Wednesday 22 May 2019

Splitting-up solutions of the rich and famous

Heartbreak does not assign itself to one gender - so let's hear it for Zayn Malik and his beard, writes Sophie Donaldson

GO YOUR OWN WAY: Gigi Hadid and Zayn Malik have parted. Picture: Getty
GO YOUR OWN WAY: Gigi Hadid and Zayn Malik have parted. Picture: Getty
Sophie Donaldson

Sophie Donaldson

Like those terrible step-by-step self-help books, the aftermath of a break-up can usually be split into the following emotional stages.

First comes the shock, then the grief. Whole boxes of tissues are dissolved in reams of tears and bottles of wine are sunk with abandon. This is usually followed by a period of pitiful behaviour characterised by drunken phone calls, essay-length text messages and possibly the odd appearance outside their flat in the early hours of the morning.

Around this time, hours will be lost scrolling through their Facebook/Instagram/Snapchat feed to determine whether or not they have begun seeing that good- looking colleague from the office.

Finally, after weeks or months of emotional mooching comes the rebirth, a period in which inhibitions are thrown to the wind and a new identity, independent of That Person You Used To Date (as you've begun referring to them), is formed.

By and large, this is typified by a woman doing something heedless she soon comes to regret, such as shaving off all her hair.

Funnily enough, it's always the woman who gets pigeonholed with this type of behaviour, a school of thought underpinned by the idea that women are not complete until they are partnered. After going through a break-up, a woman must 'find herself' presumably because she is lost without a man. Unlike debonair single blokes, women obviously cannot exist as a fully formed entity without her 'other half'.

Just recently, when news broke that Jennifer Aniston was single (again), the media was awash with 'poor Jen' headlines. Articles detailed just how she was "coping" after becoming "single again". A quick Google on Justin Theroux, Jen's ex, and we learn that "Life goes on!" for a man who "seemed more like a single guy" anyway, according to People magazine.

The sexism is staggering, and annoying. Whether they are the dumper or dumpee, most women have a good sob with their friends, go on an ill-advised night out to that dodgy nightclub and then more or less get on with things.

Heartbreak does not assign itself to only the one gender. After all, literature and popular culture are rife with men who openly lament their lost love.

Lord Byron's When We Two Parted is a timeless ode to utter heartbreak, while Tolstoy penned an entire epic on the topic of forbidden love and its ensuing tragedy in Anna Karenina. The Beatles collectively longed for their lost love in Yesterday while perennially heartbroken Roy Orbison crooned that he'd been "crying over you".

It would appear that sometime between Orbison's heyday and the rise of modern masculinity, we began to typecast women as lovelorn singletons. Thankfully, the millennial man is here to change all that.

In case you missed it, last week model Gigi Hadid and singer Zayn Malik, formerly of boyband One Direction, publicly announced their break-up after two years of young love. Each issued statements on their social media accounts and their fans waited with bated breath for their next move.

It was, after all, Zayn who spent a large part of his relationship with Gigi fending off bitchy remarks from his ex-girlfriend, Little Mix singer Perrie Edwards. Would another catfight ensue? Even better, would Zayn find solace in the arms of his ex?

Refreshingly, it would seem that he has defied gender stereotypes by ticking every box on the list of things you will come to regret post-break-up.

Photos surfaced of the formerly raven-haired singer with hair and beard dyed canary-tinged peroxide, as well as not one but two new sizable neck tattoos. It should be noted that Zayn was photographed on the set of his new music video so there is every chance his drastic new 'do' is for filming purposes only. Even if this is the case, those tattoos aren't coming off in the wash.

Additionally, he reportedly shelled out more than €8m on a new Manhattan apartment that is already being referred to as his bachelor pad. Apparently, it's within walking distance of Gigi Hadid's abode.

Zayn Malik is undoubtedly a new-generation millennial man, one who isn't afraid of wearing his heart on his sleeve - or his rose on his neck, when it comes to his body art.

While this generation's attitude to emotional health has shifted so, too, has the world at large. It was only a few short years ago that Chris Martin and Gwyneth Paltrow 'consciously uncoupled', only to be met with a multitude of eyerolls.

Young performers like Zayn Malik are redefining what it means to be a modern man by being open in their vulnerability. Expect blond beards to be a 'thing' very soon.

Sunday Independent

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