Sunday, May 29, 2016

"Just smile!" No.

“Aisling is an excellent student. If only she would smile more.”

So said one of my teachers to my mother in a parent-teacher meeting over ten years ago.
Thank you for your opinion, Teach. But smiling won’t pass the Leaving Cert for me, will it? Maybe stick to your job of actually educating me and not worry yourself about my facial expressions.

(Also: I’m enduring adolescence in a rural Irish secondary school, and sitting through your double class on a Monday morning. I don’t really have much reason to smile even if I was that way inclined.)

Social media and society have dubbed it ‘Resting Bitch Face’, so for the purpose of this post, if that’s what you want to call it, then yes, I hold my hands up – I have Resting Bitch Face and always have. Even as a toddler, my grandmother apparently used to comment on how ‘serious’ I looked. I’m rarely smiling in any of my baby photos. It didn’t mean I wasn’t a happy child. If anything, I think it just establishes more that I’m just one of those people whose passive expressions are just not that, well, smiley.

Being chastised for not smiling is something that has followed me into adulthood. It’s still one of my mother’s pet hates (she still brings up the teacher’s comment) and even strangers on nights out have pointed it out (“Smile, love, it might never happen” is a common one, and even “You’d be so much prettier if you smiled”).

1. At two, who wouldn't be happy in that ensemble on Paddy's Day?! I just wasn't a smiley toddler.
2. This was taken in Paris, one of my favourite places in the world. Of course I was happy - I just wasn't showing it on my face.
3. Proof that I do smile sometimes! With my cousin on her wedding day last summer.

What irks me is no one has ever made the same comments to my father, my brother or any of my male peers, and I don’t know about you – but that strikes me as unfair, and a representation of society’s underlying attitudes towards the gender divide.

US Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has received backlash for her so-called inability to smile during her public addresses. Yet, her male counterparts, Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump, have not been on the receiving end of the same criticism.

After tennis ace Serena Williams partook in a post-US Open-win press conference, a male reporter asked her why she was not smiling. Her response was that she was tired and wanted to go to bed (she had just played a tennis match, after all!), but Roger Federer or Novak Djokovic have never been asked that question if they’re not jumping for joy after a big win.

When a man doesn’t smile, he’s seen as brooding, mysterious, deep, intelligent, even handsome.
When a woman doesn’t smile, she’s seen as a moody bitch who needs to cheer the fuck up.

Now you tell me what’s wrong with that.

Maybe society is okay with a woman becoming President of the US, as long as she is constantly beaming, unthreatening, homely, and maternal. Well, guess what. Hillary Clinton is planning on becoming the leader of the ‘Free World’ – she doesn’t have time for that shit – she’ll have far more important things to worry about.

Hillary Clinton (24338774540).jpg
US Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton shouldn't have to smile to get her point across. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Maybe society is totally fine with women achieving big wins in sport, as long as they are modest, humble, overwhelmed and so totally shocked with their achievements that they cannot keep the smiles off their faces. Well, I think Serena Williams knows by now that she’s pretty badass at tennis. So she can be forgiven for not jumping for joy at a press conference, when all she wants to do is rest after a big match.

In showbiz, it’s beamers like Kate Hudson, Cheryl Fernandez-Versini, and Blake Lively, who, with their sunshine expressions, are regarded as the darlings of the celebrity world, while the likes of Victoria Beckham, Kristen Stewart, and Anna Wintour are regularly slated for their more serious demeanours. 

Actresses Blake Lively and Kristen Stewart. Lively is known for her dazzling Hollywood smile, while Stewart's so-called scowl has almost become her trademark expression. Photos: Wikimedia Commons

All of the above have expansive CVs boasting various achievements, awards and talents. It’s just the former are applauded because their smiles make them seem more thankful for their lifestyles, while the latter are berated, because their more solemn appearances portray them as moody, ungrateful, sullen.

We are the 'fairer sex', after all, and with that label comes an expectation to sit quietly, look pretty, and constantly appear cheerful and engaging, while the men deal with the more 'serious' issues.

Nah, sorry, not buying it. 

So just to make it clear. 
Just because I don’t plaster a big clown smirk on my face 24/7 does not mean I am always in a foul mood, and the same goes for every woman with a ‘Resting Bitch Face’. Or, as it should be rightfully called, a face.

Oh and to that teacher who made that comment all those years ago – guess what? I managed to pass the Leaving Cert, get a degree and a Masters – all without smiling.

Who’da thunk it, eh? 

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Thursday, March 17, 2016

Splurge or Save: Jesy Nelson

Splurge: Bra ~ Tank ~ Leggings ~ Runners

My first Splurge or Save post in almost two years - crazy, I know! It's also my first ever fitness/activewear SOS post. Last Wednesday was the one year anniversary of the day I started at Heatons head office in the Sportsworld buying department, so it's only natural that sports/fitnesswear would influence my (sporadic) posts. I do enjoy compiling SOS posts though, so I'm going to try to keep these up.

Jesy Nelson, along with her Little Mix bandmates, is one of the faces of Sports Direct's own brand, USA Pro, which is also available in Sportsworld departments in a number of Heatons stores throughout Ireland, as well as online at But if you are loyal to the pioneer premium sports brands, similar items are available from Nike, adidas, Puma and New Balance (these brands are also stocked in Sportsworld stores and on

Have a look at Little Mix's campaign for USA Pro below.

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Wednesday, February 17, 2016

10 things that are 10 years old this year

10. Lily Allen's debut album, “Alright, Still?”
The summer of 2006 was when a fresh-faced Lily Allen, then aged 20, bounced onto the scene in her trademark dress-and-trainers combo, decorating the charts with her cheerful Cockney ditties about lying exes, lazy little brothers, and living in London.

9. The Devil Wears Prada
Based on a novel written by a former Vogue intern, 2006 saw the release of one of Meryl Streep’s finest performances as the icy magazine editor Miranda Priestley to Anne Hathaway’s Andie Sachs, a small-town girl with dreams of “serious” journalism who takes a PA job at a fashion magazine. Thus one of the defining fashion films of the 21st century was born, and the epic one-liner “Florals? For spring? Groundbreaking” was coined.

8. The Nintendo Wii
Yes, it’s really 10 years since Nintendo released the Wii in November 2006, just in time for the capitalist Christmas race against the PlayStation 3 which was also released that year.

7. Fallout on RTE
2006 saw the airing of a two-part mockumentary on RTE, investigating how a nuclear explosion at the Sellafield plant in the UK would hypothetically impact upon Ireland, environmentally, socially and economically. Realistic dramatised news bulletins and plausible grainy mobile phone footage resulted in a War of the Worlds effect – wherein some viewers believed it to be actually happening.

6. Big Brother 7
Also known as, in my opinion, the best series of Big Brother to have ever been aired. Who can forget Nikki’s Diary Room rants (“Who is she?!”), Grace’s water-throwing antics and winner Pete’s lovability. I have yet to watch a series to match it.

5. Ugly Betty
Yes, 2006 was the year this brilliant show about the invincible Betty Suarez, who took a job at a fashion magazine to pursue her dreams of serious journalism, first aired. Starring America Ferrera, the show ran for four successful seasons and ended in 2010.

4. Muse – “Black Holes and Revelations”
Muse’s fourth album, but the first to make me fall in love with them, was released in June of 2006. Containing anthems like Starlight, Knights of Cydonia and Supermassive Black Hole, the album reached number one in five countries and went platinum in six.

3. Long hot summer
The summer of 2006 brought with it a heatwave, making it, at the time, the hottest summer ever recorded and the hottest year of the decade. 2006 was also the year I did the Junior Cert. Great timing(!)

2. Suri Cruise
I know, they grow up so fast don’t they?! It seems no length since Tom Cruise was lepping around on Oprah’s couch out of sheer adoration for his then-girlfriend, Katie Holmes. Well it’s now ten years since their daughter, Suri, was born, and they have since divorced. Suri has morphed into a mini-me of her mother and has a wardrobe that Anna Wintour would be proud of.

1.  These songs
Just let it sink in that these three songs, listed in the top 10 singles of that year, are TEN YEARS OLD.

Enjoy feeling old. xoxo

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Sunday, September 6, 2015

These Boots

It's September, the temperature's dramatically dropped, and it's well and truly autumn. Which only means one thing for me ... ankle boot season!*

*Technically I wore them during the summer too, but now I can fully embrace the trend again. :)

I've collated my favourites below...

Before I wrap up this very short and sweet post, here's a little about why I haven't posted all summer, and why my posts have been extremely infrequent this year.

I have decided to let blogging take a back seat. This year I began my career in buying when I started at Heatons six months ago (the time has FLOWN!), and I've never known myself to be so busy. Now I like being kept busy, so this suits me down to the ground, but I'm so busy that I don't have the time to invest in blogging. I like to switch off in the evenings when I come home.

Also, I feel that the fun has gone out of blogging a little, because what once began as a hobby, and a community of sorts, has morphed into a massive industry. Which is great, don't get me wrong, it's amazing that people can build careers out of doing what they love, but, many bloggers have achieved notoriety or fame through it and now it seems that the world and its mother wants to be a blogger, and not for the right reasons. People are starting blogs thinking they're going to get sent loads of freebies and invited everywhere, and not because they love to write or because they have a genuine interest in it. As a result, I feel that the community spirit that was such a big part of blogging a couple of years ago has disappeared. 

However, don't think this is an "I'm quitting" message, I still like having this platform here when I feel the need to post about something, it's just posts from here on in are most likely going to be very sporadic.

Thank you if you have been reading Walking Primrose for some time. 
Much appreciated.

Aisling. X

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Saturday, May 16, 2015

No question. #VoteYES

Friday next, May 22, is a major date for every Irish citizen who is registered to vote. It is the date of the Marriage Referendum, in which we as citizens will vote on whether or not to legalise same-sex marriage in Ireland.

This is something I feel REALLY strongly about - personally I see it as a matter of civil rights and I think that the fact that there is even a referendum at all is ridiculous. For a long time, I happily assumed that a Yes vote would be ubiquitous - I, and everyone I surround myself with, would all be unified in our support for the Yes campaign - but in recent weeks, a No campaign (led by such 'wonderful' organisations like the infamous Iona Institute, and Mothers & Fathers Matter) has sprung up, with horrible ignorant posters like the below appearing on signposts around the country.

(Side note: I was cheered up to read that the couple used in these images [which were taken from a stock photo website] have denounced the use of their family photo in this campaign)

First of all, the main argument that the No side are using is that of the above - that every child deserves a mother and a father. Aside from this being a completely ridiculous and insulting argument towards not only same-sex parents, but one-parent families, children raised by grandparents, aunts, uncles, older siblings, etc - it is actually a completely invalid argument. Same-sex couples can actually already legally adopt in Ireland, and the referendum is in relation to marriage and marriage only, so pipe down hun, you haven't got a leg to stand on.

This is an issue that I feel so strongly about that I don't feel I can put it into words, especially when there has been so many amazing blog posts, articles and videos compiled in the last couple of weeks. Instead of writing a long-winded post, I'll share a couple of tweets I've posted, as well as media from various other sources that state the facts, that have moved me, and that I whole-heartedly agree with.

This video is from 2009!

Letter to the editor in the Irish Times, 12/5/15

A photo posted by Aisling Owens (@aisowens) on

I also want to quickly mention that, back when I was in transition year of school, I was part of the school magazine committee, and one of the pages contained a Vox Pop, in which one of the questions asked was, "Should gay couples be allowed to marry/adopt in Ireland?" I was one of the respondents, and I can't remember exactly how I worded it (because I have no idea where that magazine is now), but I know my answer went something like "Absolutely, they deserve the same rights as everyone else".

Now bear in mind that this was 2007, in a rural Irish Catholic-ethos school, so unfortunately some of the other responses didn't echo mine. Sadly, those that answered that question negatively did so because they had grown up in a society that saw gay people as outcasts by not allowing them all of the same civil rights as straight people. That's why a yes vote is crucial, so that future generations will grow up, never imagining or comprehending why LGBT people were ever ostracised.

Rural Ireland has always been generally conservative and backward in its views towards progression, hence why I'm sad to be from a rural area at times like this. But progression is key, and change is good, so lets just hope that equality wins out next Friday.

Any No voters reading this (I really hope you are few and far between!!) - please bear in mind that if this referendum passes, all that will happen is same-sex couples will be able to simply celebrate their love for each other - legally. That's all. No ifs, no buts.

No question. Vote YES.

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I'm alive!

I can't believe I'm writing this post on May 16th, having not written a blog post since the start of March. The last two months have whizzed by to say the least, and as a result I have lots of news!

So as you know, I finished my postgrad in Fashion Buying back in January, and graduated in February.

On graduation day at St. Patrick's Cathedral with girls from my class. L-R: Rebecca, Elaine, myself, Marina, Lynda & Katie

As soon as exams finished, the job search began and I moved back home because, well, for one, I couldn't stay in Dublin without a valid reason (i.e. working or studying), and also, I was applying to jobs throughout both here and the UK and so I didn't know where I would be going, or how soon it would be before I got something. I'm sure any graduate will agree with me here when I say that launching into a job hunt just after exams is so draining. Tailoring your CV and cover letters, researching different companies, and attending interview after interview, well it's all a bit soul-destroying to be honest. I had six interviews throughout January, February and early March (flying to the UK for one), and was starting to get seriously fed up when I finally landed a position, back in Dublin... with the Irish department store group Heatons. Anyone who is familiar with Heatons will know that most of their branches have an additional sports/fitness floor called SportsWorld; this is the division in which I am now working as a buying office administrator. It's busy and fast-paced but I like it; it's exactly two months to the date since I started working there now, and the time has absolutely flown.

My new job is partially to blame for my lack of blog posts - when I come home in the evenings I just want to switch off, my head is buzzing from purchase orders and margins all day, and honestly, the last thing I want to do is launch into writing a post. I suppose you could say that that's no excuse, that I still have the weekends, but to be honest I've been squeezing a lot into my weekends for the past while as well! Such as...

Celebrating birthdays and going-away parties...

...Secretly flying over to beautiful Bath to surprise my friend Cairistine for her birthday...

A photo posted by Aisling Owens (@aisowens) on

...and celebrating my cousin Claire's Gatsby-themed 30th in Birmingham!

So this weekend is the first in a looong time that I haven't had to rush around for something or other, or get up at 3am for a flight, and needless to say, I've barely moved all day and I'm loving doing nothing! 

However, next weekend is going to be a big one, and this I will elaborate on in my next blog post. Click 'Newer post' below to read it!

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Friday, March 6, 2015

March Favourites

Listening... Maroon 5's latest earworm, Sugar.

...Kim K's new hair CUT. Loving the bob - still in two minds about the colour. It might be growing on me...

...after this Rebecca Minkoff mini crossbody...perfect for spring summer!

,,,at the hundreds of hilarious memes about #TheDress. I f*cking love the internet sometimes!

...reruns of Downton Abbey with my mamaw. Hurry up series six!

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