Can we discuss the infidelity narrative around Lemonade for a second?

Lemonade

I’m not the biggest fan of Beyonce’s music. There, I said it. Send over the angry mob.

It seems that I never really grew out of my tortured alt-kid phase, so even now at the grand age of 31, times of emotional turmoil are more likely to see me lying face down on the floor listening to Placebo or Ill Nino than the heartfelt and empowering lyrics of Queen Bey. It’s just personal taste.

Nonetheless, I recognise that Beyonce is a fucking phenomenal woman, and an absolutely critical role model for all women during these dark times – few will take such a central place in the cultural history books than she, and her recent surprise visual album drop is testament to that.

Did Jay-Z cheat on her? No-one can say for sure, but the themes running throughout Lemonade – and of course the unrelenting media speculation – would suggest something was up. And she owned it. She took all the pain, anger, sadness and desperation of infidelity and turned it into a defiant masterpiece from which others can derive strength and comfort (which is unquestionably more important than the musical offerings of white boys whinging about their high school girlfriends). When life gives you lemons, make lemonade AND THROW IT IN LIFE’S EYES, right?

So this is the dominant social narrative to come from Lemonade thus far. But there’s another line of thought simmering away among the noise – one voiced by young women in particular.

“If Beyonce gets cheated on, what hope is there for me?”

A jokey, throwaway remark designed to get a few RTs, right? Maybe, but its underlying context nonetheless is that in order to be worthy of love and fidelity, you need to be rich, ultra-talented and gorgeous. That you always have to be your very best you (and then some) in order to enjoy some pretty basic relationship fundamentals, such as trust and respect. Come up short against these exhausting and relentless requirements and, oh well, what did you expect?

The focus of Jay-Z’s alleged infidelity has been put on her: She’s so hot and talented, what could she have done that would mean he cheated on her? And this is total, utter bullshit. His infidelity has nothing to do with her, and everything to do with him and his alarming lack of morals and yet the internet is awash with jokes about him being caught out – when really, he needs to be held to account – and, worse, commentary from young men applauding his ability to bed a number of hot women at once. There aren’t nearly as many bloody lemon emojis plastered over his social media accounts than there are on Rachel Roy’s (or Rachel Ray’s for that matter – idiots), but that’s an entirely separate – and equally problematic – issue.

Lemonade is Beyonce’s battle cry in the face of one of the worst betrayals the human heart can bear, and it’s vital that we shape its infidelity narrative (and all infidelity narratives) around the shortcomings of the cheater, not the cheated. Listen to the album. Listen to the lyrics. This is the message Queen Bey is pushing here, and one that even I, with my predisposition to whiny, introspective guitar bands, can derive great strength from.

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Being 30+

Turning 30
Here’s a picture of me turning 30

About what honest-to-god feels like 10 years ago I wrote a post about turning 29, in which I detailed my many and varied fears about turning the big 3-0. I’m now 31. Am I a different person? No. Am I thinner? Do I have better hair? No and yes (I think. I HOPE). Despite what they say about your 30s heralding a brave new world in the life of you, I still have the same fears and flaws as I did in my teens, and in my 20s. I didn’t get into cooking overnight (come at me, Super Noodles), I didn’t start scheduling coffee dates with my BFFs (it’s still Saturday night oblivion or bust) and so I certainly didn’t wake up on my 30th having magically gotten my shit together overnight. But during my Oscar-worthy 20s and 30th year, I did learn this…

  • Despite the unrelenting avalanche of #content banging on about the many qualities of being an introvert, it’s okay to be an extrovert. It doesn’t mean you’re stupid, vacuous or shallow; it means you enjoy other people’s company and THERE’S NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT, BUZZFEED.
  • Everyone – EVERYONE – embellishes the truth on social media. Pictures of smiling couples and beautiful blue infinity pools and Friday office beers and adoring fluffy cats are the veneer of a regular chipboard life. Comparison is the thief of joy, and that cat definitely shat everywhere after that photo was taken.
  • This time next year you’ll look back at photos and be like ‘Damn, I looked good’. Five years from now you’ll look back at photos of yourself from next year and be like ‘Damn, I looked good’. I wish desperately that I could go back in time and visit myself at university and say ‘YOU’RE NOT AS BIG AS YOU THINK YOU ARE, CHILD. WEAR WHATEVER THE FUCK YOU WANT. YOU SO HOT’. And no doubt 35-year-old me will say the same thing to me now. Here we are.
  • Laser hair removal on your bikini line. Make the investment. Thank me later.
  • If someone invites you to something, be it a wedding or a house party via Facebook, don’t leave it to the last minute to RSVP. RUDE. And send a thank you card where decorum dictates for fuck’s sake.
  • More people have mental health issues than you know. Seriously, like 85% of my friends are in therapy or on happy pills. People can be cagey about it but it’s amazing how freely they’ll talk once they know they’re among ‘crazy’ company. I compare my happy pill prescriptions to my friends’ in the same way you might discuss your favourite Hollywood actors. Normalising it makes us all feel loads better.
  • While we’re on the subject, don’t be afraid to give therapy a try. I’ve been in and out my whole life but had the pleasure of working with a wonderful mindfulness-based practitioner during my last year in London. I was a po-faced, arm-crossed bitch when I went in, but I came out with an open heart and a better understanding of myself than I’d ever had before. A+, would recommend.
  • Talk to your parents while you can. Where were they born? What was school like for them? What was their first boy/girlfriend like? What was the best time of their life? Look through their old photos, ask questions. It wasn’t until my maternal grandmother died that we discovered there was a whole other side to our family that we didn’t know about, and by then it was too late to find out more.
  • Take two paracetamol with a pint of water before bed after a heavy night out. It ain’t gonna save your soul but it’ll take the edge off. As someone who could sell her liver to a Frenchman for pâté, trust me on this. Also, sleep longer than you think you’ll need to. Hangovers when you get older are less about the booze and more about the sleep deprivation.
  • Sort your eyebrows out. Seriously, the difference a good pair of strong brows will make to your face is ASTRONOMICAL. If in doubt, go to a Benefit Beauty Bar. I can be tired and hungover as balls but 30 seconds spent doing my eyebrows literally transforms my entire face.
  • It’s totally okay to be affected by conflicting media narrative, especially when it comes to women’s issues. I’m 31. Are babies on my horizon? Not immediately. Maybe even never. You’ve got the bloody Daily Mail saying one thing and The Debrief saying another. Make up your own narrative. It’s your damn body and your damn life. Fuck those guys.
  • Invest in good tights. Not the three for £5 tights from Primark, but the £5 for one pair tights from M&S. I used to be a one pair/one wear kinda gal until I got woke to false hosiery economies.
  • You know how most hairdryers have three heat settings, and because we’re all so time-starved and impatient we crank that shit up to 11? Step off and turn down the heat. I have long, coloured hair and this simple act was legit the kindest thing I ever did for my barnet. My hair is softer and smoother, and because I was more mindful about my blowdries I’d make the effort to pin up each section as I went along. It takes exactly the same amount of time, I promise.
  • If you don’t like something about yourself, you’re free to change it without justification to anyone, regardless of (omg, here it is again), the social narrative. I got my teeth realigned a few years back. ‘But why?’ everyone chirped. ‘They were fine!’ Because I wanted to, and that is literally all that matters.
  • Nothing will ever prepare you for a friend request from a high school friend when you’re 30+. ‘Fuck me, how did they get so old? Are they old? Am I old?’ And not long after you’ll start seeing the laughter lines and wrinkles on all your friends’ faces and you can’t unsee that shit. Hello, ageing.
  • If someone describes you as ‘bossy’, own it. It means you get shit done.
  • Thanks to Hollywood it’s super easy to romanticise adversity, especially when it comes to matters of the heart. But remember, we’re not all trying to save the planet from destruction / outwit a band of Russian mobsters / get into dance school AGAINST ALL THE ODDS. Sometimes difficult relationships are difficult because they’re wrong for you. That’s cool. It’s not up to you to ‘turn things around’. Shit is shit.
  • Isn’t it funny how successful people younger than you haven’t worked that hard, but older people that are more successful than you are just lucky, somehow?
  • If you take your makeup off properly before bed – and that’s PROPERLY, not a quick splash of some water and a face wipe – then you’re doing okay and TBH that’s all anyone can ask of you.
  • Being 30 is harder for women than it is for men. Of course it is, thanks to the ol’ social narrative I described above (aaand that’s a hat trick). That’s not to say blokes don’t have their own issues, of course, but when they start cocking their head to one side and saying things like, ‘But I’m actually looking forward to being 30 – I don’t know why you’re worried’, shut that conversation down and take it elsewhere lest you end up kicking someone’s dick off.

What pearls of wisdom would you give to other ladies worried about turning 30?

Actually, it’s about ethics in journalism

Anyone who’s ever met me knows that I like things to be just so. Yeah, I’m that fun guy. That’s largely why I’ve not written a blog post for such a long time. Sure, I could wax lyrical about how busy I’ve been, which isn’t a lie, but the reality is I couldn’t in all good conscience write anything under the ‘Rachel in London’ banner when I am in fact no longer in London. ETHICS IN JOURNALISM, that. So, in the spirit of fresh starts, I have a new blog, so titled after the motto which has gotten me thus far in life. If you want to read about my London-centric adventures, which largely hinged on violent crime, extortionate drinks prices and idiots on the Tube, you can do so here. Otherwise, stick around for a raft of hot takes and engaging #content.