Bare essentials

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The very lovely people at essentials magazine have asked me to write about the most important woman in my life. They’re looking for real people to grace their magazine, which I think is a great idea.  I think we’re all pretty fed up with looking at stick-thin, air-brushed women, who are meant to inspire us, but whose lives, experiences and shapes are very far removed from our own.  Quite a lot of bloggers touch on this phenomenon.  The lovely Metropolitan Mum runs her ‘malnourished Mondays,’  featuring some of the cruel tricks the fashion industry plays on women. Notes from Lapland wrote this week about how horrified she was by women’s magazines, having been out of the UK for a while. And English Mum put her money where her mouth is with Figleaves, when she challenged their use of professional models in a range for women with ‘figure problems’ and ended up in a bikini. 

I worry about this particularly, as my impressionable daughters absolutely hoover up every word in mags like Closer and Now.  I love these mags myself every now and then, but I can see the ridiculous contradictions between the endless articles on celebrities who are too thin followed by pages on celebrities who are too fat, interspersed with yards of crash diets, then creamy full-fat recipes.  The subliminal message is – ‘woman, whatever you are doing, you are it wrong, life is a balancing act which you cannot pull off and what’s more it’s all your own fault.’  That’s not what I want my girls to pick up.  So I’m happy to get behind essentials on this.

The woman who has been a great inspiration to me is someone I now see rarely, as we live in different countries. We met in Brussels, when our children were small. I’m quiet, and happy to observe. My lovely friend L is a centre-stage, 24/7, traffic-stopping peroxide gal. When she describes her style, she says simply, ‘bright and tight’ – and that’s an understatement.


(This is not a picture of me and L by the way, but some ladies sent over to grace my post by the
ever-resourceful essentials)

The lovely L erupted into our lives and showed me how to throw the grey clouds away and wear the silver lining as a belt around an incredibly skimpy frock. When we shopped together in Belgian supermarkets, she would liberate the live lobsters from their glass tanks (yes, they really do have them) and let them crawl around the floor ‘for a bit of exercise’, or chase the girls up and down the aisles with the confused crustaceans, making snapping noises as she ran. On a trip to the country, she showed the children how to get a herd of cows to lick your hand (they like the salt, apparently). With L, rules are for breaking, walls are for climbing over, chances are to be taken and fun MUST be had.

Though she’s a designer clothes freak, I’ve seen her mop up a child’s tears on her finest Max Mara cashmere. When my girls were getting squeamish about eating lamb, she told them the meat was ox. ‘No-one cares about oxen,’ she said to me in an aside, and so it has proved. The girls used to ask for ox specially after that. She’s had her tough times. Her own divorce made mine look like a vicar’s tea party. And she once shocked me by saying she’d read a book called Feel the Fear – and Do It Anyway. I thought that was pretty much her modus operandi as it stood.

Everyone should have an L in their lives. She is a force of nature, whose spirit I endlessly admire. Thank you, L, for being you.

Calling all real women – whatever your size, shape, height, or age essentials magazine needs you!  If you would like to appear in a glossy womens lifestyle magazine this is your chance to shine!  Simply visit for further details on how to enter, and follow the campaign on our Facebook and Twitter pages…we can’t wait to hear from you.


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