‘Treat yo self’: on self-care and female/non-binary spaces

By Emma Turner 

I am not sure when I first heard the term ‘self-care’.

Most probably it came from the depths of the internet in my early teens, in mental health positive circles I feel lucky to have stumbled upon now in hindsight, and it was probably with relation to things like doing fun, healthy things to help you feel good in times of stress.

My definition of self-care has since come to be something much broader. In Parks and Recreation, something I merrily binge-watched in Lent Term last year for its quirky, feminist explosion in the form of Leslie Knope, her co-workers Donna and Tom have an annual ‘treat yo self’ day. They save up and then go on a shopping spree once a year (the 11th of October, if you’re interested). This is maybe the most commercialised, capitalist sense of what self-care is: one-off occasions involving extravagant (expensive) activities to make up for any stresses in your life. I’ll admit that being extra kind to yourself is certainly a good practice, but self-care should also encompass the small things, the everyday, necessary tasks which are about looking after yourself on the most basic level. It can be celebrating the wins which are often taken as ‘boring’ yet which can be momentous chores for anyone suffering with mental illness(es), or can even just be improving an overall sense of wellbeing and productivity. It is not just for those who are struggling – it is for everyone, in good times and bad, and its definition varies depending on the situation.

I accept that eating a good breakfast, drinking more water and doing my laundry when I really don’t feel like it isn’t going to make the enormous essay deadline staring at me from the pages of my planner go away, or my cold symptoms magically clear up. Actually, I’m often tempted to think that skipping simple things to give myself more time to write an essay is the best idea, and I can have time for self-care later, another day, when I’m less busy. I’ll do all of that boring stuff tomorrow. I’ll start that hobby I’ve been dreaming of next term. I’ll catch up on sleep some other night…

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Girl Talk Presents: ‘The Man Presents: More Women’

By Leila Sackur and Juliette Simon

Inclusivity is at the heart of the ethos behind the genius The Man Presents: More Women, which has enjoyed a stellar run as the ADC Late Show this week. With a rotating cast of 16 performing on alternate nights, The Man Presents features a divine selection of women in comedy, all delivering character monologues which are stunning in their breadth and detail.

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Who’s that girl? In conversation with Stephanie Childress

In an interview with Alina Khakoo, co-founder of Girl Talk, Stephanie Childress talks about her abandoned ice-skating career, being at one with her (bloody old) violin and working out her next move. Stephanie is a third-year music student at John’s and President of the St John’s Music Society. She plays the violin and has a passion for conducting. Having participated in countless concerts and competitions, including BBC’s Young Musician, she plays an active part in the Cambridge music scene. On Friday 27th October, she is conducting Beethoven 9 in St John’s College Chapel.

How old are you?

18.

Are people funny about your age?

Yeah definitely, I think when they first speak to me they don’t really notice. When I first came here I thought no one was going to know, but then somehow people did, and it affects them in different ways. It comes up in conversation a lot, but I don’t have any issues with it. I jumped a class in primary school and then I dropped out of school when I was 15 to do my A-Levels in a year, so that meant that I’ve just ended up being a bit younger than everybody else. I was in a French system, and it’s quite normal to have people jump classes or redo a year there, certainly more common than in England. But ending up here after dropping out was probably what surprised people most.

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#MeToo, and the Importance of Highlighting the Victim’s Story

In the first article for this fortnight’s theme Outspoken, Stephanie Moumtzis examines the recent ‘Me Too’ movement. She discusses the need for both a change regarding representations of victimhood and for this virtual conversation to go beyond the confines of the internet.

Over the last week, my newsfeeds have been flooded with the hashtag #MeToo, where primarily (but not exclusively) women have shared their experiences of assault and harassment. Close friends, family, random acquaintances, people with blue ticks on twitter… Some simply sharing those two words, others detailing their experiences. From being groped on public transport to stories of sexual violence, victims were appearing everywhere I looked. Now at least, they were being heard.

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Refreshed in the Heat

By Leila Sackur 

We didn’t expect it to be this hot. It’s 35 degrees in Chicago, despite being mid- September. It’s the middle of the day and we are on the boardwalk of Lake Michigan. The pale concrete reflects the light of the too- bright sun and we are squinting as we walk. My hair is clinging to the back of my neck.

My twin brother and I are here for 6 days before we move on to Detroit, and then Ann Arbor, and then Grand Rapids, and then back again. And then we will go back to university- second year, and restart everything all over.

It feels weirdly poignant to be in the US now. We were born here, in Washington D.C., but we haven’t returned in years. The only thing I have left to show of my American identity is that I’m still able to recite the pledge of allegiance; an old patriotism learned in kindergarten turned sour by a teenhood political awakening. But still, it feels odd to be back in the country where I formed my childhood memories in the summer before I turn 20. Because I judge the age of 20 as “Official Adulthood”, so this feels strangely circular, a rite of passage.

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Homecoming

By Jane O’Connor

My journey back over to Cambridge felt like a perfect summary of my process of returning here as a whole. In the first instance, Ryanair seemed to have lost my suitcase, and so I spent an hour in tears, hanging around Stansted Airport, until it mysteriously showed up on a completely different luggage belt, a wee bit scuffed but otherwise none the worse for wear.

From there, I thought – this is okay. This is normal. And so, I proceeded to Stansted train station only to be treated to the announcement that all trains to Cambridge were cancelled for the weekend. Brilliant. With some difficulty, I found the bay for the replacement coach – which wasn’t due for another hour and a half. When I did catch this coach, it took nearly a further hour to arrive in Cambridge – all in all, my journey was delayed by over three hours. It felt like a symbolic final hurdle.

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