Friday, 31 January 2014

Reaching the highest heights

Many of you already know that Sorted editor Steve Legg is about to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. 

If all is going to plan, he should be on the plane right now, no doubt thinking about the mammoth task ahead of him (or sleeping with his mouth open like the rest of us). 

One thing I’ve learned from working about Steve is that he is very determined and that he doesn’t shout about his achievements, so I’m going to take this opportunity to do just that.

Not only is Steve a great husband to Bekah and a devoted father to six kids, he is a long-term Compassion supporter and ambassador. I know that he and Bekah sponsor four children and that Steve has visited at least one of them, demonstrating that he isn’t just putting his name to a charity or throwing money at it; he really cares.

Sorted and Liberti are now sponsoring a leadership development student, enabling young Kenyan woman Sylvia to attend university. “It's not just about enabling her to reach her full potential, although that would be reason enough, but she is committed to using her education to help others in her community and beyond,” explains Liberti editor Bekah. Steve will be spending some time in Kenya while he is in Africa and will meet Sylvia while he is there.

And it is children and young people like these that have inspired the Kilimanjaro climb. I know Steve plays badminton regularly, but I’m pretty sure he isn’t doing it for the exercise. Nevertheless, he has trained tirelessly so that he is in the best shape possible to get to the top. Despite the wet weather, he’s been out there exercising with the dog every day.

In his own words, Steve is climbing the Tanzanian mountain to “raise the profile of Compassion and see more children released from poverty”. He is dedicated to protecting his own and other children from the many dangers, difficulties and temptations out there.

In fact, this was one of the reasons why he set up Sorted magazine. He wanted his teenage son to be able to buy a lads’ mag that wasn’t just full of boobs, bums and ‘babes’. He wanted his son and other young men to recognise that women are human beings and that their value is not in the way they look. (Check out this great blog from Nate Pyle for more on this.) And he wanted his daughters to know that not all men objectify women and that they are precious regardless of the way they look (they’re all stunning anyway, so that’s never been an issue!).

Sorted is a great magazine, if I do say so myself, and with a print run of 40,000, its circulation has overtaken that of competitors such as Loaded. And it seems the public is responding positively to this shift. Supermarkets like The Co-operative have taken steps to stop saucy lads’ mags covers being on show on its shelves, while campaigns like Child Eyes and No More Page 3 are gathering momentum and have had a great impact over the last year or so.

So why am I telling you all this? Well firstly Steve is out of the country so he can’t stop me giving credit where it’s due! But I also want you to support him in a tangible way. Perhaps you can do one or more of the following:
  1. Pray. If you’re the praying type, pray for Steve while he’s away that he will be safe and that altitude sickness won’t stop him from getting to the top. And if you’re not the praying type, now’s a great time to start!
  2. Encourage him. I’m not sure how much internet access he’ll get while he’s there, but Steve loves his gadgets so I’m sure he’ll find a way of reading your posts and messages if you send them. It would be great for him to know that we’re thinking of him and supporting him (even if it’s from the comfort of our sofas!).
  3. Sponsor him. At the time of writing, Steve has raised £2616.25, which is tremendous. But this is still a little shy of his £3,500 target. It’s not just a case of him reaching the target though, it’s about supporting Compassion and the fantastic work the charity does.
  4. Sponsor a child. If you don’t already sponsor a child, this is a great thing to do. You could change a child’s current situation and entire future by doing so, as well as becoming involved in that child’s life and being able to help and encourage him or her. Compassion helps children in 26 countries and needs all the support you can give. To sponsor a child with Compassion, visit or call 01932 836490.
  5. Subscribe to Sorted. Steve has established an excellent magazine and doesn’t even take a salary from it, despite the time and effort that goes into it. He sends free copies to people in the armed forces, prisons and plenty of other places. And this magazine provides a valuable alternative to the typical lads’ mags out there. Slowly but surely people are moving away from the seedier magazines and Sorted has a part to play here. If you’re already a subscriber, spread the word! Visit your local WH Smith and make sure it’s on display. If not, ask if they will consider stocking it. The more people that ask the better.
Thanks for all your support!

Thursday, 16 January 2014

What does it mean to be a man?

A friend of mine is pumping iron at the gym as I write this blog. He’s got it into his head that he needs to muscle up for the ladies. 

When I said that not all girls (myself included) are big on muscles, he replied that while they might not think they like them physically, every member of the ‘fairer sex’ equates muscles with protective masculinity, and what woman doesn’t want to be protected?

I didn’t know how to respond to this as, while patronising, there may be an element of truth in it. So while he was building biceps, I lifted my heavy laptop onto my lap and researched what it is to be a man in 2014. I have to say it made for very interesting reading.

According to Theo Marz at The Telegraph, men are becoming more feminine in their habits and hobbies. Knitting, for example, is gaining popularity among men. Marz writes:

Gerrard Allt had been smoking for around 20 years and was getting through a packet of cigarettes a day when a housemate introduced him to knitting. “It gave me something else to do with my hands,” says the softly-spoken Scouser, now in his 40s. “Before that I’d tried quitting, but I was going cold turkey and just wanted to eat all the time. Knitting calmed me down…”

“…It’s a question of how you see yourself, and how confident you feel in your masculinity. My masculinity can handle a bit of knitting – and I’m sure plenty of other guys’ can too.”

Next I saw an article featured in my least favourite tabloid, but on this occasion I couldn’t resist taking a peak. It was about a new Japanese range of silky, lacy underwear for men. Made by Wish Room, the range features feminine men’s bras and panties. And no, this is not an early April Fool’s joke.

According to the executive director Akiko Okunomiya: “More and more men are becoming interested in bras. Since we launched the men's bra, we've been getting feedback from customers saying, ‘Wow, we'd been waiting for this for such a long time’.”

Australian brand Homme Mystere is also getting in on the action. Its range of lacy thongs, camisoles and padded bras (marketed under names such as Moulin Rouge and Jungle Fever) have met with high demand.

Once I had stopped giggling like a teenager (apologies if you are into the undies), I stumbled upon a thought-provoking article in The Huffington Post. Entitled: “Real Men Talk About Their Feelings - For Real”, Josh Rivedal explains that: “Men are willing to talk about the size of their prostate glands, or how much Viagra they're allowed to take, but they're still not willing to be open about their mental health.

“If men want to live long, healthy and productive lives it's absolutely crucial that the dialogue surrounding men's mental health has to change.”

Men’s reluctance to talk about their problems and hurts can lead to a range of problems and even premature death, with male suicide rates far exceeding those of females. Having considered suicide himself, Rivedal understands the dilemma so many men face.
However, he reassuring writes: “As a man who has suffered from clinical depression, I can say from personal experience that this is not a character flaw or a weakness. It doesn't make you any less of a man.

“In fact, by asking for help it makes you a stronger man. It gives you a fighting chance to improve your life and become the person you want to be. Reach out to your family and friends and ask for help. Nip it in the bud before it can turn into a crisis.”

I came to the conclusion that being a man is a very complex state of affairs. Should men be watching Downton Abbey in their frilly thongs, knitting needles raised, or watching the match with their mates, pint in hand? Should men be the strong, protective type or the kind that aren’t afraid to admit defeat, talk about their feelings and seek help? (I would certainly recommend the latter.)

It seems there is a lot of pressure on men to be all things to all people: the breadwinner, the brawn, the gentle lover, the comedian, the father, the mate. And everyone has their own ideas about what it means to be a man.

The Bible contains plenty of examples of manhood, good and bad. Apart from Jesus, every one of these men was flawed. Some liked a drop too much of the amber nectar, others stole, lied and killed. Still others liked to wear silky drawers… Ok, that’s not in there, but you never know.

The Bible is a great place to start if you want to know what real men are like, because it describes the journeys of ordinary men who made mistakes and overcame them, and of one extraordinary man who made no mistakes but paid for all of ours.

If you aren’t quite ready for the Bible yet, Sorted magazine is another place to read about men who are exploring the concept of masculinity as they journey through life themselves. We don’t have a knitting column (yet), but we discuss all things male, from business to politics to sex. Our hope is that it challenges and inspires you as well as providing quality entertainment and making you laugh.

Click here to buy your copy of Sorted magazine today.

Thursday, 2 January 2014

What’s new for you in 2014?

On Boxing Day I received an email about getting fit in the New Year. I immediately put down my huge turkey and stuffing sandwich and deleted the message before it got to me and stopped me enjoying the last few days of overindulgence. At least wait until after New Year’s Eve to make me ‘lose the mince pies’, I thought to myself.

But with Christmas well and truly over, it seems toning up and saving up are the nation’s top priorities for 2014. According to, around half of us will try to get fit, eat more healthily or lose weight this year, while a third of us will endeavour to sort out our finances.

Other priorities include:

·         Taking up a new sport or hobby (27%)
·         Spending more time with family/friends (26%)
·         Finding a new job (25%)
·         Reducing or quitting smoking (22%)
·         Cutting down on or cutting out alcohol (17%)

Claire Peate,’s customer insight manager, said: “For many of us, a new year represents a fresh start; a time to think about things we want to achieve or behaviour we want to change. But despite beginning the year with good intentions, our survey suggests that most people fail to keep their resolutions.”

I guess that’s not what you really want to hear if you’ve made grand plans to set the world (or at least your world) to rights this year. But while you think about what you want to give up or take up, it’s worth thinking about how you’re going to see your resolutions through this year.

Who are you going to hang around with more and what books are you going to read to get inspiration and keep you focused? What can you stop doing that will make it easier to avoid temptation in a few weeks’ time?

Whatever your aims are for 2014, the key is to prepare well and to start now. And if you do have any relapses, don’t give up! Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and try again. Statistics show that the more times you try, the more likely you are to eventually succeed.

We’d love to hear what your New Year’s resolutions are in the comments below. And if you are planning on making some changes, Sorted may be able to help. We are currently working on our March-April edition and it’s packed full of useful tips on fitness, finance and a wide range of other issues.

Wishing you all a very Happy New Year!