What Would Lizzo Do?

“I don’t think that loving yourself is a choice. I think that it’s a decision that has to be made for survival; it was in my case. Loving myself was the result of answering two things: Do you want to live? ‘Cause this is who you’re gonna be for the rest of your life. Or are you gonna just have a life of emptiness, self-hatred and self-loathing? And I chose to live, so I had to accept myself.” ~ Lizzo


Everybody and their cat is about Lizzo at the moment, she is simply everywhere. Dominating the charts, the awards shows and the world. She’s a true (fat) queen preaching common sense about self-love and acceptance – and a talented, hot AF one at that.

I’m aware self=love is something of a buzzword around these parts. I talk about it a lot, vowing to love myself a little bit more every time. And believe me, I try and for the most part I truly do accept myself. Self-acceptance doesn’t seem to be a you have it or you don’t type deal though, not for me. I would say I’m a work in progress, my core gets stronger every day but every so often I lose my shit all together and I am brutal to myself.

I’m trying to get to grips with the horrible things I say to my inner self. I mean, I wouldn’t talk to my enemy with this much vitriol so why on Earth do I accept it from myself? How dare I?

As Lizzo suggests, at almost 42 this is pretty much the blueprint for who I’m going to be. I might change slightly over the years but the foundations are set. I have no choice but to well, shit or get off the pot. Or, as Andy says more delicately:

“I guess it comes down to a simple choice, really. Get busy living or get busy dying.” ~ Andy Dufresne, The Shawshank Redemption


I think it might just be that simple. She says, realising that if it was we’d all be Lizzo all day, everyday. I’m going to try though, honestly for my own sanity. The next time my brain tells me to fear something or questions my competence, intellect or the way I look, I’m going to shake it off. Do a star jump or something and try again.

Lizzo would not stand for this total fucking bullshit and nor will I. I’ll leave you with another quote from the wise one from the 2019 MTV VMAs:

“Let me talk to y’all for a second. I’m tired of the bullshit. And I don’t have to know your story to know that you’re tired of the bullshit too. It’s so hard trying to love yourself in a world that doesn’t love you back, am I right?

So I want to take this opportunity right now to just feel good as hell. Because you deserve to feel good as hell. So tell me how you’re feeling?”

How are you feeling?

Here are a couple of Lizzo-centric articles about self-acceptance:

Unpretty

I recently downloaded not one but two new apps onto my phone. Nothing new there, most of our lives are more or less managed with a cheeky app or two – but these are for photo editing. Which is fine in itself but after spending a good hour the other night doing ‘minor touch-ups’ to a selfie, I had to stop and have a word with myself.

You’re going to have to excuse this self-indulgent post, I’m afraid. I’m about to bang on for a while.

I’m not against photo tweaking in theory. I’m the queen of touching up a spot or two and choosing a damn good filter. I’m forever adjusting the lighting. This is deemed the new norm in our Instagram world and I’m all for it, as long as we’re honest about it. Life isn’t (always) like the images we use to paint a positive life. If I were being honest, my grid would be full of me lying naked and puffy in bed, avoiding the world.

The addition of these apps to my life is different because I’ve been leaning on them far too heavily. I’ve been changing the shape of my face, tightening my jawline – thinning my nose. More than that, the app can give you the perfect winged liner, eyeshadow and lashes for days – technically you’d never have to put on a face again. But it feels false and it goes deeper than just tweaking a few things ever so slightly – I look like a doll version of myself and it’s creepier than Annabelle*.

The reality is: it’s time for me to admit that I’m not pretty.

Before you say something nice to make me feel better, I know I have some *okay* features and can scrub up when I need to. I also know that ugly girls are never really ugly girls. As the man himself once said:

“A person who has good thoughts cannot ever be ugly. You can have a wonky nose and a crooked mouth and a double chin and stick-out teeth, but if you have good thoughts it will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.” ~ Roald Dahl

Idealistic I know but there’s truth in that statement. However, it’s time for me to come to terms with how I really look.

My lovely friend took and posted a video of me on Instagram at the weekend and secretly, watching it back on my own later, I was devastated. I look awful, all chins and bad skin. But really, so what? I was pissing about in the park with a friend and he cut the video to the chorus of Buffalo Stance by Neneh Cherry (my favourite song of all time). My hair looks good and I’m wearing my favourite outfit. Above all else, I’m having a laugh.

So I’m not beautiful like my friend, who looks like Bambi’s girlfriend on her very best day – I’m still loved and lovable and cool. I have never been beautiful and my life was never meant to be lived like a drop dead gorgeous person – if anything, perhaps I’m lucky?

I am sure I don’t have to worry about half the things my fit friends do. I mean, that sounds cavalier because all women have experiences of being harassed or made to feel uncomfortable – and it seldom has anything to do with looks. But I have been around seriously good-looking women who are treated differently to me. It looks tiring.

If I can truly accept that I’m no looker and tell the world, “I’m ugly and proud” then maybe I’ll be happier? I’m tired of kidding myself.

It’s much easier said than done though, isn’t it? I’ve recently talked about making more effort with my appearance which is quite contradictory to what I’m saying here. Or is it?

I mean, taking pride in my appearance as self-care is different altogether to trying to conceal how ugly I am. There’s not enough highlighter or eyeliner in the world to polish this turd – if anything, it makes me look even worse. I can have fun with it though for the sake of how it makes me feel. Accepting my ugliness has nothing to do with letting myself go.

Really accepting one’s self is a delicate balancing act – on one hand, accepting that I’ll never be a knock out is quite liberating. It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks of me as long as I’m happy and feeling myself – and I am under no obligation to be pretty and shiny. I don’t need validation from others in the way I did when I was 21 either, though yes it is nice when someone compliments you.

But on the other, man this world is cold and harsh at the best of times – and it’s hard not to compare ourselves to others or covert what they have. A thigh gap, bigger eyes, perkier boobs.

I can’t do it anymore, I need to step away from the Photoshopping apps. I’m deleting them as soon as I finish this post. If I don’t, who knows where it will end? I’ll be Edvard Munch’s The Scream with four inch eyelashes.

From now on, I accept it: I’m not pretty, and that’s a) a fact and b) totally, honestly okay.

*This is absolutely no shade to anyone who edits their photos. Many of my friends are pros at it, and I respect it.

(All images by Juno Calypso)

Maximum Effort

So much of my mental health is tied up in how I look. In the sense that when I feel I look good, it makes me feel better and stronger – and when I’m not looking my best, it drags me down. It’s a vicious cycle because on the flip side, if I’m down or not myself, I’m less inclined to slap on my face.

Women are screwed either way. This is something we’ve always known. If we spend too much time on our appearances, men are the first ones to remind us they like the ‘natural look’. We’re called narcissistic, vain – but when we don’t brush our hair and skip the concealer, we’re hideous hags with no value in this world. Worse sometimes, we’re completely invisible.

Of course it’s exhausting and unjust – but it’s nothing new. I try not to let it get me down but it still does, especially as I grow older. I don’t remember the moral of this post, it’s just a stream of consciousness running through my head at the moment. I think I’ve said before that not a day goes by I’m not preoccupied with the way I look – whether it’s my body, my hair – my face. It’s always a spectre on the horizon – staring at me. Do we all feel this way?

Anyway, I looked at myself in the mirror this morning and it was worse than ever. Hair like straw, fringe in need of a damn good trim, dull skin – with yesterday’s make-up crusted around the eyes. I put a comb through my hair and washed my face but this is not how I wish to present. This isn’t me – and you know what, it’s not acceptable that I’m too tired every day to make an effort. I’m not doing this for anyone but myself but here and no I vow to put my face on and prioritise my self-care.

Tonight I’m going to do a pink clay mask and deep condition my hair – once I’ve taken off today’s slap-dash eyeliner. I’ll get a trim tomorrow and I’m getting my nails done on Friday.

I’m getting back in the game.

Get Me Bodied

I wrote this for my work blog but thought I’d share it here too because… I’m lazy.

I’ve talked about my “complicated relationship” with this old carcass I call a body before but I’ve been thinking about it again in relation to Mental Health Awareness this week because the theme this time is Body Image – and how we think and feel about our bodies.

Even joshing about it being old and decrepit sums up how I feel about my body – it’s a love/hate kind of thing and I choose to look at it with humour, something I have worked long and hard to do. Most people have low self-esteem at points in their lives and particularly when they compare how they look to the media (and society’s) narrow view of what is beautiful. The beauty of low self esteem is that it can strike at any time, at any age – and nobody is safe. Which means we’re all in it together.

For me it’s been a 40-year journey to get to a point where I love my body, even when it aches, even when I’m looking at pictures of Scarlett Johansson and cursing the fact we’re not identical twins. And even when Joan from Accounting is talking about how disgusting she is because she accidentally walked past a cupcake in the break room once. I really do see this relationship as an ongoing project, the most important project perhaps in tandem with mental health – the body and mind after all are so intricately connected.

I don’t know if there is any tried and tested way to get to a good place with yourself but I personally believe it surrounding yourself with positive influences can help enormously. For instance, only following people who enrich your life and your worldview on Instagram. Why keep up with people who make you feel bad? I unfollow as quickly as my fat little fingers will allow if I read or see something that doesn’t align itself with that philosophy. Life is hard enough, give me all the positivity and light. And no, there’s nothing to be learnt from another person’s view on your body – it’s yours alone and truly, it doesn’t matter what anybody else thinks or says about it.

I also choose to dress nice (when I can be bothered) and cover myself in weird and wonderful tattoos, that’s my own personal jam – and not necessarily a recommendation. Diet and exercise are always cited as great for mental health and can help you feel better in your own skin but what you do and how often again is only your business. The gym isn’t for everybody and let me assure you it is not for me. I like a walk while I listen to podcasts.

The Mental Health Foundation‘s tagline for this campaign is #bebodykind and I think it’s a good place to start. But it does need to encompass all body types, even the ones you don’t personally like the look of or the ones you don’t understand. So be kind to your body as much as you can and be kind to others too.

There are lots of interesting and surprising facts to be read about a research done on Body Image here, if you fancy – as well as helpful resources if you feel you need some support.

What are you thoughts on Body Image?

No Resolution(s)

I’m not making proper resolutions this year, I’m just going to be kind to myself in 2019 and write. I’m going to write so much that my fingers fall off.

I really don’t like New Year at all but even I can’t deny there’s a certain tingly sensation associated with starting afresh. Autumn is my rebirth season as I’ve mentioned before but the new year does bring with it new diaries and fresh pages – and I can’t help but think this time might be different. Perhaps I will learn to speak Mandarin in 2019, you don’t know, it could happen. (It’s not going to happen).

Maybe I will stop shopping, save a load of money and sink it into a future business, maybe I’ll visit Japan and fall in love with it and stay there forever, swirling endlessly beneath the falling cherry blossoms.

Or maybe I’ll just read a lot and watch a lot of films like I did last year and be more than content. All I do know is that I am so happy to be hibernating for the rest of the year and well into February. In fact I don’t have any wild plans until Valentine’s day when my love and I go to London to hang out with Neneh Cherry (she’s totes going to want to after spotting me in the crowd at the Camden Roundhouse in a t-shirt with her face on it).

I’ve never needed to nest more. December burnt me out (can you relate, I think we all can), not just with all Christmas had to offer but I took a lot on at work too. It’s going well but I want to keep the momentum going so I’m giving myself space to focus on it. I can’t wait to get creative again either, to get back to the Collab and to the podcast with a fresh eye.

So no time for resolutions, just nice things. Fuck knows what 2019 will bring. Things are scary in this country at the moment, so much so that I almost can’t stand it. Burying my head in the sand can only take me so far – all we can do now is face the year head on and take it one day at a time. That’s as close as I’ll get to political talk on the blog, don’t worry.

Whatever you’re doing, whatever your resolutions may be or your goals, I support you. I hope 2019 brings you untold joy and minimal stress.

And thanks for reading ❤

Old Wounds

As a person who worries way too much about what other people think of me, I often agree to things I don’t want to do.

Nothing crazy, just meetings that don’t really hold any value for either party involved, that are arranged just to tick a box. An obligation box if you will.

That might sound harsh but surely we all do it? I’m trying so hard to be more honest about these things, to only agree to things I want to do, see people who bring me joy – treat my down time as something special, a currency to be used wisely.

This week an old, old friend of a friend contacted me about meeting up as she’ll be in the country in July. I mean, we’re Facebook friends and everything but the basis of our relationship was always my old best friend, the one I broke up with nearly seven years ago. They were in a relationship and I hung out with them a bit when I lived in Vancouver.

When she contacted me it felt rude to say no even though my first instinct was to ignore her message. She hasn’t done anything wrong. But really all we ever had in common was my OBF and she’s not someone I feel like talking about over a pint any time soon. I’m trying to let go of negativity, not rake it all back up.

But saying no does not come naturally. Anyone else the same? It doesn’t mean I’m selfless or saintly, it’s more that need I have to please everyone. It’s exhausting.

But after a pep talk from my friend Darren, in which he made me see I have the right to leave the past where it is, I told her it wasn’t something that would work for me. I told her I’d moved on and that I had no interest in looking  backwards again. And you know what? The world didn’t implode and she doesn’t hate me. We’re still Facebook friends.

A lesson was learnt in that simple action and I suddenly feel quite strong. I’m learning to let go and give myself what I need. I don’t have to do anything I don’t want to ever again (except go to work). I don’t have to please everybody all the time. There is always a way to be kind but firm about your feelings and it’s a revelation. Aged 40 I’m still learning to be honest.

Now who else can I cancel?! (Kidding).

Watching Girls Go By

I feel like I spend most of my summer months obsessively people watching. Watching girls to be precise. I can take or leave men in summer or any month of the year – but women in the sunshine are something else.

The best outfits come out in the Spring as we tiptoe cautiously into the warmer months and I start to think about all the sartorial possibilities. Hey, if she can rock a blue and yellow print midi skirt with a plain navy tee, then I can, right? Hot pink? Why not? Stripey shirt that looks like a pajama top and mom jeans? I’m in.

I love it, it feels like hope and happiness to me. While the sun itself is sometimes my arch nemisis (ginger, what can I say?), I do like what it brings out in other people and I love witnessing women feeling themselves. They inspire me.

And it makes me think about age again but in a more positive way. Of how I don’t think I’ll ever be middle-aged in my mindset or attitude, how even when my body is heading south and my bones ache, in my heart I’ll still be as hopeful and dreamy and dorky as I was when I was 12. There’s very little difference between the girl I was and the woman I am. Except I couldn’t have dreamt I’d have Wonder Woman tattooed on my arm.

I think about how I’ll still listen to pop music, probably the same ten songs I’ve listened to since I was a girl as I walk to work. How I’m happy to grow up but not too much – and how certain things make me feel ten feet tall: jumpsuits, red lips, my rainbow umbrella. Less material things too: kisses and inside jokes, post-orgasmic chills.

I’m in a good place here, things are blessed. Sometimes they’re hard and sometimes I’m tired but I’m always open. To new possibilities, to new people. I’m surrounded by love and good companions, new and old. Young and my age and I’m learning for them everyday. Through them and through myself I am working out who I am and how who I am is okay. Honestly, more than okay.

All this introspection comes with the sun and with watching the girls go by and maybe to me that’s the best part of Summer.

Crisp

I’ve had my first Pumpkin Spice Latte of the year so it is officially Autumn and therefore the real New Year.

Fuck January and the blues that subsequently follow the turn of the year. Fuck wet weather and grey days. This is my new beginning, that beautiful crossover, from Summer into burnt and rusty Fall. I’m here for it more than ever.

It’s corresponds perfectly with the start of my new job which admittedly isn’t brain surgery or saving puppies, but it is exactly what I needed to do and I’m feeling much more myself than I have in months. My last new beginning turned out to be miserable and more than that, damaging to both confidence and general well-being and I am so delighted to be free of it now.

I feel positive again and valued, and that in turn makes me want to start creating. I’m dying to get back into writing more, reading more and just being more present in the projects I love – and with people I want to spend time with. I want to do meaningful things, even if they’re just for me.

I want to be me again – and that is what I’ll be focusing on for the rest of the year (like, the official end of the year). I’m going to be kind and generous to myself – start as I mean to go on, basically.

In other news, my new work crew are all lovely and interesting people. I couldn’t be luckier and again, that’s why I wanted to leave my old job in the first place – to meet new people, stretch my wings, learn new things and mix it the fuck up. Now I’m going to enjoy it.

How’s your week so far?

Begin

I’m starting again. Again.

I’m delighted about it and I’ll write more soon when I can get all my thoughts together but for now, just know that I’m making solid plans to feel happier. That is my bottom line.

Oh, and obviously it’s not all that major, just a job change. I’m not selling all my books and moving to Antarctica alone. Not yet anyway.

I just wanted to take time to celebrate a little bit of light at the end of a long, long tunnel with you guys. And I’ll be getting back into writing more regularly soon, both here and elsewhere. I can’t wait.

How are you all? ❤