Caitlin Moran On How To Deal With Life When You’re Still Figuring It Out

As she releases How To Build A Girl, we asked the columnist-turned-media personality for some tips on how to fake it until you make it...


by Sophie Wilkinson |
Published on

We’re guessing you’ve slightly heard of Caitlin Moran by now, but if not, she’s a columnist and writer who became a household name with the release of her half-memoir half-feminist manifesto How To Be A Woman in 2011. Her latest book, How To Build A Girl is a fictional account of Johanna, a girl growing up in the early ’90s, wanking her way through adolescence (we’re not even exaggerating, it’s in the first chapter), and, as Caitlin puts it, ‘Instigating the fucks, deciding when they stop, deciding when they start.’ * *

But what about when adolescence is over and you still feel like a child? Because the shit you go through during puberty doesn’t leave you the moment you become a physically formed adult – the marks that journey leaves can stay with you for life. So how do you fake it and negotiate your twenties without looking like a total fuck up/giving the game away?

Who better to ask than the woman who once dumped a man via maracas and called David Cameron ‘a camp gammon robot – a C3PO made of ham’, yet still managed to make her way onto school syllabii.

Embrace your puberty – and own your sexuality

‘Talking to my husband about when boys started puberty, I said, “What’s the first thing you know about that?” and he said, “Boys aged 12 going into school saying, ‘Have you spunked up yet?’ and they feel like, “Yay! Spunked up! You’re the victor, this is amazing!” Whereas the first information you get as a girl is you’re growing pubic hair and that’s something that you must hide immediately as if it’s a shameful thing. You’ve either got to steal your dad’s razor or use pocket money or steal money to get chemicals to remove it.

‘I really wanted to set the tone to talk about these things in a funny way, in a relaxed way that makes girls feel better about themselves. The greatest self defence is for a girl to know what she wants. One of the biggest cures for men abusing girls is girls who are strong and know what sexual abuse is, know what the boundaries are, know what they want.’

You might hate your body – but try not to

‘I was utterly at war with my body for a very, very long time. My recurring thing that I used to have when I was a teenage girl was really wishing that I would be involved in a car crash that wouldn’t kill me, but would mean that my body would have to be reconstructed by the NHS, so that I was thin.

‘I’d lie in bed at night just working out how much wrong I was – like grabbing my thighs, and working out that if three handfuls of fat was gone then I would look good. Grabbing my belly, and working out that if four handfuls of fat were gone, then I would be normal, and therefore acceptable.

‘It took until 34, having two children, to finally one day be lying in bed looking down at my body and patting my legs, going, “Oh good old little legs, you’ve done well today,” and then patting my belly going, “Well done, you’ve made two babies and now you’re making a poo; we’ve worked really hard.”’

Be nice to other women – not only is it simple manners, but it’ll pay off in the long run

‘Every time we tear women down, we create rubble again. We need to be building empires and cities now, both figuratively and physically. We cannot waste time with this Queen Bee thing. It’s like, “No guys, that’s not the plan, the plan is that we take over. All the women assemble here and we stick together and we don’t slag each other off and we all do our different things and respect that we have differences and we don’t need to destroy someone we have differences with. We let them do their thing and we do our thing somewhere else because there’s enough space for all of us, dude.”’

Make a lot of noise – in spite of the shit it might bring with it

‘We talk about what girls should be and what they should buy and how they should look. But we never talk about what girls need and what they want. That’s a conversation we need to have, that’s the stuff we need to keep in. We have to stand up and go, “I want the world! I want the moon on a stick!”

‘When I was a kid the worst thing you could do in the playground was call someone a ‘gaylord’. And then Russell [T Davies] writes Doctor Who, puts Captain Jack in it and the next day my kids at school are fighting to play a bisexual character.

‘Solid things like legislation need to happen. But I believe in feminism as a cultural thing. Women need to talk and write and make songs and be consciousness-raising – the cool bit of feminism.’

Plan stuff – but not too much

‘Every time I go on TV, I spend six months having an utter nervo about it, to the point of developing a stomach ulcer, which makes me finally SIT DOWN AND PLAN IT. And then on the day, I am very calm and happy and sit in the dressing room looking at leggings on Topshop until one minute before I go onstage.

‘The “planning” is a piece of A4 paper that says, “Welcome, masturbation, Newsnight, camel-toe, spunk in your hand, feminism, Cumberbatch spunky radio, Big Cock Al, Doctor Who, Courtney Love, employment quotas, belly.” That’s the extent of the planning. A good third of it I make up on the spot.’

Try to be good

‘[Being famous is] like believing in God, really. I’ve always been very irreligious, but when you go out and you check Twitter people go, “Saw Caitlin Moran on the train”, “Saw Caitlin Moran walking down the street”, or “Saw Caitlin Moran buying an orange”, you’re kind of like, “I need to make sure when I’m anywhere anyone might see me I am very noble.”

‘I just spend all day doing things so I can go home and see people going like, “Saw Caitlin Moran giving a homeless person £10”, “Saw Caitlin Moran helping someone with a buggy at Oxford Circus.” But seriously, I think it’s quite nice to have pressure on you to be a decent person.’

And remember it’s far better to be a woman in a woman’s world, than a woman in a man’s world

‘I won’t go on any TV shows apart from to do promo. I get asked to do panel shows, and the people who work for them are really lovely and a lot of the time it’s for shows that I really love. But the analogy I use is that women appearing on a male show, that’s made by men, to accommodate male behaviours, to talk about subjects that men find interesting, is like women using a urinal.

‘You could stand up if you really need to do a wee in a urinal, but you’d look like a fool and really expose yourself. You’re going to look ridiculous next to the men next to you and you’ll probably end up with pissy shoes.

‘Just step out of that whole equation. Women need to make their own things. I’m a comedy separatist: women need to make their own stage.’

Follow Sophie on Twitter @sophwilkinson

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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