Big girl pants.

 

Some days you have to put your big girl pants on, even if you don’t feel like it. Some days are just a bit crappy and all you want to do is sit and moan about how shit and unjust things and PEOPLE are and wonder what they very hell is wrong with you. And wallow. Wallowing is allowed though, you know. Just maybe for not too long, it can be cathartic for a while, then it just turns into self pity which is no good to anyone.

Yes, there will be a silver lining, yes, things happen for a reason and all that jazz. And yes, one day you will look back and realise that actually, this is probably a good thing, this was meant to happen. But now? No, now is for feeling a bit sad and wanting to eat garlic bread and Maltesers and get a fat food baby bloaty tum. Which actually, works to make you feel better, until you realise that will not actually help the situation and mentally make a note to go on a 12 mile run as soon as possible. Until you realise you’ve not run 12 miles in months and that’s as likely to happen as the whole of August being sunny in the UK. <shoves another Malteser in mouth>

Luckily, the big girl pants are big enough to go over the fat bloaty tum and you know the 12 mile run will happen, just probably in 3 separate occasions. And you know that sometimes, it’s not you, it IS them. And it IS their loss, as much as you might feel like it’s yours right now. And that no, there isn’t something wrong with you (although you do wonder).

The pants have superpowers. For those people going through a shitty relationship time right now (you know who you are), pull them up and embrace the power. Remember that one day this WILL all be a memory. There IS a light at the end of the tunnel, and it is shining brighter and lighter than ever before. There’s a new life waiting for you that, yep, isn’t the one you imagined, but maybe, just maybe it’s actually a whole load better. How about that thought? You are doing amazingly, you have no idea how much. You, at some point – months, maybe even years down the line, you’ll look back at this time, and wonder how the very fuck you did it. Maybe even laugh at the absurdity of it all. But right now, doing it you are, and with the utmost dignity. There’s no rule book, there’s no guidelines, just Big Girl Pants and a pair of hypothetical balls to strap on and fill them with.

Mine are Batman ones.

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Body confidence.

It’s an emotive one. What is it? What isn’t it? Do you have it? How do you get it? What does it mean? Who should have it? What’s it about? Looking good? Feeling good? What you weigh? Flashing some flesh? Being toned? Having a six pack?

This isn’t a post to go into detail about those kinds of things really. This isn’t a post to tell you to have body confidence and to fake it till you make it or something similar. This is just a post to celebrate the female body. All bodies. All shapes, sizes, colours. To look at all the different parts that people love and why, based on some real life examples. To understand the reality of that.

Did you know around 90%* of women hate their body? This is so high. So many reasons I imagine. The media, society, peer pressure, upbringing, culture norms and differences, own perceptions, the list could be endless.

And why? What do we covet? Body shape? Weight? Measurements? Clothes size? Thigh gap? I suspect so much of it is around weight. And being ‘skinny’. What about being healthy or unhealthy? If you’re ‘skinny’ but eat unhealthy foods, you can be gathering visceral fat around your organs which can cause some pretty shitty health issues. Is that worth it?

What about promoting a healthy lifestyle, to be active and strong and fit? Sometimes it seems like it’s just all about being thin or fat. Underweight or overweight. There’s a caveat to this, in that I’m generalising about ‘media’ in my own view and perception. I haven’t done extensive research to get any kind of idea of actually what is out there. But maybe that’s the point – I’m talking about the “media” for the general public who don’t go looking so much – as it’s probably safe to assume that anyone looking for that kind of information has an interest in that area, and therefore will have a different perception to start with. For example, I know there is a lot of fitness stuff that’s now popping up. ‘Strong not skinny’, #fitfam, #girlswholift. This has got to be a good thing right? Or then is it? I see those women with ripped abs, strong arms and a toned leg so solid you wouldn’t see a jelly wobble if you balanced one on a thigh and know that there is not a cats chance in hell I could achieve that. Why? Because a lot of that is extreme fitness. That requires SO MUCH dedication it’s totally unrealistic for the majority of people. So there’s the chance that people are hating on themselves because they can’t look like that, but they’re on a hiding to nothing because they can’t/don’t want to change their lifestyle to that extreme. Train 6 days a week. No alcohol. No meals out. Just eating chicken and broccoli. Early nights. This is a great article which explains it in a lot more detail, but in a way that is a bit more meaningful to the everyday Joe (also in a handy infographic).

How about the thought of treating your body with respect? This is essential, surely? And that hating it is shit and destructive. If you think about your body as something to be nurtured, developed, looked after, then surely the least you can do is to treat it well and be kind to it. Feed it good, healthy food that will nourish organs, skin, hair, energy levels and every little cell it contains (on average 37.2 trillion of them). Get good quality sleep, and enough of it. Think of it like a friend. Would you criticise your friends, give them a hard time, deny them sleep and feed them crap food that makes them feel rubbish? I’d hope not (and if you would, maybe you should check whether you actually like your friends). Don’t forget to treat yourself too, like you would your family and friends. Pampering, in whatever format that is for you. A new haircut, a massage, nails, fake tan, sports massage, a new tattoo. Stuff that makes you happy and feel good. Things with no guilt, remorse or conditions attached.

Keep active. One of THE best things you can do for your body. There are SO many benefits; not just weight loss. In fact, weight loss should perhaps be looked at as one very small reason to keep fit or do exercise. What about the other stuff? Like releasing those endorphins which make you feel good. Doing a type of activity you enjoy means doing something that makes you happy. Spending time with people if you’re doing group exercise means being social and having fun times and laughing lots – a major mood booster. Keeping active and exercise is not just about going to the gym. Any kind of movement is great for your body. It’s about living an active life. Sport, the gym, walking, active movements in life, competitions and races, a way to get to work or around town, there are heaps of different ways to keep active. Try just one. You don’t have to run a marathon or deadlift your body weight. A gentle walk down the river or cycling to work once a week will do just as good if you’re not a gym bunny.

Vicki J loves her legs. Because they power her on bike trips (and she’s done many – I actually met her when she was about to cycle the Manali to Leh highway in Northern India). “They bear the tan lines from 2000km on the bike in Chile and Argentina, and have a very visible scar below my right knee from my ACL reconstruction surgery.”

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Check out the This Girl Can campaign for real life, real ways of getting and staying active. Be inspired by real life stories from active women up and down the country who are doing their thing no matter how well they do it, how they look or even how red their face gets. A happy mood can affect how you view your body. By doing stuff that makes you feel good, you’re more likely to view yourself better.

Vic M says, “I think a lot of how I feel about how I look has a lot to do with my mood in general from day to day. If I’m knackered, stressed etc, I think I view myself ‘looking like shit’ a whole lot more than if I’ve had a good week, got a bit of colour, dyed my hair, had my nails done etc.”

And of course it’s all about self esteem and self worth. Like a vicious circle, it’s all intrinsically linked. The more self esteem and confidence you have, the more likely you are to feel good about yourself. A lot of it is down to mindset. Sometimes what we love about ourselves isn’t necessarily physical.

Louise L loves her “once I put my mind to it I can achieve it” attitude. “Or at least my ‘give it my best shot, my pick myself up and try again’ attitude. As she’s aging through her 30’s, she’s aware of who she is, and happy with that.

I’ve certainly found that as I get older, I care less about what other people think, or what their perceptions are of me. Like Louise, I know who I am now and I’m happy with it. Is that acceptance or confidence? Wisdom or experience?

I’m also more aware of other people’s behaviour, and of mine on them. Like body shaming. There’s no need for it. If 90% of women hate their own bodies, why would we want to do anything that might have any kind of impact on others and make that worse? Why pass judgements full stop? Be kind. And confidence boosting. What we say or how we act around people can have a lasting effect, so choose your words and actions carefully.

Because sometimes, what other people think does matter. Not always in a bad way. Getting compliments is great for self esteem and brightening up a day. Knowing someone loves something about you, notices something or just takes the time or effort to be nice is bound to make you feel good. It might even make you feel differently about something.

Like Holly P. She’s had so many compliments her whole life about her eyes. Not necessarily something she would pick out herself as a part to love, but says it’s a real confidence booster to hear it. Similar to Nicky W, who loves her smile because it’s what everyone comments on, saying it’s infectious (I can vouch for that). And Sian, who loves her ears, because “they’re small and perfectly formed”.

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Elena Del T, who, after years of regarding a certain body part as the scourge of her life due to past relationships, has moved above and beyond and realised it is not actually her that has the issues. She says “the first time I knew that actually what I have always called my Spanish butt was not too shabby was a gay guy at work who said that even he thought it was pretty hot and could turn him..this was the start of my crawl back to confidence. It is OK to be rounded, it is OK to not be petite and thin, it is OK to have a strong body and not be dainty. What is more, my friend pointed out that my now current BF couldn’t keep his eyes off it, which led me to have the confidence that he did actually like me. 4 years later and it is one of his favourite parts of me. I think I am pretty lucky, as bottoms are now ‘in’ courtesy of the Khardashians! What is more, it is strong, and allows me to run up hills, and is pretty comfortable to sit on..”.

Nicky W has a 9 inch long appendix scar running from her public bone past her hip bone. It’s 4 times the size of a normal one because, in her words, “things went a bit wrong”. But if she had the choice to somehow remove it, she says she wouldn’t, because it’s a part of her and a part that not everyone has, making her feel unique. Her first long term boyfriend used to kiss it and tell her he loved it because it was part of her, which she says set her up to never be self concious about it. It’s also linked to childhood memories with her father, remembering “it is the only time in my life I remember my dad showing real concern for me (he wasn’t one to show his emotions) – I was rushed to hospital in an ambulance with flashing lights and as the back doors opened my dad jumped in – this was a man who was so committed to his patients (he was a dentist) that he worked really long hours so it has always stayed with me that he had dropped everything to get to the hospital.”

Because the thing is, if you don’t love yourself, then how can you love someone else? Or be the best you for them? You want them to love you, so you also need to love you. Think about the oxygen masks on planes; you put your own mask on before helping others. Do the same in life. Because, there is nothing more attractive than confidence. Which can be built up in all different ways.

Vicki B believes it’s all about acceptance. “I’m totally not unhappy with my body at all. If I don’t love it, who will? It’s all about acceptance in my opinion. With acceptance comes confidence. Admittedly my tummy is a little more less toned than it used, my thighs are more lined and my width greater than it used to be but after having four children and having moderate diastasis recti I can totally live with that and accept that this is what it is and all these things have happened and altered me physically for a reason. I make an effort to eat well and I make the effort to stay fit in what ever capacity that takes at whatever stage my life and time dictates.”

The pictures above are Vicki’s recent six week effort to tone up (start, 3 weeks, 6 weeks). She says, “it makes me realise what I could achieve if I put just a little more effort in.”

Vic M agrees, although for her she will also happily make improvements where she needs to. “I am a massive fan of plastic surgery and so if it can be fixed with surgery, I am all for it. It’s nothing to do with how anyone else views me, it is about how I feel I look and what will make me feel better about myself. I would still opt for surgery, but I am a lot more comfortable with my wobbly bits than before. If I feel a bit chunky, I will walk to school rather than drive, as I’m not good at cutting out my favourite foods. “

For a lot of women, children are a real thing, and being pregnant and giving birth has a major impact on a woman’s body. This is such a personal, intimate thing, and the experiences are so different and individual for everyone. Quite often negativity is prevalent. Like how it wrecks and ravages, destroys and maims. Like pregnancy is a monster that just chews a woman up and spits her out the other side, battered, bruised and bleeding.

Pregnancy is beautiful and precious. Miraculous and stunning. Something to be treasured and enjoyed, not endured. Some of us will never experience it, but do marvel for other people. A life growing, as a result of love between two people (OK, I know not all conceptions are like that but I’m going with the majority). The practical elements can not be ignored, but they do not have to be the everything.

Holly P is proud of the changes to her body from having two children. “My scar from caesarean especially. And the tiger stripes from being a humble abode to my girls.”

Anna F was unsure about how being pregnant would make her feel. “I’ve been naturally slim all of my life; my Dad had the metabolism of a wasp and I’m very grateful to have inherited it! I have always been very proud of my tiny figure and enjoyed showing it off. So when I fell pregnant last August, I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about my changing body.. Well, I needn’t have worried – I absolutely love my huge, round stomach!!! So much so that I purposely choose clothes that accentuate my bump and turn sideways every time I encounter a mirror to admire my profile. The bigger I look, the happier I feel! For a girl who has spent her whole life revelling in complements about her trim waist and flat stomach, it’s ironic that I now glow when people tell me I look ‘huge’! I’m actually quite sad about that fact that I shall shortly have to say goodbye to my bump, I’m very fond of my raft of affectionate new nicknames (Fatty, Chunk and so on) – being pregnant has almost become a part of my identity!!”

I asked Anna what it was that made her love her bump so much. “I think it’s mainly because I’m so thrilled to be having a baby, I’d got to the age where I never ever thought it would happen and had sadly resigned myself to never being a mum. Not only am I having a baby but I’m having a baby with the man of my dreams so I guess the bump signifies the happiest and most excited I’ve ever been in life!”

The fact is, bodies change. Whether you have children or not. We need to accept that fact. No, we need to embrace it. Change in all aspect of life is inevitable, things won’t stay the same. To expect they will is where it can become difficult. What you can do though, is have some say in how you deal with it, and how your body changes. Treating it with respect and keeping active will go a long way. Understanding and loving the parts that make you different. Accepting the wobbly bits. But knowing that you could do something about them if you choose to. Being proud of what your body can do, whether that’s grow another human being or cycle 2000kms. It can do more than you think, I guarantee you that. I’ve learnt it.

The bit that I love is my feet. It was a toss up between my legs (like Vicki J) and feet. They’re both intertwined really. My feet are not pretty, not in the slightest. But that’s not why I love them. They often they have blisters and bruises. Which I actually love. Because I love them for what they can do, and blisters tell me I’ve been doing stuff. My feet get me from A to B. You know, that thing we take for granted. That thing that actually, a lot of people can’t do. Over the last 5 years I’ve realised just how much I can do, and what the body is capable of. They run, jump, hop, skip, dance, hike, cycle and stand still. They’ve taken me over mountains, through rivers, mud and snow. They got me around the world and back in one piece. Even if I sometimes want to stop, they keep going. They make me stand tall even if I don’t feel it sometimes. They march, very much to the beat of my own drum. And they will take me to places I thought I would never go.

There are loads of women out there flying the same flag. Championing body confidence for all shapes and sizes. Celebrating the female body and what it can achieve.

Sophie Radcliffe, female adventurer/athlete/mini power house, ran the London Marathon last week in body paint to champion it. Tess Agnew (aka FitBits) writes about going from a smoking coach potato to fitness junkie in her blog. And there are numerous websites and campaigns. You only have to google body confidence and there are a plethora of links to click on. Let’s join in.

I’m not saying everyone should go run a marathon or take up boxing classes, but I do believe being active is a major part of body confidence. It’s one of a number of things that can improve the way your body looks in a mirror, and will affect how you feel inside too. But, it’s not easy. It does take a lot of hard work. But the rewards are worth it. And it is amazing what the body can achieve. It’s about looking beyond the physical aspects of beauty, beyond the mirror.

Because mirrors are twats. Just being there, taunting you. How many of you when looking in the mirror/walking past, look straight at a body part that you’re not so keen on? And ignore the other bits? It’s probably subconscious and you don’t realise you’re doing it. And what about when you see a photo and think you look nothing like what you see in the mirror? It can be a headfuck. Because what you see is not what other people see. They see your animations, your warmth, your charisma and your confidence. Your smile and the twinkle in your eyes. You don’t.

Here’s a challenge: try having some time without a mirror. So you’re not thinking about what you look like. So you’re not reminded about that physical image of yourself. I had a week earlier this year in the mountains hiking without a mirror. I had no idea what I looked like while I was there, and I found nor did I care. Because you almost forget you have a physical presence, as you’ve not seen yourself. It no longer becomes relevant, it no longer is at the forefront of your mind. Your physical presence is felt in your body instead. You start to concentrate on how your legs feel, your energy levels and how strong you feel and how far you’ve come. The people I was with were interested in my stories and my chatter; my mind and my experiences. They had no interest or comment on what clothes size I was, whether my hair was dyed or natural or whether my stomach was flat. And that’s how it should be.

Love yourself, and everything that makes you, you. Enjoy the compliments and let confidence shine out of you like a beacon. Recognise that beauty comes from many different things as demonstrated above. There are tons of parts that make up one body, and they are all unique to everyone. Respect and celebrate your body for what it can do, and for what it can achieve. For what YOU can achieve. Give yourself permission to be kind to yourself; and in return, demand kindness and respect from others.

 

Thank you to everyone who contributed to this article – you all rock!

*A figure of between 85-95% appears in many different studies, 90% taken as an anecdotal figure for general purposes only.

Day #42 11.02.16

I was working from home today and Marsha and Shelley brought lunch back from their jaunt into town for me. We spent my lunch hour eating M&S salad and talking about men, sex and life. Mainly the topics in question being micro-penises and men being dicks (no pun intended!).

Now, I’m not one to stereotype but you men out there, can so many of you actually STOP being total and utter dicks?  Really. There’s no need for it. Grow up, grow some balls, whichever it is, try it. Society will thank you for it.

There’s not much to write about micro-penises, apart from it’s an actual thing apparently (it was on This Morning and all sorts). And I will never look at or hold my mushroom paperweight in the same way again.

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Image is everything.

Image is everything. Or is it? Today’s world and social media says so. Especially for women. Airbrush this, stick a filter on that, photoshop the fuck out of everything. So many apps that allow you to change your photos to make them look ace.

Which, let’s be honest, they do look ace. You can make something look pretty damn sweet with enough filters and editing. This is nothing new, photographers have been doing it for years. But now everyone can do it with their day to day photos, and then use that to present their life to the world. Which is OK, apart from that makes it intrinsically false and fake.

There’s been loads of talk of this in the media over the last few months, lots of people writing similar posts and sad stories of people who presented the perfect life when reality was actually far from it, some ending in tragic circumstances. I kind of posted about this back in May when the #lifeunfiltered hashtag was doing the rounds.

Today I read a story about a teenager who was making money from social media – mainly the pictures she was posting and the clothes she was wearing – when she decided to remove most of the pictures and edit the captions of certain pictures to reveal the truth behind the pictures.  How she didn’t eat, would take over 100 shots to get the ‘perfect’ picture and so on. What a great thing to do to try to raise awareness of the reality behind these ‘perfect’ lives.

I hate the world today in terms of the media and what we as women get told we should be, what we should look like, what kind of life we should be living. Who is anyone to tell us what we should or shouldn’t do? The life the media and advertising gives us is totally unattainable for most people, and can cause so much unhappiness and low self esteem. It’s like chasing a unicorn across a rainbow; unrealistic.

We should be teaching our daughters, nieces, friends etc. to love themselves. To be happy from within. That looks are not the be all and end all. That how much you weigh doe not dictate your happiness. That being healthy and loving yourself is much more important. That you do not need validation from others to feel worthy. That confidence is much more attractive than make up or clothes. That following your dreams and listening to yourself is a pretty good Thing To Do.

The older I get the more I see younger women unhappy and uncomfortable. I’ve found the older I get the more happy I become (and having chatted to a lot of my friends of similar age or older it’s common). Because the older I get the more I realise what is important (and what’s not). That worrying about what you look like in your 20’s is such a waste. Get to your 30’s and more and you’ll realise that looks wise, your 20’s is a prime time. That you weren’t fat. That you didn’t have wrinkles. That old saying of youth is wasted on the young. And I’m sure it will be the same in my 40’s. And 50’s. And so on.

Back in 2012 I did a photo-a-day blog to document my first year of single life – a year I knew would be spent rediscovering myself. One post was some advice I would give to my 15 year old self. It’s a fairly short post but still stands true today. I’ve recently seen a post about what older women would also say to their younger selves too. And similar articles on the internet. It’s all fairly similar. Tricky though, as I also know that had someone told me this back when I was 15 I totally wouldn’t have listened. Because of course I knew everything, I was a teenager. I was lucky enough to have parents who made me believe I could do anything, and even though events in my 20’s could have quashed that belief, they didn’t, luckily. It just took me a few more years to start putting it into practice.

People need make and learn from their own mistakes, but if we could foster a world where some basic principles become the norm, I’d like to think that the lessons would come from where people had reached for the stars rather than cried over what stares back at them from a mirror. If someone is only interested in you for what you look like, then do you really want to know them? Does their opinion really matter? Why do you feel the need to be validated by them, and especially why do you feel the need to be validated on what you look like?

I don’t know what the answer is, but I do know there are a number of things out there trying to break down the notions of a ‘perfect life’. To encourage and inspire women (and men, this isn’t a gender-specific problem) to believe in themselves, ultimately boosting self confidence and self esteem. And I’m going to try to do that at any opportunity. I don’t have kids, but I have a niece, a god-daughter and many friends with children. If I can be some kind of role model to them and try and pass this message on, then that’s the least I can do.

In the words of Nelson Mandela:

“Our greatest fear is not that we are inadequate, but that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, handsome, talented and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?”

Tinder trouble.

So I was persuaded to do a Tinder experiment this week by some mates and to report back in a blog post. Because when you’re single, people tend to start saying stuff like “why don’t you try internet dating, ooh try Tinder” blah blah blah. Some because they think I should be in a relationship, some because they think it would be fun for me and some because it would be fun for them to live vicariously through me. So I’ll start with the caveat that I’m not looking for a relationship, or even to date really. I’m quite perfectly happy being single and already know internet dating wouldn’t be for me anyway, even if I was looking. I just want to make new friends.

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So this will be a pretty heavily biased review as I’m not really the target audience for it, but I thought I’d be open minded and give it a go and see what happened. If anything, I like chatting to people and might end up making a new friend or two out of it. IT COULD BE FUN. If anything, hopefully it will provide you a laugh reading this.

For anyone who doesn’t know, Tinder is a phone app where you upload a few photos and a bit of blurb about yourself then either swipe left (no) or swipe right (yes) if you like the look of someone. Then they do the same. And if both people swipe right, you’re a match can message each other. Really simple, if not totally superficial. I suspect it’s predominately used for no strings fun and doubt it’s designed to meet your soulmate if you subscribe to that kind of thing.

So, I stuck a profile with some blurb about how I was new to Cheltenham, liked the outdoors, travel and anything sporty and wasn’t looking for just a hook up. Thought that might ward away any weirdos at the offset just wanting to get in my pants. But here was the first hurdle. What photos to put on? A lot of mine are instagrammed to shit. So they look alright but probably give a false impression. What if I actually meet these people? Will they be hugely disappointed when they meet me and realise I don’t actually look like that? No one wants THAT, even if I don’t actually give a shit. I want to put nice pictures, of course. No one wants no matches. THE PRESSURE. In the end I figured that I probably wouldn’t meet any of these people, it was just an experiment so it didn’t really matter anyway. (Ha! Rookie mistake.) Decided on a mix of decent pictures and a couple where I’m in the middle of a run or hike which obviously show my ‘sporty’ side. That would do. Helpful tip: the app defaults to your last 3 or 4 facebook photos but you can change them. Handy if one of your last couple of profile pictures is you in your underwear, that’s not going to help the no hookup message. Even if it is sportswear.

Verdict: Felt like I was putting myself up for sale in a catalogue or a competition prize “ooh, look what you could win”. Hmmm.

So, personal advert to the men of Cheltenham done, I set my search criteria (you can choose to view people by age, proximity etc.). Ruled out any real youngsters and oldies. Let’s keep it real people.

Now the fun could begin. And it was fun. For about half an hour. Then I got a bit bored. If you are someone who judges people on their looks then you’ll be alright I think. Lots of people to scrutinise. There’s a lot of people that hadn’t put much thought into what photos they were going to post. Or maybe they had, and they were being ironic. So I DID had a real giggle at what I was having to work with to make my swiping dilemmas. They kind of fell into a few camps, I saw the same kind of patterns. Here’s the kind of things that made me swipe left (no way Jose):

  • Anyone with pictures that weren’t them (cartoon characters, animals, landscapes). So do you actually look like Bart Simpson? Obviously not. And I don’t actually care enough to find out otherwise.
  • Bed selfies/half naked selfies. Now, I’m aware how hypocritical this is, I’m partial to both of these. But not on Tinder.
  • Shower selfies. Nah.
  • People without much/any blurb. I need some info people. You might look hot but if you’re into dog fighting or something. No.
  • Pictures where you’re holding up knives and guns. (Yes, really). OK they might be toys but still.
  • People with more than one photo where they look different in each one. Do you have a non-identical twin? Or just hardly any photos?
  • People who just post group pictures. WHICH ONE ARE YOU?
  • Pictures of penis’s (penii?). When is that EVER attractive?
  • Pictures of muscles. There’s a LOT of these in Cheltenham. Just like fancy cars, these don’t do it for me. Being fit, healthy and lean, yep. Triangle muscle men? Nah, not for me thanks.
  • Pictures of your achievements in the newspaper. Tell me about it instead.
  • Onesie pictures. Pretty sure a picture of me in my pyjamas wouldn’t be that interesting to you either.
  • Pictures not of your face. Specifically, the back of your head. Am sure no one ever met up with someone because the back of their head is nice. Although, if you’ve got a shaved head the shape of your head is important, so…. anyway. I digress.
  • Photos in fancy dress. I can’t see what you look like with half the face paint counter on. Although, clearly this shows you are up for a laugh and fun. Apart from the fact that you’re dressed as a serial killer.
  • Marine’s or Marine wannabees. Been there, done that. You won’t match up.
  • One picture, no blurb, the picture being you in a suit of armour. You’re probably going for ‘hey I’m funny, swipe to see and find out more’. But frankly, I can’t be fucking arsed.
  • Just one picture. I need to see more to see whether that was just a good picture. Or a shit picture. Because, well, it’s amazing how different people can be in photos at a different angle….
  • Pictures of you doing lots of activities like bungy jumping and sky diving. It’s good because I’d probably like you but I also can’t see what you look like.
  • People with catalogue photos and blurb saying you’re not single but after a good time. Err, no thanks buddy. Try imboredinmymarriage.com
  • Clearly photoshopped images. That 6 pack isn’t yours, is it love?
  • No picture at all – not sure you’ve grasped the concept of this…
  • Really pixelated photos. You know you can preview no?
  • People not smiling. Come on!
  • ALL your pictures are of your six pack. One OK, more than 1? Obsessive.
  • Pictures of cars. ARE YOU A CAR?
  • Picture of a beach. ARE YOU THE OCEAN?
  • A picture of a sandwich. White bread? No, no, no.
  • Blurb that includes gems such as “ I don’t bite….unless you want me to” and “willing to lie about how we met” and “good luck” (WTF!) or “not on here much” (what’s the point then?)
  • People that look like they’re from TOWIE or Made in Chelsea. Just not my cup of tea.
  • People that look like they spend more time the bathroom than I do. To be fair though, this is not actually that difficult, I’m not a preener.
  • Posts like they’re written by someone’s pet. Cooky or just weird?
  • Anyone that looks or sounds like my ex husband. Sorry, can’t do it.
  • Pictures of your feet. With shoes or not, I don’t have a foot fetish.
  • Photos of you naked sat on the toilet. REALLY?
  • Anyone with the name Dopeboy. No.
  • Staring intently into the camera lens. Like a serial killer.
  • Putting your mobile number in your blurb.
  • Photos all from one side of your face. What’s wrong with the other side?
  • Pictures of you in womens clothing. Hmm, not sure.
  • Putting your snapchat name in your blurb. You just want to send pictures of your dick and see pictures of my tits, don’t you?
  • A selfie clearly taken in bed with a girlfriend (now chopped out). You couldn’t take another one? Surely you own a phone?
  • A picture of you with 1D when they were about 12. Is that a good claim to fame for a 30 year old man? Swiped right for this one though.
  • Excessive use of exclamation marks. Every! Word! Should! Not! End! In! An! Exclamation! Mark!
  • When I fancied their mates in their pictures more than the person. Made me wonder if their mates were on Tinder too….

So that kind of ruled out A LOT of people. I didn’t swipe right that much. Mainly just for people that looked happy, smiley and that seemed to do similar stuff to me. Running pictures generally got a thumbs up, as did cycling or bungee jumping, or anything sporty. I figured if I’m going to make any friends, it might as well be with people I’ve got stuff in common with.

I still didn’t like it though. I felt like I was being hugely judgemental. Does that mean I should swipe right for everyone? No, I don’t think so. It means for me that I shouldn’t use shit like this. I’m not a judgemental person at all, and will talk to anyone and everyone. Prefer to do that in person though and not have to make a decision by swiping left or right.

And this was before any bloody messaging was going on.

So, if both people swipe right, then that’s a match. A match. Which brings with it fear and dread. And anticipation. Who should message first? Is it gentlemanly for them to start? What should you say? Is there tindering etiquette? How long should you wait? I don’t bloody know. Is there game playing and rules? Meh, bollocks to that if there is. I settled for a cheery hello, if I’d not already been messaged first. That’d do eh?

So, next there is chit chat over messages. Now there are even more important things to think about. Like how many smileys are too many? Will I sound like an alcoholic if I share drinking stories? Are typos acceptable? How do I say I’m only really looking to make friends? How long do you message before you meet up? Should you meet up? How do you know if you want to meet up? How many times can I type lol without sounding like a teenager? Should messages be flirty? How can messages be flirty? I’m shit at flirting. Or knowing when people are flirting.

After at least 30 seconds pondering all that, I decided to just be myself. No point in being anything else. If people don’t like my excessive use of smileys or lols, then I don’t want to be their friend. Lol. 😛

I’ve been told it’s pretty normal for people on tinder/internet dating etc. to be ‘chatting’ to many people at once. So it’s also normal for people to know when you are active, leading to cries of “but they haven’t replied to my message but they were active 10 minutes ago”. ‘Last seen’ and ‘Read’ are inventions of evil, according to my online dating friends. But this also means that it’s quite easy to drop people. Just stop messaging them. Apparently, after discussing this with people, it’s a harsh world out there. When people are behind your computer screen it seems some manners go out the window, under the pretence of efficiency and getting on with it. “Why waste time?” seems to be a general thought. Seems a bit harsh to me but I guess a lot of people are on a relationship-gaining mission and Nothing Will Come In Their Way. Especially as you get older, because society tells us that we must be odd and weird if we are Still Single in our 30’s and so some people start panicking.

One of them asked me what I did for a living and I told him. Haven’t heard from him since. Nada, Maybe he’s had a bad experience with a HR consultant at some point. Should I be offended? No idea. I’m not.

A couple of them I will meet, whether I actually wanted to or not, as they’re members of the running club I will join (when I actually have time). Obviously potential for awkward turtle there. Don’t think it will be though. They seem quite nice and chatty and friendly, and I’m out to meet new friends, so all is good.

I’m not on it any more; I lasted an evening of swiping and then a day or so of messaging. Then I’ve kept in touch with a couple of people I’ve been messaging with, will be meeting up with them I think, but not for dates, just to make a new friend really and go from there.

I suspect most people are on it to get a bit of sex, and then maybe something more. Some might be after a relationship but as the app’s very nature is based on physical attraction it’s possibly the minority.

Tinder’s not for me, I knew that before I started but gave it a go, and nope, it’s still not. Subconsciously I know that I’m unlikely to find the kind of person I’d be after through something like Tinder. But, it was fun to give it a go. And after my little experiment I might at least make some new friends.

I find it really off putting that people are looking at my photos and judging me. Looking and rating me on basically whether they would want to sleep with me. Do people do that in real life? Well, yeah, course they do. I don’t. Not really. OK I guess I notice whether I find someone attractive or not, but that’s probably as far as I go. I don’t start thinking about what they’d look like naked. Oh, OK, maybe sometimes I do actually. I definitely DON’T think about whether they would be a good husband or father to any potential children. I know some people do that. And I find it really odd. But then I don’t even look at people (even after I’ve met them) and start thinking about potential relationships. To me, I meet people, become friends and if I like their company then I see them again. Romantic stuff doesn’t usually enter my head unless the other person has made a reference to it or I find them particularly attractive. And even if I am seeing them “romantically”, relationships don’t always enter my head as an option unless someone spells it out (cases in point: The Marine or the other one, and we all know how they ended).

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Personality makes people attractive. At least in my world. 

After all that, I definitely wouldn’t tell people not to go on Tinder. It CAN be quite fun. It just depends what you’re after. If you don’t expect anything serious, and fancy a bit of fun, then give it a go. And it also probably helps if you’re looking to meet/date people. But it does require a bit of effort and time. All that swiping and messaging and stuff. Jesus. Or I might just be a lazy bastard. Either way, perhaps you should give it a go yourself.

Oh, and if you’re the person telling someone they should try Tinder, all this is what you’d be letting loose on them. Do it at your peril.