Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Pale and I know it

This isn't an easy thing for me to revisit, but as I was reminiscing about it recently, I thought I'd make a blog post of it, as there aren't many others on the subject. 

I was bullied badly at secondary school and it was largely due to the colour of my skin, which might sound surprising when I tell you that I was a white girl in an all-white school. Not an inner-city school with a bad rep, but a 400 pupil semi-rural comprehensive. And I was brutally tormented almost daily for five years because of my pale complexion. 

Until I went there, I had zero idea that I looked any different to anyone else but it was soon hammered into me that I most certainly was. I was constantly called "ghost" and asked, "Why are you so pale?" Even the teachers would make cutting remarks about my snow white skin, so I never felt I would be taken seriously if I confided in them about the bullying. The kids who loved to humiliate me in front of everyone else were mostly boys - really rough ones who came from the nearest city. They were the sort that already looked like they were in their twenties by the age of 12 and were going out to clubs, sleeping with older girls and committing real criminal acts in and outside of the school gates. 

Whereas I was one of those girls who looked like an eight-year-old until I was at least sixteen, all little and skinny, like a newborn lamb put in a pen with a pack of wild dogs. It was so easy for these boys, once I was isolated from my two besties during form time, to literally corner me and shout abuse in my face abut how pale I was. I really never knew my lack of a tan was such a big deal until I was being utterly tormented for it. 

These boys were so powerful in my year group that none of the other kids did anything to help me, they just sat and watched, probably having a good laugh. There were two girls who were considered "hot" who were accepted by this gang of boys and even though they could see how much I was suffering they never once tried to offer me any kind of sisterly support. People always say that with boys it's physical bullying, but this was sneaky, psychological torment that was always done far behind the teacher's back.

One day, a random kid told me that one of those girls had been saying to people in mock serious tone, "Did you know that [Bossy Thing] is dead, and that's actually a ghost that comes to school?" Writing it down now, it sounds absolutely silly, but I was so hurt at the time and I didn't understand why I had to be made to feel alienated, like a freak of nature. 

In fact, looking at my school year photo now, I barely look any lighter than a lot of the others. But it was me that always attracted the bullies. I guess that, as is the story of my life, my face simply didn't fit and people thought it would be ok to treat me like a piece of dirt on the floor and tear apart every little flaw about me.

Searching online for people bullied for being pale, some float the idea that it is a form of racism, but I don't agree because that only describes descrimination against those of a different race. This was merely gang mentality and ignorance and stupidity directed at someone of the same race. This inter-racial discrimination seems to exist in all races - think of the Indian caste system where the lighter you are the higher up the social chain you go, and blacks who jealously bully their lighter skinned peers. The part of England I'm from happens to be home to some very "swarthy" people (my father included) and it just so happened I turned out a lot lighter than most of them. Why I should have to justify that to anyone seems extremely superficial, not to mention pointless.

That is another reason, along with the details already outlined in my infamous Liz Jones-style diatribe Pity post, why I have always declined to join Facebook. There's no way I would want the bastards who bullied me so relentlessly to now call themselves my "friend" and be able to look through photos of me.

Now I'm a grown-up, people are still frequently amazed at the whiteness of my skin so I guess I really must be freakishly pale. I still don't get what answer I'm supposed to give when they ask me why. "Because I don't have any pigment"? 

I suppose the bullying did awaken my mind to worry about being pale and sometimes it bothers me and I'll apply a little fake tan just to take the edge off that blue-white. But I don't like to think I let the bullies win.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Exclusive! Hollywood hair maverick reveals his tricks

OMG. I randomly emailed hairstyling megastar Ken Paves asking if he'd answer a few Qs for Bossy Thing. No idea why he said yes but it meant I had to pop on my Sir David Frost head and quickly dream up a few things to ask. As I've never done an actual interview before, this wasn't exactly easy. 

Paves is the guy Jennifer Lopez, Victoria Beckham and Eva Longoria refer to as their BFF and he practically invented clip-in hair extensions with his HairDo range, which he launched with Jessica Simpson in 2006. He's a Hollywood hair legend with tons of other stuff on the side - he's a TV regular, has penned a few beauty books and is now creative consultant for haircare range Color Wow. 

Here's Ken's tips on how to take your hair into the A-List - in his own words...

Which essential tools are in your styling kit?
I always carry a bone comb - it's completelt seamless and doesn't snag, which makes it a great substitute for finger styling. Hooked elastic bands (bungees) are essential to avoid leaving ponytail creases - I'd never reach for a scrunchie. And I always have an array of extensions - I actually style most of my clients' hair nowhere near their heads!

What are your top tips for keeping hair healthy?
Don't overload it! Wash it two or three times a week, maximum, and only lather the roots to cleanse your scalp. Between washes, just rinse with tepid water to remove debris. Also, everyday styling should only take 15-20 minutes. If it takes any longer, you've got the wrong cut.

What do you recommend to rehabillitate over-styled hair?
Olive oil is an amazing overnight mask. Mix a small amount with water and spray onto your hair before bed. You can't beat it!
Ken on J-Lo's cascading Hollywood curls...
"One of my most memorable jobs was in Milan with Jennifer Lopez. All my hair extensions were confiscated at customs. I had to ask J-Lo's make-up artist , Mary Phillips, if I could cut off some of her hair to sew some pieces... She said yes! But don't worry, no drastic action is needed for this chic side-sweep. Curl your hair towards your face with a 1in tong. Pin the curls to your head while they're still warm - once cool, brush them out. For a modern look, brush some highlights into your roots using Color Wow Root Cover Up in Platinum."

Monday, 24 February 2014


I find reading about Twitter utterly mind-numbing so apologies. I think it's a fun way to spend two minutes a day, perusing people's hilar capers, but I could never take Twitter seriously and it almost frightens me how zealous people seem to be over it. They are on there every minute of the day, checking, checking, checking, getting mad, acting like it's real life, expending a great deal of emotion over it. Ten years ago, if someone behaved that way over a chatroom, it would have been socially unacceptable. Now, being a die hard Twitter user is normal. 

It really shouldn't be, though. Real Life is so much better. It's tangible, palpable and true. It's not right to emote over something you read on screen. Nowadays I never emote over anything I see on Twitter, not one thing. That's because it's ultimately a silly fad we are likely to have forgotten about in ten years' time, discarded in the virtual wasteland alongside MySpace and FriendsReunited. It's silly and trivial, and I treat it as such, with disregard. Like AA Gill said, "Twitter is a smell."

I joined Twitter yonks ago, back in late '09 when Stephen Fry and co brought it to the media's attention. Though old enough to know better, I was tremendously naive, which is a very dangerous thing on the internet. I don't think I had ever chatted to anyone online before and hadn't yet developed the fuck off and die attitude I keep at the forefront of my online life today. After days and days of Tweeting without a response from anyone, I was thrilled when some guy started talking to me on there. Let me rephrase that: when some guy started grooming me on there. He was funny and charming and seemed so normal. 

For once, it seemed like I had actually made friends with a sane male of the species. I wanted to be nice and sweet and keep him as my friend. Lord, what a green banana. I bet he was having a real laugh about what an innocent lamb I was. As with all internet predators, he didn't have patience for long and started to pressure me and pressure me into giving him my mobile number. I would try to let him down gently, I was so desperate to stay friends, and he'd do the classic grooming lines of "you're so boring", "all the other girls give me theirs" and on and on. It was making me sick to my stomach. Why the heck didn't I use that block button? I can't rationalise it now. 

Anyway, thankfully I didn't give him my number, but wanting to placate him I gave him my email address and exchanged a couple of pretty weird, long messages, and he even talked me into sending pics of myself which is undoubtedly the dumbest thing I have ever done. I've never been one of these girls who likes the thought of guys wanking over her - call me Victorian but it's something that really disgusts me deep down. The whole thing creeped me out so much I deleted my Twitter profile, even the email account. 

Even though it was a horrible episode, I'm actually glad it happened because now I'm - rightly - super suspicous of every single person I talk to online. In fact, I very rarely chat to anyone online because in my opinion they all turn out to be absolutely nuts. I also wield the block button on Twitter so liberally it's funny - anyone the slightest bit odd gets it, and I very rarely reply to anyone. Perhaps that defies the point of it, but so what? 

I am looking at that guy's Twitter page in between typing this and he's still doing the same thing to other girls, still playing tricks on their minds. 

Now I'm hovering the cursor.

"This user has been blocked."

Friday, 14 February 2014

An oldie but a goodie

 I only just learned that Max Factor was binned off in America a few years ago in favour of Proctor and Gamble's more popular CoverGirl brand. Who knew? Rude! Anyhow, it's still going pretty strong on these shores and after seeing Gwynnie Paltrow looking quite simply radiant in the centenary advert for MF's Creme Puff, I felt utterly commanded to try it out for myself. This is an absolute classic with a near mythical status. However, online reviews runneth over with people complaining about its strong and "sickening" fragrance. "It smells like my nan." But is that really such a bad thing? My own grandmother was a very groomed lady, a veritable dame, so if emulating her is wrong, I don't want to be right. In fact, I find the smell pleasant, fresh and far from overwhelming - it barely registered, unlike that of many popular face creams. I declined to apply the powder with the eponymous puff; rather I used my own regular (massive) face brush. This, I feel, is generally better, and lessens the cake factor of any powder. The shade I decided on was the ultimate cop out of all powders: translucent. Opening the compact for the first time, its hue seemed a worryingly brown but having been assured of its sheer quality, I took the plunge and gave myself a good dusting. It's actually a good colour on my stupidly pale maw - it certainly gives me a glow, whereas the Rimmel Clear Complexion translucent I usually use leaves me peaky, albeit matte. Actually that comparison brings me to my next point. Mega finely milled modern powders aren't in the least bit chalky, but the Creme Puff, true to its old-fashioned formula, is quite heavy and when you have just applied it, the ultra-matte effect isn't the most flattering. I find it looks better after a few minutes' wear and, while the shine-free finish doesn't last, the old oil spillage certainly didn't arrive quicker than with any other powder. It's simply a case of having to use an oil-blotting paper like most people take a 4pm tea break. To sum up, then: good coverage; nice glow; no oilier than with other powders; wholesome retro feelings. Winner!

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Don't you just love blind items?*

*Not really.

They are annoying and I just want to know who it is they are talking about. Curious like a cat, I am.

A gentle perusal of my dad's Current Bun sent my curiosity gland into overdrive at the weekend. The front page (non) news story went like this:
One of Britain's best-known pop stars had a secret affair with a super-rich sports tycoon, The Sun can reveal. They only split after the multi-millionaire's long-term partner found out and "hit the roof". The lovers, who both have children, are understood to have asked family members to sign non-disclosure agreements to keep a lid on their relationship. 
Further deets inside reveal the tycoon has spoken of his happy family life in the past and is now grovelling to wifey. It describes the man as "one of the biggest names in his field" with a very luxurious lifestyle, and the "pop beauty" as a familiar face to millions with a turbulant love life. 

Ok, so who is it? 

When I read Britain's best known pop star who's also a parent I thought of Adele, but then again "pop beauty"? Hmm. 

My best stabs at the pop star were:
  • Nadine Coyle (who recently became a mother and is generally into black American Football players)
  • Any of the Old Spices (understandable why he's so keen to cover it up!)
  • One of The Saturdays (most of them have kids so that fits; Frankie already has form having been with Wayne Bridge for a while, she's extremely beautiful and has had a fairly turbulant love life in latter years; Una likes the rugger guys and while we could assume the article means a football tycoon, that's not neccessarily the case; Rochelle does lots of telly so is very "familiar" and also has a baby)
  • Dido (too boring to have an affair with anyone though)
  • Rebecca Ferguson (hardly one of our biggest pop stars)
  • Rachel Stevens (ditto)
  • Alesha Dixon (very beautiful, a recent mum and familiar on Strictly, BGT etc)

As for the man, I was gunning for:
  • Roman Ambramovich (the man's rich as hell, very famous and a real goer)
  • Simon Jordan
  •  Daniel Levy (I know I would...)
  • David Beckham (he loves putting it about and is about to buy an MLS franchise so could be described as a tycoon)
  • Tim Leiwike (just a random to add to the mix, as it seemed to so pointedly avoid giving the man's nationality)
  • Flavio Briatore
  • Bernie Ecclestone
Hmmm hold the front page, Batman. Could be on to something with those last two. Maybe Bernie's getting a little bit old for that sort of thing, even with the V pills. And Flavio's been a good boy lately... 

So just who could it be? 

Well, I thought it'd be nicer if they told you themselves.
Mystery solved (actually a bit boring on reflection).

Saturday, 25 January 2014

That time I was scared of going to the opticians...

Hey gang! Just a little motivational message for neurotic types like myself. I've had to wear specs for about 12 years now and I went that long without going back to the optician. This is because I worked myself into a stupid state of anxiety about going. I don't know why, but I kept thinking I would really embarrass myself as I am quite the social anxiety study anyway. You know, shaking, sweating, blushing, not being able to speak and other fun symptoms that generally f' up your life. Anyway, I got really fed up of not wanting to do things because I was ashamed of my smelly old glasses - not to mention the constant worry about breaking them and having to live as some kind of blind human mole because I was just too darn shy to go and see Dr Eye. 

I am finally starting to realise that all types of anxiety are make-believe - non-existant monsters hidden in the depths of our psyche that feed us a stream of rubbish and poison our minds. And the more attention you give them the more they grow. So the best thing is to ignore them and stop avoiding. Tell your fragile ego that you may well feel uncomfortable for a few moments, you might shake and sweat and say something stupid. But so what? No one will be filming you and putting it on YouTube! And the older you get, the more you see that other people rarely think of anyone but themselves and they are unlikely to give you another thought - unless you are extremely rude to them. Otherwise life is very much out of sight, out of mind. 

My optician's visit finally dawned this morning and I had been working myself into a ridiculous lather over it all week, getting stomach ache I was so worried. Well, I can honestly say it was all for nothing! The worst part was actually when I went in and the receptionist was chatting to me and my mouth was so dry I could hardly speak. But the actual test was so quick and unthreatening that all my worry was totally redundant. I did shake a bit but so what? Probably half the people he sees do the same. Going to the doctor would definitely be a worse situation for me as it involves sitting close to the Doc and looking them right in the eye as you discuss your most intimate problems. So the optician is nothing, don't hesitate to go for it. Shake, rattle and roll, if that's what it takes! I'm so excited about getting my new glasses and all the things I'll be able to do.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Three ouais

Who doesn't love a presidential menage-á-trois played out in the international media? I myself have been poring over every cliched word written about François Hollande, his main Valérie Trierweiler and the side piece Julie Gayet. It's a bit like the Lee-Casey-Jasmine triangle that went on in the CBB house only last week, but with palaces, political rallies and the gayest three-wheeled scooter ever seen. Initial thoughts led me to conclude that the leading man, who resembles my old maths teacher to a worrying degree, definitely has a type. His first wife
Ségolène Royal, Valérie and Julie all look like they rolled off the bland mistress conveyor belt with their neat little features, chaitains hair and 60 Gauloise a day physiques. Perhaps the most intriguing aspect is that little midgety Hollande - known as Flanby for his unfortunate likeness to a wobbly, milky pudding - managed to bang one woman at all. Unless he's packing 9+ in the basement - and if that's what his face looks like I don't even want to think about down there - we can only assume Frankie has a sparkling first date repartee. Though from the lowly opinion poll ratings on Old Coffee Breath Face, this seems unlikely. No, "power corrupts" is the only thing that can possibly account for Hollande's allure. I'm sure I wasn't the only one who cringed for all womankind on hearing that Valérie had gone off to hospital with an attack of the vapours and practically needed an induced coma to come to terms with the news that her fug other half was a stone cold playa. Grow a pair of balls, Val. It also struck me - and yes, it is catty - what yellow teefs Miss Gayet sports. Come on Julie, you're gonna be twerking it with Michelle Obama at the White House in two weeks' time! If ever there was a time to get caught in a rebill whitening scam, this is it. And, dear lawd, was that a bad case of armpit rat I saw creeping into her topless pic in The Scum newspaper last week? The razor is your friend, sweetie!