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Metro.co.uk: News, Sport, Showbiz, Celebrities from Metro

older | 1 | .... | 1629 | 1630 | (Page 1631) | 1632 | 1633 | .... | 1849 | newer

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    (Picture: PA Real LIfe)

    A former Disney World has opened up the adult industry to the deaf and hard of hearing by working as a webcam model using sign language.

    Crystal Rivers, from Florida, can make up to £7,000 a month. She became a fluent speaker of American Sign Language after a lesson at school, aged eight, inspired her to learn it properly.

    Often using her skill during her time at Disney World, three years ago she began webcamming, and started signing her broadcasts a couple of months later when a deaf viewer tuned in.

    Crystal, who is single, said: ‘I’m the only webcam model that I know of who also knows ASL. I’m opening up a whole new world for people.

    ‘I want all my fans to be able to properly communicate with me, not just have to sit and type.

    ‘I do all sorts on camera. Sometimes I’ll sit and chat about my life, sometimes I’ll live stream myself playing games and sometimes I’ll do more adult stuff, like dance and flash my boobs.

    ‘I still sign along when I’m talking dirty or moaning. It can feel a bit silly, but that way, all my fans can hear me.’

    Landing a job at Disney World when she was 18, Crystal – who grew up dreaming of joining the Peace Corps – recalled how delighted guests would be when she used ASL.

    She said: ‘If customers ever didn’t respond to me, I tried signing, just in case, and if they were deaf or hearing impaired, their eyes would light up.

    ‘I can hear perfectly myself so lots of people asked me how I knew it, but the truth is, I just wanted to help people.

    Crystal posing for her camera
    (Picture: PA Real LIfe)

    ‘Like with any language, it took a while but the best way to learn is through practice.

    ‘After having a lesson at school when I was eight, I remember reading that more than 5% of the world have hearing loss and thinking, “That’s a lot of the world I can’t communicate with.”

    ‘Everyone wants to communicate and share their stories. It seemed so unfair that, short of writing something down on a notepad, there was no way I could with these people.’

    Even at a young age, Crystal was committed to learning ASL properly, eventually making friends with some deaf people when she was 14 ,which helped improve her skill further.

    When she was 20 and working at Disney World, a friend spoke to her about webcamming and piqued her interest.

    That night, Crystal took to the internet to read up about what it took to be a cam girl, and how to get started – then saving a couple of paycheques and investing in a laptop.

    ‘I just went for it,’ she said. ‘I was very nervous for my first cam session. I literally just sat online for about eight hours, chilling on my couch, watching movies and chatting.

    ‘I had no idea what to expect, but people began to log in, to watch and talk to me.

    ‘The world of camming really is a community, and brings people together.’

    Crystal eventually quit her Disney World job to go full time.

    She continued: ‘I had originally planned to find a different job, but I just loved cam work so much and couldn’t stop.

    ‘It was an amazing feeling getting to know each and every one of my fans.

    Crystal signs for deaf people
    (Picture: PA Real LIfe)

    ‘So, I decided to go full time and get serious. Loads of other cam girls helped with advice about what equipment to get, which laptops, mics and cameras worked best and where to post my content.

    ‘It’s amazing because you can watch yourself grow, and they can all say they helped.’

    It didn’t take long for Crystal to steadily build a fanbase, but the idea to incorporate ASL into her raunchy videos came by chance, when she was looking up how to say a particular word on camera one day in a sign language book she owned.

    A user who had logged in to watch her had asked if she knew sign language so. The pair soon struck up conversation, leading to more and more deaf fans logging in to watch her.

    Now, Crystal makes a lucrative living, earning on average $3,000 (£2,303) to $6,000 (£4,607) a month – although she can take home as much as $10,000 (£7,679).

    Explaining how she makes her money, she said: ‘I sell a lot through the multimedia messaging app Snapchat. I post daily nudes and shower scenes, as well as videos of me just talking to fans.

    ‘I post as much as I can to keep people actively interested in me.

    ‘I am also a member of Teddys Girls, which gives people private access to models like me. It’s such a fantastic website, and a great community. Everyone is fantastic at giving each other shout-outs and helping build one another’s fanbases.

    ‘I can use Teddys Girls to sell my Snapchat content, which fans can pay $75 (£58) for a lifetime subscription to, or $20 (£15) per month. I can also promote my private Twitter and sell custom made videos, which cost fans a little extra.’

    While Crystal ‘couldn’t be happier’ with her life and career, she said there are still some misconceptions about the industry and not everyone approves of her job.

    Luckily, her loved ones are mostly supportive.

    She continued: ‘Not everyone understands what this life is. People often think I am getting money to have sex. Most days, I’ll have someone log in to my webcam sessions and ask me that, but that’s simply not what I’m about.

    ‘For safety reasons, I wouldn’t meet a fan offline, apart from at a convention.

    ‘Whenever people are unsupportive though, I try to ignore it. In this digital, social media age, I wish people would learn a little more and understand that people like me aren’t evil – we’re helping.

    ‘Lots of the fans I have are anxious people with real issues. We sit and talk through them together. I genuinely love my fans and want them to feel cared about and supported.

    ‘I’m not here to take anybody’s man, but instead to give someone who is struggling a chance to feel connected and part of a community.

    ‘I can’t imagine doing anything else. I’ll be a cam girl until I’m old and grey.’

    MORE: You could earn £35 an hour helping people prepare for small talk

    MORE: Why switching to a menstrual cup was a revelation


    Ex-Disney World worker now makes ?8,000 a month as a webcam model ? even using sign language to have saucy chats with deaf fansEx-Disney World worker now makes ?8,000 a month as a webcam model ? even using sign language to have saucy chats with deaf fans

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    A childcare company is offering free childcare
    (Picture: Shutterstock)

    A childcare company is offering mothers an hour of free childcare so that they can attend a smear test.

    The offer, from Childcare.co.uk, is available nationwide, with more than 500 childcarers signed up to the initiative so far.

    Last month it was reported that some individual childcarers in a few areas of the UK, have been offering a free hour of childcare to mothers so they can go to a cervical screening appointment. After seeing this, Childcare.co.uk was inspired to roll it out nationwide, to ensure that all mothers have the time to go to an appointment.

    Smear tests help doctors determine whether women are at risk of cervical cancer, which in 99.8% of cases is preventable. Figures show the take up is at a 20-year low, so the initiative has been launched to encourage more women to attend a smear test.

    Every year in the UK, around 3,000 women will be diagnosed with cervical cancer.

    In the UK, women are invited to get a cervical screening from the age of 25 to 64 by the NHS to help check for cancerous cells.

    While the test usually takes just five minutes, Childcare.co.uk providers are offering mothers a free hour of childcare, to allow time for waiting times and travel to and from the doctor’s surgery.

    Richard Conway, Childcare.co.uk founder said: ‘There’s been a lot in the media about a fall in women not attending smear tests for various reasons, and I suspect a main one for mothers is not finding the time around their children.

    ‘We wouldn’t want women missing out on their smear test because of a lack of childcare and we loved that individual childcarers were offering this, so we thought we’d help out. Within the first few hours of us asking our members, we had more than 500 childcarers sign up to the initiative. We hope this will make a huge difference!’

    MORE: You could earn £35 an hour helping people prepare for small talk

    MORE: You can now get paid to defend people against online trolls


    The UK?s largest platform for parents and childcare professionals is offering mothers an hour of free childcare so they can attend a smear test.The UK?s largest platform for parents and childcare professionals is offering mothers an hour of free childcare so they can attend a smear test.

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    Automation quiz, robots shaking hands
    (Picture: Ella Byworth)

    One of the main themes that keeps cropping up in Metro.co.uk’s Future of Work series is automation; specifically how the jobs we do may not exist in years to come.

    Currently an average of 71% of job hours looked at by the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report are performed by humans, compared to 29% by machines or algorithms, with machine-led hours set to ramp up to 42% within the next three years.

    With Sainsbury’s launching their first ever self-checkout-only store recently, and ChatBots becoming more popular as a first point of contact over a human customer service representative, we can see examples of this happening in our everyday lives.

    Knowing whether your job could be one for the chopping block is important to ensure you upskill or make career moves in time. Take our quiz to find out whether you may be replaced by a robot.

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    If your score was low, never fear. Many of the answers in the quiz relate to easily learned skills that will become more necessary as time goes on.

    Futureproofing your job works in two ways. The first is to make sure you have an employer that is committed to nurturing you through any changes that may happen in your industry.

    For example, IBM CEO Ginni Rometty spoke at Davos about a form of new collar work, whereby employers invested in people who had been forced out of their jobs or been unable to find skilled work for whatever reason. She said: ‘They can actually learn these skills and make a very good living. So, it means therefore you have to change the model of education… One would be we invest in education… The other way is apprenticeships… I have a barista, an FBI agent, a fire worker who couldn’t work because of physical problems, a nurse who could no longer nurse, and put them through twelve weeks.’

    Although 81% of UK employers surveyed by the World Economic Forum said that they would ‘likely’ need to automate part of their workforce, even more said they would look to hire permanent staff with relevant new skills, and 75% said they would likely retrain existing employees in response.

    If you’ve not found an employer willing do to this, it’s time to take the second route and invest in it personally, as the average time employees will need to retrain between now and 2022 is 101 days, says the report.

    Unsurprisingly, many of the skills that are going to become indispensable are related to the tech field. Knowing how to work with your new non-human ‘colleagues’ opens up a number of doors, from programming to maintenance. But, a number of soft skills have been touted by business leaders as what they’ll be searching for.

    Creativity, interpersonal relations, and the ability to learn and teach will help you stand out. AliBaba Chairman Jack Ma said at Davos he looks for employees who are ‘positive and who never give up’.

    Given that we will see an ageing population, tech allowing us to work from anywhere in the world, and a shift in the nine to five working life of generations before, work will undoubtedly change dramatically.

    75 million current job roles may be lost over the next few years, which could be seen as a bleak outlook. However, 133 million new jobs have been predicted to emerge in this time, meaning that – with a dedication to learning and moving with the times – the future isn’t so scary after all.

    The Future Of Everything

    Future Of Everything

    This piece is part of Metro.co.uk's series The Future Of Everything.

    From OBEs to CEOs, professors to futurologists, economists to social theorists, politicians to multi-award winning academics, we think we've got the future covered, away from the doom mongering or easy Minority Report references.

    Every weekday, we're explaining what's likely (or not likely) to happen.

    Talk to us using the hashtag #futureofeverything  If you think you can predict the future better than we can or you think there's something we should cover we might have missed, get in touch: hey@metro.co.uk or Alex.Hudson@metro.co.uk

    Read every Future Of Everything story so far

    MORE: The 10 surprising jobs that will be huge in 2050


    ella byworthella byworth

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    Has your boss noticed you haven’t typed a single letter in the last 17 minutes?

    Do they know you’ve been watching a YouTube playlist dedicated to how different types of biscuit are made?

    For most of us, the extent of workplace supervision is a peripheral glance at your computer screen, a timecard stamped at the start and end of our days and occasional micromanagement inquiring after your use of time.

    But managers are already capable of tracking a lot more. As technology develops and becomes more widely accepted, your boss might be tracking everything from your health and wellbeing to the cold, hard numbers of how much value you bring to the company.

    Half of all large corporations use monitoring techniques including analysing emails and social media messages alongside looking at genetic data, research firm Gartner found. It expects that figure to rise to 80% by 2020, up from 30% back in 2015.

    Employee tracking is becoming the norm. Is that something you’re comfortable with?

    Is it something we should be comfortable with? If not, what rights do we have to say no to our productivity being tracked to the tiniest detail?

    ‘Employers can track employees’ whereabouts by ID badges with RFID tags (like in contactless debit cards),’ futurist Richard Worzel tells Metro.co.uk.

    ‘This will allow employers to track where employees are, for how long, infer things about what they are doing and what percentage of the time they are working.

    ‘Something similar can be done by asking employees to include a company app on their smartphones that would track where they are, how much they are moving about, how long they are still then make inferences about their activity from that. All of this is possible right now.

    ‘Now add artificial intelligence to the mix. AI on a worker’s smartphone will be able to start inferring things directly from activity levels and, if the company asks workers to put their smartphones out in the open, say on their desks, it may be able to watch as they work.

    ‘Taking this a step further, if there is a video eye watching each worker (which is not that expensive), much more concrete and direct assessments of worker productivity can be made, especially if it is combined with assessments of the work each employee has done every day. From that kind of detailed tracking, AI can learn how to assess productivity from minute-to-minute.

    ‘All of this is probably legal (depending on the jurisdiction), but somewhat scary, and frankly a bit nauseating.’

    In the UK, employers are legally allowed to monitor which websites you look at while at work and using devices provided by the workplace, meaning they are legally able to know if you’re spending time on sites that aren’t deemed productive, such as Facebook.

    They can also using tracking technology to monitor how long you’re spending on different sites, and the speed at which you press your keyboard. If, for example, you do work that involves data entry or typing, your boss can track your keystrokes to assess how much of this work is being done in a set amount of time.

    They can then flag up issues they spot with productivity, such as time with minimal keystrokes or excess time spent on your personal email instead of your work one.

    What rights does a worker actually have when the machines are saying no? - ASSIGNED VONNY LECLERC]
    (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    When keystrokes are monitored, it’s not just your speed of typing that can be tracked, but what you’re typing. Yes, even if you’re typing something in your private messages. Employers are allowed and able to read your emails and Slack messages.

    Slack announced that premium customers are able to access employees’ private messages without notifying them.

    There’s technology to make this data more focused, allowing managers to easily assess exactly how productive each worker is being moment by moment.

    WorkSmart, a calendar management and productivity tool, measures exactly how long it takes individuals to reach set deadlines and team targets with feedback on the percentage of time spent on each type of activity, counting every second when there is computer activity.

    The software also tracks time spent in deep work, time spent focused on one task with no distractions or task-switching. If a worker is regularly swapping between different windows, even for a brief moment, their boss can see that and ‘take corrective action to address any blockages’.

    Humanyze offers a similar service, tracking the time stamps of emails and how communication flows through an organisation to, as a spokesperson tells us, help companies ‘make faster, informed decisions that will have a direct impact on their business processes and revenue’ and ‘visualise potential bottlenecks and communications gaps eliminating slow decision making, performance lags, confusion, and disorganisation.’

    Rather than tracking actual workers OccupEye works to make physical space as optimised as possible. It uses heat sensor technology to provide real-time data on whether desks and seats are currently occupied.

    The idea is that if certain desks aren’t in use for hours a day they can be given another purpose. It also allows workers to see if a meeting area is in use or where there are available desks in the building.

    But it could also be used to see exactly how much time each worker is spending at their desk focused on work and how much time is spent going to the loo, leaving the office for lunch, and so on.

    Neil Steele, the divisional vice president of sales at OccupEye, says that this sort of employee tracking ‘is not the intended purpose of OccupEye’, and tells Metro.co.uk that the company has ‘never heard of any organisation using the technology to monitor individual time at the workspace’.

    When Daily Telegraph journalists arrived at work to find OccupEye sensors attached to their desks, they instantly worried that these would be used to track whether they were really working at their desks – a concern quickly allayed by the Telegraph by a memo before they removed the sensors entirely.

    Employers would be in their rights to use the tech in that way, however – they would just need to make clear to employees that they were being tracked.

    If tracking time spent on work isn’t too alarming, what if your boss started to track your emotions, your physical health and your thoughts about the working environment?

    Right now the tech might be in its infancy, but as it develops and becomes more accessible, it’s possible that by 2050 all companies will have access to all this data and more.

    Emotient and Affectiva are both types of human perception AI, using facial recognition and body tracking tech to detect emotions, thoughts, and behaviours.

    They’re currently used for advertising and market research, detecting consumers’ responses to products and content in controlled settings to assess success.

    Testers can be shown an advert while being tracked using human perception AI. If they show physical markers of boredom – a drop in body temperature, a neutral face, slow breathing – the advert needs to be tweaked.

    If their breathing speeds up, their heart rate quickens, their skin heats, and their eyes ever so slightly widen, there’s an emotion being provoked. Is it being provoked strongly enough to spur purchase? Is it at the intended moment in the advert?

    These are all questions the creator of the advert can look at before adjusting the advert to be the precise emotion induction it needs.

    Cool, right?

    The future could see employers making use of this same AI, tracking employees’ emotions to assess exactly how engaged they are with work as well as checking in on their mental wellbeing.

    Live updates could instantly notify managers if an employee is feeling stress and needs additional support. But they could also alert bosses to a worker who’s often distracted or disillusioned with the workplace, looking off screen, sighing, or tensing their entire body as if in preparation to fight.

    Then there are the trackers that can assess physical health and wellbeing.

    Just as you wear might wear a Fitbit when running and keep your phone under your pillow to track your sleep, soon employers may request that you wear a monitoring device in the workplace.

    This could offer everyday self-motivated feedback, such as a vibration when your posture isn’t quite right or you need to get up and walk around.

    This type of tracking can be useful in emergency situations such as someone operating heavy machinery about to enter cardiac arrest. The device could shut down the power and alert emergency services.

    Close monitoring of an employee’s health could allow bosses to spot issues before they arise and get medical intervention more quickly. A wristband that detects fatigue could flag to bosses that someone’s working hours aren’t working for them, or that something else is going on that’s disrupting their sleep.

    It could also allow employers to know when someone is on their period or even know they are pregnant before the employee themselves does.

    Issues arise with what exactly managers will do with that data. A lot of this depends on how companies value workers.

    Imagine you’re a manager, presented with data to suggest an employee is barely putting any effort into work and seems bored, miserable and disengaged.

    Illo - How will you have office romances and friendships when everyone?s working remotely? Working computer man desk room office relationships sex advice race dating Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk
    (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    Do you think their value lies more in how often their fingers hit their keyboard and look at other factors? Do you invest in mental health care or chat with them about what’s going wrong? Or do you dismiss someone who clearly doesn’t want to be there and hire someone else instead?

    You have two employees keen for a promotion, both equally qualified. Thanks to health tracking data, you know that one employee is in the early stages of pregnancy. Will you let that influence your decision?

    These are difficult questions to answer but this conversation becomes more essential as more work processes become automated.

    With AI automation arriving swiftly into workplaces, the ‘value’ of the human workforce has comes into question.

    Is it realistic to monitor employees for the same things that automated programmes are being monitored for? There are some measures of productivity in which automation will always win.

    ‘Computers are very good at certain kinds of tasks – repetitiveness, deep analysis of multi-variant problems, high precision,’ Richard says.

    ‘Employees are very good at other kinds: judgment, unexpected problems, complex problems in the real world and, most of all, common sense.’

    Of course, these questions are only relevant as long as your boss is a human.

    Over at Amazon’s fulfillment centres, an automated tracking process not only assesses the rates of each individual worker’s productivity, but can also generate warnings and terminations dependent on this data. Amazon says supervisors are able to override the process.

    What is tracking your workforce meant to achieve anyway?

    There’s conflicting research on whether the knowledge of being tracked will increase productivity in itself.

    In one study conducted at Washington University, researchers monitored staff working at around 400 restaurants – all with their knowledge. They found that alongside a reduction in employee theft, revenue also grew by $2,975 (£2,300) a week per location, along with employee’s tips.

    Lead researcher Andrew McAfee suggested that ‘performance improved simply because people started doing their jobs better’, all due to the knowledge that they were being watched.

    Other studies, however, point to tracking causing an increase in stress and lower job satisfaction.

    Emma Donaldson-Feilder, director at Affinity Health at Work, tells Metro.co.uk that ‘being monitored can lead to a sense of having less control over our work’ with a long term impact on health.

    ‘Greater intensity of performance monitoring may have a negative effect on wellbeing,’ she says.

    Futurist Melissa Sterry predicts significant backlash from employees at the prospect of being tracked, and notes that any productivity gained by monitoring could be lost as a result of employees finding ways to ‘game the system’.

    Rather than improving their work and deleting bad habits, workers could dedicate more time and effort to keeping unproductive time under wraps – whether that’s using a new messaging system to gossip during work hours or sticking their movement tracker on a more active coworker.

    There are also privacy concerns.

    Do you really have to wake up at 4am to be successful?
    (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    With access to swathes of employee personal data, employers will have to accept a duty of care that includes ensuring information isn’t shared more widely.

    Emotion tracking intended to be used to monitor employee mental health and lower stress could be used by advertisers for emotion-targeted campaigns.

    Human perception AI reveals a particular worker feels rundown at around 3pm every day, for example, and longs for comfort, so at 3pm an advertiser filters through opportunities to buy cosy blankets or a nice cup of hot chocolate.

    There’s an immense level of trust required in companies; trust that they will use the data for constructive purposes and that they will keep it safe from outside parties.

    ‘We find ourselves in the situation where many have “all the gear” but no idea of the unintended consequences,’ says Melissa Sterry.

    ‘In an ideal world, one where none had intent to take advantage or harm another, such technologies could, perhaps help build a happier and healthier workforce.

    ‘However, an ideal world this is not, and for all they that seek to use technologies responsibly there will be invariably they that do not, and that could use it to disadvantage their employees.’

    Melissa argues that right at this moment, just as tracking technology is becoming more prevalent, we urgently need government involvement to ensure that information is safely acquired and held, and only for genuinely helpful purpose.

    Before employers begin tracking their workers, they need to establish what exactly ‘good’ work means to them, and at what point they would overrule an algorithm in favour of moral rights or wrongs.

    ‘The more companies monitor their employees, the greater the burden of responsibility in respect of that data and its uses that is placed upon them,’ says Melissa.

    ‘Never will the capacity to decipher what is right from wrong be so simple as can be scripted in an algorithm.’

    But Richard Worzel believes that there is benefit for both employer and employee from tracking technology.

    ‘If an AI has been trained to gauge productivity on a minute-by-minute basis, it can offer guidance on how an employee can accomplish more,’ he says.

    ‘It would enable them to accomplish more, feel better about their work, and, over time, increase compensation and position within a company.

    ‘The key to positive results would be to work with employees on improving how they feel about work rather than giving them a sense that Big Brother is watching their every move.’

    The Future Of Everything

    Future Of Everything

    This piece is part of Metro.co.uk's series The Future Of Everything.

    From OBEs to CEOs, professors to futurologists, economists to social theorists, politicians to multi-award winning academics, we think we've got the future covered, away from the doom mongering or easy Minority Report references.

    Every weekday, we're explaining what's likely (or not likely) to happen.

    Talk to us using the hashtag #futureofeverything  If you think you can predict the future better than we can or you think there's something we should cover we might have missed, get in touch: hey@metro.co.uk or Alex.Hudson@metro.co.uk

    Read every Future Of Everything story so far

    MORE: Computer says no: What happens when we disagree with the robots we’re working under?

    MORE: The 10 jobs that aren’t commonplace yet but will be huge in 2050


    ella byworthella byworth

    0 0

    Benjamin suffers from a mysterious condition
    (Picture: SWNS)

    The mum of a little boy who is suffering from a mysterious condition so rare it does not have a name has spoken of the agony of not knowing what’s wrong with her son.

    Benjamin Davey was born in November 2013 weighing 6Ibs 9oz at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh.

    Benjamin, who is visually impaired, is one of 6,000 children born in the UK every year with a syndrome without a name (SWAN).

    When his mum Alex, 40, was 38 weeks pregnant she was told Benjamin’s brain was underdeveloped and he would have a low chance of surviving the birth.

    Alex, from Dunbar, East Lothian, was offered a termination because the five-year-old’s condition was so severe but Alex felt she had to give him ‘a chance’.

    And now, Benjamin has grown up to become a ‘lovely boy’ despite the family not knowing what type of care he should be receiving due to him having no diagnoses.

    Benjamin Davey who is suffering from a mysterious condition so rare it does not even have a name. See SWNS copy SWSCcondition: The mum of a little boy who is suffering from a mysterious condition so rare it does not even have a name has spoken of the agony of not knowing what's wrong with him. Little Benjamin Davey was born on November 2013 weighing 6Ibs 9oz at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh. But the youngster, who is visually impaired, is one of 6,000 children born in the UK every year with a syndrome without a name (SWAN).
    (Picture: SWNS)

    Alex said: ‘My first few scans when I was pregnant were normal.

    ‘But when he got an MRI scan while I was pregnant it revealed that his brain wasn’t developed.

    ‘Doctors offered us a termination but we wanted to give him a chance because we couldn’t make that kind of decision without knowing what was actually wrong with him.

    ‘Since he’s been born we just try and get on with it.

    ‘But the most difficult thing is the long term planning because we don’t know if his condition will change as he gets older.

    ‘We don’t know if he will need a carer or anything like that.

    ‘Even explaining to people what he suffers from is so difficult because not everyone knows that you can get undiagnosed conditions, which is frustrating.

    Mum Alex with son Benjamin Davey who is suffering from a mysterious condition so rare it does not even have a name. See SWNS copy SWSCcondition: The mum of a little boy who is suffering from a mysterious condition so rare it does not even have a name has spoken of the agony of not knowing what's wrong with him. Little Benjamin Davey was born on November 2013 weighing 6Ibs 9oz at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh. But the youngster, who is visually impaired, is one of 6,000 children born in the UK every year with a syndrome without a name (SWAN).
    (Picture: SWNS)

    ‘We don’t know how long he will live so just have to get on with it and try and make memories for him.

    For the first 18 months, Benjamin was breastfed but due to an epileptic seizure during that time he has since been tube fed by Alex and her husband Richard, 38.

    Benjamin will use a wheelchair for the rest of his life, said mum Alex.

    Alex said it is difficult to communicate with Benjamin because he is visually impaired and can’t speak.

    The mum-of-three, who works as a botanist, added: ‘It can be really hard for us as he has a range of symptoms.

    ‘He has epilepsy and something called dystonia which means his muscles spasm.

    ‘He also has something called global developmental delay which means he doesn’t develop like a normal child.

    ‘But he’s a lovely boy who is really happy.

    ‘He doesn’t know any different, so he can only show what he feels through his body language.

    ‘And although he is visually impaired he likes watching lights and shadows.’

    SWAN is used to describe a person who is believed to have a genetic condition but the exact cause cannot be found.

    It is thought to affect around 6,000 babies a year in the UK, half of which will never receive a diagnosis.

    SWAN UK national coordinator, Lauren Roberts, said: ‘Life for families affected by undiagnosed genetics conditions is tough, living in limbo land with no answers they often feel like they have nowhere to turn.

    ‘Undiagnosed Children’s Day is a chance for them to come together to raise awareness of the issues they face and celebrate all that their children achieve.’

    MORE: You could earn £35 an hour helping people prepare for small talk

    MORE: You can now get paid to defend people against online trolls


    Benjamin Davey who is suffering from a mysterious condition so rare it does not even have a nameBenjamin Davey who is suffering from a mysterious condition so rare it does not even have a name

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    Kelly graduating her Masters in Ohio. OHIO, USA: AFTER BEING diagnosed with a progressive GENETIC DISEASE at just eighteen, following years of thinking she was CLUMSY, this woman is now showing others that a genetic condition doesn???t define your life - as she admits that life can still be fulfilling even in a wheelchair. Freelance contractor Kelly Barendt (26) from Ohio, USA, had always classed herself as ???clumsy???, but when she started struggling to walk while carrying a drink, holding onto railings and walking up tiered stands, Kelly became more aware of her struggle, which heightened her growing anxiety. Kelly started to avoid walking in front of people as it added to her nerves. As her walking grew worse, Kelly would often miss school when she knew there was going to be a school assembly which meant she needed to walk up the tiered stands. Kelly even saw a physical therapist to work on curing her clumsiness, which came to no avail. At just 18 years old, Kelly???s primary care physician referred her to a neurologist, and she was then diagnosed with Friedreich???s Ataxia (FA), a recessive genetic disease which gradually causes the loss of sensation in arms and legs and can impair speech over time. FA has limited Kelly???s life somewhat physically as she now uses a wheelchair for longer distances. However, despite her condition, Kelly has managed to complete a postgraduate course, studied abroad in Luxembourg for five months, and she now lives by herself, relishing her independence. When she was first diagnosed, Kelly feared that her life would no longer be hers to live, but after eight years of living with the disease, she hopes to show others that life can be just as fulfilling as ever before, regardless of their condition. MDWfeatures / Kelly Barendt
    (Picture: MDWfeatures / Kelly Barendt)

    Like many of us do, Kelly Barendt thought she was just naturally clumsy.

    But when she started to struggle to walk while holding a drink, the freelance contractor from Ohio, US, realised something was wrong.

    At 18 she began needing to hold on to railings to walk up stairs. This caused her a lot of anxiety, as each day at her school’s assembly she was required to walk up tiered stands. She started to miss school to avoid the embarrassment of struggling to walk, and eventually went to a physical therapist to remedy her clumsiness – but that didn’t work.

    Finally, Kelly’s doctor referred her to a neurologist to find out what was going on. She was diagnosed with Friedreich’s Ataxia (FA), a recessive genetic disease that gradually causes the loss of sensation in the arms and legs.

    So Kelly wasn’t ‘just clumsy’ – she has a condition that dramatically affects her ability to walk.

    When she was diagnosed Kelly feared that her life would no longer be hers to live, but after eight years of living with FA she wants to show others that life can be just as fulfilling despite her condition.

    Kelly using her walker to give her more stability. OHIO, USA: AFTER BEING diagnosed with a progressive GENETIC DISEASE at just eighteen, following years of thinking she was CLUMSY, this woman is now showing others that a genetic condition doesn???t define your life - as she admits that life can still be fulfilling even in a wheelchair. Freelance contractor Kelly Barendt (26) from Ohio, USA, had always classed herself as ???clumsy???, but when she started struggling to walk while carrying a drink, holding onto railings and walking up tiered stands, Kelly became more aware of her struggle, which heightened her growing anxiety. Kelly started to avoid walking in front of people as it added to her nerves. As her walking grew worse, Kelly would often miss school when she knew there was going to be a school assembly which meant she needed to walk up the tiered stands. Kelly even saw a physical therapist to work on curing her clumsiness, which came to no avail. At just 18 years old, Kelly???s primary care physician referred her to a neurologist, and she was then diagnosed with Friedreich???s Ataxia (FA), a recessive genetic disease which gradually causes the loss of sensation in arms and legs and can impair speech over time. FA has limited Kelly???s life somewhat physically as she now uses a wheelchair for longer distances. However, despite her condition, Kelly has managed to complete a postgraduate course, studied abroad in Luxembourg for five months, and she now lives by herself, relishing her independence. When she was first diagnosed, Kelly feared that her life would no longer be hers to live, but after eight years of living with the disease, she hopes to show others that life can be just as fulfilling as ever before, regardless of their condition. MDWfeatures / Kelly Barendt
    (Picture: MDWfeatures / Kelly Barendt)

    ‘I was very clumsy in school, and it became even worse in later years,’ said Kelly.

    ‘Anxiety hit me every time we had an event in the school gym because I was terrified of the stands outside. It got to the point where my parents would let me stay home if we knew about a school assembly in the gym.

    ‘I always had to tightly grasp the railing when going downstairs for fear of falling and I had difficulty walking while holding a full glass of water or mug of coffee.

    ‘I tried to avoid walking in front of people who were sitting and watching because it made me nervous.

    ‘I’m sure my parents and friends noticed it more than me, but since I wasn’t able to watch myself, I only know what made me nervous and what gave me trouble.

    ‘FA is progressive, so at first, I just had some issues with balance and being clumsy. Now, nearly eight years later, I depend on a walker and a wheelchair for longer distances.

    ‘When I was diagnosed, I felt partial relief because I finally had an answer and realised it wasn’t my fault I wasn’t getting better. The other part of me sort of left my body, and I blankly accepted the information. I was upset, of course, but mostly, I couldn’t believe this was happening to me; it was surreal.

    Kelly has a walker which can also be transformed into a wheelchair should she need it. OHIO, USA: AFTER BEING diagnosed with a progressive GENETIC DISEASE at just eighteen, following years of thinking she was CLUMSY, this woman is now showing others that a genetic condition doesn???t define your life - as she admits that life can still be fulfilling even in a wheelchair. Freelance contractor Kelly Barendt (26) from Ohio, USA, had always classed herself as ???clumsy???, but when she started struggling to walk while carrying a drink, holding onto railings and walking up tiered stands, Kelly became more aware of her struggle, which heightened her growing anxiety. Kelly started to avoid walking in front of people as it added to her nerves. As her walking grew worse, Kelly would often miss school when she knew there was going to be a school assembly which meant she needed to walk up the tiered stands. Kelly even saw a physical therapist to work on curing her clumsiness, which came to no avail. At just 18 years old, Kelly???s primary care physician referred her to a neurologist, and she was then diagnosed with Friedreich???s Ataxia (FA), a recessive genetic disease which gradually causes the loss of sensation in arms and legs and can impair speech over time. FA has limited Kelly???s life somewhat physically as she now uses a wheelchair for longer distances. However, despite her condition, Kelly has managed to complete a postgraduate course, studied abroad in Luxembourg for five months, and she now lives by herself, relishing her independence. When she was first diagnosed, Kelly feared that her life would no longer be hers to live, but after eight years of living with the disease, she hopes to show others that life can be just as fulfilling as ever before, regardless of their condition. MDWfeatures / Kelly Barendt
    (Picture: MDWfeatures / Kelly Barendt)

    ‘My walking worsened and walking longer distances across my university campus became increasingly difficult. I was exhausting my body trying to keep up with my peers.

    ‘When the weather is nice and my friends and I want to go to the park or a nearby bar, I use my wheelchair about once a week.

    ‘FA has stopped me from being able to do certain things, but I don’t focus on that.

    ‘What it prevents me from doing doesn’t really matter in life – I have many friends who go out on weekends and bar hop all night. Occasionally I feel down that I can’t join them, but then I take a step back and think about how I’m still living a fulfilling life without doing that.’

    Alongside completing a postgraduate course and living independently, Kelly runs a blog, My Darling Life With FA, to educate people about Friedreich’s Ataxia.

    ‘I’m fortunate to be surrounded by kind and supportive people, so gladly, I’ve never received negative comments,’ she says.

    Kelly hopes to raise awareness for FA as so few people have heard of it. OHIO, USA: AFTER BEING diagnosed with a progressive GENETIC DISEASE at just eighteen, following years of thinking she was CLUMSY, this woman is now showing others that a genetic condition doesn???t define your life - as she admits that life can still be fulfilling even in a wheelchair. Freelance contractor Kelly Barendt (26) from Ohio, USA, had always classed herself as ???clumsy???, but when she started struggling to walk while carrying a drink, holding onto railings and walking up tiered stands, Kelly became more aware of her struggle, which heightened her growing anxiety. Kelly started to avoid walking in front of people as it added to her nerves. As her walking grew worse, Kelly would often miss school when she knew there was going to be a school assembly which meant she needed to walk up the tiered stands. Kelly even saw a physical therapist to work on curing her clumsiness, which came to no avail. At just 18 years old, Kelly???s primary care physician referred her to a neurologist, and she was then diagnosed with Friedreich???s Ataxia (FA), a recessive genetic disease which gradually causes the loss of sensation in arms and legs and can impair speech over time. FA has limited Kelly???s life somewhat physically as she now uses a wheelchair for longer distances. However, despite her condition, Kelly has managed to complete a postgraduate course, studied abroad in Luxembourg for five months, and she now lives by herself, relishing her independence. When she was first diagnosed, Kelly feared that her life would no longer be hers to live, but after eight years of living with the disease, she hopes to show others that life can be just as fulfilling as ever before, regardless of their condition. MDWfeatures / Kelly Barendt
    (Picture: MDWfeatures / Kelly Barendt)

    ‘However, in university I had some negative experiences with advisors. They didn’t say anything specific about my condition, but made it clear I wasn’t supported in battling FA within the program.

    ‘I definitely don’t think enough people know about FA. Unless they’re a doctor, I can almost guarantee someone I meet for the first time has never heard of it. Greater awareness is so important for funding research to find a treatment or cure for FA.

    ‘Through blogging and being so transparent on Instagram, I’ve connected with many like-minded people who are dealing with similar challenges. I’ve built a little community.

    ‘It’s also helped me find purpose in supporting others through FA, rare disease, chronic illness, or disability.

    ‘I want others to see that it is possible to live a life full of love, happiness, and passion when you have FA, disability, rare disease, or chronic illness. It’s what I needed to hear when I was diagnosed at 18 and will hopefully help others.

    ‘I have plenty of other interests, such as style, travel, design and photography. I want to show all of this, because I think it’s important for others to see, even if their interests differ. Your life doesn’t have to revolve around your condition.’

    MORE: I spent years battling the government for disability benefits I’m entitled to

    MORE: By using the disabled toilet you’re putting me at risk


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    Sophie Hines with her tall boyfriend, Miles
    (Picture: Kennedy News and Pictures)

    Dating someone who’s a vastly different height brings a lot of challenges.

    Just try taking a decent selfie with them. It’s tough.

    A quick kiss means back strain for the tall half of the couple or some impressive jumping skills from the short one.

    For Sophie Hines, who measures in at just 5ft, the biggest issue with her relationship with a 6ft 7in boyfriend is the harassment she receives online.

    Sophie, 26, says she’s regularly told off by taller women for ‘taking one of the tall boys’.

    Thankfully, both she and her tall boyfriend Miles find the anger hilarious.

    Sophie said: ‘Our height difference hasn’t affected our relationship at all. I wouldn’t have him any other way.

    ‘I always say to him, “do you wish I was taller?” but he always says, “no, I love it that you’re small”. I’ve never met any other couple with the same height difference as us.

    PIC FROM Kennedy News and Media (PICTURED: MILES LLOYD AND SOPHIE HINES WHO HAVE A 1FT 7 INCH HEIGHT DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THEM) A 5ft mum claims the huge height difference with her 6ft 7in boyfriend makes taller girls so jealous they berate her for 'taking one of the tall boys'. Sophie Hines, 28, claims she had to google celebrities with large height differences before she started dating Miles Lloyd, 26, to be reassured that they wouldn't look 'ridiculous' together. But the happy couple discovered they had actually met almost 10 years ago when an old photo emerged of them together in a club - posing because of their huge height difference. SEE KENNEDY NEWS COPY - 0161 697 4266
    (Picture: Kennedy News and Media)

    ‘When we go out we get so many looks. It was weird at first but we’ve definitely embraced it now. Miles is so oblivious to it.

    ‘When we first got together it was when Kourtney Kardashian was going out with Younes Bendjima and they had a massive height difference too.

    ‘I was googling pictures of Kourtney with her boyfriend and was worrying we would look ridiculous, so I had to google to make sure I wasn’t the only one.

    ‘I think people notice his height more because I’m so short. If I was 5’9″ or something, I don’t think they would really notice it as much. But there’s such a contrast between us it makes it more noticeable.

    ‘A lot of angry tall girls have said I should leave the tall boys alone. There are a lot of angry tall girls who say, “my boyfriend is smaller than me, why have you taken a tall one”.

    ‘But I can’t help it, can I? It’s such a silly comment. You can’t help who you like. I’m not going to dismiss someone because they’re tall and just go out with someone who is 5″5.

    ‘I 100% confront people when they make comments about him – I have to do it.

    ‘Miles definitely gets bored of [being asked about his height]. I want to get him a little card made up so that when people come up to him he can give them a little card that says, “I’m 6″7, no I don’t play basketball”.

    PIC FROM Kennedy News and Media (PICTURED: MILES LLOYD AND SOPHIE HINES WHO HAVE A 1FT 7 INCH HEIGHT DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THEM AND THEIR SON REMY LLOYD) A 5ft mum claims the huge height difference with her 6ft 7in boyfriend makes taller girls so jealous they berate her for 'taking one of the tall boys'. Sophie Hines, 28, claims she had to google celebrities with large height differences before she started dating Miles Lloyd, 26, to be reassured that they wouldn't look 'ridiculous' together. But the happy couple discovered they had actually met almost 10 years ago when an old photo emerged of them together in a club - posing because of their huge height difference. SEE KENNEDY NEWS COPY - 0161 697 4266
    (Picture: Kennedy News and Media)

    ‘He just has to say the same things over and over again.’

    Sophie admits that the height difference does attract some interesting questions.

    The first one is usually ‘how do you have sex?’

    The couple have also been mistaken for a dad and daughter thanks to their difference in size.

    Miles thinks they look great together.

    ‘I like our height difference,’ he said. ‘I love being out with her and showing off. We look very good together.

    ‘We never spoke about the height difference when we started going out. I like that she’s small, I just like her.

    ‘It’s amazing though. I can’t believe there are so many people interested in us. We just embrace it.

    ‘I feel like I’m a normal man stuck in a tall man’s body. I don’t even feel like I’m that tall – it’s really surprising when people say it.

    PIC FROM Kennedy News and Media (PICTURED: MILES LLOYD AND SOPHIE HINES WHO HAVE A 1FT 7 INCH HEIGHT DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THEM, WITH THEIR SON REMY LLOYD) A 5ft mum claims the huge height difference with her 6ft 7in boyfriend makes taller girls so jealous they berate her for 'taking one of the tall boys'. Sophie Hines, 28, claims she had to google celebrities with large height differences before she started dating Miles Lloyd, 26, to be reassured that they wouldn't look 'ridiculous' together. But the happy couple discovered they had actually met almost 10 years ago when an old photo emerged of them together in a club - posing because of their huge height difference. SEE KENNEDY NEWS COPY - 0161 697 4266
    (Picture: Kennedy News and Media)

    ‘I must get comments five or six times a day. I always ask them how tall they think I am because they always get it right first time anyway, so it’s pointless, they didn’t need to ask.’

    The couple met through working at the bank, speaking properly when Sophie joined Miles’ team. They had seen each other around since Sophie was 18, and after they started dating they found an old picture where they had posed together in a club to make fun of their difference in size.

    ‘I’ve always known him as “Miles the tall boy”,’ said Sophie. ‘We had never had a conversation but had seen each other around before we started going out. I remember just thinking how tall he was.

    ‘We got a picture in a nightclub together, randomly, from when we were about 18. I think I just got the picture with him because he was so tall.

    ‘It’s so weird, and we look so different in the picture – and then 10 years later we have a baby together. It’s so strange. I don’t remember it.

    ‘It came up on my timehop [on Facebook] when I was working with him and I was like, ‘oh my god, look at this’.

    ‘I always thought he was cute. He just always used to look cool, I loved the way he looked. He had really long hair and he only just got it cut this year but it used to be past his shoulders.

    PIC FROM Kennedy News and Media (PICTURED: MILES AND SOPHIE WHO HAVE A 1FT 7 INCH HEIGHT DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THEM) A 5ft mum claims the huge height difference with her 6ft 7in boyfriend makes taller girls so jealous they berate her for 'taking one of the tall boys'. Sophie Hines, 28, claims she had to google celebrities with large height differences before she started dating Miles Lloyd, 26, to be reassured that they wouldn't look 'ridiculous' together. But the happy couple discovered they had actually met almost 10 years ago when an old photo emerged of them together in a club - posing because of their huge height difference. SEE KENNEDY NEWS COPY - 0161 697 4266
    (Picture: Kennedy News and Media)

    ‘He always looked really cool to me and I used to think, I just want a boyfriend like that. And then we ended up together – I got him in the end.’

    The couple have a baby, Remy, who Miles reckons will be a tall boy too.

    ‘He’s got a massive head, massive hands and massive feet so I’m pretty confident he’s going to be big like me,’ said Miles.

    ‘I’m quite lean as well, so I’d like it if he grows up to be a proper unit. I don’t think it will take him long to outgrow Sophie.’

    Despite struggles with selfies and questions about their sex life, Sophie and Miles are happy they’ve found each other, and want to encourage people not to let height put them off someone great.

    Sophie said: ‘Loads of people ask us how we kiss. He has to crouch and I go on tiptoes – there is no other way.

    ‘We get so many comments about how we have sex. I actually said that to him before we get together – how do you do it?

    ‘But he said it’s only his legs that are long – his body is a normal size. It all works for us, anyway. I just can’t believe that that’s the first thing that people think of.

    ‘I find it hard to frame a picture with both of us in. I normally just take selfies and things in the car because I know I can fit both of us in.

    ‘We’ve got a full length mirror in our house and I’ve got loads where his head is just completely cut off. It’s him neck down, and that’s it.’

    Miles adds: ‘I definitely think people shouldn’t let their ego or any other social pretense guide them because they’ll limit themselves and not find someone they really love.

    ‘I don’t think Sophie had been with anyone really tall before me. Everyone is her family is pretty short as well.

    ‘I guess you look for a partner with the things you haven’t got, subconsciously maybe.’

    MORE: Couple celebrate their anniversary with a meal where they first met… Spar

    MORE: Couple who adopted abandoned elderly dog seeking donations for her cancer treatment


    Short woman defends having tall bfShort woman defends having tall bf

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    Friends having late dinner and wine at restaurant
    (Picture: Getty)

    Women who drink coffee, red wine and regularly eat fruits and vegetables may have a higher defence against breast cancer, says new research.

    A new study by the European Congress on Obesity in Glasgow found that the risk of post-menopausal breast cancer may be reduced in women with this diet.

    Coffee, wine, fruits, vegetables and whole grains contain phenolic acids, which were found to have a protective effect against cancer.

    Raspberries, blueberries, apples, citrus fruits, plums, onions, cocoa and whole wheat rice, corn and oats are rich sources of phenolic acids.

    The study included 11,028 women with breast cancer and how much phenolic acids, including hydroxycinnamic and hydroxybenzoic acids, they consumed.

    Researchers found that women consuming such goods had a 65% reduced risk of cancer.

    Scientists from the University of Navarra and the University of Jaen in Spain found 101 cases of breast cancer among the group of women during an average follow-up of almost 12 years.

    Horizontal, high angle, above view of full black coffee in a coffee mug. Bubbles on the coffee, handle on the right, brown textured table as a background.
    (Picture: Getty)

    All the women had to complete a food questionnaire at the start of the study listing how often they ate 136 different food items.

    Then they were split into three groups according to their intake of phenolic acids, with those with the highest consumers of hydroxycinnamic acids (a naturally occurring type of phenolic acid) having a 62% reduced risk of breast cancer in comparison to those with the lowest intake.

    Chlorogenic acids, a type of hydroxycinnamic acid found in coffee, fruits, and vegetables were found to have the strongest effect.

    Researchers said the diet could possibly reduce the inflammation of fat tissue, oxidative stress which can damage tissue or resistance to insulin.

    They concluded: ‘A higher intake of hydroxycinnamic acids, especially from chlorogenic acids – present in coffee, fruits and vegetables – was associated with decreased post-menopausal breast cancer risk.’

    Dr Kotryna Temcinaite, from Breast Cancer Care and Breast Cancer Now, said: ‘We’ve long known that eating fruit and vegetables as part of a balanced diet can help lower your risk of breast cancer by helping you maintain a healthy weight.’

    ‘While this study helps to suggest a potential mechanism behind this benefit, further research is needed to understand the effect that phenolic acids found in foods such as fruit, veg and coffee may have on breast cancer risk.’

    But she warned against drinking large amounts of coffee to counteract the risk.

    MORE: Superdrug will now offer free in-store consultations to check for breast cancer

    MORE: Morning people have a lower risk of breast cancer

    MORE: Drinking coffee could reduce your chances of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, study claims


    Close-up of female holding glass with redwineClose-up of female holding glass with redwine

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    Mixed Up is a weekly series that examines the highs, lows and unique challenges of being mixed-race.

    As the UK’s fastest-growing ethnic group, mixed-race people offer a unique perspective on how it feels to straddle two or more cultures at once – and yet we so rarely hear from them.

    Each week we will speak to someone from the mixed-race community about what their racial identity means to them.

    This series aims to challenge the stereotypes, dismantle the cliches and get to the heart of what it means to be mixed-race in the UK today.

    Alexander Leon’s dad is Sri Lankan, his mum is white British and he grew up in Australia. He has also had to deal with the specific stigma that comes with being a non-white, gay man.

    Mixed Up - Lifestyle - Natalie Morris
    Picture by Jerry Syder for Metro.co.uk

    ‘More than anything, both aspects of my identity were sources of great stress and struggle for me growing up,’ Alexander tells Metro.co.uk.

    ‘Being mixed – or more specifically not being white – meant that I experienced racism, and being a closeted and effeminate teenager meant that I experienced homophobia.

    ‘The compound effect of dealing with both of these concurrently took a pretty sharp toll on my well-being and my mental health growing up.

    ‘Since growing older, I have come to realise that these aspects of my identity are beautiful and the experience of grappling with both of them has given me a lot of perspective and taught me a lot.’

    Alexander’s parents have wildly different backgrounds – a whirlwind romance saw them married within three weeks of meeting each other.

    ‘My mother is from a sleepy village in Norwich and my father is originally from the east coast of Sri Lanka, having emigrated to India at a young age,’ explains Alexander.

    ‘My father spent most of his life roaming around India and Nepal, bouncing from various different professions and lifestyles, including living in an ashram, before eventually settling in Goa, where he lived a very humble existence.

    ‘My mother left the UK in the 80s for Australia, having previously backpacked there and fallen in love with the country.

    ‘They met in a chance encounter on the beach in Goa, my mother backpacking alone around India and my dad always striking up conversations with tourists.

    ‘Within three weeks, they were married – something which was extraordinarily taboo at the time. White men were able to take Asian wives, but the reverse was rare and deemed controversial.

    ‘An Asian man was “betraying the culture” if he fell in love with a white women.

    ‘My parents left Goa soon after marrying, traversing Thailand before eventually settling back in Sydney, Australia. I was born a few years later. This makes me Australian, British and Sri Lankan.’

    The Leon family in San Francisco, 1993
    The Leon family in San Francisco, 1993 (Picture: Alexander Leon/Metro.co.uk)

    The language used to describe and define mixed-race people can be contentious and loaded with meaning. The words you choose to delineate who you are are often deeply personal and sometimes political. For Alexander, finding the right words was quite a journey.

    ‘It took me a long time to land on the term “mixed-race”,’ he explains.

    ‘I spent a lot of my youth confused by the barrage of terminology that came my way. There are swathes of my life that are tied together by a certain label.

    ‘When I was in high school – a time when labels are suddenly paramount – I considered myself “biracial”. It’s possible that the term itself was just in vogue, rather than me feeling any particular affinity towards it.

    ‘As I passed through university, I started using the fairly clumsy term “brown”. As I’ve come into adulthood I’ve settled on “mixed race” and being a “person of colour” as the labels which best fit my experience.

    ‘When I look back, I realise that the unwavering truth – that my heritage was mixed – has always been at the heart of all of these chosen labels.

    ‘I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t aware that I existed in a sort of in-between, not quite one, not quite the other, but impossibly – and miraculously – both.

    ‘In many ways I think it has been a large force in the formation of my character, my values, and how I navigate the world.

    ‘To be constantly in-between gives you a rare sense of perspective, one that I think can really help people understand that underneath it all, everyone is just human.’

    Newborn Alexander, 1992
    Newborn Alexander with his dad, 1992 (Picture: Alexander Leon/Metro.co.uk)

    Beyond labels, the realities of being mixed-race in the UK tend to be defined in no small part by how you are treated in society.

    Having grown up in Australia and moved to the UK as an adult, Alexander has the unique perspective of being able to analyse UK attitudes with a slightly more objective perspective.

    ‘British society tends to react to mixed-race people with intrigue, sometimes with wonder, often with confusion or misplaced curiosity,’ explains Alexander.

    ‘I am so frequently asked the question, “where are you from”, that I’ve developed a Rolodex of different responses depending on my mood – anywhere from a good-humoured explanation of my ethnic background, to a savage take-down explaining why asking that question so early in a conversation can be immensely disrespectful or intrusive.

    ‘I think the number of mixed-race people are growing and as a result it is becoming more common to come across someone whose ethnic background you can’t quite place. I think this is an important phenomenon – it challenges people to not make sweeping generalisations or assumptions.

    ‘The one thing that I think almost all mixed-race people share is being the object of fetishisation.

    ‘Ever since I can remember, people have told me that I’m “exotic” or “special”. At first this was easy to internalise as a positive thing, but over time it’s soured into something less complimentary.

    ‘I have had guys come up to me at a club and use my “exoticism” as a pick-up line, or tell me they’re only interested in mixed guys. It’s tiring to battle with people who refuse to look beyond the fact that you’re ethnically ambiguous.’

    As well as being incessantly fetishised, Alexander has also experienced hostility and racism – made all the more complex by its insidious nature.

    ‘Growing up in particular, I found it challenging to deal with racism. I always felt frustrated that although I was often the victim of it, I had no-one around me that I could share it with who would fully understand,’ says Alexander.

    ‘My dad obviously had come up against racism in his life, but his experience of it was strikingly different.

    ‘As a dark-skinned man, often read as black, the racism he experienced was explicitly and outwardly hateful. What I experienced was covert and quiet.

    ‘It was anything from jokes being at my expense, to being quietly excluded, to being consistently pointed out as different.

    ‘It took me a long time to recognise and acknowledge this quiet and covert discrimination as a form of racism, and an even longer time to own my experience of it.

    ‘I denied myself victimhood for a long time, not wanting to take up space when so many others had a much tougher time than me.

    ‘But as I’ve grown older, I have come to understand that racism isn’t always violent or even explicit. Sometimes it’s subtle and difficult to detect – which can make it all the worse.’

    Alexander at Christmas
    Little Alexander at Christmas (Picture: Alexander Leon/Metro.co.uk)

    Alexander loves the unique world view that being mixed-race affords him, but he wants people to understand that being mixed comes with its own set of difficulties.

    The struggle to find a place in the world is one that has impacted Alexander’s life from a young age.

    ‘I think there comes a point in many mixed-race people’s lives where the feeling of being in a constant state of in-between begins to take its toll,’ he tells us.

    ‘In a world where our identity – in particular our cultural background – intermingles so dangerously with the opportunities we’re afforded, many of us experience a sort of listlessness brought about by being constantly “othered”, without a vehicle through which to express it.

    ‘Being mixed-race in some ways forces a choice on you – the two halves that make up my whole, the person as I am, has no culture attached to it. So if I want an avenue through which to express my identity, I have to actively integrate.

    ‘So many of us integrate – sometimes without even realising it – into a culture which isn’t quite our own. The problem is we never fit in. Even though we feel that we may.

    ‘Not fitting in is an inherent part of who we are.

    ‘I look back and I wish that I grew up with the feeling that the experience of being mixed had its own culture attached to it. It’s own set of norms.

    ‘I did occasionally come across other mixed or “ethnically ambiguous” people and find myself overwhelmed with the similarities of our experience, despite often sharing very few recent genetic ancestors. But these experiences were rare, and fleeting.

    ‘Growing up, I didn’t really understand what it felt like to “belong” in an ethnic community.’

    But alongside this lack of belonging, Alexander is aware of the gifts that being mixed-race has given him. An openness about the world, an innate ability to hold two perspectives at once.

    ‘I love the unique take it has given me on the world – I find myself often taking a diplomatic route when dealing with conflict or differing viewpoints and I think that’s in part due to growing up having to constantly balance and negotiate between several cultures,’ explains Alexander.

    ‘As I’ve grown older I’ve really come to enjoy bridging the divide between different people – in some ways I see it as a talent of mine.

    ‘I also love that I get to experience different types of food, different languages, different cultural quirks – and that I got to visit family and see parts of the world vastly different to Australia from a young age.

    ‘I consider myself immensely lucky to have been exposed to such differing ways of life. From a young age I was confronted with people who didn’t look or sound like me, but who I knew were blood relatives. I think it has made me a more compassionate person.’

    Six-year-old Alex looks smart for school
    Six-year-old Alex looks smart for school (Picture: Alexander Leon/Metro.co.uk)

    When it comes to cultural identity, it is Alexander’s county of birth that holds the most significant place in his heart. 

    ‘Ultimately, I feel Australian. It’s my country of birth, I grew up there, and I have a (slowly anglicising!) Australian accent. My cultural reference points are markedly Australian and I still find the London winter abominable,’ he says.

    ‘The experience of living in the UK has been important in allowing me to demarcate British culture from Australian culture, and has probably led me to cling onto my Australianness as I’m confronted by the cultural quirks all around me (why do none of you ever say what you mean it’s so weird?).

    ‘More than anything, I have made a conscious decision to try and make being mixed-race its own type of heritage.

    ‘I have always felt being mixed sort of exists as its own category or culture that co-exists alongside the various cultures of my parents.

    ‘Mixed-race people have so much in common, so much to communally celebrate. So many of us have felt the same feelings at similar times in our life.

    ‘I’m always fascinated when I get the chance to meet and talk to other mixed-race people because, despite our striking commonalities, every single one of us has a different take on what it has meant to be mixed and how it has impacted on our lives.’

    Alexander is passionate about the concept of mixed-race people as a collective group with a shared experience of life. He thinks that a sense of collective identity is crucial to help you survive and thrive in this world.

    ‘Mixed-race people are so rarely celebrated in our society – we often grow up without ever feeling like we truly belong, so to have a platform for us to share our stories and create a culture around what it means to be mixed is enormously powerful.

    ‘I grew up never seeing anyone on TV or in film who “owned” being mixed-race – I’m so excited to see that the world is already changing in this respect.’

    MORE: Mixed Up: ‘Being mixed without a white parent is even more challenging’

    MORE: Mixed Up: ‘Being white-passing has definitely entitled me to privileges’

    MORE: Mixed Up: ‘If you are anything other than white, you are considered black’


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    PICS BY DEANNA LATINO / CATERS NEWS - (PICTURED: Showing the burn like marks on her face that people have thought could be burns, a contagious disease like measles, or the mum abusing her child or not taking care of her - this lasts normally for two weeks before vanishing once more ) - A mum-of-two is speaking out after strangers confused her toddlers rare birthmark treatment for abuse and a contagious disease instead dubbing her a polka dot cutie. Deanna Latino, 32, from Rockford, Illinois, has been contending with the stares and unsolicited comments from the public. Her daughter Bianca, 13 months old, was diagnosed with a port wine stain at four days old, after doctors initially believed she had a bruise from labour. The birthmark that covers nearly half of her face, is part of Sturge-Weber syndrome that causes her to have seizures, glaucoma and developmental delays.Bianca started pulse dye laser treatment at three-months-old to help the tangle of blood vessels under her skin, which cause the birthmark, to empty blood more efficiently. Parents Deanna and Brandon, 33, hope it will stop the birthmark from growing to the point that it disfigures her face and prevent other issues. - SEE CATERS COPY
    (Picture: DEANNA LATINO / CATERS NEWS)

    When Bianca Latino was born, doctors thought the dots on her face were bruises from labour.

    She actually has a port wine stain, diagnosed at four days old as part of Sturge-Weber syndrome, a condition that causes her to suffer seizures, glaucoma, and developmental delays.

    Bianca started pulse dye laser treatment at three months old to help the tangle of blood vessels under her skin to empty blood more efficiently, which her parents, Deanna and Brandon, hope will stop the birthmark growing.

    At the moment Bianca’s birthmark covers nearly half of her face, and the red spots left by the treatment attract nasty comments from strangers.

    Deanna is accused of abusing her child as the spots look like ‘burn marks’ for two weeks after each treatment. People have assumed Bianca has an infectious disease and called Deanna an anti-vaxxer.

    PICS BY DEANNA LATINO / CATERS NEWS - (PICTURED: Showing the burn like marks on her face that people have thought could be burns, a contagious disease like measles, or the mum abusing her child or not taking care of her - this lasts normally for two weeks before vanishing once more ) - A mum-of-two is speaking out after strangers confused her toddlers rare birthmark treatment for abuse and a contagious disease instead dubbing her a polka dot cutie. Deanna Latino, 32, from Rockford, Illinois, has been contending with the stares and unsolicited comments from the public. Her daughter Bianca, 13 months old, was diagnosed with a port wine stain at four days old, after doctors initially believed she had a bruise from labour. The birthmark that covers nearly half of her face, is part of Sturge-Weber syndrome that causes her to have seizures, glaucoma and developmental delays.Bianca started pulse dye laser treatment at three-months-old to help the tangle of blood vessels under her skin, which cause the birthmark, to empty blood more efficiently. Parents Bianca and Brandon, 33, hope it will stop the birthmark from growing to the point that it disfigures her face and prevent other issues. - SEE CATERS COPY
    (Picture: DEANNA LATINO / CATERS NEWS)

    Deanna wants to see the marks on Bianca’s face as something beautiful, calling her daughter a ‘polka dot cutie’.

    Deanna, a student nurse practitioner, said: ‘If we didn’t treat the birthmark, it would continue to grow into an extreme cause and could cause a facial deformity, harden-up and become darker in colour.

    ‘It always looks worse after treatment, it looks like little burn marks and we have to keep it moist with Vaseline while it heals for two weeks.

    ‘Many times, I’ve been to the grocery store, people have asked if she’s having an allergic reaction or fearing that she has measles because I’m an ‘anti-vaccinator’.

    ‘Mothers turn away and keep their children away from us, other times we have had comments asking if she was burned.

    PICS BY DEANNA LATINO / CATERS NEWS - (PICTURED: Bianca from her most recent pulse dye laser treatment - number nine, she is set to go into number ten next month) - A mum-of-two is speaking out after strangers confused her toddlers rare birthmark treatment for abuse and a contagious disease instead dubbing her a polka dot cutie. Deanna Latino, 32, from Rockford, Illinois, has been contending with the stares and unsolicited comments from the public. Her daughter Bianca, 13 months old, was diagnosed with a port wine stain at four days old, after doctors initially believed she had a bruise from labour. The birthmark that covers nearly half of her face, is part of Sturge-Weber syndrome that causes her to have seizures, glaucoma and developmental delays.Bianca started pulse dye laser treatment at three-months-old to help the tangle of blood vessels under her skin, which cause the birthmark, to empty blood more efficiently. Parents Bianca and Brandon, 33, hope it will stop the birthmark from growing to the point that it disfigures her face and prevent other issues. - SEE CATERS COPY
    (Picture: DEANNA LATINO / CATERS NEWS)

    ‘The worst is when people give stares asking if I’m a good mother and if I hurt my child, that has been very difficult to deal with.

    ‘I don’t blame people for being curious, I want people to ask and educate them so they are less ignorant and more understanding.

    ‘We call her our ‘polka dot cutie’, I view her as adorable and to me the polka dots represent how strong she is.’

    There is no cure for Bianca’s port wine stain or Sturge-Weber Syndrome, so the child will need treatment for the rest of her life. Her treatments are helping to reduce the appearance of her birthmark, however.

    Deanna said: ‘One day I thought about putting on makeup to mimic her birthmark and go to a store to see how people would react so i could put myself in her shoes in the future.

    PICS BY DEANNA LATINO / CATERS NEWS - (PICTURED: Showing the burn like marks on her face that people have thought could be burns, a contagious disease like measles, or the mum abusing her child or not taking care of her - this lasts normally for two weeks before vanishing once more ) - A mum-of-two is speaking out after strangers confused her toddlers rare birthmark treatment for abuse and a contagious disease instead dubbing her a polka dot cutie. Deanna Latino, 32, from Rockford, Illinois, has been contending with the stares and unsolicited comments from the public. Her daughter Bianca, 13 months old, was diagnosed with a port wine stain at four days old, after doctors initially believed she had a bruise from labour. The birthmark that covers nearly half of her face, is part of Sturge-Weber syndrome that causes her to have seizures, glaucoma and developmental delays.Bianca started pulse dye laser treatment at three-months-old to help the tangle of blood vessels under her skin, which cause the birthmark, to empty blood more efficiently. Parents Bianca and Brandon, 33, hope it will stop the birthmark from growing to the point that it disfigures her face and prevent other issues. - SEE CATERS COPY
    (Picture: DEANNA LATINO / CATERS NEWS)

    ‘But I couldn’t do it, I don’t like to be stared at and I didn’t want her to be teased or stand out because of that.

    ‘But mainly our reasoning was because we didn’t want it to continuously grow, it’s so unpredictable and can be very aggressive, we don’t know what will happen.

    ‘There are concerns that the seizures could return or it could calcify in her brain, acting like a brain tumour.

    ‘Bianca’s birthmark has changed significantly through the lightening of laser treatment, she barely looks like she has a port wine stain on her face.

    ‘The results are great, I recommend to any new parent questioning if their child should go through it, it’s amazing to see the before and after results.’

    MORE: Woman branded ‘Dalmatian’ due to rare skin condition signed to modelling agency

    MORE: Visual data shows just how rare dark skinned models on Vogue covers are


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    Teen who couldn't get a date takes himself to prom
    (Picture: Reddit)

    If American films are anything to go by, it seems you don’t turn up to prom without a date unless you don’t mind being a social pariah.

    But teenager Wyatt Cheatle wasn’t going to let his struggles to find a date stop him from enjoying the dance. The 16-year-old student from Brighton High School in New York decided to bring his sense of humour to prom instead, taking himself.

    He didn’t just rock up solo: he did it wearing a half dress, half suit.

    When he wasn’t sure who to take, Wyatt decided to have the best of both worlds and make himself the jazzy homemade costume, with a little help from his mum.

    The thrifty teen cut a red top with a bow and paired it with a purple shirt, with a skirt draped over one leg and a trouser leg on the other.

    Wyatt even threw in a hair clip for good measure.

    The good thing was he didn’t have to plan an extravagant promposal – he knew his date would say yes.

    Teenager sewing his prom outfit
    (Picture: Reddit)

    Wyatt and his mum, Kelly, went to Goodwill to find the attire for the night, spending only $25 (£19.15) for a bunch of items to be taken apart.

    They bought a black dress with a white top, a fuchsia pussy bow blouse, a purple dress shirt, and a pair of black trousers.

     Teenager without a date takes himself to parom wearing half a suit, half a dress
    (Picture: Reddit)

    The teenager, who’s into arts and crafts and is currently refurbishing an old typewriter, then went to work with the purchases, creating two outfits to be worn at the same time.

    His friend came around to do half of his makeup and clipped on a vintage earring. Not missing a beat, Wyatt also wore a wrist corsage made from silk flowers.

    His mum revealed the whole outfit on Reddit where she wrote: ‘So my son was flying solo to the prom, and decided that he’d be his own date.

    Teenager without a date takes himself to parom wearing half a suit, half a dress
    The final look (Picture: Reddit)

    ‘One thing led to another and the week before the big event, he decided rather than going with a boring old suit, we’d split the difference and send him in a half suit/half-dress.

    ‘After a mad dash to the local thrift store, lots of cutting and rearranging, we were done. Didn’t quite have time to find him shoes to match, but there’s always senior prom.’

    We can’t wait to see what Wyatt wears to that.

    MORE: Teenager creates DIY Beyoncé inspired look for prom, nails it

    MORE: Best mum ever makes cardboard cutout of the family dog for teenager to take to university


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    Emma Dabiri and her book cover
    (Picture: Emma Dabiri)

    Black hair is political.

    This is a well established fact. Black and mixed-race women across the globe are ostracized, punished and made to feel ugly simply by virtue of the hair that grows naturally on their heads.

    Emma Dabiri has a deep understanding of the challenges and complexities of living with tightly coiled Afro hair in modern day Britain. Growing up in Ireland in the late 80s and early 90s, she faced overt discrimination because of the way her hair looked and felt.

    Her new book, the perfectly named Don’t Touch My Hair, is a powerful and arrestingly relatable account of the rich history of Afro hair that seamlessly interweaves her personal perspective with meticulously researched historical facts.

    ‘My hair is something that I battled with, from a very young age. And it was something that other people were seemingly obsessed with. It wasn’t just all in my head – it was a big deal,’ Emma tells Metro.co.uk.

    ‘I relaxed my hair as soon as I could. The first time I did a curly perm, I was probably about 10. It all fell out.

    ‘The woman who did it was a friend of my mum’s and emphatically not a hairdresser. She said she wanted to leave the product on longer because my hair was really course.

    ‘When we washed it out, at first it was just like long and silky waves. I was like, “oh my god”. I still remember the joy.

    ‘But then by the next morning, it was just coming out in handfuls.

    ‘When I was about 14, I made a black friend, she had just moved to Ireland. Her mum was Jamaican and she braided my hair for me. But I hated having them. They caused such a sensation, everyone called them deadlocks.

    https://www.instagram.com/p/BwZmEaUnlSr/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

    ‘As soon as I moved to London I started properly straightening my hair – and I did that all though my 20s.

    ‘I got to the age of about 30 and realised that I didn’t even know my own hair texture. And I couldn’t reconcile what I was doing to my hair with what I believed.

    ‘It took me a long time, but eventually I stopped relaxing it and let it grow for a year. Then I got pregnant, which is when I just cut it off.

    Going natural wasn’t an easy decision for Emma. Unlearning decades of ingrained Eurocentric beauty standards doesn’t happen over night, it takes work.

    It is easy for people to dismiss conversations about hair as something frivolous or purely aesthetic. Emma wants people to understand the deep significance of hair for black people.

    ‘When we talk about racialisation, proximity to whiteness is determined by much more than just complexion. It is also determined by the texture of the hair and by the type of features someone has,’ she explains.

    ‘Most people in the world are people of colour, but they’re not racialised as black – even though some of them might have darker skin. Which shows that being racialised as black is specifically related to hair texture.

    ‘Hair texture is one of the principle things that was used to dehumanise black people and therefore justify their enslavement.

    ‘At certain points in history, black people’s hair was not thought of as hair, it was thought of more as wool, so therefore they were more like animals, like livestock. It positioned them outside the bounds of humanity as defined by the European standard.’

    For Emma, how society responds to black hair is a marker of how far we still need to go. The prevalence of racism and microaggressions centred around black hair indicates that we are maybe not as progressive as we would like to think.

    ‘We lie to ourselves – certain sections of society lie to itself about the amount of progress that has been made in terms of race relations,’ says Emma.

    ‘Black hair is one of the fault lines that throws up again and again that the progress that is claimed to have been made, hasn’t actually been made.

    ‘Because if it had, issues of hair wouldn’t still be so contentious. We wouldn’t still have pupils being excluded from school, employees excluded from the work place. We wouldn’t have legislation that has only just been passed in New York that makes it illegal to discriminate against black people because of their hair.

    Cover of Don't Touch My Hair
    (Picture: Emma Dabiri)

    ‘It is never just hair. Black hair is a symbol for so much more than that.

    ‘Until recently, until really the growth of Black Lives Matter, a lot of white people were of the belief that racism was eradicated in the 1960s, with the civil rights movement – which we know just isn’t true.

    ‘In terms of hair, there have been huge advancements made – the natural hair movement for instance. That was something I became aware of in 2009 when I stumbled across a website called Black Girl With Long Hair. It was one of the first times I had seen my hair texture showcased.

    ‘The natural hair movement was the rejection of black women feeling that by default they had to relax their hair.

    ‘Now that movement has extended – and not everyone who has natural hair is considered a “naturalista”, as they were called originally. It has become more mainstream. A lot of the normalisation came from the extensive discussions that were being had on social media – and the mainstream media picked up on as a result.

    ‘In the last few years we are seeing women with natural hair in the media, in ad campaigns, in movies – and the culmination of that was Black Panther, where you have all these amazing ladies with tightly coiled Afro hair. Now it’s quite normal to see that on the big screen, small screen and in fashion as well.

    ‘I do wonder how much beauty standards have actually shifted. There is definitely still a stigma attached to the more tightly coiled types of hair. And there is definitely still an expectation to have a certain type of natural hair.’

    But the beauty of Emma’s book is the fact that it is also a celebration of black hair. She highlights the social and familial functions that hair traditionally represents in black culture, the near-limitless potential for versatile styles, the symbolic imagery of those styles and the innate beauty of black hair.

    Stigma is part of the black hair story, but it is not the whole story.

    ‘I want people to understand the significance of black hair – but not just because of racism,’ explains Emma.

    ‘The unique texture of Afro hair means that it do so much, it can be moulded into so many shapes – it is a really versatile material.

    ‘There was a lively and dynamic language of hair and hair culture that you see throughout the continent – and that is of huge cultural, historical and sociological importance. So that’s really fascinating as well – it’s about so much more than just the stigmas that are attached to it.

    ‘Something that I found completely fascinating was the use of mapping and encoding through hair.

    ‘Africa had so many strong, traditional technologies, but we don’t hear about them because they don’t fit with the Western narrative of African primitivism.

    ‘You see so much complex mathematics in certain types of braiding. For example, on the underground railroad – which enslaved people would use to get to freedom – part of the intelligence that led these people to freedom was hair braiding. They would braid maps and messages into each others’ hair.

    ‘It’s this incredible example of hiding in plain sight. So when people say, “it’s only hair” – that couldn’t be further from the truth.’

    Don’t Touch My hair is published by Allen Lane and is available to buy from the 2nd May.

    MORE: Candice Carty-Williams’ debut novel is a vital read for young black women

    MORE: Reni K’s debut novel proves that black stories belong in the fantasy genre

    MORE: Robin Diangelo explains why it is so hard for white people to talk about race


    It\'s never just hair: Author Emma Dabiri discusses afro hair and identityIt\'s never just hair: Author Emma Dabiri discusses afro hair and identity

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    When you look at the video and pictures of The Yukon Striker roller coaster, you’re going to have one of two reactions.

    Option one: you deeply want to ride it.

    Option two: you feel immense dread just watching other people go down that massive dive, and will avoid this roller coaster for the rest of your life.

    Personally, I’m a firm option two, so the knowledge that this ‘coaster has the world’s longest, tallest, and fastest drop just fills me with fear. But perhaps you find that kind of thing exciting, so we shall continue with all the details.

    The Yukon Striker is a snazzy new roller coaster in Canada’s Wonderland theme park, in Toronto.

    Longest, fastest, tallest rollercoaster drop Picture: WonderlandNews
    (Picture: WonderlandNews)

    Holding 24 riders at a time, the carriage travels at a top speed of 80mph, going to the top of a 250ft track before holding still for three seconds. Then, the drop, through a narrow underwater tunnel for extra scary points.

    If the dive alone isn’t enough for you, there are also loops and twists, with four moments in which riders will be turned upside down. After dropping down the roller coaster twists uphill like a corkscrew, does a 360-degree loop, then stops.

    That all takes a total of three minutes and 25 seconds.

    Oh, and the seats are all free of floors, so each time you’re over an edge it will feel like you’re genuinely dangling off.

    Anyone else feel nauseous just thinking about it?

    Longest, fastest, tallest rollercoaster drop Picture: WonderlandNews
    (Picture: WonderlandNews)

    The first riders tested our the roller coaster yesterday and shared some agonising videos of the experience to get all other amusement park fans excited for the grand opening on 3 May.

    Park director Peter Switzer said: ‘I think the drop is going to be the real draw for people.

    ‘I think when you’re up at that height, looking down, [the pond] will be a small postage stamp and a lot of people will be wondering how we’re going to fit our train through that.’

    MORE: Riding on a roller coaster really can remove kidney stones

    MORE: ‘It’s never just hair’: Author Emma Dabiri on Afro hair and identity


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    No one is convinced by this vegan lasagne
    (Picture: Twitter/@AristaFbabi)

    You just have to Google vegan lasagne to find a list of totally delicious plant-based dishes that look and taste like their meaty counterpart.

    Clearly, the person who bought in the vegan stuff to this particular work lunch did not do their research.

    They bought in what can only be described as a salad masquerading as a lasagne.

    No one was impressed. The Italian favourite, normally made with meat and lasagne sheets, may have been the inspiration behind the stacked salad, but it didn’t convince a lot of people.

    The monstrosity was topped with lettuce sheets and sliced tomatoes. A slice was cut, topped with what seems to be a generous dollop of vegan mayonnaise, and showed the inside which had a red sauce glazed within the sheets.

    People on Twitter mocked the dish where an image of it was shared, saying it looks like what a non-vegan person thinks what vegan food looks like.

    And we have to say, they’re not wrong.

    Twitter users were outraged by the item and commented in their droves about the salad lasagne.

    ‘Vegan lasagne is delicious when it’s done right, it’s just regular lasagne with no meat or cheese. This mess looks like a tragedy,’ wrote one person.

    ‘So pasta sheets with sauce? That sounds worse than this tragedy,’ replied another.

    One person made a good point saying there was no reason that a meal had to be bland just because it didn’t have any meat: ‘Flavours come primarily from the herbs, spices, and seasonings a person uses, not just the meat and cheese’.

    Others shared their own vegan lasagne recipes that sound and probably look much more delicious.

    ‘Make vegan ricotta out of cashews, nutritional yeast, garlic, oregano, basil, salt, and lemon juice. Vegan lasagna done right is fire’ suggested one person.

    Another wrote: ‘My family makes spinach lasagne (spinach sheets are also available). It’s really good and is coincidentally vegan.’

    If you’re looking for a plant-based lasagne, please use any of the recipes available online and save yourself from eating a deceitful salad.

    MORE: One of these vegan face primers sells every minute, here’s why

    MORE: Frozen vegan pizza with ‘melty stretchy’ cheese to launch in the UK

    MORE: McDonald’s Germany is launching a new vegan burger


    No one is convinced by this vegan lasagneNo one is convinced by this vegan lasagne

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    Thea received abuse from a man named George
    (Picture: Twitter)

    A woman has gone viral on Twitter after she shared a screenshot of a Tinder message from a guy named George, who insulted one of her photos.

    20-year-old Thea Lauryn Chippendale took to Twitter with two images: The conversation, and the picture in question.

    She captioned it: ‘Men are trash’.

    Thea had matched with George on Tinder, who took it upon himself to message her to say she was a ‘joke’ and that the dress in one of her photos was doing her no ‘favours’.

    Talking about a photo in which Thea is wearing a pink lace dress, he wrote: ‘Not gonna lie you’re a bit of a joke, but that dress in the last photo is not doing any favours.

    ‘Hope this helps’.

    We know: Who does he think he is?

    Thea was quick to snap back with: ‘Why did you feel like you needed to comment on it?

    ‘Is your head that far up your own arse that you thought your opinion mattered?’

    Instead of apologising, George continued to insult her. He wrote: ‘Literally had to tell you else I wouldn’t have slept.

    ‘It’s awful you not reckon? Charity shop job!

    ‘I tell you what… GROW UP! And shop somewhere decent! Thanks. Hope this helps’.

    Disgusted by the man’s abuse, Thea shared the conversation to Twitter, where the tweet received more than 94,000 likes.

    People quickly rallied around Thea, replying with messages of support.

    As you can tell from the amount of support Thea received, George’s comments won’t be bothering Thea too much.

    Let’s face it, she looks amazing in that dress. Hopefully she’ll match with someone else on Tinder who appreciates that.

    MORE: Baby’s ‘polka dot’ birthmark mistaken for a contagious disease by strangers

    MORE: Mixed Up: ‘Being a gay person of colour took its toll on my mental health’


    Woman Claps Back At Tinder Match Who Said Dress 'Wasn't Doing Her Any Favours'Woman Claps Back At Tinder Match Who Said Dress 'Wasn't Doing Her Any Favours'

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    Illustration of two people lying in bed together, facing away from each other
    (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    For a while now, research has been pointing towards millennials having less sex than previous generations.

    According to statistics from the dating website OKCupid, 86% of women and 64% of men revealed they didn’t have an interest in sex.

    Furthermore, 2018 was their most sexless year to date, according to data from General Society Society analysed by the Washington Post.

    A variety of factors have been touted as the reason behind this decline, with stress and a lack of time and energy at the forefront.

    Author and economist Allison Schrager has another theory – she believes that sexual habits among young people can be connected to the study of risk.

    As well as having less sex, millennials are also more ‘risk-averse’. In her book, ‘An Economist Walks into a Brothel: And Other Unexpected Places to Understand Risk’, Schrager identifies the most gratifying risk-free return as ‘not leaving the house’.

    The lack of adventure, along with the rise of home entertainment in the form of streaming services, is the reason young people aren’t getting laid.

    ‘Now everyone can live what feels like an entertaining life without taking the risk of leaving the house,’ Schrager wrote in her book.

    ‘For people still searching for a partner, streaming and video games offer something even more valuable: a fulfilling home experience that is nearly risk-free, even if you are alone.’

    Then add into account that falling in love and getting into a relationship is in itself risky business, and you have a recipe for ‘loneliness and anxiety’.

    Perhaps it’s time to turn off the TV and head outside…

    MORE: Women in relationships have 30% fewer orgasms than their male partners

    MORE: How to tell the difference between a high sex drive and sex addiction

    MORE: A cam girl makes a living by signing dirty talk for deaf people


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    The see-through outfit from PrettyLittleThing
    (Picture: PrettyLittlething, Getty)

    Ever had that dream you’ve accidentally forgotten to get dressed and left the house in your underwear?

    Apparently it’s now fashionable to make it look like you have.

    PrettyLittleThing is selling a range of transparent clothes so although you are fully clothed, you can see all the skin underneath.

    We particularly love the see-through jeans and cropped jacket combo, but there’s also a skirt and a bandeau top.

    It is a bit like being wrapped in clingfilm from head to toe but at least it’s waterproof – probably a good idea for festival season.

    The range comes in a completely clear version or a few coloured ones, which aren’t quite as bare all.

    The see-through trousers
    (Picture: PrettyLittleThing)

    There’s lime, hot pink and lilac versions – so you could even mix and match your plastic clothes.

    The straight leg trousers and skirt are both £25, while the bandeau top is £20 and the cropped jacket is £35.

    The jeans and jacket have pockets, buttons and stitching to be styled like classic denim.

    The description of the trousers suggests teaming ‘with the matching crop top and chunky boots for a daring outfit.’ Daring, indeed.

    The outfits were spotted by users on Twitter and everyone is a bit confused.

    Justine posted: ‘I.don’t.understand’ and later added: ‘It worries me that 56 others had checked them out in the last few hours. I hope it was to also laugh at them.’

    ‘I’ll get the clingfilm out. We will make a fortune,’ another person added.

    MORE: No one is impressed by this vegan lasagne which looks more like a stacked salad

    MORE: Teenager without a date takes himself to prom wearing half a suit and half a dress


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    Illustration of a bride-to-be looking stressed
    (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    Your wedding day is said to be one of the best of your life.

    Unfortunately, for many people it’s also one of the most expensive.

    The venue, the flowers, the open bar – if you want to have a wedding with all the frills, expect costs to climb.

    It turns out that location can also widely impact on how much you end up spending on your special day.

    The 2019 Global Wedding Report, compiled by The Knot, WeddingWire and Bodas.net, has been released – and the UK is the fifth most expensive country in the world to host a wedding.

    According to survey results from 20,000 couples across 13 countries, Brits spend an average of £14,740. However, that figure doesn’t include the honeymoon or engagement and wedding rings – so you could end up adding several thousands pounds to the total sum.

    But at least we’re better off than people getting hitched in the US (£22,419), Spain (£17,970) and Italy (£17,275).

    How much it costs to get married around the world

    1. United States, £22,419
    2. Spain, £17,970
    3. Italy, £17,275
    4. Canada, £16,814
    5. United Kingdom, £14,740
    6. France, £13,513
    7. Portugal, £12,822
    8. Mexico, £6,602
    9. Peru, £5,911
    10. Chile, £5,681
    11. Brazil, £5,067
    12. Argentina, £2,840
    13. Colombia, £2,533

    In addition to outlining the average cost, the report found that Brits wait 15 months on average between getting engaged and having their wedding, and most of them prefer to get hitched in September.

    It’s also possible that the report indicates a new trend of smaller weddings with fewer guests, given a survey from last year by Hitched.co.uk revealed the average cost for a wedding to be around £32,000.

    So depending on how you see it, you could be saving money.

    If you really don’t fancy spending the equivalent of a house deposit on your wedding, there are ways to cut down on costs – such as opting for a private ceremony without guests and hosting a party afterwards, skipping the open bar or simply eloping.

    MORE: Man surprises girlfriend with a proposal on a cow

    MORE: Getting married? These are the most popular dates to have your wedding day

    MORE: Firefighter turns up at girlfriend’s fire drill so he can propose in front of everyone


    This is how much the average wedding costs around the worldThis is how much the average wedding costs around the world

    0 0

    Rebecca says the size smaller was actually bigger
    (Picture: @rebeccaowenn/Twitter)

    A teenager has accused PrettyLittleThing of fuelling girls’ insecurities after noticing some dresses from the brand were sized incorrectly.

    17-year-old Rebecca Owen bought the same dress in a size 6 and a size 8 from the online retailer, only to find the supposedly smaller size was actually bigger.

    In a photo, she placed the two items on top of each other to show the difference between the otherwise identical dresses, with the sizes clearly displayed.

    She says she is now reluctant to buy from the retailer again as their sizes are ‘completely off’.

    Posting to Twitter, Rebecca wrote: ‘Blue size 6 dress vs a red size 8 dress. plt wtf.’

    The student, from Stockton-on-Tees, explained: ‘I already had a blue dress in a size 6 and I ordered the red one in a size 8 hoping for it to fit me better.

    The two dresses compared
    (Picture: @rebeccaowenn/Twitter)

    ‘But when it came it was so tight and clearly much smaller than the blue one which was so strange because they were exactly the same dress.’

    She claimed she is now tired of ordering from PrettyLittleThing and added: ‘The prices have gone so high and half the time the sizes are completely off.’

    The post attracted a flurry of responses from annoyed shoppers who had experienced similar frustrations with the brand.

    @FayePiercy posted a snap of two jumpers – one Medium and one Small – which again showed the supposedly smaller size was actually bigger.

    She captioned the snap: ‘Omg this literally happened with me!!’

    It comes after reports emerged showing a 32” disparity between the waistbands of the same size clothes for sale on UK high streets.

    An investigation revealed that, while size 10 dresses in Dorothy Perkins and Topshop measure as little as 24 inches at the waist, size 10 skirts in Marks & Spencer go up to 32 inches.

    Those tested included stores such as Zara, H&M, Miss Selfridge, Dorothy Perkins, M&S, Reiss, Whistles and Topshop.

    A picture of Rebecca
    (Picture: Triangle News)

    Across the eight stores, most size 10 items had average waist measurements of between 28 and 30 inches but some were shockingly out, most notably a size 32” M&S skirt.

    A spokeswoman for the London College of Fashion claimed women’s frustrations arose from the fact that there was no universal sizing guides.

    She said: ‘The problem is that women’s sizing really isn’t official or uniformed – it’s a marketing technique.

    ‘It all varies depending on the brand and the age group they wish to target.’

    Similarly, branding expert Marcel Knobil, founder of Superbrands, said the disparity in sizing across stores has left women frustrated, self-conscious and confused.

    He said: ‘The whole issue of size is an extremely sensitive one and brands have encouraged a real doubt and frustration among women.’

    MORE: PrettyLittleThing is selling a completely transparent outfit so it looks like you are wrapped in clingfilm

    MORE: PrettyLittleThing’s anti-chafing bands are back and they’re only £6


    Wrong size Pretty Little ThingsWrong size Pretty Little Things

    0 0

    Avocado on toast
    (Picture: Getty)

    Millennials rejoice, your love of avocado need to longer stand in the way of buying a home.

    Thanks to a Canadian property developer, millennials (and other people) can now have their avocado and own a property, too.

    WoodBridge Homes in Vancouver is currently building a luxury condo complex called The Kira, where residents will be able to enjoy modern luxuries such as on-site meditation rooms, grass-covered rooftop spaces and one year of free avocado on toast.

    Unfortunately, scoring yourself free avo will cost you a pretty penny; there are 116 condos up for sale, with prices ranging from £227,454 for a one-bed to £369,638 for a three-bed.

    Then again, figures from last year revealed the average house price in the UK is just below that at £226,071 – and probably won’t include any free meals.

    Residents hoping for room service will however be disappointed, as the avocado toast can only be claimed at a local restaurant and will not be delivered to their door.

    On the plus side, the restaurant will offer the option to replace the meal with another similar breakfast choice (just in case you tire of it after day 156 of avocado).

    Aside from including a free daily meal, The Kira, located in West Coquitlam, is also ‘close to daily conveniences like transit, shopping, parks and restaurants’.

    large group of avocados placed in a pattern where the one in the middle is cut in half
    (Picture: Getty)

    ‘Saving for a down payment does require some saving and sacrificing,’ president of WoodBridge Homes, Jamie Howard, told The Star.

    ‘At the Kira project, we say you can have your avocado toast and eat it too.’

    For first-time buyers struggling to scrounge together a deposit, there’s more good news – prospective buyers only need to put down a 10% deposit (it’s usually 20%).

    There you have it: cheap property prices, lots of nifty extras and free avocado on toast.

    Although the company is yet to specify which type of bread will be available, but we’re sure you can put in a request for sourdough.

    MORE: People are outraged at Marks & Spencer because all Percy Pigs are now vegetarian

    MORE: Aldi and Lidl have slashed Prosecco prices to give you change from a fiver

    MORE: You can now stay in a replica of Hagrid’s cottage for £195 a night


    Vegan sandwich, rye bread toast, avocado slices, vegenaise sauce & raw arugula. Toasted sourdough, eggless mayonnaise, wooden table, whole & halved. National avocado day concept. Close up, background.Vegan sandwich, rye bread toast, avocado slices, vegenaise sauce & raw arugula. Toasted sourdough, eggless mayonnaise, wooden table, whole & halved. National avocado day concept. Close up, background.

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