Will I ever not want to be skinny?

Back in September I wrote about going back to the gym and my first experience of a yoga class alone (I am yet to return, I have accepted that I will just go through life on the edge of a meltdown). In all honesty, the reason I started going to the gym was because I had just moved home from university and my brother no longer lives here so I ran out of things to occupy my time pretty quickly. All of my friends already had proper jobs and there is only so many times you can tidy your room and avoid looking at your inbox in case there’s a rejection lay in wait there. I wasn’t in a good place.

I started to go to the gym because it was an hour and a half of my day where I had to be somewhere, doing something that didn’t involve starring at a screen. Whilst it was hard at first it soon became the bit of ‘me time’ that I craved. Since starting work it has kept me afloat. It is the one hour that I can turn a podcast on and ignore emails and the nagging feeling that I should be sending more pitches out.

I also wasn’t happy with how I looked. I know what you’re thinking- ‘is anyone?’ but a Masters year of drinking far too much and living off convenience food had left me a slightly podgier version of myself. I wasn’t working out- at all (unless you count walking back from nights out with a detour to the chicken shop). Over the last 7 months I have noticed a bit of a difference. I had my January graduation as a goal to comfortably fit into a size 12 dress and feel good about it. And I did. I look back at my undergraduate graduation- I’m wearing a lace purple dress that is a little too tight and completely the wrong cut and in every single picture I have my hand in front of my stomach. I don’t look happy and I hate looking back on the pictures because I remember how uncomfortable I felt all day.13754669_10209189608444710_8134632358993966907_n

This time around I bought a new dress and heels that fit properly, I knew I had lost a little bit of weight and I stood taller. Instead of trying to make myself as small as possible I actually look happy to be there in all of the pictures.2.jpg

I have had a few comments from people since saying how slim I look or how skinny my legs are etc etc and I am almost disappointed in myself that I feel a twinge of pride. As women we grow up learning that if you are thin and pretty you will be successful and any girl who falls by the wayside will either have to be the funny best friend or the clever one that better hope she glows up eventually. It’s almost impossible to get rid of the voice in your head that says pasta is a ‘naughty’ meal or if you don’t do 10 minutes more of the cross trainer you’ll never get rid of your stomach.

I grew up on a diet of Rachel Green and Samantha Jones- both undeniably funny, beautiful women who didn’t look like me. I couldn’t see anyone who had the same body type to me and whilst I am so happy that this isn’t necessarily the case now I wonder if we will ever get past the idea that skinny is better. I have definitely seen the positive benefits of the gym- both physical and mental but I think it will take a little bit longer to unlearn 23 years’ worth of bullshit beauty standards.

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Wine Wednesdays: Friendship

I feel like every few blog posts begin with “hey…so it’s been a while”, this is another one of them. You know people say you wait for one bus and then three come all at once. Well my bus was drama and it has obliterated the last month. I feel like March was a fairly chill month, I would go as far as to say boring. Then April hit and all hell broke lose- at work, in my personal life…everywhere. It served me right really for being so smug.

After spending the last couple of weeks in variants of my pjs depending on where I had to go/ who I had to see and moving from my own sofa to friends sofas for wine and crisps I realized, with account of all that is going on in the world self pity isn’t cute and I should probably get my act together.

It was said ‘wine and crisp’ sofa sessions that inspired this next series. I am a massive believer that there is no real excuse as to why you shouldn’t be informed as to what is going on in the world. But reality is, the world can be a bit of a dark place.

Enter Wine Wednesdays.In pursuit of balance, Wine Wednesdays is going to be a super chatty post published on Wednesday (who would have thought it) to celebrate all of the fun, frivolous things that actually keep you afloat and get you through the week. The wine and bitch on the sofa with your friends if you will.

So in honor of the very activity that inspired this series the first thing I want to talk about is FRIENDSHIP.

I was in work last week and due to the fact that it was the Easter Holidays and I heard children cant be left alone there were a couple running around the newsroom. Due to the fact that I have the luxury of sitting right next to a massive open space two had settled themselves directly behind my chair, essentially trapping me in with no means of escape. Whilst I was working up the courage to engage with them (I was dying for the loo) I overheard their conversation.

“Hi I like your truck, can I have a go?”

“My mum told me not to play with boys” (wise mother)

“No but I am Lukas and I am nice” (I wouldn’t go into law pal)
“Okay, I’m Ellie. Yes but only for a second.”
And that was it, they were off and for the rest of the afternoon, chasing each other and screaming- generally terrorizing me. You could have quite easily mistaken them for life long friends.
There is something about being a small child with no inhibitions that makes it insanely easy to just meet people and make friends. When do you lose that? When do you become awkward and anxious? Is it somewhere between the blue eye shadow phase and deciding that no one has ever spoken to you quite like Pete Wentz does in ‘Thanks for the Memories’?
It’s a given that once you reach a certain age you’re too old to make new friends or pick up new hobbies unless it is work related and an some how be skewed as networking. Why? Since leaving uni and the days of wandering into strangers flats because the door was open and it looked like there was a party going on, I have really pined for the convenience of having my best friends so close – in the next bedroom or the same city. But I have also become so close to the girls that I went to school with and couldn’t be near to for 4 years.
The beauty of adult friendship is that you can have friends in so many different places. Be that ex flatmates who live in different cities but who still know you through and through (the good and the unspeakably bad). They seem to have a knack of messaging you just when you need it and no matter how long you go without speaking, you’ve been through (and know) too much to ever not be friends.
The ex course mates who you might not see everyday anymore but completely get it when you have to moan about work or interviews. And every time you all find a spare weekend in your busy busy schedules, between the prosecco, cuddles and singing, they remind you of why they’re you’re best friends.
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Work colleagues who have turned into the only way to get through long days/ nights. They’re the only ones who understand your suspicion of the weird guy who stares a bit too intently across the room and help you develop nicknames for said individuals.
Your friends who were brave enough to go and see the world and you pine for their Facetimes so you can see their tanned faces and hear their stories (and live vicariously through them). And even though they’re on the other side of the world, when you speak to them it feels like having them right there, next to you on the sofa again.
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And your home friends who have had you since day one, who know about all the bad dates, bad hairstyles and girls trip to Sunny Beach that has permanently scarred all involved. They are the only ones who truly understand the pain of coming from your home town and bumping into those less desirable people on nights out.
It is so easy when you get caught up in the all of the joys that come with adulting to feel really alone. In reality, if you only get out of your own head for a moment and speak to that person who sits near you at work and you say hello to everyday but can’t really remember their name or take up that hobby that you’re too shy/ lazy to pursue you realize that there is more that unites us, they (probably) wont think you’re odd and it might be the conversation that you need (wine or no wine).

Start taking your own advice…and give me some please?

Comparison is the thief of joy…apparently. Did you know that? Of course you did. Something I didn’t know was that Theodore Roosevelt first coined this phrase. I feel like it is thrown around so often now, especially in reference to social media.

I am constantly being told that comparison is the thief of joy, be that by my parents or friends or myself. And the dumb thing is, in my anxiety addled brain I then start feeling terrible for comparing myself and not focusing on myself. I go from feeling bad about not being in a certain place (in my career/ physically) to feeling bad about feeling bad about not being in a certain place. It is a vicious circle kids, adulthood is all fun and games.

The thing is every single one of my friends are boss ass bitches- even the guys. I only need to look to twitter to see all of the immense things that they are doing. I am so proud and they inspire me. I look at everything my journalism graduate class is doing and feel so fucking proud that we did it and they’re nailing it. After a year of media law and basically none stop Brexit talk, they deserve it.

It isn’t them I find myself comparing myself to. It is the people that are already there. That are doing THE job, the job that I ultimately aspire to, that takes years of hard work to get to. I’m not simple. I know you don’t see the hours that go in behind closed doors, the hundreds of pitches sent out, the endless research, the numerous cups of coffee made. You see is the end product; the hour long, beautifully edited documentary, the two page spread in the Guardian.

I have just had my first weekend off in ages. Properly off off. I wasn’t in work, I spent time with my family and hung out. We dog sat for a family friend which was not only really relaxing but only furthered my mission to have a dog in this house by the end of the year. It was nice to have a fluffy companion to binge watch the entire series of Married at First Sight with.IMG_7888.JPG

I know social media and smart phones have been tied into increased likelihood of mental health issues. Whilst seeing fitness models on Instagram get to some, scrolling aimlessly through twitter reading article after article instead of switching off or being proactive and pitching my own ideas is my down fall.

I thought about quitting social media, semi-realistic other than for work purposes and when in work why deprive myself of my favourite activity- procrastination. Then I went to a darker place and thought about quitting coffee. The less said the better.

So here I am, sat up in bed wondering how you get out of this place where you aren’t constantly thinking of the next story, the next job application, the next THING. How do you get balance? Does anyone know?

Why I am no longer being the ‘cool’ girl…

I find a lot of things funny. People slipping in the snow is funny, David Baddiel is hilarious and you can give me a Kristin Wiig film any day of the week and I’ll be a happy girl. As someone who seems to be able to hold onto stress like it is going out of fashion I have also found a loyal number of friends who can be relied upon to tease me until I lighten up a bit.
Yet we have all found ourselves in situations where you have been at the pub or party and someone has said something downright offensive. Last year I remember sitting at the pub with the person I was seeing and some of their friends. I was nervous, meeting the friends is basically meeting the university family. In tinder terms we were getting married.

 

As the conversation moved from football to Tory politics (I know, I hate me too) I zoned out. Then, out of nowhere a quiffy boy at the end of the table, who up until this point had been very quiet, pipped up “It’s not rape if she secretly liked it” in reference to an ex-girlfriend. If looks could kill the world would be rid of one more ignorant misogynist.
The man child that I was with turned to me, evidently sensing that 100 years of feminism was about to hit his dipshit friend in the face, and whispered “be cool, be cool”.

 
Be cool with what?

 
With rape jokes?

 
With rape itself?

 
Oh you don’t think rape is funny either?

 
No, why would you? It is one of the most sickening things that someone can do to another human. It must be nice to be able to joke about sexual violence coming from a place where you will have never had to consider it a remote threat. Watch yourself, your privilege is showing.

 
Why does being the ‘cool’ girl mean being silent and not standing against something which not only, isn’t a joke it is a crime. I have listened to friends and acquaintances and strangers recount the details of harassment in work, being sexually assaulted and raped and do you know what it wasn’t? It wasn’t in the slightest bit funny. It was and still is heart-breaking.

 
Yes, have free speech and make jokes out of bad situations to lighten the mood. But just because you have the ability to make a joke doesn’t mean you should. It doesn’t make it right and know the consequences of reducing sexual violence for a cheap laugh.
In a report conducted by sociologist Heather Hlavka, it was revealed that many young women “regard sexual violence against them as normal.” The worst part about joking about rape and sexual assault is that there are serious consequences. Young men and women have killed themselves because of the aftermath of sexual abuse and rape. An estimated 33 percent of people who have been raped have suicidal thoughts and around 13 percent of rape victims will try to commit suicide.

 
Is that funny?

 
Across the globe, in the midst of #MeToo and #TimesUp the world seems to have started to wake up to the fact that it just isn’t acceptable anymore. I can’t imagine the bravery that it took for a group of women to come together to call out a very powerful man and an industry fraught with sexual harassment and misconduct on its bullshit. Society is slowly changing. But it starts in your local pub, in friendship groups and the way we talk to one another.

There are a lot of other things to laugh at in the world. Trump is in the White House for Christ sake. International Women’s Day reminds people so much of the awesome things women and girls are doing around the globe but also the threat that we are still under and the sacrifices that have been made along the way. Just because you can’t or refuse to fully comprehend that don’t cheapen it. Educate yourself. It isn’t our job to.

Activism, Glitter and Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging

March is fast upon us (how? Just how?) which means only one thing. It is nearly one of my favourite days of the year. Whilst it shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that I think we should shout from the rooftops the successes of the women in our lives every single day, Thursday 8th March is officially International Women’s Day.

Last year the theme for this most magnificent day was #BeBoldForChange (read more here). In the context of Trumps inauguration and the first Women’s March it is insane how poignant this phrase has become.

With #MeToo and #TimesUp, it is a pretty wicked time to be a woman. Chicks coming together to support each other, men standing alongside the women in their lives to say time is up on the toxic masculinity that has gone ignored for so long.

Yet I know, like last year, I will have more than a handful of conversations with men asking why we still need International Women’s Day and when is International Men’s Day?

To answer your second question- officially it is November 19th but it is mediocre white, middle class men’s day every day of the year. And I get it, it is uncomfortable to come face to face with the ways that women are still being harassed and silenced. I am not so hot on it myself.

But the reason we still need International Women’s Day is that when you joke with your friends that a girl is a slut for wearing a short skirt (because apparently that is still a thing) it makes it dangerous for us to walk home alone at night. It allows judges to tell girls who have been raped that maybe if they had fought back harder they wouldn’t have been attacked. It enforces the belief that victims are to blame. We are used to the headlines that 100 more school girls have been taken by Boko Haram, millions of girls still do not have access to education and reproductive rights for women around the world are continuing to be violated.

The World Economic Forum’s 2017 Global Gender Gap Report told us that gender parity is still over 200 years away. There has never been a better time to keep up momentum- to come together with all of your friends, have some cocktails or a coffee and recognize the ambition and ability of the women around you. To unite under the theme #PressforProgress.

If, like me, you intend to be as loud about International Women’s Day as you can possibly be then why not do it with other people? If you want to find a space to do this go to https://www.internationalwomensday.com/events

As I will be spending the run up in Manchester here are some of the places you should join me-

Walk for Women: Saturday 3rd March 1:30 St Peters Square 

Ending with speeches from some of Manchester’s most brill women ( Claire Mooney, Shirley May, Sarah Judge, Aisha Mirza and Jackie Hagan to name a few) providing the beast from the east has spared us and we really aren’t facing Snowmagedon, the walk for women will be a great opportunity to get together with friends and meet new people. For more information…

http://www.manchester.gov.uk/events/event/4675/international_womens_day_walk_for_women

Pen:Chant & Gorilla present ‘SHE PWR’: Thursday 8th March 6pm- 1am Gorila

This is essentially a massive party bursting at the seams with art, craft, performance, talks, DJs, music and glitter (GLITTER)! Between 6 and 8 entry is free and there will be  Q&A sessions with prominent female creatives and entrepreneurs, a maker’s market selling locally made crafts, an art exhibition, live music, DJs, cocktails, canapés and a glitter station! 8 until late you’ll need a ticket and the main club space will host a special show from Pen:Chant guest hosted by alt-cabaret live wires Eggs Collective. Think drinks and glitter, spoken word and live music.

Dancing in my Nuddy Pants: Thursday 8th March 11pm- 3am The Deaf Institute

With a strap line like ” Apply your longest boy entrancers, assemble your Ace Gang, and strap up your basoomas; we’re bringing a celebration of Georgia Nicolson” how was I supposed to miss this event? Celebrating 10 years since Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging changed your life this will be the only way to spend next Thursday night. There will be 00’s pop and indie hits, hopefully all the Sex Gods of Manchester and your gal pals. Organizers will also be collecting sanitary products for The Monthly Gift – a charity which provides tampons and sanitary towels for homeless women across Manchester. This is the spirit of International Women’s Day wrapped up in one! You will need tickets (search on Facebook).

There are so many more spaces around the city exhibiting art and photography, Q&A’s and meet-ups. Get on twitter, source your glitter and get excited!

 

And breathe…

Hey! So it has been a minute. The last couple of weeks have been a little bit mad. Going from working back to back shifts (I can’t complain, I treat myself too much for that) to heading to Paris for four days and then back into a week of night shifts, I have barely had time to sit down with a cup of tea. Netflix has seriously been neglected. But admittedly so has my blog.

I wanted to get this post out last week but between drinking my body weight in coffee and taking in enough culture to last a lifetime I didn’t quite get there. However, I have found this time really useful in its own way. Before I went away I was suffering some real writers block. I didn’t know where I wanted to go with this blog or what I had to say at all, period.

Being away from twitter, my laptop and news apps informing me that the end of the world is nigh left me to actually sit with my own thoughts and it turned out I did have some. I wrote more notes on my phone (34 to be exact) and felt more inspired in those four days than I have felt in months.

I was out there over Valentine’s Day- I know clichéd. For someone who doesn’t usually mark the day of sickening love with anything other than a jaeger bomb and subsequent hangover, this was a little different for me. I can’t say I am a convert and I’m not ready to give up Galentines Day but it was kind of nice wandering around Versailles with someone else not feeling like I am about to have a red bull induced heart attack. But what also became abundantly clear to me this V Day was that I hadn’t really had any me time on the run up to the holiday and it was showing.

So in the spirit of all things self-love here are the 5 things that get me back to me:

  • Halsey/ Dua Lipa/ Hayley Kiyoko/ Lorde •

I list all four because who would want to pick? I remember driving home from uni in a friend’s car just before we finished our Masters belting out New Rules, there is nothing that puts me in a better mood. What unites all of these gals is I put them on and instantly feel stronger. I can be in the worst mood and it will be instantly changed by the opener of Now or Never. As my old flatmate so often says we function best when we are scorned and no one does scorned quite like these women.

 

  • Perks of being a Wallflower (book and film) •

If you haven’t read Perks of being a Wallflower where were you at 14? Stephen Chbosky writes coming of age better than I felt it. I re-read this every year and whilst it always takes me back to being a horrible, ‘misunderstood’ teenager I also always get something new from it. You will fall in love with the characters so just be prepared for it to break you too. And I can’t help but hope that Greta Gerwigs’ ‘Ladybird’ is going to be like this but better.

  • Olivia Bee •

I stumbled across Olivia Bee about 2 years ago when I was supposed to be finishing my undergraduate dissertation (funnily enough I found a lot of new hobbies in that time). Documenting her adolescence Bee’s images are hazy and sexy and really intimate. There is no denying she is also really bloody good at what she does.  By the time she was 15, Bee had shot a Converse campaign, and by 17, her work landed on the cover of The New York Times Magazine. She has gone on to shoot for Elle, Gucci, Unpublished Playboy and so many more.

http://oliviabee.com/

  • Rupi Kaur •

Rupi Kaur cleanses my soul, pure and simple. There is no other way for me to explain how I feel about her. She writes about sex, race, love, rejection and rebirth in such a way that she expresses the experience of millions of women in so few lines. Whilst some have criticised her and her work, Kaur is the kind of poet who prompts heated debate, from people you never knew had any sort of interest in poetry, because among other things she is young, female, from a Punjabi-Sikh immigrant family, relatively uncredentialed and insanely successful.

https://www.instagram.com/rupikaur_/

rupi

  • Joan Didion •

What did you want to be when you were growing up? I wanted to be a cat. Once I realised that was an unattainable goal I decided I should probably focus at school and do what everyone else does, go to university. But then what? I discovered Joan Didion at the right time. A confused student, coming to the end of my undergraduate with a love for writing and photography but no comprehension that some people get paid to do those things I stumbled across Didions first essay for American Vogue ‘self-respect’. Her voice wasn’t really like anything I had heard of the time (1961). I consumed her work like so many other people that love her- quickly! Researching her personal life, her experience covering 1960’s California and watching David Hares adaptation of ‘A Year of Magical Thinking’ didn’t just make me want to write, it made me want to report and investigate and experience.

So there we have it, the 5 things that make me feel more me. I can’t help but notice that so many of these have a running ‘coming of age’ theme further confirming that I haven’t quite grown out of being 15 yet. But in the mean time I am willing to indulge this and you should too.

Finding my (written) voice

Finally, it’s over- what feels like the longest January in human history. There was me thinking, as this was the first January I haven’t had exams in six years, the month would fly by and be filled with nothing but residual festive cheer. But no, it turns out January mornings are equally unpleasant when you have to get up for work…who knew?

I have struggled this month. Not just with the Baltic weather conditions and the fact that Christmas coffee has so cruelly been snatched away from me before I was ready. I had a lot of plans going into 2018 (like everyone else). One such plan was a more consistent blogging schedule- as you can see that went really well (or not).

I am no stranger to writer’s block- my final portfolio was about as difficult to complete as squeezing blood from a stone. But it has felt like for the entirety of January I haven’t had anything to say. A usual remedy is to go away, put down your pen and read as much as you possibly can. Taking in other people’s voices helps you find your own.

Like everyone has a spoken voice, you have a written voice too. You can try and develop it- to sound more profound or intelligent but it has inherent qualities that makes it yours. In the midst of my silence this month I found this quote.

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There are a lot of things I like reading. I have spent the majority of this month reading round ups of the last year in politics (so Brexit), about the homelessness crisis in the UK and researching chronic pain. If you have a second…

I am passionate about all of these things and there are writers that articulate these issues in completely different ways than I ever would. I really respect and enjoy Tim Shipman, the Times Political Editors work. Both his books and articles inspire me to be better, to push harder and carry on with what I want to do. But I am under no illusion that my voice is anything like his. He has been in the business for decades, his personal experiences in no way mirror my own and we are probably quite different people. That doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy his writing.

Similarly, as per usual I have inhaled everything that Amelia Gentleman has written for The Guardian this month. There is so much that Gentleman writes that leaves me wishing I had written it first. Her in-depth, longform piece on the Presidents Club trumped every other article on the same scandal (big BIG statement).

What I am trying to say is I love both of these writers and it is so easy to think if you don’t sound like a certain writer then your work can be no good. That is why my pitching inbox has been a wasteland and blog posts have been so scarce.

I think I am finally learning that no matter how hard I push I am not going to be able to take on Louis Therouxs’ voice (believe me, I’ve really tried). Trying to write a piece to deadline in your own way is god damn hard, never mind attempting to pretend to be someone else on top of it.

I believe there is no bigger compliment when it comes to writing than when someone tells you they really connected with what you were trying to say, even if they disagreed. It is the fact that they felt like they could hear the person’s voice in the piece that is important, so it isn’t just words on a screen.

Writing from the gut- like three promises, the hollaback girls and all I want for Christmas is…no news, Tom Hardy and a puppy was easy because it is just like sitting and talking to a friend. It gets difficult and disconnected when you try and write to impress or please someone else.  So whilst I know that I am not going to be able to steal her voice any time soon, Stacey Dooley has just released a new documentary series- you may have lost me for another month. All in the name of research, of course.