How GAP's women are redefining success and happiness

When you look at the research on mental health, consumption, advertising, climate change – it’s women who are hit the hardest. Research shows women are more likely to have mental health issues, they buy more, they’ll be most impacted by climate change… 

Thursday 8th March 2018 is International Women's Day, and we wanted to use the day to celebrate some of the inspirational women who work here at GAP. We asked 6 of the team to tell us how they avoid the pressures of social media and advertising, and asked them to define what success means to them. Here's what Sonja, Adriana, Cat, Clair, Rachel and Natasha had to say. 

Success has typically been defined by our status - by what we earn or own. What does success look like for you, or for women in general?

Sonja: To be happy and feel like the choices I make and the things I do in my day make something better for someone or something.

Adriana: Lots of women work in our sector, but there are fewer in leadership and senior management positions. I’m proud to work for an organisation that is led by incredible women. 

Cat: For me success for women would start with equality and be realised in a system where we all supported each other in everything we wanted to achieve, not one where we felt compared to each other constantly. 

Natasha: It looks like being surrounded by inspiring, interesting, caring people who make me laugh everyday! Career success is about feeling like I’m making a difference to a cause I care about and working with passionate people who are supportive but also inspire me to achieve more than I ever thought I could. 

Rachel: For me success and happiness are creative expression – I’m never happier than when I’m writing or performing poetry. I also think a huge part of your well-being is surrounding yourself with friends who bring light into your life. I’m very lucky with the friends I have, who make me feel loved and valued for who I am, not what I earn or what I own. The women in my life are a source of continual inspiration, strength and joy to me. 

In 2017, Instagram was rated as the worst social media platform for its impact on the mental health of young people. How do you avoid or ignore the pressures of social media?

Clair: I am a massive fan of social media, and have met some really good "real-life" friends through blogging, twitter and instagram. But I do see people getting affected by the pressure of social media. The way I manage this is to make sure that I there is never any pressure on myself to read everything, only follow people and accounts that I am genuinely interested in. I block hashtags and search terms that I am not interested in, and I make use of lists on different topics, so I can dip in and out of campaigns and issues when I am in the right mindspace for them. I also have great fun marking adverts that annoy me as "not relevant". I started getting loads of adverts about pregnancy tests, I marked those as "not relevant" and immediately started getting adverts about baby products. Marked those as irrelevant and then it was dating apps. Now I mostly get adverts about wool, and those make me much happier!

Sonja: If I start feeling irritable or listless on social media or catch myself thinking “if only I could” - I go and read something that will counteract the mindmelt and inspire me – National Geographic, the New Scientist etc.!

Natasha: I just remind myself that it’s all rubbish! Every second I spend worrying how I look, or focussing on products to buy is just a waste of life. It’s not that I never do this, but when I catch myself I remind myself there’s so many more interesting things to think about or do. There’s enough problems in the world to tackle, so worrying about how I look should never creep into my top 5 to think about!

Cat: I have created a social media space that boosts me, rather than makes me compare myself to others. Particularly on Instagram, for example I follow feminist blogs, climate activists, vegan food writers and inspirational places. The activists let me know that I’m part of a community who all want to achieve the same future and that makes working for those goals easier. Plus I get to hear of events that are happening so I can move this inspiration into real life connections.  I don’t follow celebrities and will unfollow people if their posts don’t contribute to the space I have created, recently I unfollowed a fitness account because I didn’t want to feel bad that I didn’t have rock hard abs.

Advertising can make us feel like we need the latest clothes, gadgets or accessories in order to be happy - something that Our Relationship with Stuff report found isn't true. How do you shop more mindfully (or not shop at all?!).

Sonja: Before I buy anything I go out of the shop (physically or if online then, leave the web page/put down my phone and take 5mins/make a cuppa) and think “do I really need it, what would I currently use/wear instead if I didn’t have it, is it the best quality/most ethical/environmental version of this product or am I being influenced by marketing/shiny things”. I also make sure I am not tired, hungry or tipsy when I make any buying decisions as I’ve noticed I am much more likely to buy things without thinking them through as above

Natasha: I try to mainly shop at 2nd hand shops these days and only buy things that I really love. I’m finding I’m actually buying better quality clothes this way – for example I just bought a beautiful cashmere Paul Smith jumper that I never could have afforded new. I do find it hard to resist nice make-up though! Obviously this can’t be bought 2nd hand so I at least try to go for cruelty free brands. 

Cat: I try and do all my clothes shopping in charity shops, so I know they’ve been loved before. I recently bought a wedding outfit from a charity shop. I like that you don’t see trends in charity shops, that means if I think something looks great I don’t worry about it being fashionable. I also like to shop by myself so I don’t feel pressured into buying or not buying things by other people’s opinions. 

Want to redefine success and set goals you can really achieve?

If you’re 18-30, living in London and earning at least £22k per year then you are eligible to take part in our exciting new (and totally free) Goals for Good course! All we ask in return is that you answer a few questionnaires for us as part of an exciting international research project called Goals for Good.

Designed by the world’s leading experts in motivation, wellbeing and goal setting, Goals for Good is a 3-session course that teaches you goal setting skills you can apply to your personal and professional life. Find out more and book onto a course at:


[1] Women are more likely than men to have a common mental health problem:

[2] 19% of women have a mental health condition compared to 12% of men: 

[3] Women spend more on clothing than men:  

[4] Women are more impacted by climate change: 

[5] Instagram 'worst for young mental health':