Hellosie, it’s Maisie. Sunday morning is being free of my hair and make-up routine.

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I’m beginning to have a problem with the concept of “perfect”. I love the purry sound of it; I admire it as an aspiration – the perfect frock, the perfect day, etc – but it’s become a buzzword in the beauty industry and as a result I think it’s being devalued. There are more skin and hair “perfectors” around than there are skin and hair types to go with them. Everywhere you look there are Skin Perfection (L’Oreal), Perfect Skin™ (advertised by massed ranks of Kardashians), Miracle Skin Perfector (Garnier), Perfect Look Skin Miracle (This Works), Shimmering Skin Perfector (Becca) and then there are all the attendant primers, lash builders, hair boosters, lip plumpers and whatnot. Is anyone else a bit fatigued by all this perfect-ness?

All these little pots, tubes and bottles of promised perfection are the cosmetic equivalent of airbrushing and I can’t say that I’m really a fan. I’ll grudgingly concede it’s OK, but no more than that, on young people – but I don’t like and don’t want to see any more characterless waxy faces. We’ve gone from “natural” through “enhanced natural” to “weird natural” (which isn’t natural at all). OK, everyone knows that ‘natural’ takes more skill and effort than it should.

I don’t need so much stuff on my face and what’s more I don’t want so much stuff on my face. If I start aiming for a flawless porcelain complexion on my face what do I do about the rest of me? Do I “prime” and “perfect” my whole upper body? Who are you trying to kid when you smooth out, fill in and “pixellate” (another buzzword) your face unless you extend whatever you’re doing down your neck and décolletage.

It’s part of a trend that supersizes everything – perfect isn’t perfect unless it’s super-perfect – so I worry too about haberdashery-sized false eyelashes and that they seem to have become a required part of everyday grooming. It’s quite common to see some poor thing blinking asymmetrically under a massive pair of eye merkins. And then there’s the hair – huge Disney hair, straggly hip-length hair that used to belong to someone else. Barbie hair. Barbie has got form in this respect, having her dabs all over a number of earlier anti-feminist body trends.

So why have current trends brought out such an insane degree of feminisation, doll-ification and perfectionism among young women? Aside from the obvious wider issues of objectification, lads’ mags and sexualisation it bafflingly seems to mark a return to some of the less healthy and more restrictive ‘beauty’ activities practiced by women centuries ago. Hairpieces and wigs (itchy and lice ridden), smooth complexions (a veneer of toxic white lead), features and expression painted back onto a blank canvas (mouse skin eyebrows anyone?). The wearers of today’s tattooed eyebrows and permanent makeup, who are perma-tanned, acrylic nailed and hairless everywhere except for yards of pretend stuff glued to their heads have been persuaded to turn themselves into superficially perfect, characterless, wax faced mannequins and they are, quite frankly, outrageously dull.

The whole point of genuine, heart-stopping beauty is that it’s not perfect. There is always something that’s slightly out of kilter that catches the eye of the casual observer – something arresting, imperfect and gorgeous: Georgia May Jagger, Lara Stone, and Lauren Hutton with their wonky teeth, Karen Black with her slight squint, Sophia Loren with her “too big” mouth and nose, the elegant, lovely facial planes of Katharine Hepburn.

The new “perfect” is insipid and anodyne and far too easily achieved with a nip here, a tuck there and the occasional shot of dermal filler. There has to be, must be, something more – What a fembot lacks we have by the barrowload – humanity, character, personality and wit and I’ll take that, over this so-called “perfection” any day.

Hellosie, it’s Maisie. Reading this will help you find true love. If you’re single.

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I’m 22 and have always been independent, into music, travel and lots of girly hobbies. Relationships were never my priority, especially as my parents had a very bumpy relationship and I seemed to spend an awful lot of time thinking about coming out from inside my bedroom. But I am worried I have missed the boat with regards to meeting someone. After what seems years of going on bad blind dates and internet based liaisons.

How many of us would respond “I am content with what I have” when questioned about our lives, and if so, how would that be received? I’m not sure it’s what they’re looking for on dating sites, but it should be ranked higher.

There can’t be a better way to change your fortunes than to learn to settle not for less, but for enough. It’s the easiest way to revolutionise our lives for the better. In pursuit of that elusive sense of gratitude for what, on good days, I recognise to be a pretty brim-full cup. So, let me share my little annual tradition with you. For several years, on New Year’s Eve I’ve written, in the present tense, an imagined dream scenario 12 months hence – what I hope my life will be like when I sit down to write again.

It’s easy to while away a whole lifetime never feeling you’ve moved forward, always fretting about what you’ve failed to achieve. Our cultural embrace of conspicuous consumption means we feel eternally short changed, convinced that one more thing (or person) will lead to happiness. Looking back on my lists, usually penned under pressure as I prepare for a glass of bubbly and the drone of “Auld Lang Syne”, I’m horrified by the prose but surprised by how much of what I’ve described has insinuated itself into my life. Whether it was a move to a new apartment or a meaty job I could get my teeth into, much of what I secretly longed for has eventually, in circuitous ways and over extended periods, come to pass. Writing down my desires helped to take them out of my hands and, more importantly, my head. Committing my hopes to paper and describing my dreams helped me to work out priorities, to feel thankful for what I have achieved, and to focus on what I want to do next.

So, imagine the partner you wish for, place him or her in a tableau that encapsulates your dreams, and commit them to a page in your notebook. Then stuff them and your imagined world where contentment reigns, in a drawer or box. Giving oxygen to your desires is important, and this tradition will help you to keep track of them as they start to manifest in your real life, too.

Finding a partner when you’re happy with your career and your life is not just easier, it’s far more likely. It also gives solid ground on which to build a future together. Whether their online (your catchment area is global, so I wouldn’t dismiss its potential), down the local pub or about to knock your newspaper out of your hands on the metro, this person is out there. Give them space in your imagination, get on with your life, and I know they’ll materialise. Just let me know when they do, okay.

Hellosie, it’s Maisie. I eat therefore I am on a continuous diet.

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I recall a school friend of mine once put the doughnuts I was eating in a bin then covered it with washing up liquid to ensure I didn’t eat any more. We both agreed that this was abnormal behaviour but subsequently I know I have done similar on several occasions.

I have never been officially diagnosed as having a disorder but at some point, in my early teens food was an overwhelming focus in my life, affecting my relationships, social life and mental health. This has left me both without external recognition of the ‘recovery’ I have made from my disordered thoughts around food and the worry of whether my behaviour is more commonplace than I suspect.

Sharing this story is motivated by finally acknowledging at twenty-two my own complicated relationship with food in the most open way I feel I can. However, it’s also in the hope that my own experiences may resonate with others so they can see that eating and living like this is something that needs to be recognised, acknowledged and addressed.

My continuous diet.

From what I can remember, I had a healthy relationship with food as a young child. I was encouraged by my family to enjoy three meals a day with lots of fruit and vegetables. As a result, I pretty much ate whatever I wanted throughout my childhood and don’t remember caring about food or my weight on any consuming level.

I was not popular at school between the ages of 12 and 13, but not about my weight. However, I do wonder if it is relevant to the diet I began at 13. I assumed that the school friends or lack of had no serious psychological impact on me although it was one of the most stressful periods of my childhood when I felt utterly helpless. Despite believing I was not someone who needed control in my life, this diet was the first sign of the huge amount of self-discipline I could exert over my food intake.

The diet was easy and just involved cutting down on calories, not snacking and watching the weight melt away. It wasn’t as if I woke up one day with a sudden obsession with food. What happened was more like a slow, steady process of change where the seeming simplicity of that first diet was lost and I fell into a worsening relationship with food like Alice falling into Wonderland.

In all other areas of my life, I was a relaxed person who had a reputation for being a swot and so I believed I simply didn’t fit the stereotype of someone who might have developed a disorder.

I didn’t do anything particularly disordered at first. I didn’t exercise to excess, I didn’t punish myself if I ate anything calorific, I didn’t restrict my intake of food if I thought I’d gone over my calorie limit, I didn’t let my hands search out ribs in the shower. As the summer of my final year in high school came, I even loosened my diet to be less restrictive and enjoyed a relaxed summer with family and food.

At some point during college, my habits became more intense. Whenever I wanted to lose weight faster I would simply skip meals. I began reading message boards for people with eating disorders, partly so I could gain tips for restricting my own calorie intake and partly for a paradoxical reassurance that I didn’t have a disorder myself.

There was lots of discussion on these boards about a phenomenon called ‘fake anorexia’ (there was some catchy name for this idea, but I can’t remember it now) and how these ‘fakers’ did not understand the real struggle of ‘true’ anorexics. I felt perhaps they were right in labelling my disordered eating patterns as something ‘fake’: I could switch very quickly from a few days of skipping meals back to eating regularly, in comparison to the life of permanent starvation I imagined for someone with a ‘real’ eating disorder.

The buzz of controlling my weight was hugely enthralling and filled me with euphoria like nothing else did. In the TV show Skins, the character Cassie, a recovering anorexic, tells her teacher that not eating was the “happiest time of her life” and this line still lights up my brain with utter recognition.

At college, I had dropped to a low weight and my periods where effected, as they had from about the age 15 onwards. I was also working far too hard and sleeping for around four hours a night before returning to the library to continue the cycle of working, going to the gym and not eating. I would look at myself in the mirror with a mixture of glee and horror. I was fascinated by how much I had managed to distort and adapt my own body.

Being thin was so tied up with my idea of who I was as a young adult.

By the time, I returned home my parents were impressed by my eagerness to get up early and go job-hunting but I only remember that summer as a blur of buzzing about, feeling physically incapable of sitting down and avoiding eating or drinking at all social events. I’d begun to see alcohol as another enemy and took to pouring my drinks down club sinks to avoid the calories.

Back living with my parents, it was more difficult to maintain my restrictive diet. I gained back weight I had lost and then some. Looking back at pictures of this time are particularly painful and I feel almost no connection with this person who, in my mind, looks like a blown-up version of myself.

I somehow now seem to have reached a strange middle ground. I am a healthy weight for my height. I can look at photos of myself without grimacing at the roundness of my cheeks or feeling secretly smug at how my collar bones pop out of my shirt. I am now, seemingly, incapable of skipping meals like I did and binging has finally lost any appeal (how? I don’t know).

I am not happy with my body but I am not desperately miserable. Do I long for the days I could get a thrill from realising I’d not eaten for nearly 24 hours? Where I could resist chocolate with ease? Where I could reassure myself with a quick assessment of slightly protruding ribs or hipbones? Yes, to a degree.

I do not know how I have reached this stage. As I entered adulthood, it seemed silly to turn down wine because of the calories and it seemed ludicrous to skip eating meals most of the week because I would be eating out at the weekend. I feel that perhaps my body refuses now to join in the games my mind used to play with it; at last, they are working together and are not enemies.

I know I am lucky to some degree. I am lucky that I managed to ‘recover’ without medical help. But I also feel unlucky that thinking about food and my weight took up such a huge part of my teenage years and I often wonder how many other people have had or are having their own secret battles.

Absolutely no Tinder on Sunday.

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This year already, more than a thousand words were added to the English Oxford dictionary. Among them, “to ghost” was defined as abruptly cutting off all contact with someone by no longer accepting or responding to phone calls or messages. A bit like breaking up with someone suddenly.

On a recent Sunday morning in Starbucks, I asked my friend – let’s call her Yoga Mad Woman – about it: “What’s your go-to technique for breakups?” My friend, an intelligent and attractive woman in her early 30s, twisted her mouth and face a little, displaying internal reflection.

‘The truth is, I never break up with people,’ she explained. ‘I just disappear.’

Yoga Mad Woman, someone I had known all my adult life and who had shown consistency and loyalty in friendship, was clearly a complete buffoon with women she engaged with romantically. It was not unusual for her to be in two separate relationships with women she had (falsely) promised monogamy to.

Why do relationship breakups hurt so much?

The logic of this question has always made my brain overheat and boil down to a mush.

The number one rule about breaking up is to actually break up in person. Not telling someone? Just walking away or just to ghost is so annoying. How could you?! Can’t you at least take five minutes to call?

The worst thing about breaking up is finding out an entirely different side of a person you thought you knew well. She recalls one breakup – initiated by her – that left her a little freaked out. After she told her now ex-girlfriend, she became very cold. A week later, she received a package at her home address.

She opened the box and saw all of these receipts. She didn’t understand what they were, so she looked closer. They were receipts from restaurants, theatre and movie tickets, all these things they had done together.

Her partner of six months had been meticulously documenting every penny she had spent on her. Among the wide-ranging pile of assorted receipts, she found that there were some on which he had written, and circled, the relevant sum.

It felt like she was saying, oh, I spent all this money on you. It was a bit single white female-esque creepy. But a breakup can make you see the real person.

The minimum requirement in breakups is to voice the breakup. The alternative doesn’t just seem selfish, it’s unfair. People who are broken up with ‘shouldn’t have to do the emotional labour of putting two and two together and realizing it’.

What is it about letting people know where we are and where we aren’t that makes it so difficult? What is it about ourselves in that space of utterance that so many people would rather be silent or vanish?

Hurting people can seem inevitable in a breakup, but you can do it ‘as compassionately and responsibly as possible’.

It’s a cliché, but it is about communication, letting people know where you are and where you stand, and what you are thinking about, and daring yourself to word those things. That way, a wrong breakup is impossible.

If a person has had enough brain or brain management to tell you they have feelings for you, then they should have enough to tell you they no longer do.

Do not make it to the point where you’re cheating on someone, or feel repulsed by the person.

Do not deny the other person the possibility of meeting someone new if you’re no longer invested.

Do not be the person who picks a public space to shorten, or limit, the interaction.

Give the relationship the respect it deserves, including at the end.

Vanishing. I think it’s the rudest possible way to break something up. It’s unbelievably rude. Just let them know. Or even if you lie, it’s better. You can say something like, ‘I am really busy with work’; ‘I have too much on my plate right now’.

 Honesty goes a long way, and wrong or right timing should not be the question. There is always an appropriate time to break up with someone if you don’t like them, or you know something is wrong. It’s always a good time to be honest.

Just do it, basically.

My advice for breakups, and life, is pretty stellar. If you stay open with communication and honest of your needs, then no matter how it evolves, you’ll be fine. So much of love and relationships is about respecting yourself. If you lose yourself, it turns into disaster.

Everyone reading this could have a very strong social media influence, and why haters can be your best P.R.

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Influencer marketing is increasingly becoming a mainstay of the modern-day company’s playbook. For those here unfamiliar with the term, influencer marketing is the practice in which brands collaborate with social influencers across social platforms to promote their products through branded content. It’s a $1 billion-dollar industry. So, it’s no wonder it’s one of the fastest growing business sectors in the past five years.

The ability for brands to leverage the engagement that millennials have with their audiences on social platforms offers enormous potential for brand advocacy and engagement.

Through several mentors, I’ve learned a few strategies to help create a strategy to becoming a social media influencer. And everyone reading this could have a very strong social media effect on brands.

Start standing out by following celebrity or well-known influencers who are great at it and educate yourself on what they are doing. Absorb what they are doing. Learn what they are doing? And that’s the single most important thing you can start doing right now to help yourself: Educate yourself on what they are doing.

Continue building your strategy by investing a great deal of time in finding your niche. It is said, the best business to start is one where there is zero competition.

Then you must understand what is valuable in your niche. Look for ways to release dopamine in people’s brains through your social media. What I mean by that is find things that are highly valued by your audience and talk about them, and within that provide a rarity to your information. What I mean by that is create a solution for your audience to a specific problem and show them.

One of the major unique selling points of influencers is their ability to disseminate content to the people who care.

Unfortunately, brands see influencers as merely channels to push their content from the influencer to their audience. This is the wrong way to look at influencers. Too often, brands make the mistake of spending a lot of money on one influencer, whereas there is a value in the long tail of influencers. The variety of content means that collaborating with them results in higher engagement, more YouTube views and varied audiences.

But as you grow you will find people will hate you.

However, most people don’t realize how valuable their haters are to them. There is a progression that is very common among the successful influencers. Initially, haters don’t even know who you are. They ignore you. Then, they laugh at and ridicule you. After that, as you become more and more successful, they hate you because it reflects poorly on their own life. And then, gradually and over time, they come to love you.

So, understand that you could be in any one of those stages. But it is a process that you are working through. Each stage leads naturally to the next, and the process has been proven over and over again with almost all success stories.

So, don’t hate your haters. Love them, appreciate their free PR, and understand which stage you are in.

But by using the above framework you can increase your chances of becoming an influencer.

Absolutely no make-up Sunday.

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It used to be that making a political statement required protest banners and sit-ins – or at the very least, a hashtag. Now, apparently, all you need to do to is leave your lippy at home.

But what if you decide to forgo make-up totally for a day?

There’s something a bit odd about praising women for daring to bare all. Their ordinary face.

Are women’s natural faces really so controversial that they deserve applause for letting them out in public?

When we tell women they’re brave for simply showing us their normal, unmade-up face, the underlying message is that who they are without all the feminine trappings is just, well, terrifying.

When you really think about it, it sort of is: in a culture that tells women they need to wear makeup, tweeze, wax, shave, tan and cover up greys just to look presentable, our natural state of affairs is pretty controversial. But it shouldn’t be.

Let’s be honest: when a non-celebrity, average-looking woman goes without makeup, we don’t call her brave. Instead, we say that she’s “letting herself go”. (There are whole makeover shows dedicated to such women.) The only people who will ever be gushed over in magazine headlines for their natural beauty are those who were considered beautiful to begin with – and those whom we’re sure will go back to their standard makeup-heavy beauty routine as soon as the photo marketing opportunity is over.

At the end of the day, I care very little whether other women wear makeup. Some women love it, some hate it, and some of us feel conflicted about it. But many of us find it a necessity because very few women are immune to beauty standards – myself included. I rarely leave the house without at least some blush and mascara on. But I have no illusions as to why the thought of going bare-faced makes me so uncomfortable: it’s the sexism, stupid.

But it’s also sexism that makes us believe that celebrities showing their bare faces is a courageous undertaking. It’s not. They’re beautiful by most people’s estimation with or without make-up, and they’re able to avoid the cruelty that everyday women who shun make-up or don’t meet society’s beauty standards endure. But none of us are going to suddenly throw all our make-up away, are we?