I love my friends.
I love my friends.
NSFW highlight of 2013. #Analcrew
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.
I put off writing this blog as I knew it would provoke some people. Like all my blogs, I try to see both sides. With this I have been a part of the problem in the past, and I admit that. I want to address this ‘something for nothing’ culture that we have become accustomed to. Nowhere was this more apparent than in Glamour modelling. This idea of ‘I’m pretty (or even just female) so give me stuff’. Of rinsing guys and pay pigging to make ends meet, all in the pursuit of Louboutin shoes and a fabricated Kardashian lifestyle - it all just seems a bit hollow to me.
Now, I used to have an Amazon wishlist when I was a model. Not because I wanted one but because fans asked and it seemed like a good idea at the time. I mainly used it to put books and foreign films on to be honest, but I did get bought an awful lot of stuff from it, which I always found surprising. It taught me two important lessons. 1. That nothing comes for free and 2. that it’s better to give than to receive.
Let’s start with the idea that nothing comes for free. When I very first started modelling I had a forum. On this forum were the early beginnings of my fan base, who any model will know are usually very strange individuals when you are starting out. Lonely guys who go around collecting new models like Pokemon, just to say that they were there and had seen her first. I didn’t know this at the time. I was just flattered that people liked what I did, as back then my pictures were pretty shit and my undeveloped modelling skills weren’t the best. Every day I would log on and talk to these people, not knowing much about who they were or where they came from. One user in particular would message me daily, from his writing he seemed to be quite young and he was always asking if he could buy me gifts, which I found a bit strange. At the time I lived in the middle of nowhere with my boyfriend’s family, so when he asked for my address I thought nothing of it and gave it to him. Which looking back was very, very stupid.
After a few days parcels started to arrive, full of sticky bondage wear and funny smelling rubber clothes that he had seen on eBay and ‘thought of me’. Immediately I regretted giving him my address, but the worst was yet to come. About a week later I was at home on my own as my boyfriend and his parents were at work. They lived in a lovely house in Kent cocooned from the outside world by trees, a beautiful garden and a huge front lawn that the patio doors in the living room opened onto. Out of the corner of my eye I spotted an old man wandering aimlessly across the lawn. I thought he might have been one of my boyfriend’s extended family who lived nearby and opened the patio door and called to him to see if he was okay. The only way I can describe this man is that he reminded me of Bob from Twin Peaks. He had long grey hair and a large gut that jutted out from the bottom of his shirt as if his shirt couldn’t quite contain it, exposing his bare flesh to the elements. He shouted my name “Alex! Are you Alex Sim-Wise? It’s me _____” and he told me his name from the forum. I was terrified. I thought I had been talking to a child, not a 50 year old man. I locked the door, shut the curtains and called the police, yet every car show or event I was at for the next few years he would come and fester in a corner somewhere waiting to catch me unawares. To this day that guy still haunts me, not so much in person but he still sends me emails. Which I ignore. Needless to say, NEVER give out your address to strangers, especially to people on the internet. You never know who, or what will turn up.
Gifts don’t come for free. Most people who send a gift want something in return, and that can be anything from a thank you card to a blow job. To some people, particularly fans, buying gifts feeds their fantasy that they are a part of your life, that they somehow know you. As the chap above attests, these are the most dangerous kind of gift-givers as they can be erratic in their intentions and unpredictable. I always found it hard to judge who was scary and who wasn’t. Despite what happened with that man (and after diligently hiding my address via Amazon) I would try and be nice and at least give people a thank you or a signed picture if they bought me something, as is polite to do, but on the times that I was too busy people did get abusive towards me, which was upsetting.
That’s not to say there aren’t other types of people, which brings me neatly onto my second point: it’s better to give than to receive. Around the time I was working at Radio 1 I was heavily into the wishlist game. The BBC were paying me fuck all and I was living in a party flat with some scumbag musician. I knew for a fact my friends and family were going to forget my birthday so I posted a link to my wishlist on Twitter to try and cheer myself up. Such was my life at the time. To my surprise, my birthday rolled around and all these parcels kept arriving, full of pretty much all the things I had put on my wishlist, and then some. As I looked at the delivery notes I saw that most of the gifts had come from the same person, which initially made me a bit scared. Did I have another stalker on my hands? With time I learnt a lot about this person and he really taught me a lot about the nature of kindness.
This is a young man who had worked hard from an early age to support his family, opening shops and businesses in Wolverhampton until one day he realised he was more than supporting them and actually had all this money that he was too busy to spend, with no-one to spend it on. Exhausting his usual hobby of buying everything in Forbidden Planet and looking for an outlet to vent he joined Twitter. During his first week on Twitter he was listening to the radio and heard me on it. Deciding to send me a tweet, he was thrilled when I responded, endearing him to the site and helping him set up what is now a very popular (and funny!) twitter account. A week later, upon seeing a link to my wishlist he wanted to repay the kindness of me getting him into Twitter by buying me something. He told me afterwards that he just liked all the stuff I had on it (art books, novels, geek ephemera) and wanted me to have it. So he bought it all. As a person on the receiving end of it I felt very overwhelmed. He had bought me a fucking PS3!! I didn’t even have one on my list as I felt guilty about listing expensive items. How do you repay something like that? So I did the only thing I knew and drew him a picture and wrote him a thank you letter. I asked him why he had done it all and in return he told me he had recently read a book about the power of giving and decided to try the theory out, hoping it would make him feel a bit happier about himself. Which he found it did. After talking to and getting to know Simon I starting trying out his theory for myself, buying friends and strangers small things off their wishlists, and he was right! It did make me feel good. Small kindnesses towards other people actually made me feel better than receiving those kindnesses myself, as if anything I’d always feel a bit guilty receiving things off my wishlist. I started buying Simon presents in return, bringing him books back from Japan and knitting him hats. In the meantime he was giving to other people with other wishlists, male and female. Now, I am not making this person up. At the moment he sounds a bit like the Santa of Twitter, but I assure you he is a real person. A very real and brilliant individual who is actually one of my friends now.
Now, lots of people have questioned my friendship with Simon over the years, thinking he might be a bit weird, but I’ve seen weird. Weird is that guy who turned up on my boyfriend’s lawn. Simon is rational and intelligent, and he never wanted anything in return. THAT is the true nature of giving. THAT is the lesson he taught me. You could argue that he did end up with something in return - my friendship - but it was me who pushed for that, not him.
After a while I started to see through wishlisting. As I said before it had always made me feel a bit uncomfortable as I like to work hard and I know that it is very rare that any of us get something for nothing. Plus, gifts from someone you don’t know kind of lose their meaning. I had grown up listening to TLC and the Spice Girls, of hearing lyrics about depending on yourself and being independent. Letting strangers buy me stuff just didn’t sit right, plus most of it just seemed like clutter. I felt like I would value things more if I had worked for them myself or they had come from someone I cared about, so I closed down my wishlist and kept it just for friends and family.
Now I don’t speak for everyone, this is just my personal journey. I know that wishlisting is addictive, it’s why so many people do it. Like credit cards, it can be seen as free money, or free things. Which on the surface it is. Inside those brown packages comes a little ego boost. “Somebody somewhere loves me!” you think, but you don’t know how much that stranger loves you, or what they want. People like Simon - who want nothing in return - are few and far between, and not everyone gifts out of kindness. Most people have some kind of motive.
I just can’t help but think that it would be better to buy those things for yourself. To work hard and earn those items, even if it takes a long time. Rather than say “oh, some stranger bought me this” have some pride and say “I worked hard and EARNED this. This is mine.” So many of us expect something for nothing, it seems like we’ve forgotten what hard work is all about.
Which brings me onto financial domination or pay pigging. Pay pigging is like wishlisting but the receiver abuses and is rude to the person that buys them stuff. Now, there are people (men, mostly) that want to be treated like this and I’ve seen numerous ex and current glamour models fall into this trap, of abusing men online to get their bills paid. It’s basically a lazy version of dominatrixing, for girls who want the perks of the job without doing the work.
Now, a lot of my friends are actual dominatrixes and I have spoken to them at length about what they think about these have-a-go pay piggers. To them, financial domination is a smaller, mostly optional, part of a larger service. An in-person service that takes a lot of physical, mental, and emotional hard work and is cultivated over years with their clients. Dominatrixing is more than being rude and abusive to men online and taking a few selfies in your bedroom, it is a physical service. Most importantly, it is fucking hard work. It is something that you go out there and you do. It is a job. A lifestyle choice.
Now, my moral qualm here isn’t about the nature of the business. People will do what they have to do to get paid and I have no problems with that. My problem is with people taking short-cuts, with girls who have nothing to do with Dom culture taking the lazy route, abusing others out of an inflated sense of entitlement: “I want stuff therefore I must deserve it”.
Blame X Factor, blame the Kardashians, blame anything you want in our shitty consumerist culture because this ‘something for nothing’ attitude is endemic. But that doesn’t mean it is right, or that you will find happiness by following it. Hard work may have gone out of fashion but I’m not turning my back on it. I would never expect anything from anyone from being rude to them and I don’t agree with the implied selfishness of consumerist culture. We put so much emphasis on what we want, what would make ourselves happy, that we neglect to think about the other people around us. Giving, not taking is the key to happiness. This need for stuff, for expensive shoes and designer clothes is a smokescreen to keep us preoccupied and distracted.
Just look at these people you aspire towards, do you really think they are happy? Do you really think money and stuff buys happiness? Is it not just a smokescreen to keep us in debt and unhappy? To keep us distracted while horrible shit goes on in the world?
When the President of Syria, Bashar al-Assad, started a war on his own people, do you know what his wife was doing? Shopping for expensive shoes online.
Case. Point. Closed.
This is my current phone wallpaper of my amazingly photogenic friend Sophia 😍.
Love the original more but this is a good cover.
I had such a good time in Amsterdam this weekend!