Justin Bieber

Beliebers Anonymous

There’s not much 25-year-old women aren’t allowed to do: we can drive, we can drink, we can gamble. In fact, the list of things we can’t do is really only limited to breaking the law. That, and admitting you like Justin Bieber.

I made this mistake about a week ago. I had just discovered a couple of songs from Bieber’s Music Mondays series (specifically Hold Tight and All That Matters – if you haven’t already heard them I recommend you hit up Spotify immediately, if not sooner) and was listening to them on pretty heavy rotation (honestly? About 45 minutes out of every hour on a very long road trip were quite possibly spent listening to J Beebz) (what? You don’t call him that?).

I wasn’t too worried about my new-found Belieber status. His new music is good. And, let’s be honest, the boy has grown upppp (judge me if you must, it’s true). I figured the facts alone would speak for themselves.

I was wrong. I admitted my obsession to my friend Rachel. I figured she’d understand – after all, she’s 27 and obsessed with Taylor Swift. Our conversation went like this: “I kinda like Bieber now,” I said (“kinda like” may have been an understatement, but I thought I’d ease her in). “I even think he’s kinda hot.”

Rachel: “I feel like I don’t know you anymore.”

Me: “I can’t help it! He’s tapping into my lifelong love for slow jamz!”

Rachel: “…”

Though I knew she didn’t approve, I  thought she’d at least keep my secret to herself. On that count, too, I was wrong. Word to the wise? If you’re older than 12, don’t admit you like the Beebs (but do continue playing Heartbreaker on repeat. Don’t worry – I won’t tell).

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Carrie enjoys an epic double take in Sex and the City

In search of the double take

I have a confession: sometimes, while driving long distances – or even during a particularly slow day at work – I daydream about seeing the boys (and some of the girls) I spent my high school and early university years with and imagine how they would react when they saw me.

Perhaps I should explain. About a year ago, I lost some weight. Actually, I lost a lot of weight – 25 kilograms, to be precise (about 55 pounds for y’all in the States). Though my weight fluctuated a fair bit during high school, I was never overweight though I was convinced I was enormous – a fact not helped by a seemingly school-wide obsession with my butt… One boy I “dated” (read: text messaged a fair bit and occasionally walked loops around the school grounds with) would actually sing Chingy’s Right Thurr whenever I walked by (remember Chingy? Those were the days).

But then I got to university and, like so many of my forebears, started to put on weight (I blame the Indian takeaway at the cafeteria which sold butter chicken and rice for $5. Seriously. I’ve never again come across such a bargain-priced curry. Not even when I was in India. But I digress). Unfortunately, my weight-gain coincided with a falling out of sorts with many of my school friends, most of them of the male variety and one or two of them of the crush/the-one-that-got-away variety. I saw them a couple of times in the intervening years and, each time, I felt acutely aware of the weight I’d gained in the interim (and, though I know they wouldn’t have cared, particularly, I don’t kid myself that they didn’t notice).

Early last year, I decided I’d had enough. For the record, my decision didn’t have anything to do with boys: I wanted to feel good about myself again (and, more importantly, return to spending ridiculous amounts of money on clothes). I joined Weight Watchers and, as much as I hate to sound like an advert, the weight really did fall off. I was down to my goal weight in no time, I hit my secret, heretofore in-my-dreams-only goal weight a couple of months later and then to I-didn’t-even-realise-I-could-get-to-this-weight a few months after that (don’t worry, I’m still well within my healthy weight range). Needless to say, I was pretty stoked.

But – even though I know I shouldn’t care – there’s still a part of me that wants to see all those people who once secretly judged me for putting on weight and see what they think now. Preferably, it would be on a day when I was feeling pretty good, my hair was straight and my skinny jeans were on (although, with my record, my run-in would inevitably take place as I stopped at the supermarket on my way back from Body Beautiful, sweaty and in my bad tights, not my super-flattering Adidas tights that I would happily wear everywhere). Sometimes, I even imagine shouting “BOO YA!” in their stunned faces, though I’m not sure where that came from as I’ve never said “boo ya” to anyone, ever. And, yeah, I’m aware that they probably wouldn’t care very much at all, but to be honest with you, I reckon even the smallest of double takes would feel pretty damn good.

Unfortunately, I don’t seem to have my sister’s knack for running into every person she’s ever met every time she goes to the mall so for now I’m going to have to enjoy the occasional double takes I get from strangers – even if they do tend to be from women who double back to ask me where I bought my shoes (though that feels pretty damn good, too).

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The Intouchables

A cinematic epiphany

About six months ago, I made a life-changing decision: I stopped watching distressing films.

It was a decision that had been a long time coming. I spent my university years working part-time in a boutique cinema where I saw every single film on offer – twice, if not three or four times. Most of these were fun or thought-provoking (or both) but every now and then I would watch a film that so disturbed me I was unable to sleep for days. These films, however, tended to be few and far between. Then, about a year ago, I got involved with a guy – let’s call him Bob – who like me, considered himself a bit of a film buff but, unlike me, seemed only interested in movies that were a) immensely disturbing b) contained gratuitous violence c) really weird sex or d) all of the above (though Bob made an exception for Seth Rogen stoner comedies). The first film we ever saw together was Steve McQueen’s Shame which should tell you a thing or two about our doomed dalliance.

When we finally parted ways earlier this year, I relished watching films that made me feel good – or at least, didn’t make me feel terrifically bad – without being made to feel as if there was something wrong with me for enjoying them. But it wasn’t until I went to see Rust and Bone with a couple of my friends that I realised just how significantly some of the films I had been watching had affected my mental state (though, let’s be honest, Bob probably didn’t help matters much either). I’d seriously debated watching Rust and Bone: for a start, it was about a whale trainer and killer whales freak me out (c’mon people, don’t judge me, they’re called killer whales. They eat seals. And drown baby blue whales for sport. That’s textbook scary). But, just as you’re probably thinking right now, my friends (ha!) said I was being ridiculous and so to Rust and Bone I went. What a mistake.

Now, I’m not saying Rust and Bone isn’t a good film. It is. The acting is flawless (Marion Cottilard is one impressive lady). But the story is unrelenting: evil whale bites off woman’s legs. Woman becomes involved with no hoper single father. No hoper treats her like shit. No hoper treats son like shit. No hoper’s son falls into a frozen lake (a fear of mine since reading Little Women when I was 12). I swear, I had nightmares for days.

It was the film that pushed me over the edge. I decided spending hours and hours on end mentally rehashing films that so upset me simply wasn’t worth it: I know the world can be a horrible place. I watch the news and I read the papers (heck, I’ve even worked in a newsroom). It isn’t that I’m cutting myself off from all that is wrong with the world, rather that I want to spend some time celebrating all that is right with it. So, for now at least, I’m leaving the truly disturbing stuff to others while I pass my hours in the cinema (or in front of the television) watching films The Intouchables (pictured). And you know what? I’ve never felt better.

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All my single ladies

I need some new friends.

Don’t get me wrong – I don’t want to replace any of my current friends. Rather, I think it’s high time I added a few more to my circle. Specifically, a few single friends. For at the moment I have… well, none. And it’s getting a bit lonely over here.

I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised – it’s only natural that my friends would begin to gradually pair off as we got older. It’s just I thought “gradual” would be the operative word. I didn’t expect to find myself in the apparently unusual situation where, at 25, every one of my friends – not to mention my two younger sisters – is in a serious relationship.

My last single compatriot bit the dust a month ago when – to everyone’s continued disbelief – she fell in love with her tindr hook up (I know). Since then, I have become acutely aware of my own single status – something which only bothered me occasionally before. I’ve begun to dread social events where I am, inevitably, the lone lone wolf and conversations turn – sometimes with such lightening-quick speed I find myself doing a double take – to marriage and mortgages and babies. It’s hard not to feel a tad despondent when the couple you’re chatting to turns into themselves and you suddenly find yourself an awkward third wheel. Or when your coupled-off friends decide to re-live their single days and hit the town with you… Only to call it a night after their first cocktail just when you’re ready to hit the dance floor.

Last weekend, sitting in Subway at 1am with my friend and her partner, munching on squidgy chocolate chip cookies and contemplating the taxi ride home when I still had a good two hours dancing left in me, it occurred to me that having friends at similar life-stages to you is just as important as an adult as it was in high school. Sure, my coupled-up friends and I still have plenty of things in common. But, when they talk about mortgages or buying a station wagon for as yet non-existent children while I’m planning my next trip overseas, there’s only so much I can contribute to a conversation.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with my friends wanting to settle down – just as I don’t think there’s anything wrong with wanting to have a few more adventures myself (or perhaps, never settle down at all). But, on occasions when I begin to doubt the validity of my own decisions, I think having one or two friends who have chosen similar paths to myself is important – if only as a reminder that there’s more than one way to be a grown up and it doesn’t always mean getting married (not to mention giving me a partner in crime on the dance floor at 3am).

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Delaying tactics

Growing up means being able to do whatever you want – within reason. But it also means doing a lot of stuff you really, really don’t want to do. Stuff like paying for petrol, booking that appointment to the dentist (which, let’s be real, you’ll probably put off for a year and only give in when that pain in your wisdom tooth becomes so bad even a glass of wine won’t numb it) and cleaning the bathroom. But there’s nothing – not even scrubbing the toilet bowl after your hungover flatmate’s spent half the night with her head half inside it - that I hate more than doing my groceries.

I think I would probably enjoy the weekly shop more if I was buying more exciting ingredients: fancy pasta, thick fillets of salmon, a bottle of sparkling wine or two (yeap, New Zealand sells wine in its supermarkets. It’s awesome). But when your shopping list is limited to a few tins of tuna, a bag of frozen vegetables and ten-pack of two-minute noodles, you can’t help thinking that’s thirty minutes of your life you’re never getting back (and – disclaimer – I am acutely aware that this is one of the most first world of first world problems).

But that’s not even the worst of it. The worst part is you cannot put it off. You can (though you probably shouldn’t) put off  going to see the doctor, washing your car, even paying your bills – well, for a little while, at least. If you don’t do your groceries, however, you will have nothing to eat. Eventually you will use up that loaf of bread you’ve got stored in the freezer, that lonesome egg that’s been at the back of your fridge for way too long and even that questionable orange in your fruit bowl (or was it a grapefruit?).

I discovered this a couple of weeks ago. I’d been fairly diligent about doing my groceries on a weekly basis since moving out a year ago but this time, I just couldn’t face it. I put it off for what seemed like weeks but was probably more like 10 days. In grocery terms, however, 10 days might as well be years because boy, was that a mistake. Not only was I eating orange-slash-grapefruits, seriously old eggs and some cheese that tasted distinctly off (I figured since cheese is already technically off, it wouldn’t matter too much. I was wrong) but by the time I finally dragged myself to the supermarket one gloomy evening I’d used up so much food I’d lost track of what I still had at home. I’d thought I still had some yoghurt left – I was wrong. Ditto for frozen peas, canned beans and tea bags. In the ultimate supermarket-karmic retribution, I had to go back every night for a week.

Lesson learned.

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Playing dress ups

I spend an exorbitant amount of time worrying about my sense of style – or, more accurately, my lack there of. It’s not that you’ll find me in stonewashed jeans and a matching jacket – although I am particularly partial to my Adidas tights at the weekends (which I must admit are possibly the most flattering and simultaneously comfortable pants I have ever owned. In fact, if it were allowed, I would probably wear them on a much more regular basis – to work, to the mall, to parties – rather than just, you know, to Pilates or while doing the groceries). Rather, I worry that my style is not cohesive – one day I’m unashamedly girly in pretty dresses and patent pumps and the next I’m in stovepipe jeans, ankle boots and a severe black top. Of course, I realise that what I wear doesn’t actually matter, that on the scale of things it’s a pretty (read: extremely) pathetic thing to worry about but, none the less, worry me it does.

I blame the fashion blogs I so love to read for my ever-increasing anxiety around getting dressed in the morning. It used to be we had only celebrities and fashion models to compare our wardrobes to and we could console ourselves in the knowledge that they had thousands of dollars to spend upon said wardrobes as well as access to any number of stylists, not to mention the fashion designers who clamoured to dress them. Now, even seemingly normal people are dressing like Kate Moss on a regular basis and posting pictures  of every impeccably curated outfit online. How can we ever measure up?

I’m not sure it’s possible – and believe me, I’ve tried. I’ve read dozens – no, hundreds - of articles about how to develop a capsule wardrobe, the ten wardrobe essentials I shouldn’t be living without, how to discover my personal style and, more recently, how to develop a week-day uniform a la Carine Roitfeld, Alexa Chung  and Ms Moss herself. It was time not completely wasted – my quest for a uniform did help me rediscover my love for the bright colours and bold patterns I played around with when I was eighteen – but more often than not, the articles reaffirmed my worries.

And then, while rewatching Sex and the City recently, I realised how silly I was being (a bit late to the mark perhaps, but so be it). Though fictional, Carrie Bradshaw remains my ultimate fashion icon. Not because her wardrobe was filled with designer labels (and it wasn’t: at least, not at the beginning of the series) but because it was fun. Carrie never had a uniform – one day she’d be impossibly chic in vintage Halston, the next she’d be tootling down Fifth Avenue in a pink prom dress circa 1985, a bandana around her forehead. For Carrie, fashion was about experimentation and having fun – a continuation of the dress ups we played as kids.

It dawned on me that’s exactly how it should be. Twenty-somethings have enough to worry about (don’t snigger, we do: whether or not our jobs will still exist in a year’s time, whether we’ll ever be able to afford a house… ) without doubting our every sartorial choice. So the next time you find yourself contemplating whether you should wear that over the top flamenco skirt you picked up on a whim from your local op-shop out to drinks with the girls, just do it. Because you’d be crazy not to.

 

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The beauty trap

A month ago I had my hair dyed. This is a big deal: excluding a brief period in high school when I applied something akin to lemon juice to my hair for ten days straight and then waited for the Northern Queensland sun to do its work, I have never changed my hair colour.  As such, it was an event which was met with much trepidation and borderline-obsessive research – I discussed the change with friends and family (I’m fairly sure they were sick of me after a few days on this topic), created a secret board on Pinterest to which I surreptitiously saved images of Eva Mendes’ and Jessica Alba’s caramel-coloured locks while I was at work and organised a consultation with my hairdresser.

Three hours after the dye had been washed out I realised I’d made a huge mistake. Not because I looked terrible – but because I loved it. My previously dull hair was shiny! It had depth! Highlights! It was shiny! The dark circles under my eyes had miraculously disappeared! My skin looked better! And did I mention it was shiny?

Nope, the colour wasn’t the problem. It was the two-hundred dollars I would be shelling out on an eight-weekly basis for the rest of my life. And there was no way I could go back. I was trapped.

It’s not the first time I’ve found myself caught in a beauty trap. Before starting a new job recently, I thought my make-up routine needed an overhaul. I duly booked myself into Bobbi Brown and received my new look (and helpful instruction booklet). Mere months later – after years of putting on nothing more than a bit of mascara and a swipe of lip gloss – I had become someone who couldn’t leave the house without at least a little bit of concealer, perhaps a dab of foundation, a quick brush of blusher… Unfortunately, that meant my make-up bag needed topping up much more regularly than it ever had in the past.

You’d think I’d learned by lesson (or that I had very deep pockets) but I couldn’t be stopped. Though I’d been coping quite well with my own tweezers since high school, for some reason or other I suddenly decided it was high time I had my eyebrows professionally shaped. Now I’m going once a month – not to mention shelling out for all manner waxes, shadows and pencils (those brow bar girls have a way of tapping into my deepest, eyebrow-related insecurities).

In fact, the only beauty treatment I’ve tried, liked, but managed to abandon has been the Brazilian wax. Mainly because – let’s face it – the pain isn’t worth it outside of summer.

But this morning, with my forehead still smarting from an overzealous waxer at yesterday’s brow shaping and my next hair appointment in two weeks, I’ve started to wonder whether all these beauty treatments are actually making me feel better about myself… or worse?

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