The host of the Guilty Feminist podcast reveals the one lie she tells for self-care

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Helen Bownass
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From her thoughts on the meaning of life to her greatest fear, what will Deborah Frances-White make of our existential questions?

What is the meaning of life? 

There isn’t one. The reason cats and dogs are happier is they don’t ask that question. They enjoy simple things moment to moment. Kindness and active compassion in a world of injustice is the best answer we have right now.

What is the difference between right and wrong?

Kindness and active compassion versus apathy at injustice and inequality 
is, again, the best answer we have right now.

Where is your happy place?

Caffe Reggio in Greenwich Village. Or my nest at home with Tom [her husband], Steve [a Syrian refugee she met while working on a podcast] and the kitties.

Nature or nurture?

Nurture. The evidence is all around us. 
Is it more important to be liked or respected? Liked by those with less power than you, respected by those with more. 

If you could be remembered for one thing what would it be?

I’d be pretty happy with it being The Guilty Feminist podcast and the growing work we are doing with Help Refugees and Amnesty International.

Who or what is your greatest love?

Who can give their love an Uber rating or a TripAdvisor review? Love is multidirectional – romantic, nurturing, sisterly, expansive and has no hierarchy.

When did you last lie?

I’m telling people I’m out of town right now when really I’m having a staycation in London. It’s a self-care lie. 

Does the supernatural exist?

If it does it’s hiding because it can see what we are doing to the natural.

Are you fatalistic?

God, no. I think we can build the world we want to live in! That’s what feminism is.

What is your greatest fear?

That I’ll die with all the things I want to do half done.

Animals or babies?

Baby animals. You should see my kittens. 

What talent do you yearn for?

Dance: tap, ballet, swing, flossing.

Do you like to be complimented?

Occasionally and if the tone’s right. It can be awkward but also lovely.

Do you have a high pain threshold?

I don’t think so. I’ve never had to suffer much to be fair.

What book do you recommend most to others?

Keith Johnstone’s Impro. The chapter called ‘Notes On Myself’ opened a huge world up for me. And I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou. She’s the greatest talent of the 20th century.

Which lesson has been the hardest to learn?

You can’t please everyone and nor should you want to. You should care what a small committee of people who you respect think of you. Brené Brown [author and TED Talk extraordinaire] asks, “Who’s on your committee?” It’s a good question. Sometimes she fires someone and replaces them.

What food sums up happiness?

Vanilla and chocolate fudge Häagen-Dazs. They don’t make it any more. 

Deborah Frances White says that reading Impro left her enlightened 

What have you never understood?

Why human beings can’t be kinder, and everything about computers.

What is the one thing you want to know before you die?

How to be content. But just before I die. I don’t want to waste time being content.

Are you scared of dying or what happens when you die?

I’m scared of ceasing to exist but I don’t think there’ll be a hell fire or a room full of Men’s Rights Activists trolling me for eternity.

Quinoa or Quavers?

Quinoa for sure. Or sweet chilli crisps.

The Guilty Feminist podcast is live at the London Coliseum on 27 November; visit 

Images: Courtesy of press agency