Is it just me or is FemFresh and Vagisil sexist?

If you’re of a sensitive disposition look away now, ‪#‎fannyrant‬ coming up:

Am I the only person offended by the sudden onslaught of advertising aimed at women for feminine wash??? Every magazine I open has FemFresh shoved in my face berating me for using anything other than their specifically designed product and now I can’t watch TV without Vagisil popping up in between.

This is yet another advertising campaign designed to prey on the insecurities and create paranoia in women about their bodies once again. Yet another thing we’re being told we ‘need’ in order to be attractive and disguise the naturalness of our bodies. I’m sure we’ve all been successfully and adequately washing our fannies for years – It’s basic personal hygiene! We do not need a product aimed at us and pointed out to men to suggest the normal is abnormal. Just like fanny hair is now deemed gross, unsightly and a thing to be rid of (which incidentally stemmed from the porn industry).

If your minge really does ming then you probably need to see a doctor otherwise you do not need to spend your hard earned cash on yet another product subtlety oppressing the natural beauty of the female body. Besides, natural body smells are the sexiest in the world (except farts obviously).

I mean, is it just me who thinks this?…… #fannyrant over!

Why Internet Dating is like IVF….

Warning:  If you are easily offended or have no sense of humour then stop reading now – Black comedy and highly un-politically correct content ahead.

They say longing for a partner is as agonising as longing for a baby as for some it just doesn’t happen ‘naturally’.  And so couples experiencing difficulty conceiving may turn to IVF whereas today’s love forlorn singles have Internet dating!  The more I think about it the parallels seem endless.

We all have those friends who met their spouse and soul-mate as childhood sweethearts and loved happily ever after in effortless bliss and we also know those who ‘held out’ for ‘the one’ and were eventually duly rewarded with their Princess/Knight-in-shining-armour.  Then there are the rest of us: Those of us whose experience if it were a line drawn on a piece of paper would be a kind of tangling, squiggly mess rather than a neat, straight and very pointy arrow! It seems so unfair that some things seem to come so easily and simply for some and are an endless, striving agony for others.

How then is Internet dating like IVF you say?  Well in many ways I answer.

Couples may in some ways feel a small sense of failure at not being able to conceive ‘naturally’ at first and I think many who ‘resort’ to Internet dating probably feel the same (even if they do repeat to themselves ‘modern times, modern methods’).  ‘What’s wrong with me?’ they might think and ‘why is something supposedly so ‘natural’ just not happening for me?’  The processes I guess in themselves are not necessarily artificial – you are still using the same ‘raw materials’ but, you are simply ‘introducing’ them together using a different method to the norm.  Both don’t always work first time and for some it takes a number of attempts which can be draining, painful and disappointing.  They’re also both bloody expensive!

Then there is the success rate.  We’ve all heard the stories of those whose IVF works first time and similarly the tales of people meeting their one true love on their first date with the first person they ‘messaged’ on an internet dating site.  It’s true as more people use these methods the success rates are soaring.

However, there are also those who despite numerous attempts for some reason it just doesn’t work.  They are forced to conclude that perhaps it’s ‘just not meant to be’ for them.  I can’t help wonder if that’s true for some people with a partner.  Statistically there must be some people who just will never meet the ‘right’ person for whatever reason.  Why do we think that it will happen for all of us? Is it really our right?  When we grow up we all assume we will one day meet someone and have babies if we want to.  I don’t think we consider for a moment when we’re young whether we ‘can’ or ‘will’ on either of these options.

I have a friend who due to her upbringing and experience assumes everyone will always meet someone right for them.  My experience and upbringing is unfortunately much more cynical.

And so I’m wondering, what is the ‘partner’ form of adoption?? Get a dog?  A Gay Best friend?  Or maybe 29 cats????

Why are men intimidated by successful women?

I have had this blog post brewing for some time now and then a series of events involving some of my girlfriends drove me to finally write it!

It all started when I was chatting to a very good friend of mine who I often go to for man advice when I need to ‘woman-up’!  She is my friend who will tell me to stop waiting in for his phone call, stop wishing that something will happen that clearly won’t and instead helps me not to cave in and call him but to buck up and move on!  If a guy is really interested he should be chasing me, right?  She is the voice of reason and reality amongst my girlfriends, a no-nonsense, head-strong kind of girl and stunning with it.  She is also single at them moment.   Anyway, said feisty-friend was telling me about a conversation she and a girlfriend were having in a sauna at their local gym with some guys.  Somehow the conversation turned to relationships (doesn’t it always) and one guy confidently admitted that he would ‘never’ approach my friend or her girlfriends as they were clearly confident and independent women who ‘owned their own cars, had good jobs and lived in their own places’!  The guy’s mates then all heartely agreed concluding they would ‘look’ from a distance and ‘admire’ but never ‘approach’.  My friend was not sure whether to be flattered or insulted but after reflection decided on the latter.  What is with that?  So a guy would not approach her due to the things in her life that are indicators of her achievement, success and ability in life??? When she challenged the guy (who of course grew increasingly intimidated at being questioned at all) he responded by saying ‘Well then what could I bring to the table if you have a good job, your own home and a car?’  Screwed up or what?!  Duh! How about love, support, encouragement, companionship??

The more we discussed this, the more angry I became at this skewed idea men have about what a woman most wants in a relationship.  I know there really are those women out there who want to be kept in Jimmy Choo shoes, Prada bags and dine weekly at The Ivy but really the majority of the women I know of all ages want to be loved, desired and cherished above all else – much more than any material provision.  Yes it’s important, particularly if you’re at the family planning stage, to have a stable income of sorts and to know your man will step-up and do what is necessary to support your family financially (as will you when you can) but I don’t know many women that really essentially need a man to earn more than them as their number one requirement in a relationship.

Just a few short weeks after this conversation, a young man of just 23 was telling me about his desire (verging on desperation) to get married by 25 and have children by 28!  He then told me about his brother who recently dated a beautiful woman who picked him up for their first date in a Bentley. After discovering that she and her friends earned upwards of £90K and she had a penthouse flat he swiftly dumped her and refused to see her again!  I can understand a little intimidation at that level of social circle but to dump a girl and potentially miss out on a soul-mate due to her high-earnings when she was really very keen on him (so clearly the financial imbalance did not matter to her) is frankly prideful stupidity!

Less than a week later another singer friend posted this image on her FB wall dedicating it to all her single-singer-girlfriends who had been told they were intimidating by men just because of the job they do:

Her post was flooded with ‘likes’ and comments with women identifying with her frustration.

Then, in this week’s Grazia magazine ana article says Chloe Sevigny says she frightens men  – but are they really intimidated by female breadwinners?  In the article Chloe actually goes as far as saying her success equates ‘romance suicide’.   Even more perplexing is that in the same article, writer Tony Parsons, says men always want to be the high earner and comments, ‘For if a man can’t be the bread-winner, then what exactly is the point of him?’  I’m just lost for words at this point!

So then, what is a successful, able and strong girl supposed to do?  Dumb herself down in order to get a man???

I discussed this with a male friend who pointed out that men have been conditioned since the dawn of time to be the ‘provider’ and it’s hard to escape the pressure and conditioning of that.  It’s a good point and I do appreciate and realise this.  I even get how a man’s self-esteem is often intrinsically connected to his earnings – not necessarily that they have to be ‘high’ earnings but, that if he is struggling in this area he is often struggling in every area of his life due to feelings of inadequacy – something I feel does not affect women with quite the same force.  However, I quipped back at my friend that many mindsets have existed since the dawn of time but have been challenged, evolved or even overturned as society progresses and changes!  It’s 2012!  We women can vote, we can choose to have a career or have a family or both at the same time and we are stronger and more confident.  This is progress people!  It is a mortal shame if the result of these breakthroughs mean we have to miss out in love, be alone or worse case scenario, not reach our full potential in all areas of life.

Surely there is another alternative or is it me that’s deluded? The alternative I had in mind was a man confident and secure enough to rejoice in my triumphs with me, to celebrate my victories and to spur me on to be all I can be to my highest potential.  It goes without saying that this is also a woman’s role in a relationship – a partnership!  Is this really not possible in 2012?  Really?  If so then what kind of progress have we really made?

Comments please – from BOTH sexes!

Thirty-something female: Things I’m still learning but really should know by now!

I read a great article recently in the UK Huffington Post called, ‘Turning 30: 30 things every woman should have and should know’. It was one of those articles that makes you smile, laugh and wince all at the same time.  I’m pleased to report that I faired not too badly but then I’m past the ’30’ mark already!  It was really thought provoking for me in terms of having a little ‘stop and reflect’ on how far I’ve come and also what I still want to achieve.  I think having goals are really important, short, mid and long-term ones (realistic, stretching and crazy) and whereas I’m generally a forward-thinking, leave-the-past-behind kind a gal, I do see the value in looking back on what you’ve learned and achieved if it’s in a positive and constructive context.

So, as I’m still very much a ‘work in progress’ (aren’t we all?) I’ve made my list slightly different hence the revised title – Things I’m still learning but really should know by now!  In fact there are 3 sections – things I should/do know, things I should/do have and things I should/have done! Please note, these are things personal to me and I’m not saying in any way these are things ‘all’ women should know, have or have done – but it might give you some food for thought 😉

THINGS I KNOW (OR ‘SHOULD’ KNOW):

  1. Drinking lots of water is good for you
  2. When a guy doesn’t call, he’s just not in to you – get the hint!
  3. Being organised really helps in life
  4. We are generally more attractive than we think we are
  5. Don’t read into a guy’s silence, words, actions or anything – he really isn’t thinking anything you think he is!
  6. Diets generally don’t work
  7. The friends you fall out with and then make up with again are your friends for life
  8. It’s important to smile every day and laugh often – it’s literally good for your health!
  9. It’s essential to forgive (including yourself) and to let go in order to have true freedom
  10. You really don’t get too many genuine friendships in life so when you come across new people you gel with, invest in them and cherish them.
  11. Similarly, when you find someone to love who ‘gets you’ and who you connect with, don’t waste time – hold on to them for all you’ve got!
  12. Time speeds up and passes too quickly
  13. Music can make pretty much every thing better
  14. To love hard and recklessly, not measured, reserved and careful
  15. A balanced view of your faults and victories, strengths and weaknesses
  16. There is never a ‘good’ or ‘right’ time to have a baby
  17. The power of a woman!
  18. Some pain is necessary and therefore good
  19. What you believe
  20. Patience pays off

THINGS I HAVE (OR ‘SHOULD’ HAVE)

  1. A car that’s new-ish
  2. An expensive, designer handbag (apparently)
  3. An outfit that immediately makes me feel ‘hot’ when I put it on
  4. Decent matching, underwear
  5. Good hair (!)
  6. A clear view of what I want and where I want to be in life and well on the path towards it
  7. A dessert Island song list
  8. A good set of knives
  9. 3 friends I can call on anytime day or night in any circumstance
  10. A dog
  11. A child
  12. A friend who knows the worst thing I’ve done and still loves me and accepts me
  13. Confidence in my looks
  14. A Gay best friend
  15. A heterosexual male friend who really is ‘just a friend’
  16. A healthy relationship with my parents
  17. An iPad
  18. Some FM shoes
  19. A favourite place in the world
  20. Great memories and stories to re-tell in my old age

THINGS I HAVE DONE (OR ‘SHOULD’ HAVE DONE)

  1. Lived abroad – preferably New York!
  2. Had a liaison with a guy way above my league
  3. Spontaneously wake up one morning and take off some where for the day either alone or with someone special
  4. A reckless thing and not regretted it
  5. Decided one day to change my life and really do it!
  6. Written a novel
  7. Danced naked in the rain (or at least in just underwear)
  8. Felt so sad and broken I thought I’d die then wake up the next day to realise I survived it!
  9. Felt so happy I could burst
  10. Ate something weird or unusual
  11. Something I dreamed of as a little girl
  12. Fallen in love
  13. Had my heart broken
  14. Loved and accepted myself
  15. Ate dessert for main dinner
  16. Held a piglet
  17. Trusted a man
  18. Written a song
  19. Slept on a beach
  20. Got my ideal body

Feel free to share with me your list as mine is in no way complete and ever evolving but it was fun to do! 🙂

A Valentine post

The advantage of being single, having been in a relationship, is you can sit back and analyse and critique every other relationship you observe smugly seeing and stating where they’re going wrong.  It is utterly amazing how clearly you can see the mistakes of ‘other’ people:  How she nags him for all his short-comings but doesn’t praise his efforts, how he is distracted and unattentive to the small but important things to her, how she is clingy and smothering forcing him away and how he forgets to not take her for granted – each trait and issue perpertuating the other’s insecurity and fear!  Suddenly you see what’s really important in a relationshp and all the millions upon millions of things that just really don’t matter.  I sometimes want to stand between couples arguing on the station platform and say to the guy, ‘Look, just say sorry mate and mean it’ and to the girl, ‘Accept his apology wholeheartedly. Right, now both of you go enjoy your day and enjoy each other.’

There is so much that doesn’t matter that we make matter in life and especially in relationships.  It’s true small issues left unattended can fester and grow into ugly explosions but the point is to not let them – just simply let them go.  If you are fortunate enough to have found your special someone then please, for the love of love, hold on to them with all your might.  Appreciate them, cherish them, desire them, need them, love them and most of all, Tell them!

From my smug observations here is some advice which might just make things a little easier in love for some:

Young Stallion Man – You may think you have all the time in the world and all the choice in the world.  The reality is by time you’ve realised the ‘perfect’ woman does not exist you’ll be remembering all the ‘perfect for yous’ you passed up in order to keep your options open.  When you meet someone special, recognise it and hold on to her.

Young Christian Girl (desperate to get married) – In contrast to YSM (see above) you may not have all the time in the world but you have way more than you’re thinking girlfriend.  Take your time!  Don’t marry the first man you think you love before your teens are even out and before you’ve grown into the woman you’re going to be – The one that knows what she really wants in life and in a man.

Male or female bored in your marriage – Look at your partner with the eyes of your youth.  Many a girl/boy may turn your head and sometimes seem a more exciting option but can they really know you, love you, understand you like the person that stands before you and has journeyed with you thus far?  Cherish them and spice things up a bit!!

Heart-broken girl – dare to hope.

Heart-broken boy – dare to trust.

Guys, if you’ve been a twat: Two things (after you’ve apologised of course) 1) Make her laugh 2) make her feel beautiful = sorted!

Girls, if he’s been a twat: 1) Let it go – don’t be in a moody for days 2) Give him space and smile – have fun and stop worrying!

Guys, if she’s being possessive, recognise she’s insecure so when you’re with her have your full attention on her – she’ll be much more freeing next time you want to go out.

Girls, if you’re feeling insecure recognise it could be your issue and not to do with anything he is or isn’t doing – it doesn’t always mean he doesn’t love you.

A key to relationships is to understand that ultimately girls want to be loved and guys want to be respected. 

Open and honest communication is the route to breakthrough and always putting the other one first.  And remember, NEVER take your soul-mate for granted they don’t come by very often.  And that’s it. Simple eh?

There are we all feeling better now?  That’s just about put the world to right and now I’m off to buy myself some Lindt balls and white roses – my faves 🙂

No Sex and the City

Yesterday at work I was forwarded some very interesting findings from some research by Bauer Media into the women’s market.  Bauer Media own more than 80 influential radio, magazine, TV and online UK media brands, including heat, GRAZIA, Closer, FHM.  The research aimed to help advertisers find new ways to influence the conversation of British women.

The research concluded that five key roles are played in women’s conversation:

  • Queen Bee, the direct and unquestioned leader in the conversation – she is independent, strong-minded and with lots of outward confidence, friends look to her to organise things, take charge and make group decisions when they are unsure of what to do.
  • Northern Star, the indirect but respected leader – she has a mind of her own, is highly influential and has strong inner confidence. She is not the loudest in the crowd, never forces her opinion, friends turn to her for advice and guidance as she is deeply respected.
  • Socialite, the catalyst for conversation or new ideas – she is lively and talkative and her friends often see her as the ‘funny one’. She gets her energy from interacting with others and doesn’t enjoy spending time on her own, often socialising with many different groups.
  • Little Sister, seeks support and guidance and uses her friends’ feedback as a way to process her world and anxieties, often lacking inner confidence. She prefers to make her decisions after discussing it with friends and is happy to talk about her feelings openly.
  • Social Listener, supporting and listening to others – she is often the glue that bonds a group. Her friends rely on her to listen to their feelings and support them when they have problems; she prides herself on being a good friend and puts others before herself.

The research had the following conclusions:

Three main reasons for talking have been identified – affiliation, the need for bonding and belonging; mood uplift, for entertainment and escapism; and finally, a need to be ‘in the know’, to help make decisions.

It was fun thinking about my friendship circles and trying to identify the various different roles and characters (and I’m sure you can’t help but do the same when you read it) but, it also got me thinking about the power of talking and of friendship to women.  In fact the three reasons identified in the conclusions describe perfectly the needs of every woman.

For me, I get my ‘fix’ of these three things from my mummy-friends, my best friends and my girls prayer group which is a combination of the first two groups of friends.  In my prayer group we call ourselves the WOVs (Women of Vision).  It was going to be Women of God but the initials were a bit unfortunate!!   Now in case you’re thinking I’m all holy with my lovely prayer group where we sit around eating Quiche and out praying each other – you’d be massively mistaken!  We only manage to meet about once every quarter for a whole day of eating (mostly chocolate and cake), drinking (mostly wine and/or champagne) and chat (ANYTHING goes!).

I’m afraid this ‘prayer’ group is usually somewhat X-rated with no holds barred and certainly no judging and this is why I love it so much.  All the girls in my group are creative women who absolutely love God with all their heart but are also real and human.  In our WOV group we have found a place where we can express our needs, struggles and desires in a safe environment as well as our victories, successes and triumphs!  I honestly think we’ve covered every issue and subject going from masturbation to singleness to divorce to adultery.  I told you there were no holds barred!! I love the fact that one minute we’ll be laughing uncontrollably at some embarrassing or rude thing one of us have said or done and the next we’ll be crying as one of us shares a heartache or struggle and the very next we’ll be prophesying and speaking truth over one another.

I’ve often joked that one day I’ll anonymously write a book on our meetings and call it ‘No Sex and the City’!!! Who knows, maybe one day I will.

After probably my most difficult year to date these girls have been my lifeline and literally kept me sane as well as supporting me practically, financially, emotionally and spiritually.  And I just want to say a HUGE and public thank you to them X

When worlds collide

So it was going to happen at some point – last night my two worlds (or maybe I should say two of my worlds) collided in public view!

I’m a singer as well as a mum and we had a gig at the ‘Real Food Harvest Festival’ outside the South Bank Centre.  The Bear-cub is usually in bed when I have a gig and mostly I arrive late for sound check having done make-up in the car on the way, squeezed in some ridiculously high-heels, and hope that none of the audience would guess less than an hour before I was singing ‘Wheels-on-the-bus’ and bargaining with my two-year old to get out of the bath!  However, on this occasion the gig was in the late afternoon and on the beautiful South Bank which I love both vibe and view.  So with toddler in tow I thought it would be nice for him to see mummy sing.  We’d been at a wedding the day before and he’d danced the night away in his kilt (a whole other blog!) so I’d assumed/hoped he’d do the same while we performed.  But, I should have remembered the rule – if you plan your day and especially for your little one to do something in particular they will of course sense it and do the complete opposite. What’s it called again? Ah, yes: Sod’s Law!!!!!

It had already been a crazy journey on the over-ground train to Waterloo with said toddler landing his plane on various strangers heads while mummy attempted to apply make up in order to make illusion/transformation from mum to professional singer! I’d already forgotten my Mac and Clinique make-up and all I could find was ‘Hello Kitty’ make-up – yes really – Hello Kitty make-up at a professional gig!  We arrived early and Bear-cub consumed an entire posh cup cake, ice cream and falafel in 15 minutes flat and all seemed to be going to plan.  Then it was our turn to perform and I placed Bear-cub with a friend and went to the stage informing friend casually over my shoulder, as I quickened my step, ‘He’ll be fine, he’ll start dancing once the music starts’. But no, how silly of me to think the juggling balls could stay in the air and impress/convince the general public that I was the ultimate literal all-singing-all-dancing-modern-mum!  Bear-cub instantly decided to have a meltdown screaming ‘I want to sing on stage with you mummy!’ and I knew it was one of those that could not be bargained away – besides I’d used up all my trump cards with cupcake and ice-cream all ready administered!

So the only option was to relent to bear-cub’s request and I performed a 40-minute set with my band holding my 2-year old’s hand on stage throughout!!!  To say I was slightly distracted during the show would be an understatement and at points I wondered if I was even singing in tune let alone singing the right words.  Bear-cub however, was in his element twisting and gyrating like a mini Justin (Timberlake, not Bieber or Fletcher) and we just about pulled it off.  There were of course a few a hairy moments when Bear-cub started holding his willy and I was expecting a puddle to appear on the stage at any moment.  But, no such disaster happened – I think he may have just been doing a Michael Jackson impression!  Another moment was when Bear-Cub decided to break-dance during the last track and attempt some kind of head-spin (no word of a lie) but I managed to grab the microphone stand, keep it from falling and keep smiling as if it was so sweet and planned and not stressful in the slightest.

What was interesting was seeing people’s reactions when they gathered round the stage to listen to us and spotted a pint-sized member of the group.  Some would laugh and point, some would push their kids to the front for a dance and some would frown.  My friend in the audience afterwards told me how she overheard one mum tut and comment to her husband how awful it was that I was ‘making’ my child stand on stage with me during a gig!! This mummy was either jealous, has a child who willingly complies to her every wish or simply has no sympathy for single parents who are still trying to live their dreams and still be a great mum – oh well! I still managed to get Bear-Cub home and in bed for 8pm, collapse on the sofa and celebrate with a rum and a coke.   The collision of two worlds, rather than being a disaster of global proportions, was merely unexpected fireworks that made some beautiful colours in my view – at least that’s what I’m telling myself!

Upstaged by a 2-year old!