TEAM ZOELLA APRIL 19, 2021

Let’s Talk About Clitoral Orgasms!

We don’t need to tell the vagina-owners in the room that the clitoris is our sexual pleasure capital. Literally, its sole purpose is to exist to feel good and we respect that kind of thirst. Despite what porn and the movies would have you believe, the majority of women and people with vulvas cannot reach […]

We don’t need to tell the vagina-owners in the room that the clitoris is our sexual pleasure capital. Literally, its sole purpose is to exist to feel good and we respect that kind of thirst.

Despite what porn and the movies would have you believe, the majority of women and people with vulvas cannot reach orgasm through vaginal penetration alone. Say it louder for the people at the back.

Sixty percent of vulva owners in the UK say that clitoral stimulation is key to climax with a partner, whilst 64% say it is key to climax during masturbation.

To sum up, then: our clitoris is a big, huge throbbing deal – touch it enough times and sure enough, a genie will appear and grant all your wildest wishes, so why is our most powerful pleasure spot so misunderstood?

Let’s circle back to sex education for a hot minute. Traditional sex ed does an excellent job of neglecting the importance of pleasure in sex, particularly where women and vulva-having people are concerned.

It’s no coincidence that we grow up confusing our vulva and vagina because the female anatomy is only ever defined against the a heteronormative, penetration-centric societal norm but we are so much more than a semen bag-drop or child-bearing receptacle, my friends.

In a study commissioned by Smile Makers at the end of 2020, surveying 1,000 of women over the age of 20, only 12% said they had received a sex education that had equipped them well to understand their pleasure and 78% did not have access to either pleasure-positive sex education or other sources of information on the topic of pleasure.

We’re calling out traditional sex ed – time to get with the programme (that’s pleasure-based sex ed btw) and give our clitorises the airtime they deserves.

Clitoracy – The Mission to Make the Clitoris Known:

To fully understand clitoral orgasms and their pleasure-giving superpowers, we need to get up close and personal with our anatomy. Contrary to popular belief, the clitoris is much bigger than the little nub we think it is, like an iceberg, there’s a lot more going on under the surface. It is a sprawling underground empire, equipped with 8,000 nerve endings. That’s nearly twice the amount found in the head of the penis but please, do carry on teaching us about wet dreams and boners.

These structures have erectile tissues and much like the penis, they swell as you become aroused.

You see, our clitoris has legs. We’ll give you a second to let that sink in. It has two legs/roots, two bulbs, glans, nerves, blood vessels, a shaft and the capacity to become erect, so not like a tiny button at all, more like a structure that wraps around the vagina like a wishbone. These structures have erectile tissues and much like the penis, they swell as you become aroused. The part we see and often assume is the clitoris in its entirety is the pea-sized glans clitoris and clitoral hood which varies in size from person-to-person.

As the clitoris swells in size upon arousal, it can press against the anterior wall of the vagina around an area known as the G-spot. As the current state of science explains it, it is an erogenous zone through which both the vagina and the clitoris come in contact. This is why internal stimulation can partly be clitoral stimulation as well.

Setting the record straight on clitoral orgasms vs vaginal orgasms:

Turns out, they’re all one and the same after all (a school bell sounds, your work here is done, you can all go home). Vaginal orgasms are often credited as the best type of orgasm – we can all blame Sigmund Freud for that one – but as the vast majority of us who can’t reach orgasm without clitoral stimulation would suggest, those elusive vaginal Os are pretty hard to come by. Literally. In fact, according to a study published in the Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, a whopping 75% of us need clitoral stimulation to orgasm.

Recent studies have pooh-poohed the idea that two types of orgasm even exist and that however they happen, it’s always down to the clitoris. Just how much land can one clitoris own?

Even vaginal orgasms reached via penetration are technically clitoral orgasms

To break it down, then, even vaginal orgasms reached via penetration are technically clitoral orgasms and knowing what we know now about the size of the clitoris, it makes perfect sense. The pleasure is all coming from the same place, it’s just being stimulated in different ways.

That’s not to say vaginal orgasms are a complete fabrication, they’re just a fairly rare phenomenon and the credit almost certainly belongs to – you guessed it – ya golden girl, The Clit.

Technique:

When it comes to stimulation, everyone has their own modus operandi. Some people like the whole palm of the hand to be involved, for others, it’s a combination of less pressure and soft touches or intense vibrations directly on the clitoris. Each vulva-having person has their preferences and there’s no rule of thumb (or finger, or vibrator) where your pleasure is concerned, which is why communication and experimentation is basically what’s going to get you all the way to tingle town.

Don’t be afraid to explore what makes you feel good whether you’re going solo or enjoying coupled sex. Pleasure can be found in all kinds of mysterious places, from using the flow of water from the shower head to making your pillow work hard but play harder. Get curious! There’s no right or wrong way to get your clit-kicks.

Best positions for clit stim

Stroking, massaging, vibrating and licking can all vary in intensity depending on your position. Some people find having their legs totally relaxed and stretched out gets them there, while others prefer being on all fours or on their stomachs against a pillow they can rub against. There’s no magic formula for clit stim.

During penetrative sex, clitorises can often get ignored and we do not accept that kind of neglect around here. There are plenty of positions you and your partner can have a go at to make sure your clitoris is always front and centre.

The Snake – lie on your front and stimulate your clitoris with a toy or your hands whilst a partner or a dildo enters from behind, let them slither in. Sorry, we’ll see ourselves out.

Spooning – whether it’s you or your partner reaching round, there’s plenty of access to the clitoris in this intimate position, just make sure you go full open sesame style with that top leg so your clitoris isn’t smuggled away. It’s basically a glorified cuddle and we’re here for it.

Downward doggy – now there’s a yoga move we’re heavily invested in. Lower your chest to the bed, keeping your hips raised whilst your partner or dildo enters you from behind. Your partner can reach around and stimulate your clitoris or you can pleasure yourself with your hands or a vibrator of your choice.

The Bridge – admittedly, the one’s not for the faint-hearted because it’s basically a Les Mills body conditioning class but getting into the bridge position with your back resting on the bed and your feet flat leaves your clitoris wide open for action.

Reverse Cowgirl – using your hands to balance, lean back so your partner can reach round with their fingers and caress your breasts and clitoris. Yee-haw.

Clit-block the shame game

We are so sick of women and vulva-owners carrying shame – shame for masturbating, shame for menstruating, shame for not being able to reach orgasm, it’s a tale as old as time isn’t it?

There’s enough pressure to reach certain goals in life, let’s not make having orgasms one of them.

It may be cliché but exploring your body and enjoying sex is as much about the exploration of selfhood as it is the grand finale and sure, whilst orgasms are great, feeling yourself in both the literal way and the Nicki Minaj way is where the real magic happens. There’s enough pressure to reach certain goals in life, let’s not make having orgasms one of them.

And whilst we’re on the subject of orgasms, how IS the Duke of Hastings lately? We’re a nation in mourning after the tragic Bridgerton Season 2 news and we’re going to need him to drop some fresh material as a matter of urgency.

TEAM ZOELLA APRIL 18, 2021

Weekly Wants: Our Latest Makeup Purchases

This week's team picks include the newbie and ride or die make-up products we've been adding to basket in the run-up to April 12th and beyond.

If you’re anything like us then you’re probably feeling somewhat unfamiliar with the daily make-up wearing drill after a year of tinted moisturiser only, outgrown brows and lacklustre skin in need of some serious Vit D. But the fun of playing with both old and new favourites is back in business baby as we head out into the world with our best bronzed face forward …

The fun of playing with both old and new favourites is back in business baby

As Zoom becomes a thing of the past (manifesting this) it’s all about the details as we get up close and personal with pals over dinner and drinks, meaning a beautifully buffed base or new graphic liner trend won’t go amiss now a pixelated webcam won’t be hiding your good side. This week’s team picks include the newbie and ride or die make-up products we’ve been adding to basket in the run-up to April 12th and beyond, helping us add some pazzazz to our beer garden and Primark looks and the familiarity and fun of regular make-up wearing again.

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*This post contains ad-affiliate links

TEAM ZOELLA APRIL 17, 2021

Between You & Me: Your Problems Answered Part 15

On this month’s agenda we’re gathering by the water cooler to talk whirlwind relationships that have taken a nosedive, coming out when you’re in a hetero relationship, boyfriend doubts and ‘the ick’, final year uni struggles, body confidence and getting that all important break-up closure. Oofff, it’s a biggie.

TW: we will be discussing calorie counting and disordered eating in this month’s BYAM.

Being human is a complex job title innit? Who knew existing would be this much w-o-r-k. The small print for life really did us dirty.

In the absence of speaking to the HR department for @life who were conveniently unavailable for comment for the rest of forever (honestly, the audacity), you’ve got us, your Between You And Me work wives.

On this month’s agenda we’re gathering by the water cooler to talk whirlwind relationships that have taken a nosedive, coming out when you’re in a hetero relationship, boyfriend doubts and ‘the ick’, final year uni struggles, body confidence and getting that all important break-up closure. Oofff, it’s a biggie.

Stick your out-of-office on hun and grab a glass of fizz, it’s circle time.

TEAM ZOELLA APRIL 16, 2021

We Spoke To 10 Women Who Are Childfree By Choice

In this Q&A, we spoke to ten childfree by choice women to understand the scrutiny they have to go through and why they think the decision not to have children is still so hard for society to accept, even in 2021.

Much like choosing to have children, the decision to be childfree by choice is a personal one. It’s a life choice that seems to invite well-meaning but often unsolicited and insensitive opinions and comments from family members to colleagues and beyond. Women’s bodies are always up for discussion, and particularly upon turning 30 our reproductive rights seem to be heavily criticised and analysed, either way.

Societal pressures and expectations forever perpetuate the notion that choosing child-freedom is a regrettable decision, or that we’re somehow deemed ‘less than’ as women for not procreating.

“You’ll change your mind” is up there with the most frustrating remarks any childfree by choice person has to deal with, as if they’re more familiar with your body than you are and by denying it of this fundamental moral imperative, you’re almost self-harming.

There are many reasons why someone might decide having children isn’t for them and whether it’s overpopulation, mental health, freedom, finances or – here’s a radical idea – they just don’t want children, it’s really not for anyone one else to psychoanalyse their lives.

In this Q&A, we spoke to ten childfree by choice women to understand the scrutiny they have to go through and why they think the decision not to have children is still so hard for society to accept, even in 2021.

Heather

At what point did you know you wanted to be childfree by choice?

Up until I was about 22 I, like many women, saw children in my future. I saw the husband, the house and the baby. But in the past 4 years I have realised that this isn’t what I want in my future, my mind convinced itself that this was the path for me because of societal expectations.

How do you deal with the people who tell you you’ll change your mind in the future?

Up until recently I usually ignored it and answered with a non committal “yeah maybe” but a recent experience with a doctor has made me change my tune. He tried to convince me of the fact that I WILL change my mind and I ended up leaving the appointment (Which had nothing to do with reproduction) very upset and like my choice had been totally dismissed as indecisiveness. I now respond much more firmly with “I won’t as it’s a choice I have given a lot of thought to, much like people do when they decide they do want to start a family.” It doesn’t always come out quite that concise but people get the idea!

How did you have the conversation with your partner / how do you discuss it with someone you’re dating long-term?

I was in a long term relationship when I came to the decision about not wanting children. My partner and I had discussed children earlier in our relationship but we were still very young and not in the right place in our lives to consider kids seriously. By some luck, it seemed we had both arrived at the same decision organically over time. I think like myself he had felt pressured by societal norms. We saw that the life we wanted to have together would involve a lot of travel, time-consuming jobs and we both wanted to hold onto our sense of spontaneity which is harder with children. 

Do you find your friends and family are understanding of your choice, or do you find yourself dreading those social events where someone might try and convince you otherwise?

I am very lucky in that my parents are understanding of my choice, they are supportive of all my decisions and know that this isn’t something I’ve taken lightly. I often joke with my mum that she’ll be getting grand-dogs instead and she’s happy with that! I do sometimes feel as though other family members feel bad for me, like they think I’m missing out on something but they don’t voice it. Overall, I know I’m very lucky because some parents almost expect grandchildren and I cannot imagine how difficult it must be to have to deal with that.

How do you handle judgement or stigma about being childfree by choice?

On most occasions, I don’t feel the need to engage with people who offer their opinions as to why I’ve decided to be child free as most of the time I find it’s like arguing with a brick wall. I do find it upsetting when people think I’m mean or somehow uncaring because I don’t want children. I am still a loving and caring person; I enjoy nothing more than spoiling and caring for my friends or relatives’ children. I sometimes feel I need to justify to people I’m not an evil old witch, as silly as that sounds!

Can you explain how unsolicited opinions on your decision to be childfree by choice can make you feel?

The opinions that people offer about my decision to be childfree often make me feel as though I’m doing something wrong. Like I’m a woman so if I don’t have children what else am I expected to do? My own personal experience with people like this is to generally shut the conversation down if I feel they are being rude but I do understand that some people are generally curious because they couldn’t imagine a life without children. My general rule is that if someone doesn’t bring up their plans regarding children then you shouldn’t ask because you don’t know what is going on behind closed doors. 

What’s the best thing about being childfree, what freedoms has making that decision afforded you in your life and how has that fulfilled you in ways far beyond having a child ever could? 

The ability to just get up and go! I have lived between the UK and Australia for the past 15 years and I love to go on impulsive trips. I have so many things I want to achieve in my life; from buying an old home to renovate, living in New York, studying animal care so I can one day live and work in Borneo with Orangutans. The financial freedom is also something to consider, raising a child is expensive so having more control over my personal finances is a big win. 

Why do you think people have such a hard time accepting or believing that being childfree isn’t a phase or a knee-jerk decision but an informed life choice?

I think that because of the steps women have made, even in the last decade to own our power and live independent and fulfilling lives some people believe the decision to not have children is somehow a rebellion, like we are going against the grain to make a point. I’ve heard people say that it’s such a final decision to make in your twenties, but equally having children is also a pretty final decision!

How important is it that we continue to normalise being childfree by choice and where does the boundary sit between talking about it to drive awareness and erase stigma, whilst also preserving your right to live life on your terms, unapologetically?

We are lucky to live in the age of social media, although sometimes all-consuming and potentially harmful if used irresponsibly it is also a wonderful way to raise awareness. I think that showcasing successful fulfilled women in their day-to-day childfree lives is a great place to start.

It is frustrating to still be in a place where we feel the need to justify this as a decision but like those before usHeather

Showing women of all races, ages, gender identities, sexualities and being aware of the fact that success/fulfilment to someone may be running a company but to others, it could be volunteering at a dog shelter. It is frustrating to still be in a place where we feel the need to justify this as a decision but like those before us, we need to have these conversations in order to move forward as a society. Representation and education are a good first step, much like this article!

Millie

At what point did you know you wanted to be childfree by choice? 

I would say, that around 17 when everyone was in sixth form talking about their future careers and children, I realised that I never saw children in my future. I think it was more of a conscious decision at around 21 when I had a copper coil fitted, and opted to have the 10 year one, rather than something more short term.

How do you deal with the people who tell you you’ll change your mind in the future? 

If it is a casual acquaintance, I generally brush it off, and say maybe I will, but right now this is my decision. I am not a particularly confrontational person. For family, I have tried to explain that it is not about how they have raised me or how they raise their own children, but having children is just not right for myself and my partner. I would rather regret not having children than regret having them.

How did you have the conversation with your partner / how do you discuss it with someone you’re dating long-term? 

My boyfriend actually knew before we started dating. It came up in a conversation over lunch with friends, and we both said we didn’t want them. We have discussed it several times since. Mainly around when we were buying a house together. For us, it is very important that we are on the same page about it.

His family really struggled to understand that I didn’t want children and I wasn’t willing to put a rift between him and them and make him chose over it.Millie

Weirdly it was these discussions that led us to the decision to get a pet together. In former relationships, my boyfriends have always started out saying they are fine with it, but then have always pushed me about it later. In the case of a 3-year relationship, it was the reason we ended. His family really struggled to understand that I didn’t want children and I wasn’t willing to put a rift between him and them and make him chose over it.

Do you find your friends and family are understanding of your choice, or do you find yourself dreading those social events where someone might try and convince you otherwise? 

I find my friends are fairly understanding. I do dread family events though. My parents feel it is a reflection on their parenting of me that I do not want children and were initially very upset. After over 10 years of saying I don’t want children, they are beginning to accept it. I do think they still hope I will change my mind or there will be an accidental pregnancy. My boyfriend’s family in particular do not understand, he has two sisters and five stepsisters. A lot of his family are also teachers, so struggle to understand why we do not want children. For them, they see us playing with nieces and nephews, and do not understand that we are completely happy being an aunt, uncle or cousin to young children, but have no desire to have that responsibility full time. 

How do you handle judgement or stigma about being childfree by choice? 

I would say I probably don’t handle it that well. I never get angry at the person that is judging. Everyone is entitled to their decisions and opinions, but I do find myself getting hurt. It has taken me a long time to accept that this decision does not make me a failure, and that possibly by admitting it is not right for me is actually a very mature decision rather than the immature one it is often made out to be. I do however find myself at 3am scrolling through social media looking at celebrity pregnancy announcements, and parenting blogs trying to figure out what I am missing that means I don’t want children.

Can you explain how unsolicited opinions on your decision to be childfree by choice can make you feel? 

They make me feel like a mix of guilt, failure and anger. Guilt that I am somehow depriving my parents and my boyfriend’s parents of the opportunity to be grandparents. Failure because isn’t that what we are programmed to want as women, so how have I failed to want that. Anger that people think I am too stupid or young to know my own mind, and know what I want, and what I can cope with.

What’s the best thing about being childfree, what freedoms has making that decision afforded you in your life and how has that fulfilled you in ways far beyond having a child ever could? 

This is a super hard question. I am not sure I have necessarily achieved anything different, I would just say I don’t have to plan or do life admin in the same way as if I had children. All my friends and family members with children seem to permanently be on a timetable and budget, which seems very stressful. One thing that was affected was house shopping. We bought our first house not long back. We bought a 2 bedroom converted chapel. A house that if we were intending to have children we could not have bought, as it is just not practical. Beautiful, but not at all child friendly.

All my friends and family members with children seem to permanently be on a timetable and budget, which seems very stressful.Millie

For me, buying a house, and being secure in that house is a massive life dream. I know I could have bought a house practical for children, but it would have cost us considerably more, or we would have been moving within several years to make everyone fit. We would not have been able to have a house this impractical, until we were maybe in our 50’s, possibly later.

Why do you think people have such a hard time accepting or believing that being childfree isn’t a phase or a knee-jerk decision but an informed life choice? 

This feels like a very controversial thing for a woman to say. In my personal experience, and those of many of my friends, womwn, are almost led to believe that if they do not have Children they have somehow failed. Whenever I say “oh I don’t want children”, people look at me as though I am mad or a horrible person. I think for a lot of people it is one of the tick boxes of life, go to uni, get a career, meet your partner, buy a house, get married, have children, retire to the country. It can be very hard for people to opt to do something different, and by not ticking that box, you are not completing the list, you don’t pass go, and collect £200. People innately want to fit in, and they want to help others fit in. Choosing to not have children is seen as not fitting in. A lot of people also seem to take it as a sign that you think they have failed as a parent to their children. I think it plays on a lot of people’s insecurities about how they are doing in life, and this is projected back as we are too young, or too selfish, to realise what we are missing.

How important is it that we continue to normalise being childfree by choice and where does the boundary sit between talking about it to drive awareness and erase stigma, whilst also preserving your right to live life on your terms, unapologetically?

 For me, we need to stop asking people when they are going to have children. I find it the rudest question, you have no way of knowing what that person is going through, be it infertility, abusive relationships, miscarriage or early pregnancy, or just that they don’t want to be parents. I think opening up the conversation about family is very important just without that question. Every time I see a pregnancy announcement on social media, be it a closer friend, family member or even a celebrity, I am happy for them. I am happy that they got something they desperately wanted. I am also happy for somebody when they achieve another life goal, be it a house, a car, a dream job, starting a new business or even saving up and buying their dream handbag. I think we need to work on driving awareness that families come in all sizes. For some, it is two parents, and two children, for others four parents, and multiple children, and for some, it is two people and their pet. They are all families. We should be focusing on that person’s life goals, not necessarily societal life goals.

Neesha

At what point did you know you wanted to be childfree by choice?

My decision to be childfree was really made when I knew I wanted to become a doctor. Now, this isn’t saying you can’t be a Neurosurgeon and have children, of course, it is possible, but it’s just a personal preference. I have a strong desire to have my career set out and be financially secure before children, which will be a few years after I finish my Education and Training. This means for me, waiting until I’m at least 30 to have any children, and I am ok with that, I think having a career first that I’m especially proud of is really important to me. 

How do you deal with the people who tell you you’ll change your mind in the future?

I think a lot of the time, I thank them (politely) for their advice, but I am so certain that I want to be a Neurosurgeon and have had many people tell me “I can’t” or that I “will change my mind”, that it doesn’t phase my decision at all. I also think it’s the fact that I know myself the best compared to anyone, so I know that this decision is one that will benefit me long term. Making sure that I make ME happy first, as I’ve gotten older this has become more and more important!

How did you have the conversation with your partner / how do you discuss it with someone you’re dating long-term?

This one was an easy one. I am lucky enough that my partner has a similar mindset to my own, in that our careers come first, it was one of the first things we discussed when we first started dating. Perhaps it’s a generational thing. But, my best advice would be to just be honest. It might be a difficult conversation to have, but being honest about how you feel makes sure that expectations are managed, both of yours and your partners! I’m sure for most situations, your partner would just want the best for you! 

Do you find your friends and family are understanding of your choice, or do you find yourself dreading those social events where someone might try and convince you otherwise?

For the most part I think my friends and family have a good understanding and support my decision. My immediate family, luckily know how important my career is to me so understand why I’ve made my decision. 

Being of an asian background, I am always asked when I’ll have a babyNeesha

I do 100% dread events where extended family however may ask. Being of an asian background, I am always asked when “I’ll have a baby”, which sort of makes me dread the event as it forces me to confront any criticisms that they may have – that’s the worst part! I think, for me it’s just explaining my point of view, and if that’s not understood, that’s okay! Not everyone will always agree with you! I always remember that it’s me living my life and in my body, so ultimately it’s always going to be my call!

How do you handle judgement or stigma about being childfree by choice?

I think, within STEM anyways, there’s lots of stigma about being a woman in general! I think this very fact, means that being childfree for most or all of your life can seem very controversial, I think it’s really important that most fields are becoming more diverse and inclusive, so it’s likely the people who don’t necessarily “get it” are a very small minority! Even so, I just remember “why I started” with Medicine and Biomedical Science and that motivation in becoming a Neurosurgeon, is enough for me to just let it go over my head. I think it’s so important, especially now not to let other opinions and criticisms taint your own decisions! You are you! and more than valid in making your mind up!

Can you explain how unsolicited opinions on your decision to be childfree by choice can make you feel?

Honestly, they can make me feel like I’m “missing out” or sometimes even that I’ve made the wrong decision and it would be harder to conceive later in life, should that be my choice. But, I think for me, because of the field I am in, I know that science in fact prevails over other opinions. Generally, they do make me feel a bit like I’m missing out but like I’ve said it’s my life and it’s my happiness that matters! Ultimately, opinions may be perceived to come from a good place, so more needs to be done to make people more aware of how much these topics can be perceived differently. 

What’s the best thing about being childfree, what freedoms has making that decision afforded you in your life and how has that fulfilled you in ways far beyond having a child ever could?

I think it’s not having to worry as much and working on myself, doing what I want, travelling the world (when restrictions allow it) and building a career with 100% of my attention and effort! I think having children is wonderful, even waiting later in life with a good career built will mean that I can have more time!

Why do you think people have such a hard time accepting or believing that being childfree isn’t a phase or a knee-jerk decision but an informed life choice?

I believe that it’s just ingrained into us to follow the natural order of life, marriage, kids etc. I think being childfree for most or all of your life breaks that widely accepted timeline that everyone has adhered to. It’s really a mixture of traditions and culture for me, explaining that to someone whose whole life has been centred on these values will no doubt be difficult! It’s human nature not to like change! But! I think at the end of the day! Other people’s opinions don’t matter! It’s how you feel that counts at the end of the day. 

How important is it that we continue to normalise being childfree by choice and where does the boundary sit between talking about it to drive awareness and erase stigma, whilst also preserving your right to live life on your terms, unapologetically?

It’s so important that we normalise being childfree by choice because women need to be able to voice their opinions whatever the matter, controversial or non-controversial. As our society becomes more inclusive with women in STEM and other higher-paying positions, I think it’s only right for women to be able to carry pride in being able to speak freely about their decisions without the fear of being judged! 

As our society becomes more inclusive with women in STEM and other higher-paying positions, I think it’s only right for women to be able to carry pride in being able to speak freely about their decisions without the fear of being judged! Neesha

 I think it’s also about just dissolving expectations that have a “one size fits all” policy, making it more known that you can’t just tell someone they “shouldn’t do something”! The boundary firmly lies, in my opinion, on accountability between driving awareness and keeping your life as private as possible; the expectations that other people have will; make you accountable to them, but it’s important to remember that you are only accountable to yourself. I think that’s the most powerful thing, we can spread awareness without feeling obliged to go into depth or share our why. 

Nicola

At what point did you know you wanted to be childfree by choice?

 I knew by 25 that I didn’t want kids. It was just never in my life plan. I’ve never really been maternal and I liked my freedom too much to give it up.

How do you deal with the people who tell you you’ll change your mind in the future?

 At first, I would just laugh it off and say “oh maybe” with a forced chuckle but as I got more towards​ my 30s, I just said no and people cottoned on to the fact that I was being deadly serious.

How did you have the conversation with your partner / how do you discuss it with someone you’re dating long-term?

 My last relationship of 6 years, recently broken up (boo to men) we had the conversation quite early on and luckily he too was of the persuasion of no children. The talk needs to happen earlier rather than later so you both know you’re either on the same page or if you’re not, to go your separate ways so you can both be happy.

Do you find your friends and family are understanding of your choice, or do you find yourself dreading those social events where someone might try and convince you otherwise?

Everyone who knows me knows I’m quite open about it and have totally accepted it so they know not to ask ha.

How do you handle judgement or stigma about being childfree by choice?

I honestly couldn’t care less about what other people think. It’s my life to play, they’re just spectators. I’ve only ever felt guilty once and that was down to my mum recently passing away from COVID and her never having grandchildren but I know she would want me to live my life how I want to.

Can you explain how unsolicited opinions on your decision to be childfree by choice can make you feel?

When I first made the decision, I was scared of what people think because we as women are expected to lead the Stepford wife life of getting engaged, married and children. As I grew up, I realised that we don’t have to live by society norms, we live our lives how we want to. Yes there is a fear of retribution but it is not anyone else’s decision, it is our own.

What’s the best thing about being childfree, what freedoms has making that decision afforded you in your life and how has that fulfilled you in ways far beyond having a child ever could?

 The best thing is the freedom. I am a band 6 nurse and currently working towards a specialist degree and it’s a hard slog. My colleagues who have children are stressed with it because they have little ones to look after and I’m just sailing along with the work.

The best thing is the freedom.Nicola

I could never have done it if I had kids. I also love going on holiday. I’m a big Disney nut and I love going to Florida every year, sometimes even twice a year and that brings me such happiness. I can afford to go so often because I go alone and just enjoy myself without other responsibilities. That may come off as selfish but so be it. My happiness is my number one priority. I am one of those selfish childless millennials that go to Walt Disney World and go on all the rides and eat all the food and take the experience away from the kids (as that STUPID woman once wrote on Twitter saying we are ruining the experience for her kids haha).

Why do you think people have such a hard time accepting or believing that being childfree isn’t a phase or a knee-jerk decision but an informed life choice?

I think people have a hard time with it because we’ve been conditioned all our lives that it’s what is “normal”. It’s all around us. I think it’s hard for parents to accept because I think most people who have kids would love to have grandkids and they secretly hold out hope. My step mum was like that but she’s now accepted that the only grandbabies she’ll get are my guinea pigs lol.

How important is it that we continue to normalise being childfree by choice and where does the boundary sit between talking about it to drive awareness and erase stigma, whilst also preserving your right to live life on your terms, unapologetically?

It is so important to talk about it because it allows people to be open and honest and live without the constant questions. If that is a decision you’ve made, own it. If people want to question it, you’re not accountable to answer them. It’s your life, your body, your happiness. Let’s normalise this and talk. Talking is so good for mental health and this topic is one to tick off the list to normalise.

Angie

At what point did you know you wanted to be childfree by choice?

I’ve known since I was a teenager, to be honest. I’ve never had that maternal urge!

How do you deal with the people who tell you you’ll change your mind in the future?

This gets really annoying! I am usually just polite and say something like “I won’t, I know my own mind and body.” They normally reply with “oh kids are everything” which also bugs me because of course children are wonderful, but not everyone needs them to make their life feel complete!

How did you have the conversation with your partner / how do you discuss it with someone you’re dating long-term?

At the moment we both feel the same. 

Do you find your friends and family are understanding of your choice, or do you find yourself dreading those social events where someone might try and convince you otherwise?

It’s a mix! Some are totally cool with it and others say “oh you’re married now.. when’s the baby coming?!” Which is private and none of their business in all honesty. I usually just smile and change the subject. 

How do you handle judgement or stigma about being childfree by choice?

It’s difficult but most of the time I’ll say it’s my choice, no one else’s, it’s my body. I’m not maternal for wanting my own children. I’m just the coolest Aunty and best mate to my friend’s kids! 

Can you explain how unsolicited opinions on your decision to be childfree by choice can make you feel?

They can make me feel like I’m failing, like I should follow the “norm” and have a child. And they make me annoyed as they don’t know if I may want kids but cannot! (I don’t but they don’t know that!)

What’s the best thing about being childfree, what freedoms has making that decision afforded you in your life and how has that fulfilled you in ways far beyond having a child ever could?

I can travel anywhere, not have to worry about finding childcare or taking kids along. I can sleep! Lol. I can have a lie-in. I don’t have to get up for the school run. Many positives! 

Why do you think people have such a hard time accepting or believing that being childfree isn’t a phase or a knee-jerk decision but an informed life choice?

I think it’s the way society has moulded us to think women are there to bear a child to fulfil their life. When we’re not..anymore. we have career goals, travel goals..some of which can include being childless. 

How important is it that we continue to normalise being childfree by choice and where does the boundary sit between talking about it to drive awareness and erase stigma, whilst also preserving your right to live life on your terms, unapologetically?

I agree, no one should need to justify their choices at all. At the end of the day, it’s their lives. No one else’s. I’d prefer to focus on helping the planet, recycling, eradicating types of pollutants, and focus on conservation and fitness. I don’t think bringing a child into the world to make other people happy would do any good.

Even when I say I may consider adoption one day people say ‘oh but you need to carry your own baby!’ which is so rude.Angie

Even when I say I may consider adoption one day people say ‘oh but you need to carry your own baby!’ which is so rude. There’s so may unwanted children waiting for loving homes. So I think it is really important to address this subject on being child free and happy with our judgement. Each to their own after all! Like you said we don’t say wow well done you’ve helped the earth for having a baby, so why should we say “oh you should have a baby” when it’s your choice!

Jordan

At what point did you know you wanted to be childfree by choice?

I think I’ve always kind of known. Even when I was a child I had no interest in babies and I remember when my younger brother was born I didn’t even want to hold him. I’ve always been extremely interested in animals, but never had any kind of emotion around children, that maternal instinct just never embedded itself in me. 

How do you deal with the people who tell you you’ll change your mind in the future?

It’s frustrating but usually, I just say, “Thanks, but I won’t”. I’ve had some really hurtful comments from people about this but if they want to have their opinion then so be it! 

How did you have the conversation with your partner / how do you discuss it with someone you’re dating long-term?

I told my fiancé on our 3rd date that I never wanted children. At the time he said that he did and so he had to think about it. I’m always very upfront about the fact that I don’t want them because I don’t want to waste anyone’s time. He came back to me and said that he was happy to not have them. 

Do you find your friends and family are understanding of your choice, or do you find yourself dreading those social events where someone might try and convince you otherwise?

All of my friends are extremely supportive! I think that comes from being around the same age as me. Most of the time its family members who don’t really know me that get a bit judgemental and I think my mother was a bit disappointed at first as she really wanted grandchildren, but she really thinks I’m making the right choice now. 

How do you handle judgement or stigma about being childfree by choice?

It can be hard, especially when people tell me that I’m ‘selfish’ and will ‘never experience real love’ because I won’t have children. I have to try and ignore it and remember that if I had a child for anyone else except myself then it would be the wrong reason to have one. 

Can you explain how unsolicited opinions on your decision to be childfree by choice can make you feel?

It can make me feel like a bit of a rubbish human being, I won’t lie! There have been days when I’ve sat and thought that I’m some kind of robot because of it and maybe I am missing out on some amazing thing. It’s frustrating that it’s still considered so ‘odd’ to not want children. 

What’s the best thing about being childfree, what freedoms has making that decision afforded you in your life and how has that fulfilled you in ways far beyond having a child ever could?

I have always loved the freedom of adulthood without children. I have a dog so I have a degree of responsibility with him and that is far more than enough. I can’t even imagine how I would find it to have to find childcare or think about another human being every second of the day. I also love that I can pretty much focus all of my income on myself and my partner. We can travel where we want, when we want and don’t have to worry about holidays or child friendly vacations.

There are so many experiences in my life that I still haven’t had and I know that I have the rest of my life to do them all, without worrying about a child alongside it. 

Jordan

Why do you think people have such a hard time accepting or believing that being childfree isn’t a phase or a knee-jerk decision but an informed life choice?

I think it’s just ingrained in society at this point. The idea that you need a child to be ‘complete’ is in so many media portrayals, TV shows, movies. I’ve seen TV shows where women have outright said that they don’t want children and then somehow the story makes them change their mind or they are forced to and they end up ‘happy’ because of it. It’s just assumed that as a woman you are born to be a mother in a way that men aren’t assumed to be born to be fathers. 

How important is it that we continue to normalise being childfree by choice and where does the boundary sit between talking about it to drive awareness and erase stigma, whilst also preserving your right to live life on your terms, unapologetically?

I think it’s extremely important! I think allowing people to really consider whether or not this kind of commitment is for them is crucial before they have a baby just because they believe it is expected of them. Not only that, but allowing childless people to enjoy their lives without the guilt that is pushed upon them by friends and family members seems to be just fair to them. I think the more people talk about it the better and hopefully one day it will be as normal as it is to have children. 

Kathryn

At what point did you know you wanted to be childfree by choice?

I think it was when the first of my close girlfriends told me she was pregnant. Whilst I was so incredibly happy for her, I just couldn’t ever picture myself as a mum. I think I was about 26 and up until that point, I had never felt maternal and I had never felt that desire for children but definitely felt like it was expected of me as a woman. 

How do you deal with the people who tell you you’ll change your mind in the future?

As I am 33 now, those people have got a lot quieter. I won’t lie – my mum was quite disappointed. I am always happy to listen to their point of view, but I am totally honest about my views and when they realise it’s not going to be a debate and my mind can’t be changed they tend to stand down. 

How did you have the conversation with your partner / how do you discuss it with someone you’re dating long-term?

James and I were best friends for years before we got together and we never really had a big/serious conversation about it, we just knew each other felt the same. We’ve also always agreed that if we ever feel like our minds are changing it’s something that’s always up for healthy discussion.

Do you find your friends and family are understanding of your choice, or do you find yourself dreading those social events where someone might try and convince you otherwise?

They are understanding now, as I have been vocal about it for many years. I do remember being at a hen party and one of the ladies spending an extended amount of time when we could have been drinking and dancing, showing me pictures of her child and trying to change my mind. 

How do you handle judgement or stigma about being childfree by choice?

I think that because I am so sure of myself, I don’t let any judgement affect me. I feel so strongly about my choice, that I just don’t see “the positives” listed from parents.

Can you explain how unsolicited opinions on your decision to be childfree by choice can make you feel?

An opinion from a friend or family member is easy to get past and happens less and less. I obviously don’t enjoy unsolicited opinions from colleagues, or people who just don’t really know me. It makes me feel exasperated, like they are blinkered, and they are just going along with what society expects. 

What’s the best thing about being childfree, what freedoms has making that decision afforded you in your life and how has that fulfilled you in ways far beyond having a child ever could?

I always think the best part for me is, I really love being “DINK” – double income, no kids.Kathryn

I personally associate bringing up a child with a lot of stress, anxiety and worry. I am already a worry-some and anxious person so I am more than happy not to have any added on top. I always think the best part for me is, I really love being “DINK” (double income, no kids) – this will always give my partner and me a wonderful sense of freedom, which we appreciate. Whenever we even THINK about going on holiday, or a long weekend away we are ecstatic at the thought of never having to be limited to “the school holidays”. I know that having a child will not make me feel fulfilled, so I can only say that the happy little life I am currently living is fulfilling, and will only flourish more as I age.


Why do you think people have such a hard time accepting or believing that being childfree isn’t a phase or a knee-jerk decision but an informed life choice?

I think, especially for women my age – it was just part of society’s expectations when we were growing up. I remember being in primary school and us girls all played in the wendy house and planned on getting married and having babies. It is so ingrained in everyone to procreate like they can’t see any other way and are unwilling to explore what their life might be like if they went down a different path. Maybe they just associate having children with ultimate fulfilment? Life doesn’t have to be a box-ticking exercise. 


How important is it that we continue to normalise being childfree by choice and where does the boundary sit between talking about it to drive awareness and erase stigma, whilst also preserving your right to live life on your terms, unapologetically?

Society seems to encourage childbearing as a necessity.
It’s almost like you don’t qualify as being a “responsible adult”, a “busy person” or “very tired” if you don’t have children. Being a parent is a special club you belong to with its own social benefits. I think it has to be said that everyone picks up the slack for parents and kids, this could be getting out of the way for a pram, being on a flight with a screaming baby, or covering for colleagues who need to leave early for school pick-up, etc. These are just expected social norms; that group of people get a little more respect by default, just because they are parents. I can understand there is a strong pull to want to be a part of that crowd like you’ve made it in life. There are no “rules” in life but the unwritten ones are – grow up, have a good job, get married and have kids. I think it should be the norm now, not to question anyone’s personal choices. It is sad that the way anyone lives when it’s slightly different to what has been done for years is looked on negatively. All we can do is talk about our feelings and be understanding whilst we live our lives unapologetically.

Amy

At what point did you know you wanted to be childfree by choice?

There was never a pinpoint moment but since I was a teenager I’ve always felt like something was missing when I thought about children and being a Mum. I’ve never had a strong maternal instinct, yeah babies are cute, but I never thought ‘oh I can’t wait to have my own’. Whenever friends and I would talk about life plans, I would say (like I think we all did) ‘yeah I’ll be married and have kids before I’m 30’ but never really thought about if I actually WANTED children, it was just something that you’re supposed to do. I always thought ‘it’s because I’m young, the maternal feeling will kick in when I’m older.’ I’m 29 this year and it still seems to be missing… 

A big factor, regardless of my personal feelings about having children, is the worry of bringing more humans into this world.Amy

A big factor, regardless of my personal feelings about having children, is the worry of bringing more humans into this world. It can be a very scary place, all of which have been highlighted even just in the first quarter of this year. Whether it’s a worldwide pandemic, racism, conflict in the monarchy, global warming, sexism, online trolling, female safety, this planet and the human race is, unfortunately, becoming more negative as time goes on and to think of how much has changed from when I was a child to now, what state is the world going to be in in another 20 years? It genuinely scares me and the thought of having to protect young people seems like a job too big for me to be honest. 

How do you deal with the people who tell you you’ll change your mind in the future?

This really does infuriate me. I would never tell anyone that they will change their mind about such a huge life decision and I’ll never understand why people think that’s ok to say to someone. If they think that, fair enough, everyone can have their opinion, but to let it leave their mouths is just plain rude and obnoxious. My biggest pet peeve in life is how insensitive people can be around this subject because no one knows what’s truly going on behind closed doors. I have friends who have been desperate to be parents and have really struggled to conceive and yet people are asking them constantly when they’re having children, why they don’t have them yet etc. How is this still happening in 2021? I genuinely think that 8 out of 10 people I know have had an issue in regards to pregnancy, whether that’s struggling to conceive, having an unplanned pregnancy or miscarrying, enough people have been through something to know not to be so insensitive and yet it still happens daily. 

How did you have the conversation with your partner / how do you discuss it with someone you’re dating long-term?

We’ve spoken about this subject a few times over the 7 years we’ve been together and to be honest, when we first got together it was a flat out; hell no. Now we’re almost 30 (AHHH) and we’re surrounded by friends who are having children and constant pregnancy announcements on social media, we still say not right now but never say never. I’m very open-minded and feel like even in 10 years, I’ll be 38 and yes it would probably be difficult, but I don’t know for sure it would be 100% off the table, biologically speaking. 

My partner is the eldest of 4, he knows how to change nappies and sterilise bottles and is a real natural with children – all friends and family members’ kids are obsessed with him! Whereas I am the baby of the family, I hadn’t changed a nappy until my nephew was born when I was 21, I still have no clue about anything to do with babies and genuinely feel like I would be a useless Mum. That sounds awful I know, but I think that is a huge part of why I feel more strongly to not have my own children. I think I’d be great at the emotional side and putting on birthday parties and making Christmas fun, but for the other 363 days a year, I’d really struggle! The bar was set super high by my own Mum, who I adore. She is an amazing cook, the house was always immaculate, she juggled a nursing career, she makes every occasion so special and memorable, she knew exactly what to do whenever we were ill or sad or worried and still does, we had everything we could ever need and I just can’t ever see myself ever matching that. People have told me ‘it’ll come’ as in, when I have kids, it comes naturally and you just learn on the spot but that’s not something I’m willing to risk.

Do you find your friends and family are understanding of your choice, or do you find yourself dreading those social events where someone might try and convince you otherwise?

I’m very lucky that I don’t have a family who put pressure on me regarding children. I know they would love it and a part of me would love to see a child we’ve created, bond with my parents, but I know that’s not a reason to have children. 

Also, my partner and I live in Australia now and all of our family are in England. If we had children here it would 1) break our family’s hearts that there is so much distance and 2) be such a struggle as we wouldn’t have that support system around us or any babysitters on tap to give us a break every now and then! I know for sure that I would be terrified as a new Mum, as I’m sure most people are anyway, but to think of going through it feeling useless and not having my Mum with me for support and guidance, there’s no way I could do it. 

My Grandparent’s shocked me actually because recently when we were catching up on FaceTime and the topic came up, I explained how my partner and I don’t feel like we will want to have children, they both said ‘we don’t blame you!’ They said although they of course love their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, they can 100% see why people would rather skip that chapter of life. They said the stress and worry never ends, even now they’re in their 80s, they’ll always worry about their kids, who are both in their 50s, hoping that they’re happy. It was refreshing to hear that because I thought they would feel the opposite. 

How do you handle judgement or stigma about being childfree by choice?

When I was younger, I used to keep it to myself because I didn’t have the courage to explain my point of view. I don’t like conflict and even now, sometimes I just choose not to elaborate or be completely open because some people I know can judge the decision very heavily and I am definitely the minority. At my old job, the talk of me having children, for some reason was constant. I’ve actually had a couple of experiences that some of my closest friends have no idea about and I definitely didn’t want to share with people I worked in an office with but it just fueled my anger about my previous point; no one knows what people could be silently battling and people need to tread lightly. There isn’t anything more life-changing than having children and yet people have conversations and ask questions so flippantly. I often say how confusing it is that if we wanted to adopt a dog, we have to have house checks and visits with the rehoming charities and fill out 100 forms and prove that we would look after the dog to the best of our abilities, but if we wanted children, we could ‘pop out’ 10 without question...

I can’t wait to be a dog mum. I think when I was created, I missed out on the maternal instinct for humans and doubled up when it comes to dogs. I’d happily have a house of 80! 

Can you explain how unsolicited opinions on your decision to be childfree by choice can make you feel?

Some people’s words have really stuck with me;

‘The sole purpose of a woman is to create children’

‘Your life will never be truly whole until you have children‘

‘You’re going to be really lonely when you grow old’

I still can’t believe these are words that have left people’s mouth’s when I’ve told them I’m not interested in having children. It makes me really sad that there are so many narrow-minded and insensitive people in the world. I have to just brush it off and hope they find peace in their own life because I’m not sure why they feel so passionately about mine. (I don’t mean for that to sound as sassy as it does haha!) Words do stick with me though and I don’t think people realise how what they say can have a lasting effect. I have often thought ‘maybe I should have children and these feelings I’m missing will come’ but I quickly snap myself out of it. It’s not fun feeling like something is missing in my DNA because I don’t have this desperate need to have children like so many people I’m surrounded by do, but that doesn’t mean I’m unhappy. I’ve created a life I’m really proud of, I have a great relationship, a loving family, the best friends, I’m healthy, there’s not much else I can ask for and I feel proud that I’m enjoying life and not chasing something else to bring happiness. 

What’s the best thing about being childfree, what freedoms has making that decision afforded you in your life and how has that fulfilled you in ways far beyond having a child ever could?

We were able to move to Australia from England, which I know 100% we wouldn’t have done if we were parents. It was a hard enough decision just for us two but the thought of having the added pressure and stress of children is scary. You have to think what’s best for them, you can’t keep uprooting because children need stability, it’s an added financial stress, you have to think about schools etc – it gives me a headache just thinking about it! I know so many people with families have done it so it’s definitely achievable but personally, I know if I ever had children, I would want to be around my family so they could have a strong relationship with my parents, grandparents, sister, nephews etc. 

Secondly, we are able to still be selfish with our time. We can enjoy a lazy day on the sofa, we can go for a night out, we can book a spontaneous weekend away, all without feeling guilty that our attention/time/money should be going to our children. Again, I know these are all things that are achievable while being parents.

What I’ve realised while writing this is that I don’t want to offend any parents. I keep feeling the need to apologise for my feelings or state ‘I know you can do this as a parent too’ and I’m not sure why. I wish the same respect was received when I tell people the opposite! 

Why do you think people have such a hard time accepting or believing that being childfree isn’t a phase or a knee-jerk decision but an informed life choice?

It can all be blamed on society and what we are told/taught to believe. As I mentioned, at school I’d talk about what age I will have children at, I never ever took a minute to think if I actually wanted them. It didn’t seem like a choice, every female I knew (who was older that my school friends and I) had children or had made it clear they were going to have them. My sister for example, all she ever wanted to be was a Mum. I’m so happy that she’s given me two beautiful nephews and she’s living the life she always dreamed of but I can’t relate. That doesn’t mean I don’t agree with it, it just means that I can’t see that happening for myself and that’s ok. 

For some people, especially older generations, it wasn’t a choice, it’s just what you did. Thankfully as time goes on, people are realising that they can design their life. You don’t HAVE to go to university, you don’t HAVE to get a 9-5 office job, you don’t HAVE to get married, you don’t HAVE to get a mortgage and you don’t HAVE to have children! Live life on your own terms. As long as you’re not hurting anyone, what’s the problem? The most important thing in life is to be happy and if I’m happy without having children, I don’t see why that is such a negative to some people. 

How important is it that we continue to normalise being childfree by choice and where does the boundary sit between talking about it to drive awareness and erase stigma, whilst also preserving your right to live life on your terms, unapologetically?

It is so important to keep having these conversations. Personally, the fact there is even going to be an article on a public forum about this topic makes me feel less alone. I’m surrounded by people who have children or are super excited to have them in the future, which is great, I don’t have any negative feelings towards them, but it does bring up those feelings within myself that I feel like I’m missing something, or something isn’t right with me for not feeling the same. Selfishly, I’m really excited to hear from other like-minded women so I don’t feel like a weirdo!

There is definitely a stigma around women especially, who don’t want children and unfortunately, I don’t know how to fix this. When I really think about it, it confuses me. People are judged when they choose not to have children and then they are put down by parents for not relating or understanding. For example, I’ve been in situations where I’ve been told I can’t ever say I’m tired because I don’t know what tired is unless I’ve been up in the night with a child and I don’t know how lucky I am to be able to have a night out or to go away just my partner and I.

Sometimes I’ve felt like saying ‘stop complaining about something that was your choice’ but of course would never. They chose to have children, and unfortunately lack of sleep is part of the deal with a baby. Everyone knows that, it’s not a shock. So why make me feel guilty for not having children and being able to do things that they also did before having children?! Madness. 

Can we all just be a bit kinder? Regardless of what the situation is, everyone has an opinion, everyone has a choice and everyone is going through something, so let’s all just be kind and live life on our own terms. 

Daisy

At what point did you know you wanted to be childfree by choice?

I don’t know an exact point, I was around a lot of children growing up and I recall always being aware of how much hard work it was. As a teenager, I remember friends talking about having children and that they “couldn’t wait” to be a mum and at the time I found that so strange. I just didn’t have the same calling. I was thinking about wanting to move out of the small town I was from, go travelling, experience the world. Into my 20’s I was aware of a deeper feeling and knowing that I just didn’t want children and as time has gone on its become deeply ingrained and something I feel very sure of.

How do you deal with the people who tell you you’ll change your mind in the future?

It can be quite triggering, creating anger and frustration at wondering why people can’t respect a decision I have made. In my 20’s it happened a lot, I got to the point where I would just end up smiling and say maybe, maybe not. I have just recently turned 30 and I feel like it is just getting to the point that people do actually respect my decision a lot more and seem to hear me out rather than treating it like a phase I would grow out of.

That said, I do always say who knows, maybe in 5 or 10 years’ time something may change and I may rethink my decision. But until then I should be respected that right now, it isn’t something I see in my future.

How did you have the conversation with your partner / how do you discuss it with someone you’re dating long-term?

I have been in a relationship for over 5 years and I was quite clear from the start. I don’t recall the exact conversations we had but it’s a topic we kept open to revisiting whenever one of us felt we needed that.

I think that it is something that should be discussed early on in a relationship and as a couple you need to hold space for your partner to honestly share their thoughts and feelings about the subject and really if you don’t agree then to have a conversation about what that means for the 2 of you, avoiding allowing any resentment or pressure to build about the topic.

Do you find your friends and family are understanding of your choice, or do you find yourself dreading those social events where someone might try and convince you otherwise?

Both friends and family are supportive, sometimes people ask questions about children still (almost checking in to see if I still hold the same idea) but always in a way of discussing the topic, I don’t ever feel judged by how they approach it.

I don’t dread any kind of social events, I’m quite an open person and I’m more than happy to have a good discussion or debate about it. That said though I do feel comfortable and confident in my decision, I imagine there may be people who aren’t and we need to be respectful of peoples boundaries.

It is a personal question to ask, someone may decide to not have children, but alternatively, they may say that but actually, it’s because they are struggling to do so. If you are about to approach this topic with someone first of all why do you feel the need to do so? (politely – it isn’t your business to keep asking women about having children) And if it does come up, be sensitive.

How do you handle judgement or stigma about being childfree by choice?

Some people say it’s selfish to not have children which still baffles me! I think the complete opposite it. I have quite strong views on how children should be raised and I think it’s selfish for people to have children and not provide a high standard of parenting to prepare your child to become an adult who is able to really contribute to society. I believe parenting involves so much more than people anticipate, the idea is exciting but are you ready to give up your independence?

It’s ok to take time to consider the options available to you, make sure to really spend time getting to know yourself Daisy

I really try to use my social platform to share my thoughts and to educate people on topics that are deemed controversial (like choosing to be child-free), why it’s ok to take time to consider the options available to you, make sure to really spend time getting to know yourself and what resonates and feels right for you. It’s interesting the questions I get and so nice to hear feedback sometimes that people have similar thoughts but always worry about how they will be received by others. 

Can you explain how unsolicited opinions on your decision to be childfree by choice can make you feel?

Disrespected. In life, we are all open to make our own decisions about what works for us and what makes us happiest.

Just because society makes me feel like the goal or norm is settling down and having children it doesn’t mean it actually is and no one should feel pressured into doing something they simply don’t want to do.

I do like children, I love cuddling tiny babies, seeing their characters develop and being able to be part of them learning their way in the world. I have 6 nieces and nephews and it’s beautiful to see them growing up and becoming little people in the world. My heart bursts with love for them. That said after a weekend together I always feel grounded in that not having children is absolutely the right decision for me LOL.

What’s the best thing about being childfree, what freedoms has making that decision afforded you in your life and how has that fulfilled you in ways far beyond having a child ever could?

Oh my gosh, I feel that there is so much here, the top one for me is freedom – to go on holiday when I want, to go out and do things on a whim, a good night sleep every night, a peaceful home, career choices, financial freedom.

I work a full-time job, have a small side business and I’m currently studying to become a health coach. If I had children I don’t think I would be able to afford to do this or have the time to commit to working and learning so much, but luckily I do have my evenings and weekends to fill with whatever brings my happiness.

I moved to London at 19 and went straight into full-time work, but now I’m planning to do some travelling in the next couple of years, to hopefully take 6 months off and go experience the world before buying a home. Not having children allows me that freedom plus financially I have been able to save well to afford this break.

My partner and I are both very into fitness, we love spending our weekends going to do a big gym session and then relaxing in the sauna after, getting home and being able to get ready to go out for a nice dinner – I simply don’t want to give those things up.

Quality time with friends and family. I have experienced the change in my relationships with people once they have children, there is suddenly more barriers, not able to meet at certain times, can’t really speak on the phone as much, can’t do things because of not being able to get a babysitter or being able to afford one plus going out. Even down to the attention you receive, child-free friends are different to friends with children.

Why do you think people have such a hard time accepting or believing that being childfree isn’t a phase or a knee-jerk decision but an informed life choice?

I think it’s sold to use from a young age that you go to school, get a job, meet the partner of your dreams, get married, have kids then just float through life until you retire. It’s what we see in movies, books and really what the majority of people do. So when someone is doing something different, outside of the box, people are suddenly really confused why they aren’t doing ‘normal’ things and will judge that quite harshly.

I also think there is an assumption that as a woman surely you must want children? It’s what you were born to do. I agree it is in our DNA, as humans reproducing is innately a part of us but we have to be understanding that for some people it doesn’t work out that way.

How important is it that we continue to normalise being childfree by choice and where does the boundary sit between talking about it to drive awareness and erase stigma, whilst also preserving your right to live life on your terms, unapologetically?

This is such an important topic that we normalise more, we need women to feel supported and empowered to make their own decision and not to feel any guilt or shame about it. I think this is a great initiative to open up the conversation more but to make sure people are aware to be careful how they approach the subject. Just like any subject where people don’t agree it should be approached in a soft way of seeking to understand, hearing what that person has to say and be loving and compassionate of their choices even if you don’t agree.

It isn’t an easy decision to make because most of the world does think you are odd for not wanting to have children and that can carry a very heavy burden of not believing in yourself or thinking that there may be something wrong with you – when it just isn’t the case.

We need to encourage people to remove their judgement, understand we are all able to make our own choices.

Lola

At what point did you know you wanted to be childfree by choice?

It’s probably only in the last few years that I’ve toyed with the idea of being childfree; children have never been a thing I have particularly longed for like I know a lot of people do. Over the last few years, I started to meet women in my realm who actively told me they didn’t want children and I think it opened my eyes to the idea that it was a path I didn’t necessarily have to go down. I’ve also been single for over 5 years now and have accepted the fact that I may not meet someone whilst I am still ‘fertile’.

I’ve reflected a lot and actually I love my life as it is – it may be ‘selfish’ but I love the fact that I don’t have to plan my weekends round playdatesLola

I’ve reflected a lot and actually I love my life as it is – it may be ‘selfish’ but I love the fact that I don’t have to plan my weekends round playdates, I get to spend my money how I choose, I get to go on holiday when I want and not have to consider how ‘child-friendly’ the place may be – I also don’t have to consider good schools when I decide where to live. I think when I reflected on those things, I realised I actually didn’t want a little human to come and change all that. Now don’t get me wrong I LOVE babies, I love children – I am a primary teacher so I do love spending time with children. But the thought of coming home after a stressful day’s work and having to think about a mini human’s needs before my own? It may sound utterly selfish – but it for sure is not for me. The last year has also confirmed it for me. The amount of parents I have seen on my social media struggling with their little ones – I bloody loved the fact that I only had myself to entertain and not a toddler or a child too. I honestly think those people deserve medals – it is not for everyone!

How do you deal with the people who tell you you’ll change your mind in the future?

Luckily I haven’t had a lot of people say this to me – and whilst they are right in a way that I could change my mind (I never rule anything out in life) I wouldn’t say to someone with a child/children that they’ll change their mind in the future – can you imagine? 

Also as it’s something I’m on the fence about, I would also say to these people, what if I were to have a child and change my mind then? Of course, I would love that child – but you can’t take it back can you? It’s not something to do just because all your friends are doing it and you think that babies are cute. Whilst I love babies and children – I also like giving them back to their parents. I think a lot of people forget as well, you aren’t just giving birth to a baby – you are giving birth to a human being (obviously), who is going to grow up into a child, then a teenager, and eventually an adult. Now I am 30 and still ring my mum over the tiniest things – essentially you are saying yes to a whole lifetime of having a person (or people) that depend on you wholeheartedly. Now I can imagine for a lot of people that’s ok, but I think for those people that have babies because they just think it’s the next step in life or something you ‘have to do’ to please remember that you essentially giving birth to 24-hour dependants!

How did you have the conversation with your partner / how do you discuss it with someone you’re dating long-term?

As I am single, I would probably make it very clear from the offset if things were getting serious and that if children are something they wanted in their future they would need to meet someone else who is also on board with their goals. I think a lot of men don’t realise how many sacrifices women make to have children and whilst I know there are some fantastic men that are great fathers out there, I also know there are a lot who aren’t, and I wouldn’t be willing to take that risk of potentially being a single parent if things weren’t to work out in that relationship. 

Do you find your friends and family are understanding of your choice, or do you find yourself dreading those social events where someone might try and convince you otherwise?

As I live abroad, not in the UK, luckily I miss a lot of family events, but on the whole, I think these kind of things are becoming a lot more ordinary and my family know my life goals and what I want from it. 

How do you handle judgement or stigma about being childfree by choice?

I remind myself that I am loving and kind and generous and I don’t need children to be happy. I throw it right back at them – at the end of the day, the world is being overpopulated right now and apparently, one of the worst things you can do for the environment has a baby – so normally I throw that fact back at people. Luckily I don’t have many people in my life who would throw judgement back.  

Can you explain how unsolicited opinions on your decision to be childfree by choice can make you feel?

Normally when people have unsolicited opinions it means they’re jealous or not happy with their own choice. Honestly, it would have made me upset a while back, but people will have an unsolicited opinion no matter what you do, so I stand proud by my decisions, particularly when I see a child having a tantrum in public – I do a little silent cheer to myself. 

What’s the best thing about being childfree, what freedoms has making that decision afforded you in your life and how has that fulfilled you in ways far beyond having a child ever could?

I think a lot of people think you need children to be happy – and whilst that is probably true for some people, I also see a lot of moaning, unhappy parents on social media – particularly in the past year having had lots of lockdowns.

I have managed to move abroad to two countries – something that would have been more difficult with children – there would have been a lot more things to factor in. I can go on holiday when I want, although ironically being a teacher – I still have to consider holiday dates. I get to binge watch shows in lockdown and read when I want with peace – I honestly am not sure how people deal with toddlers all day (shudder)

I am also thinking about doing a Masters to advance or change my career – something I am not sure would be financially possible if I had a child. My life fulfils me because these are all decisions I have made which make me happy. Would a child make my life any happier? I’m not sure but I’m not willing to take a gamble to see. 

Why do you think people have such a hard time accepting or believing that being childfree isn’t a phase or a knee-jerk decision but an informed life choice?

I think because we are preconditioned from previous generations that we go to school, get married/meet someone and then you have babies – no one presents you with alternative options when you’re young, so I think unless you meet people that are child-free, then maybe a lot of people get caught in that life-cycle. 

How important is it that we continue to normalise being childfree by choice and where does the boundary sit between talking about it to drive awareness and erase stigma, whilst also preserving your right to live life on your terms, unapologetically?

I think we need to normalise it because there are probably a lot of women out there that have grown up thinking they have to have children, even if it’s not something they necessarily desire. I have read parenthood regret articles where parents have actually said ‘don’t do it, unless you have a heartfelt desire to have a child’. Again as I said previously, a child is not something you can return if you don’t enjoy the experience, you can’t change your mind – so we need to normalise this idea that you can opt-out if it’s something you aren’t even sure about. 

TEAM ZOELLA APRIL 15, 2021

21 Hair Accessories to Add a Little Bit of Spice to Your Look

From scrunchies to slides and bands to barrettes, the likes of Gucci, Prada and Fendi have popularised and driven this trend to trickle down to our high street favourites.

Hairdressers open? Check. Ability to style our hair like a pro day-to-day? Not check. Whilst our roots may have been touched up and split ends banished, we all need a helping hand every now and then to keep our locks looking effortlessly undone (something which really is quite the skill) as we emerge into post lockdown life. 

If you’re a curling novice or can never quite get the hang of beach babe waves, a selection of go-to hair accessories might just be your saving grace.

If you’re a curling novice or can never quite get the hang of beach babe waves, a selection of go-to hair accessories might just be your saving grace in moments of getting-ready-panic. From scrunchies to slides and bands to barrettes, the likes of Gucci, Prada and Fendi have popularised and driven this trend to trickle down to our high street favourites. Exaggerated bows, satin headbands and 90s claw clips are especially in right now, adding a little bit of spice to any look and masking a greasy hair day quicker than you can scrabble for a can of dry shampoo. 

Whether you’re sporting Rapunzel length locks or are all about the short and stylish lob, most of these accessories are interchangeable no matter your style, adding a fun je ne sais quoi to your summer wardrobe and 10+ cool girl points too.

*This post contains ad-affiliate links

TEAM ZOELLA APRIL 14, 2021

Learning All About Birth Control: More Than Just the Pill

An overview of the different types of birth control from the copper coil to caps and handy low-maintenance patches, so when you sit down for a chat with your GP or practice nurse, you’ll be all clued up on all the pregnancy prevention possibilities.

For anyone whose knowledge of birth control starts and ends with your textbook Microgynon pill, we’re here to help demystify the different types of contraception available and figure out what option could be a good fit for you.

We’re here to help demystify the different types of contraception available

There’s no one-size-fits-all or best method when it comes to birth control as we all have different experiences and bodies, which is why you should always consult your GP when deciding which method will work best for you and your lifestyle.

Keep scrolling for an overview of the different types of birth control from the copper coil to caps and handy low-maintenance patches, so when you sit down for a chat with your GP or practice nurse, you’ll be all clued up on all the pregnancy prevention possibilities.

The Implant

The contraceptive implant (Nexplanon) is a thin flexible rod about the same size of a matchstick and is placed under the skin in the upper arm. It releases the hormone progestogen which thickens the mucus on your cervix to prevent sperm reaching the egg and inhibits ovulation, thus preventing you from getting pregnant.

For anyone who doesn’t want the responsibility or the hassle of remembering to take a pill every day, the implant can last for three years before it needs to be replaced (but can be removed anytime) and is more than 99% effective. It’s a great reliable form of birth control and especially convenient for anyone who can’t use oestrogen-based contraception.

It works soon after it is put in, for some people it’s straight away depending on where you are in your cycle but most medical advice suggests it can take seven days before it’s reliable, so always use alternative methods of contraception in the interim.

Some side effects associated with the implant, as with most forms of contraception, can include irregular periods or absence of menstruation (amenorrhea), headaches, decreased sex drive, mood swings and weight gain.

The Contraceptive Pill

The combined pill – often just referred to as the pill – contains synthetic versions of the hormones oestrogen and progesterone, which are produced naturally in the ovaries.

The most commonly prescribed pill is the monophasic or single-phase type. This pill comes in either 21-day or 28-day packs. People taking the 21-day formulation would have 21 days of active hormones followed by seven days without pills. Those on the 28-day pack take active hormones for 21 days and a placebo pill with inactive ingredients for seven days. In both cases, the seven-day break is when menstruation occurs. Microgynon and Yasmin are examples of this type of pill.

Multi-phasic pills provide different strengths of hormones and are designed to be taken at specific times throughout the course of each pill pack.

The mini pill is a progestin-only pill taken every day without a seven-day break. It is a good option for anyone who is breast-feeding or can’t use oestrogen-based contraception for health / other reasons.

When taken correctly at the same time every day and with food, the pill is over 99% effective however, if you miss a pill, vomit or have diarrhoea you are not protected and could get pregnant.

IUD (Intrauterine Device) / Copper Coil

An IUD, also known as the coil, is a small T-shaped copper device inserted through your cervix into the uterus. It works by producing an inflammatory reaction to interfere with the sperm, preventing pregnancy.

It’s hormone-free so there are none of the common side effects you can experience on the pill, it works immediately and can last for five – ten years so for longevity and convenience purposes, this is a great set-it-and-forget-it form of birth control.

Having an IUD fitted can be slightly uncomfortable for some people but and you can discuss having a local anaesthetic beforehand and you can stop at any point during the procedure.

Your partner should not be able to feel the device during sex. If they can, you should make an appointment with your GP straight away.

IUS (Intrauterine System)

Like the IUD, the IUS is a flexible T-shaped plastic device inserted into your womb. It releases the hormone progesterone to thicken the mucus in the neck of the womb therefore preventing sperm from reaching the egg to fertilise it. It also makes the lining of the womb thinner, so a fertilised egg is less likely to implant itself. It can last three to five years depending on the brand.

If it’s fitted within the first seven days of your cycle, you’ll be protected immediately. If it’s fitted at any other time, use additional contraception such as condoms for a week afterwards.

It’s common to feel period-like cramping afterwards but pain relief can ease any discomfort.

Check your IUS is in place regularly during the first month and after each period. If you cannot feel the threads or think it may have moved, you will not be protected against pregnancy. See a GP straight away and use additional contraception.

The IUS can also be used to manage severe period symptoms, endometriosis and chronic pelvic pain.

Vaginal Ring

The NuvaRing is a small flexible ring placed on the inside of your vagina. It releases a continuous dose of oestrogen and progestogen to prevent pregnancy. One of the benefits of the vaginal ring is, unlike the pill, it still works regardless of sickness or diarrhoea. You wear the ring for 21 days then take it out for a seven-day interval, during which you’re still protected against pregnancy. After the seven days, put a new ring in (you can set a reminder on your phone so you don’t forget you’re due a new ring).

You’re fine to use tampons and have sex with the ring in – you may be able to feel the ring during sex but this is nothing to worry about.

The Contraceptive Injection (Depo-Provera)

The injection releases progestogen into your bloodstream to prevent ovulation. Depo-Provera is the most common type given in the UK and lasts for 13 weeks. Noristerat may also be given, which lasts for eight weeks.

As with some other methods of birth control, if you have it during the first five days of your cycle, you’re protected against pregnancy immediately. On any other day of your cycle, you’ll need to use additional contraception for seven days such as condoms.

It’s a particularly suitable option for anyone who cannot use oestrogen-based birth control, or who struggles to remember to take the pill every day / change their patch weekly, for example. It can also help relieve some pre-menstrual symptoms for menstruators.

Birth Control Patch (Evra)

The small patch, called Evra in the UK, releases oestrogen and progestogen through the skin into your bloodstream to prevent pregnancy. Each patch lasts one week – you’ll wear a new patch every week for three weeks and then have a patch-free week on your fourth week. During your patch break, you may experience period-like withdrawal bleeding, although this isn’t always the case.

Like the vaginal ring, you don’t need to think about it every day, you can wear it swimming, in the shower or while playing sports and it’s still effective if you have diarrhoea and sickness. The only downside is its visibility but if you can deal with that, it’s a pretty good all-rounder.

Contraceptive Diaphragm / Cervical Cap

The contraceptive diaphragm or cap is a barrier method of contraception that’s used in conjunction with Spermicide – a gel used to kill sperm.

Unlike the vaginal ring, the soft silicone dome fits inside the vagina and covers the cervix, preventing sperm from reaching the uterus to fertilise an egg.

It’s not the most popular or effective form of contraception (92-96%) as it relies on the wearer positioning it correctly, it interrupts sex and it can take time to learn how to use it but one advantage is you only have to wear it during sex. However, you do have to keep it in for six hours after the last time you had sex.

If you have sex three hours after putting it in, you will need to add extra Spermicide.

Condoms

Condoms are the only form of contraception that protects against sexually transmitted infection (STIs) and pregnancy. External condoms are a barrier method of contraception made from a thin latex rubber and worn on an erect penis to prevent pregnancy. They’re readily available and come in a variety of shapes and sizes.

If you’re using latex condoms, it’s important that you don’t use oil-based lubricant as this can damage the condom and make it more likely to split.

Condoms for people with vaginas are less common and not as effective (95%) as external condoms. This form of contraception is worn inside the vagina to stop sperm meeting an egg.

The most common types of condom include:

  • Latex condoms
  • Textured condoms
  • Flavoured condoms
  • Lubricated condoms
  • Latex-free condoms

Sympto-Thermal Method / Fertility Awareness Method

The Sympto-Thermal Method (STM) is a natural fertility awareness-based method. It requires the person with a vagina to observe and record their cervical fluid secretions, basal body temperature and other biological signs to identify most fertile days in their cycle. Couples can use this method to both achieve and avoid pregnancy, by abstaining from sex on the days when you’re most fertile or using alternative contraception.

One advantage of STM is that it is a completely natural, hormone-free, side-effect free fertility awareness method and enables a person to better understand their body and menstrual cycle. According to Natural Cycles, it is 93% effective with typical use, however it remains one of the least effective forms of pregnancy prevention due to the margin for human error. If you have irregular cycles, it’s probably not the most suitable or reliable form of birth control for you.

For more guidance on choosing contraception that’s right for you, consult your GP and the NHS website here.

DANIELLE APRIL 13, 2021

13 Questions With Nancy Johnson

We caught up with the author of this months Zoella Book Club, to as what the inspiration was behind her debut novel, what the process for creating it was like and what she's working on now!

First off, how are you and how is your 2021 going?

I’m getting my second COVID vaccine shot soon so I’m closer to being able to hang out for hours in real bookstores, and I can’t wait! This is the year that my lifelong dream came true. The story of my imagination is out in the world now. The acclaim that The Kindest Lie has received—reviews in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times—has been surreal. Also, Entertainment Weekly put my novel on its must-list. Still, the best part has been connecting with readers, hearing how the book resonated with them.

We’re so excited to be reading The Kindest Lie for our April Book Club, can you tell us about the process for writing it?

I always tell people it took me six years to write the novel, but that’s not exactly true. I wasn’t writing every day, week, or even month of that time. No one was waiting for the book so I could take my time. I’m not an outliner; instead, I let the characters speak to me and take me on a journey of their evolution. For my second book, I have a deadline, so we’ll see how pantsing my way through works out!

For The Kindest Lie, I started with the themes of race and class during the economic insecurity of America’s 2008 Great Recession. From there, I identified the characters who would inhabit this world and tell us something about these issues. That’s how I birthed Ruth, a successful Black engineer searching for the son she walked away from, and Midnight, a poor, 11-year-old white boy mired in the poverty she escaped.

Where did you first get the idea to write The Kindest Lie?

November of 2008 will always stand out for me because of two poignant moments: the death of my father and the election of Barack Obama as President of the United States. Weeks before the election, my father cast the last vote of his life for our first Black president. People in the United States and around the world felt a sense of hope because we’d transcended this barrier. At the same time, some were saying we were post-racial, but I knew that was a fallacy. I was inspired to write about the deep divide between Black and white America that was exacerbated by the financial strain. That’s how I conceived this novel.

A lot of people may know you better for television journalism at CBS and ABC, what made you decide to start writing fiction?

Television news gave me my storytelling chops, and for that, I’m grateful. In the news business, we had a saying: “If it bleeds, it leads.” I’d be covering an endlessly fascinating human interest story and then be diverted to a homicide. So, I left news and moved into public relations and corporate communications, which I still do today. Still, I yearned to tell the stories of my own imagination, particularly those about the struggles and triumphs of the Black community. A career as a novelist was the perfect fit.

The Kindest Lie looks at racism, classism and the divide between black and white communities in America. What are you hoping people will feel after finishing it?

Many of us exist in siloes, isolated from each other. We live in different neighbourhoods and go to different schools. There’s no sense of shared community and understanding of others and their life experiences. When readers sink into this story, they will undoubtedly see the world through a new lens. My greatest hope is that my novel will help us build empathy, and I believe in the power of fiction and books like mine to do just that.

Your book has been labelled as one of the most anticipated books of 2021, how do you deal with the pressure when you’re venturing into a new or different career path?

I’ve always been a writer and storyteller, so the transition to fiction wasn’t as daunting as it might have been for someone approaching it from a less creative field. Much of the pressure I felt was self-imposed. I desperately wanted readers to connect with the characters of Ruth, Midnight, Corey, Mama, and Eli. I’m delighted that so many readers consider them family now. As a debut novelist, I didn’t know what to expect. The acclaim from the industry and reviewers came as a pleasant surprise. The real pressure now is for my second book to live up to and exceed my debut.

What would your advice be for someone looking to start writing a novel despite working in a different field?

You are a writer, even on the difficult days when the words don’t come easily.

Use your unique life and work experiences to give your writing grit and depth and perspective.

Treat writing as a practice and always be a student of books.

Join writing communities; they will lift you in the hard times and celebrate you in your successes.

Be kind to yourself on the journey.

What are you currently working on?

I’m excited to share that I sold my second novel, PEOPLE OF MEANS, also to William Morrow/HarperCollins. It’s a dual timeline book about an affluent Black mother and daughter coming of age during national moments of racial reckoning in America. The story is set during the 1960s Civil Rights Movement in Nashville, Tennessee and the 1992 Los Angeles, California riots after the acquittal of four white police officers in the beating of motorist Rodney King.

Who are some of your favourite authors at the moment?

I’m devouring multiple books at the moment, loving them all. Right now, I’m reading nonfiction from Isabel Wilkerson as well as fiction from Naima Coster, Dawnie Walton, and Kate Quinn. Their brilliant works are instructive as I begin crafting my second novel.

What does your perfect weekend look like?

I’m such a nerd. My perfect weekend involves books, bookstores, and coffee shops where I can spend more time with books! I also love joining friends for dinner or going to backyard barbecues where the smoke from ribs on the grill wafts onto the street. Yes, I’m dreaming of summer already!

What do you always carry with you?

It’s so unsexy, but I keep an inhaler with me for my asthma. Let’s see, what else? Lotion, lipstick and powder are must-haves as well. And as you can imagine, I always have a book with me, even if it’s an audio one on my phone.

What would your last ever meal be?

I’d ask my Aunt Mary to prepare my last meal, even though I’m not sure I’d enjoy it knowing it’s my last one. On the menu would be lamb, sweet potatoes, cream corn, green beans, mashed potatoes, and her famous hot yeast rolls!

What is one positive piece of advice you could give to our audience?

Find your passion, whatever it is, and pursue it. Keep chasing it even when it’s elusive. If you can, use that passion to build a more just, loving, and equitable world.

TEAM ZOELLA APRIL 12, 2021

Managing Our Mental Health As We Head Back Out

It’s helpful to remember that as we’re finally reacquainted with ‘precedented’ times, you’re entitled to feel confused, anxious and every shade of emotion in between.

The end of lockdown yields many, many mixed emotions. Whilst plenty of us will be craving calendars sandwiched with places to be and people to see, tagging everyone we know in June 21st memes and booking festivals, some of will be feeling overwhelmed with the task of picking life back up where we left off.

It’s taken a whole year to adjust to the new normal and now we’re preparing to return to the old normal

It’s taken a whole year to adjust to the new normal (aka, surviving) and now we’re preparing to return to the old normal, which isn’t the kind of normal we recognise at all, or at least haven’t hung out with for 12 long months. When we consider the enormity of this milestone, of course, it’s going to be a strange transition. Nothing about going in or coming out of a pandemic is ordinary.

It’s helpful to remember that as we’re finally reacquainted with ‘precedented’ times, you’re entitled to feel confused, anxious and every shade of emotion in between. The lockdown switch won’t look the same for everyone and if you’ve got to find your groove gradually rather than going zero to a hundred, so be it.

As we get bombarded with birthdays, weddings and making-up-for-lost-time requests, here’s your reminder that it’s perfectly ok – and healthy – to have boundaries in 2021. It doesn’t make you a shitty friend if you’re not falling over yourself to connect at every opportunity. If one on one walks is living your best life, keep that rhythm. Now is not the time to test our friendships and push our pals to take on more normality than they’re ready for.

Let’s normalise going at our own pace, saying hard pass to nightclubs if that’s what you need and banishing guilt for turning down the invite.

Carefree days are coming and we should absolutely celebrate this breakthrough moment but we should do so through the lens of self-compassion and empathy, not judgement or peer-pressure. It’s ok to breathe a sigh of relief and rejoice at the thought of drinking Pimm’s in a pub garden and juggling eight conversations at once but it’s also ok to acknowledge that this next chapter might not be straightforward for everyone.

Let’s normalise going at our own pace, saying hard pass to nightclubs if that’s what you need and banishing guilt for turning down the invite.

And in the interest of talking about big feelings – the magic and the messy – here’s how Team Zoella are feeling about returning to our pre-coronavirus lives.

Charlotte Says…

Gahhh normal life, I feel in such a conundrum with it! I have perhaps a different relationship with ‘normality’ because returning to normal for me will in fact be a totally different life to the one I was living before and the thought of that is a teeny bit terrifying. I suppose in that regard I don’t have the same sense of relief, familiarity or comfort as I’m having to adjust to the idea of a new chapter and ultimately this will mark the end of life before. It probably sounds a bit dramatic, but I’ll be emerging into 2021 single for the first time in my adult life, in a city, I only lived in for 2 months pre-pandemic, and dealing with a health issue that again wasn’t present in my life before.

The longer I’ve had to think about life returning to normal, the less overwhelming it seems, and through talking with friends and my therapist I know that there are lovely aspects of life I will really enjoy being a part of that I’ve possibly disregarded. Everything from being able to go to live music again (1D boys I’m coming for you), travelling (even in the UK) and dancing in a bar with the girls brings me a lot of joy, so in my moments of panic, I just try to imagine myself enjoying those moments without this extra baggage.

through talking with friends and my therapist I know that there are lovely aspects of life I will really enjoy being a part of that I’ve possibly disregarded.Charlotte

I guess the introverted part of my personality has secretly enjoyed the moments of solitude and lack of expectations, and I think I’ll struggle to leave this behind. One of my biggest obstacles in anxiety and mental health is feeling like I’m behind in life and that I’m missing out, and not having to stress about FOMO has been such a blessing- it’s honestly normally so torturous! I don’t think I’m mentally prepared for quite how intense it’s going to be when everyone has plans and is wanting to make the most of every spare second outside of working as both financially and physically it’s going to be tricky finding balance. We’ve had too much solitude and emptiness and now we might have too much intensity. It also feels like I’m being ‘boring’ in feeling this way- I think that’s an emotion I’ve tried to suppress because I don’t want to seem like a party pooper.

Anyway! Just from reading the rest of the team’s insight has made me feel 10x more reassured and remember that it’s totally normal to be nervous about change. We got this!

Lareese Says…

Some days I wake up and I’m very much raring to go. I’m ready for variety, ready for the horrendous hangovers, ready for the blurry photos of unidentifiable objects and prosecco fuelled chaos in my camera roll, ready for the effervescent rush of a social life without the lockdown proviso. Just to be able to reclaim that soft, carefree Friday feeling when a weekend felt like a weekend ya know?

But then I also have days where I want to stay right here. I feel reluctant to cut ties with home comforts and press play on normality. I have a real soft spot for the simplicity we were granted over this last year, and although we had to give up a lot, it felt, to me at least, that we discovered a new way to live. I haven’t hated working from home constantly (even if my work-life boundaries have completely dissolved) and I’ve basked in the slower pace and the simple rhythm of morning coffee, walk, read. All the things I’d previously written off as vanilla are now all the things I physically crave in order to switch off and recalibrate.

I guess my biggest worry is losing that sense of perspective and forgetting the wholesome magic of doing nothing of note.Lareese

I had no idea how much I value disconnection before – I love the freedom of being unreachable which I think is why I fell in love with sea swimming so much. I couldn’t be on my phone, I couldn’t work – it’s the pinnacle of weightlessness. So, I guess my biggest worry is losing that sense of perspective and forgetting the wholesome magic of doing nothing of note. I want more of that where we’re heading. Walking, swimming and reading are the pillars of my mental wellbeing and lockdown made it very apparent that the simplest of self-care is what brings me back to my best. From now on, I’ll measure productivity in how many trees I’ve breathed in that week lol.

So whilst I can’t wait to live life in more colour in all the best possible ways, I’ll certainly be carving out some time for more lockdown-esque days and striking a careful balance between pub gardens & protagonists, walking in the woods & necking wine with my wild ones, going out out and staying (unapologetically) in in. A little bit of this, a little bit of that.

Darcey Says…

Ahh normality, we’ve all pined for it for months and now it’s creeping round the corner, it can feel a tad overwhelming. Some days I feel really excited for the fun that is ahead, nights out dancing with friends, exploring new places again, live music, social events, hugging people!! Some days the pressure of it all can be a bit much, this pressure to come out of lockdown and never say no to a plan again. That if you aren’t making the most of your newfound freedom, you are wasting your time. I think it is so important to remember that line when we first went into lockdown and everyone said “you don’t have to learn a new skill, you don’t have to be productive every day” the same applies to normality. Days snuggled up in bed are still okay, saying no to plans is OKAY! We all need boundaries and we all need rest time, otherwise, our social batteries will burn out.

Days snuggled up in bed are still okay, saying no to plans is OKAY! Darcey

Life for me pre-lockdown will be quite different too and that’s quite daunting. I’ve had a lot of growing up to do this past year after my Mum became unwell back in June, so I’ve spent the last 10 months shielding, so to now be vaccinated and allowed to see friends and family again is a strange but exciting feeling. I am so excited for my first pint in a pub, or to go to a bar again, but I also need to remember not to go in headfirst and overwhelm myself. I think really this Summer I just can’t wait to finally have the freedom to catch up with friends and family again more, so I think I should feel pretty comfortable in those situations.

I’m really looking forward to Brighton Pride as well, which surprised me as I thought I’d find the idea too overwhelming with all the crowds, but actually, I can’t wait to be dancing with strangers again and the joy it brings to people!

I’ve had a transformative year in a lot of ways, I’ve been going to therapy for the last 8 months and I feel I’ve made a lot of personal growth from this and that has really begun to shift my mindset. So I suppose some fear I have is that I do feel that I am a different person now, so I can’t imagine myself in so many social situations now because I don’t know how the ‘new’ me will be in them. I have a lot of hope that actually I’ll feel more free in social situations, without the added anxiety I used to have, but also anxiety may come from a lack of socialising due to Covid… It’s so tricky to know!

I think, all in all, I am more excited than I am worried about normality, but I want to make sure I do things at my own pace, I want to feel comfortable and I want to enjoy the moment. I also will be saying no to plans still, lockdown has taught me how much I value my own space and time, it’s good for my mental health and I need that reset time. It’s all about balance babyyy!

Danielle Says…

I think I’m in a situation that a lot of people might find themselves in this time around which is that my life pre-covid is no longer my life? I moved house in December, and I moved a lot further out of Brighton so the life I had last March is so different to what it is now. So I’m mostly nervous about what that means for me when everything opens up, will I have enough to do? Will I miss Brighton more than I thought now that I can’t just wander into town? We’ll also be going back to a new office for work (which I’m obviously super excited about!) but it’ll also come with a new commute which I haven’t done before, and usually, most of my anxiety stems from the unknown, so knowing my whole working life will change into something new that I can’t picture yet makes me unsettled. In reality, I know I’ll adapt just like we have to work from home, but I’m definitely apprehensive about going through a big period of change again.

I’m so pleased my parents and vulnerable family have been vaccinated, which is why it feels so different to when we opened up last summer. Danielle

In terms of being worried about actual COVID, I trust that the government will only let us out and about when numbers are low, and we’re lucky enough to be in a demographic where getting infected still has a very high chance of survival. I’m so pleased my parents and vulnerable family have been vaccinated, which is why it feels so different to when we opened up last summer.

I’ll keep an eye on the daily numbers, the same as I have for the past year and if it looks like another wave is coming I’ll limit my social interactions. Mostly I’m just going to take each week as it comes, try not to get too overwhelmed by it all and try not to feel like I should ‘be doing more’ on weekends where I need to relax!

TEAM ZOELLA APRIL 11, 2021

Weekly Wants: Beer Garden Outfits for April 12th

Chin chin friends, it's finally time to hit up the local boozer and you best believe we'll be doing so at every given opportunity for the foreseeable future- our outgoing "pub?" texts just skyrocketed and we ain't sorry about it.

Chin chin friends, it’s finally time to hit up the local boozer and you best believe we’ll be doing so at every given opportunity for the foreseeable future- our outgoing “pub?” texts just skyrocketed and we ain’t sorry about it. The only thing that could make this momentous occasion even more tantalising would be the presence of some sunshine ( camera pans to us in our puffer coats and gloves ), but we can’t have it all, can we!

Despite the not so promising weather forecast, pub gardens evoke the height of summer, bare leg realness and so the gingham, sandals and sunnies will be out regardless- if there was ever a time to dress inappropriately then it’s now! Whether you’re a wine, gin, cocktail or mocktail kinda gal, ‘beer gardens outfits’ are about to become the topic of your drifting off to sleep thoughts, and this week’s team picks offer the perfect inspiration starting point.

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TEAM ZOELLA APRIL 10, 2021

We Planned the Perfect Weekend in Brighton So You Don’t Have To

Brighton holds a special place in our hearts and between us, we’ve accrued a few holy grail hang-outs from bakeries (priorities) to coffee shops, restaurants, boozers and beyond.

With holidaying abroad looking unlikely this year, you’re probably looking at exploring a little closer to home and making the most of those UK staycation hotspots.

Brighton holds a special place in our hearts and between us, we’ve accrued a few holy grail hang-outs from bakeries (priorities) to coffee shops, restaurants, boozers and beyond.

As staycations and Spring getaways go, you can do a lot worse than Brighton. She’s a total babe. You’ve got the beach, the countryside, the buzz of the city and the cottagecore beauty spots all in one place.

To save you the faff of muddling through your Insta saves and hitting up everyone you know within a 5 mile radius of BN1 fishing for their recommendations, we’ve planned a dreamy itinerary for you, so you don’t have to. You’ll be pleased to know there’s not a tub of pickled cockles or a stick of rock in sight.

Find all our hotspots listed below on our handy Google Map!

Start your day with a coffee & pastry

If you’re anything like us, a city break is always food and coffee oriented so while, ‘but first coffee’ might be the new live, laugh, love, it’s undeniably accurate.

Grab a next-level pastry from Julien Plumart (the best of all the land, trust us, we’ve eaten enough of ‘em) and a coffee from Pelicano en route to the seafront. That should set you up for the day nicely.

📍 Julian Plumart 48 Queens Rd, Brighton BN1 3XB
📍 Pelicano Coffee 28 Queens Rd, Brighton BN1 3XA

Indulge in a spot of flower therapy

Flower heads, you’ll be very looked after in Brighton. There are so many talented floral creatives in our home-town but for fresh blooms, Kate Langdale has our heart. She’s been in the business for 35 years and has a special eye for romantic, wild arrangements with a nod to vintage charm. Her hand-tied bouquets are summin’ special.

For everlasting dried florals, look no further than Phohm – give Phoebe Mulrooney some pampas grass and a masterpiece she shall make.

📍 Kate Langdale at Seven Dials
📍 Phohm 12 Meeting House Ln, Brighton BN1 1HB

Tuck into small plates at The Flint House

Dine at any of the Gingerman Group restaurants and you know you’ll be in good hands. The Flint House is the newest addition to the Gingerman collection, located in the heart of the famous Brighton lanes and, as luck would have it, just next door to our favourite organic ice cream shop.

Order a minimum of 2-3 plates each (any less is a culinary offence) and a glass of Ridgeview Bloomsbury to wash it down. If you can bagsy a seat on the rooftop terrace on a sunny day, then you’d be a fool not to make it a bottle. We pray they bring back the courgette flower, for your sake.

📍 The Flint House 13 Hanningtons Ln, Brighton BN1 1GS

Get an artisan ice cream to go from Brass Monkey or Boho Gelato

Brass Monkey isn’t just any old ice cream parlour. The menu changes regularly but you can guarantee they’ll always have a unique flavour that will leave your taste buds shook. The honey and lavender is a non-negotiable if we’re to remain friends.

Boho Gelato simply needs to introduction, one of Zoe’s absolute favourites for weird and wonderful flavours. Crack into carrot cake, pistachio or gin and tonic if you’re feeling fancy!

📍 Brass Monkey: 8 Hanningtons Ln, Brighton BN1 1GS
📍 Boho Gelato: 6 Pool Valley, Brighton BN1 1NJ

Make room for doughnuts at The Flour Pot Bakery

If you’re arriving in Brighton on a Friday, make it your business to sniff out a Flour Pot Bakery before they sell out of their legendary doughnuts. No one masters the doughnut to filling ratio quite like these guys.

📍 40 Sydney St, Brighton BN1 4EP

Pick up some new mags

Serving the best selection of niche titles and beautifully designed independent magazines, Magazine Brighton is a must-shop for every print enthusiast. Discover new titles or pick up the latest issue of your faithful favourites to take home with you.

📍 23 Trafalgar St, Brighton BN1 4EQ

Go thrifting and hit the photobooth in the lanes

No trip to B Town is complete without navigating the turnstile at Snoopers Paradise. Step back in time, browse the eccentric bric-a-brac and don’t miss the vintage attic upstairs for all your prairie dress wishes. Once you’re done hunting for treasure, help yourself to props and hop in the olde worlde photo booth for a black and white memento.

📍 Snoopers Paradise 7/8 Kensington Gardens, Brighton BN1 4AL

Recline at the beach

Depending on what time of year you visit, you might be lucky enough to catch the darling starlings making moves over the pier. Their winged wizardry will first make you gasp, then cry, then grin before weeping again. It’s pure poetry to watch.

Get your pictures at the West Pier and the bandstand then mosey on down to the colourful beach hut lined Hove Lawns for a slightly quieter pew on the pebbles.

📍 Hove Lawns Kingsway, Hove BN3 2FR

Try Baby Bao at The Pond

Brightonians know this is the good place. The independent pub serves knock out Taiwanese steamed buns and small plates. Choose from pork belly classic bao, fried chicken, tofu, smoked mushroom, roasted cod, banana blossom and grilled shrimp. Or just order one of each – no ducks given. Just so you know, resisting the skin-on house fries will be heavily frowned upon in these parts.

📍 The Pond, 49 Gloucester Road, Brighton, BN1 4AQ

Get your head down at Artist Residence

Staying the night? Get some sound sleep at Artist Residence, located just off the seafront on Regency Square. Beautiful interiors, ocean views, banging grub and dangerously drinkable cocktails, it’s the ideal spot to work on your eat, sleep, repeat routine. Plus, the sea breeze will sort your hangover right out.

📍 Artist Residence 33 Regency Square, Brighton BN1 2GG

Have an easy Sunday morning at Café Marmalade

This cosy spot tucked away in a charming old dairy in Kemptown is a little further out but worth it for the breakfast. From childhood classics – hello dippy eggs & soldiers – to brunch dishes with a twist and 10/10 coffee, it’s the perfect spot to while away the weekend come rain or shine. In fact, it’s even cosier on a drizzly day when the windows steam up and you’re just sat there like a mysterious up and coming novelist with your coffee, your book and ya eggs. Pure Bliss.

📍 Café Marmalade, 237A Eastern Rd, Brighton BN2 5JJ

Hike up Devil’s Dyke

Get up and at ‘em with a spot of countryside ambling. Devil’s Dyke is a legendary beauty spot just a short Uber from the city but a world away from the hustle and bustle. Pack a picnic or stop in at the dog-friendly watering hole at the top of the hill for all the country pub classics or a hearty Sunday roast.

NB: Just avoid the various car parks en route to the top because your eyes will not be bale to un-see what goes on up there in the late / early hours. We found out the hard way.

📍 Devil’s Dyke Rd, Brighton BN1 8YJ

Stop and shop at some of Brighton’s most-loved independent stores

Independent shops and small businesses = Brighton’s bread and butter, and as curated stores go Our Daily Edit and Workshop Living are the cat’s pyjamas.

Prepare to want to redecorate your humble abode because the Workshop Living vibe is chef’s kiss. Their curated selection of considered homeware and lifestyle goods, alongside their slow living approach to consumption is a breath of fresh air. When you’re done emptying their shelves, head round the corner to Our Daily Edit to shop the crème de la crème of contemporary labels and lifestyle brands including Ganni, Meadows and Girls of Dust.

📍 Workshop Living 13a Prince Albert St, Brighton BN1 1HE
📍 Our Daily Edit 23 Ship Street, Brighton BN1 1AD
📍 Hold Brighton 14 Bond St, Brighton BN1 1RD

Will you be planning a trip to Brighton this spring/summer? Let us know what local eateries, bakeries and shops are on the top of your list!

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