Thursday 21 September 2017

Modern life: Why Millennial 'It girls' prefer clean eating to hard living

She’s got it: Kitty Spencer makes Tatler magazine’s list of ‘It girls’
She’s got it: Kitty Spencer makes Tatler magazine’s list of ‘It girls’
Tara Palmer Tomkinson
Katie Byrne

Katie Byrne

High society magazine Tatler has compiled a list of English Roses who represent "the most exciting, interesting and beautiful young women in Britain" in its latest edition. According to editor Kate Reardon, the magazine understands "the special alchemy that creates an 'It girl' - that rare combination of "beauty, charisma and timeliness".

Oh, and money. This is Tatler magazine, after all, which tends to only feature women who have the even rarer combination of blue blood in their veins and silver spoons in their mouths. The 26 Hooray Henriettas that were selected are connected. Some of them are rock royalty; some are bona fide aristocracy and most of them have names like Hermione Periwinkle Foxtrot-Featherstonhaugh.

Princess Diana's niece Kitty Spencer made the cut, as did Rolling Stone Keith Richards' granddaughter Ella. In the interest of diversity, they also included actor Ewan McGregor's daughter, Clara. Anyone flicking though the profile, which reads like a who's who of awfully, awfully British society, will probably come to the conclusion that some things never change. Yet if they read between the lines, they'll notice that some things actually do.

The term 'It Girl' has long been a euphemism for 'party girl'. By and large, the women who were christened with the sobriquet were nocturnal creatures who dated rockstars, fell out of nightclubs and could magically appear at three different parties at the very same time.

Rudyard Kipling, writing in his 1904 short story Mrs Bathhurst, was one of the first people to use the designation 'It' to describe a woman with indefinable charisma. "Tisn't beauty, so to speak, nor good talk necessarily. It's just It," he wrote.

Fast forward to the 90s, however, and 'It girls' became known less for their charm and magnetism and more for their ability to go three days without sleep. It helped , of course, that the media created a façade of fabulousness around their lifestyles. Professional party animals like Amanda de Cadenet, Normandie Keith and Tamara Beckwith didn't drink champagne, they 'quaffed' it, just as they 'jetted' rather than flew on airplanes.

They 'divided their time' between two continents, because it sounded a lot fancier than saying their parents had a gaff abroad, and they had trust funds rather than jobs - although every so often they'd try their hand at a short-lived jewellery line or DJing spot.

The new guard of 'It girls' is something else entirely. They don't vie to get papped at parties because theycan manage their own media exposure from their Instagram accounts, and they don't over-indulge because it's terrible for the complexion.

While 90s 'It girls' were committed socialites, this generation are socially-conscious and devastatingly sensible. Hedonism has been replaced by asceticism, while mischief has been supplanted by magnanimity.

Food blogger (and rumoured girlfriend of Harry Styles) Tess Ward, a Cordon Bleu-trained chef, wants to create "the perfect vegan burger". Opera singer Hero Douglas lets loose by playing the harp and open-water swimming in the Welsh lakes.Alexandra Moncreiffe is studying nutrition and holistic healing, while her sister Idina is a poet who uses nature as a metaphor to describe complex human emotions.

It's much the same closer to home where the current crop of 'It girls' have received the same memo and swapped hard drinking for clean eating. Rosanna Davison once boarded a private jet to Marrakesh with millionaire Johnny Ronan after an afternoon drinking in the former Ritz-Carlton hotel in Enniskerry. Nowadays she prefers the domestic bliss of married life and dairy-free evangelising.

Where once 'It girls' showed us how to look good in yesterday's make-up and stay trim on a diet of canapés, the new breed are more likely to share gluten-free brownie recipes and motivational mantras about self-love.

Tara Palmer Tomkinson
Tara Palmer Tomkinson

It's not nearly as tantalising as, say, the moment Tara Palmer-Tomkinson turned up to a party wearing a white bikini, a fur coat and a snorkle, yet we all know now that Tomkinson, like many 'It girls' before her, wasn't waving but drowning.

Sure, the exploits of the old guard of 'It girls' provided great copy, but a 24/7 party lifestyle proved to be the eventual ruination of so many of them. Edie Sedgwick, Peaches Geldof and our own Katy French lived like they were here for a good time and not a long time - and died before their time too.

Tatler's compilation of the new faces of 2017 might read like a coterie of school prefects and high achievers, but perhaps it's time we stopped glorifying women whose inner worlds clearly aren't as fabulous as their outer appearances.

Irish Independent

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