Tag Archives: LGBT

SELF SABOTAGE AND THE MAGIC 10%

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I honestly believe that we are our own worst enemies. Growing up gay can be fraught with hardship due to the external pressures we feel from peers, our family and society but it’s the pressure we put on ourselves that can have the most debilitating effect. We don’t often realise the impact of our subconscious minds on our ability to live fulfilling lives. Why is that we never feel fulfilled? Because we self sabotage and what’s worse is that we self sabotage without being consciously aware that we’re doing it.

I used to think that fulfilment would magically find me when I had ticked a certain list of criteria pertaining to my body, career, sexuality, popularity and financial status. My life journey has now led me to understand that fulfilment is something you find within yourself that is not based on the accumulation of things or achievements beyond the self. I have also learnt that many people, myself included will never feel fully satisfied until we can overcome the sly devil inside of us that sabotages our efforts when we’re close to achieving success. Self sabotage leads to disappointment which is a roadblock to finding fulfilment within yourself.

Take this blog for example – in October I committed to writing 31 posts in the lead up to my 31st birthday. I started off strongly enough, posting an article everyday but as I neared the finish line something unconscious clicked inside of me which prevented me from writing until today. It was as if my intention to complete the task to which I had publicly committed was inherently flawed by cause of my own committal. Basically, because I had said I would do it, I couldn’t. I could not write the last few articles much like many other things in my life that I have abruptly stopped right before succeeding at them. This left me utterly disappointment and reciting a harsh yet familiar internal dialogue about my inability to complete a task to which I pledged.

Another example is at the gym where I’ve applied myself to strict regimes that I have confidently followed until spontaneously falling off the bandwagon which always coincides with the same point in time that I’m starting to see positive results from all my hard work. It is as if something inside of me doesn’t want me to succeed and when it sees me trying it lures me into a false sense of comfort before sneaking up on me and undoing all my efforts.

My own self sabotage and reflection of my habits has taught me a valuable lesson – the 10% principle. I’ve come to believe that you can put in 90% of the work but it’s the last 10%, the last push, the last effort, the last hurdle which is where the magic happens. There’s a point where you can see the finish line and if you’re not paying attention you’ll miss the mark and start running backwards unless you find the willpower to push through for only 10% more. That’s the point when everything changes. I believe that the most successful people in their fields are those who have learnt to overcome self sabotage and who push themselves 10% further than the rest of the population. Although it’s a small percentage of the overall effort, it is that portion of the work that makes all the difference.

It took me almost seven months to finally update my blog even though I felt the pressure inside of myself to do so everyday. Had I applied the 10% rule a little earlier then I would have had so much great content to share with you, my wonderful reader. Now I hope to make it up to you with more regular posts and content that I hope you’ll find interesting.

Image by Wendy Loke Photography

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WHAT I MISS FROM INSIDE THE CLOSET

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‘The Closet’ can be a terrifying, lonely and suffocating place. It’s a metaphorical cage that represents suppression, oppression and even depression.  Looking back on my own experience those three things were certainly true but amongst the darkness there were a few positives that I can now say I truly miss.

Contrary to popular belief, it is not always doom and gloom inside the closet. As you start to push open the metaphorical door and peer into the light beyond the crack exciting things start to happen. You realise that there is an enticing world out there with endless possibilities. Although you might not be ready to spring out of the shadows in all your rainbow glory, you start experimenting and testing the waters. The sense of curiosity, compounded by the guilt you feel for doing something ‘immoral’ can actually be quite exhilarating. I remember the thrill that came with kissing boys in the back of my car in deserted carparks or sneaking guys out of my bedroom window in my parents house. Sure most of these highs were then followed by lows and feelings of shame but during those stolen moments I felt ecstasy that I have found hard to replicate in my later years.

It’s the feeling of doing things for the first time, things that you are told are wrong but which feel so right – these are the times I miss from my youth and from inside my own closet. Finding moments to hold hands with a boy at a party when nobody was around and then letting go as soon as your friend walked into the room then desperately waiting for that friend to leave so that you can do it again.  Receiving messages on your phone from your crush and then telling your mum it was from your boss when she gets too nosey. Smiling at a stranger in the change rooms at an inter-school swimming meet. Once out of the closet these situations don’t hold the same sense of danger. The fear of getting caught is removed but it is the fear of getting caught that makes your heart beat faster and electrifies your senses.

When I first started experimenting with boys and going to gay clubs I felt as though I was doing something that was on the fringes of society. For someone who had been brought up in a somewhat conservative environment, being gay almost became an expression of rebellion for me. The cover ups and fabricated stories allowed me to be part of one world at night and then return to the normality of heterosexual, conservative life by day. It was fun, for a time.

After a while though the thrill of breaking the rules diminishes and you are left with the realisation that you cannot be happy and in the closet forever. For the short period of time, in the beginning of the long walk out of the closet, every experience is brand new, every man-to-man touch is a blessing and every moment, no matter how brief, spent out of the closet is a relief. These are feelings that can never be replicated again. This is what I miss from inside the closet.

Image by Damon Baker 

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THIS IS FOR ALL THE GAY MISFITS

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This is for all the gay misfits. The queers, the fags, the queens, the tattooed nerds, the freaks and geeks, the quiet types. This is for all of the homosexuals who don’t fit into mainstream gay culture (because what even is mainstream gay culture?). This is for the guys that are too modest to take shirtless selfies, too alternate to attend circuit parties or too private to share the details of their sex lives.  This is for the gaymers, the ravers, the early night-into-bed tamers. Boys who like boys but don’t work out their bubble butts. The pooftas and fairies who don’t brunch over Bloody Marys or want to take drugs and kiki until Tuesday.

This is for all the gay misfits. You’re alright too.

You feel that you’re the only one who doesn’t fit into the gay stereotype? Well rest assured that you are not. There are others out there that feel the same, who aren’t comfortable in large social gatherings, whose friends are mainly straight or girls or who have very few friends at all but are content with the ones they do have. It may be harder to find these mythical creatures because by nature neither you nor they congregate at gay bars. Give it some time though because after a while they do come out and your paths will cross and you will bond over your love for Seinfeld and sudoko.

Know this in the meantime, it’s ok to be different. You can love Kylie or kickboxing or prefer eating a la carte instead of eating ass. You might vacation in Morocco over Mykonos or practice golfing instead of gyming but either way there’s a place for you in the world and there are people who share your same passions no matter how obscure they may be. Don’t be fooled by what you see as gay culture in popular media. There are plenty of people for whom that lifestyle works but if you’re not one of those people and it doesn’t make you happy then don’t try to conform.

To the sissies, femmes and awkward lads and to the muscle men and pretty boys. Be true to yourself. Your character need not be governed by your sexuality nor do you have to change to satisfy other’s expectations of you.

This is for all the gay misfits and we are all gay misfits. You’re alright too.

Image by Darren Black

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GAY TEENAGERS AND THE MISSED YEARS

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Last night I watched a beautiful Dutch film called Jongens (Boys). It was the story of two teenage boys and their relationship and it made me reflect on my own teenage years. Watch the video below then check out the trailer for the film here.

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MODERN GAY CHALLENGE: 31 POSTS IN 31 DAYS

GAY VIDEO BLOG

Something momentous is happening on November 7th and to mark the occasion I will be posting 31 videos over 31 days. Nothing is off limits as I discuss everything related to modern gay life from sex, drugs, parties, boys and self esteem.

 

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MODERN GAY HEALTH: WHAT IS PREP?

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To PrEP or not to PrEP: Is Truvada really a sexual health game changer?

There’s a lot of discussion at the moment about the use of PrEP as a safe sex tactic for gay men. Writer David Mang explains what PrEP is and looks at whether or not it’s the right tactic for you.

While the horrors of the AIDS crisis of the 1980s are mercifully consigned to history, HIV remains a major health risk for all sexually active people, particularly gay and bisexual men. In 2014, around 2,800 LGBT men were diagnosed HIV positive in the UK – many of whom could potentially have avoided infection had they been using a PrEP drug such as Truvada.

What is PrEP?

PrEP stands for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis, and is a method of preventing HIV infection which has recently been made available for sale in some territories, including the USA. It involves taking an antiretroviral drug on a daily basis. At present, the leading drug on the market is Truvada, which has been shown to reduce the risk of HIV infection for people who are identified as ‘high risk’ by as much as 92%.

The easiest way to think about is is to remember that PrEP is the method, whereas Truvada is simply a brand name. When the patent on Truvada expires in a couple of years time, the market may well be flooded by equally effective alternatives, lowering the cost of the drug.

How does it work?

First of all, it’s vital to remember that PrEP is not a vaccine. When you take PrEP on a daily basis, it enters your bloodstream and can stop HIV from taking hold and spreading. However, of you fail to take PrEP consistently, it’s effectiveness weakens, and there may not be enough medication in your bloodstream to protect you.

Should I be using PrEP?

The reduction rate in HIV transmission from using PrEP is hugely significant. With the medication broadly considered to be safe and relatively low on harmful side effects, the evidence in favour of taking them is compelling – particularly if you frequently engage in high-risk sexual activities such as barebacking, anonymous sex or group sex, or if you’re an intravenous drug user. It could also be a major breakthrough for mixed HIV status couples. According to a study by HIV I-Base, around half of gay men in London would take oral PrEP drugs to reduce their risks of contracting HIV.

On the other hand, PrEP is not a silver bullet for sexual health. First, it is only effective if taken consistently, so don’t think of it as a gay version of the ‘morning after pill’. If you decide PrEP is for you, it’s critically important that you take the drug every day. It also provides no protection against other STIs such as chlamydia, gonorrhoea, anal warts and syphilis.

What are the potential side effects?

Some people who have taken Truvada have complained of mild side effects including loss of appetite, insomnia and an upset stomach. However, in most cases these issues have resolved after regularly taking the drug for a month or so. Beyond that, it appears to be a fairly comfortable and easy drug to take.

How do I get hold of PrEP?

A relative newcomer to the sexual health market, PrEP is not currently available on the NHS in the UK, and can only be accessed by participants in selected medical trials. However, in other countries such as the USA it has been brought to market, albeit at a high price point. Sexual health campaigners are calling for Truvada to be made available on the NHS, and it is hoped that before too long PrEP will become another powerful weapon in our sexual health arsenal.

For more information on PrEP click here 

Image by Bruce Weber for VMAN.

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SEX WITH A STRAIGHT GUY (PART 1)

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Based on a true story.

The summer of 2005 was the most sexually exciting summer of my life. There was a feeling of freedom, of fun and of possibility. It felt as though I had finally found my niche. After years of coming to terms with my sexuality I had finally uncovered a world of nightclubs and friends that were embracing of people of my kind.  It was a summer of music festivals and boys and sweaty underground parties named Bang Gang, Starfuckers, Gay Bash and Healthclub. It was a summer of dance floors filled with fags and poofters and hags and drag queens and inquisitive straight boys whose sexuality was as questionable as the drugs they put in their bodies. There was a youthfulness in the air and the atmosphere was electrified by music aptly called electro. The summer was bright, not only because the sun seemed to set late and the disco lights shone for hours but fluorescent fashion was coming into vogue. Every Saturday was punctuated by a new purchase of fluro clothing which we paired with extremely short denim short or an oversized singlet cut so deep in the neck and underarms that it looked as if someone had tried to rip it off your body.

My days were spent lazing by my pool, which because of its proximity to the beach, became the central meeting point for all my friends after hours spent on the sand. We would watch the summer afternoons roll into nights from the prime position of deck chairs, strategically placed to catch every last ray of light. The Australian sun is famously harsh but staying cool was easy with the aid of bitterly icy beers and frequent dips in our own personal backyard lagoon.

I moved around that summer with a wildly fun group of friends. We were a mix of different backgrounds; an American girl named Tessa who was studying abroad, a private school boy named Rich, his best friend and keen surfer, Dave and another boy James who at the time was the love of my life. James and I were the only gay guys in our tight club of five and although we constantly hooked up, it was an enduring summer of unrequited love (on my part). James was so different to me. He had been out of the closet since 15 and was so at ease with his sexuality. I on the other hand had just come out to my friends and was still unsure of myself. James was an only child who lived with his mum in an apartment while I had a sister and lived with my parents in home that was on the other side of modest in size. He had graduated from a public school that was accepting of gay students whereas I had spent my entire education at a conservative private school that avoided recognising the issue. Even geographically we lived on opposite sides of the Eastern Suburbs train line.

Physically we were very different too. He was smaller than me in both frame and height, with long chocolate brown hair that fell across his face and a chiseled jaw line that seemed to be carved from stone. His skin was golden which he was lucky enough to have inherited from his Italian grandparents and covered in the perfect amount of dark hair. He was the most beautiful boy I had ever seen. I was 6’3, fair, hairy and broad.

We met at university after I had spent the first semester pining over him from a distance. I can’t recall the details of how our paths crossed but I think that the now defunct social media site Myspace may have had something to do with it. By the end of the summer I considered him one of my closest friends, particularly after I realised that he would never love me like I did him. I don’t think the other members of our clan knew how strongly I felt for James nor was it important. What was important though was that each day was filled with pursuits of pleasure which often extended to pleasure of a sexual kind. As a group of two straight guys, two gay guys and a girl we certainly found ourselves in interesting sexual situations, the details of which need not be relived again. There was one incident though that was a turning point for our group and, from which I have learnt a life lesson that fundamentally changed my perception of sex and friendship.

It was two months into the summer, at the point in the year where the temperature is at its peak and the days their longest when the lines between friendship and lovers became blurred. The closer that we became as group of friends, the further the boundaries of sexual identity were pushed until one sexually charged evening changed everything indefinitely….

(Part two coming soon)

Image by Sebastian Faena 

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MODERN GAY PHILOSOPHY: KNOW THYSELF

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During my weekly Saturday philosophy class, I came across the following story by Rudyard Kipling, the English poet and writer who, in 1894 famously penned The Jungle Book. The topic of the lecture was ‘Know Thyself’ and the debate that ensued centred on the idea  that the unexamined life is not worth living (Socrates). Kipling’s fable perfectly explains where we must begin our examination in order to truly find ourselves.

Once upon a time, or rather, at the very birth of time, when the Gods were so new that they had no names, and Man was still damp from the clay of the pit whence he had been digged, Man claimed that he, too, was in some sort a deity. The Gods were as just in those days as they are now.

They weighed his evidence and decided that Man’s claim was good — that he was, in effect, a divinity, and, as such, entitled to be freed from the trammels of mere brute instinct, and to enjoy the consequence of his own acts. But the Gods sell everything at a price.

Having conceded Man’s claim, the legend goes that they came by stealth and stole away this godhead, with intent to hide it where Man should never find it again. But that was none so easy. If they hid it anywhere on Earth, the Gods foresaw that Man, the inveterate hunter — the father, you might say, of all hunters — would leave no stone unturned nor wave unplumbed till he had recovered it. If they concealed it among themselves, they feared that Man might in the end batter his way up even to the skies. And, while they were all thus at a stand, the wisest of the Gods, who afterwards became the God Brahm, said, “I know. Give it to me!” And he closed his hand upon the tiny unstable light of Man’s stolen godhead, and when that great Hand opened again, the light was gone.

“All is well,” said Brahm. “I have hidden it where Man will never dream of looking for it. I have hidden it inside Man himself.”

Image Credit: A Troy Dunham art piece created with photographer Jeff Eason (Wilsonmodels)

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15 GAY GUYS TO AVOID IN 2015

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One week into 2015 and chances are that you have already broken most of your New Years resolutions. While you attempt to find your way back onto the right track towards health, happiness and your dream job, why don’t you also cleanse your soul of poisonous people? Here’s a list of 15 gay guys to avoid or remove from your life in 2015.

Disclaimer: the people mentioned below might also be your straight friend, female colleague or family member and should be detoxified from your life just the same. And another thing, don’t take this list too seriously…

1. THE GOSSIP
If he speaks more goss than Perez Hilton and TMZ combined then chances are he’s talking dirt behind your back too. Although everyone knows that a gossip cannot be trusted, he has the uncanny ability to discover information through his network of unnamed sources. Remove yourself from his network immediately.
2. THE DRAMA QUEEN
This guy lives his life as if he is a Southern Californian teenager girl being followed by a reality TV crew or an ill-tempered mob boss wife from New Jersey. He thrives on creating drama between people and as such his presence in your life is emotionally draining. Do not become caught up in his Bravo TV franchise.
3. THE JEALOUS ONE
Friends should be supportive of one another but some gay guys cannot deal with other people’s success. You’ll be able to identify this type of person cause he will always be the one discounting other’s achievements with comments like “yeh he has a good job but he’ll never find a boyfriend” or “so what if he’s good-looking, his boyfriend still cheats on him”. Stop spending time with jealous people because secretly they’re hoping that you fail too.
4. THE MANIPULATOR
The manipulator, strategist and liar are often the same person and should technically be grouped together. This type of guy likes to control situations and has a powerful ability to manipulate others into doing what he wants. He will lie and mould the people around his so to achieve whatever strategy he has thought up to benefit himself. When things do not go the way he plans, he’ll turn his back on you in jealousy and find a way to enact his revenge. This guy is dangerous and should be avoided at all costs.
5. THE STRATEGIST
6. THE LIAR
7. THE BAD INFLUENCE
A controversial inclusion on the list because a bad influence can sometimes be the key to the craziest of adventures. In small doses the bad influence can be fun and mischevious but if left unchecked he can lead to your demise. He is the friend who will convince you to stay out longer at the club when you have an early flight to catch the next day or persuade you to accompany him to a sex party in a sketchy part of town. If you enjoy missing your flight or engaging in sex acts that have yet to be named then by all means keep the bad influence around.
8. THE ATTENTION SEEKER
Loud, obnoxious, inappropriate and always vying for the spotlight, the attention seeker makes every moment a dramatic one-man performance about himself. He survives on the gaze of others and will do anything to attract attention. When you’re out in public with him he makes you feel uncomfortable with his outlandish behaviour and lack of social awareness. If you’re slightly uncomfortable being watched across a restaurant full of strangers then either ask your loud friend to step down from the table and put his shirt back on or just stop spending your precious time with him all together.
9. THE NEGATIVE ONE
Negative gay guys will suck the life out of you…and not in a good way. They complain that they don’t have a boyfriend, that they never meet anyone new, that their job is awful, that the music at this club is shit, that their martini is too dry and that nothing ever goes right. Negative people will cast a grey cloud over you, make it rain and then drown you in their pessimism. Replace the negative gay guy with a positive, easygoing and optimistic friend immediately.
10. THE BOYFRIEND THIEF
He is the friend who always dates or sleeps with your ex-boyfriend several months after you broke up. This will have you reflecting on all the times he hang out with you and your boyfriend while you were still dating. How long has he had these feelings? Why does he always end up with with your exes? What type of friends sleeps with your ex-lover anyway? You can take it as a compliment or you can just take him out of your life completely.
11. THE SPONGE
Never pays for dinners out, always manages to avoid his shout at the bar and somehow ends up in your room on summer holidays even though he hasn’t contributed to the cost, these are the ways of the sponge. While it’s commendable to help your friends when they are short on cash or in-between jobs, do not support the sponge as he has no intention of ever changing his ways or repaying the favour.
12. THE OPPORTUNIST
Have you ever noticed how some gay boys are only friends with semi-famous, extremely good-looking, well-known gays? Their so-called best friends are carefully selected based on their social capital and once they’ve infiltrated the group they work to develop their own social profile. These people are known as opportunists as they actively seek out situations and people that will help inflate their own egos. If you’re friends with one of these types then you’re probably a semi-famous, extremely good-looking and well-known gay so be aware that there is a social climbing impostor amongst your midst.
13. THE PERFECTIONIST
‘I love my life and I love my friends and I’m so grateful to the universe that everything is perfect’ reads his Facebook status. As a matter of fact, when scrolling through his social media it may actually appear that his life is perfect and if it wasn’t for his over-the-top declarations of perfection then you might almost believe them. Nobody’s life is that perfect and even though his beautifully photoshopped pictures make you feel like your life is crap, he’s probably desperately miserable and therefore terrible company anyway. Stay away.
14. THE TAKER
Do you know a gay guy who loves talking about himself? While the truth is that most of us love talking about ourselves there is a special type of gay guy who will take no interest in another person when having a conversation. He’ll never ask how you are or what you’ve been doing or if everything is ok in your life. Rather he’ll prefer to talk about his life and his problems and if the discussion ever changes where you become the focus then he’ll lose interest. This is a taker – a person who takes other people’s attention and steals other’s time but never returns the favour.
15. THE REPEAT OFFENDER
Perhaps you are friends with someone who fits one or more of the above descriptions but the good that they bring to your life far outweighs the bad. If this is the case then you don’t mind putting up with their shortcomings because you understand that we all have our flaws and that nobody is perfect. That’s completely fine. It’s not until they repeat those shortcomings over and over again till you reach a tipping point when you cannot forgive them anymore. Maybe you’ve called them out on sponging, or lying or thieving your boyfriend but they still never change. If this is true then 2015 is the year when you must decide whether or not you want to keep them in your life or remove them indefinitely. The choice is yours.
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RULE 26: STOP WAITING TO BE PERFECT

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Match.com has launched the 2015 campaign ‘#loveyourimperfections’, encouraging us all to embrace the things that make us unique. I have contributed to the campaign with this post which is a challenge to all those who read it to stop waiting to be perfect before you feel like you’re worthy of love. After all it’s our mistakes, misbehaviours, quirks, habits and our little obsessions that make us who we are.

If you are waiting to lose weight before you are ready to find love then you will never find love. If you are waiting to have the perfect six-pack before you are ready to find love then you will never find love. If you are waiting for anything about you to change before you are ready to find love then you will never find love. If you are waiting to be perfect then you will never find love.

I used to think that I would be ready for love and a relationship only once I had controlled all the external elements of my being, that only when my body, job and social life were in ideal alignment then would I find the perfect guy. The fact is that my life will never be perfect and neither will yours.

Stop waiting to be perfect to feel that you are worthy of love whether it be love from someone else or self-love. It’s exhausting to pursue perfection. Why? Because there is no measureable end goal. The finish line is always moving. How will you know when you’re perfect? The pursuit of perfection does not lead to happiness. It leads to dissatisfaction with the moment. Perfection does not exist and as such the pursuit of perfection is a pointless cause.

But who wants to be with a perfect partner anyway? Personally I don’t want to be with someone who wants me to be perfect, in fact, I want to be with someone who loves my imperfections. I want a man who will love me even when I’ve put on weight, when I haven’t gone to gym for three months, when I’m sick and when I’m feeling ugly. My future partner needs to understand that sometimes I shave and sometimes I don’t, that sometimes I trim my chest hair but most of the time I look like I’ve been stranded on a tropical island for months with only a Wilson volleyball as a companion. My future partner needs to understand that these external things do not define who I am and as such I don’t want a relationship that fluctuates depending on such things. The right person will love me for who I am always not who I am sometimes.

It’s our imperfections that actually make us the most beautiful. The Japanese have known this for centuries. Kintsugi, the Japanese art of fixing broken pottery with lacquer resin mixed with powdered gold is based on highlighting imperfections as beautiful fragments of the overall story. As a philosophy it speaks to breakage and repair becoming part of the history of an object, rather than something to disguise. We should apply this same approach to mending the parts of us that we see as broken and imperfect.

My body is covered in scars and marks. I have a long scar on my knuckles from when I cut myself working in a cocktail bar, I have a scar on my chin from when I was dumped by a wave on family holiday and I have little stretch marks on my sides from when I went through a growth spurt in grade 8. All these blemishes represent moments in my life and instead of hiding them, I have chosen to embrace them as markers of memories.

Only once you have learnt to appreciate all the parts that make up who you are will you then be ready for love. In the end though, it’s not about being ready for someone else’s love but learning to love yourself.

Watch the campaign video here to see how the things that embarrass us about ourselves might actually be the things that others find endearing. 

Image by Willy Vanderperre

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