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Women can still have it all. Can’t they? | Victoria Coren Mitchell

Jul 2nd, 2017 by

Over tea and muffins, I was almost convinced of the case for tighter apron strings. Oh, crumbs!

Last week was a significant one for me because I nearly changed my mind about something. And who ever does that? I didn’t change my mind (nobody ever does, about anything) but I did have – I think – a small insight. I won’t say “epiphany”. Not least because I find it hard to pronounce. But I will say insight.

It came about over a cup of tea with a friend, whom I won’t name for fear that people will find her on Twitter and shout at her. Let’s just call her @elspeth157. I’m joking. We’ll call her Janet.

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Model Adwoa Aboah: ‘In 2017, there is more than one way to be beautiful ​and cool’

Jul 2nd, 2017 by

The in-demand face of Gap and Versace is changing the rules of how to make it big in fashion. She talks about authenticity, her depression – and why her shaved head was a two fingers to the industry

Adwoa Aboah is ridiculously beautiful, but that is not what makes her the most in-demand model of the moment. Sure, the razor-sharp cheekbones and the blown-glass lips don’t do her prospects any harm. But there is something in her gaze to camera that makes her beauty seem as if it’s not the most compelling thing about her. It is this that has raised Aboah – face of a new Gap campaign, muse to Donatella Versace, booked for the catwalk by everyone from Christian Dior and Chanel to Marc Jacobs and Alexander Wang – above the modelling rank and file.

My first appointment with Aboah is cancelled because she hasn’t yet got out of bed. So far, so supermodel. But when we finally speak, it becomes clear that this Linda Evangelista moment is about as far as Aboah goes in terms of conformity to the modelling tradition of aloof, enigmatic beauty. After our interview, she has a busy day ahead. First, a meeting with Dr Lauren Hazzouri, a psychologist specialising in young women’s mental health. After that, it’s off to Gurls Talk, the online platform she founded to enable discussion about mental health, body image and sexuality, to plan an upcoming event. Forget castings and go-sees: Aboah is changing the rules of how a modern model makes it big.

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‘I can stop and breathe’: the people taking ketamine for depression

Jul 2nd, 2017 by

It has a reputation as a party drug, but some patients say it has transformed their lives after no other treatments helped

When depression takes hold of Helen it feels like she is drowning in a pool of water, unable to swim up to the world above. The 36-year-old former nurse has had mental health problems most of her life. No drugs, hospital stays or therapies have been able to help.

Then one day, during yet another spell in hospital, her consultant told her about a psychiatrist treating patients with ketamine. The psychiatrist in question visited her to discuss using the drug. He warned there were no guarantees, but it had helped some patients.

Related: Ketamine could help thousands with severe depression, doctors say

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Depression, opportunity and that life abroad – podcasts of the week

Jul 2nd, 2017 by

Rowan Slaney brings you three podcasts that chime with three significant events from her ‘teenageish’ years

• Don’t forget to subscribe for your weekly dose of podcast gold

Hear here is here. Hooray! Now, first things first. An incredible number of people have subscribed to this column. What a joy that there are so many of you who love the medium as much I do. If you’ve emailed in with your recommendations, I promise I’ll listen to them – I’ve made an excel spreadsheet and everything – but there have just been so many, it’s incredible.

Please keep them coming in, I want to listen to all the podcasts I can fit into my ears. If you haven’t subscribed yet, come and join us. It’s great fun.

You’d be forgiven for thinking that a podcast about mental health would be, well, a bit of a downer. In fact, it could be the type of podcast that people who live with depression, and those around them, might want to avoid. But then you probably haven’t listened to John Moe.

John isn’t a therapist or a counsellor or a psychiatrist or any sort of mental health professional. He’s actually a writer and radio presenter, and a long-term sufferer of depression. He’s also quite a funny guy, and that’s what makes The Hilarious World of Depression special.

The BitterSweet Life is a great example of an immersive podcast experience and of excellent storytelling. My favourite episodes are those where Tiffany and Katy record outside in the plazas of Rome, or visit different churches to find Caravaggio paintings. The splash of water from the fountains, customers chattering in Italian in the bakery, the screaming swallows overhead. I feel transported to Rome, and with very itchy feet, every time I listen to these episodes.

Secondly, the story of Katy’s year was an ongoing narrative that I invested in so much that I had to hold back tears in the episode when Katy was due to leave. The podcast shifts a little in content and feel when Katy returns to Seattle, obviously due to the changed circumstances. However, I continue to listen as I enjoy the relationship between the two friends. The episodes where they record WhatsApp messages to each other in the aftermath of the election of Trump, I thought, was a stroke of storytelling genius.

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Pregnant in the field: have trowel, will travel

Jul 2nd, 2017 by

An archaeologist gave birth to a new photographic genre by asking fellow scientists to post snaps of themselves digging while expecting

Suzanne Pilaar Birch was seven when she caught the archaeology bug on a family trip to Jamestown, Virginia, the first permanent English settlement in the Americas. “Oh this is so cool!” she declared. “I want to come back here and dig.” So when, 24 years later – and now a professional archaeologist based at the University of Georgia and still devoted to digging – she was invited on a field trip in Cyprus, it should have been a no-brainer. Except that she would be six months pregnant on the trip.

It was her first baby, due in August, a child that she’d put off having for eight years because of her career, and she’d vowed not to fly far or do fieldwork that summer. Plus, in more than 10 years working in archaeology (she specialises in analysing animal bones to reconstruct ancient environment and diet), she’d never met a single pregnant woman on a field trip.

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What I’m really thinking: the Viagra user

Jul 2nd, 2017 by

At first it was half a pill. After six months, two-thirds. Then three-quarters, until finally I had to take a whole one

We have had a good sexual relationship for nearly 50 years – not bad going when you’re in your 70s. After three children came the contraceptive pill, a wonderful period in our relationship. You felt completely free to enjoy making love, and the pill relaxed you so much that reaching orgasm was scarcely ever a problem. Then the menopause arrived and the pill could be abandoned. At the same time my sex drive began to diminish. Since we had both enjoyed sex so much, we wanted to continue. The answer was for me to take Viagra.

At first, it was half a pill. After six months, two-thirds. Then three‑quarters, until finally I had to take a whole one. For a while it seemed that a glorious new lease of life had begun. But I noticed I would be tired out for half a day after taking the pill. One day, I made the mistake of mentioning this. You were worried sick that I’d suddenly drop dead as both our fathers did: they died with no warning at 49 and 50. You have a mental list of women friends whose husbands inexplicably and suddenly died. You told me we’d had a better sex life than most of your friends, and that at my age I shouldn’t put my life at risk.

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My workout: ‘Being out on the water, surrounded by natural beauty, is amazing’

Jul 2nd, 2017 by

Nicky Collins, 43, on the satisfaction she gets from paddleboarding

I grew up in Poole, but I was never into water sports when I was younger. Back then I preferred to spend my time and money on clothes and going out rather than exercise. But when I moved back to Poole three years ago, after 14 years away, one of the first things I did was to book a stand-up paddleboard (Sup) lesson. I instantly fell in love with it. Being on the water, surrounded by natural beauty, is amazing – it’s just a shame I didn’t discover it sooner.

Stand-up paddleboarding – or “supping”, as we call it – basically comes down to standing on the middle of a board with feet shoulder-width apart, and propelling yourself through the water with a long oar. You can do it on any body of water, from rivers and lakes to the sea, and it’s not just a fair-weather sport. I’m out all year round, and it can get very choppy. If you fall off, you fall off – you’re only going to get wet, there’s nothing to be afraid of.

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Perfect partner turned out to have a flaw? Here’s what to do | Oliver Burkeman

Jul 2nd, 2017 by

If you’ve got a problem, stop trying to work out how to solve it and instead ask what it’s trying to tell you

I haven’t done a scientific study, but I’d be willing to bet that among the problems most frequently submitted to agony columns is the kind that goes like this: “I’m seeing this woman, or man, and everything’s perfect, except for one thing…” The one thing varies, of course. Maybe her politics are the opposite of yours; perhaps his personal hygiene’s appalling, or you have totally different attitudes to money. But what all such dilemmas have in common is how utterly insoluble they feel. Everything except the one thing feels amazing – a chance you must seize, lest you spend the rest of your life regretting it. And yet the thing itself isn’t a minor flaw; it’s a true deal-breaker. “I’m thrilled and happy and we’re already talking about moving in because we ‘just know’,” as one man wrote to the therapist Lori Gottlieb, at New York magazine, the other day. “Except one thing… she has very strong feelings about not having children.” He wanted to know: could he change her mind? Or would two people madly in love with each other have to call it quits?

Whenever you feel torn between two equally compelling options, it’s likely there’s something you’re not seeing: a third alternative, a hidden assumption, a different way of framing the problem. And that’s often the case with what Gottlieb calls the “perfect-except paradox”. You might believe the person in question is perfect except for one thing, but there’s a good chance they really seem perfect to you because of that thing. This is your unconscious at work, Gottlieb argues. Maybe you’re scared of commitment, so you’re drawn precisely to a relationship that’s doomed to collapse. (See also: affairs with married people.) Or maybe you find a certain kind of person compelling, but for unhealthy reasons – they remind you of your drama-filled childhood, say – so your unconscious is actually protecting you, by zeroing in on someone who comes with a built-in reason not to proceed.

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‘I find myself eating pork pies like the last two decades of near-vegetarianism never happened’

Jul 2nd, 2017 by

Pregnancy brings with it cravings, aversions and a nostalgia for the food of one’s childhood – scotch eggs, fish and chips, or more meat than seems reasonable

When pregnant with me, my allegedly vegetarian mother once ate an entire salami, string and all, before she’d even reached the till (apparently toxoplasmosis didn’t exist in 1984).

Now it is my turn to thicken my baby waist with love and longing. And, in keeping with the family tradition, I have found myself eating pork pies and sausage rolls like the last two decades of near-vegetarianism never happened.

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Is there any way to avoid writer’s butt?

Jul 2nd, 2017 by

Writing novels full-time and snacking in a sedentary position is surefire way of seeing your rear end expand. So what are authors’ best tips for keeping trim?

It began so well. When I first left my office job to write novels full-time I was a totem of cast-iron discipline. At the desk by 9am, I never faltered, never took a day off.

Puffed up with the New Regime, I simultaneously followed Weight Watchers to the letter: so much easier when you can meal-plan and cook at home. I not only produced my first novel, I lost a stone at the same time.

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