Happiness, Health

Top-Secret Beauty Tips that Modelling Taught Me

One question I am quite regularly asked is,

“What beauty secrets have you learnt from modelling?”

Although I always seem to get on really well with MUA’s, I’m really not interested in make up at all. I usually sit in the chair, let them do their thing whilst day dreaming or chatting, and voila, there’s a much better looking girl staring back at me in the mirror.

I’m atrocious at my own make-up and don’t wear much at all when I’m not working. So I’m afraid I don’t have any make-up tips… Although Britney Spears did teach me to dab lipstick of my cheeks instead of blusher, when I was a 10 year old watching her “In The Zone” DVD.

The so called ‘tips’ that I have learned are simple and already well known:

  • Bioderma (once secret way before it became available to buy in every pharmacy in London)
  • Coconut oil erry’thing (face masks, hair masks, hand cream, sexy oils)
  • Enough water and sleep – I know it’s mega boring and seems like bullshit but it is 100% annoyingly true

I have replied with these answers, usually met with politely disappointed responses. But actually, the older I get and the more at one with myself I become, the more I realise what I have in fact learnt from my experience as a model.

So without further ado, here are my top 5 beauty secrets that no one will tell you.

1. No one is that beautiful.  

Some people ask if modelling makes you insecure. Sure, it can make you feel insecure for a number of reasons; rejection, not fitting into clothes, bitchy comments that get you right there and linger forever… But in some ways, modelling actually made me feel more secure. Because, I have seen up close, met and shared toilet cubicles with some of the most gorgeous models in the world… And not once have I been so overwhelmed by one’s beauty that I have felt disgustingly unattractive. Don’t get me wrong, they really are beautiful. But so is that girl that lives down the road from you. They’re still human. Some girls have very picturesque, doll like faces and the standard “perfect” body (yawn), yet suffer from bad B.O and even worse breath. Some move like ballerina’s yet sound like a burly truck driver. Some are simply dumb as shit.

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There’s usually two ways this scenario will pan out – I will either see a photo of a girl that makes me feel like the ugliest troll in the world, only to meet her and be shocked by her humanness… Or I will meet women who are sexy, beautiful, attractive and interesting, who’s character and aura is simply too intense to be captured in a 2d image.

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The Western world and particularly the fashion industry is far too entranced by beauty in a 2d image or a film clip that it mostly disregards the unexplainable beauty many people exude; the kind that you can’t bottle and sell, or even pin point. None of the most beautiful, attractive people I have ever met are models.

2. It. Is. Literally. All. About. Confidence. 

Not every model is an intimidatingly confident superwoman. It’s extremely human to be insecure and not entirely self assured. Many models are actually faking confidence, really really really well. And actually, that’s all anyone can do in terms of confidence and beauty; fake it until you make it.

Standing tall. Holding yourself with poise. Speaking with conviction. A smile. Easy and completely free things we can all do which make such a difference to how we feel about ourselves – as well as the less important – how others view us.

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3. Accept your body shape and focus on it’s health more than what it looks like. 

Hardly anyone is naturally that thin. I know that some girls are actually that thin even though they eat 5,000 calories a day and don’t exercise. Yeah, ok…

The majority of models’  – not the 1% of models that become super models but normal, nameless models – careers begin at 15 and end in their early twenties. A lot of them still have their childhood metabolism and prepubescent shape. Some have that typical prepubescent shape their whole lives. Plus the fact that they are taller than the average women, meaning their bodies are longer and someway stretched out. But many fashion consumers are more typical shaped women, who are a lot older than the girls they are bombarded with photos of. I don’t think a lot of people really consciously consider that.

That being said, a lot of women that do not have this natural, thin shape are ultra skinny regardless. They’ll tell you it’s from diet and exercise. But in the case of most of the models I’ve been in close contact with, it’s extreme, sometimes life debilitating: i.e no carbs, dairy or sugar EVER, no more than 500 calories for 5 days of the week, at least an hour of cardio a day, etc, etc.

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Others rely on an unhealthier life style to keep the pounds at bay. It’s a rarity to find a model in London that doesn’t smoke 20 cigarettes a day.

There is a dark side of modelling that I once thought only existed in cliche parodies. I have so many examples and anecdotes about this, but there is one so brutal it sticks out.

One of my closet model friends was working in New York for a few months signed to a top agency. During fashion week, they called her in between castings to have a “polite” word about her weight. She was “too big”. At that point she was eating under 500 calories a day (that’s a banana, two slices of bread and a few pieces of ham), exercising for two hours every morning, and at 5’11, was the skinniest she had ever been. Her Instagram feed scared me. She looked ill and a far cry from the bubbly, happy girl I love. Shocked, she told them that she didn’t know what else to do about it, since she was already fainting and crying herself to sleep. This is when they suggested she try cocaine.

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Of course, it was no secret to me that a lot of the more party loving models used cocaine and other drugs recreationally, and cocaine especially is known for it’s laxative and appetite suppressing qualities. My friend, completely without judgement, is personally against drugs and cigarettes and hardly drinks alcohol. For her to be pressured by the people that were supposed to be protecting her, so far from home, made me feel psychically sick.

I’m not judging anyone’s choices. But I do think it’s unfair that women are duped into thinking that all of these bodies were achieved in a healthy way. The majority of bodies in the fashion world are completely unobtainable for the average woman.

And I haven’t even touched upon eating disorders…

4. Be aware of the fakery. 

A lot of models were not born exactly the way you see them. Although a lot of them had lovely faces already, a good 50% of the girls I know have had nose jobs, sometimes multiple, and even more of the less high-fashion girls have had boob jobs. A few of the ‘celebrity’ models of the moment and countless ‘Instagram models’ have had undeniable face surgery, which for fashion models a few years ago was near unthinkable. I’m ashamed to say I have, more than once, found myself in a black hole of girls’ social feeds, chronicling their changing faces and attempting to pin point exactly what they’ve ‘had done’ and when. It kind of fascinates me…

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Plus, it’s important to remember that you only see models photoshopped to within an inch of their life, with Heaven-like lighting and even better angles. A lot of girls, including myself, have or still do suffer from break outs and adult acne, but you’ll never see that.

I truly believe that the next generation will grow up feeling weirdly human because of their natural human features, surrounded by alien ‘perfect’ features in the media. But that’s for another article.

5. Imperfections really are what make you beautiful. 

Picture your favourite model; Cara’s eyebrows, Cindy’s beauty mark, Iman’s neck, Lara’s gap, Erin’s nose, Lily’s hair… a lot of the most recognisable faces have something unusual about them that makes them stand out from the other hundreds of models wanting to book that gig.

Sculptor Marc Quinn described this perfectly while discussing Kate Moss.

“I think she’s got a very symmetrical face and yet when she opens her mouth she’s got slightly elongated teeth on the top row, so there is a tiny element of threateningness within her beauty, and there’s a kind of balance between seduction and repulsion going on. That’s one thing, she’s not completely flawless. It’s the flaws that make her. In all people, it’s the flaws that make you interesting.”

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It’s a lot easier to say than to do, but accepting and growing to love and appreciate your flaws in probably the best thing anyone can learn from the modelling industry. You begin to see how changeable and fluid our ideas of beauty are and how manipulated we are within societies perceptions. Once a feature or trait is confirmed as attractive and desirable, there’s an uncontrollable domino effect. However, as soon as we start to become aware of just how mindless the trends of what is considered beautiful really are, we can begin to unsubscribe from this forced ideal and truly learn to accept and appreciate our own so called flaws.

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Happiness, Health

There Will Be Blood

Men are wonderful, disgustingly frustrating creatures.

For all the reasons I adore men, there are also a few things – through extensive experience – characteristically exclusive to the less fair sex, which infuriate me:

Ladies, have you ever hounded a man ferociously after he politely turned you down? 

Have you ever told a moody man to, “Smile, love”, when he innocently minded his own business with a resting, anything-less-than-ecstatic face? 

Have you ever told a man that he should dress/act/speak/live differently, so that he may give himself a chance to attract a nice woman? 

Now, if I ask you how many times this week you have been on the receiving end of this behaviour, I’m sure you’ll have lost count.

But probably above all of these annoying behaviours, the one that makes my blood boil (pun intended) the most, is the majority of males reactions to our menstrual periods.

(Guys, I know that you would prefer not to know all of the gross, gory details, but since the reason you are here on Earth is because your mother had periods, you should and will know: Between the ages of 10 and 15, young women begin bleeding from their vaginas once every 28 days or so for three-five days (on average) at a time. The bleeding usually comes hand in hand with stomach/back cramps, emotional changes and even lethargy. This continues all throughout our lives until we hit menopause between our late thirties to mid fifties. That’s around 40 years of bleeding 12 times a year. I’m not here to give you a science lesson, so if your tiny mind is baffled and you need answers, read here. If you don’t want a baby mama or you want your future wife to love you, you should probably get as clued up as possible.) 

Since that glorious day in which I discovered a puddle of brown blood in my Tammy Girl knickers and entered the elite club of official womanhood, I’ve been aware that periods are not something that should be openly discussed – especially around men. I was met with embarrassed stutters when I announced the exciting news in front of my mums early noughties boyfriend. At school, we had to mask toilet visits in front of male classmates or male teachers while hiding tampons up our sleeves and sheepishly pretending we really needed a wee. My Gran used to hush me when I spoke about my still new monthly visitor in front of my Grandad, like the image of his darling little granddaughter bleeding out of her little virgin vagina might send him to an early grave. Even now, in my early twenties, I am so used to men squirming, turning their noses up or openly “Ew”ing and sarcastically saying “thanks for that” at the news of a period, that it’s just easier not to mention it at all.

(Image credit: Saint Hoax)

Periods are embarrassing.

BUT WHY SHOULDN’T I TALK ABOUT IT? WHY SHOULD I BE EMBARRASSED? 

Periods are something bestowed upon every single one of us girls unwillingly. Here’s there thing, guys – WE CAN’T HELP IT. WE DON’T ENJOY IT. IT HURTS. But since we have to deal with them and you don’t, I think the least you can do is to do your best to not make us feel like gross-vagina-bleeding-freaks-of-nature when we talk about it or are suffering with it.

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There is a loooong winding history, I’ll guess specifically with a modern social context, of period-shaming; men seeing periods as a weakness and consequently using them against us. There are a lot of people that believe that women cannot be successful leaders of business and countries alike, because we are ‘too emotional’ or ‘too irrational’. We are taught very early on that during our period we are deemed almost disabled, for fear of flooding, collapse or other dramatic outcomes.

And even the more innocent, jovial cases show underlying proof of social period-shaming. I have lost count of times a man has asked me sarcastically if I was on my period when he hasn’t liked my behaviour or attitude, been mad at me, or simply had more emotion than a Barbie doll.

Yes, periods do make us ladies more emotional and erratic at times. Our bodies produce different amounts of hormones at different times during our menstrual cycles. This isn’t just bitchy mood swings, it has it’s own medical term: PMS (premenstrual syndrome) describes the psychological and behavioural symptoms which can (and in my case, always) occur in the time leading up to or during our periods. It’s completely natural and we cannot help it. We might cry over absolutely nothing. We might react to certain situations slightly irrationally and do or say things a bit out of character. We might demand more love (cuddles), attention (hampers of chocolate and cake), or in some cases, complete solidarity.

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Unsurprisingly, when ignorant people (cough men cough – other woman are far too sympathetic) call this behaviour “crazy”, it only makes us feel like undermined emotional wrecks.

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So we bleed. Our emotions get muddled. But most of all, it bloody (haha) hurts. Your male body produces baby making tools with no pain, only pleasure. You have no right to an opinion on something you have and will never experience.

When a man reacts negatively to my period, I now never ever ever feel bad, disgusting or embarrassed. Instead, I feel embarrassed for them; that they are so immature and weak that they can’t handle a period. Why do straight men love vaginas and tits but get freaked out when those same vaginas bleed and those same tits swell and are sore to touch?

If you look at it deeply and psychoanalytically, perhaps it has something to do with the whole Madonna/Whore complex. I feel like our society has drummed the idealistic perpetual child-girl-woman image into the modern males brain, so that the natural growth and development and puberty of women appears disgusting. I don’t know many men that prefer hair over porn star shaven haven, or any men that wouldn’t mind anything more than stubbly legs and underarms. Women have become purely sexual images. Although periods are arguably the most naturally sexual thing in the world (we have periods in order to get pregnant and as mammals we have SEX in order to get pregnant), they apparently interrupt the male gaze for one week out of a month. Therefore men ‘hate them’, or are at least scared of them.

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(mic.com – image credit: Tom Hooper)

Some women also get really horny during their periods, which poses a problem if your sexual partner is a period-hating-man-baby. I feel so sorry for the girls that want sex on their periods and have to squirm with desire because their men refuse to cooperate. It’s all down to personal taste of course. But in my experience, real men can easily deal with it.

The real men will also buy you tampons and painkillers without much persuasion. Real men will rub your belly and fill up your hot water bottle and suck on your nipples, if that’s what you want. Periods are not gross things. Really, periods are beautiful; reminding us that our bodies are capable of the greatest thing on Earth. (Or, a message from Mother Nature that we successfully got through another month without an unwanted pregnancy – which ever way you chose to look at it)

(Image credit: Georgia Grace Gibson – BITCHTOPIA )

So ladies, be proud of your periods.

Men, carry on the good work, we love you for it.

And Boys… grow up.

Images courtesy of Instagram unless stated otherwise.

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Happiness, Health, Review

A Love Letter to: Bodyism

I’m not what some may call, a huge “foodie”. I don’t get excited about swanky new restaurants or Michelin Star chef’s. I’d state Whole Foods and my mums kitchen’s as my all time favourite eateries, and I let out a sigh of relief when my flatmate asks, “Shall we cook a big dinner tonight?”

But while walking in my fabulous neighbourhood last week, I noticed a place which conjured excitement within me mostly reserved for upcoming American Horror story seasons and mama’s vegan Banfoffe pie: the Bodyism cafe. I don’t know how I’d missed it.

I recognised the name straight away; I have been an avid follower of James Duigan and the Clean and Lean cookbooks since the start of my healthy living obsession in 2011. If you haven’t heard of James – where have you been? – you’ll most certainly have heard of his clientele; the wellness guru is the highly acclaimed personal trainer of Rosie Huntington-Whitely, Lara Stone and Elle Macpherson. Along with his unworldly beautiful wife Christiane and a team full of experts, he has developed the Bodyism Clean and Lean concept: not a fad diet or patronising unobtainable rule book, but a positive philosophy which is more of an empowering movement than a food and fitness guideline.

 Clean and Lean has a simple philosophy: Be kind to yourself.

Along with a range best selling cookbooks, Bodyism London, a state-of-the-art members club was opened in late 2015, ‘revolutionising the wellbeing experience’. Boasting a perfect team of top performance coaches and fat loss specialists, it is a space designed to help their clients ‘realise their physical and mental potential’. Within the club is the the Bodyism cafe; a hidden treasure, but gratefully easy to access and enjoy, as soon as you enter.

So, last Tuesday, I woke my flatmate up like a spoilt child and pleaded that we wrap up warm and go for brunch at Bodyism. It didn’t take much persuasion.

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As I stepped through the door I felt transported from rainy Westbourne Grove. The tranquil atmosphere is immediately calming; whether it’s due to the warm lighting, clean interiors and greenery, or the very inviting, bright and friendly cafe team, the welcome was similar to the one I receive after turning my keys in the family front door – if my family lived in Australia, and not a seaside town in Essex. Whatever it may be, it’s clear that the principles of the Clean and Lean lifestyle have manifested within the energies of the Bodyism cafe and club. It almost seemed as if I’d travelled out of London in a matter of seconds, only reminded that I was in fact minutes from Notting Hill Gate when I looked out the front window.

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I’d checked out the menu online before I arrived, which being very informing and detailed,  was nothing compared to the knowledge of the team – with no hesitation, they replied to my quizzing of food and products available. As someone with specific, sometimes difficult intolerances, I often find eating out tedious, forever holding the fear that the staff don’t really know what they’re selling, resulting in a unhappy tummy by the time I leave. But here, I trusted them completely. I had faith in my order before it even reached the counter.

That was, after ten minutes of whittling down my order. I went in with the intention of ordering a savoury meal and perhaps a smoothie, but at the risk of sounding cliche, it really was so hard to chose from the wide range of food available. It all sounded delicious, muddling my senses so that my ears could taste. After much deliberation, I decided on the Pancakes (it was Shrove Tuesday, after all), the Protein Boosting Paleo Slice topped with almond butter, the Nourish Me acai bowel, the Berry Burn shake, and a Clean and Lean Cookie. That really was hard enough…

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Instagram worthy #brunchgoals

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Controversial, I know – but I’m not a big lover of pancakes, and would never make my own on Shrove Tuesday. I did mention this when they were recommend to me, but, you know, the whole taste buds in my ears thing… Anyway, I’ll be honest, I was expecting disappointment. What I experienced could only be described as an orgasm in my mouth. They were without a doubt, the best pancakes I have ever eaten (sorry mum). As I ordered, I actually said, “If I don’t finish this, can I take it home in a doggy bag?” (I love that expression). Oh, what a fool I was! I inhaled the whole thing. My brain switched off for a minute or two in pure pleasure, until I attempted to scoop the bottom if the plate. Please, Bodyism, may I ‘av some more?

Buckwheat Pancakes: coconut milk + organic egg + buckwheat flower + berries + coconut oil + maple syrup + almond butter + cottage cheese

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After the inhalation of the pancakes, I doubted that my little stomach could manage the acai bowel – who am I trying to fool? I ADORE acai bowels. They are my favourite comfort food because they are oh so comforting and happy and delicious yet not unhealthy – Bodyism’s acai bowels aren’t just not-unhealthy, they are actually nourishing, metabolism boosting, and will flush out toxins and alkalise the body.

‘Nourish Me’ Bowl: Acai + Body Brilliance + granola + organic berries + almond butter + hemp seeds

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It’s very rare that I eat bread, and when I do my favourite is Pumpernickel. So I thought I’d try something different: introducing the Protein Boosting Paleo Slice. I topped mine with almond butter to continue with the sweet theme. It was melt-in-your-mouth-grainy-perfection, and I wasn’t left with the usual heavy bloat sludge after other breads.

Protein Boosting Paleo Slice: almonds, eggs, coconut flour, flax seed, pumpkin seeds, virgin coconut oil, apple cider vinegar, baking soda, coconut nectar, sea salt

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Admittedly, I was now happy and satisfied. So satisfied that I had to loosen my belt. So, I took the cookie home with me. Later that evening, I dipped it into an Earl Grey tea with soy milk. When I was young I was a biscuit fiend, and cut them out completely when I went health mad, at risk of overindulging. Biting into this cookie was like looking at a childhood photo album, or reminiscing family holidays at a dinner table. Biscuits, how i’ve missed your sweet crumbly deliciousness! I wanted to weep when I’d swallowed the last mouthful. But instead, I made my flatmate promise she’d buy me another on her travels the next day.

SOMEHOW, how on Earth I do not know, this cookie is made only of lovely, nutritious things, and is completely gluten free AND vegan (and comes in the cutest little cookie bag. Although, I did forget to breathe for a minute while eating this cookie, so probably very appropriate advice).

Clean and Lean Cookies: oats, coconut flour, raw chocolate, coconut oil, coconut palm sugar, vanilla, egg, Himalayan salt, baking soda

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The Berry Burn shake was the perfect finisher to the perfect Brunch. So good, I forgot to take a photo of the actual shake: it was a beautiful rich red and the texture was incredibly thick and creamy without being sickly.

Berry Burn shake: mixed berries, goji berries, coconut water

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Also available to buy is a wide range of amazing supplements. The whole team were so helpful in explaining everything you need to know about them. It’s clear that this isn’t just a job to them – they really are so passionate about the products and food that they are offering. If makes such a difference to the usual boredom portrayed in other cafes and restaurants. Bodyism really is a lifestyle.

I was genuinely sad to end our brunch and leave Bodyism, but not before I signed up for information of their countless classes, with a promise that I would return very soon. I really could eat there every day.

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Check out Bodyism and see (and taste) why it’s my new favourite place to eat!

Clean and Lean Cafe

222-224 Westbourne Grove W11 2RH

Monday – Friday: 7am – 6pmSaturday and Sunday: 8am – 5pm

www.bodyism.com

@cleanandlean / @bodyism / @_theluckyleo

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Advice, Happiness, Health, Interview

“There will always be more parties” – Things I Wish I’d Heard at 23

Birthday’s are funny things, aren’t they? Fundamentally, they serve solely as an excuse to dedicate a whole day to the celebration of you and your life, in which you are rewarded with praise, parties and presents, purely for having won the sperm race and surviving however many years of earth you personally have thus far.

I recently turned 23. 23 is a pretty forgettable landmark – it presents no new allowances like 18 or 21, and no philosophical rush of importance like 25 or 30. Even 22 had a Taylor Swift song. 23 is just a red flag reminding you that you are two years away from 25, and seven short years away from 30. Pause Taylor Swift for a second and you’ll hear a faint, monotonous ticking noise…

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I feel that now more than ever, twenty somethings are feeling an immense pressure to succeed. We are a generation of perfectionists, influenced by the media and countless sources of overflowing information. Technology is developing at the speed of light, and we are expected to hold on tight or get left behind. The Earth, once gigantic, has been made smaller but technology, so that we are all just tiny fishes drowning in one big bottomless pond.

I recently discussed a personal anxiety with my friend Steve, who at 28 isn’t much older than me at all. He told me that when he was my age, he didn’t appreciate being responsibility free and wish he’d used that to his advantage. It made me realise that nostalgia and first hand knowledge allows us to look back on our younger selves and see that we were unnecessarily anxious, because nothing is as bad as it may have seemed once it is in the past. Advice can help us to view things in a different perspective. Listening to others’ regrets could stir something within us early and help to avoid our own future regrets.

So I asked 23 friends, family members, colleagues and acquaintances over the age of 30 what advice they would give if they could have a conversation with their 23 year old self:

Fraser, 52, Insurance broker, Essex.

“If you’re not happy in something, whether it’s a relationship or a job – QUIT. It is never too late to change your life, you are never stuck in anything.”

Helen, 52, Hospice nurse, Wiltshire. 

“Follow your heart. If it feels right then do it! If someone else’s advice isn’t quite ‘you’ then go with your gut feeling. I married at 19 after lots of,

Are you sure you’re not too young?/Will this relationship last?”  

I am so glad that I followed my heart… As it was right! We have been happily married for 32 years.”

Vicki Psarias, Film maker http://www.vpsarias.co.uk  and blogger (http://www.honestmum.com) (http://www.mummysgotstyle.com)

“Keep truckin’, follow your dreams (as you will) but be open, always. Don’t pigeon-hole yourself. I had directed my first short film at the time, had just got a distinction in my MA in Screen Direction, but I was too hard on myself, my own worst critic and I would say in retrospect, ‘girl, cut yourself some slack, you’ll find the right job for you, eventually (when technology catches up) that allows you to be whomever you want to be, and it will happen after kids, a time when many will tell you your creative career will die. Well it thrived’.

Remember, things will work out. Hone your talent, be tenacious but also kind and life will work out the way it should.”

Joe, 32, Musician, South East London

“Don’t be so hard on yourself, but don’t expect happiness to be a default setting.”

Ste, 40, Builder, Essex. 

“ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS, wear a condom.”

Rory Gullan, 30, Fashion photographer, London.

“At an extremely stressful time of my life, my mum asked me, ”What’s the worst that could happen?” I told her, “Well, this”, to which she repeated, ”What’s the worst that could happen?” So I told her – “I could fail.” And she simply said, “Exactly.”

Since then I’ve used this in everything I do, and everything just seems that much more straightforward. Failing is one less thing to worry about because it’ll teach you a lot more than always succeeding.”

Julie, 49, Yoga instructor, Essex.

“Believe in yourself and all that you do. Don’t worry about what other people think, just know that you are attractive to others.”

Joe Mehmet, Salon owner and top hairdresser. 

“Invest in your future rather than live for now. As time catches up with you and then you realise that you haven’t got enough for the rest of your old life; In your twenties it’s all about fun fun fun but when you hit the fifties you need security as pensions won’t be enough – nor will the state look after you.”

Jake Mavity, 35, Director and producer, London. 

“Slow down. I thought there was a mad rush to achieve stuff when actually life is bloody long and you don’t have to have it completely nailed by 30. And relax. Twenties are rubbish compared to how fucking awesome your thirties are. The fun of the twenties with no insecurities and more cash. Bliss.”

Bobby, 33, Music journalist, Essex. 

“Nothing is ever as bad as we imagine it to be, and that feeling anxious is natural. It is perfectly normally to feel scared, but to let that fear prevent you from doing what is good for you is the most frightening scenario of all.”

Tav, 36, Club manager, London. 

“Don’t expect anyone to provide for you; the sweetest money you’ll ever make will be the money you make for yourself.”

Michelle, 53, Actress, London.

“The minute you have a back up plan you are admitting defeat. Don’t look for love, it will always find you.”

Bobby, 69, Club owner, London 

“If you look around a table and can’t pick out ‘the mug’, you’re it.”

Ian, 32, DJ and photographer, London.

“There will always be more parties.”

Sid, 70, Antique dealer, London.

“Just live life as it comes. Always be polite, manners cost nothing.”

Jo, 42, Makeup artist, London.

“You are beautiful. Just be confident, listen to your inner voice and do what makes YOU happy.”

Mike, 47, Managing Director, London. 

“Think twice before you cross someone because it will always come back to you. Honesty is the key to life.”

Jens, 70, Property developer, Surrey.  

“Don’t rush into things. Take your time and think through your options. You are only 23 and still have 50-60 years of living in front of you.”

Siobhan, 47, Deputy head teacher, Berkshire. 

“Don’t get to your 40’s and say. “I should have done that.” Life presents people with opportunities all the time. Some people take them and some people don’t. Don’t miss out!”

Richard, 35, Film editor, London.

“Don’t panic. Smile. Laugh. Have lots and lots of sex.”

Vero, 43, Saleswoman, Dorking.

“Don’t smoke. Get your cervical smear test. A friend of mine had to have her entire cervix removed in her late twenties because they found cancer.”

Julia, 58, Artist, Surrey.

“Self development, self development, self development. Make it a life long commitment and investment to become the best version of yourself in mind, body and spirit.”

Victoria, 54, Social worker, Essex. 

“Trust your instinct, and don’t let pressure get in the way of it. At 23 I had doubts about my engagement, but went through with the wedding so not to let any one down. As soon as we were married he became extremely abusive and I found myself divorced by 25. Don’t waste years of your life unhappy. As soon as something doesn’t feel right or make your life better, remove it from your life.”

 

 

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Advice, Happiness, Health

THIS GIRL CAN (AND DOES)

Exercise is good for you.

Without a shadow of a doubt.

100%.

Period.

I know I know… You’ve heard it all before. But it really does has no negative consequences, and will improve your life ten fold if done right. Have you ever heard someone say, “Wow, I really regret that work out”, or “I wish I didn’t start exercising” ?

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Only some of the health benefits include:

•up to a 35% lower risk of coronary heart disease and stroke

•up to a 50% lower risk of type 2 diabetes

•up to a 50% lower risk of colon cancer

•up to a 20% lower risk of breast cancer

•a 30% lower risk of early death

•up to an 83% lower risk of osteoarthritis

•up to a 30% lower risk of depression

•up to a 30% lower risk of dementia

I’d be a liar if I told you that I exercised purely for the benefit of my health. Not only does exercise make you lose weight, tone and gain muscle, it also improves your skin, posture, produces collagen, and generally makes you appear healthier physically.

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If only there was a magic way to get into shape without all the effort, huh? Because exercising can be a lot of effort. There’s no short cut, there’s no magic spell. Just hard work, motivation and determination.

While I was at university, when I was going through a hard period in my life, I used exercise as a way to escape all of my stresses. I can’t say it made all of my stresses disappear, but it was a lot better than drinking my sorrows away at a bar. Also, the rush of endorphins I got after a work out improved my mental health for the rest of the day, and wore me out ready to sleep well in the evening.

Eventually, I completed university and my dad died. I was having a lot of therapy at this time too, and gradually something in my brain adjusted. I let go of a lot of negativity and became a lot more chilled out. Watching my dad die so young enforced in me the importance of living for the moment and being as happy as possible. Unfortunately, this meant I gradually stopped exercising all together, eating food I had kept from myself for so long, and ending my sober stint.

Although I didn’t put on a huge amount of weight, I was very aware of my lack of fitness and loss of muscle definition. I also had developed a sleeping problem and found my mental health dipping. After a year of not having one solid base, I finally moved into a flat, and finally re joined a gym.

It only took one proper session to get straight back on the saddle. I came out feeling that incredible high of endorphins and wondered how I’d gone so long without it.

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But I can not lie to you… When I am exercising, I am not enjoying myself.

Quite often, a little demon pops into my head, saying

“WHY on Earth are you choosing to do this to yourself?”

“You are literally paying to be in pain.”

“This won’t be over in five minutes. You have to do this for THE REST OF YOUR LIFE.”

“You’re in pain, dripping wet, and you’re still not a Victoria Secret Model.”

I ignore it, and keep going. I like to push myself until I am wet with sweat and my legs feel like they can’t move any longer. But that’s just me. Once you get to the stage, the rush of endorphins kick in, and the little demon gets blown away.

Until tomorrow.

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^WHY ARE YOU SMILING? 

I think we should be more honest about exercise.

Feminism in our times and place still has a long way to go. There are subconscious pressures and judgements in all areas of our lives, without the added pressures of trying to exercise and not feel awful about it.

“Fitspo” accounts on Instagram boast incredible bodies without showing all the effort these people went through to obtain it. Not to mention the good camera angles, lighting, editing and poses used to create a perceived perfect body. This, along with news of celebrities, athletes and models, looking amazing down to a so called simple work out regime, only makes us feel awful about ourselves. Don’t forget, there is a lot that these people don’t allow us to see. Nothing annoys me more than when someone claims they love exercise and find it easy. A lot of us, including me, do not. Constantly being fed images of happy, carefree exercise is undermining, patronising and intimidating.

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^Yep, because the difference has nothing at all to do with the angle, knickers, lighting or pose… Sure. 

I am also well aware that the majority of people have actual grown up lives and don’t have the luxury of time to exercise. I am a bit spoilt in this sense, but, I do believe everyone should make time where your health is concerned. It could be as little as walking instead of driving or using public transport. Even walking up the escalator instead of gliding up in the air on the right hand side is an excellent way to exercise.

Thankfully, it seems some companies have got my back on this subject.

Nike’s “Better For It” campaign (2014) proves that even the biggest sport and fitness companies are turning their backs on unrealistic advertising.

Finally! A multi million dollar company is branching out to a wider range of people, and at least begging to recognise the problem with false advertising. This is a powerful and inspiring ad, and definitely made me feel better knowing that other women have a little demon too.

While waiting for my tube the other day, I noticed this poster:

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“This Girl Can is a national campaign developed by Sport England and a wide range of partnership organisations. It’s a celebration of active women up and down the country who are doing their thing no matter how well they do it, how they look or even how red their face gets.”

I would urge everyone to visit http://www.thisgirlcan.co.uk for more information on the campaign. I am so happy that this has been created, and that we women can inspire and encourage each other without discrimination or pre possessed ideals.

There are many ways to exercise. You do not have to lock yourself in a gym for hours on end. Personally, I love going to classes because there is someone to guide you through it and the group atmosphere really helps with motivation. And at the end of the class, you all feel connected, because you have achieved something great together.

So let’s stop being so hard on ourselves when it comes to exercise. Health is paramount at the end of each day. In order to love yourself you must look after yourself.

Your body is your home – don’t burn it down.

PS. I hightly recommend:

LDN Muscle for everything health and fitness, especially their range of fitness guides for men and women of every fitness level.

Virgin Active for an all round amazing gyms across the UK with an excellent range of classes.

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Health

A Love Letter to: Juicebaby

The phrase “Vegan Food” conjures images of cold, limp food: unattractively smelly cabbage, stale vegetables, cardboard carbs and rabbit food. Even foods which I personally consider tasty (arguably due to years spent without the purely delicious taste of fried bacon and cream cake) are rarely met with praise.

If that wasn’t enough to turn people off the idea of a vegan meal, the image of a vegan restaurant or cafe has been plagued by the numerous dingy, snobby, “hipster” establishments dotted around off-the-map areas of London.

Being a vegan is extremely rewarding for a number of reasons. But something often disregarded by non-vegans is the difficulty in eating out, and actually enjoying it.

For years I have groaned at lunch invitations, knowing full well that I will finish my meal unsatisfied, with a rumbling belly and an empty purse.

That was until I discovered Juicebaby.

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Located in the heart of Chelsea, on the King’s Road, Juicebaby is not your average vegan eatery.

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The site itself is easy to find and a pleasant walk away from the wonderful Sloane Square. There is an instant atmosphere as soon as you step in the door – a chilled out, natural and peaceful vibe, with cosy corners and comfy seats, and clean, bright counters and fridges illustrating just how fresh and clean the food itself is. I will definitely be bringing my laptop along and turning a corner into my lunch time office in the future.

Although specialising in fresh cold pressed juices, Juicebaby’s plant based menu features milks, smoothies, and culinary delights suitable for breakfast, lunch, dessert and snacking – all vegan friendly, wheat, gluten, dairy, GMO, sugar and GUILT free.

“Our philosophy is simple. Little by little.
 When it comes to eating right, we believe it’s the little choices that make a big difference.
 Don’t deprive yourself of foods you love. Make small changes. […] Ditch the processed foods for unprocessed, wholesome ones. Swap out conventional desserts for desserts that are free of unrefined flours and sweeteners. […]
 Our aim is to make sustainablehealthy food accessible, on the go. Our food and drinks are handmade. We source the absolute best produce, cold-press our juices on a daily basis and maintain the highest standards possible. We never pasteurise, water down or add sugar to our juices. We avoid the use of dairy, eggs, gluten, soy, chemical additives or preservatives of any kind. We avoid cartons and cans. We produce drinks and food that maximize real nutritional value.

The location, site and values are all great, sure. But the absolute best thing about Juicebaby? The unbelievably amazing taste of the food and drink on offer.

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I dragged my soul sister and fellow vegan Jordan along with me so that we could each pick a few dishes and drinks and share in order to experience more tastes, more economically. It’s my favourite way to eat out, as I always end up picking from my friends plates and forcing forkfuls down their throats. What can I say – I like to share my taste experience!

For our savoury main, Jordan chose the Rainbow Buddha Bowl:

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Steamed quinoa, sesame kale, beetroot carrot slaw, arame, alfalfa sprouts, avocado, miso-sesame dressing (*Miso is rice & soy derived)

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While I chose the Taco Bowl:

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Steamed quinoa, cos lettuce, walnut taco mix, Pico de gallo, guacamole, sour cashew cream, chilli

Having scoffed half of the Buddha Bowl, I can hardly deny the amazing taste. It was light, clean but also filling and satisfying. But I was so excited by the Taco Bowl, as being vegan does deprive you of such exciting spicy, creamy, Mexican style foods. The taste is so astoundingly good and satisfying that it’s hard to believe it doesn’t contain any nasties.

For dessert, Jordan chose the Coconut Yogurt Pot:

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Probiotic coconut yogurt, mulberry granola (nut-free), stewed seasonal fruits.
While I chose the Chia Berry Parfait:
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Almond milk, chia seeds, coconut butter, dates, cinnamon cashew cream, raspberry chia compote, flaked almonds, coconut chips, seasonal fresh fruit.
The parfait is PURE PERFECTION, and is by far my favourite fast snack or dessert. It is honestly so good, that at taste value you would never know that it only contained natural, healthy ingredients.
Food this good makes me so happy, not only because I get to fully enjoy the taste, but because it completely supports my notion of good vegan food not necessarily having to taste boring and bland.
To finish, Jordan ordered an AWAKEN juice: Pink grapefruit, orange, lemon.
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While I, amazed by my Chia pudding, chose the Chai Spiced Maca smoothie: Banana, almond butter, coconut nectar, filtered water, ice, maca, chai spice, vanilla powder, figs, cinnamon, pink Himalayan salt.
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We left as two very happy and full vegans indeed, with a new favourite lunch spot.
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Happiness, Health

Are You Controversy Ready?

There is a protest taking place right now in London’s Hype Park.

But what are thousands of angry Londoners gathering to demonstrate against? Armed conflict? Sexual trafficking? Environmental issues? Foreign aid? Racism?

Nope. Thousands of people are “Taking Back the Beach”, protesting a poster. 

British online fitness company Protein World’s now infamous campaign is the biggest online topic of debate since the Blue+Black / Gold+White dress.

Appearing all over the London Underground, the poster shows a stunning female model standing strong in a tiny yellow bikini, right next to the question: “Are you beach body ready?”

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And the public were so outraged about it that Transport for London have agreed to remove the ad, after countless posters were vandalised by offended commuters.

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And now non commuters all over the country are angry and getting involved, thanks to social media’s tornado effect. Hashtags such as #Everybody’sReady and #EverydaySexism have been widely tweeted.

So strong was the outrage, that the Advertising Standards Authority have received around 270 complaints, mainly under the basis that it “objectified women and that it carried the insinuation that only svelte models were ready to go to the beach.”

And so, a change.org petition was created, boasting 69,204 supporters at the time of writing (4PM Saturday 2nd May).

Furthermore, Dove and plus size clothing brand Simply Be have parodied the poster, instead featuring larger, “more realistic” models.

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Dove said, “In 2004, 75% of women felt advertising and media set unrealistic standards of beauty. Today, that figure is 66%, with the perception being that more diversity is portrayed in the images of women we see around us”.

I must state that I do not support this poster and I do not agree with the ethos it is projecting. However, neither do i agree with the majority of the public outrage and the backlash of a fitness company choosing a fitness model to front their brand.

I find it quite ironic that in the process of defaming a company for their “irresponsible” message and “body shaming”, protestors have in fact extensively body shamed themselves, as have Dove and Simply Be.

Star of the campaign, 24 year old Australian Renee Somerfield, told the Huffington Post,

“I am a real person behind the image. I work very hard and live a healthy and active lifestyle which is why Protein World chose me for their campaign. I couldn’t work every day as a full time model by starving myself, dieting or not looking after my body. Nourish your body, be kind to it and it will love you right back, no matter your size.”

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Renee looks incredible, and in my opinion, she’s not lying about being healthy. She is obviously already of naturally slim build, tall, and her physique is strong. She is apparently a vegan too (as am I), and is probably well read on nutrition and fitness. Her Instagram will give you an insight (trusted or not) into her lifestyle. 

I don’t think Renee herself is the problem. I think it’s Protein World’s ill-advised wording and thoughtless delivery of their company’s values.

“Are You Beach Body Ready?” is offensive as it suggests that we women must conform to certain standards of beauty in order to be accepted on a beach. By placing Renee next to this question, they have connected her body to this notion, suggesting that her body is “Beach Body” standard. And this is wrong. 

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But if Renee’s body is “unrealistic” and “unhealthy”, what is the general consensus of health? Being over-weight? I am sad to say that I think the support of over weight women is just as irresponsible as the original Protein World posters. There is a trend of praising larger shapes. Renee’s physique requires great discipline and effort. Whether you too want to apply yourself to this level of fitness or not, we cannot curse this body shape and praise “curvy” shapes. (I do not agree with the term curvy being thrown around to describe “larger” people. The difference between curvy and unhealthy is quite easy to see when compared.

Every body is beautiful. It is okay to not be heavily body conscious. If you chose not to look after your body strictly, or even not at all, that is okay. But be sure of yourself, true to yourself, and happy with your choice. If you hate that Renee can look like that, don’t complain about it. Except yourself or do your best to create the healthiest version of yourself.

But there is a lot more wrong with this poster than the use of a slim model. In my opinion it highlights a deeper issue much more dangerous than “fat shaming” – it supports the ever growing cultural obsession with how we look, and the constant fetishisation of women’s bodies.

See Protein World’s odd idea of good PR on their Twitter. 

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