TEAM ZOELLA JULY 31, 2021

12 of The Best Drinking Games & Apps To Get For Your Next Pre Drinks

Whilst a banging playlist is guaranteed to get everyone in the party mood, when hosting a bigger 'pres' or on the nights when you want to add a little bit of spice, a fun, flirty, and fiery game or two can be exactly what's needed to make the night a memorable one.

Did someone order 4x tequila and limes every Friday night for the rest of the year? Hell yes! Social distancing restrictions are a thing of the past, 90s, noughties, and generally naughty (oi oi) nights out are back on, and finally, our favourite part of the night, pre-drinks, can resume- nature is healing!

Whilst a banging playlist is guaranteed to get everyone in the party mood, when hosting a bigger ‘pres’ or on the nights when you want to add a little bit of spice, a fun, flirty, and fiery game or two can be exactly what’s needed to make the night a memorable one. Keep reading for the must-have card and board games to add to your shelf before your next big night out, and get ready for secrets to be spilled and dignity to be lost.

Let’s Drink To That ‘Better Together’

Let’s Drink To That ‘Better Together’

One for the couples who love a tipple together before date night, the Let’s Drink To That card game blew up on Tiktok last year and has since extended their original design to include 4 new different decks for every occasion. The 100 pack of cards includes categories Let’s Drink to, Risky Business, and Tipsy Trivia and is one guaranteed to lead to some serious sexual tension and playful secrets being revealed. Couples who drink together stay together!

The Confessions Game

The Confessions Game

With the help of a dice and 5 categories of cards, The Confessions Game is one that lays it all out on the table and leaves nothing to the imagination. Perfect for bigger groups getting to know each other for the first time or in more intimate friend circles when delving deeper is the aim, The Confessions Game allows you to reveal all via the categories of career, sex, money, relationships and family, sparking daring conversations and true honesty. Although the game isn’t designed with alcohol in mind, baring all to those closest to you is always easier with a drink in hand, and so finding ways to weave in shots, sips, and downing your drink won’t be a challenging one!

PSYCH!

Psych! Outwit your friends!

Turned up at a spontaneous party without cards or a game in tow? We got you! Mobile app PSYCH! (designed by Ellen DeGeneres FYI) has been described as where trivia meets Cards Against Humanity and encourages you to anonymously answer questions about your friends, with the funniest or most accurate answer winning. Prompts such as “What’s the last thing Savannah googled?”, “What does Leo spend too much time thinking about?” or “What’s Meredith’s hidden talent?” are to be expected here, and the tipsier you are, the funnier the outcome…

For The Girls Adult Party Game

For The Girls Adult Party Game

One for your next ladies night, For The Girls is designed to get your night off to a messy and hilarious start from the get go, be it for pre drinks, hen parties or birthdays galore. Whoever has the most Instagram followers will be the first to roll the dice and up for the challenge of performing the initial task without hesitation. The game is made by the creators of What Do You Meme, another at-home party classic, so you know it’s one that will bring energy, fun and hilarious Instagram Story content you’ll be watching back for weeks. The pack includes 100x ‘I Have Never’ Cards, 100x ‘Rapid Fire’ Cards 100x, ‘Best of the Best’ Cards and 100x ‘ Most Likely’ Cards meaning the fun will last for hours.

The Girls Bathroom: The Card Game

The Girls Bathroom: The Card Game

Designed by our favourite Instagram besties and podcast pros Sophia and Cinzia, The Girls Bathroom: The Card Game is the ultimate in night out fun for your closest and wildest girlfriends. Including 250 playing cards divided into Most Likely To, Drink or Dare and Say it or Shot it, it’s sure to get pulses racing and leave nothing unsaid. Examples include, ‘Drink or Dare: Ask the last person you slept with if they’re out tonight’ and ‘Say It or Shot It: Of those in the group, whose ex are you the most attracted to’ … spicy!

The gorgeous pink box design makes the perfect addition for your bar cart or drinks shelf and is a guaranteed ‘must remember’ item to pack for your girl’s staycations this summer.

Drink If Game Cards

Drink If Game Cards – £4.99 – 1 In Stock – Last Night of Freedom

Need something simple to kick your night off right? Look no further. For those who can never remember the rules to Ring of Fire and are forever asking “What’s the difference between spades and clubs again?” then the Drink If game is for you. The deck contains over 50 ‘Drink if’ options, ranging from PG to 18+, such as “Drink if you have a cat” and “Drink if you have ever taken revenge on an ex…”

The playful twist on Never Have I Ever comes in the pastel pink packaging of dreams and is one of the most affordable drinking games around!

You Laugh, You Drink

You Laugh, You Drink | Board Games | Zatu Games UK

Get the drinks and good vibes flowing with this 150 deck card game designed to make you laugh, then keep you tipsy. When the game works its way around to you, simply act out the card’s instructions without holding back and watch as those around you try to keep a straight face, or inevitably sip their drink as the giggles start and don’t stop. A playful and harmless game, it’s perfect for when in a new group of people if sharing your darkest secrets isn’t your style, and is one you’ll be forever reaching for on Christmas and Boxing Day too.

Drinking Tower Game

Drinking Tower Game

DIY drinking Jenja did the rounds on TikTok during 2020’s main lockdown, but if you don’t have the time or creativity to make your own now that your social calendar is fully booked, then Typo has you covered. Featuring prompts such as ‘Take a shot without using your hands’ and ‘Everyone touch their nose. Last person drinks’, this innocent but surefire way to get tipsy (if not a little more) is one for all the upcoming BBQs and birthdays in your diary.

Picolo

Picolo · Party game

If you’ve not heard of Picolo then seriously, where have you been?! This party game drinking app is another that encourages individual involvement from all your pals, as you answer questions, follow rules and leave the direction of the game in the fate of the app. Spoiler: good times guaranteed. It’s simple, fun and most versions of the game are free! What’s not to love?!

Incohearent

Incohearent Party Game

No you’re not already drunk, you’re just two rounds into the Incohearent party game in which everything sounds like Gibberish no matter how many drinks you’ve necked. Whilst written down the words on the cards make zero sense, when read aloud they are in fact commonly known phrases that your teammates need to guess before time runs out. Containing over 500 cards, you’ll be screaming at your besties all night long as your competitive side is guaranteed to be activated.

Snakes And Bladdered

Snakes And Bladdered

A tipsy twist on the childhood classic we know and love, Snakes And Bladdered is a surefire win for anyone that’s partial to a shot (or 5) ahead of the big event. Using the shot glasses provided as counters, make your way around the board with the aim of avoiding (or aiming towards depending on your game plan for the night) snakes and slipping into drunkenness. Suitable for 2-4 players, it’s the perfect quick and easy game for housemates before heading to the club.

Name 5

Name 5 | Board Games | Zatu Games UK

When you’re a few vodkas down, everything around you slows, making Name 5 a must for earlier in your night as quick thinking is the name of the game here. With prompts such as name five famous rivers, five British Kings or queens, or five high-end designers, teams must complete their task before time runs out or drinking is obliged …

Although not strictly a game that involves alcohol, adding a forfeit of alcohol to those who lose always makes it that little bit more fun, and who doesn’t love dishing out a losing tequila to your defeated opponents?!

TEAM ZOELLA JULY 30, 2021

Wedding Series: The Best Off the Rack Wedding Dresses and Outfits Under £1,000

With cult brands such as Rixo, Sleeper, Self-Portrait and Ghost all delivering high-fashion collections, “buying off the rack” has never looked better.

We don’t know who needs to hear this but you don’t need to drop £2k on a wedding dress to have the ceremony of your d-r-e-a-m-s.

Thanks to an array of online retailers offering affordable alternatives, speedy shipping and 10/10 service, finding a dress that gives you all the feels without breaking the banks is no longer just a fairy tale.

With cult brands such as Rixo, Sleeper, Self-Portrait and Ghost all delivering high-fashion collections, “buying off the rack” has never looked better. From Bridgerton-inspired gowns to avant-garde designs and understated slips, these ready-to-wear bridal styles will ensure you’re ceremony-ready with change to spare. And the best bit about going down the non-bridal shop route is that you can shop for your dream matrimony ‘fits, all from the comfort of your own couch with a Prosecco in hand- what else are Love Island ad breaks for?

Without further ado, let’s say yes to the dress shall we…

Self-Portrait

SHOP THE FULL BRIDAL COLLECTION HERE

Sorry, dispatched within 1-2 working days and sent on a priority delivery service? It’s a love story. The Self-Portrait bridal edit expertly bridges the gap between high street and luxury, boasting everything from statement Victoriana style lace maxi dresses to fresh and contemporary designs perfect for an intimate backyard micro-wedding. With an impressive A-list and royal clientele, you can trust that Self-Portrait is an iconic label to wear on your big day.

Sleeper

SHOP THE FULL BRIDAL COLLECTION HERE

Laid-back brides won’t want to sleep on this brand. Sleeper really said feathers on everything and pjs for all occasions, and we absolutely stan. Whether you want to say ‘I do’ in your elevated comfies (iconic) or save the party pjs strictly for the dance floor and snap up their silk Atlanta dress for your nuptials, Sleeper will make it their business to ensure your lewk will take you from ceremony chic to slumber party ready in a heartbeat.

Solace London

SHOP THE FULL BRIDAL COLLECTION HERE

Affordable, impactful and wearable? Prepare to ask for Solace London’s hand in marriage because it really is the full package. The designs are bold, confident and refined with dramatic ruffles and sculptural sleeves aplenty. Modern brides, this edit will steal your heart.

Free People

SHOP THE FULL BRIDAL COLLECTION HERE

Not all brides want to stick to traditional wedding wear. If you’re eloping for your special day or you’re having an alternative wedding abroad, Free People is the leading label for unconventional bridal threads. Featuring smocked necklines, cool crochet sets for a laidback beach nuptials, effortless silk suits and vintage inspired maxis, this boho collection was made for the wild at heart. Barefoot brides, prepare to swoon.

Net-a-Porter

SHOP THE FULL BRIDAL COLLECTION HERE

For the bride who wants to make the ultimate fashion statement, look no further than Net-a-Porter. The beautifully curated edit of high-fashion designer dresses and separates carries all the need-to-know bridal labels, including Halston, Les Rêveries and Galvan. Whether you want to own the aisle in a crepe jumpsuit or command the room in something period-drama chic, Net-a-Porter is your one stop shop for exclusive of the moment pieces, modest silhouettes and everything in between.

Needle & Thread

SHOP THE FULL BRIDAL COLLECTION HERE

The British brand knows a thing or two about show-shopping occasion wear so naturally, their wedding dress edit was always going to be next-level. If you want to go all-out romance with blush tones, soft playful tulle and whimsical detailing, say ‘I do’ to Needle & Thread, my friend. She fancy.

Whistles

SHOP THE FULL BRIDAL COLLECTION HERE

Leave it to Whistles to handle your capsule wardrobe and your wedding day attire. From sleek white suits perfect for a town hall venue, to fluted silhouettes and dramatic trains made for an intimate church setting, these off the peg pieces are proof that you don’t need to go to an appointment-only bridal boutique to find ‘The One’.

GHOST

SHOP THE FULL BRIDAL COLLECTION HERE

We’ve never met a Ghost dress we didn’t like, and their wedding offering is no exception. Famed for its romantic details, contemporary silhouettes and fashion forward cuts, the bridal edit offers a range of options, suitable for every bride-to-be. From pared-back party pieces destined for a rehearsal dinner to floor-length masterpieces with oodles of wedding day wow factor, you’re bound to find your sartorial significant other amongst this lovely lot.

Their bridesmaids collection is equally magnifique, consisting of ethereal vintage-inspired dresses in a variety of hues ranging from watercolour pastels through to moody jewel tones and punchy poinsettia red. We’d couple up with any one of them tbh.

RIXO

SHOP THE FULL BRIDAL COLLECTION HERE

Category is: take all of our money. The brand’s first foray into bridalwear did not disappoint, full of vintage inspired pieces, elevated fabrics and signature RIXO shapes, ready-to-wear, off-the-peg bridalwear doesn’t get better than this. We’d live happily ever after with the Allegra, that’s for sure. It’s a boho dreamboat! None left in your size? You can get in touch with their dedicated Bridal Specialist to have a chat about a made-to-order design.

Reformation

SHOP THE FULL BRIDAL COLLECTION HERE

Second only to naked nuptials or recycling your mum’s wedding dress, wearing a Reformation dress (with all the wear-again appeal) on your big day is the most sustainable option.

Unfussy silhouettes paired with ample romance is Reformation’s domain. Whether you’re into little white linen dresses, puff sleeves, ruched bodices or open cowl backs, they’re committed to making sure you look the part whatever you’re wearing, whilst doing their bit for the environment, too. Outfit repeating never looked so good.

Clover London

SHOP THE FULL BRIDAL COLLECTION HERE

The contemporary London-based brand is the ultimate marriage material, offering effortlessly timeless gowns at accessible price points (all the dresses are priced at £1,000).

Their 10-piece collection is all made to order using 100% ivory silk and lends itself particularly well to a summer wedding complete with a dreamy open air tablescape, soft candlelight and bundles of blooms.

ASOS

SHOP THE FULL BRIDAL COLLECTION HERE

For the brides who want to be fancy and frugal, allow ASOS to do the legwork for you. With such a huge variety of styles ranging from fishtails to lace A-line styles, co-ords and fuss-free bandeau designs, plus free delivery over £35 and free returns, you may as well make a day of it, order in a few options and host your very own at-home bridal boutique appointment with your girls. Cue the happy tears!

TEAM ZOELLA JULY 29, 2021

High Street Neon Pieces to Brighten Up Your Wardrobe

Neon is always a summertime dream, and as Covid restrictions are lifted and the roaring twenties x2 can officially begin, making a statement is more of a priority than ever when selecting the perfect outfit for any occasion

You glow girl! It’s Leo season and you best believe there’s no better time to act like the main character, pop on a luminous ‘fit and channel the confidence you have after a few glasses of bubbly in your day to day routine. Take that Instagram photo in front of a crowd, drop it low in the club like no one is watching and wear that revealing crop top you’ve been saving until you felt confident enough- we promise you look great. Our babe Billie Eilish gave neon green a real moment over the past few years, but the team’s picks this week are head over heels for all things hot, hot pink.

Neon is always a summertime dream, and as Covid restrictions are lifted and the roaring twenties x2 can officially begin, making a statement is more of a priority than ever when selecting the perfect outfit for any occasion- is anyone else still so excited at any excuse to get dressed up?!

From small nods to the trend in the form of accessories such as strappy heels or mini bags to full neon extravaganza dresses and jumpsuits, it’s not one for the faint-hearted.

Danielle

I don’t own much neon I’m usually a neutral gal but if I’m going to go for it I’d blast this beautiful sequin bardot number from PLT. Would wear with some simple white accessories because let’s face it this dress is doing all the talking. I’d also slick my hair back with some Ouai pomade and live my full Instagram baddie dream.

Prettylittlething, PLUS LIME SEQUIN BARDOT BODYCON DRESS, £45 | *Ego, KAMALI METALLIC HEEL, £44.99 | *My Theresa, JACQUEMUS Le Chiquito leather bag, £475 | *Cult Beauty, OUAI HAIRCARE Matte Pomade, £16

Charlotte

I love an ‘out there’ look so neon is right up my street, and it also looks fab with a tan in the summer months too so I’m all over this trend right now! Ganni is one of those brands I’m forever lusting over and these shorts are no exception, giving me ultimate American sporty vibes and also look v comfortable. I’ve doubled up on the neon with this bag from Roop which I know I would get so much wear out of despite the bright colour palette, and tied it all together with a basic but cute top and comfy trainers.

Ganni, Isoli Shorts, £95 | *Nasty Gal, Slinky Cut Out Halter Bralette, £16 | *New Balance, 452 Women’s, £75 | *Selfridges, ROOP Monica textured-linen shoulder bag, £95

Lareese

I’m most at home in top-to-toe neutrals and earthy tones but I have pushed myself out of my beige bitch comfort zone lately, embracing colour and playful prints in moderation. Admittedly, I’m a bit of a novice when it comes to neon but hot pink is the cheery antithesis to the lockdowns we’ve all just lived through, so I’m going ham on this happy shade. Gimme an oversized blazer, bracket and tailored trousers for a few vinos in the sun and consider me a neon convert!

Prettylittlething, Shape Hot Pink Tag Bralet, £10 | *Wolf & Badger, By Aggi Trousers Sofia Pink Carnation, £163 | Na-kd, Rounded Toe Strappy Heels, £32.95 | Prettylittlething, Pink Double Breasted Blazer, £45

Holly

I’m here for the neon trend, I’m all for standing out from the crowd so let’s hope not too many people jump on it. Although I do find it annoying when flies come to me more because of the bright colours. I’ll opt for something simple like a neon t-shirt contrast it with high waisted black shorts and black sandals. Then, as ever some chunky jewellery and we’re off for brunch or beach drinkies.

*ASOS, super oversized t-shirt in neon green wash, £16 | Na-kd, Recycled Flowy Shorts, £24.95 | *Schuh, black chaser leather chunky buckle sandals, £35 | *& Other Stories, Chunky Chain Link Necklace, £35

Darcey

I really like a pop of neon in my wardrobe, I’ve gone with a really simple neon slip dress from Collusion in hot pink. I like this as it can be dressed up and down, versatile pieces are always great for getting the most out of a piece of clothing. I’ve paired it with some black accessories and some fun jewellery to tie it all together!

*ASOS, COLLUSION tie shoulder mini slip dress in neon pink, £17 | *ASOS, Public Desire Sequence sporty sandals in black, £24.99 | *ASOS, Liars & Lovers cat eye sunglasses in black, £18 | *ASOS, plastic ring with trapped kitsch charms in clear, £6

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TEAM ZOELLA JULY 28, 2021

NSFW: All the Thoughts & Twitchy Feelings We Had Whilst Watching “Sex/Life”

If you haven’t heard of the show, the premise is this: penis. That’s it. That’s the premise. The steamy eight-part series follows a married woman called Billie who can’t stop thinking about her ex and all the mind-blowing, clit-throbbing, hot-as-fire sex they had.

*CONTAINS SPOILERS*

It’s the question on everybody’s lips after the meat-cute to end all meat-cutes, brought to us by Netflix’s Sex/Life…

Was Brad (played by actor Adam Demos) wearing a prosthetic penis or is he really just blessed with king-size junk?

The gym shower scene (episode 3, 19 minutes in, for anyone wanting to skip to full frontal nudity) has left the nation well and truly hung up. If our memory serves us correctly, we haven’t been this excited since the Duke licked a spoon in 2020.

If you haven’t heard of the show, the premise is this: penis. That’s it. That’s the premise. The steamy eight-part series follows a married woman called Billie who can’t stop thinking about her ex and all the mind-blowing, clit-throbbing, hot-as-fire sex they had. In the lift, in the pool, in the bath, the restaurant. Everywhere and anywhere. Cue the love triangle and thirsty sex scenes so gloriously choreographed, they’ll charm your libido out of its wicker basket and have you pausing to frantically masturbate. The instrument responsible for this sorcery? Brad’s pungi.

Prepare to get so hooked and horny on Billie’s life, you lose sight of everything that matters in your own.

Here’s all the thoughts and feelings we had whilst watching Sex/Life…

I mean, that house in the snow with the old car in front is enough to arouse me. Game over.

Billie’s boobs are magnificent.

But she’s being far too vocal for a finger job.

“Just get the vibrator” should be a podcast.

18 months without going down on her? I’m going to masturbate out of principle because Cooper, that is a war crime.

Not gonna lie, I came here for the famous phallus…

One minute I’m horny the next I’m broody and I just don’t know what to do with all these feelings in quick succession.

It’s all butterflies, babies, boobs and buttcracks. It’s nuanced stuff.

Because the kid is so cute but her tits are so great and I really just want Cooper to fuck her brains out like she deserves.

Did not see the Carrie Bradshaw erotica twist coming.

Just a modest chandelier, Brad. No biggie.

The things that fruit bowl must have seen…

Holy shit, the GIRL CODE IS EXTINCT.

Hudson in his little pastel shirt with that little fucking yellow pocket. Not coping.

That breast pump sounds strangely like a) my aromatherapy diffuser b) my convoy of vibrators.

I feel like I need to hire Hudson to back me like he backs his mum.

It’s been a good 20 minutes without a sex scene. Might turn over for Naked Attraction.

Is Brad’s dog tag the new Connell’s chain. Time will tell.

If my memory (and opinion) serve me correctly, Connell wore it better.

Feel like awkward mumbling Irish is distinctly hotter than Australian but it’s a close call.

Never thought fairy lights would make me horny but here we are…

No peen in that scene. When is this gigantic bell end gonna make its debut?!

Cooper with wet hair is a vibe.

I thought you had to pump and dump after a night out?

Since Cooper discovered the kitchen counter he really does love it doesn’t he.

Side note: even his wank-kins are fancy. What’s on them, a botanical print commissioned by Soho House?

Ok, all the breastfeeding and cute babies between wanking and shagging is really not the formula for me. We get it lady, your nipples are a true multi-hyphenate pair

Bold of B to carry on journalling after the phone call from Brad knowing full well Cooper is a hate follower now.

Well, Mrs Brenda is pure SUNSHINE isn’t she…

19 floors to come, without a vibrator? I’d need at least 100 floors with a mechanical breakdown in between to buy some time.

Fucking hell what is THAT?!

Why do I feel like I’ve just been through an exorcism?

He could literally pick up a bar of soap with that thing.

Got me feeling like I’ve just done a lateral flow test because my eyes are watering and I’m gagging.

This is not real life. This is FICTION. Nothing but a well-hung fable.

And yet, on closer inspection, a rewind and several frantic pauses later, the appendage looks incredibly realistic. I need facts.

calls the boyfriend to (quote) ‘come and look at this!’

“Nah, that’s CGI. Someone’s paid to make that”

Me: “But it has a vein and everything!”

Thank you, Stacy Rukeyser for catering to the female gaze with APLOMB.

Mmm Cooper must be an oat milk kinda man. Breast milk? Not so much.

I’m going to be bitterly disappointed if Brad’s Lad doesn’t have its own Instagram account.

Oh, to be the intimacy coordinator choreographing THAT.

Hate to break it to you Billie but you can’t take a shower with your laptop.

The DEAR ME > Thanksgiving Recipes transition. Well, it sure is eat out to help out this year, Billie.

She does pick a man with a superior head of hair doesn’t she.

THERE WILL BE A DUEL WITH THEIR PENISES I KNOW IT.

And I shall enjoy it.

Very much here for angry Cooper. This is the passion Billie needs, craves and deserves.

‘Piece of shit’ sounds so much better with an American accent.

What is it with sexy TV shows and bees? Don’t remember seeing them in the shower scene.

That buggy is bigger than Billie. The handlebar is literally higher than her libido.

Wait, he doesn’t know what big dick energy means? Pray for Cooper.

Floppy hair + a far from floppy penis. What a combo, Brad.

There’s not a FaceTime screen ratio big enough to handle the wingspan of that thing.

Googles coital alignment technique colloquially known as grinding the corn

“Tonight darling, we’re doing the CAT. The clit wants what it wants”

That is one loaded motorbike.

Steals Bowie from Brad’s baby names list

Is that Farrow & Ball Rangwali they’ve got on the walls?

I’m sorry but there is no way you could do doggy with Brad without sustaining an injury. Nope.

Billie really gets the wear out of that white nightdress. Sultry and sustianable. Love her.

Seriously though, Billie mate, get a password.

If we just let morals slide for one tiny second, can they just fuck one more time?

Mmm, that bathtub doesn’t look big enough to fit both Brad and his penis in it.

Are they going to throw their keys in a bowl with Devon and Trina?

Cheating on B at her cousin’s wedding Brad?! That’s some real shit show shit.

This is one party I would never expect to run into a Karen.

That is quite the aerial yoga swing!

@ me looking around the room trying to find a reliable ceiling I can levitate from.

I’m not really into the whole circling people like they’re Aslan the dying lion though.

It feels very Riverdale all of a sudden.

The party has bad, bad vibes.

You manipulative little shrew Brad showing up at her house with a ring and your leather jacket and your perfect fucking teeth.

But at the same time, if Cooper says stain one more time please runaway with B and have all the sex.

A Brad and Cooper shaped homoerotic twist would really save this finale.

Haven’t heard chickenshit in a long time.

Every kids’ party I’ve ever been to has left me wanting to make a beeline for gelato on the other side of town too tbh.

Alright the stain analogy has gone on long enough.

Blimey, they build blowjob bridges real quick in the suburbs of Connecticut.

Or is she going to risk the 85% for the extra 15 inches?

So, Billie is right back at square one? Settling for the man with the smaller penis and the big pay package when she really just wants to live a sexually fulfilled life with the man in Manhattan with the small bathtub and the colossal package?

Oh Brad & Billie are a couple in real life now! That explains A LOT.

Season 2 can’t cum soon enough.

TEAM ZOELLA JULY 26, 2021

“I Was In A Cult” – We Spoke To 2 People Who Have Left a Cult-Like Organisation

In this interview, we hear from the people who have experienced first-hand just how powerful cult mentality and indoctrination can be.

In modern parlance, the term ‘cult’ has become synonymous with trending beauty brands and loyal fandom communities but we’re not talking about Glossier cleansers and wholesome Swifties here.

Generally speaking, a ‘cult’ is a social group defined by its great devotion and shared commitment to an unorthodox religious, political, spiritual or philosophical ideology, isolated from the mainstream.

Typically, a cult uses coercion to exploit its followers financially, psychologically, emotionally and sometimes sexually. Through a system of mind control and thought-stopping techniques, members are led to believe they’re committing their life to something that will make them a better more enlightened version of themselves, often alienating them from non-followers family and friends in the process.

In this interview, we hear from the people who have experienced first-hand just how powerful cult mentality and indoctrination can be. We discuss how they go about recruiting members, what it’s really like to get caught up in one, common misconceptions and, most importantly, the ever-complicated business of what it takes to escape the clutches of one…

Emily – Seventh Day Adventist Church

What type of cult/organization were you part of and how did you get involved?

I was born into the Seventh-Day Adventist Church and before I was born there are at least 4 generations of followers.

What was life like day-to-day? What restrictions were imposed on you as a group?

Girls were expected to learn how to be subservient and boys were encouraged to be leaders. Emily

I was educated in the Adventist school system. So on top of our normal day to day educational curriculum, we would learn about Ellen G. White and her “visions” that led to the founding of the church. It was a very hierarchal school system, with pastors kids and church workers children being favoured by the teachers. Then kids from normal families came next, and at the bottom of the ladder were kids whose parents were divorced which is where my brother and I landed. The teachers didn’t promote bullying per se, but they did encourage what they called character building through hardship (a theme that’s really prevalent in the SDA dogma that basically states that if you go through hell in this life enough times you become more susceptible to gods “truth”). Girls were expected to learn how to be subservient and boys were encouraged to be leaders. Once I stood up for myself in the 4th grade my brother and I were “asked to leave” the school because we weren’t good role models for the immigrant children they were trying to lead to Jesus (we went to a farm school in the middle of nowhere for two years, it catered to Hispanic families who worked in the fields that made up the economy of my hometown). The levels of racism and misogyny were insane even in our very early education.

As for restrictions that were imposed on us, well I’ll make a list because it’s easier to explain that way:

  • At church girls and women were not allowed to be church leaders until very recently
  • Missions were mandatory after a certain age, if you didn’t participate you were not seen as a functional member of the churchNo working, chores, etc. from Friday sundown to Saturday sundown
  • Women until recently were “encouraged” to wear skirts and dresses (always below the knee)
  • Women clean the church
  • You should be baptized by 14 the first time, and a second time sometime in college

Day-to-Day Life

  • Men are the leaders women are the caretakers
  • No birth control
  • Being vegan or vegetarian was expected
  • Pray till your jeans wear out, this is something I heard so many times growing up, that having holes in the knees of your jeans was considered a badge of honour. It meant you spent hours upon hours on your knees communing with the father
  • We weren’t allowed to watch certain things on tv or read certain books (I read Harry Potter at 18 in secret at my SDA college because if they caught me I’d be expelled)
  • No piercings
  • No jewellery except for wedding bands and that was frowned upon in some places because it was considered self-adornment
  • Little to no makeup allowed until you are older than 16 and are of courting or dating age
  • “Modest is hottest” policy for women, so shorts and skirts go below the knees, shoulders and collar bones always covered up, encouraged to have kong hair but not mandatory. Depending on how conservative your church was some women weren’t even allowed to wear pants and shorts because Ellen White wrote about skirts specifically in her books and the length they should be.
  • Sex is only for creating babies and is not for pleasure. If you masturbate, watch porn, etc. inside of marriage you are considered to be cheating and if you engage in these and premarital sex you were basically considered a lost soul who was sadly damned.

What kind of control methods did the leader/s or your parents use?

Guilt was one major one. Always asking “What would Jesus think if he saw this now?” “You know your angel is always watching right? They even know what you’re thinking so always keep your mind pure and good.”
The other thing was fear tactics, making public displays of disowning family and friends over stupid things and making a big show of welcoming new “brothers and sisters” into the church when they followed the rules.

When it’s your friends, family, and in some cases, your faith, it’s not always easy to separate yourself from it and see that what you’re partaking in is a ‘cult’, particularly as the leaders would never label it as such. Were you aware that you were part of a destructive group, or was it only once you had left that you could gain that distance and clarity?

I wasn’t allowed to go to birthday parties on Saturdays which made me even more of an outsider, and I began to realize that any faith that separated people like this wasn’t a good one.Emily

I started to realize the “church” I was in was different in 5th grade when I went to years previously and was now in a scouts group called pathfinders which were supposed to be preparing me for the “end of days”. Well, I proudly shared this info with my classmates and was quickly ostracized for being weird. I wasn’t allowed to go to birthday parties on Saturdays which made me even more of an outsider, and I began to realize that any faith that separated people like this wasn’t a good one. I wasn’t allowed to participate in martial arts competitions because they were on Saturdays so I quit that eventually, and I stopped going to church in 7th grade because a woman called me a slut for wearing dress pants to church.

In your experience, what are some of the red flags/characteristics associated with a cult and how does it differ from a safe and respectful community/religion or group?

My red flags are:

1) What do they take away from you? Every cult will strip away everything that makes you you so they can have more control

2) Control – what are they saying you can and cannot do in your church life? Personal life? They want total control over you and your life and will make sure you know that in the “nicest way possible”.

3) They punish you – whether it’s emotional, physical, financial, or spiritual they will find a way to punish you and make you bend to them. They use guilt, physical force, and tithing as ways to punish you for not following the dogma.

Was there a catalyst moment that made you decide to leave or was it a gradual realisation?

The final straw was at our annual gathering at a campground owned and operated cousins for 10 days straight, hike around without parental supervision, and just be free for two weeks a year. I wanted to share that with a friend of mine in high school and she came with us. Well on Saturday night of the first weekend we tried to leave the campground, something id never tried to do before, and we were told we weren’t allowed to leave the camp after dark unless it was an emergency. We tried to leave a few more times that trip in the evenings just to test it out and weren’t allowed to leave. I was done after that because that was my wake up moment that this was a cult.

How difficult was it to get out and leave?

It’s been almost 15 years and I still struggle with my identity sometimes because of it. The hard part is family. Half of my family is still active in the SDA church. Emily

To be honest it was easy and hard. Leaving was the easiest decision I made. I just stopped going to church, I made plans on Saturdays, I began to find myself and tried to start building a personality for myself. It’s been almost 15 years and I still struggle with my identity sometimes because of it. The hard part is family. Half of my family is still active in the SDA church. My mom eventually left once I was in college, and my younger brother just recently left as well. But all of my aunts, uncles, cousins, and my grandparents on that side of my family are all deeply ingrained in the church and for the most part, I don’t talk to them anymore. But since I was raised with that side of the family because my parents are divorced it’s been pretty lonely since I made it clear I was never going back to that church.

How did you find integrating back into society and ‘normal’ life once you’d left?

It’s like being reborn. I was raised in the SDA church so I never knew anything different. It’s been so long and I still struggle with my self-image, with doubts about faith and religion, with guilt over things like money and relationships. I’m in therapy now, but it’s a process of deprogramming things that were beaten into you since infancy.

What are the long-lasting psychological effects you have experienced?

Anxiety, depression, long term untreated ADHD and all of the fun things that come along with that. It’s hard to make friends and even harder to trust people enough to become close with them. I dissociate for long periods of time and try to build new versions of myself that I think will be happier than the person I actually am.

What support is needed for victims of cult manipulation and how can friends and families express their concerns sensitively if they’re worried for someone they know?

Therapy, a safe place, and unconditional love and support. I’m a pretty blunt person and I told my mom straight up that the SDA church is a cult the day I read that chapter in my secular university’s religion course. The SDA church fits the definition to a T and I showed her and just said get out. Probably not the best way to go about it but it worked – other people like my brother need time and self-realization. But I think just overall providing a safe space and a place to be heard is the most important.

What is the biggest misconception about cults and /or the cult experience itself?

That everyone is a psychopath for their cults dogma and will do anything to protect it like a mindless zombie. There are so many different types of people in cults, and a lot of them are really kind and loving people, but they are just confused and lonely and are looking for connection within these cults.

One piece of advice for someone who thinks they might be in a cult and wants to leave….

Do it! Don’t think and just jump, because if you think too much you’ll regret it forever. It’s so scary at first, but life is so much more beautiful once you’re free.

How has your experience shaped you and how is your life and your mental health doing now you’ve made it through the other side?

My mental health is up and down, but honestly, I am in such a better place than I was.Emily

After years of counselling and many many tragic events, I have to say I’m stronger and prone to researching claims before believing them. But it also shaped me to be empathetic and think about others before myself because you never know who is having a harder time than you. My mental health is up and down, but honestly, I am in such a better place than I was.

What would you like to say to the leader of the cult you were in right now…

Well, she’s very very dead but I would just tell her to stop and think about what she is writing and how it affects others. She may have been a pastors wife who had “visions” after being kicked in the head by a cow (yup that’s the origin story of the SDA church) but she had influence over people and she didn’t use it well.

Julia – Scientology

What type of cult/organization were you part of and how did you get involved?

I was part of Scientology. I grew up with it since my mother became a member when I was around 6 years old. I went to their private school and when I finished my mandatory school years I started working for them. I was 13 when I started working for them. I left when I was 18.

What was life like day-to-day? What restrictions were imposed on you as a group?

As a pupil in their school I didn’t experience too many restrictions but when I started working for them it was very much like being in the military. I had to work over 50 hours a week (without pay since it was “voluntary work”), wasn’t allowed to have any friends outside of it, had to always be open about everything I did and privacy didn’t exist.

What kind of control methods did the leader/s or your parents use?

I didn’t think it was so bad but looking back at it now as an adult it was mostly psychological manipulation.Julia

Scientology is more of a system that makes you dependent on them in the aspect that everyone you know is a member, so all of your friends and people you like are a part of it. Since all your actions get supervised you don’t have much wiggle room to express yourself and if you do something that they didn’t like you were punished. Back then I didn’t think it was so bad but looking back at it now as an adult it was mostly psychological manipulation. For example, telling me that I couldn’t see my mom anymore if I mess up or lose all my friends.

When it’s your friends, family, and in some cases, your faith, it’s not always easy to separate yourself from it and see that what you’re partaking in is a ‘cult’, particularly as the leaders would never label it as such. Were you aware that you were part of a destructive group, or was it only once you had left that you could gain that distance and clarity?

If I’m being honest it’s still hard for me to label them as a destructive group since I know that not everything they’re trying to do comes from a bad place. It’s mostly the way that it’s practised if that makes sense. When I was a member I knew that their beliefs (or guidelines) didn’t match with mine, but since all my friends were part of it and also my mom (who was the only other member being part of it from my family) I was too scared to just leave since I always had it in the back of my mind that I’d lose everything which of course looking back at it now is ridiculous! Now that I’m older though I can see how much damage it did to me and how warped my mind was.

In your experience, what are some of the red flags/characteristics associated with a cult and how does it differ from a safe and respectful community/religion or group?

Getting isolated from everyone who doesn’t share their beliefs. While my mom and I were part of it we hardly had any contact with other members of our family and they always emphasized how bad it was to still be in contact with our family since our family was “suppressing us”. They’ll always want to know where you are and what you’re doing and won’t let you have secrets or privacy.

Was there a catalyst moment that made you decide to leave or was it a gradual realisation?

When I was eighteen I met a guy who wasn’t part of Scientology. They actively tried to stop me from seeing him…Julia

When I was eighteen I met a guy who wasn’t part of Scientology. They didn’t like that. The last year also was very hard for me and I think they realized that I was starting to despise it there. So they actively tried to stop me from seeing him which of course made me want to do it more. There was a situation which I’m not comfortable speaking about but at the end of it they humiliated me in front of the whole organization and I decided to leave. I just left without saying anything and never came back. My mom also left after this happened.

How difficult was it to get out and leave?

For me, it was easier since my mom left with me but it truly broke my heart since everyone I’ve ever known was there. They tried to get us back with false promises but I was too angry and too hurt to even consider it. They’re still sending me letters from all around the world and always manage to find out where I live even though I’ve moved 3 times since I left.

How did you find integrating back into society and ‘normal’ life once you’d left?

It wasn’t easy. Since I spent all my teenage years there I didn’t manage to get a proper education and had no idea about life outside of Scientology. But what I can say is that I also learned a lot in Scientology that helped me after I left.

What are the long-lasting psychological effects you have experienced?

I always feel like I have to please everyone so that I can avoid being punished which is ridiculousJulia

I personally never feel good enough. Never. No matter what I do. No matter what anyone says. I always feel like I have to please everyone so that I can avoid being punished which is ridiculous since I’m a grown-up and I know I’m very much in control of my life now, but this feeling never goes away. I also am someone who cannot say no to anything. Because that wasn’t allowed, so to this day I can’t do it.

What support is needed for victims of cult manipulation and how can friends and families express their concerns sensitively if they’re worried for someone they know?

I honestly don’t know. My family tried for years to get me and my mom out but we never listened. I needed to get so mentally hurt to finally take the step to leave. I sometimes think what would have helped me realize it sooner is distance. Being away from them for a long period of time let me see how the world really works. I was there every week for so many hours that I had no idea what life could be like. If someone told me today that they are 14 years old and work over 50 hours a week FOR FREE I’d be speechless! So maybe if someone would have pointed that out to me and asked me more questions about it I might have realized sooner how really fucked up it was. Also making sure victims know that they’re not alone and it isn’t the end of the world to leave. Just the beginning of something new where hopefully they can choose what they wanna do.

What is the biggest misconception about cults and /or the cult experience itself?

there’s always a difference between working for them and just being a “consumer”. When you’re a consumer you don’t even see what goes on behind the scenes.Julia

People always say “why didn’t you just leave?” That’s always so easy to say. But especially when you’re young, you’re so impressionable and it’s so easy to get sucked in a lie about friendship and saving the world and just wanting to do and be someone better. I think a lot of people know that this isn’t the right place for them but have too much to lose if they leave. Maybe some are actually happy there. Also, there’s always a difference between working for them and just being a “consumer”. When you’re a consumer you don’t even see what goes on behind the scenes. I know a lot of them loved it there and it was more of a social club for them but when you actually work for them it is totally different.

One piece of advice for someone who thinks they might be in a cult and wants to leave….

Leave. If you’re scared go to the police. I don’t know how other cults work. I only have my experience to go from but if I’d gone to the police when I was younger a lot would have been different and I might have been able to leave sooner.

How has your experience shaped you and how is your life and your mental health doing now you’ve made it through the other side?

As I said before I still have a lot of mental scars and I feel as long as I live I’ll have them. As I grow older I realize more and more all the things that were wrong.

What would you like to say to the leader of the cult you were in right now…

Nothing. I’m glad I left and never want to have anything to do with them again.

TEAM ZOELLA JULY 25, 2021

Fresh and Funky Graphic Tees That Are Guaranteed to Make a Statement

Slogan tees did the rounds a few years ago as feminist statements became the focal point of this out-there trend, but recently the focus has turned to fun, fresh and lighthearted graphics and sayings that spark a smile and ironic 'lol'.

Get ready for the stares and intense reading faces of those that walk past you in the street, it’s statement tee shirt time people! Slogan tees did the rounds a few years ago as feminist statements became the focal point of this out-there trend, but recently the focus has turned to fun, fresh and lighthearted graphics and sayings that spark a smile and ironic ‘lol’. 

Gen Z and TikTok humour are one likely influence, but this trend originally dates back to the early ’00s with everyone from queens Britney Spears and Paris Hilton rocking a graphic tee with a low rise jean. This streetwear staple is the perfect throw on and go item for days when you need to leave the house in a hurry and your bar/beach/dinner reservation is calling your name, and is guaranteed to earn you compliments aplenty from both strangers and pals alike- designs not to be worn on the days you want human interaction at a minimum!

Add some feel-good to your ‘fit this summer and embrace your playful side- it looks good on you …

*This post contains ad-affiliate links

TEAM ZOELLA JULY 24, 2021

Wedding Series: 15 Destination Wedding Ideas to Bookmark for Your Big Day

Dreaming of saying ‘I do’ in Ibiza, exchanging vowels with a French chateau for a backdrop or banking on a destination that, ahem, actually has a summer?

While many couples opt to have their big day closer to home, others want to incorporate an element of travel and wanderlust into their plans. If that’s you, a destination wedding might be your type on paper.

Dreaming of saying ‘I do’ in Ibiza, exchanging vows with a French chateau for a backdrop, or banking on a destination that, ahem, actually has a summer? Whether you’re looking for a long or short-haul location, a city ceremony, or a sun-soaked beach celebration to share with all your closest pals and family, here are 15 dreamy wedding destination ideas to help you find the perfect setting to tie the knot away from home.

1. Provence, France

Pretty Provence boasts vibrant fields of lavender, rolling vineyards and olive groves, remote valleys and, of course, the best rosé wine. This magical sun-drenched region is home to an abundance of breathtaking wedding venues from authentic private villas to ancient honey-coloured chateaux and manor houses steeped in history and charm, so you’re sure to have your pick of romantic settings for your special day.

2. Amalfi, Italy

Who wouldn’t want to start married life in the Med? With the promise of reliable sunshine, pasta and seafood aplenty, and matchless coastal scenery to boot, it’s easy to see why couples flock to the Amalfi Coast to say, ‘I do’. From hidden hillside venues to waterside villas and enchanting farmhouses surrounded by olive groves, this stretch of Italian coastline has all the wedding appeal.

3. Ibiza, Balearic Islands

Just a convenient two-hour and 20 minute flight from the UK and home to iconic sunsets, stunning beaches and laidback vibes, the White Isle is one of the most sought-after wedding locations amongst UK couples.

4. Lake Como, Italy

If you’ve got Italian paradise on your wedding vision board, prepare to let Lake Como charm your veil off. With its sunny climate, dramatic mountain scenery, rainbow-coloured villages and romantic cobbled streets, the legendary Lake Como is the once-in-a-lifetime location for your big day.

5. Santorini, Greece

Clear blue skies, white-washed buildings, sparkling turquoise waters, magical sunsets and Caldera views – Santorini provides the most romantic backdrop for destination weddings. Imagine soaking up that Aegean sunshine as newlyweds – you’d be truly besotted!

6. Cliffs of Moher, Ireland

The crowning jewel of the Irish coastline – this remarkable setting is calling out of an intimate coastal wedding with your nearest and dearest or a romantic outdoor elopement with the wild Atlantic below. Finish off the celebrations in one of the friendly local pubs, raising a Guinness to the rest of forever!

7. The Algarve, Portugal

Fancy an Iberian elopement? Portugal’s southernmost region is renowned for its sunny climate, making it the perfect outdoor wedding destination. Blessed with glorious sandy beaches, secluded bays, unique cliff formations and wild countryside, the authentic Algarve makes for the perfect backdrop to exchange vows. Just think of the wedding photos! S-w-o-o-n.

8. Mallorca, Spain

How about a bit of Balearic beauty for your big day? Whether you’re seeking a rustic centuries-old finca that oozes authentic Mallorcan charm, a neo-Gothic style castle complete with amazing terraces, romantic courtyards, sprawling gardens and majestic stone staircases or a Mediterranean seaside spot underneath a pergola, Mallorca is home to some of the most captivating settings.

9. Isle of Skye, Scotland

Nature-loving couples, this island gem will tick a lot of boxes. With glistening lochs accessible only by boat (depending on the weather), wild mountain landscapes, iconic castles and winding roads, the Isle of Skye is one beautiful slice of rugged Folklore paradise. Be it a whimsical elopement or a big Highland celebration complete with bagpipes, The Misty Isle will ensure you have a jaw-dropping backdrop for the most romantic day of your life. Check out Fairy Glen – yep, it’s as magical as it sounds – for the most enchanting wedding photo backdrop you’ve ever seen. Come rain or shine, the Isle of Skye is ridiculously photogenic all through the seasons.

10. Dalmatia, Croatia

Croatia’s rugged ‘Dalmatian Riviera’ is one of the most outstanding stretches of coastline in the world and is one of Europe’s hidden gems for destination weddings. Dotted with enchanting cities such as Split and Dubrovnik, sun-kissed islands scattered across the Adriatic Sea, historic fortresses and iconic beaches, this region would make for one unforgettable spot to wed.

11. Cote d’Azur, South of France

Famous for its beautiful coastal villages such as Saint Tropez, Cannes and Menton as well as its bougie cities Nice and Monaco, the French Riviera was made for wedding day wonderment.

A wedding ceremony with sea views over the dazzling azure waters of the Cote d’Azur sounds like a pretty epic way to celebrate your nuptials in our book. Quaint villages, luxury boutique hotels, Renaissance castles and intimate private villas, all with the sun-kissed horizon of the Mediterranean for a witness, it’s easy to see why this coastal stretch is one of the most sought-after wedding destinations in the world. Why not tack on a few days and stick around for your honeymoon – savour every moment!

The soft blush walls of Villa Ephrussi or the Temple of Love overlooking the medieval town of Grasse in the exclusive Chateau Saint Georges should be all the persuasion you need to get hitched on Cote d’Azur.

12. London, England

With cottagecore delights like Petersham nurseries, botanical gardens, quirky theatres, Georgian townhouses, rustic chapels and orangeries, the capital’s got a lot to work with when it comes to ‘I do’ appeal.

13. Sedona, Arizona

Dreaming of desert vibes and an adventure elopement? Say hello to Sedona, a setting that looks like it’s been plucked right from the pages of a storybook. Hiking up Cathedral Rock at 4am and exchanging vows at sunrise with Arizona’s famed red rock formations for a backdrop is bound to make your wedding day a one-of-a-kind experience.

14. Bali, Indonesia

Need your something blue? The Indian ocean will do! It may be on the other side of the world but a trip to the Island of the Gods is sure to make for one unforgettable wedding location for you and your guests. With soulful Ubud offering lush jungle hideaways and the bucolic rice paddies, Uluwatu boasting insanely photogenic cliff houses and cabanas and Nusa Dua serving the ultimate shoe-less beach ceremony, Bali might make it slightly difficult to narrow down your options…

15. Tulum, Mexico

A world away from the hustle and bustle of the neighbouring resorts of Cancun and Riviera Maya, discover the jewelled Caribbean waters, pristine white sand beaches and ancient Mayan ruins of the laidback locale, Tulum. Check out the private boutique hotel NEST for the ultimate bohemian style beachfront wedding, surrounded by the natural beauty of Tulum beach or for a secluded jungle hideaway, 16 Tulum is ideal for intimate gatherings with your favourite people.

TEAM ZOELLA JULY 23, 2021

Finding a Career Through Your Favourite TV Show

For most of us being inspired to follow a career path based on our most loved TV series might seem like a pipe dream, but what about the people who decide to take the plunge and follow in the footsteps of their favourite characters?

Ever watched Grey’s Anatomy and found yourself frantically Googling, ‘how to become a surgeon’ at 3am after one (let’s be honest 5) too many episodes? Or maybe you got a little too invested in Orange Is the New Black and convinced yourself you would be far happier with a career as a prison officer?

Turns out you’re not alone if your curiosity is piqued by your most loved TV series, with statistics showing the number of people searching ‘how to become a detective’ increased by more than 24% in the past year, during which Line of Duty hit its most dramatic moments. For most of us being inspired to follow a career path based on our most loved TV series might seem like a pipe dream, but what about the people who decide to take the plunge and follow in the footsteps of their favourite characters? We spoke to 4 people excelling in their chosen field because of their love for everything from Glee to Waterloo Road to see how it all started…

Suits inspired Lawyer…

Twenty-one-year-old Elysia from Southampton was studying for a degree in Hair and Makeup before the pandemic hit last year but was quickly forced to continue this from home as the country went into lockdown and the practical parts of her degree were taken away. As she began to doubt her future studies and career more after learning that the final two years of her degree would also be completed at home, in came Suits- a seemingly random choice of TV show to binge with her family over the summer, but one that changed the course of her life forever…

Were you interested in working in law before watching Suits?

I had always had an interest in the news (I understand that may sound a bit odd), and always felt the need to be connected with what was going on in the world. But, to be honest, I never felt particularly drawn to the legal world within the news. I would see it come and go, but never bothered to look into it unless it involved a famous person or group that I followed or liked, and wanted to know the latest gossip. I, unlike a lot of my classmates, was not born into a family of solicitors, barristers, judges, or firm owners. I was, however, born into a family of hard-working and loving people, who just did not have an interest in the legal world. 

We started watching Suits after Meghan Markle came on the scene with the royals and, with my mum being an avid royalist, we all decided to binge watch it together. As soon as we had watched the first episode, I knew I wanted to learn more, and look into that career path after being stuck in a loop of an unknown future.

Did you worry that the reality of working in law would be different to the fictional depiction of it?

The glamour and glitz of having a high-profile legal career was something that I really wanted, but I was worried that the fast-paced, active and fun office job that was depicted in the show, similar to the uncomfortable scenes, was going to be all fiction.

Definitely! Like anything on TV, it was dramatized to hook people, like my family and me, to watch the whole show from start to finish. I had hoped that some areas of it, albeit not the illegal goings-on (haha), were true and real. The glamour and glitz of having a high-profile legal career was something that I really wanted, but I was worried that the fast-paced, active and fun office job that was depicted in the show, similar to the uncomfortable scenes, was going to be all fiction. After certifying my future in a legal career after being accepted into my current LLB Law Degree, I have quickly (and luckily after doing a life-sized 180 turnaround) learned that working in law is just as fast-paced and action-filled as it looks. Once again, I’d like to highlight the lack of the illegal goings-on in real-life law- the extent of the show demonstrating this would not be accepted in the legal field for one second compared to the 8 series of Suits.

Were your family and friends supportive of the decision to pursue this career or were they sceptical that it was ‘just a phase’ because of your love for the show?

My family were always aware that I had never had a set life plan, and was always relatively content on floating through life until I found something I enjoyed, and, if that never came, they were happy, provided that I was happy too. I had explained to them previously that there was always something missing from my plans, that I wanted to make a change in the world, and leave a mark on people once I’m gone; I wanted to make a name for myself, I was just never sure why. 

Once we had finished watching Suits, I had discussed with them that it was something I was really interested in. I think they could tell how serious I was, as within the week, my mum had looked through local University options, and called my current University to find out information on their Law degree and how a transfer may be possible for me. To say I had their support and encouragement would be an understatement. 

I was, initially, worried that they would think it was ‘just a phase’, as I was easily influenced by shows when I was younger; watching a pet show? I wanted to be a Vet. Watching a Disney show? I wanted to be a Princess. Watching the Olympics? I wanted to be a gymnast. You name it, I wanted to do it. But I think my parents understood the difference between a child watching something fab on the TV, compared to my self-realisation that this was my calling, and that it was the career path for me. 

They have continued to support me, and gloat a little as parents do, with each and every achievement I have obtained in my first year. My boyfriend has also been incredibly supportive throughout the transition, and also felt that, as long as I was doing something I loved, he was going to love me regardless of my career. He continued to fuel my desire to move onto a career in law, and never once failed to believe me when I told him where my dreams had come from.

Is law as glamorous, fun and sexy as it seems on Suits?

In all honesty; yes and no. Law can be tough, with long hours, a long, long time studying and qualifying, and heavy topics and areas to go into once you qualify. The legal world can be challenging, and is definitely a career for those who are willing to work the hardest they have, every day of their lives to achieve the best. That will likely, as far as I have experienced and heard, involve late nights, big exams, not much of a social life and hard work. 

The people you get to meet, the individuals you get the chance to work for and the cases that are discussed will never be repeated or the same, making every new experience fun!

However, as with any career, if you love the job you are in, you will never work a day in your life. You can make it as glamorous, fun and sexy as you choose. The people you get to meet, the individuals you get the chance to work for and the cases that are discussed will never be repeated or the same, making every new experience fun! The glamour definitely comes through with the endless outfit possibilities in the legal world, while keeping it professional, of course, the dresses, the coats, the shoes and, my favourite, the hand bags. You can have one for every dress or day of the week if you please. So yes, it can be just as glamorous, fun and sexy as it seems on Suits, provided it’s kept professional, a career in law can be the best choice in the world! 

Did you do much research into life as a lawyer or were you confident you knew what it would be like based on the shows you had watched focused on the industry?

The only show I had ever seen that had anything to do with the law industry was Suits, so, the information I had based on the life of a lawyer was very limited if I were to base it solely on the show. I knew I had to do some research, and I did, what felt like, an eternity’s worth of research. I now have come to the realisation, after studying the law for one year, that I only scraped the surface with my research, and that the world of law is like an onion; there is so many layers to peel back and learn about, that I could have never gained a full understanding of everything on my own before studying. 

However, I researched enough to learn that Suits depicted both truths and exaggerations of the life of a lawyer, and the corrections for the exaggerations that I discovered in my research before committing to a life in the law, was enough to suffice my want and need to pursue it. Had I not done any research, I probably would have assumed that everything in Suits is exactly how a life in the law is set out.

Do you think shows like Suits are the inspiration for a lot of people in law? Have you met anyone else that also loves the show whilst studying? 

100%! Mainly because, for those who are not lucky enough to be born into a legal family, it is their first introduction to the life of a lawyer, and sparks that initial interest in what it takes, what it involves, the fun that can be had and the friends that can be made. 

Funnily enough, in my first online lectures, (COVID-19 ugh!) one of the first questions my lecturer asked was ‘So, who is here because of Suits?’ to which half of us raised our virtual hand emojis. While it was a great ice breaker, it was so interesting to see how many others had had the same epiphany as me while watching the show. There were still many students who came from a legal family, or those who have had the passion since they were small, but having that love for the show in common with so many other students meant I knew I was in the right position and it made making friends even easier. It’s also worth noting that the same lecturer did warn us that the life of an English lawyer is not quite the same as the law-breaking actions that are featured in Suits…

Ultimately do you think you would have become a lawyer if it hadn’t been for watching the show? 

Easy answer – No way! I was introduced to what a lawyer is by Suits, and even though an American Lawyer and an English Lawyer have big differences, I would not have even considered looking into that career had it not been for Suits. If I ever get the chance to meet any of the cast or crew of the show, I wouldn’t hesitate for one second to let them know that their programme changed my life for the better.

Contagion inspired Epidemiologist

We all love a zombie film and dystopian drama now and again to get our pulses racing, but now qualified Epidemiologist, Mandi, took her love for this genre one step further when deciding to pursue a career in public health and infectious disease…

What came first: your interest in science and disease or love for zombie films?

My interest in science came very early in my life, particularly in the medical, veterinary, and environmental sciences. As a kid, I was interested in learning how everything around me worked. As I got older, I developed a love for zombie films and it sparked my interest in infectious diseases. Eventually, these various interests all combined into my career today as an epidemiologist.

Environmental epidemiology is one of many branches within epidemiology and it allows us to determine how environmental exposures impact a population’s health, whether that is through natural or man-made sources. This includes identifying which agent/vector exposures resulted in a particular disease of concern and which populations were affected. Also, there is an increasing focus on One Health, which recognizes that human, animal, and environmental health are interconnected with one another. 

What was it about the industry that appealed to you?

It satisfies both my curiosity of how we work and how our environment affects us, but also my desire to help others.

Was there a particular film or show that cemented this as a passion for you, and/or one that made you feel like it could be a viable career path?

I believe Resident Evil (2002) was my first zombie film and it piqued my curiosity about infectious diseases. However, Contagion (2011) was a more realistic interpretation in dealing with infectious disease than zombie films (although, as with all films, some liberties were taken) and it made me feel like epidemiology was a potential career for me.

I think the influence of zombie films helped create an epidemiologist and the influence of environmental films helped create an environmental epidemiologist.

FernGully (1992) was an animated film I watched as a child and it’s a similar environmental message as Avatar (2009). Both of these films helped encourage me to protect our environment. An Inconvenient Truth (2006) made me aware of climate change and how it could affect people across the globe. But I think what had the most profound environmental impact on me was a moment in Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey (2014). During that series, Carl Sagan’s Pale Blue Dot excerpt played during an animation of what Voyager 1’s cameras would’ve seen as it travelled further and further away from Earth. It was an incredibly small blue dot in this vast, dark universe. That dot is our only home amongst the stars and it made me appreciate Earth in a way that no other film has before. I think the influence of zombie films helped create an epidemiologist and the influence of environmental films helped create an environmental epidemiologist.

Do you think you would have ended up working in a similar industry had it not been for these films and documentaries or would you say they were instrumental in you following this route?

I think that I would’ve initially gravitated toward the medical sciences at first. In fact, during university, I worked in a local hospital. I’ve always had a desire to help people, but I also enjoy research, so in the end, I think I would’ve landed in this field at some point.

What are the main differences between the films you love focusing on public health and the realities of working in this industry?

Zombie films are clearly not realistic. When I was a teenager, I wondered if zombie-esque viral outbreaks were a possibility, but now I can watch those films purely for their entertainment value. Also, for the sake of time restrictions, films tend to skip over the behind-the-scenes work of data analysis & scientific research and mostly focus on field investigative work.

Did you have a backup career plan if you found the reality of the industry was totally different to how it’s portrayed in the movies?

Just like how doctors can specialize in their field, there are also many areas of specialization within public health. It’s a very interdisciplinary field, so I had a multitude of backup options if needed.

Do you have any advice for those looking to work in this field in the future?

YouTube hosts an array of ‘Day in the Life’ videos for all kinds of professions, so that can be helpful to check out as well.

I always recommend job shadowing and internships to become familiar with a field before you commit to it in university. YouTube hosts an array of ‘Day in the Life’ videos for all kinds of professions, so that can be helpful to check out as well. If you have a desire to help others, particularly populations of people, public health may be a good career path for you.

Ultimately, do you think you would have become an epidemiologist if it hadn’t been for watching these shows?

I think so. I was interested in medicine at a really young age and when I began to learn about it in school, I had several areas that I naturally gravitated to (such as infectious diseases), but I’ve also been a researcher at heart as well. So I think that combination would have eventually led me to my current career.

Waterloo Road inspired Teacher…

You’d be forgiven for wanting to pursue a career in teaching or education after watching the glamorous and picture-perfect likes of High School Musical, Gossip Girl, and Riverdale, but we all know life as a teacher, especially in the UK looks a little (read: a lot) different. It was clear therefore that Becki had a real calling for this career when it was in fact the challenging and troublesome highs and lows of British TV series Waterloo Road that piqued her interest in teaching, more specifically a desire to work in a low income or disadvantaged area. The rest is history… 

What was it about Waterloo Road specifically that inspired you to follow this career path?

I loved seeing how the teachers and other staff made an impact on not only the children’s school life but their home life, too. I loved how invested the staff in the school were to support and make the pupils’ lives better.

Did you watch any other films or TV shows set in a school environment leading up to your career path decision?  

I watched the normal Saved By The Bell, Lizzie Migure, Zoey 101 etc but nothing that was more focused on the teachers.  

Did you worry that the reality of working in a school, particularly one that presented challenges as difficult as Waterloo Road, would be different to the fictional depiction of it?

I knew that Waterloo Road would exaggerate some storylines, but I do know that some schools are like Waterloo Road when it comes to behaviour and the pupils’ home stories etc. 

Did you do much research into life as a teacher or were you confident you knew what it would be like based on the shows you had watched?

I did lots of research into becoming a teacher and Waterloo Road definitely helped inform me about the types of behaviours I may come across whilst working. 

How did you know becoming a teacher was something you really wanted to go for rather than a phase because you loved watching the show? 

I have always wanted to work in a school but after watching Waterloo Road, I knew that I wanted to work in more challenging areas and schools, as I found that more rewarding. For some children school is the only constant thing in their lives, and to be able to be there for them and to support them is invaluable.

Ultimately do you think you would have become a teacher if it hadn’t been for watching the show?  

I still think I would have ended up working in a school but I don’t think I would have gone down the route of working in a more challenging school environment without watching Waterloo Road.

Glee inspired Performer…

If you’re a lover of performing arts and musical theatre then it’s safe to say watching Glee is a rite of passage most singers have completed twice over, minimum. Georgia, a freelance performer and songwriter from Brighton, took her love for the show to new heights, following in the footsteps of Rachel Berry by studying musical theatre at university and pursuing her dreams of performing for a career. 

Were you interested in working in musical theatre before watching Glee?

Before I discovered Glee, I wouldn’t say I had a real vision of what I wanted to do in my life. I had performed in a few musicals at school and really enjoyed it but Glee made me realise it was my calling. To see these teenagers follow their dreams and become full-time performers inspired me so much! 

What was it about the show that confirmed that this was the career path for you?

Like Rachel Berry always says, ‘I’m like Tinkerbell, I need applause to live’.

I think seeing the journey the characters went through and watching their hard work pay off really reiterated to me that I could do it.  There’s nothing else that I resonate with as much so I know that Musical Theatre is the path for me. Like Rachel Berry always says, ‘I’m like Tinkerbell, I need applause to live’.

Did you watch any other films or TV shows focusing on performing leading up to your career path decision?  

The only other thing I could think of that inspired me along the way is ‘Smash’. I found that much later in my life and it almost served as a grown up ‘Glee’. For me though, nothing compares to Glee and the inspiration it gives me – I’ll always go back to it.

How did you know becoming a singer and performer was something you really wanted to go for rather than a phase because you loved watching the show? 

After studying Musical Theatre at sixth form, I decided to follow in Rachel’s footsteps and move away to study at University. Throughout the whole process, I felt like I was imitating her journey in such a special way and it paid off! I now get to do what I love every day and I put it down to the hard work I’ve put in and never giving up.

Ultimately do you think you would have become a performer if it hadn’t been for watching the show?

I thank Glee every day that it has given me the drive to keep going. Once a Gleek, always a Gleek.

I don’t think so, no. Seeing people at the same stage of life as me succeeding and following their dreams was so inspiring. If it wasn’t for Glee, I wouldn’t have gone to Drama School. I thank Glee every day that it has given me the drive to keep going. Once a Gleek, always a Gleek. 

TEAM ZOELLA JULY 22, 2021

The Team’s Top Summer Party Looks

BBQ's, lockdown belated birthday parties, Love Island viewing evenings ending at the club (because now THAT'S a thing again) mean the pressure is on to find a summer soirée outfit you can rely on when spontaneity calls.

Did someone say unlimited Pimm’s with the company card behind the bar? Don’t mind if we do…

A summer party, be it for business or pleasure, is the perfect excuse to slip into something stunning and slinky and lap up the sunshine with a cocktail or mocktail in hand, and as the 19th of July has passed us by, the opportunity to socialize freely with our loved ones is finally a reality.

BBQ’s, lockdown belated birthday parties, Love Island viewing evenings ending at the club (because now THAT’S a thing again) mean the pressure is on to find a summer soirée outfit you can rely on when spontaneity calls.

Lareese

Can I just say I am so here for Warehouse this year – they’ve really stepped it up with their summer edit and their dress game is strong, just look at the tie back detail on this midi dress. I love a party at the back! It’s one of those dresses that looks ‘done’ however you wear it, whether you’re going laidback with flats for a bbq or dressing it up with heeled sandals, a slick bun and a red lip for that summer soiree.

*Warehouse, Midi Dress With Contrast Tie Back In Check, £59 | *& Other Stories, Leather Thong Strap Sandals, £85 | Na-kd, Slouchy Knot Strap Bag, £32.95 | Lip Palette les 4 Rouje powder, £39

Holly

I can’t wait till we get a bit more sun. My whole wardrobe is full of cute summer dresses just begging to be worn. I’ll pop on a cute midi number, I’m loving the gingham at the moment despite being told I look like a picnic blanket. Pop it with some cute white accessories and gold jewellery and I’m ready for all the cocktails a girl can ask for.

*New Look, Red Gingham Shirred Square Neck Midi Dress, £29.99 | *Mango, Buckled flap bag, £35.99 | *Boohoo, Triple Strap Block Heel Sandals, £20 | Accessorize, Gold-plated oval link chain necklace, £17

Darcey

wardrobe, alongside pink of course! This cherry mesh dress from ASOS is so cute, I paired it with orange accessories including this little ruched bag from PLT which just looks so designer in my opinion. This ‘goddess’ slogan necklace from Hoops and Chains is so cool and gold jewellery looks bloody lovely in Summer with a tan!

*ASOS, ASOS DESIGN slip dress in cherry print, £22 | *ASOS, Hoops + Chains LDN necklace with ‘goddess’ slogan, £26 | *ASOS, RAID Wide Fit Naryn toe post sandals in orange towelling, £26.99 | PrettyLittleThing, ORANGE RUCHED HANDLE SHOULDER BAG, £20

Danielle

My mum recently bought this dress and it didn’t fit her right so I pinched it off her and I think it’s the perfect Summer Party dress. You can easily dress it down with flat sandals and a denim jacket if you’re not sure how smart you need to go (classic summer party problem). But I’ve chosen to pair it with some pony skin style mules, a cool brown mini bag and and a gold T-bar necklace.

H&M, Rib-knit dress, £19.99 | *ASOS, Mango pleated crinkle 90s shoulder bag in brown, £19.99 | *Monki, Heeled mules, £25 | *Daisy, Estée Lalonde T Bar Necklace 18Ct Gold Plate, £139

Charlotte

The thought of a summer party fills me with SO much joy- something about work events like that (especially when working in this dream team) are one of the things I’ve been most looking forward to since lockdown easing, and now that the weather has brightened up I am READY. I recently bought a couple of bits from Nasty Gal and was pleasantly surprised by the fit and quality so I have high hopes for this lilac number. I’ve dressed it down a little bit with some chunky trainers so it’s not toooo girly and with some chunky sunglasses it’s pretty much the definition of my fave summer look!

*Nasty Gal, Linen Cut Out Open Back Midi Dress, £42 | Bimba Y Lola, SILVER CHUNKY SNEAKER, £160 | *Urban Outfitters, UO Navy Rocky Sunglasses, £18 | Mejuri, Croissant Dôme Hoops, £95

TEAM ZOELLA JULY 21, 2021

‘A Day in The Life’ By Emily Henry

When I’m asked to describe a day in my life, it’s not that I feel any shame, I just think, this can’t possibly be interesting to anyone. I get up, I pour cold brew, and I write.

In interviews, I’ve come to dread two particular questions. The first is, what’s your favorite book? It’s not just that I don’t have a favorite book (I don’t). As soon as I’m asked, my mind goes blank, every single time. Suddenly, I’m not sure I’ve ever even read a book, despite the stacks of them on nearly every surface in my home. And maybe that’s the problem. I’m daunted by the sheer amount of books, incapable of narrowing the field to just one.

But the other dreaded question is different. There are no competing answers, no sense of innate betrayal to choosing one response over all others. The problem is, there is precisely one answer to this second question, and I have no idea how to make it interesting.

Describe a day in your life.

On Instagram, I follow writers with interesting lives, ones with rigid schedules, who make highly photogenic breakfasts every day, and mix up cocktails with special garnishes each night. Writers with clean, carefully curated homes (at least as far as the Internet is concerned), and thriving gardens—side hobbies they’re ready to go pro in: cooking, knitting, weaving, painting, rock climbing.

As I’m writing this, I’m sitting on my couch in the same sweatpants and oversized T-shirt I went to bed in. I’m wearing a hat made out of icepacks (a migraineur’s best friend, especially when on multiple deadlines), and on my coffee table, there’s still a dirty dish from last night’s dinner, next to an oversize bottle of ibuprofen and a half-full cup of the cold brew I buy practically in bulk so I can drink the exact same thing every morning, as soon as I get up, without making a single decision.

When I’m asked to describe a day in my life, it’s not that I feel any shame, I just think, this can’t possibly be interesting to anyone. I get up, I pour cold brew, and I write. I move around my house every couple hours, at random, and keep writing. I get up and pour more coffee sometimes. I look for something I can eat without any prep (yogurt, usually, which makes me feel about nine-hundred years old and ready to star in my own Activia commercial: did you know ninety-nine percent of women suffer from occasional irregularity?). I write, I write, I write, with a fair mix of Not Writing sprinkled in there somewhere. Every once in a while, I wash a dish, or vacuum up the dust bunnies that gather in the corners of my old house. I absolutely love my career, but so much of it plays out inside my head that a time-lapse video wouldn’t look much different than a photograph.

And the scene is not photogenic. It is not interesting. I’m often wearing zit patches but not in a cute, sponsored ad, full-face-of-makeup way so much as an I-constantly-pick-at-my-face-while-I’m-zoned-out way. And yet, despite the absolute, all-consuming banality of the writing life, I am absolutely addicted to writing about writers.

It started with one of my young adult books, A Million Junes, a quiet, fabulist novel about two teens grieving, and how story helped them make sense of the senselessness of pain and loss so intrinsic to the human experience. For me, writing has always been a way of exorcising demons and facing down fears, figuring out what I think about things that have been scratching at the back of my brain, and with these two characters, June and Saul, I found new pieces of myself. Or rather pieces that had always been there but I had yet to look full in the face.

Understanding. That’s what that book gave me. But it also left me exhausted, in the way that self-discovery often does—the way that, sometimes, after therapy, you get in your car and just sit, staring out the window for a moment before pulling away from the curb, feeling like your heart’s just run a mile after a very sedentary week.

It used me up, that book, and when I was done with it, I had no idea where to go next. My writer’s block was short-lived but intense, a complete kind of mental emptiness I’d never experienced before, and which I found surprisingly painful. I had only just discovered why I needed writing so much, and then it felt like Writing had abandoned me.

I had no ideas. I was a dried out sponge. Out of sheer desperation, I started to write a book about writer’s block. And for the second time, writing about writers unlocked something in me. It’s a very meta experience, sitting at your computer, writing about someone sitting at her computer, knocking her head against the table, waiting for words that won’t come. It almost felt like I was satirizing myself, and somehow that took all the pressure off. It didn’t hurt, either, that I had no intention of publishing that book. I just wrote, mostly about not being able to write, and again, I learned so much about myself.

Primarily, that what I’d always thought of as “writer’s block” was actually just fear. Of failure, of not being up to the task of telling a particular story or being terrified of how it would feel if I sat down to write and nothing happened. It was a self-fulfilling prophecy—a self rejection that guaranteed the very failure I was trying to avoid—and when I wrote Beach Read, it genuinely felt like I’d found this hackneyed workaround, a trick to slipping past an obstacle course of my own making. A couple years later, the book that I’d written only for myself was published and as it turned out, plenty of people wanted to read about a day in the life of a woman in her pajamas and zit patches, hunched over her computer for hours on end. So long as there were stakes, a reason it all mattered.

And the more I write, the more I understand why it does matter, for me. Not just the joy it brings me, but the self-reflection and understanding of the world, and the safe way it allows me to push back against my fears. Those magical moments in the writing process that make the days upon days of banging my head on the kitchen table more than worth it. But all of that is hard to get into in an interview. So from now on, when people ask me to describe a day in a writer’s life, I think I’ll just recommend a book called Beach Read.

Emily Henry’s newest perfect summer read, You and Me on Vacation, is out on the 22nd July

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