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What happens during a hair transplant?

Doug McAdam, after his hair transplant (Picture: The Private Clinic)

Getting older can be hard – you might want to maintain your youthful looks but your body isn’t playing ball.

Although we should all be proud of how we look, something like losing your hair can really impact your confidence so increasingly, people are turning to hair transplants.

But the idea of hair appearing where there was no hair before can be a lot to get your head around.

Dr Asim Shahmalak, from Crown Clinic in Manchester, is one of the UK’s leading hair transplant surgeons.

He explains that there are two different types of transplant for men and women.

Jack Shepherd (Picture: Crown Clinic)
Dr Asim Shahmalak operating on Coronation Street star Jack Shepherd (Picture: Crown Clinic)

FUE (follicular unit extraction) hair transplants

FUE is the most popular type and according to Dr Shahmalak, 80% of his paitents choose this method.

It takes about six to seven hours, with most patients going home the same day.

Dr Shahmalak explains: ‘With FUE, individual follicles are removed from the back and side of the scalp and then re-planted by the surgeon on the balding areas on the top of the scalp.

‘The advantage of this method is that the scarring is minimal. Patients have small scabs where the hair is extracted and replanted which tend to heal after two weeks.

‘FUE is particularly suitable for patients who liked to wear their hair short or shaved because the scarring is not particularly noticeable.

During the procedure, the donor area at the back of the scalp is numbed with anaesthetic and then the donor follicles are removed individually, leaving small red scars where the hair is attracted.

‘We typically extract around 1,500 follicles which amounts to around 3,000 hairs (because there is more than one hair in each follicle root). These are then replanted in the balding areas, again leaving small red scars which heal in around two weeks and just drop off like any scab,’ Dr Shahmalak adds.

‘I advise most patients to take a week off work to allow for recovering after surgery.

‘The procedure is relatively pain-free and most patients watch films on DVD during the extraction and replanting process. Some are so relaxed they fall asleep.

‘Patients have to sleep with pillows propping up their back for the first couple of nights after the procedure so they don’t dislodge any of the transplanted hair. They should avoid strenuous exercise for at least week. But most patients feel as right as rain the day after the procedure and can lead normal lives while they wait for the scars to heal.

‘My client Jack P Shepherd from Coronation Street was back filming the show two weeks after the transplant with viewers unaware that he had the surgery. That shows how quickly the scars heal.

‘It takes up to a year for the transplanted hair to grow back so patients need to be patient – you don’t get an instant overnight transformation.’

FUT (follicular unit transplantation) hair transplants

FUT is the more traditional method but in the last few years, FUE transplants have been taking over, as they heal faster.

Dr Shahmalak explains: ‘The donor hair is obtained by surgically removing a strip of skin from the back or side of the scalp. From this strip, the donor follicles are extracted under a microscope and then replanted in the balding areas in the same way as FUE.

‘FUT is a little quicker than FUE because the extraction of the donor hair is quicker – so the whole procedure takes around five hours. Scarring heals a little more slowly than FUE because a strip of skin is removed from the patient to obtain the donor hair rather than individual follicles.

‘Patients are left with a lined scar on the scalp which is not noticeable if they like to wear their hair relatively long. The TV doctor Christian Jessen has had two FUT procedures with me. FUT is less labour than FUE so it is slightly cheaper.

‘FUE has gradually taken over in popularity from FUT in the last five years, thanks in large part because of FUE’s popularity with celebrity clients. Lots more men are wearing their hair very short or completely shaved at the back and sides and FUE is more suitable for those hair styles.

‘FUT is a little quicker than FUE because the extraction of the donor hair is quicker – so the whole procedure takes around five hours. Scarring heals a little more slowly than FUE because a strip of skin is removed from the patient to obtain the donor hair rather than individual follicles.’

For those who have the transplant, it’s been life changing and really help to boost their confidence.

Doug McAdam - Before (Picture: Doug McAdam)
Doug McAdam before his transplant (Picture: Doug McAdam)

Doug McAdam, 36, began losing his hair in his late twenties and be became really self-conscious of his appearance.

He explains: ‘I absolutely hated my hairline. Whenever I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror it was the only thing that I could see, and I could tell that my hair loss was getting worse as time went on.’

As he worked as a boxing MC and annoucer, he often appeared in photographs or TV footage. After looking back on fights, Doug realised how bad his hair loss was.

Doug McAdam - After (Picture: The Private Clinic)
Doug’s hair after his transplant (Picture: The Private Clinic)

He adds: ‘In this age of social media, as soon as a fight passes there are literally thousands of photos of me online. Whenever I saw the photos all I could think about was how my hairline looked under the studio lights.’

He decided to have a FUE hair transplant with surgeon Dr Mouzakis at The Private Clinic in 2016, which has really helped him feel better about how he looks.

He said ‘I’m absolutely over the moon with the results.  It looks very natural and, as my wife says, it’s ‘age appropriate.’

‘After years of keeping my hair really short because of how much I hated my hair line, I’ve now been able to grow it longer and I can style is however I want. But more importantly, the transplant has given me back my confidence and now I can do the job I love without feeling self-conscious. I couldn’t be happier.’

Simon Ryan (Picture: Simon Ryan)
Simon Ryan just after his transplant (Picture: Simon Ryan)

The Only Way is Essex star Simon Ryan, 34, from Essex, started losing his hair in his early 20s.

After turning 30, he decided to have the FUE procedure on 31 October 2016, with Dr Christopher D’Souza.

He explains: ‘ I had FUE procedure, which is more expensive but I wanted to most natural outcome as possible.

‘I posted about it on my Instagram with the caption with ‘Happy Hair-lloween’ due to the date.

‘It was painful, due to the grafts being taken out of the side and back of your lower head. Then they were replanted into my hair loss areas.

Simon Ryan (Picture: Simon Ryan)
Simon Ryan now (Picture: Simon Ryan)

But it has changed my life – I have more confidence in everything I do.

‘Like most people, I thought hair transplants were a myth and that it wouldn’t work. It’s not like teeth, you go to your dentist and they can be fixed.

‘Hair transplants are not seen as 100 per cent guaranteed.

Dr Shahmalak added: ‘A hair transplant is needed because the vast majority of men will experience hair loss at some point in their lives.

‘By the age of 30, around 40% of men will be losing their hair, this figure rises to half of men by the age of 40 and 60% of men by 50 onwards.

‘As my patient Jack P Shepherd explained, a hair transplant is like the male equivalent of a boob job – it is a quick fix cosmetic procedure which will make a huge difference to their appearance.

‘It can make men looks years younger and research shows that, as well as improving their self-confidence.

‘But the main benefit is just to look and feel better. You can transform your life for the same cost as changing your car.

‘We should not forget that 40% of women also experience hair loss in their lives. For many this is temporary – post-pregnancy or during menopause. However, a significant number of women have naturally thin hair or experience permanent hair loss and can benefit from the same procedures as men. About 10% of my patients are women.’

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Student spends £13,000 on Botox and fillers to look like ‘real-life Barbie’

Patrick in 2013 after having Botox (PA Real Life/Collect)
(Picture: PA Real Life)

A surgery addict has admitted to spending £13,000 on Botox and fillers to look like a ‘real-life Barbie’.

Patrick even loves the pain caused by the injections.

Business management student Patrick Mast, 24, who identifies as gender neutral, has long-admired the plastic look, first having Botox injections in their forehead at 18.

Patrick, from Frankfurt, Germany, now has 1ml of lip filler pumped into their lips every month.

The student said: ‘In total, I’ve spent about €15,000 (£12,880) on surgery.

‘So far, I’ve had Botox and fillers in my lips, jawline, cheeks and under my eyes, but I’m always looking in the mirror, working out what the next procedure will be.

‘I’d say I am addicted to the pain. I have an idea in my head of what I want to look like and I get closer all the time. I am going for the doll-like, expressionless look.’

Patrick, who has just become single again following a divorce, admits that teenage Botox injections sparked an obsession with all type of fillers – having even recently tried blepharoplasty, where excess fat or skin is removed from the eyelids, to make the eyes appear rounder.

Patrick before he had any surgery (PA Real Life/Collect)
(Picture: PA Real Life)

‘I do work hard to save my money for my surgery,’ said Patrick. ‘Whenever I get money for Christmas or birthdays, it will go towards a procedure.

‘I just love the artificial look. Growing up, I would see people who have had lots of surgery and think how wealthy they looked, like they really took care of themselves.’

Though Patrick loves their look and wants to keep going, they say the response to their face hasn’t always been positive.

They explained: ‘People can be very judgmental, even asking me if I am a man or a woman. They assume that, because of the way I look, I am a Barbie-doll bimbo. They’re surprised when they speak to me and see I actually have a normal character, and am well educated.

Patrick after surgery (PA Real Life/Collect)
(Picture: PA Real Life)

‘Still, I am a very open person and will always tell people what procedures I have had. I’m not like those people who pretend to be all natural.’

Patrick estimates to have had 20 injections of lip filler alone, and has no plans to stop any time soon – with a nose job booked for next month.

And the singleton is hoping that potential new partners will be able to see past the Botox and filler.

‘My breakup left me feeling not particularly confident, but the surgery helps build that back up,’ Patrick explained.

‘In terms of dating, I have, so far, found that people actually like my look. I identify as gay, so am looking to date men, but also not as either a man or woman.

Patrick before having surgery (PA Real Life/Collect)
(Picture: PA Real Life)

‘I see myself as androgynous, or gender neutral, and have done since I was about 14. People will ask me, ‘What do I call you?’

‘And I just say, ‘Patrick.’ I’m neither a man nor a woman – I am a human being.’

While in no rush to enter a new relationship, Patrick hopes to one day find a man who can see past looks and focus on personality instead, adding: ‘My character is more important than my outer appearance.

‘Yes, I may personally love surgery, but I also like and support the natural look.

‘We all have to do what makes us happy, and surgery is something that completely depends on the person.

‘But if you don’t love yourself it is difficult for someone else to, and surgery is helping me with that.’

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Bride asks if it’s okay to tell off her bridesmaid for cradling her baby bump in wedding photos

(Picture: Getty)

Everyone knows that if you want to let the world know you’re pregnant, you open up your jacket to reveal a baby bump, then cradle it in a way that suggests that ‘yes, there is a baby in here and not just a large burrito’.

Think of Beyoncé announcing she was pregnant with Blue Ivy at the 2011 VMAs.

Once the announcement is done, it makes sense to keep touching and holding the baby bump. There’s a baby in there! You’re proud and protective.

But are their certain situations in which you shouldn’t be so touchy-feely? Are there times you should pose without drawing any attention to your bump?

One bride has asked such questions on Reddit, asking whether she was reasonable in telling her bridesmaid to stop holding her belly during the wedding photos.

On a throwaway account, the bride wrote: ‘I got married three weeks ago and one of my bridesmaids is about 7 months pregnant (let’s call her Kate).

‘Kate’s belly was easily accommodated into the dress style because it had quite a flowy skirt with a fitted bust.

‘Between the ceremony and reception, we had a few hours worth of professional photos taken with just the wedding party.

‘In one of the first photos I noticed Kate was deliberately holding her belly so it was really obvious in the fabric of her dress (think basically every maternity shoot photo ever taken).

‘I asked her to stop holding her hands to show off her belly and to just pose like everyone else. I had to remind her a few more times before we’d finished taking the wedding party photos.’

So according to this version of events, this was no casual belly rubbing but a very obvious cradle.

(Picture: Getty)

The woman explains that when she returned from her honeymoon, the bridesmaid was ignoring her texts and calls.

She writes: ‘Today another of my bridesmaids confirmed that Kate is pissed at me because I was ‘trying to make her look fat, not pregnant’ during the photos.

‘Now I’m annoyed because I paid a lot of money for a wedding photo shoot, not maternity pics.’

The bride took to Reddit to find out whether she was in the wrong for asking her bridesmaid to stop holding her bump in the photos. She ended up being voted ‘not the A-hole’.

Redditors responded to say that no matter how happy the bride may be for her bridesmaid and her pregnancy, the wedding photos are about one thing: the wedding.

One wrote: ‘Those are your wedding photos, and there is absolutely no reason someone should be deliberately showing off their ‘baby bump’ to take away from the bride in a photo.

‘If she didn’t feel comfortable in the dress, she could have opted out of being in the wedding.

‘But making the photoshoot about herself and demonstrating her pregnant belly is not acceptable in a wedding photo. When you look back at the photos, you want to remember the happy times between you guys, not be distracted by her “on display” baby bump.’

Some people encouraged the bride to view things from the bridesmaid’s perspective.

One woman who was pregnant as a bridesmaid responded: ‘I held my belly in many pics because I was self conscious. I in no way was trying to steal attention, and it’s likely your friend wasn’t either.

‘As long as you asked nicely, you’re not an asshole. They’re your pics and you have every right to have them look the way you want.

‘If you berated and embarrassed her in front of everyone, you’re an asshole. If she was shitty on your wedding day over a polite request, she’s the asshole. This could really go either way.’

Another mum explained that cupping the baby bump feels like a natural way to rest your hands when you’re pregnant, and that the pose likely wasn’t intentional.

‘I did it all the time the last few months I was pregnant,’ they said. ‘Whether it was just a comfy place to put my hands, or I was subconsciously trying to hold or protect the baby, I don’t know, but I literally did it all. the. time.

‘Maybe she truly didn’t realize she was even doing it and was just embarrassed that the bride kept calling her out?’

Someone else agreed: ‘As someone who was very recently pregnant, I can tell you I posed with my hand on my bump in every picture I took. I put my hand in my bump when I went out in public. Because it sucks being giant, and yes, you want people to know you are pregnant and not just huge.

‘Posing like that is not trying to make it into a maternity shoot, unless she pulled the camera person aside and asked to take pictures of herself with her bump.

‘She was just trying to feel halfway decent about herself in the pictures. It sucks being pregnant. I agree that if you needed everyone to do the same pose, she should have followed suit, but don’t assume that she was trying to make it all about her. She was probably just trying to make it through the photoshoot without crying.’

Interesting. So, what do you think?

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What to do if you love your friend but hate their social media presence

What to do if you love your friend but hate their social media
(Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

It’s a truth universally acknowledged that a person’s online persona has little to do with their real-life personality.

Sure, we do and say things on social media that we would never dream of doing or saying IRL.

It’s normal. Well, kind of.

However, if your friend’s online persona drives you up the wall, it could impact the way you feel about them. We spoke to two women who struggle with this problem and got some expert advice on how to deal with it.

Sarah*, 31, finds her bestie’s social media obsession hard to handle.

‘One of my best friends, a girl who I’ve known literally since primary school, seems to live her life through social media,’ she tells Metro.co.uk. ‘Whenever we’re out, she’s the first to check us in on Facebook and take a load of selfies together so she can post them.

‘Obviously, I love her and want to spend time with her, but it makes you wonder whether she actually wants to hang out or if she just wants something to post on her feed. She’s so obsessed with documenting our every move.

‘I think the most annoying thing about it all is that she’s never really present. When we’re chatting or having dinner, she will be constantly checking her phone or even watching clips on Snapchat or Instagram.’

To an outsider, the solution seems obvious: talk to her. But that’s easier said than done.

As we all know, calling someone out for their behavior is dangerous territory. One expert suggests changing tack when dealing with the issue.

Erin Vogel, Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco, tells Metro.co.uk: ‘Rather than telling someone to put down their phone when they’re spending time with you, I’d suggest extending the challenge to yourself too.’

‘Suggesting something like, ‘let’s both try to not look at our phones for an hour so we can spend some quality time together’ sounds less accusatory than ‘you’re always on social media when we’re together and it’s really rude’, and they may be more receptive to changing their behavior.’

‘She’s two different people’

To make matters worse, Sarah has a problem with the same friend’s online persona – not just her reliance on her phone.

‘When I’m looking through Instagram stories, I honestly try to skip hers,’ says Sarah. ‘She does this thing where she talks directly to the camera and narrates what she’s doing like ‘I’m sorting out my clothes drawer’ or ‘I’m just heading to meet my friends’.’

‘I know it’s a bit of fun and it shouldn’t get to me but there’s something so awkward about the whole thing. I’m like ‘why should people care what you’re doing?’

‘It’s weird to see because when you meet her, she’s so down to earth. It’s like she’s two different people.’

While your friend’s online presence may be cringe-worthy, unless it’s offensive or harmful, the solution could be as straightforward as ignoring it. Luckily, social media has tools to help you do just that.

‘I think it’s very possible to overlook someone’s social media habits if they’re just irritating and not hurtful,’ explains Vogel.

‘I recommend using the mute features on Facebook and Instagram, which block a specific person’s posts from your newsfeed without notifying them. That way, you can remain connected with them and not have to see the annoying content.’

Vday Reday - dating trend of reappearing just before V Day Metro Illustrations Picture: Ella Byworth for metro.co.uk
(Picture: Ella Byworth/Metro.co.uk)

‘Too much noise’ online

Louise*, 29, recently returned to Facebook after a six-year break and explains what pushed her to log off.

‘I felt like there was too much noise on there and I wasn’t mentally well at the time,’ she tells Metro.co.uk. ‘I used to find it upsetting. I used to take to heart what people put on there and get too emotionally involved. So I deleted it to get rid of that extra noise.’

Since coming back to the social media platform, she has noticed that using it has a real effect on how she feels about her friends.

‘I think people are more open online. They’ll post things that they wouldn’t actually say to your face. So, strangers will try to start to arguments with you, or people will post hate speech or offensive memes.’

If you’re getting offended by what your friend posts, it might be time for a little chat. Clear the air. Instead of opening that whole can of worms online, though, maybe you should take the conversation offline.

‘If their social media posts are a symptom of a bigger issue – like racism or sexism – you may want to have a conversation in-person about it,’ says Vogel.

‘You can use their social media activity as a conversation starter. You may want to say something like, ‘I saw you posted an article about X on Facebook. Could you tell me more about your thoughts on that issue?’ You’re more likely to have a productive conversation offline than on social media.’

The Selfie Paradox

‘I get annoyed at people who are self-absorbed, just posting selfies all day,’ says Louise. ‘You don’t see any pictures of their family or friends. It’s just photos of them. It looks like they’re self-obsessed and they’re not really thinking about anybody but themselves.’

Louise is not alone in her irritation. A study called The Selfie Paradox found that while many of us love snapping photos of ourselves and posting them, 82% of people would prefer to see fewer selfies online.

Louise feels her self-esteem is being knocked by the pictures that she sees online.

‘I do compare myself to others body-wise,’ says Louise.

‘I’m always looking at other people and comparing my body to them and thinking what I could do to look like that or change somehow. It’s silly because it makes me feel bad about myself.’

‘Many people compare themselves to others online,’ says Vogel. ‘My research has found that this effect is strongest among people with high social comparison orientation (SCO).’

‘SCO is a personality trait that is fairly stable throughout our lives. People with high SCO compare themselves to others frequently and are more strongly affected by comparisons. They also tend to have lower self-esteem and higher neuroticism.’

Being negatively impacted by what you see social media is a genuine problem. Don’t ignore it. The sooner you take action, the better you will feel.

Last year, 42% of British adults admitted to spending ‘too much time’ online, according to an Ofcom report. So, taking a break – or a digital detox, if you will – could be a smart move.

That’s not to say it’s easy. You might want to try an app – such as the Antisocial Phone Usage Tracker – or reach out to your friends or family for support. Simply cutting back on the time you spend on social sites could have a huge impact. Why not give it a try?

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What all people who work out need to know about RED-S

(Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

We’ve all had days when we’ve overdone it at the gym and ended up exhausted, or not eaten enough for whatever reason and unleashed a torrent of hanger on those all around us.

But regularly exercising hard and not eating enough to refuel can lead to serious ill health, thanks to a condition called RED-S.

RED-S stands for Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport. It was once known as the Female Athlete Triad, a syndrome found in young sporty women who had symptoms of disordered eating, stopped periods and bone loss. However, it has recently been renamed to include a number of other symptoms and to take the experience of men into account.

Dietitian Renee McGregor launched the TRAIN BRAVE campaign along with athlete and recovered eating disorder sufferer Tom Fairbrother. The project aims to raise awareness of RED-S and to change the fitness culture of overtraining and underfuelling.

Renee tells Metro.co.uk: ‘When we exercise, we use energy in order to fuel and power the activities we are performing. It is essential that sufficient energy is put into our bodies to meet the demands we place upon it, otherwise there will be an energy deficit.

‘Low energy availability arises if nutritional intake isn’t sufficient to cover the energy demands of both training and resting metabolic processes. Where there is a prolonged period of low energy availability, this is known as RED-S.’

Symptoms of RED-S

  • Overtraining or difficulties taking rest days
  • Recurrent injuries, including stress fractures
  • Feeling cold on warm days
  • Disrupted sleep patterns
  • Constipation and bloating
  • Fear of food and weight restoration
  • Anxiety around meals and irrational behavior
  • Poor performance and difficulty adapting to increased training
  • Increased fatigue
  • Very low or high resting heart rate
  • Missed or irregular periods
  • Morning erectile dysfunction

Whether you’re actively restricting your food intake or not, you can still develop RED-s.

Renee explains: ‘In some cases the athletes just do not realise that they are underfuelling, for example those that are training but also commute by bike to and from work.

‘While they know to fuel their training, they don’t appreciate the additional demand of their cycling.’

People who participate in endurance sports such as running, swimming, cycling and triathlon can be at particular risk of RED-S.

‘These require great energy demands over a long period of time,’ says Tom Fairbrother. ‘Gravitational sports, where individuals are required to lift or propel themselves upwards are also particularly at risk, as it be can be perceived that being lighter gives you an advantage. These activities include gymnastics, climbing and cycling.’

But it’s not just competitive athletes who are in danger.

‘The rise of clean eating fads and social media influencers and bloggers who may not be qualified to provide nutritional advice is a major risk, as individuals may begin to restrict or reduce energy consumption without considering the impact this will have on energy availability,’ Tom tells us.

While it’s totally normal to enjoy keeping fit and eating a balanced diet, there are certain symptoms that can be a sign your healthy lifestyle is becoming something sinister.

Finding it hard to deviate from your workout routine or diet, feeling cold even when it’s warm outside and having regular injuries are all symptoms of RED-s. Left untreated, these can eventually lead to serious issues.

Renee says: ‘If RED-S goes untreated, the main concern is that it can lead to long term health problems such as infertility, poor bone health; depressed immune system and then also mental health issues around anxiety, social isolation and disordered eating.’

Luckily, RED-s is totally treatable.

‘If any of these symptoms sound familiar, or you have experience some of the physical issues outlined above, it is essential to increase energy availability and restore a positive energy balance,’ Renee explains. ‘This effectively means increasing food intake and/or reducing training volume.

‘However, these two things can often be harder than they sound, so professional advice and help can be needed.

‘We encourage you to seek professional help – go to your GP as it is always useful to get blood tests to ascertain the degree of physical damage that is going on, which will then determine what the appropriate path to restoration and recovery is.’

And if you’re worried about a friend?

Renee suggests: ‘Opening up a dialogue is the first step. Maybe pick up on the fact that you have noticed that they are choosing to miss out on social occasions and wondered if there was something wrong? You could see if they will admit to some of the symptoms mentioned above.

‘Help them to identify the opportunities they are missing by pursuing their gruelling training and eating regimen. Encourage them to talk to you about why they feel the need to push so hard. Help them to understand that their behaviour is probably a response to stress and anxiety and that they would really benefit from getting some professional support – don’t try to help them without clinical guidance.’

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Mixed Up: ‘Saying you love mixed-race babies is creepy – please stop’


Welcome to Mixed Up, a series looking at the highs, lows and unique experiences of being mixed-race.

Mixed Up aims to elevate the under-heard narratives of mixed-race people and take a closer look at the nuanced realities of being part of this rapidly growing ethnic group.

Mixed-race is the fastest-growing ethnic group in the UK.

Being mixed can be complicated. Alongside the unique pleasures and benefits of being exposed to multiple cultures, it also comes with complexities, conflicts and innate contradictions.

Jessica (left) and Alyssa (right) are students. They came together to start Oxford University’s first ever Mixed Heritage Society to help support mixed-race students navigate predominantly white spaces.

Mixed Up - Lifestyle - Natalie Morris
(Picture: Jerry Syder for Metro.co.uk)

‘We started the society to create a community for mixed-heritage people at Oxford. We both felt that there was a desire from other mixed students to have this space,’ Jessica tells Metro.co.uk.

‘The stereotype of what a mixed-race person looks like is entrenched in society as a person who is half black and half white and this very much does not reflect the diversity of Oxford’s mixed-heritage students.

‘We also thought very hard about how we defined mixed-heritage, as we did not want anyone to feel that they were not mixed enough or not the “right” sort of mixed.

‘We also hope to help combat stereotypes about mixed-heritage people and raise awareness of issues we face, whilst acknowledging the privileges that mixed people have.’

‘The conversation about mixed-race people seems to receive a backlash and we wanted to have a society where conversations about the mixed-race identify could be discussed and explored openly,’ adds Alyssa.

Oxford University has been criticised in the past for its glacial progress in attracting and admitting students from diverse or minority backgrounds. Jessica and Alyssa are determined to make sure the small contingent of mixed-race students at the historic institution feel welcome and understood.

Oxford's Mixed Heritage Society
Oxford’s Mixed Heritage Society (Picture: Jessica and Alyssa/Metro.co.uk)

When it comes to identity, both girls struggle when people make assumptions for them – or give them labels.

‘I find it hardest when people tell me what my identity is and do not listen to how I choose to identify,’ explains Jessica.

‘Often when people ask me, “where are you from?” they will then doubt my answer, and it is quite frustrating. Especially as I don’t feel I look like what they expect a British person or a black and white mixed person to look like. Most people assume I am Mediterranean before meeting my parents.

‘I also find it hard seeing the differences in how my mother and father are treated by society. My mum (who is also mixed-race) is less white passing than I am, so she experiences a lot more casual racism than I do and that makes me exasperated on her behalf as she should not have to experience that.’

Jessica’s mother is mixed Nigerian and white British and her father is white British.

Jessica with her mum
Jessica with her mum Picture: Jessica/Metro.co.uk)

‘I identify as quarter Nigerian and this is how would describe myself if someone asked my heritage,’ she tells us.

‘I know that people ask about my heritage because they want to know why I don’t fit into their narrow idea of what a British person looks like.

‘Culturally, however, I identify solely as British. My parents were both raised in British households (my maternal Grandparents were divorced) and so was I.

‘We do not do anything Nigerian typically, however, my mum does make a version of jollof rice and if Nigeria were in a sporting competition and Britain wasn’t, we would support the Nigerian team.

‘Neither my mother nor I have ever been to Nigeria and personally, I see it as my Grandfather’s country, not mine or hers. I am proud of my Grandfather’s heritage but it is not one I identify with much.’

Alyssa also has Nigerian heritage. Her mother is Nigerian and her father is white British. Like Jessica, she feels much more closely linked to the British element of her identity.

‘Because of the way I was brought up, people have said that I am basically white, or I have been in the room when someone has said something racist and assumed it wouldn’t bother me because I’m half white,’ says Alyssa.

‘It’s hard to navigate predominantly white spaces when there is always the fear that someone will say something problematic.

‘I have also found it hard being in public with my dad as people now tend to assume that we have a different relationship and are not related, which is a very uncomfortable feeling.

‘I identify as being British more than Nigerian because I was brought up British.

‘There were elements of Nigeria heritage at home, for example, I enjoy the food that my mother cooks from Nigeria, fried plantain and jollof rice and also we went to a few Nigerian weddings, but apart from that, I don’t feel connected to my Nigerian heritage.’

Little Alyssa with her mum
Little Alyssa with her mum (Picture: Alyssa/Metro.co.uk)

Both Alyssa and Jessica are passionate about creating space for mixed-race voices to be heard. But they don’t believe that being mixed is necessarily a blessing. They are reluctant to let that element of their identity define them.

‘I would not change being mixed-race, but I didn’t choose to be mixed-race, and it is hard to love something you did not choose to be,’ explains Jessica.

‘I love and am proud of all parts of my heritage but not because they are mixed, I think I would feel the same if I was single heritage.

‘I wish people would give mixed-race people autonomy over their own identity, instead of telling us how they think we should identify based on their own opinions.

‘I think people think they are being nice by telling us how much they love mixed-race people, especially babies, but it comes across as creepy and fetishizing, I wish they would stop.’

Alyssa is quick to refute any idealistic notions that mixed-race people hold the key to a more harmonious existence. She thinks too many people look at being mixed-race through a romanticised lens, but the reality is very different.

Alyssa says: ‘Some people are of the opinion that everyone eventually being mixed-race will cure racism – but what would be more useful would be to actually address what racism is and why it exists. Everyone becoming mixed will not stop racism.’

For both girls, it seems that external influences have always played a big part in their own perceptions of self. When you don’t fit neatly in to one category or another you have to work harder to figure out exactly where you sit.

‘When I was younger I sometimes wanted to be whiter and sometimes I wanted to be blacker. I feel this was to do with the opinions of others rather than my own feelings,’ says Jessica.

‘I think some people wondered why I didn’t identify as just white, but that would feel wrong and disrespectful to my Nigerian heritage.

‘How I look isn’t the only thing determining my background, it’s just the thing you see. I think this also led to my feelings of wanting to be blacker, as I hoped people would take my mixedness more seriously if I were darker, or if I identified more with Nigerian culture.’

‘As I grew up in a predominantly white area, I don’t identify with black British culture, which is difficult because I am half black so people assume that I should, which is awkward,’ says Alyssa.

‘In the past, other people with Nigerian heritage have been shocked that I am half Nigerian because I lack the cultural behaviors from the country.

‘I wish people understood that being mixed-race comes with its own challenges and it isn’t just the best both worlds.’

MORE: Mixed Up: ‘People try to guess my ethnicity – they always guess wrong’

MORE: Mixed Up: ‘I’ve been called a liar because I look so much whiter than my brother’

MORE: Mixed Up: ‘Being half Filipino makes me more palatable as a black woman’

My daughter is an adult but I’m still her best ally against her eating disorder

EATING DISORDER WEEK: Watching my daughter battle with an anorexia
My daughter, Natalie, has suffered with an eating disorder since she was 14 (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

My daughter, Natalie, has suffered with an eating disorder (ED) since she was 14.

As a child she struggled with depression and anxiety. After my marriage failed we moved house, meaning a change in secondary school for her at a vulnerable age.

I knew the transition would be hard and within weeks, her weight loss was evident. Her routines changed, she was spending long periods in the bathroom after dinner and I discovered that she was skipping lunch.

When family members started complimenting her on losing weight, I started to feel uneasy. Her weight loss was too fast, unhealthily so, and I have since learned that complimenting someone with an ED about their weight loss makes the disease stronger and the sufferer weaker.

It is one of the many lessons I have had to learn as I’ve watched my daughter struggle with an ED. Society makes us believe that thin is ‘good’ and before my daughter became ill, even I tried a fad diet to lose weight.

But when parents criticise their own bodies (and worse still, other people’s) in front of their children, we send very negative body image messages. Our children think that their bodies aren’t good enough and start to criticise themselves.

Natalie Haken who is battling an eating disorder
Jenny’s daughter, Natalie (Photo: Jenny Haken)

It took months for Natalie to finally get diagnosed. Our GP immediately referred her to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) but unfortunately, we were in an area where CAMHS did not know how to effectively treat eating disorders in the community.

They meant well, they tried, but CAMHS are badly overstretched and under resourced, and EDs are very complex illnesses. The situation is made harder if your child has other mental health illnesses.

At one point I was told by a CAMHS practitioner: ‘You know how to feed your daughter, just feed her!’

But I didn’t know how to feed this version of my daughter. My normally kind, honest, gentle, loving, sweet, talented girl was possessed by this demonic disease. No-one told me that ED would turn mealtimes into war zones, that I’d feel like I had no clue how to handle my own child, or how guilty I would feel when my other son moved out, upset at how much focus Natalie received.

Trying to feed someone with anorexia is a full-time job – three meals and three snacks a day. I stopped work to keep her alive, which at times felt impossible with limited support. I felt despondent, helpless. I was terrified I would lose my daughter to this illness.

When Natalie turned 18, she transitioned from CAMHS to adult services. She was assessed and deemed to be ‘functioning’, which enabled her to live independently, on Benefits.

As a parent, I was disgusted. My daughter’s brain had been hijacked by the ED – while she was technically an adult, she was still very ill, and very much a child.

These days Natalie is managing. Just. Her nutrition is still too limited, and she now has physical medical problems as a direct result of her ED – gastrointestinal issues and an ulcer to name but two. Living 120 miles away makes it hard to support her as much as I’d like.

Of course, she could easily move in with us, but chooses not to. We speak on the phone daily. She has weekly ED specialist therapy sessions by phone, and as her mother I do what I can despite a lack of local services.

We need vast improvements to ED treatment, both in-patient and out in the community. CAMHS and adult services need a huge injection of resources, as well as an updated approach.

Adult services in particular need to realise that parents must be fully included in the treatment of their children – families and parents are their best allies in helping the person to fully recover.

Finally, one of the main things I’ve learned living through this hell is that society needs to be far more aware that eating disorders are not a choice or anything about vanity. They can affect any gender at any age and are among the most lethal of all mental health illnesses.

I continue to hope that one day my daughter will be able to be free of the ED that keeps her living in such a lonely place.

More support

If you suspect you, a family member or friend has an eating disorder, contact Beat on 0808 801 0677 or at help@beateatingdisorders.org.uk, for information and advice on the best way to get appropriate treatment.

You can also find out more about EDs and their treatment at www.feast-ed.org

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Eight must-have new beauty buys from Glossier, Charlotte Tilbury, Milk Makeup and more

(Picture: Glossier)

Every single month there’s a truckload of new beauty launches – not that we’re complaining.

But it can be hard work and rather time-consuming (not to mention expensive) trawling the beauty aisles for new products, so as always, we’ve done the hard work for you.

With everything from skincare to haircare, to makeup must-haves, here are the best new beauty finds this month.

Glossier Milky Oil Waterproof Makeup Remover

Glossier Milky Oil Waterproof Makeup Remover
(Picture: Glossier)

Meet Glossier’s Milky Oil Waterproof Makeup Remover – Milky Jelly Cleanser’s new sister and Glossier’s latest skincare launch.

What sets this makeup remover apart from the rest is not only the ease at which it removes even the toughest of mascara without little to no rubbing. It also leaves zero oil, or greasy residue over your lids.

It combines micellar water and oil and like Milky Jelly Cleanser is formulated with comfrey root extract and pro-vitamin B5, so it’s gentle enough for the most sensitive of skin types.

Glossier Milky Oil Waterproof Makeup Remover, £10, glossier.com


Milk Makeup Matte Bronzer

Milk Makeup Matte Bronzer
(Picture: Cult Beauty)

Milk Makeup is now available in the UK – hooray!

The US brand has achieved the biggest Cult Beauty brand waitlist ever, as over 17,000 signed up to be told when the brand dropped online, which is pretty impressive if you ask us.

Our favourite product from the brand to date, has to be their Matte Bronzer. It’s creamy, packed with mango butter and quickly sculpts and leaves the skin sun-kissed in a matter of seconds.

Milk Makeup Matte Bronzer, £20.50, cultbeauty.co.uk


Benefit Cheekleaders Mini Pink Squad Palette

(Picture: Benefit Cosmetics)

When you think blusher, you think Benefit boxed powders, right?

Well, Benefit have downsized their best-selling powders and created a pink trio for all your blusher needs this spring.

The one-stop-shop slimline palette, includes a mini Dandelion for a flirty baby-pink flush, GALifornia for a golden-pink blush and a new powder highlight named Tickle.

Benefit Cheekleaders Mini Pink Squad Palette, £26, benefitcosmetics.com, feelunique.com and cultbeauty.co.uk


BeautyBlender Electric Violet Swirl Sponge

BeautyBlender Electric Violet Swirl Sponge
(Picture: Beauty Bay)

BeautyBlender is back with more shades.

The original BeautyBlender has had an electric upgrade and we’re all for the new marbled violet sponge.

And don’t be fooled by its appearance, this egg-shaped makeup sponge is bouncy and expands when you wet it, helping to apply foundation and concealer seamlessly.

We couldn’t be without it.

BeautyBlender Electric Violet Swirl Sponge, £17, beautybay.com, spacenk.com and cultbeauty.co.uk

Briogeo Don’t Despair, Repair! Strength + Moisture Leave-In Mask

Briogeo Don't Despair, Repair! Strength + Moisture Leave-In Mask
(Picture: Cult Beauty)

For hair that’s in need of a little post-winter TLC, new haircare brand on the block Briogeo has got your tresses under control.

The Don’t Despair, Repair! Strength + Moisture Leave-In Mask, works a treat at instantly injecting moisture back into your lacklustre locks and helps to repair split ends, thanks to its blend of coconut oil and b-vitamin complex.

Better yet, it will leave your hair touchably soft and gloriously scented.

Briogeo Don’t Despair, Repair! Strength + Moisture Leave-In Mask, £24, feelunique.com, spacenk.com, beautybay.com and cultbeauty.co.uk


Lancôme Teint Idole Ultra Wear Nude

Lancôme Teint Idole Ultra Wear
(Picture: Debenhams)

Calling all lovers of lightweight bases, Lancôme Teint Idole Ultra Wear Nude was made for you.

While we don’t love it quite as much as the original Lancôme Teint Idole Ultra Wear, it offers buildable coverage without caking, drying or feeling noticeable on the skin.

Plus it will actually last all day, without leaving you blotchy-faced by midday. And if you usually struggle to find the right shade for you, don’t sweat, as there’s 40 shades to pick from.

Lancôme Teint Idole Ultra Wear Nude, £33.50, debenhams.com, johnlewis.com and escentual.com

Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution Lipstick in Super Model

(Picture: Charlotte Tilbury)

Just when you thought you didn’t need another nude lipstick, Charlotte Tilbury has only released three new limited-edition matte revolution lipstick shades.

And they’re all utterly gorgeous.

The new Matte Revolution Lipstick in the shade Super Model boasts the most reviews with an average rating of 4.6 online at Charlotte Tilbury and its not surprising as the nude-rose lipstick is seriously flattering and finish wise it’s intense, long-lasting and makes your pout appear fuller.

Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution Lipstick in Super Model, £24, charlottetilbury.com


Urban Decay Brow Blade Ink Stain + Waterproof Pencil

Urban Decay Brow Blade Ink Stain + Waterproof Pencil
(Picture: Urban Decay)

Urban Decay have upped the brow game with their new Brow Blade Ink Stain + Waterproof Pencil.

The dual-ended brow product features a precise brow pencil and brush tip to mimic the effect of microbladed brows without the commitment.

Founder of Huda Beauty, Huda Kattan even described the new brow product as her ‘favourite brow product ever’ – if it’s good enough for Huda, it’s good enough for us.

Urban Decay Brow Blade Ink Stain + Waterproof Pencil, £18, urbandecay.co.uk, debenhams.com and escentual.com

MORE: When and where to buy the new Anastasia Beverly Hills Riviera Palette in the UK

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One in five women mistakenly believe a smear test detects ovarian cancer

(Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk) metro illustrations
(Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

One in five women mistakenly believe that a smear test can detect ovarian cancer, as well as cervical cancer, a survey has found.

Neither a screening or vaccine exists for ovarian cancer so if women experience symptoms, they shouldn’t rely on a smear test.

The results were revealed in a YouGov survey for charity Target Ovarian Cancer just before ovarian cancer awareness month starts in March.

They say that a lack of awareness means women are at risk of assuming they are ‘protected’ from ovarian cancer, a disease which affects 25,000 women in the UK.

Because of this, they are in danger of writing off symptoms of ovarian cancer when they experience them.

They added that this misunderstanding around smear tests could put women at increased risk of a late diagnosis.

What are the symptoms of ovarian cancer?

  • Persistent bloating – not bloating that comes and goes
  • Feeling full quickly and/or loss of appetite
  • Pelvic or abdominal pain (that’s your tummy and below)
  • Urinary symptoms (needing to wee more urgently or more often than usual)

Ovarian cancer awareness campaign

Public Health England will launch a Be Clear on Cancer campaign encouraging women to take up cervical screening on 5 March but the charity is calling for government investment in a similar national symptoms awareness campaign for ovarian cancer.

Target Ovarian Cancer’s Chief Executive Annwen Jones said: ‘We need to combat the confusion around ovarian cancer and cervical screening, because while smear tests are a vital tool in public health, a similar option simply does not exist in ovarian cancer.

‘While we welcome government investment in raising awareness of the cervical screening programme this March, the ovarian cancer community is painfully aware that 11 women die every day from ovarian cancer and we urgently need to see a national ovarian cancer symptoms awareness campaign. Women are still waiting.’

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Urban Outfitters is selling a selection pack of old VHS tapes for £30

(Picture: Urban Outfitters)

We love a retro blast from the past.

And VHS tapes are bound to bring back plenty of childhood memories.

Remember putting the tape in the player only to find you needed to rewind the whole thing?

Well apparently they are coming back into fashion, despite the last VHS player being made in 2016.

Fashion store Urban Outfitters is selling a selection of five VHS tapes for $40 (£30.11).

You can choose from 90s comedies, 00s rom-coms, horror or sci-fi selections or 80s romance.

Urban Outfitters Charges $40 for 5-Pack of Random Used VHS Tapes Picture: @DaveScheidt METROGRAB https://twitter.com/DaveScheidt/status/1095826737034940416
(Picture: @DaveScheidt/Twtiter)

Although you choose the genre, the films included are a mystery.

According to the website, each set is ‘unique, iconic and will vary from what is pictured.’

It adds: ‘Don’t worry – there are no duds in this batch.’

Each batch has been curated by Studiohouse Designs, who specialise in horror and VHS tape memorabilia.

The tapes seem to only be available in their US store so if you are really set on watching a random selection of films with low picture quality, it will cost an extra $30 (£22.61).

So if you miss the old days of terrible picture quality and happen to still have a VHS player around, this is your chance.

If only we had kept all those old tapes we had lying around.

MORE: One in five women mistakenly believe a smear test detects ovarian cancer

MORE: What all people who work out need to know about RED-S

MORE: What to do if you love your friend but hate their social media presence

When the LGBTQ community embraces BAME voices, we are all lifted up

Where I struggled to see role models that looked like me, I can look around today and start to see a shift (Photo: Getty/ Rex)

Growing up in a black African household in London during the early 80s, role models in the public eye that looked like me were few and far between.

It’s a story familiar to many of us, and it’s an important one.

Seeing yourself and your experience reflected in what you watch, learn and listen to, can make a world of difference to young people – and sometimes older people – while trying to figure out exactly who they are.

This is especially true for the black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) LGBTQ communities who continue to be seriously underrepresented in mainstream media narratives.

From my work with young people, I also know the difference that seeing positive role models in the public eye can make.

This is partly why events like UK Black Pride are still so important.

When UK Black Pride started it was to create a space where BAME LGBTQ people from all walks of life could come together, celebrate and feel proud of who they are.

It’s now become Britain’s largest event for people from these communities.

Phyll Opoku-Gyimah: co-founder of UK Black Pride
When you understand that your struggle is my struggle and my struggle is your struggle, we can turn up the volume on society and make it impossible for them to ignore us (Picture: Phyll Opoku-Gyimah/Stonewall)

Every year, we turn Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens into a joyous, empowering space that recognises our intersecting identities and frees us into being our true authentic selves.

Something that isn’t always possible amid the layers of discrimination we struggle against in our day-to-day lives.

When you understand that your struggle is my struggle and my struggle is your struggle, we can turn up the volume on society and make it impossible for them to ignore us.

BAME LGBTQ people are disproportionately affected by homophobic, biphobic and transphobic discrimination.

What can be even harder to swallow is that we know they experience racism and discrimination from within the wider LGBT community – in fact, Stonewall research shows that half of BAME LGBTQ people (51 per cent) face discrimination from others in the LGBTQ community.

This is unacceptable.

We are not there yet within our community, let alone outside of it.

True equality is a collective struggle. We can’t eradicate homophobia, biphobia and transphobia in any meaningful way if we don’t at the same time work to tackle racism.

The most powerful equality movements are those that don’t leave any minority behind.

That’s what makes UK Black Pride’s new partnership with LBGTQ charity Stonewall so groundbreaking.

Our work will focus on building relationships and supporting the development of local and national campaigning. At its core, we have a shared commitment to transform how we reach and empower diverse BAME LGBTQ communities.

Underpinning this is a mutual understanding that for effective social change to happen, this work must be led by BAME activists and organisations.

Centering the personal experiences and expertise of BAME LGBTQ people also leaves space for organisations like Stonewall to step up as active allies.

In this sense, being an ally is about recognising an organisation’s power, privilege and platform and using that to amplify the voices of BAME LGBTQ people on their terms and in their own language, in order to help drive change.

It is about acknowledging that being part of the solution of tackling racism means hearing things that make you uncomfortable.

It also means knowing where and when to step back and give space to those groups who have traditionally been silenced in conversations about equality.

This new partnership will help UK Black Pride promote meaningful social change and celebrate BAME LGBTQ people and culture across all of society.

There can be no hierarchy of equality. Moving forward requires the help of allies.

Allies who understand the intersectional struggles of progress and know when to sit down, listen and raise up the voices of BAME LGBTQ people.

Our community’s strength and beauty comes from its diversity.

Where I struggled to see role models that looked like me, I can look around today and start to see a shift – with incredible voices like Travis Alabanza, Munroe Bergdorf, Dean Atta, Reeta Loi, Kuchenga Shenje, Liv Little and Janelle Monae, and so many more who are paving the way for positive representation in our culture.

But there is still so much work to be done.

It’s as important as ever that we stand together, arm-in-arm, and fight for the equality of every LGBTQ person – people of all backgrounds – be that race, gender, class or disability.

When you understand that your struggle is my struggle and my struggle is your struggle, we can turn up the volume on society and make it impossible for them to ignore us.

There is hope.

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All the cool fashion types are wearing the Kurt Geiger Rita boots

(Picture: Kurt Geiger/Metro.co.uk)

Is the Kurt Geiger Rita boot the new it shoe?

Lord, we hope so. They’re actually almost affordable, by which we mean £199 rather than somewhere in the thousands.

Evidence that these are the shoes those interested in trends and fashion is pretty simple: quite a few fashion influencers have been spotted wearing the boots.

Susie Bubble, Jess Cartner Morley, Jamie QQ Wu, and Doina Ciobanu were all seen wearing the Rita boots, available in pink, white, or black.

There’s an important caveat to note, though: a lot of the photos of people wearing said boots were taken at a London Fashion Week Kurt Geiger event.

So, yes, there is likely some people-pleasing at play. If you go to a brand’s launch event, it seems rude to wear shoes by another designer.

Susie Bubble goes for pink (Picture: David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images Kurt Geiger)

Clearly, Kurt Geiger is trying to make the Rita boots *the* boot of the season, especially as post-event the brand told MailOnline that sales of the Rita boots have increased by 675% in the last week and that many stores are close to selling out.

That’s some clever marketing right there. Get cool people to wear some shoes, build up some hype by telling a publication those shoes are selling like hotcakes, and then sit back and wait as this becomes reality. Very smart.

Jess Cartner Morley wears the Rita boots in white (Picture: David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images for NET-A-PORTER)

But, of course, Kurt Geiger has many shoes, and it’d be rare for an influencer to choose a pair they don’t genuinely like. They say three makes a trend, and thus if more than three fashion people wear a boot, we must then bring it to your attention.

So that’s what we’re doing. Attention, everyone: fashion types are wearing the Kurt Geiger Rita boots, and Kurt Geiger would like you to know that they are selling very well. Perhaps you can now look at the boots and ponder whether you like them enough to buy them, if you’ll go without, or if you’re so invested in being on trend that you will scramble to buy the boots this week and then wear them only once.

And Jamie QQ Qu chooses cream boots too (Picture: David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images Kurt Geiger)

Made of leather in pink, black, or cream, the Rita boots have a ‘streamlined’ ankle boot style with lacing at the side and a pointed toe.

Oh, and they’re kitten heels. Or part of the ‘nano-heeled trend’, according to the product description. Controversial, we know, but Vogue does say they’re due a comeback.

The black pair are simple and neutral, so could make a nice upgrade to your everyday boots, but pink seems to be the superior choice. For £199, you might as well make a statement.

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A £13.49 Lidl whisky has been voted the best Scotch in the world

Lidl Whisky
(Picture: Lidl)

Majority of whiskey lovers tend to favour expensive flavours by well-known brands (or at least that’s what they’ll tell you), but it’s Lidl that’s nabbed the top spot this year.

The supermarket’s Queen Margot Whiskey was selected as this year’s winner of the Best Scotch Whisky category at the World Whiskies Awards, and here’s the kicker – it costs just £13.49.

Compare that to Johnnie Walker Black Label, which was also up for the title and is priced at nearly double that.

The competition was judged by 40 industry experts from across the globe.

Whisky making is a delicate and time-consuming process. Lidl’s Queen Margot was mellowed for eight years in oak casks, with notes of dried apricot and plum, and has a ‘smooth texture and a warm finish’.

Lidl Whisky
(Picture: Lidl)

This isn’t Lidl’s first big win in spirits – the supermarket also won the title of Own Brand Gin Supermarket of the Year at the Icons of Gin awards earlier this month, and last year beat Sipsmith and Beefeater in a blind taste test.

Supermarket spirits are edging in on the alcohol market and competing with each other, too.

Aldi’s £10 gin was voted better than Heston Blumenthal’s £25 option for Waitrose, and it was also voted one of the best in the world.

It’s an impressive accolade, when you consider luxury gins like Hendricks, Tanqueray and Gordon’s cost double or triple that price.

So next time your mates start talking about top shelf spirits, ask them if they’ve ever had a sip of their local supermarket’s finest.

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These are the top sexual fantasies in the UK, according to a survey

The pressure of having sex on Valentine's (when you've got erectile dysfunction)
(Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

What’s your biggest sexual fantasy?

Someone making you a nice cup of tea post-orgasm? Sex that magically eliminates your student loans?

Shockingly enough, neither of those options make the list of the top ten fantasies people in the UK experience while having sexual relations with a partner.

IllicitEncounters surveyed 2,000 people from around the UK to ask what they fantasise about when they have sex, to not only find out what people are turned on by, but how they feel about their mid-sex thoughts.

Fantasising is common, by the way, and having a wandering mind during sex isn’t something to feel guilty about. If imagining your partner is rescuing you from a hostage situation helps you get off, you go right ahead and do it.

Just make sure you’re still present in the moment, and that you’re not making your partner feel rubbish while you’re dreaming up scenarios. If it’s feasible, get them involved too. They might enjoy doing some role play if they know it would massively turn you on.

But what exactly are people fantasising about?

According to the survey, a lot of people think about past lovers during sex. Ouch.

Others recreate sex scenes from TV or online in their head, or imagine sex with a celebrity.

The top sexual fantasies in the UK:

  1. Sex with the ex
  2. A sex scene on TV or online
  3. Sex with a celebrity
  4. Sex with my current partner
  5. Sex with a stranger
  6. An affair with a work colleague
  7. Sex with a friend
  8. Group sex
  9. Sex in a public place
  10. Sex with someone in authority – police officer or traffic warden

Sadly, the survey does not go into more niche fantasies, instead looking at the most popular general categories.

That’s a crying shame, in our opinion. We’d quite like to hear more from people who dream of the Grinch or imagine they’re being eaten, and to find out just how common our very specific sexual fantasies (no, we shall not be sharing them here) really are.

Illicit Encounters spokesperson Christian Grant said: ‘What this new sex fantasy research shows is that the grass really is greener for a lot of couples who like to reminisce with fondness about past sexual encounters even when they are having sex with their current lovers.

‘Sex has become routine for far too many couples and they are choosing to spice things up by starting an affair not just in their fantasies but in reality, too.’

Bear in mind that Illicit Encounters is a website for people having affairs, so Christian probably would recommend cheating as a way to ‘spice things up’.

Our suggestion is to keep on fantasising (as we said, it’s totally normal) and chat to your partner if you want to take things up a notch.

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Photographs show the amazing female Fighting Cholitas of Bolivia

Veteran cholita wrestler Jennifer Dos Caras, 45, competes in the ring with Randy Four in El Alto, Bolivia, Jan. 21, 2019. The sport, known by the English-derived name catchascan, has delighted foreign tourists and photographers for years while building a sense of pride among indigenous women. (AP Photo/Juan Karita)
Veteran cholita wrestler Jennifer Dos Caras, 45, competes in the ring with Randy Four (Picture: AP Photo/Juan Karita)

Meet the Fighting Cholitas of Bolivia.

The traditional sport involves taking to a wresting ring in traditional billowing skirts, bowler hats and leather shoes.

Watching the women, who come from the indigenous nation of Aymara in the Andes, has become a must-see for tourists and photographers.

Over time, the number of competitors has dwindled to just seven, but one of the most famous, Reyna Torrez, 29, the ring name of Leydi Huanca, is training a new cohort of wrestlers, ages 16 to 19, in hopes of keeping the sport alive.

‘I love those leaps of Reyna, and it’s a dream that she’s teaching us,’ said 17-year-old Nieves Laura Tarqui, who wrestles as Nelly Pankarita, a last name that means ‘Little Flower’ in Aymara.

Pankarita and the other trainees are still a year away from their full professional debuts while training in matches against the established athletes.

‘It’s hard to wrestle,’ said 19-year-old Noelia Gonzalez – aka Natalia Pepita. ‘You need a lot of bravery, strength and training to make a good fight. We fall and we hurt, but that doesn’t matter because the public has fun.’

As a match is about to start, the contenders peer into a mirror, apply makeup and perfume and then enter the ring dancing to folkloric music.

Cholita wrestler Natalia Pepita, 19, is held down by fellow fighter in training, Wara, 22, in the ring in El Alto, Bolivia, Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019. A new generation of about 50 athletes are training to a wrestle in traditional billowing skirts, bowler hats and the leather shoes of Aymara women. (AP Photo/Juan Karita)
Cholita wrestler Natalia Pepita, 19, is held down by fellow fighter in training, Wara, 22 (Picture: AP Photo/Juan Karita)

Moves include strangling competitors with their own pigtails, flying kicks to the chest and pinning people to the floor.

‘The girls who want to do this sport have to have guts, will, because this is a sport that demands a lot of discipline,’ Reyna said.

About 50 young women are training at three schools to take up the sport, some at an institution known as Independent Wrestlers of Enormous Risk.

‘Time is passing, and you have to make way for a new generation,’ said Benjamin Simonini, director of the school in the sprawling highlands city of El Alto, which has seen a boom in recent years and where the Fighting Cholitas have emerged as a tourist attraction.

Tatiana Monasterios of the city’s tourist department said the shows ‘also assert the role of the Ayamara woman, showing her as enterprising, that she, too, can take part in a risky sport.’

Veteran cholita wrestler Leydi Huanca strikes a fighting pose for a portrait before entering the ring in El Alto, Bolivia, Sunday, Feb. 10, 2019. "The girls who want to do this sport have to have guts, will, because this is a sport that demands a lot of discipline," said Leydi Huanca, 29, whose real name is Reyna Torrez. (AP Photo/Juan Karita)
Veteran cholita wrestler Leydi Huanca strikes a fighting pose for a portrait before entering the ring (Picture: AP Photo/Juan Karita)

Young cholita wrestler Nelly Pankarita strikes a pose wearing her mask after competing in the ring in El Alto, Bolivia, Sunday, Feb. 10, 2019. The 17-year-old Nieves Laura Tarqui wrestles with the ring name Nelly Pankarita, with Pankarita translating as "Little Flower" in Aymara. (AP Photo/Juan Karita)
Young cholita wrestler Nelly Pankarita  (Picture: AP Photo/Juan Karita)


Young cholita wrestler Lucero la Bonita strikes a pose for a portrait before fighting in the ring in El Alto, Bolivia, Sunday, Feb. 10, 2019. "I love to promote the culture of my country," said the 16-year-old fighter, one of 50 from a new generation of cholita fighters in training. (AP Photo/Juan Karita)
Young cholita wrestler Lucero la Bonita (Picture: AP Photo/Juan Karita)


Young cholita wrestler Wara puts her makeup on before competing in the ring in El Alto, Bolivia, Sunday, Feb. 24, 2019. Wara, 22, and the other trainees are still a year away from their full professional debuts while training in matches against the established athletes. (AP Photo/Juan Karita)
Wara puts her makeup on before competing in the ring (Picture: AP Photo/Juan Karita)


Veteran cholita wrestler Leydi Huanca, 29, dances as she enters the ring area to compete in El Alto, Bolivia, Sunday, Feb. 10, 2019. As a match is about to start, cholita wrestlers apply makeup and perfume and then enter to ring dancing to folkloric music. (AP Photo/Juan Karita)
Leydi Huanca, 29, dances as she enters the ring area (Picture: AP Photo/Juan Karita)


Young cholita wrestlers Wara, left, and Natalia Pepita compete in the ring in El Alto, Bolivia, Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019. About 50 young women like Pepita and Wara are training at schools to take up the sport, some at an institution known as Independent Wrestlers of Enormous Risk. (AP Photo/Juan Karita)
Wara, left, and Natalia Pepita compete (Picture: AP Photo/Juan Karita)


Cholita wrestler Natalia la Pepita, 19, lifts her trainer Reyna Torrez, 29, as they compete in the ring in El Alto, Bolivia, Monday, Jan. 21, 2019. "You need a lot of bravery, strength and training to make a good fight. We fall and we hurt, but that doesn't matter because the public has fun," said fighter in training Natalia Pepita, whose real name is Noelia Gonzalez. (AP Photo/Juan Karita)
Natalia la Pepita, 19, lifts her trainer Reyna Torrez, 29, as they compete in the ring (Picture: AP Photo/Juan Karita)


Young cholita wrestler Dona Chevas, 16, top, holds the legs of her rival, fellow trainee Simpatica Sonia, 24, as they compete in the ring in El Alto, Bolivia, Thursday, Jan. 21, 2019. A new generation of athletes is coming to one of the world's more colorful sporting spectacles: the fighting cholitas of Bolivia, who take to a wrestling ring in the traditional billowing skirts, bowler hats and leather shoes of Aymara women. (AP Photo/Juan Karita)
Dona Chevas, 16, top, holds the legs of her rival, fellow trainee Simpatica Sonia, 24, as they compete in the ring (Picture: AP Photo/Juan Karita)


Tourists film cholita wrestlers in the ring in El Alto, Bolivia, Monday, Jan. 21, 2019. In recent years fighting cholitas have emerged as a tourist attraction in the sprawling highlands city. (AP Photo/Juan Karita)
Tourists film cholita wrestlers in the ring (AP Photo/Juan Karita)

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Uber driver offers menu to let his customers choose what sort of trip they have

(Picture: @LuisLovesGoats/PA)

You know the feeling when you get in an Uber and you’re just not up for a chat?

Or maybe after a hard day at work, some funny stories from your driver would really cheer you up.

One driver has the perfect solution – a paper menu that lets you select the type of ride you want when you get in the car.

The genius idea was spotted by Lui, who posted it on Twitter, after an Uber ride with driver George in Seattle, U.S.

The menu includes ‘The Stand Up’, ‘The Silent Ride’, ‘The Therapy Ride’, and ‘The Creepy Ride’ and ‘The Rude Ride’.

For The Stand Up, George the driver promises funny stories about prison and ‘other poor choices he has made’, including a suggestion he has a tattoo of an ex-lover’s name.

The Silent Ride description is completely blank, which suggests you have no interaction beyond selecting that on the menu.

The Creepy Ride, is a bit like the silent ride, in that he doesn’t say anything but he offers to look at the customer in the rearview mirror ‘all creepy like’.

Finally, The Rude Ride description is simple: ‘I be as rude as possible.’

Although the last two might not sound quite as pleasant, George has got the selection perfect.

The last line also shows how he cares about his customers: ‘Safety comes first. Please remember to wear your seatbelt.’

After his Uber ride with George, Lui tracked him down and even persuaded him to set up a Twitter account to see how much love his menu was getting online.

This is George at work, and of course, safety is always paramount.

George is even trying to use his new-found fame to ask fans to donate to a new automatic transmission car because driving a manual car in hilly Seattle is much more difficult.

We love you George but we would select the silent ride every time so please don’t tell us about this.

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Bloody Big Brunch returns (and this time there are red velvet pancakes with tampon macarons)

(Picture: Getty)

Brunch is an excellent pastime, and we appreciate it even more when it’s to highlight an important issue such as period poverty.

This coming Sunday (3 March) the Bloody Big Brunch, an organisation fighting for women’s rights to sanitary products, is hosting its biggest event yet by asking people to organise their own period-themed brunches.

Stack up the Bloody Mary’s and tell your friends to bring along tampons and pads in exchange for a spicy drink.

If you’d rather donate than pour cocktails, you can pop over to the Book Club in Shoreditch where the Bloody Big Brunch are hosting, you guessed it, a brunch of their own.

There will also be red velvet pancakes garnished with tampon macarons from Ohlala bakery available.

You’ll have to pay for these with money though, not period products, and 15% of profits from each plate will be donated to the #freeperiods campaign.

Bloody big brunch to end period poverty
(Picture: Bloody Big Brunch)

Amika George, the teenager campaigning for free sanitary products for schoolgirls from low-income families, will be hosting the brunch and celebrities in attendance will include Jess Woodley from Made in Chelsea, Grace Victory, Grace Woodward and Tom Read Wilson.

‘The idea for the Bloody Big Brunch has been bubbling away for a few years now,’ co-founder, Lee Beattie, who’s also the owner and director of creative agency WIRE, explained last year.

‘It all started when I was in a supermarket and spotted boxes of tampons literally chained up with security tags, a CCTV camera aimed at them and warning signs everywhere – it was a really bizarre scene.

‘I snapped a pic and posted it on my social channels, with a witty caption. It wasn’t until a friend told me later that it was part of a bigger crack down and I was horrified. I had no idea, but women were desperately stealing sanitary products because they couldn’t afford them.

‘My business partner Pam Scobbie and I have been chatting about doing something ever since.

‘Then when we read the recent Women for Independence research that one in five [women in Scotland] are resorting to using socks, toilet paper, newspapers and rags as substitutes we knew we had to get behind the cause.’

Can’t make brunch? You can still donate to the cause by purchasing a packet of sanitary pads for £3.25.

How bloody brilliant.

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Runner born a double amputee wants to show people they can do more than they think


Tobias French, 29, was born a double below knee amputee. That means both his legs stop right below the knee and he’s missing both feet and fibula, with a deformed tibia.

He refuses to let that hold him back from running, and regularly smashes out Tough Mudder races.

That’s despite the challenges being an amputee presents: pain, adjustments to workouts, and requiring specialised running blades in place of feet.

Through hard work and determination, Toby wants to show his son – and everyone else – that he can overcome any challenge.

(Picture: Tobias French/Metro.co.uk)

Toby’s fitness journey began last year, when his wife gave him the gift of a personal trainer, knowing her husband wanted to drop some extra weight.

‘One session and I was hooked,’ Toby, who works in security and volunteers for the local BARB search and rescue team, tells Metro.co.uk.

‘The feeling after was just so freeing, I knew I needed to carry on and do more.’

Tobias French taking part in Tough Mudder
(Picture: Courtesy of Tobias French/Metro.co.uk)

He began regularly working out with his trainer and doing adapted exercise, but struggled to use the prosthetic legs he’d had for years. They weren’t designed for long-distance running, leaving the stump of his legs red raw and sore.

So Toby asked for help. He created a JustGiving page to raise the money he needed for running blades, and ended up receiving £1,320 towards the cost.

Once he had those blades, Toby could really fall in love with running.

He started with Chepstow Inflatable 5K, nervous but exhilarated once he finished. Then he did another 5K. And another.

He started taking part in tricky Tough Mudder courses; longer runs combined with obstacles of climbing over wooden blocks and crawling through the mud.

Tobias French taking part in Tough Mudder
(Picture: Courtesy of Tobias French/Metro.co.uk)

None of his journey was easy, and he’s still just getting started.

Toby tells us: ‘Growing up I was always told I can be and do anything if I put my mind and heart into it. That mindset has mostly stuck.

‘There have been extremely low moments and a constant battle with depression. Every day is completely different. Most days the pain is so little but other days it’s horrible and the rare occasion it makes me unable to wear prosthetics (perfect for Netflix catch-up).

Tobias French taking part in Tough Mudder
(Picture: Courtesy of Tobias French/Metro.co.uk)

‘Physically I am able to do so much more and push so much harder than when I started. Before I struggled to do a lot without being out of breath.

‘Mentally, it makes me feel so much happier. Every personal best I beat, even if it’s by one second or lifting 0.5kg heavier, I feel… I can’t even explain how good it feels. Best feeling ever.’

Each Saturday Toby straps on his running blades and does a Park Run. On Tuesdays he does a personal training session, on Wednesdays it’s search and rescue training, and throughout the week he’ll spend time working out with his wife and son.

He keeps going back to Tough Mudder, getting a real thrill from the challenge.

Tobias French taking part in Tough Mudder
(Picture: Courtesy of Tobias French/Metro.co.uk)

‘I absolutely love how everyone there knows it’s not a race but a challenge,’ says Toby. ‘[I love] the fact a lot of people there don’t know each other but will help anyone struggling regardless of their ability levels, and the feeling when you get the head band, T-shirt and a victory beer at the finish with your team.’

Toby now shares his experiences on Instagram to show others all they’re capable of doing, and give people the motivation to take that first step.

He hopes to keep running and get even fitter, so he can raise money for charities and inspire more people.

‘[I want to] help motivate other people into believing they can do more and be more active even with disabilities,’ says Toby.

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Four-year-old twins become fashion designers and create their own clothes for Target

(Picture: Target)

Lots of kids like to doodle and draw their new clothes.

But very few of them get to see their designs actually come to life.

These twins helped their mum develop a fashion line for one of the biggest brands in the U.S., Target.

Mila and Emma Stauffer, who you might recognise from viral social media videos, helped their mum decide on fabrics and waistlines for their range.

They also got to model the range for the advertising campaign.

The twins already have over four million followers on Instagram, thanks to their parody videos of adult life.

But with their help, their mum Katie Stauffer has developed the Mila & Emma range for the U.S. store.

She told Yahoo Lifestyle: ‘The girls had a huge part in designing the line.

‘We showed them fabric options and went with what they liked best.

She added that Mia, for example, is ‘really particular’ about wearing things that have a line around her waist, and they tried to accommodate that.

‘When we did fittings and tried things on, she said “This needs to be lower or higher”. We really took that into consideration.’

Posting on Instagram, she added: ‘We’re soo excited for you all to see it and for your little ones to wear it. Thank you for all your support. You guys are amazing.’

The range includes shorts, t-shirts and a-line dresses.

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First fully flushable wet wipes to help prevent fatbergs are here

(Picture: Natracare)

Flushing wet wipes is a problem.

Our sewers are filling up with ‘fatbergs’ because they aren’t breaking down.

Even those marked as ‘flushable’ didn’t break down according to tests by water companies last year.

Water UK – a body that represents water companies – launched their ‘Fine to Flush’ mark earlier this year to symbol will let consumers know that the products don’t contain plastic and will break down in the sewer system instead of clogging up sewer.

And now the first wipes with the mark have been launched.

The Natracare wipes, sold by Waitrose, Ocado and independent pharmacies, are 100% paper tissue and completely biodegradable.

First fine to flush wet wipes Picture: natracare
The ‘Fine to Flush’ mark to look out for (Picture: Water UK)

They passed stringent tests to be awarded the ‘Fine to Flush’ mark.

Rae Stewart, Director of Water UK, said: ‘It’s great to see the first wipe which meets the ‘Fine to Flush’ standard coming onto the market.

‘I hope it’s the first of many, giving people a clear choice in future.

‘Customers can be confident that when they see the ‘Fine to Flush’ symbol on a wipes packet they won’t be adding to the fatbergs which clog up sewers and cost the country so much money to deal with.

‘But if they don’t say ‘Fine to Flush’, those wipes need to go into the bin.’

Water UK are also working with other brands to test wipes and make them suitable to flush.

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