Me Too
 
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The unravelling of Harvey Weinstein has finally given women (and men), the confidence to speak up. But it's also given people the opportunity to see how wide spread the problem is. Pretty much every woman I know has been harassed. It happens on the street, in the office and within relationships. And because so many women have experienced some form of harassment, I felt that what happened to me... was only a big deal to me. I shared that hashtag. So, it seems right that I should share my story too. Well my worst story of harassment, as it was by someone who abused their power.

I was 23 at the time. 
I’d been living in London for about a year, working in a small boutique agency. One of our campaigns had been nominated for an award, so I went to the doo, with one of the women from accounts and our client.

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I sat at the same table as him. He was the Creative Director and Co-owner of another agency. He was friendly. He was really interested in who I was and what I did for a living - and also, a very very old, married man. As I introduced myself to him and his team, he mentioned that they were looking for an art director to expand their team.

I was on the hunt for a new job at the time so, I happily showed him some of my work on my phone – I’d just got my site working on mobile and I remember being pretty chuffed with it (Yup. It was that long ago I was 23). He seemed really keen on my work, and I spend a good section of the evening chatting to him about my portfolio, career goals and creative passions.

A few hours passed celebrating as a table. And as everyone got a bit merrier they got up to dance, leaving just me and him behind. Sitting at the table alone with him, he complained the music was too loud and said he’d love to chat to me more about the role, and suggested I go back to his hotel room to discuss things further...

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Hold up. WHAT?! Why was he wanting to talk further about it? In his hotel room. The awards were in a hotel so I had to presume he didn’t realise how dodgy as fuck that sounded... Right? Don’t worry. I didn’t go. Now I shudder to think what would of happened. I can imagine it would of become very Weinstein-esque if I had. Instead I said it seemed inappropriate, but I had to apologise A LOT. I said some crap along the lines of 'I don’t really know you, and I’m sure you’re not like that.. but I’m sorry I don’t think that’s appropriate' – he suggests something like that, and yet I’m the one apologising. FFS.

Still interested in interviewing me, we swapped emails and he later invited me to come in for an interview. At his agency this time, so I went. And what do you know… his agency was actually bloody legit (which only added to me feeling like a muppet for the hotel room suggestion). 

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He offered me a job. I wanted a new job. I wanted to be in a real advertising agency. And I had convinced myself he wasn’t a dirty old man. So, I accepted the job and for a bit it was okay. The first couple of weeks after I started I just presumed his interest in me and my personal life was just him and had noticed he was a bit 'flirty' in nature with other women in the office. Sadly I thought it was just one of those things I’d have to get used to and just ignore.

As you may guess by now. Things got worse.

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Back then, I was also in a relationship that stunk like a bag of dead turtles. It’s a sad state when your boss is giving you more attention than your boyfriend… and after weeks of heartache, I realised he was involved with another girl. So, I left him. It was hard, but as you can imagine my boss was very supportive. He gave me a day off and reassured me my ex was an idiot. It was nice to have a friendship with him, and I appreciated how understanding he was.

Once my ex was out of my head. I began to date. And that's when my boss friggin' hated it. He became jealous. Inquisitive of details about boys I'd spoken to, and he became even more flirty and sporadic both in work and over messages. At work it would be things like touching my shoulders when he stood behind me to critique my work. At night I would get chatty texts throughout the evening. I felt like if I didn’t reply I would have to explain why the next day. It was not normal. I began to fear being alone with him, and dreading every interaction we had.

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At work we’d just won a pitch to shoot a TV ad in Australia. To cut costs, and massage his own ego of him believing he could direct film - he suggested that the team fly over to shoot it. The shoot would mean 3 weeks travelling the country in a camper van with him and another partner of the agency. My boss said I should go with him, but he had to decide between me and the other art director. The thought of going away with him truly terrified me. I honestly thought about quitting there and then, or quitting if I was told I was going with. I was so worried about what he might try, and how I’d even be able to ‘laugh it off’ as harmless.

I remember being on my first ever date, which happened whilst he was still deciding who was going to Oz. My boss saw it as yet another reason to text me, telling me he had a dilemma and didn’t know who to take. Me - or another art director (who has loads of commercial shoot experience by the way). Sat on a picnic blanket, with a nice, age-appropriate guy I decided I’d had enough. I bluntly replied – that he should take the other art director. No friendly chat. No niceties.  

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When I stopped being friendly, it got way worse. I began to feel like my job was being dangled over my head. I didn’t think it could get worse but it did. I had a six-month probation and was about five months of hell in. The thought of leaving scared me, and the thought of being fired filled me with shame. I was trapped, stressed and I felt incredibly alone.

I eventually opened up to two colleagues after work and confessed just how scared I was. Sat in run-down wine bar with two people I hardly knew, trying not to cry. They suggested speaking to his partners, as he owned the company with two other guys. Not wanting to make big deal of it, I decided that I’d just swerve him just to survive being there every day, and save up as much as I before my probation ended. And that worked for a while, until the day I couldn’t swerve him. I remember I had to go to him for something. I can’t remember what it was, but I’d been dodging him, and especially being alone with him for a fair few days now. I decided to brave it by sticking my head through the door in his fish-tank like office door to ask a question. 

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He then he did something that was so unnecessary and frankly traumatising that I can scratch my whole experience down to what he said and did in that moment. He grabbed my face, putting his crinkled-cut old man hands around my face in a weird loving embrace and said with such pride “Ooooooh I’d kiss you now if it wasn't inappropriate”. *insert mental blank and internal freak out here* I don’t even remember what I said. I don't even remember if I got an answer to that thing I needed... I think I just awkwardly laughed to get out of there as quick as possible and ran to the bathroom.

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That was my definitive moment.  The moment I knew for sure, that this was harassment and that I couldn’t go on with the way it was. Knowing I was already on my way out, I decided to tell his partners about his behaviour, highlighting this incident and how it made me feel. I had at least shared my side of the story, no matter what happened next. Anyway, it fell on deaf ears of course, and 3 days later I was let go. He took me to a pub and told me he ‘had to let me go’. I was so happy it was over and that I’d be away from him, that I thanked him for "setting me free" and left.

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As the reality of being fired / let go / whatever you might call it sank in, I was left feeling ashamed. I'd been treated like shit, and had no proof of why I was let go. I’d deleted his texts, my email was works email, and I was left unemployed. I was so worried what I’d say if I was ever asked why I’d only lasted six months in a job I figured I would scratch it down to loosing clients so it was last in/first out. Ironically I think that’s still what my LinkedIn says... lol. That month was hard. But I was free. I picked myself up (slowly) and was lucky to bag myself a really good job in a global agency.

You’ll be happy to know that karma did eventually catch up with him, and he was pushed out of his own company, for having a shit attitude (or quite possibly his behaviour to other women, who knows?). Although... he was probably paid a lot of money to leave, and now he’s attempting to be a photographer and director. Just another Harvey Weinstein to add to the mix hey. 

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A few years later, still holding onto my mobile number it seems, he sent me a WhatsApp message commenting on how attractive I looked in my profile photo. Are you having a giraffe?! How, after all these years, did he still think his behaviour was okay? And that I would be okay with it... what a bell.

I have grown tremendously since I worked for him, and become much stronger in a way because of all the shit he put me through. I always regretted not calling him out for the absolute douchebag he was. I wanted him to know he could no longer treat me like that. But shouting at someone didn’t over whatsapp didn’t seem like the way to really get my own back. I took a subtle approach, I changed my picture. 

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He couldn’t control me anymore. Never mind look at my photo. He knew what he had done, so what was the point of telling him and getting nothing or denial back. I didn’t reply, I just updated my profile image. If he happened to peek at my photo again, all he'd see was a crisp black and white photo of my middle finger with "fuck you" written underneath it. 

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It’s a sorry state when every woman you know has been through some sort of harassment. And everyone can recall multiple times. This is the worst incident of harassment for me, but it happens on a weekly, sometimes daily basis. I have written another blog post which is sitting unpublished from the summer when I guy harassed me in the park. I decided me and my "fine ass" no longer felt safe walking through the park after work which really upset me. I ended up not posting it cos I thought no-one would think it was a big deal.

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That’s why #MeToo is so important. Its shining a light of how often it happens and how women are made to feel. I hope this simple hashtag rids people of the taboo of saying what happened. I hope this gives us all more power, both men and women to stand up when we see it happening.

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Anyway, back to my pervy old boss. I hate the thought of him treating others like this and worry it will happen, or has happened to others already. His WhatsApp years later just goes to show he's another dick who is either too clueless to know the difference between flirting and harassment or he thinks that it’s okay to treat women this way. 

Whilst I was writing this, I decided to do a two searches. A quick google search today has revealed his photographer profile where he lists some of his preferences for photography as 'Lingerie, Glamour, Nude, Adult, Topless' despite having a portfolio of poorly created photos of fully clothed people. Living the dream ey, you absolute pervert. I also seached my personal email and actually uncovered some emails from him, that even now make me gag. Replies to my emails like ‘you make me smile’ and ‘I shall hold you to that ;)’ that I’ve either been too naïve to see for what they were, or I’ve just swerved in my replies. I guess I do have evidence of his behaviour after all.

I wonder if he’ll ever read this? I hope he does. 
And in case he ever does I have a message for him incase he didn't get the one I left for him last time...

Go Fuck Yourself R.C

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Beki Reilly
The lone art director on a copywriting course
 

Last week I went on a copywriting course to see if I could get the hang of this whole writing malarkey. I must admit I’m rather intimidated by copy. And meeting new people. And speaking out loud to said strangers… So, I wasn't exactly thrilled to be going #UngratefulBastard. 

As I sat down and we introduced ourselves, I realised I was the only art director. Everyone else wrote copy for a living... Bril-li-ant. I thought this was copywriting for dummies? How to string together a sentence 101 style. Instead, I was going to have to read OUT LOUD copy I had attempted to write, to a complete group of strangers, professional copywriting strangers… er, shoot me now please?

An hour or so into the course, we were asked to write 200 words on something we felt passionate about. Now, I’m not a fan of opening up to people I barely know, but the dreaded F word popped into my head immediately. It was the only thing that I could think of.

Feminism. 'Blah blah blah, womens rights. Blah blah blah, we don’t hate men'. Christ. It’s a big fuckin’ subject to chat about to strangers. Strangers who you’re terrified of. On a copywriting course you think you’re going to suck at. Hasn’t anyone shot me yet?

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If you read my last blog post, you may realise (as I’m starting to)… that I have a tendency to accidentally go balls deep on things I give a shit about. So, off I went. 'Blah blah blah'. Emma Watson must of had prepare weeks for this kinda stuff. I had twenty minutes. I tried to be personal, and not too preachy. To break the stereotypical image of the man hating hairy, angry feminist by being a bit self-deprecating, with the odd penis joke thrown in. No speech about feminism is complete with a penis joke. True story.

As I read out loud, I could feel my face becoming an uncomfortable shade of red. My hands shook, and my voice shook more. I had to just stare at my words, jiggling on the paper to get through it. I daren’t look any of those intimidating bastards in the eye.

As I finished, our teacher Will Awdry, began to clap. I looked up, as the rest of the group joined in. I nearly cried. Maybe I did cry? … I dunno, it was all a bit of a  blur. I had bared my lil soul, attempted to write, and they embraced me doing so.

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That moment had a profound impact of me. Genuinely. Not only did I come away with some tips and tricks on ways into copywriting, I came away feeling way more confident in my writing. I know I hadn’t written anything special, or released a secret copywriter inside, but I had tried my hardest, and they knew that... so I‘m beyond thankful for their support. In that moment, I no longer saw them as the intimating bastards, but some of the nicest people I’d met in a long time. 

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So my first taste of copywriting was pretty good in the end?! Who knew overcoming my fears and voicing my words to strangers could be so bloody liberating? I’m realising the more I write, the better I’ll become. And that makes me feel more confident about just cracking on with it. The learning process is far more bloody enjoyable now. Even reading this post back, it’s not that elegant, but hey-ho, neither am I… and I’m totes ma goats fine with that.

This is the link to the course if anyone fancies it. If you hadn’t noticed… I highly recommend it. https://www.dandad.org/en/d-ad-advertising-copywriting-creative-training-course/

 
Is Tyler Durden your greatest asset?
 

It’s mental health week.
That one week where people will admit that their life is not quite as glossy as it looks on Facebook. It’s incredibly encouraging to see people open up and share their inner demons and struggles with mental health. Heck, even the ol’ Royals are joining in. So what about me? Well, I’ve decided to level up from telling people on Facebook who already know me, to anyone who finds my website. You know, people who may want to work with me or even hire me in the future. Risky? Perhaps…

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Four years ago, I wasn’t in the best place mentally. After losing a job I despised (a story for another day), and walking away from a toxic relationship I felt I’d reached my lowest point. Feeling like a failure I took a long hard look in the mirror. Unfortunately my inner demon looking back wasn’t a buff young Brad Pitt. My inner demon is not so hot. I had been struggling with anxiety. With the prejudice around mental health, I was too afraid to tell anyone… yet, it had gotten to the stage where it was controlling my life. And how did this anxiety manifest itself? Now, this is an embarrassing thing for me to admit - but whenever I got super anxious, my mind convinced me that I needed a wee. How inconvenient is that? I’d be halfway through pitching an idea, and all I could think about is how much I really want to just run out and go the loo. I would be so convinced I needed to go tinkle that I couldn’t go far away from the porcelain throne. It’s all mental of course. There were no wet knickers thank goodness, but still I was going to the toilet 20/30 times a day, you know, just in case.

As you can imagine, this was something that dominated my life. Being at the bottom meant there was only one way to go. Up. Luckily, those steps I took back then, are still enriching my life now. And that was what worked for me. Confronting it, picking my life apart (with help of course) and building it back up again, the way I wanted it to be. It was hard but ultimately worth it. And realistically, I don't think I'd change any of it, cos I simply wouldn't be the person I am now - out the other side, with a life that makes me happy and a whole toolkit of things to help me if I have a ‘bad day’.

Luckily my efforts paid off - once I had started to pick up the pieces of what I thought about myself, and who I wanted to be, I began moving forward. I landed a role in a global agency and met someone who I think is an absolute keeper. Now I’d say I was almost ‘normal’. I almost function like a ‘normal’ piddling person. And yes, there is the odd occasion I will leave a meeting to go for a wee. But hey, normal people do that too.

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I’ve just finished reading this little gem from Dave Birss.  He suffers from bipolar and depression… who knew? He makes a really lovely and thought-provoking point, which made me want to write this piece. Sometimes the things we think are these terrible secrets, could in fact, be the things that make us good at what we do.

Take me. Anxious. And I can be stupidly anxious at times. But that does make me think a lot. Sometimes that can be just about my good pal - the toilet, and sometimes it opens up a whole new way of thinking about stuff that can actually benefit my career. When you boil down what I do for a living, I’m paid to think. If I wasn’t anxious I don’t think I’d approach briefs in the way that I do. Being anxious also makes me super passionate. I really care about the work I do and want it to go as well as possible. I’m not sure I would wake up at 4am as much as I do, just to have a little think if I didn’t 'overthink' and care as passionately as I do.

I also spend my time pouring over art and design, typography and illustration, film and animation. I get so absorbed that it can act as a coping mechanism to drown out overthinking when it becomes unproductive. But even this has a really positive effect. I think, without blowing my own trumpet, that I have quite a big range of reference and inspiration… Now it's all sitting on Pinterest. Waiting for me. It's a wealth of beautiful imagery that I can tap into as well as feed, anytime I want. 

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That’s why Mental Health Week is so darn important. It’s about changing the negative stereotypes. Changing how people see mental health, through sharing their story. I guess my concluding paragraph, for my first ever blog post (and who knew I’d go balls deep with this as my first topic hey) is that the majority of people don’t have a clue, and that’s fine. If people only know half the story – that I’m a passionate thinker who’s driven by powerful visuals… then that’s fine. But wouldn’t it be great to show people that anxiety is the reason that my mind works in the way that it does. That anxiety, could in fact, be the reason we should work together in the future. 

You know, only if you have a toilet near by. 

 
Beki Reilly
I'm gonna start writing a blog...
 

... Why?

Because I’ve been told that I can’t... and shouldn’t write.  Yes images are my passion but I'd like to see what this whole world of writing is all about. So, I’ll be testing my chat on you lucky people who happen to stubble across my blog. I'll be sharing my influences and passions, my random brain farts about all things creative as well as sneak peaks of things I'm working on. Stay tuned folks, it's gonna be... interesting (hopefully).


 

 
Beki Reilly