Street harassment in the UK is an epidemic, with women and girls as young as eight years old faced with intimidating and unwanted behaviour on a daily basis.
66% of girls in the UK have experienced sexual attention or sexual or physical contact in a public place. 38% of girls experience verbal harassment like catcalling, wolf-whistling and sexual comments at least once a month. And 15% of girls are being touched or grabbed every month.
It’s not a part of growing up and it’s not ok.
To mark International Day of the Girl, our Editor-in-Chief Trish Halpin joined Plan International at the House of Commons for the launch of their new campaign against street harassment of girls and young women in the UK, encouraging us all to drive social change by sharing our own experiences alongside the hashtag #ISayItsNotOk.
‘A shocking 66% aged 14-21 have experienced unwanted sexual harassment in a public place & what’s so awful is that girls like my daughter are growing up to think this is normal and something they just have to put up with,’ Trish explained. ‘But it’s time to say it’s not OK, to encourage girls to talk about it and report it to a parent or teacher.’
She continued: ‘Tell your friends, daughters, nieces to speak up and report it, tell the men you know about the devastating impact this behaviour can have – they might think a wolf whistle, cat call or pat on the butt is harmless but the fear of what it could lead to is frightening.’
‘If you normalise and accept street harassment then you’re starting to say it’s ok for the next thing to happen, and it’s an escalating process,’ 28-year-old Lindsay from Edinburgh told Plan International. ‘It’s a basic human right to be able to walk around and just live your life. No one is taking it seriously.’
‘Girls have been told different ways to change ourselves to make other people less likely to harass us,’ 16-year-old Caitlin from Glasgow explained to Plan UK. ‘But boys have never been told what to do to stop them from harassing girls. What if you don’t want to accept that it just happens? Coz it’s been happening to women for like ever pretty much and it’s not right and it shouldn’t be accepted like that.’
Reading over the statistics and accounts provided by Plan, we were saddened here at Marie Claire HQ, especially as it is a sobering reflection of the sad reality that we all normalise on a daily basis.
Here are some of our own accounts of growing up with street harassment, something we don’t want for the generations of girls ahead of us…
‘I am now in my mid twenties, but from my early teens I have always made a conscious effort each morning to dress for my journey home that evening. If I know that I will be walking home past 9pm, I won’t wear a skirt or a dress or anything that could attract unwanted attention or street harassment. While it seems outdated to have to wear trousers to walk home alone, it’s what I have to do to make myself feel safe.’
Jenny Proudfoot, Junior Digital News Editor
‘My pal and I were walking home one night and we noticed that two men had started to follow us. With every corner they tailed us, we talked less then eventually went completely silent when they crossed the road to us and demanded to know where we were going. They then split off so that we were stuck between them, hemming us in as me and my friend said absolutely nothing as we were terrified – they were big guys. After we hit a main road, they disappeared but I always wonder what would have happened if we hadn’t.’
Megan Hills, Digital Lifestyle Writer
‘My sister and I will often call each other if it’s dark and we’re say, walking somewhere on our own or waiting for a taxi – even if it’s only for a minute or two. I wish I could say I don’t feel vulnerable in those situations and just get on with it but sadly I do feel like if I’m bust on the phone and in a rush I’m more likely to be left alone.’
Lucy Abbersteen, Digital Beauty Writer
‘There are three things I always do when I’m walking home after 7pm – I take my headphones out, put a key between my fingers and walk quickly. My sister and I also use the Find Friends app to keep an eye on each other if we know the other will be going home alone.’
Jadie Troy-Pryde, Social Content Editor
‘I have perfected the facial expression that leads to the smallest amount of harassment. Your eyes have to look straight forward, but totally avoiding eye contact: looking at your feet draws attention and making eye contact is clearly a no-no. I make sure that my expression is blank, but not blank enough to look vulnerable or cause people to suggest that I cheer up a bit. Late at night or in the middle of the day, you know I’m using the 1000-yard anti-harassment stare.’
Victoria Fell, Features Assistant
Join us and Plan International UK and call an end to street harassment by sharing your own account, alongside the hashtag #ISayItsNotOk.
Street harassment is not a part of growing up – and it’s definitely not OK.
Ahead of International Day of the Girl on 11 October, Editor in Chief Trish Halpin travelled to Ghana with her daughter Esme, 14, to meet the girls and women tackling teenage pregnancies and gender inequality. Here, they share their experiences
Smartly dressed in her yellow and brown school uniform, 15-year-old Victoria sits with her one-year-old daughter Angela on her lap, outside the small hut where she lives with her parents and siblings in Aboabo, a village near Koforidua in Ghana’s eastern region. Minutes earlier she was playing with her friends in the dusty schoolyard, but now at home she has to take over from her own mother to care for Angela. She looks nervous, ready to hand the baby back to a grown-up at the earliest opportunity – not unlike most teenage girls I know. ‘I don’t like being a mother because I am a child myself,’ she tells me, and as I look at her tiny frame beside my own 14-year-old daughter, it’s heartbreaking to imagine the toll pregnancy and birth must have taken on her.
Each year, 7.3 million girls worldwide become pregnant (20,000 of those are in UK), and Victoria is one of the more fortunate ones. With the support of her family and the charity Plan International, she stayed in school during her pregnancy (even sitting an exam the day before giving birth) and returned after having her daughter. Often, the stigma means girls are forced to stay at home, with teachers refusing to allow them into class; or they are made to marry and have more babies, and the cycle continues.
One woman we meet who is determined to break that cycle is Sefia, 34, mother to Kelvin, 17, and Rhoda, 14. As a child, she dreamed of being a nurse, encouraged by her mother who told her stories of the female doctors, nurses and teachers who worked in her hometown, before she moved to a village as a teenage girl to be married. ‘I don’t want Rhoda to go through what I did,’ says Sefia.
‘Seeing my little sister, who is more empowered to approach gender issues, makes me feel hopeful’
‘I wanted to do something with my life, but I had to drop out of school to work and feed my children. When they are grown up, I will go back to school and become more successful.’ And I believe she will: articulate, smart and determined, Sefia beams with pride as Rhoda shows us her exercise books, filled with pages of neat handwriting in perfect English.
Fifty miles away in Ghana’s capital, Accra, we meet Lillipearl, 25, a journalist at the Business & Financial Times. Over a lunch of fried fish and jollof rice, Lillipearl explains how Plan International’s Girls in Media programme at her rural school sparked her passion for journalism and gender advocacy. ‘We were taught how gender is different to sex, and looked at how roles are gendered in society. It’s going to take 270 years to close the economic gap in Ghana [the UK is predicted to take 100 years], but even seeing my little sister, who is more empowered to approach gender issues, makes me feel hopeful.’
‘Teach a girl, change the world’ is one of my favourite sayings, and supporting girls like Victoria, Rhoda and Lillipearl surely has to be one of the best investments any of us can make for the future of this planet.
Above: Editor in chief Trish, second from right, and her daughter Esme, second from left, talk to students on the Girls in Media Programme at Manya Krobo Senior High School. Top: Esme with Victoria, who gave birth to daughter Angela at 14 – the same age Esme is now
When my mum asked me to go with her to Ghana on an assignment to meet girls my age and see what life is like for them, I was excited but had no idea what to expect. I’ve been to Africa on a safari holiday, but knew that this would be completely different. We flew into the capital Accra and the next morning, drove out to the town of Koforidua, our base for the trip.
The first village we visited was Kwamoso in the district of Akuapem, where we turned off the main road on to a bumpy dirt track and I saw the tiny school building, not even the size of my school gym. The headteacher introduced me to a girl my age called Rhoda and we chatted about school and how much she loves reading – she gets top marks for everything, not like me! Rhoda wanted to show me where she lives with her grandmother – her mum has to work away from home to be able to afford to send money for food and keep her and her brother in education, which I think must be so sad for her. Her grandmother’s home was along another dirt track just minutes from the school. They have no electricity or running water, and Rhoda is not allowed out after 6pm so she can focus on her studies. Her mum doesn’t want her to become pregnant like so many other girls.
‘Back in London, I realise how lucky I am to have so much education ahead of me’
The next day, I feel glad for Rhoda when we meet Victoria, who became pregnant a year ago at my age. Her baby Angela is really sweet, but I can’t imagine wanting to have a baby until I’m at least 30, if at all. It must have been so scary for her to give birth and now her whole life has changed, but at least she still goes to school.
I remember first having sex education in junior school, but in Ghana they don’t teach it even to teenagers. When we visit a senior school, my mum asks the headmistress about it and she says that instead they promote abstinence – she gets the class to sing a song about it, which is entertaining but I doubt it’s very helpful.
Back in London, I realise how lucky I am to still have so much education ahead of me. Rhoda and I have been emailing each other and we’d like to meet again one day – hopefully when she becomes the nurse or doctor that she dreams about being.
Find out more about the Because I Am A Girl Campaign or sponsor a girl at plan-uk.org
Here are all the details from this year’s Future Shapers Awards, where we celebrated 11 incredible women. ICYMI, this is what happened
This year’s Marie Claire Future Shapers Awards, in partnership with Neutrogena, saw us recognise the work of 11 game changing women.
From cyber experts and nursing trailblazers to sporting legends, Marie Claire Editor in Chief and Future Shapers judge, Trish Halpin, recognised our winners, announcing: ‘Finding out what has driven our winners to success and what gives them such a unique take on the world is something I’ve found truly inspiring.’
Editor in chief Trish Halpin
Joining her on the judging panel to select our eleven extraordinary winners was the marketing director for beauty in Northern Europe at J&J, Meghan Davis, campaigner and author Gina Miller and Marie Claire columnist and TV presenter Angela Scanlon.
This year, the women we honoured ranged from cyber experts and fashion designers, to award-winning actresses and champion sportswomen.
But the inspiration wasn’t limited to the stage – all of our attendees are shaping the future, not only looking incredible on the red carpet, but also passing on their words of wisdom to Marie Claire readers about how to succeed in different industries.
Emma Gannon, author of the bestselling Multi-Hyphen Method, gave us her top tips for women starting out in her industry, saying that we need to ‘harden up a bit’. Passing on her advice she explained, ‘You’ll get a get a lot of rejection and it’s okay to feel like you’re being rejected: it’s part of the process!’
TV and radio broadcaster Kirsty Gallacher also shared her wisdom, telling young women to ‘Listen to your gut and take the right advice.’
And of course it’s unsurprising that the ceremony itself included a healthy dose of #inspo. In her acceptance speech, Daisy Kendrick, founder of anti-climate change non-profit organisation Ocean Generation, encouraged us to be aware of our daily habits, as ‘the way we choose to work, eat, drink and spend our money can literally save people on this planet.’
Author of The Language of Kindness, Christie Watson, also moved us, using her speech to pay tribute to her career as a nurse. ‘I cannot think of a better job than holding someone’s hand during the darkest period of their life’, she announced, going on to make an impassioned plea about the future of nursing and the gender bias. ‘Nursing is the most undervalued of all the professions and it’s the most undervalued because it’s 89% female.’
Who are our 2018 Future Shapers?
Anna Whitehouse – Founder of Mother Pukka and Flex Appeal campaign for flexible working
Catherine Allen – CEO and founder of virtual reality company Limina Immersive
Cristina Gavrilovic – Head of European Programmes for Justice and Care, which fights against modern slavery
Christie Watson – Author of Sunday Times bestseller The Language of Kindness and registered nurse
Daisy Kendrick – Founder of and CEO of anti-climate change non-profit organisation Ocean Generation
Elizabeth Uviebinené and Yomi Adegoke – Authors of the seminal Slay In Your Lane: The Black Girl Bible
Eniola Aluko – professional footballer for Juventus FC, sport and entertainment solicitor and football pundit.
Hannah Weiland – founder of faux-fur brand Shrimps
Jodie Comer – BAFTA-winning actress and star of Killing Eve
Sarah Taylor – Director of Cyber and National Security Capabilities at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
Our VR Pioneer Catherine Allen set out her dreams for the future of cutting edge technology insisting ‘It is not a boys’ toy, not a gimmick. It’s actually an artistic medium of social and artistic potential. We are really shaping this industry against the tide, and we’re making it more diverse.’
Authors of the groundbreaking bestseller ‘Slay in Your Lane: The Black Girl Bible’, Yomi Adegoke and Elizabeth Uviebinené, spoke about what the success of their incredible book meant to them, explaining, ‘When we had recognition from the mainstream media that this book was a cultural landmark, it was overwhelming, and made all those sleepless nights, and the worry that we wouldn’t get it right worth it.’
Marie Claire Editor in Chief Trish Halpin, Slay In Your Lane authors Yomi Adegoke and Elizabeth Uviebinené, and DJ Clara Amfo
One of the most moving speeches of the night came from anti-trafficking warrior Cristina Gavrilovic, who spoke passionately about her work and how it needed to be talked about more.
‘This award helps bring attention to one of the biggest humanitarian challenges of our times,’ she told the room. ‘Human trafficking and modern day slavery involves children, women and men being forced into a situation of exploitation where violence, deception and coercion is just a way of being.’
The last speech of the night came from flexible working pioneer Anna Whitehouse, who gave us the sobering fact that 54,000 women every year get made redundant for having a child – something that needs changing, as well as paying a tribute to her own parents, who had accompanied her to the awards.
Marie Claire Editor in Chief Trish Halpin with Anna Whitehouse and Neutrogena’s Meghan Davis
Celebrity guests from Ella Eyre and Vick Hope to Hayley Hasselhoff and Jasmine Hemsley joined us for the post-ceremony party, where we sipped on Red Door Gin cocktails and feasted on gourmet canapés and luxury macarons, with the DJ sets going into the night.
What did we eat?
Truffle marinated salsify, Jerusalem artichoke
Black pepper tuna, olives
Bone marrow croquettes
Fish & chips
Salted caramel, chocolate ganache, shortbread
Lemon curd, toasted meringue, vanilla sablé
Apple mousse, blackberry, honeycomb, macaron
What did we drink?
The Red Door Gin & Tonic
Red Door Gin, tonic, raspberries to garnish
The Red Door Gin Elderflower Collins
Red Door Gin, elderflower cordial, lemon juice, soda, lemon to garnish
If that wasn’t enough, each of the guests left with a bumper goody bag… see below for all the products:
What was in our goody bags?
Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel Cleanser
Neutrogena Hydro Boost Eye-awakening gel-cream
Neutrogena Scented Hand Cream
Neutrogena Spot Proofing Oil Free Moisturiser
Living Proof dry shampoo
BUXOM lip gloss
BEPPS vegan snacks
Pip & Nut sachet
Kind Snacks bar
Marie Claire November issue
Huge thanks to the Principal London for the gorgeous venue, and Collective Two and Loop VIP for making the night so special.
One of the most successful female artists in British pop history is a down-to-earth north-London girl who likes drinking G&Ts from a can. Jess Glynne talks bisexuality, music and body image with Alix O’Neill
Does any singer have a better knack for an earworm than Jess Glynne? It’s taken just three years – and one album – for the 28-year-old to hit the number-one spot more times than any other female British solo artist, trumping even the mighty Adele.
Her voice, at once smoky and powerful, first ripped through the pop landscape in 2014 on Clean Bandit’s Rather Be, and now has a share in virtually every nightclub dance floor, upbeat car-journey playlist and video montage going (she became a victim of her own success this year when customers of the airline Jet2 complained about Hold My Hand being played on a loop – Glynne apologised, despite having no personal control over the company’s sound system).
Now she’s back with album number two, Always In Between, a triumphant medley of confessional, upbeat tracks, including the hotly tipped Thursday, co-written with Ed Sheeran.
When I call her she’s in the back of a car going to the airport, en route to China to perform at an awards ceremony. Glynne may be a global pop sensation, but she’s also a hard-working north-London girl with a throaty laugh and frank take on everything from body image to bisexuality (she wrote her first album after a painful break-up with a girlfriend). The lyric from her Ed Sheeran track, ‘I don’t wear make-up on Thursdays, I drink gin from a tin’, says it all.
Tell us about your new album. Was it tough to write given the huge success of I Cry When I Laugh?
‘It took a while. Initially, I felt I was ready to write again but went in prematurely. Then, towards the end of 2017, I was like, “Right, I’m ready”, and asked if we could get a bit of space in the middle of nowhere. So they found this house for me in Sussex. We went away for a week. It was one of the best weeks of my life. I was with people I knew and people I hadn’t met before, we became like a family. I walked out with a complete album.’
Do you put pressure on yourself to succeed? I heard you originally wrote 100 songs to find your sound…
‘I’m a big fat perfectionist and have real issues with control. When it comes to a song, the production, the video, the styling, I find it hard to hand things over [but] you have to trust people. I’m hard on myself and that’s not always a good thing, but I think it’s one of the reasons I’ve got to where I am.’
Is the title of your new album a comment on your sexuality?
‘It comes from the fact that my life has been in between for the last four years. I’ve been here, there and everywhere in work, my personal life and relationships – be it with a man or a woman. The reason I chose that title is because I’ve accepted that it’s OK to not be one way or the other. I wanted to say you’re not lost by being in the middle. The sexuality thing does come into it, but that’s not only what it’s about.
You’ve previously talked about being in toxic relationships and having your heart broken. Has that made you more cautious in love?
‘Yeah, I think it would for anyone. Love is tricky. I couldn’t live without it, but it’s not something I necessarily find easy. I’ve been in relationships for years and this is the first time I’ve been single for a little minute. It’s quite nice to have a moment to yourself. If something was to come along, I’m never going to turn it away if it feels right, but just now, I’m content.’
You talk about insecurities in the song Thursday. Have you reached self-acceptance?
‘I think, entering this world, your life is kind of ripped from you, and it takes a lot of getting used to. For me, there’s a pressure to look amazing and happy all of the time. There are times when you’re tired and you’re not in the best mood and have spots on your face.’
Do you think there’s a lot of pressure on female artists to be sexual?
‘I think girls feel the need to present themselves in a sexual way. But I also feel it’s nice to make yourself feel good. Girls are sexy human beings, so why not accentuate that? You can do it in a classy way, where you’re not overdoing it. But yes, there is definitely a pressure, which I don’t think is OK. If you don’t want to present yourself as a sex symbol, you shouldn’t have to.’
You turned down the chance to audition for The X Factor when you were 15. Do you think there’s still a place for shows like that given the new conversations around mental health?
‘Shows like The X Factor create opportunities that people wouldn’t necessarily have, but if you put yourself in front of an audience you risk getting slated. You have to be prepared for both. I would never have done anything like that because I don’t think I could deal with people judging me. I didn’t want music to be a competition. But yes, I think those shows can mess with you mentally. We’re recognising now that people need to speak about their anxieties. For much of my life, I didn’t do that because I thought I’d be looked down on.’
How do you feel about social media?Do you like to take a break every so often?
‘In 2017, I deleted Instagram for quite a while. It was really nice to just have a break from looking at other peoples’ lives and worrying about whether my life was good or not. I think it’s one of the most amazing things to be able to connect with your fans and show your work, but it can have a negative effect on the way you look at yourself. [It’s important to remember] the perfection you see on screen is not the truth.’
Jess Glynne’s second album, Always In Between, is out 12 October on Atlantic
Photographs by Stephanie Sian Smith, styling by Grace Wright
Gwyneth Paltrow was just yet another actress-turned-entrepreneur when she launched her wellness brand, Goop, to a nation of sceptics. Ten years later, it’s more successful – and more scrutinised – than anyone would have predicted. She invites Jane Mulkerrins into her Hamptons home.
Down a leafy, sun-dappled lane in the Hamptons – the sandy strip to the east of New York where America’s 0.1 per cent decamps for the summer months – there’s one house that bucks the local fashion for low-key luxury.
In place of the usual white picket fence, this particular residence is hidden from view by a high electric security fence. It’s almost like a little slice of LA on Long Island, which feels appropriate, given the property belongs to Gwyneth Paltrow – the Hollywood-born, New York-raised, Oscar-winning actress, and now empire-building wellness entrepreneur.
I arrive at the imposing entrance on a humid August afternoon. Jeffrey, the ‘house manager’, buzzes me into the compound, greets me at the front door and ushers me into an airy, immaculate lounge filled with low, pale furniture, a grand piano and vast, muted works of modern art. There’s no twee beach chic here. Beyond the French doors, a huge lawn stretches away.
Nicholas, another staff member, fetches me a giant goblet of iced water. The lady of the house herself (known to all as GP) arrives a moment later, concerned if I’ve been waiting long and brimming with questions: where have I travelled from today? Do I live in the US? Have I married an American yet? How do I find dating Americans? She is – to state the obvious – the walking, breathing, embodiment of Goop, the wellness and lifestyle company she founded a decade ago. What began as a newsletter from her kitchen has since blossomed into a formidable (if controversial) phenomenon, with a podcast, glossy magazine and book imprint alongside its own beauty products, vitamins, clothes and annual wellness summit.
Barefoot, in a tiny pair of cut-off denim shorts and a black ruffled sleeveless blouse, she is make-up free, freckled, and genuinely seems to glow. She has some teeny, tiny lines around her eyes – as befits a woman of 46 – but positively exudes youthfulness and health. As she sits cross-legged on the sofa beside me, it’s hard to stop staring at her perfectly tanned, toned limbs and I wonder if, with enough dry brushing, spirulina and daily Tracy Anderson workouts, I, too, could achieve legs like hers.
To mark Goop’s tenth anniversary, the burgeoning LA-based brand is not only extending its shipping to Europe, but has also just opened its first pop-up store in London’s Notting Hill. And while there’s no denying that the company – now worth an estimated $250 million – has been at the vanguard of the wellness trend, it’s also been the target of derision for its more, well, fringe recommendations, such as vaginal steaming and $66 jade eggs to insert in one’s vagina to help ‘cultivate sexual energy’, apparently.
Given that the UK is eminently more sceptical than Paltrow’s native California, the actress gives a wry smile. ‘I remember when I started doing yoga and acupuncture, people thought it was outrageous. When I was photographed with cupping marks on my back, everyone went crazy. I’ve always been the person who introduces wellness ideas into the culture, and I can see by pattern recognition that people eventually come around. I think London is ready,’ she enthuses. ‘There’s yoga and green juice everywhere, and places where you can get IV vitamin drips. In many ways, I think London is more in line with LA than New York.’
Plus, she points out, Goop isn’t all shamans and chakras. ‘People love to talk about our “incendiary” wellness content, but we’re a lifestyle brand, so we have gorgeous homeware and fashion. You’re not going into the store to have an exorcism or enema.’ Although, we both agree it would make for a unique Halloween event, or, as she calls it, an ‘IRL activation’.
‘You can love or hate it, but Goop is building something that’s changing the world, and it’s irrefutable that the world is coming along with us’
GP 2.0 speaks not in the vernacular of acting, but in the language of start-ups. Her conversation is peppered with ‘modalities’ and ‘verticals’, bumping up against the earnest discourse of the self-help industry; she’s the only non-therapist I have ever heard employ the phrase ‘family of origin’, and she refers to herself as ‘an integrity’.
Her bedside table these days, she tells me, is home to a stack of leadership books. ‘That’s all I read. The psychology of this, the culture of influence that, and all these fucking business books,’ she laughs. ‘If you saw my nightstand, you’d be like, where is the nerd?’ Two years ago, she stepped up to become CEO, and has, she says, ‘a very regular working mum routine’, when the family is home in LA. ‘I get my kids up, take them to school, exercise, then go to the office. I stay there all day.’
Midway through our time together, 14-year-old Apple, the elder of her two children with her ex-husband, Coldplay’s Chris Martin (Moses, their son, is 12) wanders in with a friend. All foal-like legs and pink hair, she collapses on the sofa beside her mother, before standing up again to come over, say hello and shake my hand. ‘Hi, sweet girls,’ coos Paltrow. ‘What are you doing today?’ They are, they tell us, currently discussing the rumoured relationship between a very famous pop star and the increasingly famous teenage offspring of a supermodel.
‘That’s a bit young,’ comments Paltrow, furrowing her brow, as the girls disappear to another room. ‘I would lose my mind. He’s a very sweet boy, but no.’ Paltrow herself is now engaged to Brad Falchuk, a Hollywood producer whom she met when she guest-starred on Glee (which he co-created) in 2014.
When I tell friends I’m interviewing the actress-turned-entrepreneur, the reactions are split, and passionately so. ‘I love her,’ swoons one friend, who went to the same all-girls New York private school, The Spence School. ‘Tell her that her miso turnips changed my life,’ gushes another, referring to a recipe from one of her four bestselling cookbooks. ‘OMG, OMG, OMG,’ texts a friend from London, herself a cook and wellness guru of considerable celebrity.
‘Pedlar of bullshit pseudoscience,’ spits a less approving friend over coffee. ‘Elitist charlatan,’ texts another. But, even those who accuse her and her brand of quackery also demand a download after I’ve met her. Public reactions to the now infamous New York Times magazine profile of her this summer have been similarly mixed; some believing it was brutal and harsh, others, quite the opposite.
Paltrow herself posted an image of the cover on Instagram, with the caption, ‘A true watershed moment for us @goop. Thank you to the @nytimes’. She admits today that she didn’t read the piece word for word, but skimmed it – ‘I don’t like to read about myself – it’s none of my business what people think of me. Ultimately, it shows the strength of the business,’ she says. ‘There are Fortune 500 companies that aren’t in the NYT, ever. So, it means that we’re on the right track, we’re doing something important, we’re iconoclasts and trailblazers. You can love it or hate it, but we’re building something that’s changing the world, and it’s irrefutable that the world is coming along with us.’
Even pre-Goop, Paltrow long provoked strong reactions. Yes, she comes from privilege – the daughter of film director Bruce Paltrow and Tony award-winning actress Blythe Danner – but few other A-list actresses are subjected to the sort of vitriol she’s received over everything from her emotional Oscars acceptance speech (for Shakespeare in Love) in 1999, to her ‘conscious uncoupling’ from Martin in 2014. In person, I find her funny, warm, engaged and, save for her earnest phrasing at times, surprisingly self-deprecating.
I mention her father taking her to one side, when she was about 27, and telling her that she was ‘becoming an asshole’. ‘I was just believing my own hype, thinking that I was super-awesome. And he was like, “You’re getting weird – you’re acting like a dick”,’ she laughs. ‘When you achieve the kind of fame that I did by the time I was 25 or 26, the world starts removing all your obstacles because you’re now a “special person”,’ she continues, with a raised eyebrow. ‘You don’t have to wait in line at a restaurant, and if a car doesn’t show up, someone else gives you theirs,’ she says. ‘There is nothing worse for the growth of a human being than not having obstacles and disappointments, and things go wrong. All of my greatest achievements have come out of failure.’
And to Paltrow’s credit, she has long been open about her struggles and challenges – including the death of her father from cancer when she was 30, which propelled her towards a deeper interest in wellness, having watched him undergo radiation and be fed through a tube. She’s also spoken honestly about her enormous sense of failure when, having come from a ‘tribe of people who stayed married’, her own ten-year marriage to Martin didn’t work out.
That begs the question, I venture, why does she want to do it again? She takes a long pause and fiddles thoughtfully with her hair. ‘I think that marriage is a really beautiful, noble and worthwhile institution, pursuit and endeavour,’ she says, finally. ‘Because I don’t think you get married and that’s it – I think it’s the beginning. You create this third entity, this third being that you have to nourish and look after.’ She pauses again. ‘For a while, I thought, I don’t know if I’d ever do it again. I have my kids – what’s the point? And then I met this incredible man, who made me think, no, this person is worth making this commitment to. I’m very much the marrying kind,’ she adds. ‘I love being a wife. I love making a home.’
She’s said that her wedding to Falchuk will be a very private affair. And she’s wearing a gold band set with diamonds on her ring finger, I notice. Is she already secretly married? For the first time all afternoon, she squirms a little and tries to dodge my question. ‘No, not yet,’ she chuckles, eventually.
‘There is nothing worse for the growth of a human being than not having obstacles’
Paltrow is also one of the most high-profile women to have alleged sexual harassment at the hands of Harvey Weinstein, who produced many of her biggest films, including Sliding Doors and Shakespeare In Love. Weinstein has denied all allegations against him, insisting all relationships were consensual.
Last October, she told the New York Times how, after signing her up for Emma – her first major role as a leading lady – Weinstein invited her to his hotel room and asked her to give him a massage. She refused, and told her boyfriend at the time, Brad Pitt, who then confronted the film producer.
‘I am so grateful to Brad, because he leveraged his power and fame to protect me – when I was no one – and he scared Harvey,’ she tells me today. ‘And if it hadn’t been for him, I don’t know if I’d have gotten fired, or what. But instead, Harvey was like, OK, let’s put it behind us. I think he wanted to keep Brad on side.’ It was, she says, the only time she was ever harassed so overtly, by Weinstein or anyone else.
When I ask her what she misses about acting, she answers, immediately: ‘Nothing. It’s so weird,’ she muses. ‘It was such a part of my identity for so long.’ Her fiancé recently persuaded her to return to the screen, albeit briefly, for a cameo in his new series for Netflix, The Politician, in which Paltrow plays the mother of a high-school student.
‘I went out to LA for a couple of days, and I actually didn’t hate it. But I just don’t miss it. The level and breadth of creativity that I have in this job is so bananas, and I’m very fulfilled.’ There’s also plans to launch Goop TV next year, with magazine-style programming, looking at health, food and fashion – ‘stories across all the verticals’.
As Jeffrey appears, I realise we’ve run long over time and he says Paltrow has a call waiting. It’s 5pm on a Friday, but even in wellness there’s no knocking off early. I wander down to the nearby beach to dip my feet in the ocean before catching my train back to the city.
I’m never going to buy into shamanic energy practice, (and I’m sure as hell not stashing a jade egg anywhere), but when I get home I order a dry brush online. One way or another, even the most cynical of us can’t help but get a little Gooped.
Crazy Rich Asians has just come to our screens, and unsurprisingly it is set to be the film of the year.
The strong female leads, the food porn (do not watch this film without snacks), the fashion (we’re talking Elie Saab, Dior, custom-made Michael Cinco and Carven Ong) and the many life lessons we can take away from it. But the film has of course become such a talking point because of the Asian representation (the first all-Asian cast in a major studio film in 25 years).
Junior Digital News Editor Jenny Proudfoot sat down with Crazy Rich Asians‘ leading ladies, Gemma Chan and Constance Wu, to talk high class couture, Asian representation, and why now is not the time for Crazy Rich Asians, it’s long past due.
Constance Wu and Gemma Chan in Crazy Rich Asians. Credit: Warner Bros
Crazy Rich Asians is such a long time coming, why do you think it took so long?
Gemma: To be honest, I don’t know. It’s been 25 years since there’s been a mainstream Hollywood movie with an all Asian cast and yeah, it feels like the film is somewhat overdue. There was the belief that if you have a film with non-white leads, it won’t sell abroad or that it will only have a niche audience, but these things have just been proved untrue.
Constance: There hasn’t really been an evocative voice that demands attention rather than expresses gratitude for belonging until recently. You know, in Asian-American culture there is an assumption that you play by the rules. But then when you have a voice as evocative and provocative as we do here, it causes people to think differently – it causes conversation and we need to have more conversation. We live in countries where we can express and so we should express. That’s what happened here. There were people who were willing to speak out and that started giving other people the confidence to express themselves, their views and their identities. And I think that when people see there is more than one voice out there with talent, that there are lots of different voices with talent out there, then they start paying attention.
What initially drew you in?
Constance: It’s a number one lead in a studio movie, and despite definitely having Asian actors that are worthy of it, it hasn’t really happened before. Sandra Oh for example is tremendous – and she should have been the star of her own movie ages ago, but she’s always been the number two or number three. She even said with Killing Eve when she read the script she just assumed that she was number two because it just doesn’t happen. Don’t get me wrong – number two is great, number three is great, everybody who is a supporting cast member is fantastic and it’s awesome. But it’s when the industry expects a certain ethnicity to only do that and to just be grateful for that, that’s when we have to ask for more.
Gemma: I think the conversation has really got going in earnest now and I hope Asian representation isn’t just a trend – I don’t think we can go back and I think people are now going to demand diverse and authentic storytelling, because there is a want for it. It has been proven – people will show up. They will get a babysitter on a Friday night and they will pay their hard-earned money to go to the cinema to see movies like this.
Constance: This is going to sound cocky but yes. To everyone else it’s been a surprise but not to me – not because I thought I’m such hot shit but because this happened to me with my TV show, Fresh Off the Boat, on a smaller scale so I knew there was a drought of content of Asian-American pop culture and I knew that people would be moved to see their faces represented on television in a modern way. Nobody was talking about it before so it wasn’t an apparent problem, but it couldn’t not have been a hit because of the time we’re in. Right now, you don’t have to work for the major news stations to have a voice; if you have something provocative to say that is actually good, it will spread around.
Gemma: I certainly felt the film had potential to be something really special – I had read the books and I’d already fallen in love with the characters – but you never know whether that’s necessarily going to translate – whether all the elements that need to come together will actually come together to make a film work. We all had high hopes, we all worked incredibly hard and we had an amazing director who kept all the plates spinning but yeah, when I watched it for the first time I was blown away. It made me really emotional. It made me realise that I’d never seen people on screen that looked like my family – like my granny – it was incredible for me just as a viewer to see that and to realise how much of a lack of representation there’s been in the past.
Chrissy Teigen said she had never seen her family represented on screen either…
Gemma: That was amazing and I completely identify with it. My mum and dad saw the film for the first time last night and my mum was really emotional when I saw her afterwards. She started crying quite early on. There was a song on the soundtrack – a Chinese song – that she hadn’t heard since her childhood. It was what her mum used to sing to her and her dad. Sadly they’ve both passed now and so for her it was a really emotional thing – she never expected to hear that in a Hollywood film so it was just an amazing moment for us.
How did you get the part?
Constance: I was approached for the role by the director, Jon, and I couldn’t do it because of my television shooting schedule, but I knew it was going to be a smash – not just financially but in people’s hearts. So I just let it go and he auditioned a bunch of other girls, but I knew how much it was going to mean so one day I wrote him a really impassioned email. It wasn’t long – it just said why it was going to be meaningful to me and to kids growing up and what I would do with the part. I wished him all the success with the project regardless of whether I got a role, but I said ‘If you wait for me, I can and I will do it. I know how to carry a movie and you won’t regret it’. So then he did. They actually pushed the movie back! I know so many Asian actors or any actors, who are so scared to ask for what they want. I’m just like ‘what’s the worst that can happen?’
Gemma: Mine was relatively straightforward. I got the call from my agent that they wanted me to audition and sent off a tape, not expecting to hear anything back. I had asked to go for Astrid because I had fallen in love with her when I had read the books – and gosh she’s got a fabulous wardrobe. I went to L.A. and I met our director Jon M. Chu, and Nina, one of our producers, and heard about their vision for the film and then they offered me the part.
Talk me through filming…
Constance: We filmed in Singapore and Malaysia, and I think it took around 6-8 weeks – it was pretty fast. There were some real highs – the location, set design, the people and crew and the passion that everyone had for the project. But there were lows – the hours were long, and the weather!! It was hot and super humid every day – I don’t even know how my hair held up.
Gemma: Filming in the tropics is tough – the humidity and the heat was insane. You know, we had all those party scenes when the men were all dressed in their suits and gosh, I don’t know how they weren’t dropping like flies, I felt so, so sorry for them.
What were your favourite scenes to film?
Constance: My favourite scene to film was probably the dumpling scene because there’s so many different layers going on. There’s so many different generations at that table and there’s something about the act of making food with your hands that’s interesting. There’s so many different conflicts and relationships in that scene that are so subtle, and that’s what makes them real. When you sit down with family you’re not like, ‘I have issues with you because you were always better than me’. Instead you say something like ‘oh, you’re going to take all those mashed potatoes?’ – you do little cutting things that are sugar-coated – or should I say ‘dumpling-coated’! She’s taking it all in and seeing the family dynamics – there’s just so many things going on in that scene that I really think make it complex and alive.
Gemma: Mine was my final scene where Astrid is speaking to her husband, Michael. She finally stands up and asserts herself and it was a very satisfying scene to play. I think the arc of the character was really interesting – at the beginning, she’s taking a backseat and hiding her light, but by the end, she’s reasserting her power. I think it’s really refreshing that in this film, none of the women need saving. You’ve got at least four very different women, and none of them are waiting to be rescued. In fact, many of them have made sacrifices for the people in their lives but they figure out a way to save themselves really.
Constance: Yeah. Patriarchy is strong in Asian culture, but it’s nice that it’s more the matriarchy in this movie.
Can we talk about the fashion?
Gemma: Gosh, Astrid had such good clothes, and there’s so many to choose from, I couldn’t pick a favourite. I loved the Audrey Hepburn inspired outfit she makes her first entrance in – the shades, the pale pink drop-waist dress – I love that look. I also loved the Alexander McQueen dress, which I wore for the wedding – that was another one of my favourite scenes to film. I got to walk down the aisle with Lisa Lu, who plays Ah Ma, and she’s an incredible actress. She was in the last film that featured an all-Asian cast, The Joy Luck Club – 25 years ago, so it was lovely to have that continuity between that film and ours. She has such an amazing energy and I love working with her.
Why go watch Crazy Rich Asians?
Gemma: It’s the kind of film that you can see with your family and your friends – it’s a feel-good movie, but it has substance as well. You’ll laugh, you may cry and hopefully you’ll leave the cinema feeling like certain things have been affirmed. Our story is a specific story about this Chinese-Singaporean family but the themes are so universal. We’ve taken this film all over America and I’m amazed at the amount of people who’ve come up to me saying, ‘my family isn’t Asian but I completely identify with it’. There’s so much going on in that family and I think people can really relate to it.
Constance: And also just the scenery, the colours, the clothes, the food – it’s all just beautiful.
Well that we can all agree on – see you all there.
London fashion week has officially started which means all manner of things – bad traffic, excellent celebrity spotting and a lot of well-dressed people frequenting the city.
One of the most exciting parts of London fashion week however is the Instagram opportunities, which are endless BTW.
Sure, you might not have invites to the hottest shows in town, but even if you’re not actually attending LFW, you can still get in on the buzz, right?
From cool monochrome cafes and fashion week backdrops, to beautifully tiled floors and pop up presentations, there are plenty of Instagrammable ‘fasshuuun’ opportunities to go around.
So from getting an on-trend coffee to a LFW beauty treatment, here are the most Instagrammable places in London to hang out during fashion week.
Duck and Dry
What’s happening? For blow dries in the capital, there are few places more Instagrammable than Duck and Dry. Marble counters, duck egg blue furnishings, bare-bricked walls and the perfect egg-shaped mirrors to take blow dry selfies and Boomerang videos in.
What to order: A blow dry and a glass of Prosecco, or if you manage to get an invite to a party or show, get yourself a professional updo.
What’s happening? While this isn’t a London Fashion Week exclusive, plenty of influencers will be hanging out in the new Instagrammable health and beauty shop over the weekend to browse the self-care drinks and take advantage of the Wifi and photographic decor (we’re talking pastel pink furnishings and rich green plants).
What to order: A moon milk – yes, it’s a thing and it’s packed with superfoods. Take your pick from chill, glow, yoni, golden or siren, and be sure to snap it against the marble table.
The Shop at The Bluebird
What’s happening? Covent Garden’s The Shop at The Bluebird has got a pop-up London Fashion Week area. We’re talking vitamin IV drips, rails of Rixo dresses and Bella Freud jumpers to browse, complimentary Kombucha and pop-up agile work stations with every phone charger imaginable. Did we mention the extra strong WiFi?
What to order: A vitamin IV drip and a complimentary bottle of Kombucha.
What’s happening? NAC is the place to go to for an Instagrammable brunch – and the food lives up to the hype. Expect the fashion crowd to head to NAC this fashion week season – and it’s not just because of the French bistro’s Mayfair location, situated near a lot of the shows. Decor-wise, we’re talking whitewashed bricks, pink backdrops and dark green plush sofas, and to eat, every brunch dish imaginable from churros and french toast to banana pancakes, acai bowls and all kinds of avocado concoctions.
What to order: The banana pancakes of course – they’re the most popular to Instagram and will give you a sugar hit before your day of fashion week oggling.
What’s happening? What’s not happening at Saint Aymes? Almost every fashion blogger you’ve ever heard of has had the obligatory Instagram snap on the black and white tiled floor in front of the wisteria-framed cafe. Flower walls, stunning tiles for downwards shoe shots and of course the pastel crockery to laden with whatever Instagrammable food you decide upon.
What to order: A signature unicorn latte – yes there is such a thing as a unicorn latte, and yes, as its name would suggest – it’s Instagrammable AF. Also on the must-try list are the pastel heart-shaped biscuit and the blueberry pancakes.
What’s happening? Given the central locations of all three Farm Girls, they tend to be an obligatory stop for fashion bloggers and YouTubers – especially given the excellent lighting and photographic coffees. Whether they’re covered in lavender seeds or decorated with pug faces, their lattes might just be the most Instagrammable in history.
What to order: After bracing the cold weather for street style photo opps, we’d recommend a warming chai latte, but the liquid gold latte featuring a pug’s face and the rose petal latte are the most Instagrammable by far.
What’s happening? DryBy has just had a revamp, turning it into an Instagrammable glam preparation hub. We’re talking agile working stations, allowing you to work on your laptop during a blow dry. Then head on downstairs for a gel manicure, with specialist technicians offering customised metallic designs and lettering.
What to order: A signature blow dry and a manicure of course.
What’s happening? Sketch has always been one of London’s most Instagrammable eateries, with each room offering different photographic opportunities. Fashion week is no exception, with influencers flocking to Sketch for the ‘gram. The Gallery offers the most photogenic afternoon teas, from its pink plush decor to the zigzag floors and monochrome drawings on the walls and the Glade is best if you feature a lot of greens on your feed. Maybe a trip to both is necessary? Just saying.
What to order: Afternoon tea at the Gallery, and an obligatory visit to the Sketch bathrooms for a photo in front of the iconic pod toilets. Trust us.
What’s happening? For a post-fashion week cocktail, there are few places more on-trend. The Art Deco inspired decor (that lavender leather sofa), a soundtrack of 70s/ 80s rock mixed with funk and disco, and of course the most Instagrammable cocktail menu around – from the Nemo Old Fashioned and HMS Hi-ball, to the Nitrate Manhattan and Concrete Sazerac.
What to order: For Instagram purposes, the King Pig Sour or the Monkey Puzzle – solely for glass choice, cocktail colour and garnishing.
See you there! And happy Instagramming over fashion week!
As the fash pack get ready to take over the capital once again, Marie Claire looks back at some of the most beautiful, baffling and memorable London Fashion Week moments ever…
Over 30 years on from its debut, London Fashion Week is still a breeding ground for the world’s boldest and most cutting-edge designers. From Alexander McQueen and Vivienne Westwood, to Simone Rocha and Christopher Kane, we’ve produced some of the planet’s most covetable fashion brands and (with the help of clever schemes like NEWGEN and Fashion East in place) we’re already nurturing the next generation of IT Brit labels.
London Fashion Week isn’t all about the clothes, though. From pop icons walking the runway (we’re looking at you Vicky B), to surprise star turn-outs at a graduate’s debut, you can always count on LFW to throw some super-glam surprises at its equally stylish audience.
So in no particular order, London Fashion Week, here are your best bits.
1987 – Meet John Galliano
John Galliano won Designer Of The Year in 1987, after what was considered to be a breakthrough show. The major accolade came just three years after he showed his graduate collection Les Incroyables in 1984, the entirety of which was immediately snapped up by Joan Burstein, founder of London boutique Browns.
1998 – Alexander McQueen And The Spray Robot
Now Alexander ‘Lee’ McQueen was a man who knew how to put on a show. He smashed all LFW boundaries from the get-go with his debut ‘Highland Rape’ collection back in 1995, but one of our favourite moments ever was his 1998 masterpiece, Number 13. Supermodel Shalom Harlow rotated on a wooden turntable as robotic arms spray painted her tulle dress before the audience’s very eyes. It was a genius statement about the increasingly automated production processes used in the fashion industry and, quite literally, left everybody staring at the future of fashion.
1997 – Matthew Williamson’s Electric Angels
London’s new king of boho was born in September 1997 when Central Saint Martins grad Matthew Williamson made his LFW debut. Pals Helena Christensen, Jade Jagger and Kate Moss modelled three of the future star’s 14 show looks, a colour clash collection like no other before, cleverly called Electric Angels.
2006 – Christopher Kane Paints The Town Neon
One of LFW’s hottest debuts ever, Christopher Kane burst onto the radar with his SS07 collection of fluoro bandage mini dresses and left the fash pack in raptures. Those safety clip buckles are now iconic and form the super-covetable details on his classic bag line.
1995 – Stella McCartney’s Graduation Show, Guest Starring Kate Moss
When your dad is rock royalty and your BFF is Mossy, you really don’t need to worry whether people will take any notice of your graduate collection. Kate’s did the honours at Stella’s Central Saint Martins graduation show back in 1995, conveniently causing a media storm around the rising design star.
1981 – Vivienne Westwood Plunders History Ok, so technically this was pre-London Fashion Week (as it was named in 1984), but we couldn’t leave Vivienne Westwood’s now-legendary ‘Pirates’ collection out of our highlights. Her 1981 show at London’s Olympia was a turning point for British fashion, as bold new cuts and historical styling clashed to create an entirely new aesthetic.
2006 – Hello Henry Holland
Now the linchpin of the modern LFW set, Henry Holland started out as a journalist slash fashion groupie, making tees for his designer mates to wear when they took their post-show bows. ‘Get Your Freak On Giles Deacon‘ and ‘UHU Gareth Pugh’ quickly became London’s hottest slogans and demand grew for Henry to start his own proper line, which he dutifully did in 2006.
2013 – When Tom Came To Town
The icon that is Tom Ford graced our capital’s style calendar for the first time in 2013, after more than a decade without showing on the runways. So to celebrate, he put on an uber glam display like no other. Justin Timberlake and Elton John sat frow-side while the collection itself was a blitz of statement embellishments, Hollywood-worthy gowns and a whole lot of hot fuzz.
2014 – Anya Hindmarch Takes Us Shopping
Accessories designer Anya’s raised the bar recently with her increasingly theatrical LFW shows. For SS15, she sent the fash pack into a literal spin on a tea cup ride, but it was AW14’s ‘Counter Culture’ show that really set the standard. There could be no better setting for her crisp packet clutches and Bourbon biscuit bags than in a giant barcode set, complete with moving conveyor belts and a troop of very useful male dancers to help pack up the shopping.
2005 – Gareth Pugh’s New Vision
LFW didn’t really do avant-garde like this until Gareth came along. Latex met sculpture, met unicorns met, erm, inflatables at Pugh’s debut in 2005, accessorized with the world’s first serrrious flatforms.
2001 – Victoria Beckham Turns Catwalk Model
In her post-Spice Girl, pre-fashion design sensation years, Victoria Beckham had a lot more time on her hands. So, naturally, when Maria Grachvogel asked her to model her 2001 collection, Victoria obliged. Little did Maria know, however, that savvy VB was already sizing up a design career all of her own. When oh when will she make her LFW homecoming?
This month marks Marie Claire‘s 30th birthday, a milestone that we are celebrating with a special commemorative October issue featuring none other than Jodie Whittaker, the first ever woman to take on the role of Doctor Who.
‘It’s no coincidence that our 30th birthday October issue cover star is Jodie Whittaker, the first female Dr Who in the show’s 50 year history,’ our editor Trish Halpin announced as she opened our Marie Claire 30th birthday breakfast on the future of women this morning at The Clock Library and Gym, in Marylebone. ‘I think that it demonstrates just how much can change, and an awful lot has changed in the 30 years since Marie Claire was launched.’
‘But we all know that there is so much more that needs to be done to really get to a position of gender equality and to ensure that the voices of women of every creed, colour and age are really truly being heard,’ she continued, going on to introduce a powerhouse female panel to speak on the future for women in work, technology, diversity and sustainability.
Female guests networked over fresh fruit, granola and plenty of caffeine – hearing the expert insights on the future of women from the panel, and taking away invaluable advice.
These are the most inspirational takeaways from the Marie Claire 30th birthday breakfast, and what they tell us about the future for women…
The future of work and women
(Jo Swinson CBE and MP for East Dunbartonshire)
‘Thinking about what’s happened in the workplace in the last 30 years, we have made progress for the position of women,’ explained Jo Swinson MP. ‘We’ve seen a lot of legislative progress – in the 1970s the ladies at the Ford plant campaigned for equal pay which ultimately became legislation in the equal pay act, yet we still don’t have that as a reality over 40 years later. We won new protections for women in terms of maternity leave, and yet still today we have 54,000 women a year in this country losing their jobs because of pregnancy and maternity discrimination. It’s illegal, it’s been illegal for years and yet it still happens.’
‘Yes, there are more women at the top,’ she continued. ‘The number of women in parliament has gone from 3% to 30% so there is progress, but when I was 21 I didn’t think we’d still be having this discussion 20 years later, and it doesn’t feel like progress has been as quick as it should have been.’
What can we do?
Well according to Jo, there are three things that everybody can do to make change.
‘The first is to just sit at the table. Sheryl Sandberg once said that and it really resonated with me. How often have we gone to a meeting and women have sat around at the sidelines or not felt like they could contribute? So sit at the table – you are there on your own merit, and make sure you say something even if you’re scared inside. The second is to amplify the voices of other women. In Obama’s first term, the women in his cabinet decided to praise and amplify each other’s points in order to get them the credit they deserved – something we can all follow. And finally, break the mould – think about how you can challenge stereotypes and have an impact on what young boys and girls will see.’
The future of technology and women
(Anne-Marie Imafidon – co-founder of Stemettes)
‘If we had more women involved in the creation of technology, it would be more altruistic,’ Anne-Marie explained, going on to use the new FitBit period tracker as an example.
‘They put out this feature and it limited a period to ten days which is an interesting restriction to put on something like period tracking,’ she continued. ‘It just goes to show that there should have been more women in the room. We need to make sure that we are there.’
What can we do?
‘We all know the three Rs – reading, writing and arithmetic, but there are now four,’ Anne-Marie explained to the room. ‘We need to re-digital. Digital literacy is something we all need to make sure we’re clued up on. Rather than being just a consumer, we should look to be creators, get ourselves in that room and take control.’
The future of diversity and women
(Ella Hammad – Authentically Ella and Civil/ Tunnel engineer)
‘When I started in construction there were only a few women, and fewer women of colour, and even fewer women that were muslim,’ Ella explained during the panel discussion. ‘There were a lot of things about diversity that really resonated with me. I am treated differently – and not just because I’m a woman, also because I wear a headscarf.’
What can we do?
‘We need to encourage younger girls to get into engineering, and something that I definitely want to encourage is for those young girls to find the role models that I didn’t have when I was growing up,’ Ella explained. ‘My mother was my role model but she wasn’t an engineer, and when I got into engineering, if I had a role model that looked like me, I would have had a clearer idea which path I should take and I’d feel more comfortable and a lot more confident. It is difficult to talk about an issue that you are facing to someone who doesn’t look like you and doesn’t understand it.’
She continued: ‘But we shouldn’t just be trying to raise the number of women in engineering and construction. We need to shatter the misconception that our intellectual abilities are defined by the way we look and the fashion we choose to wear.’
The future of sustainability and women
(Amy Powney – Creative Director of Mother of Pearl)
‘There is a huge campaign going on at the moment with increasing numbers of women wearing t-shirts saying “I’m a feminist”, but I don’t think anyone is actually thinking about the woman that manufactured that t-shirt,’ Amy explained. ‘She probably had no maternity rights and didn’t get paid enough money, and we’re just walking around wearing them flippantly and throwing those t-shirts in the bin at the end of the trend, not thinking about the women earlier in the journey.’
What can we do?
‘It’s not just about us,’ Amy Powney explained. ‘We obviously have issues that we need to deal with here but there are huge problems out there that are bigger than our problems that need addressing. We need to talk about the women in the supply chain and think about them too.’
Amy continued: ‘We are a fast-fashion nation who are consuming clothes very rapidly and throwing them into the bin. We have got circulatory issues, we have got synthetic fibre issues – we are basically killing the world through fashion, and as the women that we are, we need to make choices that can ensure that we look great and save the planet at the same time.’
Discussing these topics – writing about them, tweeting about them and addressing them in forums like this – is what is really going to push the agenda and make change,’ Trish explained to the room, encouraging us all to keep the conversation going.
Feeling inspired? Come along to our next event and experience the first hand empowerment yourself.
As a Eurasian kid growing up in Hong Kong – unable to fluently speak Cantonese, unable to speak my mother’s language Tagalog – I spent a lot of my time looking west for my films, books and TV shows. I’ve only ever been able to speak English fluently, but the thing about English entertainment is that you don’t see a lot of people who look like me in it. The first time I came across Cho Chang in the Harry Potter books, it blew my mind that an Asian girl had made it all the way to Hogwarts. Lucy Liu’s scenes in Charlie’s Angels were enrapturing and her furious scenes in Kill Bill Vol. 1 definitely awakened something in me.
Now that I’m older and have the benefit of hindsight, these characters who I’d grown up with have lost their shine a bit. I love Harry Potter, but Cho Chang was a pretty poor Asian stereotype; a feeble but well-meaning attempt by J.K. Rowling to diversify the books a bit. Lucy Liu was shoved for many years into a box labelled ‘dragon lady’ by Hollywood producers (don’t even get me started on her role in my favourite problematic show Ally McBeal). But they resonated with me because they were all that I had. My expectations were so low, the bar was literally on the floor. I was happy with the two dimensional because it was such a wonder to be seen at all.
If you’d told me back then that we would ever get something even remotely close to Crazy Rich Asians, I would never have believed you. But we did and it is glorious.
Crazy Rich Asians / Warner Brothers
I don’t know if I’ll be able to tell you how it felt sitting in that cinema, sitting beside my childhood friend from Hong Kong and silently crying as Hollywood crossed the oceans towards our hometown. Sure, the Hong Konger in me will always be bitter that the film was mainly based in Singapore – our cities have a pretty strong rivalry going. But even knowing that a blockbuster film was in southeast Asia, let alone led by an entirely Asian cast, felt like a reckoning.
While the plot is pretty much a simple romantic comedy (based off the bestselling book series of the same name), it’s nuanced as hell. Even if you’re not Asian – you’re still going to be able to pick up on elements of it.
Michelle Yeoh is obviously an outsider to the Young family, symbolised by her choosing to speak Cantonese rather than Singapore’s more popular Mandarin, and that tension shows.
It’s easy to get what the slang word ‘banana’ means – ‘yellow on the outside, white on the inside’ as Awkwafina helpfully spells out – and understand the divide between Asian families at home versus the families that immigrated west.
And then of course, there’s that incredible mahjong scene which was so layered and beautifully choreographed.
Crazy Rich Asians / Warner Brothers
When my English friend asked me about the deeper meaning behind the mahjong scene, it was a total surprise. (I’m not going to go into it because I don’t actually play mahjong, but there’s a guy who broke it down in an essay that brought me to tears.) But it made me realise that aside from being a love letter to the Asian community, Crazy Rich Asians was also opening the door for other people to take a step into our world as equals. After so many years watching Asian people in Hollywood play token and mostly condescending roles in white blockbusters, there was something so gentle about the way the film let everybody in.
I’ve seen Asian actors mostly play two-dimensional doctors on television series, or doctors in TV shows, or two-dimensional exotic love interests for white men. For me, Crazy Rich Asians was like watching all those rough sketches lift off the page and fill with substance.
I don’t think any of that matters because no one film can represent everybody’s experience. And no film should because that’s a stupid amount of pressure to put on any project. You’d end up generalising so much to please everyone that you’d ironically fall back into the same trap Harry Potter and Kill Bill Vol. 1: trying to represent every Asian in the community without any real substance.
For years, the white American and English communities have had the privilege of watching millions of films with millions of stories and viewpoints. Thankfully, the black community is well on its way as well with groundbreaking films like Black Panther and Moonlight leading the charge. And now Crazy Rich Asians and other projects like To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before are steps in that direction.
Crazy Rich Asians
Crazy Rich Asians isn’t the definitive story about us, it’s a story about us which is so much more important. It’s this declaration that our narratives – in their multiplicities and shades and locations – are worth telling. Not all of our stories are going to be crazy and rich, but that’s okay because this is just one of them.
Crazy Rich Asians officially became one of the top ten box office sellers in the United States over the weekend, earning an eye-watering $164.7 million worldwide. There’s already talk of a sequel. If that’s any indicator, then people want to listen.