LOUISE O'NEILL: I am going to spend less time with people who police my food intake

It’s 2018 and The Future isn’t quite as exciting as I thought it would be, writes Louise O’Neill.

I was expecting a Brave New World type society where everyone took drugs and had casual sex all day long (never quite sure why that book was considered dystopian) but instead we got an ex-reality television star and a Russian with a suspiciously shiny forehead conspiring to bring about our untimely demise because they couldn’t resist the “Do Not Push - Contains Nuclear Weapons” red button. But sure look it, we’re all still alive, for now, and it’s Nollaig na mBan. Silver linings, and all that.

I would like to take this opportunity to wish you a Happy Women’s Christmas and for all the Men’s Rights Activists who are currently grousing about the lack of a Men’s Little Christmas - Liberal Conspiracy!

They’ll be wanting the votes next, the brazen hussies – I hope you look up ‘false equivalency’ this year and we can all be friends. (I actually wish something entirely different but my editor said it was illegal and more than likely impossible due to the laws of physics.)

I’m probably alone in this but I like this time of year. Perhaps it’s because I didn’t drink much over the festive season (I’m better than you) and am feeling very smug. Or ‘boring’, ‘dry’, and ‘The Actual Worst’ as my closest friends and family like to call me. Nevertheless, there’s something about the sense of possibility in January that appeals to me. I also like September (new books! stationary!) and I’ll give the Chinese New Year a whirl if the Irish one isn’t working out well for me, so you can see the pattern. I like new beginnings.

I am constantly seduced by the idea that this could be the year that everything changes for me. Harry Styles and I could get engaged! Beyonce might become my best friend! Michael D Higgins might become my honorary grandfather! (Call me, MDH.) I might finally learn to speak fluent Spanish and/or become a concert violinist who wears very short skirts and appear on the covers of magazines with the headline ‘Making Classical Music Sexy’. I’m just saying, you should probably expect to see a lot more of me - and my very short skirts - in 2018. With that in mind, I’ve decided to make a few resolutions for the year ahead and I will very generously share them with you now. You’re welcome.

  • I am going to start cooking more. In 2016, I gave an interview to the Sunday Independent where I said ‘my signature dish is eating out’, and people still repeat it to me every time they see me within five feet of a restaurant. Note to self - stop talking like a Budget Carrie Bradshaw in interviews.
  • I’m going to get more involved with the Abortion Rights Campaign and I am determined to do my bit in canvassing for repealing the Eighth Amendment ahead of this year’s referendum. This is something that a lot of people are nervous about, but I would wager that most Irish people are decent enough to listen to what you have to say without resorting to shouting; despite how contentious the issue is depicted as being.
  • While I’m going door to door, I will also be looking for votes to make Louise O’Neill Queen of Ireland for 2018. (Sorry, Panti.) This is only one step in my inevitable world domination, but a crucial one. First order of business will be making sure that tights are only available in two colours - black and blacker. I will also ban fake tan, French manicures, and calling Kate Middleton a style icon. Very nice woman? Yes. Excellent hair? YES. Style Icon? You’re dead to me.
  • I am going to start volunteering again. This was a part of my life for a long time but I’ve been ‘too busy’ in recent years, and have given financial support instead. In 2018, I would like to do both. I can always find time to help people who are vulnerable and in need.
  • I made a concerted effort last year to shift my focus away from how my body looked to what it could do for me. That’s still not instinctive, as I wager it’s not for many women.

I am going to spend less time with people who police my food intake, who think it’s interesting to tell me that there’s the same amount of sugar in a Mars bar as there is in the banana I’m about to eat, or anyone who says they’re ‘naughty’ or ‘bold’ for having a dessert.

As my favourite meme says - “For f*ck’s sake, Sharon! You’re eating food, not burning down an orphanage!”

  • I’m going to spend less time on social media, and try to spend less time on my phone in general. I’m also going to try and send love and light to abusive trolls this year rather than plotting a rather grim demise for them involving a shark tank and a broken oxygen tank.

What can I say? I’m creative.

But overall, I’m going to be a little kinder to myself this year. I think that’s probably the most important resolution any of us can make, and one so few of us feel able to do.

Here’s to 2018 and to being kind, to ourselves and to those around us.

Louise says...

FOLLOW: I like the Body Positive Ireland account on Instagram (@bopoireland) because it’s non-judgmental and offers an entirely different perspective on health and weight than we usually see. The movement to accept our bodies is an incredibly positive one, and something I would urge you to look into in 2018.

READ: I re-read You Can Heal Your Life in January every year. While there are some aspects of Louise L Hay’s seminal self-help book that can be difficult to swallow, I still find it useful and life-affirming.


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