Speak Up

Laura Whitmore flawlessly explains why we all need to speak up

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Laura Whitmore
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Laura Whitmore

As she takes control of stylist.co.uk for the day, Laura Whitmore encourages us all to find our voices and speak up. 

Dear Stylist Readers,

I haven’t written a proper letter since I was 12, when I wrote to my Spanish pen pal who I met on holidays. Her name was Sofía and she told me of her love of Enrique Inglesias, and explained how her older sister wouldn’t let her borrow her clothes. I told her about my obsession with Alanis Morrisette and combat jeans, and how nobody understood me.

Do people still have pen pals? There’s no need when the immediacy of emails and Instagram comments exist. You don’t need to tell me where you’ve been on holiday or what you’ve recently eaten: I can see from your recent posts that you’ve been living off a diet of avocado on sourdough and just got back from Mykonos. Pen pals aren’t really relevant in 2018.  Maybe I’m cynical, but what’s the point? By the time you receive the letter it’s old news – much like the role of news in today’s society.

Do we need to stay engaged with the news? Do we need to change the way we view it? And, here’s a scary thought, how are we letting ourselves be influenced by it?

I like knowing what’s going on in the world – even if most of the time I feel helpless. It hasn’t always been this way, mind you: I started my career in a newsroom, and found that – most of the time – it was quite depressing. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the buzz of it all. But, one day when I was interning at a radio station, I felt relieved when I heard that there had been a pile‐up crash on the M50 in Dublin.

“Oh great,” I thought to myself. “We’ll have something to talk about.”

It was at this point that alarm bells started ringing in my brain: STEP AWAY FROM THE NEWSDESK, WHITMORE! What had I become?

Winning the MTV search and becoming the face of MTV News was so refreshing. I travelled the world, constantly meeting interesting people, and I quickly learned that this kind of news was more fun and made me feel less sad. The biggest thing I realised was that people are basically all the same, whether I was interviewing politicians in my interning days, or P Diddy as an MTV VJ. We’re all people. It’s all about the human side. And that is why news is important: we need to find the human element, because we all have a voice and we are all affected by what’s happening in the world around us.

I’ve always thought of myself as a strong person. However, it’s taken me a while to fully find my voice. I’m still learning new things about myself every day. And the more I’m aware of my surroundings, the stronger sense of self I develop.

Earlier this year I wrote a very personal piece about the #MeToo movement (if you haven’t, please read it here) and was overwhelmed by the response commending and supporting me. My article was a reaction to what was happening around me: it pointed out things that weren’t fair. We need to change the way we talk about sexual assault, and how we find our voices as ‘difficult’ women. Also how women, especially a blonde girl who works on TV, are constantly talked about in the press.

I didn’t want to be angry, I wanted to be proactive. And now I want to remind everyone that we have a responsibility to speak up.

Queen Bey said ‘Perfection is the disease of a nation’. Beyoncé knows. We need to give ourselves a break (see my piece on celebrating averageness) but we also need to remember we have a responsibility. If people stay in their own little bubbles, none of us will reach our full potential. My new radio series on BBC Radio 5 Live, The Sunday Session, reflects my interest in the news and music. I want to create discussions about things that I feel matter but also have fun with it! Life’s too short not to laugh. I’ve curated stylist.co.uk today similarly.

As part of today’s Speak Up initiative, we look at how the #MeToo movement exposed a culture of toxic masculinity and also what the movement has taught us about the good men in our lives. We have an article by the wonderful Gina Martin, who campaigned successfully for the introduction of an upskirting law ignited by her own personal experience. Mariam Khan has had her say on the ongoing debate around burqas in the United Kingdom. We also look at why everyone needs to move to a new city at least once in their life, inspired by my move to London ten years ago (how has it been 10 years, I only came for one!). The things you should never say to an Irish woman (this one is fun!). The books we should be reading on the beach this year. 

My make up artist Justine Jenkins has also explained why she only uses cruelty free make-up, and reveals the products every vegan ought to have in their beauty bag.With A level results coming out, we ask how important these grades truly are. And, for those who ended up going down the wrong path (how are we suppose to make a decision that affects the rest of our lives when we are only in our teens?) – we wonder, is it ever too late to change career paths? I have friends in their 30s who spent five years studying and five years in a job that they realised they didn’t want. Can you change your job in your thirties? We want to meet the women who have.

I’ve been a fan of Stylist since its launch in 2009, and am proud to be working with a team that continues to empower, teach and explore. I quote Maya Angelou a lot but this is one of my faves: ‘I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels. Life’s a bitch. You’ve got to go out and kick ass.’

She’s good, right?

There are so many things happening in this world it’s easy to feel like your drowning in a sea of negativity. Immerse yourself, inform yourself and be yourself and you will float to the top.

Love Laura x

For one day only on Monday 13 August, Laura Whitmore has taken over stylist.co.uk and transformed it into her very own Speak Up platform – a digital initiative which aims to shine a light on the day’s most important headlines, challenge the status quo, spark debate, encourage conversation and, above all else, champion women’s voices..

For similarly inspiring content, check out Laura Whitmore’s show on BBC Radio 5 Live, which airs on Sundays at 11am.

Image: Getty