted sexually should post ‘Me Too’ to give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem. It was, quickly, picked up by the public and took Twitter, then Facebook, then Instagram, by storm.

By this point the scandal involving Harvey Weinstein had spread to include most of Hollywood; actresses such as Angelina Jolie and Gwyneth Paltrow, as well as many others, had made accusations against Weinstein for inappropriate conduct.
The most interesting part of this is that the allegations, at this point, were still just allegations but it didn’t matter – the idea that famous actors and actresses were speaking out about this problem was enough to inspire ordinary people to also speak out. These ‘silence breakers’ have since been named TIME’s person of the year for 2017; proving that the truth, especially in the huge numbers demonstrated, has power.

This is important because it shows the magnitude of the problem. Alyssa Milano woke up to thirty-two thousand replies in the twenty-four hours following her initial tweet, by October 16th 2017 it had been tweeted more than five hundred thousand times, and used more than four million times on Facebook.

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This is not a problem limited to women either – men have also been using it to speak out about their own experiences. Over 30% of the #MeToo posts were by men. This is a very underexposed area and something I will have to go into some other time!

Unlike many kinds of social-media activism, it isn’t a call to action or the beginning of a campaign, culminating in a series of protests and speeches and events. #metoo is simply an attempt to get people to understand even though it feels very far away, in the far reaches of Hollywood, sexual assault is much closer to home than we realise.

Georgia McCalmont is a final year BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University.  She can be contacted on Twitter @04Georgia or Instagram @Georgiamac26.

Life as a student and a mum of two… If I can do it, so can you.

My name is Georgia McCalmont and I am in final year of my Communication Management and Public Relations course. I have decided to write this post to inform other mums who may feel like taking the plunge back into full-time education of how I got to here and also to encourage them that if I can do it, they can too.

After being a beauty therapist for ten years I began to feel that something was missing. As enjoyable as nails, make up, ‘de fuzzing’ and small talk was I just wanted more, something that made me think again.

I was aware that going back to full-time education with an eleven month old daughter was never going to be easy but I knew it was something I had to do, not only for me, but to create a good life for her too.

At twenty-six I didn’t see myself as ‘older’ or ‘too old’ to come to university… until my first day when I realised I was one of the oldest in the class. I had clearly also made the least effort with my attire that day as everyone seemed to be in their best autumnal gear, while I had my ‘mum bun’ and Weetabix on my jeans from that morning, which I’d tried to scrub off with a baby wipe in the car park before coming in. Note to self; ‘make more of an effort tomorrow’.

Once I started the course I made friends and discovered that I was actually able to finish a whole cup of HOT coffee here, Yay! Maybe it wasn’t going to be so bad after all. Having something to put my mind to and do for me felt absolutely amazing.

By the end of May first year was completed! All exams and essays done and dusted and it was summer! Woohoo! All finished and time to party, oh wait… You have a small child and another on the way. Yes, I know I still wonder how in amongst study, work and university we found time for that!

Panic set in, I questioned whether I should take a year out, give up or take the bull by the horns and power through. With exceptional support and guidance from lecturers and family I carried on into second year. At nine months pregnant I dreaded any classes that were more than a flight of stairs away!

When Louisa was six weeks old I came back to university to complete second year. I will not sugar coat it, it was hell on earth. A two-year old, a six-week old and a s**t load of catching up to do. Needless to say, without the help of rose wine I don’t think I would be here to write this post.

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The picture below is exactly what trying to complete second year was like me. It shows Farrah on top of my notes while a six-week-old baby is being rocked in a Moses basket with my other foot. All this while I study for exams! I’m not in this picture because I was crying, I’m joking I wasn’t really but I should have been!

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I got there in the end, second year finished,  and now it was summer and I had four months ahead of me to enjoy as a family. – I won’t lie, I was possibly ready to come back to uni after four days!!

I am now in final year and I’ve got the hang of managing home life and studying with help and support from everyone around me.

 

 

 

So for any mums thinking of going back to education, here is my summary:

 

  • Go for it, take the first step and register.
  • You will be able to find the time, leave the housework to another day and let the kids watch numerous episodes of ‘Peppa Pig’ on repeat while you do what you have to.
  • You get a lot more time at home with the children…. (if that’s what you’re into.)
  • People stop making as much of an effort with their attire after the first couple of weeks, so don’t be rushing out and spending a fortune on the latest Gucci coat. Your unwashed ‘mum bun’ will go unnoticed by the beginning of October.
  • Wine cures every possible problem you may come across, just one glass though! (Yea right, finish the bottle.)
  • The sense of achievement you feel is mind-blowing and definitely so worth all the hard days and hard work you’ve put in.

 

Georgia McCalmont is a final year BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University.  She can be contacted on Twitter @04Georgia or Instagram @georgiamac26.