IN CONVERSATION WITH

DEBORAH FRANCES-WHITE

THE OUTNET’S Head of Content, Claudia Mahoney, got to spend some time with comedian, writer and host of The Guilty Feminist podcast Deborah Frances-White. In case you missed their live interview, we made sure to save some of the best bits…

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Blue cashmere sweater

Claudia: Thank you for joining us, I bet you’re desperate to eat since you’ve just done your own Instagram Live with The Guilty Feminist.

Deborah:  Yes. I’m doing The New Normal.

Claudia: You’re what I would call a renaissance woman, because you can’t be pigeon-holed. You’re a stand-up comedian, you’re a writer, you’re a podcast host, you’re an activist. How would you sum up what you do?

Deborah: Mostly I think I’m a comedian who does activism and podcasting. Most people know me from The Guilty Feminist now, but I do love and find great purpose in working with Choose Love and Amnesty. I morph as I get older and we all do I think, suddenly you’re defining yourself a bit differently.

Claudia: You’ve interviewed an array of amazing people. Is there anyone that you haven’t been able to speak to that you’re absolutely desperate to?

Deborah: I’d really love to talk to Jacinda Ardern, and I’d really love to talk to Michelle Obama and I’d really love to talk to Malala, and I’d love to talk to Greta Thunberg. I met Gloria Steinem, she’s always my top pick and I met her in New York, and I have her email so I’m hoping to get her on a special maybe video podcast while this is going on.

Claudia: That would be amazing! And I wanted to ask you, you always ask people their ‘I’m a feminist but…’ have you had any sort of oops moments yourself recently?

Deborah: Oh god. I’m a feminist but I think the first Thursday after lockdown we will come out on the streets and we will applaud the waxers. I cannot imagine, those people will be absolutely key workers. They’ll be working 22 hours a day. The waxers, the threaders, the facialists, the manicurists…The hairdressers, I mean they will be FLOODED. You won’t be able to get an appointment. You won’t.

Claudia: I was thinking as well since THE OUTNET is a clothes retailer, does it make me a bad feminist that I covet lots of clothes?

Deborah: I don’t think so. I sometimes cannot believe the patriarchy let us have beautiful clothes and makeup, because they always get the good stuff. But let’s be honest, you get out of bed and you can accentuate, you can be playful, you can completely change the way you look and therefore the way you feel. Whereas, most guys, let’s be honest, just get out of bed, look in the mirror and think ‘well, that’s as good as I’m gonna look all day.’ That’s it! They’re stuck! I would say the same with clothing. If a man goes out with one piece of fabric around his legs instead of two, it’s exceptional! Even if it’s someone like David Beckham it’s front-page news. I just think we have this great array and I think it’s very human to decorate. We’re natural decorators and I think it’s not so much that women are pressured into something that is unhealthy for us, I think men are limited.

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Claudia: How is it going with Diet Coke and your campaign for sponsorship from them?

Deborah: So, every day on The New Normal I say, “sponsored by Diet Coke,” They don’t know that yet, but I’m hoping if I say it every day they’ll give me £10,000 as a joke.

Claudia: So, if they did give you £10,000 and you could only spend it on clothes, are there certain brands that you absolutely love to wear?

Deborah: Yes! Can I tell you something? Roland Mouret asked for tickets to my Guilty Feminist show at the Royal Albert Hall and I wore a black Roland Mouret, long-sleeve dress, it was beautifully fitted. I wore it and he was in the audience. So, I have worn Roland Mouret in front of Roland Mouret that I bought on THE OUTNET!

Claudia: There are loads of comments from people saying they would buy tickets to your non-existent show.

Deborah: Well, we thought we might do a ticketed live event for Choose Love. I was thinking of asking Erykah Badu, she’s so incredible and I’ve been listening to her a lot in lockdown and I was thinking ‘I wonder if I just asked her now, and paid her to do a live event,’ like a jam session.

Claudia: What’s the harm in asking? I keep thinking this is the moment to really go for things because people’s minds have really opened from being at home and there is much more of a sense of community.

Deborah: I thought if we did it like a Jools Holland jazz session, but a feminist version of that, I think it would be really really nice. And if we did that, would you be interested in dressing? Could we do it as a THE OUTNET connection where you could dress me and Joy Crookes and Grace Petrie and so on and so on.

Claudia: YES! We’d dress you for everything! You just need to ask.

Deborah: It’s very tricky for them to backtrack. People will complain.

Claudia: Have you been spending time doing any reading, watching films, given everything else you have going on?

Deborah: I’m mostly learning to dance, and I’ve been loving learning to dance so much. What I want to recommend is Superprof. It’s a website where you can find teachers to learn something. I wanted to learn to sing because every time I’ve ever had singing lessons I feel like my voice changes and comes into its own, and as a feminist, feeling the power of your voice, feeling the power of yourself, even with yoga, even just lying there and breathing, that in itself is worth it. You’re connecting to your body and you’re connecting to your breath and I think we need that in life. So, I would recommend going on Superprof, you have to pay a fee, but then you can connect to as many teachers as you like.

Claudia: Well, it’s been absolutely amazing talking to you, and we hope you rally and feel ready for those lessons, I mean, it sounds exhausting.

Deborah: You have to keep self-starting every day and that’s a lot. So, whoever you are and however you’re doing it, you’re doing great, you’re doing well, you all need to catch Katya Veleva on The New Normal. She’s an architect who does a lot of diversity inclusion with people in the construction business and she gave me a great piece of advice. “Only think two actions ahead,” and there doesn’t exist anything beyond that. So, you think, yeah I could do those if that was all there was.

Claudia: And then by the end of the day you find you’ve had this whole two + two + two and it would all spiral.

Deborah: That’s exactly it! Thank you for having me, I’m a feminist but the best thing that’s happened to me this week is you saying you’ll dress me for a red-carpet event even if that red-carpet event is in my own flat.

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