Aimee Horton

When it’s about Girl Power.

Jun
08

hate the term Girl Power.  It makes me think of overly revealing leopard print catsuits, people sticking their tongues out, lots of shouting and cackling, and also, fashion mistakes been, and thankfully gone.

But the truth is, I do feel like I’m surrounded by girl power at the moment.  I know there has always been a selection of strong women in the world who we have celebrated over the years, but I feel like the internet is giving us the opportunity to see and shout about more fantastic women and what they do.

Two such fantastic women I have the honour of knowing, run successful businesses which sell some bloody fantastic stuff.

First we have Eleanor.  Now, I’ve not known Eleanor that long really.  I bumped into her once before starting school and initially thought “fucckkkkk, she’s cool” then a few other times where she witnesses some special Chunky Monkey moments (school disco where he broke into a room and started trashing a display is a good example…oh and she’s the one who witnessed me tipping him into his pushchair).  We got to talking and actually, my horrendous parenting skills haven’t scared her off – HURRAH!

Anyway, on chatting those few months ago in the craft aisle of The Range (I wasn’t even there for school homework, how impressed are you?!) I discovered she ran ForEva Designs.  I said “ohh, I’ll go and  have a look” and promptly trotted over for a look.  I was a little bit in awe.  I always thought myself as creative, but then I realised that she’s like super doopah creative.  I promptly liked her Facebook page (you should too, she’s rubbish at self promotion and this is where she feels safest).

ANYWAY. When I launched my book (I told you I’d launched one right? ;)), she was really kind, and on the school run presented me with a little present.

Best.Mug.EVA. (see what I did there?)

My mum was with me at the time, so I stayed cool in the playground, but as soon as we were in the car and driving home I made her open it so I could see, and nearly curbed the car when I clapped my hands, I LOVE IT.  Considering I’m a bit OCD and all my mugs on the wall have to match/sit in a special order, I’ve actually ditched one and replaced it with this.  It makes me smile every day, I love that it’s personal, and I love that it matches my study (and yes, sometimes I do have a gin in it).

Mum hadn’t even noticed the other little surprise in the bag (which is lovely, everything comes wrapped in brown paper with the ForEva stamp on it), it was a little coaster which now is carried from room to room wherever I’m sitting.

Coaster for my Gin

Since then I’ve gone and investigated the new site she launched a few weeks ago, and both boys now have fantastic water bottles, which is a lovely idea, because in my wisdom to name my children something that “was a bit different but not stupidly different” there are very few personalised things about for them.

Wicked Personalised Water Bottles

Right now I’m actually perusing through her site trying to work out which Father’s Day products to buy for Mr. Aimee.  I’m struggling between these two:

Wicked Family Rules
Personalised Mug

Go and take a look at her site, the stuff is fantastic quality, she works ridiculously hard yet always manages to make me laugh.

Then there is Jenny.  You’ve all heard of Jenny I bet?  She runs the fantastically successful children’s online fashion store KyNa Boutique.

I don’t even remember when or how I started talking to Jenny on Twitter, but I already knew we were going to be wicked friends.  Then I met her at Cybher last year….and we just clicked.

KyNa isn’t just about selling kids clothes, it’s a whole other story.  Yes the clothes LOOK great.  I mean…check out just two very handsome models….

thebeast

grosslarry But it’s about making the kids feel comfortable, and about being kind to their skin.  You can check out more about this here on their website.

The products on the site are bright, bold, unisex and can I just say, without wanting to sound like my mother THEY WASH BLOODY AMAZINGLY.  Honestly, so many things I’ve bought in the past come out faded after a couple of goes, but these clothes just keep going on and on and on.

These are what I’m thinking of getting for the boys this summer…I just have to sneak them in quietly.


bikes diggers

Make sure you like the Facebook page too, it gives you a sneaky peak into all the latest products hitting the site, plus show you how fantastic the clothes as little models feature frequently!

NOW.

And this is where I sound a bit soppy, but see, check the time out, even I think it’s too early to have a gin (maybe).  But there are a couple of under frigging amazing girls I’d like to talk about, some you don’t know and don’t venture online really (I KNOW, what’s all that about?!), and some you may have heard of.

There’s my rock, the person who reminds me that nobody cares if there is one weed in a patio slab, then the one who makes my hair look fantastic, the one who looks after my child at nursery and is amazing with him, and the one who is probably the most lovely person in the world who I’ve known my entire life.  I have Jordan who was my chief bridesmaid 10 years ago, who is this incredibly strong, social, no nonsense chatterer, Charlotte who not only kicks the shit out of me mentally but manages to juggle kick ass grades in OU along with looking after my future daughter-in-law (for The Chunky Monkey), and being annoyingly beautiful AND cool.  Kate who actually had a massive part, probably more than she’ll ever realise, in making me realise that actually I’m “OK”, Zoe who I can’t tell you enough about, Chrissie, my favourite editor who makes me positive every day, Vicki the film maker who is probably the most motivational person I know, and make sure you check out the bloody amazing one who is going to be able to probably lift a car soon.

And Fran.  You should all check out Fran.  She is the hero I pretend to be when I play superheros with The Beast. Smart, brave, and bloody hilarious. Plus her son? SO SQUEEEZZZZABLLEEE.

Ok – I’m off for another brew now.

Friends

Nov
06

Friends.  Now there’s a contentious issue.  And I’m not talking about whether or not they were on a break.  Nope, I’m talking about best friends, worst ‘friends’, real ones, pretend ones, the good, the bad and the ugly.  Not to mention Facebook.  Friends come in all different guises and it never fails to shock me about how amazing the unexpected are and how shitty the supposed best are.  You win some, you lose some, some cut you out whilst others claw their way in, friendship really is an absolute bloody minefield.


When I was younger I wanted lots, it was all about the numbers.  After all, how many friends you’ve got is a clear indicator on how wonderful you are as a human being, no?  Look at my numbers, just look!  I’ve got over 200 friends on Facebook ergo I am incredibly popular and therefore wonderful.  Bollocks.  I’ve just happened to meet, go to school with, work with and socialise with a grand total of 246 people since I was born, which in those terms seems pretty sad.  Even sadder that I’d say I can count my real friends on my fingers.  But now I’m older I’ve realised viewing friends in the same way as sweets is needless and equally as bad for my health. I’ve always wanted as many as I can, not caring about the quality and even putting up with the sour ones.  Whilst my Haribo addiction is going strong, I’m starting to feel a little sick of the ersatz ones.

This year there has been a giant friendship shift.  One of my best (I use the term loosely, very loosely) friends has decided that we are no longer such.  I only discovered this little nugget of information when she and my other three ‘best’ friends met up and posted pictures online of the whale of a time they were having together.  Minus moi.  Ouch.  I’m 28 and was immediately transported to year 4 when again; my ‘best’ friend told my successor that she hated me in the girls toilets.  “No she didn’t,” I said smugly, “she wouldn’t say that, she’s my best friend!  You wouldn’t say that, would you?”  Looking me square in the eye she answered calmly, “YES”.  At least she was honest.  This time there was no such explanation, I was back at school and my supposed best uni pals had decided that the individual feud I was unaware of was worthy of some classic cutting out bitchiness.  Yes there’d been a slight chill in the air between me and she, but I’d spoken to her and she bluntly said she was irritable, I was irritating and it was just one of those things.  We’d been friends for five years; of course it was just one of those things, no biggy, right?  Wrong.  The fog didn’t lift, so I spoke to the others and each one said the same, “it’ll be fine, she’s done it with us all, you know what she’s like”.  Yes!  Yes I do!  And so do you, so why am I the one getting the big heave ho? I asked.  Something meek was muttered, there was a lone apology and the stark realisation hit me, I didn’t really care.  If they were truly my friends would they have followed the forceful ringleader just for that reason?  Had we all kept in touch because of some imagined duty founded just because we’d shared the same lectures?  We were growing up and apart yet were determined to cling on for dear life despite personalities and geography getting in the way.  For a while I felt bereft and, honestly, a little embarrassed.  It made me feel unpopular, humiliated and disliked, it hurt my feelings.  I was disappointed because whilst I was aware of the tension in one camp I thought the others knew better and it was a shock to be dropped quite so brutally.

Once I’d recovered from the initial jolt of friendship from playgrounds past, I looked around and noticed that I was surrounded by people concerned about my glumness.  It was then I realised that these were all the girls who’d called me the second they heard I’d been made redundant and who organised a surprise chocolate cake on my birthday.  These were the girls who text to see how my mum was getting on when she moved house and pointed him in the direction of my favourite jewellery at Christmas.  Scary thing was, I’d not known them since school or bonded with at university, we’d met, we’d got on and a friendship grew from a mutual like for each other.   Sheesh, this was new.  It had been instilled in me that friends were made when you were young and it is those you hold on to through thick and thin, through irritability and irritation.  But what if the only bond was the same course, same class or penchant for eating play dough?  What happens as we get older and the very thing on which the relationship was established no longer exists?  It falls apart, and trying not to feel like a big fat (and not to mention unpopular) friendship failure is hard.  So much focus had been put on keeping duty friends; I hadn’t noticed how many other pals I had around me.  Of course I have friends that I grew up with and who I have a genuine bond with.  But looking around at the grand old age of 28 I realise my best buddies are those not forged from family or educational institution.  Scary but true.  Part of me is a little sad that I haven’t grown up with my best group of friends and can’t reminisce about that time in the sandpit, common room or SU.  But the other part can’t wait to make more memories with the greatest gang a girl could ask for.

Frenemies

May
09

Frenemies – a term we usually associate with the rich and famous, whether it’s Paris and Nicole, Nadine and Cheryl, or SJP and Kim. Friends who spend all their time together, but don’t really like each other. I’m not doubting that they don’t enjoy one another’s company at times, that they don’t have things in common or have fun together, but there is the underlying motive within the relationship which is always to be better than the other. Whether it’s who parties the hardest or dresses the most provocatively the main thing is to be the most famous, they’ll stop at nothing to outdo each other.

Being 30 this year, I grew up in the era where Girl Power was the mantra. I went through the teens quoting the phrase “friendship never ends” and shouting about individuality and standing up for who you are. At the time, the term “Frenemy” wasn’t one that would even be considered. Girls stuck together. Well, in theory we did. We’d focus on honing our own individual style, which just happened to reflect the style of two of the most popular UK girl bands. We’d strut about clad in combats and vest tops by day, and by night we’d wobble in platforms and baby doll dresses, pointing, pouting and loudly asserting ourselves, hugging each other, hanging around in rowdy groups hoping to get away with underage drinking and dancing in the local clubs.

Nevertheless, when it came to putting our chosen motto into practice, it never really happened. We often shunned our friends to “walk around the field” with our best friends number one crush, or we tried to ensure that the current girl who was the least popular in the group looked foolish for the school disco, we weren’t there for each other, we were there for ourselves. Clawing our way up the social ladder in life, pretending to be individuals and confident, when really, being the same was the thing that kept you safe.

You assume that this is where it stops though. After all the social life of the stars appear to be all about playground politics, that in real life we are far more sophisticated. However, when I look at day to day life, I see frenemies wherever I look. Think about it, who are yours? Is it that gym buddy? The mummy you go on regular play dates with? Or perhaps that work mate with a mutual dislike for another colleague? Friends you probably wouldn’t have if you didn’t have that miniscule nugget in common. How do you deal with them when they frustrate you?

Being a quite cynical person, I’m aware of my close friends versus my fake friends (my less glamorous version of a frenemy). I have had a few in the past, the best friend who pretends not to revise for exams, the work mate who is going for the same promotion, but you don’t mind WHO got it, because you both are amazing and deserve it (whilst you are both secretly scurrying away in the background), and most recently, the friend where every day is a competition to keep up with the Jones’s.

I watch the most recent fake friend closely. I watch her compete, to try and drag others down, she often goes in for the kill when her self confidence is at a low point. My personal favourite time was the time she told a new mum that people still thought she was pregnant, hours after the new mum had voiced her frustrations with her frumpy post pregnancy body. It turned out the underlying reason was that the new mum had got into her pre-pregnancy jeans a whole three days before the frenemy had the year before.

On hindsight, you can laugh about these things, it’s almost funny the lengths things go to. However, my concern is, there is an underlying edge to the frenemy which leads to a more serious side of things. This is a situation, which like so many of the celeb relationships could spiral out of control, without the protection of the A list lifestyle when it all inevitably blows up in somebody’s face.

Not only do people get hurt, confidence wounded, there’s the underlying competitiveness which could cause long term damage. Whilst it’s tempting to play games with the competitive fake friend, to tell them you’re buying the latest designer handbag, or that you’re a size 6 then sit back and see what they get up to in order to go one better, the lengths they’re willing to go during this power struggle of a friendship is scary.

In quiet suburbier I’m witnessing everything from new boobs, to new cars, to “accidental” pregnancies. It wouldn’t do to not have the most children on the street. To not have the newest car. Sod the loans and the cost. Sod the friends, the feelings and people’s lives. Winning is key.

When did friendships become so aggressive? Why do we surround ourselves with people who cause us to question our integrity? Why, in our 20s, 30s and even 40s do we still feel the competitive urge to have as may friends as possible, even if sometimes, they’re only as close as a Facebook status “like” or a Retweet? Are we ashamed to admit that actually, the people we really like and trust we could count on one hand? Shouldn’t we focus our efforts on those we love and care about? Or is it all about how many people will be in the room at that big birthday party? Have they always been like this?

I don’t know the answer to any of these questions. I’m as guilty as anyone for having a mass of facebook “friends” who I haven’t spoken to in 12 years. I threaten on a weekly basis to cut ties with a frenemy who drives me up the wall, but always reel myself back in before I do. Perhaps it’s for my own amusement, or perhaps I’m taking heed of the old saying keep your enemies close and your friends closer. Maybe we don’t want to admit it, but maybe it’s just the fear of ending up alone.