Tuesday, September 15, 2009


Elle are currently running a writing competition, called What Style Means To Me. Here is my entry - please let me know what you think before I send it in at the end of this week! Either comment on here, or you can find me on Twitter here. Thanks!

Ah, the eternal mystery: What is style? Never mind war, religion, or the meaning of life; the notion of ‘style’ has bemused people for decades. For many, style is an attitude, a way of life, an abstract concept: can’t quite put your finger on it... just out of reach. As Orson Welles said, ‘Create your own visual style. Let it be unique for yourself and yet identifiable for others.’ Style is distinctive, yet mysterious.

For the likes of Oscar Wilde, style meant everything: ‘In matters of grave importance, style, not sincerity, is the vital thing. Looking good and dressing well is a necessity. Having a purpose in life is not.’ In other words, it’s not about what you do, wear or say, it’s how you do, wear or say it; style conquers substance.

For Coco Chanel, style was an undying force, ‘Fashion passes, style remains’, an idea that fellow French fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent echoed: ‘Fashions fade, but style is eternal’. I can’t help but adore this romanticised notion that style will always be elegant and classic. Style never goes out of style, because, by definition, it can never be wrong.

Fashion on the other hand... Well, that’s an entirely different story. Fashion is easily defined, as Edna Woolman Chase, Editor-in-Chief of US Vogue from 1914 to 1954, said, ‘Fashion can be bought. Style one must possess.’ She believed that style is innate; it cannot be taught. Style cannot be purchased, no matter what your budget. It cannot be found in a luxurious boutique on Sloane Street, an undiscovered vintage treasure trove, nor hiding out in the bargain basement of Primark, under a pair of 50p shoes. Style is free and accessible.

To the reigning Queen of style and anarchy Vivienne Westwood, style means being aware of who you really are, and not trying to be someone else. ‘People who make this effort in knowing what suits them - they are individual and stylish’. There’s no use trying to masquerade as something you are not, style should be natural and intuitive, without thought or consideration. It has taken some time, but now, as a curvy, top-heavy, size 12 woman of average height, I have learnt that perhaps I should give the latest trend of jeggings and crop-tops a miss. In experimenting what suits both my shape and my personality, I have developed my own style, which largely consists of floral tea dresses, wide, waist-cinching belts and killer heels.

Fashion can also be about escapism, but escapism is fleeting; you must eventually return to who you really are. Playing dress-up a la Lady Gaga can be fun, spectacular, outrageous even, but it is transparent. Style is being true to yourself and having the confidence to show your personality – no pretense.

The person who best summises what style means to me is Gore Vidal, ‘Style is knowing who you are, what you want to say, and not giving a damn.’ Personally, style is rebellion. It’s not about following the crowd. With fashion, there is a complete lack of choice. You are either ‘on trend’ or ‘so last season.’ Style, on the other hand, is not formulaic, prescriptive or constrictive: there are no rules. This allows for so much creativity, personal freedom and self-expression, because there is no right or wrong. How liberating is that?

So style is about the abandonment of conformity, disregarding trends and restrictions (who knew it could be so deep?!). But I don’t choose style over substance. For me, style is substance. It’s about the form of expression rather than the content of the thought expressed. And yet, as I write this, there is another worshipper of fashion swooning at whatever Victoria Beckham is wearing today, and they will swear that she is the most stylish woman on the planet. Whereas I would have to confess that I think she is the ultimate fashion victim; tip-toeing her children to school in the latest Marc Jacob seven-inch stilettos, barely able to move her legs because her Roland Mouret rip-off DVB pencil-dress is pinching her too tight. But both of us are right, because when it comes to style, there is no wrong.

And so, the debate continues… What is the difference between fashion and style? Giorgio Armani once famously said that the difference is ‘quality’, but I disagree. I could go on to say how this tiresome idea has made his latest collections terribly safe, predictable and commercial… But that’s just not my style.

Monday, September 14, 2009


The picture that got me so excited!

Amid the Sex and the City movie madness, female journalists all posed the same question: Can a feminist really love Sex and the City? The fact that this is even being asked excites me even more than the prospect of the now confirmed sequel...

Speak to a young woman about gender issues or equal rights, they’d probably preface their response with: ‘I’m not a feminist, but...’, or worse, they’d simply shrug. Even strong, contemporary women are scared of being labelled a feminist, because of the tired, old stereotype of the butch, hairy, angry, man-hating, anti-marriage, anti-pornography, bra-burning, dungaree-wearing lesbian. ‘Feminism’ is a dirty word. Feminism is dead. Or so I thought.

‘What is it about Sex and the City?’, ‘Can a feminist really love SATC?’ and ‘Feminism vs. Sex and the City?’ were just a few of the questions being asked by journalists during the media frenzy surrounding the long-awaited release of Sex and the City: The Movie last year. Refusing to be disheartened by some of the less optimistic conclusions (‘Carrie Bradshaw’s feminism is a sham’, ‘the mutant spawn of casual feminism’ and the sharp yet concise ‘Sex and the Shitty’), I was amazed that feminism was even being mentioned in the same sentence as a phenomenally successful mainstream television series and soon to be record-breaking movie. Feminism was not only being talked about, it was making headlines: Sex and the City had sparked a debate.

Suddenly, journalists cared whether a television programme was feminist or not; it mattered whether the four main characters - Carrie, Samantha, Miranda and Charlotte - were being represented in a way that was empowering or disempowering to women. In amongst the obligatory and predictable ‘Steal Carrie’s Style’ features and ‘Which SATC gal are you?’ questionnaires were real thought-provoking, analytical and brutally honest critiques of the show, written from a feminist perspective. From independent blogs to full-blown articles in The Guardian, women were talking about feminism.

When SATC first aired in 1998, it was considered shocking, controversial and innovative, after all, it was a programme that had the balls to be about women, for women. ‘Not only is it a programme about women, but one about women who like each other,’ Alice Wignall wrote in her Guardian column. She continues: ‘They identify as each other’s soul mates and provide emotional, practical and moral support. They don’t compete with each other for male attention. They make each other laugh. It is probably the best depiction of the genuine nature and importance of female friendship ever to win an Emmy.’

As you are probably well aware, the show featured four thirty-something, single friends who would often talk openly and frankly about their sex lives. The characters challenged society’s double standards of sexuality, which considers men’s sexuality natural and acceptable, while that of women is deemed sinful and abnormal. Janet McCabe, co-editor of Reading Sex and the City, a collection of essays about the show, says, ‘The way they spoke, and the things they talked about, were revolutionary. And it was also a great study of female friendship. Ultimately, you just feel that it started with the four of them and they will always be together.’

At last, women could see a part of themselves being reflected back at them in their TV screens, whether it was Carrie’s self-obsessive indulgence, Charlotte’s prim, disapproving looks and undying, romantic optimism, Miranda’s sarcastic remarks or Samantha’s unapologetic love for no-strings sex. SATC told women that it was ok to prioritise your career over a man and that you can spend money on yourself without feeling judged or guilty for it (go on, you’ve earned those Louboutins). It flaunted female sexuality, embraced successful, powerful women and celebrated being single and independent with a Cosmo, or two.

However, when the gals called it a day after 94, count ‘em 94, half-hour episodes spanning six seasons, the general, public consensus was that SATC, whilst it was more fabulous than ever, it’s feminist principals that were at the heart of the first series had become somewhat diluted. What was initially a programme about female empowerment sunk into a veritable orgy of consumerism and an obsession with the search for ‘the one’, something that the more traditional, second wave feminists opposed to.

McCabe, along with her co-editor Kim Akass, says, ‘The women are still caught in fairy-tale narratives. The ‘right’ couple were signalled in the first episode [in which Carrie first meets her on-off lover known only as Mr Big] and in some ways the entire show has just been about them getting together - which, of course, has to be endlessly delayed or you don’t have the driving force behind the story.’ Mr Big (whose name is finally revealed in the closing scenes of the last episode to be, rather predictably John, John James Preston to be precise) is an archetypal New York businessman: arrogant, egocentric and unspeakably rich. Yet we have to watch Carrie go back to him, time after painful time. ‘It does make for quite uncomfortable viewing,’ says Professor Imelda Whelehan, author of The Feminist Bestseller: From Sex and the Single Girl to Sex and the City. ‘How do we respect her? And Mr Big is such an interesting element. Even his name is masculine. He is like this phallus at the centre of it all.’

Frustratingly, towards the end the most significant story-lines were about the characters’ quest for a man and a long-term relationship. At the conclusion of the television programme, all four women - even Samantha, who was never interested in finding love - are all happily paired off. ‘It does seem that, in the end, it had to come back to a traditional view,’ suggests Whelehan, ‘that the future for most women means marriage and children.’ And they all lived happily ever after... which is almost as annoying as ‘and then they woke up, and it was all a dream.’ But, as Akass asks, ‘Is it the case that a strong women can’t desire a husband?’ Of course not! Heterosexuality is not a crime against feminism.

Among all of the man-hunting and Manolos, it is easy to lose sight of the ground-breaking plot-lines that the show tackled, such as mental illness, bereavement, adultery, single motherhood, sexual discrimination and divorce. Some journalists argued that these potentially hard-hitting issues were issues masked by fluff and glitter in the shape of gratuitous sex scenes and ostentatious fashion moments. They also argued that the representation of Carrie and co. as ‘Barbie dolls recessed in the handbag of contemporary white-collar women’ was unfair and hugely disempowering for women. However, because there are so few television programmes purely about women, Sex and the City bears the burden of representation. As Akass elaborates so brilliantly: ‘No one expects The Sopranos to encompass the experience of all middle-aged Italian-American men.’

Whether Sex and the City, the television show, was feminist or not, what most commentators of the programme are overlooking is that feminism is not about being single or breaking free from the so-called ‘restrictive, oppressive shackles of femininity.’ As Linda M Scott says, in her book Fresh Lipstick: Redressing Fashion and Feminism: ‘Wearing high heels and using hair curlers does not deny you the right to seek advancement, empowerment, and equality.’ A sentiment that the SATC movie very much echoed, including over 300 glorious outfits for the four main girls alone, courtesy of legendary stylist Patricia Field.

Personally, Sex and the City: The Movie was two-and-a-half hours of pleasure, albeit of the guilty kind. Aside from the trivialities, the film discussed serious topics such as ageing, happiness and infertility, all dressed up in an haute couture Vivienne Westwood bridal gown, accessorised with an inexplicable turquoise bird fascinator.

Towards the end of the movie, the four girls toasted their Cosmopolitans to Samantha’s 50th birthday and her new found singledom, challenging preconceived notions of gender and the down-right sexist idea that unattached women are old, lonely, past it, has-been ‘spinsters’, something that is undeniably a feminist issue. Whilst SATC’s brand of feminism may not be perfect (it promotes consumerism, capitalism and, ultimately, you can only ever be truly happy if you conform to societies rules) ‘it seems churlish to be bitter about the fact that Carrie et al do not offer a fail-safe model for emancipated womanhood when nor, frankly, has real-life feminism’, Wignall helpfully points out. She concludes that she is a both a feminist and a fan of Sex and they City: ‘Not least because if you’re about to start letting political doctrine arbitrarily dictate which bits of the culture you respond to you may as well give up now and submit to the patriarchy. But mainly because the programme is funny and clever and it thinks women are important.’ Hear, hear.

However, not everyone was quite so complimentary. Rachel Longhurst wrote in Australian feminist magazine Lip: ‘There’s always going to be the argument that it’s not real life. Here’s the no brainer: I don’t think it’s meant to be. But my question is: are we betraying the things feminism has worked hard for by indulging in such stereotypical fantasy?’ Whilst a blogger on businessweek.com wrote: ‘these women’s career success seems largely predicated on the ability to navigate an exciting web of power struggles and sexually charged innuendoes. All in stilettos!’

Perhaps these naysayers should look beyond the shallow side of SATC and learn from the moral of the movie. Laced throughout the film, was the message: ‘Don’t label one and other’. It questioned the rigid stereotypes that are widely accepted in society and suggested instead that we accept people for what they are (complex and, yes, sometimes contradictory) and stop worrying about pigeon-holing everyone. Carrie and Big were perfectly happy before they allowed society to judge their relationship and question why they weren’t married, as Carrie realises as the film concludes: ‘Maybe some labels are best left in the closet. Maybe when we label people “bride”, “groom”, “husband”, “wife”, “married”, “single” we forget to look past the label to the person... I couldn’t help but wonder: why is it that we are willing to write our own vows, but not our own rules?’ These feminist reviewers, bloggers and journalists seem obsessed with labelling and categorising films, magazines and even behaviour as ‘feminist’ or ‘non-feminist’, ‘empowering’ or ‘disempowering’. Why are they so insistent on labeling what is essentially, just another Hollywood blockbuster? Is it a chick-flick or a post-feminist masterpiece? Both: the two aren’t mutually exclusive.

I suggest that these so-called feminist journalists take on the message of Sex and the City: The Movie. Stop compartmentalising everyone into neat little subsections of society. Don’t worry if something fits into a preconceived and out-dated ideal of ‘pro-feminist’ or ‘anti-feminist’ like an OCD Nazi. Play with fashion, dress exactly how you like, then go out and smash a few stereotypes by being being a feminist and proud. Be a wonderful pick ‘n’ mix of a person; a glorious patchwork; an interesting, multicoloured feminist. Be a walking contradiction. As Kathleen Hanna, singer of riot grrrl rock band Bikini Kill, said in her fanzine Jigsaw Youth: ‘To be a stripper who is also a feminist...These are contradictions I have lived. They exist, these contradictions cuz I exist. Every fucking “feminist” is not the same, every fucking girl is not the same, okay?’

Sunday, September 13, 2009


Lauren Luke is another rather unlikely celebrity. However, the 27-year-old single mother has recently found herself catapulted to global fame for all the right reasons. Lauren’s amateur make-up tutorial videos currently have over 55 million hits on YouTube, earning her the title of ‘the most viewed make-up artist in the world’. But this world-wide success has not gone straight to her head: she still lives in her humble hometown of Newcastle, with her 11-year-old son and her five dogs.

Three years ago, Lauren was unhappy and, with no qualifications after dropping out of school early, working at a taxi office. But she decided to quit her job and begin her own home business, selling beauty products on eBay. Soon, buyers were requesting tips on how to apply their products, so, just two years ago, a visibly nervous Lauren uploaded her very first video: an extremely basic cosmetics tutorial with very little conversation. But there was obviously a demand for such a service, because over 45,000 watched it. Soon, other YouTube users requested celebrity looks and ratings rapidly escalated, the most popular broadcast to date being a Leona Lewis inspired look with over 2.5 million hits, closely followed by Lady Gaga, Kylie, Amy Winehouse, Britney, Rihanna and Angelina Jolie, to name but a few. But it’s not just the big names that draw people to Lauren’s tutorials; they are utterly charming, genuinely helpful and strangely addictive.

The world’s media has also embraced her whole-heartedly, with Elle, Vanity Fair and Look magazine featuring Lauren’s story. The BBC recently broadcast a documentary, tracking her rise to fame, and she has been interviewed for channels all across the world. Whilst this global success has not yet brought riches, it has welcomed a plethora of other business deals, such as exclusive video tutorials sponsored by Barry M and the Guardian, her own weekly beauty column, a Nintendo DS game and a beauty book due to be published by Hodder & Stoughton in October.

Filmed sitting on her bedroom floor, with her pug dog snoring heavily in the background, Lauren’s informal chats to camera are usually upbeat, light-hearted, honest and endearing but are also often personal and heartfelt, as she talks about her painful childhood and crippling low self-esteem. She explains that she enjoys using vibrant make-up as a form of self-expression and escapism and that she has always dreamed of having her own make-up range. Well, now her dream has come true. Now, By Lauren Luke is available to order from anywhere on the planet. Each of five palettes (Luscious Greens, Fierce Violets, Sultry Blues, Vintage Glams and Vintage Classics) contain a concealer, a primer, a gel eye liner, two lip colours, two eye shadows, a highlighter and a blush, to suit all skin tones, eye colours and budgets. What’s more, they’re all free from animal testing.

Lauren also said that she wanted to make ‘a huge change to the make-up industry’. And as a totally grounded, ‘average sized, normal looking’ woman, penetrating a world with an homogenous idea of beauty, Lauren Luke has certainly done that.

Saturday, September 12, 2009


Whenever I tell someone that I’m ‘engaged’, their first reaction is always to inspect the diamond ring on my left hand and ask me how he proposed. Well, the truth is, rather disappointingly for them, there is no traditional engagement story. For us, it was a lot more complicated than a weekend trip to Paris, a gourmet meal with a surprise ring hidden in dessert. And yet, it was a lot simpler.

My partner Pete and I had talked about marriage, so we, together, came to the decision that we should take the next step and engaged. A few months later we picked out a ring, and there was, I suppose what you would call a traditional proposal: him, kneeling on one knee, asking me to marry him, to which we both knew the answer would be Yes. There was no cliched romance; no tacky roses or string quartets. Most importantly, Pete didn’t ask for my father’s permission: something that he knew would It was perfect. The next month, I bought Pete an engagement ring and asked him right back. No, will you marry me?!

Almost five years later, Pete and I are still engaged (the term ‘fiance’ still makes me cringe), and we are planning our idea of the perfect wedding for next year. But it will not be a typical wedding; neither of us want to buy into the idea that we need a £500 three-tiered cake, a vintage Rolls Royce and cheap little table favours to have ‘the dream day’. Even during this recession, the wedding industry is still bigger than ever: the average couple will spend around £15,000 on their wedding day, the equivalent to a brand new car or a deposit for a newlywed home. With online gift registers, and Bridal Boot Camps, it’s as though the wedding businesses think as soon as a woman gets a ring on her finger she immediately turns into a Bridezilla.

But it wasn’t just the consumerist side of planning a wedding that turned us off. After much discussion, we realised that neither of us felt comfortable with some of the more sexist traditions. I will not promise to ‘obey’ my husband in my vows, nor will I be ‘given away’ by my father, in the ultimate patriarchal exchange. The bride will not wear white. And that’s just the wedding. The whole concept of marriage is borne out a time when women were property, passed from man to man. As soon as she uttered ‘I do’, everything that she owned automatically became her husbands, including her children and her rights. However, some of their old wedding traditions are still adhered to: phrases such as ‘man and wife’, as opposed to the more equal ‘husband and wife’, and ‘You may now kiss your bride’, as though the woman has no active role in her first married kiss, she must just passively ‘be kissed’. Transforming from a Miss to a Mrs (quite literally Mr’s, as in belonging to Mr), and taking his surname without a second thought are also hang-overs from a pre-feminist era. If I were to become Holly Andrews, as tradition dictates, what would happen to Holly Warren? Would she cease to exist? So, we both came to the decision that we would hyphenate our names, no matter how difficult it was, and that we would become Mr & Ms Warren-Andrews.

And so, next spring, Pete and I will be married in the local Register Office, followed by a meal at our favourite restaurant, surrounded by our favourite people. I will be wearing an off-white dress, holding in season peonies from a nearby florist, and the guests will throw all-natural, ethically sourced floral confetti. But most importantly the two of us will enter into marriage as complete equals.

Friday, September 11, 2009


Allow me to tell you a story: It's the Euros '09 Grand Final. England V Germany. England lose spectacularly. No one gives a fuck. The End.

Now, I’m not going to pretend that I’m outraged that the women’s football is nowhere near as popular, or well publicised, as the men’s – I don’t particularly like sport. Sure, I’ll get swept up in the ‘FOOTBALL’S COMING HOME!’ hysteria once every couple of years when the whole country unites in their blind optimism that England will win the World Cup/Euros. But the rest of the time, I don’t give a shit if Rooney’s metatarsal’s broken or Beckham’s golden boots affect the way he ‘bends it’. So why would I begin to care about the coverage of the recent Women’s European Championship?

Because, the whole of the UK’s media coverage seems to have taken the tone of, ‘Ah, look at these girlies kicking a ball about. Isn’t that sweet? The English team have made it to the finals? They won’t win though… nope, told ya. Do you even know what the off-side rule is, love? No? Bless ‘em for trying though, eh? Well, in the mean time, the blokes’ve only gone and beat Slovenia in a meaningless friendly! They are true heroes. C’MON LADS! THREE LIONS ON A SHIRT…’

Ok, so perhaps this is slightly hyperbolic, but from the way the press were reacting to the female England’s 6-2 defeat in the Euros final against Germany, you would think that they had failed to even qualify for the championship in the first place, as the men did last year – don’t think I’d forgotten. The fact that an English team reached a major final is a huge achievement in itself. But because the players have pink nails, ponytails and sports bras, it’s not such a big deal… actually it’s kind of rubbish they didn’t win. Bloody women!

This bitterness in downplaying the success of female athletes has come from a place of jealousy and resentment. Because the fact is, the England women’s football team are currently better than the men’s, who haven’t been in a final since they lifted the World Cup way back when in ’66. Maybe they should stick to the men’s jobs (diving into the penalty box, rolling around in agony when no-one even tackled you, and randomly shouting ‘REF!’) and just leave the women to the real work. 

Sunday, September 06, 2009


Her Pussy Is Magic

Songs about vaginas. Denounced by the Catholic League. Banned from YouTube. She must be good. I speak exclusively to singer/song-writer and comedian Jessica Delfino.

‘I’m surprised I haven’t been taken away by the state,’ Delfino jokes nonchalantly, referring to her recent controversies. Described as an ‘envelope-pushing artist’, Jessica certainly does not shy away from trouble, in fact she positively thrives off it, which is perhaps why the President of the Catholic League in her home country, the US, publicly condemned her. And they’re not the only ones...

Jessica’s shameless ode to the female anatomy, My Pussy Is Magic, proved popular with viewers (over 250,000 hits), but not with Internet conglomerates, evidently: the day corporate giants Google bought ownership of YouTube, the video mysteriously disappeared. ‘We had to change the name to Jessica Delfino Is Magic. Actually, they just removed another video of mine, Saving This Rape (For Someone Who Loves Me) a few days ago,’ she shrugs. ‘That video was actually based on a famous piece of literature by Margaret Atwood, but it was a bit out there. I’m not that sad they took it down.’ Really? ‘Ok, I am.’ Clearly Delfino, as any artist would understand, doesn’t appreciate her art being censored and restricted, but sometimes she has no choice. ‘Lately, I’ve found myself toning it down at times because I want to be able to perform in any venue I choose without having the FCC all up in my grill.’

Well, thankfully, she’s not compromising her act too much; not if she’s making Russell Brand blush. When Delfino was a guest on his ill-fated BBC Radio 2 show, Brand, no stranger to controversy himself, introduced her as a woman who ‘either sings about, out of, or into her own vagina.’ A nomenclature then developed by which they abbreviated her entire identity to the moniker ‘Vagina Lady’, to which Jessica gracefully replied ‘Thank you. I think vaginas are important and I like to sing songs about them.’ But Brand couldn’t help himself: ‘Can you sing out of or into your vagina?’ Delfino hilariously quipped, ‘I wish. I would like to see that myself, that would be very impressive.’ She went on to perform two songs (out of her mouthSudden Change and A Message to All Men, of which the lyrics shocked even Brand and his cohorts.

But Jessica can’t see what all the fuss is about: ‘I don’t aim to be shocking or controversial, I aim to be funny.’ Most would say that there’s absolutely nothing funny in rape, or war. Not Jessy. ‘My music and jokes are about fucked up people and situations, but one of my major goals is to find what is funny in situations that are real, dark and bizarre. I like that challenge. It’s easy to see what’s “funny” about a cat that can do hand-stands. That’s obviously hilarious. It’s just more of a challenge to find funny things in places they don’t naturally exist. Duh.’ She believes that blanket censorship just shuts down any possible debate, so in writing funny songs, jokes or films, she feels as though she is reigniting public discussion, be it on war or rape, oral sex or vaginas, which is really very exciting. ‘It’s important to me -- I made a career out of it. The world’s problems are eternal debates and will never end.’

Delfino’s musical style is deceptively sweet, but the lyrical content is often surprisingly sharp. Jessica explains how she first discovered music: ‘I spent a lot of time as a kid hanging out in Maine, which is a small state, so I had a lot a free time and I taught myself how to play the guitar. I listened to a lot of Joni Mitchell and classic rock music and I just thought it would be nice for people to actually sing what they were thinking in their heads exactly, without all of the decoration around it. The world would be a better place if they could just say what they wanted.’ So that’s precisely what she did. With her simple songs, honest lyrics and genius titles, it’s no wonder she’s received up to 1 million views on YouTube for the stupidly catchy I Wanna Be Famous.

So what inspired this thirst for free, uncensored, limitless, black comedy? ‘I come from a funny family. My great-grandmother told dirty jokes, so I probably got my sense of humour hereditarily, from her. I also love Mae West, Joan Rivers, Peggy Lee, Pee Wee Herman – my influences come from all over the place. And my sisters are really funny, they are like a real life Patty & Selma [The Simpsons]’ Eek! ‘But I’ve also been inspired by people who aren’t really musical or comedic or related to me at all, such as Joan of Arc, Holly Golightly and even certain kinds of fabrics, images, natural phenomena, drugs and MTV.’

Delfino idolises women from both popular culture to historical feminist icons, so does she identify as a feminist? ‘I’m not afraid of being called a feminist or handling so-called feminist topics. If feminists like what I do and can find meaning in it, that’s great.’ When I tell her that I think the messages in her ditties are very much rooted in feminist principles, she seems confused. ‘They do? I never noticed.’ Whilst Jessica might not intentionally be writing ‘feminist’ songs or ‘feminist’ jokes, she is certainly behaving like a feminist: breaking stereotypes, smashing down the boundaries of feminine sexuality and, basically, saying what we’re all thinking.

Another up-and-coming female comedian/musician who has also been hailed for her feminist material is Sarah Silverman, ‘I think I have been compared to Sarah because we’re both nice looking women telling dirty jokes.’ It’s true. It’s not traditionally a very elegant, lady-like thing to do: to stand on a stage in front of hundreds of people and show off. Hopefully Delfino and Silverman will help bring this double-standard to an end. ‘If I’m getting compared to funny, famous people I think that’s great and I’m honoured... I’ve also been compared to Redd Foxx because I’m an old, funny, black man, on the inside.’

Delfino senses the humour in everything, which seems to me to be a really important, powerful characteristic. Ultimately it's about death; it's about the acknowledgement that nothing matters. If everything is meaningless and everything is fair game, anything and everything can be funny, which is what makes her so untouchable. ‘It would take a huge planetary shift, or magic, or a "touched" unicorn with something to prove to make evil and chaos end. So until any of those non-existent things happen, I will be making jokes about war and rape and whatever else is wrong with the world. And when those things are fixed, I’ll move on to trying to find comedy in other things that I'm told aren't funny.’

Wednesday, September 02, 2009


'What brings next to Katie Price’s life, I wonder?' Katie rambled to the camera on her new reality show – and before you ask, no she wasn’t drunk. Whilst she can’t half come out with some wonderful nonsense, Katie can actually be quite profound, be it intentional or not.

Last week, in the first episode of her itv2 series, What Katie Did Next, we caught a glimpse of the Pricey’s new life since her husband, Peter Andre, left the family home for good. Was she sitting alone in her pyjamas (from the Katie Price bedwear range, naturally), watching daytime TV, sobbing into a ready-meal for one? Nope. She was throwing a joint birthday party for all three of her children, attending meetings for her soon to be released style book – good, LORD – and shooting her 2010 calendar in Ibiza. She’d surrounded herself with her family and old friends, and seemed happier than ever. She’d even become involved with a hot new man, cage-fighter Alex Reid. What’s that?! Pete who?

She claimed that, despite it only being a couple of months since the split, she has moved on with her life and will not waste another second thinking about her failed marriage, an attitude that caused media commentators to call her ‘cold and heartless’. Focused? Yes. Ruthless? Perhaps. But heartless? Absolutely not.

But I forget, women aren’t meant to be this strong. They’re meant to mull over the split for at least six months and wonder ‘what if…’ Katie’s mum defended her: ‘I can’t see her doing a Bridget Jones – she’s not like that.’ What she is like, however, is uncontrollable. Something that both Pete and the press disliked.

Over the past few months, Katie has been vilified by the press. The tabloids (falsely) accused her of threatening to ‘cut up’ another woman at a nightclub, blamed her for triggering her own miscarriage with booze, flights and marathon training and, obviously, labelled her a bad mum.

Why do the press despise her so much? Well, my theory is that she goes against everything they stand for: she’s a strong, opinionated, self-made woman, with her own thoughts and her own mind. Women are meant to sacrifice their identity when they have children: they cannot be sexy, they are frowned upon if they go out and get pissed once in a while, and they’re made to feel guilty if they leave their children to go to work.

They’re certainly not supposed to writhe around on the Ibiza sand in an itsy-bitsy bikini by day, and binge drink with her mates at night, wearing not much more. Pete branded her a ‘disgrace’ and a ‘despicable mother’, for this behaviour, and the press were right behind him, all to ready to condemn a woman for doing and job and letting her hair down afterwards.

Yet no one batted an eye-lid when Andre posed in nothing but his tighty-whities for the News of the World. Pulling his best ‘I’ve been wronged’ face, standing in front of a full-length mirror, wearing only (what appeared to be) toddler pants, he pathetically begged the readers to take him seriously as a ‘credible artist’. Per-lease. At least Katie knows who she is. She made her name as a glamour model, and is proud of it. She doesn’t pretend to be anything she’s not.

Pete’s ‘feel sorry for me’ story smacks of hypocrisy: first playing the ‘dignified silence’ card, then selling his story to anyone who’ll listen the second his budget Justin Timberlake single needs flogging.

Meanwhile, Katie has moved on with her life and is being quite philosophical about it all: “I’m more challenged than ever. It’s just made me step it up again. I’m gonna prove I’m an independent woman, not a single woman. Life goes on, you know. I still have to work to support my kids, because you could be gone tomorrow. You only live once, so just get on with it.”

And it’s Katie’s ‘just bloody get on with it’ attitude that I find so inspiring. It’s certainly more helpful that Pete’s ‘She-did-something-really-bad-but-I’m-not-tellin’ guff. She’s even rebranding herself, refusing to be labelled lonely, or lacking: ‘I don’t like the word “single”. I’m an independent, working-mum.” Hear, hear.

I’m sure people won’t like to believe it, but we could all learn a thing or two from the Pricey. She makes everything look so effortless; taking it all in her stride. She comes across as so driven and focused: ‘We were married: it failed. We had marriage counselling, but we obviously weren’t meant to be. It’s like – “Let’s get divorced, get on with your life. Go find some perfect woman.” I’m obviously not the one for him – he couldn’t control me.’ Here is a woman who will not allow a man – or anyone – stand in her way, or tell her what to do. Thought-provoking stuff, I’m sure you’ll agree.

I, for one, cannot wait for tonight’s episode, to find out What Katie Did Next