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Stylist's Life Lessons live blog with Kirstie Allsopp, June Sarpong and Leyla Hussein


Join us tonight as we live blog the second Stylist Life Lessons event celebrating inspirational women.

This event has now finished - scroll down to read about all the tips and advice from our guest speakers

Property expert Kirstie Allsopp, TV presenter June Sarpong MBE and psychotherapist Leyla Hussein are all taking to the podium at London's Ham Yard hotel this evening, to impart their wisdom about the most important thing they've learned to date.

Sarpong recently moved back to the UK from America - where she co-founded the Women: Inspiration and Enterprise network - to join the team for BBC current affairs programme Newsnight.

Allsopp, a mum-of-two, is currently working on the next season of channel 4 property show Location, Location, Location - now in its twentieth series.

Self-proclaimed "foodie, mummy and anti-FGM Activist" Hussein is a psychotherapist who co-founded the Daughters of Eve support charity dedicated to ending gender based violence, in particular female genital mutilation.

Stay tuned on this page for all three women's career-based tips and life insights as our ground-breaking lecture series kicks off from 7pm tonight:

Hello and welcome to Stylist's second Life Lessons event at London's Ham Yard hotel!

7.02pm: First up we have psychotherapist and FGM survivor Leyla Hussein, who co-founded the Daughters of Eve support charity dedicated to ending gender based violence, in particular female genital mutilation.

Leyla's lesson is: know the power of your own story.

My lesson is going to be about telling my own story about FGM, says Leyla.

I could write a book about what I've learnt over the years. I'm from Somalia in east Africa and am a child of the 80s. I grew up between Italy, Saudi Arabia and Somalia.

I woke up one morning with a weird feeling. My neighbour said 'Leyla, you must be really excited.' I wondered, what for?

She told me I was going to have my clitoris cut and become a woman.

I was so confused. All of a sudden I wanted my mother. And then I heard my sister screaming and I heard them say, 'It's Leyla's turn'.

They got hold of me and still I didn't know what was going to happen. Four women grabbed me and pinned me to the table.

A doctor did the procedure. He said, 'you're not going to feel anything, stop being silly.'

I felt everything. When I was cut, it was like my soul was being cut.

We were all taken to a room, there was a massive party - we were given presents, but I wasn't allowed to eat the chocolate I was given because I had made a fuss.

Every year 3million girls will undergo FGM. Even if it's just one we all have to speak out.

FGM is a big issue in Europe, especially here in the UK. It takes place in 28 African countries, parts of Asia and the Middle East.

My mission was to make sure that my daughter didn't go through what I went through.

What I found was, schools weren't talking about FGM - which I found was shameful. My aim became: I'm going to make sure my daughter is never afraid of talking about her vagina.

The reason I'm up here is: I told my story. Everywhere in the world, women are being oppressed. And we need to speak up and stop it.

Now, it’s time for former T4 and MTV presenter June Sarpong, MBE. June recently moved back to the UK from America, where she co-founded the Women: Inspiration and Enterprise network, to join the team for BBC current affairs programme Newsnight.

June's lesson is: question your beliefs

I am going to talk about how questioning your beliefs can change your life, says June.

I am from Walthamstow - E17. It was a real melting pot; Walthamstow market was somewhere where you could get anything from anywhere. My school was like a mini version of the UN.

This multicultural upbringing served as a real grounding for my career meeting people for all over the world and connecting and learning about who they were and where they were from.

When it came to tolerance, I was sorted I thought. I was a fully paid-up, card-carrying liberal.

Five years ago, I was working in the US and one day, I noticed the sound engineer on-set - he seemed a bit gruff and off. I decided to make these assumptions based on a few tattoos and a bad ponytail.

As a woman of colour, I know first hand what it is to be judged on something that has nothing to do with what I am. And here I am judging someone else.

In that moment, I decided to challenge my beliefs. I went up and spoke to the sound engineer - he had indeed had a tough upbringing but was so thrilled to be working. I had an amazing conversation with him about what he wanted to do with his life.

I realised in that moment, we have to question stereotypes and our role in creating them.

As women, we are so often judged on our exterior. We are valued on what we look like and in many cultures, we are often judged as being inferior to men.

The moment we are brave enough to step outside our boxes and question our own beliefs, we give other people the courage and compassion to do the same.

I come from Ghana, where we value two things in women: curves and wisdom. The bigger the woman, the hotter she is. If you see a large woman in tight jeans with her G-string showing and you tell her - she will reply "I Am Aware."

So if you go out and encounter someone who you're unsure of or who makes you shrink, I want to think "I Am Aware."

I look to my mother as someone who is very aware of who she is and who accepts that. When I went to comfort her after she divorced a few years ago, she said to me, "Let me tell you something. I have never worried about men. Worry about yourself."

Because of her self-acceptance, any man who has entered her life has treated her well.

I think as a woman, whenever you accept yourself for who you are - other people do the same.

I'll leave you with a quote "our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate, our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us."

Challenge your beliefs, not only about other people, but about yourselves.

Finally, we have property expert and crafts maestro Kirstie Allsopp taking to the stage. Allsopp, a mum-of-two, is currently working on the next season of channel 4 property show Location, Location, Location - now in its twentieth series.

Kirstie's lesson is: be aware of your fertility window

I want to speak about the fertility window, says Kirstie.

I am someone who never thought they would have a professional career. I didn't do very well at school or go to uni and then I started work and thought 'Wow this is brilliant. I can prove myself.'

But always in the back of my mind was, 'I'm only doing this until I'm married.'

I don't regard being on TV as a career, it's just an opportunity to say something in a public sphere. You say something and then the bounce back comes.

When I did the interview three months ago with the Telegraph, I said I wanted to talk about the fertility window.

We are no more able to have children later than we have ever been.

No one was interested in me in my 20s. I had 'please marry me' tattooed on my forehead. It was so vital to me to get married and have children.

I hit my 30s and then I was very lucky to meet my boyfriend. I was 35 when I had my first child and 37 when I had my second.

The facts cannot be got away from. You have a 10 percent chance of conceiving a child over 40. I don't say this smugly - I got in just under the wire.

I think women are being lied to.

It gets more and more difficult to have children over the age of 35.

Plenty of women don't want children, that's fine - but if you do, you need to know the facts.

I want to say to women: be honest with each other, with your partners, daughters and sons - know that you can have careers at any age, you can go to uni at any age.

You can do a thousand brilliant things at any age. But just for now, we haven't opened the fertility window any wider. It is easier and simpler and less of a heartache to just have children when our bodies allow us to.

Nature is not a feminist and that's just the truth.



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