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14 Feb 2021

10 Questions with @Lockdown_ LoveStories

As it's Love Month we just had to chat to the creator of Instagram-renowned Lockdown Love Stories, Philippa Found. Over the last year she's been collecting and publishing love stories from all over the world in a bid to normalize how we're all feeling. It's joyful, messy, tear-jerking and downright brilliant. We chatted to her about loneliness, her funniest date and why we're all dreaming about our exes.

1. Tell us about Lockdown Love Stories - how did it all start?

I’m an artist and writer and my work always focuses on articulating the messy reality of being a woman: desire, shame, power dynamics in relationships etc. I normally use autobiography as a way of subverting stereotypes or countering the ‘ideal’ narrative we’re sold. 

I’ve always believed one of the most radical, feminist things we can do in a culture that shames and silences our realities by perpetuating false ideals is to tell our true stories, to de-stigmatise them and empower others. 

When lockdown was announced I thought the shift in love and dating would be profound – I was picturing loneliness, heartache and longing – emotions that are uncomfortable for us to sit with. I read a statistic in Grazia magazine that Google searches for ‘Why am I dreaming of my ex?’ had increased by 2,460% in the four weeks following UK lockdown measures being announced. Collectively, I thought, something’s happening. 

I wanted to do something to document the reality of this time and in the process do something to contribute to countering loneliness and those feelings of isolation or shame and believed storytelling through sharing peoples’ true stories was the way to do that.

I read a statistic in Grazia magazine that Google searches for ‘Why am I dreaming of my ex?’ had increased by 2,460% in the four weeks following UK lockdown measures being announced.

So I built a website (www.lockdownlovestories.com) with the invitation for people to anonymously submit their stories of how lockdown had affected love for them – whether good or bad – and to publish them on the site. The idea was to create a platform and safe space where people could share their stories without shame and through reading about what others were going through, begin to see that what they were experiencing was not abnormal, wrong or shameful but rather a reality of this time. To normalize our experiences by revealing their commonality.

I launched the site in lockdown 1 and to date more than 750 stories have been published. When I launched in deep lockdown I considered how I was going to make people aware of this project. I thought there are only two places people can be in lockdown: their homes, or at the park: so I went to parks chalking the website URL on paths, and that’s how I gathered stories. But what started with a stick of chalk in London has spread through social media and submissions now come from all over the world.

2. How have you found the lockdowns? Has the project helped keep your spirits up?

The project has been my absolute lockdown lifeline. It’s given me focus, purpose and just absolute joy. It’s so rewarding as an artist/writer to actually hear from people about how your project has helped them. Every time I receive a message from someone telling me how cathartic it’s been for them to be able to write their story down, or from readers who have reached out to tell me that it’s really helping them through their own lockdown rollercoaster, it’s so heartwarming and gives me the energy to keep doing it.

What started with a stick of chalk in London has spread by social media and submissions now come from all over the world.

And beyond that, I’ve loved how many people I’ve (unexpectedly) met through this project. As an artist and writer I’m used to working at home, on my own, but conversely in lockdown – because one of the ways I gathered submissions was to chalk around parks everyday –people would stop me to chat about the project and I had so many fun, spontaneous interactions with strangers. That really kept me going.


3. Do you have any favourite stories so far?

So many I don’t even know where to start – or stop! Lockdown Lovers, Not Faking, Dick, The Cool Girl, It had Been Ten Years Since I Last Saw Her, Isle of Man, Normal People, Holding Hands in Melbourne, Unsent, Tangled Web, It was Always Meant to be You....I tend to have a particular fondness for the raw, painful stories. I just think there’s something so relatable about them and beautiful to get beneath the glossy PR version of how we present our lives and instead witness that messy, complicated, heartbreaking reality is a rare privilege.

4. Can you describe LLS with three emojis?

If I had to describe Lockdown Love Stories in 3 emojis it would be 💘 💔 💭

But in reality more like... 💘 💔 💭 👻 😱 🧠 💋 🔮 ✨ ⚡ 📞 💪🏽

5. What does self-love mean to you?

Putting yourself first. Investing the energy that you would on that partner / situationship / friendship and instead putting it into you. Celebrating yourself and appreciating and talking to yourself like you would your best friend.

6. Do you have a self-love routine?

Therapy!


7. Your stories don't just focus on romantic love but love in all of its forms. Is that something you wanted to make sure you showcased in the project?

Absolutely. I was interested in the effect of lockdown on love, not just romance and dating – that’s friendships, families, pets, as well as lovers. Love is so much bigger than just romantic love, and the dynamics of all those forms of loves are complicated and integral to us.

I tend to have a particular fondness for the raw, painful stories...to witness that messy, complicated, heartbreaking reality is a rare privilege.

8. Do you have any funny date stories yourself?

On one of my first dates with my now husband I burned my finger on a hot dish (over-eagerly grabbing the food bowl as soon as it was brought to the table). He told me to put my finger in my white wine which would counteract the effects of the burn. I believed him. He let me sit there like that for an hour before telling me he was joking. What an idiot.


9. Do you find getting dressed up a way of practising some self-love?

Yes, I think 99.9% of this pandemic I’ve spent in joggers or dungarees, and while it’s great to be comfy, this far into lockdown you can start to feel like a sloth. It’s nice to put on some glamorous clothes and embody another mood!

10. If you were to choose one Endless Wardrobe item to don for a day/night of truly F-E-E-L-I-N-G yourself, what would it be?

THIS. I mean, come on. It’s even in Lockdown Love Stories colours!

You can read more Lockdown Love Stories (or submit your own!) on Instagram @Lockdown_LoveStories or on the website.

What's next?