‘Parenting here means checking the ingredients of teargas’: my return to Hong Kong

Emma-Lee Moss, who makes music as Emmy the Great, on life, new motherhood and her divided birthplace

It feels as if the entire world’s press is there, standing on the pavement outside the Foreign correspondent’ Club. They’re in Hong Kong to cover the protests, but tonight, the Friday before National Day, they’re off duty. From the bottom of the hill, the bars of Lan Kwai Fong thrum reliably. There is an uneasy peace in the air, as though we all know that, three days from now, the long-running citywide demonstrations will reach a violent new apex.

I’ve walked this route hundreds of hours, and been a parade of different egoes. I’ve been a adolescent trying to score 7-11 brew on the spot where Chungking Express was filmed. I’ve been a visiting novelist ordering drinks at the FCC bar. But now I am the mother and primary carer of a nine-month-old, and my time out has been negotiated. Quite frankly, I am dazzled by the world after 7pm. As I shuffle past the media crowd, I feel a pull, a yearning. In another life, I’d be there with them. When I moved back to Hong Kong in 2018, it was in search of stories about the strange, convoluted city I was born in.

I take the lift up to a wood-panelled room and join a table of thirtysomethings wearing plastic bloom garlands. I am expecting to be the main event tonight, at the reunion of my primary school class. For nine years, I was the only mixed-race person at my local Cantonese school, where I was known widely as gweimui ( literally” ghost girl “). Chinese school is where I developed a persist complex about not fitting in, and where, after being bullied, I fantasised that one day I’d do something so momentous it would appear in a newspaper, and my classmates would see that I was more than only a girl with an English dad and a Hong Kong mum.

This thought was the founding brick of ambition that drove me to become a musician and novelist, under the name Emmy the Great. Now my want has finally come true, but with a caveat. I am at this reunion because person ensure an article about me in an arts magazine, but it wasn’t about any of my albums, or projects, or anything I’ve written. It was about what it’s like to have an English dad and a Hong Kong mum. Some 25 years later, this is still my most noticeable feature.

I look around the table, disoriented by faces I never expected to see again. Surely they will want to know about the amazing life I went on to lead! I prepare the necessary Cantonese vocabulary in my head.” After we left primary and secondary schools, I moved to East Grinstead, Sussex. In England, I wasn’t a white girl any more. I was considered Chinese. In England, I had to assert over and over that I was British- still do. But I was so grateful for the grass and open space that I accepted this identity. I never expected to be back here in Hong Kong, a gweimui once more. And, abruptly, I’m a mother, too! I never sleep. I never go out. I’m caught between expat and Cantonese culture. I’m losing my mind, actually. How are you ?”

But despite a morbid obsession with the incorrects perpetrated on me by a group of 10 -year-olds, I can’t maintain my guess from the topic of the moment. The city has been tense and uncertain since the first major demoes began in June, initially in response to a bill that would allow extraditions from Hong Kong to China, but now expanded to five demands, including universal suffrage and an independent inquiry into police conduct. Parenting has thrown up new challenges, like cry the council to ask for the ingredients of their teargas, and its effect on children. As each new weekend approaches, the population theorizes. Will it be peaceful, or will it spill into violence? Will we wake to news that stimulates us tearful with pride for Hong Kong, or frightened by the scale of the escalation?

Tonight, as China gears up to celebrate its 70 th year as a republic, there is no doubt about which style the news will sway. Someone at the reunion says they are boycotting products from the mainland, including tea. Another, a tiny son who has inexplicably grown into an adult, says he won’t use the MTR metro system any more , now that it’s been accused of enforcing the government’s agenda by shutting down during protests. I spot an opening to admit that, the day the demoes began, I was in England, on tour. By the time I got back, teargas had become the stock police response, and my partner and I decided we wouldn’t attend demonstrations- in case we find ourselves incapacitated and unable to care for our daughter. Instead, I say nothing. I don’t tell them, either, that we are planning to leave Hong Kong for England when our daughter turns one, because I’m self-conscious about having one foot in Hong Kong, and one abroad. This is how it’s always been. It’s how they remember me. And, ever since the protests began, I am wondering if it stimulates me a part of the problem.

***

I can only tell you what I remember. In 1994, Forrest Gump was the English-language film at every cinema for months. Every weekend, my parents would throw their three children into a Volvo and drive to Pacific Place, a mall in the Admiralty district. We’d fulfill our friends, expat families whose children went to see international schools, at McDonald’s, where the kids would climb the Ronald McDonald in the playzone, until we were allowed to go to the CD store and pick out an album. Everybody wore Nikes and had a favourite WWE wrestler and Street Fighter move.

In 90 s Hong Kong, everyone could speak English, even taxi drivers like my Uncle Ron, who had crazy hair and had once cut a demo videotape in a stoner-rock band. But my siblings and I spoke Cantonese, too. On the weekends that we didn’t see our friends, we had dim sum with my mum’s family: Auntie Dora, Uncle sam and Uncle Ron; my two older cousins, too, one of whom had recently taken a new English name, Michael Jordan Lee.

Moss
Moss with her grandmothers, 1988. Photograph: courtesy Emma-Lee Moss

American basketball, Japanese anime, Oxbridge ambitions. In Hong Kong- where the phrase” east fulfills west” is so overused that I’ve seen it advertising a shampoo parlor for dogs – you were at the centre of the world town, a place where global capitalist culture could operate unfettered, dominating the rites and oddities of the Chinese way of life. Watching over everything is was benevolent, late-stage British colonialism; its influence oozed into everything, from the names of English lords on road signs, to the ” Chinglish” that imbued the local Cantonese dialect. Hong Kong’s last governor, Chris Patten, was vaguely popular, his final approval ratings still higher than any subsequent leader. It was China that we feared and felt distinct from, even as schoolchildren.

As the transfer of sovereignty in 1997 approached, the expat families began discussing their various plans to leave. Many had one mother who was from Hong Kong, and one from abroad. The handover was an obvious deadline to fulfil any aspirations of living in” the other place”, where you went to visit your grandparents. Our closest family friends went to Australia, Singapore, Germany and Texas. When the day came that the British flag was folded up, and the People’s Liberation Army marched in, we were already scattered various regions of the world, watching on Tv while our moms cried. I didn’t see my best friends, Dan and Ash, again until I was 18. Today, when I text them images of Pacific Place filled with protesters, they joke:” Forrest Gump tickets released again ?”

Looking back, it’s easy to view 1997 as a year of mass exodus from the city, a few moments marked by the loss of foreign professionals( who are still inexplicably “expats” while other temporary workers are “migrant workers” ). But to do that would be to ignore the vast majority of Hong Kong people, who are Hong Kong-born Chinese, speak Cantonese as a first language and were not offered British passports by the departing government. They include my uncles, my aunt, my cousins, my classmates. There are also the minority ethnic groups who are as rooted in Cantonese culture as Hong Kongers. For households like mine, the handover was an opportunity to start again. For those who stayed behind, it was the beginning of a period of uncertainty. The Basic Law- a de facto constitution- promised Hong Kong” a high degree of autonomy” for 50 years. This created, in principle, a liminal time between British and Chinese rule during which the question” Who are we ?” became crucial and explosive.

In his volume Generation HK, on the young Hong Kongers who came of age in the post-9 7 period, the journalist Ben Bland describes the end of British rule as leaving an” identity vacuum “. In fact, the end of the colonial epoch also left an opportunity for Hong Kongers to regroup, to allow Hong Kong-Chinese culture to lift itself from the darkness, and to look back and ask what of the city’s history would be preserved, and protected, before it was absorbed into the mainland.

Today, you can’t take a step without hearing the phrase:” This is the real Hong Kong .” It is a thought that emerges when you find yourself in an alleyway inhabited by street vendors selling milk tea from polystyrene beakers; when the sunlight begins to drop over Aberdeen harbour( in Cantonese, Little Hong Kong) and a fisherwoman steers her craft, one hand on her Samsung Galaxy; when teenage couples hold hands at the entrance to Ocean Park( real Hong Kong ), the amusement park that was never defeated by the arrival of Disneyland( not real Hong Kong ). It is an inescapable theory, as tangible as rain, all the more sweet for the fear that it will soon slip away.

For Hong Kongers today face inordinate pressure that goes beyond the cliff edge of 2047. The high live costs associated with its status as a haven for the wealthy have led to an ever-widening gap between rich and poor, which discovers its most extreme expression in” cage homes” for those who cannot afford housing. Meanwhile, whenever Beijing’s influence creeps beyond the promises of the Basic Law, it throws up ambiguities in its wording. The impact is like gaslighting: are we crazy? Or are our liberties being eroded?

The quest for post-colonial identity is something that lured me back to Hong Kong in late 2017. That spring, I had expended a month in Xiamen as part of a British Council scheme, and the effort to communicate in Mandarin( which, it is about to change, I don’t speak ), had somehow unlocked all the Cantonese I’d stored up from my childhood. I was dreaming in Cantonese, and felt a longing to be back in Hong Kong, to see the lanterns at the Mid-Autumn festival.

My mothers, sister and nephew had been back in the city for some time. As well as this, there was a person. While in transit from Xiamen, I had met a British artist who worked at one of the international galleries. We had bonded over our scattered thirties and our love of English woodlands. That Mid-Autumn, we began an adventurous period of walking through the city at twilight, the time when the lighting ricochets off the buildings like mermaid scales in the wind.

It was three years since the Umbrella Revolution and Occupy Central. You’d be forgiven for thinking that the civil unrest had dissipated. Instead, I sensed a defiance in Hong Kong and linked it to the arts. Venues had been shut down by strict building regulations, and lifestyle restrictions that induced earning money from music almost impossible, and yet, as the indie DJ Wong Chi Chung told me, there were more than 800 indie bands based in Hong Kong. Improvisation was key: wall murals around unexpected corners, rooftop farms, pop-up art spaces in old mills. It was a place opposing to find itself, asserting its right to be. It was increasingly where my heart belonged.

In January 2018, I decided to return to Hong Kong. My flight arrived in March. Forty weeks later, my partner and I checked into the hospital where I was born, and I devoted birth to our daughter.

***

” Does anyone is of the opinion that the city’s flaws are their own fault ?” This is the question that nobody hurls me in the subsistence group for women with postnatal depression and nervousnes; in the free playgroup run by friendly septuagenarian churchfolk; in the parenting WhatsApp groups and in the void of the mums’ Facebook pages where I have stooped to scrolling for hours through ads for baby products.

Some 18 several months after I arrived in Hong Kong, my quest to understand it has mutated into something terrible. It’s the not-sleeping that did it, I believe. Or those submerged infant memories that abruptly appear in your thoughts when you’ve just had a baby, disorienting enough without the realisation that you’re unexpectedly in the place where you spent that infanthood.

Emma-Lee
‘ Hong Kong was increasingly where my heart belonged .’ Photograph: Theodore Kaye/ The Guardian

I remember bumping into a friend in London, who had just had a baby and was moving back to Finchley, where she grew up. “ Finchley ,” she’d groaned, like Persephone on her route to suburban hell. Now I know how she felt. You are my Finchley, I scream at Hong Kong, silently.

On a baby’s schedule, you are stripped of the things that stimulate you who you are. Hong Kong, which should feel familiar but doesn’t, contains none of the touchstones I need as my identity slips into the blank of what the poet Liz Berry describes as “feedingcleaninglovingfeeding”. I look around and ensure my first home with the bleakest gaze. I find pollution that threatens my baby’s lungs and stops us going outside for days. I consider expensive housing that drew us to an industrial estate in the middle of nowhere, where our road to the playground takes us through a construction site and past a sewage treatment plant. I place my family in this picture. Were we and the individuals who left not the prime recipients of the sunny 90 s, before unfettered capitalism and political change took its toll? Every time we fly away, we are opting out of the consequences.

In this new, dark Hong Kong, my uncles are gone, having both passed away while we were in England. No sweet Uncle sam , nor Uncle Ron in his emerald green taxi. In motherhood, I come up against uncomfortable aspects of the culture I shared with them. There is the culture preoccupation with postpartum weight loss, which leads a nurse to praise me when I lose too much weight in the first week of breastfeeding. There are the rigid ideas of what motherhood looks like: installing an art piece I worked on with the data journalist Mona Chalabi, my two-week-old in her sling, the technician tells me that I should be at home, in incarceration. Yet, when I hear expats complaining about such difficulties, I am angry. I cannot let myself relate to them; it feels like cheating on my relatives. In the space between my two demographics, I see how divided the city can be. There are gulfs of language, gulfs of experience. Varying privileges are doled out are in accordance with nationhood.

In the 20 th weekend of protests, graffiti appears on the mountainside:” If we burn, you burn with us .” My writer’s brain finds how Hong Kong and I are in tune. We know how pressure can take a search for identity and turn it into a full-blown identity crisis.

Protest
Protest graffiti in Causeway Bay, 8 November. Photograph: Emma-Lee Moss

In early November, a student dies from injuries sustained while falling from a car park in unexplained situations. In the eruption that follows, there are no easy conclusions left. Protest schedules are abandoned, school is cancelled. There is no playgroup. There is no support group for women with postnatal depression and nervousnes. The total number of teargas canisters fired reachings10, 000. My partner is teargassed stepping outside his office in the day, to check if the street is safe for his colleagues. Universities become battlegrounds. At the Polytechnic University, schoolchildren are among those caught inside the campus for days when the police seal off the exits. Then pro-democracy nominees win a landslide majority in district council elections, and there is a respite from conflict. As new councillors get to the urgent task of freeing the final Poly U students, the city wonders what else this national mood will achieve.

Medics
Medics result protesters to ambulances at the Polytechnic University, on 21 November. Photograph: Ye Aung Thu/ AFP via Getty Images

In the midst of this, my time in Hong Kong is drawing to an end. I reflect on everything it has meant, this second time around. This precious time with my mothers, the responses to old questions. My relationship and my daughter. In the rawness of new parenthood, and the chaos of the last few months, I almost missed the gifts that Hong Kong gave me, the healing it offered. Even in these nasty days, there is a sense of the possibilities in community- my old schoolfriends and I are less distant in our communications. We have become simply another group of parents worried about the rumours of harmful chemicals in the teargas.

I’ve learned here that you don’t know if people or places will return to your life. You also don’t know when they won’t; I believed I’d make a final visit to the village where I grew up, but it’s next to the Chinese University in Shatin, the site of another major conflict between students and police. I guess this is the fear that follows everybody in Hong Kong today. When the smoke clears, what, if anything, will remain intact? In this place of many living and many rulers, how many times must we say goodbye?

* If you would like a comment on this piece to be considered for inclusion on Weekend magazine’s letters page in print, please email weekend @theguardian. com, including your name and address( not for publishing ).

Read more: www.theguardian.com

‘Parenting here entails checking the ingredients of teargas’: my return to Hong Kong

Emma-Lee Moss, who attains music as Emmy the Great, on life, new motherhood and her divided birthplace

It feels as if the entire world’s press is there, standing on the pavement outside the Foreign Correspondents’ Club. They’re in Hong Kong to cover the protests, but tonight, the Friday before National Day, they’re off responsibility. From the bottom of the hill, the bars of Lan Kwai Fong thrum reliably. There is an uneasy peace in the air, as though we all know that, three days from now, the long-running citywide demonstrations will reach a violent new apex.

I’ve walked this route hundreds of periods, and been a parade of different selves. I’ve been a teen trying to score 7-11 brew on the spot where Chungking Express was filmed. I’ve been a visiting novelist ordering beverages at the FCC bar. But now I am the mother and primary carer of a nine-month-old, and my time out has been negotiated. Quite frankly, I am dazzled by the world after 7pm. As I shuffle past the media crowd, I feel a pull, a yearning. In another life, I’d be there with them. When I moved back to Hong Kong in 2018, it was in search of stories about the strange, convoluted city I was born in.

I take the lift up to a wood-panelled room and join a table of thirtysomethings wearing plastic flower garlands. I am expecting to be the main event tonight, at the reunion of my primary school class. For nine years, I was the only mixed-race person at my local Cantonese school, where I was known widely as gweimui ( literally” ghost daughter “). Chinese school is where I developed a persist complex about not fitting in, and where, after being bullied, I fantasised that one day I’d do something so momentous it would appear in a newspaper, and my classmates would see that I was more than simply a girl with an English papa and a Hong Kong mum.

This thought was the founding brick of ambition that drove me to become a musician and novelist, under the name Emmy the Great. Now my wishing has finally come true, but with a caveat. I am at this reunion because someone watched an article about me in an arts magazine, but it wasn’t about any of my albums, or projects, or anything I’ve written. It was about what it’s like to have an English dad and a Hong Kong mum. Some 25 year later, this is still my most noticeable feature.

I look around the table, disoriented by faces I never expected to see again. Surely they will want to know about the amazing life I went on to lead! I prepare the necessary Cantonese vocabulary in my head.” After we left primary and secondary schools, I moved to East Grinstead, Sussex. In England, I wasn’t a white daughter any more. I was considered Chinese. In England, I had to assert over and over that I was British- still do. But I was so grateful for the grass and open space that I accepted this identity. I never expected to be back here in Hong Kong, a gweimui once more. And, suddenly, I’m a mother, too! I never sleep. I never go out. I’m caught between expat and Cantonese culture. I’m losing my intellect, actually. How are you ?”

But despite a morbid preoccupation with the incorrects perpetrated on me by a group of 10 -year-olds, I can’t keep my supposes from the topic of the moment. The city has been tense and uncertain since the first major demonstrations began in June, initially in response to a bill that would allow extraditions from Hong Kong to China, but now expanded to five demands, including universal suffrage and an independent inquiry into police conduct. Parenting has thrown up new challenges, like yell the council to ask for the ingredients of their teargas, and its effect on children. As each new weekend approaches, the population speculates. Will it be peaceful, or will it spill into violence? Will we wake to news that attains us tearful with pride for Hong Kong, or frightened by the scale of the escalation?

Tonight, as China gears up to celebrate its 70 th year as a republic, there is no doubt about which style the news will sway. Someone at the reunion says they are boycotting products from the mainland, including tea. Another, a tiny son who has inexplicably grown into an adult, says he won’t use the MTR metro system any more , now that it’s been accused of enforcing the government’s agenda by shutting down during protests. I spot an opening to admit that, the day the demonstrations began, I was in England, on tour. By the time I got back, teargas had become the stock police response, and my partner and I decided we wouldn’t attend demoes- in case we find ourselves incapacitated and unable to care for our daughter. Instead, I say nothing. I don’t tell them, either, that we are planning to leave Hong Kong for England when our daughter turns one, because I’m self-conscious about having one foot in Hong Kong, and one abroad. This is how it’s always been. It’s how they remember me. And, ever since the protests began, I am wondering if it induces me a part of the problem.

***

I can only tell you what I recollect. In 1994, Forrest Gump was the English-language film at every cinema for months. Every weekend, my parents would hurl their three children into a Volvo and drive to Pacific Place, a mall in the Admiralty district. We’d gratify our friends, expat families whose infants went to see international schools, at McDonald’s, where the kids would climb the Ronald McDonald in the playzone, until we were allowed to go to the CD store and pick out an album. Everybody wore Nikes and had a favourite WWE wrestler and Street Fighter move.

In 90 s Hong Kong, everyone could speak English, even taxi drivers like my Uncle Ron, who had crazy hair and had once cut a demo tape in a stoner-rock band. But my siblings and I spoke Cantonese, too. On the weekends that we didn’t see our friends, we had dim sum with my mum’s family: Auntie Dora, Uncle Sam and Uncle Ron; my two older cousins, too, one of whom has now been taken a new English name, Michael Jordan Lee.

Moss
Moss with her grandmothers, 1988. Photograph: courtesy Emma-Lee Moss

American basketball, Japanese anime, Oxbridge aspirations. In Hong Kong- where the phrase” east satisfies west” is so overused that I’ve seen it advertising a shampoo parlor for puppies – you were at the centre of the world town, a place where global capitalist culture could run unfettered, dominating the rituals and oddities of the Chinese way of life. Watching over everything is was benevolent, late-stage British colonialism; its influence oozed into everything, from the names of English lords on road signs, to the ” Chinglish” that pervaded the local Cantonese dialect. Hong Kong’s last governor, Chris Patten, was vaguely popular, his final approval ratings still higher than any subsequent leader. It was China that we feared and felt distinct from, even as schoolchildren.

As the transfer of sovereignty in 1997 approached, the expat families began discussing their various plans to leave. Many had one parent who was from Hong Kong, and one from abroad. The handover was an obvious deadline to fulfil any aspirations of living in” the other place”, where you went to visit your grandparents. Our closest family friends went to Australia, Singapore, Germany and Texas. When the day came that the British flag was folded up, and the People’s Liberation Army marched in, we were already scattered various regions of the world, watching on TV while our mothers cried. I didn’t see my best friends, Dan and Ash, again until I was 18. Today, when I text them images of Pacific Place filled with protesters, they joke:” Forrest Gump tickets released again ?”

Looking back, it’s easy to view 1997 as a year of mass exodus from the city, a few moments marked by the loss of foreign professionals( who are still inexplicably “expats” while other temporary workers are “migrant workers” ). But to do that would be to ignore the vast majority of Hong Kong people, who are Hong Kong-born Chinese, speak Cantonese as a first language and were not offered British passports by the departing government. They include my uncles, my aunt, my cousins, my classmates. There are also the minority ethnic groups who are as rooted in Cantonese culture as Hong Kongers. For families like mine, the handover was an opportunity to start again. For those who remained behind, it was the beginning of a period of uncertainty. The Basic Law- a de facto constitution- promised Hong Kong” a high degree of independence” for 50 years. This created, in principle, a liminal day between British and Chinese regulation during which the question” Who are we ?” became crucial and explosive.

In his volume Generation HK, on the young Hong Kongers who came of age in the post-9 7 period, the journalist Ben Bland describes the end of British rule as leaving an” identity vacuum “. In fact, the end of the colonial epoch also left an opportunity for Hong Kongers to regroup, to allow Hong Kong-Chinese culture to lift itself from the shadows, and to look back and ask what of the city’s history would be preserved, and protected, before it was absorbed into the mainland.

Today, you can’t take a step without hearing the phrase:” This is the real Hong Kong .” It is a thought that emerges when you find yourself in an alleyway populated by street vendors selling milk tea from polystyrene cups; when the lighting begins to drop over Aberdeen harbour( in Cantonese, Little Hong Kong) and a fisherwoman steers her craft, one hand on her Samsung Galaxy; when teenage couples hold hands at the entrance to Ocean Park( real Hong Kong ), the amusement park that was never defeated by the arrival of Disneyland( not real Hong Kong ). It is an inescapable concept, as tangible as rain, all the more sweet for the fear that it will soon slip away.

For Hong Kongers today face inordinate pressure that goes beyond the cliff edge of 2047. The high live costs associated with its status as a haven for the wealthy have led to an ever-widening gap between rich and poor, which determines its most extreme expression in” enclosure homes” for those who cannot afford housing. Meanwhile, whenever Beijing’s influence creeps beyond the promises of the Basic Law, it hurls up ambiguities in its wording. The impact is like gaslighting: are we crazy? Or are our liberties being eroded?

The quest for post-colonial identity is something that enticed me back to Hong Kong in late 2017. That spring, I had expended a month in Xiamen as part of a British Council scheme, and the effort to communicate in Mandarin( which, it is about to change, I don’t speak ), had somehow unlocked all the Cantonese I’d stored up from my childhood. I was dreaming in Cantonese, and felt a longing to be back in Hong Kong, to see the lanterns at the Mid-Autumn festival.

My parents, sister and nephew had been back in the city for some time. As well as this, there was a person. While in transit from Xiamen, I had met a British artist who worked at one of the international galleries. We had bonded over our scattered thirties and our love of English woodlands. That Mid-Autumn, we began an adventurous period of walking through the city at twilight, the time when the sunlight bouncings off the buildings like mermaid scales in the wind.

It was three years since the Umbrella Revolution and Occupy Central. You’d be forgiven for thinking that the civil unrest had dissipated. Instead, I sensed a defiance in Hong Kong and connected it to the arts. Venues had been shut down by strict building regulations, and lifestyle restrictions that induced earning money from music almost impossible, and yet, as the indie DJ Wong Chi Chung told me, there were more than 800 indie bands based in Hong Kong. Improvisation was key: wall murals around unexpected corners, rooftop farms, pop-up art spaces in old factories. It was a place fighting to find itself, asserting its right to be. It was increasingly where my heart belonged.

In January 2018, I decided to return to Hong Kong. My flight arrived in March. Forty weeks later, my partner and I checked into the hospital where I was born, and I dedicated birth to our daughter.

***

” Does anyone is of the opinion that the city’s flaws are their own fault ?” This is the question that nobody hurls me in the support group for women with postnatal depression and nervousnes; in the free playgroup run by friendly septuagenarian churchfolk; in the parenting WhatsApp groups and in the void of the mums’ Facebook pages where I have stooped to scrolling for hours through ads for baby products.

Some 18 months after I arrived here Hong Kong, my quest to understand it has mutated into something terrible. It’s the not-sleeping that did it, I guess. Or those submerged baby memories that abruptly appear in your thoughts when you’ve just had a baby, disorienting enough without the realisation that you’re unexpectedly in the place where you spent that infanthood.

Emma-Lee
‘ Hong Kong was increasingly where my heart belonged .’ Photograph: Theodore Kaye/ The Guardian

I remember bumping into a friend in London, who had just had a baby and was moving back to Finchley, where she grew up. “ Finchley ,” she’d groaned, like Persephone on her route to suburban hell. Now I know how she felt. You are my Finchley, I scream at Hong Kong, mutely.

On a baby’s schedule, you are stripped of the things that construction you who you are. Hong Kong, which should feel familiar but doesn’t, contains none of the touchstones I need as my identity slips into the blank of what the poet Liz Berry describes as “feedingcleaninglovingfeeding”. I look around and find my first home with the bleakest gaze. I assure pollution that threatens my baby’s lungs and stops us going outside for days. I watch expensive housing that drew us to an industrial estate in the middle of nowhere, where our route to the playground takes us through a construction site and past a sewage treatment plant. I place my family in this picture. Were we and the others who left not the prime beneficiaries of the sunny 90 s, before unfettered capitalism and political change took its toll? Every time we fly away, we are opting out of the consequences.

In this new, dark Hong Kong, my uncles are run, having both passed away while we were in England. No sweet Uncle sam , nor Uncle Ron in his emerald green taxi. In motherhood, I come up against uncomfortable aspects of the culture I shared with them. There is the culture preoccupation with postpartum weight loss, which results a nurse to praise me when I lose too much weight in the first week of breastfeeding. There are the rigid ideas of what motherhood is like: installing an art piece I worked on with the data journalist Mona Chalabi, my two-week-old in her sling, the technician tells me that I should be at home, in imprisonment. Yet, when I hear expats complaining about such difficulties, I am angry. I cannot let myself relate to them; it feels like cheating on my relatives. In the space between my two demographics, I see how divided the city can be. There are gulfs of speech, gulfs of experience. Varying privileges are doled out are in accordance with nationhood.

In the 20 th weekend of protests, graffiti appears on the mountainside:” If we burn, you burn with us .” My writer’s brain watches how Hong Kong and I are in tune. We know how pressure can take a search for identity and turn it into a full-blown identity crisis.

Protest
Protest graffiti in Causeway Bay, 8 November. Photograph: Emma-Lee Moss

In early November, a student dies from injuries sustained while dropping from a car park in unexplained circumstances. In the eruption that follows, “there arent” easy conclusions left. Protest schedules are abandoned, school is cancelled. There is no playgroup. There is no subsistence group for women with postnatal depression and nervousnes. The total number of teargas canisters fired reachings10, 000. My partner is teargassed stepping outside his office in the day, to check if the street is safe for my honourable colleagues. Universities become battlegrounds. At the Polytechnic University, schoolchildren are among those caught inside the campus for days when the police seal off the exits. Then pro-democracy nominees win a landslide majority in district council elections, and there is a respite from conflict. As new councillors get to the urgent task of freeing the final Poly U students, the city wonders what else this national mood will achieve.

Medics
Medics leading protesters to ambulances at the Polytechnic University, on 21 November. Photograph: Ye Aung Thu/ AFP via Getty Images

In the midst of this, my time in Hong Kong is drawing to an objective. I reflect on everything it has meant, this second time around. This precious period with my parents, the answers to old questions. My relationship and my daughter. In the rawness of new parenthood, and the chaos of the last few months, I almost missed the gifts that Hong Kong gave me, the healing it offered. Even in these awful times, there is a sense of the possibilities in community- my old schoolfriends and I are no longer distant in our communications. We have become simply another group of mothers worried about the rumours of harmful chemicals in the teargas.

I’ve learned here that you don’t know if people or places will return to your life. You also don’t know when they won’t; I thought I’d make a final visit to the village where I grew up, but it’s next to the Chinese University in Shatin, the site of another major conflict between students and police. I guess this is the fear that follows everyone in Hong Kong today. When the smoke clears, what, if anything, will remain intact? In this place of many living and many rulers, how many times must we say goodbye?

* If you would like a comment on this piece to be considered for inclusion on Weekend magazine’s letters page in publish, please email weekend @theguardian. com, including your name and address( not for publication ).

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Instagram tightens rules on diet and cosmetic surgery posts

Platform responds to concerns about impact of content on mental health of young people

Instagram has announced that tighter limiteds are to be imposed on some posts related to diet products and cosmetic surgery.

The social media platform said that from Wednesday on both Instagram and Facebook, age restrictions would be applied to some such posts while others would be removed.

Concerns have been raised about potential impacts that diet, detox and cosmetic surgery content can have on young people, their mental health and body image.

Instagram said that under its new regulations, posts that promote the use of certain weight-loss products or cosmetic procedures, which have an incentive to buy or include a price, will be hidden from users known to be under 18.

In addition, the platform said any content that made a ” miraculous ” assert about a diet or weight-loss product and was linked to a commercial offer such as a discount code, would now be removed from Instagram.

Emma Collins, Instagram’s public policy manager said:” We want Instagram to be a positive place for everyone that uses it and this policy is part of our ongoing work to reduce the pressure that people can sometimes feel as a result of social media.

” We’ve sought guidance from external experts, including Dr Ysabel Gerrard in the UK, to make sure any steps to restrict and remove this content will have a positive impact on our community of over 1 billion people around the world- whilst ensuring Instagram remains a platform for expres and discussion .”

Jameela
Jameela Jamil:’ This is a huge win for our ongoing fight against the diet/ detox industry .’ Photograph: Astrid Stawiarz/ Getty Images for NYFW: The Shows

Actor and body positivity campaigner Jameela Jamil, who has repeatedly criticised high-profile online figures including Khloe Kardashian for posting on social media about diet products, said the update was a victory for mental health advocates.

” This is a huge win for our ongoing fight against the diet/ detox industry ,” she said.” Facebook and Instagram taking a stand to protect the physical and mental health of people online sends an important message out to the world.

” I’m thrilled to have been able to work towards this with them, alongside a host of other experts who shed light on the danger of these products.

” Instagram were supportive and helpful when I brought them my protests and petitions; they listened, they cared, they moved so efficiently, and communicated with us throughout the process .”

The Good Place actor started the I Weigh movement and a related account on Instagram in response to the amount of content she felt was promoting unhealthy lifestyles and diet products, indicating society was measuring success based on weight.

The account encouraged people to share their achievements regardless of their body shape and has since gained more than 830,000 followers.

” As someone who struggled with an eating disorder for most of my youth, I’ve personally known and suffered the perils of the devious side of the diet and detox industry ,” she said.

” A focus of our advocacy since inception, it is a proud day for I Weigh and a day of hope for our generation, who deserve respect and protection from the celebrities and influencers that they follow .”

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Selfies, influencers and a Twitter president: the decade of the social media celebrity

From Gyneth Paltrow to Trump, todays starrings speak directly to their fans. But are they genuinely controlling their message?

I have a friend, Adam, who is an autograph seller- a niche profession, and one that is getting more niche by the day. When we gratify for breakfast last month he was looking despondent.

” Everyone takes selfies these days ,” he said sadly, picking at his scrambled eggs.” It’s never autographs any more. They just want photos of themselves with celebrities .”

Anyone who has attended a red carpet event or watched one on Tv, knows that selfies have securely supplanted autographs, with fans careening desperately towards celebrities with outstretched phones instead of pens and paper. Celebrities have adapted accordingly. In 2017, a video of Liam Payne ran viral that depicted him miserably working his way down a line of selfie-takers, his smile lasting as long as it took for each fan to press click.

A photo of oneself with, say, Tom Cruise, feels more personal than a mere scribbled signature, which he could have given anyone( and could have been signed by anyone ). But the real reason selfies have abruptly rendered autographs as obsolete as landline telephones is because of social media. Instagram is constructed for photos , not autographs, and what’s the point of having your photo taken with Payne if you don’t then immediately post it and watch the ” OMG !” s and” NO Way !!!!” s come flooding in? If you stand next to a celebrity and your friends don’t like the photo, did it ever happen? Do you even exist?

Instagram launched in 2010, four years after Twitter, six years after Facebook. Although social media was originally pitched as a way for people to keep in touch with their friends, it quickly also became a way for people to feel greater proximity to celebrities, and to flaunt this closeness to others. Facebook, with characteristic hamfistedness, attempted to monetise this in 2013, when it announced it was trialling a feature that would allow users to pay to contact celebrities for a sliding scale of fees: 71 p for Jeremy Hunt, PS10. 68 for Tom Daley. But there was no need for people to spend money for the privilege, because celebrities had already proven extremely keen to bend down low and share their lives with the peasants. When Demi Moore appeared on David Letterman in 2010, she was already so addicted to Twitter she continued to tweet while live on air to millions. (” This stinks ,” Letterman griped .)

The appeal of social media for a celebrity is obvious, in that it allows them to talk to the public without those awful middlemen: journalists. The past decade is littered with examples of why celebrities( and their publicists) now prefer social media( which they can control) to giving interviews( which they cannot .) It’s unlikely that Michael Douglas would have tweeted that his throat cancer was caused by cunnilingus, as he told the Guardian’s Xan Brooks in 2013( and for which he later publicly apologised to his wife, Catherine Zeta Jones ). It’s even less likely that Liam Neeson would have made an Instagram story about the time he went out hoping to kill a” black bastard” after a friend was raped, as he said in an interview this year. Why risk such disasters when, instead, you can just take a flattering photo, slap a filter on it and post it to your already adoring followers? Mega celebrities with a hyper-online fanbase- Justin Bieber, Beyonce, Frank Ocean- can now go for years without giving an interview and their careers are helped rather than harmed for it.

Instagram is an airbrushing app, one that lets people touch up their photos, specifically, and their own lives, generally, by determining what they choose to post.( When Jennifer Aniston ultimately joined social media last month, and momentarily broke the internet, she naturally chose Instagram over the bearpit of Twitter .) Some are more honest about this than others: after he married Kim Kardashian- the celebrity who more than any other has made a virtue out of artifice- Kanye West proudly told reporters in 2014 that the two of them expended four days of their honeymoon in Florence playing with the filters on the wedding photo, that they eventually posted on Instagram,” because the flowers were off-colour and stuff like that “.

Frank
Frank Ocean: a mega celebrity with a hyper-online fanbase. Photograph: Rex/ Shutterstock

You wonder what they’d do with all that time if the internet didn’t exist- remedy cancer, perhaps? Musician John Legend and his wife Chrissy Teigen have established a new kind of fame for themselves with their regular social media posts: with Teigen complaining about Donald Trump on Twitter; both of them posting photos of their perfect household on Instagram. Teigen is considered more “real” than her friend Kardashian because she is funny and doesn’t take money to advertise dodgy weight-loss supplements. But their photos are as idealised and managed as any Hello! shoot. The reason Teigen- a heretofore relatively little known model- has over 26 million adherents on Instagram is because she hits that social media sweet place, which is to be( to use two of the more grating buzzwords of the decade) aspirational and authentic.

At the beginning of this decade, it was the aspirational side of the equation that was deemed more important- leading to the rise of a new kind of celebrity: the influencers. This bewilder group of people indicate their lives are so perfect that, by showing us photos of how they eat, dress, mother, travel, decorate, exert, put on makeup and even remedy themselves of illness, they will influence us to do the same. For the successful, the money was suddenly limitless, as brands realised that the public trusted influencers more than adverts, and so threw money at them to endorse their products; Kylie Jenner, a makeup influencer, currently makes$ 1m per sponsored post. This was always a delicate bubble and it finally began to burst last year, when the Advertising Standards Authority decreed that influencers need to spell it out when they’re being paid to promote something. Writing ” ADVERT ” beneath that perfect photo of you chugging some Smart Water next to a waterfall doesn’t really boost one’s authenticity.

Even more problematic were the Fyre Festival debacle and the fall of YouTube superstars such as Logan Paul and PewDiePie, scandals that eroded the relationship between online celebrities and their followers. It turns out influencers weren’t more trustworthy than adverts; in fact, in the unregulated world of the web, they were markedly less so.

An older demographic has sneered at influencers, as they did with the previous decade’s reality Tv stars, indicating they are not ” real” celebrities. This is an absurd complaint, in recognition of the fact that some influencers have more adherents than traditional movie stars do. Yet influencers atomise audiences in a way traditional celebrities don’t: even if you have never bought Vogue, you’ll know who Cindy Crawford is; unless you follow Chiara Ferragni on social media you will likely have no idea who she is- and yet the style influencer has four times as many adherents as Crawford.

Ironically, the rise of the influencer began with a very old-school celebrity, one who is frequently accused of being the personification of the worst kind of elitist privilege: Gwyneth Paltrow. When Paltrow launched her wellness website, Goop, in 2008, few would have predicted it would reshape both Paltrow’s career and cultural notions of what constitutes an aspirational lifestyle. Paltrow helped usher out the 2000 s trend for bling and Cristal, swapping them for yoga clothes and gluten-free kale crisps, stimulating discreet asceticism the ultimate -Alister look. Which is more authentic is debatable, but the biggest swap Paltrow stimulated was personal: “shes gone” from being an Academy Award-winning actor to online influencer. And, in recognition of the fact that her company is now estimated to be worth $ 250 m, she probably stimulated the more lucrative choice.

Happily , not everyone uses social media to hawk fantasy images of themselves. Occasional glimpses of reality peek through, to everyone’s delight, and by “reality” I entail “feuds”. We’ve had Katy Perry and Taylor Swift’s long-running snarky subtweets aimed at one another. There were Kim Cattrall’s explicit swipes at Sarah Jessica Parker on Instagram. After her brother died, she wrote:” I don’t need your love or support at this tragic time @ sarahjessicaparker. Let me make this VERY clear.( If I haven’t already .) You are not my family. You are not my friend. So I’m writing to tell you one last time to stop exploiting our tragedy in order to restore your’ nice girl’ persona .” Most recently, Coleen Rooney accused” Rebekah Vardy’s account” of selling tales about her to the tabloids. One can only feel deep stabs of regret that Bette Davis and Joan Crawford died before either had access to an iPhone.

As much as young celebrities tout the importance of authenticity, those who come across as most genuine tend to be the older ones- perhaps because they are less internet savvy, or, more likely, have fewer media directors. Bette Midler and, in particular, Cher have really come into their own on Twitter, gleefully sharing their often emoji-heavy supposes on Trump and politics in general. (” What do you think of Boris Johnson ?” one tweeter asked Cher.” F-ing idiot who lied to the British ppl ,” the goddess replied, rightly .) And while Instagram may be best known for hyper-stylised photos of, say, Beyonce holding her newborn twins, the most purely enjoyable celebrity accounts belong to Glenn Close- she posts candid videos of herself and her puppies, always liked by Michael Douglas- and Diane Keaton, who posts decidedly unstylised photos of herself.” YES, I AM WEARING[ TROUSERS] UNDER A SKIRT” is a typical all-caps caption. Ever wanted to know what Annie Hall would be like online? Now you know.

Actor
Sarah Jessica Parker, target of Instagram swipes from fellow Sex And The City star Kim Cattrall. Photograph: Reuters

Of course, the downside to being able to reach one’s public immediately is that the public can reach back. Stars from Stephen Fry to Nicki Minaj have publicly left social media sites after the audience proved a little less admiring than they hoped. “Stan”- or obsessive fan- culture has blossomed. Sometimes this has been to the celebrity’s benefit: Lady Gaga’s fan squad, the Little Monsters, amped up her Oscar campaign for A Star Is Born. But if stans feel they have been let down by the object of their preoccupation, they will viciously bully the( usually female) star, as Katy Perry and Demi Lovato have experienced. As a outcome, many celebrities have turned off the comments on their accounts, so we can hear them but they can’t hear us. So much for getting closer.

And yet, for all the fascination social media currently exerts, the celebrity narratives that will have the most enduring impact did not start there. There had been rumors about Harvey Weinstein for years, but he was ultimately undone by good old-fashioned investigative reporting, by Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey at the New York Times, and Ronan Farrow at the New Yorker. Michael Jackson, R Kelly, Woody Allen, Max Clifford, Kevin Spacey and Bryan Singer became pariahs( in Jackson’s case, posthumously) when their accusers spoke to journalists. Caitlyn Jenner introduced herself to the world , not on social media, but on the covering of Vanity Fair. When Prince Harry and the Duchess of Sussex, the artist formerly known as Meghan Markle, spoke out against the “campaigns” against her, they directed their rage towards the print media( and the Mail on Sunday in particular ). Ironically, this could be seen as instead reassuring to the newspaper industry: sure, our sales are falling, but for a certain kind of celebrity, publish is still what matters.

Nonetheless, this decade has, in a very profound way, been shaped by the social media celebrity. Donald Trump did not emerge from the online world; he came to prominence through the traditional format of TV. But he has taken advantage of the route Twitter prioritises personality over expertise: it doesn’t really matter what you say, as long as you say it in a way that captures the most attention; and the public has grown accustomed to this kind of communication. In the early part of the decade, Trump devoted himself a Twitter makeover; it was a platform where he could move from being the embodiment of obnoxious Manhattan privilege( bragging in interviews that he wouldn’t rent an apartment to anyone on welfare ), to the say-it-like-it-is kinda guy, the one who tweets about the dangers of vaccination. When he ran for the presidency, Trump maintained this persona, and many people assumed that’s all it was- a persona- and one he would fell once in office. Well, we all know how that turned out.

Now he, and in this country, Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn, treat their offices as if they were a form of social media: they rely on the web to build a dedicated following, and complain about journalists who venture anything but adoring coverage. They disdain traditional interviews, preferring instead to put out their messages via Facebook or Twitter, metaphorically turning off the comments, staying comfortably inside their respective bubbles. Social media was never supposed to reflect the real world, but the real world is increasingly being bent to reflect social media. And it’s not only autograph vendors who will suffer for that.

* If you would like a comment on this piece to be considered for inclusion on Weekend magazine’s letters page in publish, please email weekend @theguardian. com, including your name and address( not for publishing ).

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Leaked reports disclose severe abuse of Saudi political prisoners

Cuts, burns and bruising documented, despite government refusals of torture

Political prisoners in Saudi Arabia are said to be suffering from malnutrition, cuts, bruises and burns, according to leaked medical reports that are understood to have been prepared for the country’s ruler, King Salman.

The reports seem to provide the first documented proof from within the heart of the royal court that political prisoners are facing severe physical abuse, despite the government’s refusals that men and women in custody are being tortured.

The Guardian has been told the medical reports will be given to King Salman along with recommendations that are said to include a potential pardon for all the prisoners, or at least early release for those with serious health problems.

Ha’er Ha’er prison in Saudi Arabia. Photograph: Faisal Al Nasser/ Reuters

These alternatives are part of a substantial internal review said to have been ordered by the king, who approved the commissioning of examinations of up to 60 prisoners, many of them women, for a report to be circulated around the royal court, a source said.

Some of the evaluation were leaked to the Guardian, which asked the Saudi government to comment on the medical reports more than a week ago. A spokesman declined to discuss the issue, despite being given recurred opportunities to do so. Officials did not challenge the authenticity of the reports.

The Guardian has been able independently to verify the accuracy and contents of one of the examinations. The conditions of other someones, as described in the documents, are consistent with reports that have emerged involving claims of torture, though the Guardian has not been able to corroborate the details.

Pressure on Saudi Arabia over the detention and treatment of political prisoner has been growing in recent months amid claims that some female activists have been subjected to electric shocks and whips in custody.

With the kingdom also reeling from the aftermath of the murder of the dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi, King Salman is said to have ordered a review of the decision to arrest and detain about 200 men and women in a crackdown ordered by his heir, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

According to a source with knowledge of the review, the royal court set aside objections from Prince Mohammed’s aides and sought brief medical examination on a number of detainees to get a snapshot of their health.

The men believed to have been examined include Adel Ahmad Banaemah, Mohammed Saud Al Bisher, Fahad Abdullaziz Al-Sunaidi, Zuhair Kutbi, Abdullaziz Fawzan al-Fawzan and Yasser Abdullah al-Ayyaf.

The Guardian understands the women include Samar Mohammad Badawi, Hatoon Ajwad al-Fassi and Abeer Adbdullatif Al Namankany.

The Guardian has been told the examinations took place in January and the medical reports, which are marked confidential, have been included in a detailed overview that includes three broad recommendations to the king about what to do next.

According to the medical reports considered by the Guardian, the comments about the detainees indicate many have been severely ill-treated and have a range of health problems.

In almost all cases, the reports demanded the prisoners be urgently transferred from solitary confinement to a medical centre.

Crown Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, left, with King Salman. The remarks on detainees include 😛 TAGEND

” The patient suffers from severe weight loss with continuous bloody vomiting. There are also a number of wounds and bruises scattered in several areas of the body”

” There are also a number of visible injuries in the chest and lower back”

” The patient must be transferred from solitary confinement to the specialised clinic for immediate therapy and further medical exam”

” The patient has difficulty stroll because of a number of bruises visible on the legs area. A number of injuries are also visible on the forearm and lower back area. Malnutrition and obvious dryness on the scalp”

” The patient suffers from a number of bruises visible on the body, especially in the areas of back, abdomen and thighs. It also appears to be malnourished due to lack of eating and facial pallor and general weakness in the body”

” The patient cannot move at all due to wounds in both legs as well as severe weakness in the body due to malnutrition and absence of liquids”

” The patient suffers from severe burns throughout the body. Old meanders were not wholly healed because of medical negligence”

” The patient suffers from difficulty in movement due to severe malnutrition and general absence of fluids. There are also a number of bruises, meanders and sores throughout the body”

A protester’s picture of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, killed while visiting the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Photograph: Osman Orsal/ Reuters

Cokie Roberts, famed journalist and political commentator, dies at 75

Roberts expended decades at ABC News, wrote books and never became cynical, colleagues say: When I think of politics, I think of Cokie Roberts

Cokie Roberts, the daughter of politicians who grew up to cover the family business in Washington for ABC News and NPR over several decades, died on Tuesday in Washington of complications from breast cancer. She was 75.

ABC contravene into network programming to announce her demise and pay tribute.

Roberts was the daughter of Hale Boggs, a former House majority leader from Louisiana, and Lindy Boggs, who succeeded her husband in Congress. Roberts ran in radio and at CBS News and PBS before joining ABC News in 1988.

She was a congressional reporter and analyst who co-anchored the Sunday political show This Week with Sam Donaldson from 1996 to 2002.

Roberts, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2002, kept running virtually to the end. She appeared on This Week in August, drawing enough concern about her evident weight loss that she released a statement saying ” I am doing fine” and was looking forward to covering next year’s election.

She co-wrote a political column for many years with her husband of 53 years, Steven, who survives her. They had two children.

Roberts wrote books, focusing on the role of women in history. She wrote two with her husband, one about interfaith households and From This Day Forward, an account of their marriage.

Current ABC News political reporter Jonathan Karl recalled being in awe of Roberts when he first started working at the network.

” When I think of politics, I think of Cokie Roberts ,” he said.

Her colleagues said she never became cynical or “losing ones” love for politics. She did force NPR to clarify her role as a commentator when she wrote a column in 2016 calling on” the rational wing” of the Republican party to reject Donald Trump as their presidential candidate.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Instagram stiffens rules on diet and cosmetic surgery posts

Platform responds to concerns about impact of content on mental health of young people

Instagram has announced that tighter limiteds are to be imposed on some posts related to diet products and cosmetic surgery.

The social media platform said that from Wednesday on both Instagram and Facebook, age regulations would be applied to some such posts while others would be removed.

Concerns have been raised about the impact that diet, detox and cosmetic surgery content can have on young people, their mental health and body image.

Instagram said that under its new regulations, posts that promote the use of certain weight-loss products or cosmetic procedures, which have an incentive to buy or include a price, will be hidden from users known to be under 18.

In addition, the platform said any content that made a ” miraculous ” claim about a diet or weight-loss product and was linked to a commercial offer such as a discount code, would now be removed from Instagram.

Emma Collins, Instagram’s public policy manager said:” We want Instagram to be a positive place for everyone that uses it and this policy is part of our ongoing work to reduce the pressure that people can sometimes feel as a result of social media.

” We’ve tried guidance from external experts, including Dr Ysabel Gerrard in the UK, to make sure any steps to restrict and remove this content will have a positive impact on our community of over 1 billion people around the world- whilst ensuring Instagram remains a platform for expression and discussion .”

Jameela
Jameela Jamil:’ This is a huge win for our ongoing fight against the diet/ detox industry .’ Photograph: Astrid Stawiarz/ Getty Images for NYFW: The Shows

Actor and body positivity campaigner Jameela Jamil, who has repeatedly criticised high-profile online figures including Khloe Kardashian for posting on social media about diet products, said the update was a victory for mental health advocates.

” This is a huge win for our ongoing fight against the diet/ detox industry ,” she said.” Facebook and Instagram taking a stand to protect the physical and mental health of people online sends an important message out to the world.

” I’m thrilled to have been able to work towards this with them, alongside a host of other experts who shed light on the danger of these products.

” Instagram were supportive and helpful when I bring them my protests and petitions; they listened, they cared, they moved so efficiently, and communicated with us throughout the process .”

The Good Place actor started the I Weigh movement and a related account on Instagram in response to the amount of content she felt was promoting unhealthy lifestyles and diet products, indicating society was measuring success based on weight.

The account fostered people to share their achievements regardless of their body shape and has since gained more than 830,000 followers.

” As someone who struggled with an eating disorder for most of my youth, I’ve personally known and suffered the perils of the devious side of the diet and detox industry ,” she said.

” A focus of our advocacy since inception, it is a proud day for I Weigh and a day of hope for our generation, who deserve respect and protection from the celebrities and influencers that they follow .”

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Canadian woman uses own obituary to rail against fat-shaming

Ellen Maud Bennett called out the medical profession for only offering weight loss support after being diagnosed with cancer

A Canadian woman has employed her obituary to call out the medical profession for what she described as ” fat-shaming”, in a message urging society to better address the health concerns of overweight women.

Ellen Maud Bennett, 64, died in May, after she was diagnosed with terminal cancer in the west coast city of Victoria.

In an obituary be made available in the Times Colonist newspaper, Bennett’s household describes Bennett as a remarkable woman with an unforgettable character whose career spanned from a stint on Parliament Hill to television and film.

But the obituary also railed against how she had been treated when she tried medical assistance.

” A final message Ellen wanted to share was about the fat-shaming she suffered from the medical profession ,” it noted .

” Over the past few years of feeling unwell she attempted out medical intervention and no one offered any support or suggestions beyond weight loss ,” it continued.” Ellen’s dying wishing was that women of size stimulate her death matter by advocating strongly for their health and not accepting that fat is the only relevant health issue .”

Since it was published earlier this month, the obituary has hit a chord with many on social media, racking up shares and responses.

Some pointed to similar experiences.” It wasn’t until I started taking interest in my sister’s health as an adult and took her to my doctor that we find she had several ailments that had been untreated for years because physicians refused to treat her and maintained telling her to lose weight first ,” wrote one person on Twitter .

Another accused the focus on her weight of eclipsing a degenerative genetic condition. After a decade of being told to shed pounds, she was 43 years of age when she was finally properly diagnosed, she said, adding:” The medical community sucks for heavy females .”

Others argued that this kind of treatment often pushes people away from health care, including those who may already be marginalised from society.” My mother loathes going to the doctor because of the fat-shaming ,” wrote one man. He added:” She also had to stop going for walkings because randos in passing automobiles would lunge abuse at her .”

The obituary noted that she filled her last days with humour, love and requests for fresh lobster, peonies and the “perfect shrimp wonton soup”- and also recognised those who had treated her differently.

” Ellen’s household would like to extend our gratitude to the amazing squad of angels at the Victoria Hospice who devoted her the respect and kindness she required and deserved ,” it noted.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Trial over weight-loss pill behind ‘up to 2,000 deaths’ to start in France

French drug watchdog along with pharmaceutical firm Servier on trial over Mediator drug scandal

A landmark trial over one of France’s biggest healthcare scandals will begin on Monday after a weight-loss pill was believed to have killed up to 2,000 people and left many more injured for life.

The trial for manslaughter and deceit will attempt to lift the lid on France’s massive pharmaceuticals industry.

Servier, one of France’s biggest and most powerful privately-owned laboratories, is accused of covering up the killer side-effects of a widely prescribed drug called Mediator. The French country narcotic regulator is accused of lenience and not acting to prevent patient deaths and injuries.

The Mediator pill was an amphetamine derivative marketed to overweight diabetics but it was often prescribed to healthy girls as an appetite suppressant if they wanted to lose a few pounds. Even healthy, slim and sporty females were prescribed it by their doctors who advised they should take it in order to avoid weight gain.

As many as 5 million people were given the drug between 1976 and 2009, despite the fact that it was suspected of causing heart and pulmonary failure. The health ministry found at least 500 people died of heart valve trouble in France because of exposure to Mediator’s active ingredient, but other estimates by doctors set the figure closer to 2,000. Thousands more live with debilitating health problems.

Some women, who began taking the drug while in good health, saw themselves unable to climb a flight of stairs and were left with permanent cardiovascular problems that limited their daily lives. Servier has paid out almost EUR1 32 m( PS116m) in compensation.

The trial will seek to establish why the medication was on the market for so long in France. Lawyers argue that Servier laboratory intentionally misinformed patients for decades, helped by lenient authorities. The drugmaker has been accused of making at least EUR1bn from the drug, while knowing of its dangers.

The French drug regulator, the Agence National de Securite du Medicament, is on trial accused of not taking sufficient steps to check and control the drug. It has been accused of being too slow to act and being too close to pharmaceutical companies. The watchdog has said it would cooperate with the trial and was now abiding by stricter ethics rules.

The alarm was raised in 2007 when Irene Frachon, a lung specialist from a Brittany hospital, assessed patients’ records and warned of a link between Mediator and serious heart and pulmonary damage.

” The trial comes as huge relief. Eventually, we are to see the end of an intolerable scandal ,” Frachon said this week.” This so-called medicine is in reality a poison.

The drug was not withdrawn from the market in France until 2009, two years after Frachon created alarm systems and many more years after it had been pulled in Spain and Italy. It was never authorised in the UK or US.

In the 677 -page French indictment, magistrates wrote that Servier” knowingly concealed the medication’s true characteristics” from the 1970 s and hid medical studies unfavourable to the product, perpetrating a long-term fraud.

The scandal has raged for more than a decade, sparking a political row about drugs regulation and the lobbying power of pharmaceutical companies in France, which has one of Europe’s highest levels of consumption of prescription drugs.

The vast trial, with 21 defendants and more than 2,600 plaintiffs, will last six months and is set to be one of the longest court cases in Paris for decades. It has been likened in its time frame to the 1997 trial of the former police chief, Maurice Papon, convicted for his role in sending 1,700 Jews to Nazi death camps between 1942 and 1944.

It has taken more than 10 years for the suit to come to court.” The fact that a trial is ultimately taking place is, in itself, a victory for the victims ,” said Charles Joseph-Oudin, a lawyer for 250 plaintiffs.

Servier has said it did not lie about the effects of the therapy and hoped to demonstrate it did not act against patients’ interests.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Canadian woman employs own obituary to rail against fat-shaming

Ellen Maud Bennett called out the medical profession for only offering weight loss support after being diagnosed with cancer

A Canadian woman has used her obituary to call out the medical profession for what she described as ” fat-shaming”, in a message urging society to better address the health concerns of overweight women.

Ellen Maud Bennett, 64, died in May, after she was diagnosed with terminal cancer in the west coast city of Victoria.

In an obituary be made available in the Times Colonist newspaper, Bennett’s family describes Bennett as a remarkable female with an unforgettable character whose career spanned from a stint on Parliament Hill to television and film.

But the obituary also railed against how she had been treated when she tried medical assistance.

” A final message Ellen wanted to share was about the fat-shaming she endured from the medical profession ,” it noted .

” Over the past few years of feeling unwell she attempted out medical intervention and no one offered any subsistence or suggestions beyond weight loss ,” it continued.” Ellen’s dying hope was that women of size stimulate her death matter by advocating strongly for their health and not accepting that fat is the only relevant health issue .”

Since it was published earlier this month, the obituary has hit a chord with many on social media, racking up shares and responses.

Some pointed to similar experiences.” It wasn’t until I started taking interest in my sister’s health as an adult and took her to my doctor that we determined she had several ailments that had been untreated for years because physicians refused to treat her and kept telling her to lose weight first ,” wrote one person on Twitter .

Another accused the focus on her weight of eclipsing a degenerative genetic condition. After a decade of being told to shed pounds, she was 43 years of age when she was finally properly diagnosed, she said, adding:” The medical community sucks for heavy women .”

Others argued that this kind of treatment often pushes people away from health care, including those who may already be marginalised from society.” My mother loathes going to the doctor because of the fat-shaming ,” wrote one human. He added:” She also had to stop going for strolls because randos in passing autoes would lunge abuse at her .”

The obituary noted that she filled her last days with humour, love and requests for fresh lobster, peonies and the “perfect shrimp wonton soup”- and also recognised those who had treated her differently.

” Ellen’s family would like to extend our gratitude to the amazing team of angels at the Victoria Hospice who gave her the respect and kindness she needed and deserved ,” it noted.

Read more: www.theguardian.com