This is some wholesome content right here. That can't fail to soothe!

For the first time in my life, I have Anxiety

I’m currently facing up to the fact that for the first time in my life, I have Anxiety. That capital letter is deliberate.

Even as I’m writing this I’m thinking about Googling “how do i know if i have anxiety” because in truth it’s been a very gradual realisation to come to. I know I don’t have a Generalised Anxiety Disorder because most things in life don’t worry me that much: I’m naturally a very sensitive person but since I hit 30 and stopped working in Finance I’ve found that I reach a state of calm just before an important meeting, an interview, speaking publically, or meeting new people. I’m relying on myself in these situations- to be prepared, to be engaging, to be intelligent- so my fears are really pretty minor here. In my everyday life I don’t have panic attacks and I don’t experience phobias or incapacitating fears that stop me getting on with things. But there’s something there.

I realised last year that I’ve been using stress to motivate myself. I’ve always worked well under pressure: I like to trot out the anecdote that one of my lowest ever marks for an essay at university was for one that I wrote and handed in early. And while all jobs have their pressurised times, for most of my working life I’ve worked in very cyclical roles that have periods of frenetic energy, and working in the charity sector often means being many things to many people. I’ve been riding that cortisol and giving in to a feeling of fear or stress in order to sharpen my mind and work quickly and efficiently. This probably helps to quell any fears about my abilities too as I don’t have time to worry about that aspect of my performance when I’m up against a tight deadline. Whether this plays in to my feelings of anxiety I don’t know, but they don’t feel unconnected.

Anxiety? Me? Pah.
Anxiety? Me? Pah.

I used to have this silly internal game with myself when getting off the final bus on my commute home: the Six Cat Challenge. If I could see six cats on that five-minute walk I felt like I’d won the lottery, and I would often report to M that day’s tally when I got indoors. The way my anxiety now manifests is to worry about each and every animal I see, whether pet or wild. I stare at cats’ stomachs to check that they aren’t too skinny, and I watch owners with their dogs to check they aren’t being angry or cruel. The sense of relief when I can’t see them any more is palpable. There’s a squirrel that I keep seeing at home and I feel so worried that there aren’t enough trees for it to be safe. Side note: did you know that squirrels screech a warning to other squirrels when they spot a predator? It sounds like a bird dying a slow horrifying death extremely loudly and it is chilling. That was my 5am wake-up call at the weekend, and of course I had to get dressed and go outside. The squirrel was fine.

Twice I’ve had episodes whereby I have felt I needed to help pigeons who were injured or abandoned and I have become hysterical. I now watch pigeons on my walk to work, willing them to be OK. A few months ago a man outside the Starbucks near work was surprised by some pigeons as he sat outside and his reaction seemed nasty to me so I shouted at him. Three times recently I have gotten up out of bed in the night to see what an animal-related noise was and I’m terrified that I will find a wounded animal and what will happen if I bring it inside (we have a cat). I put earplugs in if I can feel that I’m being hyper-aware of every noise in our quiet cul-de-sac, and I’m relieved when a crying noise is a baby not a creature. I can’t really give any examples of when an anxious or panicked feeling takes hold that isn’t related to animals, with the exception of M coming home after a few drinks and me getting worried, but that’s manageable. What bothers me the most is that it’s getting worse. And it can be really quite overwhelming.

Partly I just want to be the person who does the right thing. I’m sure I let people down all the time and that we all do, but I want to not be the person that walks away when they see something that I should help with. Somehow this has got enmeshed with the worries about animal cruelty that have been developing over the last year and have no doubt worsened since our precious Puss was poorly at the end of last year.  When I read this very brief article from the School of Life it made so much sense to me: not only does it ring true that anxiety is a manifestation of self-hatred and self-esteem issues, but it makes so much sense when I think about my own anxiety. My self-esteem has some deep-rooted issues but broadly I’ve shaken off those ways of thinking that I allowed to dominate my twenties. I’m not too much- although if I’m too much for you, that’s OK- and I deserve to take up space. My weight is no concern of anyone’s and I’m the happiest I’ve ever been. But I place much of my value in being a responsible, caring person for various reasons that I won’t go into now, that it seems totally logical that my anxiety would be related to whether I’m doing the right thing with animals that can’t defend themselves.

This is some wholesome content right here. That can't fail to soothe!
This is some wholesome content right here. That can’t fail to soothe!

So I’m not too sure what to do. The first thing I go back to year after year is a set of four principles that I copied sown in 2015, god knows from which source.  I just remember searching online for how to build my emotional resilience when things were feeling too much but I knew they shouldn’t be making me feel as out of control as they were. Number 2 is a life-saver for me:

  1. Dwelling on over-sensitivity tends to reinforce it, so make it a habit to notice these exceptions in real life when you show resilience. Now imagine what life would be like if you were resilient and didn’t feel so sensitive. How would you react? Focusing on your resilience as opposed to your sensitivity will cause it to increase.
  2. Write down the following words on a card and carry it in your wallet or handbag: ‘Just because I feel it does not mean it’s true.’ Reflect on this when your emotions start to spiral out of control to help you put things in perspective.
  3. Know your ‘soft spots’. This will help you to identify when you’re over-reacting. Where in your life do you feel most insecure? Gradually, you’ll be able to detach from the situation and observe patterns in your behaviour. For example, ‘Here I go again, freaking out about my boss praising a colleague instead of me. And there’s no need, it’s just my insecurity about competition’.
  4. Take a cognitive break. Go for a walk; sleep on it, count to 100. If someone has hurt your feelings, just consider the possibility that their intention was not to wound you. Put yourself in their shoes for a moment. Empathy is the best way to tackle hyper-sensitivity.

The next thing I’m going to do is to channel my stress into something that I’ll love so I’m finally having a consultation about the tattoo of a pigeon that I’ve been thinking about for so long. It’ll be my first where an artist has had input, and my first with colour. It feels cathartic.

Finally I know I need to read more, both to feed my intellect and to better understand what anxiety means. I have it pretty easy compared to so many people but that doesn’t mean I have to put up with a pit in my stomach and a racing heart every time a cat miaows at me. I can do little things like put out dry cat food, and I’ll continue to get up in the middle of the night if I think I need to. And I will think, deeply, about how I need to care for myself and what ways I can soothe the scared child inside who’s freaking out about why they can’t make a situation better. And I’ll stroke both of my beautiful cats.

Category: Life
Loz wave

A couple of steps to help you on your Body Positivity journey

I had a piece in mind recently, but just couldn’t get it written. It would have been alright but it didn’t inspire me and I’m painfully aware of how infrequently I’m writing or being creative at the moment. Part of it is that my head just feels so full and I don’t know what direction I want to be heading, but part of it is also just not knowing whether I have anything of value to say. But the subject of Body Positivity- put simply, just accepting your body exactly as it is- has been on my mind so much over the last few months, and I feel like I’ve gone too far on that journey to go back now. And with all this Tess Holliday Cosmo controversy, the subject has been right back at the front of my consciousness.

I’m certainly not there yet. I wouldn’t wear a body-con dress- even if it were my style, and who’s to say it isn’t?- and I don’t like anything that clings to my stomach. Which clearly is because I’m paranoid about how prominent it is and that might rightly lead you to ask what I know about Body Positivity if I can’t even wear a tummy-skimming t-shirt. But everything is a process, dear, and these are my thoughts on how to start your own BoPo journey.

Curate your social media

Instagram is not the root of all evil, and there is a lot more on it that dramatically-carved eyebrows, Facetuned photos, and cosmetically-enhanced behinds. There’s cats, for a start. Social media can be horrendous for your self-esteem for three main reasons: approval, comparison, and dopamine. Put briefly, we compare ourselves to others, we crave their approval, and we’re addicted to the dopamine hit that comes from a post that gets more Likes or a positive reaction.  Instagram and Facebook aren’t the enemy but they provide an excellent way for the enemy to get its point across. And in this case the enemy is whatever narrative ties into the things you already (erroneously) believe about yourself and how your worth is connected to your appearance.

This isn’t the time to go into how commercialism- and by extension capitalism and the patriarchy- has taught us these lessons, not least because it’s been said elsewhere by people far cleverer than me. But suffice it to say that it suits clothing and make-up companies, many parts of the media, companies claiming to offer cures for your fatness, and all of the other places that get your buck when you believe you’re less than, for you to carry on thinking that.

So change the narrative. There’s nothing you can do to change what a person walking down the street thinks of you and your face and your shoes and your weight, but you can start to re-programme your own thinking. Curate your Instagram so that when you absent-mindedly tap to open the app, you’re confronted with things that don’t make you feel shitty. Follow Tank’s Good News, pick the animal you like and follow a bunch of them, and most importantly start following Body Positive role models. Megan Jayne Crabbe (aka Body Posi Panda) is an obvious- and wonderful- one to follow,  but there’s plenty of phenomenal people out there with a positive message.  Grace Woodward- she of Britain and Ireland’s Next Top Model and former X Factor stylist- is doing fascinating things on  Instagram dealing with body issues. And Jameela Jamil’s I Weigh project celebrates what is wonderful about us that has nothing to do with our physical appearance. Surround yourself with positive things, and those messages will start to seep in. Even if you can’t believe it yet, even if the sight of fat rolls secretly revolts you and you can’t quite believe someone with wobbly fat has confidence, make sure they are the things you’re seeing. There is something to be said for faking it until you make it.

And make sure you follow people of colour and differently-abled Instagrammers, even if you fit into those groups. We are constantly bombarded with messages othering different communities so if you are starting your journey with body positivity and hope to accept yourself and be accepted- or to care less either way- then do your part by seeing people who aren’t always in the spotlight. The Tess Holliday commentary is incredibly important, but she’s also an above-averagely pretty straight CIS white woman.

The point is that filling your feed with images that have been filtered and edited and represent unattainable ideals is not the best way to buoy your self-esteem. By all means follow Kardashians and Jenners if you can appreciate the images as a kind of populist art, but the minute they make you feel bad about yourself: unfollow.


loz body pos
This is from a photoshoot we did at work. I hate this picture; it makes me look big and my contour is terrible. So I’m including it!


Learn more, as and when you’re ready

It doesn’t make you a bad feminist not to have read Gloria Steinem, and you don’t have to tackle academic texts on body image and self-esteem in order to understand and internalise Body Positivity. But integrating more media that deals with this subject into your life will help to focus your thoughts, and provide a source of strength when you’re feeling like it’s all too bloody hard.

If you have Amazon Prime- or know someone who will share their log-in-  then I would heartily recommend Dietland. It’s a little surreal, a little unpredictable, and it’s well worth a try. Dietland follows Plum, who is a talented writer and a funny, awesome woman, but is fixated on losing weight and how much better her life will be when she has. Set that against two rival feminist factions, with bodies falling out of the sky, and you have an amazing series that is dark and funny and thought-provoking without ever being preachy. I heartily recommend it but don’t take my word for it, find out what The Guardian thought.

There are more Body Positive books available now than ever, and more coming out all the time as publishers scrabble around for ways to try to make money from online movements in this era of new media. The upside of this is resources and representation; books from fabulous women about their journeys, and fat women selling well on Amazon. I haven’t actually read recent releases like Megan Jane Crabb’s Body Positive Power- often a bargain on the Kindle!-  or Virgie Tovar’s You Have The Right To Remain Fat, although I aim to. But one book I have read is Lindy West‘s phenomenal, hilarious, tear-inducing and life-affirming Shrill. I have loved West’s writing since Jezebel, and this book exceeded all expectations. I couldn’t recommend it enough, and FFS ask your skinny friends to read it too.

My final recommendation is that you follow plus size bloggers. I’ll list a few below whose output I enjoy but the point is to understand that while you are absolutely not defined in value or as a person by the size you are, or your appearance in general, you also absolutely have the right to give a shit about how you look. If a man or woman chooses to wear make-up or not wear make-up, that’s wonderful: but never don’t make the effort because you don’t think you’re worth it. You can find clothes that suit your personality- even if it’s a little harder folks, and rarely in a bricks and mortar store if you’re over a size 18-  and you absolutely should dress in a way that makes you feel comfortable, however bright or muted the colours are. Not every fat woman must wear a nipped-in-at-the-waist 50s style dress and heels to create the silhouette of an ‘ideal woman’. But I also recently wore that style to a wedding and loved it! So you do you.

Recs: Crystal Coons – Sometimes GlamCallie Thorpe, Your Size Your Style, and just search ‘plus size fashion’ on Instagram and find what speaks to you.


Full body pic of me- almost never happens! But I loved the dress and had a great night, so why not?
Full length pic of me- almost never happens! But I loved the dress and had a great night, so why not?


Take the leap: you’re worth it

It makes no sense that you are less valuable because you weigh more. Think about that for a second. Put aside thinking clothes look better on slimmer people, or fat is unhealthy, or a slimmer waist with a bigger (higher) arse and large, pert boobs is the feminine ideal. Park all that for a second no matter how strongly, truly, deeply you believe it. Think for a second about how you would feel if you just looked at the world through the eyes of someone who didn’t have to fight through a fog of disappointment and self-judgement before they put a t-shirt on, or walk into a pub. Then consider whether you deserve to feel better than you do now. Then remember that everyone does.

The first step to even starting to think about being positive about your body and other people’s is to understand that this is a radical notion, but to give it the oxygen of consideration. What if there was nothing wrong with being skinny, and nothing wrong with being fat? Would you eat differently, dress differently, exercise differently? It can feel huge, and that’s ok. It can also feel like a lie: that voice inside will tell you that you are embracing body positivity because you can’t lose weight so you’re somehow pretending it’s ok to be you because you’ve failed. Your inner mean person will catch sight of yourself in an outfit and ask you who the hell you think you are for standing tall and walking with purpose. How dare you think you have every right to stand on a bus or queue in a shop with that bulk, that height, that fat?

Sali Hughes wrote a good piece on the Tess Holliday controversy and it made a point that I have long felt deeply is true: shaming overweight people does not make them lose weight. Making overweight people feel that they are less valuable than thin people results in an obesity epidemic. Because when are you more likely to move your body more and fuel it better than when you think you’re worth that? Let people be themselves and it is far more likely that their bodies will settle where they are supposed to, based on genes and heritage and hormones. If your attitude to food is unhealthy then you’re shit out of luck because you’ve still got to eat to stay alive. It’s really bloody hard! And of course we have corporations creating food in order to make it more addictive, and CIS women’s bodies are evolutionarily programmed to store fat for baby-making. But the concern trolls don’t care about you- there are many ways to be unhealthy and it seems an amazing coincidence that overweight people get whacked with this stick so often. Yes, you should exercise: everyone should. It’s not easy. But being a size 8 does not mean you can run up stairs two at a time. And even if it did, that doesn’t mean the smaller person deserves love and respect more than anyone else. More than you.

You will also have to learn to accept that ‘flattering’ is a problematic concept because while the definition might be “enhancing someone’s appearance”, we as a society have broadly taken this to mean ‘enhancing someone’s appearance to conform to a societal ideal’, and when it comes to weight that means looking slimmer. It is almost impossible to explain how hard it is to not think about ‘flattering’ and conforming if you put something on that looks particularly good or bad to your own eye. If it skims your tummy and you like that are you trying to conform to a patriarchal ideal? Or do you just like the jumper? Or both? I don’t have the answers to this and I’m still trying to wade through the quagmire of my own thinking to try to know who I am if I’m not paranoid about my body all the time.

And some days I still am paranoid about my body. I pull my top self-consciously away from my stomach, and I worry that my clothes aren’t fitting the way I want them to. But just the very fact that I have introduced into my thinking the possibility that ‘fat’ does not equal ‘awful’ is so freeing. And I’ve started going to the gym, which I haven’t done for more than five years, but the effect on my mental health is already demonstrable. And I don’t give a shit that I look bigger than most in the gym because I’m doing something good and positive for myself. And of course sometimes I do care that people might think I look big and that I sweat so damn much when I’m on the treadmill walking at an incline, but I give myself a break. You can’t undo years (and years and years and years) of conditioning instantly, but you can just let your mind wander for a moment and think about how it would feel if you judged yourself on how you behave as a person, rather than the number inside a pair of trousers.


Category: Life
Seriously Strong cheddar spread colour2

We’re in October and here are some Things I Like Right Now!

I just wrote a truly horrendously depressing intro and then deleted it (well, cut it; I’m very indecisive) because we all know that the world is a terrible place full of guns and I don’t need to retread that ground here. I’m in the sweet spot between the bonkers beginning of term and the stress-spending of Christmas and I have a mini-break to Yorkshire with my girls coming up. Let’s breathe deeply, get more sleep, and reflect on some of the absolute rubbish that’s been propping me up in the last couple of months.

1. RuPaul’s Drag Race

For the longest time I may have thought that RuPaul’s Drag Race was actually about cars. It’s the sort of stupid assumption that hadn’t made it into a fully-formed thought and there’s really no excuse. I’m not sure what prompted me to start watching but there it was on Netflix and I needed an easy-going download, so we met and now I’m in love.

Source: http://www.sportsbettingexperts.com/
Source: http://www.sportsbettingexperts.com/

Once I decided to start watching, I realised that while it is outrageous and OTT, it’s not as painfully camp as I thought it would be and RuPaul has this incredible charismatic way with her; it’s not schlocky, it’s insanely well judged. The character that RuPaul has created in his drag persona is gorgeous and the show has all the classics of reality TV: arbitrary judgement, editing that creates villains, a lower tier destined to leave early on in the competition. But what it also does is make the viewer really think about drag as an artform, and as a musing on gender. At least two contestants have come out as transgender, which prompts a closer look at gender and identity politics: for some Drag Queens the artform reflects the feminine side of their personality, for others it is more driven by the love of performance. For some Drag Queens, is it a stop on the way to fully realising and reflecting their true gender? And as cultural and societal norms shift, there will be an interesting conversation to be had around the relation of body and genitals to a person’s sex and gender.

In the meantime, there are fabulous gowns, terrible wigs- if I’ve learnt anything watching RDR, it’s that you need to spend on hairpieces, queen- and some very funny ladies. Get you some (on Netflix).

2. Into The Gloss

I had heard of Into the Gloss, a US-based beauty blog, but mainly in relation to the brand Glossier, which has just started shipping to the UK (and doesn’t the beauty press know it). Glossier is famed for its cool products which are marketed with hot young people who don’t hide their freckles when putting on their make-up and just dab on a spot of concealer where they need it.  I cannot relate.  But ITG is actually quite a fun, accessible site; yes it still showcases those Beautiful Freckle Girls, but there’s also lots of features about fillers and hair products and self-tanning, and they’re mainly quite compact and easy to read when you only have a couple of minutes.

I’ve been binging on their Top Shelf feature which interviews all sorts of people about their skin care and cosmetics; chefs, writers, actors, Creative Directors of fancy brands. It’s in the subject’s own voice and of course some of the pieces are 300 words on products that cost hundreds and hundreds of pounds, but I still find the articles quite interesting and soothing. Along with the podcast Fat Mascara, it’s just a fun but well-written beauty diversion for the end of my lunchbreak.

3. Spreadable cheese

Modern thinking states that there are no guilty pleasures, that if you enjoy something then just accept it: there is no shame in enjoying Michael Bolton. But I feel like a cheese spread flavoured with Brie might be the exception. President Creme De Brie has been an absolute favourite of mine for a number of months; it’s cheap, tasty (arguable, but I like it), lower in calories than real cheese (about 300 cal for the whole 125g pot) and lasts ages in the fridge with a Use By of 2-3 months’ time.

President Creme de Brie
You broke my freaking heart, man!

Unfortunately- and I say that through stifled sobs- I have just found out that the President spready Brie is not vegetarian. NOT VEGETARIAN. I have been eating it with not an inkling! I’ve googled all the ingredients and most of them are not only vegetarian but vegan, so it must be the rennet used in the Brie. Which is weird because the normal President Brie is suitable for vegetarians.  It doesn’t say anything about its animal derivatives on the pack or on the President website, but Asda, Ocado, and Waitrose all state the fact clearly. I must accept it.

Anyway luckily the Seriously Strong Cheddar Cheese Spread is suitable for me. It makes me feel nowhere near as continental as the brie, but at least it’s a tasty spreadable treat that can stay in your fridge for months until you’re too lazy or full of red wine to cook anything, at which point you just open a pack of crackers and dig in. I’ll do my mourning in private.

Category: Life
LG Baked Balance & Glow colour crop

Things I Like Right Now (well, in June)

Well, the General Election didn’t turn out as disastrously as I feared it might when it was first announced. And some lovely people read my piece on Domestic Violence and said some very nice things so that was awesome and a huge relief. So clearly it’s time for some more frivolous things that I am currently enjoying!

1.Sanex Advanced AtopiCare Bath & Shower Oil 

Ooooh, just savour that name. Let it roll around in your mouth like the name of a French designer or a beautiful Lebanese dish. SanexSo exotic.

Picture credit: Tomas Knopp at the Noun Project

There is obviously nothing particularly sexy about the name ‘Sanex’  or the word ‘AtopiCare’, and while I find 500ml of almost anything alluring for four quid, this is really not a product that screams luxury. It is made specifically for people with Atopic Dermatitis (or Atopic Eczema) so it’s very gentle, hypoallergenic, full of emollients, and just very non-drying. I’m lucky enough to have escaped the family curse of eczema but I still really enjoy using a product that feels oily and comforting and never gives me the itchy shoulders I get with even quite expensive shower gels. I dare say someone less obsessed with body lotion might find this moisturising enough not to follow up with cream and while I wouldn’t feel comfortable doing that, it definitely makes my lotion last longer and my skin feel softer the next day. It’s got no fragrance so as to avoid irritation but even without, it still feels quite luxurious and comforting on the skin.

I’m also overjoyed to confirm that Sanex’s website states that “absolutely no animal testing is carried out” on their products, which is something I’ve been thinking about a lot recently and will be writing about soon.

I haven’t got an image because the packaging has changed recently and I can’t find a current photo that doesn’t go weird when I try to upload it: and taking a picture of the bottle that has resided in my shower for a month wouldn’t be very cute. But I’d definitely recommend it and you can get buy this fab, oily stuff at Boots or Superdrug or off the shelf in Asda like I did.

2. Laura Geller Baked Balance & Glow

This product has been an utter, utter lifesaver this month. I’d never tried Laura Geller make-up before because I was such a loyal bareMinerals fan and didn’t really see the point in trying a different powder foundation. Me Mam had said many times that she enjoys Laura Geller’s iconic Baked Balance & Brighten but it was only when QVC featured the new Balance & Glow that I decided to give it a whirl. With such hot weather and what seemed like a dive headlong from winter into summer, I thought a nice bronzed, glow-y sort of foundation would be very handy on days where the liquid foundation and all of its attendant layers were running down my face and pooling into my lap.

Thanks for the image, QVC! Laura Geller Baked Balance & Glow, £34.50 for a supersize
Thanks for the image, QVC! Laura Geller Baked Balance & Glow, £34.50 for a supersize

So I purchased and it stayed boxed for a week or so until I was having a lazy make-up day; took a while to build up and you have to be very careful not to be too heavy-handed, but it was a nice result. When this baby came into its own, however, was when I managed to sit outside for four hours in that hot hot hot sun the other weekend and I burned like an absolute bastard. SPF50 did nada. On a weekend, if I didn’t have plans, maybe I’d just brazen it out, but this was not the sort of burn that was going away immediately and I had work, including a v formal Trustee meeting.

So sad, so burnt, so sore.
So sad, so burnt, so sore.
Scabby nose, scabbing head.

Old Laura G came right to the rescue! I had to pack it on because the different areas of my face were so varying in colour- thanks five-year-old Burberry sunglasses, you’re very effective!- so I did look a little overly tanned. But seriously, the job this did evening me out and not caking or catching on my skin, was incredible.

The lighting is really harsh in both of these photos but I think that just shows what I had to work with
The lighting is really harsh in both of these photos but I think that just shows what I had to work with
I enjoy that Jeffree Star is on my monitor...
I enjoy that Jeffree Star is on my monitor…

Make-up like this really puts the emphasis on the glow, and the rest of the look can be quite minimal. I’d never go without blusher with a look like this though; even with a nice marbled foundation like this one, you need that colour to add light and shade back into your face. While I dealt with the agony of burnt shoulders, it was at least a relief to have a low-maintenance make-up regime to fall back on. I didn’t even need concealer! Happy Loz.

Better lighting, miserable face.
Better lighting, miserable face.

I chose the shade ‘Medium’, and while I don’t think I could have gone for the next one down- Fair- if I was made of money I’d probably have them both and use the Fair as an initial layer. Building up the Medium too much could see me into Al Jolson territory… I have tried a very thin layer of bareMinerals underneath and that works quite nicely thank you. Now it’s warming up again I’m really looking forward to shoving some of this on my face with a bit of gold eyeshadow and glowing for days.

Now it’s warming up again I’m really looking forward to shoving some of this on my face with a bit of gold eyeshadow and glowing for days.

3. The Longform podcast

I feel kind of guilty adding this podcast to a list because it deserves more fanfare, but I also think that describing it in too much detail would be very dull. If I over-explain what the podcast is about, it’s likely not to have the desired effect: i.e., to encourage you to listen to it,

Put simply, the Longform podcast is an interview- or perhaps ‘conversation’ is a better descriptor- between one of the three hosts of the pod, and a journalist. Those journalists are those who write longform pieces, that’s to say articles of between 1,000 and 20,000 words. This sort of length allows the exploration of topics, and incredible reporting, without the commitment of an entire book. The Longform podcast has introduced me to, or helped me get to know better, the most incredible writers - Ta-Nehisi Coates, Ariel Levy, Katie JM Baker, David Remnick, Pamela Colloff- and you really get to hear about the stories they’ve written, their approach, what they take away from their work. If that sounds dull, I promise you it’s not. It’s fascinating, human, challenging, comforting, and just my absolute favourite podcast of all time.


I rush to listen to the true crime podcasts I’m subscribed to the minute they’re available, but I always come back to Longform. The people interviewed and the subjects covered are just so varied, and it’s intellectual without feeling inaccessible or snobbish. I always feel cleverer and more informed once I’ve finished an episode but also like I’ve been wrapped in a warm blanket. It’s honestly just a joy. I’ve now listened to about 200 episodes and it’s my absolute desert island podcast. Thanks Max Linsky!

Category: Style

Things I like right now

Hey, it’s another post about fun things! I’m still pretending that the election isn’t happening! Here’s three things I am currently loving.

1. Tan-Luxe Facial Drops

A nice bit of glow on the face can lift the complexion, even it out, and mean you need less foundation, but I’ve always been wary of facial fake-tanning: I’m quite scared of fake tan in general as I never seem to get it right. The other option is a gradual tan in a moisturiser but that means applying a moisturising product or brand that you wouldn’t usually pick, and why am I using all these fancy anti-ageing things to just finish them with something I wouldn’t choose?

It's £35 but a little goes a long way
It’s £35 but a little goes a long way

Enter Tan-Luxe, full name: Tan-Luxe Illuminating Serum Self Tan Facial Drops (bit of a mouthful). You mix 2-4 drops with your own moisturiser (GENIUS) and then over a couple of days of use, a very natural tan develops. It doesn’t add weight or greasiness. There can be a very slight waft of fake tan smell occasionally but I usually don’t find that unless I use 4 full drops in the morning. As a light-to-medium skinned person, I would say that the Light/Medium option I went for is very subtle and I could probably have gone for Medium/Dark and used less, and the Medium/Dark is a great option for darker-complected ladies who want to warm up their skin during the winter months. I’ve been using this for about three months now and have had no patchiness or dryness, the tan has looked very natural, and I’ve been able to use all my beloved serums and Liz Earle products without compromise.

2. Cat Marnell’s How To Murder Your Life

I know this sort of book divides people, but I’ve been a sucker for a bright-woman-with-issues book since I read Elizabeth Wurtzel’s Prozac Nation, and then everything else she wrote. When I came across Marnell’s pieces on xoJane I was hooked; her disregard for what others think of her is fascinating and her conversational but stylised writing draws you in.

My beloved, shabby copy

XOJane is sadly no longer being updated but articles are still available to read, and I just found Marnell’s voice- so flippant in the face of so much pain- compulsive. How to Murder Your Life is Marnell’s memoir, of her privilege, her pain, her huge talent and success, and her inability to hold on to any of it. I’m about ten pages away from the end and I’ll be so sad to finish it.

Get it from Amazon or Waterstones for 10-15 bucks.

3. Ice Cream BLVD by Jeffree Star Cosmetics

I am a terrible, decadent cosmetics purchaser. I love trying new colours and styles, and I love stockpiling any essentials. Nine times out of ten, when QVC has a Today’s Special Value deal on make-up, I end up buying it: Tarte, BareMinerals, Becca, and all the other wonderful brands they stock. Sigh. I’m also a huge huge fan of Beauty Pie but that’s a whole other post entirely.


So I had promised myself that I wouldn’t buy any more make-up for a while but as soon as I saw it, I just had to have the Jeffree Star Cosmetics Lip Ammunition in Ice Cream BLVD. It’s pink with a lilac undertone, so on trend but without going too purple. Densely-pigmented and in awesome, kitsch bullet packaging, this little wonder has the power to cover fully in one sweep and still get more intense. I’m wearing it with fluttery lashes and neutral eyeshadow.

Apols for the selfies. I just feel it would be rude to ask colleagues to take photos of me
Apols for the selfies. I just feel it would be rude to ask colleagues to take photos of me

My favourite thing in a lipstick is buildable colour; I want that good, pigmented pay-off, but I also want to sweep it on and get a subtle wash if the mood takes me. And you can do that too. I can’t promise I won’t be getting more colours of these (and they are vegan and cruelty free).

Lipstick 3
See? Can be subtle too
Category: Style