Music

Album Review: Capacity by Big Thief

Big Thief’s sophomore album “Capacity” feels like a vessel for lead singer Adrianne Lenker to process her tumultuous life. Hers has been a life that is purpose made for storytelling; spending her earliest years in a cult, almost dying in a freak accident, spending years living out of a van, earning a scholarship for a prestigious music school.

These stories of love and loss, of violence and healing and of friendship and family, all come together to create the intimate Capacity. It feels as though you’re reading someone’s diary, a certain feeling that you shouldn’t know all this about another human being. Dark and personal lyrics are complimented with Lenker’s soft, tender vocals, while her bandmates create swirling melodies that package up raw, painful moments and offer them with a serving of finger-picked guitar lines and steadying drum beats.  

This mix of overtly dark lyrics and soothing music can be somewhat unsettling. This is the case on Watering especially where Lenker details an assault from the perspective of both the victim and the perpetrator. The lyrics are violent and distressing (“He cut off my oxygen / And my eyes were watering / As he tore into my skin / Like a lion”) with multiple refrains of the word “screaming” particularly unnerving. In the break between the point of view switching between victim and perpetrator, Lenker’s “oohs” almost sound more like she is screaming or wailing than singing.

This, the most disturbing moment on the album, transitions to Coma. A delicate track that begins only with guitar chords before gradually, harmonizing voices and restrained drums are introduced. It feels as though Lenker is staring blankly into the distance as she tries to come to terms with how her body has been violated. When she sings “when you wake up / you wake up…” it sounds as though Buck Meek’s finger-picked guitar line is gently awakening her from her “protective coma.” Despite the heavy subject matter, you could find yourself being lulled to sleep by the hushed vocals, so soft they’re almost a murmur.

Lenker also has a penchant for delivering matter-of-fact statements in such a way that they are deeply affecting. On opening track Pretty Things she makes sex seem almost like a religious ritual; “Holding my wrist to the bed / He was thrusting and moaning / And pressing his head / To my temple / His head was a temple.” Later on Mythological Beauty, the track that details the freak accident that almost took young Lenker’s life, she is blunt in her description of sex once again, peeling it back to its most physical elements, “Seventeen, you took his cum / And you gave birth to your first life.” Perhaps it is an attempt to humanise her mother or to make some statement about how all of us are the same, have the same urges, underneath it all. Or perhaps it’s just simply the way Lenker likes to write, prose among poetry. Much of Mythological Beauty is descriptive without embellishment and yet it is one of the most evocative tracks on the album. It conjures up memories of childhood; the sights (rented a house in Nisswa, Minnesota / shrapnel and oil cans, rhubarb in the yard), the smells (standing beneath the oak tree by the front door / you were inside baking bread), the sounds (you held me in the backseat with a dishrag, soaking up blood with your eyes / I was just five and you were twenty-seven / praying, “Don’t let my baby die”).

Mary, named after Lenker’s best friend, unfolds in a similar way, evocative and nostalgic. It’s a stream of consciousness, an outpouring of memories – floods on the plains, clothes pins on the floor, marching up the mountain, cheap drink, the marching band… The decision to use a piano and organ for the recorded version of this track (Lenker uses a guitar live) differentiates it from other tracks on the album. The twenty-five year old singer-songwriter’s voice is haunting against the background of the piano and organ on the sprawling track, confirming it as one of the standout moments of the album.

Capacity finishes with Black Diamonds, a foot-tapping, humming along kind of song. Max Oleartchik’s chilled-out bass line, Buck Meek’s lilting guitar and James Krivchenia’s drums combined with Lenker’s hushed assurance “You could cry inside my arms / you could cry inside my arms like a child / you could cry / you could cry…” create the perfect conclusion to an album that is full of tragic and painful moments that somehow still leaves you feeling warming by the time you’ve reached the end. From violent assault on Watering to near death on Mythological Beauty, Lenker invites us into the world of Capacity in which scars are created and healed, and there’s catharsis to be found in that release.

Rating: 4/5 stars

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Music, Opinions

This Week in New Music: Lorde, Denai Moore & The Strypes

Here’s my pick of the albums you need to hear that dropped today

Melodrama – Lorde

Lorde

Alternative/Pop

Melodrama, the “Royals” singers sophomore album, is a concept album about a house party. From the excitement of that first great song  to the beginnings of a hangover, it’s worth listening to in sequence to get the full experience.  Despite the influence of the likes of Jack Antonoff (Taylor Swift, Sara Bareilles) and Kuk Harrell (Justin Bieber, Rihanna), this pop album is still uniquely Lorde.

 

We Used To Bloom by Denai Moore

DenaiMoore

Alternative/R&B

Londoner Denai Moore’s latest album is a a beautiful and affecting glimpse into a young woman learning to love herself and accept her flaws. Moore explores topics like anxiety, greed and the “transformative” power of love here with extraordinary grace and poise. With smooth R&B beats and sincere vocals, “We Used To Bloom” is a pleasure to listen to.

 

Spitting Image by The Strypes

The Strypes

Indie/Rock

If you’d like a throwback to retro rock and roll, Spitting Image is your album of the week. It feels a little rock-y, a little blues-y, a little indie, but it’s a mix that works well.  The Cavan natives third record is more polished than their previous offerings but the rawness of a good live performance is still very much tangible.

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Music

Album Review: “hopeless fountain kingdom” by Halsey

“hopeless fountain kingdom,” the sophomore album from Halsey, opens with the American songstress reciting the prologue of Romeo and Juliet before she dives into her own modern-day story of star-crossed lovers. This begins with 100 Letters, a track in which she shakes off a past lover, assuring us “I don’t let him touch me anymore.” It’s a decent opener that feels familiar, but follow-up track Eyes Closed deviates from the usual. The melody for this song was crafted by The Weeknd and though he doesn’t sing a word on the track, his presence can be felt throughout. Devil In Me, written by Sia, is another moment on the album where Halsey feels more like an impersonator than her own thing, but these are only two moments on the record and for the most part, the Halsey we fell in love with on Badlands is very much present.

That Halsey was the epitome of the modern day, social media “cool girl.” Most young female artists are trying to speak to and for a specific group, but Halsey may be the most genuine. First gaining a following through the internet, Tumblr specifically, Halsey embodies so much of this new generation of young women who are desperately trying to have their voices heard. The 22-year-old is opinionated online and very vocal about social issues such as destigmatizing mental health and politics (she was an outspoken Bernie Sanders supporter). She isn’t afraid to talk about her mental illness (bipolar) or her sexuality (bisexual) and will call out her own fans on Twitter if she has a problem with what they’re saying. She’s brave and brash and beautiful, and all about female sexual empowerment.

Heaven In Hiding is a great example of this and one of the stand-out tracks of the record (it’s also Halsey’s favourite track). The music scene at the moment is, perhaps, over saturated with overtly sexual songs delivered by females in scantily clad attire, and everyone has their own opinion on whether these female artists are truly empowered or being exploited by those higher up in the industry. When it comes to Halsey and a track like Heaven In Hiding, I don’t think anyone can question that Halsey is empowering herself rather than having her sexuality exploited. This track has the songstress flipping “the script” in a sexual encounter, with Halsey confidently taking the lead (“And you thought that you were the boss tonight / but I can put up one good fight”) as she teases the subject. Later, on the current single Strangers, Halsey collaborates with Lauren Jauregui of Fifth Harmony to sing about the relationship between two women. We’re well used to hearing women sing about getting with other women, but it’s usually experimental and purely sexual (female pop singers out there I am looking at you, you know who you are!). It’s refreshing to hear two openly bisexual women sing about a female/female relationship with real depth, and on a track that is destined to be a hit.

The other collaborations on the album include one with Quavo (Lie) and another with Cashmere Cat (Hopeless). Listening to Lie for the first few times, I thought it was trying too hard to be an anthem and missing the mark. After watching Halsey perform it live however, I think this track does have the potential to be grand and atmospheric. For me, the addition of Quavo on the studio track is a hindrance rather than a help and the song has a far bigger impact with Halsey alone. Indeed, most of the strongest tracks on the album are those that allow Halsey to be Halsey, and are free from heavy outside interference. Whether it was pressure from the label to include some big names or the singers own self-doubt, the singer is at her best when the track has that classic, signature Halsey sound.

One of the most common themes on the record is, interestingly, the singers self-doubt, especially when it comes to relationships. This is most poignant on Sorry, the only ballad on the album and one of the records strongest offerings. The mellow moment has Halsey apologising to her “unknown lover.” It’s the most vulnerable moment on the album with emotional lyrics like, “Sorry that I can’t believe, that anybody ever really starts to fall in love with me.” The song really shows off her stunning vocals with the only accompaniment being sparse piano chords.

On Bad Love she self-asses herself to be, well, ‘bad at love.’ But as outsiders, the string of lovers she mentions seem like they could well be the problem rather than Halsey herself. It’s also another moment on the record where we see Halsey’s staunch feminism causing issues for her in relationships. One male ex-lover is “calling [her] a bitch again” due to her honesty / outspokenness while another is bothered by her quest to pursue music, instead wanting her “in the kitchen with a dinner plate.” She delivers the lines in such a way that you get the feeling she’s rolling her eyes rather than genuinely bothered by what these guys thought of her, and you just know that her fans are rolling their eyes right along with her.

Alone explores the 22-year-old’s sense of isolation amidst this new found fame. She feels “alone in [her] mind” despite the millions of people coming to see her. In the chorus she seems to address her fans singing, “I know you’re dying to meet me, but I can just tell you this / Baby, as soon as you meet me, you’ll wish that you never did.” However, this is contrasted on Don’t Play where she radiates confidence and empowerment. “Can’t fuck with my vibes, double cuppin’ in my ride, motherfucker don’t play with me” she sings over an infectious beat as she sings about making her own money, “drinks on me.” And this is really what makes a Halsey album so great – the contrast, the colours, the complicated nature of it all. Yes, Halsey is a badass feminist icon, but she also has moments of doubt, depression and despair, and that’s what makes her truly empowering. Because the real “cool girl” has vulnerabilities and insecurities too, and by Halsey revealing hers to us it allows us to embrace our own and realize that we can feel confident and empowered in spite of them. Overall, “hopeless fountain kingdom” is a good, well-rounded album and should succeed in pleasing old fans as well as drawing in some new ones.

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Life, Opinions

Vegan Friendly Youtubers You Need To Check Out

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Something I struggle with on an almost daily basis is eating well. There’s periods where I crave orange & raspberry smoothies, avocado on brown bread and black bean burgers with leafy green salads… but if I am honest 99% of the time I just want a big bar of Galaxy chocolate and a flat white. I’ve seen the sugar documentaries, the vegan documentaries and Jamie Oliver’s (brilliant) Ted Talk.. but on a day to day basis my stomach seems to overrule my brain when it comes to thinking about how beneficial a bowl of soup is over a plate of chips.

The one thing that’s helped me the most in this area is… youtube! From chef’s to vloggers, my main foodie inspo comes from Youtube. The following channels either provide 1) Tasty recipes 2) Drool worthy aesthetics or 3) Both. They’re also mostly vegan (or at least vegetarian) which I personally think is the healthiest, most environmentally friendly & ethically superior diet on the planet. I am  a vegetarian (which means I can’t eat meat/fish but can eat dairy/eggs), but I tend to make mostly vegan food if I am cooking for myself. I might go into this further in another blog post but for now I am going to avoid the ~ controversial ~ topic of veganism and preaching at y’all about animal agriculture and instead woo you to the veggie/vegan side with aesthetically pleasing, drool-worthy food that will make you feel good too. Promise.

1) TheHappyPear

First up is Ireland’s very own Stephen and David Flynn! The Flynn twins have two cookbooks out, a café in Greystones and a range of products now available in Supervalu like pesto’s, hummus’s, soup’s… basically they’re the Irish version of Jamie Oliver. Now I know a lot of people think they’re annoying af but personally I find their enthusiasm really endearing. My favourite thing about their channel is their “5 minute dinner” series which is perfect for students like myself who need something quick, easy and cheap!

(Fun fact: 3/5 of my family members have actually met the Happy Pear and tasted their food… but as is life, the fan, aka me, is not among those three. Sad face.)

2) BonnyRebecca

Bonny is one of my favouriteeee youtubers. She makes lots of videos including vlog type what I eat in a day videos. She’s super positive and her vlogs always make me smile! I enjoy seeing the amazing vegan food she can get when she eat’s out in Australia (and the drone shots of her beautiful country) but the main reason I am including her in this video is for the recipes she shares in her vlogs/recipe videos. A lot of the time she’ll vlog herself and/or her boyfriend Tim making their meals which provides lots of inspiration.

3) ThrivingOnPlants

Next up is Cherie Tu. Cherie is an eighteen year old vegan from Sydney.  Her “What I Eat In A Day” videos are so calming and I love the fact that they’re so short (usually around the 3 minute mark) and she literally just shows you what she makes. She always includes the full recipe in the description box below the video so you can make her beautiful recipes too.

4) CosmicColette

Colette is an Irish gal living in Berlin aka the vegan capital of Europe. My favourite thing about Colette is that she isn’t a size 6 sunkissed glowing skin vegan insta model… she looks like your average gal, and it’s brilliant to see her promoting the vegan lifestyle as a “normal” diet, with vegan junk food to boot! She always posts videos talking about body positivity, eating disorders and even money management and seems like a cool gal all around. The video I’ve embedded above is one where her boyfriend voiced her “What I Ate Today” video and it’s hilarious!

5) JessBeautician

Jess is a British Beautician who loves simple & natural make-up and food. Her recipes are always so simple and easy-to make.. what’s not to love?

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Opinions

An Ode to Ireland

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It’s that time of year again – St. Patrick’s Day. The one day when the world is painted green. From the green lights cast on the Empire State building of New York to the Sydney Opera house and London’s Big Ben, there’s no other country on the planet that is celebrated as much and as widely on its national holiday as Ireland. What is it about Ireland that encourages such festivity?  Well, I would argue it has very little to do with the land, lakes or landmarks, much rather it is the Irish people that are truly worth celebrating.

Being Irish mean’s loving and drinking a good cup of ‘tae’ (sometimes in equal proportion to ‘the black stuff’). It means being able to finish a Father Ted quote without thinking. It means going on holidays and finding the Irish pub. It means trad sessions in the local. It means calling yourself a catholic but only going to mass at Christmas. It means ‘I will yea,’ ‘ara sure look,’ ‘jaysus,’ ‘grand so’ and ‘savage’ are all part of your vernacular. It means always having something to complain about (especially the weather). We Irish are hilarious and hypocritical, celebrators and complainers, dancers and dreamers – and proud, proud people.

From our inception, Ireland and its people have been a proud nation. The Irish Free State, established in 1922 (later to become known as the Republic of Ireland) was born after years of bitter fighting for freedom from the British Empire. It’s no wonder, therefore, that the pride of being Irish and the love for our country is so deeply ingrained in all of us (and that undeniable competitiveness when placed against the Brits in any kind of competition!) This pride is part of what makes us great. You will find no greater supporters than the Irish, travelling all over the world for soccer matches, rugby, boxing, horse-riding etc. As a small nation, we don’t have as many sports superstars, and the resources to produce them as many of our neighbouring countries do, but when the likes of the O’Donovan brothers or UL’s very own Thomas Barr emerge out of the shadows – the whole country gets behind them. Then there’s all the creative folk that our fair island has produced; from Hozier to the astounding Riverdance dancers, the genius of W.B Yeats and the beautiful Saorise Ronan, Ireland is known for and can be proud of its people and their contribution to the artistic world.

Perhaps our creative folk produce such varied material due to the paradoxical fact that the Irish are both home birds and travellers. From necessity to wanderlust, the Irish have populated the globe with O’Sullivans, Murphys and Walshes, with roughly one million Irish-born people currently living around the world. Wherever we went, we brought our most valued asset; the Irish spirit and culture. We brought Irish dancing to the UK, Irish music to the US and GAA to Australia. Sure, it might just have been us participating for the most part, but there’s something nice about our refusal to leave behind what we’ve known, even whilst embracing the new.

However it has to be noted, we don’t just barge into everyone else’s country without returning the favour! The Irish are renowned for their hospitality and welcoming nature. One of the only Irish phrases we all get right is the beautiful, “Céad mile fáilte,” translating as “one hundred thousand welcomes.” From tourists to asylum seekers, adventurers to economic migrants, the Irish people envelop all in their compassion and warmth. This compassion has led to many young people embarking on vocational trips to places as far as Kenya or Ghana, and influential activists such as Adi Roche, Bob Geldof, and Fr Hugh O’Flaherty.

Ireland, once seen as a small, insignificant, old fashioned country, is now a hub of multinational companies, IT firms and highly respected universities. The change Ireland has undergone in recent years is truly remarkable. This, I believe, is entirely down to the forward-thinking, inspiring, and hardworking men and women of Ireland. The once crippling influence of the Catholic Church has been significantly reduced, resulting in our republic becoming the first country in the world to legalize gay marriage by popular vote. This show of understanding, empathy and kindness would never have happened a decade ago. Currently, there’s an ongoing campaign for abortion to be outlawed as a crime in Ireland. Regardless of what side you are on, or which way the eventual vote will go, it is a victory that Ireland has reached the stage where we can all discuss important issues such as these, in a mature and reasonable way. This change is a credit to the empathetic, forward-thinking youth of our remarkable country and I can’t wait to see the future Ireland this generation will create. I am sure it will make Ireland and its people an even prouder institution.

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Music

Album Review; For A Moment, I Was Lost by Amber Run

After a turbulent 2016, Nottingham natives Amber Run returned Friday with their silver lining – their sophomore album, “For A Moment, I Was Lost.” After being dropped by their record label RCA and losing their drummer Felix Archer, the record was composed during a time when it was unclear whether there would still be an Amber Run in 2017. “We were lost,” front man Joe Keogh confessed, the album title clearly reflecting the state in which the band found themselves. It’s unsurprising therefore that dark themes permeate the record; depression, failure and self-loathing to name but a few. The album is masterfully crafted, combining all the best elements of their debut record 5am and building on them to create something gloriously atmospheric, without slacking lyrically. At times they’re mellow and muted (Haze, Machine), at others they’re energetic and powerful (No Answers, Perfect), but there’s not a moment where they aren’t good.

Insomniac opens the record, hurried and fast-paced with smashing keys and crashing drums. It’s a decent opener that hints at what’s to come –  a more mature and dynamic album than it’s predecessor. Musically, the sound is more alt-rock than alt-indie like we heard on 5am, something that feels right for the band at the present moment. Another change on this record might be the strength in the lyrics. One of the criticisms the now quartet got for their debut was that the lyrics were lacking, on this LP they’re clever, honest and hard-hitting. The second track on the album, No Answers, is a good example of this. “And I can forgive you / But I can’t forget you / Because the things you said are etched inside my brain” and “I’ll be the shadow that you see at night / That shred of doubt in the back of your mind” are two of the most potent lines on the track and Keogh’s powerful vocals on the number deliver them perfectly.

One thing that has always made Amber Run stand-out from their contemporaries is their ability to incorporate beautiful harmonies into their indie/alt-rock tracks. Fickle Game showcases this while the blunt, honest lyrics (“I wanna be older, I wanna be stronger / I don’t wanna fall at the start”) reveal their growth. It beings with some simple piano chords before harmonies, percussion, guitar and bass turn it into something greater. However, it’s Haze that brings us the closest to the stunning harmonies of I Found from their debut 5am (if you haven’t heard the latter, this performance  with the London Contemporary Voices choir is worth checking out).  At just under 2 minutes, Haze is a beautiful break that lies in the middle of the record. It’s a glorious haze (sorry, not sorry) of harmony that is a perfect accompaniment to the despairing lyrics. Described by the band themselves as “a plea for someone or something to come along and get you back on your feet,” this acapella track is sure to be simply stunning live.

Things stay muted on the following track, White Lie, a song that seems to describe the struggle of dealing with depression. There’s something cathartic in the chorus as Keogh sings out “I am a failure, I am a disaster, and I don’t want to be anything else / I am a loner, I am a loser, I don’t want to be anything else..” It’s one of the simpler tracks on the album, reminiscent of the title track of 5am, but it’s not at a loss for it. The pace picks up again on Perfect, an anthem for the angry and frustrated. “Karma, karma, please bear what I am owed,” Keogh yells out over crashing guitars, frantic guitar riffs and deep bass lines. If the line is inspired by the band not reaching the heights they were promised, I really hope karma pulls it out of the bag and they get the recognition they deserve this time around.

Dark Bloom is, as indicated by it’s title, one of the darkest moments on the LP. Keogh’s patient and steady vocals are contrasted with fast-paced drumming, the repetition of “Oh I worshiped you” finally getting a cathartic release on the last chorus as our lead singer hollers out “now I am tortured by you” accompanied by frantic drumming and squelching guitars. Meanwhile, Machine is the most delicate, touching moment on the album. It’s slow and soft – self-doubt writing a love letter. Keogh’s vulnerable vocals are perfection here, especially on “But do you love me? Do you love me?”  It’s one of my favourite tracks on the record.

Despite the subject matter of the closing track Wastelands (a break-up), it’s a hopeful end to the LP. It’s not without sadness, (“We started as a fever / we turned into an ache that never goes” and “It happened piece by piece / It happened just a little at a time / And then the bruises started showing” are particularly cutting) but the anger and accusations are gone. Instead, the band unite here in gorgeous harmony to sing “And I know you’ll fall in love again / When you do, I hope you’ll find somebody / Who you can love like I love you.” It’s a stunning closing number that combines all of Amber Run’s best qualities – haunting harmonies, vulnerable vocal moments and develops into a powerful, all-encompassing musical experience with crashing drums, smashing keys, glorious guitar riffs and the perfect climax. If I’ve a criticism for the record, it’s missing the vibrant, frantically happy tunes we got on 5am (Spark, Heaven) but overall, “For A Moment, I Was Lost” is a much more mature and cohesive piece than its predecessor and delivers a record that is sure to delight both critics and fans alike.

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Opinions

Why I won’t compliment you on your weightloss

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With every new year comes a host of new years resolutions. For many, that will include “lose weight.” Last week, nutritionist and personal trainer Joe Wicks (The Body Coach), held the top 3 positions in The Mail On Sunday’s bestsellers list of non-fiction paperbacks with ‘Lean in 15: The Sustain Plan,’ ‘Lean In 15 – The Shape Plan’ and his original book ‘Lean in 15’. In fact, if you look at any of the bestseller lists for January you’ll find a host of books promising to help you get fit, eat healthy and of course, lose weight.

Now, there’s nothing  wrong with wanting to lose weight – maybe you’re overweight and concerned about the health implications, maybe you ate a bit (ok a lot) of cheese and chocolate over Christmas and are trying to shed the extra padding, or maybe losing weight isn’t even your main objective but a result you’re expecting thanks to your new fitness & healthy-eating regime – one that really is making you feel healthier than ever before.

So, just to be clear, I am not saying losing weight is a bad thing (although, of course, it can be) but I am questioning whether complimenting someone on their weight loss is. Certainly, I’ve complimented friends on weight-loss before and when I did it, it was with the best of intentions. I wanted them to know that what they were doing was showing, that the effort they put in was visible, I wanted them to feel validated. But, when I take a step back and ask myself why I say “wow you’ve lost weight you look great!” when someone’s lost weight, I realize it’s not such a great compliment after all.

For one, it reinforces the idea that “thinner is better” which can be a pretty dangerous narrative to contribute to. Both in terms of image and in terms of health. Simply put, being thin doesn’t equate being healthy and being healthy doesn’t equate being thin and losing weight isn’t always a good thing. You don’t know the reason the person in question lost weight. It could be as a result of an eating-disorder, an illness such as cancer or Lupas, stress or anxiety related etc.

Secondly, it implies that the person didn’t look as great before their weight-loss. Which, y’know, might be taken the wrong way, like you’re implying they were “fat” beforehand. (Especially offensive to those of us from the “snowflake generation” – that’s millennials to you and me by the way.)

Thirdly, it puts a pressure on the person in question to maintain that weight or even to lose more. Research has shown that most of us who lose weight through dieting put it back on, if not more. Therefore the “you’ve lost weight! you look great!” compliment is a bit of a sting in the tail. It’s a reminder that you notice the other person’s weight – you’ll notice (and judge) if they put the pounds back on.

Of course, not everyone will take the intended compliment like that – some people will be delighted to hear you’ve noticed their weight-loss. However, in my experience, those kinds of people will voluntarily provide this information to you by telling you they’ve lost weight & feel so much better/healthier/confident etc, and that’s great! But I am hesitant to compliment friends on their weight because I don’t want them to feel like they weren’t good enough before their weight-loss or that I think their weight is all that important to be honest. Weight is one of those things that many people struggle with, and it’s different for everyone. Some people can look healthy while ordering takeout every night, while others can eat healthy, balanced meals, regularly exercise and be generally leading a healthy lifestyle and still be overweight. To me, it’s so much more important to compliment people on the more important things like their ability to be kind, generous, hard-working, loyal, humorous, sassy. (What? I value some sass ok?)

In a world that’s increasingly infatuated with both men and women’s weight, we’re bombarded with images of the “ideal” body, one that’s sold to us as the image of health and sexual appeal. We might have started to move on from anorexic women being the only thing we consume, but that doesn’t mean what we’re being sold is anyway more attainable. From the “curvy” woman (aka skinny with boobs and a bum) to the chiselled men with six-packs and bulging veins, we’re still having images of “perfection” crammed down our throat, often times now wrapped up and sold to us in the form of fitness books and DVDs or even on our Instagram feeds. While I am all for people taking control of their health and fitness, I think we’ve reached a point where it’s becoming increasingly difficult for us not to be confronted with our weight on a daily basis, and I for one don’t want to further contribute to that.

So what I am proposing is that we don’t cease to compliment, we simply change our compliments. Instead of praising weight-loss, thinness, skinnyness etc, we praise the people in our life for their commitment to going for a jog in the morning or thank them for sharing a new healthy recipe with us. We compliment them on positive personality traits or for passing their driving test. There’s a multitude of things to pick from when you want to give a compliment – maybe we can all dig a little deeper than putting so much emphasis on numbers on a scale?

For me, the only time it’s appropriate to comment on someone’s weight-loss is if they’ve outright brought it up in conversation or blatantly made it public knowledge and are asking for recognition eg. posting a before and after shot on Facebook alongside some inspiring post about their ‘journey’ (sorry lads I am not mocking, really I am just jealous). Personally, that’s why I’ve made the decision to refrain from commenting on others weight, whether I intend to compliment or not.

(Published on Spun Out)

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