‘When did dripping in designer swag become our only definition of a successful wardrobe?’

‘When did dripping in designer swag become our only definition of a successful wardrobe?’


Words by Katherine Ormerod. Why Social Media is Ruining Your Life by Katherine Ormerod, is published by Cassell £12.99

Do you remember how you used to feel on a Friday night as teenager? You’d maybe have bought a brand new top to go with your jeans, spent approximately 90 minutes on your mascara and after having the best time pre-partying with your besties, you’d be buoyed with the confidence of the pack, excited to hit your school disco—or more likely use your fake ID to get into a pub or club.

For me, these moments are some of my favourite fashion memories, partly of course because I was young and excitable, partly because getting ready with the soundtrack of Pure Garage II in the background brings me right back to a rose-tinted version of my youth, but also… partly because there were no phones, no pictures and no social media to capture any of it.

Today’s teenagers get ready in a very different environment. If you can remember the days before the 24/7, 360-degree era of social media, you like me, will now be in your 30s. If you’re younger, you might not even be able to imagine what getting ready, going out, or just dressing up to leave the house at the weekend could be like without a visual record of it all. Because these days if you don’t capture an outfit for Instagram, is there even a point wearing it?

‘Who do you dress for?’ used to be a big conversation, with the right answer being, ‘myself!’ and the wrong answer being, ‘men.’ And while many of us truly are taking the male gaze out of the picture when it comes to the way we present ourselves to society, I’m not so sure it hasn’t been replaced with another, equally problematic set of imaginary eyeballs.

Dressing for social media, or for the validation of the community that follows you isn’t a niche issue in today’s digital, mediated world. Attempting to impress other women with your fashion choices is again nothing new – especially the ones we look up to or admire. But today, there’s a whole generation of women, not just ‘influencers’, dressing for other women they may never have met, let alone got to know well enough to esteem. And the currency of this new women vs. women judgement arena isn’t originality or a pretty dress here or there.

Instead it’s more like an endless conveyor belt of fresh off the shop floor, designer status pieces with eye watering price tags which are seemingly only worn once, photographed artfully then discarded for the churn to continue. That is what fashion has become for a lot of women.

As a style journalist in my 20s, I used to sit looking at other women on the fashion week circuit and my mind would boggle over how the hell they had so many expensive designer clothes. Like, did everyone else in the industry have a trust fund? Over time I realized that yes, some did. But the others?

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I did my first fashion week when I was 22 and 24 seasons later have finally worked out how not to take any of it too personally. One season you’re front row at Marc Jacobs, the next it’s a standing ticket at an unknown debut designer and while it can be easy to read it all as a comment on your success, it’s always swings and roundabouts. I’m also done with doing it on my own, because it’s lonely, ditto borrowing clothes to wear, ditto feeling left out. This season I’m rolling with my girl @thelondonchatter loving going to what I’m invited to and not sweating any of the rest. Thank God I’m not 22 anymore (although apparently I never learn that free alcohol is just as effective when it comes to hangovers as the stuff you buy at home 👀😂) #lfw

A post shared by Katherine Ormerod (@katherine_ormerod) on Sep 15, 2018 at 5:23am PDT

They were simply borrowing clothes or wearing clothes that had been given to them. Receiving free clothes is something which has been part of my career for over a decade now, so it’s something I know at least something about. As an influencer I’m in a privileged position, but as the vast majority of the brands I’ve worked with personally are high street, I’ve definitely gone through phases of thinking that I needed to spend (much more) money to up my designer game.

It can feel very easy to feel that you’re the only one trying to make a Hobbs skirt and COS blouse look like Céline, while everyone else is wearing actual (old) Céline and I’ve definitely been there as I’ve looked through my peer’s feeds. Amongst influencers there’s almost an acceptance that you have to invest in buying expensive designer clothes to create an expensive looking wardrobe so high-end brands would want to work with you (i.e: spend money to make money, or in that case, expensive free clothes).

But I’ve just never earned that kind of cash, and even if I did, at the moment with a 7-month-old baby and a freelance career, the only place it would be going is into savings. I have gone through phases when I’ve panicked about what to wear to work and industry events and felt almost embarrassed that I didn’t have a gorgeous head to toe luxury look when it felt like everyone else did. From there it’s just a short step to starting to believe that something is wrong or lesser about your life because you can’t afford this stuff and everyone else is more ‘stylish’ than you because they have this stuff. It’s impossible not to compare and that can start to make you feel really insecure about your wardrobe and your own sense of style.

But I don’t really feel like that anymore. The first, most important thing is to remember that style and endless consumption of new, expensive stuff is not synonymous. Let’s not beat about the bush—buying something gorgeous and brand new and wearing it and feeling like a million dollars can be an incredibly empowering and exciting and I’ll be the first to say ‘never undermine the power of a truly great dress.’ BUT. That awesome outfit doesn’t have to send you to debtor’s jail. While I do like to support emerging designers, ultimately, I don’t care what the label at the back of my clothes reads.

If I see a great dress from a brand which some might not deem to be ‘cool’ —like Boden or M&S—I don’t give a t*** that some people will think it’s daggy to be wearing it. Because they are just being unbearable snobs. A great dress is a great dress is a great dress ad infinitum and we should never forget that. What isn’t chic is to spend money you don’t have, because financial irresponsibility and debt are not aspirations any woman who isn’t just waiting for a knight in shining armour to pay her credit card bill should have. And social media can make you think you need to do that and that is something that can be seriously dangerous.

When you look at women’s wardrobes on social media and feel envious of the never-ending designer names tagged on a single picture, you just have to remember that either a) they are richer than you and that is obviously envy-inducing, but unless you are planning on ditching your career and retraining as a stockbroker, it is what it is OR, b) they are influencers who probably live a much more modest life than the #gifted designer booty they feature on their social media accounts would lead you to believe OR c) they are bankrupting themselves spending money they don’t have on clothes trying to keep up with other people they don’t even know.

Owning 100 handbags that cost the same as your monthly mortgage is not ‘normal’. It’s bonkers! I’m not going to say it’s obscene, because every woman has the right to spend their money as they wish, but that crazy standard should have no power to dent your style confidence, or influence how you dress, because it has nothing to do with the skill of being able to express yourself creatively through what you wear.

My personal recipe for building a wardrobe is a mix of old pieces, timeless high street buys and a sprinkling of beautifully made designer pieces, generally bought at a fraction of their RRP from an outlet store or resale site (past season at Bicester Village, pre-loved at Vestiaire, then reconditioned at The Restory is how I roll).

It doesn’t always make me the most effective influencer and I know some of my followers get frustrated that they can’t buy something I’m wearing, but it’s important to me that I make the point that I wear old clothes, buy past season and I’m not dripping in designer swag 24/7.

Because when did that become our only definition of a successful wardrobe? And where’s the panache in that? Don’t get me wrong, I take my hat off to the fashion week street style celebrities who spend weeks planning and coordinating samples and putting together outfits to inspire us all—but that is just not realistic benchmark for anyone to try and achieve on a normal salary and we need to remember that whenever we’re scrolling though 947 Dior saddlebags. Dress for yourself, dress for your bank balance and always remember that a great dress is a great dress.

The post ‘When did dripping in designer swag become our only definition of a successful wardrobe?’ appeared first on Marie Claire.



Dear Dolly: Breaking up with a friend is never easy

Dear Dolly: Breaking up with a friend is never easy


Dolly spills some truths…

Dolly Pawton Marie Claire Columnist

The Strand 12.50

As London fashion week fast approaches the hysteria of many doing practically anything for a golden ticket is in full swing. Because let’s face it there is nothing quite like the feeling of a show. The excitement of seeing the looks for the first time, the lights, the FROW drama and the celebrity spotting is a must for anyone who loves fashion, networking or just wants to feel the vibes of live performance.

With NYFW wetting our whistle we are now into operation LFW and with it approaching faster than hate mail to president Dump, it’s time to get my wardrobe in order and make sure that I’m ready when I am walking around the London Streets.

The buzz of street style in Soho, Covent Garden or anywhere near the fashion show hubs is electric! Where photographers, bloggers and Vloggers flock to taste a slice of the fashion week creativity. People who can’t gain access or even those who can, line the pre show lines to catch all the latest trends laced with personal styling ready to go through those doors, elbows out ready for FROW action.

If you have never been, you’re a fashion virgin. Now that’s a word you didn’t think you’d hear again! The burning question usually is “How do I get in?” I am so not about restrictions, unless we’re talking bondage, but that’s another column!

Hierarchy can be ugly and those who have more money to buy their way in is so last season. So I am here to say you can all be part of a show that is fully inclusive and one where you are getting more than you may expect from a London based show.

LQFS. 21st September 2018 a show like no other will be launching at the V&M (Museum of childhood). A show where you can simply buy an affordable ticket with multiple designers and an evening of fashion, people and entertainment. The London Queer fashion show is a new way of showing fashion.

It’s a get in there quick policy for this one. I will be there! A fully stocked bar of Instagrammable cocktails and a hundred models swayed me! Whether it’s eye candy (yes, you can come alone) cocktail candy or a girls/boys night out make it all about you! You are all invited, included and you are encouraged to come as you are. Express yourself and enjoy fashion in your own way. You may well want to be in the VIP area, Frowin’ it up, or a tiered seat may suit you best, what ever you desire, if you love fashion, want to make new friends or take your existing ones and don’t give a fuck about not being able to get your toe in the door of LFW get yourself to LQFS and enjoy your shot of Fashion week. Because everyone deserves to have their fashion virginity taken in style.

Grab your tickets from londonqueerfashionshow.com

 

What Would Dolly Pawton Do?

 

Dear Dolly…..

I don’t expect you to answer this one and I think it’s pretty personal but I am at my wits end with my best friend.

Now I say my best friend but I am starting to wonder. We have been friends since primary school and although we went off to college in different directions we would still be in daily contact and meet up when ever I was back in town. We went into different areas of work but recently have started working for the same company. We were so excited. Being able to have lunch everyday and drinks after work. Not once did I think it would all be too much. But lately I feel like I can’t move. I feel guilty for saying that. But all my friends at work are now more her friends. I now have to include her in everything, in fact I feel like she competes with me for their attention. She has cut her hair exactly like mine. People around the office are calling us twins and she really seems to get getting off on it. The other day she brought up an embarrassing story about me in front of my colleagues. I was shocked and hurt. Why would she do that? I feel like she is changing or using me. Is it just me? She knows me better than anyone and it feels odd.

Thanks Dolly

Anonymous

 


 

Dear Everyone!

Darling you are not alone! We have all had that “friend” Now there are levels of imitation that is complete flattery and that feeling of admiration. Then there is the single white female moment when you feel scared to tell her where your driving too, or who you bloody fancy! Because you can’t be sure if she will turn up at a location, unannounced or invited but she will make a beeline for your sex/love interest and let’s face it, that’s not okay!

I think your work environment is a separate space to a social one and your bestie sharing personal stories is a step too far.

Haircuts and copying, well if you feel it’s all too weird tell her! She was a friend before a colleague. I think boundaries need to be set for both of you. You are not ten anymore and sharing crushes and candy is no longer fun. Step off bitch! My interests, my hair, my embarrassing story. She has no right to open up your personal life at work without your permission.

I can see where the lines have been blurred, she is now not only a bestie but legally someone at work. Can you tell her to back off or will she run to work and tell them all?

I think a coffee away from work (yes I know it means seeing her again on a Saturday) but I think for you being honest is the best policy on this one. You love your friend and you should give her the chance to know how her actions are affecting you. If she ignores you, then that would be the time to realise that besties in a playground and besties in adulthood are sometimes simply not the same. Nostalgia can get in the way. We all loved Jelly shoes and stirrup jodhpurs but it doesn’t mean we were right!

Good luck as losing a “friend” is never easy. But as I always say…. it’s better to know the truth than live with a fantasy that’s a lie.

 

London Love

Dolly Pawton

Dolly Pawton

Don’t forget, you too can ask Dolly a question.

Nothing is off limits so consider me your Dollylama (spiritual guru) here for all the real talk. Write in at dollypawton@gmail.com

Don’t worry you can be anonymous!

 

The post Dear Dolly: Breaking up with a friend is never easy appeared first on Marie Claire.

I wish I could tell my younger self that Crazy Rich Asians was on the horizon

I wish I could tell my younger self that Crazy Rich Asians was on the horizon


This is why Asian representation matters

crazy rich asians response
Sanja Bucko / Crazy Rich Asians

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 response

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 response

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 know there’s a lot of people in the Asian community complaining that they couldn’t relate to Crazy Rich Asians because they didn’t grow up with the same experiences as the Youngs and Rachel Chu. Or that the film wasn’t Singaporean enough, or that Henry Golding, a Eurasian man, didn’t have the right to play a starring role in a film about Asian people. (That last opinion actually made me cry – even amongst our own community, we’re still drawing these lines in the sand.)

crazy rich asians response

Crazy Rich Asians / Warner Brothers

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 response

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.

The post I wish I could tell my younger self that Crazy Rich Asians was on the horizon appeared first on Marie Claire.

What I learned from six months off social media

What I learned from six months off social media


Charlotte Philby was feeling strung out and exhausted when, on an impulse, she switched off all her social media accounts. Here’s what the experience taught her, and why she’s now back on it for good.

Charlotte Philby photographed at home by Roo Lewis
Charlotte Philby photographed at home by Roo Lewis

It was not so much a Eureka moment as a quiet but unshakable feeling that something wasn’t right.

Despite being utterly exhausted, I would regularly find myself waking at 2am and unable to fall back to sleep while my brain attempted to filter through the backlog of information that started to seep into my subconscious as I scrolled my various social media accounts, as well as rolling news.

Like everyone else these days, I am busy. With three young children, several jobs, and in the throes of writing a novel as well as a major home-build, sleep was precious, and already scarce. How could I justify losing precious kip and headspace over the online musings and lunch snaps of people I barely knew?

When it came to my social media usage, there was a sense of concern, too, at what I was modelling for my kids (now turning three, five and eight) who had taken to running after me waving my phone at me if I left a room without it for more than a few minutes, as if returning to me a vital organ.

Thankfully, what I lack in self-restraint I make up for in impulsivity and so on 26th June last year, after thinking it through for about 7 minutes, I decided to switch off social media for a year. Twenty minutes after that, having pulled over in a lay-by and furiously typed out my dramatic farewell, I had announced it on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Because as I noted in that post, my life had started to feel like a physical manifestation of that philosophical quandary about if a tree falls in the woods but no-one was there to see it, whether it ever really fell at all.

Ultimately it was about stepping back in order to reassess; a much-needed pause in order to give myself the mental space to reassess how I felt about sharing the details of my life with around 15k people – largely strangers – across three platforms.

Because the fact was, I no longer had the ability to cut through the noise long enough to really assess how I felt. In the 10 years since I had joined social media so much had changed. Not just on a mass scale, but on a personal level, too. When I first joined Facebook in 2007 (initially with a gusto that involved me adding anyone with whom I had ever exchanged more than three words and then subjecting them to 3000 slightly blurry photos of a single night out), no-one could have predicted how pervasive social would become.

Besides, I was far too busy going out, building my career as a newspaper journalist, to have thought through the potential consequences of sharing the minutiae of my life with hundreds of relative strangers online. Over the following decade, whilst having kids, growing my social media following as editor of the online magazine Motherland, and seeing the fallout of people living out their lives online, I had become more circumspect, and confused.

When I looked at my life and what was wrong with it, what I could see quite clearly was that I was tired, and burnt out. Was social media to blame for my life fatigue? Certainly not entirely, but much as social media provided a much-needed escape from the work pressures and life pressures, it simultaneously exacerbated the anxiety.

When I looked at it, my life looked like a heaving mass of unbalanced parts and I needed to cut something out. I couldn’t leave my jobs, or my life, but I could cut out the white noise that social media was creating.

The immediate sensation was one of immense relief. Suddenly I felt free – free from a cage in which I had trapped myself. Free from the perceived scrutiny of others and the constant desire to dissect and objectify my own life. Finally I could live in the moment without constantly striving to recreate it through an inevitably distorting lens – a disconcerting process which has no doubt been the subject of many a media dissertation by now.

The six months that followed were infinitely more enjoyable, and productive, than those preceding them. In a bid to live a more analogue existence I took an upholstery course (the main learning was that I’m a terrible upholsterer) and tried to draw a bit (I’m an even worse artist). I spent almost a week writing by hand at a writer’s retreat in Devon with no internet and communicating with the outside world (ie my long-suffering husband and children) via a pay-phone once a day, which was undoubtedly the most resetting experience of my adult life.

Yes, people stopped mass-inviting me to group events because I was no longer so much on their wave-length, but some thought to get in touch to make more meaningful face-to-face dates, instead. As someone who suffers not from FOMO but rather from a fear of social inclusion, this was a desirable side effect.

By the time Christmas last year came, I had even broken the back of my novel. All in all, aside from the odd pang when I thought of the people I had lost contact with away from the easy (if often surface) connections of Instagram and Facebook, and the occasional desire to share pieces I had written or funny snapshots of my life, there was little reason to return.

But that is not to say that life was perfect. The problem with social media, after all, is that it is just a strand of a much more knotty problem of the frenetic pace of modern life. And that didn’t just vanish.

Then, on Boxing Day last year – six months to the day since I had switched off – I had a text to say an old (very young) and very dear friend had died. Because he had been travelling, and because of our diverging lives, we had taken to communicating on direct messenger. Without that line between us, we had not spoken for months and the sadness and regret I felt about that shook me to the core.

When you lose someone you love, everything else pales into insignificance, and the urge to hold onto those you care about becomes all-consuming. At its best, that is what social media does; it allows us to, even at a distance, maintain a thread of connection with more people than we should rightfully be able to.

The next day, I returned to social media, to read the tributes to my friend’s life and to share my own, but mainly to reinstate myself in what I had to accept was a key part of modern connectivity. Historically, people lost contact with friends over the years and yes, maybe there is something to be said for streamlining your life as you get older, rather than maintaining an overwhelming number of friendships, at a reduced rate; to this end, my grandma always told me ‘don’t have more friends than you can look after’. But in this moment, all I wanted was to be part of my people’s lives, regardless of what cost.

The return to social media started gently but has gathered pace so that nine months later, as Marie Claire launches their timely #ScreenBreak campaign, I am forced to once again reassess my usage.

The results, if I’m honest with myself, are pretty bleak. While I’ve massively reduced the amount of pictures I put up of my children (not least as my non-attention-seeking daughter, who is turning eight, knows what Instagram is and hates the concept of it; her words: “Why would you put up pictures of your life? That’s just showing off…”), in the months since creeping back onto Instagram, and later Facebook and Twitter, I found myself making up for lost time in terms of how much I was using it. The thrill of the interactions, of catching up with old friends, of, well, mindlessly passing the time, is addictive. We all know that, it is just how we choose to address our behaviour.

The truth is, I oscillate between various positions when I consider what social media means to me, and how I want to use it. Some days I think it only has as much power as I give it; if I want to upload pictures of my life, then what is the problem, so long as I’m not exposing my children in a way that could be harmful to them?

Other days I’m more circumspect, waking in the middle of the night to purge my feed of personal pics, and aggrieved by things I’ve read. Much as I hate the concept of the term ‘personal brand’ for all its connotations, one of the problems is for me and a growing number of my friends who use social media platforms both to talk to friends and to promote and discuss work, is that the distinction between the personal and public has become blurred. Like so many of us, my job largely depends on me having an online presence, so it would be a massive commitment to give up my accounts altogether.

In a way, total abstinence feels a cop out. Why can’t I just control my own behaviour? My husband, who doesn’t have an addictive personality (he was always one of those annoying social smokers who could take it or leave), has an account but goes weeks without posting and is much more restrained in his strolling habits. That is what I want for myself, to be a mindful scroller; or at least one who isn’t a slave to their screen.

And so, in the past weeks I have reduced both my screen-time and my general reason to go online. I listen to books on the commute rather than scrolling my feeds; I have put on an out of office on my Gmail explaining that I am not checking my emails as regularly; I don’t have my work emails on my phone so I only check them when I’m in the office; I have signed up for a magazine subscription and weekend paper delivery. I have stopped looking at Facebook altogether but save it for moments when I need to contact people, rather than endlessly mentally taking on-board other people’s lives in a way that creates that torrent of white noise in the early hours. I have also started to take a moment to pause and think before impulsively posting on Instagram. As for Twitter, I tend to lose a follower every time I tweet so that is an effective method of self-policing.

But I could be so much better. So, as of now, I pledge to sometimes leave my phone at home when I take the kids out, and have downloaded the app Moment which logs how much time you spend on your phone each day. I will hide my phone under the piles of rubble on my desk in the office so I’m not tempted to pick it up every time I look away from my computer screen (a sad state of affairs) and leave it at my desk on my lunch-break.

More importantly, I want to return to that space where I spend my ‘spare time’ immersing myself in things I love, like writing, rather than referring to my default setting of mindless browsing. After all, a recent study found that the average person wastes 23 days a year and 3.9 years of their life staring at their phone screen. I have already scrawled this horrifying fact onto a post-it note which I will stick to the front of my computer screen for when I start my book edits next month and will be, more than ever, searching for a distraction from the matter at hand.

It sounds basic but in my experience most of the good and meaningful things in life are. Sometimes we simply need to remember to ask ourselves what we are doing and why.

The post What I learned from six months off social media appeared first on Marie Claire.



‘I would never have got this far in my career if I had got into my first choice of University’

‘I would never have got this far in my career if I had got into my first choice of University’


Here are Team Marie Claire’s stories…

Instagram Usage Insights
REX

A-level results were announced today, and as always there have been just as many tears as celebrations up and down the country.

Some people will have got their grade requirements and already be packing for their first choice of uni, but for others, today will be a long day of scouring remaining university choices via clearing and crying into comfort food.

To those people, we say – we get you.

Just talking about our dreaded A-Level results days this morning, Team Marie Claire realised that few of us actually had good memories. A lot of us didn’t get the results we wanted and ended up going to our second, or third or even fifth choice of university. But that’s ok, and without that happening, we wouldn’t have got to where we are now.

Whether you go to Exeter or Cardiff and whether you go to university or not, you’re still going to experience the same rites of passage.

You will fall in love, you will make friends for life, you will find your career path and at some point you will be so poor that you will have to share a pot noodle for breakfast with your housemate.

Nothing will change those facts.

No matter what you got in your A-levels, everything is going to be OK, so take a deep breath and read our stories because we were once you.

Here are some stories from Team MC…

Jenny Proudfoot – Junior Digital News Editor

‘My A-level results day was one of the worst days I can remember – I’m a slow developer and at 18, I just wasn’t ready. I didn’t get the grades I needed, and got a D in French – the one subject I wanted to pursue. I spent the whole day crying on my sofa eating brownie batter, feeling like my life was over and that I had let everybody down. All of my friends were off to university and I wasn’t going with them. That day changed my life and entirely for the better – I literally developed an insane work ethic overnight and ever since have worked as hard as I can to make sure I never feel like that again. I worked in France for a year, became fluent, retook my French A-level and got a place at the University of East Anglia to study French with International Development. None of my school friends had gone there and as a city it wasn’t on my radar until it was my only choice, but looking back I can’t imagine going anywhere else. My days at UEA were the best of my life, and it was there that I met my best friends and discovered journalism as my career path. I don’t know where I would be if I hadn’t initially failed my A-levels, but I don’t think it would be as good as where I am now, and I definitely wouldn’t have got as far.’

Lucy Pavia – Entertainment Editor

‘I’m embarrassed to admit I thought my university applications would be a cake walk. I had 4 As at A-level in the bag and a lovely glowing reference from my headmistress. Come and get me, boyz! Then the rejection letters started to hit the doormat. A quick no from Oxford (not much of a surprise given my car crash interview), then Edinburgh, Exeter and finally Durham. The two remaining universities – Leeds and Newcastle – I had put on my UCAS form without any thought of actually going to one of them. Now they were my two options. After visiting both campuses and cities I picked Newcastle. What came next was three years studying English Literature in an incredible place, making friends I’m still close to a decade later and drinking more Glens vodka than any human should in a lifetime. I know it can seem the end of the world when things don’t go to plan, but it can also teach you to adapt to a new (and often better) reality, a really valuable experience to have under your belt when you’re released into the world of work, where very little is a given.’

All the fun with my favourite Sis @kpavia at the @BAFTA telly awards 💃🏻💃🏻

A post shared by LUCY PAVIA (@lucypavia) on May 13, 2018 at 5:09pm PDT

Megan Hills – Digital Lifestyle Writer

‘When I found out I missed my offer, I hid in a quiet corner of my aunt’s house and cried for hours. I was super lucky though and Warwick wound up letting me in anyway, however I had this massive chip on my shoulder because I didn’t feel like I’d earned it. I became a more driven person because I felt like I had something to prove, but now nobody can tell me I didn’t deserve to be there because I walked out with a first. It’s not your results that define you, it’s the way you deal with your challenges that do.’

Katie Thomas – Digital Beauty Editor

‘My father went to Cardiff University and regaled us with tales of the incredible time he had there. When I found out that a) they did a journalism course and b) three of my best friends were planning to go there, I applied straight away. I visited a few other places and put them as my other options just to make my career advisor happy, but all I wanted was Cardiff. When I got my A-Level results and found that I hadn’t got the grades they required my whole world fell apart. Give me some credit, I was 17 – this was the end of my world! I rang up Clearing and got through to the department head at Cardiff who told me that he couldn’t admit me, as I had expressed my deep hatred for critical thinking in my personal statement (d’oh) and one of the key modules on the course was exactly that. So I was forced to attend my second choice, Bournemouth University. At school, we were encouraged to apply to Red Brick unis, so Bournemouth was not ideal in my mind. However, it was quite literally the best thing that could have happened to me. The year before, the Bournemouth University media school had won a lottery grant, propelling it and its courses to number one in the country. Because I was so obsessed with Cardiff, I hadn’t even researched Bournemouth and its credentials. Rather than learning about critical thinking (yuck), we were the first students in the country with access to an HD TV studio. I was exposed to radio, TV, news, features and online journalism in all my three years on the course and the connections that the school had made with the real journalism industry was second to none. Oh and p.s. I did all my revision on the beach. So that was fucking great.’

Andrea Thompson – Deputy Editor

‘I applied to Cambridge with dreams of becoming a lawyer but completely flunked my interview. I was so nervous that I totally clammed up. My head was spinning and found it impossible to answer the first couple of questions. I ended up going to York University instead and studied English. I had the most amazing three years and met some of my best life-long friends as well as having a healthy social life I don’t think I’d have had at Cambridge. But most of all I developed my love of political and feminist literature from a really inspiring lecturer there, which spurred me onto a career in journalism, which has taken me all over the world and been a lot of fun. Im not sure being a lawyer would have been for me looking back.’

Sarah Barnes – Beauty Assistant

‘Having been at military school, I was used to structure and regiment so when it came to deciding on my degree I was recommended straight Journalism as it was a more academic course. Following this advice I got accepted to Winchester university which was my first choice. However after a month there I realised I was not happy and was not getting to be creative in the way I dreamt of. After many nights awake worrying I decided to transfer to UCA and study Fashion Journalism. Starting university is such a nervous time and I did I twice in one month – I can only say that it was the best decision as I wouldn’t be where I am now otherwise. I’ve made amazing friends, learnt about the fashion and beauty world, travelled to incredible places for photoshoots and I get to be really creative every day. So follow your gut and don’t be afraid to change your degree if you don’t feel it’s right – its so important to do what you love.’

 

So basically, whatever results you received today, you are going to be fine, and you will still get to experience all of the same exciting life moments.

Just take a deep breath and find your next step.

The post ‘I would never have got this far in my career if I had got into my first choice of University’ appeared first on Marie Claire.



Don’t you dare witch hunt older mums but praise mature dads

Don’t you dare witch hunt older mums but praise mature dads


It’s 2018.

richard gere

I woke up this morning to the news that 69-year-old Richard Gere was reportedly becoming a dad for the second time, with the baby set to arrive just before his 70th birthday.

Well, no offence to the Pretty Woman actor, who I’m actually a fan of, but reading through the reports on my commute to work, I was livid.

Don’t get me wrong – I have no problem with Richard Gere, and it wasn’t his age that bothered me. Instead, it was the disparity in how he has been treated for becoming a mature father, as opposed to how he would be treated as a woman.

‘Congratulations’, ‘Gorgeous’, ‘Best news’, ‘Sending you love’.

These were the comments dominating the internet today – and that all seems well and good, right? Of course, when someone’s having a baby, you congratulate them.

Except, those weren’t the comments that flooded my newsfeed two months ago when Brigitte Nielsen became a mum aged 54.

‘Disgusting’, ‘selfish’, ‘sickening’ – those are the ones that stuck with me, anyway.

Personally, I find the double standard ‘disgusting’, ‘selfish’ and ’sickening’.

Our precious little Frida, our true love. ❤

A post shared by Brigitte Nielsen (@realbrigittenielsen) on Jun 27, 2018 at 6:38pm PDT

It’s 2018, and mature mum shaming should be long gone.

While fans celebrated Richard Gere’s news by taking their bets on whether his new arrival would be An Officer and a Gentleman or a Pretty Woman (get the references?), the great debate on Brigitte Nielsen’s camp was whether she would look like her child’s mother or grandmother.

Why is it ok for Richard Gere to create another child just because he has the Y chromosome whereas Brigitte Nielson was practically burnt at the stake for it – and she was the one who actually pushed out a human. She should be congratulated.

This is of course something that Brigitte has spoken out about, because to put it bluntly, she had to.

happy time ❤ positive vibes #happyness #positivevibes

A post shared by Brigitte Nielsen (@realbrigittenielsen) on May 30, 2018 at 10:07am PDT

‘Some women think, “Oh my God, I’m too old,” But how many men have their first kids in their 60s and 70s and they never doubt it?,’ Brigitte explained in an interview with People. ‘I totally respect that not everybody likes it, but it is my life, and my husband and I have a solid relationship.’

What’s the betting that this is an issue that Richard Gere won’t have to address, ever?

So, I’m not saying we shouldn’t congratulate Richard Gere. I’m just saying, if you’re going to shake the actor’s hand for his exciting baby news, you BETTER extend Brigitte Nielsen the same courtesy.

The post Don’t you dare witch hunt older mums but praise mature dads appeared first on Marie Claire.



Dear Dolly: “My overbearing mother-in-law is ruining our relationship”

Dear Dolly: “My overbearing mother-in-law is ruining our relationship”


What Would Dolly Pawton Do?

Dolly Pawton Marie Claire Columnist

1.30pm Sloane Square.

I’ve nearly got rid of all the glitter from Pride parade. Glitter is like sand it gets in all crevices and no matter how many times you shower there’s another piece that appears on the side of your face or stuck to your nipple three weeks later, like why!?

The rainbows may have faded commercially but I am here to keep the colours bright.

As I walked through a sea of love one week just under a week later I was walking in protest to stamp out negativity and hate. London is the most amazing place to display all kinds of thoughts and we are lucky enough to be granted freedom of speech. Everybody knows I have no problem with speaking freely and supporting all that I believe to be true.

I loved the Fashion Panel talk I was asked to be part of at J.Crew as part of their Love first campaign. Regents street was not ready for my Liberty print customised neck-tie, I think they should make a come back – stop tying them in your hair and get them around your necks. Name one air steward circa 1980 who didn’t like a neck chief. I’m bringing it back.!

The talk was entitled ‘Expressing yourself through fashion

It was a discussion and also a debate on what it was like to be an influencer, a campaigner & how fashion has hindered or helped you be you and it got me thinking on so many levels as my own questions started. Is there loyalty in London or has everyone got a price? Has originality gone out the window and is any opinion valid even if taken from someone else’s lips? What makes a view more or less valid and how can the true voices be heard over the white noise of commercialism?

Trend is one thing and something we all follow to a degree. But being you is not a trend; being you can be easy, hard, life changing or ending.

I think the biggest lesson over this glitter induced period is fighting for what you believe in will always be hard if not following the masses and could be even harder when it’s on trend. The louder the voices the more insignificant a message could be. Social media has a big part to play in this; some speak out for personal growth while some stay silent in fear of losing limelight (This frustrates my whole family); some for self gratification and glory and some for the real meaning of a cause. I guess the real question I was left with was “How do you continue to keep shining when so many want to steal your shine?” My answer, it’s nobody’s to take, it’s yours darling, keep the glow and grow!

 

What Would Dolly Pawton Do?

 

Dear Dolly,

I’ve been in a relationship with my fiancé for over 3 years.

He is a everything I’ve wanted in a man and never expected to fall so hard for someone after being in some pretty horrendous relationships.

The problem is I’m not just in a relationship with only him. I’m in relationship with his Mother.

She is a medlar. She constantly puts me down and is interfering in our life choices. Our future plans are not moving in the direction we have discussed together and even the wedding has been put on hold!

I didn’t want to see it but he is a Mummy’s boy and I can’t cope any longer with him allowing her to talk to me like I’m shit. Like he could do better. Like I’m holding him back. She always dictates to me what I should wear and has even compared me to his ex fiancé.

I’ve tried to have this conversation with him but he just ignores it and says, “It’s just who she is, don’t overthink it” and then accusing me of wanting to start arguments.

He even suggested we move back to his childhood home with his parents so we could save money quicker to buy the house we want in London. I couldn’t believe it.

Help Dolly. I am in need of your guidance and wisdom.

Anna – London ‘

 

Dear Anna,

Whoa, whoa, whoa! Comparing you to the ex fiancé? This woman could potentially be the nightmare of all Mother-in-laws.

Not quite the threesome you may have expected huh?

No but seriously, this is categorically unacceptable behaviour on your partner’s behalf.

He clearly wants to make his Mother happy and is therefore forfeiting your happiness.

I’m going to be brutal here. You need to speak the hell up and tell this Mother what she is doing is wrong and stop allowing her to treat you this way. Take back your power. I noticed you said “he” is allowing her to talk to you that way. No, you’re allowing it.

You just want him to defend you, which he should, but this isn’t the days where you don’t have a voice, you better lay your cards on the table and have a conversation with his Mother too.

I know you’ve tried speaking with him already but make this the time that counts.

In my experience Mummy’s boys don’t change and Mothers like that get worse if you don’t say how you feel. So if you really love your partner you need to be vocal. If that doesn’t work and he continues to brush aside your feelings and the Mother doesn’t stop controlling him and you then you’re going to have to reevaluate your relationship because you shouldn’t be second on his list. Your feelings are valid and important. You are his future bride ffs.

I’m going to be honest, if this was me, I’d be off quicker than Usain bolt in a 100 metre sprint. Girl, know your worth.

Keep in touch.

 

London love

Dolly Pawton xx

Dolly Pawton

Don’t forget, you too can ask Dolly a question.

Nothing is off limits so consider me your Dollylama (spiritual guru) here for all the real talk. Write in at dollypawton@gmail.com

Don’t worry you can be anonymous!

 

The post Dear Dolly: “My overbearing mother-in-law is ruining our relationship” appeared first on Marie Claire.

Enough with positive thinking: here’s the surprising power of positive drinking

Enough with positive thinking: here’s the surprising power of positive drinking


Actually doing your bit, made easier.

thirsty planet

Words by Izzy Palmer

People talk a lot about positive thinking without really meaning much. It’s in danger of slipping into becoming an active hindrance, and an irritatingly-saccharine buzzword. Positive thinking doesn’t bring food to the hungry, after all, or make any difference whatsoever to a polar bear. If someone claims with pride that they ‘don’t preach’, but prefer to focus on an optimistic attitude, it can raise eyebrows. Are you essentially admitting that you don’t believe in doing anything concrete, but want to somehow feel helpful anyway? A positive outlook is all well and good in theory, but when it comes to charity, it sounds dangerously like making excuses for doing nothing.

So what can we do? Well, luckily, there’s another option: positive drinking.

We haven’t lost our heads – it’s not all as barmy as it sounds. In a nut-shell, doing our bit has turned out to be a whole lot easier thanks to water bottle brand Thirsty Planet.

With every Thirsty Planet water bottle purchased, you make a guaranteed donation to Pump Aid, thereby helping bring water to disadvantaged parts of Africa.

thirsty water local

This means people are giving to charity perhaps without even thinking – seduced instead by the convenience of the three different sizes and the ergonomically designed bottle. Doing your bit has never seemed so appealing.

Thirsty Planet, launched in 2007, has already raised two million pounds and brought access to clean water to 1,350 more people. Pump Aid are now responsible for supplying over 10% of the entire rural clean water supply in Malawi and Zimbabwe. Crucially, they work with local communities so that they then know how to maintain their water pump using local resources. This isn’t a short-term solution; it helps individual lives and works with communities at a minute level, bringing independence as well as water.

thirsty water community

With reducing single-use plastic being the zeitgeist of the moment, it might seem controversial to be recommending a water bottle company. The truth is, sadly, society is a long, long way off from cutting plastic water bottles out of daily life – and denying that helps in no way. Rather, let’s make sure that when we do buy a water bottle, we buy one like Thirsty Planet: 100% recyclable, and making a difference elsewhere.

Best of all? They also come in a glass bottle range.

Thirsty Planet is available at Waitrose. 

The post Enough with positive thinking: here’s the surprising power of positive drinking appeared first on Marie Claire.

MEET THE PUKKAS: Our new columnists on talking *feelings* with your other half

MEET THE PUKKAS: Our new columnists on talking *feelings* with your other half


Is discussing your feelings always the right thing to do? New columnists Anna Whitehouse and Matt Farquharson – also known as Instagram’s @Mother_Pukka and @Papa_Pukka – battle it out

In a new fortnightly column for marieclaire.co.uk, Anna Whitehouse and her husband Matt Farquharson, will be going head to head on the most pressing issues of the day – relationship curveballs, the gender politics of cheating, and what the hell would Love Island be without cosmetic dentistry? Welcome to #TrueRomance, where the couple known as Mother Pukka and Papa Pukka will be getting to the bottom of all those niggling questions we always wanted answering (but perhaps couldn’t be arsed to ask). This week: Is it always good to talk, or should we sometimes just shut up?

She says…

By Anna Whitehouse

When it comes to a quick jaunt to the corner shop, Matt and I have got our communication nailed. After years of yelling things at him (‘Don’t forget the bog roll and feta’), only for him to return with a sweaty mozzarella ball and some pork scratchings, we have established a system to stop relationship breakdown. I now text him The List, he purchases items on The List and marital harmony is maintained.

But transferring that watertight set-up to matters of the heart is a trickier task. The minute I edge into ‘do you have five minutes for a chat?’, Matt’s eyes glaze over, his lids descend and a little of his spirit disperses as he realises we aren’t about to watch another episode of Glow. No Netflix, only grilling.

‘No Netflix, only grilling – I need to know what’s going on in his mind’

Matt is a nice man, but he dislikes talking about his needs or feelings: why waste time blathering when you could be fondling? And he does have a stellar point but the issue is, to fondle, I need the blather. I need to exchange thoughts and catch insights into his day that go beyond life insurance angst and running out of bin bags. I get turned on by a laugh or a story about a pigeon wreaking havoc on the Tube – it doesn’t take much. In short, I need to know what is going on in his mind. While he assures me it’s just ‘sandwiches, mainly’, I read the subtext as: complex web of emotions that requires unravelling. I overheard him say once to a mate, ‘I just swallow emotions and shit them out.’

I don’t think this is something that only afflicts women – my friend Gemma has a ‘cuddle pillow’ for her husband Jude to hold when she hasn’t got the emotional headspace for his daily request for ‘a chat’. But I have learned how to navigate life with my emotion-wary partner. A few years ago, I was having a miserable time at work. One evening I cornered Matt and delivered a 45-minute monologue about my potentially psychopathic colleague at the time. Part of me wanted a place to unload frustration. Part of me just wanted to look at his face and say words so that we would feel more connected. It seemed to make sense to focus those efforts on something practical like work, even though I wasn’t really seeking an answer.

In Matt’s ideal world, I would deliver The Issue and he would respond with The List of Solutions. In my ideal world, I would present The Issue, we would discuss it, he would empathise, say something witty and then know exactly the right moment to cup my left buttock.

Perhaps if we’d spelt this out ten years ago, we might not have been stuck so often ricocheting between ‘you don’t understand’ and ‘what you need to do is this…’

feelings

He says…

By Matt Farquharson

In the early years of Facebook, when trolls were still just imaginary creatures with extravagant hair and a fondness for bridges, a picture of an old magazine cutting did the digital rounds. It was Housekeeping Monthly from 1955, and an article called ‘The Good Wife’s Guide’. The list of to-dos for wives on their husband’s return from work – arrange his cushion, have dinner ready, put a ribbon in your hair – stopped just short of demanding a quick blowie while simultaneously removing his shoes. It was a fake: too much even by the ‘traditional’ standards of 1955. But there is one line that stuck in my memory: ‘Don’t greet him with complaints and problems,’ because, very quietly, I agreed.

I don’t really want to talk about feelings, because I’m not sure I have many. I’m quite often hungry or horny, and occasionally both at once (which can make mealtimes confusing: cheese sandwiches not being a traditional object of lust). But hunger and horniness are physical symptoms, rather than emotional feels. If I have problems, I prefer to let them stew in the back of my head until I know how fix them, not parp them into the ear of someone else. When times are tough, I’d rather just swear more at technology. During one particularly stressful spell of work and life, I shouted ‘twatty little bastard’ at an Asda self-service till and felt much better for it. To the outsider it looked like a minor breakdown, to me it felt like therapy.

‘I prefer to suck up any problems, and then let them pass while reading sports apps on the toilet’

I’m of the view that a problem shared isn’t a problem solved, but instead one that you’ve now lumbered on to some other poor schmuck. I understand that this is an emotional failing on my part, but I’ve found that the best way for me to handle strains and unhappiness is to inhale them, sucking them deep into my core, and then let them pass while reading sports apps on the toilet. Within the sanctity of my meditation chamber, troubles ease away, and no one else has been bothered in the process.

I spent my formative years in an otherwise female household, and have been in healthy(ish) long-term relationships for most of my adult life. The idea that men are from Mars and have different needs to women has always struck me as the laziest of cliches, but in matters of emotional wellbeing, it seems Anna and I fall plumbly into gender stereotype.

I sometimes (unintentionally) zone out her voice, and see the disappointment in her face when I return from the corner shop with the wrong kind of soggy foreign cheese. She likes to talk things through, I like to ignore them, or try to fix them. A few years ago, Anna once worked in a place where she was deeply unhappy, and every night she would detail her experiences of terrible atmospheres, blame-shifting and whispering cliques. I would tell her she should quit, we’d be fine, and did she fancy Thai or Indian take-out? This, it transpired, was not what was required. Sometimes, she wasn’t even hungry. It took many tears for me to realise my error.

But now, slowly, I am becoming a listener. I resist the urge to say, ‘This’ll fix it’, and against all my natural instincts, instead I ask, ‘how did you feel?’ I just hope she doesn’t ask me the same thing, so that I can keep swearing at inanimate objects.

Anna Whitehouse and Matt Farquharson are the authors of Sunday Times bestseller Parenting the Shit out of Life, published by Hodder & Stoughton.

The post MEET THE PUKKAS: Our new columnists on talking *feelings* with your other half appeared first on Marie Claire.



MEET THE PUKKAS: Our new columnists on talking *feelings* with your other half

MEET THE PUKKAS: Our new columnists on talking *feelings* with your other half


Is discussing your feelings always the right thing to do? New columnists Anna Whitehouse and Matt Farquharson – also known as Instagram’s @Mother_Pukka and @Papa_Pukka – battle it out

In a new fortnightly column for marieclaire.co.uk, Anna Whitehouse and her husband Matt Farquharson, will be going head to head on the most pressing issues of the day – relationship curveballs, the gender politics of cheating, and what the hell would Love Island be without cosmetic dentistry? Welcome to #TrueRomance, where the couple known as Mother Pukka and Papa Pukka will be getting to the bottom of all those niggling questions we always wanted answering (but perhaps couldn’t be arsed to ask). This week: Is it always good to talk, or should we sometimes just shut up?

She says…

By Anna Whitehouse

When it comes to a quick jaunt to the corner shop, Matt and I have got our communication nailed. After years of yelling things at him (‘Don’t forget the bog roll and feta’), only for him to return with a sweaty mozzarella ball and some pork scratchings, we have established a system to stop relationship breakdown. I now text him The List, he purchases items on The List and marital harmony is maintained.

But transferring that watertight set-up to matters of the heart is a trickier task. The minute I edge into ‘do you have five minutes for a chat?’, Matt’s eyes glaze over, his lids descend and a little of his spirit disperses as he realises we aren’t about to watch another episode of Glow. No Netflix, only grilling.

‘No Netflix, only grilling – I need to know what’s going on in his mind’

Matt is a nice man, but he dislikes talking about his needs or feelings: why waste time blathering when you could be fondling? And he does have a stellar point but the issue is, to fondle, I need the blather. I need to exchange thoughts and catch insights into his day that go beyond life insurance angst and running out of bin bags. I get turned on by a laugh or a story about a pigeon wreaking havoc on the Tube – it doesn’t take much. In short, I need to know what is going on in his mind. While he assures me it’s just ‘sandwiches, mainly’, I read the subtext as: complex web of emotions that requires unravelling. I overheard him say once to a mate, ‘I just swallow emotions and shit them out.’

I don’t think this is something that only afflicts women – my friend Gemma has a ‘cuddle pillow’ for her husband Jude to hold when she hasn’t got the emotional headspace for his daily request for ‘a chat’. But I have learned how to navigate life with my emotion-wary partner. A few years ago, I was having a miserable time at work. One evening I cornered Matt and delivered a 45-minute monologue about my potentially psychopathic colleague at the time. Part of me wanted a place to unload frustration. Part of me just wanted to look at his face and say words so that we would feel more connected. It seemed to make sense to focus those efforts on something practical like work, even though I wasn’t really seeking an answer.

In Matt’s ideal world, I would deliver The Issue and he would respond with The List of Solutions. In my ideal world, I would present The Issue, we would discuss it, he would empathise, say something witty and then know exactly the right moment to cup my left buttock.

Perhaps if we’d spelt this out ten years ago, we might not have been stuck so often ricocheting between ‘you don’t understand’ and ‘what you need to do is this…’

feelings

He says…

By Matt Farquharson

In the early years of Facebook, when trolls were still just imaginary creatures with extravagant hair and a fondness for bridges, a picture of an old magazine cutting did the digital rounds. It was Housekeeping Monthly from 1955, and an article called ‘The Good Wife’s Guide’. The list of to-dos for wives on their husband’s return from work – arrange his cushion, have dinner ready, put a ribbon in your hair – stopped just short of demanding a quick blowie while simultaneously removing his shoes. It was a fake: too much even by the ‘traditional’ standards of 1955. But there is one line that stuck in my memory: ‘Don’t greet him with complaints and problems,’ because, very quietly, I agreed.

I don’t really want to talk about feelings, because I’m not sure I have many. I’m quite often hungry or horny, and occasionally both at once (which can make mealtimes confusing: cheese sandwiches not being a traditional object of lust). But hunger and horniness are physical symptoms, rather than emotional feels. If I have problems, I prefer to let them stew in the back of my head until I know how fix them, not parp them into the ear of someone else. When times are tough, I’d rather just swear more at technology. During one particularly stressful spell of work and life, I shouted ‘twatty little bastard’ at an Asda self-service till and felt much better for it. To the outsider it looked like a minor breakdown, to me it felt like therapy.

‘I prefer to suck up any problems, and then let them pass while reading sports apps on the toilet’

I’m of the view that a problem shared isn’t a problem solved, but instead one that you’ve now lumbered on to some other poor schmuck. I understand that this is an emotional failing on my part, but I’ve found that the best way for me to handle strains and unhappiness is to inhale them, sucking them deep into my core, and then let them pass while reading sports apps on the toilet. Within the sanctity of my meditation chamber, troubles ease away, and no one else has been bothered in the process.

I spent my formative years in an otherwise female household, and have been in healthy(ish) long-term relationships for most of my adult life. The idea that men are from Mars and have different needs to women has always struck me as the laziest of cliches, but in matters of emotional wellbeing, it seems Anna and I fall plumbly into gender stereotype.

I sometimes (unintentionally) zone out her voice, and see the disappointment in her face when I return from the corner shop with the wrong kind of soggy foreign cheese. She likes to talk things through, I like to ignore them, or try to fix them. A few years ago, Anna once worked in a place where she was deeply unhappy, and every night she would detail her experiences of terrible atmospheres, blame-shifting and whispering cliques. I would tell her she should quit, we’d be fine, and did she fancy Thai or Indian take-out? This, it transpired, was not what was required. Sometimes, she wasn’t even hungry. It took many tears for me to realise my error.

But now, slowly, I am becoming a listener. I resist the urge to say, ‘This’ll fix it’, and against all my natural instincts, instead I ask, ‘how did you feel?’ I just hope she doesn’t ask me the same thing, so that I can keep swearing at inanimate objects.

Anna Whitehouse and Matt Farquharson are the authors of Sunday Times bestseller Parenting the Shit out of Life, published by Hodder & Stoughton.

The post MEET THE PUKKAS: Our new columnists on talking *feelings* with your other half appeared first on Marie Claire.