I’ve set up a new knitting biz separate from Me And My Nan for all the sweary stuff that my Nan won’t knit.
Go along and add up the Tumblr for now, shop is coming soon!
Made this blanket for my baby’s nursery!
I’ve been meaning to write about the second trimester for a while, especially seeing as now I’m right at the end of it. I was toying with starting a whole new blog just for my inappropriate Mum stuff but I don’t exactly have the best track record (read: attention span) for starting new blogs. So… sorry guys who are here looking for pictures of my breasts. Even though they are bigger now they’re probably not what you are looking for… I’m getting more and more homely and Allsopp by the day.
Anyway, I digress.
Trimesters. I find the word ‘trimester’ a bit weird, seems a title more reminiscent of a Star Wars sequel or something but hey ho, here we are.
To the uninitiated (like myself) the second trimester is the middle bit of pregnancy. The bit where you stop feeling like gash while kind of getting used to the idea that your body is not your own anymore and that you are growing an alien in your stomach places. This is also the bit where you realise that pregnancy actually isn’t so bad… before the last trimester where you probably just feel like a lorry.
So here are some observations I have had along my merry way, with a smattering of poo humour, as is how I do:
You become a little bit incapable of talking about anything else.
Pregnancy messes with your life filter, so that the only things you notice are baby shit and other pregnant people, to the detriment of things like conversation skills and personality. Suddenly every celebrity you’ve ever known is pregnant, and so are loads of your friends! When truth is, it’s probably the same amount as before but you are now just HYPER AWARE and rabidly salivating like a dog on heat for no reason. I got weirdly super excited that Mila Kunis was pregnant the same time as me, even though previously the idea of Ashton Kutcher spawning would have made me puke buckets. I was like ‘Yay! Go you!’ every time I heard a celeb baby announcement… until Jordan went and ruined it. Now I think every Mum has probably shared a pregnancy with Jordan, even the 19th Century ones.
You start to notice what brand all the buggies are.
This was a weird one because I hate buggies. When you’re younger and used to being barged into by harried Mums and their buggies you’re like ‘ugh. Fuck OFF with your buggies’ and ‘Mums suck balls’ and various other terms of abuse too numerous to mention (‘WHERE IS YOUR THUNDERRC**NTING SPACIAL AWARENESS?!’). So the thought of joining the ranks of the ankle bashers fills me with fear a bit. I resisted buggies quite a lot and when we started looking at them three months or so ago they scared and confounded the shit out of me in equal parts. Now they still do, but I know all the makes and their various ‘features’ and absolutely cannot walk past one without checking out what its owners went for. I have come to the conclusion that the secret to buggies is that they all have a downside. There is no perfect buggy, they all have their own pros and cons so just pick what you think is the right one for you and hope it doesn’t collapse (but whatever you do, don’t read the reviews on Mumsnet about it as apparently they hate EVERYTHING).
We opted for an iCandy Strawberry (above), which I’ve since been told is one of the posh ones, but it looked relatively stylish and inoffensive and has a cup holder so I was like fuck it. In an alternate reality I’d be balling about gangster-style with a full on Oswald Copperpot Silver Cross number (dressed like Jack the Ripper or a mental goth Lolita, of course) but apparently they’re ‘not practical’ and I’m having to get used to those words a lot now. Either way I’m pleased with our choice and thankful to Sam’s parents for spoiling us as if it were down to our budgets we’d be pushing the baby around in a trolley.
You still worry.
Even though you are over the risky first trimester, you still worry if everything is okay in there, although I have relaxed a bit and drank more cans of Coke. Sorry baby. Lets face it, you’re probably genetically predisposed to have ADHD anyway, and I have been good and not chuffed on fags or booze. Or crack or tramps…
However, now the worry of losing her has been replaced with the worry of her coming early, or being ill, or something going wrong. Which I suppose are natural fears but even so I try not to think about them too much. Whatever happens, happens. Plus with all the scans you have nowadays I don’t know if it’s better or worse than back in the day when nobody knew any better and you just had to wait it out, chuff 50 fags a day and hope for the best. The scans can be stressful events in themselves… but I guess they are helpful for doctors and it’s nice to see what your baby looks like. Unless you get one of those 4D scans where the baby looks like it’s made out of earwax. Those things haunt my dreams.
I knew I wanted to hypno birth as soon as I found out I was pregnant. Being naturally quite an anxious kind of person (who hates hospitals!) it seems like the right choice for me. I figured whether I decide to pump myself full of baby-birthing-crack-drucks or not it can only help. Finding classes etc can be difficult, as it’s still not all that common but we managed to get a recommendation off of our midwife onto a Wise Hippo course, and so far it has been really good. A lot of it is based on science and how your body works so it’s not at all as namby pamby as it sounds. The basic idea of it is that fear and panic take blood and oxygen away from where they are needed (aka your uterus and baby) so by being scared you elongate labour and potentially make it more painful than it needs to be. Obviously it’s easy to say ‘don’t be scared’ and a lot harder to practise, so what hypnobirthing teaches is relaxation techniques that help you relax when it comes down to the crunch. If you think about it logically, birth is a really natural process that women have been doing for thousands of years before epidurals were invented, and the good thing about hypnobirthing is that it gives your partner things to do to help it all along rather than taking selfies and leaving you to it (although I’m sure horrendous Snapchats will be sent by both of us FYI).
As does Yoga.
I was a yoga-goer anyway (Haha, yoga-goer - what a douche phrase) but recently I started to go to antenatal yoga and it’s really good for helping hammer home the relaxation techniques you learn at hypnobirthing, and for practicing mindfulness (which is a code-word for living in the moment, folks.) Plus my yoga teacher let me borrow this awesome book which I cannot recommend enough for sheer hilarity.
It’s a book from the 70s by this lady who was the first midwife on an American hippy commune called The Farm. She delivered hundreds of babies naturally with no drugs (even breech births!) and the book is just full of really happy, positive birth stories that are the complete opposite of the horror stories you see on One Born Every Minute. I found it really informative, plus some of the stories are really funny. Plus it has PICTURES!
The bump takes time.
I was proper naive and thought that you got a big bump straight away when you’re pregnant, like at 2 or 3 months but it actually happens quite gradually. Well, up until a point. I spent about 5-6 months just looking a bit chubby and then one day I woke up and POW this bump just came out of nowhere.
I mean, just look at it! It felt like it grew overnight. A week ago I could do my trousers up at work and now I can’t even do the zip up, which is the oddest sensation. I feel like Eric Cartman on Weight Gain 4000, except the rest of me still looks kind of normal. To be honest, I’ve actually found it quite fascinating watching my body change and grow, even if I am freaked out by own bellybutton nowadays. Seriously, it’s so gross. It looks like a stranger.
It all starts to make sense.
One of the things being pregnoid has made me realise is that all of it is so psychedelic and natural, man (sorry, slipped into hippy mode there). The most recurring thought I have had throughout is ‘this is what my body was made to do’ as my body gets on and seems to just do whatever the fuck it likes. Obviously that’s not so great when you’re halfway through a 9-hour shift at work and your body decides to just shit itself for no reason (which to be fair it did quite a bit when I was not pregnant) but when you start to feel your baby kicking inside you it feels so mentally surreal and natural, and completely-not-weird-at-all that it makes all the gross stuff you go through worth it.
You’ve reached the point of no return.
Whatever happens now, good or bad, I have to give birth to it. That sunk in for me just the other day and I was like… fuck.
And that’s it really. Obviously pregnancy is different for everyone, so these are just my views. I’ve found the whole thing to be really positive thus far which I think has a lot to do with me being in a happy, positive place in general and having a really supportive partner. I think if I could tell my younger self anything it’s that it’s really not as horrible or scary as I had built it up to be. You hear so many horror stories that it actually takes quite a lot of work to counteract them! But the nice stories are out there… here’s hoping mine can become one of them (fingers crossed!)
[Cue crying Britney-inspired Youtube video]
I’ve been reading the backlash against Kirstie Allsopp with great interest, partly because it has tapped into various thoughts I have been having of late about feminism and the like. I do think Kirstie gets a hard press a lot of the time simply for having an opinion, for being ‘too posh’ or whatever. She seems alright to me, she’s good at her job on the telly and by the sounds of things has a happy family life to go home to. A lot of hoo ha has been made at her comments that she “puts her partner first” but within the confines of a happy relationship I don’t see anything wrong with that. You have to consider the context. She’s not saying her partner forces her into violent sex or anything unpleasant, she’s just saying she lets him decide what they do with the kids on the weekend, which you know, is pretty pedestrian and fair enough. There is a lot to be said for doing things to keep your partner happy and it doesn’t diminish your role as a strong woman. There’s a lot of strength in treating others as you’d wish to be treated; being caring, being nice, and not treating your partner as your adversary or enemy. I doubt she’d be speaking in such glowing terms about her relationship if her partner wasn’t also doing the same for her. After all, the article is hardly about her unhappy relationship (which for the Daily Mail is rare). I know I put my partner first, obviously not to my own detriment (I learnt my lesson on that one), but I like to put in as good as I receive and yes, that makes me very happy. People forget that a lot of enjoyment/happiness can be derived from doing things for others rather than thinking about themselves all the time. All relationships are a balance, you get what you put in, and I don’t propose myself as an expert on them because I’m not. All I know is what works for me and what makes me happy, which is the exact same perspective Kirstie was speaking from.
As far as it being a ‘dangerous’ message, I think there is a difference between misogyny and being comfortable, happy even, in your chosen gender role. As long as something is clearly a conscious choice it is not demeaning, damaging or even anyone else’s business. If a woman wants to take on a more traditional role at home then that is HER CHOICE, the same as it is her choice not to. Out of the many freedoms feminism has afforded us, that is an important one. We have earned the right to choose what life we want to lead, and while there are still strides to be made in certain arenas (such as equal pay) we have still come pretty far.
I personally think Kirstie’s views on University and the fertility window are very valid. She’s not saying women shouldn’t go to University, she’s saying there is plenty of time. Also, as someone who had their children later on she’s not even advocating a ‘do as I did’ attitude, she’s just opening a conversation by proposing a theoretical alternative. The current University-career-marriage-children path is obviously failing for some, and a lot of women are struggling to conceive or even missing out on motherhood because of it. The one thing we can’t fight is our biology/genetics. Too often we are brought up to believe that having a family can wait - that it is something that can be put off - when the reality for many is that it can’t. I didn’t have a discussion with anyone about kids until I hit 30, which is pretty late! Previous to that it was something I had been too embarrassed to talk about. When I finally opened myself up to the possibility of motherhood and found out about the nosedive your fertility takes at 35 and also learnt from my Nan that the women in my family suffered from early menopause I was shocked. I honestly thought I had all the time in the world and it forced me to grow up really quickly and I am lucky in that I have conceived pretty easily (even if it wasn’t planned!) It’s not that I wish that I had done it all sooner, I just wish that I had been more informed. That someone had had a discussion with me at 18 asking me if University was what I really wanted by highlighting the pros and cons of the different options that I (didn’t know I) had.
Conversely, my Mum had me while she was studying for her finals at University, so on the one side I’d put off having children/settling down as I hadn’t wanted to struggle and go through financial difficulty like my Mum and Dad did by having me young, but at the same time I realised I didn’t want the option of a family completely taken away from me. What Kirstie proposed is actually pretty sensible: work hard straight out of school, stay at home and save to get on the housing ladder (ensuring financial independence), settle down in your twenties when your fertility is highest then go into higher education later on. Obviously it’s not one size fits all for everybody, but neither is being pushed into University when you’re young. I learnt the hard way that the University model that worked for my parents just didn’t work for me. Unless you know exactly what career path you want to take (which lets face it, at 18 is pretty unlikely) then a degree straight out of school isn’t the guarantee of a ‘good job’ it once was. What happens now is you leave Uni with a good degree only to find that you don’t have enough experience for the ‘good jobs’ and you’re over-qualified for the jobs that will get you the experience. It’s a catch-22, and an expensive one at that!
Having said that I feel like I do have a responsibility to my unborn daughter to educate her on her options. To have this conversation with her while supporting her in whatever she wants to do, whether that be a housewife, a scientist or (god forbid) a glamour model. I want to make sure she knows that choices exist, that it is up to her what she wants to be… and for extra security I’ll be putting her future savings into a house fund - not a university fund - so that by the time she turns 18 she’ll at least have a little bit of financial security. These days that’s more of a guarantee of a better life than a bit of paper.
I love my friends.
I was always like “I will never get pregnant it’s gross” which was a life motto I stuck to until I hit about 30 and accidentally binged on Teen Mom and One Born Every Minute and thought well, maybe it wouldn’t be so bad… in ten years time. It sounds naive, but I had always thought that I was immune to getting pregnant (mainly based on the ‘evidence’ that I had never been before) and even went so far as to tell my doctor that I was immune, prompting her to shake her head and look at me like I was mental. “You’re just very lucky” she said as she jacked me up with Implanon and watched me trundle off all oblivious. Trololololol. Then I had a pregnancy scare which looking back wasn’t really a scare at all (it was actually nothing) but that didn’t stop it from being blown out of all proportion and scaring the shit out of me because my boyfriend at the time was an asshole. And here I am today: happily three months up the duff and that, massively by accident. And let me tell you, it is fucking weird.
It’s weird because you have these general ideas of what it’s all about that actually aren’t always true at all. I thought I’d be throwing up everywhere, sweating and all sorts, craving lumps of coal… but (as yet) none of that has happened. I just feel kind of… normal. In fact, a bit better than normal as I am actually really calm about it all, which is something I would have never expected considering the myriad of anxieties and phobias I cart around with me. It’s like my brain took a giant Vicodin, which I am sure is down to hormones. Those crazy hormones are pretty great actually, well, sometimes anyway.
The only time I’ve really freaked out (so far) was getting my bloods taken, as most of the time I haven’t really felt like I am pregnant. Which is one of those things that people don’t tell you. In fact, there are lots of things like that so I shall make a list.
Things no-one tells you:
**It’s a bit scary (but not for the reasons you think).
Once you’ve decided that you actually want to keep the baby your main fear becomes “oh jeez, I hope that little thing’s okay.” It sounds dark but for the first 12 weeks you are just really scared that you are going to lose it. Differing miscarriage statistics for the first trimester are bandied around like there’s no tomorrow and you’re told not to tell anyone until 12 weeks “just in case”, which is a bit of a downer. Of course, I told everyone at 5 weeks because I just couldn’t believe it. When we found out I think me and my boyfriend laughed, nervously, for about two days straight. Then I told all my mates and lolled some more. It just seemed like the thing to do, as at the time I didn’t know any better. Then the fear set in and I started to worry about losing it, then that was all I could think about until the 12 week scan. In fact, that thought still hasn’t gone away completely and it probably won’t until the baby is born. It’s always at the back of your mind. Added to that I actually did have a bit of a scare, which leads me to my next point…
**Blood is your enemy.
Bit of a minging one this, so matey boys might want to look away. As girls, normally you see blood and feel a sigh of relief, like ‘oh thank fuck for that’, etc. But when you are pregnant the opposite applies as blood seems to equal bad and can be the first sign of miscarriage. Or NOT, as I later found out there are lots of other reasons for bleeding during pregnancy which are all normal. Reasons I did not know about when I woke up in the middle of the night at 6 weeks bleeding profusely while my boyfriend was working nights. Immediately I rang the hospital and because the blood was red (rather than brown) I was given an emergency appointment by the midwives that day to have a scan, all the while thinking that was it, our baby had gone. Sam rushed home from work and I swear, being sat in that hospital waiting for an emergency scan thinking we had lost it was the worst feeling ever. Added to that some bird who (apparently) knew my boyfriend’s ex was sat in the waiting room with us so within half an hour of leaving the hospital my boyfriend’s family was inundated with ‘congratulations’ texts from said ex fishing to see if her spy info was true. Which was a) disgusting b) none of her business and c) could have been massively awkward if we had actually lost the baby and hadn’t yet told any of his family that I was pregnant (thankfully we had and they stonewalled her). Luckily the baby was still okay, I just had a small subchorionic hematoma which is fancy talk for implantation bleeding. We were shocked to see a little heartbeat as I think we had prepared ourselves for the worst but we were told that women sometimes carry on having periods throughout their pregnancy so sometimes bleeding is normal. SO THERE’S THAT.
But still, that niggling worry will persist. “I hope it’s doing alright in there…” is a thought you will have almost twenty times daily as you eat a contraband runny egg or accidentally tread in dog shit, because, well, my next point…
**There is this humongous list of things you absolutely CANNOT do.
At your booking in meeting with your midwife you get a list of things that you can’t do, and you’re like, alright, fine, I can deal with this it seems pretty comprehensive. There are the obvious things like you can’t drink alcohol or take heroin, and then weird things like be careful of ice cream and beggars and soft cheeses. You can’t even shoot guns dammit. I mean obviously you CAN get down with all of those things if you really wanted to (mmm beggars), but by gosh will the baby gods strike you down in fear of the consequences if you do. I lived in terror of eating the wrong thing or not taking my vitamins, I even thought a can of Coke was going to give me a miscarriage early on, as caffeine is not so great for baby (although you are allowed 200mg a day and Coke only has 40mg so it turns out it’s fine.) I also thought if I strained too hard on the toilet it would fall out, such is my pregnancy knowledge, which leads me to…
**Epic toilet time.
Let me tell you, toilet time becomes epic as fuck. THE GIANT FLOATING SHITS. Jesus. They are horrendous. Every day, like clockwork. Oh look, a giant floating shit that WILL NOT FLUSH. I’m beyond the point of being embarrassed about it. Sam calls it my ‘Bad Snakes’. I also piss constantly and get up more times in the night than my Nan. So there’s that to look forward to. It’s like everything in my body has been put on overdrive. I’d like to think it’s all the Powerthirst I’ve been drinking but apparently it’s all the extra blood your body is making that causes it, and yada yada yada.
**For ages, it’s like it’s not really there.
So yeah, most of the time early on you don’t feel pregnant at all. Well, I didn’t. If I hadn’t taken the second test I don’t think I would know I was pregnant, even now. Which is a bit scary. Obviously everyone is different but apart from a vague feeling of nausea every teatime and a few cramps (and oh god, the giant shits) I haven’t had many symptoms. A lot of the time I could easily NOT be pregnant if that makes sense as I only started ‘showing’ this week and even then it just looks like a poo baby. Obviously there are the scans and that to make things feel a bit more real, in the same way that looking at space on the TV makes it feel ‘real’. Actually, having a scan is a bit like looking at an alien, I spend most of my time in the scan room with a funny half smile on and massive eyes, sitting there thinking ‘WTF WTF WTF WTF’ on repeat, whilst imagining it burst out of my stomach like a Ridley Scott special.
**You don’t know what to call it.
In lieu of accidentally sexing the baby, for ages we called our baby ‘the parasite’, although now it is actually a fetus or something we’ve stopped doing that and it’s called ‘mate’ now, as in ‘hello mate’, ‘alright mate’. MATE. Sometimes we call it Sutcliffe though, for lols.
**Mothercare is scary to the uninitiated.
First time I went in there I think I got overwhelmed and went into shock, my eyes glazed over and I just grabbed the first pregnancy book and ran (after paying for it, naturally.) Now it is my friend because they gave me my first maternity bra and for that I am forever thankful, but I still don’t understand what all the things in there do.
**You WILL cry during Hunger Games.
As mentioned before the hormones involved in pregnancy are pretty mental. Something I found out when I found myself absolutely bawling 5 minutes into Hunger Games 2 or whatever. I mean, maybe I would have done that before but not to quite such an epic extent. I was proper full on crying man, it was not cool.
**Mumsnet speak is the devil.
When you start going on all the baby forums you start to realise that a lot of the people on there are a bit insane and obsessed. They talk in this special code language of acronyms that will make you sick, it’s all DD for ‘dear daughter’ and DS for ‘darling son’. They call having sex DTD or ‘doing the deed’ for fuck’s sake. Avoid avoid avoid, and if I start talking like that, please shoot me.
**Don’t read about Lochia.
Just don’t. It will put you off ever giving birth for life. It’s put me off already, so I’m doomed.
And that’s it, that’s all I have to say about it for now.
So today this happened. Well, not all in one day that would be weird, but we had our first official scan and found out I am going to be a Mum! Random as fuck.
I am aware that not everyone is going to like what I write but as this is my personal blog, I don’t really care. If you don’t like it don’t read it. My only interest is to put my honest experiences out there and let people make of them what they will, as I always have done. My aim is to enlighten and educate without sugar coating. So much of the media world is spin and bullshit and people believing their own spin and bullshit. To be told that what I wrote is bullshit and lies by the people I worked with just highlights how blinkered they were to anything other than their own experiences. They are just stuck in a bubble, protecting each others backs in a print industry that each day gasps its final cancer breaths.
I am not part of that world anymore and I have made a concerted effort not to be. I have moved far away to Torquay to live with my boyfriend and our puppy Bronson. Already this year has brought me more happiness than I could ever imagine and has been worth all the trying and horrible times I have been through over the past couple of years. Sometimes shit happens, and this blog has been instrumental in helping me get through some of the worst parts. Hell, it helped me meet my boyfriend in the first place!
While some of the things I wrote about Front might seem petty to an outsider, when you are model or a writer, recognition for your work and exposure are very important and they were important to me at the time. When I left Front I did so quietly and didn’t really have my say on why in order to not damage their ‘brand’. Now that they are gone I am free to say what I wanted to two years ago. I left because I was sick of not being treated equally to everyone else and because I was stuck in a dead end job with no career progression. I worked very hard for that magazine for 5 years in conditions that were often unworkable and put my all into my column(s) for little reward. These opinions that have emerged, that nudity equals stupidity, that I was never a ‘proper writer’ and that I should have been grateful for the scraps that I got are just ridiculous. To have my efforts continuously undermined by the people I worked with smacks of the blatant sexism (not to mention professional jealousy) that is inherent in that industry and shows how hard I had to work to be taken seriously.
Anyway I won’t go on. I think most of you get the gist of what I’m on about now, and I thank you all for paying attention this far. The future is bright and all that. My next journey is a big one but it has to be a secret for now…
I’m on the House of Harlot homepage!
So the inevitable is here. I have to say I thought I would be writing this blog sooner but I knew I’d be writing this obituary at some point (much like I had to write my own). Front’s days were always numbered.
I jumped ship from Front almost two years ago now and I am all the better for it. I realised it was heading nowhere good and walked away. Years as an underpaid and undervalued team member had created its fair share of resentment and I just decided for my own sanity that I’d had enough. From the outside it probably looked like I had it made. Even now, people (girls mainly) still come up to me saying I had their dream job but the reality of it was anything but. My experiences with them have probably put me off journalism for life, for a multitude of reasons.
I was part of the original team that revamped Front from a naff Loaded rip off to the alt brand it was until today. I had been recruited back in 2007 off the back of my Myspace blogs, and along with Joe Barnes and Von (and inspired by Suicide Girls and models like Vikki Blows) we helped create the Alt monster. For me it was a great opportunity (at first) to be myself, to write what I wanted and have more input on my shoots. At the time lads mags were very set in their ways, girls were pneumatic and only good for one thing (sex), redheads were abhorrent and models weren’t really allowed to have a personality. When I started writing my column I was the first glamour model to have a column that a) they wrote themselves and b) wasn’t a sex advice column. To this day I’m still proud of that.
In our initial meetings with Front we were promised great things; cover shoots, calendars, features and the like, none of which ever really materialised. Of all the models to be featured in Front and despite our massive input, Von nor myself ever got a cover. Instead our cover shoot ideas were used on other people. After a while it started to really piss me off. At first it was all ‘next month, next issue…’ which then became a flat no. Apparently we were in the magazine enough already, which we both knew was complete balls. We never found out the real reason why and it became quite demoralising, at least for me. Having to work under people who I went to university with (and whom I was just as qualified as) was also demoralising. My place within Front became that I wasn’t quite a ‘proper’ writer or a ‘proper’ model and was never treated fully as either despite the fact I had a large following for both. I existed in a creative limbo between the two that used to drive me crazy as I couldn’t progress anywhere with either. We were important but not. Important enough to be a vital part of the ‘magic formula’ but not important enough to give a proper job or a proper cover to. My theory is that it was to stop us from getting too big for the magazine’s meagre budget, but who knows.
Of course there were a few perks. Free stuff. Parties. From 2007 to about 2009 I WAS Front magazine. I lived and breathed it and it completely defined who I was. I became this parody of myself, an exaggerated cartoon, but when I look back on what was going on in my life at the time it was a blur of drugs and fake friends and heartbreak. I was miserable. Considering that when I started at Front I never even smoked or drank alcohol, my time with them definitely changed me. For the worse.
While Front did open some doors for me, it closed just as many. After a while I began to realise that all I was doing was opening doors for other people, making it easier for them to come along and ape my career path to varying degrees of success. Which I guess is the way that the industry works, but it is something I will never be recognised for, even by the people (still) doing it.
I was grateful for the video games job as it meant I got paid a bit more (£500 per month up from £300, woohoo) but still not enough to live on, and certainly not the going rate for a section editor, which essentially was the job that I was doing. Front exploited the loophole of me being a model (and therefore not a proper journalist) and used to it to get away with paying me fuck all. In fact, when it came to money, I found out that Front had a really bad rep from before I went to work for them. They were known for underpaying or not paying their contributors and had racked up huge debts. Many photographers point blank refused to work for them. Their DIY aesthetic was mainly a practical one because they literally had no money to do anything. Most of my early shoots for them were at my flat, in my own clothes, with photographers I had sourced myself. Which you know, is all fine and dandy when you’re enjoying what you do but that enjoyment didn’t last long.
As a team we chanced upon a lucky formula, but none of us could tell you exactly what it was that made Front successful and that question used to plague the editors. It was a composite of random parts that was successful for a bit then plateaued at about 30,000 readers. They could never really get any more than that… and because of the alt scene that Front attached itself to, it always had a shelf life. It was too niche and too independent to be the next Loaded success story, and as we all know print media is dying (unless you are Mollie Makes).
I know many judgementalists (aka misappropriated feminists) will jump on Front’s demise as fuel to their fire in their quest against lads mags, but truth be told, the magazine died because of mismanagement. It was a good idea executed badly by people who got too big for their boots and started believing their own hype. When I look back to the quiet nerdy guys I met way back when, who used to mess about in the office and were too scared to invite any girls except me and Von to their Christmas party, I simply don’t recognise them anymore. To me, Front died a long time ago when Joe Barnes left. It was his weird genius that made all the pieces work and when Mike and Steve took over the magazine it just became a farce of itself. They became too drunk, too involved in the fake glamour of the party side of it, too intent on reliving their youth. One of my low points was watching Steve chat up models on Twitter late one night when I knew full well he had a pregnant wife at home. That was the point when I knew I wanted out. These weren’t the boys that I had met anymore. They had mutated into arrogant monsters, along with a lot of the Front models.
Either way I don’t regret my time at Front but I won’t cry for them. They exploited people, from the alt girls and interns who they never paid to the members of staff they undervalued, and were out for all they could get. Now karma has bitten them on the bum. No one cried for me when I left, no one gave a shit. I just got on with my life and made do. Now they shall have to do the same.
The Front ship has well and truly sunk, and good riddance.
Love this. So true.
Her website is bbltherapy.com and she’s really very good!
Do you believe in fate? Should you? It seems like one of those weird things that should be forever consigned to daft romantic comedies, but sometimes in life there are just too many… coincidences. As any reader of my blogs will know, 2013 was a pretty depressing year. In fact, by all accounts it seems to have been a pretty depressing year for everyone. It was a hell year for me, the absolute worst, but the relief of having survived it and of having come out the other side intact - and most importantly happy - is immeasurable. I feel a tremendous amount of hope for the future. One of the things that really helped me was seeing a therapist every week for the most part of six months. She helped me recognise patterns that I had been repeating throughout my life and she also helped me to realise that there wasn’t actually anything wrong with me. I think deep down everyone suspects that they are secretly a bit mental, but to hear from an official authority on the subject that I wasn’t was a breakthrough moment for me. I just have a difficulty processing some situations - such as breakups - but mostly it was my Nan being diagnosed with cancer that I had found the hardest, as we are very close. Realistically though, who does handle break ups well? Unless the relationship is mutually dead or you are the dumper it’s a traumatic process for anyone to go through. Combine that with family illness, and, well… I just hope I never have to go back there. But if I do, I think that next time I will be stronger.
When your life is falling apart you will literally cling to anything, like I did with my ex. But now that I look back on it I don’t know what I saw in him at all. He was vain, arrogant, and just a nasty unhappy person in general. God help the next girl he gets lumped with. Mummy issues run deep in that one. The turning point for me was writing a blog about it, after that I found the best thing to do to get over it was to just not look. Over a certain point lurking over what they are up to just becomes self harm, so I stopped looking, blocked him on everything and never looked back. It did me the world of good and helped open me up to meeting someone new (in some quite interesting ways). Obviously it’s this same advice that everyone gave me right from the start but you have to be ready to hear it to even contemplate doing it. It took me a good three months to get there, but I learnt a lot about myself in that time.
Aside from therapy (which I cannot recommend enough - please get in touch if you would like my therapist’s details as she can do it over Skype) the other thing that helped was, of course, meeting someone else. But again, this was something I had to be ready for. Which leads me onto the fate question. Are we fated to meet people? The person I am with now, there is no way in hell I could ever have met him without some other force at play… and by ‘force’ I don’t mean anything religious, I don’t believe in god or angels or unicorns (okay, maybe unicorns). But I do believe there is a certain energy that drives us through this given plane of existence, that we are lead along a course in a predetermined pattern for whatever reason. Which you know, sounds pretty weird now that I write it down.
How I met my fella is actually a funny story though, because I am doing the one thing I said I would never do: I’m dating a fan. Of course, I don’t really see it as black and white as that would imply I felt some kind of superiority over him, which I don’t. I see him as my equal, but initially he was someone that followed my career from the Front days, and without that we would have never met. Which is oddly comforting and actually not weird at all, whereas I always thought that it would be. You might think differently but I guess it depends on the person and how you interact with each other. Labelling someone as something never takes into account that they are an individual person. I’d hate for anyone to label me as a typical model just as he would probably hate anyone to label him a typical fan. The fact is no-one is either, we are all unique.
Anyway, so for whatever reason I had noticed this guy following me for a while, maybe for up to a year or so, although it could have been longer. I have no idea what drew me to him but every time he liked something (which wasn’t always that often) I would unconsciously check out his page and wonder who he was, something I almost never do. After a while I noticed myself doing this so I decided to follow him seeing as I lurked on him so much, then the next day he sent me a request on my Etsy asking me to knit him a Christmas jumper as he was on duty as a fireman over Christmas and needed an offensive one. NOW, the day he contacted me in particular is interesting because it is the day I hit absolute rock bottom, I had just been unceremoniously fired by Dermalogica two weeks previously, my tentative foray into dating had resulted in me getting sexually assaulted and I was finding it difficult to go on. When he messaged me I was contemplating suicide whilst being babysat by my neighbour. Everyone was scared that I would do something stupid. Heck, even I was scared that I would do something stupid. My behaviour that day had driven my Grandad to tears with worry which is something I still feel bad about and is one of the things that has stopped me getting like that again.
Despite everything I was going through, there was something about this message on Etsy that cheered me up. It was very funny. I read it aloud to my neighbour and she laughed and encouraged me to make the offensive jumper requested, DESPITE the fact that my Etsy said ‘we do not make jumpers’ all over it, AND the fact that I’d never made a jumper before, ANDDDD the fact that I thought knitting would make me cry (because I associated it with my sick Nan and my ex boyfriend) ANDDDDDDD the fact that I knew it would take a really long time. In the end I did it because it gave me something to focus on and something to look forward to. Over the next couple of days we started chatting over Etsy, just as friends, and within a week I was already a lot happier. I’d started sleeping better and crying less, and his messages each day got longer and longer as we started opening up to each other about well, just about anything and everything. It turned out we actually had loads in common as we realised we’d found an awesome new best friend in each other. The only problem was he lived really far away, in Torquay, so we would never be able to hang out. After a week or so I had started to develop feelings for him, but he had a girlfriend/joke fiance (long story) so I didn’t say anything and kept it to myself, even when he told me how unhappy he was…
So far, so Catfish right? By this point my friends all thought I was totally mental chatting to this random fireman I’d never met, and my family had told me on numerous occasions to avoid him. Yet my therapist, Berni, was all for it. She thought it was a good thing for me to talk to a member of the opposite sex from a distance without sex getting involved. It was a chance for me to start undoing all the patterns I had built up over the years and start anew. It was aroundabout this time that I started looking back through my messages and I realised that this guy had tried to contact me a couple of times previously, both on Myspace (which immediately dates THAT contact haha) and Tumblr. So is this fate or persistence? I hadn’t replied to him except for the Etsy contact, and even then I regularly ignored jumper requests. What made his request different? The answer to the latter question is humour. This person had the exact same sense of humour as me. Which anyone who knows either of us will attest, is a very rare find indeed. It was his humour that stopped his messages crossing the line into creepy, and it was his personality (that I got to know later) that made me fall for him. He treated me as a person not as an object, his attempts to contact me had been in the sense that he recognised I was like him and wanted to get to know me. But how do you stand out as that kind of person among hundreds of others? His most recent contact was in response to the blog I had written about my ex. I remembered reading it and also remembered that I had intended to reply but didn’t know how as it didn’t really warrant one. It was just a nice message about how my blog had helped him see that he wasn’t a bad person in his own relationship and that he thought I was someone he could get lost in conversation with (a strangely accurate insight).
Later, when I questioned him about his previous attempts to contact me he laughed and also revealed that he had seen me in person about 5 years ago when he was out in London with his girlfriend at the time. I didn’t believe him at first but then he told me when (January 2009) and where (Carnaby Street) and what I was wearing (red coat and mittens), it turns out it actually was me. I used to work in a dress shop there which… it gets weirder… they had tried to go to but it was shut. No-one knew I worked in that shop. So think about this, without me working for Front magazine, without me going to work that random day in 2009, without the blog, without my Etsy, our paths had no way of ever crossing. Yet they conspired together to make sure our paths did, multiple times. That is some truly Derren Brown kinda shit. I can’t dwell on it too much or my head explodes.
Even still, I don’t think either me or the fireman ever expected anything to come from us talking. Until the day he dumped his girlfriend. Unbeknownst to me he’d been trying to do so since January, but was trapped financially and couldn’t see a way out. Talking to me had helped him untangle his thoughts and realise that while he could probably go on being in an unhappy relationship (being a naturally quite self-sufficiently happy person) he didn’t want to marry and one day bring kids into that equation. Which is fair enough. I can’t put into words the emotions I felt that day. Initially I was massively shocked, then elated, then came the guilt. Obviously having been in that horrendous place really quite recently the last thing I wanted to do is help put someone else there. I’m naturally quite an empathic person so I found it all a bit distressing. The most important thing I had to learn was that it wasn’t me who put her there. Everyone I spoke to that knew them said they would have broken up eventually, and whilst I was a catalyst for it happening sooner, it wasn’t my fault. Their relationship was broken long before I came along and I’d given him no indication that by dumping his girlfriend he would have been able to get with me as we weren’t talking like that at the time.
Having said that it was weird being on the other side. It gave me an insight into break ups I’d never had before. When you get dumped you tend to act erratically and demonise the other person, which is sometimes justified and sometimes not. Sometimes people just aren’t right for each other and as a heartbroken person that can be the hardest thing to accept, that there is no blame or fault to be bestowed on anyone. Of course, if you happen to date an arsehole like my ex then sometimes there is blame AND fault, but all it will ever boil down to is that you were incompatible so it’s best not to dwell on it. The best thing you can ever do is learn from it and never look back. The more you dwell and hash over what point it went wrong and why, the more warped your mind becomes. It’s funny how things work out. It’s such an overused trope, but everything happens for a reason. Every relationship has an impact on you and will change you in ways that lead you onto the next one. It’s like a chain, without one link your life could have turned out so differently. Every bad experience makes you stronger and helps you to see the signs sooner so you don’t make the same mistakes again. Everything is interlinked and every event has a purpose. I truly believe that.
I suppose it goes without saying that we’ve both had our share of vitriol from his ex, the all-too-familiar long ranting emails telling me I’m ‘horse-faced’ and ‘nothing special’ which all contribute to make my sympathy for her diminish on a daily basis. I learnt a bitter lesson last year and it is that the only responsibility any of us have is to our own happiness. Obviously giving happiness to others can contribute immensely to our own, but if you are stuck in an unhappy situation out of a sense of duty or responsibility or if you are an 80 percenter, putting in 80 percent of the effort for 20 percent in return, then it’s best to get out. Which is what both myself and my boyfriend did, we were both 80 percenters stuck in dead end relationships where we tried too hard, and it was my blog about it that made both of us realise that. I can’t even tell you how amazing it is to be with someone who puts in equal effort. To finally find someone who is on the same page and effectively reads my mind with regards to needs and wants, no matter how bizarre. Since the day we started talking I have been happy and fulfilled in so many ways. I’ve found my best mate first of all and my boyfriend all in one. Someone who understands me and makes me laugh no matter what. I’ll be moving to Torquay on Monday with a puppy to follow in two weeks and I am excited and scared and all the things you can imagine… but most of all I am HAPPY. We both are.
Life’s not always black and white, cut and dried, sometimes you have to go through hurt and pain to find the happiness that was meant for you on the other side. And maybe one day I’ll eat my words, but I choose to be positive and think… maybe I won’t.
After all, what you think you become.