An open letter to the producers of Love Island.

To the producers of hit TV show Love Island,

Love Island is a hit TV show in the UK. They’ve just started filming the 5th series which is expected to start at the beginning of June.

I’ve actually not even watched one episode but I’ve heard plenty of stories and read some of the tragedies associated to the show which are no coincidence, let me tell you.

Even the way the team at ITV2 describe the programme demonstrates their lack of care or regard to the wellbeing of their contestants…

Here’s an excerpt from a teaser for the next series, “Another batch of boys and girls looking for love – and a few million Instagram followers – will be jetting into Majorca next summer for months of sticking it on and mugging off in the hope of winning a huge cash prize (and true love, of course).”

The problem with Love Island is that young men and women apply to the programme not necessarily looking for love but searching for fame and a career and what worries me is that there doesn’t seem to be a lot of preparation OR after care to the contestants. Contestants leave a secluded house with a MASSIVE following and a tiny window with which to grab the opportunity to suddenly become an entrepreneur. You better believe how tiny that window of opportunity it.

The show provides such a lack of after care to their contestants that we’ve seen two suicides in the last 2 years. On the 15th March this year, former contestant Mike Thallassitis completed suicide by hanging and on the 20th June 2018, we lost former contestant Sophie Gradon too followed closely by her boyfriend Aaron.

2017 Islander Dom Lever called for more thorough after-show care for the cast, tweeting: “You get a psychological evaluation before and after you go on the show but hands down once you are done on the show you don’t get any support unless you’re number one.”

I want to know specifically what measures ITV2 are going to take in order to ensure the mental wellbeing of the new contestants. We simply CANNOT lose more young lives due to poor preparation / psychological protocol.



I never called it bulimia… but deep down, I knew it wasn’t a good thing.

Most days, I feel optimistic as I scroll through my social media. I follow people of all sizes, shapes and gender. I see positive phrases, bold messages, incredible diversity. I see empowerment.


Of course, there is the flip side. I follow news outlets and suchlike, and I rage in anguish as I see reports on period poverty, frighteningly common anti-abortion groups, the pay gap. But those are topics to save for another day. Today I’m going to talk about body image, about mental health and about eating disorders.


As a child and then teenager growing up in the ‘90s and ’00s, I was living in a world obsessed with body image and the suppression of women with the ‘beauty myth’. Celebrities were mostly thin, their bodies plastered across magazines (and yes, not much has changed these days in that respect). Models lacked diversity – I can remember reading a Teen Vogue article shaming the limited range of body types in fashion publications, yet the fashion pages following that piece only showcased stick thin models. Britney danced on my television in crop tops, with a slim stomach that we all desired; plastic surgery was on the rise and everyone wanted a boob job; fad diets came thick and fast. The constant blast of the media and the social expectation of women was suffocating. I felt as though I needed to conform to be accepted, that thinness would be my route to success.


For years, I covered up my problem. I never called it bulimia, but deep down I knew it wasn’t a good thing. It was called ‘just being sick’ or ‘I’ve been a bit ill again’ – which to me meant I’d stuck my fingers down my throat, but to others it just meant I was perhaps feeling a little poorly. It was my cry for help, saying those words, but a rather masked one. How was anyone meant to decipher that there was another level to what I had said?


It started during a summer break whilst I was at university. Eating disorders were surprisingly common at my holiday job and it wasn’t long before I was in a loo at a club with a girl from work, being shown how easy it was to make yourself vomit. Bulimia was a convenient way to ‘have it all’ – I was literally having my cake, eating it and then watching myself flush it down the toilet later. It was almost glamorous; I had read somewhere that Princess Diana had had it. I was following in the footsteps of a royal! Surely that was something that was commendable?


In the beginning, it felt like it was something I could control, that I had power over. However my initial thoughts on this ‘glam’ disorder were quickly replaced with a feeling of helplessness. I was governed by the binge and purge cycle. It was a coping mechanism. I would spend the day being extremely healthy but then run to the nearest Tesco and hone in on all the bad things I would have restricted myself from earlier on: doughnuts, trifle, giant bars of chocolate, cakes dripping with icing and jam. The brief elation I would feel would be rapidly overtaken by a feeling of uncomfortable fullness, quickly veering on to hellish nauseousness and then followed by a swift run to the toilet to rid myself of all the calories I had stuffed in my mouth. My throat would be bruised and scraped from the force of my fingers, my teeth tingling from the surge of stomach acid (the cause of many a filling) and my belly flipping over and over as it tried to work out what was going on. I would then sit in my room as my mood sank lower and lower and cry my eyes red raw, putting frozen peas on my throat in an attempt to shrink my swollen glands, my face resembling that of my hamster’s when she’d snaffled all of the food in her bowl away in her cheek pouches.


I know the above can sound a little graphic, and also quite disgusting. But that’s the reason I’m writing it, to remind myself and to show you that it is just that. It is disgusting. It ravages your throat, it messes up your periods, it makes you anxious, it makes social situations involving food an absolute nightmare to endure, it leaves you feeling constantly tired and low… The list goes on. But remember, you’re not disgusting. The disorder is telling you that you are. It’s making you embarrassed to speak out. It’s making you secretive and sly. Give it a whack and tell it you’re done with that crap.


Although having an eating disorder revolves around food and body image, it is not the disorder that is the cause. It is just a symptom. I am now aware that I have body dysmorphia; the size I see in the mirror on a good day is totally distorted by what I see on a bad day. I am now also aware that the bulimia is triggered by different emotions and situations – stress, anxiety, rejection.


I hit true rock-bottom just under a year ago. My job was more stressful than it should have been, my relationship was breaking and I felt as if I had nowhere to turn. It was like Iwas wading through thick mud and was never going to reach the grass on the other side. Then I saw something online about forgiving yourself when you relapse. A tiny phrase that for some reason, that day, struck a chord in my head. By that point, I was now eight years down the line from the toilet-in-a-club scene. I was pretty sick and tired. Something snapped. I wanted to reclaim my body and my mind. I only started seeking formal help for my condition less than a year ago. I now take anti-depressants, which make me feel a little less like my anxiety is spiralling out of control, and I regularly see a counsellor who is allowing me to better understand myself and what is causing my eating disorder.


Don’t let the world get you down. The shiny, happy world of social media is not always what it seems; these people have been photoshopped and touched up, they have personal trainers and they’re definitely not using that flat tummy tea they’re flaunting in their #ads. They have down days too but they’ve chosen not to post a picture of them bawling their eyes out on their Instagram story to keep their fake image intact. That’s absolute rubbish though and totally unrealistic. Choose to follow body positive role models, real-life people that post on good and bad days, people with a cause, people that give you hope, inspire and empower you. Also follow accounts that show you endless pictures of small furry animals, because that never hurts.


Although the NHS mental health services are somewhat under strain, there is still support out there and public perception is changing. It is now recognised that it is vital to speak about mental health (thank you to countless number of celebs and public personalities that have taken it upon themselves to address this), to discuss problems, to put health first.


I’m thankful for the opportunity to discuss my problem and I hope that this empowers others to speak about it too. Not only that, but that there is light at the end of the tunnel, and that things will get better. Seek help, speak up and speak out, and find the tools that allow you to empower yourself to be the best you can be, do not let anyone or anything suppress you. Take back control and don’t let a disorder dictate your life for you.

Confessions of an ex-stripper who’s not ashamed any more.

It was summer 2009. I was nearing the end of my studies in Musical Theatre and I REALLY needed a job. I had a brief stint doing some bar shifts but the work was too sporadic, and I couldn’t depend on the income. I was aimlessly scrolling online one day, and I saw an advert seeking ‘dancers’ in a city centre venue in Glasgow and it said there was loads of money to be made!

As I’d been studying Musical Theatre, I was curious about the performing aspect and decided it was worth a bash if this claim of uncapped earnings was true. I sent an email with zero expectations and was offered an ‘audition’ almost immediately. My boyfriend at the time drove me all the way from the Borders where my family and he lived up to Glasgow in time for my audition. I knew it was ‘exotic dancing’ but I didn’t have a clue what to wear and was deeply apprehensive about what to expect.

I had done a wee bit of research and bought a black and pink matching set from Primark of all places. I shoved it in my bag, kept the potential earnings at the forefront of my mind and just decided to drop any pre-conceptions I had and give it my best.

When I arrived, I had butterflies in my stomach. I had no idea what I was letting myself in for. The club was very fancy. Lots of bright lights and a big stage and many powerful women strutting around. I was introduced to the house mum Shelley (who has since appeared on Channel 4’s programme ‘strippers’) and she really lives up to the name.

From the outset, she explained in a caring mum-like manner what I could expect from the job and introduced me to a lovely dancer who was about to start her shift called Amy-Lee. Amy-Lee said she would show me how to do the job and then I could decide whether it was for me or not. At the time, I had just turned 19 and Amy-Lee was 23. I remember pondering how she had so much confidence and finesse. She was articulate, self-assured and clearly a very talented dancer.

She took me into a private booth and drew the curtains. She then proceeded to give me a dance. She didn’t come too close to me and had clearly choreographed her moves. I then felt liberated to give it a go myself, so I gave her a dance. It was clear to both of us I was extremely nervous, and I didn’t have a clue, so she decided to choreograph me a routine. This would then literally become what I’d do every single time.

After I gave Amy-Lee a dance, I felt strangely powerful and liberated. I felt proud of my body and empowered. I decided that this was a job I could give a good shot. And so, I started. I would work Friday and Saturday nights as the other dancers told me these are the busier nights. I remember arriving at the dressing room an hour prior to the shift beginning and being surrounded by hugely confident women who seemed to know it all. I didn’t have the big fancy clear stripper heels and I certainly didn’t realise it was standard to wear stockings! Thankfully for me, a very kind ‘older lady’ (says she at 29 now) who was 28 and working that night saw the uncertainty in my eyes and said if I give her £5, she would nip to Asda and get me some bits and bobs. What was nice about this was, the next time her and I were on shift together, she produced a pair of fishnet stockings from George at Asda! I think that after this, I grew very fond of Ashley. She’d noticed my uncertainty and opted to help me out with what now seem like basics! But without her friendly gestures, I don’t know that I’d have had the guts to stick at it.

The next few months were a bit of a whirlwind! I certainly made money. I was living a life I could only have dreamt about. Conversations of depth with men and women from all walks of life who wanted to PAY for my company. I started to enjoy the nocturnal life filled with sassy outfits and cheap champagne behind the curtain.

Once I found my flow with the job which I didn’t know if I’d like or not, I continued to work in different clubs. Never in my life did I imagine that working 10 hours per week in a job I enjoyed could afford me such a lavish lifestyle. I even had a stint in London! I met some hugely interesting and dynamic women throughout this time. Lawyers, young mums, students, travellers… all just trying to make their way. From the age of 19-21 I really learnt a lot about humans. Stripping isn’t an easy job. It required communication skills, sass, sales, marketing, negotiations… people write us off as stupid or say that we are doing it because we must. 90% of the time, I can tell you that this isn’t the case.

Fast forward to April 2011, I met someone. The man of my dreams. Not in the dancing capacity although I was totally open and honest with him about the job I’d been doing and how much I enjoyed it. He expressed his feelings about the job and said that he wouldn’t be OK with me doing this job if we were to become serious, so I quit, and I hung up my strappy clear platforms until March 2017. My time away from the pole and behind the curtain showed me that when dancing ISN’T an option, I am capable of some fantastic things ‘in real life’. I put it like this because when I’m in the club, I’m in character. I am an actress. Also, dancing can’t last forever and there isn’t much which can replicate the income. Without the option to dance, I had to go study again and apply for ‘proper’ office jobs which weren’t dependant on my looks or ability to move.

In this time, I had some amazing jobs which I’m very proud of. I worked for a large media house and various marketing agencies and felt a new kind of respect I hadn’t felt before. People were looking at me differently and instead of taking first impressions from my body or outfit, those first impressions were drawn from my ideas, my mind and what I had to offer creatively. This new-found respect from peers in a different setting was liberating.

Anyway, fast forward a few years and include trying to settle down… I ended up without my husband who was my rock and my constant and all on my own again. I needed money, and quick. So, I decided to search for my nearest club, dust off the old strappy clear platforms and go work a random Thursday night. It’s March 2017 now and it’s been 6 years since I performed and took my clothes off for money, but I remember feeling so empowered the first night I set foot back in a strip club. I’d missed the lights, the tacky old dressing rooms where some of the lights are broken and the stories of other dancers unfolding while we shared curling tongs, prayed for a busy night and talked about life.

I’d missed this. I’d missed the girls, the chat, the stage names, the costumes and the hustle. I’d missed having a laugh with the girls on a quiet night reminiscing about the busier times.

I haven’t danced now since August 2018 because I haven’t needed to. But that doesn’t mean I don’t WANT to now and again. Writing and my events and work around empowering women to own their truth provides me with just enough money and a busy enough schedule that I just don’t need to. But I don’t think my love for it will ever die. I like the uncertainty of a night’s earnings. The hustle. The ability to be someone else for the night. You can be whoever you want!

Over the past year or so, I’ve become very actively involved in feminism and have learnt a huge amount on the subject area from books, the bloody internet and other women! It is so broad and there are many subgroups within it. As with everything, there are tiny pockets of feminism which, in my opinion, are not inclusive and toxic.

Unfortunately, during my time researching, I have become aware of a subgroup called SWERF. This stands for Sex worker exclusionary radical feminism. Just to set the record straight, I have only and would only ever sell entertainment / dancing in exchange for money. Never sex. That’s something entirely different to me. I don’t, however, feel it’s up to me to judge others who CHOOSE to do this. Of course, there are outliers, like with everything. There are a small number of women who are in sex work against their will or because their caught up in a dark cycle of addiction where getting their next hit depends on making money ‘on the game’. But this number is far lower than the group of SWERF’s would have you believe. SWERF is characterised by hostility to the third wave of feminism. The main objection SWERF’s have against sex work seems to be the sexual objectification and violence that occurs towards women in the sex work and pornography industries. Predictably, they go overboard and are abusive towards sex workers who CHOOSE their profession freely, as opposed to because of human trafficking. This is bullying and oppression and is often referred to as whorephobia.

Anyway, I guess my point in sharing this is that I want to have the opportunity to be more open about my past experiences and I want to make it clear that MY feminism is inclusive of those who choose to have autonomy over their bodies and of those who choose sex work freely as a profession.

I will always continue to do what I can for organisations who fight against human trafficking and who provide services to women who have encountered sexual harassment, particularly in these settings. But what I won’t do, is exclude people from a conversation when their voice is equal.

This article is for Shelley, Annabelle, Liberty, Robyn, Jamie-Leigh, Maria, Jacqui, Ashleigh, Jessica, Scarlett, Tina and the bouncer who worked the club with me in New York City: you know who you are. It’s also for any individual who has worked in the industry and felt ashamed of their job or their choices. Your work is work. And I’m proud to live in a country which values the rights of sex workers. Glasgow girl Megara Furie has just facilitated the first union for sex workers, and this is something which makes me hugely proud.

Let’s feel less uncomfortable having unusual conversations and let’s aim to include everyone in all conversations.

Mandy @ TEWP x


My reasons to stay alive.

Over the last few days and possibly weeks, I’ve been having a pretty massive existential crisis. My mental health has been impacted massively and during what has been a relatively smooth recovery process since March last year, I’ve found myself stumbling on a massive hurdle. A hurdle so big I don’t even know if it will be possibly to conquer. Even with adequate support.

It all came to a head on Tuesday night. I took myself to a book launch but prior to the book launch, I found my mental health becoming increasingly worse. Prior to the book launch event, I just remember floating around the streets of Glasgow, totally dissociated for hours and even having thoughts where I’d look at a building and think “Wow, how did we even think to build this” or I’d be looking at others walking around and asking myself “Why is no one panicking because one day, they too are going to die. They’re all mad.”

I literally felt like I was starting to lose my mind.

Pair this with the fact I’d been drinking to excess pretty much every day for 14-15 days prior to this day – I wasn’t in a good place.

Anyway, as the night progressed and the book launch drew to a close, I found myself becoming increasingly worse and took myself to a wee bar I like called The Variety Bar on Glasgow’s Sauchiehall Street. I have a bit of a penchant for Arr deco so it’s always been a favourite haunt of mine.

The last thing I remember vividly is looking out of the window while drinking my vodka and Diet Coke and tears rolling down my cheeks. I felt helpless, scared, lonely and utterly pointless. I then remember one of the bar men coming over to console me followed loosely by my best friend arriving, an ambulance, the police and then the next thing I knew, I was in hospital.

I’ll never forget the kindness of my friends and family on Tuesday night who all rallied round to locate me, rescue me and protect me. Thank you. I was a danger to myself and I still probably am.

I’ve been under the watchful eyes of close friends and family ever since and it’ll be that way for the forseeable future as I don’t think I’ve ever felt in such a dark place as I do now. I don’t see this fog lifting any time soon.

As such, I thought that, for my own benefit more than anyone else’s, I’d compile a list of reasons to stay alive while I still feel in this suicidal and fragile state of mind.

My reasons to stay alive:

My Mum – thank you for bringing me into existence and for your CONSTANT support

My siblings

My Niece and Nephew

Martyn and Barbara

Fresh sheets in a cosy house



Friends – near and far




These are just a few that sprang to mind straight away. Please feel free to write your own if you feel inspired to do so!

Mandy @ TEWP x



What would you do for free accommodation? The truth behind the men preying on vulnerable women.

After watching the new Jeremy Kyle programme on Monday evening, I decided to have a look at whether we have the same sort of problem here in Scotland.

In the new programme from Jeremy Kyle which first aired on Monday called The Kyle Files, Kyle will be investigating high-profile issues which impact on people’s lives across Britain today from knife crime to legal highs and from plastic surgery to underage drinking and gang culture.

An issue which came to light in the first episode was men offering free accommodation to women in return for sexual favours.

Kyle said that there had been email exchanges between one of his colleagues who is in her twenties and a middle-aged man where he said she could rent a room for free providing she agreed to his demands of a sexual nature.

The man, who features in the episode and appears to ignore Kyle’s questions, uses the website Craigslist to advertise his rooms for rent and to explain what will be expected in exchange.

I find it deeply saddening that this sort of advert isn’t having to meet some sort of community guidelines in order to be displayed on the site.

Young women, for all sorts of reasons, can find themselves alone and vulnerable and in need of somewhere to sleep or a roof over their head. These sorts of rooms may appeal to women who have come through drug addiction or alcohol abuse who are in dire need of a safe place to rest their head.

These adverts and the men responsible are NOT safe and we need to ask Craiglist why there isn’t a way to report adverts of this nature.

When I started digging, it didn’t take me long to uncover a few of these adverts in Glasgow. One was for a ‘free room with en-suite’ in the Hillhead area of the city for a ‘female who’s willing to earn it’.

He asked that prospective candidates email what they’d be willing to do in exchange for the free room.

I exposed the advert on my Facebook page The Empowered Woman Project to see what people thought about it and one follower names Charlotte said, “Back when I was 18, I saw something similar advertised on a house sharing site. I was very desperately in need of accommodation at the time and nearly contacted the person with the listing but ended up listening to my gut instead and not bothering.”

What this means is that we are dealing with a very real issue where women are perhaps willing to compromise on consent and what makes them feel safe in exchange for simply a safe place to live.

What we need to ask is why do sites like Craigslist not have a way of reporting these potentially damaging adverts and how can we clamp down on this type of predatory behaviour?

If you’ve found yourself considering responding to an advert of this kind, we’d be keen to hear from you

Mandy @ TEWP x

Arconne – exposing the lie of the cult like MLM scheme.

It’s just someone trying to make their way in the world like the rest of us… thats how I make peace with it… but as a skin specialist for over 15 years, MLM beauty/skincare companies undermine my expertise and give an industry I love such a bad name.

These ‘reps’ are teachers, office workers, normal people with 9-5 jobs and have zero knowledge of skincare or an individuals skin-type will respond to certain formulations.

The woman who founded Arbonne lives close to where I work, I know people who know her and someone close to her told me all about it.

About how the products have no real science behind them and how only the first 5-10 people made any real money.  Yeah, she drives a Mercedes but the others are told to big up their lifestyles on social platforms to ‘recruit’ others.

I too have joined an MLM based around aloe vera. I loved some of their formulas, and am a natural salesperson when it comes to something I love… but despite my signing up three people and spending hundreds of pounds within my first week, the company rep’s ethics let me down.

Also, I should add, just in case you think this is me touting, I hold about £3000 worth of retail stock in the shop and only about £100 of that is just aloe vera jelly and nothing else which I only use post-treatment for my clients.

The other £2900 worth is from my trusted, scientific, chemist formulated clinical ranges which are NOT forever living or Arbonne.

It was only AFTER the sign ups and sales I was told/reminded that commission ran month end to month end, so having joined only a few days before month end, my hard work counted towards nothing! Of course the girl above me made her monthly target because of my work.

It’s a clever business model as they often recruit people who dont question things and dont fully understand how the marketing plan works.

I do, as a business owner, but realised when I saw a new mum struggling to make ends meet throwing herself into anything in the hope of a big break… it’s so sad.

I broke away immediately, and now only order what I like, trust and believe in, with no recruitment by me AT ALL.

If you allow someone with no health, skin or beauty experience to reccommend a product of this nature, beware…

New recruits spend all their money on personal use packs and stock, chasing a dream that they cannot achieve, so are literally desperate to make a sale!

Stay away…

Jen @ TEWP x




“I look forward to the day when you’ve never touched an inch of me.”

TW: Rape / Assault / Trauma.

For me it didn’t happen like I’d seen in my nightmares, or seen in movies. For me it was turning up to my mums house one morning, in clothes I don’t remember putting on, all my stuff missing and no shoes on and with the most horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach, bruises on my body I knew nothing about and the realisation that most of my memory from the night before had been erased. It was the feeling of knowing something wasn’t right but not being able to pinpoint what. It was the humiliation of looking in the mirror and asking myself “were you raped?” It was the subconscious feeling of knowing you were but the conscious feeling of denying it could have happened to you. It was feeling helpless phoning the police to say I don’t remember last night but I think something sinister has happened. And the feeling of sheer embarrassment knowing some people would taunt you because they didn’t believe it. It was being hung out to dry on social media by the people that didn’t believe you, and being told they were allowed to do that and I just had to deal with it. It was finding out there was two suspects and not just one. It was the desire to rip every inch of my skin off so that I could grow it again and this time know who had touched it. It was itching and scratching my brain in a desperate attempt to remember everything in exact detail, whilst also never wanting to know. It was watching the person walk free and continue with their life, whilst mine burned to ashes around me. It was going deeper than rock bottom without the enthusiasm to even think about climbing up. It was waking up every morning to remember that I can’t remember. It was answering the same questions over and over because people needed as much validation as they could take before they allowed themselves to fully immerse themselves in belief. It was looking at my mum and seeing the sadness glinting in all corners of her eyes, it was putting all the blame on myself no matter how many times I was told I didn’t ask for this, then it was cracking under the self guilt I had inflicted on myself. It was wanting to be dead but not wanting to cause anymore pain to my family. It was cutting my skin to make sure I still bled the same. Then that became the only reminder I had that I was still real and still deserved to be alive. It was dressing like a slob because I wanted to be as least attractive as I could be. It was not hearing from people I thought were my friends and realising I was quite alone. It was looking at my daughter and imagining it being her in my shoes even though I didn’t want to imagine that. It was crying in the bathroom because I didn’t feel like I was worthy of being her mum anymore. It was the police saying “if you take anything away from this, maybe don’t get as drunk in future” even though you could remember everything until you couldn’t and knew you didn’t drink enough to lose 6 hours of your life. It was saying the words “I was raped” out loud without feeling like I was playing in a make believe world. It was letting those words sink in, whilst also not allowing myself to listen to them, because the thought turned my stomach. It was writing these words and for the first time not feeling ashamed because no one can see me or question me. It was releasing all the emotion on a page whilst not talking about my emotion much at all. It was saying aloud – I was raped, I was raped, I was raped, I was raped.

So to my rapist – You took the last little bit of myself I knew away. And I don’t know where you put her, but now I have decided because of what you did, even if you never admit it to yourself I wouldn’t want to be her ever again. I’ll rebuild a new me and put the pieces back differently so you can never say you know me. I learned that all the molecules in your body reform every seven years, so I look forward to the day when you’ve never touched an inch of me. I can’t face you when this goes to court simply because I don’t want to stare into the face of a person I trusted and liked as a friend and know you took that trust in your hands just to ruin everything I was. I crashed, and tumbled, but I refused to crumble. “You will leave this convinced you chose the wrong girl to have sex with, I will leave constantly looking over my shoulder for monsters dressed as friends.” Rape is an act of violence and most men do it for power, well you didn’t break me, you don’t own that power.