Mature Beauty – Chihiro lipstick from Thrive


Chihiro is one of my fave lipsticks from Thrive Causemetics. I’ve started filming the whole application of my makeup from start to finish, as I receive so many questions from Instagram followers. Head over to YouTube and subscribe and hit the bell icon to be notified when I post a new video.

Thank you to all my lovely tribe of silver sisters and 50+ women on Instagram for supporting me, and encouraging me with my beauty and food videos. I am learning as I go, as I do everything myself. I only use my iPhone and a MacBook for everything. I don’t ever use filters on my photos on Instagram, but I do play around with the brightness, warmth, saturation, shadows and highlights.

I love ageing and I’m happy to show you my face before and after. It’s been through quite a lot, including burns from a fire many years ago. It still looks pretty good with makeup applied/ I am not trying to look younger, I am just having fun with makeup. Always have, always will.

You will see Chihiro again I am sure, it is the perfect shade of pink.

I hope you have a beautiful day.

Gail x

Ocean banana blossom – vegan fish substitute

ocean banana blossom

This is my own recipe for Ocean Banana Blossom AKA vegan fish! I experimented with different flours and flavours to create the perfect batter coating. Have you ever wondered what to cook a vegan instead of fish? Look no further! This is wonderful with french fries, mayonaise and fresh lemon. Keep a can of banana blossom in the cupboard for a quick and easy, tasty alternative to fish.

ocean banana blossom

Ocean Banana Blossom

A good vegan substitute for fried fish
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 5 mins
Course Main Course
Servings 4


  • mixing bowl
  • Frying pan
  • whisk


  • 1 cup cornflour
  • 1 cup gram (chickpea) flour
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 pinch pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 sheets Nori paper
  • 1 tsp black sesame seeds
  • 1 can banana blossom (usually containes four sections)


  • Shred or chop the nori paper into small pieces
  • Mix all ingredients in a bowl EXCEPT the banana blossom
  • Add water slowly until you have a pourable batter
  • Carefully drain the delicate banana blossom and place on kitchen paper
  • Gently place the blossom in the batter and spoon over mixture until covered.
  • Heat cooking oil ready for deep frying
  • Gently place the blossom pieces one by one into the hot oil.
  • Fry until golden.
  • Drain on kitchen paper, and sprinkle with a little salt.
  • Enjoy!
Keyword banana blossom, vegan

I created all these recipes to feed a non vegan in my household. I only cook food I know everyone will enjoy. My son pestered me to write down my recipes, so here I am sharing them on YouTube, TikTok and Instagram. Ocean Banana Blossom can be eaten in a sandwich, dipped in soy sauce and eaten with rice or on top of some delicious fresh herb mash, as in the video above.

Check back soon for more videos or subscribe to my YouTube channel to be notified when I post.

There are so many amazing alternatives to meat, fish, dairy and eggs. A plant based diet is good for you, your heart and our beautiful planet.

Now…cook off!

Gail x

Spicy Chutney made with fresh local mangoes

spicy chutney

Homemde spicy chutney made with fresh and ripe mangoes from Olhão market. This is very a simple recipe but with quite a few ingredients. You can leave out the chillies if you don’t like anything hot hot HOT and instead replace the heat with with a couple of cloves for extra flavour. I love tangy, hot, spicy relish and chutney with steamed rice, crispy tofu (for recipe click here) and some stir fried veggies, or just smothered on my pappadoms…. ahhhh….delish!

I also buy all my vibrant and colorful chillies from Olhão market, which I dry out on the windowsill of our south facing studio, to ensure I’m fully stocked up throughout the winter months. More recipes with chillies coming soon, so check back for new dishes or follow me on Instagram or YouTube to be notified when I post new delcious dishes.

spicy chutney

Spicy chutney

Indian spiced ripe mango chutney. Great with pappadoms or homemade flatbread.
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 35 mins
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Indian
Servings 10


  • grater, sharp knife, pan, spatula


  • 1 whole ripe mango – peeled and cubed
  • 3 cloves crushed garlic – or more! Go crazy!
  • 1 chunk of grated ginger – as much as you like!
  • 1 red onion finely sliced or chopped
  • 1 tbsp chopped dried chillies – or as little as you want.
  • 1 tbsp mustard oil – or peanut/veg/corn/sunflower oil
  • 3 crushed cardamom pods
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp nigella seeds
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp vinegar – (I used pomegranate vinegar)
  • half stick of cinnamon (or 1 tsp of powder instead)
  • 2 bayleaves


  • Heat mustard oil to the pan then add onions and cooked until soft and brown.
  • Add chopped garlic and ginger, soften for a couple of minutes
  • add a splash of water to slow down the cooking and soften the onions
  • add the cumin, nigella and black mustard seeds
  • Give it a stir!
  • Add mango, chillies, sugar, vinegar, cinnamon, bay leaves – the lot!
  • simmer for 15 minutes and add salt to taste. Start with just a pinch.
  • Allow to cool and enjoy with flatbread, naan bread, raw veggies or pappadoms.
  • Enjoy!
Keyword chutney, indian, mango, relish, spicy

I love autumn/fall! The trees are bursting with fruit, and there’s a huge range on offer at the market, especially good are the mangoes which come in lots of different varieties. The days are now getting shorter here, but the sun is still shining and the birds are all gathering to make their way across the Atlantic ocean to Africa. Longer nights ahead, which means more time to cook and edit videos. Check back soon for more scrumptious food.

Now….cook off!

Gail xxx

Fruity pancakes – vegan and gluten free


My recipe for fruity pancakes – which are comepletely vegan and gluten free! I make them with banana flour but you can use normal self raising flour if you wish for a more fluffy pancake. The banana flour makes them a little heavier, but its good to experiment with different four. Don’t use coconut flour – I’ve never had success using this!

You can leave out the fruit and just make a standard vanilla pancake, which my husband prefers to be honest. But I like to add as many different fruit and veggies as I can to my diet each day.


Fruity pancakes

Vegan, gluten free fruity pancakes.
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 5 mins
Course Breakfast


  • mixing bowl
  • whisk
  • Frying pan


  • 1 cup banana flour (or spelt flour)
  • 1 cup plant milk
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 0.5 cup blueberries
  • 1 small banana
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence


  • mix flour, salt, baking powder, milk and vanilla essence in a bowl
  • squish half of the blueberries and mash the banana
  • mix everything together
  • heat the frying pan
  • Drop half a cup of the mix into the frying pan, then dry fry or use a small amount of coconut or peanut oil to prevent sticking
  • Drop blueberries onto the wet pancake
  • flip pancake when bottom is browned.
  • Remove from pan when cooked both sides
  • Drizzle with passionfruit or date syrup.
  • Enjoy!
Keyword banana, blueberry, gluten free, pancake, vegan

I really enjoy making videos and sharing my recipes. There will be more, so check back soon.

Now….cook off!

Gail xxx

Vegan fruity curry

fruity curry

This vegan fruity curry is one of my favourites! I know this list of ingredients looks never ending, but I keep all of these things in my store cupboard. I use them often so its worth keeping all these treasures in your pantry. You can substitute the mangoes for peaches and the almonds for cashews etc. This is the way I like my fruity curry but customise it as you wish.

fruity curry

Fruity chickpea curry

Delicious indian inspired chick pea curry with tropical fruit, fresh herbs and toasted nuts.
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian


  • Pan


Fruity curry

  • 2 tbsp mustard oil
  • 1 sliced red onion
  • 2 whole dried or fresh chillies
  • 1-2 cups water
  • 3 whole crushed cardamom pods
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp nigella seeds
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 4 cloves crushed garlic
  • 1 thumb grated ginger (or one tablespoon)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 tsp Garam Masala
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 2 cups cooked chickpeas (or 1 can)
  • 1 veggie stock cube
  • 2 cups coconut milk
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • half cup chunky peanut butter

to decorate and present

  • 1 cup fresh sliced mango
  • half cup toasted flaked almonds
  • half cup coriander (cilantro) leaves
  • 1 tbsp fried onions
  • 1 whole sliced banana
  • 1 pinch salt – optional (taste and adjust before decorating)
  • 1 lime


  • Heat pan and add mustard oil to fry onions and brown dried chillies
  • remove chillies from pan and keep one tablespoon of fried onions back to decorate at the end
  • When onions are browed, add 1 cup of water to soften, stir and simmer for a couple of minutes
  • Add crushed cardamom pods, cumin/nigella/black mustard seeds
  • Add ginger, garlic, bay leaves, cinnamon stick, garam masala, curry powder, chickpeas, mix and simmer for 5 minutes (may need some water, add a little).
  • Add coconut milk, smoked paprika, peanut butter, mix and simmer for 20 minutes
  • Time to dress it up with; mango, corainder, toasted flaked almonds, the cooked chillies, fried onions, sliced banana and anything else you fancy!
  • Enjoy with basmati rice!
Keyword chickpea, curry, spicy, vegan

Make this fruit curry as hot as you like. I buy fresh chillies and dry them in a dehydrator. In this recipe, I’ve used two dried chillies which I fried with the onions and then removed, until you see them again the end when I use them to decorate the dish. The reason for doing this is that my husband doesn’t like hot curry, but I do. So I chop the chillies up and sprinkle on top of the curry on my plate only. It means everyone can enjoy the same dish, which is tasty and fragrant without being spicy, until you add the chopped chillies.

It’s worth the effort and will impress everyone when they see it and taste it. Check back often for more recipes!

Now…cook off!

Gail x

Vegan Frittata

I make this vegan fritatta for breakfast, or cut into slices when cold, to take on picnics and hiking adventures. It’s very simple and high in protein from the chick pea flour. I use Kala namak (you will see me grind it in the pestle and mortar in the video) which is a kiln-fired rock salt used in South Asia with a sulphurous, pungent smell. It is also known as “Himalayan black salt“. It gives the fritatta an eggy taste, but use sparingly as its very eggy indeed!

Use any veggies you like. I’m a big fan of onion, garlic and chilli fritatta, served with a dollop of vegan cream cheese and chopped fresh chives.

Vegan frittata

A quick and easy breakfast omlette alternative. Great for picnics too!
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 5 mins
Course Breakfast
Servings 4


  • Frying pan
  • whisk


  • 1 cup chick pea flour (gram flour)
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil (or peanut oil)
  • 1 whole small red pepper – chopped
  • 1 whole leek – finely sliced
  • 1 tsp dried or fresh herbs
  • 1 pinch (small ground nugget of) Kala Namak – black salt
  • 1 pinch black pepper
  • water


  • Whisk chick pea flour with Kala Namak, pepper & water until batter consistency
  • add oil to pan and fry veggies until soft
  • sprinkle herbs over cooked veggies
  • pour batter mix over veggies and cook until mix is firm and set
  • flip over to cook other side (smaller ones are easier to flip)
  • Ready to serve! –


Make smaller fritattas to flip easier.
Use ordinary salt if you don’t want or need an eggy flavour.
Keyword frittata, vegan

I’m asked daily how to go vegan overnight, it takes time and some planning. You will need a good supply of herbs and spices to jazz up your veggies. More recipes coming soon. This one is simple and one of my faves for breakfast, instead of an omlette.

Now….cook off!

Gail x

Crispy tofu with shiitake mushroom side

Don’t be afraid of tofu! My husband thought he would hate it, but he loves it. It doesn’t really have much of a taste of it’s own, it takes on the flavour of everything on it.

Crispy tofu with shiitake mushrooms

A simple way to enjoy crispy coated tofu, with a veggie sidedish of shiitake mushrooms
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Course Main Course, Snack
Cuisine Asian
Servings 4


  • frying pan, saucepan


Crispy Tofu

  • 2 cups Extra firm tofu (organic is best!)
  • 4 tbsp cornflour
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 pinch black pepper
  • Oil for frying

Shiitake mushroom side

  • 1 tbsp cooking oil
  • 2 cloves garlic – grated or crushed
  • 1 thumb ginger – grated or minced
  • 0.5 cup green onions
  • 1 veggie stock cube
  • 1 tsp garlic puree
  • 2 tsp red pepper puree – sweet OR hot
  • 2 tsp hoisin sauce
  • 2 cups shiitake mushrooms
  • 1 carrot – peeled and sliced
  • 1 tsp cornflour, mixed in 1 cup of water
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 tsp soy sauce


Shiitake mushroom side

  • Fry garlic and ginger until soft then add green onions to soften
  • add 1 cup water and heat.
  • add hoisin, garlic, pepper puree and stock cube, mushroom and carrots
  • add cornflour mixed with water and stir until thickened.
  • add sesame oil and soy sauce. Stir and it's ready!

Crispy Tofu

  • Mix cornflour, paprika, garlic powder, salt and pepper in a bowl
  • break up Tofu into bite sized pieces and cover in the cornflour mix
  • Heat cooking oil in a frying pan until hot but not smoking.
  • fry until golden brown and crunchy. It's ready!


Serve with green onions, sliced fresh chillies and steamed rice.
Keyword mushroom, shitake, tofu

I’m a huge fan of crispy tofu! Prepped this way with shiitake mushrooms is one of my husband’s favourite meals. It seems like a lot of ingredients, but keep these items in the cupboard as I will use them often.

I’m not going to bore you with lots of writing, but this does make an excellent lunch!

It easy and delicious but just one word of warning, my husband eats too much of this when I make it, ……it’s a bit ‘windy’ though!

Now… cook off!

Gail x

Recipe for fresh soya milk

soya milk

Looking for an easy soya milk recipe and method? Look no further, this one is simple and tastes delicious!

soya milk

Fresh Soya Milk

Easy plant based soya bean milk. Non dairy, veggie protein.
Prep Time 12 hrs
Cook Time 15 mins


  • Blender
  • Saucepan


  • 1 cup dried soya bean
  • 1 Pinch Salt
  • 2 dates
  • 1 tbsp cashew nuts


  • Soak beans in water overnight or 12 hours
  • Wash beans and remove loose skins
  • Place beans in blender and cover with water
  • Add all other ingredients
  • Blend until smooth
  • Add more water until you reach milky consistency
  • Chill!
Keyword bean, dairy free, protein, soya, vegan

Usually on chef’s recipe pages, you have to read the chef’s life story and how their mother’s dog’s sister, inspred them to cook at the age of 2. All this just to then spend 10 minutes looking for the actual recipe you wanted, which is the only reason for visiting this page anyway.

I’ve put it at the top so you don’t have to read all this crap underneath!

Use this soya milk milk as you would dairy. Use the same method for making cream but add more dates and vanilla but less water.

That’s it really. Now cook off!

Re-launch of my FiftySister YouTube channel on July 13th


Re-launch of my FiftySister YouTube channel on July 13th

I’m getting serious with YouTube. After building an amazing tribe of more than 70,000 woman with my account @fiftysister with Instagram, I’m switching all my video content permanently to YouTube. There will be a series for; Lifestyle, Expat life in Algarve, and start to finish of my house build in Loulé. Please subscribe and click the little bell icon to be notified when I post a new video. Re-launch scheduled for 13th July!!!

I hope you like my first attempt at a promotional video, I’ve spent the past couple of days getting my head around and learning a new app. Do you remember the good old days when you had a huge user manual to find out how to navigate your way around computer programs? Now it seems to be a case of trial and error. Phone only apps don’t seem to have so many ‘how to’ videos on YouTube, but I managed to put together this promo video, and a shortened version for Instagram reels. Although that didn’t view so well as the orientation is wrong, which is why I won’t be posting video content on Instagram anymore (YouTube in landscape orientation and Instagram is portrait).

I created and edited it all by myself (feeling rather proud!), but sent it to Seb for his quality control input. He’s quite critical! – Which is what I need. He has an amazing eye for detail, and is a much better videographer than me. He has a YouTube channel which he’s neglected for a while (finding a job during pandemic took up all of his time), but he’s re-launching his channel with a new emphasis on adventure biking trips. I’m not sure we will have any mutual followers or subscribers, but when he’s ready to launch, I will share the link so you can check out what he’s up to.

I really miss him, but working on YouTube has given us a shared interest, which we speak about a couple of times per day.

The main reason for switching to YouTube is the amount of time that Instagram was taking up. Now I can create a high quality interesting video for YouTube, which I can easily add to my blog and website. Instagram is really for photos, which is how I will use it going forward. I really enjoy taking photos, so I will still have a presence on there. If you don’t want to sign up to YouTube, just follow along with my blog here, and you will see all the videos as posts.

I’m rather blown away with how many women have started reading my blog on here, I know that I can write more interesting and longer posts, without the restrictions of Instagram. Instagram is more manageable for me now that I’m not posting stories and answering questions. I don’t mind answering any questions, but when I post detailed information and someone asks me for the exact same information, it’s very frustrating and bewildering!

I’m off out tonight with my Canadian friends who live close to Lisbon. I’m excited to try a new Italian restaurant – so I’m saving my calories for tonight. I will post here details of where I went etc tomorrow, so call in again tomorrow for my next post.

Why did I decided to Re-launch of my FiftySister YouTube channel on July 13th?

I needed to pick a date to give myself a goal. The date is my birthday (woohoo!) so it’s a new beginning for my 54th year. I will be visiting Armona Island on the day, so that will be another opportunity to film a new location and share the boat, trip, food and beaches with you.

I am re-launching as my YouTube channel was very chaotic and a little bit random. Now I am going to focus on documenting my housebuild, sharing my new life in Portugal, including food, Ginger & Bird, exploring the region, maybe some wine and activities. There’s so much to do here, the features are endless.

I hope you have a beautiful day, and don’t forget to check back often for new posts.

Gail xxx

Changing the face of FiftySister

changing the face of fiftysister

I’ve decided I will be changing the face of fiftysister going forward, by splitting my work into three channels:

  • Instagram for photos only.
  • All video content, my Vlog, lifestyle in Portugal and new house build on YouTube – (relaunch coming soon!)
  • Daily blog, motivational writing, plus more photos and chatter on

More information on my decision here:


I am going to post only photos on Instagram @fiftysister from now on, as that’s really what it’s designed for! I don’t have time to respond to hundreds of messages per day, it’s just me doing everything and I need to prioritise my time. Trolls and dirty old men are banished forever!

I was trying to shoe horn all my work into one platform, by doing that I actually made more work for myself and it had become a chaotic monster. Each channel now has a clear purpose, and you can follow the one you prefer.


My blog will move back here to so that I am not limited by the number of words I can use, or be restricted by the subject of my content. Also (and most importantly) validated members can sign in to leave comments on each post and participate in the forum, which is something else I want to give more time and focus to.

My blog will have photos from Instagram, with more information about the photo (makeup/clothing etc) and the story behind the photo.


My video content will move to YouTube where I will only film in landscape mode – the best orientation for viewing on YouTube and my website. As the cost of my build is increasing daily, I need to plug the shortfall in budget, so the income from YouTube will help ease my financial burden. The content will be much better quality with more varied content. Kinda what I’ve been looking for, specifically tailored for midlife women. Click here for YouTube and please take a couple of seconds to subscribe.


Today’s photo was inspired by Helen Mirren who I posted about yesterday. Click here to read that post.

  • Lipstick is ‘Lovesick’ from Kat Von D beauty @kvdbeauty
  • Eyeliner, mascara, bronzer, brow pencil from MUA Cosmetics – cruelty free!
  • Highlighter and concealer is from Pür Cosmetics
  • Dress from Zara – 2 years ago
  • Earrings are from a little boutique in Loulé and cost just €3 – I do love a bargain!

I hope you like the new format. For me, it means I can now focus on writing, without the constant battle with trolls. I can interact with my members and enjoy close and meaningful relationships with the many friends and wonderful women I connected with on Instagram. I can create an image for Instagram (which I also really enjoy) and just add hashtags for people to find it for inspiration.


I can improve my video making skills for YouTube and create a lifestyle channel for midlife women, which will be varied, motivational, inspirational (hopefully!) and fun. I was losing my sparkle working my socks off on Instagram, but always a little unhappy with the result. Focusing on, and directing each aspect of my work to the channel it’s designed for, will undoubtedly make the content better.

I guess we will have to wait and see. Feedback always welcome and please subscribe to my YouTube channel to motivate me to keep going with my new content.

Thank you as always for you love and support.

Gail xxx

Helen Mirren looks incredible, wearing a tangerine dress with silver hair

Absolutely blown away with Helen Mirren, her whole look and outfit at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival. She looks completely stunning with her smoky eyes and silver hair in a soft and messy bun. I’m a huge fan of tangerine clothing worn with white or silver hair. The emerald jewellery is exquisite, and although very chunky, the necklace really complimented her retro style fitted bodice dress.

I don’t watch TV, so I’m not very familiar with Helen other than when she starred in the film ‘Woman in gold’. The true story of an elderly Jewish woman – Maria Altmann (Helen Mirren), who attempts to reclaim family possessions that were seized by the Nazis. Among them is a famous portrait of Maria’s beloved Aunt Adele: Gustave Klimt’s “Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I.” With the help of young lawyer Randy Schoeberg (Ryan Reynolds), Maria embarks upon a lengthy legal battle to recover this painting and several others, but it will not be easy, for Austria considers them national treasures. Definitely worth watching. I enjoyed it so much I would watch it again, just to understand the whole story behind the painting.

I’m always on the look out for colours and styling as age, but sadly I don’t find any role models that provide me with inspiration. But Helen is going to the top of the list with this incredible choice of outfit.


A return ticket to peace and tranqulity

peace and tranquility

I’m a little bit annoyed with myself that I didn’t take action to restore some peace and tranquility in my life before now. The constant notifications on my phone and laptop, from so many applications and platforms, were gradually making me more and more agitated.

I took some time this morning to remove the ability for anyone and everyone to reply to my posts on my blog, as sadly, I was being inundated with spambots replying to posts. I needed to edit every post I’d ever written, plus delete the 5000 or so spam responses. I should have done this a long time ago. I had been deleting the odd one here and there, but it needed a focused effort to stop the issue once and for all.

Then I set about unsubscribing from email newsletters and marketing offers from anyone I’d ever signed up with. Before undertaking this mammoth task, I’d been averaging 30 emails per hour. In the last hour it’s down to just one – which I can easily cope with. I was drowning under the weight of emails and messages, and now I feel like I’ve won a ticket to some (very much needed) peace and tranquility.

I was a little punch drunk with the notifications. I had stopped listening to them and they had become a constant background noise. Sadly, when I did receive an important or worthwhile message, it sat with the pile of unwanted junk.

Seb made an excellent point last night. I sent him a link to my YouTube video, asking him for some feedback. His first comment was ‘AT LAST!!!’ – he’s been telling me to switch to YouTube for a while as he knows that I’ve been struggling to find the time to manage Instagram. He went on to say, that Instagram is like a pop up art gallery. You can only view the content for the day, and then it becomes obsolete and invisible. I may as well be painting over all my work and starting again. YouTube however, is like a gallery. You can wander around the content creation, because all of it stays active and relevant. He’s a smart guy. I should listen to him more.

I plan to post at least one video on YouTube per week, and then one photo on Instagram with just hashtags and maybe a brief comment. I was using Insta for more than it was designed for – I was making work for myself. My blog and general chatter will continue here.

Thank you for staying with me, I hope you enjoy following my house build which should start next month – I AM EXCITED!!!

I hope you have a beautiful day.

Gail xxx

Why I switched from Instagram to YouTube

I thought I’d share my first YouTube only video with you, which a brief explanation of why I am having a break from FiftySister on Instagram. I hope you like the format and promise there will be more content coming soon.

With over 72k followers it seems like a crazy decision that I switched from Instagram to YouTube, where I have less than 500 followers. To stay on Instagram I need to take promotional posts which would dilute my content and messaging. On YouTube I am free to say what I want without fear of being penalised for posting too often or not enough. The algorithms on Instagram have driven me away!

Also, for my housebuild, the landscape orientation of YouTube is a much better option.

Thank you for stopping by my blog, I really appreciate your support.

Gail xxx

The social media monster

Slaying the social media monster.

Yesterday, I had the sudden urge to delete all social media apps off my phone. The constant notifications – a reminder that I needed to take action and feed the social media monster.

It is a monster. A huge, fire breathing, hungry monster. It always wants and needs more.

Working for free for the social media monster.

I started out on Instagram just over 2 years ago, to document my transition to natural silver hair. Something quite casual, a photo here and there, a short caption and a few hashtags. I woke the monster. Slowly, slowly, as it started to grow, it demanded more and more of my time.

I was working for free. The number of hours spent taking care of the monster is not worth the (lack of) dollars.

You must feed your monster twice per day. You need to interact with other monster carers, delivering likes and comments to feed and nurture your own angry pet. Instagram doesn’t like it if you; don’t post regularly, use the same hashtags, don’t respond to posts and comments. It’s very demanding.

Lots of people talk about algorithms. Like there’s some secret man sitting in a room, deciding who to promote so they can win more followers. But it’s an enormous marketing machine, using free content from millions of creators to draw in the crowds. I knew this, and it suited me to use the platform to share my messages and spread the word about positive ageing.

It’s like a drug

Instagram content creators get hooked. Their followers will eventually drop from time to time, so they start advertising and promoting posts to increase the flow of new followers. This of course is the kiss of death for free promotion in the discovery section of the feed. Insta now knows you want and need followers, so will make you invisible until you feed the machine with coins. I never advertised, but watched as other women who experienced a decrease in number of new followers, started promoting posts. Their sponsored posts would show up on Facebook. I knew then, they were owned by the mother of all monsters, throwing dollars at it for followers.

Sure, there is money in Insta if you are prepared to sell anything and everything that companies throw your way. I wasn’t. I stood true to my beliefs, only accepting occasional gifts and discussing products from companies which were vegan and cruelty free. I never took money for paid posts, that’s not what my channel was for.

Instagram vs reality

Often when looking at other women’s posts, I would see #ethical #sustainable etc on clothing posts. But there she was wearing leather shoes. What is ethical about that? I would see another lady talking about veganism one minute, whilst chomping on a piece of dairy the next. Or, posts like ‘ I’m vegan except I can’t say no to roast lamb’. If I saw a post like this I would just scroll on by, maybe hit ‘unfollow’ and mutter something about how fake everyone is. But I’ve come to realise, that most people prefer fake. They don’t want to see women without filters, without some photoshopping going on. When you see how popular images of fake faces and bodies are, you realise you are in the wrong game, or on the wrong platform.

I met a fellow content creator in person. She is a little older than me and uses filters on every post. I commented how great she looked in a bikini shot on her grid. To which she replied ‘I photoshopped my tummy’. What is the point? All she is doing is contributing to unattainable beauty standards set by large corporations, pushing unrealistic images of ageing women to sell products. How can other women expect to look as good as her and feel good about themselves, when she doesn’t look like that in real life either?

I posted photos without filters. I got abuse and insults. I didn’t care, but I’m not making a difference. I just look older than women the same age who are filtering their faces beyond recognition, and I ponder ‘what is the point?’.

What next?

What next? Well, I’m considering a move to YouTube. Firstly, I am going to be filming my house build in Portugal and the orientation of the filming is better in landscape mode. Secondly, there’s potential to earn money from the posts without promoting other company’s products. YouTube pays creators with revenue from adverts displayed on the video, whereas Instagram is getting all of its content and users for free. That doesn’t really seem fair – does it?

I’m enjoying a break from DM’s, emails and post responses. How can I ignore emails from women, desperate for emotional support on their ageing journey? I am not a doctor, therapist or psychologist. I’m an unpaid agony aunt who is slowly sinking under the weight of other’s needs and expectations.

I’m taking time out. An opportunity to re-think and evaluate my time spent with the social media monster. Insta is getting value, but am I? If I move to YouTube am I just switching monsters?

More thinking to do, so stay tuned for updates.

Gail xxx

social media monster

I need to take a break.

The censorship of accounts and information on Instagram is driving me away. Accounts deleted or shadow banned every day because they are sharing important information, which would allow people to make informed choices. I am unsure whether I can or want to be part of that blinkered media machine anymore.

I enjoy writing and taking photos. I love inspiring women to embrace and enjoy ageing.

I don’t like the spewed hatred that lands in my DMs and inbox. It doesn’t upset me, other than precious time spent deleting and blocking sad and pathetic trolls.

I don’t like the control that Google and Facebook/Instagram have over what we see. Watch ‘The Social Dilemma’ on Netflix and you will understand the blinkered outlook we have on the world through our screens.

There is a whole world of information which contradicts the vaccine initiative. People are dying, and those shouting the warnings are muted and hidden to protect the pharmaceutical industry – which wants to treat your illness, not cure it.

I want to inspire and motivate women. I want us to ask questions and have discussions about important topics which affect us, our children and everyone else on the planet.

I don’t want to be gagged.

I don’t want to be brainwashed by the media. People need to start asking questions instead of going with the flow. So I am taking a break from social media. I will be posting on here on my blog instead. Then I won’t have to limit my words or watch what I type or say.

Will I be back? I don’t know. All I know is that I need a week away.

Thank you for your support and the friendships I’ve made. I am grateful for the many connections with amazing women (and men!) around the globe.

Off to have a long think and some clear headspace.

I’ve reinstated my blog for my new posts. Find me here for the time being.

Gail xxx