Big Bad Bullies

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Bullying is an unfortunate part of our society and particularly effects young people in school, work and social situations. Bullies are essentially insecure and often have emotional problems, as well as a complex need for power, so they exert this through putting down others and engaging in repeated physical, verbal or physiological abuse to their victims. We explore the extent of bullying and provide solutions to young people who feel they are victims of this anti-social behaviour.

Bullying is a massive problem for the youth of today and it is more pervasive than ever thanks to increasing technology capable of taking harassment beyond school, work and social settings into home and everyday life. What is bullying exactly and how severe is the problem? Bullying is defined as the ‘repeated verbal, physical, social or psychological behaviour that is harmful and involves the misuse of power by an individual or group towards one or more persons.’ Cyberbullying refers to bullying through information and communication technologies.’ (1)

Statistics show bullying is relatively common with one in every four Australian school students affected, and cyber bullying effecting about 1 in 10 young people (2). The latter is likely to increase as our lives become digital and youth spend more time online than ever before (3). Disturbing statistics also reveal children who were bullied were up to three times more likely to display depressive symptoms and nine times more likely to have suicidal thoughts, according to some studies (2).

Bullying can take different forms too: social, including gossiping, talking behind a person’s back, and ignoring people from groups; physical: unwanted touching, fighting, stealing someone’s objects; and verbal/ emotional including name calling, intimidation and teasing. All forms of bullying are damaging to a young person, their mental health, self esteem, character and quality of life. Bullying can detrimentally affect a young person’s relationships with their family and friends, confidence at school and to participate socially at work in sports and so forth. Sometimes young people turn to alcohol or drugs or dangerous activities to mitigate unpleasant emotions and feelings.

Cyber bullying in particular is of great concern for a number of reasons. The online world is like the real world replicated with mostly good content out there, but also nasty, hurtful comments. The problem with online bullying is it is very easy for people to see the comments, videos and/or photos and like and share with their networks. In our social media age along with the anonymous nature of the Internet, it is somewhat fashionable (and along with peer pressure) to share negative abusive comments and videos, and it is often marketed as funny. Sexted images gone viral, kids getting bashed, horrible belittling comments putting down kids are just some of the abuse posted online, which is often shared, making the victims feel powerless due to the unstoppable nature of the Internet.

What can kids do about bullying? There are numerous strategies to protect against bullies and fight back. Firstly, tell someone in a position of authority, like a teacher or school counsellor. Kids can often feel stupid, ashamed and upset to tell someone they are being bullied, and may blame themselves. It is important to realise bullying is not your fault, and trusted adults are the best step to finding a solution to the situation. You may also want to confront the bully directly about why they behave that way, and politely ask them to stop, (if it is safe to do so). If a bully confronts you, ignore them as much as possible and don’t have a strong emotional reaction (that is what they thrive on), act as neutral as possible, and the bully will likely get bored and move on (4). So remember bullying is temporary, but action can take place immediately to put bullies back in their place! 

By Simon Chitre




Fashion Forward Sun Safety


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As Australia Day approaches and summer gets hotter than ever, can hats be the answer to sun safety without compromising fashion?

There’s no denying; hats are one of the hardest elements to get right in any outfit. They can ruin an outfit just as easily as they can make them shine, and it’s because of this that a lot of people have given up on the hat as a fashion accessory. Until recently, that is.

As fashion conscious people in hot countries like Australia are becoming more conscious about the effects of sun, hats are beginning to creep back into mainstream fashion. An accessory to suit all genders, the hat is transforming to keep you sun safe without compromising fashion.

Australians are well aware of the harsh effects too many unprotected summers can have on your skin. From aesthetic issues like leathering skin and deeper wrinkles to serious health problems like cancer, the problems associated with sun exposure are extensive. They are also easily avoided. Hats provide instant coverage for your face to prevent pretty much all of this, and are even endorsed by Cancer Council as part of the Slip Slop Slap campaign since 1981.

The problem is, until recently hats were not exactly the icons of style. When the word ‘hat’ is mentioned, most people think straight to the sports cap or the stiff, style-less hats worn in schools as the main options. While they may be functional and effective in covering up from the sun, they hardly inspire fashion-forward looks.

Happily though, as the floppy hat takes the reins as the most popular women’s hat this summer, the reputation of hats is beginning to change. Not only does this style look fantastic, it also has the widest brim available for a hat, covering the whole head, face, and even neck from the sun.

Face shape is the most important thing to consider when buying a hat. It’s the reason a lot of people give up when they get it wrong, but it’s also the reason a hat will practically live on your head when you find the perfect style. There is a lot of advice out there for finding the perfect hat for your face shape. Fedoras tend to sit more flatteringly on people with rounded faces, whereas wide brimmed hats soften the angles of square shaped faces.

The sheer amount of advice, and even the amount of face shapes and hat styles out there can make it really difficult to find solid advice. Really, the only true way to find the perfect hat is to go out there and try on every hat you set eyes on and think, ‘that looks gorgeous’ until you find the one that fits. There are some key hat shapes are taking centre stage this summer, making it a little less daunting to start that search for the perfect hat.

The floppy summer hat is the most popular style for women this summer, because of its ability to add a splash of sophistication to any look. The floppy hat can be dressed up or down to suit the mood of your outfit, from a casual beach day to a big summer garden party.

For those who haven’t fallen in love with the floppy hat, though, there are a vast variety of hats to choose from. For both men and women, a bowler hat is another hugely popular trend. If the floppy hat is the most flowing style of hat, the bowler hat is the most structured. It features a still rounded dome shaped crown with no creases or pinching, and has a short brim that curls slightly at the sides. Though it does not offer as much coverage in terms of sun protection, the bowler hat is perfect for adding some edge to an outfit.

For men, a fedora hat is an easy way to add a bit of up styling to a look without much effort. Where top hats are too formal for most occasions nowadays, a fedora will draw an eye, but is casual enough to wear out confidently. The pinched sides and lengthwise crease down the crown of a fedora creates a rough wedge shape that can be manipulated by the wearer to frame the face more comfortably. The big, flexible brim is the biggest advantage of this style of hat, and makes it the most popular men’s style of hat.

A close relative of the fedora, the trilby hat is great for men and women who like a smaller hat. With a short back and long front, the trilby provides good shade for the face, and flatters most face shapes because of its ability to be tilted.

They may have had a bad rap in the past, but hats are fast becoming an essential element to any summer fashion look. With so many looks to choose from, there’s sure to be a hat to suit every outfit.

By Kate Oatley

Who Really Made My Clothes?

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Mel Tually. Image source: supplied
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3 years after the Rana Plaza Collapse, questions still remain about the fashion supply chain.

Here’s a basic fact within the fashion industry – anything that we buy would have passed through at least a hundred hands and a variety of factories before landing in your wardrobe. This complex supply chain and how deep it can reach provides ample opportunities for individuals to be exploited.

We all can do our bit to reduce the lack of transparency in the supply chain, by being more conscious with what we do with our clothes, shopping ethically and creating conversations around issues in a persons supply chain.

For many, shopping ethically may be beyond someone’s means because it might seem a little bit daunting due to price costs. However, ethical shopping does not need to be daunting for anyone, regardless if you’re on a shoestring budget or an extravagant one.

Price points of ethical clothing isn’t as high as we think it is – it’s a matter of knowing what type of credential you are wanting, the brand you’re looking at and seeing if they are running programs to address supply chain issues.

Example – if you’re concerned about sustainability and labour issues and you’re wanting to buy from H&M, it’s good to know that H&M up-cycles jeans, has a organic cotton range of t-shirts and has implemented several pilot programs to address not only labour issues but also sustainability issues.

Fashion Revolution’s Australia and New Zealand’s Coordinator, Melinda Tually suggests that you can shop ethically even on a shoestring budget – it’s all a matter of framing and perception.

“It’s about framing how you go shopping differently, and thinking about it differently. So instead of buying disposable clothing (which is at that $10 – $15 price point), slow down your consumption and you might find that you have more money to spend on something of high quality that will last longer.”

Tually was a sustainable retailer stocking home ware and gifts when she noticed that the changes and developments in the fashion sector were growing at a rapid rated compared to the home ware and gifts sector. Intrigued by this, she attended a break out session run by Fashion Revolution founders at the Ethical Fashion Source Conference in London in the year that the Rana Plaza collapsed. She’s been running the campaign here in Australia ever since answering the call to coordinate the campaign.

The collapse of the Rana Plaza complex in Bangladesh on the 24th of April 2013 opened a conversation around supply chain issues, including the lack of transparency and traceability within supply chains. The consequent reaction saw global brands, including H&M, Primark and Walmart, contribute $21.5 millions to the fund (set up by the ILO) for the victims and their families.

Yet questions about the deepness of the supply chain and it’s consequent lack of transparency still remain. Questions that Fashion Revolution is trying to get answered.

“Fashion Revolution is a global movement with volunteers in, I think it’s over 81 countries around the world now, and we encourage greater transparency and traceability in the fashion supply chain.”

“In a nutshell, we are passionate about a cleaner and safer industry for all members of the value chain, be it a cotton producer in the field or a garment maker in a factory. We’re trying to advocate for a safer and fairer practice all along the value chain,” explained Tually.

“We feel that by creating a platform consumers can ask about the provenance and conditions from where they come and brands can respond these questions. By framing this in a positive light, we can foster a greater understanding of what people want to know about what they buy.”

An important way of fostering this conversation between consumers and producers is to approach in a range of initiatives by a range of supporters.

“It is quite hard to get big name brands who are competitors in the same market space together about an issue that is important for all them and can only addressed by brands actually collaborating on the issue. It needs industry wide approaches and multi-stakeholder initiatives,” so Melinda Tually.

“No one brand can eliminate slavery, no one brand can tackle the issue of living wage, no one brand can tackle the issue of toxics in factories.”

By Sophia van Gent

Modest Fashion for a Modern World

Businesses like Lola Fens are giving a modern image to the traditional hijab.
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This dUCk image encapsulates the modern vibe modest fashion celebrates.
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The effects of modest fashion go far beyond having fashionable hijabs; they modernise Islamic religion and empower the women practicing it.

Modest fashion, a trend that produces fashionable hijab’s for the female Muslim population to wear, is not only changing the faces of women, but the face of Islamic religion itself.

By 2014, the market was already worth of $230 billion, and has been steadily growing in the past year. Noor Nelofa Mohd, popularly known as Neelofa, latched onto this growing market with gusto when she launched her business, Naelofar Hijab. She specialises in designing hijab’s for women that are fashion forward, comfortable, and affordable.

Although designers like Neelofa have enjoyed huge success, some are raising questions as to whether fashionable hijab’s contradict the religion they are made to respect. The surge in modest fashion reflects a trend towards Muslim women dressing more conservatively in areas outside the Middle East and South Asia.

However, while there is little reference to specific clothing rules in the Quran, numerous interpretations of the religious text agree that males cannot gaze upon female bodies. For many, this implies that the act of covering should be one of modesty, rather than being worn for the purpose of beauty, which may attract attention.

Undoubtedly, it is difficult to imagine modest fashion being entertained in orthodox countries like Iran or Saudi Arabia. These countries, overwhelmingly holding to ingrained traditional notions of religious attire, mandate plain colours for female clothing.

For more open Muslim countries like Malaysia, however, modest fashion is welcomed with enthusiasm. While areas of Malaysia like Kelentan fine women for not wearing a hijab, many towns are more laid back in their approach to religious attire. Urban areas like Kuala Lumpur focus on promoting Islamic wear and allowing choice in how clothing is worn, rather than punishment. It’s areas like these where modest fashion flourishes.

Making the choice to wear a hijab, or any form of covering, is a big decision usually borne of intense self-reflection. Far from compromising religion, fashionable hijab’s modernise the religion, encouraging people to embrace Islamic tradition in their own way: as a choice, not an obligation.

Vivy Yusof began designing modest fashion in 2014 with her fashion label, dUCk, and has been greeted with an incredible amount of enthusiasm. dUCk champions respect for Islamic religion even while she modernises it. This respect goes right down to the packaging, which is considered carefully rather than being thrown in a plastic bag.

While her scarf designs are beautiful, it’s the reactions to dUCk that show the true potential behind modest fashion. “She is changing the whole reputation of the head scarf,” fan Farah Alia Razali-Tyler told the New Yorker. To Farah, hijab’s used to be regarded as “makcik [frumpy older woman]” attire. Thanks to designers like Yusof, “[people] are saying it’s okay to be more modern.”

Fashion can have incredible effects on the people wearing it, and there’s no doubt modest fashion is empowering Muslim women. Both Neelofa and Yusof have the personalities to match their modern wares. Strong, independent, feisty, and impeccably fashionable, Neelofa is even part way through writing an inspirational book to motivate other women to reach their goals.

Zaidel Baharuddin, Special Officer to Malaysia’s Minister of Domestic Trade, Cooperatives, and Consumerism, commented recently on the empowering effect of self expression through fashionable hijab’s.

You can follow the religious obligation and look good with it.

By Kate Oatley

Our Increasing Waste Line

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In Australia we live in a consumerist, capitalist society which is encouraged and given permission to buy endless things and goods in the pursuit of happiness, status and entertainment. But do we give much thought to the endless mountains of consumer goods we purchase each year?  What happens to all this waste? We investigate…

Australia, like most western societies have a large consumer base with high levels of disposable income who are easily seduced by slick advertising and marketing to buying new things for themselves, their families and homes. Whilst there is nothing fundamentally wrong with wanting new items that may improve your lifestyle, the amount of goods being purchased and often never used, then discarded and going to landfill is astronomical. Sadly, at the end of a products life many goods are not recycled (or can’t be) and sent to a landfill with the Australian Bureau of Statistic’s reports confirming the majority of our waste is not recycled or reused(1).

The extent of this problem is shown through some alarming statistics. Australia is one of the highest waste producers in the world at approximately 650 kilograms per person, second only to the United States at 715 kilograms per person. Each Australian family contributes enough rubbish annually to fill a standard house from floor to ceiling (2) (3). Whilst Australian’s are enthusiastic recyclers and the rate of recycling is increasing thanks to education programs it still only comprises 52% of household waste, the amount of waste going to landfill is increasing (4). Why? Simply because we are consuming more than ever, and with a greater population and government reluctance to close landfills and look for more environmentally friendly alternatives, our waste problem is likely to get worse.

Australia is one of the highest waste producers in the world at approximately 650 kilograms per person, second only to the United States at 715 kilograms per person

Landfills cause significant environmental problems, mainly atmospheric and hydrological effects. The methane released by rotting organic matter in unmanaged landfills is 20 times more effective than carbon dioxide at trapping heat from the sun, leading to increased greenhouse gas emissions. As many people throw out industrial and home cleaning products, these products mix over time and many animals and humans can be exposed to contamination, potentially resulting in death (5).

Plastic bags in particular are a major waste and environmental problem due to their mass scale, 3.92 billion plastic bags are used annually and an estimated 3.76 billion bags or 20,700 tonnes of plastic are disposed of in landfill sites throughout Australia every year. Unfortunately poor marine animals and seabirds die every year around the world by getting caught or mistakenly eating plastic. Plastic bags can last 200-1000 years causing long term damage worldwide and their ability to travel long distances in water and in air (6).

Plastic bags can be recycled, though the rate of recycling is uncommon and many people would be unaware they can be recycled at most supermarkets. The most common type of plastic bag is the high density polyethylene bags, which very few council’s are recycling through their household schemes (where most people dispose of their rubbish). It is hoped that councils and businesses will roll out technology to recycle all types of plastic bags to discontinue this disgusting waste (6).

People can make a more concerted effort to recycle more by doing simple things like using the correct bins when at home. Councils normally clearly label which items can and can’t go in each household waste bin and most public areas have bins marked general waste, paper, recycle. Also starting your own compost bin reduces the amount of organic waste going to landfill, which reduces the production of methane and limits the impacts of climate change.

Lastly, people should try and buy fewer things! Do you really need the latest iphone? That new TV? More items produced means the old items often go to waste and are not recycled and the more people who buy new products and lines of models, encourages companies to produce more and create newer versions. Producing new items costs the earth significantly in terms of resources, as raw materials extract significant amounts of energy and water and can impact local communities (7).

Do your part and recycle!

By Simon Chitre

Healthy living, faster!

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A lot of people these days want to be healthier and feel better. An easy way to do that is to have a really nutritious, tasty and healthy diet. We’ll show you some simple tips you can incorporate into your busy lifestyle!

Society is becoming much more health conscious with a rising tide of obesity, diabetes, cancer and health problems such as, depression and heart disease having links to a poor nutrition. With obesity rates in Australia soaring more than 80% in the last 33 years the biggest increase in a survey of over 200 countries (1). This is mainly due to the proliferation of fast food and junk food options available to us which is more readily available compared to healthy food. Over the past few years, this has taken rise to be a serious issue. But not all hope is lost.

There is plenty of healthy food choices available for the health (and aspiring health) conscious consumer, and sometimes it does involve a little more preparation and research. We will look at these options for the busy and living-on-a-budget consumer, and what to do when eating out.  First thing to do is to stock up healthy basics and staple foods when grocery shopping, sometimes buying in bulk is better since you are less likely to run out of a certain product, which also helps avoids multiple trips.  You can then use these basic foods to prep your meals. It is easier to dedicate several hours on one or two days a week to prepare your meals. Then you can just grab the meal from your fridge or freezer when you are busy, and won’t have to worry about what to eat or worry about eating healthy when out.

With obesity rates in Australia soaring more than 80% in the last 33 years the biggest increase in a survey of over 200 countries (1),…..this is a serious issue.

Healthy staples are complex carbohydrates such as: oats, brown rice, quinoa, sweet potato, multigrain/wholegrain bread; proteins like lean chicken (extra portions can be frozen) and canned tuna (great for putting in your bag and taking on the go). For snacks, rice cakes are full of dietary fibre and many brands now have reduced salt and sugar content. Nut bars contain lots of fibre and are lower in sugar, plus fruit and vegetables are great on the go options! Cut fruit and vegetables in bite sized snack pieces also make a great snack. If you’re out and about and find yourself getting the munchies, it’s best to buy a small pack of mixed nuts (almonds, sunflower seeds, pepitas, walnuts and brazil nuts), muesli health bars are also great since they contain lots of good fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated) and dietary fibre. However, you need to be self conscious and aware of added sugar and preserves when buying. 

If you are out and about all day and forget to pack lunch, then try and get to a supermarket and buy a readymade meal. There are many great healthy options that include: quinoa, brown rice, vegetables and lean beef, chicken and fish such as salmon. Also try food courts in large shopping centres as normally sushi is available, or look for healthy sandwiches with protein or a salad (hold the dressing as they are usually loaded with salt and sugar!). Even if you make your own meal at work with some basic supplies, grab a mixed salad bag, some mixed beans, roast chicken or salmon and some mixed spices and you’ll have a healthy, quick meal.

Now, when dining at restaurants and cafes with friends this can be a real difficult challenge to eat healthy. Well fret no more! Try and look up the menu beforehand of where you are going and see what healthy options are available. When ordering try and go for salads and balanced mains. They might have for example, steak and vegetables or grilled fish and a salad. Try to avoid creamy pastas and high saturated fat options like pizza, fish and chips and burgers although as tempting as they sound. With desserts we are allowed to splurge sometimes, but try for more fruit based options or gluten and dairy free cakes and sweets as they tend to have less fat then dairy and gluten versions.

I really hope this helps with making healthy food choices when out and about!

By Simon Chitre