Beets can be enjoyed on their own in a multitude of ways – raw, roasted, boiled, pickled – you name it, the beet can take it. It is a great bulker and star for salads too (recipe here) and has such a rich history on its use and topicality from the times of Babylon, the Elizabethan era and even said to be disfavoured by the Obamas.
Did you know that beets originally resembled a parsnip that evolved from a prehistoric North African root? Since then, the beets that we know today were originally cultivated in Europe as early as 1542 and so highly regarded in Ancient Rome and Greece that they developed methods to produce them throughout the year.
They come in an array of varieties from red, yellow, white and Chioggia, which add a feast to all the senses but most importantly to the gut bacteria too.
100g of beetroots contains around 3g of fibre which counts towards your 30g daily recommended intake that we should aim to have a week to support gut health. Fibre helps promote good digestion, bulks up stools and improves bowel movements and gastric emptying.
Rich in phosphorous, beetroot could contribute towards a healthy gut bacterial environment as phosphorus is an essential element of bacterial survival and reproduction and aid the absorption of riboflavin and niacin, two essential micronutrients for good gut function.
Betalain, an antioxidant found in beetroots, gives the vegetable its characteristic red hue. For this reason, it was used as makeup in the 19th Century with more recent uses in the fight against cancer, inflammation and to help improve digestion by supporting stomach acid levels, which could help to reduce bloating and control yeast and bacterial growth.
Want a quick way to use beets?
You shouldn’t always relegate beets as a side dish. Try them in the Dish Dash Deets® Purple Punch as a juice or smoothie to truly appreciate their goodness. Juice 250g raw beetroot (including the leaves) with 150g blueberries, 250g purple grapes with a thumb of ginger, and stir in ¼ tsp of cinnamon powder. If you want it as a smoothie, use cooked beetroot and add 3 tbsp plant-based yoghurt or 50ml oat milk. It’s a fantastic source of nitrates, antioxidants and polyphenols that will give you the perfect boost.
Every part of the beet is edible. So, try adding the leaves to salads or cooking them with your greens as you would Swiss Chard. It will truly change your plate and minimise overall waste.
“Fashion seems to express the emotions that I am not good at expressing and allows me to tell stories through clothes and people,” Apu Jan.
APUJAN is the London-based womenswear label established in 2013 that uses the juxtaposition between contemporary staples and traditional and oriental elements to create a world of fantasy and imagination. Designer Apu Jan uses woven and knitted fabrics to create not only influential clothing but inspiring stories.
Since its inception nine years ago, the APUJAN brand has been featured in some of fashion’s most notable magazines, including Vogue, ELLE, GQ, Bazaar and WALLPAPER. And this season, the brand’s Autumn – Winter 2022, ‘The Ballad of a Story Keeper’, collection was presented at London Fashion Week’s digital event.
‘The Ballad of a Story Keeper’ collection is the sequel to APUJAN’s previous collection, which paid homage to the sci-fi world and fantasy stories. This time around, the Tawainese designer tells the story of a spy whose mission is to retrieve the proof of the existence of the world’s manuscript and embark on adventures through time.
To celebrate APUJAN’s London Fashion Week event, Chapter Z took the opportunity to speak with the designer about how fashion helps him express difficult emotions and what sets his creations apart from the crowd.
In Conversation with APUJAN:
Let’s start right at the beginning. How did you discover fashion? What about the creativity of designing struck a chord with you?
I’ve always liked to read and watch art-related creations since I was little. However, I wasn’t very good at expressing myself back then. But, once I began to study fabrics and clothing and research their changes through history, I then stepped into the field of fashion design.
I like designing something that starts from a specific source. Fashion seems to express the emotions that I am not good at expressing and allows me to tell stories through clothes and people.
Are there any rules that you stick to when it comes to fashion and designing?
I always start from the theme story and think about the relationship between clothing and people and what message it can convey. Although I like various types of fabric experiments, they exist for the suitability of the message and clothing; they’re only an auxiliary.
What do you think it is about your designs that appeals to people? What sets you apart?
Maybe it’s the emotions, the hidden messages and those mysterious fantasy images. Our clothes won’t cover up the original personality of the person; they send a silent but firm signal.
Your Autumn Winter 2022 collection will be presented at London Fashion Week this year. You’ve stated the theme of the collection is “The Ballad of a Story Keeper”. Could you explain to me more about the collection and its inspiration?
APUJAN continues the style of a sci-fi overhead world to launch the latest season of fashion series, ‘The Ballad of A Story Keeper’. It’s a fashion show from different perspectives and focuses on a spy who wants to retrieve the proof of the existence of the world’s manuscript. She travels through different scenes and goes on adventures with the various characters she meets. In addition to the fantasy colours and settings of the brand, inspiration comes from science fiction, classical literature and spy novels. The spy is also inspired by the concept of intelligence agents because she’s integrated into different environments and needs to constantly change into different shapes. The people who appear in different situations also exist at different times with different styles.
As a designer, how important are the stories behind your collections and the themes they portray?
I think it is the starting point of everything. We always think about the theme story before we design for a specific collection. Each story is closely related to the previous season and the next season. Then, as we decide on the story, we develop everything from the clothing style, jacquard printing, totem, music, video to the makeup and hairstyling. From the story, we can develop a set of ten to five hundred pieces.
Where do you look for creative inspiration?
The stories I imagined came from a lot of readings, the messages and emotions I wanted to convey, and a lot of simultaneous experiments with knitted and woven fabrics.
How, if at all, does your personal fashion differ or compare to your designs?
My own clothes are mainly for work convenience. I wear formal attire to attend events, but I usually wear black T-shirts or shirts and sneakers. I still hope to present a sense of style, but it’s mainly about the convenience for activities and I think many designers are the same.
And finally, can you describe APUJAN in three words?
The Courtauld Gallery, who are hosting a major exhibition on esteemed Dutch Master Vincent Van Gogh, have been criticised for their souvenirs which focus on the artists mental health, including an “earaser” in the shape of the infamous Van Gogh ear that he is rumoured to have severed in a psychotic incident after an argument with Paul Gauguin.
Van Gogh is likely the most legendary figure to have suffered from mental illness. Known for his impressionist painting style almost as much as his cut off ear, he’s often used as a figurehead to discuss issues associated with mental illness and suicide. The painter went on to spend more than a year at the Saint-Paul asylum in Saint-Remy and committed suicide at the age of 37. The Courtald are showcasing several of his works, including his famous self-portrait of the artist with a bandage over his self-inflicted wound a year before his suicide.
The souvenirs, which included references to Van Gogh’s mental health struggles, have been criticised, notably by Charles Thomson. The figurative painter and co-founder of the Stuckist group, a controversial art movement, made a statement about the gifts to the Daily Mail, who first reported the controversy:
“This is shallow, nasty, and insensitive. What next? Van Gogh’s suicide pistol?”. He then went on to discuss how suicide and mental illness are not jokes to be used.
Amongst other gifts decorated with his iconic sunflowers, The Courtald are selling an Emotional First Aid Kit – a “box of wise emergency advice for 20 key psychological situations” – and a bar of soap advertised as perfect for “the tortured artist who enjoys fluffy bubbles”. It is these gifts, which look more to highlighting the severe mental health crisis Van Gogh experienced that ended in his suicide, that have left a sour impression.
The editor of the Jackdaw Magazine, an arts publication, also questioned the humour being displayed, “I can’t believe this isn’t someone in marketing’s attempt at tasteless humor in the pub after work,” David Lee told the Daily Mail.
“Would they, for example, be prepared to sell pencils in the shape of a false leg at a Frida Kahlo exhibition?” He also commented, referring to the Mexican painter known for her self portraits who lost her limb.
The eraser and soap have now been removed from the online stores. However, the emotional first aid kit remains.
Under the government’s new strategy to tackle anonymous trolling, social media users could be cut off from some accounts if they don’t sign up for the proposed ID verification.
Users of popular social media services, including Twitter, Facebook and Instagram will be required to give users the option to opt-in or opt-out from receiving messages, replies and content from unverified or anonymous accounts. Verified users could also block unverified or anonymous accounts from seeing their content under this new proposal.
This means people or organisations without verified accounts, would be blocked from communicating with, or being seen by, accounts that have opted out from interactions with unverified sources.
The Department for Culture, Media and Sport indicated that platforms had a number of options for verifying users, including using government-issued ID, such as a passport or driving license to open an account, or using two-factor authentication, where a platform sends a prompt to a user’s mobile phone.
The new system will be introduced under the online safety bill backed by Nadine Dorries MP, which requires tech firms to protect users from harmful content or face the threat of substantial fines imposed by the regulator Ofcom.
The culture secretary, Nadine Dorries said, “Tech firms have a responsibility to stop anonymous trolls polluting their platforms.” She added, “People will now have more control over who can contact them and be able to stop the tidal wave of hate served up to them by rogue algorithms.”
The government has ruled out banning anonymity online entirely, acknowledging that it would be damaging for domestic abuse victims, activists living in authoritarian countries or young people exploring their sexuality.
The ID move was welcomed by the Football Association, which has called for action against racist and abusive online trolls who often operate anonymously, as seen following the World Cup in 2021.
Edleen John, the director of corporate affairs and co-partner for equality, diversity and inclusion at the FA said, “On behalf of English football, we welcome the news that the government will be strengthening the online safety bill to protect users from anonymous online abuse. For too long, footballers and other participants across the game have been subjected to abhorrent discriminatory abuse from those who hide behind a cloak of anonymity, which has perpetuated a culture of impunity online. This needs to stop.”
However, Big Brother Watch, a privacy campaign group, said the proposed change represented another move towards an ID scheme for the internet. “The government’s plans to undermine online anonymity will do untold damage to privacy and free speech rights in the UK. This move towards ID for the internet is unnecessary and will have no discernible impact on the tone of conversations online,” said Mark Johnson, BBW’s legal and policy officer.
In a further change to the online safety bill, the government is also proposing to introduce a requirement for popular social media sites to give users an option for blocking “legal but harmful” content, such as the promotion of eating disorders and vaccine misinformation. The online safety bill will be introduced to parliament in March 2022.
Two Another prepare to release their debut record, ‘Back to Us’
Blending sleek alt-pop melodies and funky baselines, Two Another are the duo uplifting listeners with heartfelt lyricism and infectious positive vibes.
Angus Campbell and Eliot Porter are the pair behind Two Another, and they’re gearing up to drop their debut album, ‘Back to Us’. The record transverses themes of self-acceptance, queer identity, letting go of perfection and hope for the future. Speaking of the project, the duo say, “It’s about a relationship that has fallen off course. Sometimes you get to a point in a relationship when you start taking things too seriously and miss out on the silly and fun parts of being with someone. This title really symbolises the meaning of the album as well because the last 2 – 3 years have been about us trying to get back to feeling normal and feeling ourselves again.”
Campbell and Porter first began making music together at school, shortly after they moved to Sydney from the UK and US, respectively. After parting ways for a short time, Two Another officially formed in 2015 when the pair reunited in London. And it was then, as they learned to accept their identities, that they began to focus their writing on themes of mental health and sexuality.
Out for release on March 25th, Two Another’s first album is a work of pop perfection and undeniable grooves coupled with resonant and candid themes. To celebrate the upcoming release, Campbell and Porter spoke with Chapter Z about everything from songwriting to accepting their identities and their headline show at London’s premier gay venue, Heaven.
Two Another: In Conversation
Let’s start right back at the beginning. Can you tell us how you both started out in music and how Two Another came to be?
We went to school together and were both taking production lessons from The Bagraiders, who went to the same school as us. We were a few years apart, but once Angus heard some of Eliot’s demos, we immediately started hanging out and collaborating in the studio. It was a few years of just experimenting, smoking weed and fucking about before we relocated to Europe and started taking it more seriously. A friend of ours in Berlin heard some of the early demos and helped us put out our first EP in 2016. That was when Two Another officially started.
From when you started to now, what do you think have been your most significant musical developments?
As we’ve grown up, we’ve started to place more emphasis on songwriting, and we’ve put our focus on arrangement, melody and lyrics. When we started, we were content to make lots of different vibes, electronic 8 bar loops and ideas but didn’t really know how to shape them into full songs. I guess, over time, we have just gotten a little better at being more concise with what we’re trying to make.
Your single, ‘Someday’, came out a few weeks ago. What was the inspiration behind the track?
A year or so ago, there were people in our lives who were feeling very low and down on themselves and on life. The song is inspired by the conversations we were having with them and how sometimes it can seem impossible to convince someone who’s in a deep depression that these thoughts and feelings are temporary and things will get better.
The track comes from your soon-to-be-released debut album ‘Back to Us’. Can you give us the lowdown on the album?
Sure! It’s a very special record to us because making these songs brought us back together as friends and collaborators after going through a rough patch a few years ago. It took us on a bit of a journey and made us reconnect with our musical roots and the feeling we first had when we started making music together in our bedrooms back in Sydney. It’s inspired and influenced by some of our musical heroes from the early/mid-2000s, like Neptunes, mgmt, SBTRKT. We just hope it makes people as happy as it made us when we were making it.
You’ve also already released a few tracks from the record, like ‘Jump’ and ‘Matter of Time’. One thing that seems to connect all of the already released songs is an underlying feeling of hopefulness. Is that a theme that runs through the entire album?
Yeah, definitely. It was a conscious decision we made after our last EP, which was a little more angsty and introverted. We wanted to be able to talk about issues that were important to us, like mental health and queer identity, but frame it in a way that left people feeling hopeful and uplifted after listening to it.
You’ve just mentioned that one of the prominent themes of ‘Back to Us’ is that of queer identity. Here at Chapter Z, we’re in the midst of celebrating LGBT+ History month. So, could you give us an idea of how your queer identity has influenced your music?
Happy LGBT+ history month everyone! Great question. I think this album was the first time I consciously wanted to draw on personal feelings and experiences I’ve had as someone who suppressed their sexuality and identity for so long. It’s definitely made me write from a more honest place. One of my favourite songs on the album is called ‘Your Gone’, which is about a secret high school relationship at a hyper-masculine all-boys school. Toxic masculine environments like that kept me from being myself for so long, and we wanted to shine a light on it for this album.
You’ve also noted how self-acceptance is extremely important as a queer person. Do you think creating music has been a catalyst for achieving better self-acceptance?
I think it definitely has been. Creating music has always provided me with a foundation of self-worth and happiness, even at times when I was struggling in other aspects of my life. Also, writing lyrics has always really helped put things into perspective and change my mindset about myself and the world around me. I think being creative in any form can be incredibly empowering.
Right before the album’s release, you’ll also be taking on a headline show at the iconic Heaven nightclub. With such a rich history of music and reputation as one of London’s leading gay venues, what does it mean to you to be able to perform at Heaven?
It really is so iconic. We feel incredibly lucky to be playing there. It was the first nightclub my boyfriend and I went to together, and I’ve had so many fun nights there and always meet the most amazing people. I’m probably going to be on stage having flashbacks of wild nights out we’ve had there.
I also wanted to speak about the mini-documentary you’ve made recently. What did you want to get across that you didn’t think you had already?
We feel we were quite slow to open up the project to our audience. We were quite anonymous in the first couple of years of the project, and we didn’t really think about much more than making records because we’re quite private people. Now that we have grown as a band, we wanted to tell people a little more about our journey getting here, and how the album brought us back together. We are really happy with how the doc turned out, and we feel it really represents the sentiment we want to get across with our debut album.
And finally, other than the album’s release and your upcoming headliner at Heaven, what can fans expect from Two Another during 2022?
Definitely more music, more merch, more shows, more videos, hopefully, just more of everything and less Covid!
So, you’ve got a killer headache, a bloated stomach, and you’re having trouble going to the toilet because of what you’ve eaten. Could an allergy be the culprit?
Adverse reactions to food, known as food sensitivity or food intolerance, are on the rise. As many as one-fifth of the population experience negative reactions to food, and many scientists are wondering if environmental factors have a part to play when it comes to food and allergy issues.
Here we cover some of the science behind the growing issue.
Allergy, Sensitivity or an Intolerance?
Firstly, let’s tackle the terminology – food sensitivities with allergic pathophysiology involve immunoglobulin E (IgE) mechanisms, non-IgE-mediated mechanisms or a combination of both. A strong response to the allergen could lead to anaphylaxis, which is defined as a severe allergic reaction of rapid onset affecting multiple tissues that can cause death
On the other hand, food intolerances involve non-immune mechanisms, such as lactose intolerance, in which there is an inability to break down the disaccharide lactose due to a primary or secondary deficiency of the lactase enzyme. Therefore, undigested lactose reaches the colon, where it’s fermented by the gut microbiota, leading to gas production and bloating.
Causes of food intolerance can include:
Lack of an enzyme needed to fully digest a food. Lactose intolerance is a common example.
Irritable bowel syndrome. This chronic condition can cause cramping, constipation and diarrhoea.
Sensitivity to food additives. For example sulphites used to preserve dried fruit, canned goods and wine can trigger asthma attacks in sensitive people.
Coeliac disease. Coeliac disease has some features of a true food allergy because it involves the immune system. Symptoms often include gastrointestinal issues as well as those unrelated to the digestive system, such as joint pain and headaches. However, people with coeliac disease are not at risk of anaphylaxis. This chronic digestive condition is triggered by eating gluten, a protein found in wheat and other grains.
But could there be more to this than we initially thought?
Histamine intolerance affects around 1% of the population and is a result of the body’s impaired ability to metabolize histamine.
Usually ingested via food, histamine is stored in nearly all tissues of the body. When released, it helps to keep our organs functioning, such as helping the smooth muscle tissue of the lungs, uterus, and stomach contract, dilating our blood vessels and accelerating our heart rates.
People with histamine intolerance are low in the essential enzymes that help break down histamine in the body. Therefore, it starts to build up faster than it can be broken down and causes unwanted symptoms that resemble that of seasonal allergies.
If you eat histamine-rich food or drinks, you may experience hives, itchy or flushed skin, red eyes, facial swelling, runny nose and congestion, headaches, gastrointestinal issues, or asthma attacks. Other symptoms can be more severe, like a drop in blood pressure, heart palpitations and anxiety or panic attacks.
The treatment? Some medications can help. Often, over the cover antihistamines are enough to decrease the histamine load in the body and relieve symptoms. An elimination diet with a trusted healthcare professional will also do the trick and help you see whether histamines are the culprit.
Fructose, Fructan and FODMAP Intolerance
Common dietary intolerances include fructose, fructans and FODMAPs (Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides And Polyols) – a range of carbohydrates that often cause unexplained bloating, gas, abdominal pain or diarrhoea. Here, we explore the traits of each one.
Fructose is a molecule naturally present in foods, including certain fruits, vegetables, and honey but it is also produced from corn as high fructose corn syrup. Humans have a limited absorptive capacity for fructose. Published guidelines for fructose intolerance include eating foods with less than 3 g of fructose per serving.
Fructans are oligo- or polysaccharides where the most common forms are inulin, levanare and geraminan. The human body has limited ability to break down these oligo- or polysaccharides in the small bowel, and only absorbs 5 – 15% of fructan. Currently, there is no standardized test for a diagnosis of fructan intolerance and no clear guidelines on dietary management in fructan intolerance since there’s no robust published data. Restricting fructan in dietary intake may reduce symptoms in a variety of GI disorders with 24% of IBS patients reporting sensitivity to fructans.
FODMAPs are a group of short-chain carbohydrates which are poorly absorbed in the GI tract. The monosaccharide, fructose and oligosaccharide fructan are all part of FODMAPs. Disaccharide lactose is found in a variety of dairy products, and polyols are sugar alcohols found in certain fruits, including peaches and plums. Sugar alcohols such as sorbitol, lactitol and xylitol are also commonly found in sugar-free products. At least 70% of polyols are not absorbed in healthy individuals and are rapidly fermented by bacteria.
The low-FODMAP diet is very well known and suggested for improving symptoms in patients with unexplained gastrointestinal symptoms. To benefit from the diet, strictly adhering for at least 6–8 weeks before reintroducing different groups of FODMAPs is recommended. That way, you can easily determine which group(s) of FODMAPs you are sensitive to.
So, the take-home?
Food issues are on the rise, but that could be down to a host of different causes and reasons. So, working with the correct healthcare professional who can take a good look at your diet and lifestyle before making drastic changes to your life is the best way forward. After all, it may not be an allergy but a gut issue, or vice versa.
What’s for certain is what appear to be allergy symptoms are not always caused by a true allergy.
‘Inventing Anna’ has exposed in its 9-episode run one of modern society’s most glaring fraud cases, that of Anna Delvey, née Sorokin.
Based on a true story, except in the parts where it’s not, Inventing Anna presents us with how Anna Sorokin scammed, deceived and grifted her way through four years in New York’s upper circle.
The show was inspired by the 2018 article “Maybe She Had So Much Money She Just Lost Track of It,” published in The Cut. And, if you can put the controversy of glorifying a scammer by making a Netflix show out of her story (and paying her $320,000 for selling her life right behind you, it’s a great watch.
Unsurprising, after binging ‘Inventing Anna’, many fans have quickly delved into what’s going on in Anna Sorokin’s real life and where she is right now. For those eager to know, Anna Sorokin is alive and has been acquitted of two of her eight charges. She was initially found guilty on eight charges for grand larceny in the second degree, theft of services and attempted grand larceny, among other types of fraud. In total, she scammed $225k from unsuspecting victims.
Anna was found guilty after a trial that attracted media attention due to her wardrobe choices and overall childish behaviour during her prosecution. She was then sentenced to between four and twelve years in prison. After serving nearly four years in Albion Correctional Facility, she was released on parole for good behaviour in February of 2021, exactly one year before the release of the Netflix show.
Six weeks after this, Sorokin was taken by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and while she appealed her deportation, she has remained in custody until ICE determines if she’d be sent to Germany or not. Currently, Anna stays in Orange County Correctional Facility in New York, as she has overstayed her visa.
In a statement to Cosmopolitan, Anna expressed that she feels as if she’s “being tried for the same thing over and over again” regarding her ICE detention after completing her time in prison.
A quick look at her Instagram account, @theannadelvey features some mysteriously unclear Insta-story highlights, a Netflix promo, a Twitter handle and a business inquiry email, of all things.
Even the comments on her latest Instagram posts, some of them bashing her, others glamorizing her as an iconic hero for “stealing from the rich,” raise eyebrows at the true-crime series’s possible implications for the audience. During her interview with Cosmopolitan, she called the series a good exercise in letting go.
Overall, Sorokin seems only mildly sorry for her actions, not realizing how they affected the lives of her supposed friends. At least, of the $320,000 Netflix paid Sorokin, she managed to pay off some of her misdeeds and pending debt.
Students from disadvantaged backgrounds in England could be blocked from going to university.
Under proposals announced by the government this week, it’s been revealed that students from disadvantaged backgrounds in England could be blocked from studying at university unless they secure strong GCSE or A-level grades.
On Thursday, 24th of February 2022, the government is set to publish its long-awaited response to the Augar review of higher education funding. It is expected that a key element of the response will be the launch of a consultation on minimum entry requirements for students to be eligible for government-backed loans for tuition and maintenance.
University leaders warn that setting minimum entry requirements too high, such as requiring a grade 5 in GCSE maths and English, would end the hopes of many school leavers from disadvantaged backgrounds and others who could not be able to afford the £9,250 annual undergraduate tuition fee or living expenses without student loans.
A key determinant will be whether a GCSE grade 4 or 5 is considered the minimum entry standard. Around 71% of pupils in England achieve a grade 4 in GCSE English and maths, reducing to 52% amongst those from disadvantaged households.
Bridget Phillipson, Labour’s shadow education secretary, said: “After nearly three years of inaction, this meagre response shows the government does not share the ambitions of young people and their families for their futures and the future of our country. Instead of looking to widen access to university education or supporting the success of our universities, the government is slamming the door on opportunity.”
A Department for Education spokesperson said, “Higher education is an investment, and we need to ensure that graduates are being rewarded for the money, time and effort they put into their studies with an educational experience and jobs that match their skills and help contribute to the economy.”
The announcement comes as record numbers of school leavers applied for undergraduate places this year. The Department for Education has been battling with the Treasury over the cost of financing since late 2018 when the Augar review was published under the then prime minister Theresa May.
Further consultation will be announced on the future of foundation year courses taught at universities. Foundation years are offered to students who don’t meet an institution’s academic requirements and remain a key point of access for many, especially mature students. However, the Augar review recommended that foundation years be restricted to further education colleges.
Other headline measures which are expected to be announced include the freezing of the tuition fees at £9,250 for another two years and a freeze on the threshold earnings for student loan repayments.
Earlier this year, the Department For Education announced that the repayment threshold (the amount at which graduates in England pay off their student loans) would be frozen at £27,295. The Institute for Fiscal Studies estimates this would cost graduates earning £30,000 an extra £113 each year.
The review in 2019 was launched at a time of mounting concern about the cost and overall value of higher education in the United Kingdom. This was a result of annual tuition fees rising to their highest level and maintenance grants being removed, which sent individual student debt spiralling to almost £50,000.
When it was reported in May 2019, it included 53 recommendations on the future for the higher education sector. These included a reduction of tuition fees to £7,500, an extension of student loan repayments from 30 to 40 years and the reintroduction of maintenance grants for the most disadvantaged students.
However, as time has gone on and the political climate has changed, many of Augar’s recommendations have looked increasingly unlikely to be adopted. With outstanding student loans reaching £140bn last year, the Treasury’s priority has been to reduce the cost of student loans to itself rather than ease the burden on students.
University staff are currently locked in a bitter industrial dispute over pensions, pay and working conditions. On Tuesday evening, a key negotiating committee rejected funding proposals by the University and College Union in favour of those put forward by the employers.
Jo Grady, chair of the UCU, warned that the decision would lead to further industrial action amongst staff. “University vice-chancellors have today chosen to steal tens of thousands from the retirement income of staff. This is a deplorable attack which our members won’t take lying down.”
Restrictive guidance on LGBTQ+ teaching in schools can cause queer youth to feel isolated
Discrimination towards the LGBTQ+ community is, unfortunately, not a new phenomenon within educational systems. However, while authorities have cracked down on outright discrimination, many schools still enable queer erasure.
While browsing school libraries, you’d be hard pushed to find any novels or textbooks that positively portray LGBTQ+ couples: if they’re even represented at all. This simple lack of queer representation during children’s and teens’ formative years is enough to evoke feelings of isolation and shame.
And, things are being taken further in some high schools in the US, with one school in Williamson County, Tennessee, banning LGBTQ+ depiction in textbooks altogether. At the same school, teachers have also continually ignored queer issues implied in textbooks and even ripped apart LGBTQ+ positive banners.
Anti-LGBTQ+ movements are using schools as battlefields, employing school policies to abuse loopholes that erase the experiences of LGBTQ+ students. One distressing example is schools labelling gay and trans issues as political or not age-appropriate.
Recently, Republican governor Ron DeSantis announced he’d support a new Parental Rights in Education bill known as the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill. The bill would restrict conversations and discussions of sexual orientation, gender identity, and LGBTQ+ issues in schools. Focusing mostly on primary schools, it would place strict rules on how those topics are approached inside the classroom. The pretext for the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill is these conversations aren’t considered age-appropriate, yet no age for which they become appropriate has been established.
By February 2022, conservative state lawmakers in the US filed over 170 anti-LGBTQ bills in just two months, surpassing 2021’s 139. But, it’s not just the US educational system that’s inciting LGBTQ+ erasure. A recent Australian study revealed that 75% of students in year 9 or above said they had not received education on a range of sexual and gender identities. And in 2019, the UK government released statutory guidance for sex education and relationships in school, which notoriously ignored queer couples. The guidance stated teachers should take an age-appropriate approach to LGBTQ+ issues and, before discussing related content, religious backgrounds must be considered.
The ambiguity of these statements might make them seem innocent at first. However, when contrasted with other similar guidance or bills, such as the Don’t Say Gay’ bill, it’s clear gay and trans issues aren’t typically open discussion in the classroom.
It’s no surprise that these restrictions hamper the development of LGBTQ+ youth in schools, preventing them from accessing vital information crucial to their health and sending the message that being LGBTQ+ is wrong. Thankfully, local communities in these countries have also been vocal about their disagreement with these restrictions that make queer youth feel isolated in schools.
“Fashion is a way of expressing ourselves and a reflection of the time and society we’re living in,” Ray Chu.
Founded in 2016, RAY CHU is the disruptive, A-gender fashion brand created by Taiwanese designer Ray Chu. The brand has gained attention for its refined quality, innovative craftsmanship and the use of carefully placed cut-outs and oversize silhouette cuts that radiate confidence. Working with deadstock materials, organic cotton and vegan leather, RAY CHU is also a label that’s well on its way to sustainability.
The fashion line strongly values inclusivity, fluidity, and love in all its forms. For that reason, talents from different industries, genders, and sexual orientations were invited to take part in the recent project. “We want every individual to love themselves and to love others,” Ray Chu.
This season, RAY CHU presents the Touch Me collection, which pays homage to sensuality, experimentation and fantasy. Presented at the 2022 London Fashion Week digital event, the collection includes bold silhouettes, a subtle colour palette and intricate, statement designs.
Chapter Z took the opportunity to sit with Ray Chu, the mastermind behind the brand, and talk all things fashion, sustainability and collaborating with LGBTQ+ artist, Draw Me Denis.
RAY CHU: In Conversation
Let’s start right at the beginning. What are your first fashion memories?
It was probably because my grandpa (he does men’s) tailored two pairs of trousers that I remember from when I was a kid. Also, that year I watched Project runway, which made me feel like I want to do fashion.
Then, how did you decide designing was something to pursue as a career? What about fashion drew you in?
I have always found it interesting because of its history and how it transforms over time with society and technology. It was after I saw the work from Lee Alexander McQueen, which is so inspiring and boundary-pushing, that I decided to do fashion.
For anyone who hasn’t seen the RAY CHU brand before, can you describe your line’s aesthetic?
RAY CHU is a sexy, expressive, genderless and positive fashion label.
What does the word ‘fashion’ mean to you?
Fashion is a way of expressing ourselves and a reflection of the time and society we’re living in.
Your Winter 2022 collection will be presented at London Fashion Week this year. You’ve stated the collection’s theme is ‘Chapter IIII Touch Me’. Could you explain to me more about the collection and its inspiration?
This collection is a continuation of our SS22. The inspiration behind it is the pleasure of being touched by an intimate other or a daydreaming fantasy.
For this season, we collaborated with the artist Draw Me Denis, whose works are mostly LGBTQ+ group portraits from both personal perspectives and fantasies. His work is very RAY CHU.
As a high-end fashion designer, how do you ensure you remain commercial to a wider audience but still create new, innovative ideas?
When I do a collection, there is always a certain percentage of commercial wearable pieces embodying elements from the inspiration or non-commercial pieces.
Currently, where do you find the most inspiration for your designs?
Daily life, all forms of art from galleries and stories from friends and myself.
And finally, can you describe RAY CHU in three words?
Sensual, Provocative and on its way to being more sustainable