While I was at the climbing wall this week I spotted a girl with the most amazing abs. They were magazine-quality abs, the kind you only see in Women’s Health or on Kayla Itsines’s Instagram account, but here they were, in real life, without the help of any filters or Photoshop. And her arms, well, they were something else, and I couldn’t help but stare as they tensed and flexed as she floated up the wall. Her hair was bundled on the top of her head in a tousled, but utterly perfect kind of a way and she was pretty without even a scrap of make-up. Wearing some chalky combats and a Nike sports bra with a tan and a smattering of freckles she looked amazing and I had to admit, I had a total girl crush.
What is more is I have to confess that this is neither my first, nor my only, girl crush.
There is of course the zen-crush I have on my yoga instructor who, as I think I’ve mentioned before, has the most incredibly sculpted shoulders and arms I’ve ever seen, and who makes hippy yoga chic look, well, chic. And then there is the intellectual-crush on my book club friend, who is the only person I know who can speak with the same enthusiasm and passion (and at the same speed!) as me about obscure eighteenth century literature and inter-war American fiction and who can inspire and challenge me and make me feel as though my mind is awash with new ideas.
There are the crushes on my colleagues: one who can dress in clothes that she’s just picked up in a charity shop and make them look like she just sauntered off the catwalk; and another who seems to defy time as she bakes, writes, makes her own clothes, throws glamorous dinner parties and still manages to look bright-eyed and dewy-skinned the next morning, ready to start over again.
There are the crushes on my uni friends, one who seems to get every job she applies for and can tell you about every exhibition in London (all of which she’s seen), as she serves up gin cocktails and has me in stitches over some funny anecdote or other in her chichi city apartment. Another who seems to be forever jet-setting for work, who is perfectly groomed at all times with beautifully manicured nails and cute little blonde curls and who always knows what to do in a crisis. And a third who is the spitting image of Kate Middleton, with a wardrobe to match, who does Pilates, bakes like Ella, and is possibly the kindest person I know.
And, I couldn’t omit my yoga buddy, who is so perfect that when she got married last week, a group of us agreed that not only did we want to be her, we actually wanted to be her husband(!)
And that’s before I even start on my running and climbing partner, school pals, or indeed the masses of celebrity crushes from Adriene (of Yoga with Adriene fame) to Natalie Portman (you know she is a Harvard grad and a vegetarian right?!) – but I think you get the gist.
So, why I am admitting to you the slightly awkward fact that I basically fancy 90% of the women I encounter?
The truth is, that some times we all feel a bit down on ourselves. We feel self-doubt, or anxiety, sadness, or frustration and worry that we aren’t as clever, or as pretty, as athletic, or as well-dressed as the people around us. But the fact is, we are all our own biggest critics and while you may be obsessing over something stupid you said in a meeting, the outfit you wished you had changed before you left home, or the size of your squidgy bits, someone else is fixating on something totally different, like how witty you are, or how much they wish they could bake, or run, or get into the most awkward yoga poses like you do.
The thing is, a girl crush is healthy because it is a chance to see the absolute best in someone else, and maybe to recognise some of that goodness in yourself. It’s not about jealously, or about comparing, it’s about thinking about all of the cool, quirky, pretty, fun and elegant things you see in the people around you and realising that there isn’t just a one size fits all model for what makes people attractive.
I’ll finish with my favourite girl crush story: at uni I had this cream bobble hat that I’d wear to lectures in winter, mainly because as soon as there was a hint of moisture in the air my hair would treble in size. One night in the union I was chatting to a friend from my course when one of her friends come over to join us. She was super pretty, tall and dressed in some cute skinny jeans and a little sweater and I immediately felt scruffy and short and awkward. When my friend introduced us the girl looked at me for a second and then looked sheepish and taken aback before smiling and saying, ‘oh my god you’re the girl in the cream bobble hat, I’ve had a total girl-crush on you!’ It made my night and suddenly I didn’t feel so small and frumpy any more!