Advice, Happiness, Uncategorized

High On Likes

Ten years ago, if a guy were to approach you in a club, knowing your name and other details about your life, you would run away and scream, “Stalker!”

Now, if a guy does the same, it’s cool; he follows you on Instagram.

It happened to me a few months ago and the guy quickly became aggressive when I apologised for not knowing who he was. It wasn’t cool, it freaked me out.

This angry stranger “followed” my life is pictures. Scrolling through my posts attempting an outside point of view made me feel sick: there were photos of me and my friends in bikinis on holiday, selfies, modelling photos half naked… All which seemed innocent, fun and worst of all normal at the time now seemed seedy and boastful in this weird collection of exhibitionism and narcissism called My Profile.

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It was the last straw on something I’d considered for a while. I disabled my account.

Alarmingly, I’d never thought about Instagram in terms of my privacy. Instead, I’d been building up to disable it after realising that it affected my mental health in a negative way.

Within an hour, no less than four people had sent me texts, ranging from concerned to hurt, asking why I had ‘deleted’ them. I later learned that they had been told this through an app which alerts you when you’re followed or unfollowed by an account. People really are invested in this thing. Relationship dynamics are affected and ego’s are hurt.

Social media is weird. The terms “follow”, “like”, and “share” mean completely different things now than they did years ago, with those phrases and others like “retweet, unfriend, block” becoming everyday conversational dialogue. Social media has become as normal as brushing your teeth.

So many relationships begin, grow, or solely exist in cyberspace. Whole persons and careers are created and maintained on smart phone applications. On a whole, social media is undeniably dumbing us down and running our lives, but I believe Instagram to be the worst; Twitter is a platform for words, a space to be intelligent, funny, witty, charming in 140 characters or less. Facebook, however you use it, is designed to share and keep in contact with friends and family – but Instagram? Instagram puts importance on the physical image. You can write a funny caption, but it’s the photo above it that’s going to get ‘liked’.

Yes, it can be used to share beautiful photographs. But it is photos of people  – particularly attractive women’s faces and bodies – that receive the most likes. Just look at the 11 most liked photo’s on Instagram ever – the physical is of sole-importance.

 

 

It allows us to construct our own fairy-tale image; psychologists use the term ‘self-presentation’, “positioning yourself the way you want to be seen.” A study found that self-presentation is so powerful, that viewing your own social media profiles increases self-esteem.

Compilation of boastful, ‘fun’ posts featuring me as an apparent party girl who holidays more than she’s at home

But Instagram never made me feel good. I’d subconsciously compare myself to everyone else seemingly having a better time, looking their posed, filtered best, usually from the comfort of my own bed while I looked like a frog. We never scroll through Instagram when we’re having fun, do we? I would only scroll when I had nothing better to do, making me receptive to negative feelings of boredom or loneliness before photos had even loaded. I would often close the app feeling undeniably depressed. So why did I continue to use something that was bad for my mental health?

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I’d never thought much about why and what I post until I disabled my account. When I was modelling I used Instagram to network with photographers and promote freebies like skincare and haircuts. I never felt that I was sharing too much of myself. But amongst those arguably useful posts are a few that, after my reflective time out, I now see as nauseatingly narcissistic.

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I actually thought I had made it acceptable because I was being philosophical in my caption, lol

 

Why at 23 years old did I feel that it was necessary to post a photo of myself in a bikini, alone, while on holiday with my boyfriend? The honest answers are:

  1. I wanted my followers to know I was on holiday.
  2. I obviously didn’t think I looked bad, or else I wouldn’t have posted it – I wanted my followers to see that I looked alright.
  3. I knew that a photo of a girl in a bikini will get the likes that, at the time, I unknowingly craved.

It all sounds arrogant, but are you honestly going to tell me that you can’t relate? Chances are you, your friends, your girlfriend, have posted photos for the same reasons. Why else would you take time out of your day to share a photo of yourself to the internet?

We are an insecure generation, constantly feeding off likes and follows for some sense of empty validation from strangers. Although I may look confident in that pink bikini, and at the time I thought I was – if I hadn’t needed validation then I wouldn’t have posted it. My ‘racy’ photos littering my feed now make me feel uncomfortable, especially now realising that strangers have studied them.

Compilation of meaningless, strictly narcissistic, vainglorious, egomaniacal posts posted by yours truly

After my much needed detox, the image of a girl alone in a bathroom seems like the epitome of vanity and shameless narcissism. I want to scream at her, “No one cares! Go jump in the pool! Go live your life! No one needs to see that!”. Yet, 99% of sexualised female celebrities and models do exactly the same thing and are praised for it.

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I recommend every one –even those who think I’m dramatic for thinking an app could affect my mental health – carry out a social media detox for a week and see if you notice a difference in how you think or live your life. I personally have so much more time for productivity; all the time you spend taking photos, or thinking about what photos to post and simply looking into other people’s lives, really does add up.

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The main thing that was putting me off disabling or deleting was FOMO and keeping up appearances; almost as if not posting was in inkling to the outside world that all was not well. But trust me, you are missing out way more on actual real life than what other people are up to. And those ‘likes’ lose importance strangely quickly. After six weeks, I reactivated my account, but now peeking into others’ lives feels really invasive. I have also completely lost that need to post; once or twice I have almost posted something and then asked myself, why?

Close the apps, put down the phone and enjoy the moment. If you’re going to take photos, print them, and give thought to the ones you do post. Don’t try to create an image of the perfect life – live your version of your perfect life.

The only person you should let validate your life is yourself.

PS. Follow @_theluckyleo on Instagram (no selfies, I promise)

ALL IMAGES TAKEN FROM GOOGLE IMAGES & MY OWN INSTAGRAM 

 

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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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Advice, Happiness

The Ex-Girlfriend Club

When I was 16 I met a boy called Will*. Will was my first everything: first boyfriend, first “I love you”, first other-person-orgasm, first p in my v.

But I wasn’t Will’s first any of those. That title in his life belonged to a girl called Chelsea, subsequently becoming another first for me: the first ex girlfriend.

These were simpler times. Pre Instagram and pre Facebook boom, it took a mutual acquaintance causally mentioning Chelsea for me to find out about her, around four months into our then very teenage relationship.

Of course, I’d recently been experiencing multiple overwhelming emotions for the very first time, such as attachment, sexual connection, vaginal stimulation and the gag reflex. None of these shocked me (the gag reflex comes in at a close second) or hit me quite so hard as the pure stomach turning gut wrenching jealously I felt upon learning of what I envisioned of Will’s “First Love”. Suddenly, our relationship felt tainted, which sounds very Victorian I know, and is strange because it’s not like I ever thought he was a virgin. Funnily enough, the fact that he wasn’t a virgin when he met me made me fancy him even more and installed a confidence that he’d take the wheel on my loss of virginity experience. But now, after discovering the details, I wished that I’d been his first. The awful, juvenile terms “sloppy seconds” and “upgrade/downgrade” was rife in our small town Essex gossip culture. I wasn’t anyone’s seconds. He was. I didn’t feel special anymore.

And to make it worse, she was hot. I tried to find faults in her to comfort my ignorant pubescent woman brain, but failed. She was tall and blonde, with a sexiness about her. I instantly compared this to myself, the unsexed round faced brunette tomboy in thick rimmed glasses, and for the first time ever, contemplated my own attractiveness. My awkward stage went on for longer than most (can we just forget pre-2011 didn’t happen?) whereas it seemed as if she’d never even endured one. As the law of attraction would have it, now knowing her face and name, I started seeing her everywhere on our college campus, but refused to acknowledge her existence, even to my friends. I didn’t need their opinions or even the truth, and I wasn’t insecure enough to put her down in order to pull myself up. She never caused trouble in any way. She was just living her life. But to me, she was the bitch that my boyfriend loved before me.

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(I literally ignored her existence at this party and we still managed to – kind of – be in the same photo.)

We’re raised well prepared for relationships and “love”, but no one ever warned me of the ex girlfriend game. Once over the age of 18, chances are your significant other has known genitalia other than your own. It seems like a simple fact of life, but one we are never emotionally prepped for or allowed to be honest about. No girl wants to be the “psycho” or to ruin her new relationship ‘cool girl’ myth. But if you tell me that you don’t know your S.O’s ex’s name, guess what – I don’t believe you.

Because, for every man I’ve been romantically or sexually involved in, I’ve known at least one ex by name or face, whether I’ve searched them out, stumbled across them or simply heard stories straight from the man’s mouth. Unless you’ve known them personally, they become a ghost like presence in the back of your sub conscious, even if it is a tiny little thought in a darker moment of the day, existing in a universe parallel to your own – still kissing and loving the man that is now yours. Their names become harder to pronounce, as if even the phonetic produces a venom, paralysing your lips. And even if their name is rarely mentioned, no matter what age, to some degree your person shared experiences and parts of their life with this other person. So in getting to know your person to the best of human ability, they’re going to remain in there somewhere, however much hidden.

To date, Chelsea is the only ex I’ve had no choice but to share an intimate space with, i.e a campus, a corridor or a mutual friends party. I’ve seen others in social situations that have been easy to escape from. I even worked with one, but didn’t have to be in close proximity with her. Chelsea is the only ex who’s persona was crafted in real life. All of the others have been created in a cosmic space between my brain and the internet.

For all the advantages that technology has granted us, among it’s negatives are the utensils to feed our curiosity in this particular subject. A simple Google search could show you half a dozen different medias that she has used over the years. I once found myself three years deep into an ex’s blog, flooded with photos of her and the guy on amazing holidays, making that past parallel universe far too present. And as the years have gone on it’s become as easy as a swipe of the index finger to fall head first down the rabbit hole and suddenly find your self finger slipping on a photo she posted 120 weeks ago. Social media gives us the tools to construct these once mysterious figures from the past. A 140 character tweet somehow acts as an autobiographical look into their soul, as does an over used Emoji or a one sentence self-bio.

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^THE WORST. 

You may believe that my behaviour and outlook is “psycho”. I’m ok with that, because I could name you twenty girls that have admitted to the same behaviours, and if we’re all psychos, then I guess we’re psychos. My own mother, at 53, tries to hide the flames in her eyes whenever her partners ex wife is mentioned, but fails. Thank God she doesn’t know how to use Facebook. It’s an organic emotion and action given our lives and culture mixed with our female animalistic instincts. It’s completely out of my usual nature and conscious control: I try my best to love or at least appreciate and support all women. But mixed with this possessive, jealous, stereotypically Leo outlook of needing to be the very best and perhaps a deep down insecurity within relationships, I’ve projected my inward thoughts onto their uniquely-crafted-by-me personas, and created monsters, of which are (probably) very far from their true selves. Take it through extensive experience, stalking is a game you enter with absolutely zero chances of winning, as is comparing yourself or your present relationship to any other human or past relationship. You will never come out of a stalk feeling better about yourself, as much as you like to believe the unflattering drunk photo of her does. Even this paragraph made me hate myself… But truthfully it’s never ever good to feel like that. It’s all about understanding our own brains and situations and having clarity, and not feeling guilt over emotions we don’t understand.

It’s taken me years to establish clarity on why we seek out the ex. I think it begins rather innocently as purely fierce curiosity – trying to work out if he has a type and if you fit it, or measure up to her level, even though a true ‘level’ will never exist. Plus, curiosity over our own metaperception: if I see her a certain way, does he see that in me? Is that how I appear to others? If she is forced into your personal business by way of contact – I’ve had a few weird messages from some scorned ex’s and one that has called the guy while I was sitting next to him to tell him she missed him – it becomes even harder not to investigate a potential ‘threat’. For me personally, this curiosity has at times murdered, butchered and dismembered the cat, and developed into a weird sort of morbid fascination. I’ve paralleled our lives so freely that it’s almost scary – 141 weeks ago when exhibit A. was in New York being a successful supermodel, I was crying after my first fashion week in London. 214 weeks ago when exhibit B. was loved up with my current love… Oh… I was loved up with my ex love… Awkward.

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The worst type of photo to see whilst stalking his ex / anyone could ever post. 

Which leads perfectly to another interesting comparison: unless you males have a secret community with a strict confidentiality agreement, you seem to react to our ex’s in the complete opposite way – remaining so confident in your patriarchal position that you just lack that need to compare, analyse and care whatsoever. When asked if he cared about in any way or had stalked any of his gf’s ex’s, one male friend laughed, and could only muster, “Why would I?”. Following continued probing, he later added, “I guess if she’s with me now, there’s just no need or want to go looking into her past. The past is the past. You girls seem to love the past”.

I can’t help but agree with that generalisation. But in these irrational, jealous moments, we also seem to magically forget that we have our own pasts, once too featuring other people: perhaps even more in love and having even better sex. There have been a few ex girlfriend’s that I have seen as SO beautiful, in a emotionally distressful time when I couldn’t feel worse about myself, convincing myself that I was the ugly one after a string of Candice Swanepoel’s. It didn’t help that a friend of the boyfriend, every time she drank, told me she loved me and that I was so much better than his most recent ex. “You’re great. I mean, she was BEAUTIFUL, but so cardboard. You are so clever and funny!” The first time she said it, I took it as a compliment. By the third time that she’d repeated the exact same sentence, all I managed to hear was, “SHE was BEAUTIFUL” – i.e, you’re not. I felt too embarrassed to tell my boyfriend at that time, so confided in another male, who cuttingly told me, “Even if she is way hotter, why do you care? You’ve had way hotter men than *****, but you still prefer him. It’s obviously the same with him otherwise he’d still be with her and wouldn’t want to be with you.”

Here’s an exercise for you: Close your eyes and picture your “best looking” boyfriend/sexual partner. I don’t mean your most attractive over all to you or the one you fancy or love the most. I mean the usual consensus of what’s physically “good looking” to the general public.

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If it’s your current, lucky you, I guess he’s perfect. But chances are he’s the guy from your past that had good looks and not a lot else. Now compare them to your current, in the same way you’ve compared yourself to his ex’s. In my case, exhibit Lol’sFromMyPast was a 6’4 male model gym buff who turned my flatmate’s gooey eyed and wet knickered. He was also dumb and dull as fuck and gave me nothing but something nice to look at, the novelty of which wore off after three weeks, which was still far too long. Exhibt SexiestManInMyEyes was an intelligent, endlessly interesting and charismatic, 5’9, un photogenic, wonky nosed tech geek, who gave me more orgasms than my right hand. The result? What does “looks” matter? Looks are nothing to do with love or even attractiveness and are always completely in the eye of the beholder anyway. Ask me which man I’d pick given the chance out of the two – I’d pick the latter in a fraction of a heartbeat every single time, with absolutely no thought needed.

We see every little thing that could be wrong with us, when others just see you in all your perfectly imperfect glory. I think women think that men think about “looks” ten times more than they actually do. If my current boyfriend told me he’d been humped over on the sofa stalking my ex on his phone for an hour, accidentally liking a year old picture in the process, I’d be dumbfounded. I’d demand to know what had lead him to such a time wasting activity. The ex couldn’t be further from my mind, living in another parallel universe filled with people who’s body parts once touched your mouth but who’s presence you now could not care less about.

Coincidentally, there’s other people I could not care less about, who’s bodies haven’t been near my mouth or any other orifice: my ex boyfriends’ current girlfriends’.

While conducting an albeit light study on other girls’ feeling towards ‘the ex’, another target came to light organically: 8 out of 10 girls I asked were very interested in their current’s ex, but 7 of those added that they also looked for and resented their ex’s current. This is really interesting to me, as it is honestly something that I am not effected by. Luckily, by the time they’ve moved on, I’ve moved on. I’ve been forced to acknowledge their existence, online and in person, but have never ever ever felt that little jealousy twinge I’ve had for ex’s. When I see the currents, I can appreciate their looks or overall character without compromising my own, sometimes even KNOWING that they are way prettier than me, and – I promise you – not caring one little bit. I don’t know exactly what the difference is, or how I can hold such opposing views on the two, or why some girls feel the opposite way. Perhaps that’s a-whole-nuva article.

Lastly, another super important thing to realise in order to come to terms with their ex is the strong likeliness that you are or one day will be the ex girlfriend to someone’s boyfriend. Imagine a girl you’ve never had anything to do with, examining your thoughtless Instagram posts, thinking you’re dumb and wondering if he found you prettier. Freaky Matrix style shit, huh? Ever had a boyfriend talk shit about his ex? He’ll probably be talking shit about you to his new girlfriend in a year from now.

After the first year of my relationship, I never saw Chelsea again, but if I saw her name on a friend’s Facebook, did I have a little look? Of course. Although, as time went on it became way less frequent, until after three years Will and I broke up for good. As my experience in men grew, so did my experience in mythic “ex girlfriend’s”. In turn, the longer I was with the man, the less I cared about the ex’s. I’ve come to realise, that you really only fully get over the girl when you get over the guy. With no judgement, I can’t help but wonder if the girls that have an issue with their ex’s current, perhaps aren’t over either of them.

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Earlier this year, I received a random LinkedIn invitation from none other than Chelsea. A name that once bubbled my blood now just rung prettily in my ears, and was one I realised had been buried deep in the past. The memories of my past feeling towards her shocked me, and suddenly everything clicked. I found clarity.

I accepted, saw a link to her blog and spent the next hour reading. She seemed cool and clever and exactly my type of girl. I somehow felt I owed it to my 16 year old self, to add her on Facebook and tell her I loved her writing – call it writer karma if you will. A week later we met for the first time. I was excited to finally speak to her and debunk the myths in my head. But like a first date, I was nervous we wouldn’t get on and I’d have to devise an escape route through a public toilet window.

Happy ending alert: we did get on, shared a few bottles of wine and laughed hours away without any weird “what-shall-I-say-now?” moments. In fact, I think I get on with her easier than I ever got on with Will. If you’d have shown a 16 year old me this scene from her future, she never would have believed you.

It’s so weird to think that, the way I feel about Will and whoever his current girlfriend may be now, is the same way Chelsea felt about Will and I way back then. She was over him, not caring who I was. I was in love with him, caring way too much about her. And now seven years later, we were in a bar in Notting Hill together, getting on so well that the topic of our once shared ‘love’ was the dullest and briefest thread of the evening’s conversation.

A POEM:

So remember, ex girlfriends are humans too
living their own unique lives as are you
If you’re cool and he finds you’re cool
chances are she’s cool
and you’d find her cool too.

Give it a few years – who knows – you could be friends.

ALL PHOTOS AND IMAGES FEATURED ARE COURTESY OF GOOGLE IMAGES & FACEBOOK.

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Happiness

KIM K AND THE FEMINIST CONTRADICTION

Among other socially important news stories this week – Kim Kardashian posted a selfie.

But alas, not the conventional, head and shoulders, face-drowned-in-make up-with-immacuate-shiny-hair kind. The naked in front of a bathroom mirror kind.

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In months, a week or even days, the media excitement and fan frenzy will die down until it’s tossed on the pile of previous mildly shocking celebrity activity, along with her full frontal Paper Magazine photo shoot and her sex tape.

But for now at least, general opinion seems to be divided into two categories: the, “Wow, she’s so hot and confident, good for her!” side, and the “Wow, what an attention seeking little whore” side.

I personally have very mixed opinions on the subject.

Love them or loathe them, we cannot escape the fact that over the last eight or so years, the Kardashian klan have taken over the celebrity ‘tabloid’ world once dominated by Paris Hilton, Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan. I’ve read arguments that the sudden growth in reality TV and social media was the end of the tabloid, murdering the middle man by letting the viewers and the followers hear it and see it from the horses mouth, making the once untouchable, fantasy like public figures infinitely accessible. E!’s Keeping Up With The Kardashians is arguably the biggest reality show ever made, making a whole family of privileged, non-talented, not extremely interesting individuals the most popular celebrities of this decade. In 2003, Kim Kardashian was a young woman giving Ray-J a blow job and receiving (what looked like the most dull and unsatisfying) cunnilingus (I have ever seen). Eleven years later, she was on the cover of American Vogue. She went from sex-tape-with-a-B-list-Rapper-trash to modern American ‘Royalty’. (Sorry, Will and Kate)

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The fact is, the reason that Kim Kardashian and her family are so famous is prominently due to her appearance in the sex tape. It’s apparently what garnered interest in momager Kris Jenner’s show pitch. So firstly, why people are so shocked that Kim posted a naked selfie I have no idea. Plus, her titties and nooni are ‘modestly’ covered with post-edit black strips – I mean, I’ve already seen her bare vagina in LOVE and Paper magazine and have seen her bare arse one million more times than I will ever see my own. It’s hardly new imagery, is it?

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The word ‘feminism’ means different things to different people.

Some purely believe that feminism means ‘the advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes’ – the Oxford definition of the term.

Some believe it is the females power to do whatever the hell she wants to do with herself or her own body as long as she’s not hurting anyone else. Some believe feminism means that women shouldn’t be the sexual objects that over centuries they’ve been glorified to be.

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So in the same breath, Kim could be seen as the anti feminist and the heroine of feminism, depending on your individual view. Whether she was in control of the sex tape release or not, on some level subconsciously, Kim lost ownership of her body. Anyone with access to the internet could and still can view her body in the act of sex/making-love/fucking, an act which is mostly conducted in private with hopefully loving and comfortable connotations. If it’s true that the tape was released completely against her will, then in some sense Kim was deemed control less and ultimately sexualised in the most horrendous way. Her private life was and is everyone’s property. For Kim or her handlers to turn that awful violation into millions of dollars, a brand and a career is arguably the greatest feminist victory. You can’t argue that Kim’s hustle is second to none. Along with the heavily constructed reality show, social media means that her and her family can be in complete control of what we all see. This selfie is a perfect example of that sentiment; her body is beautiful (as is her bathroom), she took the photo and she released it. Like her body, it is completely hers. Just because we as the public can view it, doesn’t change that. Plus, why does her naked body have to mean that it’s sexual? She isn’t posed in an overtly provocative way. The caption, “When you’re like I have nothing to wear LOL” is directed more to women than it is to men. I mean, it’s just a body. A body that has produced two babies. We all have the same reflection just before we step into the shower, whatever shape or size we are or how styled our hair or faces. If Kim is a whore, does that make Venus de Milo one too? (OMG Venus is such a slut, standing there parading her tits and almost showing her vag! Does she have no shame?)

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Call this comparison crazy, but man (humans) ‘created’ Kim Kardashian in the same way he (they) sculpted Venus.

“You painted a naked woman because you enjoyed looking at her, put a mirror in her hand and you called the painting “Vanity,” thus morally condemning the woman whose nakedness you had depicted for you own pleasure.”

― John Berger, Ways of Seeing

And yes, feminism is equality between the sexes. So why is it that men can post nude photos, get their dicks out at every opportunity, moon like ten year olds and walk around with their BARE NIPPLES on show in the summer without a bat of an eyelid?

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But on the other hand, I have to admit: there is still a part of me that finds it a little bit… well… sad. I’m currently searching deep within myself to confirm why I feel that while fully standing for the paragraph above. All I can gather is that I find it sad that we, as a Western society, obsessed with appearance, bourgeoisie and celebrity, created the Kardashian-kraze in the first place. The whole image of the family and their whole lifestyle is an astronomical glorification of fame and money as overarching life goals. I find it sad that we have placed someone with no significant spirit, courage, talent, and magnanimity, bravery, intelligence, or perseverance, so high on a pedestal that young girls could look up to her. Kim and her sisters are only really famous for their bodies and the men that they marry, subsequently suggesting that they only know their worth through their appearance, patriarchal acceptance and the male gaze. I don’t know that many pre teen girls to ask, but from what I gather, quite a few of them look up to the Kardashians. Instagram is to them what radio and television was to me growing up – powerfully manipulative contributors to adult psyche. If posting a photo if your naked body is celebrated and then normalised, I have no doubt that young girls will start posting similar things themselves. Kim’s selfie could give a much darker message – your appearance/sexuality is your worth. You are a sexual object.

It’s sad because women shouldn’t have to show off their bodies to be looked up to, or to emphasis their talent, confidence or power. No matter how talented she is, the focus is always predominantly  on the female celebrities sexuality.

Of course, negative responses from other celebrities were rife. Kim began tweeting those that had openly criticised her. Among those were Bette Midler (someone who is incredibly successful without ever using her sexuality) with a relatively witty response, and teenage actress Chloe Moretz, who is yet to succumb. Kim went on to age-shame (have I just created a new discrimination?) Bette and “attempted” to slut-shame Chloe over a Nylon cover featuring Chloe and her bare leg. In all honesty, I would have stuck with my initial argument and maybe even respected Kim a little bit if she hadn’t retaliated and had instead marvelled in her own confidence with an unfuckwitable silence. But, who am I to pass comment or to even have an opinion… It’s her life.

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Klassy.

Mainly, it’s sad that we care so much about any of this. Perhaps if the sexes were equal (trust me, we are far from it), there wasn’t such intense emphasis on female sexuality, women were not so cautious, conscious or considerate of their appearance and more confident and content within themselves, all we would see when we refreshed our Instagram feeds (maybe there wouldn’t even be a need for Instagram) was a grown woman standing in her bathroom.

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Happiness, Health

Attack of the New Year Resolutions

Before Christmas has even properly begun, “New Year, New Me!” is a phrase frequently heard as soon as December hits. The post Christmas ‘urgh’ is inevitably close – that feeling of bloat and uncomfortably after a week of hearty home cooking, biscuit tins, cold nights and duvet days.

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Social networks have been plagued by lists of New Year’s Resolutions; the most frequent contender on my girlfriends list’s are “Get in shape”, “Get my eighteen year old body back”, “Summer body” and “Lose weight”. Often included is a photo of a Victoria Secret model on a beach looking AMAZING. It’s great to feel inspired and motivated after the holidays to start / get back into shape, but it will not happen over night, and there is no secret or quick-slim solution. I think what we really need is to re-think our goals.

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Go into a newsagents and pick up any magazine – chances are, the front cover will be littered with images of female celebrities with headlines concerned with their appearance; whether it’s “Cheryl’s New Hair!”, “Victoria’s Skin Secret!”, or, perhaps the most concerning, “Reality-TV-Star puts on weight!”. Yet the same magazines feature pages upon pages of ‘perfect’ woman, with tiny waists, flawless skin, glossy hair, legs like giraffes and Hollywood smiles.

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We compare ourselves to these women. But these women are not real. They may be pretty or even beautiful in real life, but these images have been tweaked to this perfection. When women look at these images, something in their brain says “I need to look like that.” This sort of perfection is impossible to achieve until some science genius invents a real life Photoshop machine. On top of this, when we see a teeny tiny skinny mini, chances are she has worked extremely hard for her body – whether she’s worked out a lot and eaten very well, or she’s been very un healthy with it (please don’t go down that route, it’s definitely not worth it).

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All women (and men) have different body types. We come in many different shapes and sizes. In most cases, no amount of exercise, dieting or starving will change your genetic make-up. If you are holding onto a little extra padding, of course eating right and exercise will help you lose it. The naturally skinny women are the minority. The average dress size for women in the UK is a 14. Research has confirmed that it is more difficult for women to shed the pounds than men, because women’s bodies are simply more efficient at storing fat. It’s nature. 

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We women need to change the way we think about our bodies, our weight and this idea of ‘perfection’. We need to set ourselves realistic goals and concentrate less on our weight or size (unless you are unhealthily below or above your BMI) – and focus on our health, shape and happiness.

The best way to get this mindset working, is to establish your body shape – whether you’re petite, an apple or pear shape, an hourglass, curvy, tall, etc etc. Now, decide what your goal is – realistically. Forget about the fad diets, they will not work in the long term and are not good for you, mentally or physically. In fact, forget the diet mentality all together. You need to make these changes for life. I’m not saying “never eat chocolate ever again, it’s evil!”, because some ‘bad’ food in moderation will not kill you. The 80/20 rule is what a lot of women live by – 80% of what you eat is healthy and nutritious and 20% is indulgence. This means that you are not deprived of food that you crave, and you are therefore less likely to binge when you tell your mind that it’s not allowed. One piece of chocolate won’t make you put on weight – but the whole box probably will.

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Changing your eating habits will make you lose weight, yes. But, this shouldn’t be the priority. What matters most is your health. We need to change the false views that ‘perfection equals happiness’. It’s not real, and you will never find happiness chasing something as real as Santa Claus. It’s health that can equal happiness.

But whatever you do, do not beat yourself up about it. Food is supposed to be enjoyed while giving you energy and keeping you healthy. Do not make food your enemy. Do not make exercise a chore. Do not waste your life stressing about how you look. Do not look in the mirror and hate yourself, because hating yourself will not make you look or feel any better. All women are different, and the most beautiful woman are those that are happy and healthy and confident in their own skin.

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Happiness, Health

A WEIGHTY ISSUE

Some may argue that this post isn’t very “feminist” of me. Feminists aren’t supposed to care about their weight. We’re supposed to keep up a constant charade of confidence, keeping proud and sure of ourselves and our appearance.

I’m debunking this theory. I think being a “feminist” is being honest about honest feelings, whatever those feelings may be, whilst not judging over women on their feelings. Insecurity’s about weight always seem to come across as silly, narcissistic and down right boring. Right?

The honest truth is, not all, but a lot of confident, smart women have insecurities about their appearance, and weight is probably the most damning of all of them. AND THAT’S OKAY. There is enough shame forced on women as it is, without the shame of feeling shame about your own body.

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One of my biggest girl crushes, Lena Dunham, talks about this subject candidly in her new book, Not That Kind of Girl (I finished it in a day. High recommended). In one chapter, she talks about attempting to lose weight, devoting a handful of pages to a real life food journal she kept as a way of controlling what she was eating – down to the last almond. During a press interview, she says:

“My food intake was a hard thing to share publicly. A lot of my life and work is sort of about not succumbing to [those pressures], so it’s a little painful to go, ‘Oh but look, there was a time where this dominated every moment of every day.’ “

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I must admit, I found myself surprised when I read that chapter. Lena was someone I always looked to as being more than the countless “fake” celebrities we’re exposed to. Someone who’s brain and humour made her more attractive and likeable than any appearance obsessed female in the media.

But after reading the above interview, it hit me that although this subject shouldn’t be normal – it’s not healthy and will never secure a sense of happiness or self worth – it is a completely understandable and expected way of thinking, considering her industry and the society we as Western women exist within. I applaud Lena for being so honest, and believe that she is even more of a role model for young girls for being open and honest about it, rather than lying and saying, “No, I don’t care about my weight, I’m completely in love with who I am.”

Accepting yourself fully is the ultimate goal. But it’s not easy and there’s no shortcut to doing so. Everyone has their down days. I am mostly confident with myself and my body, but some days I feel grotesque and kind of despise my own body. Sorry if that upsets any “feminists” out there but it’s honest and I know a lot of my girlfriends feel the same way. And before you try to make me feel guilty or patriarchal for having these thoughts, can YOU honestly say that as a woman, you’ve never felt that way?

For the last two weeks, I’ve been with my boyfriend in Europe. I was blissfully happy, being in the company of someone who makes me feel so lovely that all tiny insecurities flutter away. I applaud anyone that avoids weight fluctuation when in the company of a male.

1. They can eat whatever they want all the time and NEVER put on a pound.

2. You feel so comfortable with them and happy and spontaneous that when you see something you really really want on the menu, you don’t hesitate. And most importantly, you enjoy it.

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Who can say they managed to by pass filling out a little in the honeymoon period, when all you want to do is sit on the sofa with a film and a takeaway? Not me.

Anyway, for the first week, I didn’t feel guilty because, after all, I was on holiday. A week of eating freely and happily for a week isn’t going to change your body shape. But then the second week began, and by the last day I’d realised that for the most part I’d sat in bed in his baggy jumper and boxes eating bowl after bowl of muesli, bar after bar of dark chocolate, and spoonful after spoonful of sugar laden peanut butter (my biggest addiction). When I got dressed to catch my flight home, I couldn’t do up my high waisted jeans.

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It’s hardly the biggest weight gain of the century. But I’m not comfortable being over my natural, healthy size. I could lie and say I don’t care, I’m proud of being a women and who cares if I’m a little heavy during this glorious festive period. But I’m not going to. I’m not ashamed a slip up in my road to conclusive confidence.

The positive in this situation, is I know that I only feel heavier because I’ve been eating like a glutenous pig. I don’t need to extreme diet, make myself sick, starve myself or even obsessively exercise, because I know that after a few days, or maybe even a week, of eating normally and healthily (also moving my body instead of laying in a really really comfy bed) my body will balance itself out again and I will be back to my comfortable size.

And as long as I know this, all is well in my own brain. A big part of maintaining a healthy and happy brain and body is balance. Life is too short to constantly worry about your body or your food intake. We need to treat ourselves every once in a while. Whether that be an amazing creamy chocolate cake, or just laying off on the guilt and shame we hand ourselves and other women.

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Happiness, Health

LIGHTENING BOLTS & TIGER STRIPES

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The media’s boring and frankly dumb obsession with adding negative connotations to our physical “imperfections” (which, by the way, are mostly completely natural and normal and healthy characteristics of the human body) eternally taint our perceptions of our own bodies and appearances as a whole.

One repeated offence which I REALLY don’t get is the issue with stretch marks:

  • external skin scarring caused by the tearing of a under layer of skin
  • mostly caused by rapid stretching on the skin (growth spurts, pregnancy, weight changes, etc.)
  • also caused by hormonal changes (puberty, pregnancy, body building, etc).

A quick Google search will show you the common opinions and conceptions of stretch marks (this list has not been edited or created for your entertainment).

“”How to Get Rid of Stretch Marks: 15 Steps (with Pictures)”

“Top 10 Celebrities Who Are Not Safe From Stretch Marks”

“Stretch Mark Removal Treatments – Types, Cost & Results”

“OMG! Models With Stretch Marks!”

“101 Reasons I Hate Being Fat!: #49 – Stretch marks”

I was kind of laughing to myself at the ridiculousness of my research, until I saw the last two examples

Why should it be such a shock that models (human beings) get stretch marks? Yes, models do get stretch marks. I know because, well, I AM a model and I DO have stretch marks. I rest my case.

Secondly, it breaks my heart a little bit that stretch marks are associated with being “fat”, which is in tern associated with being unhealthy and even ugly.

Again, I am living proof of this, having never been over a UK size 8 in my life.

Come to think of it, I’m almost sure that every woman I know has them. Yet we have been conditioned to hate them by our perfection obsessed society. Online and print publications twist words to make it sound like they’re doing us a favour by teaching us how to prevent or reverse these AWFUL SHAMEFUL UGLY imperfections. We’re recommended creams, oils, laser treatments, even skin surgery! Stretch marks’ cousin, cellulite, is another hated body “affliction”, with maybe even more crazy “solutions” for erasion.

Why should we have to go through the effort of attempted removal of things that occur on our body so naturally, wasting money, breeding negativity and demoting our self worth?

I can’t imagine any woman pre-1960’s having anxieties about stretch marks or cellulite. Then again, there was no Photoshop, no Instagram, no televised Victoria Secret catwalk show to weep over. The fashion industry is SELLING A FANTASY. I’m not one of these people that are passionate about the banning of Photoshop but I do think that people, particularly young girls, need to be aware of this. Reality and fantasy can co exist as long as we are strong enough to not allow it to cloud our judgements of ourselves and others.

So next time a magazine attempts to emotionally bully you into hating your stretch marks / cellulite / grey hair / wrinkles / any other completely NORMAL AND NATURAL physical trait, laugh in the face of ignorance. They are your badge of honour, the lines of a map of your life – be proud that you grew from girl to woman. Be proud that you went through the growth of pregnancy to create new life. Be proud that you are at the healthiest weight for your body and not the weight that a magazine tells you to be.

Next time you look down at your hips or the side of your thighs, realise how cool it is to have glistening purple and white lightening bolts etched across your skin. Would a tiger hate her stripes? 

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