Wednesday, 2 April 2014




 A thorough analysis of our weight-obsessed culture.

“Disliking one’s body and wanting to be thinner is the new normal,” writes British newspaper columnist and BBC TV presenter Woolf (An Apple A Day: A Memoir of Love and Recovery from Anorexia, 2013) in her colloquial scrutiny of contemporary society’s fixation on weight, appearance and the desire for outward perfection. She knows this slippery terrain well: Her bracing memoir chronicling a decadelong physical and psychological preoccupation with food is well-referenced here in chapters tackling the many facets of mild to major body dysmorphia.

As her great niece, the author quotes Virginia Woolf casually throughout well-researched sections (“ministries”) exploring the social connotations and demonizations of food, tedious diets (“the triumph of hope over experience”), fitness, sex and the concept of aging gracefully without the trendiest plastic surgeries. Along the way, she shares her personal indulgences (baked beans and frozen yogurt) and a marked disenchantment with increasing societal (and media) pressures placed on women to look, act, eat and feel a way that is often at odds with their goal of happiness and healthfulness. Less appealing are mildly catty approaches to celebrities like Victoria Beckham, Kate Middleton, Liz Hurley and others; Woolf’s angle may prove nettlesome to readers eager for less judgment and more confidence boosting.

Of particular interest is the author’s presentation of a ground-breaking 1940s food deprivation study, the findings of which offered dramatic insights as to how starvation alters the body and the mind simultaneously. Vividly rendered and creatively explored, Woolf’s text encourages nonconformity and individuality on many fronts, even as her burning query remains, “if being thin is the answer, what’s the question?”

Relevant, engrossing and sure to help liberate those in the throes of a weight battle or lifestyle crisis.

Monday, 31 March 2014

Latest column for the Daily Beast Emma Woolf On Losing Her 'Girls' Virginity
What happens when a British writer finally gives into the hype and watches her very first episode of Lena Dunham’s hipster extravaganza? An experience about as uncomfortable and unforgettable as Adam and Hannah’s Season 1 sex scene.
They say good news travels fast. Perhaps this explains why it’s taken me two years to get around to watching Girls. I’d never seen a single episode of the hit HBO series until last week. And frankly, I’m still recovering...

Friday, 21 March 2014

ah, such a lovely wedding yesterday! with Jacqui & Dash getting married, their daughter Ellovie & talented poet Michael Lee Rattigan, clowning around outside Chelsea Town Hall & enjoying bubbly...



Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Monday, 17 March 2014

a lovely write-up of one of my recent talks from a student journalist at Exeter University

Is it a nightclub? Is it a spa? No, it's London hottest new fitness craze: Psycle. And I'm just a little bit hooked. This week's column for The Daily Beast

As someone who cycles around 50 miles a week, I thought Psycle would be easy. How wrong I was. You’re in constant movement: cycling standing up, bodies angled forward, then leaning right over, Tour de France style, then seated while using hand weights, then executing multiple push-ups on the handlebars, clapping, stretching, always pedalling in time to the beat. Try cycling standing up, without allowing your upper body to bounce up and down: this is what it means to ‘engage your core’.

With the lights low and the music high, and everyone cycling in unison, white shoes flashing in disco light, there’s an incredible group energy (and I’m really not into group exercise).It induces a kind of physical and mental euphoria I haven’t experienced since my clubbing days after all-nighters on the dance-floor. We vary the bike’s resistance constantly—turning it way up high to Michael Jackson’s Beat It, for example, while simultaneously punching the air. Psycle works your upper body too, with even the men working those ballet arms.

Halfway through the class there’s a single musical track to give you time ‘to do your own thing’. You can cycle fast or slow, as long as you keep time to the beat. I find it a beautiful, meditative few minutes in the darkness, a spiritual sanctuary which really clears my head...

Saturday, 15 March 2014

"But if you love and must needs have desires, let these be your desires: To melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night. To know the pain of too much tenderness. To be wounded by your own understanding of love; And to bleed willingly and joyfully.”  
The Prophet, Kahlil Gibran