• This Morning’s Emmy Kenny shares grief over father’s death: ‘My dad sadly lost his battle to psychosis’
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    The Independent

    This Morning’s Emmy Kenny shares grief over father’s death: ‘My dad sadly lost his battle to psychosis’

    This Morning’s resident psychologist Emma Kenny has opened up about the grief of losing her father to suicide in a heartbreaking video posted on social media.Kenny, who regularly addresses mental health issues on the ITV programme, explained her father had been struggling with psychosis for eight months and “sadly lost his battle” with the condition on Monday.“He took his own life,” the 45-year-old said in the video, “I found him but I was just about 30 seconds too late, I didn't get that chance".The TV psychologist had previously spoken out about her father’s illness with her fans and went on to thank them for their continued support.“My dad’s end does not define who he was,” Kenny continued. “Mental illness does not define you. He was the strongest, the most wonderful and most beautiful human being you could’ve ever met.”Kenny went on to criticise mental health services in the UK, saying she was “ashamed” of the care available to her father.“I’m sorry for any of you who are going through this,” she added, referring to the grief of losing someone through suicide, before proceeding to offer some advice to those with family members who are struggling with their mental health.“Just go that extra mile for somebody who’s in need,” she said. “It could feel relentless, frustrating, boring annoying, it can aggravate you when someone is constantly mentally unwell but they’re not doing it on purpose.”Kenny continued: “Notice that person who’s quiet in the office. Notice that individual whose mood seems to have changed. If somebody’s asked for attention, give it to them. “Thanks for all your support. I’m sorry it’s not a happy video. I know all of you would’ve wished for it to be a different outcome.”Kenny’s video has prompted a wave of support from fans, with thousands of people offering their condolences and thanking the psychologist for speaking out.> So sorry for your loss Emma, you are right the mental health service in this country is awful. I've been supporting a relative for the past year who has bipolar and sometimes it isn't easy but we are all has as the servicea just aren't there. Take care of yourself, thinking of u> > — Louise (@LouiseLacy) > > July 10, 2019“So sorry to hear this Emma,” wrote one person on Twitter. “It doesn’t define him as you say and we cannot control the outcome. You did your best and you father knew that. Sending lots of love and puppy love to you.”Another added: “Oh Emma, I am so very sorry to hear of your loss. Sending you lots of love and hugs your way. Mental health and suicide, particularly in men, must be tackled to become less taboo. Only then can we save lives. You’re in my thoughts.”If you have been affected by any issues mentioned in this article, you can contact The Samaritans for free on 116 123 or any of the following mental health organisations:mind.org.ukmentalhealth.org.uk

  • Epilepsy: What is the neurological disorder and how many people does it affect?
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    The Independent

    Epilepsy: What is the neurological disorder and how many people does it affect?

    As one of the most common neurological disorders in the world, epilepsy affects approximately 50 million people across the globe.Despite its prevalence, there may be a lot of information you don't know about the condition, such as possible causes of it and how it can be diagnosed.Last week, 20-year-old Disney Channel actor Cameron Boyce died at his home in Los Angeles.On Tuesday, his family told People magazine that the 20-year-old’s "tragic passing was due to a seizure as a result of an ongoing medical condition, and that condition was epilepsy”.Here's everything you need to know about epilepsy and how many people it affects: What is epilepsy?Epilepsy is a neurological, life-long condition which affects the brain.It's the fourth most common neurological disorder, the Epilepsy Foundation states, and affects people of all ages.When an individual has epilepsy, they may be prone to experiencing frequent, unpredictable seizures.These seizures happen when a sudden burst of electrical activity occurs in the brain, Epilepsy Action outlines.While electrical activity is always happening in the brain, an unexpected burst can temporarily cause the brain to stop working as it should. What are the different types of epileptic seizures?There are several different kinds of epileptic seizures, Epilepsy Action outlines.These include the following: * Focal seizures * Tonic-clonic seizures * Absence seizures * Myoclonic seizures * Tonic seizures * Atonic seizuresFor more information on how various epileptic seizures differ, click here. How many people does it affect?Epilepsy affects one in 100 people in the UK, Epilepsy Action states.Approximately 87 people in the country are diagnosed with the condition every day.According to the Epilepsy Society, one in 20 people are likely to have a one-off epileptic seizure at some point in their lifetime.However, this does not necessarily mean that they have epilepsy.While epilepsy can develop at any age, it tends to be more common in young children or older people, the Epilepsy Foundation outlines. What causes epilepsy?While doctors are unable to pinpoint what causes epilepsy in more than half of cases, there are several possible causes of the neurological condition, Epilepsy Action explains.This causes include experiencing a stroke, a previous brain condition such as meningitis, suffering a head injury and any problems that occurred during childbirth. How is it diagnosed?If you experience a seizure, your GP is likely to refer you to a specialist, the NHS explains.This specialist is likely to be a neurologist, who can assess how your seizure was connected to your brain's activity.Epilepsy isn't always diagnosed quickly, as other conditions such as migraines and panic attacks can have similar symptoms.Furthermore, you probably won't be diagnosed with epilepsy unless you've experienced more than one seizure, as some people who experience one epileptic seizure may not necessarily have the long-term condition.The tests carried out to determine whether or not you have epilepsy may include an electroencephalogram, during which small sensors are attached to your scalp, and a brain scan. How is it treated?People with epilepsy are prescribed specific medicines from their doctor, Epilepsy Action states.While the medicines, which are sometimes called anti-epileptic drugs, doesn't cure the condition, it may reduce the number of seizures you experience.If anti-epileptic drugs don't work, then doctors may suggest undergoing brain surgery or a type of surgery called vagus nerve stimulation.When vagus nerve stimulation is conducted, mild pulses of electrical energy are sent to the brain through the vagus nerve, the Epilepsy Foundation states. This process prevents seizures. What is Purple Day?Purple Day, which falls on the same date every year, is a day which aims to raise awareness of epilepsy on a global scale and to break down any taboos surrounding the topic.The day was created by Cassidy Megan, a nine-year-old Canadian girl with epilepsy.The first Purple Day event was held in 2008, with the help of the Epilepsy Association of Nova Scotia.On the day, people are encouraged to wear purple clothing to show their support.The colour purple is commonly associated with epilepsy because of the plant lavender's ability to relax the central nervous system.Having been diagnosed with epilepsy at the age of seven, Megan wants to people with epilepsy know "that they aren't alone".Purple Day is now celebrated around the world in more than 100 countries.For information on what to do if you see someone having an epileptic seizure, click here.

  • 'Why should I have to work on stilts?': the women fighting sexist dress codes
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    The Guardian

    'Why should I have to work on stilts?': the women fighting sexist dress codes

    Too many female employees are forced to wear high heels, or skirts, or even a particular type of bra. But the resistance is growing. It was at the beginning of a shift at Harrods that Georgia Brown told her manager where to go. Brown, then aged 22, was working for a temp agency that supplied shop assistants to the department store. She cannot remember the name of the manager. But she does remember why she lost her cool: she had had enough of being forced to wear heels on the job. “Not just a mini-heel, but proper black stilettos. Bear in mind, you’re on your feet in Harrods all day – you can’t sit down,” says Brown. When she arrived at work, there was a mandatory uniform check, after which she would slip into flat shoes. This time, she got caught. “I said: ‘My feet hurt; who are you to tell me I have to work on stilts?’,” says Brown. After Brown’s outburst, Harrods notified her agency, and she was fired. This all happened 10 years ago – and Harrods says that Brown’s experience does not represent the situation for workers now. The store’s current policy is that staff adhere to high standards of personal grooming and “dress appropriately for their day. This means that they are empowered to express their personal style, and are very much trusted to represent our brand to the highest of standards.” Still, Brown’s situation will be all too familiar to many women. In May, a row erupted after British Airways flight attendants were warned not to wear bras in certain colours or shapes under their blouses. “It’s a bit extreme, saying you must wear a white bra under a white shirt,” says Claire Simpson of Unite, the union that represents most cabin crew, who is herself a former flight attendant. Whether or not you agree with Mary Beard’s statement to shoe designer Manolo Blahnik this week that high heels are a “symbol of women’s oppression”, the fact remains that if men do not have to wear them, nor should women. Bunion-inducing stilettos, skirts so tight you are forced to walk with a coquettish wriggle, or gossamer-thin blouses in fiercely air-conditioned offices: women are often the victims of workplace dress codes, whether or not they wear uniforms. But as women’s workwear increasingly becomes a more public battleground in the fight for equality, this may change. Simpson is pleased that Virgin Atlantic now gives female crew the choice of trousers or a skirt and they no longer have to wear makeup. She points out, though, that while airlines are increasingly allowing women to wear flat shoes, progress is slow. It is not illegal for employers to impose dress codes on women alone. “We haven’t yet got to the position where you can say: ‘Having high heels in a dress code is unlawful,’” says the barrister Harini Iyengar, who specialises in employment and discrimination law. This issue was brought to the fore by the receptionist-turned-Coronation Street actor Nicola Thorp – arguably the champion of the new workwear movement. She made headlines in 2016 after being sent home from her agency job at accountancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers for refusing to wear heels. A petition calling for the mandatory wearing of high heels to be made illegal received more than 152,000 signatures, and prompted a parliamentary inquiry into workplace dress codes. It concluded that further work was needed to strengthen the Equality Act 2010 and protect workers from discrimination, including increased financial penalties for employers that break the law. The problem, says Iyengar, is that it is hard to prove that being forced to wear high heels is discriminatory on the basis of sex – unless it is in a job that requires heavy lifting. “In a workplace where it’s the norm and all your colleagues are wearing heels – aside from the heavy-lifting example – it’s much harder for somebody without a medical certificate to say to an employer: ‘High heels are bad in general.’” The same applies for being made to wear makeup or skirts at work: unless you can show it is contrary to your gender identity or sexual orientation, there is not much you can do. Whatever the law may say, though, women are increasingly refusing to put up and shut up. In Japan, the #KuToo movement has called on the government to ban employers from forcing women to wear heels. Employers are also seeing it as simply good PR to keep up with the times. “In recent years, there has been a relaxation in the uniform codes as far as hair and makeup are concerned,” says Simpson. “It’s about choice – and modern values being reflected in the uniform standard.” Obviously, our wardrobes reflect the changing status of women in society. The fashion historian Deirdre Clemente says that, as women become more emancipated: “They push the boundaries of prescribed work-environment clothing.” The compulsory wearing of tights, she says, changed in the 1990s: “Women wanted bare legs.” Especially in the summer. Throughout the decade, dress codes were steadily relaxed, as casualwear brands such as Gap redefined corporate attire. “We started to see things like trouser suits, more casual dresses, maybe trousers and a matching sweater,” says Clemente. If in the 80s, women wore power suits to project an image of masculine strength – the women’s rights lawyer Gloria Allred wore hers in red for the first 25 years of her career – as today’s women feel more settled in the workplace, they adopt a relaxed, athleisure-inspired silhouette. “Women are wanting to wear tank tops to work now, or yoga pants to a meeting,” says Clemente. But, she says, a double standard still persists: “Women are held to such a different public standard in their appearance to men. That will not change until there’s full equality.” Even the most slovenly man is generally considered OK, provided he wears a suit and tie and remembers to shave. But, for women, corporate dressing is often full of obligations that may not be set out in formal dress codes. It took more than a decade before Iyengar felt comfortable wearing flat shoes to work. “Definitely at the beginning of my career, when I struggled to fit in, I wouldn’t have dared not to wear heels. I regret that I went along with it when I was younger, but it’s difficult to swim against the tide,” she says. Women of colour are disproportionately policed when it comes to complying with written or unwritten dress codes. When Tara Williams worked as a lawyer in Philadelphia from 2010, she usually spent Sunday nights frowning at her wardrobe, trying to figure out which outfit would not get her into trouble the next day at work. Williams used to wear J Crew suits in black, navy pinstripe, charcoal tweed, light grey, and navy cotton, but she kept being told by her superiors that her outfits were brash or unprofessional. “There was this constant belittling and implication that I was not playing by the norms.” The problem seemed to be the colour of the shirts she was wearing. “If I wore anything other than a light blue shirt, like a white or a red, I would receive these comments,” Williams remembers. “They’d say: ‘Oh, that’s loud.’” Once, when she wore a berry-coloured coat, she was ridiculed by a senior associate, who told her she looked “like Mrs Claus”. When she was being chastised, Williams would often look around the office and see another woman wearing the same J Crew outfit. “When you’re a brown person, particularly if you have dark skin, you’re seen as over-the-top when you reach outside of grey or black.” Her experience is not uncommon. Dr Janet Ainsworth, a professor of law at Seattle University, says: “White employees do not have their hairstyles policed in any way, but employees of African ancestry are told they can’t wear braids or Afros.” Ainsworth wrote a 2013 paper that looked at 73 cases in which employees were sacked for dress-code violations. Her conclusion was disturbing. “[Employers wanted] women to look ultra-feminine, wear makeup, feminine-looking clothing and so forth. And African-ancestry women should look as white as possible.” Some women get ahead by rejecting the double standard entirely. One medical researcher tells me that when she started wearing jeans and T-shirts to work, people stopped asking her to make coffee in meetings, because only a scientist would dress so casually. (This approach is backed up by a 2014 study published in the Journal of Consumer Research into the so-called “red-sneaker effect”, which found that employees who deviate from standard dress codes are perceived more favourably by their peers.) Kate Rosh Bertash, 32, who works in cybersecurity and lives in LA, has revolutionised her wardrobe with the help of the eight identical black wrap dresses that she has worn daily since January 2017. Part of Bertash’s motivation for adopting a uniform was her struggles to find work-appropriate clothing as a plus-sized woman. “Things would pull and gap in strange places.” It is also more environmentally friendly. But wearing the same dress is about more than just convenience or sustainability. It is a feminist act. Bertash says: “There’s this stress that women put ourselves under to either be noticeable, or novel, or fashionable, and look like we’re always trying, whereas men wear the same thing pretty much every day … I think most of us have parts of that process and the trappings of femininity and professionalism that we don’t like, and don’t bring us happiness, and suck up a lot of time.” She still dresses up for special occasions – she recently wore a blue evening gown to a wedding – but not having to think about her wardrobe on a daily basis is freeing. “I expend a lot of creative energy on my work. It’s nice not to have to expend it on my clothing.” Her advice to anyone thinking of doing the same thing? Make sure the outfit has pockets. “That in itself is very life-changing.” Why does it matter what women wear in the workplace? Because what we wear matters. Women chafe against sexist dress codes for the same reason we protest against the rolling-back of abortion rights; because, like regulation polyester blouses, they make us itch. “Don’t tell me how I should control my body, or how I should present myself. That’s my personal choice,” Clemente says. The pushback is particularly pronounced right now, because we’re living in increasingly feminist times. “It’s a big culmination of all of those years where women didn’t have a voice to say: ‘I’m not wearing this outfit’, and they silently either had to suffer, or band together a little bit and say: ‘We’re not wearing pantyhose.”’ Williams ended up transferring to a different office after the negative comments got too much. She gave the berry-pink coat to charity, but now she wears all the colour she wants. “I have a dress in the exact same colour, and I’m very proud of it,” she laughs. “So that’s the replacement.”

  • How period tracking can give all female athletes an edge
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    The Guardian

    How period tracking can give all female athletes an edge

    A whole new ball game … the all-conquering US women, who employed a menstrual cycle adviser. Photograph: Brad Smith/ISI/Rex/ShutterstockUntil relatively recently, sports scientists simply applied the research they had done with male athletes to female ones. In fact, according to research scientist Georgie Bruinvels, it is only since the 1990s that it has been “appreciated that women are different”. There is still a long way to go. In 2014, researchers looked at sports studies published between 2011 and 2013; where performance was concerned, once they removed one study that heavily skewed the result, they found that just 3% of participants were women.One particular growing area of interest is the impact of menstrual cycle and hormones on female sports performance – and this is where Bruinvels specialises. This week, the Times reported that after, advising the World Cup-winning US women’s football team, she is in talks to work with British female tennis players.In the past, an athlete’s period was merely something to be endured, usually in uncomfortable silence, when in fact, a menstrual cycle can have consequences for performance. “Hormonal fluctuations can affect things like biomechanics, laxity of ligaments and muscular firing patterns,” says Bruinvels.It has been shown that, for anterior cruciate ligament injuries (that is, damage to the knee), “the first half of the cycle and particularly the build-up to ovulation is the key risk window”. That is not to say don’t exercise then, Bruinvels adds. “It’s more about being proactive around warming up properly or recovering properly, at certain times.”It is also about understanding how your body responds to training. In the first half of the menstrual cycle, Bruinvels says, your body uses carbohydrates more efficiently (depending on the exercise’s intensity); in the second, it is better at using fats. “There is a body of research emerging that highlights that strength training is more advantageous in the first half of the menstrual cycle – the body adapts and recovers better.” Tracking your cycle with apps (including FitrCoach, which Bruinvels developed) can help tailor training and diet to work with your cycle, rather than against it.The England women’s hockey team have been tracking their periods since before the 2012 Olympics, the team’s former captain Kate Richardson-Walsh has said. Their strength and conditioning coach found a pattern with soft-tissue injuries: “We would send a text on day one of our cycle, so he could mark it on our training calendar. He tried to monitor – as much as you can with a squad of 28 women – our training loads depending on our menstrual cycle.” The British tennis player Heather Watson was widely praised in 2015 for being a rare athlete to talk about her period and the symptoms that led her to crash out of the Australian Open.As research and support for the needs of female athletes lags behind, the English Institute of Sport launched its SmartHER campaign this year to educate coaches, physios and athletes. Do most female athletes track their cycles, then? “You’d think so,” says Bruinvels, “but I’ve been really surprised that they don’t.”

  • Coco Gauff's parents send inspiring message to 15-year-old daughter
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    The Independent

    Coco Gauff's parents send inspiring message to 15-year-old daughter

    Cori "Coco" Gauff's parents have expressed their pride in their daughter on Instagram following the 15-year-old's fourth-round defeat at the Wimbledon Championships.No matter who goes home with the top prizes at this year's Wimbledon, one of the biggest talking points of the entire tournament is unquestionably the trajectory of teenage tennis player Gauff.Having entered the competition as a wildcard, the tennis star proceeded to knock out five-time Wimbledon women's singles champion Venus Williams in the first round.The teenager was eventually beaten by former world number one Simona Halep in the fourth round, receiving praise from high-profile celebrities including former US first lady Michelle Obama.Following Gauff's departure from Wimbledon, her parents, Corey and Candi Gauff, shared heartfelt messages on Instagram detailing the pride they feel in their daughter's performance at her first Grand Slam.> View this post on Instagram> > So proud of you!!!! You did great. The BEST IS YET TO COME!!!! Ok cocogauff> > A post shared by Candi Gauff (@candigauff) on Jul 8, 2019 at 8:35am PDT"So proud of you!!!! You did great," Gauff's mother's message reads. "The BEST IS YET TO COME!!!!"The former track and field star athlete shared a black-and-white photograph of Gauff taken as she celebrated her third-round victory against Polona Hercog, during which she came back from a set down to win the match.> View this post on Instagram> > I am proud of you @cocogauff ! Thank you everyone for your support! dreamBIG> > A post shared by Corey Gauff (@coreygauff) on Jul 9, 2019 at 2:18pm PDTCorey Gauff stated that he is "proud" in his daughter, using the hashtag "dreamBIG".The former college basketball player shared a selection of photographs taken during the tournament.Several people have praised Corey and Candi Gauff for the support they showed their teenage daughter during the most significant moment in her tennis career."Congratulations to Coco and the two people that have moulded her into the lovely young lady and spectacular athlete that she is today!!" one person commented on Instagram."I applaud you and your wife being present. It really does matter and it's wonderful to see," another added.To read all about the top feminist moments at this year's Wimbledon Championships, click here.For all the latest news on Wimbledon, click here.

  • Meghan Markle attends polo with baby Archie to support Prince Harry
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    The Independent

    Meghan Markle attends polo with baby Archie to support Prince Harry

    The Duchess of Sussex has been spotted with her son Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor at a charity polo match.In his third public outing, Archie is pictured in his mother's arms at the King Power Royal Charity Polo Day, held at Billingbear Polo Club in Berkshire on Wednesday.The duchess and her two-month-old son were in attendance at the event to support the Duke of Sussex, who took part in the polo match in an effort to win the Khun Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha Memorial Polo Trophy.Meghan opted for a casual look at the sports day, donning a khaki green short-sleeved dress, gold-rimmed sunglasses and wearing her hair down.The charity polo match took place less than a week after Archie was christened at the Private Chapel at Windsor Castle on Saturday 6 July.Also in attendance at the charity polo match were the Duchess of Cambridge and her three children – Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis.The royals watched as the Dukes of Cambridge and Sussex competed against one another, Prince William with the King Power Air Asia team and Prince Harry with the Tarmac team.The aim of the polo event is to raise money and awareness for charitable organisations supported by the dukes.It is held in memory of the late Leicester City chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, who died last October in a helicopter crash.Following Archie's christening on Saturday, Buckingham Palace released two photographs of the baby with his family.The images were taken by photographer Chris Allerton, who also photographed Prince Harry and Meghan at their royal wedding reception in May 2018.In the pictures, Archie wears a replica of the Royal Christening Robe, a garment which has been worn by several members of the royal family.On Thursday 4 July, Meghan made a surprise appearance at the Wimbledon Championships.The royal was photographed in the Royal Box on Centre Court, watching as her close friend Serena Williams defeated Kaja Juvan in her second-round match.The duchess wore a gold necklace with a small "A" charm hanging from it, in an apparent nod to her son.The delicate piece of jewellery was reportedly designed by Sydney-based jeweller Verse Fine Jewellery.

  • Kanye West says the term ‘crazy’ will not be used as ‘loosely in future’
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    The Independent

    Kanye West says the term ‘crazy’ will not be used as ‘loosely in future’

    Kanye West has spoken about the importance of understanding mental health conditions, stating that the term “crazy” will not be used “loosely in future”.The rapper revealed he had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder when promoting his 2018 album Ye, describing it as a “superpower” in his song "Yikes".In a new interview with Forbes magazine, the father-of-four discussed his condition and the way in which people discuss mental health.“‘Crazy’ is a word that’s not gonna be used loosely in the future,” West told the publication.“Understand that this is actually a condition that people can end up in, be born into, driven into and go in and out. And there’s a lot of people that have been called that ‘C’ word that have ended up on this cover,” he added in reference to his position as the cover star of the magazine.Earlier this year, the fashion designer said that his bipolar symptoms can lead him to feel “hyper-paranoid” about his surroundings.Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition which can lead to extreme mood swings, the NHS explains. Symptoms can include periods depression and phases of mania.In an interview with David Letterman for the Netflix show My Next Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman in May, West detailed his experiences of "ramping up" due to his mental health condition, saying that doing so can make him feel better able to express his personality.“What I want to say about the bipolar thing is because it has the word ‘bi’ in it, it has the idea of, like, split personality. Well, that works for me because I’m a Gemini, but when you ramp up, it expresses your personality more,” he said.West isn’t the only celebrity to have spoken about how their mental health conditions helps them to see the world from a different prospective.Earlier this year, teenage climate change activist Greta Thunberg explained how the “gift” of living with Asperger syndrome helps her “see things from outside the box” when it comes to climate change.Also in his interview with Forbes, West opened up about his design process and inspiration behind his footwear line, Yeezy, which he launched with Nike in 2009.Citing former Apple co-founder Steve Jobs as his idol, the designer said: “I am a product guy at my core.“To make products that make people feel an immense amount of joy and solve issues and problems in their life, that’s the problem-solving that I love to do.”West added that his childhood obsession with the Lamborghini Countach (his father took him to an auto show featuring the sports car), has meant that there is a “little bit of Lamborghini” in everything he does.“Yeezy is the Lamborghini of shoes,” he noted.The designer, who is married to entrepreneur Kim Kardashian-West, first flexed his design muscles when he created a shoe for the Japanese apparel company A Bathing Ape in 2007, which featured a teddy bear logo which similarly appeared on many of the singer’s early album covers.As a result, West said that the opportunity resulted in him forging numerous friends in the industry including Hedi Slimane, the former creative director of Dior Homme and Yves Saint Laurent.“You’re going to do something really strong in shoes,” he recalled Slimane once telling him.Opening up about his relationship with his wife of four years, West said that given the couple’s busy work schedules, they often swap ideas about their businesses during “bedtime true-crime story meetings”, which involves the reality star watching police procedurals while West shows her his design concepts.“He pushes people to do their best and pushes people even outside of their comfort zone, which really helps people grow,” Kardashian West said of West’s work ethic.

  • Whatever became of urban myths? Were they replaced by fake news?
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    The Guardian

    Whatever became of urban myths? Were they replaced by fake news?

    The long-running series in which readers answer other readers’ questions on subjects ranging from trivial flights of fancy to profound scientific concepts. Urban myths – alligators in the sewers etc – used to be very popular and some were gruesomely entertaining, so why have they disappeared? Have they been replaced by online conspiracy theories and fake news? Gwennan Jones, Michaelston-le-Pit, Vale of Glamorgan Post your answers – and new questions – below or email them to nq@theguardian.com

  • Tell us: have you remarried your partner after divorcing them?
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    The Guardian

    Tell us: have you remarried your partner after divorcing them?

    Does the marriage feel different the second time around? We’d like to hear from you. Are you a believer in second chances? Getting back with a previous lover can often be viewed as a no-go post break-up and whilst remaining friends with an ex can be possible, it’s not always the easiest of moves. So can re-marrying an ex-spouse work? If you and your partner have married, divorced and then married each other again, we want to hear from you. Did you think it could be possible? Did factors such as timing and self-improvement help your decision to re-marry? Share your experiences Why did the marriage break up initially, and what brought you back together again? How have things changed for you, and perhaps your family? Tell us your stories in the form below – one of our journalists may contact you to find out more about your experiences, and we will feature some of the best contributions. If you’re having trouble using the form, click here. Read terms of service here.

  • Kristin Davis tears up recalling racism faced by her adopted children every day
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    The Independent

    Kristin Davis tears up recalling racism faced by her adopted children every day

    Kristin Davis has spoken out about being a white mother to two black children, adding that her white privilege means she will never be able to “fully understand” the hardships they face.In a tearful interview with actor Jada Pinkett Smith and her mother Adrienne Banfield Norris as part of their Red Table Talk series, the Sex and the City star said,“I don’t know how every person of colour has gotten through this [racism]. I don’t understand how you could take this every day.”The 54-year-old has a baby son, whose name has not yet been revealed, who she adopted in 2018 and a daughter, Gemma Rose, who she adopted in 2011 and is seven years old. Davis was resolute about her view of white privilege during the interview, adding: “This is what I want to say, from a white person adopting [black children]: you absolutely do not fully understand. There’s no doubt. There’s no way you could.“It’s one thing to be watching [racism] happening to other people and it’s another thing when it’s your child. And you haven’t personally been through it. It’s a big issue."> View this post on Instagram> > Repost @redtabletalk. ・・・ Jada, Gammy, and KristinDavis are bringing it all to the table. Join us today as they open up about interracial adoption, motherhood, and love. Only on Facebook Watch.> > A post shared by iamkristindavis (@iamkristindavis) on Jul 8, 2019 at 10:29am PDT

  • Should we take our sex dreams seriously?
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    The Guardian

    Should we take our sex dreams seriously?

    A recent study found women are having more saucy dreams. But what is the significance of our erotic reveries?. In certain areas of analysis, it has long been thought that dreams are a window into our unconscious desires. Which is troubling if you have just had a saucy dream about someone you really shouldn’t have. And a new study has suggested that women are having more erotic dreams than ever before (although still less than men). In a paper published in the Psychology & Sexuality journal, Michael Schredl, a sleep researcher at the University of Freiburg, Germany, found that the average frequency of erotic dreams for the 2,907 participants was about 18%. Younger people had more erotic dreams than older people. The researchers raised reasons for all of this – that feminism had made women less likely to be reticent in reporting erotic dreams, and that sex was not as big a part of waking life for older people as it was for younger ones. Mark Blagrove, a professor of psychology at Swansea University, says we should be cautious of retrospective studies – where people report remembered dreams, rather than keep a diary. In a 2007 study of more than 3,500 dream reports by Antonio Zadra, a researcher at the University of Montreal, the frequency of erotic dreams was 8% for both men and women. Women were more likely to have erotic dreams about current or previous partners; men were more likely to dream about multiple sex partners. Blagrove says he would have expected the figure to be higher than 8%, from work he has done on dreams. “You tend to dream of what’s more emotional to you. For that reason, you might expect there to be more erotic content than there actually is.” Tension or problems in waking life may also be more likely to make it into your dreams. So an averagely happy sex life may not lead to X-rated dreams “because there’s nothing there that’s any concern or cause of tension”. Blagrove says it’s only about 15% of a dream “that you can actually relate to recent waking life concerns and events”. A 2014 study by Dylan Selterman at the University of Maryland looked at how dreams – particularly those about infidelity – affected participants’ behaviour with their partners the next day. What Blagrove found interesting was when they looked at participants’ previous day activities. “They couldn’t find anything that predicted erotic content. This means that erotic content does not have a simple one-to-one relationship with events or concerns of the previous day.” Does this mean there is no significance to erotic dreams? “From [this] study, I would say there is no simple relationship.” Dreaming of erotic content “may be almost by chance, or as a depiction of an important waking life concern or event.” Although he adds: “It may well mean something to the individual.” Enjoy, and be thankful that it could be worse – Schredl found 4% of his participants’ dreams were about politics.

  • Parents should play online video games with children, says online safety group
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    The Independent

    Parents should play online video games with children, says online safety group

    Parents should play online games with their children to better understand the risks and benefits this entails, according to an online safety group.New research published by online safety experts Internet Matters on Monday reveals that most parents do not feel confident dealing with the issues surrounding online gaming, despite more than three-quarters of children playing online video games. Their findings indicate that more than half of parents (55 per cent) worry that strangers will approach their children via online gaming platforms, while more than a third (38 per cent) are unsure who their children are playing with online. The report, titled Parenting Generation Game, encourages parents to understand the benefits that gaming can offer, with 62 per cent of those polled acknowledging that playing online games can help develop a child’s problem solving skills.In light of the findings, the London-based, non-profit organisation has produced a series of online resources for parents to provide them with information about the advantages and disadvantages of online gaming – and encourages them to join in with their children. The online guidance also includes suggestions for video games suitable for all the family to play.Andy Robertson, Internet Matters’ gaming expert, added that the range of games on offer is huge.Robertson stated that by getting involved with online gaming with children, parents will be able to “help capitalise on the benefits” and “celebrate” their gaming successes.Internet Matters chief executive Carolyn Bunting said that parents who regularly get involved with their children's activities online are "better placed to lead them through some of the issues they may face.“We’re encouraging parents to do something that may well go against their nature and have a go – get involved. With an overwhelming majority of children playing online games now, it has become part and parcel of growing up in the digital age.”Despite the new initiative, concerns have been raised that video games can be addictive, with an onus placed on developers to do more to protect users, especially young people. The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Select Committee is currently undertaking an inquiry into addictive technologies, which intends to look at video games and their usage of loot boxes: paid-for packs of in-game items which some believe could be used as a gateway into gambling for young people. The news comes after new research revealed that one in four children have experienced a form of online abuse in the past 12 months.Ofcom, the UK’s communications regulator, conducted a study with the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) to identify concerns the nation has about using the Internet.Their findings, which were published in Ofcom’s first annual Online Nation report in May, showed that 23 per cent of children have been cyberbullied in the last year, while 39 per cent have been subjected to offensive language online.

  • Two thirds of parents and grandparents think childhoods are getting worse, study finds
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    The Independent

    Two thirds of parents and grandparents think childhoods are getting worse, study finds

    A children’s charity has warned that a “childhood crisis” could be on the way due to government cuts to services such as family crisis support to child protection.Action for Children – a UK children's charity committed to helping vulnerable children and young people, and their families – conducted a survey of 5,000 young people and adults about their thoughts on childhood.The poll, conducted in collaboration with YouGov, found that that two thirds of parents (60 per cent) and grandparents (62 per cent) felt childhoods were getting worse, and a third of children (34 per cent) agreed.All of the participant’s said bullying, both online and offline, was the main problem, followed by pressure to fit in, which has intensified in the age of social media.Furthermore, 91 per cent of children surveyed said they also worried about "adult issues", including Brexit, poverty and homelessness, and terrorism.The environment and inequality were also on their minds.Julie Bentley, chief executive of the charity, said: "The country is sleepwalking into a crisis in childhood and, far from being carefree, our children are buckling under the weight of unprecedented social pressures, global turmoil and a void in Government policy which should keep them well and safe."Our research shows children worry about poverty, homelessness and terrorism and the vulnerable children we work with every day are facing traumas like domestic abuse or neglect, going hungry or struggling with their mental health, without the support they desperately need."As a result of the findings, Action for Children, has launched a campaign called “Choose Childhood” which calls on the Government to establish a National Childhood Strategy.Figures from the Department for Work and Pensions show the number of children living in poverty in the UK had risen to 4.1 million in 2017/18.Similarly, funding for children's services was cut by 3bn, or 29 per cent, from 2010/11 to 2017/18.Bentley called on the next prime minister to “wake up” to the growing crisis and provide adequate funding to “urgently needed services to keep children safe from harm”.In response to the findings, Damian Hinds, education secretary, said the UK government is making steps to address the concerns of young people by “identifying mental health problems and providing support in schools, encouraging young people to gain resilience and skills through activities such as sport and music, and teaching young people in school how to navigate the online world safely and constructively”.Hinds also explained that the government is currently developing a new Youth Charter, which aims to combat serious violence and knife crime, and concerns about the environment and climate change.Earlier this year, a report revealed that there had been a surge in children being detained in mental health hospitals for several months.The Children’s Commissioner for England said too many children were being admitted to hospital unnecessarily and spending months and years of their childhood in institutions when they do not need to be there.Figures published by Anne Longfield and her team showed the number of children with a learning disability or autism identified in a mental health hospital in England more than doubled in two years, to 250 youngsters in February 2019.

  • Simon Pegg discusses his alcohol addiction and depression: 'I don’t think you ever really lose your demons'
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    The Independent

    Simon Pegg discusses his alcohol addiction and depression: 'I don’t think you ever really lose your demons'

    Simon Pegg has talked about suffering from depression and overcoming alcohol addiction, revealing that he believes it’s impossible to completely “lose your demons”.Last year, the actor opened up about his struggle with alcoholism while filming the 2006 film Mission: Impossible III and how he had to take out court orders to stop the news being made public.In a new interview with GQ Hype, the Shaun of the Dead actor said that he has come to understand how depression and addiction can affect your life.“What I have come to realise from back then is that depression is always there,” he told the publication.“No matter what I did. I don’t think you ever really lose your demons. You just try to find a way to keep them in their place.”The actor continued to say that drugs like alcohol shouldn't be relied upon as a long-term solution.“At some point the effects wear off and you need more and more. And so with something like alcohol, you just end up being drunk all the time,” he added.“It’s where that line comes from in The World’s End where Nick Frost’s character asks me, ‘How do know when you are drunk if you are never sober?’ And an opportunity came up for me to turn everything around and that’s what happened.”The actor revealed that the lowest moment during his battle with addiction was during the San Diego Comic-Con in 2010 while promoting his sci-film film, Paul.Despite having vowed to abstain from alcohol at the time, Pegg said he felt it might improve his low mood during the trip.The Spaced star continued: “I got to the point where I was sitting on the sidewalk in downtown San Diego having lost my phone and eating pizza and it was just so bleak.“When I got home, [his wife] Maureen just knew I had been drinking and it was bad. I knew then I needed to get help.”Following the experience, Pegg sought treatment at The Priory and stopped drinking alcohol altogether.“What I found was that as soon as I stopped, things started to go my way,” he said.“It’s a strange thing and I have had conversations with other people about this, that when you quit drinking the universe starts to give back to you a little bit. Maybe it’s because I figured out why I was drinking, which was to combat the depression and so I was able to get on top of what was the real issue.”Pegg added that his recovery made him when you realise that “you don’t need to get drunk because you don’t need to escape from things".“By actually confronting it, my reward has been these last 10 years.”During the interview, the notoriously private star also revealed his reasons for discussing his mental health problems last year.“I think I was just ready to talk about it, you know?” he said.“Before then, I hadn’t really been prepared to give that much of myself over. It isn’t something I think should be seen as shameful. It’s something that a lot of people suffer with.”The 49-year-old said that as a result of his admission, he received messages of support from fans who thanked him for his honesty.“I had from a lot of people who said, ‘Thank you for saying that, because I felt that way too.’ And that’s what I would have hoped for,” he added.If you have been affected by any issues mentioned in this article, you can contact The Samaritans for free on 116 123 or any of the following mental health organisations:mind.org.uknhs.uk/livewell/mentalhealthmentalhealth.org.uksamaritans.organxietyuk.org.ukSimon Pegg’s full interview with GQ Hype can be read here.

  • Cheryl confesses to 'dying inside' at height of fame due to anxiety
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    The Independent

    Cheryl confesses to 'dying inside' at height of fame due to anxiety

    Former Girls Aloud singer Cheryl has spoken about her battle with anxiety and how she often felt like she was “dying inside” at the height of her fame. In an interview with BBC Radio 1’s Life Hacks on Sunday, Cheryl also discussed her concerns about social media and the impact of online trolls on her wellbeing. “I would walk out to a wall of paparazzi and put on a smile but inside I was dying,” the singer told hosts Kate Thistleton and Cel Spellman.The 36-year-old criticised the ‘facade’ of a perfect life that many people present through social media, stating that it was a problem and something she is guilty of having done in previous years. “I think what happens then is everyone is looking around like, ‘why does everyone seem so good and having a good time in a happy place and I feel rubbish?’ And that’s not helpful,” said the former X-Factor judge.”So if people would just be a bit more open and honest with how they’re feeling, I think we could all help each other.”Cheryl went on to lambast online trolls, stating: “They’re not OK.“If someone has the time and the mental capacity to want to go on an article and write a sentence about somebody, you’ve got to be quite an angry sad person.“You can’t believe people think those things about you, you can’t believe people feel those things about you.”The singer added that she now believes negative comments are more “a reflection than it is a truth” and that they reveal more about the person writing it than the person who it’s directed towards. “These people don’t know you. They have no idea about you as a person or what’s really going on.”The ‘Love Made Me Do It’ singer admitted that she found the online criticism hardest in her teens and early twenties. “You can’t believe people think those things about you, you can’t believe people feel those things about you,” she said. In April this year, Cheryl admitted that she had been undergoing cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) following years of self-loathing. Before giving birth to her son, Bear, in 2017, the pop singer admitted that she didn’t feel content with her life and so decided to turn to a therapist for help.Her experience helped her to “actively undo” all the negative thought patterns and self-talk she had become familiar with. “I would talk to myself so nastily: ‘You silly cow. You stupid b***h.’ No one could make me feel worse about myself than I did, and that was a massive problem,” she said. During the interview, the Newcastle-born star spoke about her experiences of therapy.“I struggled for so many years with anxiety and in my own head,” she said. ”I didn’t want that to be happening when I was trying to focus on raising a child.“It felt like my responsibilities shifted and my priorities changed and I needed to be settled in my own head to be able to give him the best that I could possibly give him.”

  • How to combat hay fever symptoms during summer
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    The Independent

    How to combat hay fever symptoms during summer

    As temperatures continue to fluctuate this summer – with Britain recording its hottest day of the year at the end of June – hay fever sufferers may struggle to spend time outdoors without their symptoms flaring up. For the unlucky individuals afflicted with sneezing fits, runny noses and itchy eyes every year, it can be incredibly frustrating having to endure the debilitating symptoms. However, there are precautions that you can take to keep your symptoms at bay, or at least reduce their severity. Here are some top tips for combatting hay fever this year: Track pollen countPollen count varies day by day depending on the weather.When you check the weather forecast, the information provided will include the daily pollen count.According to Allergy UK, the pollen count tends to be higher on days that are warmer and dryer, and lower on days that are cooler and wetter. This is because rain typically washes pollen from the air.If the day ahead is set to be particularly warm and dry, try to limit your time spent outdoors. Keep cleanWhen you do venture outside, pollen can become attached to your hair and clothes. In order to avoid your hay fever symptoms playing havoc after a day spent outdoors, make sure that you shower and wash your hair after arriving home.You should also change your clothing as soon as possible.When pollen counts are recorded as being high, it’s important to remember not to dry your clothes outdoors. Avoid grassy areasAnyone who suffers from hay fever knows that grassy areas can cause your symptoms to spike.While it may be impossible to avoid grassy areas altogether, if you know that you’re particularly affected by grass it may be worth avoiding large grassy spaces or doing activities such as camping, as advised by Dr Mary Harding.If you’re typically in charge of gardening duties in your household, perhaps it would be best to delegate this task to someone else. Beware car airAs well as being aware of the pollen count outdoors, you need to also take indoor air into account.If you’re travelling in a car, make sure that you keep your car windows closed during your journey.> Hayfever is some neeky illness lmao how are plants making you cry.> > — ِ (@plsbeonjob) > > April 17, 2018> Little bit of sun and suddenly hayfever slaps me on the face> > — Mustafa (@shanshiyoo) > > April 18, 2018Of course, doing this on a hot day can be stifling. However, if you turn on the air conditioning in your car, you may be blasted with pollen from the outside.Investing in a pollen filter for the air vents in your car could do you a whole lot of good.Dr Harding recommends changing pollen filters every time you stop the car for activities such as filling up on petrol or going for a bite to eat. Medicate responsiblyKeeping your stock of hay fever medicine topped up is obviously vital. There are various different types of medicines that you can try, depending on what your doctor recommends is best for you.Antihistamine nasal sprays, antihistamine tablets, steroid nasal sprays and eye drops are all available to buy from local pharmacies to stem hay fever symptoms. Dr Sabrina Shah-Desai, an ophthalmic and oculoplastic surgeon, stated that people with hay fever should take antihistamines before their symptoms start playing up.“In hay fever, histamine causes eye symptoms such as inflammation, redness and itching by acting on H1 histamine receptors in the eyes," she said. “Eye drops block the H1 receptors, however this treatment only works if taken before contact with the allergen, and it can take a number of weeks for the effects of the treatment to be seen."For all the latest updates on the UK weather, click here.

  • Kerry Katona’s daughter condemns ‘disgusting’ Fathers 4 Justice tweet following George Kay’s death
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    The Independent

    Kerry Katona’s daughter condemns ‘disgusting’ Fathers 4 Justice tweet following George Kay’s death

    Kerry Katona's eldest daughter has criticised Fathers 4 Justice for posting an "insensitive" tweet following the death of the singer's ex-husband George Kay.On Sunday, it was reported that Kay had passed away at the age of 39 after being found collapsed at home.Katona and Kay were married for three years from 2014 until 2017. Their daughter, Dylan-Jorge, was born in April 2014.Following the news of Kay's death, fathers' rights organisation Fathers 4 Justice posted a tweet claiming that Katona had denied Kay access to their five-year-old daughter, and stated that the former Atomic Kitten bandmember has "blood on her hands".Katona's 17-year-old daughter Molly McFadden expressed her fury over the tweet, describing it as "disgusting".> Tragic news about the passing of George Kay who came to Fathers4Justice for help. He was heartbroken after @KerryKatona7 denied him access to daughter Dylan-Jorge. Katona’s not ‘heartbroken’. She has blood on her hands. Matt O’C RIP https://t.co/3dcKUSJ5m1> > — Fathers4Justice (@F4JOfficial) > > July 7, 2019> I suggest take this tweet down, how dare you make statements this disguisting at such a vulnerable time, your accusations are innacurate nd extremely insensitive. I truly hope you never find yourself in this kind of situation. Vile words from a vile person you should be ashamed.> > — Molly (@123_mollymc) > > July 7, 2019"I suggest [you] take this tweet down, how dare you make statements this disgusting at such a vulnerable time," McFadden tweeted."Your accusations are inaccurate and extremely insensitive."The Fathers 4 Justice tweet was signed "Matt O'C", implying that Fathers 4 Justice founder Matt O'Connor penned the post.McFadden described the words used in the Fathers 4 Justice tweet as "vile".Several Twitter users similarly criticised the fathers' rights organisation's tweet."You really are disgusting. There is no justification for this tweet," one person wrote."This is disgraceful and you should delete this," another added.In response, O'Connor tells The Independent that he felt it was "appropriate to raise the issue" of Kay's death after the former rugby league player contacted Fathers 4 Justice in March 2018.O'Connor says that he didn't believe his statement regarding Katona having "blood on her hands" "went far enough", adding that the issue "shouldn't be censored".The fathers' rights campaigner describes the difference between mental health treatment for mothers and fathers as "chalk and cheese", stating that in his opinion, society "supports mothers and abandons fathers".On the subject of McFadden's tweet, the Fathers 4 Justice founder says: "It's inappropriate for a 17-year-old minor to get involved in complex adult issues."The Independent has contacted representatives of Katona for comment.

  • I left prison a virgin after 28 years. Now I am struggling to have sex
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    The Guardian

    I left prison a virgin after 28 years. Now I am struggling to have sex

    I have met two women since my release and been unable to perform. I am convinced that years of masturbating has ruined me. I was released from prison last year at the age of 46 after serving 28 years. I was a virgin when I went to prison and I am still a virgin. My whole adult life I have masturbated – sometimes once a week, sometimes seven times a week. I’ve seen plenty of pornography (magazines and movies) and used these things at times when I masturbated. I have never had a problem getting an erection when I masturbate . Since my release, I have met two women. When it was time for sex with the first , I could not get an erection. She tried using her hand and she tried oral sex. Neither worked; it actually felt weird , I guess because only my hand had ever touched my penis. That relationship ended. The second woman I have been seeing for months. She knows of my time in prison and that I am a virgin. When she told me I could go all the way with her, I couldn’t get it up. She was understanding and said it will happen in time , but that did not console me. I am convinced that almost 35 years of masturbating has ruined me. I love her and we will try again one day. When we do and I fail again, I will have to let her go so she can find a man who can satisfy her in that way. I have waited my whole life to lose my virginity . Maybe I need Viagra or some other drug. I had figured that the only problem I would have would be achieving orgasm. I am depressed and scared at the same time. I don’t know what to do. I am sorry that you have become so anxious about your ability to achieve and maintain an erection. But there is no need to be so concerned. It is very unlikely that masturbation has had a detrimental effect on your erectile ability. In fact, it was a good way to sustain your sexual functioning over so many years in prison. The ability to be sexual with a partner is something everyone has to learn; as your recent partner suggested, it will just take a little time. Bridging between sex alone and sex with someone else will require you to relax and let go of your goals to “perform” or even to achieve erection. Instead, try to focus simply on giving and receiving pleasure. You will also need the ability to listen to your partner’s needs and an ability to share your needs with her. And there is nothing wrong with seeking pharmacological help with erectile functioning – at least at first. Most importantly, I understand why pornography may have been the main source of your sex education, but what you learned is not necessarily correct or helpful, because everyone is different. Be patient with yourself. You are about to enter a new phase in the natural process of sexual development that everyone undergoes throughout their life. .Pamela Stephenson Connolly is a US-based psychotherapist who specialises in treating sexual disorders. . If you would like advice from Pamela on sexual matters, send us a brief description of your concerns to private.lives@theguardian.com (please don’t send attachments). Submissions are subject to our terms and conditions: see gu.com/letters-terms .Comments on this piece are premoderated to ensure discussion remains on topics raised by the writer. Please be aware there may be a short delay in comments appearing on the site. Pamela Stephenson Connolly is a US-based psychotherapist who specialises in treating sexual disorders

  • Less than third of new fathers take paternity leave, research suggests
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    The Independent

    Less than third of new fathers take paternity leave, research suggests

    Less than one in three new fathers take paternity leave, a study has found.Research suggests roughly a third (31 per cent) of eligible new fathers used paternity leave in the last year compared to 32 per cent the previous year.Using data collected from HMRC through freedom of information requests, law firm EMW Law also found that the percentage of men taking paternity leave has fallen for four years in a row, with the percentage standing at 34 per cent in 2014/15.The figures contrast with the rising number of women choosing to take maternity leave, which the firm's research found has risen by approximately 5 per cent in the last four years. The government is aware of this disparity and has introduced measures, such as shared parental leave, to make it easier for new parents to balance their work and family lives.But very few people have actually participated in the scheme, with just 1 per cent of eligible new parents doing so in 2017/18.Jon Taylor, of EMW, explained that taking time off work after having a child has become “an unaffordable luxury” for many, particularly given the cost of childcare.“While the problem is particularly acute among gig economy workers and the self-employed, even those who are eligible for paternity pay still face a pay cut by taking time off,” he said.“Shared parental leave is a very well-meaning policy, but it has not yet made any significant inroads into the issue of men being unable to take paternity leave. In fact, the gap between men and women taking time off for the birth of a child is actually widening.”He continued: “Whilst some businesses may decide not to claim the cost of paternity pay from the Government (and therefore would not show up in the figures) it is hard to say whether that would make any material difference. “However, going on the official figures, it is worrying that the number has not moved in the last six years despite all the encouragement for men to take more paternity leave. That combined with the relatively low take up of shared parental leave calls into question whether ‘family friendly’ policies are really working.”

  • Baby name trends: move aside Craig and Gemma, it's time for Jaxon and Aria
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    The Guardian

    Baby name trends: move aside Craig and Gemma, it's time for Jaxon and Aria

    Report shows parents are in pursuit of ‘virtue in rarity’ and opt for distinctive names and alternative spellings. It could be curtains for Craig. One of the most popular boys’ names of the postwar era is facing oblivion if current trends continue, as the speed with which parents tire of old names and rally around new ones appears to be accelerating. Lee, Ross and Shaun are on their way out too, according to analysis of changes in baby names between 1996 and 2017, the latest year for which official data is available for England and Wales. The writing is also on the wall for Jodie and Gemma, with only 20 of each named in 2017 compared with well over 1,000 each in 1996. The changes come as parents flock to alternative spellings and to names such as Khaleesi, an honorific title used in the TV fantasy drama Game of Thrones, in what academics have identified as a pursuit of “virtue in rarity”. For boys, the fastest-rising name is Jaxon, which is as popular now as Mark was in 1996, while for girls it is Aria, as popular as Hayley was 23 years ago. Peak Craig came in the early 1980s, when the singer and DJ Craig David was born. After a period as a comedy punchline thanks to the Bo’ Selecta TV show, his career has rebounded recently with a critically acclaimed album and an appearance on ITV’s Love Island raising the prospect of a renaissance for the name. Yet the number of parents naming their baby boys Craig slumped by 97% between 1996 and 2017, resulting in just 25 new Craigs in all of England and Wales, the biggest fall of any previously popular boy’s name. Scotland, which might be expected to be a safe haven for a name thought to be derived from the Scottish gaelic for stone, creag, produced only 23 last year. Even prominent Craigs appeared unsure about whether their fading name is worth defending. “I blame my mother,” said Craig Whittaker, MP for Calder Valley, when asked about his name. “I am conscious that very few people seem to be called Craig. Actually, I am proud of my name, despite what I just said about my mother. There you go, a U-turn on my name in 30 seconds flat.” “When I was at school, you couldn’t move for us Craigs,” said Craig Elder, a digital campaign strategist. “There were three in my class alone. But it hardly throws up glamorous or contemporary celebs when you think about it – the first thing that springs to mind is Craig MacLachan from Neighbours, Craig David, and one half of the Proclaimers [Craig Reid]. That aside, it’s never really held me back in life, aside from Americans not being able to pronounce it properly and calling you Greg instead.” Things look even worse for Kirsty, whose 2017 cohort of 11 would only just fill a football team, although the broadcaster Kirsty Wark, remained confident for her name’s future. “There’s loads of us – Kirstie Allsopp, Kirsty Young,” she said. “Luckily, there are a few of us around to keep the flag flying.” In any event, it turns out that Wark is a Kirsteen, but isn’t known by it because “they kept calling me Kirsty at university”. Academics at Oxford University who have analysed 170 years of UK names, including the fashion for Old Testament names like Enoch and Cephas in the 19th century and the rise in Indian names after independence in 1947, have found that name choices form “a self-correcting feedback loop, whereby rarer names become common because there are virtues perceived in their rarity, yet with these perceived virtues lost upon increasing commonality”. The search for distinctiveness has thrown up unique spellings, with Abbiegayle, Abagael, Abygayle, Abaigael and Abbygael all deployed only once each between 1998 and 2013. “Towards the present day, we can speculate that the comparatively greater range of media, freedom of movement, and ability to maintain globally distributed social networks increases the number of possible names, but also ensures they may more quickly be perceived as commonplace,” Dr Stephen Bush wrote in his analysis of name choices from 1838 to 2016. “Consequently, contemporary naming vogues are relatively short-lived, with many name choices appearing a balance struck between recognisability and rarity.” Among the fastest-rising names reflecting the growth of the UK’s Muslim population are Ameerah, Aasiyah and Imaan for girl and Musa, Dawud and Zayn for boys. Lee has endured a 95% fall in popularity as a boy’s name and appears to have died out entirely as a girl’s name, with no uses recorded in 2017. It was used over a thousand times for boys in 1996, but that has dwindled to just 51 by 2017, perhaps in part due to its prestige being undermined by Harry Enfield giving the name to a cowboy builder in his Harry Enfield and Chums sketch show. “They are making a mistake,” said Lee Mallett, a writer born in 1957, who said his name had served him well, not least providing a platform for his Lee Marvin impersonation aged 13. “It was rare where I was growing up in rural Lincolnshire and somewhat glamorously American. It was always memorable, and sounded different when other people spoke it to other more popular names. Thanks, Mum and Dad.” Extinction, albeit perhaps temporary, may already have arrived for Lindsay, Lynsey or Lyndsey and Christie or Kristy – the Office for National Statistics has no record of anyone taking those names in 2017. The future is looking grave, too, for Jordan and Brittany/Britney, names borrowed perhaps from two pop culture icons: the glamour model Katie Price, who used the name Jordan, and US singer Britney Spears. But there is hope yet for Craig, said Dr Bush, who observed that its current problems may stem from it seeming like “a dad name”. “Someone is going to reappraise it in the future,” he said. “It’s rare that names disappear completely.” One that has gone is the name given to the third daughter of the Old Testament prophet, Job. His other two daughters, Kezia and Jemima, remain in use, but Keren-happuch hasn’t been used since at least 1996. Consider that a challenge, Guardian readers. Data by Pamela Duncan and Sacha Shevchenko

  • Five ways to feel closer to nature – even if you live in the city
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    The Guardian

    Five ways to feel closer to nature – even if you live in the city

    From stopping to notice the trees and the clouds to putting bird boxes near your windows, spending more time with nature can boost your health and wellbeing. Adapt your routine Two hours a week spent in nature – even if split into short bursts – has been found to give health and wellbeing a significant boost, according to research by the University of Exeter Medical School. Dr Mathew White, who led the study, suggested that a sense of tranquility could be key. Starting your day with a coffee in the garden, or even near an open window, is a simple way to inspire calm. Going outside during your lunch break or spending a few minutes looking at the night sky before bed are other ideas. Pay attention to what is around you Leanne Manchester of the Wildlife Trusts encourages people to take a closer look at plants, trees and even weeds. “Stop to watch bees buzzing around flowers. There’s life everywhere, but it is so easy to miss it; instead, slow down, stop and notice it.” Claire Francis of the charity Sensory Trust says: “Getting outdoors and connecting with nature needn’t involve a five-mile hike.” Jo Phillips, a director of the Forest School Association, suggests looking for “five beautiful things” to engage your senses. “It could be a flower, the clouds, lichen on trees, or the natural light.” Share in nature Getting off the bus a stop early or going for a walk during breaks at work are simple ways to increase exposure to nature, says Manchester. If you’re walking with someone, Phillips suggests pointing out elements that have caught your eye, especially if you are with children. “Looking after the planet needs to become a priority, so we should do everything we can to ensure the parents of the future have memorable experiences in nature, so they can pass on that knowledge to their children.” Find green spaces online With more than 62,000 urban green spaces in Great Britain, one should never be too far away. The Wildlife Trusts has a searchable online map of its nature reserves, almost all of which have free entry; it also provides a list of accessible nature reserves. Greenspace, a downloadable layer in Ordnance Survey maps, is said to be Britain’s most comprehensive catalogue of green spaces for leisure and recreation. Bring nature to your window “For those who can’t get outside, bird boxes close to a window can provide interest all year round, as can growing and nurturing plants on a windowsill,” says Francis. As part of the Wildlife Trusts’ 30 Days Wild campaign, a pack has been designed to help care home residents feel closer to nature. The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds holds its Big Garden Birdwatcheach year, at the end of January.This involves spending an hour observing birds – and you can even do it from a window with a good view.

  • The key to avoiding sexual shame online: reveal it all first
    Style
    The Guardian

    The key to avoiding sexual shame online: reveal it all first

    In the picture: Bella Thorne posted topless pictures that had been posted by a hacker. Photograph: MediaPunch/Rex/ShutterstockA little while ago I got an email saying my computer camera had been hacked, they’d taped me watching “interesting” porn, and unless I transferred cash immediately, they’d send the video to all my contacts. Which porn, I wondered idly. Was it the late-night scrolls of modernist houses splayed across Californian hills, the sensual greenery of Instagram plantfluencers, or the staccato clicks through embroidered folk art on eBay, quickly minimised when my boyfriend entered the room? The email dropped into hundreds of colleagues’ inboxes at the same time and it was possible to gauge their viewing habits and the membranous walls of their kinks by the speed at which they called the IT department.> Spam emails inviting us to take receipt of £1m have been replaced by sextortion scamsThe exploitation of such fears are a side-effect of eternal connectivity, primal desire and our doughy cloak of shame. Spam emails inviting us to take receipt of £1m have been replaced by sextortion scams, which are much more effective in these days when news of real blackmail cases proliferate and celebrities are threatened with leaked nudes monthly. And when phones are also tit windows and porn studios. Yet our relationship with sex remains vaguely tortured, held at arm’s length as if gazed at through varifocals.The latest celebrity is 21-year-old actor Bella Thorne, who tweeted that a hacker was blackmailing her with stolen pictures, but that she was taking her power back – and she posted the topless photos that had been stolen. By sharing the pictures, she removed the shame, and defused the bomb. Two days later, to much online fury, Whoopi Goldberg chastised her on TV. “If you’re famous, I don’t care how old you are. You don’t take nude pictures of yourself… Once you take that picture, it goes into the cloud and it’s available to any hacker who wants it, and if you don’t know that in 2019 this is an issue, I’m sorry.”And… Whoopi had a point. She had a point about security, about the ease with which hackers can access data, data that we pay to store, and which we should be able to trust with bank details, bad poetry and even the most pinkly intimate pictures. But it was a small point and one that pointed in a different direction to Thorne’s, and one that she framed in a way that laid blame on the victim. The victim here being, by extension, every person whose body has appeared on the internet without their consent, every girl whose boyfriend has forwarded their picture to his WhatsApp group.And besides, as deepfakes multiply, Thorne’s strategy is no longer viable. This is a problem that’s only going to get worse. Though it’s reported that fewer young people are having sex than in previous generations, far more are having sext. According to the University of Texas Medical Branch, at least 25% of teenagers in the US “have received sexually explicit videos, images or messages on their mobile phone”. Not only is the genie out of the bottle but the bottle has smashed and the glass been trampled with so many boots it’s turned to sand.Last week the Law Commission was asked to examine legislation around the creation and sharing of non-consensual, intimate images. “No one should have to suffer the immense distress of having intimate images taken or shared without consent,” said the justice minister Paul Maynard. “We are acting to make sure our laws keep pace with emerging technology and trends in these disturbing and humiliating crimes.”This is one way to remove the bitter threat of revenge porn. But alongside these essential legal updates, Thorne has revealed a way to castrate it, to remove its power. It’s a sport we can all take part in. In a grand act of vanity publishing, everybody should post their nudes. Everybody should upload a variety of photos of a variety of their bottoms, with a view to owning their own bodies and sexualities, and undermining the exploitation of sexual shame, this Furby with teeth.Not me, of course, I don’t have a body, just a small brain and two sharp typing fingers. But everyone else. As the wise sex columnist Dan Savage pointed out: “Nearly everyone has a few nude photographs out there somewhere (saved on a stranger’s phone; archived on a dating app you forgot you signed up for; lingering on some tech company’s servers). And yet a single solicited dirty pic has the power to end someone’s career.”Undoubtedly, this will not be the case for long – the person campaigning to become prime minister in 2050, surveying the vinegar-scented rubble of their remaining hamlets, will be no more worried about the impact of their naked pics than the glowing rat nibbling at their shoe. But in order for them to enjoy this freedom, we need to take revenge porn and victim-blaming seriously, and sex itself far less seriously. We need to inoculate ourselves against sexual shame, using honesty, hard words, and yes, our camera phones. You first. Email Eva at e.wiseman@observer.co.uk or follow her on Twitter @EvaWiseman

  • Archie Windsor: Where does Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s child fit in the line of succession?
    Style
    The Independent

    Archie Windsor: Where does Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s child fit in the line of succession?

    On Monday 6 May, Buckingham Palace announced that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex had welcomed a baby boy.The arrival of the couple's first child, Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor, changed the line of succession for the throne.Prince Harry and Meghan's son is seventh in line to the throne, meaning that Prince Andrew, the Queen's second eldest son, is now eighth in line.The first few members of the royal family in the line of succession remain unchanged.First in line is Prince Charles, who became the longest-serving heir apparent in 2017.The Prince of Wales beat a previous record of 59 years, two months and 13 days set by his great-great-grandfather King Edward VII.Prince Harry's older brother, the Duke of Cambridge, is second in line to the throne.He and the Duchess of Cambridge's three children – Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis – follow behind, in third, fourth and fifth place respectively.The Duke of Sussex is sixth in line, which subsequently places his newborn son in seventh place.In April 2018, Princess Charlotte made history as the first female member of the royal family to retain her claim to the throne following the birth of her younger brother.Prior to the Succession to the Crown Act of 2013, a female royal’s claim to the throne would have been diminished by the arrival of a younger brother.However, as stated by the legislative act when it was passed six years ago: "In determining the succession to the Crown, the gender of a person born after 28 October 2011 does not give that person, or that person’s descendants, precedence over any other person (whenever born).”Following the announcement of his son's birth, Prince Harry addressed the press in Windsor.The beaming father said that watching his wife give birth was an "amazing experience"."I’m very excited to announced that Meghan. and myself had a baby boy early this morning, a very healthy boy," he said."How any woman does what they do is beyond comprehension."We're both absolutely thrilled and so grateful for all the love and support from everybody out there. It's been amazing."For all the latest news on the royal baby, follow The Independent's live blog here.