I've decided to write under the name of English Rose which of course is not my real name, but my mum kind of freaked out when I told her I was starting a blog thanks to all the horror stories on the news (thanks alot bbc) and protecting my identity was the only way to pacify her. "Why English Rose?" I hear you cry, because I am a great believer in breaking from convention and people's expectations of you and re-writing a stereotype. If you've been living under a rock this past century, 'English Roses' are stereotypical pale, delicate creatures with long flowy hair, rosy red cheeks and would not look out of place at a dinner table with the Queen. As you may have noticed, I am not that girl. And as you will soon see, if you stick around, I am extremely proud to be the antithesis of the stereotype. For starters, i'm tall, skinny and black so definitely not most people's definition of an English Rose. But luckily I don't live for other people. I like to live by my own rules and ultimately the only person I have to answer to is myself and it just so happens that I see myself very much as an, admittedly unconventional, English Rose.
Unintentionally, I am the sort of person who turns a lot of heads when I walk down the street. Not because I dress garishly, inappropriately (I would rather DIE than wear anything tight/short/skimpy/revealing), or slobbishly (wearing tracksuits in public when not doing exercise is one of the greatest crimes against humanity in my opinion) but for precisely the opposite of this. I dress extremely well, I look "stylish, groomed, sophisticated and effortlessly chic" (or so i've been frequently told - I'm the least arrogant person you will ever meet). I have poker straight posture that comes from doing 13 years of ballet which people take for confidence and I am comfortable in my own skin (I haven't always been, i'm a teenager for goodness sake). People instantly make assumptions. They look twice (and often very aggressively) because I do not conform to their perviously held stereotype of what a 'black teenager' or just 'teenager' in general should look like. I am not in a hoodie or trainers or anything else that they think I should be in and often they don't like it one little bit.
Let me be clear - this isn't a black or white thing, it isn't an 'everyone is racist and out to get me thing' either because it isn't and they aren't and I see myself very much as a person and not a skin colour but I am fully aware that it is a big reason of the many why I get so much unitentional attention when walking down the road. I am also not deliberately trying to be the antithesis of the stereotype, it is just who I am naturally. I grew up surrounded by middle and upper class people even though my own background is significantly more humble than that of my friends, I was raised watching Audrey Hepburn, Fred Astarie and Judy Garland, I cannot stand bad grammar and people who do not talk properly, I detest rap music and prefer to listen to Bob Dylan, Regina Spektor and The White Stripes, no matter how hard I try, I have never and will never be able to master the Beyonce 'booty shake' (my attempts are shameful and laughable) and my style icon is Blair Waldorf from Gossip Girl (circa Season 1). Not what you would expect? You don't know the half of it.
The point is that everyone, myself included, makes assumptions based on first impressions and everyone has their private stereotypes and that will never change. But just because people will think something about you before they get to know you, doesn't mean you have to be that thing. You can be anything you want to be. You can prove them wrong, or right it doesn't matter. Be yourself, not what someone thinks you should be. Or as someone a lot wiser than me once said "Be yourself - everyone else is taken". In calling myself an English Rose I feel like I am empowering not just myself, but everyone who has ever had a wrong assumption made about them, everyone who has felt pressure to conform to a stereotype or has felt like they can't be something just because it goes against someone elses prejudices. The way i see it, if you have issues with me calling myself an English Rose, it's your problem not mine. I know what I am and I know what I am not and in the end that's all that matters.
As you've probably figured, I live in London, England, and have done my whole life and I love it, or as they say in croissantland je l'adore (I have a theory that everything sounds better in French and I am yet to be proved wrong). It's not just London, I am a complete and utter city girl, always have been, always will be. I hope to live at some point in both New York and Paris which are the two other loves of my life so fingers crossed. I'm hoping this blog will be discovered by people from all over the world and so hopefully I will be able to give them an insight into what it is like to be young in London.
Apart from music, and words (which I find incredibly sexy), the other big love of my life is fashion. I live, breathe and sleep 'la mode' (told you it sounded better in french). I know it sounds incredibly cliched but fashion truly is a way of life for me. I can't not think about fashion either on myself or other people. For example, when I am waiting at a bus stop, I am not checking out when the bus will come but the woman in front of me's shoes or wondering WHY ON EARTH that man chose to pair that tie with that shirt or thinking 'if she had just gone for a red instead of blue cardigan' how much better she would look. I literally cannot help myself. I devour teen vogue like its water (set trends, don't follow them), live for award season (to praise and criticise in equal measure), wear heels to school and to the supermarket (beautiful shoes deserve their 5 minutes of fame) and am constantly thinking of new outfit ideas (when I should be doing homework). Living in london is like a fashion lovers dream and I am so so proud to be a part of the most individual, stylish, eccletic city in the world in my opinion.
Being young (in the latter stages of adolescence FYI), everywhere I look I see sooo much inspiration from my fellow city slickers which is partly why I wanted to start this blog; to inspire and be inspired. I plan on taking pictures of the hundreds of super stylish Londoners I see every single day and posting them on here so watch this space. I also want to comment on fashion shows and designers I like and loath, because lets be honest, often everyday people on the street are far more clued up about what is and isn't stylish than some super famous designers - ever thought "I could do better?" Me too, and I am hopeless at drawing and design but I know what I like and dislike and that's a start. I'm not the sort of person to buy something just because its got a brand. If its disgusting I couldn't care less if its Primark or Dior, I won't buy it. I also do not currently have anywhere near a Dior budget, despite my wishing and I am a great believer that chic, sophisticated style can be acheived at any age and with any budget. People often assume I am loaded which could not be further from the truth, but i'm not going to correct them. Often my whole outfit doesn't cost more than £25 - it's all about how you put it together and how you carry it off and so for those of you with designer dreams but a not-so-designer bank balance (I sympathise) I'm hoping I can share some of my wisdom on how to look like a million dollars for the price of one =P
So yeah, I've blabbed enough for one day and really should make a start on the school work that I have been shamelessley and succesffuly avoiding all week. It would be really nice to get some feedback if you have bothered to read this and didn't give up after the first sentence or after you realised that this wasn't the blog you were looking for as i'd really like to get to know some of the blogging community. Stay true to yourself. Stay Safe and Chic mes amies xoxo