Halle Berry has claimed "no man has ever taken care" of her after Instagram trolls left negative comments suggesting she struggled to "keep a man".
Halle Berry has claimed "no man has ever taken care" of her after Instagram trolls left negative comments suggesting she struggled to "keep a man".
People have been describing thoughts, images and ideas as “living in their head rent-free” for years now. Urban Dictionary (the font of all knowledge) first published the phrase back in 2017, though it really took on a life of its own in 2018. The phrase became shorthand for the unprompted or uninvited trivia your brain stores – like the Just Eat song consistently playing in the background of your thoughts, or the fact that you can recall your first crush’s home phone number but not what you had for lunch yesterday. The use of the phrase articulates a real phenomenon that we are always, passively, absorbing and retaining information. A lot of the thoughts and ideas that populate our head is stuff that doesn’t pay rent, and probably doesn’t deserve to be there. Sometimes the things that accidentally stick in our brain are welcome. I often blow my own mind by reminding myself that Cleopatra lived nearer the time when the first iPhone was developed than the time when the pyramids were built (I KNOW). But more often than not, these sticky thoughts are unwelcome and mysterious in how they got there. It can make you feel like your mind is a cluttered, crowded place, full of images, objects and ideas you didn’t choose to bring in. This is why the concept of “mind gardening” is so refreshing. It takes the idea of gardening (planting, cultivating, nurturing and pruning) and applies it to the web of thoughts that cloud your brain. It’s not just that mind gardening sweeps out the cobwebs (though that can be a great side effect); it’s a whole new way to think about knowledge, creativity and how we learn. Instead of passively absorbing random pieces of information while scrolling online, you can make your mind a place that you’ve cultivated based on what you’re actually interested in. Anne-Laure Le Cunff is the CEO of Ness Labs, a learning platform dedicated to mindful productivity. She has long been a proponent of mind gardening as a way to embrace creativity and soothe an overworked mind. We asked her to explain what it is, why it works and how to use the technique without it feeling like homework. DashDividers_1_500x100 What is mind gardening? Mind gardening is a proactive way of cultivating knowledge, ideas and thinking in general. It’s very different from passive consumption – it’s like a proactive creation. Instead of just passively reading content, when you’re mind gardening you come across an idea or a thought which you treat like a seed. You plant it by making a note of it either physically or digitally. The cultivation comes in when you look for connections between your thoughts or seeds – as they grow they branch out and form unexpected connections. This is then harvested as new thoughts, new ideas, new content or just a great conversation with friends. There’s really a creation aspect, which you don’t really have with passively scrolling on social media. Where did the concept originate? For me, I started thinking about these topics when I realised that I was having a very unhealthy relationship with the internet in general and social media in particular, where I felt like I was consuming much more than I was creating. I have a few friends who really got into gardening in the past couple of years. Looking at them really investing and growing their actual physical garden made me think that it may be possible to apply a similar approach to our knowledge. And we have this expression in French called “cultiver son jardin intérieur” which roughly translates to “cultivating your internal garden”. This is when it clicked for me. I figured that there are so many things that we can borrow from actual gardening and apply to cultivating what’s in our mind. Why is it having a surge in popularity? I think people want to reclaim more control over the way they use their time and the way they use their mind. We’ve seen lots of people going through burnout for example. Even the fact that doomscrolling was one of the main terms invented last year shows that people are really struggling when it comes to their relationship with the internet. More and more people are curious about mind gardening because it is giving them an option to shift in mindset when it comes to their relationship with the internet. And cultivating your knowledge, creating, whether it is writing or having more interesting conversations, is a very fulfilling goal to have. I think that’s partly why we stretch ourselves too far when it comes to lack of control with the way we engage with the internet. Now people are trying to find ways to balance that relationship a bit more. Why is that active attention important? It reminds me of when people say that there are ideas that live rent-free in their heads. Basically, mind gardening is the opposite – you’re removing all of the weeds, you’re only keeping in there what makes you feel happier and more fulfilled, more creative, more knowledgeable, etc. It’s like making sure your ideas are welcome tenants instead. How does mind gardening affect your memory, if at all? I absolutely don’t want to make claims as to whether it changes the makeup of your memory. However a lot of mind gardening actually happens through writing, taking notes etc. And it has been shown that actually writing stuff down and engaging with it helps you both understand and remember stuff better. It’s called the generation effect. There are research papers showing that by creating your own version of a piece of information, you will understand and remember it better. This sounds a lot like studying (which might put people off). Something I think traditional education is not doing very well is that they basically teach kids that you need to learn in order to build a career and apply it when you become an adult. There’s this very transactional approach to learning. But I think a lot more people are starting to embrace lifelong learning – a way of learning that is more playful, that is driven by curiosity rather than a strict goal of improving your career, and that is more exploratory. You can start reading about a topic without really knowing what you’re going to discover or how you’re going to use it. But you’re learning for the sake of learning, which is beautiful and it’s amazing. How does the digital version of mind gardening play into this? As I explained, mind gardening can be practised in any way you find more enjoyable and practical but there are new digital tools that are making it easier. There is, for example, the tool called Roam Research. It makes it really easy to add new ideas to it, to connect your new ideas to past ideas, and to explore your mind garden by navigating these connections. It’s a completely different approach to taking notes than the old version that we had, the technical version, where you have to have an idea and you have to know exactly where you should put it, in which folder. With these new apps for mind gardening, you don’t need to know where this is going to go, you don’t need to know where you’re going and your own learning and discovery journey. You can chart the process of mind gardening for these connections to form and to appear and become more evident over time. So even if it feels like effort at first, it quickly becomes a natural part of your life? Absolutely, it’s like everything. You start seeing compound interest in your thoughts when you invest in them, when you invest in your ideas and thinking, when you invest in your curiosity. It’s the same as lots of beneficial habits. It sometimes takes a little bit of time at the beginning to get into it, to make it part of your routine. But once you’ve managed to do that, you are usually feeling more fulfilled, like you know more, you’re really happy that you got started in the first place. Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here?You Need To Budget Your Attention Like MoneyIn Defence Of DoomscrollingHow To Garden In A City – Without A Garden
Welcome to Money Diaries, where we're tackling what might be the last taboo facing modern working women: money. We're asking a cross-section of women how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period – and we're tracking every last penny.This week: "Hi! I am 22 years old and I work as an electrical apprentice in the oil and gas industry. I am currently completing an HNC alongside my day-to-day work; I prefer this type of education as I get to learn vocationally and I get paid as I learn. I live at home with my parents at the moment and I am very fortunate to have very little outgoings. I have worked throughout the pandemic so I have been able to save up some money to hopefully move into the home my boyfriend is buying!"Industry: Oil and gasAge: 22Location: GrimsbySalary: £8.20 an hour, for 40 hours a week.Paycheque amount: £285 weekly after tax, national insurance and pension.Number of housemates: Five (Mum, Dad, sister C, her boyfriend B, and my brother A) and seven pets (three dogs and four cats).Monthly ExpensesHousing costs: £0. I am very lucky that my parents don’t charge me rent to live at home, although they do ask that I put the money I would spend on rent in savings so I put £50 a week in a help-to-buy ISA.Loan payments: £0. I have a credit card that I pay off in full each month and no student loan as I didn’t go to university.Utilities: £0 as I still live with my parents.Transportation: I own my car, insurance £73 a month, fuel £60 a month and I pay my tax yearly. I would usually pay at least double the fuel but I am not travelling anywhere other than work at the moment. I would also top up my HumberTag for the Humber Bridge with £20 as my boyfriend lives in Hull but I cannot see him because of the lockdown at the moment.Phone bill: £35 contract, £5.50 insurance. Savings? Weekly £50 into a help-to-buy ISA, £25 into an emergency fund, £25 in a holiday fund and £12.50 each in a car fund and a gifts fund. I currently have £5,300 saved between all of those accounts.Other: I pay £9.99 a month for Spotify and £0.79 for iCloud storage. I try to keep to £100 a week for spending.Day One6am: Wake up ready for work. I really don’t like rushing in the mornings so I slooowly get ready and leave for work at 22.214.171.124am: Arrive at work and fill up the kettle for the team, make myself a Quaker Oats porridge from a box I bought previously. Have a cup of tea. We all chip in to buy tea, coffee, milk and sugar etc.11.30am: After a quiet morning of paperwork, it’s lunchtime. My work provides free meals which is fantastic. I choose jacket potato with beans and cheese and a pineapple pot for after. Also have a cup of tea.12.30pm: Back to work!3.30pm: After a slow afternoon of checking stock and ordering new bits I go back to my desk to finish some college work for my end point assessment. Also have a cup of tea and a Hobnob as a colleague brought in biscuits.4.20pm: Go and get ready to go home. I get really dirty while at work. I change out of my overalls, wash my hands and face, then brush my hair and put it up into a bun. I leave at 4.30pm.5pm: Arrive home, Mum has made vegetable pasty and chips. Yes! I then shower and crack on with some more college work as I have an assignment due in a week.7.30pm: I finish with my work for the evening and do a Boots order to replace some products: The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5, CeraVe Moisturising Cream and Eucerin Aquaphor Soothing Skin Balm. I have pretty dry and sometimes flaky skin so these products are a go-to for me. I also order new shampoo and conditioner as mine are running low and I find my hair getting greasy soon after washing it. I’ve heard that your hair can get used to products so I’ve switched it up and gone for the Aussie Calm the Frizz range. £37.23 with next-day delivery.9pm: I spend the rest of the evening watching TV and FaceTiming my boyfriend.10pm: Go to sleep!Total: £37.23Day Two5.30am: Wake up before my alarm so just do that thing where I lie in bed, waiting for it to go off.6am: Alarm goes off. Today I am on compassionate leave from work as it is a loved one's funeral. Their passing was a shock to the family as they were previously healthy and only went into the hospital around a month ago.9am: Arrive at the crematorium.10am: Arrive back home. Sadly we are unable to hold a wake due to the national lockdown, which is a shame.2.30pm: I have scheduled a meeting with my tutor to go over a recent assignment. I then spend time on a different task to take my mind off things.4.30pm: Mum has done oven pizza for tea so I get some pizza and go back to working.8pm: I finish working and catch up with my boyfriend on FaceTime. We watch First Dates together.10pm: Go to bed.Total: £0Day Three 5.30am: Wake up before my alarm goes off again.6am: My alarm goes off, I ignore it.6.30am: Get up and get ready for work.7.30am: Arrive at work, make tea and porridge. I check my emails and see I have to be at my work location at 8! I wolf down my porridge and rush out of the office. I didn’t even get a sip of tea.11.30am: I made it on time and we have a busy morning pulling cables into place as part of a crane upgrade we are currently working on. Have lunch of tomato, chickpea and pasta soup and a cheese baguette.12.30pm: Have a cup of tea then back to work!4pm: Get back to my desk and get a drink before leaving for home.5pm: Arrive home and Mum has made meatballs and pasta for tea. I have a portion then have a quick shower before working on corrections on my assignment.8pm: Finish the corrections on my assignment and resubmit it to my tutor to do some final checks before properly submitting it. So close to being done now and I’ll be so relieved once it’s out of my mind. FaceTime my boyfriend and watch YouTube until bedtime.10pm: Turn out the light for sleep.Total: £0Day Four1.30am: I wake up but roll over and go back to sleep, this is a bit too early!5.30am: Wake up again but lie awake waiting for my alarm.6am: My alarm goes off so I get up and get ready for work.6.30am: Today is Friday so it is also payday! I get paid weekly as an apprentice so I move any remaining money from the previous week from my spending account into my savings account.8am: I arrive at work and do the usual routine of filling the kettle. I make myself a porridge and coffee as I am really tired this morning.10am: I arrive back at my desk as the people I am working with have a meeting. I use this time to do some paperwork and scanning for college.11.30am: Lunchtime! I choose vegetable pie with chips, peas, vegetable gravy then chocolate cookies for after and that’s all washed down with a cup of tea.3pm: Get back to my desk after an afternoon of planned preventative maintenance on one of the company’s offsites. I make a cup of tea, do my timesheet and send it off then catch up with the team until home time.5pm: Get home and have jacket potato with cheese and beans. I had planned to do some more assignment work but decide instead to have a chilled evening.6.30pm: I go and have a 'pamper' shower where I exfoliate and shave and then moisturise my whole body. I never do this in the week as I usually have really quick showers but I like to take the time on Friday to make myself feel a bit more human after being at work all week as it is a really dirty place.7.30pm: I settle down to watch TV and chill out in bed. I re-download Instagram – I delete the app every Monday as I find it really affects my productivity in the week. I have none of the other social media apps on my phone and I rarely check them but I always end up down an Instagram hole so deleting the app stops the urge to constantly scroll.11pm: Go to sleep, excited to get a lie-in tomorrow.Total: £0Day Five5.30am: Wake up. I have no idea why I wake up at 5.30 every day and it is so frustrating.8.30am: I wake up again after falling back to sleep. My Saturdays are always really slow, especially now we are in lockdown again.10am: Scrolling through Instagram I find a cute mug and order it to go to my boyfriend’s house directly. £1312.30pm: I finally get up and out of bed, shower and get some toast and tea. I then carry on scrolling my phone.3pm: I read the article on Refinery29 about budgeting your attention like you would money so I put down my phone, make a cup of tea and pick up my book instead.4.30pm: I get hungry and Uber Eats has 50% off a vegan burger so I order that. My sister joins me but sends me her portion of the money. I try to eat mainly vegetarian as I really don’t like the thought of meat and I hate the texture of lots of it although I eat meat at home as it means my mum doesn’t have to make multiple meals but any meal I choose/cook will be vegetarian. £19.34 but I get £9.50 back from my sister so £126.96.36.199pm: I have finished my food and I really enjoyed it! It is nice to have such a good option at a big chain food place. I carry on reading my book.7pm: I get in bed and watch The Pembrokeshire Murders three-part series on ITV player. I find this kind of show really interesting but so scary.10pm: Fall asleep while watching TV.Total: £22.84Day Six7am: Wake up. I didn’t wake up at 5.30 today, hooray!10am: Get up and dressed, then go downstairs for tea and toast.1.30pm: I spent the morning scrolling on my phone and reading my book so I decide to have lunch of a cheese toastie and then do something productive.2pm: I start work on my design assignment. I have to complete engineering drawings for each of the 12 parts of a reception desk I have designed. This part takes the longest and I have put it off until last. I have completed the rest of the assignment apart from this.3pm: A nightmare happens and my computer crashes so I reset it and go to make a cup of tea to take a break.5pm: My nanna arrives at my house as she lives alone and is in our support bubble. We have Sunday dinner and spend some quality time together.8pm: My mum takes my nanna home. Snow is forecast for overnight which is so exciting!8.15pm: Go for a shower and then get in PJs and get in bed to FaceTime my boyfriend, we watch an episode of First Dates together. It’s really hard to be away from him in lockdown. We live a 40-minute drive from each other so we can’t meet for a socially distanced walk as neither of us would be in our local area.9.30pm: Go to sleep so I get up and dressed at a reasonable time.Total: £0Day Seven6am: Wake up due to our old pug barking. He is going deaf and blind so he often thinks he sees or hears something and barks until we go downstairs to see him. He was barking because one of the cats was at the back door. I let the dogs in the garden and make myself a cup of tea. I then let the dogs back in and go and get back in bed.6.15am: I have one last scrolling session on Instagram before I delete the app again.8.30am: I have Mondays off as I receive day release from work to complete my HNC course at college. However college is online at the moment so I work from home.11.30am: I have spent the morning completing the corrections on my maths assignment and writing it up neatly. I then scan and submit my assignment to Turnitin.11.45am: Submit my design assignment to Turnitin.12pm: After completing all my work I go to Tesco to get some bits for lunch and some other bits I need. £22.87 in total but £14.03 with Clubcard savings and £5.50 of vouchers.12.30pm: Have lunch. I bought myself the Bol sweet potato Caribbean jerk with rice and beans. I love the Bol ready meals as they contain a lot of fresh veg and textures. This one is delicious.1pm: I dust, hoover and tidy my bedroom. Once I’m finished, I decide I want to organise my chest of drawers so spend a few hours doing that.5pm: Mum calls me for dinner, tonight it is chilli and rice. I don’t eat it all as I am still full from lunchtime.6pm: I go in the shower and then get in bed to watch TV and FaceTime with my boyfriend.10pm: I go to bed ready for work tomorrow.Total: £14.03The BreakdownFood/Drink: £23.87Clothes/Beauty: £37.23Entertainment: £0Travel: £0Other: £13Total: £74.10Conclusion"This is a fairly average week for me in lockdown, especially as I didn’t buy fuel. I am saving up all the budgeted spending money I don’t use to put towards fun things once the lockdown is eased and we have a little bit more freedom."Like what you see? 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When Stewart Robertson, a 58-year-old statistician from Milton Keynes, received a Facebook message from his female yoga teacher* linking to an anti-vaxx propaganda video, he was shocked but perhaps not totally surprised. About 18 months before, she’d sent him a Facebook message containing 5G conspiracy theories. “I’d alway thought of yoga as something idealistic, all about ‘flower power’ and closer to the ‘left’,” he tells me. “But these kinds of posts, they’re coming from the alt-right.” While Stewart and his classmates largely brushed off the 5G email, over the past three months their teacher’s pushing of conspiracies – which she’ll post on social media or send directly to her students’ work emails – has escalated. It prompted Stewart and his classmates to confront her in an email over “content [that] really needs to be challenged”. Because of his science background, Stewart was never sold on the theories being served up alongside his online yoga class, saying: “I need a lot of evidence to be convinced of something.” But he is worried that others won’t be as discerning and could fall victim to such claims. Conspirituality – a term coined in 2011 to describe people in the spirituality space who are also attracted to conspiracy theories – is booming online. Stewart’s yoga teacher and others in her community – some with hundreds of thousands of followers – have been increasingly using their platforms to spread disinformation via social media. Links between the yoga community and QAnon – a theory which posits that the world is run by a cabal of liberal elites – made international news when it was revealed that a “QAnon shaman” who attacked the US Capitol on 6th January was a yoga practitioner on an organic diet. There have always been conspiritual beliefs but the pandemic has turbocharged them.Jules Evans “There have always been conspiritual beliefs,” says philosopher Jules Evans, author of The Art of Losing Control, “but the pandemic has turbocharged them.” There’s even a podcast called Conspirituality dedicated to debunking these types of theories. But in the UK, the phenomenon has received altogether less attention. “In general there is less spirituality in the UK, so also less conspirituality,” says Evans. However, people who move in wellness and spiritual circles in the UK are increasingly raising concerns about the alarming rate at which conspiracies – on everything from anti-vaxx to 5G and beyond – are seeping into their communities. Among them is Amber Wilds, a 40-year-old yoga teacher from Essex who says that while conspiracy thinking has long been bubbling away in the yoga community, it is only over the past year that she’s started to notice these types of posts popping up on her feed. Before the pandemic, certain practitioners would stay off social media. “It was seen to be ‘the demon thing’,” Amber says. However, COVID has been hammering the UK’s yoga industry. Studios and gyms have been closed during multiple lockdowns and teachers have begun to unionise. Many practitioners have been forced to use social media as a “lifeline” to connect with their students, Amber explains. Now, many of those same teachers are openly sharing views that they might once have kept private or only shared with those they spoke to directly after class. Conspiracy theories have long served as a coping mechanism to deal with an uncertain world. When wellness practitioners make claims of exaggerated death tolls, or that we’re being misled over how infectious the second strain is, it can offer an appealing alternative for those who’d rather not confront the painful reality of COVID-19. As Adam Curtis argues in his new documentary, people are led to conspiracy theories out of feelings of isolation, powerlessness and fear – when they feel disenfranchised by a ruling elite – an apt description of the current national mood. The spike in conspirituality and the disinformation it spreads online can also be seen as a byproduct of QAnon, which took hold in the US before migrating to the UK last year. According to anthropologist Dr Susannah Crockford, the vast majority of the sources spreading to the UK via social media originated in the US (though there are some notable exceptions, including conspiracy theorist David Icke). “You can imagine disinformation as this kind of monster that belches things up from America,” says Susannah, “and then latches on to the UK and the rest of Europe. But then it gets reworked into a local frame.” According to Susannah, posts in the UK tend to focus on the more everyday anti-vaxx and anti-lockdown conspiracies, as opposed to the outlandish QAnon narratives of paedophile rings and satanic rituals which have been spreading in US yoga circles. Susannah sees the hard constraints on people’s freedom as what’s driving this sentiment in the UK yoga community. “The core of yoga and spirituality is this idea that the individual creates their own reality: they see themselves and also their environment around them as perfectible,” she explains. “They’ll think, Who is stopping me from creating this perfect environment? And then go on to read all these theories on the internet.” Amber agrees, describing how anti-lockdown and anti-vaxx narratives are often posited as a “fight for freedom”. First, they get you to the door by saying a little bit… When they’ve got you listening, they hit you with the three-hour video… And then you’re in it. It’s a form of critical thinking.Dr SusannaH Crockford Posts on social media tend to deploy vague or coded language when spreading conspiracies, with references to “The Great Awakening”, “The Storm” or urging people to “Wake Up”. This can make it difficult for social media platforms to detect what is blatantly conspiracy language and what is your standard spiritual wellness messaging. Posts will often appear on ethereal, aesthetically pleasing Instagram feeds alongside feminist slogan T-shirts and posts about organic beauty products – a phenomenon which researcher Marc-André Argentino has referred to as “pastel QAnon“. Instead of making direct claims, posts will often encourage people to do their own research, which, Amber says, preys on the kind of “inquiring mind” that is encouraged within yoga teaching. “Because yoga is a fringe industry, there doesn’t tend to be a wealth of information out there about subjects we’re interested in. So we tend to do lots of research ourselves. It seems almost natural to do that… And then you’re venturing into areas where you shouldn’t be doing that, like science and medicine,” she explains. According to Susannah, leading people to believe they’ve arrived at the conclusion themselves is all part of the manipulation. “First, they get you to the door by saying a little bit… When they’ve got you listening, they hit you with the three-hour video… And then you’re in it. It’s a form of critical thinking.” This appears to be the case with Saffron*, a 36-year-old yoga teacher from London with over 23,600 Instagram followers, who believes she has arrived at the “truth” by her own volition. (She asked to remain anonymous because she “likes to keep her opinions to herself”, she says.) When asked why distrust in the government is so high among her community, Saffron responds: “Because we are more in tune with our bodies and natural intuition. We don’t sit around in sedentary jobs, eating processed foods, listening to whatever the government says. We spend time moving our bodies, fuelling with whole foods. It gives us clarity to think for ourselves.” Yogic teachings encourage students to follow their intuition in order to “access one’s ‘true self’,” explains Amber. “It’s this idea that you’ll almost come to a higher state through a yoga practice.” So it can be difficult for a teacher to contradict a student if their intuition is leading them towards conspiracies. A lack of investment in women’s health is also responsible for deepening distrust in mainstream medicine, which has in turn prompted women to seek out alternatives. What concerns Amber is the power yoga teachers exert over their students – they’re often performing a similar role to a therapist. “When we meet our students, we do so when they’re vulnerable. You have to trust your teacher. So if your teacher starts spouting conspiracies and you’re trusting them to give sound advice, there’s a very dangerous crossover there.” Of course, it isn’t the nature of yoga teaching in itself which is to blame for conspirituality: experts have criticised social media companies for not doing enough to curb the anti-vaxx content spreading on their platforms. According to a study by the Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH), 31 million people follow anti-vaccine groups on Facebook and another 17 million subscribe to similar accounts on YouTube. The CCDH estimates that the movement is worth $1 billion in advertising revenue for social media firms. A lack of investment in women’s health is also responsible for deepening distrust in mainstream medicine, which has in turn prompted women to seek out alternatives. It should come as little surprise, then, that research has shown the vast majority of the anti-vaxx community are women, and that the female-dominated sphere of yoga – with its promise of “natural” solutions – has become a petri dish for this type of thinking. Saffron, for example, thinks that too much focus has been placed on the coronavirus vaccine and that we should be “building our own immunity with fresh food and nature” and that the government should be providing “vitamin D shots” instead. According to Public Health England there is not enough medical evidence to support the idea that vitamin D protects people against COVID-19. If we recognise that feelings of abandonment at the hands of government and healthcare institutions is often what draws people to conspirituality, we might be more inclined to empathise with those who fall victim to it. “Shaming and ridiculing won’t work… We could say that sometimes there are genuine conspiracies, that sometimes and perhaps even often it is helpful to be a bit wary of state power,” says Evans. “However, if you’re connecting all conspiracies into one global grand cosmic plan all run by the same family or small group of people, you’re probably being over-paranoid and ending up with a simplistic world picture.” *Names have been changed and removed to protect identities Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here?Manifesting Money With Instagram InfluencersThe Urgent Need For Black Self-CareThe Danger Of Instagram Therapists
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The shocking news this week that Lady Gaga’s dog walker was shot as two of her French bulldogs were stolen will be seen by some as an ‘American problem’ or even a celebrity story. But the incident highlights a pandemic-fuelled wave of violent dog thefts and assaults on both sides of the Atlantic. By the end of 2020, dog theft in the UK had skyrocketed by 250 per cent amid increased demand for canine company during lockdowns. Sadly, it’s something my family has bitter personal experience of. Our two springer spaniels were stolen, alongside six others, while staying at a family friend’s kennel in Bedfordshire last September, and one is still missing. My then 75-year-old father was going to Scotland on a fishing trip, and had taken them back to the breeder of the youngest dog, Tig, who was only four years old. We’ve had Tig and Jess, our black and white, since they were puppies and they mean the world to us – they’re part of the fabric of our family life. Dad has trained them day in, day out for four and five years respectively as gun dogs and, in his words, they are the last pair he is likely to have.
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In the titular track of her sophomore album, Dua Lipa reminds us that she’s a ”female alpha”. The British pop star has never shied away from outlining feminist issues in her songs and as PUMA’s newest global ambassador, Dua’s extending this empowerment ethos beyond her music. Partnering with other inspirational women who, like her, have moved the culture forward by challenging the standards placed on them, Dua is the face of PUMA’s ‘She Moves Us’ campaign. ‘She Moves Us’ is a communications platform celebrating and inspiring women who move together to achieve and connect – through sport, values and culture. When I catch up with Dua over Zoom, she’s calm and soft-spoken as she tells me about the woman who moved her as a child. “Watching my mum adapt to any circumstance, having moved to the UK from Kosovo during the war, was inspiring.” Growing up, Dua witnessed her mother work, educate herself and raise a family. This resilience in the face of struggle shaped Dua into the woman she is today. “My mum’s been a massive driving force in the way that I am. I’m very persistent, my work ethic comes from her.” Dua’s determined to follow in her mum’s footsteps and inspire the younger generation of women who don’t care what others think but stay true to themselves. “I truly believe that it’s the younger generation that’s going to change the world for the better. They’re so aware, that makes such a difference.” Dropping around International Women’s Day, the ‘She Moves Us’ campaign video shows Dua joined by other women, each of them telling their stories about personal challenges they’ve overcome. Explaining the importance of this video, Dua says: “It shows the power of women when we come and support each other. PUMA is invested in providing a platform for conversation and diversity.” Her mum’s positive influence wasn’t the only thing that shaped Dua; she also cites music as a powerful force in helping her to connect with other women. “Music has been so bonding with me and my girlfriends.” What makes music so great, Dua says, is how it helped her find her voice and feel less alone. “There are so many artists I love and their music has found a home with me. I relate to them; they make me feel seen.” Dua hopes that through her partnership with PUMA, she can help other women feel seen, too. I ask Dua if this is why so much of her music has feminist undertones and her voice wanders. “I guess… I just talk about it all the time!” Some of Dua’s hit songs like “New Rules” and “Boys Will be Boys” shed light on how gender discrimination is naturalised in society. “I feel like women deserve to be seen as equals, not just in the music industry but in everyday life.” Feeling confident in what she’s just said, Dua continues assertively: “I’d be doing a major disservice to myself if I didn’t make the music I did.” As a woman in the music industry, Dua’s had to overcome many challenges in her career. “Being a female pop artist, you have to spend a lot of time proving yourself. People think I’m just this ‘industry thing’ but every song I’ve written is real, authentic and mine.” Despite having critics, she’s made it to the top of the British music scene, with a Mercury Prize nomination under her belt. Viewing this feat as a turning point in her career, Dua says: “It felt like that seal of approval, in a way that I [didn’t] know I needed. Especially as a female pop artist, it felt like my music was finally being taken seriously.” Even though she’s had to overcome many obstacles, Dua’s glad she never faltered. Through her position as PUMA’s global ambassador, she’s created a statement fashion piece so that other women can feel proud of their womanhood. The Mayze shoe, due to be released in April, has been designed with this in mind. By bringing in the big energy of the PUMA woman, the trainer pays homage to the iconic PUMA platform sole but refashions it for the modern age. Fashion acts as a vehicle for expression, as a way for women to resist the expectations that society forces on them. “What I wear plays a role in my confidence, I love that it’s an extension of who I am. I express myself in a way that makes me feel the most me.” Dua’s adamant that she doesn’t dress for the approval of others; she dresses for herself. She wants all women to feel the same. She tells me that the Mayze shoe “takes inspiration from the past and puts its own twist on it” as an inherently versatile statement piece. “It’s really fun to style it in unconventional ways.” The Mayze shoe was made for women like Dua, women who want to stand out. PUMA’s ‘She Moves Us’ campaign isn’t prescriptive in its approach. It isn’t telling women how they should move, how they should think or how they should act. It’s a celebration of womanhood in all its forms. Dua hopes that young women will see PUMA’s campaign and learn to love who they’re growing up to be. “There is strength in the diversity of women. We are doing amazing so [we] should be kind to ourselves. It makes a world of difference.” Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here?
They've been together since 2019