Love thy mole: how Cindy Crawford taught me to embrace ‘the crumb’

mole

Cindy is not just a pair of legs – she’s my ‘mole model’

Having a mole can test one’s self-esteem. I know this from experience. I have a little one on the right side of my mouth that has sometimes provoked unflattering comments.

There was the year someone told me I had a crumb on my face, the dinner party where a guest gave me a napkin to wipe away ‘the chocolate’, and even the time when a friend flat-out asked me: ‘Char, have you ever thought about getting that removed?’

But I’ve always been quite resilient in the face of such mole adversity. And that’s because of a conversation I had with my mum when I was little. I was feeling a bit self-conscious about my mole at the time, so she tucked me up in bed and said to me: ‘Do you know, one of the most beautiful women in the world has a mole in a similar place? And it’s one of the loveliest things about her.’

It was the 90s and this woman was, of course, Cindy Crawford – whose new autobiography exposes her own experiences with her mole. Crawford tells of tough times – the modelling agent who insisted she had it removed, the make-up artist who tried to conceal it and the footballer who reduced her to tears by saying she had chocolate on her face (probably jealous that he couldn’t lick it off).

Thank goodness Crawford did not let them get their way. For her mole has only served to banish the insecurities of others with them too. In fact, having Crawford around has made me feel positively sexy about my chocolate. I recently had a photo taken of myself where a retoucher asked if I would like my mole removed, and I have never exclaimed so boldly: ‘no, I love my mole!’

Things haven’t been easy for the mole community and for years we’ve been the butt of jokes. Let’s not forget the famous ‘Moley moley’ scene in Austin Powers in Goldmember’ that was ostensibly funny, but also quite harmful to my fellow molies. I was especially upset to see my favourite Spaniard, aka Enrique Iglesias, remove his signature stamp in 2003. The King of Latin pop said it was for health reasons, but he got so much ridicule for it – particularly in Bo’ Selecta! Series 1 – that I wouldn’t blame him if he just thought ‘hasta la vista, moley’.

And I don’t fancy him now it’s gone. Maybe that’s to do with the fact that what might be seen as an imperfection can actually create perfection. In fact, what Crawford has taught us is that these ‘flaws’ can become trademarks. It’s an important thing to realise when there are so many celebrities are trying to iron out features that might look deficient. We have all seen how the Kardashians have tampered with their noses, eyebrows, bums (probably) and hair. Anything that looks a bit ‘wrong’. I’m sure if one of them had a prominent mole it would have been eradicted years ago.

Yet this feature can really enhance people’s faces. Indeed, there are a host of other sassy and stylish mole sisters such as Eva Mendes, Natalie Portman and Kate Upton. Of course, Marilyn Monroe was famed for hers.

Without these moley crusaders who knows how I’d feel about mine. I was sad to hear that Crawford had a tough time with hers, because for a lot of people she provided salvation. She gave us hope and molspiraton. So may I take the chance to say thank you, Cindy – for being my mole model.

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I love coffee and I hate it

coffee-addict

I used to take so much pride in the fact I fucking hate coffee.

It’s so bitter. It smells horrible and when someone talks to you and their breath whiffs of coffee it’s just the worst. And God, those people on the tube who hold cups of the stuff look like such wankers. Even worse are the ones who order skinny lattes with soy milk. Who do they think they are – Deliciously Ella?!

Then I started getting tres tired at work. Maybe that’s because sometimes I stay up writing pointless articles about coffee. Concerned people suggested to me that I should try coffee.

“I don’t think so,” I said. “I’m a tea kind of girl”. That was me: tea. When I think of tea, there’s a montage of memories in my head – possibly set to the Coronation Street theme tune. Flashbacks appear of my father making me a beaker of the stuff with a sandcastle of demerara sugar in the bottom. Sure, I had three fillings by the age of 11, but it didn’t matter. I was prepared to take that for tea. It was a club I was in. Sort of like Everton football team. Not as cool as Liverpool but it felt more loyal and authentically northern to support it.

I also I felt kind of cocky about tea. I was even more sanctimonious than those coffee cup wankers on the tube. I was proud of my natural body energy and the fact that I didn’t need as much caffeine as coffee people.

Then one day I was like really, really tired so I thought:

“Ok, I will try this coffee.” Isn’t that how all drug addictions begin? It tasted horrible at first, but as weeks went by I became hooked. It made me feel on fire, ready to take on the world of editorial, ready to keep adding pointless articles to my blog.

Because I’m new to the coffee scene, I’ve been asking baristas loads of questions. One has really taken me under his wing and told me to start with a cappuccino. From what I can see, cappuccinos are good, but maybe not that posh? I went to a Michelin-starred restaurant recently and they looked at me like I was scum of the earth when I asked for one. I’ve also tried lattes but I feel like maybe they’re immature because they’re milky. I don’t think I’m ready for macchiatos yet because they seem a bit extreme – sort of like the sambuca of the coffee world. Like I say, I’m still working it all out. I feel like Jack in the Titanic when he goes for that meal and he has no idea which cutlery to use first. I’m just waiting for that fat woman to lean over and tell me the secrets.

Like I say, I LOVE and HATE coffee. I want to stay with tea. Maybe I feel like Kristen Stewart when she dumped Robert Pattison for that director Rupert Sanders. Robert was reliable and they’d been together for years. But then she found Rupert exciting, stimulating, and he kept her awake all night.

Still, Rupert was a bit of a badass. And that’s what coffee is. It’s – as far as I can tell – in no shape or form good for you. But if I am going to try and forge some sort of point to this article it would be that learning to like coffee reflects this psychological theory called ‘cognitive dissonance’ that holds that our attitudes have to support our behaviour. It basically means you can like anything in if you do it enough. Anal sex, bridge, Barry Manilow. As Ellie Goulding once said, ‘Anything Could Happen’.

Anything could happen, but I don’t think Kristen Stewart will be going back to R Patz, and I don’t think I will ever be tantalised to commit fully to tea again. It’s been good but our relationship just doesn’t excite me any more. Not even memories of the beaker can steer me away from the seductive charms of the world’s best hot beverage.

I’ve been born again. As a Belieber

They say love happens when you least expect it to
They say love happens when you least expect it to

It all started on a Monday morning.

I was sitting at my desk with nothing but a bowl of Ready brek to lift my spirits, and I needed inspiration of the artistic kind.

So I went onto Spotify, and asked it to show me the way.

“Gods of Spotify,” I pleaded. “Show me an artist who can raise me up.”

And the Gods of Spotify answered… They told me to listen to this song by Justin Bieber.

It’s called “What Do You Mean?” and it’s all about Justin dating this girl who’s a mistress of mixed signals. He’s really confused – she keeps nodding her head, arguing with him, being overprotective and Justin just can’t work it out…

What does she mean?

And I can’t help him either because this girl sounds awfully discombobulating. But anyway, the point is that when I listened to this song – strange lyrics aside – something really weird happened. Which is that I found myself totally enthralled by the funky panpipes, background grandfather clock, and sultry vocals. It’s even got me having an existential crisis.

I say existential crisis, but really I’m trying to get round to the confession that I’ve become a Belieber.

Never say never
You think you know everything about yourself when you’re 26. Things like you’ll never like pigeons, people doing their make-up on public transport or Owen Jones.

Yet, to become a Belieber is spinning my world out of control. Who am I now?

Still, as I think about it, I don’t know why I was never one before. Because the more I find out about Justin Bieber, the more I’m convinced he’s a genius (the Mozart of Ontario, even) and that we should all be Beliebers.

I know the Bieb seems like this trivial, manufactured musician for silly teenage girls. But he’s so much more than that, and I think we’ve all been taking him for granted. As musicians go, he’s exceptional. Just the other day I watched this video of him singing the original version of his song ‘Where Are U Now’ – a CHOON – which he wrote aged 15, and wanted to explode with awe. I would say ‘pride’, but who am I to say that – Justin’s mom?!

This is a song I probably heard when I was about 20 and thought ‘meh’. That’s before I spent months struggling to teach myself Fight for this Love by Cheryl Cole on the piano. Such thankless days plonking away taught me that it’s bloody hard being good at the piano – let alone singing too – and I was seriously blown away by the Bieb as he mastered all these crafts (at an age when most boys are trying to master walking in a straight line).

Bieber has a slightly jaded look in his eyes these days and that’s because, over the years – a bit like Harry Styles – he’s been hung out as serious man-meat for the world to feast on. He’s so good looking and good at music that people simply don’t know how to process him, and eventually he became a bit uncool. In fact, really uncool. I should know – once I told my (then) teenage brother his hair was like Justin Bieber’s, which I thought was a lovely compliment, and he looked at me like I was a witch.

I am trying to make a serious point in this post, though. Which is that sometimes we are so satiated with talent that we, quite simply, forget to realise how special some people are. And I know Baby is hardly Handel’s Messiah. But like Handel, Bieber is a star. I even think that, like the Messiah, Justin is going to make a big come back.

And I hope we can welcome him with open arms. That we can step back and give our opinions of the Bieb some new-found consideration. We could all become Beliebers! And, as Justin says, you should ‘Never say never’ (to being a Belieber).

When I stop listening to ‘What Do You Mean?’ and ‘Where Are U Now’ 100 times a day, I will be excited to see what this strapping young man – I can say that now he’s 21 – does next. And thrilled to tell the world: I’m a Belieber.

Five reasons LinkedIn makes me want to put chopsticks into my eyes

linkedin-android-walks

LinkedIn, like checking my flies are done up, is something I do most days. Because I’m a professional, yeah. And that’s what we do.

But recently I’ve doubted its credibility. It all started when someone endorsed me for a number of skills on the site – which obviously I have in huge quantities – but nonetheless this someone was someone whom I’d never met. And a big part of me was suspicious of this random generosity. After all, my Great Auntie Jean did once tell me: ‘there’s no such thing as a free lunch’. (I jest – Jean doesn’t exist. But if I had an Great Auntie Jean she would probably say that).

Not only that but the whole debacle with Charlotte Proudman last week has made me consider the etiquette of LinkedIn. I mean, apparently it’s meant to be professional – as Charlotte carefully pointed out – but there are things about it, other than over-friendly barristers, that bring its credentials in this capacity into question.

So, because why not, I have decided to explain my reasons for said scepticism:

1. Everyone seems suddenly really clever

And I smell a rat. Whether that’s Jimmy – terrible at maths – Jones from school, or that guy you interned with who couldn’t use a stapler, everyone’s a big shot when it comes to LinkedIn. The problem is, when titles float about like ‘Executive editor of life’ and ‘Princess manager of the photocopier’, it’s impossible to work out who’s actually good at business and stuff.

2. People share hideous pictures of dolphins

And other animals, accompanied with slogans like ‘Be yourself. Be a dolphin’ (or something along those lines). LinkedIn basically turns people into Paul McKenna. Like once I saw this post that says “Successful people are always looking for opportunities to help others. Unsuccessful people are always asking, ‘what’s in it for me’?” Which isn’t even true because I know loads of successful people who definitely are not looking out for other people.

3. LinkedIn is where people share super boring business articles

Filled with more lies and vague advice. Like today’s special was posted by Sarah Cannata, who argues that powerful businesswomen must “reach out to other women in similar circumstances” to address “the feelings of isolation and loneliness”. It’s the typical type of faux-altruistic post that litters the site, even though it should really be about being an evil capitalist genius. Then you have the people who comment on articles about professional matters like the plight of the hole-punch industry (or something like that). I don’t believe these commentators and sharers anyway – they’re not socialists, they’re SOCIAL CLIMBERS.

4. LinkedIn makes you think everyone is Brad Pitt

Cause they’ve got professional portraits done. I should know – I had one taken the other day and I tried to convey an appearance of smouldering control, but instead I just look kind of like the Wednesday Addams of media. Anyway, sometimes you see photos of other people that make them out to be David Gandy’s sexy brother and then you meet up with them and they look like David Gest’s dad. It’s worse than having beer goggles.

5. LinkedIn feels so lonely 

Sometimes I go on LinkedIn and I feel like Adam Rickitt in that 90s music video where he crawls into a shower, naked and confused. Because I look around and think – ‘who are all these (digital) people?’ Did I go to school with you? Did we work together? And who is this strange man from Qatar?

Bonus reason: once I knew this guy who couldn’t even say ‘LinkedIn’

He was so nice and he kept talking about how he loved using ‘Link-Ked Inn’, which made it sound like a hotel chain in Milton Keynes.

So, yeah, I should probably leave LinkedIn, right. But I can’t, anyway. And that’s because I’m trying to grow my Twitter following – which is a pretty slow process. So I need all the self-promotional tools I can get.

So right now I’ll have to be ‘Vice President of Hypocrisy at Self-Employed’.

The perils of being too sexy

l_il_LHC

If there’s one thing that is the worst in life it’s when someone else has your name and you’re not a fan of them.

This is how I feel about Charlotte from Geordie Shore – the ladette who took my title and poured a pint of Guinness all over it.

Anyway, a new Charlotte came on the Charlotte scene today who vexes me more than Charlotte from Geordie Shore. This one is called Charlotte Proudman.

To tell you about her, she’s an award-winning barrister who hates compliments.

That’s what one man – Alexander Carter-Silk – discovered when he took to LinkedIn to tell Charlotte that he really, really liked her profile picture.

“Charlotte, delighted to connect,” he wrote. “I appreciate that this is probably horrendously politically incorrect but that is a stunning picture !!! You definitely win the prize for the best Linked in picture I have ever seen.”

Unfortunately, Charlotte did not appreciate his email and sent him a reply as razor-sharp as her fringe.

“I find your message offensive. I am on linked-in for business purposes not to be approached about my physical appearance or to be objectified by sexist men. The eroticisation of women’s physical appearance is a way of exercising power over women.”

God, I would write the whole thing out but it’s all a bit boring and slightly unhinged. She even ends by saying: “Think twice before sending another woman (half your age) such a sexist message”, which I would even argue is a bit ageist!

And it didn’t just end there for poor Mr Silky Silk. As well as writing him a rather Miss Trunchull-esque reply, Charlotte posted their correspondence all over social media – even managing to summon an army of Twitter whingers with their own stories of sexism to post about.

Newspapers are loving the Chaz narrative because it gives them a window to post endless articles about feminism and stuff like that – things that Charlotte’s Web (history) has nothing to do with.

In fact, here’s what happened to Charlotte…

A nice man gave her a nice compliment about a photograph she tried to look nice for.

The end.

To call Mr Carter-Silk sexist is, frankly, bonkers. He could have sent exactly the same message to a man or his Auntie Mildred.

But little did he know Charlotte Proudman is a ‘fearlessfeminist’ – that’s according to her Twitter profile. She adds that that ‘rap prostitution & pornography are problems of male dominance’. Yawnzies.

The point is that Charlotte is very into ‘women’s issues’, and I would argue that she actually has a cognitive bias (oh yeah, psychology degree). What this means is she might be – unconsciously or consciously – looking for evidence to support her belief that the world is sexist and out to get her. Thus a benign email became some sort of statement on sexism. To be honest, Chaz was looking for her opportunity to rage about the patriarchy. But instead of just becoming a Guardian writer or something like that, she hung out a sweet old lawyer as sacrificial lamb.

And really, in doing so – even as an award-winning barrister – she has set herself up to be intellectually demolished. Eaten up by those who will find her reaction to Alexander Carter-Silk hysterical. The sort of reaction that might reinforce to actual sexists that women are trivial and humourless.

Mostly, I’m a bit peeved with this Charlotte because I like getting compliments and I worry men might see her Twitter and decide never to issue any again. But there is a world of difference between a builder shouting out ‘nice arse, love’ to a woman walking down a street, and a lawyer complimenting another on a photograph.

Compliments are what make the world go around. Compliments make people feel special. Sometimes I say to my male colleagues, ‘that’s a nice haircut’, but is that inappropriate now? Is it so terrible that I might tell someone that they look good? Bloody hell, on a Monday morning it’s quite nice to be told you have a decent haircut.

No. Of course not.

But thanks to Ms Proudman, I don’t think many men are going to want to flatter women in the future. After all, they might end up being painted as a sexist or even have their reputations smeared on social media.

So, thanks, Charlotte, thanks. Thanks for being another Charlotte I don’t rate. And thanks for making women less likely to receive compliments. And lastly, thanks for trivialising women’s issues. Because – actually – we have far bigger fish to fry than your profile picture.

Standing up for short men: is short-shaming the new fat-shaming?

Napoleon on Horseback at the St Bernard Pass by Jacques-Louis David

What on earth gives women the right to dismiss men for being short? 

Maybe it’s because I’m five foot one; maybe it’s because I think Napoleon seemed kind of cool, or maybe it’s because I’m a bit soppy – but I can’t help feeling sorry for short men.

And I want to make a stand for them. Because something strange and unacceptable in our culture has happened where women feel it is ok to publicly slate their petite counterparts, and dismiss them romantically, purely on their (limited) height.

Case en pointe – today I read an article in The Debrief called ‘28 Tinder Dates in 28 Days’. In the piece, a (rather smug) journalist analyses 28 Tinder dates she has been on – her second one titled: ‘The Incredibly Short Guy’. Speaking of her encounter, she writes:

“Thank goodness I was sitting down at the bar when this little bundle walked up to the table I was waiting at. This guy was teeny… I told him from the off that I was doing research on Tinder because I didn’t want him to make a move on me as I would surely burst out laughing.”

I couldn’t believe what I was reading – such outrageous discrimination so needlessly displayed and openly tolerated.

Unfortunately, no one will bat an eyelid at this piece. That’s because the sisterhood has become incredibly shallow when it comes to men’s stature – convinced that we have some entitlement to Thor-like creatures. In fact, many of my friends will now dismiss guys on dates with no other reason than they were ‘too short’.

Like I say, I’m only five foot one myself, so part of my sympathy is personal. I’m sure had I been a bloke I would have spent most of my life looking upwards. The thought of operating in such a Spartan dating world sends shivers down my spine.

But what especially vexes me is this double standard of women criticising short men, then expecting the latter to tolerate physical imperfections such as a weight (which isn’t even a fixed state). For a man to openly reject a woman because he found her fat would be social suicide.

Yet for women to complain about a man’s height is fine, apparently. At least, that’s the message I’m receiving from magazines like The Debrief – whose journalists clearly find the notion that a short man might want some romantic action hilarious. 

It’s not really ok, though, is it? Any more than telling your friends you dismissed someone because they had black hair, or narrow shoulders, or anything else that is undeniably genetics. And actually, not that big a deal.

Some of the cleverest, most determined, interesting and handsome guys I know are short. I’d like to say I feel bad for them that they have to face this wave of judgement when they go dating, but my only reassurance is that at least they will weed out shallow women from their pool of potential partners. Girls who cannot see that there are far more important things to have in a boyfriend than long limbs.

And girls who cannot see that openly dismissing someone because of their height is, at best, plain rude. You cannot choose who you fancy or fall in love with, but you can choose decorum – and we ladies should reject with dignity and grace. If guys can learn not to fat-shame, surely we can avoid short-shaming.