I look at Katie Hopkins and think ‘you are nothing like me’

I think I reflect the national viewpoint here.

Anyone who watched Ian Hislop’s ‘Who should we let in?’ will no doubt have Hopkins’ arrogance ringing in their ears. Of immigrants she said ‘You look and them and think you are nothing like me’.

Thank God for that. Because I would have a serious problem with immigration if we were opening our doors to hatred, intolerance and a bizarre and unjustified aversion to the name ‘Charmaine’. One Katie Hopkins is quite enough.

Sadly, people lap up this hatred packaged as fear and jump on the bandwagon. A bandwagon they will soon be pushed off by the very people who invited them on.

Her issues with people who are ‘nothing like’ her seem to be informed by a completely random set of rules. It’s about one religion that she doesn’t follow, it’s about immigration, it’s about girls called Charmaine, it’s about tattoos and it’s about people who are overweight or ‘fat’.

But this is a problem that goes beyond her toxicity. And sadly, people lap up this hatred packaged as fear and jump on the bandwagon. A bandwagon they will soon be pushed off by the very people who invited them on.

Residents of the luxury tower block where Grenfell victims were to be re-housed complained about the impact this would have on property prices. But increasing homelessness in the area is apparently OK?

Donald Trump declared that he would ban all Muslims from entering the US. But arming Americans of other religions with guns is apparently OK?

Piers Morgan doesn’t like people ‘whining’ publicly about their personal problems relating to mental health, but ‘whining’ publicly about how it annoys him is apparently OK?

Diversity will threaten the Trump brand. Terror, in all its forms, seems to be a secondary issue.

There’s one thing that all of the above, including Katie Hopkins, appear to have in common. Selfishness. Those residents in luxury tower blocks must already have plenty of money – they’re hardly going to end up on the poverty line. It’s not about local property prices, it’s about their property prices. Donald Trump, being overtly narcissistic, only wants ‘mini me’s’ running around ‘his’ country so it becomes one great big fat United States of Trump. Diversity will threaten the Trump brand. Terror, in all its forms, seems to be a secondary issue. And Piers is happy for public whining as long as it ties in with his personal views.

Thing is, the majority of the general public will never be truly accepted by these people. You might not be ‘fat’, or tattooed or a Muslim or called Charmaine. You might not be talking openly to a large audience about your mental health issues. But let’s face it, if you haven’t got the luxury tower block or the national profile you’re highly unlikely to be accepted by the people who are encouraging you all to get on board and demonise others. You are the ‘others’ – they’re fooling you.

They don’t like others because they are not them. And thankfully neither are you. So isn’t it time you stopped listening to the people who will never have your back. They will never have your back because of many different reasons. Being British born and Christian will not save you. There are too many factors involved. And unless you’re a clone of the people who are whining, unless you eat at the same places, vote in the same way, pray to the same God, wear the same designer labels, you’ll never fit in. So don’t be fooled. You are not one of them.

In my opinion, they are people who are scared of anything that could threaten their position. Just like those fans of alternative music at high school who never wanted their favourite band to become big because they didn’t want others in on the act. They wanted to keep it all to themselves. They wanted to be special, not mainstream, not average. I include myself in that school music snobbery, but thankfully, I’ve grown up.

Increasing diversity in communities creates more interesting culinary treats. More interesting catwalk influences. More interesting music styles. More interesting stories to tell. More interesting pieces of art. People with new things to say. New perspectives.

But if that creates a new breed of nouveau riche, one that’s less about pounds and more about a different kind of wealth, a really vibrant kind of wealth, what’s going to be left for the traditionalists? They’ll become vanilla in a world of tutti fruitti and Karamel Sutra. Their pounds won’t be able to sustain the kind of power they took for granted. That’s why I think they’re really scared. It’s nothing to do with you. It’s just that they can’t do it without you.

Follow me on Twitter – @Lucy_Nichol78

 

It’s not a party lifestyle that drives stars to self-medication, it’s the pressure to carry on regardless

The media has reported that Ant McPartlin is undergoing treatment for depression and addiction issues. He’s certainly not the first celebrity to have fallen foul of self-medication. But why do stars head down this path, when surely they have access to the best doctors and treatment programmes in existence?

Think about it this way. You’ve bought a ticket to see, let’s say, Madonna (disclaimer – the next three paragraphs are entirely fictional – as far as I know). You’ve spent about £60 on the ticket, £150 on transport and £100 on accommodation. The venue holds around 50,000. It’s a sell out. On tickets alone you’re looking at costs of £3m. But then Madonna gets food poisoning. She can’t perform. Luckily, she has an understudy who is just as successful, let’s say, Kylie Minogue. So the show can go on.

Wrong. That might happen in my day job. The bosses might bring in a temp or a freelancer or share the workload out. But when you’re a celebrity, it’s you, specifically, that the people want. It’s you, or nothing. You paid for Into the Groove not I Should Be So Lucky (showing my age here I know).

So Madonna might be puking her guts up but she’s feeling the pressure to perform. Nobody can step in for her. She’s necking Imodium, anti-nausea pills and paracetamol like there’s no tomorrow. She simply must perform. But if she keeps this up, her body won’t function especially well without those pills, and this is where the problems start.

Now I don’t know the full ins and outs of Ant McPartlin’s illness. Only what’s reported in the media. But I wouldn’t be surprised if the pressure to keep going for the sake of his employers, his fans, his partner, his family, his reputation, even, didn’t play some kind of role in his troubles.

Yes, it’s an assumption. And no, I’m not suggesting that his employer, partner, family, fans put the pressure on. But if you know people are depending on you, applying that pressure yourself really isn’t terribly far-fetched.

PillsDepression can be a chronic illness that takes time to recover from, but often stars do not have that luxury. I’ve had five weeks off work for anxiety, I’ve known people forced to take six months off for depression or stress. But can celebrities do the same? Or do they have to hit rock bottom before they feel justified to do so? My guess is it’s more often than not the latter. So if you’re depressed and anxious and you feel you need to get through just one more show, what would you do? Take a valium perhaps? I know somebody very well who saw a doctor through an employer (in entertainment) due to depression and anxiety. The doctor they saw (not in the UK) was literally throwing pills at them left right and centre. It got them on the stage, it got them through their struggles in the short-term, but it created a longer term problem.

So when we look at stars and their ‘wild’ or ‘intoxicated’ behaviour, can we always assume it’s a reckless act? That’s it’s somebody living a celebrity lifestyle, having access to whatever they want, whenever they want? Or should we consider that sometimes, this kind of recklessness is born of hard graft and the pressure to keep going at all costs? Luckily, the media and public response to Ant McPartlin appears to have been wholly supportive. And that is absolutely the right response to have. But Ant and Dec had already established themselves as a wholesome, family act. What about people like Amy Winehouse, who tackled the demons of mental illness from a young age? Who exploded onto our radar as a bit of a ‘wild child’.

I watched the documentary, Amy. Friends talked of her being bundled into a taxi unconscious through intoxication and flown to another country to perform on stage. Maybe if she felt she could have stopped just for long enough to recover, she’d have stood a better chance?

The problems are very similar. It’s just that we, the public, didn’t know Amy for long before her downfall and, tragically, her death. We had much longer to get to know that Ant McPartlin is a good guy and we therefore see his illness as precisely that, an illness.

The response is good. We all wish him well. But in future, let’s remember this empathy we hold for Ant McPartlin and extend it to others in need of support too.

Follow me on Twitter @lucy_nichol78

Celebrities speaking out can make a real difference in mental health

As published in the i Newspaper – 21st January 2017

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When people speak out about cancer or heart disease following news of a celebrity’s struggle with the conditions, we don’t accuse them of trying to make the illnesses “trendy”.
However, those who speak out about mental health are sometimes criticised for that very reason, as two comments from social media show:
“Mental health disorders are not something to brag about. Please stop trying to make mental illness trendy”;
“Having mental health issues is now trendy, the new victim fad.”

But those of us with mental health problems, and the ambassadors who try to prompt conversations about mental health, don’t just “try it on” for the sake of the latest campaign. In fact, long before celebrities signed up as mental health ambassadors, many were unwillingly “outed” by the media, with headlines boasting “sensational” photos of them breaking down in public.

Read the full article here

An open letter to Brad and Ange

(A comment on celebrity culture, mental health and social media….appeared as a featured blog post on Huffington Post Ents. Available here)

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Dear Brad and Ange,

I write to you in response to the distress you have caused me today. As professionals, you are no doubt aware that your role as a celebrity brings with it certain responsibilities. I therefore feel that your actions are tantamount to gross misconduct, and, with that in mind, I urge you to respectfully resign from your posts as professional celebrities.

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