• Duchess of Cambridge takes part in attachment parenting talk during charity visit
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    Marie Claire Dorking

    Duchess of Cambridge takes part in attachment parenting talk during charity visit

    During the visit the Duchess of Cambridge spoke with experts from the FNP about the scientific theory of attachment.

  • Dictionary adds 'they' as nonbinary pronoun for the first time
    Style
    Marie Claire Dorking

    Dictionary adds 'they' as nonbinary pronoun for the first time

    The dictionary has officially recognised the singular use of 'they' as a pronoun for people who identify as nonbinary.

  • Princess Beatrice and her boyfriend holiday in Positano fuelling rumours of a royal wedding in Italy
    Style
    Marie Claire Dorking

    Princess Beatrice and her boyfriend holiday in Positano fuelling rumours of a royal wedding in Italy

    Could Princess Beatrice be planning a wedding abroad?

  • Women, looking unapproachable could be your greatest asset
    Style
    The Guardian

    Women, looking unapproachable could be your greatest asset

    Meeting the world with a ‘resting bitch face’ may not be what society demands, but it protects you against unsolicited male attention in public. With girls as young as 13 years old now opting for Botox, it is clear that ageing is no longer the only thing women are trying to ward off. An article in the New York Post has noted a rise in women seeking plastic surgery to “fix” their so-called “resting bitch face”. This is a women-only affliction, where, even when wearing a neutral expression, you appear perpetually standoffish. In reality, it refers to any time that a woman’s facial expression is set in anything less than a smile. According to one doctor quoted in the piece, the number of requests for the procedure have more than doubled in the past year. This isn’t exactly shocking – women are made to feel bad about just about everything in terms of their appearance – but to me it seems many of these women are getting rid of something that is actually a great asset. In a world where simply being a woman is considered an invitation for unsolicited comments and unwarranted conversation from complete strangers, looking unfriendly is useful armour. It can, at times, be the only barrier between a woman and unwanted small talk on the tube, or a bar. Or on a run. Or on the high street. Or a public bench. Or even while in the middle of conversation with someone else. Heckling and catcalling are rife – should we not at least be allowed to look less than pleased about it? But that would grossly overestimate the amount of emotional intelligence and shame some men have. Because, like anything else, looking grim-faced can be, in and of itself, an invitation. If I had a quid for each of the times I have heard: “Smile, love, it might never happen” shouted at me across the street, I might have the money to rid myself of my own “resting bitch face”. When men say this, it never seems to occur to them that whatever the “it” in question is, it has probably already happened – one look at the world around you should be enough to realise there is often little to smile about. Yet Victoria Beckham’s signature scowl and Kristen Stewart’s tendency to mean-mug have merely culminated in more column inches requesting they turn that frown upside down or, at least, into something that is slightly less offputting. What all this tells us is that women must be amiable and approachable by default. Even when we’re not interacting, we must be poised and primed to do so. Tellingly, there is no “resting grumpy bastard face” equivalent for men – people are far less concerned about faces they don’t deem public property.

  • Noel Fielding's optical illusion shirt distracts Bake Off fans
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    Marie Claire Dorking

    Noel Fielding's optical illusion shirt distracts Bake Off fans

    "Please don't ever let noel fielding wear that shirt ever again, I swear it's given me a headache."

  • Gwendoline Christie says her body draws 'extreme responses' from people
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    Marie Claire Dorking

    Gwendoline Christie says her body draws 'extreme responses' from people

    “You either exist in a state of shame about not fitting into society or you embrace what you have.”

  • Why cases of adult eczema are on the rise – particularly in women
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    Marie Claire Dorking

    Why cases of adult eczema are on the rise – particularly in women

    Studies say the condition is on the rise – and that it affects more women than men.

  • Boots accused of racism after only using security tags on 'black haircare' products
    Style
    Francesca Specter

    Boots accused of racism after only using security tags on 'black haircare' products

    Is there a racist double standard?

  • Daughter's hilarious obituary for prankster dad
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    Yahoo Lifestyle

    Daughter's hilarious obituary for prankster dad

    The daughter of an 'obnoxious prankster' has penned a heartwarming tribute to her late father.

  • Pregnant Rachel Riley says troll stress impacted her baby's movements
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    Marie Claire Dorking

    Pregnant Rachel Riley says troll stress impacted her baby's movements

    The 'Countdown' star said her baby stopped wriggling for a couple of days.

  • Men with faulty BRCA2 gene have 'almost double the prostate cancer risk'
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    Marie Claire Dorking

    Men with faulty BRCA2 gene have 'almost double the prostate cancer risk'

    The BRCA2 gene fault is usually associated with breast and ovarian cancer in women.

  • Plus-size singer Lizzo wants people to stop calling her 'brave' for posing nude
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    Francesca Specter

    Plus-size singer Lizzo wants people to stop calling her 'brave' for posing nude

    The 31-year-old has become a key figure within the body positivity movement.

  • Couple hide baby's gender to protect them from 'unconscious bias'
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    Marie Claire Dorking

    Couple hide baby's gender to protect them from 'unconscious bias'

    The couple want their child to decide their gender when they're older.

  • I have to fantasise about porn to climax with my boyfriend
    Style
    The Guardian

    I have to fantasise about porn to climax with my boyfriend

    I am left with a feeling of disgust and lingering guilt, but I don’t know what else to do. I’m a 20 -year-old woman and my boyfriend is 21. We have been together for a year. While I didn’t masturbate until I was 16 and I watch pornography once every few months, I still have to fantasise about porn scenes to be able to climax when we have sex. It disgusts me, but I don’t know how else to do it . After sex, while we are trying to relax and cuddle , I am left with a lingering feeling of guilt. Help my diseased millennial mind! Taking a practical approach in order to achieve orgasm during sex with a partner does not constitute a disease – or even something worthy of guilt. Most people make similar decisions at different times and in different situations. You are lucky to be able to trigger your own orgasm through fantasy – some people cannot. There is no perfect way to make love; when people are invested in trying to please each other and create a relatively brief sexual exchange, they often choose expediency over pleasure. But, if you want to have truly satisfying sex with sustained pleasure, you will both have to fully relax, allocate more uninterrupted time and approach lovemaking without the goal of orgasm for either of you. Your task should be simply to enjoy; you will have to banish distractions and focus solely on the giving and receiving of pleasure. Even so, you may feel the need to use separate fantasy to climax. This habit can be broken if you take the time to train yourself to be truly in the erotic moment. . 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.

  • As Sir Rod Stewart tells men to check for prostate cancer, here’s what you need to know
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    Marie Claire Dorking

    As Sir Rod Stewart tells men to check for prostate cancer, here’s what you need to know

    The 74-year-old singer was diagnosed in 2017 but is now prostate cancer-free.

  • Just not sporty: how to embrace exercise as an adult if you disliked it as a child
    Style
    The Guardian

    Just not sporty: how to embrace exercise as an adult if you disliked it as a child

    Bad memories of PE can give people the lifelong impression they’re not cut out for sport. But plenty of adults have left behind sedentary lifestyles – you just have to find the right approach. When Sarah Overall was a child, a PE teacher held the entire class back because Overall would not do the high jump. She was tiny – as an adult, she is under 5ft (1.5m) tall – and was scared of hurting herself on the metal bar. “I was too short to get over it,” she says. “I remember the whole class watching.” Netball was “pure hell”. She enjoyed hockey, which suited her body better, but she felt written off by her PE teacher. “I was like: ‘Do you not get that I actually work really hard at the things I can do?’” Now, years later, Overall is a personal trainer and sees the damage that bad PE lessons have had on her clients. “It’s pretty much everybody who comes to me,” she says. “I don’t think I’ve got anybody, especially a woman, who has said: ‘I was good at sport at school.’” It is something other trainers see, too. “Kids at school are not like babies and toddlers who try to crawl, fail, try to crawl, fail,” says Joslyn Thompson Rule, a personal trainer. “They sense embarrassment and shame, and it’s easier not to try than to try but fail. Unfortunately, it becomes a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy and leads to them not being able to do it.” Teenage experience, she says, “can affect your perception of your ability”. The things we are told as children and teenagers stay with us. I was not particularly sporty at school, although I clearly remember being praised by my PE teacher one day after a volleyball class. The idea that I am good at that one particular sport has, weirdly, become a small part of my identity – even though I have never played a game of volleyball since. Likewise, I hated cross-country running with a passion and, for years, told myself it wasn’t for me, only to discover a love of running – especially over fields and hills – more than two decades later. “Kids pick up all kinds of stuff, whether or not anybody actually labels them – they make comparisons with their peers and draw conclusions,” says Wendy Johnson, a professor of psychology at the University of Edinburgh. “There’s nothing intrinsic to say these kinds of labels have to get wired into our identities, but sometimes they do – when kids are often last to be picked for teams or laughed at for being slow or clumsy. Things can happen along the way to reverse impressions like this, but for some kids, these identities can last a lifetime.” All of this is not to bash PE teachers, although many adults who still hate exercise blame the teaching methods of decades ago. There is a lot of good practice out there, says Stuart Kay, schools director of the Youth Sport Trust. Schools are under immense pressure, and PE is suffering (according to research last year by the trust, 38% of secondary schools in England have cut the time dedicated to PE for 14- to 16-year-olds since 2012). The stereotype of the sadistic games teacher is probably largely unfair, but, says Kay, there is “room for improvement in some areas”. Historically, PE lessons were “largely about physical ability”, he argues, but for older children it is equally important for the lessons to cover social and emotional wellbeing. “If you think about some of the things that turn people off sport, they’re probably the same things that turn people off competition,” he says. Competition can be made more inclusive beyond physical ability. “We’re not trying to get rid of competition; instead, we’re saying what can you do about the rules, the environment, and how are you going to decide on a winner? By reframing competition, you can make it more inclusive, and make sure that things other than sporting prowess are celebrated.” These could include allowing everyone to play, rather than only a select few making a team, or changing the scoring so it is not only about goals or runs – the outcome of a game – but also giving scores for behaviour or skill. Johnson says she always told her children: “Exercise is good for our bodies, and everyone can find some exercise they can enjoy; it doesn’t matter if you’re particularly good at it.” As an adult, you can shift your identity around whether or not you are “sporty” by simply doing it, she says. “Pick up any issue of Runner’s World – it’s full of people who have come to running in their 40s or 50s and ended up getting into it and running marathons. I don’t mean winning, but they see the benefits not just of the exercise, but joining a club, where the focus is on the community rather than being the best.” Labels such as “sporty” have particular connotations, she says, and it is not necessarily useful to think of yourself in those terms. “Not just about exercise and health, but about fashion, values, lifestyles, athleticism and sexual identity. Physical exercise that boosts physical health and psychological wellbeing comes in many forms that aren’t sporty – dancing is exercise, as is gardening, carpentry and housework. If the goal is physical exercise for health, one doesn’t have to have a sporty identity. Think broadly about anything that involves getting yourself moving.” Overall rediscovered sport after enjoying aerobics classes. Hannah Lewin, a personal trainer, says many of her clients suffer from a lack of confidence around sport and exercise, usually instilled in them as teenagers. Instead of something to be enjoyed, sport became “a stressful experience. An early negative experience around being shamed, or being forced to do something you weren’t naturally very good at – and then belittled for not being very good at it – is something I see every day. It really does carry through into adulthood.” Adults tend to find their way to her – and exercise – once their confidence has improved. “They may have had other successes in work or relationships,” says Lewin. Overall adds: “You’re now doing this for yourself. You don’t have the pressure of teammates, and nobody is judging you. Don’t compare yourself with anybody else. Once you find the activity that is right for you, and a situation you are comfortable in, you can be surprised at what you can do.” She has had clients who have gone from sedentary lifestyles to running marathons. All the personal trainers I speak to say you should choose something you enjoy – this isn’t about compulsory rounders any more. “Gyms can be daunting places and you can feel the same as an adult as you did as a child – not being good enough, fit enough, strong enough,” says Thompson Rule. If being shouted at in a HIIT class isn’t working for you – or brings back bad memories – do something else. “If you keep forcing yourself to do something you’re really not enjoying, it’s going to become another source of stress,” says Lewin. “You’ll give up and come back to that old idea of: ‘I’m not sporty.’ That’s not the case. You just haven’t found what’s right for you.”

  • Mum with extreme 'food phobia' has lived off cheese sandwiches for nearly 30 years
    Style
    Marie Claire Dorking

    Mum with extreme 'food phobia' has lived off cheese sandwiches for nearly 30 years

    April Griffiths has a panic attack every time she tries new foods.

  • Mum called 'disgusting' and told to 'cover up' after breastfeeding in cafe
    Style
    Marie Claire Dorking

    Mum called 'disgusting' and told to 'cover up' after breastfeeding in cafe

    Now she is trying to help #normalisebreastfeeding.

  • Five ways to start saving – from paying yourself first to premium bonds
    Style
    The Guardian

    Five ways to start saving – from paying yourself first to premium bonds

    It’s a good idea to lock your money away … although perhaps go for a savings account rather than a piggy bank. Photograph: joebelanger/Getty Images/iStockphoto Pay yourself firstRather than treating savings as an afterthought, set up a standing order into a separate account as soon as you get paid, says Anna Bowes, the co-founder of Savings Champion. “That way it can become just another bill, but one that you will benefit from in the future.”Jasmine Birtles, the founder of MoneyMagpie.com, calls it paying yourself first. “Everyone says they have no money at the end of the month to put into savings,” she says. “That’s why you have to put the money into a savings account at the beginning of the month.”It doesn’t matter how much it is, says Bowes, as long as you start. Some savings accounts accept payments from just £1. Set goalsWhile most finance experts advocate saving into a pension, retirement should not be your only goal. Shorter-term goals may be more motivating. If you usually pay for your holiday by credit card and pay it back over months, consider saving for it in advance.Many banks let you set specific markers that show you how much progress you are making towards your target. When you have ticked off one goal, keep saving for the next. Use technologyBirtles recommends the “savings jars” offered by digital banks such as Monzo and Starling, which allow you to separate money from your current account, but move it back easily if you need it. Many of these banks also let you set spending limits – either overall daily maximums or for different categories of purchases – then round up your spending to the nearest £1 and squirrel away the difference.There are also apps that may help kickstart a savings habit. Chip, for example, makes automatic “microsavings” based on how much you are spending. Birtles suggests Moneybox, which lets you put small amounts into an investment Isa. There are fees, she warns, “but it’s still worth doing as it gets you into stock market investing with just 50p here and there.” Lock your money awayIf you find a savings account linked to your current account too easy to plunder, open one at a different bank and pick one without a cash card. You could even destroy the online login details if you really don’t trust yourself.Alternatively, go for an account that restricts your access. Regular savings accounts often have terms and conditions that you need to stick to. “That could discourage skipping deposits and making withdrawals,” says Bowes. Have a flutterPremium bonds may not be fashionable or hi-tech, but every bond you own has the chance of winning you up to £1m. Though you are likely to get better returns from a good savings account, you need just £25 to buy bonds, and they are a bit of a faff to cash in, which should help you resist withdrawing your cash. Plus there’s always the hope that next month could be your lucky one …

  • Stephen Collins on Larry and Dilyn – cartoon
    Style
    The Guardian

    Stephen Collins on Larry and Dilyn – cartoon

    Stephen Collins on Larry and Dilyn – cartoon

  • Sad face: New Zealander takes clown to redundancy meeting
    Style
    The Guardian

    Sad face: New Zealander takes clown to redundancy meeting

    Josh Thompson hired clown – who reportedly mimed crying as the paperwork was handed over – as emotional support aide. If you think emotional support animals have got out of control, prepare yourself for news of an emotional support clown. An Auckland advertising copywriter brought a clown to his redundancy meeting, as first reported in the New Zealand Herald on Friday. New Zealand legally requires employers to allow workers the option of bringing a support person to serious disciplinary meetings, usually relating to an employee’s prospective dismissal. After FCB New Zealand lost a significant client and began layoffs, Josh Thompson, who had reportedly been with the company for five months, received an ominous email from his bosses that read: “Bad news. We’re having a meeting to discuss your role.” Faced with the task of securing an appropriate support person for the potentially tense meeting, Thompson, an aspiring comedian, said: “I thought it’s best to bring in a professional, and so I paid $200 and hired a clown.” The clown, who Thompson refers to as “Joe”, crafted balloon animals throughout the meeting, including a poodle. His antics were squeaky, and Thompson’s bosses had to request he quieten down several times. “It’s further understood,” reported the Herald, “that the clown mimed crying when the redundancy paperwork was handed over.” A picture of the meeting, taken through a boardroom’s glass doors by an unknown spectator, is of compromised quality, though one can detect that Joe, the clown, is wearing a colorful hat and a yellow bib, and that Thompson, leaning back in his chair, indeed looks relaxed for someone in the process of getting laid off. Thompson told Magic Talk radio: “I mean, I did get fired, but apart from that it was all smooth running.” Fortunately, Thompson will not be out of work for long. The Australian ad agency DDB confirmed Thompson will start a new role in its office next week. As of publishing, no reports have suggested what’s next for Joe.

  • Mattel's sold-out 'Day of the Dead' Barbie called 'cultural appropriation at its worst'
    Style
    Francesca Specter

    Mattel's sold-out 'Day of the Dead' Barbie called 'cultural appropriation at its worst'

    Cultural appropriation or a celebration?

  • I’ve turned my hand to matchmaking
    Style
    The Guardian

    I’ve turned my hand to matchmaking

    ‘True compatibility lies in our values, temperament and other digital dark matter – the human stuff that can’t be transmitted online.’ Photograph: Getty Images/iStockphotoBeing British Asian, the role of the “matchmaker” is perhaps more familiar to me than to others. Usually, what you hear about south Asian matched relationships is the extreme end: forced marriages, weddings between strangers, loveless pairings built on shame and subterfuge. But for plenty, the tradition is much closer to a suggestion – a kindness – and what you should do for those you love.I kicked against any type of matchmaking when I was young. Not for any grandiose reason; I simply did not trust the judgment of my relatives. I thought they had truly terrible taste (one of them remains a huge fan of Mrs Brown’s Boys) and I felt their picks were about them and their image of who I should be, rather than what I wanted.But recently I decided to matchmake my friends. I couldn’t bear listening to these two brilliant people sink into another sadness after yet another bad experience via an app. He would say it, she would say it, shell-shocked: “I thought they were one of the Good Ones.”I, too, have previously thought I could spot the Good Ones (previous “surefire” signs include: is nice to his sister; does charity at Christmas; has read a book written by a woman once). But this was nothing more than superstition, a crude way to make sense of something unfathomable: finding love in our weird modern world.And it is weird. Online matches are inspired by boredom, biases and superficial preferences. Meanwhile, true compatibility lies in our values, temperament and other digital dark matter – the human stuff that can’t be transmitted online.How did I do? There are few things as satisfying as hearing that two people you matched are happy. I imagine it was beginner’s luck, because I am no expert. The stuff of love is too elusive to be mastered.

  • School pupil sent out of lessons for wearing 'incorrect' black shoes
    Style
    Francesca Specter

    School pupil sent out of lessons for wearing 'incorrect' black shoes

    The Old Skool Vans are said to break the uniform policy.

  • Child’s play injures more than 7 million parents
    Style
    Marie Claire Dorking

    Child’s play injures more than 7 million parents

    And more than 13 million working days are lost.