I gave up reading the news quite some time ago.
It wasn’t because I didn’t like reading it; it was actually quite the contrary. I loved reading it. Everyday when I woke up I was checking the news compulsively, then again at numerous intervals throughout the day (often paying more attention to it than the reality happening all around me), and then again right before I went to sleep. It started originally as a harmless antidote to boredom, and soon became the thing that punctuated my entire day – taking up a majority percentage of my free time in the process.
At this point it’s worth telling you that when I say news I don’t mean headlines of global importance that tell us if war is going to break out, or what the Government are saying about the deficit (although those kind of stories should contain their own health warning) I mean the trashy kind that tell us when Kim Kardashian has posted a naked selfie. Or a fully clothed selfie. Or a mirror selfie. You know the sort.
Naturally this type of story was adding very little value to my day. I knew that – I even admitted quite freely that I thought these articles were absolute drivel – but I enjoyed reading them anyway. As such I had no inclination to stop. It was only when Lent came around, and I wanted to relinquish something that wasn’t food related, that I got the idea to abstain from this type of news. I wasn’t under any illusion that it was going to be easy, but it was far preferable than giving up sweets again. So I wiped my phone from all of the incriminating applications, and prepared for my trashy-news-cleanse.
The first week was admittedly tough; there were certainly occasions where I almost buckled. But by the end of the second week? Well, I didn’t miss it at all. I actually realised my mindset had considerably improved without the constant bombardment of inferiority they’re designed to spread. Because in taking a step back from these stories I gained a deeper clarity for what they really are. A collaboration of words and images which exist to communicate one message: that life (or at least life as a woman) is nothing unless you are constantly striving to be prettier/thinner/wealthier/with more make-up and fewer clothes (because there’s honestly nothing worse than being caught without make-up! And if you really must have to wear clothes, for goodness sake, make sure they’re designer.)
I obviously kind of knew all along that this was the exact message that was subliminally coming out to us (I wasn’t ignorant enough to believe the ideology contained in these stories actually laid the foundations for a happier life) but I honestly didn’t think I was the kind of person who would ever be genuinely influenced by it either. I thought – silly me – I was immune from it. It was only in my absence that I actually appreciated how it had subconsciously been getting under my skin all along. Whether I was aware of it or not, I’d actually spent a lot of time comparing myself to these images, and in doing so I’d wasted a lot of time trying to aspire to something that is – quite frankly – completely synthetic.
But there’s no denying that they’re popular. Because reports about world famine, or how the gender pay gap still exists in 2017, go out to the noise of a million groans. But seeing how much weight Khloe Kardashian has lost – well – that’s a universal must read. Who ultimately deserves the blame for that? Well I’m not entirely sure. All I can say for certain is that the popularity of these stories is so widespread it will take a monumental shift to get away from them. One that I know this silly little article won’t massively contribute to.
But it might just make a few people stop and think. And if it does, I’ll be somewhat happy. Because I can say with quite compelling clarity that my headspace improved massively by taking a break from this type of news. The second my day stopped being consumed with idle celebrity reportings I was free from worrying about how to conform to such an unrealistic ideal. It allowed me more time to focus on things that would genuinely add value to my life, and figure out the things I inherently want to achieve -as opposed to the things they’re claiming should be my aspirations (like that Mulberry bag which no real girl should have to live without.) Don’t get me wrong, I’m not perfect- there are still more days than I care to count where I wish I had Blake Lively’s everything, and I’m a villain of mindless consumerism a lot more than I’d like to be – but I have improved. Even if only ever so slightly. That’s why if there is ever going to be one thing that I would advocate quite incessantly, it’s allowing yourself to take a step back from that media storm every once in a while. In doing so you might just learn how to be a little more kind to yourself, and that is one thing that is definitely worth striving for. ❤️