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Forming romantic and sexual relationships with robots ‘will be widespread by 2050’


Can you fall in love with a robot?

It’s a question that has been widely explored by sci-fi novelists and filmmakers for decades.

Her and Ex Machina – both Oscar nominated – revolve around protagonists developing deep, romantic feelings for some form of artificial intelligence.

Our fascination with this concept isn’t difficult to unpick: a romantic relationship with a machine takes away all of the messiness and unpleasantness of human emotion and leaves you with something that is much simpler and easier to comprehend, if relatively sterile.

It feels like a fantasy because, for the moment at least, it remains one.

But just how likely is it that we will willingly abandon our innate need for human touch and interaction and what will the implications be for humanity if we do?

Relationship coach and neuroscientist Bobbi Banks thinks robotic partners could definitely be on the cards in the not too distant future.

‘Forming romantic and sexual relationships with robots will be widespread by 2050,’ Bobbi tells Metro.co.uk.

‘The way we experience love and connection today is changing.

‘Technology is so intertwined in our day-to-day lives that I have already seen a significant rise in the number of long-distance and online relationships.

‘People report feeling close and emotionally connected to their romantic partner but also say that not being able to see each other creates feelings of jealousy and uncertainty of the stability of the relationship.’

Bobbi thinks that that jealousy could be removed by having a robotic partner.

Illo - How will you have office romances and friendships when everyone’s working remotely?
A relationship with a machine removes the messiness and unpleasantness of human emotion (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

‘It would provide the affection, company and love without the fear of rejection, being cheated on, or the heartbreak after a breakup,’ she says.

‘It would give people full control over their love life and it would allow them to create the “perfect partner” but it would do more bad than good.

‘Having your needs met on demand and always getting your way could lead to higher levels of life dissatisfaction and depression due to not being able to cope with life’s obstacles as well as you would have been able to initially.

‘What makes a relationship worth having is the human connection and learning to love each other despite our faults. We need to embrace the struggles in life and learn from the pain as that’s what makes us stronger and teaches us to be better.’

Relationships expert Sarah Louise Ryan has noticed a worrying trend in people pulling away from human connections as our reliance on the digital increases.

‘The number of people choosing robotic partners will increase unless we address the problems that online dating and technology are causing for our mental health,’ says Sarah.

‘I fear that humans are becoming more disposable than ever to each other romantically; ghosting each other, disappearing when the going gets tough or giving up because of online dating burnout.

‘Human beings are losing the art of dealing with conflict in real life and the ability to deal with different tricky scenarios with real human beings, romantic or not.’

Having witnessed the revolution of online dating, Sarah is worried about how far we are willing to take our romantic lives into the realms of the digital.

‘Virtual relationships have been a huge concern to me for a long time now,’ says Sarah.

‘I have first-hand experience of speaking to singles who have suffered rejection online and inevitably feel lonely because nothing can ever replace human touch, connection or the feel-good factor that comes from communicating with someone who has the same wants, needs and interests as you in a partnership.

Vday Reday - dating trend of reappearing just before V Day
We are increasingly moving our relationships into the digital sphere (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

‘I can’t speak for what will exist by 2050 but right now we cannot experience the magic of building a family with any virtual relationship or robotic romance.

‘those who spend their time online trying to fill the romantic void are losing the art of flirtation and missing real opportunities to fall in love.’

But the storylines from Hollywood come from somewhere.

So where are they coming from?

Studies have already shown that humans can empathise with robotic forms in a similar way to humans.

How and why we fall in love with other humans is a difficult thing to define but science does have an answer. It relates to our immune system, the release of dopamine along with other chemicals and a number of other factors rigorously studied.

If love has an answer, why can’t it be replicated with AI?

Psychologist Robert Sternberg devised the triangular theory of love, where intimacy, passion and commitment are the three points of the triangle of a loving relationship.

If commitment is already assured and passion can be programmed, how far away is an AI than can offer real intimacy?

‘If love boiled down to certain behavioural patterns, we could hire an actor to “go through the motions”,’ Sven Nyholm and Lily Frank wrote in From Sex Robots to Love Robots: Is Mutual Love With A Robot Possible?

‘But, by common conceptions, this would not be real love, however talented the actor might be. What goes on “on the inside” matters greatly to whether mutual love is achieved or not.’

The interesting point here is about ‘going through the motions’.

We are increasingly alone and the modern epidemic of loneliness is actually killing us.

Loneliness is associated with a 50% increase in mortality from any cause. This makes it comparable to smoking 15 cigarettes every day and more dangerous than obesity.

To appease loneliness, 17% of people between the age of 20 and 35 have spoken to technology to distract themselves, according to a survey.

Nearly 30% of UK relationships are sexless and growing numbers are staying in unhappy marriages.

So maybe it isn’t unfeasible to think that the communication, understanding and empathy on offer from even simplistic AI could provide something just as meaningful as these human relationships.

It’s a common claim that our growing reliance on technology is one of the root causes of our collective loneliness but maybe it could also be the antidote.

But could falling in love with an AI ever be considered ‘real’ love?

The AI that already exists, narrow AI, is mainly concerned with solving specific problems – limited in what it can do and has a relatively narrow scope of capabilities.

General AI (GAI) is the next step in artificial intelligence and moves it into the grey area of when ‘artificial’ becomes seen as ‘real’.

This AI has a general intelligence not just around one specific issue and can be combined with focused algorithms that can perform certain tasks as well as or better than humans.

These machines would have the capacity to be more loving, more attentive, more empathetic than any human partner.

It doesn’t exist yet and scientists aren’t even sure how to get there but if/when GAI arrives, it could open up real possibilities for meaningful, emotional relationships with machines.

For GAI, emotion won’t be an afterthought. Experts have suggested that for truly intelligent machinery to develop, emotion will have to be not just included but fully integrated into the mechanics of the device.

‘Emotion needs to be merged with all aspects of the architecture: cognitive-emotional integration should be a key design principle,’ Dr Luiz Pessoa, of the University of Maryland explained in his report.

Before that, sexual intimacy with machines is already happening.

There is a growing demand for ‘sexbots’ and some men have taken their relationship with their bot beyond the physical, moved them in to the family home, introduced them to their children.

Add powerful, intuitive AI to the equation and the leap to robotic love doesn’t seem all that far-fetched.

Our smartphones already know our favourite music, shows we like to watch, who all our friends and family are, our career aspirations – aren’t they the building blocks for a successful, loving relationship?

Michael Blakely, founder of dating app Clikd, doesn’t think it will come to that. He thinks technology will impact the future of relationships in a slightly different way.

‘Robotic partners will never be the norm,’ he tells Metro.co.uk.

‘People still crave that human, physical connection however more interactions are done online instead of offline.

‘With apps like Boibot, Eviebot and Talking Boyfriend, people can use these platforms to communicate with a human-like avatar to receive empathetic responses that one would expect in a real relationship.

‘Though perhaps you’re not going to take them to your parents’ house for Sunday lunch.’

Using a dating app to meet your partner is already becoming the norm. Around 40% of American couples now meet online, and that number is likely going to keep going up. But by 2050m Michael says these apps will go much further than simply facilitating meetings.

‘AI will help us to optimise compatibility between people, hopefully creating better date success rates,’ he says.

‘People will be using digital technology to optimise their sex lives through recording data, which could monitor things like heart rate. Apps are being introduced now that allow you to control sex toys from any location.

‘Couples will flock to devices like Alexa and Google Home for advice on their relationship where they can be heard without judgement.’

If that’s the case then AI will help romance blossom rather than be the target of someone’s affections.

This is a sentiment that was echoed in a recent report on the future of dating.

The findings, collected by Imperial College Business School and eHarmony, suggest that AI and machine learning will be hugely influential in relationships of the future.

Rather than dating the robots, AI will help us to improve our human relationships. The study found that by 2025, matches between singles will be made in labs, based on analysis of vital statistics and each person’s unique genetic code.

It also found that domestic digital assistants such as Alexa or Google Home could predict the health of marriages with 75% accuracy via acoustic analysis of verbal communication between couples.

When an argument breaks out, robots could even intervene with suggestions of a resolution.

And there are other concerns too. Legal ones.

If we plan on spending our lives and sharing our thoughts with digitally connected machinery, we have to think about the implications for data and security. Serious data breaches have dominated the headlines in recent years and cyber-hacks are certainly on the rise.

If your robot partner knows all of your deepest, darkest secrets, your hopes, dreams, desires, turn-ons – you really don’t want that data falling into the wrong hands.

‘Of all the moral and ethical questions that spring to mind when you start to undress the idea of getting it on with a robot, data privacy might be low down on the list, but it poses a serious risk,’ says Jo O’Reilly Deputy Editor at ProPrivacy.com.

‘If, much like a human partner, a sex robot’s AI begins to learn what makes you tick between the sheets, you’re talking about the storing and processing of incredible amounts of extraordinarily intimate data.

‘You now have a robot with a blueprint to your entire sexual identity and a legal system ill-equipped to deal with this level of data intimacy.

‘GDPR strictly regulates the storage and collection of data around sexual orientation and behaviour but this is the very data a successful relationship robot would need to fulfill its function as a sexual partner.

Beyond the legal there are also huge philosophical and ethical questions to be asked.

There are concerns around ownership and power dynamics in a human/robot relationship. Can a sentient machine ever say ‘no’ if they have been designed to be a partner robot? And what about free will and choice?

If a machine has developed such advanced artificial intelligence that we see them as practically human, does that mean they also have the right to choose who they are in a relationship with?

Is love a uniquely human experience? Or is it something that can be programmed? Traditional concepts of love require mutual commitment. It’s not enough for you to feel a strong attachment to somebody – they have to feel a similar attachment to you.

It’s hard to know whether technology of the future will be able to sufficiently replicate this level of commitment without it being judged as simply performative.

Or, possibly, in a connection-starved future we will alter our definition of love in order to survive. Maybe our need for equal reciprocation won’t always be as important as it is now.

So can you fall in love with a robot?

It’s a question that’s about to be widely explored by scientists and romantic hopefuls for decades to come.

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

What I Rent: Michelle and Alanna, £2,380 a month for a two-bedroom flat in St Paul’s

Michelle (right) and Alanna (left) share a two-bedroom flat in the St Paul's area
Michelle (right) and Alanna (left) share a two-bedroom flat in the St Paul’s area (Picture: Susannah Ireland/Metro.co.uk)

Moving from London can be a bit of a culture shock – especially in terms of how much money you’ll have to spend.

That’s still the case if you’re coming from another major city.

The cost of renting can vary pretty wildly, and what you spent in your hometown might not get you as much in your new location.

To get a better sense of what’s normal, our weekly series What I Rent takes you inside people’s rented properties, to show what they’re getting for how much they pay.

This week we’re hanging out with Masters student Alanna, 26, and consultant Michelle, 24. They’re both originally from New York, so know big city life, but still had to adjust when they moved to London. They now share a two-bedroom flat in St Paul’s.

 Tenants Michelle (right) and Alanna(left) are pictured in the living room of their two-bedroomed flat in Blackfriars in London, 23rd May 2019
They pay £2,380 a month (Picture: Susannah Ireland/Metro.co.uk)

Hey, Michelle! How much do you pay for this place?

Total rent for the flat is £2380 per month [so around £1,190 each].

I’m not entirely sure on bills as it varies, and some of our bills are quarterly (gas and electric) or every six months (water, I think) so it tends to come out in large chunks. If I had to guess I’d say maybe £200-300 per month. And it was much higher in the winter due to heating costs.

Do you have a good deal?

It’s decent enough for where we live but I definitely wouldn’t call it a good deal. I’d say it’s pretty on par for what we’ve got in our location. And the flat is nice looking so that adds to the value.

What do you get for what you pay?

Two bedrooms, two bathrooms. Alanna’s room is an en suite and I use the family bathroom.

 Food bowls for Jasper the cat
Jasper the cat lives in the flat, too (Picture: Susannah Ireland/Metro.co.uk)

How did you find the flat? 

Alanna and I connected on Spareroom and decided to look for a place together. We wanted somewhere with at least two bedrooms and two bathrooms (we were open to having a third person join us) and looked at Rightmove and Zoopla and visited a couple options on there.

I found a nice place in this area on either Zoopla or Rightmove (I can’t recall which) and contacted the agency to ask about it but they said it had just gone off the market that morning.

But they said they had this flat instead nearby if we wanted to take a look so we did and loved the location and the high ceilings. We put an offer on it that day.

We’ve lived here for a year but the total lease is for 18 months.

Are you happy where you live?

The overall area is great. I can walk to work and Alanna can walk to school and there’s a lot of good transport links and conveniences in the area.

It can be a bit quiet on the weekend with not many shops open, but it’s a short walk to Bankside or Covent Garden which is nice.

However the street we’re on has several pubs so it can get quite noisy sometimes. And since we’re in the City most of the grocery stores are the small ‘express’ kind so it’s sometimes hard to find a good variety of food. We often order groceries online.

 Jasper the cat is pictured in the living room of tenants
Oh hey, Jasper (Picture: Susannah Ireland/Metro.co.uk)

Do you feel like you have enough space?

Yeah, it’s not super large but it’s definitely enough space for us and our needs. The two bathrooms really helps to add to the spaciousness, especially as we’re both expats and sometimes have guests stay with us. It helps us to not feel guilty having people over as we might if we shared a bathroom.

We do sometimes wish the flat had a hallway closet or something, but we’ve managed to find a lot of great storage solutions, such as under-bed storage or buying kits to put together cabinets for under our bathroom sinks (although Alanna’s bathroom was redone last month and they added a true under-sink cabinet).

What’s it like living together?

We’ve definitely hit it off. We’re both pretty chill people to live with, I’d say, so overall it’s been a really good living situation.

And as I mentioned before, having two bathrooms really helps because it means everyone feels like they have enough of their own space and privacy.

 General view of details in the living room of tenants Michelle and Alanna's flat in ST Paul's
Every home in London needs a letterboard (Picture: Susannah Ireland/Metro.co.uk)

How have you made the flat feel like home?

The biggest feeling of ‘home’ comes from having my cat Jasper in the flat. He came with me from New York and he’s the piece of familiarity that makes any place feel like home.

In terms of the flat itself, we’ve added a lot of our own touches like all of decor pieces throughout the living room.

A lot of the little things, like the coasters and bronze tray and crystals came from various places I’ve travelled to.

We also added the comfy armchairs and rug all the pieces on the mantle and shelves. And the picture frames on the wall originally had a boring photo and a poster so we added the pretty watercolour paintings we found in Brixton market over top of them to make the space a bit more feminine.

As you can see in our bedrooms, we’ve both definitely added our own touches to make the space feel cosy and more in line with our aesthetics. I’ve hung up some more items from travelling in my bedroom, and then I made my own crystal drawer knobs for the dresser. And we both love the cosiness of multiple throw pillows and blankets.

General view of details in the living room
We’re fans of the crystals (Picture: Susannah Ireland/Metro.co.uk)

Are there any problems with the flat?

The flat is above several pubs so it gets extremely noisy, and there’s no secondary glazing (the landlord won’t add it) so it’s sometimes a bit unbearable. Most obviously at night time when people line the streets drinking, but also in the mornings when the pubs have their keg deliveries.

A couple of the pubs keep having kegs delivered at extremely unsociable times in the morning (sometimes as early as 4am or 5 am), despite it being against council rules. I’m not sure if you’ve ever felt or heard the sound of a keg delivery, but it feels pretty similar to a small earthquake and sounds like extremely loud thunder. And we deal with that multiple times a week.

Do you have plans to move again?

The location and beauty of the apartment make me want to stay but the noise is the only thing that might drive me away.

I’d probably stick to a similar area or somewhere in Zone 1 or West London, and I’d be looking for something of a similar quality but a lot quieter.

And what about buying a place?

I would consider buying in the next few years, but I have to think about whether I plan to live in London long term or if I’d prefer to move back to New York eventually.

Shall we have a look around?

General view of the living room
Both Michelle and Alanna moved to London from New York (Picture: Susannah Ireland/Metro.co.uk)
General view of details in the living room of tenants
They don’t think they’re getting an exceptional deal, but it’s decent for the area (Picture: Susannah Ireland/Metro.co.uk)
 General view of the living room in St Pauls
Look at Jasper, posing (Picture: Susannah Ireland/Metro.co.uk)
Candles and crystals
Nice coffee table, right? (Picture: Susannah Ireland/Metro.co.uk)
General view of the kitchen
Here’s the kitchen (Picture: Susannah Ireland/Metro.co.uk)
 General view of the kitchen
It’s very clean and organised (Picture: Susannah Ireland/Metro.co.uk)
BLACKFRIARS General view of details in the kitchen
(Picture: Susannah Ireland/Metro.co.uk)
Michelle in her room
Michelle in her room (Picture: Susannah Ireland/Metro.co.uk)
General view of the bedroom of tenant Michelle
Michelle likes plenty of blankets and cushions to make things cosy (Picture: Susannah Ireland/Metro.co.uk)
 General view of details in the bedroom of tenant Michelle
And little artistic details (Picture: Susannah Ireland/Metro.co.uk)
cat candle and jewellery containers
Yes, that is a cat candle (Picture: Susannah Ireland/Metro.co.uk)
the main bathroom
Michelle uses the main bathroom (pictured here) while Alanna has an en-suite (Picture: Susannah Ireland/Metro.co.uk)
Alanna in her bedroom
Alanna in her bedroom (Picture: Susannah Ireland/Metro.co.uk)
Tenant Alanna Jamner is pictured in her bedroom of her two-bedroomed flat in Blackfriars
Alanna’s a Masters student, hence the highlighters (Picture: Susannah Ireland/Metro.co.uk)
We do love fresh flowers (Picture: Susannah Ireland/Metro.co.uk)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM, MAY 23RD 2019. WHAT I RENT BLACKFRIARS General view of the en-suite bathroom of tenant Alanna Jamner's two-bedroomed flat in Blackfriars in London, 23rd May 2019. Alanna and flatmate Michelle Gil pay ?2380 a month in total, not including bills. Photo credit: Susannah Ireland
And here’s that en-suite we mentioned (Picture: Susannah Ireland/Metro.co.uk)
General view of the en-suite bathroom
We’ve never seen a dreamcatcher above the loo before, but we quite like it (Picture: Susannah Ireland/Metro.co.uk)
Bonus points for the cute soap dish (Picture: Susannah Ireland/Metro.co.uk)
 Toothbrushes are pictured in the en-suite bathroom of tenant Alanna
A toothbrush *and* a waterpick. We do treat you well. (Picture: Susannah Ireland/Metro.co.uk)

What I Rent is a weekly series that’s out every Tuesday at 10am. Check back next week to have a nose around another rented property in London.

How to get involved in What I Rent

What I Rent is Metro.co.uk's weekly series that takes you inside the places in London people are renting, to give us all a better sense of what's normal and how much we should be paying.

If you fancy taking part, please email whatirent@metro.co.uk.

You'll need to have pictures taken of your kitchen, living room, bathroom, and bedroom, plus a few photos of you in your room. Make sure you get permission for your housemates!

You'll also need to be okay with sharing how much you're paying for rent, as that's pretty important.

MORE: What I Rent: Billie, £800 a month for a one-bedroom flat in Walthamstow

MORE: What I Rent: Hannah, £620 a month for a room in a three bedroom house in Brockley

MORE: What I Rent: Charlotte and Chloe, £648 each for a one-bedroom flat in Arnos Grove

The best high-impact sports bras that will actually support your boobs

The best high-impact sports bras that will actually support your boobs
Boob support is so important when we exercise (Picture: Nike, Brooks, Getty)

When we run, jog, sprint, burpee or cycle – our boobs move. That’s just how they work.

Without the right the support, too much boob jiggle can be painful, damaging and can even put women – or anyone who has breasts – off sport altogether.

But there are so many different sports bras out there. You have to choose the right bra for the right exercise. Using a yoga bra for a high intensity boxing class isn’t going to cut it.

And if you like fitness that involves lots of movement, jumping, or going really fast – you’re going to need something that can handle that level of impact. And keep the ladies nice and secure.

We have pulled together our favourite high-impact sports bras that will banish the bounce, no matter how hard you push yourself.

So strap yourself in and prepare to feel the freedom of correctly supported breasts. It’s amazing.

Nike Rival, Women’s High-Support Sports Bra (plus size), £47.95

Nike sports bra
Sleek and comfortable (Picture: Nike)

We love this bra for it’s sleek fit, sturdy-back support and compression feature to really make you feel secure.

It goes up to a size 42F, so perfect for sporty women with bigger boobs.

Fabletics, Ella High Impact Zip Front Sports Bra, £21.82

Fabletics sports bra
Easy access (Picture: Fabletics)

The front zip means you can wave goodbye to the sweaty contortions you often have to do to get back-fastening bras on and off.

But make sure the protective coverings are positioned correctly, because those zips can do some serious damage when you’re running.

The high-impact bra also has pretty crossover straps at the back, which look cute and also provide extra support.

New Balance, Power Bra, £45

New Balance sports bra
No more boob sweat (Picture: New Balance)

This black number is the perfect staple for all of your high-impact needs.

It has a gel-infused strap lining which feels really comfortable against your skin, and the straps are also adjustable if you need to tighten or loosen.

There’s also mesh at the front to help keep you cool and prevent that unpleasant pool of boob sweat. Because no one wants that.

Brooks, Juno, £40 – £50

Juno sports bra
The perfect controlled fit for high impact activity (Picture: Brooks)

The Juno is great if you like a really controlled fit. It somehow manages to be both lightweight and heavy duty with its support.

We love that the straps are adjustable at the front, and it comes in loads of cute designs.

Freya, Sonic Smoke Moulded Sports Bra, £40

Freya sports bra
Big-breasted women rejoice! (Picture: Freya)

The Sonic bra comes in B-H cups so it’s a good choice for all the bigger-breasted women.

It also has an additional J hook so you can choose to style it in a racer-back – so it will go with all your fitness outfits.

The bra has comfortable, padded straps and breathable moulded cups to keep your boobs happy and dry.

Iris & Lilly, Contrast Colour Racerback High Impact Sports Bra, £15.49 – £23.99

Iris & Lilly sports bra
Comfortable and affordable (Picture: Iris & Lilly)

This racer back bra is a really good option, particularly if you’re on a tighter budget.

The cups have a moulded outer layer for additional support and the straps are cushioned and comfy.

It won’t give you the same level of high support if you have big boobs, but for small or medium sizes, you’ll still feel secure.

Brooks, Rebound Racer, £32 – £40

Brooks sports bra
It’s all about the compression (Picture: Brooks)

Like the Juno bra, the Rebound Racer offers a fantastic level of support and the straps adjust at the front to give you greater control.

It gives you compressive support and the material only has limited stretch so it will really keep everything where it’s supposed to be.

Runderwear Women’s Support Running Bra, £40

Runderwear sports bra
Simple and lightweight (Picture: Runderwear)

This bra has been specifically designed for runners and it will definitely limit your bounce while you’re pounding the pavement.

It has closure at the back and additional J hooks for extra support. We also love the technical fabric because it is so lightweight and really does keep you cool.

There are removal pads in the cups which provide added support, but you can take them out if you don’t need them.

Simply Be, High Impact Floral Mesh Bra, £22

Simply Be sports bra
We love this cute pattern (Picture: Simply be)

We love the price point of this bra, and the fact that it caters for sizes up to 48DD.

It’s non-wired with cross straps at the back for added support and hook and eye clasps for added security.

The adorable floral design means you could even wear it as a crop top with your favourite high-waisted leggings if you just get too hot in your spin class.

MORE: The best functional fitness leggings to wear in the gym

MORE: Forming romantic and sexual relationships with robots ‘will be widespread by 2050’

MORE: What I Rent: Michelle and Alanna, £2,380 a month for a two-bedroom flat in St Paul’s

British wine industry is one of the fastest growing in the world

An employee checks the vines at the Ridgeview Estate Winery in Sussex, U.K., on Wednesday, July 27, 2016. Then U.K. Environment Secretary Liz Truss said in March that she wants to double production of U.K. still and sparkling wine to 10 million bottles by 2020. Photographer: Jason Alden/Bloomberg via Getty Images
British wines are growing (Picture: Jason Alden/Bloomberg)

If you’re looking for a decent bottle of vino, you might not have to look further than British shores.

New figures show that the UK is one of the world’s fastest growing wine regions.

A record number of 3million vines were planted this year in counties such as Norfolk, Essex, Northampton and Suffolk – almost doubling the numbers planted the year before.

Wine producing is becoming increasingly important in the UK agricultural sector.

David Rutley, Food Minister, said: ‘Our wine makers are innovative, creative and determined, so it’s no surprise that we are seeing the fruits of their labour now shining on the world stage.

‘I will continue to champion our innovative food and drink businesses, and I look forward to seeing more of our stand-out wines in restaurants and on shelves the world over.’

Simon Robinson, Chairman of WineGB said: ‘This impressive figure of 3million vines represents another milestone in the growth of our fantastic industry.

Vineyard in rural Northamptonshire with church in background, England, UK.
Would you buy English wine over French? (Picture: Shelly Chapman)

‘Last year we set out our vision that in the next 20 years, at the rate of current growth, we could be producing some 40 million bottles per year. We’re certainly heading towards that. This is a thriving British industry.’

English wine week started on 25 May until 2 June, and according to English Wine Producers, who organise the week, there are no fewer than 577 vineyards across the UK.

As might be expected, there are fewer wine regions in the colder climates of the country such as Scotland (which has four), the North (which has 19) and Wales with just 23. The South-East has 152 and the South West has 136.

With all of the uncertainty that has followed the UK’s political and economic climate with Brexit, it might not do much harm to know what wines are available domestically.

MORE: Apparently, whether you drink red or white wine could say a lot about your personality

MORE: Aldi is looking for 30 new wine tasters

MORE: Agriculture goes cool in bid to harvest next generation of farmers

Morrisons is selling a 2-in-1 ice cooler and bar for £30

The Keto coolbox, bar and coffee table and on the right, people using it.
It’s on offer for £30 (Picture: Amazon)

BBQ season is here and we’re ready for lots of long nights, sitting outside and enjoying the sunshine.

To keep the drinks flowing, this 2-in-1 from Morrisons is perfect.

Best of all, it’s reduced from £45 to £30.

The Keter Cool Bar All in One has a 30l bucket at the bottom that you can fill with ice and all your drinks and then the lid can be used as a coffee table, or raise it to use it as a bar.

It’s only available in stores so you’ll need to head to your nearest branch to see if you can get one.

The Keto 2-in-1 table and coolbox
It can be used three different ways (Picture: Amazon)

It is a great deal as Amazon is selling a version that costs more than twice the price at £69.99.

The deal was posted on the Money Saver Online Facebook page and shoppers were loving it.

One person said: ‘They are brilliant.’

Another added: ‘We need one of these.’

When the party is over, there’s a removable drainage plug so you can remove all the melted ice in one go.

It’s made from durable, weather-resistant plastic so you can keep it outside all summer.

Although you want to keep your drinks cool, you might still need a little bit of heat if you want to sit outside late into the evening.

Aldi has this patio heater with built in lights and speakers for £99.99.

You can turn up the heat with the remote control, play your favourite music and set the mood with the LED lights.

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It’s all of our responsibility to call out ‘the older guy’

We need to start calling out the creepy older guy
We need to start calling out the creepy older guy (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

Everyone will remember someone who had a weirdly older boyfriend when they were in their teens.

I had one, in his mid-twenties while I was 16. I’d go to his house, get drunk and high, and then we’d have sex that was entirely to his preferences and never resulted in an orgasm.

My best friend at the time lost her virginity, age 16, to a 27-year-old.

My other pal had sex for the first time at 12, with a guy who’d just turned 19.

At the time this seemed perfectly normal. Girls mature earlier than guys, right? Our older boyfriends had jobs (well, not mine) and could get us booze. That’s cool.

Except it wasn’t, and it isn’t.

Now at the age of those older boyfriends, it’s deeply disturbing to realise that men my age are pursuing teenagers who still wear school uniforms.

This isn’t just something that happened ‘back in the old days’.

Take a look at the righteous indignation of a man in his thirties who was rejected by a woman celebrating her 19th birthday.

Consider the Moby and Natalie Portman debacle, which seemed to be made up of Moby ignoring the imbalance inherently present as a result of their age gap so he could brag about dating someone hot.

And just this week a couple with a 28 year age gap defended their love, despite having met when she was 16 and he was 44.

The good news is that the general reaction to all these relationships has been a general sense of ‘nope, that’s creepy’.

But while there’s outrage whenever one of these stories is shared online, we need to be doing more in real life. It’s time for us to start calling out the creepy older guy and refusing to accept men pursuing much younger women.

We’re all responsible to stop this disturbing pattern, because we’ve created a culture in which the old guy and the young girlfriend is socially acceptable.

It shouldn’t be. An adult having a relationship with a teenager is not and should not be an acceptable thing.

There’s an automatic power imbalance there. We’re taught to respect authority and our elders from a young age, to believe that someone older than us must know better, and that they’re in the right, we’re wrong. That’s a dangerous starting block for a romantic relationship – it means we go into things trusting the older guy to know best, and to trust that what he wants must be right.

When you’re a teenager, you also have a sense that adults are far cooler and more together than you are. They have jobs. They have their own place free of parents and rules. They can drink, drive (not at the same time), and pay for things without having to ask their mum for £20.

That all makes an older guy seem very attractive to a teenager feeling like they have little control over their life. It’s an unfair advantage, instantly putting an older person on a deeply hot, trustworthy pedestal.

When an older person dates someone in their teens (or even in their early twenties), they rid them of the fun bits of being young.

An adult will want an adult relationship. They’ll have to consider time, money, getting up early in the morning. They’ll expect sex as a normal, essential part of romance.

*illustration request* People who don't use their car's indicators drive me crazy
When you’re a teen with little control over your life, an adult who can drive, live alone, and spend money is deeply attractive (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

A teenager shouldn’t be thrust into an adult relationship while they’re still young. They should be enjoying the silly stuff – hours of pent-up makeout sessions in cinemas, because their parents won’t allow them in a room with a closed door, two-week anniversary gifts DIY-ed because they spent all their pocket money, texts sent between lessons and whatever the modern day equivalent is of those hours spent on MSN (what do the young people use these days? Tik Tok?).

A relationship has to be low stakes for a teenager, because when you’re young dating should be about fun and exploration. It should be about working out who and what you like, dating some absolute idiots, and experiencing new things together, at a shared pace.

Teenagers are still finding out who they are, and they need to do that without the influence of an adult’s needs for a romantic relationship.

A 27-year-old will have expectations of a girlfriend that a teenager shouldn’t have to worry about meeting. They’ll have to think about commitment, and exclusivity, where they live, how to schedule in time to see each other around work.

When an adult pursues a relationship with someone much younger, they cut short their youth and drag them over those essential years that should be dedicated to developing one’s sense of self.

It’s incredibly wrong. But a teenager won’t realise that.

That’s why it’s our responsibility not to lock teenagers under lock and key, but to call out all those creepy older men who feel they can hit on younger women.

The men who used to shout about my breasts and legs when I was wearing uniform were rarely alone in their vans. Their friend should have questioned what they were doing.

My friend’s older boyfriend had friends and family who knew what he was up to. They shouldn’t have brushed off the relationship as ‘silly’, but pointed out that it was wrong.

Every time a pal drools over a young celeb or mentions ‘barely legal’ is one of their top search terms on Pornhub, we should all be questioning that.

There’s an longstanding myth that men get better with age, while women peak at 18 or 20. That’s a terrible view to uphold. Women do get better with age, because they develop knowledge, experience, and a better understanding of themselves. That should be considered attractive, rather than the vulnerability and naivety of someone under 20.

We have to stop seeing ageing as a negative thing, and the young woman plus old man formula as the default.

We should be outraged and creeped out by a 40-something man who only dates women under the age of 25 – why isn’t he attracted to women closer to his age?

We should be disgusted by the older lad with a girlfriend still in school uniform – he knows full well how much he’s changed in the space of a few years, and needs to be told that a teenager simply isn’t equipped for the relationship he now wants.

When we overhear a guy in his twenties hitting on a girl and dismissing their age gap as ‘well, she’s legal’, we should question why he’d want someone who isn’t his equal.

Yes, age-gap relationships can work longterm. But a 30-year-old going out with a 40-year-old is a very different thing. Both would be considered adults in all respects, meaning age doesn’t give one party power.

If it’s truly meant to be, why can’t the older person wait, leave the younger person alone to grow and learn who they are, and then come back together when they’re both adults? If you love someone, let them go – and give them their right of a proper adolescence.

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Bar serves up a full English pizza topped with bacon and baked beans

Good Times Bar & Grill is serving up a full English pizza topped with bacon, eggs, and baked beans
Good Times Bar & Grill is serving up a full English pizza topped with bacon, eggs, and baked beans (Picture: Good Times Bar and Grill)

A full English breakfast is excellent.

So is pizza.

But together… we’re not so sure.

Anyone keen to try the combination themselves is in luck, though, as no longer shall they have to empty a frying pan on to an thin crust.

A bar in Benidorm, Spain, is doing the hard work for us by selling a snazzy new full English pizza.

As you’d expect, the pizza has all the essential toppings of a proper fry-up (apart from hash browns or toast, which is miserable). A standard margherita pizza is topped with two fried eggs, two rashers of bacon, two sausages, mushrooms, and a puddle of baked beans.

If you manage to eat the entire thing, you’ll have consumed your daily recommended calories for the day, as the pizza comes in at 2,600 calories.

Yes, it does look slightly horrifying, but imagine the good it would do you when you’re desperately hungover? It’s the perfect brunch option, we say.

Reactions have been mixed.

On the Good Times Bar & Grill’s TripAdvisor page, one customer described the pizza as ‘perfect for coming home in the early hours when you can’t decide whether it’s supper or breakfast time.’ Agreed.

Good Times Bar and Grill, Benidorm (Picture: Good Times Bar and Grill)
Would you try it?

Over on Facebook, someone wrote: ‘I’ll be in for one of them before a sesh.’

Sure, as long as you don’t mind a quick detour via Spain on the way to the pub.

If you do fancy trying a breakfast pizza without getting a plane ticket, the good news is that it’s really easy to create your own.

Just grab a pizza of your choosing (make your own! Get an oven-ready one! Order one in if you’re feeling really lazy), make a fry-up while your pizza’s heating up, then pile on your toppings.

As to what your toppings should be, that’s a whole other debate.

While Brits believe bacon is the most important part of a full English, we’d say that it’s eggs that separate a regular pizza from one made for breakfast.

We’d also add on hash browns (potato-based snacks on pizza are a wonderful thing) and perhaps a slice of toast for that extra carb hit, then drizzle ketchup on top.

Don’t worry, you can make your fry-up pizza veggie-friendly too. Swap the bacon and sausages for veggie sausages and you’re set. There are no hard rules when it comes to eating a food that’s clearly been dreamed up by someone nursing a pounding headache and lingering nausea.

Just don’t mention any of this to the Fry Up Police, okay?

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Model who had her leg amputated to beat rare cancer features in Primark’s latest Toy Story 4 campaign

Bernadette sitting down on a fairground ride wearing a t-shirt from the Primark Toy Story 4 range
Bernadette in the Primark campaign (Picture: Primark)

Last year Bernadette Hagans had her leg amputated after being diagnosed with a rare cancer called synovial sarcoma.

But Bernadette’s experience led her to be signed by a modelling agency – and now she’s one of the faces of a Primark campaign.

Bernadette stars in the shots for the store’s new Toy Story 4 range, to celebrate the release of the film this summer.

She tells Metro.co.uk: ‘Working with Primark was so much fun. It was an amazing opportunity. I loved the set and all of the team.

‘The photos and adverts have turned out brilliantly and I can’t wait for the rest of the photos to be released when the collection drops in June.

‘I still haven’t posted about it myself but so many people have noticed and are congratulating me. Everyone loves Primark and I’m so proud that I got to work with them.’

Bernadette, 23, from Belfast, was diagnosed back in 2017 when she noticed a pain in her calf. She’d recently moved house and thought it was just down to climbing the stairs to her top floor apartment.

Model who lost her leg to cancer is appearing in Primark's Toy Story campaign Bernadette Hagans
She’s modelling the new Toy Story 4 range for the store (Picture: Primark)

Eventually, the pain got worse and she could feel a bump in her leg. By December that year, it was so painful, she found it hard to walk and visited her GP.

Initially she was told it was a lipoma – a benign tumour made of fat tissue, but after repeated trips to her doctor, she was sent for an ultrasound in May last year.

After further scans and a biopsy, she was diagnosed with the rare and aggressive soft tissue cancer on 20 August 2018.

Bernadette Hagans in hospital after she ahd her leg amputated
Bernadette in hospital (Picture: Bernadette Hagans)

She was told that is the tumour was growing around her nerves and blood vessels, she would need an urgent amputation.

On 30 October, her right leg was amputated – but Bernadette was determined not to let it stop her.

She learned how to walk with a prosthetic leg and found that she now has lots of opportunities.

She was signed by Zebedee Management, a modelling agency specialising in models with disabilities, and says it has led to lots of exciting projects, including working with Primark.

Bernadette adds: ‘I’ve been doing a lot of different things – from TV and radio to modelling.

‘I’ve had to keep so many things secret and I’m so excited for when I can talk about those.

‘Everyone has been so supportive and it just keeps me motivated to be exactly who I am and keep doing things I never thought I’d be able to do. I’m excited for the future.’

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ASOS is selling a latex dress that’ll make you look ‘like a condom’

ASOS is selling a dress to make you look like a condom
Fancy some sex ed flashbacks? (Picture: ASOS)

Before we get on with questioning yet another bizarre fashion item, let’s just reminisce about an essential part of sex ed.

If you grew up in Britain in the last century, you likely had to go through a class with your PE teacher in which you were instructed on how to put on a condom.

That condom was usually bright purple, for reasons we don’t entirely understand, and you would learn its ways by putting it on a banana, or, if you were lucky, a plastic model of an actual penis.

If your sex ed condom was not purple, it may have been bright blue or green. A standard condom was rarely chosen.

And so you can understand why this ASOS dress is giving us serious flashbacks.

asos hanger purple latex dress
(Picture: ASOS)

Not only is it made of latex, the actual material of condoms, but it’s also skintight, which makes us think it requires just the same awkward wriggling we employed to slide that condom on a piece of fruit all those years ago.

And, of course, it’s purple. Bright purple. A purple you can’t miss.

Essentially this dress is your sex ed condom class, but in fashion form.

Oh, and it costs £187.50. That’s down from £250, though, so it’s almost a bargain.

The tie front latex dress is the creation of Hanger, the winner of the 2016 ASOS Fashion Discovery competition. ASOS doesn’t provide much wisdom on styling such a piece, simply instructing customers to ‘wear me out’, but the model wears her dress with chunky black boots and visible white underwear, so we think less is more.

ASOS adds that the design ‘holds you close’, which we think is an understatement.

And yes, it is made out of real latex, so anyone with a condom allergy may want to sit this look out.

We have asked ASOS to shed some light on this ensemble. We’ll include their response here if we hear back.

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Woman leaves her childhood teddy bear at home to travel Australia and her parents take him on a wild night out

On the left, Robyn Duncan and on the right, the pictures her parents sent of her teddy Frizzles
Robyn and the pictures her mum sent her (Picture: @robynduncan_x/Twitter)

There’s no shame in still hanging onto your favourite cuddly toy, even when you reach adulthood.

In fact, a survey released last week said a third of people admitted that they still sleep with their teddy.

One woman says that she loves her teddy Frizzles so much, she couldn’t risk taking him travelling with her in case something happened.

Robyn Duncan, 20, has had Frizzles by her side for most of her life.

But she set off for Australia earlier this month and she has plans to stay for at least a year or potentially two.

She explains: ‘I want to travel and explore what Australia has to offer. I was too scared to take Frizzles with me in case I lost him.’

Her big trip meant she had to leave Frizzles behind with her family in Aberdeen, Scotland.

Soon after she arrived in Australia, her parents started to send her some pictures of Frizzles to comfort her – and it seems they ended up taking him on one of those nights that escalate quickly.

Pictures of Frizzles in the car
It started out as a drive with mum and dad (Picture: @robynduncan_x/Twitter)
Frizzles watching football and looking at a menu
But then Frizzles ended up in the pub (Picture: @robynduncan_x/Twitter)

The first pictures from her mum show the bear out for a drive with her parents, just sitting in the car.

The next show him watching football in the pub and choosing what he wants from the menu.

But soon Frizzles was enjoying a beer and sipping on ‘Auntie Sooz’s’ gin and tonic.

Frizzles having drinks and with Robyn's auntie at the pub
He had a drink and caught up with some friends (Picture: @robynduncan_x/Twitter)
Screengrabs of Frizzles at the pub
Before the night got pretty wild (Picture: @robynduncan_x/Twitter)

From there, the night got pretty wild for Frizzles.

Robyn also got an update from her dad. He said: ‘Frizzles is a party animal. Couldn’t get him to bed. He wanted to party all night.’

A screengrab of a message from Robyn's dad
Robyn got an update from her dad too (Picture: @robynduncan_x/Twitter)

Robyn told Metro.co.uk that the pictures were a bit of fun but they helped her feel better about being away from home. She says: ‘I honestly cried with laughter.

‘Frizzles is such a home comfort and to not have him here is so weird but knowing my family are having fun with him is so comforting and I couldn’t ask for a better family to look after him.’

Her post on Twitter went viral with over 48,000 likes and 3,700 retweets.

And Robyn said that despite the heavy night, her parents and Frizzle were straight back out the next day too.

This time, he had a more sedate day at the cinema, including eating the popcorn and eating the staff.

Robyn might be on an adventure but Frizzles is having the time of his life.

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Burnout is officially recognised as an illness by the World Health Organisation

Is toxic positivity ruining your mental health? Metro illustrations Ella Byworth/ Metro.co.uk
Burnout is now recognised as a chronic disease (Picture: Ella Byworth/ Metro.co.uk)

Burnout is now officially recognised as a chronic condition – so you can finally get a doctor’s note to explain that stress has become too much to bear.

As of today, burnout is listed in the World Health Organisation’s International Classification of Diseases, meaning that as of 2020, it will be a globally recognised medical condition.

Interestingly, the WHO lists burnout as only relating to workplace stress.

Their definition reads: ‘Burn-out is a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.

‘It is characterized by three dimensions: 1) feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion; 2) increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job; and 3) reduced professional efficacy.

‘Burn-out refers specifically to phenomena in the occupational context and should not be applied to describe experiences in other areas of life.’

Essentially that means that stress caused by other life situations or another chronic mental illness would not be recognised as burnout. The same goes for the stress of unemployment.

This is the first time burnout has been officially recognised as a medical condition.

While stress is normal, burnout describes when stress becomes excessive, leaving a person exhausted and rundown.

Signs of burnout:

  • Exhaustion
  • Insomnia
  • Interrupted sleep
  • Getting sick more often
  • Gum disease
  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • Lack of motivation
  • Low mood
  • Being unable to stop thinking about work
  • Impaired memory
  • Struggling to make decisions
  • Feeling irritable or snapping at people

Dr Luke Powles, associate clinical director at Bupa UK, told Metro.co.uk that burnout is when ‘the pressure you’re under exceeds your ability to cope […] which may cause both mental and physical problems.

‘If left untreated, burnout can lead to mental illnesses like depression and may aggravate some physical conditions such as asthma and eczema. It’s important to get help early if you’re struggling with your mental health.’

Dr Luke Powles' tips for preventing burnout:

Manage your expectations

It’s important to remember that you’re not invincible and there’ll be times when you can’t do everything you’re asked. By trying to do too many things, you’ll increase your stress levels and your risk of burning out.

Ask for help

If you’re stressed it can help to talk to someone about how you’re feeling. It’s also a good idea to talk to your boss about your workload if you’re struggling. There are self-referral counselling services that are free to access. You can find more information about these at your GP practice.

Exercise and meditate

If done on a regular basis, meditative approaches like practicing mindfulness or yoga can really help. While you may not feel like exercising, it can really help boost your mood. Exercise boosts your endorphins, which are your ‘feel good’ hormones. It also helps to bring cortisol levels (stress hormones) down which can impact your mood and energy levels.

Healthy lifestyle

It’s important to also maintain a healthy lifestyle by eating a balanced diet, getting regular exercise and enough sleep. While it might be a struggle to fit this in, it can have a big impact if you’re able to get it right.

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A customer gave a restaurant a very detailed order to get the perfect burger for a dog

a stock image of a dog and a picture of the complicated order
One dog was getting an indulgent treat (Picture: Getty, @annaesilman/Twitter)

We all like to treat our pets from time to time.

But one person took their dog to a very fancy New York restaurant to give them the perfect burger.

Anna Silman tweeted about her friend, who is the chef at a restaurant in the city.

The order was pretty detailed – and we feel bad for the waiter who had to deal with it.

The order said: ‘1 beef burger. Med rare, no cheese, side salad.’

There are then additional instructions for the kitchen: ‘This is for a dog. No salt, no oil, no seasoning, no pepper. Absolutely plain, no toppings, no garnishes.

‘No bacon, no pickles, no onion, no bread, no lettuce, no side salad.’

A picture of the order for the new york restaurant
That is one precise order (Picture: @annaesilman/Twitter)

To really stress the point, they added: ‘Just the plain pattie – this is for a dog.’

It’s probably the easiest order the kitchen has seen in years.

Lots of people thought it was a bit much for a dog but others pointed out that maybe it was a special treat for special circumstances.

One person said: ‘If you’ve ever had an ill or dying pet who can’t eat, none of this sounds over the top. I hand fed my dog w/ failing kidney disease specialized meals I cooked.

‘If you have the ability to do it and they need it, what else are you gonna do?’

Another added: ‘Whenever I get a dog out of animal control (I’m a rescue volunteer), we drive thru McDonalds for a Rescue Burger (my name for it, not McD’s). Plain cheeseburger.

‘They always look at it in amazement. (Don’t worry, they get healthy food after that, but this treat builds trust.)’

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Woman says her Boohoo bodysuit was so small it fitted her seven-year-old cousin better

Melissa in the body suit and the picture on the Boohoo website
Melissa in the body suit and the picture on the Boohoo website (Picture: Kennedy News and pictures)

We’ve all experienced the disappointment of ordering something online only for it to be a bit of a squeeze.

Ashleigh Warrington, though, says the bodysuit she ordered from Boohoo was so small, it fitted her seven-year-old cousin instead.

Ashleigh bought the black ‘strappy lace premium’ bodysuit last week for an upcoming hen party, but when the order arrived, she couldn’t get it past her calves.

The size 18 student says she ordered a size large but it was far too small.

To make a point, the 17-year-old took the new purchase to her aunty’s house where her seven-year-old cousin Melissa Johnson tried it on.

Apart being a bit long, Ashleigh claims the outfit fitted Melissa.

‘When I opened it, I thought “that could fit my little cousin,”‘ Ashleigh, from Wirral, Merseyside, said.

‘I felt so disappointed. I’ve always struggled with my body confidence and that knocked me down.

‘No wonder people feel so insecure about their bodies.

Ashleigh Warrington with her cousin Melissa
Ashleigh Warrington with her cousin Melissa (Picture: Kennedy News and Media)

‘It wouldn’t go near me. It went round my ankles when I put it on – that’s as far as it went.’

Ashleigh says that she thought maybe she had been sent the wrong size but she checked the tag and it was labelled as a large.

She said: ‘I thought ‘how on earth is that a large?’

‘The clothes are so small. I think many of their customers will be classed as plus size, even if they aren’t in other places.

‘I feel like Boohoo really need to concentrate on their plus size range.

‘They need to broaden their ideas with plus size items and really focus on that.’

Disappointed Ashleigh has now returned the item.

Her family members slammed the sizing as ‘ridiculous’ after the bodysuit fit little Melissa – who usually wears children’s age seven clothes.

Ashleigh said: ‘Whenever I usually go shopping, I go straight to the plus size part.

Melissa in the bodysuit
Melissa in the bodysuit (Picture: Kennedy News and Media)

‘I will probably go to somewhere else in the future. I don’t want that to happen again and you still have to pay for delivery.

‘Yes, there’s a lot of thin people, but I feel like Boohoo focus too much on them.

‘I took the parcel to my aunty’s and got Melissa to try the bodysuit on.

‘She thought it was for her, but I said “no, it was meant for me”. She gave me a look to say “that’s not for you”.

‘Apart from it being a bit long on her, it fit perfectly, and she’s small for her age too. She’s really skinny.

‘Boohoo asked what the order number was and the product number, but I’ve not heard anything else since.”

Boohoo declined to comment.

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ASOS praised for ‘keeping it real’ with unretouched photos

Asos models unretouched
This shouldn’t be a big deal.. But it sadly is (Picture: ASOS)

The main downside to shopping online is not being able to try before you buy, and this problem is particularly annoying when models aren’t that representative.

ASOS have been one of the brands putting the spotlight on all sorts of bodies recently, and are garnering praise as a result.

It’s not just that they’re showcasing a wider range of sizes either, but that they’re not retouching the so-called ‘imperfections’ that we all have – whether it’s stretch marks, veins, rolls, or differences in pigmentation.

One Twitter user posted some screenshots of models for the clothing company, thanking them for ‘keeping it real’ by staying away from the Photoshop.

In the photos, the women look amazing, but aren’t altered to the point where it’s impossible for customers to get an idea of how the clothes might look on themselves.

It’s not the first time the retailer have had similar comments after a bikini photo-shoot showing different angles (albeit with a very slim, white model) went viral.

They were also commended for starting a line of clothing that’s inclusive for disabled people, and another than fits those with larger breasts.

In general, the fashion industry has a long way to go before every body is represented, but it’s definitely a start.

Missguided and Boohoo have also left stretch marks on their models in the past, with social media full of thanks for finally showing more of what we’d expect if we were down the pool or beach with our friends.

Here’s some of the things people have commented:

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Non-binary friends celebrate being able to go topless after having their breasts removed

Xanthe, ROwan and Seran on the left and the topless selfie on the right
Xanthe and Rowan decided to go topless on the beach (Picture: Kennedy News and Media)

After both having double mastectomies, Xanthe Zeitstück and friend Rowan Janiszewski were nervous about going topless for the first time in public.

But together they decided to embrace their scars during a day at the beach with their shared boyfriend Seran Janiszewski and they captured the moment in a series of pictures.

Xanthe shared the photo on social media, where it received more than 6,250 likes, shares and comments.

Xanthe, who lives in Savannah, Georgia in the US, wrote: ‘Here I am, at the beach, shirtless, with the equally non-binary friend that helped me through my top surgery while recovering from theirs, while we watch our boyfriend frolicking in the waves.

‘This is the world conservatives warned you about.’

The concierge claims they found the ‘liberating’ experience ‘completely natural’ and hopes it encourages other people in the LGBT+ community to bare all.

Xanthe said: ‘It’s three people enjoying a day at the beach with people that they love. When you take away a lot of the politics it’s a perfectly normal situation.

Non-binary friends Xanthe and Rowan share a topless selfie on the beach
Xanthe and Rowan on the beach (Picture: Kennedy News and Media)

‘But some conservatives did react like it was horrifying, like it was something criminal. It was just a day at the beach and more bigoted people are really up in arms.

‘I felt great about being in public. Honestly it felt very natural.

‘I am thrilled to share the pictures. I didn’t expect that much positive feedback from the picture.’

Xanthe said it was the first time they had been able to go to the beach since they had the operation.

‘It was a special moment and I just wanted to share it with people and maybe give a jab to the conservatives a little bit too which is what I did in my caption.

‘My friend Rowan was a little bit more nervous than I was but we went ahead anyway and endeavoured to make sure we would stay by each other and also be shirtless.

‘That was Rowan’s first time being shirtless at the beach too. No one said anything.

‘We may have gotten a couple of weird looks but I think most people just assumed it was none of their business, which was great.

‘It was definitely was a moment I wanted to broadcast. I was so excited about it. It’s definitely one of the more interesting pictures in the family photo album.

‘I don’t regret posting it at all. I’m really glad I did.

‘Other people have gotten in touch saying they were really glad I did too because they’ve been nervous about going to the beach or saying they’re non-binary than a binary entity.

‘It’s cool for people to actually have some representation.’

Xanthe and their boyfriend Seran (Picture: Kennedy News and Media)
Xanthe and their boyfriend Seran (Picture: Kennedy News and Media)

Rowan ‘dropped everything’ to help to care for Xanthe after their surgery despite still recovering from their own surgery just weeks before.

Xanthe said: ‘Rowan is a very good friend to me. It was really nice to hang out with the both of them.

‘Seran was very proud of us on the beach. He said “I am so glad that both my partners could take their shirts off on the beach and I couldn’t be prouder of both of them”.

‘It was definitely was a moment I wanted to broadcast. I was so excited about it. It’s definitely one of the more interesting pictures in the family photo album later on in the year.’

Xanthe claims they had always known they did not identify as their birth gender but did not identify as male.

It was only after they turned 20 and met their first non-binary person that they realised they could identify as neither male nor female.

After undergoing hormone replacement therapy (HRT), they paid $6,000 – or nearly £5,000 – to have their breasts and nipples removed.

Xanthe, who also writes historical fantasy novels, said: ‘All throughout being a teenager and even a kid there were so many things I related to about transgender guys – but I wasn’t quite there.

‘I thought things like ‘I would love to have top surgery but I’m not a man’ so it just wasn’t connecting.

‘When I was 20 I finally met my first other non-binary person and realised that there was a word for it.

‘I discovered that there was a way to transition without having to do everything to change myself.

‘A couple of years ago I decided to get HRT which definitely helped. I got top surgery. And I’m satisfied with myself.

‘It’s been a journey to get here and it’s a relief to not be constantly uncomfortable and not constantly try to hide certain aspects of myself.’

Commenters from all over the world offered ‘overwhelming’ support in praise of the photo.

But Xanthe claims that they have received backlash from some ‘bigots’ sharing the posts.

Seren, Xanthe and Rowan in a restaurant together (Picture: Kennedy News and Media)
Seren, Xanthe and Rowan (Picture: Kennedy News and Media)

Xanthe, who is originally from Ohio in the US, said: ‘It has been almost funny to see some of the more ignorant comments because it gets to the point where, if they’re ignorant enough, they don’t even bother you because they’re so funny.

‘I had one comment which was ‘so they transitioned from female but they’re still keeping their boyfriend?’ and I thought, ‘yeah, we didn’t throw him out with the breast binders’.

‘I’ve seen some negative comments but the cool thing is when people are sharing it with ill intent a lot of people who I don’t even know and who aren’t in the LGBT+ community will go ahead and just be like ‘why are you so mad about these people enjoying themselves, calm down’.

‘It’s cool because I get to see people [commenting] and using gendered pronouns for only one person and then being corrected to use non-binary.

‘Both Rowan and I opted out of nipple grafts so other people are just saying ‘oh wow, I didn’t know you could get top surgery without that’ and others pointing out that it’s rather common.

‘I think awareness, visibility and knowing someone who identifies differently than they were assigned at birth really helps.

‘I’ve gotten really good messages from people in Australia, California, even in other countries. People tell me that I’ve helped them take off their shirts in public too.

‘It gets people learning more, which I’m always down for.’

MORE: ASOS praised for ‘keeping it real’ with unretouched photos

MORE: Woman says her Boohoo bodysuit was so small it fitted her seven-year-old cousin better

Woman uses chicken breasts to show the effects of swallowing a button battery

cprkids https://www.cprkids.com.au/2019/05/28/a-chicken-fillet-a-button-battery-and-some-scary-results/
The chicken breast was corroded quickly (Picture: CPR kids)

You might have heard stories about children who have ended up seriously ill after swallowing a button battery.

The tiny batteries, often found in scales or watches, are small enough for kids to swallow and the battery acid inside can be corrosive to their insides.

Website CPR Kids showed the effects of the battery on a chicken breast to warn parents about what it could do to their child.

She placed the battery inside the chicken for four hours and took photographs of the corrosion it caused over that time.

The first picture shows the effects after 10 minutes, then 30 minutes and then four hours. At the end, the chicken is burned by the battery.

Founder Sarah Hunstead told Kidspot: ‘I was inspired to do this particular experiment after a trip to the supermarket with my oldest daughter.

‘We were walking down the baby products aisle – she stopped and picked up a small object off the shelf where the baby toys were – my daughter said ‘MUM! LOOK! a button battery! That is so dangerous!’

‘Looking around I saw an opened packet on the shelf that obviously a shopper had left there – did they not understand how incredibly dangerous these items are?

When it comes to tiny button batteries though, you don't just have to worry about a choking hazard, but the battery's corrosive effects. The website CPR Kids reported on the horrifying effects that a button battery can have on a little one's insides.
The Chicken after four hours (Picture: CPR Kids)

‘I decided that we needed to show what damage these batteries can do, so I put some chicken fillets in my trolley and my daughters and I did the time-lapse photos that afternoon.’

According to Great Ormond Street hospital, the battery can react with bodily fluids like mucus or saliva, creating a circuit.

The reaction releases caustic soda, which can burn through tissue.

They explain: ‘An alkaline substance is at the opposite end of the pH scale to an acid but is just as dangerous. Even ‘dead’ batteries have the potential to release the alkali so should be treated just as carefully as new batteries.’

The battery can cause significant damage to the oesophagus as it is swallowed and it can burn through the tissue completely to form a hole.

If your child does swallow a button batter, it’s important to get them to hospital as soon as possible. Finding out the type of battery they swallowed can be helpful but don’t let it delay getting them to hospital.

Don’t let them eat or drink anything or try to make them sick as this could cause more damage.

MORE: Non-binary friends celebrate being able to go topless after having their breasts removed

MORE: Woman says her Boohoo bodysuit was so small it fitted her seven-year-old cousin better

Will we all be bisexual in the future?


There’s a often-quoted slur that people are ‘either gay, straight or lying’.

But what happens if you’re bisexual? Omnisexual? Pansexual? Queer? Aromantic? Skoliosexual?

A host of other terms have come along to describe the fact that 43% of people aged 18 to 24 define themselves as neither gay nor straight.

Why is there still so much stigma?

Sammy was in college when she finally felt able to tell people that she had feelings for both men and women.

A decade ago, she came out as bisexual. Since then, she’s seen greater acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community, with the introduction of equal marriage.

‘While far less people have moral objections than a decade ago, I get negative reactions these days for other reasons, such as seeking attention or being sexually greedy,’ she says.

‘What makes me saddest is that I sometimes get negative reactions from gays and lesbians who question my identity. It makes it hard to find community when both hetero and homosexual groups tend to “other” you.’

This idea of ‘other’ goes against a 2016 study that said that no one is really 100% straight.

In the study, by Cornell University, participants were shown different types of pornography as the dilation of their pupils – an indicator of sexual arousal – was measured.

Regardless of their stated sexual preference, every participant’s eyes dilated to some degree regardless of the gender of the people in the scenes they were watching. This means, according to the authors, that everyone is at least somewhere on the spectrum of bisexuality.

The difficulty comes with official data lagging behind.

The Office Of National Statistics’ most recent report still says 93.2% of people identify as heterosexual, (decreasing from 93.7% in 2015 and 93.4% in 2016).

It reported 1.3% identifying as gay/lesbian, 0.7% bisexual, 0.6% as another sexuality and 4.1% who do not know or refuse to disclose their sexuality.

Why is there such a discrepancy in the numbers?

Molly who came out as bisexual when she was 13
Molly came out as bisexual when she was 13 (Picture: Molly)

‘Coming out is different for bi people than it is for gay people in several ways,’ The American Institute of Bisexuality says.

‘Most importantly, the coming out process never really ends for bisexual people. Typically, bi people must come out to each and every person they date.

‘Unfortunately, biphobic reactions are far too common and almost every bisexual person has horror stories to share about dating or courting a straight, gay, or lesbian person for whom bisexuality was a deal-breaker.

‘That additional risk of romantic rejection, rejection because of one’s sexual orientation, is not a hurdle faced by straight and gay people.’

In the US, the Pew Research Center found 12% of bisexual men have come out, compared to 77% of gay men, which implies that there is still stigma attached.

That said, there’s a whole new range of terms to describe sexuality beyond the standard LGBTQ+ acronym – asexual (not being sexually attracted to anyone), pansexual (not seeing gender), demisexual (attraction only when there’s a strong emotional connection), skoliosexual (sexual attraction to non-binary identified individuals) and many more.

After a long campaign, teachers have been told they can teach openly about LGBTQ+ issues, which could lead to more acceptance that feelings for all genders are completely fine.

Does this mean repressing or hiding your sexuality, even from yourself, might be a thing of the past?

Allowing teachers chance to learn about LGBTQ+ issues

By Owl, All About Trans adviser and Metro.co.uk columnist

‘The lessons mean kids will now be taught that their peers might have two mummies or daddies, that people have different bodies, that trans people have nothing in common with Buffalo Bill and that gender stereotypes are bad.

Read the full article about how LGBT lessons are just as important for teachers as students

Lucy Rycroft-Smith, author of The Equal Classroom: Life-Changing Thinking About Gender, identifies as pansexual – meaning she doesn’t see or care about the gender of the person she falls in love with.

‘The next generation seem to be more relaxed, fluid and knowledgeable about these issues, which gives me enormous hope,’ she says.

‘But schools and parents have a huge part to play in this; if we continue to push the idea that sexuality and sex are the same thing, that LGBTQ+ issues are “deviant”, “shameful” or “dirty” then we are undoing all this good work.’

We’re also moving far beyond the domination of religion in the UK, where LGBTQ+ people are traditionally less openly accepted. In the last census in 2011, 25% of people said they had no religion and this has left people to explore their own feelings without as much consideration of faith.

‘There remain many sexual orientations and gender identities that people still don’t understand, or are not even aware of yet,’ Life, sex and relationship counsellor Lianne Young says.

‘In the world of sex and relationships, this diversity is far more accepted and open than it has ever been and it’s going down the path where sex is definitely more about recreation than reproduction.

‘There should be no reason or justification for “hiding in the closet” or being afraid to speak about your sexuality or gender identity.

‘In fact more people are experimenting with sex and sexuality these days than ever before making it a lot more healthy for individuals to get to understand and accept themselves.’

It’s also becoming much easier to meet both men and women.

Previously, exploring feelings for members of the same sex meant going to a gay or lesbian bar, where most would assume you were gay or lesbian.

Dating apps and social media mean you can be open about how you identify from the beginning and can meet other bisexual people, building a greater support network.

Stephen says being bisexual is easier with the advance of dating apps
Stephen says being bisexual is easier with the advance of dating apps (Picture: Stephen Pye)

‘I found it highly liberating to change the settings from male/female,’ Stephen, who came out as bisexual at the age of 19, says.

‘It allowed me the option to open up the idea of dating men while not exclusively eliminating dating women.

‘I’ve often found same sex male dating apps such as Grindr very sexually aggressive, with lots of very explicit [messages] and more purely for sexual gratification.

‘With a dating scene centred around more inclusive apps such as Tinder and Bumble, it allowed me to explore those feelings at my own leisure.

‘Encounters in gay bars are tricky for me. They are often very loud, very busy and you can put yourself at risk.

‘Gay and bisexual culture has come a long way from secret codes with pocket handkerchiefs but there’s still an element of trust and safety that is easier through dating apps.

Molly, who is now 21 but who came out at 13, agrees that the internet is helping to change how LGBTQ+ people make connections, particularly bisexual people who struggled between fitting into gay and straight communities.

She says: ‘I spent a lot of my teenage years justifying my own identity and was surrounded by myths such as “bi people are just greedy”, “you’re actually gay/straight”, and the classic “you’re just confused”.

‘I feel these negative attitudes are still very prevalent, but also matched with much more understanding and acceptance of the identity, partly thanks to bi representation in media, celebrity coming out stories, and the emergence of online LGBTQ+ communities that were not as easy to find eight years ago.’

The internet is already an intrinsic part of our lives but increasingly more so, it allows people who previously would have hidden these feelings to explore and understand all the elements of their sexuality.

As well as a greater understanding of sexuality, we’ve seen a greater understanding of gender identity in recent years. We now understand more about people who identify as non-binary, transsexual or gender fluid.

‘A “bisexual utopia” of sorts sounds wonderful, but I would never want to take autonomy away from monosexual LGBTQ+ folk in the same way I had as a teenager,’ Molly says.

The big question then is whether it is more people who are exploring bisexuality or whether it is more people who are developing those feelings.

‘The growing proportion of people identifying as bisexuals is mainly due to society being more accepting and understanding which in turn makes them feel more comfortable to come out,’ relationship coach and neurologist Bobbi Banks says.

‘Although I do not believe everyone will be bisexual in the future, I do believe it will become just as accepted as heterosexuality is.’

Lucy Rycroft-Smith adds: ‘Research suggests sexuality may be on a scale, and are not always consistent over time – therefore it is unlikely that ‘everyone’ will be anything in the future.

‘Defining sexuality in terms of binary or non-binary gender further adds complexity – if we move towards a less binary view of gender, perhaps attraction profiles may change too.’

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

What’s the sexual taboo that will define the next generation?


Baby Boomers, Generation X, Millennials, Generation Z.

As human beings, we like to attribute societal trends and cultural shifts to a specific generation.

Sexual trends are no exception.

Generation X, people born in the early to mid-60s to early 80s, were influenced by the sexual revolution and ruled by the blowjob, while Millennials embraced anal sex.

Back in 1992, 16% of 18 to 24-year-old women reported they’d tried anal sex. Now, it’s 40% of people by age 24.

Data suggests 94% of women who had anal sex in their last encounter achieved orgasm. That compares 81% for oral sex and 64% for vaginal orgasm.

It’s not as simple as anal sex equals orgasm but having anal sex as part of people’s sexual experience seems to show more sexual satisfaction.

Generation Z has seen conventional sexual roles removed and have taken anal play one step further with pegging – a woman wearing a strap-on and inserting this into the man’s anus.

LoveHoney reported a 200% increase in sales of strap-ons in 2017 and it has continued to grow since then.

So what’s the next taboo to be broken?

‘Society is moving away from the idea that vaginal penetrative sex is the only accepted form of sexual intercourse,’ said Sienna Halliburton, sex expert at Je Joue.

‘Blowjobs, anal sex and pegging have moved, or are still moving, away from being seen as taboo subjects into the realm of “normal” conversation.

‘Greater interest in sex education and liberalising attitudes towards gender and sexuality are largely responsible for these shifts.

‘So what is still a taboo subject that can be broken? Mutual masturbation.’

Masturbation ‘will overtake penetration’

People now developing their sexual identity have been born into an era concentrated on social media and technology, where interaction can be confined to a computer or smartphone.

Research shows that they’re given less opportunities to interact with others at school, with young people half as likely to meet up with peers in person, compared to 2006.

Some experts conclude that this will lead to a lack of social skills, which in turn will cause the next generation to become less interested in penetrative sex with a partner and more focused on masturbation.

‘Sexual content is at their fingertips 24/7 as they navigate the world via smartphones, tablets, and laptops,’ Chelsea Reynolds, assistant professor at the Department of Communications at California State University, tells Metro.co.uk.

‘Because they are exposed to porn, sexting, and online dating at a young age, they feel online-mediated sexuality is natural.

‘What they aren’t comfortable with is face-to-face communication.

‘If Gen X’s thing was the blowjob, millennials’ thing was anal, and Gen Z’s is into pegging, the next generation will likely be the masturbation generation.

‘For 20 years now there has been a downward trend in teen sexual activity.

‘Teenagers have been consistently losing their virginities at an older age and having fewer sexual partners overall. Although teen sexuality may [be] less taboo than it used to be, teens have a million sexual outlets today that don’t involve genital contact.’

Virtual Reality sex

Another sexual trend influenced by technology is the rise of virtual reality (VR).

Through VR tools, people will be able to act out their wildest fantasies without judgement, as well as find (or create) sexual partners without having to step outside their door.

The opportunity already exists to some degree; the US-based company, Naughty America, allows its users to ‘star’ in porn films, while on adult sites, there are entire sections dedicated to virtual reality-inspired porn.

‘Naturally, the next step from here to take sex to the next level is virtual reality sex,’ Paul Jacques, technical manager at Lovehoney, tells Metro.co.uk.

‘Virtual reality as an industry is booming, and the adult industry is right there taking part in it, with haptic feedback devices (the application of forces, vibrations and motions to help recreate the sense of touch for the user) and full-rendered environments fulfilling consumer fantasies.

‘Companies like Kiiroo and Fleshlight have created toys like the Launch, that combine a really great sex toy with an automatic device that can be linked to online content. CyberSkin’s twerking realistic butt comes with a VR headset that provides a link between the motions you see onscreen and the movements of the toy itself.

‘Particularly of interest is the rise of app-controlled toys, which are shaking up the industry in every way, and ultra-realistic, highly sophisticated sex-cessories, which are starting to make even the most unusual sci-fi fantasies seem like reality.’

Sex will be less important in relationships and introduced later in life

If masturbation becomes the sexual trend that defines the next generation, could people stop having sex altogether?

Sally Baker, a senior therapist, explains that not only will young people have sex later in life – starting in their 30s – but sex will also lose its importance in society as a whole.

This may have already come into motion, with research revealing British people are having less sex than before.

Additional statistics from dating website OKCupid show similar trends, with both millennials and Generation Z prioritising love over sex, or opting out completely because they are ‘risk-averse’.

‘Abstinence or non-penetrative sex could be the next thing,’ Baker tells Metro.co.uk.

‘Friends of any gender mix and sexual orientation will commit to having a primary sexless relationship with each other. Couples or small cores of people will no longer be defined by a shared sexual orientation but by shared values, drives and their mutual emotional need to be together.

‘Young people will commonly delay sexual experience with anyone well into their 30s even if they are already living in a committed relationship.

‘Sex if and when it does take place might well happen externally of the central relationship. A couple may choose to have sex with other people while maintaining their core sexless relationship as their primary commitment.

‘Sex with other people will not be a cause of jealousy or a disruptor of their primary relationship.

‘Sex with others will not overshadow the primacy of their key relationship because they consider the supremacy of their key relationship transcends all base instincts.’

Couples will focus on ‘non-hierarchical’ sexual experiences

That all sounds like a really progressive way to experience relationships but, for those in the older generations, it could look from the outside to be very confusing.

‘If sex happens within a young couple, it will often be solitary and perfunctory,’ Sally Baker says.

‘If they do have sex together, the emphasis would be on mutual extended foreplay and de-emphasising or excluding penetrative sex. This ensures the sex they experience is non-hierarchical and non-binary.

‘Couples will not value sexual imperatives and sexuality takes second place to their desire to experience deep commitment and loyalty for and with each other.

‘Gen A will be highly motivated to form long-term committed relationships as a survival strategy to cope with the disconnect they experience in their lives and careers.

‘Feeling overwhelmed and anxious while living in increasingly inhospitable economic conditions will make it impossible to be single and to thrive.’

If that’s the case, then the sexual taboo of the next generation could be no sex at 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

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MORE: The skills you need to learn to ensure yourself a job of the future

These are the most popular tattoo trends of 2019

small tattoos are a major trend for 2019
Small tattoos are a major trend (Picture: Cagri Durmaz)

If you’re keen to have a tattoo that’s entirely unique and not a bit like anyone else’s, you might want to avoid any designs that fall into the following categories.

According to Tattoodo, minimalist, geometric, and floral tattoos are among the most popular body art trends for 2019.

Their findings are based on what the community’s 6.3 million users search for, upload, and like the most, rather than the actual number of people getting these tattoos, so the list is more about what people like than what they actually have inked.

Still, if lots of people are searching for hand tattoos, you can safely predict that more people might end up getting them.

So just steer clear if the individuality of your ink is of the utmost importance.

These are the most popular tattoo trends of 2019 thus far.

Minimalist tattoos

Fine lines and simple designs, all in simple black and grey.

Minimalist tattoo of burnt match
Go minimal (Picture: Victor Zabuga)

Geometric tattoos

Tattoodo says there’s a trend for geometric designs paired with more natural influences – say an angular shape layered over a flower’s petals.

Small tattoos

Tiny tattoos are still going strong.

The great thing about this trend is that it’s so open to your personal aesthetic. As long as the tattoo is little, rather than a full body piece, you’re ticking it off.


Everyone loves a good flower tattoo – it’s the perfect balance of softness and femininity for the tough edge of permanent body modification.

Go classic with a rose or head to a florist and pick out your favourite on-trend bloom.

flower tattoo by lara maju
Floral designs add some softness (Picture: Lara Maju)

Maori tattoos

Tā moko is the permanent marking of the face and body as traditionally practiced by Māori, the indigenous people of New Zealand. Many artists across the globe continue this tradition through Neo-Tribal tattooing.

Japanese tattoos

Japanese tattooing, Irezumi, has a history that reaches thousands of years into human history. Dragons, cherry blossoms, and giant koi are only scratching the surface of this aesthetic.

Hand Tattoos

Once upon a time hand tattoos were considered too extreme for the general public. Getting tatted on your hands was seen to ruin your job prospects and single you out as especially hardcore.

That’s all changed. Blame all the Insta influencers and celebs for their dainty finger inkings, but now it’s not such a big deal for body art to make it’s way past your sleeve’s cuff.

Ellen Scott leaf tattoo on middle finger
Yes, I shall use this article as a chance to show off my favourite tattoo (Picture: Ellen Scott)

Just an FYI for anyone pondering a hand tattoo, though: a lot of artists won’t give first timers hand tattoos because they want to know you’ve considered the risks (not fitting into a more conservative work environment, for example).

You’ll also want to go to a specialist for finger tattoos, as many artists simply won’t do them.

Traditional tattoos

More than a trend, but rather a time-honored practice like Japanese or Maori, Traditional tattoos are a mainstay within tattoo culture.

Beginning, mainly, with sailors and soldiers of the American military, traditional tattooing is bright, bold, and iconic.

Mandala tattoos

This trend has been going hard for the last few years, and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down.

The Mandala is a sacred symbol used in a number of spiritual practices including Hinduism and Buddhism.

black and white design by amanda piejak
In place of colour, black and grey designs are big (Picture: Amanda Piejak)

Black and grey designs

Watercolour styles might have been big a few years back, but in 2019 we’re seeing a move back to simple black and grey ink.

Ami James, co-founder of Tattoodo and Miami-ink star, says: ‘The main styles – American traditional, Japanese style, black & grey, Polynesian style, and so on – those are timeless. They’ve been around forever and they will continue to be around forever.

‘But there are also styles that will keep evolving every year, just like art on the wall does.’

MORE: Artist is giving out ‘pro choice’ tattoos in exchange for charity donations

MORE: Plant-themed baby names are a major trend right now

MORE: People are outraged after Gucci sells ‘trendy turban’ for $800

Apparently every woman has a freckle on their left boob

Processed with VSCO with av8 preset
Do you have a freckle on your left breast? (Picture: Getty Images/EyeEm)

We all lost our heads over the bizarre legend that every woman has a freckle on their right wrist.

But in the midst of everyone sharing photos and questioning why this is (we still don’t know), another claim kept popping up.

According to people of the internet, as well as having a freckle on their right wrist, every woman also has a freckle on their left breast.

Naturally the second I read this I had to check, and it’s true in my case.

I shot some panicked messages to some pals (‘CONSPIRACY THEORY: do you have a freckle on your left boob?’) and after a quick examination they all said yes, too.

Obviously that’s not a scientific experiment by anyone’s standards, but it’s still bloody weird.

This isn’t a new phenomenon.

People have spoken of the legend for years. Search Twitter and you’ll find countless people tweeting something along the lines of: ‘Every girl has a freckle on their right wrist and or left boob.’

Yes, there are some people who respond to those tweets to say no, they do not have a freckle on their left bosom, but there’s an exception to every rule, right?

I also did a highly scientific Twitter poll on the matter, and at the time of writing, 100% of respondents said that yes, they are a woman and they have a freckle on their left boob.

Why would it be the case that the majority of women have freckles in the same two places? We truly have no idea.

A freckle is an usually high deposit of melanin at one spot in the skin. Exposure to the sun activates the production of more melanin, which can cause freckles to be darker.

But why would women’s right wrist and left breast get more sun exposure than other body parts? What on earth is going on?

Dr Sharon Wong, consultant dermatologist and hair expert, tells Metro.co.uk: ‘Freckles are common and tend to appear on over-exposed skin, such as face arms, upper backs and the décolletage, especially on fairer skin types.

‘Moles are very common and can appear anywhere on the body, so while it may look like every woman has a freckle on their wrist or left breast this isn’t a common phenomenon, it’s more likely to be a from exposure of the skin to the sun over time.’

We can only assume we’ve stumbled into a global plot.

Is the government exposing two very specific areas of our bodies to the sun so we develop freckles as a strange makeshift tracking system?

I mean, we can’t prove that’s not the case.*

*It is highly unlikely this is the case. A note to the government: If I have actually stumbled upon a conspiracy please accept that I will do nothing with this information and you don’t need to take me down.

MORE: These are the most popular tattoo trends of 2019

MORE: Will we all be bisexual in the future?

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