My Journey – Arly

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It has been a whirlwind month since I officially joined the VH inner sanctum and I still can’t get over it. One of the reasons this new role is so special to me is because Victoria Health saved my life and not figuratively, I mean that literally. Gill, Shabir and the dearly missed Sally Brampton helped me through one of the most difficult times in my life and their collective help, knowledge and support changed me in so many ways. Without them I wouldn’t have a blog, wouldn’t be as passionate about skincare and certainly wouldn’t be here writing this. I know many of you will have only just discovered me through the articles I’ve written on here or from my blog or Instagram, but I have been here with you as a fellow VH Addict for years, and today I want to share my journey with you.

We have all heard the cliché adage regarding health, wellness and skin, how it’s all connected and that you can’t have one without the other, but for me that was never true. For most of my life I existed in the realm of “generally” – generally good health, generally good skin and generally active (but not really), all while eating whatever I wanted and generally looking very well. Read More…

The Inner Critic

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I was standing in a changing room the other day, struggling to get into a dress. It was one of those changing rooms in which high street stores seems to delight – the fat mirror imported from the funfair; the harsh, overhead light that picks out every lump and bump and dimple of cellulite. You know the ones? I guess every woman does.

So I’m looking at myself and saying, “You’re so fat. Your arms are disgusting and that jelly roll around your middle is revolting.” Now, if somebody had walked into that changing room and said those words to me, I would have probably decked them with a swift right hook. But me saying it to me? I averted my eyes and said humbly, “Yes, you’re right.”

I can turn into a bully at the blink of an eye; one glance in a shop window and that mocking inner critic kicks into action, sneering at me like a kid in a playground. Some days she simmers down a bit and I can look in the mirror and think, “huh, not bad,” but it doesn’t take much to upset her and she’s off again. Read More…

Kindness Makes The World Go Round

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Here is one of my favourite quotes from the always irrepressible, Mark Twain. “The best way to cheer yourself up is to try to cheer somebody else up”. I love it because it’s so simple and so true. Or perhaps that should be the other way around. No matter, whichever way you put it, it works.

I am a great believer in kindness. It is the virtue I hold dear above all others. Besides being central to Mark Twain’s cheering-up philosophy, which has to be the ethos of a happy society, it is also one of the best ways to individual happiness. Win, win.

It might sound too nauseating and saccharine a Pollyanna outlook, but let’s put it another way. If you ruin somebody else day, you ruin your own. Nobody walks away from a bruising encounter thinking, “Well, that was nice. Glad I did that.” Read More…

The Aunties

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You know the way Gill gets over excited when she loves something and immediately turns into a happy lunatic? Of course you do. Well, this month I’m going to join her. Not about the cutting-edge health and beauty products that she constantly discovers for us, (as divine as they are) but about cutting-edge art.

And I don’t mean glass cubes suspended in a glass cube suspended from a glass ceiling but a series of portraits of women, called the Aunties, which are just as radical in their own way. The first time I saw them, I laughed. They looked like they were having such a fine old time, I couldn’t help but smile.

The radical part? They are naked. And they are old. Read More…

Celebrating Sally

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As I write this, it’s been just over a week since we lost our brilliant friend Sally. Sally was one of my ultimate Editor heroines and until I finally got to meet her in the mid 00s, I’d always admired her from afar. In 1985, I’d just got my first job as a Beauty Editor on Looks, one of the young magazines of the day. That year, Sally was blazing a trail with her spirited British version of Elle magazine. I still remember the impact of the first issue. Yasmin Le Bon was on the cover, smiling with hair naturally blowing, skin glowing – positively shining through the overly made-up, big haired Dallas style looks of the day. The glossy pages were full of healthy, strong model images – not only that, the features were inspiring, witty and challenging, written by grown up writers and journalists. This mix of bold new glam along with an intelligent, inclusive voice made you feel like you were one of the stylish, fearless career girls of the day. Way before blogs and vlogs, Sally and her team were communicating with and linking like-minded women together through that magazine.

It wasn’t until a couple of decades later that I finally got to meet her. We were both invited to go to the skincare brand, Dermalogica’s conference in Istanbul. It was a great adventure – three of us – myself, Sally and the lovely Abi (PR for the brand) had never met before, but we hit it off. After the ‘work bit’ of lectures and interviews, we escaped off to the bazaar to buy cashmere shawls, took taxis to hidden harbour restaurants to eat freshly grilled fish. What I remember most from that trip was discovering that Sally embodied everything she conveyed through her work. She epitomised that timeless Elle-style pared down, cool glamour – always dressed stylishly, accessorised with rock n roll smudgy black liner. Also, her sharp intellect, huge emotional intelligence and most of all, a wicked sense of humour lit up the conversation and made her lots of fun to be with. Read More…

BiPolar and Me

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Diagnosing somebody under the blanket term of depression and handing them a pill is like shooting in the dark and hoping the bullet will find its target. Which is why, every time I read about depression in the media or hear that somebody has just been diagnosed by their GP as having depression, I think, well, what form of depression? Oh, you know; depression. Yes, but what … oh, never mind.

But, really, it does matter. Depression is not a singular illness but a complex set of disorders. Is it mild, moderate or severe? Is it reactive or chronic? Reactive depression – or a reaction to a difficult life event might be regarded as a healthy response. It is only when that depression becomes embedded and morphs into clinical depression that it becomes part of pathology. Is it Bipolar I? Bipolar II? Could it be defined as dysthymia, rapid mood cycling or cyclothymia?

That one word, depression, covers a world of pain and misunderstanding – not simply amongst the general public but among sufferers themselves. More worryingly, it leads to misdiagnosis and, sometimes, death.

I don’t mean to sound alarmist but in my own experience (and it is only my experience because depression is always subjective; no two cases are the same) it took me ten years, fourteen different medications and two suicide attempts to get the right diagnosis, which is Bipolar II – or what my psychiatrist refers to as rapid mood cycling because he is cautious about stamping labels on people’s foreheads. Read More…