She’s completed another trip around the sun! Hip hip hooray!
As I write, I am currently consuming my entire body weight in carrot cake (some things never change, eh?) whilst mourning the fact that I’m entering my final year of DiCaprio eligibility. I welcome your condolences during this truly upsetting time.
Twenty-three flew by. I packed a lot into those twelve months, if I do say so myself. From appearing on the BBC and ITV to landing a great job with a portfolio of interesting clients and projects, it really couldn’t have been better. I may be serving panda chic vibes with my dark circles, but it’s all worth it. If you told me that I’d be doing live radio at 11pm (Times Radio loves a late night) with the powerhouse that is Dr. Ann Olivarius, I would have called you insane. ‘Little ol’ me? With my anxiety around public speaking? No way!’. Reader, I did it.
Twenty-three was an exhausting, but rewarding year. I pushed myself way beyond my comfort zone and met some incredible people. It’s perhaps also the first year where I’ve felt truly comfortable with myself. I really benefited from being able to spend more time with my family and indulge in a bit of self-reflection during the pandemic. I’m now a lot clearer on what I do and don’t want from life and after many years of trying on different versions of myself to see what fit, I think I’m finally working out who I am and am embracing that I may just secretly be an eighty-year-old grandma at heart.
As evidenced by my sporadic posts, the full-on blogger-influencer lifestyle isn’t for me. I’m having a lot more fun blogging for myself and posting when I want without any pressure to adhere to strict schedules. It must be said that growing up and gaining more adulting responsibilities sadly means less time to pout in front of a camera and capture my iconic looks. In fact, today was the first day in about five months where I took an actual selfie! I can’t decide what’s more tragic: having one year left to make it happen with Leo or having zero time to get good gram shots? 🤷🏽♀️
In the last year, I took a huge step back from social media, particularly Instagram. This may come as a surprise since I was really active on the platform in my teens to late teens and very early twenties. I lived and breathed that VSCO HB2 filter with high contrast. Now, I only really post if there’s a special occasion like my birthday or if I’m at a nice restaurant (yes, I am that person and I have no shame!). So for my ex’s mum who liked to stalk me, you’re really not missing out on much.
Creeping exes aside, the platform itself is just so toxic. A part of me lost interest in Instagram altogether. Not only does it promote disturbingly vapid and unrealistic beauty and body standards for women, but I felt as though my presence as a young woman on the platform was reduced to my appearance and whether or not I was appealing to the male gaze.
My epiphany is likely a result of reading – and re-reading – Margaret Atwood’s The Edible Woman which has led to a lot of research and reflection on the consumption of the female body. I am always grateful when brands reach out, especially outside of the book realm which has and always will be my core focus, but occasional demands to look more ‘infleuncer-y’ or make the content more ‘sexy’ made me feel like a slab of meat on display in the aisle of a grocery store. Similarly, the exodus of male followers when I spoke out about my sexual assault and started re-sharing snippets of my interviews and the work of fellow survivors really spoke volumes. It was a clear insight into how I was viewed and consumed as a person on the platform. Be fun, be attractive, be interesting, but only in a way that is palatable and will allure your audience. In other words, don’t be human unless it’s endearing and aesthetically pleasing. As the wise prophet T-Swift once said, women are expected to “be new to us, be young to us, but […] only in the way we want. Live out a narrative that we find to be interesting enough to entertain us, but not so crazy that it makes us uncomfortable.”
Cutting back my usage to only keep up with family and close friends both in and out of the blogging community has been a mental health miracle even if it may have cost me in terms of audience numbers. As my priorities in life continue to shift towards career goals and long-term happiness, I realised I no longer want to feed into that harmful side of the platform. The hours that go in to planning, shooting and editing in order to ensure a carefully curated idealised version of yourself that brings in the big likes is just not for me. You can’t truly have fun anywhere because you’re worrying if you got the perfect shot for the gram. My nearest and dearest pals can attest to this, I’ve definitely been that person too! Plus, I’m old and boring now (but still high fashion, dahling 💁🏽♀️) with zero interest in living out a narrative to entice and excite others. I spent my last day as a twenty-three-year-old eating McDonalds and watching the Yonderland boxset – so thrilling, I know! If you ever need recommendations on what to watch, I’m your gal. FYI Fresh on Disney+ is a must!
Honestly, it’s been nice to feel a sense of peace and contentment after a very choatic last few years. Anyone who knows me, knows that I am an eternal pessimist. Yet, despite my fear of aging, I actually don’t feel that gloomy about turning twenty-four. I’m very fortunate to have lovely and supportive family and friends to celebrate with. Special kudos to Mama Kilford and her excellent decorating skills! It’s nice to be entering twenty-four feeling happy and refreshed (aside from a pink gin hangover).
Sleeper Atlanta Linen Dress in Micro Polka Dot, Size XS [style no longer available], $320
Laura Mercier Flawless Fusion Ultra Longwear Foundation in Macadamia, £38
Yves Saint Laurent Rouge Pur Couture Lipstick in 107 Bare Burgundy, £24.80
Glossier Cloud Paint in Storm, £15