SEX ED FROM CELEBS
The latest revelations by the stars on sex & relationships topics
Singer Rihanna and rapper A$AP Rocky, both age 35, posed with their sons RZA Athelston Mayers, 16 months, and Riot Rose Mayers, born on 1 August. Rihanna had said about RZA…
“I like to dress him in things that don’t look like baby clothes.
I like to push it. I put him in floral stuff. I put him in hot pink.
I love that.
I think that fluidity in fashion is best. I always shop in the men’s department, you know.”
She has many of her sons’ clothes custom-made, she says, because: “When you come up with something in your head, half the time it is not available because kids’ clothes are so… they’re sooo boring. I’m like: ‘This is what y’all been doing to these people’s kids all along?’
One of my favourite outfits RZA has [a tartan kilt] is a miniature version of one of Rocky’s.”
An insider explained the reason behind Riot Rose’s name: “Not everyone knows this, but Rocky loves flowers – he loves having fresh flowers in the house, he loves decorating with flowers, and he even had real flowers in his grill once”
WORDS Why Rihanna’s baby boy Riot Rose was dressed in pink in his first photos (Independent, 22/9/23) IMAGE @diggzy
MORE FROM RIHANNA IN BRITISH VOGUE
“Having a kid honestly unlocks another side of life where you’re now in the matrix with the people who’ve already had kids.
[Having done all-night workathons – product developing, marketing, brainstorming – she marvels at working parents] “‘Were you doing this all along? Are you serious? When I had you guys in meetings all the way until 6am you didn’t say how nuts that was?’
You come to have a different respect for moms and dads”
🌈 Set in Spain’s Basque country, the film 20,000 Species of Bees follows 8-year-old trans girl Lucía (Sofía Otero, age 9), who finds the confidence to be her true self one summer.
First-time filmmaker Estibaliz Urresola Solaguren, age 39, read about the suicide of a 16-year-old trans boy who had left behind a note in which he dreamed of a better, more accepting world: “He said he was making this decision to shine some light on people in his situation – for visibility. He was accepted by his family but was suffering a lot.”
Solaguren spoke to 20 local families: “They said it wasn’t the kids who had changed. What had changed was the others’ gaze. The transformation is the way we look at these kids, no?
I want to make a luminous, bright film, so trans kids also could have a healthy reference, not a character who would suffer, die or be a problem for their family.
In Spain the issue has become a weapon politically. But we are talking about real people struggling with real difficulties”
🌈 WORDS 20,000 Species of Bees was inspired by a trans teen’s suicide – but it centres joy, not tragedy (PinkNews, 4/10/23)
MORE ON THE FILM
• “The mother is relaxed with her ‘son’ having long hair and wearing gender-neutral clothes then worried when Lucía openly identifies as a girl.
A casting call went out to trans groups, primary schools, dance clubs and children’s theatres for ‘girls’ – not trans or cis girls. The children are played by a mix of trans and cis first-time actors. On the advice of lawyers in the trans community and at the request of the children, their gender identities are not being revealed”
• “Summer can be a mortifying time for a child who is uncomfortable in their own body.Handheld cameras pick up on details: Lucía’s smile when she is complimented as a girl; a cloud that darkens her expression when her grandmother forcibly asserts that she has a grandson, not a granddaughter.
It’s the most scalding of hot-button topics and a brave choice for a debut film. But with this gentle, empathic picture, Urresola joins a conversation that usually plays out as a screaming match and tones it down to a murmur”
Actor Andrew Garfield, age 40 – who has starred as Spider-Man, as a man living with Aids and in a verbatim-theatre piece about homophobic murder – made a surprise appearance this summer in London in the play A Survivor’s Manifesto, performing the words of a real-life male survivor of sexual assault. Garfield explained…
“Men in the West are encouraged from an early age to not feel – to not feel things that aren’t just anger and aggression.
[For me acting meant] having a space within which to be all of the parts of myself and express parts of myself that were not welcome at the dinner table, or at school, or in the playground – the more tender parts of myself, the more vulnerable, hurt parts, the more shameful, enraged parts of myself.
So taking part in A Survivor’s Manifesto was not only a therapeutic, detoxifying experience but also an artistic one.
This is something close to my heart because I have lots of friends who have been through this experience. And I’ve seen what it has done to their lives: the struggle it has created, the injustice and unfairness, the pain and inability to connect – and the lack of safety they feel just leaving their room in the morning in some cases.
You’d have to have a heart of stone not to care about something like that.
[The men voicing their experiences onstage were almost saying] ‘This is not mine to keep holding’ and ‘I will keep expressing it until it needs no further expression.’
The healing process is the process of a life. There were a couple of very profound moments where some men who were speaking got deeply touched by the words, by their own experience. And you could feel the trauma seeping out. It’s powerful”
Actor Joan Collins, age 90, recalls how actor Maxwell Reed “raped her after spiking her rum & Coke: ‘I was 17 but I was the equivalent mentally of 12.
We did not have sex education. I never saw a penis till I got raped and then I refused to look at it. Hahahaha!
My mother told me men only want one thing and I guess she was right. Hehehehe!’
Astonishingly Reed became her first husband ‘because I come from a generation where if you’re going to have sex, you get married’.
Collins adored her mother, a dance teacher who died at 52: ‘Mummy was the 1950s housewife, sweet and docile.’
[She says her mum died so young because] ‘she didn’t answer back to Daddy.
I inherited my father’s outspokenness.
I loved my mother but I considered her to be weak and I hated all the clothes she wore – the underpinnings, stockings and suspenders, girdles, tight bras and corsets.’
At 18 Collins was voted the most beautiful girl in England by a photographers’ association. Her father told the newspapers: ‘I’m amazed. She’s a nice-enough-looking girl, but nothing special.’
At 22 ‘I was in my Juliette Gréco stage, so I had no make-up, jeans and scruffy hair. The director Richard Fleischer said: “I cannot look at you – you are so ugly. You cannot go around like that: put some make-up on, get your hair done, get a proper dress.”
They took you down all the time at Fox. That’s why I wouldn’t go out without 5 inches of pancake on.’
Collins dodged the casting couch. She was promised the role of Cleopatra if she agreed to be ‘nice’ to the head of Fox and the chairman of the board: ‘I couldn’t & I wouldn’t – the very thought of these old men touching me was repugnant.Actors, directors and producers took it as their right to take their pick of the pretty young actresses. It was very sad.’
[On female actors having to take their top off] ‘I hated it. Some women can do it but I’m a bit shy.’
So what led her to strip for Playboy in 1984? ‘I got paid $100,000!”’
WORDS Joan Collins on love, loss and lust at 90: “You have to eat life or life will eat you!” (Guardian, 25//9/23)
Musician Mick Jagger, age 80 – who had his 8th child, his 6-year-old son Deveraux, when he was 73 and his girlfriend Melanie Hamrick was 29 – on being a parent…
“It’s fun to have children at any age. But if you’re working and always away, you don’t get to enjoy it quite as much.
When Deveraux was born I wasn’t working so much, so I was able to spend more time. And then we had the lockdown. He’s only 6, and 2 of those years I did almost nothing with the band.
[With fatherhood] you get a bit out of practice – it’s not like riding a bike.
The more children you have, the more laissez-faire you get about them, to be honest.
And it depends on the child – they have their own personalities and you can mould them to a certain extent, but you see their likes and dislikes and encourage them to do things they gravitate towards”
WORDS “The more children you have, the more laissez-faire you get”: Mick Jagger on ageing, rage and missing Charlie Watts (Guardian, 20/10/23)
MORE FROM JAGGER
[On his dad, Basil Fanshawe “Joe” Jagger] “He was a teacher & fitness enthusiast. He taught me how to be academic, how to learn things & how to be fit. He was inspiring in terms of physical exercise.
He wasn’t that tough a father, not a severe disciplinarian or anything like that, but he taught me how physicality was important.What he was so against, actually, was me being involved in any way in the arts.
With my children, if they want to do acting classes I’ll say: ‘Do acting classes.’ That’s the modern parent for you”
About actor Robert De Niro, age 80…
“An only child, he had a bohemian early life. His father, a painter, & mother, an artist, briefly wrote erotica for the writer Anaïs Nin at $1 a page. They later divorced. His dad being gay was never discussed between father & son.
De Niro says: ‘I’ve tried to keep my father’s legacy going. To me he was a great artist, a genuine artist.
I want my kids, my grandkids, to know who he was, what he stood for.
I think he was proud of me. At the same time a little jealous or envious.
I wouldn’t sit still [for a portrait] but I was proud of him when I was a kid.
He was not with me; we didn’t live together. We had what I suppose people would call an understanding. We were close in some ways.
I wish I’d listened more to him so I could speak more carefully about his work.’
Why is this important to him? ‘It’s family. Tradition.’
[About raising kids] ‘It’s always good and mysterious and you don’t know what the hell is going to happen. You never know.’
[About having a 7th child, he shrugs and makes a parent-face that suggests he might be muddling through] They surprise you.It doesn’t get easier. I don’t do the heavy lifting. I’m there: I support my girlfriend [Tiffany Chen] but she does the work and we have help.’
[Does he enjoy fatherhood?] Of course I do. All of it! With a baby it’s different to with my 11-year-old, my adult children, my grandchildren.[With age] you think more about time. You say: ‘I’m going to use these few months of the summer to be with my kids, my family’”
WORDS “Our political situation is such a fragile thing”: Robert De Niro on fatherhood, family – and Trump (Guardian, 15/10/23)
MORE FROM DE NIRO
• “Sometimes you’re the last person your kids want to deal with. It’s like when you walk them to school and they get older and they don’t want to hold your hand or kiss you goodbye”
• “I don’t like to have to lay down the law. You always want to do the right thing by children & give them the benefit of the doubt but sometimes you have no choice. Any parent, I think, would say the same thing.My daughter, she’s 11, she gives me grief sometimes and I argue with her. I adore her, but you know… But that’s what it is”
In her young adult fiction book Babushka, LBC presenter and campaigner Natasha Devon, age 42, tackles themes like victim blaming, safe sex and healthy relationships through the eyes of a teenager in the year 2000.
Devon says: “Problems with body image and mental health shapeshift with each generation.
They’re structural issues intertwined with sexism, racism, homophobia, the education system. It’s about systemic injustice.
Sex education needs to cover explicit topics to reflect what young people are seeing.
Many kids stumble across porn on TikTok or YouTube, or a friend shows them.
So if we don’t grow up and go: ‘We need to teach kids about things like consent’, then the internet will educate them.
[With the growing backlash against inclusive relationships & sex education – RSE] MPs are trying to make parents believe that lessons aren’t age appropriate or children are being encouraged to be trans, which feels reminiscent of the language around LGBT+ people a few decades ago.
Until I was 17, when a teacher used the word bisexual about a Shakespeare character, I didn’t know there was a word for people like me.
I ask boys what they find appealing about Andrew Tate. He makes them feel the enemy is female emancipation and they’d be happier if men were ‘real men’.
Nothing will happen with violence against women & girls until we bring boys & men into the conversation.
But they can get defensive hearing the term toxic masculinity. We don’t mean masculinity is toxic – we mean this idea of prescribed ways to be a man. So I challenge stereotypes & introduce boys to positive role models. There’s more than one way to do masculinity.
We can all remember books that had a profound impact on us as teenagers because they spoke to something we were going through.
I’m encouraging us to remember how bad sex ed used to be. There’s something powerful in recognising that it’s better now – and we should be celebrating that”
WORDS “If we don’t teach kids about consent, the internet will”: Natasha Devon on the importance of sex education by Outspoken Sex Ed co-founder Leah Jewett (Guardian, 9/10/23)
EXTRA CREDIT See our video for parents with Natasha Devon on kids & body image
Actor Sir Patrick Stewart, age 83, in his new memoir Making It So describes how his father, a soldier and “weekend alcoholic”, would beat his mother, a “downtrodden” mill worker. By age 7 Stewart “knew exactly when to insert a small body between the fist and my mother’s face, a skill no child should ever have to learn”…
“‘Our home life didn’t have much to offer and occasionally it had horror to offer. Weekends were always perilous, never fun.
I would like to have said to my father: “Dad, there were so many aspects of you and your life that have taken me by the hand and led me on my way through adulthood and into old age. You are, in many respects, an example to me. In other respects you are still a bad man.”’
[Pointing out that Stewart talked a lot about violence in his home, a historian said]: ‘Your father had shellshock – PTSD. It can stay with people their whole lives.’
This was a breakthrough: ‘It’s not a get-out but an understanding, yes.
I used to feel that my father and his violence is what had the biggest impact on my life.
There have been times I’ve been violent. Rarely to other people and never to my children. But I can get angry. And it comes from my father.I denied myself certain things. Because I felt I didn’t deserve them. Because I didn’t do enough to protect my mother.
Over time my father’s rage dissipated andn the violence stopped. But there was still trouble in the house.
I didn’t talk about my family for decades. The conversation we’re having I would never have had. I kept it close.
There were years when I hated my father so deeply and feared him too.’[An army peer of his dad’s said]: ‘When your father walked onto the parade ground, the birds in the trees stopped singing.’
Stewart says: ‘My discipline comes from him. My self-discipline – sometimes at a cost. But the impact of him, the subtle impact, I have only come to understand. This is the result of 30 years of therapy.I’ve been in denial about my life for a very long time’”
WORDS “On stage, I could escape”: Sir Patrick Stewart on childhood trauma and acting success (Guardian, 1/10/23)
Stewart works with Refuge Charity for his mother and supports Combat Stress for his father
🌈 Canadian sex educator Cory Silverberg, author of the picture book What Makes A Baby and kids’ graphic novel Sex Is A Funny Word for ages 8+, says in You Know, Sex – his book aimed at teens…
“‘Sex is a word people use to describe something they do to feel good in their bodies. People call this “having sex”. Having sex is something people can choose to do on their own or with other people.’
The books’ content is informed by discussions with young people. Featuring 4 kids with a range of body shapes and skin tones from pink to green, they’re from the perspective of people of different races, classes, sexualities, genders and abilities rather than from a grown-up eager to deal with the facts of life.
In You Know, Sex, Silverberg explains: ‘This book is for adults too. Most adults didn’t have the opportunity to think and talk about sex and gender when they were younger. There will be things in this book that are new for adults. If you know an adult who is open to reading this book with you, remind them that they may need time before they are ready to talk about what they learned here.’
Silverberg says: ‘Some educators say not to talk about boys & girls, just gender. But that doesn’t make sense. I don’t understand gender. Start with the world kids live in – which is one of boys & girls. In Sex Is A Funny Word, I say there are boys & girls, and the rest of us.’
Parent to a child aged under 10, Silverberg identifies as non-binary: ‘My books are queer because they’re trying to make a world I want to live in where there’s nothing unusual about 2 boys having a crush on each other – but they also reflect the actual world, which I don’t perceive as being super full of joy. When I see a book saying everything’s great or it’s all about love, I think: That’s not my world.’
Silverberg’s books feature things most parents & children worry about, such as watching porn, kissing with braces, sexual safety and boundaries. Choice and consent are front and centre. In You Know, Sex, the kids are told: ‘We all deserve respect, trust, joy, justice and lots of choices’”
🌈 WORDS “Upending the genre”: the children’s author rewriting the rules of sex ed (Guardian, 9/10/23) IMAGE Steph Martyniuk
Writer Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett says…
“The mid-2000s was a horrible time to be a teenage girl. The objectification, abuse and derision we received from boys at school and older men were directly related to the media climate.
The challenging of sexism or misogyny was quashed, the objector painted as humourless and unfuckable then mocked, bullied and harassed. Being a young woman who dared to profess a mild preference towards bodily autonomy saw you vilified.
I was invited onto a TV show to debate whether ‘bum pinching’ was OK (I declined). We were groped in nightclubs. We were fair game.
From accounts of grooming, rape & sexual assault to stories of ‘fittest freshers’ lists on college noticeboards (is there a woman my age who escaped being publicly rated out of 10 by her male peers?), boys with their penises out in the classroom and pornographic university hazing rituals, the women of my generation are angry and sad that their formative years were overshadowed by a pervasive rape and raunch culture that felt impossible to speak out against.
Watching Russell Brand onstage joking about choking women with his penis felt so painfully familiar. When in 2012 we launched a feminist blog, the Vagenda, to challenge media sexism, we were called silly little girls by almost the entire media establishment.In our book it’s all there: women’s magazines encouraging you to be stick thin and please your man; lad mags and toxic websites normalising rape, posting images of women cut in half and asking ‘which half’ men preferred; tabloids reporting the countdown to teenage girls reaching the age of consent. Along with the No More Page 3 campaign, Everyday Sexism and other young feminists, I believe we changed the media landscape. But as writers like Laura Bates highlight, misogyny remains rife online and off.
Now that I’m a parent, I realise that many of the adults in TV and the media failed to safeguard women and girls from the abuse and misogyny of predatory men.Sexism didn’t start in the toxic 2000s, but the victims of that culture should be listened to”
🌈 Labour politician Wes Streeting, age 40, is one of the first openly gay MPs in Parliament…
“I can’t remember when I first realised I was gay.
Throughout my adolescence I was trying to be ‘normal’. I had to bury a huge secret.
I had a poster of England’s 1998 World Cup squad on my bedroom wall partly because of my crush on Michael Owen – but every time I felt gay I also felt afraid. Afraid of my feelings, that I would be rejected by family and friends.
No matter how well I did in school, my pride began to be eclipsed by the deep sense of shame about who I was. What I was.
I was terrified that accepting who I was would add to the abuse I suffered. I’d been hit with homophobic slurs since I was 11 – imagine the carnage if my bullies knew the truth.
I was one of the sensitive kids, slightly camp and effeminate. This was a hard character to play in an inner-city boys’ school. And I had the bruises to prove it.
It was expected that I would be appointed head prefect. I wasn’t. What added injury to the perceived insult was an openly gay teacher telling me a teacher had justified their decision on the grounds that I was gay & wouldn’t make a good role model. A devastating blow.
While I had the courage to be myself at university, I hadn’t yet found the courage to tell my family. One evening in 2006 my stepmum said: ‘Your dad knocked some papers off your desk. One was a civil partnership invitation for you & someone else. Your dad put 2 + 2 together and I think he’s made 4.’
My secret was out. Coming out in Cambridge felt liberating; coming out at home felt terrifying.
Dad was on the sofa. I can’t remember what I said, but his reaction was sadness that I hadn’t told him: ‘Why am I the last to know? Why did you think I wouldn’t accept you? Are you happy?’
The worries Dad had were ones shared by lots of parents. Would my life be harder being gay? Would it affect my career? Would I catch HIV and Aids?
It didn’t take long for us to deal with any awkwardness in our usual Streeting family way: with humour. I felt loved & accepted”
🌈 WORDS Wes Streeting describes struggle coming out as gay, first love and cancer shock aged 38 (Daily Mirror ,12/6/23)
Edited excerpt from Consent Laid Bare by campaigner and Teach Us Consent founder Chanel Contos, age 25…
“You’re at a party with a boy. He asks you to do something you’re not sure of. He complains: ‘All my friends have done it.’ He asks: ‘Why did you come upstairs if you didn’t want to do this?’ You don’t exactly say no but you shy away as he pushes you slightly and pleads. Suddenly you’re doing it. Sex isn’t meant to feel good the first few times, right?
You feel strange, so you don’t tell anyone at school on Monday. But he does. By Wednesday everyone knows your cup size and you’re classified as a slut.
At university you learn about consent and sexual coercion. You confide in close friends & family. You’re asked: ‘Why are you bringing this up now?’, ‘What were you wearing?’, ‘Were you drunk?’ You’re told to consider the implications this claim could have on the boy’s life and career. You say nothing. He is now an executive at a large corporation.
Let’s imagine another scenario. You grow up without any part of your body being taboo. You know the difference between your vagina, labia, clitoris and all the rest.
You know your body is yours and if anyone ever touched you in any of those places, you could detail what happened without shame or being accused of making it up. You have sex when you’re ready and it will be fun.
You teach your kids about boundaries and respect. When they go to parties, you remind them to be considerate of other people’s bodies – especially your sons.
One day your teen tells you they were subjected to an unwanted sexual experience. You do not blame them or question what they were wearing or how intoxicated they were. You are grateful you have created a safe home environment where they feel comfortable speaking to you. You both know what sexual assault is and that it is not their fault or shameful. You take measures instantly so the perpetrator is held to account and does not carry those values with them if they go into a position of power.
If this second scenario was standard practice, the structural conditions that maintain rapecculture would fall in a generation”
WORDS Why rape culture thrives: An excerpt from Chanel Contos’ debut book Consent Laid Bare (Fashion Journal Magazine, 18/9/23)
🌈 Actor Ncuti Gatwa, age 30, the next Doctor Who, says…
“People need to be f*cking seen. What are you going to do – tell the same stories, have the same people fronting things for all of eternity?
Tick f*cking boxes! Representation, inclusivity & branching out: it enriches us all. How embarrassing, you people with your tiny mindsets. Open a book, look out the window and then f*ck off.
[On playing Eric in Sex Education] Shoutout to screenwriter Laurie Nunn for giving nuance to this gay Black character and gifting him to the world. He’s so fierce and unashamed. It was healing for me and great for people to see themselves represented. It taught me the importance of representation: it’s so powerful & necessary.
It undid a lot of the internalised hate I had. I’ve experienced racism my whole life, and while I always believed in myself, always knew racists were stupid & uneducated, I guess it did misinform my view of how the world works.
It makes you think everyone has that opinion and you’ll constantly have to fight through life – then you learn that you don’t: you can find a tribe, you can find your people.
Clothes are to play with. There’s something about being in a corset that makes me feel so masculine. I love seeing men in ‘women’s’ clothing. There doesn’t need to be a label. I believe that fully: that’s why I don’t like to label myself – and I don’t owe it to anyone.
At Manchester Pride, going through the streets with all my boys, shaking my cha-chas, living it up, I saw this woman who looked exactly like my auntie – I knew she was Rwandan. It blew my mind that she was there.
I can feel myself getting emotional just thinking about it. We were holding hands and she said: ‘I don’t really know why I’m here.’ I told her: ‘Honey, you don’t need to know. You absolutely. Do not. Need. To. Know. You’re here. Be proud of who you are.’
I had never met another queer Rwandan person before. I thought I was the only one in the world”
🌈 WORDS & IMAGE Elle Style Awards: Ncuti Gatwa Is The Modern Pioneer (Elle UK, 31/8/23)
Football player Jenni Hermoso, age 33, wrote about being kissed on the lips by her boss Luis Rubiales, which sparked the hashtags #contigoJenni (With you, Jenni), #TodosSomosJenni (We’re all Jenni) and #SeAcabó (It’s over) – Spain’s #MeToo – moment…
“With the passage of time after delving a little deeper into those initial feelings, I feel the need to report this incident because I believe that no person in any work, sports or social setting should be a victim of these types of non-consensual behaviours.
At no time did I consent to the kiss he gave me. I won’t tolerate that my word is called into question & even less so that words are invented which I didn’t say.
I want to reiterate that I did not like this incident.
I felt vulnerable & a victim of an impulse-driven, sexist, out-of-place act without any consent on my part.
Simply put, I was not respected.
Attitudes like this have been part of the day-to-day life of our team for years.
This type of incident joins a long list of situations that we players have been denouncing in recent years, so this event is just the straw that breaks the camel’s back and what everyone has been able to see. All the players from Spain and around the world have given me the strength to come out with this statement. As the world champion national team we do not deserve such a manipulative, hostile and controlling culture.
I have ZERO TOLERANCE for these behaviours. We will push forward more united than ever. I know I am not alone”
• UN Human Rights: “Women in sport face sexual harassment & abuse – every one of us has the responsibility to call out and challenge it. We join Jenni Hermoso and all those working to end abuse & sexism in sport. Make this a turning point”
• England’s Lionesses: “Abuse is abuse. The behaviour of those who think they are invincible must not be tolerated and people shouldn't take any convincing to take action against harassment”
• Spain's minister of culture & sport Miquel Iceta: “Rubiales’s acts caused damage to our sport & our country that is difficult to repair”
• Barcelona player Ana-Maria Crnogorčević: “I'm freaking out. It's over. F*** this bulls**t, f**k all this f**king lies. This is insane”
Actor Matthew McConaughey, age 53, was inspired to write the children’s book Just Because by conversations he had with his kids – Levi, age 15; Vida, 13, and Livingston, 10. The dedication reads: “To my kids, your kids & the kid in all of us. We’re all as young as we’re ever gonna be so let’s just keep learning.” He says:
“At home we’ve talked about a lot of the couplets in the book in different ways for years. My kids told me I’ve been trying to father some of these things into them.
I hope the book brings generations together to understand each other, ourselves & humanity.
As a dad, you’re thinking about your kids all the time.
I’ve been having conversations with my children about certain new things they experienced.
We’re just getting into those teen years – a whole new rollercoaster. I’m starting to become their buddy a little bit, which is cool. My daughter will call & go: ‘Hey, I wanna talk to you about this thing’ & we can just talk.
I noticed early on these young people are who they are.I can shepherd them, nudge them, put in front of them what lights their fire & try to keep them from hurting themselves too badly. But they are who they are.We’re filling their passports, which is one of the best résumés someone could have”
WORDS Matthew McConaughey releases new book inspired by his three kids (News24, 15/9/23)
MORE FROM McCONAUGHEY
• [On fatherhood] I’m not making straight As but I think it’s going pretty well. Hopefully my kids can get out of the house confident, having an idea of who the hell they are & who they’re not”
• “Listen, man, to all the fathers out there, I just want to say this: I know it’s hard. But we’ve got the most privileged job going. Let’s do our best”
• [On talking with son Levi about social media] “‘Let’s talk about what it is – the up-falls, downfalls, assets, traps and what you wanna tell. What’s your story?’
We had him look at people he looks up to – their posts: ‘Why do you like those?’ On people who maybe had more hits: ‘Why did they? Were they relevant for the right reasons, reasons that spoke to being more of themselves rather than acting like someone else?’
The discussion is ongoing”
🌈 Actor Sir Ian McKellen, age 84, who is starring in Frank And Percy at The Other Palace through December, came out in 1988 by saying of Section 28, which prohibited the “promotion” of homosexuality: “It’s offensive to anyone who is, like myself, homosexual, apart from the whole business of what can or cannot be taught to children”…
“Almost overnight everything in my life changed for the better – my relationships with people & my whole attitude toward acting changed.
Before that, the kind of acting I had been good at was all about disguise – adopting funny voices & odd walks. It was about lying to the world.
[After coming out he found it easier to be emotional while acting & could cry at the drop of a hat onstage]
People who are not gay just simply don’t know how it damages you to be lying about what you are & ashamed of yourself.
I was brought up at a time when it was illegal for me to have sex with a man. And that was not that long ago”
WORDS Ian McKellen’s life and career “changed for the better” after he came out as gay (PinkNews, 8/9/23)
🌈 MORE FROM McKELLEN
• On not telling his dad he was gay: “It wasn’t fair of me. You’re 24, you’re living with another man, you know that about yourself, your father loves you, is always asking how you are in every possible way and I think if he’d lived a bit longer I would have told him.
We couldn’t really have a proper relationship until I had. I didn’t give him a chance to say: ‘That’s alright’ then get interested in my life from that point of view.
[He feels his father would have been concerned & angry about gay rights before Ian was] He was a good man from that point of view”
• On coming out: “On air we debated the new law and, riled by the bland pomposity of Sunday Telegraph editor Peregrine Worsthorne’s homophobia – and honestly without thinking – I mentioned to those few thousands who tune into Radio 3 that I opposed Section 28 because I was gay.
That I had actually come out probably surprised me more than my being gay can have shocked any listener. Indeed some of them wrote to say that they’d known I was gay for years and couldn’t care less. When I told my stepmother soon after, she said the same”
TV chef Nadiya Hussain, age 38, the ambassador for Inclusive Books for Children (IBC), says…
“Diverse representation in children’s fiction is so important.
As a mum, I’m always trying to make sure my children can see themselves represented in media and feel included & seen.”
On the charity’s website you can find over 700 books with characters of different ethnicities, abilities & families. They focus on:
• An own-voice perspective (books by people with the same identity as their characters)
• A challenge to patriarchal #genderstereotypes
• Representation of diverse families (eg same-sex parents, blended, single parent)
• A diverse cast of characters
According to a survey commissioned by IBC, 2 in 5 ethnic-minority parents struggle to find books for their child that represent them.
Of the 1,003 parents of all backgrounds surveyed, 64% want to read their child a book with a diverse mix of characters – meaning who come from different racial, cultural & religious backgrounds, or who are disabled, neurodiverse or #LGBT, or who have diverse families.
83% of mixed white & Black Caribbean parents, and 61% of Pakistani parents, say it’s hard to find books representing their family or child.
While 77% of parents aged 18-24 want their chid to read a book with diverse characters, just 47% of parents aged 45-54 feel the same.
You can, on the IBC site, nominate the best inclusive books published in the UK since last November for ages 1-3, picture books for ages 3-7 & children’s fiction for ages 5-9. Winners get £10,000 each.
Having trouble sourcing inclusive books for their 2 mixed-heritage kids, Sarah & Marcus Satha founded IBC because “stories are powerful tools that allow us to relate, understand & connect. We all want the children in our lives to be able to access the power of stories”
WORDS Charity launches award and database to encourage diversity in children’s books (Guardian, 14/9/23)
SEE ALSO • Ayr young carer launches inclusive book series to teach children about disabilities and additional support needs (Daily Record, 31/8/23)
Actor Liam Neeson, age 71, recalls talking, at 15, with a visiting missionary priest during confession at church…
“So we start, and I had learned how to pleasure myself at home, into the sheets, right?
I had looked up the appropriate word. I remember that. ‘Masturbate? Masturbation? OK. That seems harmless enough, I’ll say that.’
So I told him: ‘I got in an argument with my mum, my sister, and I got in a fight and I masturbated.’
[In a ‘booming’ voice the priest said:] ‘You what?!’
This guy literally, I mean, he almost said things like: ‘The grass will grow over the palm of your hand before you’re 21! Stop that evil practice!’ He’s shouting this.
There were old women just outside the confessional kneeling down & saying their prayers and they could hear everything.
That was the last time I ever went”
WORDS Liam Neeson says he was shamed by a priest during NSFW confession (Independent, 26/8/23) IMAGE John Russo/AARP
MORE FROM NEESON
• “It’s a continual process, isn’t it? Sometimes you see in your kids a flash of their mother or your grandmom. You see the connection. My friend Gabriel Byrne said of his son: ‘I was there when he was born, and when he came out, I realised my place in the universe.’
I was there for the birth of my 2 boys and that’s exactly what happened. Something shunted into place, a continuum. It’s strange & miraculous and kind of frightening too”
• “I was an amateur boxer as a kid, from age 9 to 17. We had a neighbour – we lived in these little terrace houses – and I remember hearing her being beat up by her drunken husband every weekend. That’s a memory I am still coming to terms with. I’m talking 50 years ago. It’s kind of a post-traumatic stress disorder.
I don’t know if it scarred me, but it definitely formed something of my character. Maybe even when I play these violent roles, I’m trying to bring some quality of redemption or justice”
Love Island star & biotechnologist Yewande Biala, age 28, made the Channel 4 film Secrets of the Female Orgasm, which highlights the orgasm gap (65% of women vs 95% of men climax during heterosexual sex)…
“[At school in Ireland a rumour went around that a girl masturbated] and people did not let her live it down. So why would I ever do that and have people slag me? I felt so sorry for her.
You’d never want to say to your friends: ‘Do you masturbate?’ because if that got out, it would have been hell.
Because I’d never experienced [an orgasm], I thought my friends also hadn’t experienced it. It wasn’t until I was about 20 that I was like: ‘Oh, it’s just me.’ I believed I couldn’t have an orgasm, so I didn’t make a big deal out of it.
[At 15 she was grounded for a year because her Nigerian parents wrongly believed she was sexually active. Of wanting to talk in the film about the messages around sex she’d got growing up, she says of her mother] ‘If you really thought this, why didn’t you say this for years? We wouldn’t be having this conversation; I wouldn’t be filming this documentary. I probably would have been a really different person.’
[In Ireland Biala learned sex] was a sin – you shouldn’t have sex before marriage & if you did, you would literally go to hell. Imagine growing up in that type of environment.
[As a woman] you’re shamed if you have sex with too many people, but how are you supposed to figure out what you like and don’t like if you’re not having sex?
[She wants to show self-pleasure in a positive light] for people who maybe feel a bit dirty when it comes to masturbation or feel they should not do it or talk about it.
There’s no shame in starting your journey, no matter how old you are, finding out what your blocks are and working through them.
I hope if anyone in education watches, they will understand that maybe we need to improve the curriculum about sex.
I have unlearned a lot of the things I thought about sex, all the toxic attitudes. I’m leaving all that shame behind”
WORDS “I’d never experienced an orgasm”: Yewande Biala on her journey into female pleasure (Guardian, 25/8/23)
MORE FROM BIALA
• “For someone who’s grown up in a conservative household and has never spoken about sex, those things were so uncomfortable”
• “Afterwards Mum said she was so glad we had that chat. It had taken all those years. But it’s a great scene”
Actor Charlize Theron, age 48 – mum to adopted daughters Jackson, age 11, and August, 7 – says about walking past a Dior ad she’s in…
“My oldest was so embarrassed. She’s like: ‘Oh my God, Mom! You’re not even wearing a shirt.’ I was like: ‘You’re right. I didn’t even realise.’ She’s like: ‘All my friends are gonna see this. I mean, can you just wear a shirt?’
My daughters have no concept of what age is like. They like what someone’s wearing or think they’re pretty & they don’t really know if she’s in her 20s or 60s. I love that. I wish we could just maintain that.
People think I had a facelift. They’re like: ‘What did she do to her face?’ I’m like: ‘Bitch, I’m just ageing! It doesn’t mean I got bad plastic surgery. This is just what happens.’
I love that my face is changing and ageing.
I’ve always had issues with the fact that men kind of age like fine wines and women like cut flowers.
I despise that concept and I want to fight against it, but I also think women want to age in a way that feels right to them.
We need to be a bit more empathetic to how we all go through our journey. My journey of having to see my face on a billboard is quite funny now.
I will never, ever do a movie again & say: ‘Yeah, I’ll gain 40lb.’ Because you can’t take it off. When I was 27, I did Monster. I lost 30lb, like, overnight. I missed 3 meals and I was back to my normal weight. Then I did it at age 43 for Tully, and a year into trying to lose the weight I called my doctor and said: ‘I think I’m dying because I cannot lose this weight.’ He was like: ‘You’re over 40. Calm down. Your metabolism is not what it was.’ Nobody wants to hear that.
The thing that really bums me out is that I make action movies now and if I hurt myself, I take way longer to heal than I did in my 20s. More than my face, I wish I had my 25-year-old body that I can just throw against the wall and not even hurt tomorrow. Now if I don’t work out for 3 days and I go back to the gym, I can’t walk. I can’t sit down on the toilet. It’s all those very real moments”
WORDS & IMAGE Charlize Theron Didn’t Get a Facelift, Thanks for Asking (Allure, 18/8/23)
🌈 Actor Annette Bening, age 65 & mum of 4 with actor Warren Beatty – including Stephen, age 27, who identified as trans at age 14…
“I have a trans son, and he is such an inspiration to me.
To love your child so much is the greatest way to learn about what trans people are all about.
I get to say this because I’m the mother: ‘My son is incredibly brilliant.’ He’s someone I admire & I’ve learned a lot from when he first came out.
I, like every other parent, want to protect my kids and make sure they’re OK – and I had a lot of learning to do.
I was very ignorant about what it meant to be a trans kid.
I didn’t always know what to do & I didn’t always make the right choices because of my own ignorance – but we got through it.
What’s happening in the political world with trans people is so concerning & so dire.
The right-wing in America has become more and more mobilised on misinforming people about the LGBTQ+ community. They have been vilifying our community, creating problems and sowing hate and fear as a way of rallying their base. They are trying to stir up all this fear in people about trans kids & parents.
This should not be scary to anybody else. This is a private, legitimate, complex, deep, spiritual, physical, psychological experience that must be respected & honoured.
I find it heartbreaking to see the coldness and lack of compassion that so many people have”
WORDS Annette Bening Shares What She’s Learned From Her Transgender Son Stephen (Entertainment Tonight, 16/8/23)
IMAGE Austin Hargrave/Hollywood Reporter
🌈 MORE FROM BENING
“I am incredibly proud of Stephen and he has carved his own way.We all have a responsibility to protect and defend the rights of trans folks in our world. They’re precious parts of our community.
I was raised in a Republican household. My mother, who is 94, was one of the first people to say: ‘I used to have a beautiful granddaughter. Now I have a handsome grandson.’ It’s that simple”
🌈 Actor Jamie Lee Curtis, age 64, has been a vocal trans ally since Ruby, age 27 – the daughter she adopted with her husband, Spinal Tap actor Christopher Guest – came out as trans in 2020…
“We watched in wonder and pride as our son became our daughter.
This life is about love. Being a parent is about love – and I love Ruby. Love her.
People have said: ‘You’re so great to accept her love.’
What are you talking about? This is my daughter. This human being has come to me and said: ‘This is who I am.’
And my job is to say: ‘Welcome home.’
I will fight and defend her right to exist to anyone who claims that she doesn’t – and there are those people.
[On #TransDayOfVisibility in April she posted] A mother’s love knows no judgment.
As a mother, I stand in total solidarity with my children as they move forward in the universe as their authentic selves with their own minds & bodies & ideas. On this trans visibility day my daughter and I are visible”
🌈 WORDS Jamie Lee Curtis believes it’s her “job” as a mother to “fight” transphobia aimed at daughter Ruby (Metro, 29/7/23)
IMAGE Alex Berliner/People
MORE FROM CURTIS
• [Declaring that the Oscar statuette she won as Best Supporting Actress for Everything Everywhere All At Once is non-binary]“Here they are! In support of my daughter Ruby, I’m having them be a they/them. I’m just going to call them ‘them’ – they/them. And they are doing great. They are settling in”
• “It’s speaking a new language. It’s learning new terminology and words. I am new at it. I am not someone who is pretending to know much about it. And I’m going to blow it; I’m going to make mistakes. I would like to try to avoid making big mistakes.
You slow your speech down a little. You become a little more mindful about what you’re saying. How you’re saying it. You still mess up – I’ve messed up today twice. We’re human” 🌈
Former Take That pop star Robbie Williams, age 49 and father of 4, posted a drawing with the caption: “My ideal goal weight is people being worried about me”, adding…
“If a genie appeared and said: you can either have your superpower be the ability to fly or eat what you want and remain at your goal weight? I would go for goal weight eating every day. What about you?
I could write a book about self-loathing where my body image is concerned. Like pure self-hatred, the ugliness of feeling ugly.
I’m body dysmorphic & on top of being dysmorphic at times, I can be 40+ pounds overweight.
So you can imagine what my mind sees. Or maybe you can’t either way it’s a f*****g disaster.
At the moment I’m skinny. But me being me, my mind is going: ‘F*****g great Rob, you managed to get skinny and now your old, congrats, golf clap.’
The struggle is real, the sadness shocking. I’ve had it all my life. And it won’t abate”
WORDS Robbie Williams opens up about body dysmorphia struggles after cosmetic procedures (Daily Mirror, 17/7/23)#
MORE FROM WILLIAMS
• “I was always terrified of the responsibility of being a father & being pinned down.You go: ‘Right, I’m a grown-up now.’ What you don’t realise is how much love you get back. Now I’m more of a family man. You have to be when you have kids.It used to be sex, drugs and rock’n’roll. One out of 3 ain’t bad, I suppose, at the moment – I’ll let you guess”
• “[The song Go Gentle is a dad’s advice to his daughter about men: Some of them are angry/ Some of them are mean/ Most of them are twisted] It’s about stereotypical things dads worry about. Meeting somebody like me, for example, in my 20s. But her mum [Ayda Field Williams] is really cool and I’m not too bad and we’ll give her a lot of love and time and I think that will provide the right ingredients for good decisions”
• “[The song No One Likes A Fat Pop Star] is me poking fun at myself and people’s obsession with weight; mine and the wife’s. It’s something I don’t want to pass on to my daughter. My weight still fluctuates. For a long time I’ve had one foot in the sporty athletics camp and the other in the excessive camp, and the excessive camp usually wins”
Actor Florence Pugh, age 27 – who was body shamed for a sex scene in Oppenheimer – got 2.5 million likes for a July 2022 post about wearing a see-through-top dress…
• “I was excited to wear it, not a wink of me was nervous.
It’s interesting to witness just how easy it is for men to totally destroy a woman’s body publicly, proudly, for everyone to see.
Thankfully I’ve come to terms with the intricacies of my body that make me me. I’m happy with all of the ‘flaws’ that I couldn’t bear to look at when I was 14.
So many of you wanted to aggressively let me know how disappointed you were by my ‘tiny tits’ or how I should be embarrassed by being so ‘flat chested’.
I’ve lived in my body for a long time. I’m fully aware of my breast size.
What’s concerning is: why are you so scared of breasts?
What. Is. So. Terrifying.
It makes me wonder what happened to you to be so content on being so loudly upset by the size of my boobs & body?
I’m grateful that I grew up in a household with very strong, powerful, curvy women. We were raised to find power in the creases of our body. To be loud about being comfortable.It has always been my mission in this industry to say ‘fuck it & fuck that’ whenever anyone expects my body to morph into an opinion of what’s hot or sexually attractive.Grow up. Respect people. Respect bodies. Respect all women. Respect humans”
• [Growing up by the beach in Spain, Pugh & her siblings ran around naked] “That attitude has trickled down from when I was a child.We are human, we are bodies. Yes, I can put make-up on and look good for a premiere. But at the end of the day, I still have hair on the top of my lip and I still smell after a workout and I still get spots when I’m stressed”
• “I was comfortable with my small breasts. And showing them like that. People were so angry that I was confident & wanted to let me know they would never wank over me. Well, don’t”
• [On wearing daring fashion] “It’s very important that we do this. If a dress with my breasts peeking through is encouraging people to say: ‘If you were to get raped, you would deserve it’ it just shows me that there’s so much more work to do”
🌈 Heartstopper actor Kit Connor, age 19, posted on Twitter in November 2022: “i’m bi. congrats for forcing an 18-year-old to out himself. i think some of you missed the point of the show. bye.” Now he says…
“Telling someone you’re gay or bi or part of the queer community – there’s a thing where you feel like they might see you differently or think it would change who you are.
For me, it’s just who I am. Coming out didn’t change me.
[I like the term queer for myself because it’s] more freeing and less about labels.
Now I’m a bit more confident in myself in a very open sense about who I am, what I can do, the way that I hold myself and the people I spend my time with.
I have a lot more pride”
WORDS Heartstopper’s Kit Connor, 19, “more confident” in himself after coming out as bisexual (Metro, 29/7/23) IMAGE Emily Malan/GQ
🌈 MORE FROM CONNOR
• “I don’t think there’s a lack of queer sex in the media, but a lot of the time when queer people are on screen, especially gay & bisexual men, they are heavily sexualised. So there’s something quite nice about the fact that Heartstopper is not sexualising it”
• “Queer media is pretty dark & depressing and involves a lot of trauma [by focusing on how hard it is to be yourself]. Whereas with Heartstopper we wanted to push the other message: that being queer can be beautiful. There will be adversity, sure. There are highs and lows. But the highs can be really high, so it’s worth fighting for”
• “I get stopped by older queer men in their 30s – but also plenty in their 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s – proud and overjoyed that younger people in the queer community are starting to have these experiences in school”
• “I knew that I was a queer man, but I didn’t feel I wanted the world to know. Not because I was ashamed, but because it was private.Now I know that I’m queer, I personally don’t find it a super defining factor. I wouldn’t want to be defined by ‘queer actor’. I want to play all parts”🌈
Actor Emily Blunt, age 40, and mother – with actor John Krasinski – to Hazel, age 9, and Violet, 7…
“I never feel I’m doing it right.
This year I’m not working. I worked quite a bit last year & my oldest baby is 9, so we’re in the last year of single digits.
I just feel like there are cornerstones to their day that are so important when they’re little. And it’s: ‘Will you wake me up? Will you take me to school? Will you pick me up? Will you put me to bed?’
I just need to be there for them for a good stretch. And I just felt that in my bones.
The projects that are time consuming are becoming few and further between because of just the emotional cost on me, on the kids, on balance.
And I’m very prone to guilt – I think all mothers are. You’re just prone to feeling bad for, god forbid, wanting something outside of being a mother.
I am a huge advocate for women being ambitious. I love the word ambitions – it’s just dreams with purpose.
I want my kids to grow up and find something they adore doing.
My toes curl when people tell me: ‘My daughter wants to be an actress.’ I want to say: ‘Don’t do it!’
Because it’s a hard industry and it can be very disappointing. A lot of people tell you not to take things personally – but it’s completely personal, especially when you’re being judged on how you look. So you just have to endure that side of things”
WORDS Emily Blunt talks “guilt” over separation from daughters with John Krasinski and acting break (Hello!, 11/7/23)
IMAGE Tom Schirmacher
MORE FROM BLUNT
• “We were in the kitchen the other day & Hazel goes: ‘Are you famous?’ We’ve never said that word in our house. We don’t talk about it. I was like: ‘Um, not really. I don’t think I am.’
My kids don’t want to see what I do. They don’t even like it when I put on make-up. They just want me to be their mommy”
• “I know so many women of a certain age who are angry at their lives being defined by being someone’s mummy or someone’s wife. And I have empathy for that. It’s OK that that’s not enough for them”
• “For female actors there is still a pressure to be likable, and sort of warm & understood, and men are not held to that same standard”
Actor Eva Mendes, age 49, on playing in the park with the daughters she has with actor Ryan Gosling – Esmeralda, age 8, and Amada, 7…
“If you can’t beat ’em, join them! It’s about respecting kids. All kids. Not just our own.
I grew up in an incredibly loving family, but in Cuban culture – the time I was growing up – respecting children wasn’t a thing.
I’m hoping to break this cycle with my kids. I value their opinion. I respect their body. I respect their suggestions/ideas – even if I don’t agree with them. And they have a voice in our home. A loud one”
WORDS Eva Mendes sparks reaction with rare insight into “respecting” daughters with Ryan Gosling (Hello!, 23/7/23)
MORE FROM MENDES
“I thought parenting was about controlling how much my kids melted down, lashed out or lost control. Turns out parenting is about managing how much I melt down, lash out or lose control. It’s kinda like we’re all out here raising ourselves right alongside our kids”
Let’s hear it from some of the stars of the camp, subversive, candy-coated movie Barbie…
• STEREOTYPICAL BARBIE Margot Robbie age 33: “We’re in on the joke. This movie isn’t a Barbie puff piece.
I didn’t know this character was going to get down into my bones. I didn’t expect to have so many big, profound conversations about the meaning of life & true happiness. It all became very existential.
Barbie is sexualised. But she should never BE sexy. People can project sex onto her. Yes, she can wear a short skirt – because it’s fun & pink, not because she wanted you to see her butt”
• AUTHOR BARBIE Alexandra Shipp age 31: “I had Kens but when I played house, I had 2 Barbies raising a Skipper.
Your toys are an extension of who you are & how you can exist in the world as an adult”
• PRESIDENT BARBIE Issa Rae age 38: “[Playing with dolls] was in some ways how I knew I identified as being Black – because my mum & aunt were so adamant about: ‘We’re getting you Black dolls! We want you to see yourself!’ I didn’t understand why it was so serious until I was older”
• WEIRD BARBIE (Kate McKinnon, age 39, as a kid played with shells & plastic zoo animals: “I didn’t see myself in Barbie. I saw myself in an inflatable lobster.
[Her friends cut Barbie’s hair, drew on her face, set her on fire] They were externalising how they felt – and they felt different”
• GLORIA America Ferrera, age 39: “I had the experience of being a bored kid with a poor defenceless Barbie doll. Half of my cousin’s Barbies were always naked and in the splits.
And of course if you had brothers or boy cousins, you knew the Barbies were going to be defiled in some way”
• Mattel executive “Barbie is a surprising spicy margarita. You can already taste the sweetness and you sort of go with the spice”
• DOCTOR BARBIE Hari Nef age 30: “This movie is candy with a little poison, and that’s what I like”
RECOMMENDED READING How Barbie Came to Life (Time, 27/6/23) • Toy movies like Barbie help us understand the stories that shaped us (iNews, 6/7/23) • Is Greta Gerwig severing her indie roots with Barbie? (Far Out, 5/7/23) • How exactly did Barbie get her groove back? (Irish Times, 15/7/23) • Issa Rae Says She Used Her Barbies to “Fulfill Scenarios” Growing Up – Like “Sex-Ed” (People, 12/7/23)
Dancer Liam Riddick, age 34, from Wales, says of being one of the 40 Ken dancers in Barbie…
“I was a big fan when I was younger of big Hollywood films.
So when on set they’d shout ‘Action!’, I’d have that small moment of pure joy just living my 6-year-old boy’s fantasy of being in Singing In The Rain and doing that dream sequence.
The whole project & being a part of it was my little gift to my 6-year-old self to say: ‘Look at you now – look what you’ve done!’
My sister used to have dolls and I think my cousin had the Dreamhouse. The whole set-up of opening it up and seeing the slide is exactly as it is in the film.
Barbie is not CGI. All the sets, the Dreamhouses – everything is built. That’s why the film is so fantastic. When you’re on set & you see the actual real lifesize Dreamhouse – like you’re the doll, almost – it’s mind-blowing.
Being part of the whole thing was just magical. On set was amazing. Ryan Gosling walks in the room and once you get over the initial ‘oh my god’, everyone’s human. Everyone’s the scene & in that scene we’re all Kens dancing about, being Ken.
I was expecting it to be a fun, silly kind of film – but it’s a really great film. It’s very funny, it’s got a lot of heart and it’s not just for children. I think it’s split 50:50, if not more projected towards adults.
I didn’t expect the amount of hype that #BarbieTheMovie is getting. It’s the biggest film in the world right now & it’s just bonkers.It’s really lovely to be a part of that hype. Even if it is just a small smidge of that, my name is still in that credit”
WORDS Barbie: Welsh dancer’s role as Ken alongside Ryan Gosling (BBC, 5/8/23)
MORE FROM RIDDICK
“I remember going on set and seeing the room – and the little boy in me was just like: ‘Wow!’ because it was this massive space that was half-pink, half-blue, and it looked like one of those old Hollywood scenes. When the cameras are rolling and you’re running around doing your steps, that was me living my little 6-year-old dancing dream”
Actor Ariana Greenblatt, age 16, who plays Sasha the teenager in the movie Barbie, says…
“We see Sasha get upset at Barbie when Barbie wants to give up. Sasha’s a big believer in trying again and doing what’s right until it is right.
[About the ‘It is impossible to be a woman’ monologue by America Ferrera] I wanted my reaction to be in the moment so my character could feel as impacted as possible.
We did that scene over and over. America did something different every time. I never got sick of it.
I was so affected by it, especially because I’m a young person & listening to this woman who is incredibly intelligent saying all of these things that are so unfortunately true – it hit really hard for me.
It puts a lot of things into perspective in such a beautifully written way, so shoutout America and Greta Gerwig for creating that incredible piece in the film.
I really am interested in writing my own story, especially after working with Greta. She inspired me a lot to write and direct. Also I would love to do a coming-of-age story of a teenage girl because I’m so used to playing sci-fi aliens or post-apocalyptic characters. If I was able to create a story about a teenage girl from a teenage girl’s perspective, it would resonate with a lot of people.
I just want people to watch Barbie 1,000 times, never get sick of it and just feel joy. I felt so much joy.
I feel like it’s such a nice movie to put things that are needed into perspective”
WORDS Meet Barbie Movie Star Ariana Greenblatt, Who Plays Barbie Hater-Turned-Hero Sasha (Teen Vogue, 21/7/23) IMAGE Samantha Annis/1883 Magazine
MORE FROM GREENBLATT
• “A lot of the time teenagers, especially teenage girls, are shown in such a false light on screen or written by an older man. And I’m thinking: ‘No matter if you have a daughter or a niece, you will never know what it’s like to be a teenage girl unless you were or are one.’ I would love to be the person to correctly represent teenage girls”
• “With Barbie I think a lot of women and teenage girls will feel seen and heard, and hopefully empowered. Even though when you think of Barbie you may not feel empowered, this movie will change your opinion”
Actor Issa Rae, age 38, who plays President Barbie in the movie Barbie, reflects…
“Barbies made me aware of race at a young age. There was so much held on Barbie’s shoulders.
As a child I felt like there was a lot of pressure, image-wise, playing with white Barbie dolls and my parents [giving me] Black Barbie dolls so I felt represented.
My mom was super intentional about making sure I had a Black Barbie, and I think it made me realise that I was Black.
It was another step on the ladder of my journey with my racial identity, just because I saw how passionate my parents were about me playing with Black Barbies, though I didn’t know it was that serious.
I was just trying to make scenes with my Barbies. And in some ways that was my first foray into storytelling and directing.
My Barbies were fulfilling scenarios. They were also like sex ed when I didn’t know what sex was. I just wanted to play and tell stories and make them kiss.
They were my opportunity to play God – Barbies were the Sims for me before I played the Sims.
My worry was that the movie would feel too white feminist-y, but it’s self-aware. Barbie Land is perfect, right? If perfection is just a bunch of white Barbies, I don’t know that anybody can get on board with that.
[On the first Barbie to have Black features, her friend Christie, which Mattel released in 1968] I gave a shout-out to Christie as President Barbie that isn’t in the final cut, but I was basically saying that Christie walked so I could run for president.
Christie paved the way for this particular Black Barbie, and I’m honoured to ‘rule over the Barbies’.
She’s just one of the Barbies that can do it all”
WORDS Issa Rae’s Soft Girl Summer (Ebony, 6/7/23) • “I hate the colour pink”: Issa Rae on being a reluctant Barbie and the legacy of Insecure (Guardian, 8/7/23) • Issa Rae Says She Used Her Barbies to “Fulfill Scenarios” Growing Up – Like “Sex-Ed” (People, 12/7/23) IMAGE Dan Doperalski/Variety
EXTRA CREDIT My first Barbie was Black and it made me feel represented even aged 5 (Metro, 17/7/23)
🌈 Actor Hari Nef, age 30, on playing with Barbie’s Magic Hair Styler on the computer as a kid…
“Through Barbie I could explore all kinds of people to be and things to do. It was mostly about her face and the glam.
The movie is literally the most preposterous, once-in-a-lifetime, orgasmic opportunity to go all in on this one little thing that I love so much, which is clothes and looks and fashion and the fantasy. I told them straight up: ‘I want the highest heel, the waist tiniest, the biggest hair every time.’
I’m a lover of drag. I’m a lover & admirer from afar of ballroom culture. It felt kind of like a legacy I could honour onscreen of dolls dolling, dolls dressing up.
It felt like Greta Gerwig’s Drag Race. I was cinched, wigged, painted from head to toe, padded. It’s a specific kind of femininity, one I feel very comfortable wearing in public and when the cameras are on and people are watching.
[On the movie being a celebration and a loving send-up of femininity and how far it can be taken] That contradiction and ambivalence is very close to the heart of probably a lot of girls like me and in general.
It’s candy with a little poison, and that’s what I like.
[On not being cast as Trans Barbie] Barbies are not human women. They don’t have genitalia.It’s probably positive for Mattel to include me because we’re trying to show all different kinds of Barbies – but the executive producer said when he saw my tape he didn’t know I was trans. I just got the tone of what they were going for.
[On the movie having a strong message for trans women (or The Dolls, as Nef & her peers call themselves)] As a trans girl, it’s easy to get caught up in big dreams of what you’ll become. It’s inevitable that you’ll get struck down by external messages and obstacles of what you’ll never be and what you won’t be able to do.You’re caught constantly between striving for perfection and recoiling from rejection. It’s hard.
The best we can do as women, as trans women, is be there for each other and take ourselves at face value without relying on the green light from anyone else”
🌈 WORDS Hari Nef and Barbie’s Empowering Message for Trans Women (Out, 5/7/23)
Actor Michael Cera, age 35, grew up in a suburb of Toronto with an older & younger sister…
• “We had a normal amount of Barbies in the house – a baseline of probably 5. They were just part of the texture of our life. We played with everything that was around – everything was just this big soup of plastic on the floor.
• I feel sorry for my son [almost 2 years old], I feel sorry for the world. I think it’s getting very lonely.
Sometimes on the subway I’ll do a head count of how many people are looking at their phones and it makes me feel lonely. Even being with friends or with family, you’re with someone you love & haven’t seen in a while, and they’re with their phone. It’s like they left the room.
• Things are a little too optimised. Even with parenting: you have a million questions when you have a new baby and you look online & there’s always some highly optimised answer about whatever problem you’re having. I kind of miss when things were a little sloppier.
• [With fame] there’s a lot of bad energies, ones that I was not equipped to handle.
When you’re a kid, people feel they can kind of grab you – they’re not that respectful of you or your physical space. At 19, I didn’t know how to respectfully establish my own boundaries”
WORDS “Fame makes you paranoid”: Michael Cera on Barbie, drunk fans – and not owning a smartphone (Guardian, 17/7/23)
MORE FROM CERA
• “I don’t have a smartphone and that is a conscious choice because I feel a bit of fear about it, honestly. Like I’d really lose control of my waking life”
• [On fatherhood] “The only thing that it affects is that you just want to spend as much time with your children as possible. So when I was 20, I would have been way happier to go off to some weird city and live in a hotel for 3 months. And when you have kids, you want to be with your family. And you miss them a lot”
In the surreal smash Barbie, America Ferrera, age 39, plays Gloria, mother of a moody teen daughter and assistant to Mattel’s CEO. The youngest of 6 kids raised by a single mum, Ferrera didn’t grow up with Barbies…
“‘My cousin had Barbies we played with,’ says Ferrera, ‘but everything – from the Dreamhouse to the Corvette to the pool to the 20 outfits – felt so inaccessible.
Barbie was blonde & blue-eyed & perfect. She probably made me feel bad about myself.
[As an actor I became] a symbol of embracing your beauty & telling beauty standards to fuck off. But I had internalised self-loathing.
I was surrounded by women who deeply internalised those standards [being beautiful, white, thin] and taught them to me.
Movies, musicians, models, dolls – everything we idolised [emphasised that there was one way to be beautiful & that wasn’t her].
I felt I wasn’t meeting the expectations of what an actress should look like, or how thin they should be, or how beautiful.
[I wrote] about giving myself permission to let go of expectations I was trying to meet & be my true self. And those things were at odds, and something had to give.’
‘Rewiring’ herself has been a lifelong process. For decades Ferrera’s work has questioned & critiqued beauty standards – she played the ‘beautiful on the inside’ Betty Suarez in Ugly Betty (2006-10), starred at age 17 in Real Women Have Curves (2002) as a teen whose mother tells her she would be beautiful if she lost weight and played a character in The Sisterhood Of The Traveling Pants (2005) who worries she’s too fat. Her book American Like Me opens with an essay about self-acceptance & explains that her first crush snubbed her for someone blonde & blue-eyed. In her TED talk My Identity Is A Superpower – Not An Obstacle, Ferrera discussed how she avoided the sun, straightened her curls and tried to lose weight to please Hollywood.
Next year Ferrera is set to direct the feature film I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter”
Actor Ryan Gosling, age 42, on how his daughters – Esmeralda, age 8, and Amada, 7 – play with Barbies…
“When asked if he was a ‘good Barbie dad’ and if he can role-play with the dolls, he said of his kids’ dolls:
‘Their Barbies aren’t even named Barbie. They all have their own names, very complicated lives, backstories, interrelationships, history – you gotta know it all.
[If I] began playing with dolls that are estranged, it’s like: “Get out of here. They don’t even talk!”
Ken works at a grocery store – he’s not a fireman.
I saw him, like, face down in the mud one day,
next to a squished lemon, and it was like: This guy’s story does need to be told, you know?’
At a press conference in Canada, his home country, Ryan and his sister Mandi Gosling talked about him finding his ‘Kenergy’ (Ken + energy).
Mandi: ‘It felt like such a no-brainer to me. Like: of course he’s Ken! You had to look for the Kenergy, but I always knew it was there.’ Ryan: ‘Wow, that’s beautiful. Thanks. Well, [you’re] my original Barbie.’
Mandi explained that she had never owned a Barbie. Ryan: ‘Because she was too busy being Barbie. She was doing all the things all the time. You know, getting me to school safely – and then she was the president of that school. She had more meetings than classes. It was Barbie land. When I got to set I was like: ‘This is just like my house’”
WORDS Ryan Gosling spills on being a “Barbie dad” and jokingly reveals he struggles to follow his daughters’ “complicated backstories” for their dolls (Daily Mail, 2/7/23) IMAGE Gabe Ginsberg
MORE ON KEN
• “My daughters helped me a lot. They were a huge inspiration for me. But even though they’ve seen some pieces of the film, they aren’t ready to see the whole thing just yet. It was, I think, weird enough for them that I played Ken anyway. I might like, you know, just hold off on them seeing the full Ken energy”
• Ken to Barbie: “I just don't know who I am without you. It’s Barbie and Ken. There is no ‘just Ken’”
• “Ryan has taken over the Barbie conversation and Ken-ergy is now a part of the world’s vocabulary” (Grazia)
In the film Barbie, actor Ryan Gosling, age 42 – in a gender-role-reversing twist – plays bronzed-boyfriend Ken as a vacuous “himbo” accessory, eye candy, a toy boy.
About communing on set with a younger version of himself who “didn’t have a clue but did everything in total earnestness”, he says…
“There’s something about this Ken that really relates to that version of myself. The guy that was putting on Hammer pants & dancing at the mall & smelling like Drakkar Noir & Aqua Net-ing bangs. I owe that kid a lot. He didn’t know what he was doing or why.
I was very quick to distance myself from him when I started making more serious films. But he’s the reason I have everything I have. I owe my whole life to him.
I really had to go back and touch base with that little dude & say thank you, and ask for his help.
Ken: his job is ‘beach’. What the fuck does that even mean? Everyone was fine for Ken to have a job that is nothing. But suddenly it’s like: ‘We’ve cared about Ken this whole time.’ No you didn’t. You never cared. Barbie never fucked with Ken. That’s the point.
If you ever really cared about Ken, you would know that nobody cared about Ken. So your hypocrisy is exposed. This is why his story must be told.
care about this dude now. I’m like his representative: ‘Ken couldn’t show up to receive this award, so I’m here to accept it for him.’
[About criticism of his playing Ken at age 42] It is funny, this kind of clutching-your-pearls idea of, like, #notmyken. Like you ever thought about Ken before this?”
WORDS The Return of Ryan Gosling (British GQ, 31/5/23) IMAGE Gregory Harris
From Ken’s power ballad Just Ken: “Doesn’t seem to matter what I do/ I’m always No. 2/ No one knows how hard I try/ I have feelings that I can’t explain/ driving me insane/ All my life been so polite/ cause I’m just Ken/ Anywhere else I’d be a 10”
DIRECTOR GRETA GERWIG ON KEN
• “Ken has a journey. He doesn’t have a house. Or a car. Or a job. Or any power. And that is gonna be sort of unsustainable”
• “Ken was invented after Barbie, to burnish Barbie’s position in our eyes & in the world. Ken only has a great day if Barbie looks at him”
Actor & Barbie director Greta Gerwig, age 39, says…
“‘Barbie was, if not exactly forbidden in our house – well, it was not encouraged.
It was the usual criticisms: “If she was a real woman, she wouldn’t even be able to stand up; she wouldn’t be able to support her head.”
My mum was a child of the 60s. She was like: “We got this far – for this?”’
Eventually Gerwig’s mother relented. ‘She got me my own. Fresh out the box.’ It replaced the neighbourhood hand-me-downs she’d been playing with.
But Gerwig had a strong connection to other dolls, the kind you mother, and a vivid
imagination. ‘I played with dolls until… I don’t want to say too late, but I played with them long enough that I didn’t want kids at school to know I still played with them.
I was a teenager. I was about 13 and still playing with dolls. And I knew that kids at that point were already kissing. I was a late bloomer.’
Gerwig has said that Barbie’s story mimics that of a girl’s journey from childhood to adolescence.‘I always think that 8, 9, 10 years old is peak kid. I was brash & unafraid & loud & big. And then, you know…’
Puberty. ‘It’s a shrinking. Wanting to make yourself smaller, less noticeable, take in all that spikiness and bury it.
And you’re profoundly uncomfortable, because you’re going through metamorphosis, literally. But also, you’re getting tall. You’re getting your period. You get spots.’
Gerwig describes childhood as being at peace with the world and adolescence as being suddenly not: ‘My experience of it was wanting to hide.’
Is Barbie the movie about growing up? ‘It’s not about growing up, exactly. It’s about Barbie, an inanimate doll made out of plastic. But the movie ends up, really, about being human’”
WORDS “It had to be totally bananas”: Greta Gerwig on bringing Barbie to life (Guardian, 9/7/23)
Actor Tom Holland, age 27, on mental health, a same-sex love scene & dressing up as Rihanna…
“In a bustier, hot pants, fishnets & a bob wig, Holland mimed the vocals of @badgalriri’s Umbrella on Lip Sync Battle in 2017.
Of the scene’s ‘lasting impact’ on pop culture he says: ‘I’m proud of it.
[Was it a statement about #toxicmasculinity?] No. I grew up in the most non-toxic-masculine environment possible [as a child star in London].
I didn’t realise what I was doing was so forward-thinking. I was just like: “Yeah, fuck it – I’ll put some fishnets on & dance in the rain. That’ll be really fun. I don’t care.”
You’d never catch me doing that now. I don’t want to do a fucking TV show that I don’t need to do. I’d rather go & play golf and live my little private life.
But for all the movies that I’m incredibly proud of, the Lip Sync Battle is what I get the most compliments for’”
WORDS Tom Holland Reflected On The “Lasting Impact” Of His Iconic Lip Sync Battle Performance And Said It Wasn’t Supposed To Be A “Statement About Toxic Masculinity” (BuzzFeed, 14/6/23) IMAGE Michael Muller
MORE FROM HOLLAND
• “I find Instagram & Twitter to be overstimulating, overwhelming. I get caught up & I spiral when I read things about me online and ultimately it’s very detrimental to my mental state, so I’ve decided to take a step back & delete the app” [2022 statement]
• “I wouldn’t say I particularly have a history of issues with #mentalhealth. I just feel like I am a young person living in a world where we are expected to share every moment online”
• [About doing a same-sex love scene] “It’s not a milestone. It’s not something that I’m like: ‘Oh wow. I got to play my first character with a different sexual preference than I have.’ It’s obviously a little more complicated. It felt very important to tell the story authentically”
• “The message of the show The Crowded Room is: asking for help should be something we celebrate. It’s an act of bravery. The mental aspect really beat me up & it took a long time for me to recover, to sort of get back to reality. I had a bit of a meltdown at home, thinking: ‘I need to shave my head to get rid of this character’”
Cultural pundit & feminist Caitlin Moran, age 48, on her new book What About Men?…
“If a boy grows up hearing that straight white men are awful – if he’s been made to feel shame & guilt simply because of who he is – then of course he’s going to be attracted to [Andrew Tate], who says: ‘Don’t be ashamed! Men are great! We need men! Fuck woke-dom!’
A boy needs a male role model who thinks men are awesome, because his job right now is ‘becoming a man’ – and Tate is the loudest voice shouting: ‘I can show you how.’
There is no movement that campaigns for solutions to male problems: educational underachievement & exclusion; sky-high mental ill-health & suicide rates; porn-influenced strangulation; fatherhood being seen as the
‘lesser’ parenting role; and the epidemic of loneliness in older men. There is no sense of these being folded in together under the subject ‘How things needs to change for boys & men’.
How can we make a world where boys find a new space & language to talk about their bodies in the same joyful, honest, affirming way [girls can]? Because the existence of dick pics alone tells us young men want to start a conversation about their penises. It’s just so far this is the best idea they’ve come up with (granted, it is a bad idea).
What men & boys need is feminism. And what women need is boys & men who use feminism. Two – possibly 3 – generations of men have watched as their wives, mothers, sisters, daughters & friends changed what our idea of ‘being a woman’ is.
Now those women need to tell men: ‘Your problems aren’t boring. It’s OK to make a fuss. We won’t accuse you of Emotional Man Flu. We love you & worry about you. Please use the tools we have invented to solve your problems now. But don’t leave them all over the kitchen once you’ve finished with them – The Girls are coming round at 6pm to do each other’s roots’”
WORDS Caitlin Moran: what’s gone wrong for men – and the thing that can fix them (Guardian, 1/7/23)
🌈 Actor Noah Schnapp of Stranger Things, age 18, shared photos from NYC Pride (and got 4 million likes in 2 days)…
“This marks Noah’s first Pride weekend after he publicly came out as gay in January.
He had shared a TikTok with the caption:
‘I guess I’m more similar to Will than I thought’, referring to his Stranger Things character. Noah had previously confirmed that Will was gay and in love with Mike.
[Posting a picture of him lying on a pillow in a hoodie] he shared the sweet way people reacted to him coming out:
‘When I finally told my friends and family I was gay after being scared in the closet for 18 years and all they said was “we know”’
Noah’s parents as well as his friends were right there beside him at his first Pride! His mom, Karine, shared a carousel of pics with the caption: ‘Happy Pride 🏳️🌈❤️#loveislove🌈’
I just love a family selfie. So happy for you, Noah!”
MORE ON SCHNAPP AT PRIDE
🌈 “Noah Schnapp publicly came out in January via TikTok lip-syncing someone saying: ‘You know what it never was? That serious. It was never that serious. Quite frankly, will never be that serious.’
On Sunday Noah shared a photo of himself splashing elatedly in the water fountain in Washington Square Park alongside other revellers.
He was dressed in a black tank top with ‘Straight Outta The Closet’ written on it in rainbow colours and white pants. He wore a rainbow headband and wrist bands.‘
First pride❤️’ he wrote next to the social media post”
🌈 Actor Elliot Page, age 36, starred in Juno at age 20, and came out as gay at 26 & trans at 33…
“He never felt right. As a 4-year-old, he used to try to pee standing up.
In his new book Pageboy he writes: ‘I would press on my vagina, holding it, pinching & squeezing it, hoping I could aim.’
He didn’t consider himself a girl. He didn’t quite know what he was. All he knew was that he felt a huge amount of discomfort & emotional pain.
He self-harmed from a young age, smashing himself in the head with a hairbrush when getting ready for school, failing to recognise, or accept, the face staring back at him in the mirror. He cut himself, got wasted and stopped eating. He wanted to obliterate himself.
‘[With acting] I was attracted to intense, traumatic work. As a teenager who dealt with a lot of shitty predatory behaviour, it was something I was interested in tackling.
[In 2010] How I was feeling in my body, and being closeted, was eating at me’”
WORDS Elliot Page on Juno, Hollywood’s dark side and coming out twice: “Living my life was more important than being in movies” (Guardian, 10/6/23) IMAGE Le Monde
MORE FROM PAGE
🌈 “When I was a little kid, absolutely 100% I was a boy. I knew I was a boy when I was a toddler. I was writing fake love letters and signing them ‘Jason’.I just couldn’t understand when I’d be [reminded that I was not a boy] and told: ‘No, you’re not. No, you can’t be that when you’re older.’I get waves of myself at specific ages, and I just want to cling to that person & hold them close”
“I knew I was a boy when I was a toddler,” says Elliot Page (Upworthy, 22/5/23)
🌈 “I was perplexed by my experience, severed from the other girls, twists in my stomach when I gazed at them”
🌈 “Shame had been drilled into my bones since I was my tiniest self.We need to feel represented and see ourselves, you know – that’s not something I had as a kid”
Elliot Page Got Real About The His Privilege In The Trans Community And Said His Experience Doesn’t “Represent The Reality Of Most Trans Lives” After Saying He Feels “Grateful” To Be Alive (BuzzFeed, 26/5/23)
🌈 Actor Bella Ramsey, age 19 – star of TV show The Last Of Us (and Game Of Thrones at age 11) – on their sexuality…
“‘You never fully know who you are – it’s ever evolving. But I certainly think that people have gathered that I’m not 100% straight.
I’m a little bit wavy, you know? That’s what I like to say.’
Ramsey opts for ‘non-binary’ when filling out forms. Their gender has ‘always been very fluid. Someone would call me “she” or “her” and I wouldn’t think about it – but I knew that if someone called me “he” it was a bit exciting.
I’m very much just a person. Being gendered isn’t something that I particularly like, but in terms of pronouns, I really couldn’t care less.’
But using ‘they/them’ pronouns is the ‘most truthful thing. That’s who I am the most.’Ramsey praised the costume supervisor on @TheLastOfUs for supporting their queer identity: ‘She would put different undergarments in my room: a regular bra, a binder, a sports bra. She’d say: “You just pick whatever is most comfortable for you today.” And in the end, it was just a binder. There was never anyone pressuring me’”
WORDS “I’m not 100 percent straight”: Bella Ramsey opens up about their sexuality (Gay Times, 15/6/23)
IMAGE Austin Hargrave / British GQ
MORE FROM RAMSEY
🌈“This is what bothers me more than pronouns: being called a ‘young woman’, ‘powerful young woman’, ‘young lady’, but I'm just not that. In Catherine Called Birdy I was in dresses. In Young Elizabeth I was in a corset. And I felt super powerful in that. Playing these more feminine characters is a chance to be something so opposite to myself, and it’s really fun”
🌈 “The fact that the LGBTQ+ community – my community – is supporting me & uplifting me & making me feel cool is such a privilege”
🌈 “If you don’t want to watch The Last Of Us because it has gay storylines, because it has a trans character, that’s on you, and you’re missing out”
Actor Gary Oldman, age 65 – father to Alfie, 34; Gulliver, 25, and Charlie, 23 – who was raised by a single mum after his violent father left when he was 7…
“You couldn’t pay me enough to go back to my teens. It was very traumatic.
I don’t have fond memories of any of it.
I didn’t like school, your genes are rearranging themselves, your skin’s all oily and you’re getting acne, you’re trying to date girls and you’re getting rejected – and oh my God, I couldn’t bear to go through all that again.
When my sons were in their teens, I used to look at them and think: ‘My God, I wouldn’t want to go back there!’
[With kids] it’s about teaching them the fairly simple stuff at a young age – don’t bang your knife and fork, say please, say thank you, and learn to wait your turn in life.
If you learn to wait your turn in [the game of] Snakes and Ladders, you’ll know when you’re older that you don’t just walk into a restaurant or a bank and go: ‘I’m here!’ It’s about learning to compromise and realising life isn’t all about you”
WORDS Gary Oldman’s traumatic teen years (Yahoo News, 25/6/23) IMAGE Little White Lies
MORE FROM OLDMAN
• “I woke up one day & was 43 years old and I was a single dad & had these two kids. I asked myself a very simple question: ‘Am I a dad who’s away working all the time? Or am I going to be a dad who’s around at home?’ I decided to be at home. It set a new course for the ship. I had not done it successfully with my first son, although our relationship was always good. But I had been given the gift of a second chance. I’d been awarded these children by the court – unheard of in California – and I felt I now had these boys for a reason.
At the end of the day I have two fabulous boys at home. And they turned out OK. I’m proud of them. I pick my kids up from school & I say maybe ‘It’s a boys night out’ and I’ll go to the taco store with them.
Raising kids is the hardest thing I’ve done. Harder than anything”
• [On drinking] “I was just worn out. It’s like a three-headed dragon – it attacks you spiritually, emotionally & physically”
• [In 2019] “I’m nearly 60 and at last I think I’ve come home”
Actor Joanna Lumley, age 77, on being naked in films…
“Oh, everybody stripped. Everybody had to, from Diana Rigg to Julie Christie – we all had to take at least our tops off in something. It was standard and it was: ‘You’re not a real actress unless you take your top off.’
Nobody liked it, like nobody likes intimate kissing or sex scenes. All this ghastly stuff we have to pretend to do. Everybody knows it’s pretending and it’s kind of soft porn, and now we’ve got coaches to teach us how to do it. Thank God I’m beyond it now.
[Intimacy coordinators] are probably a nice thing [but she’d prefer sex scenes to be cut]. I find them intolerable! I think they’re revolting. I don’t know why people write them & I don’t know why
we watch them. We wouldn’t have films of people sitting on the loo. There are some things which are private.
[About going topless] You do it with hatred. Not hatred, but sort of sullenly.[Did it feel exploitative?] Oh, it always is. But there are lots of other things you have to do in life which are horrible, and you never wanted to do them & you find yourself caught up with them.
Also remember, the world… We were four girls sharing a flat but we weren’t allowed to sign the lease – a man had to. Men were always paid more, always top dog, and you could be sacked from a film if you didn’t take your top off. So then a lot of people go: ‘Shall I just take my top off and remain in the film?’ It was a different world.
[Sexual harassment was everywhere] – at the tube, in the pub, in the shops. There was always whistling, bottom pinching, overfamiliar hand on shoulder. It happened all the time. You get used to it, you know how to do that [slap a hand away]. Or move away. You deal with it”
WORDS “We all had to take our tops off”: Joanna Lumley on acting, travel – and her hatred of sex scenes (Guardian, 21/6/23)
LUMLEY ON BEING A MODEL & #MeToo
“Women were a lot tougher then. If someone whistled at you in the street, it didn’t matter. If someone was groping, we slapped their hands. We were quite tough and looked after ourselves. The new fashion is to be a victim, a victim of something. It’s pathetic. We have gone mad”
Radio broadcaster & novelist Annie Mac, age 44, on puberty, periods & body image…
“Growing up as the youngest of a large family in Dublin, I would play football all day with the boys then climb trees.
When I was 9, my relationship with my body was: does it function & does it get me up this tree?
After that I went through years & years of losing my confidence.I resisted the idea of puberty & didn’t want to know anything about becoming a teenager.
My mum never wanted to pressure or embarrass me, but I remember her presenting me with a book about puberty. I knew what it meant, what it symbolised – and I couldn’t deal with it. I ran out of the room.
The hormones hit me eventually. My social group used to call periods The Confidence. I remember in assembly nudging my friend and saying: ‘I’ve got The Confidence!’ It was a big deal.
I was really lucky in that I never felt oversexualised during those teenage years. Nobody ever pushed me into looking feminine.
Naturally I eventually did what most girls do: I wore short skirts & kissed boys. I still went through a period of hating my body & being confused about it, however. I had gone from this unselfconscious kid to becoming obsessed with my size from age 15 onwards.
I grew up in the 90s – and that whole decade of heroin chic, Kate Moss and trousers hanging off your hip bones really got to me.It was impossible not to feel affected by the media & how skeletal bodies were deemed desirable.
My body wasn’t like that, nor was anyone’s I knew. But it didn’t stop me thinking that something was wrong with me.
The best thing about getting older is that I feel more in tune with my body now more than ever. I’m in awe of my body & its ability. The fact that I am able to climb a tree at 44 is huge”
WORDS Annie Mac looks back: “I was wild, feral and very comfortable in a tree” (Guardian, 13/5/23)
IMAGES Pål Hansen / Baazar
Adventurer & TV survivalist Bear Grylls, age 48 – and father to sons Jesse, 19, Marmaduke, 17, and Huckleberry, 14 – answers a child’s question about the power of social media at the Hay literary festival…
“‘Social media can be brilliant. It connects us, and you can learn stuff so fast & you can have fun & it’s brilliant entertainment.
The key, though, is not letting it control you. You control it. So you be in charge.
If I’m on it all day, that’s going to erode your heart a bit.
[To my sons] I say: “Set your rules. You’re in charge, because after you leave school nobody’s going to be policing it for you. You’ll have to police your own life.
That might be eating healthy, or going to the gym, or if somebody treats you badly in a relationship then having some boundaries and saying: ‘No – I’m not going to let you.’You’ve got to police yourself with social media as well.”’
Grylls says he is concerned that children are sometimes ‘lost’ in the world of their smartphones”
WORDS Bear Grylls urges parents to let their children “set own rules” on social media usage (Independent, 27/5/23) IMAGE Daily Mail
MORE FROM BEAR IN 2014
“If you try to negate risk in children’s lives, you do them a disservice, because you teach them not to be afraid of risk. There is risk everywhere, even when you go out on the street. So empower kids by teaching them how to do something dangerous, but do it safely.
My sons love setting up ‘search and rescue’ scenarios at home: they’ve got to rescue one another as a casualty and lower themselves down a slope or from a tree and tie a rope around each other & haul each other up.
I think it’s important I teach them those sorts of things – it’s part of being a dad. I don’t want to bring up Rambo, but it’s good to show them how to make a catapult, tie a knot and improvise a kite.
There’s a duty of care which comes from experience. You’re right to say: ‘Don’t jump off there without knowing if there are rocks underneath’ or ‘Don’t play with fire without me.’ Because you love & care for your kids, and you don’t want pain or hurt to come to them – but you’ve got to let kids have the odd scrape and adventure”
🌈 Writer of LGBT+ hit Heartstopper Alice Oseman, age 28, on asexuality & aromanticism…
“‘We live in a society where sex & romance are prized above so many other aspects of being human. People are conditioned from birth to grow up, find a partner, get married, have children – and when you are ace and aro [asexual and aromantic], you don’t necessarily fit into that sort of structure of life.
Realising that I couldn’t fulfil those expectations was really difficult because I was wanting something that I actually didn’t want, and that’s a really tricky thing to make peace with.
It’s a really difficult thing to overcome mentally. To accept that your path in life is going to be different & the way you experience life will be too.
And there’s not a lot of guidance due to the lack of representation in the media. No very famous people who are openly ace & aro. No education about it in schools. You’re lucky to even learn what these terms are. It’s sad to think about how we’re still – how we just want a basic understanding of what these identities are.’
Alice came across the term asexuality online at around age 18 but it took some time for her to connect the term with her own experiences. ‘There was no one big moment where I was like: “Oh, that’s me.” But at uni I slowly felt more & more like I identified with those labels.
I went through a phase where I would try and force myself to like guys. A lot of people can relate to that. And then trying to force yourself to do those things and feeling like something is wrong and you don’t know what it is – that’s a really horrible feeling.
I often think about how many people out there are ace and aro, but they just have no idea and think that there is something wrong with them’”
WORDS Heartstopper’s Alice Oseman on asexuality, young fame and surviving social media (Hello, 6/6/23) IMAGE Attitude
🌈 Comedian/actor, political candidate & marathon runner Suzy Eddie Izzard, age 61…
“Trans people exist & have done so since the dawn of time. I knew when I was 5. I’ve been honest. In this world of Boris Johnson & Donald Trump, that’s got to be better than all the hatred & lying of the right wing. The new fascism tries to put a wedge between us.
I’m more able to access the female or feminine side of myself, more relaxed in my skin, than when I came out at 23. I grew up with a block around it.
After Mum died [when Izzard was 6], it was just me, my brother & my dad, so even to throw on a dress was impossible.
I’d been caught stealing make-up when I was 15. Suddenly I’m 16 & being cast as a gangster’s moll in a revue. I got psychosomatically ill, and they had someone else do it. From the room I was in I could hear his performance. By the time it was over, I was well again. I thought: ‘This is what I really want – but won’t I just sound like a boy?’
[About acting] At 13, I felt I didn’t have the skills to say ‘I love you’ so the audience would believe it. I could do the silliness: ‘I love you like trees & helicopters & bits of water…’ But I didn’t know how to do the rest, so I dumped the idea of being an actor.When I came out I realised I didn’t look terribly… well, I kind of look like a trans person, but I think the world is more relaxed about that now & I am too. We’ve gone through a unicorn phase but we’ve just got to be people.
When we hit boring, that’s when we’ve made it: ‘You’re lesbian or gay or bi or trans, yes, but what do you DO?’ ‘Oh, I’m a librarian.’ ‘Are you a good librarian or a bad librarian?’ ‘I’m a good librarian. I can find you all the books.’ Or an astronaut. ‘Are you a good astronaut or a bad astronaut?’ ‘Ah, a bad one, I’m afraid. I landed on the wrong planet…’”
WORDS “I’m going for it like crazy”: Eddie Izzard on her one-woman, 19-role Great Expectations (Guardian, 27/4/23) IMAGE Amanda Searle
MORE FROM IZZARD
🌈 “I’m Eddie. There’s another name I’m going to add in – Suzy – which I wanted to be since I was 10. I’m going to be Suzy Eddie Izzard”
Singer & actor Halle Bailey, age 23, says about The Little Mermaid…
“[As a kid] if I would have had a black mermaid, that would have been insane – that would have changed my whole perspective, my whole life, my confidence, my self-worth.
You’re able to see a person who looks like you when you’re young? Some people are just like: “Oh, it’s whatever”, because they’ve had it their whole life. It’s nothing to them. But it’s so important.’
Who did she look up to as a child? ‘A lot of musicians, amazing black women who were singers, like Jill Scott, Erykah Badu, Janelle Monáe, Alicia Keys, Beyoncé…
I remember growing up & feeling like I had a lane I could pursue because of these women.
They made me feel confident in the skin I was in.’
In playing Ariel, and soon Nettie in The Color Purple, Bailey says: ‘I’m trying to adopt certain characteristics about these women that I play, that teach me a lot about who I want to be.’
Comedian Trevor Noah joked that it’s ‘a beautiful story about a young woman changing her core identity to please a man’.
When news of Halle’s casting broke, the racially charged hashtag NotMyAriel trended on Twitter. Some trailers, posters and clips are still ‘downvoted’.
Halle reflects: ‘Being a black woman, you have a certain awareness that comes with life in general. So I wasn’t very surprised or shocked. I think it’s just the way you respond & move, and know that inside you’re worthy’”
WORDS The Little Mermaid’s Halle Bailey: “As a child, seeing a black Ariel would have changed my life” (Guardian, 20/5/23) IMAGE Greg Swales/Variety
MORE FROM HALLE
“What truly strikes my heart and makes me just cry are seeing the reactions of the babies & the children and the beautiful Black, brown boys & girls who see themselves in this version of Ariel. These reaction videos just make me feel like I’ve done a good job. When they’re rooting for me, I’m like: I don’t need anyone else to root for me”
WORDS Halle Bailey had to push herself “past what I thought I could ever do” in Little Mermaid (USA Today, 24/5/23)
EXTRA CREDIT! Little Mermaid returns as a live action heroine – and young viewers says it’s a smash (Daily Mirror, 24/5/23)
On the 23/5/23 episode of the Savage Lovecast podcast, brilliant sex-advice columnist Dan Savage says…
“I’m still plagued by listening to the pain in Billie Eilish’s voice when she talked about the porn she was exposed to at 10, 11, 12 years old that set her expectations around what sex or intimacy would be.
And it resulted in her doing things, consenting, seeming to consent to things – talk about manufactured consent! – not because they were things she wanted to do but because she thought that’s what sex was – because her vision of sex had been so tainted and warped by the porn she was exposed to at 11.
Porn is this open spigot that the ocean is pouring through – and it’s dam breaking, and some young people are being swept away and harmed.
I know Billie Eilish is a data set of one. It’s not a huge sample size.
But I’ve talked to a lot of people who didn’t have a space & time in their lives for their authentic sexual interests and desires to surface”
Which for us echoes the charity Brook’s observation on the impact of porn on young people: “Viewing pornography can shape sexual desires and practices”
WHAT BILLIE EILISH SAID IN DECEMBER 2021
“As a woman I think porn is a disgrace, and I used to watch a lot of porn.I started watching porn when I was like 11 and I didn’t understand why it was a bad thing. I thought that was how you learned to have sex.
I was an advocate and thought I was one of the guys and would talk about it and thought I was cool for not having a problem with it.
I think it really destroyed my brain, and I feel incredibly devastated that I was exposed to so much porn.It got to the point where I couldn’t watch anything else.
Unless it was violent I didn’t think it was attractive.I was a virgin – I had never done anything – so it led to problems where the first few times I had sex I was not saying no to things that were not good, and it’s because I thought that that was what I was supposed to be attracted to.
I’m so angry that porn is so loved – and I’m so angry at myself for thinking that it was OK, and it’s how so many people think they’re supposed to learn”
🌈 Mara Wilson, age 35 – child star of 90s films including Matilda – says…
“‘On film sets some sketchy, questionable things happened – adults told dirty jokes or sexually harassed people in front of me – but I never felt unsafe.’
‘But I was still sexualised’ by the world at large.
Men tried to contact her. ‘People sent me inappropriate letters. I made the mistake of Googling myself when I was 12 and saw things I couldn’t unsee.’ Her photo was on porn sites, her head superimposed onto girls’ bodies.
‘People don’t realise how talking to the press as a child weighs on you,’ she says.
When she was 7, journalists asked if she knew what French kissing was or which actor she found ‘sexiest’.
At 12, she was asked by a director to wear a sports bra, ostensibly to flatten her developing breasts.
She says: ‘I had this Hollywood idea that if you’re not cute any more, or beautiful, then you are worthless. I directly tied that to the demise of my career. For a long time I had this dysmorphia about the way I looked & I obsessed about it too much.’
At a teen disco on a cruise with her family Wilson, then about 16, was made to feel she had to dance with a boy because he was a fan (he didn’t speak, just grinded on her). She worried that others would think: ‘Matilda’s a slut!’
‘People-pleasing was something a lot of people, particularly women, told me they dealt with,’ she says. ‘I don’t think you can be a child star without there being some kind of lasting damage. You end up acting out. You can’t be yourself in public. There were times I was having a bad day because I was an emotional teenager or because my mother had just died.
Fans were expecting me to be Matilda, who is smart, kind & powerful. Then they met me, this nerdy, awkward teenager.
[I had an] earnestness & eagerness to please.
Later I started to realise stuff about my sexuality [she came out as bisexual in 2016].’
In her teens, Wilson rebelled and became angry and ‘a bitch’. She says: ‘I definitely had a self-destructive streak. There was a lot of hating myself’”
WORDS “I’d tell myself: you’re a loser, a failure, ugly…” Matilda’s Mara Wilson on the price of fame (Guardian, 15/5/23)
Actor Gwyneth Paltrow, age 50, on being shocked by what her kids Apple, 18, and Moses, 17, learned in sex ed…
“While Gwyneth Paltrow has always unashamedly laid bare details of her sex life and love of vibrators, she was ‘not prepared’ for the extent to which her kids learned about sex at school.
The Goop founder – who infamously created a sellout candle called This Smells Like My Vagina – opened up on the Call Her Daddy podcast about how thoroughly her children’s school taught them about sex.
She recalled that when they all moved to LA from London – along with their dad, her ex-husband Chris Martin of Coldplay fame – her kids went to a ‘fantastic elementary school’ which taught kids about sex when they were around age 11 or 12.
‘But I really was not prepared with the information they came home with,’ she said.
‘I will never forget Apple and her best friend Emily sitting at our kitchen banquette in shock, like colour drained from their face.
They taught them everything. Everything. Anything you’re thinking – they taught the 11-, 12-year-olds. Told them everything, I swear.’
Paltrow revealed that her children even asked her: ‘Do people do this?’
In the UK, all secondary school pupils are taught about sex, including key topics such as consent, sexual exploitation & sexual health”
WORDS Gwyneth Paltrow Was “Not Prepared” For What Her Kids Learned About Sex At School (HuffPostUK, 4/5/23) IMAGE @gwynethpaltrow
MORE FROM GWYNETH
• On teens & dating: “I think you have to tread lightly and let them come to you”
• “In a lot of ways, I didn’t really fully start to come into myself until I was 40 years old…”
Actor Rachel McAdams, age 44, who plays the mum in Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret:
“Hopefully with conversation & stories like this we’re moving into a more kind, compassionate time.
Movies, storytelling, is a safe buffer to inspire difficult conversations. It could be a great way in for parents to talk about something uncomfortable.
When you [talk about sex] kids want to, like, die…”
Abby Ryder Fortson, age 15, who plays Margaret: “I can vouch for that. It’s so uncomfortable.”
McAdams: “But so necessary. And to be able to go to your parent with questions & know you won’t be judged & will be embraced for whoever you are – that’s so beautiful. That served me well”
WORDS Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret: Judy Blume’s banned book hits the big screen (Sky, 13/5/23)
• “In a world where we’re obsessed with the bloody scenes in Game Of Thrones, how is a bit of period blood unacceptable?” – Wuka founder Ruby Raut
“While kids aged 11 & 12 gladly say dick or tits, they often can’t bring themselves to say breasts or vagina. There’s still intrinsic embarrassment. But there is a real thirst to understand periods. Boys are interested in what’s going on in the body: ‘How does that work? How does it feel? How do you know when you’re going to have a period?’
There is an assumption that kids today know everything, but actually there’s a lot of confusion. I hear questions like: ‘Do bigger boobs produce more milk?’ ‘If you have sex for longer, are you more likely to get pregnant?’” – parenting coach Katie Pratley
• “In 2023, Margaret likely would have access to a smartphone & consider signing up for a period-tracking app. Trying on bras, she might take selfies to share with friends to ask which bra she should get, or just to savour the moment that marks becoming an adult. She might send one to someone she likes – because they asked for it, or she just wants to”
WORDS Are You There, God? My Nude Photos Are All Over the Internet (Ms magazine, 12/5/23)
The rapper Lizzo, age 32, an ambassador for the Dove Self-Esteem Project for young people, says…
“‘There’s a completely unrealistic standard for your face & body. People are struggling with their self-image & self-confidence.
It’s happening to young people everywhere, so let’s talk about it.’
Lizzo’s journey began in a dark, ‘scary’ place: ‘When I was a teen, I remember waking up and wanting to be someone else, change my body, my hair texture, the colour of my skin.
It scares me that now there are tools that cash in on those insecurities. They feed the monster.
I thought: “If I’m going to continue living in this body, I have to find a way to like myself.”Everything changed when [on social media] I started following people who looked like me. I used to follow people who were society’s beauty standard. Looking at them I felt I needed to change my appearance.
But not only is this body fat & this body positive, but this body’s normal’”
WORDS Lizzo Is Dove’s New Brand Ambassador: “I Have Nothing To Hide. Take Me as I Am” (Fashion, 21/4/23) IMAGE Elle
MORE FROM LIZZO
• “I control social media. Social media does not control me”
• “When social media came in, I was like: ‘Are people really that perfect?’ My friend said: ‘Everybody modifies. These photos are altered.’
A child is going to look on the internet & believe everything they see. That’s why the selfie talk is so important.
I hope I can post the kinds of materials I post, showing my body and my rolls or whatever. And people are just like: ‘OK. Beautiful picture. Next.’ Instead of: ‘Oh my gosh, a full-figured body. How strikingly political!’ It don’t gotta be all of that! That is where I’m going with body-normative-speak.
I had to learn to find people who look like me, women who have bodies like mine, Black girls, girls who have hair like mine and smiles like mine. I believe that has greatly improved my relationship with social media.
A young person can learn that before it gets out of control – and that will make so much of a difference”
• What’s your No 1 rule with beauty standards? “I am the beauty standard”
🌈 Actor Marcia Gay Harden, age 63 – mum to Eulala, 24, and Julitta and Hudson, both 19 – explained why she took part in a Drag Isn’t Dangerous telethon fundraising to fight American anti-LGBT+ legislation, saying…
“What drives me is because it’s right and what’s happening right now is wrong.
This is so fear-based and it’s spreading that kind of fear and hatred among other people. I believe this country will fight that.
What drives me is – my children are all queer.
My eldest child is non-binary. My son is gay. My youngest is fluid.
And you know, they are my kids and they teach me every day”
MORE FROM MARCIA
🌈 “My son is gay. I just want to make sure he gets to have a family when he wants one”
🌈 “The only thing dangerous about drag is how hot these Queens are!
[Supporting] LGTBQ+ basically means [supporting] all of us! Our nation, our neighbours, our children, artists, our singers, our dancers, our better leaders, CEOs, writers, spiritual leaders, basically our humanity.
Gay is here to stay. Drag is here to stay”
🌈 WORDS Marcia Gay Harden Reveals “All My Children Are Queer” During Drag Isn’t Dangerous Telethon (People, 8/5/23) IMAGE Wonderwall
Actor Kate Winslet, age 47, in accepting the Leading Actress Bafta award for the Channel 4 drama I Am Ruth – in which she stars with her daughter Mia Threapleton, age 22 – said…
“I Am Ruth was made for parents & their children, for families who feel they are held hostage by the perils of the online world, for parents who wish they could still communicate with their teenagers but who no longer can.
And for young people who have become addicted to social media and its darker sides: this does not need to be your life.
To any young person who feels they are trapped in an unhealthy world: please ask for help. There is no shame in admitting that you need support. It will be there – just ask for it.
To people in power & people who can make change: please criminalise harmful content.
We don’t want to lie awake terrified by our children’s mental health.
Please eradicate harmful content – we don’t want it. We want our children back.”
She added about the award: “If I could cut this in half, I would give the other half to my daughter Mia Threapleton. We did this together, kiddo.
There were days when it was agony for her to dig as deeply as she did into very frightening emotional territory and it took my breath away.”
Crying, Mia blew kisses to her mum onstage before calling out: “I love you.”
Kate also thanked director Dominic Savage for his “delicate handling of real painful stories that really do happen to women. It is not only powerful but brave & important. We need this, we want to be heard. Thank you for creating this space for us to tell our stories”
WORDS Kate Winslet uses Bafta speech to call for action on “harmful” social media (Evening Standard, 15/5/23) IMAGE Joe Maher/Getty Images
Dr Alex George, age 32 – Love Island contestant in 2018, appointed UK Youth Mental Health Ambassador in 2021 & author of A Better Day: Your Positive Mental Health Handbook – said last month of his body-positivity Channel 4 show Naked Education…
“When I lost my brother to mental illness I promised myself I would stop at nothing to prevent other families living with empty seats at their dinner table. I knew it would be hard. I knew it would mean doing things differently.
I am annoyed at myself because we created something incredible with Naked Education, and I let the opinions of a minority of people (who almost certainly hadn’t watched the show) distract from what a life-changing program this is.
What is wrong is having young people hurt themselves because of how they look, develop eating disorders & live a life of suffering.
What is wrong is being a doctor in A&E and healing the wounds of a young girl who has harmed themselves again. Tears rolling behind my mask as I thought about the injustice of it all. Why are we doing this to our children? Those images never leave my mind.
To make a real change in the world you have to rock the boat. If that means upsetting some people so we don’t continue on this dreadful trajectory of mental illness, so be it.I am proud of Naked Education. Thank you to all our brave & inspiring contributors. I think you should watch this series”
WORDS @dralexgeorge IMAGE Love Island
WHAT OTHERS SAID ON INSTAGRAM
• This programme is powerful, amazing & necessary. Our young people need to know that the body standards fed to them as “normal” are false. We want them to feel comfortable & proud to be who they are. The friction is a sign of progress
• My husband and I in our mid-30s think it’s important for teenagers & for [parents] trying to bring up young children to feel good in themselves
• Naked Education should 100% be shown to/discussed with teens either at home or in school. Anyone who has complained or commented negatively needs to get a grip & look at their own views on nudity & body image
• Honestly think it should be shown in schools to show children what real bodies are & that we are all beautiful
“Singer Ariana Grande, age 29, asked fans to be ‘less comfortable’ about remarking on her and other people’s bodies after social-media scrutiny of her recent apparent weight loss.
In a 3-minute TikTok video, she said she had a body that is ‘paid such close attention to’ and that people were ‘comparing my current body to the unhealthiest version of my body. I was on a lot of antidepressants & drinking on them & eating poorly and at the lowest point of my life when I looked the way you consider my healthy, but that in fact wasn’t my healthy.
I know I shouldn’t have to explain that, but I do feel like maybe having an openness and some sort of vulnerability here will [mean] something good might come from it. Healthy can look different.
You never know what someone is going through. Even if you are coming from a loving and caring place, that person probably is working on it or has a support system that they are working on it with.
You never know. So be gentle with each other and with yourselves.’
Stressing that ‘there are many different kinds of beautiful’, she suggested fans should avoid making even ‘well-intentioned’ remarks about how ‘healthy, unhealthy, big, small, this, that, sexy, non-sexy’ people may look.
‘There are ways to compliment someone or to ignore something that you see that you don’t like, that I think we should help each other work towards,’ she said. ‘We should aim toward being safer, and keeping each other safer’”
WORDS Ariana Grande calls for fans to stop body shaming (BBC, 12/4/23) IMAGE Wegow
MORE FROM ARIANA TO HER FANS
“You are beautiful no matter what weight, no matter how you like to do your make-up these days, no matter what cosmetic procedures you’ve had or not, or anything.
I just think you’re beautiful and wanted to share some feelings”