Why Are Women So Insecure?
Liv Purvis is a fashion, beauty and travel blogger who founded an online platform called The Insecure Girls’ Club in 2018 in a bid to offer women a safe space to discuss their anxieties and insecurities surrounding modern life. We caught up her to find out all about her new book, why she’s supporting Goal 5: Gender Equality, and her advice for coping with anxiety during the COVID-19 outbreak.
I was having loads of conversations with friends, primarily other bloggers but also friends who are primary school teachers, and we were all having the same conversations about comparison, insecurity and that inner critic. I was aware I wasn’t really talking about it on my blog, but I didn’t want it to feel like an afterthought because these conversations are really poignant and important. When I was growing up I used to read Company magazine and there was a column in it written by Jameela Jamil about the fact that she didn’t drink alcohol. I remember reading it and I felt really spoken to. This was before blogs and Instagram and I’d never experienced that before. I wanted to keep that in mind with the Insecure Girls’ Club and create a space where someone can read something and think “oh my God that’s exactly how I feel.”
What was the initial response to the club like?
When I first started it it grew legs and ran off on its own. I’d started curating what I wanted it to be, had a logo made, and I posted one thing and I had this amazing warm response. People were sharing it and then it just grew. Initially I was doing lots of small video interviews with women that I know, but then we opened the platform up and said we’d love to have people contribute in some way and the inbox just filled up. Which was amazing but really overwhelming because at the time it was just me. Some of them were so detailed and in depth, there was a real emotional responsibility on my part because people had been so vulnerable.
What’s the best way to use social media and also manage your anxieties, when social media can often make anxiety worse?
It’s almost like when other people tell you that exercise will make you happier and release endorphins - people can tell you that until the cows come home but it’s something that you have to learn for yourself. I do think that curating your feed and escaping the politics of social media is a good thing. Sometimes I worry about unfollowing people because I don’t want to be rude, but it’s learning the power of the mute button and not beating yourself up if you feel like you have to step away from somebody. You are in control of what you see on social media. If you choose to unfollow everyone and start from the beginning, that’s fine. It’s a platform that’s there to benefit you, so don’t be afraid to take advantage of that and say “OK I don’t want to see this’ and “that doesn’t make me feel good”.
Do you think women face more pressures and insecurities than men?
I think lots of things that are presented to us make us feel more insecure on social media, like inspiration and fashion and fitness, and it can feel really overwhelming. That’s something that trickles in from mainstream media and traditional societal values in the way we think about ourselves, and project and share things. But I also think that we fall into these comparison traps that men aren’t always presented with because it feels like there’s a limited capacity for women to be successful or to be beautiful or to wear certain things. But equally, there’s a lot more space on social media for women to be really open and vulnerable. I feel like women and men are conditioned to use social media so differently; on the one hand we’re conditioned to look at other women and perhaps feel comparisons and jealousy or beat ourselves up about it, and on the other hand we can be really vulnerable, honest and open, and they’re two things on both ends of the spectrum that I don’t think men experience.
What are the most popular topics on The Insecure Girls’ Club?
The things that typically pop up a lot include mental health - but that’s a huge colourful spectrum - body image, friendships, those different stages of your life like being at university or starting a new job, relationships and breakups, and recently eating disorders and PTSD. I don’t want anyone to think that any kind of insecurity is insignificant either; there’s no insecurity too small to have a space. We’re so quick to invalidate our insecurities because we feel silly but it’s still affecting how you feel in some capacity which means it’s important. It’s knowing that it’s ok to talk about it and it doesn’t define you.
Tell us about The Insecure Girls’ Club book
I never thought I’d write a book and I never thought I’d write a book about insecurities either, so it’s been amazing! I want people to pick it up and feel like they’ve seen themselves on those pages. It’s lovely hearing people say they’ve read it and it really picked them up when they needed it. I keep counting my lucky stars that I was able to release a book and tour a book before the coronavirus outbreak happened.
Speaking of lockdown, how are you doing?
I’m at home with my husband and our dog and I feel very grateful in many ways. Although work’s quiet we’ve been able to take a mortgage holiday and we have a back garden. It is so overwhelming and all-encompassing but I’m really lucky to be able to have that space and to keep busy. There will be some days when I wake up and I think “I can’t manage today” and then I curl up with an old Meg Ryan film. It sounds so silly and cheesy, and comes from an enormous place of privilege, but it really makes you appreciate the small things - how fragile life is and how fortunate you are to have a roof over your head and live with a partner you can tolerate and that you feel comfortable and safe with.
Many of us who might not normally suffer from anxiety are feeling it right now - what advice would you give to get through it?
Everyone manages it differently. When I’m anxious I get sad and feel quite overwhelmed and panicky and tearful, and my husband gets quite short tempered and frustrated. It’s good to be able to recognise how you experience it and to look after yourself. I always think you have to really parent yourself, you have to say OK what would I do if a child was feeling like this? The situation is so unique in that we are all experiencing it together, and there’s a comfort - whether you talk about it online or on the phone with a friend - in the fact that there’s always someone that will completely understand. Also, not every day has to be productive - you don’t have to achieve anything in this time. You don’t have to hit targets during a pandemic!
Finally, why are you supporting Goal 5: Gender Equality?
If everyone could be presented with equal opportunity, whether that’s in education, in work, in anything you strive to do in life, it should be a level playing field. People should always feel that there’s space for them at the table, whatever they do, and no matter what gender they identify with or are.
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