https://www.anaono.com/blogs/dressing-room/exposed-nyfw

Exposed at New York Fashion Week

I saw something in the news this week that almost made me cry. And while, I’m more inclined to cry when I see the news these days (since Brexit in June and Donald Trump’s inauguration) these near tears weren’t borne out of sheer despair at the state of the world (that’s another blog post), these almost weepies came as a result of something that happened at New York Fashion Week on 14th February.

While I may not look like I know my shit when it comes to fashion, I think it’s pretty fair to say that I do. I’m no expert but I sit at the sidelines of the internet and watch with interest as fashion shows unfold around the world. A few years ago, I was lucky enough to explore backstage and sit on the front row for a couple of shows at London Fashion Week and I was absolutely in my element. I know I’m not exactly a style icon. It’s rare you’ll find me out of my jeans and a baggy tshirt, especially in these uniboob days, but my love of fashion has been formulated by the fact that it was my sister’s first love. So I’ve watched as the shows have rolled out of New York over the last few days. I clocked “hot convict” Jeremy Meeks (aka Stockton’s most famous export) on the runway for Phillip Plein, I swooned at Oscar de la Renta’s utterly dreamy AW17 collection and I noticed the rise in “fashtivism” on and off the runway throughout the week.

I never expected to look to a NYFW catwalk and see myself looking back at me. I’m not disillusioned, despite my recent rendez vous on the catwalk for Breast Cancer Care – I know I am far from model material. I do not see myself in Gigi Hadid or Karlie Kloss. But when a bunch of incredible and awesome breast cancer survivors, over half of whom are living with metastatic breast cancer, took over New York Fashion Week in an alternative lingerie show, I saw myself. I saw my broken and scarred body in these women and saw that it could still be beautiful. I saw their confidence and I saw their passion and determination and I recognised that I carry that with me now too. Not always, and not often as clearly as these guys did on the catwalk, but I do. I think every breast cancer survivor does in one way or another.

I whooped when Ericka Hart stood at the end of the catwalk, holding her power pose. I had to hold back the tears when one of the models who spoke to the BBC said that she felt really powerful because she is “tired of feeling ashamed of having cancer”. I was overwhelmed with pride for these women.

I read a lot about race and gender and representation. I know that as a white, straight, cisgender woman – representation is not an issue for me. While I may not see people like myself on runways in fashion shows, I do see them everywhere else – on the tv, in magazines, on billboards, in newspapers, in movies – but I appreciate how important it is for young girls to see women of colour on their TV’s or in their magazines. I can understand how incredible it must feel for disabled people to recognise something of themselves in advertising campaigns and I had an even better understanding of it when I saw these powerful breast cancer survivors normalising the after effects of a disease which has impacted every.single.part of my life. I know that I have nothing to complain about when it comes to representation. There are far bigger fish that we need to fry on that account. But this show made me feel human again. And it made me feel like a woman again. And it made me feel that I can be sexy again and beautiful again, regardless of the fact I’m missing a breast, a nipple and the vast majority of my self confidence. It made me feel powerful again. For today at least.

Created by AnaOno Intimates, who specialise in mastectomy and post surgery underwear and curated by US designer, and breast cancer survivor, Dana Donofree, the show was a first for NYFW – never before have “real” women stomped their way down the catwalk and I’m pretty sure no women will ever do it in quite the same way again.

Donofree told Reuters: “It is a very important moment for them [the models] to get out there and experience something like this because breast cancer has taken over their bodies.”

And this isn’t just important for the models Dana. This is important for every breast cancer survivor everywhere.

So thank you.

Image taken from AnaOno Intimates blog.

 

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If crispy potatoes are wrong, I don’t wanna be right

I mean. I’m not sure there’s much more to say on this topic other than the headline, but I’m going to expand anyway.

You might have heard the news last week that crispy potatoes, over browned bread and other overcooked starchy foods pose a cancer risk. Add these to the ever growing list of other foods that cause cancer – sugar, red meat, processed meat (THAT MEANS BACON), refined white flour, Nutella and so on and so forth – it looks like we’ll soon be eating spinach leaves and tofu, until it’s decreed that they too, come with a risk of developing malignant tumours. If we’re not feeling guilty for eating a slice of cake because of the impact it will have on our waistlines, we’re stressing about carcinogens, hydrogenated oils and now acrylamide (word of the week) and whether they’ll have a detrimental impact on our lives or make us come out in a tumour.

The thing is – everything has the possibility to be detrimental to one’s health if consumed in excess, but it seems we’re living in a perpetual state of fear when it comes to whether our diet will cause cancer. As a person who is currently living with the very real prospect of getting cancer again at some point in the future, having already had it the once, I do not have the time, energy or inclination to start eradicating things from my diet because there’s a chance (and usually a very flimsy chance) they might cause cancer.

Whatever happened to enjoying good food without being terrified of the possible, minute risk that it might take a year or so off our lives? What ever happened to embracing a balanced diet with a little indulgence here and there? Eating food should be joyful – something to be savoured and appreciated – not something to be feared or berated for. It is a privilege to live in a country where we can savour and appreciate the food we are eating.

There’s so much fear mongering around diet – particularly diet and cancer – that it’s becoming suffocating. I think it’s time we stop listening to absolutely everything we’re being told about eating food and relearn that a little of a good thing probably isn’t all that bad.

As Cancer Research pointed out in a recent blog, it’s too soon to decry slightly browned bread and the crispy roasties you like to have alongside your Sunday roast (I bloody love a roast potato). The scientific findings are patchy at best, but you’d think from the coverage in the media that a single browned spud will immediately take three years off your life. The research into acrylamide (carried out on animals) shows that it has the potential to damage the DNA inside cells, which in turn, links it to cancer. But when researchers looked into the links between acrylamide and cancer in people, actual human people who are made up of the same bits and pieces as you and me, there isn’t a clear and consistent link between this chemical and an increased risk of cancer. The evidence for these latest claims is, what Cancer Research described as “weak and inconsistent”.

Now, I love food. I’ve come a long way from the days when I would only eat yellow rice (true story – the parents ended up adding food colouring to white rice, clever things). I like nothing better than cooking up a delicious feast for my loved ones or hanging out with my friends in a gorgeous restaurant and indulging in a five course tasting menu. I’d MUCH rather eat an amazing meal with CDB than go out and drink away £60 on a boozy night out. But I appreciate the importance of having a balanced diet and I know that there are ample, proven studies that show that having a balanced diet is a sure fire way to reduce your cancer risk.

So I’m not saying that we should all just live on potatoes and white bread because to hell with it. I’m saying we need to realign ourselves with a love of food. We need to look after ourselves, but not to the extent that we’re chopping things out of our diet on the basis of a media outcry that is based in loose facts.

We should be asking questions every time the media reports something like this. I simply cannot accept a ban on roast potatoes without hard evidence. We know that the main things that affect cancer rates are smoking, drinking excessively and being overweight, so how’s about we concentrate on those things, enjoy a little of what we fancy and make an effort to go for a long walk every now and again.

And I know one thing for certain. If eating crispy roast potatoes is wrong, I don’t wanna be right. If they cause cancer, I’ll take the risk. After all, life is for living, not for fearing the future. And I say that as a breast cancer survivor.

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Why I March

I don’t know when I became a feminist. I used to say that it happened as an accident, that I stumbled my way towards it, but I’m not altogether sure that’s true any more.

I was raised to believe that I had the same rights as any man or boy I encountered. I was told I could do whatever I wanted, regardless of my gender. My parents instilled in me an innate sense of feminism – so much so that I didn’t realise I was a feminist until I gained a proper understanding of the word. That probably only happened a couple of years ago. And at first, I was embarrassed to call myself a feminist. The word had gathered a number of negative connotations – that we were rabid manhaters who believed in women gaining superiority. That we were angry, shouty women who resented men for all they had achieved. For a long time, I’m somewhat embarrassed to say, I referred to myself as an “equalatist” because I believed in total equality – regardless of gender, religion, race, sexual preference. Hey, past Alice, that is not a word. That which you’re describing there is feminism.

I don’t know when I suddenly realised that I was a feminist. I guess, it was when I started reading around the subject more. When I began finding articles by strong and intelligent women who had proclaimed themselves as feminists and found myself nodding along vehemently. Or when I sat down with my pal Sara (who now works at Buzzfeed and who you should follow because of her innate skills for keepin’ it real) to chat about feminism over our Sainsbury’s lunch. She said to me “Alice. Do you believe in equality for men and women?” to which I replied “of course.” And she looked at me with one of her knowing looks (she’s actually the smartest person I’ve ever met) and said “dude, that makes you a feminist”.

Now, I don’t hesitate to say I’m a feminist. I stand with my white, cisgender privilege and declare that I’m a feminist who tries damn hard to make sure my feminism is intersectional – that it applies to all women. I KNOW that my battles are different to those of women of colour or transgender women (who, incidentally have as much right to declare themselves as women as I do, regardless of how we were born), and I try hard to fight ableism too – but I’m still learning every day.

So when I made the mistake of looking at my phone at 5am the morning after the US election and discovered my heart in my mouth as I read that Donald Trump, a proven misogynist, had become President Elect of the USA, and held back tears for women across the globe – I knew that no matter how small it was, I wanted to add my voice to the cacophony of those who were shouting about women’s rights. That’s why I joined the Women’s March on London on Saturday afternoon.

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I marched to proclaim that Trump’s treatment of women throughout his lifetime is not OK with me. I marched in solidarity with the women whose needs were overlooked and ignored by white, middle class women in America when they voted into power a man who is fundamentally racist. I marched with the people who are scared about their future under the tyrannical reign of Donald Trump. I marched with the LBTQ population to help remind the world that love is love, whatever shape or form it comes in. I marched because women’s rights are human rights. I marched because we can never move forward if over half of us are held back. I didn’t march to speak for any of these people, because I can’t speak for every person in the world, but I marched alongside them, with them, to let them know I’m behind them.

I’ve heard a lot of criticism about the Women’s March movement over the last few days, but from where I was standing (admittedly the crowd was so big, I didn’t make it out of Grosvenor Square), this march was about solidarity. It wasn’t calling for another election. It wasn’t claiming that Hilary should have won (that’s a whole other can of worms to open and digest). It wasn’t about decrying women’s rights as fundamentally more important than men’s. It was about saying that what happened in the US election wasn’t ok with us. It was about humans, regardless of gender, standing together and saying that they way Donald Trump treats people is not the way we believe people should be treated.

I live in the UK, so I’m not directly threatened by Donald Trump but I am threatened by his opinions and his attitudes. We all are. These scare me. What they mean scares me. And as my friend Linzi just said on Facebook:  “Dear any women saying they do not understand the women’s marches because they do not feel PERSONALLY threatened by Trump. Firstly, that he could be elected even after the misogynistic, racist, hateful rhetoric he spewed is a threat to everyone, worldwide. Secondly, intersectionality always.”

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So what was my personal motivation for marching? Because I know women who have felt threatened by men throwing “locker room talk” around. I marched because this kind of behaviour is a gateway to domestic violence. I marched to let the British Government know that I believe they should be addressing all of these issues when exploring the “special relationship” with the USA over the next four years. I marched because women have been battling against the stream of misogyny for years and it’s time this shit stopped. I marched because I can not believe we live in a world where Donald Trump has become president. Or rather because I absolutely can believe it, and that says more about the world we live in and the horrifying reality of what that means for US citizens. I’ll be honest, I’ve been sleepwalking, consistently assuming the best of people. But with Brexit and now Trump’s election, I’ve had a massive wake up call, and it’s significantly less pleasant than being woken up by foxes banging in the garden at 2.34am (you’ve all heard that noise, right?).

Truth be told, I’m still figuring out where to go next from here (but I’m starting by reading threads like this one). I don’t want this to be where me adding my voice to the cause ends. I want to keep working to make a difference and I want to keep standing in solidarity with the 4 million people all over the world who stood up on Saturday and said “not in our name”. So this isn’t over yet. It’s far from over.

I will keep shouting for the next four years in the hopes that it will make a difference. I will be a nasty woman and I will be proud of it. I will strive to be kinder than ever. I will strive to keep adding my voice whenever it matters, not just when everyone else is doing it.

Because we are all in this together. And we’ve got to look after each other.

Now, more than ever.

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Great things I’ve read about the March

This is why I’ll be marching – Marisa Bate on The Pool

The Women’s March heralds a renaissance of resistance – Eve Ensler on The Guardian

Pictures From Women’s Marches on Every Continent – New York Times

Why Londoners are standing in solidarity with the U.S. at the Women’s March – Rachel Thompson on Mashable

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Fear

I went ice skating for the first time in a long time recently. I hadn’t hesitated when my friend had asked if I wanted to go to Morning Gloryville’s festive early-morning ice skating rave. Yes. Yes I did want to go along. Yes I absolutely did want to listen to banging tunes as I skated my way around Somerset House with people dressed as unicorns. What better way would there be to spend the last day of November other than with a bunch of other people who thought getting out of bed at an ungodly hour to go ice skating was a good idea? None.

I was excited and, despite having to get out of bed at 7am for the first time in a long time, I’d been looking forward to going for a while. I laced up my boots and shuffled towards the rink entrance. But as I moved towards the ice, I was completely and entirely stricken by fear. I suddenly realised that, since being diagnosed with cancer, I no longer felt invincible. I was no longer as fearless as I had been before I got sick. I was suddenly all too aware of the things my body could and could not do. I was worried about slipping, catching myself on my right side and pulling my mastectomy scars. Paralysed, I looked at my friend and simply said “I don’t think I can”, ready to walk away. I suddenly realised just how fragile I feel these days. And just how far away I am from the person I was before I got sick.

I don’t think I’d ever felt real fear before I got my breast cancer diagnosis. Not the kind of fear that stops you in your tracks and fills you with a sickening feeling from your toes right through to the crown of your head. Not the cliched kind of fear that leaves you trembling. The first time I remember feeling fear like that was the day I went in for my mastectomy, as I waited for the anaesthatist to put me under. What a wonderfully charmed life to have lived though, right? I was never afraid of jumping off a waterfall and into the cold waters of Low Force when I went ghyll scrambling for my #25at25 challenge. I’d never been scared of my body failing me. I wasn’t scared of travelling to Texas on my own, or of throwing myself into open water swimming. Or of setting myself challenges I never knew if I could manage. I’d literally never been scared of ice skating before, despite being the person who ALWAYS falls over and ends up with the most hilarious bruises. But it seems cancer has stopped me from being quite as fearless as I used to be.

And I’m not just talking about getting scared of doing things. I’m actually really scared of my body. I don’t trust it not to let me down again. I’d never had reason to doubt it before, never questioned that it was entirely on my side, but ever since I found that lump in Cornwall all that time ago, I’ve been aware that some parts of what my body does are entirely out of my control. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that I haven’t always known this fact, it’s just I have had a sickening reminder of that fact pretty much every day since 7th July 2015.

When I was in treatment, my body was not my own, and even though treatment is over now, I still feel like it isn’t mine again yet. And more to the point – I just don’t trust it. Someone asked me recently if I’d forgiven my boobs for trying to kill me yet. I said I wasn’t sure but I guessed not. But now I know the answer. The boob is forgotten, MIA until further notice, but the body is not yet forgiven.

So where do we go from here? How do I get back to being the fearless person I was before my breast tried to kill me? How do I forgive my body for putting me through everything? I guess I focus on the things that I am thankful for. As I bend and stretch a little more every week in yoga. As I reflect on the fact that even though my body betrayed me, I couldn’t have got through the last 18 months without it. It could have given up on me completely in the throes of treatment but it dealt with everything that was thrown at it in it’s stride. So I’m grateful to it for that. And it is this I must focus on as I try to move forward.

I guess you want to know whether I got on the ice or not. I did. I did so with huge trepidation and wouldn’t have managed it without the friend who took me by the arm and told me that I could. I couldn’t have done it if the girls hadn’t eased me round steadily as my confidence grew and consistently checking how I was. I had to put my trust in them that I could do it. That I would do it. And that I’d be OK when I did do it. Even if my body had let me down in any way when I was on the ice, I still would have been OK.

I just had to borrow some fearlessness from my friends. And til I find my own again, that’s OK too.

 

 

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Bedford Lodge Hotel & Spa

We are all guilty of not looking after ourselves. If I’ve said it once, I’ll say it a thousand times, we have not been raised as a generation of people for whom taking time and giving yourself a bit of self care has been an innate part of our routine. We have to really force ourselves to take the time we need and really, truly relax. I’m as guilty of this as anyone, so when I was offered the chance to go and hang out at The Spa at Bedford Lodge Hotel for 24 hours, I practically had my bags packed before we’d even set a date.

Tucked away in the Newmarket countryside, about an hour out of London, the Bedford Lodge Hotel is a 4* Hotel with a luxury spa just over the way. You never really think about it until you have to, but having been diagnosed with breast cancer has an impact on being able to enjoy a lot of things, long after you’ve finished treatment, and that includes having spa treatments. Many practitioners are apprehensive about giving treatments to those who have been diagnosed with cancer and often refuse to do so, but over the last few years “Wellness for Cancer” centres have been popping up all over the country, allowing those who’ve had a cancer diagnosis to be able to enjoy a range of treatments, regardless of those mutated cells that tried to kill ’em.picmonkey-collageBedford Lodge is one of those “Wellness for Cancer” centres, so I was invited along to try out its facilities and lemme tell you, this is one of the best things I’ve been asked to do for my blog so far. As soon as I arrived, I immediately slipped into relaxation stations. It was midweek. I was alone. I had absolutely nothing to do and no-one to answer to. My main objective was to try and shake off the busy few weeks I’d had and I planned to do as little as possible.

After checking in to the hotel, I made my way across the courtyard to the Spa. The facilities at Bedford Lodge are extensive – there’s a steam room, a sauna, two “experiential” showers with different settings, an open air hottub on the roof and an incredible hydrotherapy pool. I made sure to try all of them out (more than once).

I was also given the opportunity to try the Bowen Technique treatment – a non-invasive remedial therapy which uses only the thumbs and forefingers to apply very gentle pressure to certain points throughout the body. It’s kind of hard to judge the efficacy of the Bowen Technique treatment having only been able to experience the one, but it was interesting to try something so unique.

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The other great thing about the Bedford Lodge Hotel, gorgeous spa aside, is that it’s home to a pretty incredible restaurant, Squires. Clearly created with food lovers in mind, this restaurant offers the same high quality food you’d expect to find in London, but nestled away in the middle of the countryside. I sat down to a three course dinner with high hopes and I was not remotely disappointed. I tucked into melon and parma ham to start, followed by cod and chorizo with squid ink risotto and finished off with “textures of apple” – a dessert so decadent I felt like I was a Masterchef restaurant critic.

Overall my stay at the Bedford Lodge was the perfect antidote to city living in the aftermath of cancer. It gave me an enforced opportunity to slow down and listen to my body, even though these things combined to remind me my body is still healing. But whether you’ve had cancer or you’re just looking to get out of London for a memorable spa break, I can heartily recommend the Bedford Lodge Hotel & Spa

DISCLOSURE: I was a guest of the Bedford Lodge Hotel & Spa, invited by their PR Company to do a review, but I wouldn’t be blogging about this place if I didn’t think it was worth its salt. 

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Confession Time

I couldn’t decide whether to quote Usher or the Foo Fighters to start this post. But in the words of my beloved Dave Grohl, I’ve got another confession to make.

As open as I have been with you about my experience of breast cancer, I haven’t been entirely honest with you about certain other aspects of my life. I’ve alluded to what I’m about to tell you, but I’ve never actually written it down for the world to see in a way that is quite so frank. I’ve toyed with the idea of writing this post for a very, very long time, even before I got my cancer diagnosis, but I never really found the strength to actually go through with it.

Now I’ve written that paragraph, it feels like I’ve built this whole thing up too much. Because what I’m about to tell you isn’t really that big a deal. It’s a big part of who I am and it’s a part of who I have always been, pre, peri and post cancer. It’s a thing that lots of people know about me, but it’s also something I have tried to keep hidden for a big part of my life. So here we go.

I’M ACTUALLY AN ALIEN. No. That’s a lie. That’s not my “big reveal”. Truth be told chums, I’m standing here with my hands up, my defences down and I’m telling you that, for most of my adult life, I have lived with depression. A depression sometimes so crippling, I can barely put a pair of socks on. A depression so severe that sometimes the whole world looks grey – like every millimetre of colour has been extracted, never to be seen again. A depression so strong that I have, at times in my life, looked in the mirror and genuinely not known the person looking back at me (and I’m not even talking about when I was bald, fat faced and boobless). Sometimes, I am so anxious I can’t even decide what to buy for tea because I’m overwhelmed by fear of what might happen if I pick the wrong thing. I take antidepressants. A little dose of a little tablet, every single day to help me not be swallowed by the black abyss. I have had cognitive behavioural therapy. I have had counselling. I am due to have more cognitive behavioural therapy, ‘cos the work I was doing on that was somewhat derailed by that time I got cancer.

Despite all that, I like to think I’m still a pretty highly functioning individual. That I get shit done and when I’m not in the grip of the shadows, that I have a pretty sunny disposition. It took me a long old time to realise that a) my feelings about the world weren’t necessarily the same as feelings other people experienced and b) that I needed to get some help, before the big dark hole I’d found myself in swallowed me whole. And by Christ am I glad I took help for those things before I got diagnosed with breast cancer at 26. I mean, that’s a bit of a shitter for a person who hasn’t battled with their mental health, let alone someone who has seen the darkest depths of their own brain.

It occurred to me recently that I’ve been so very, very honest about dealing with my breast cancer diagnosis and all of it’s related treatments, it’s ridiculous that I’ve hidden this part of myself away. I’ve openly talked to you guys about VAGINAS for goodness’ sake, but I have been ashamed of the fact that my brain isn’t wired quite right. I’ve been afraid of people judging me and dismissing me as someone who’s just looking for another excuse to bang on about themselves. But the thing is, there are so many people like me. So many people who know all too well the horrible feeling of awakening and feeling sick at the prospect of trying to make your way through another day when you feel like you’re wading through treacle. And so many of us feel ashamed and afraid of talking about these things. And that has to change. So many people are dying because they can’t talk about this illness. I never would have dreamed of keeping the fact I had breast cancer from people I loved. So why do I hide depression? Because of stigma? Well, the only way to change that is to stand up and be counted. So here I am. I am one of the 1 in 4. And I’m going to start talking about it.

ANYWAY. The crux of this post is that I’m working on something I’m really excited about at the moment and I wanted to be up front and honest with all the people who read my blog, so that when I let you know about this new project (hopefully sooner rather than later) you won’t be blindsided by the fact that I’m all too familiar with getting a case of the blues. I’m really hoping that this new project will prove to people that even when living with depression or going through a traumatic health scare, or having to deal with both at once, it’s possible to find light in the darkness, you’ve just got to remember where the light switch is. To paraphrase Dumbledore.

God I wish I was as cool as JK Rowling.

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The Shine Theory

Friendship is a funny old thing, isn’t it? I mean, you essentially pick a person and then decide that you want to hang around with them and do things with them. When you think about it in the most basic of terms, every time you begin a relationship, you’re essentially going “oh. Yeah, ok. You’re a person I’d like to do stuff with. You’re a person I think I can be my most weird with, you’re a person who I reckon can deal with my shit. And I’d really like to be a person who deals with your shit too.”

I completely believe that no man is an island. The human nature encourages us to be part of a village. Even those who are notoriously selfish crave companionship in one form or another. Your village doesn’t have to be particularly big, nor does it have to be made up of people you see all the time. My village is spread out all over the world. But finding and curating a group of people who you can share your life with is, I think, integral to living a happy life.

Growing up, many of us made questionable choices about who to spend our time with. While we were trying to figure ourselves out, many of us made friends who weren’t particularly good people to be around. That’s not to say we were all hanging round with people who tried to get us to smoke weed or drink alcohol or steal cars – just that maybe the people we were choosing to spend our time with didn’t allow us to be our best selves. As we grow older, I think we get better at figuring out what sort of people we respond best to, what sort of people help us grow and be better and learn more about the world and our own lives.

I was reminded of something the other day that I had long since forgotten had a name. You might have heard of it too, or it might have passed you by, but there’s a theory that, as women, we thrive when we surround ourselves with other brilliant women. It’s called the Shine Theory and it’s something I think all women need to be reminded of.

Women are so often pitted against each other, in love, in life, in work, that we’re practically programmed to forget just how brilliant it is to exist in a world where women bolster each other up, rather than rip each other down. Surrounding yourself with the best people doesn’t make you look bad – in fact often we find that being around successful and intelligent women makes us more successful and intelligent too. Their shine makes us shine.

But the Shine Theory isn’t just limited to careers and professionalism either. There are people I know who are the very best kind of people and they make me want to be better, to do better with my life. All of my friends have qualities which I can learn a lot from. There are people who volunteer for amazing charities, people who spend their time improving the lives of a generation of younger people, I know some people who are absolute career badasses but without compromising the fact that they’re really bloody nice people (NB: you do not have to be a dick to succeed in business. This is a MYTH we are fed to make up for people who are shitty when they’re successful).

Here’s the thing though. We live in a society where we, as a human race, but particularly women, are told how to be, how to look, how to feel and what to do with our lives. We’re told that we should constantly be striving to “bag the man” “get the job” or “take down the competition” so we forget all of the incredible lessons and skills and experiences we can learn and gain from actively seeking out successful people to surround ourselves with.

Do you know what’s funny though? We’ve all been both sides of the shine theory coin before, we’re just often guilty of not recognising that other people think we are being shiny – we just see the shine in other people.

I’m not suggesting that the next time you go to a networking event, you follow the keynote speaker around asking them if you can be friends, but I’m just saying that we should’t shy away from the opportunity to see the shine effect in action. It’s time we, as a tribe of women, as a village of people, started making friends with those who might give us a feeling in the pit of our stomachs like we aren’t enough. Because we are enough and doing this can bring an end to  the female competition that the patriarchy has forced us into living.

Because you know something, our shine will make them shine right back too. And it’s not just a reflection.