THAT FUCKING TAG I AM LITERALLY FUCKING DONE GUYS. DONE.
Tom Hiddleston writes an exclusive diary entry for Bazaar on Live Below The Line
On Sunday 7th April through to Thursday 11th April 2013, the actor Tom Hiddleston spent five days living on food and drink, which cost less than £1 per day. He did this in support of the initiative, Live Below The Line, which launched this week, and which aims to raise money for charities including UNICEF UK. In particular it aims to help people gain a deeper understanding of the circumstances of the men, women and children who have to survive on £1 a day – every single day. Tom has written an exclusive account about that week, for Bazaar UK – here are his memories of the challenges and his thoughts from that week
“I took on the challenge of living on £1 a day out of compassion and a desire to understand the constraints and conditions of those less fortunate, who don’t have a choice. For me it was about voluntarily experiencing even the smallest fraction of the hunger, as well as the discipline required, to subsist on such a small amount. The world’s poorest families, all over the world, face such malnutrition that their growth and development is held back.
Here’s the thing. I haven’t really ever lived below the line - not below the poverty line. I still live in a nice house in London, with running water and a roof over my head, with gas and electricity. Clean drinking water comes rushing out of the kitchen tap. My surroundings are still comfortable. But the children who live below the poverty line have none of these things.
Conversely, I live a very active, very blessed life. It wasn’t always thus: everyone starts at the bottom. I have worked hard since I left school to get to where I am now. But even that statement alone is a declaration of good fortune. My parents had sufficient income, not only to feed me regularly and to feed me well, but also to send me to good schools. To state the obvious: education is power. It always has been; it always will be. I’ve been very, very lucky. It has given me an emotional and physical strength, which anyone who has lived below the line, for a long time, doesn’t have.
Most of us are physically active. I am propelled through my life by an unceasing supply of energy: three square meals of nutritious food (eggs, oats, meat, fish), but also coffee, tea, bananas, smoothies, organic vegetables, fresh fruit, chocolate, biscuits. If ever I feel drained there is always energy within easy reach. Like most people, I rush about. I dash in and out of town for meetings. I’m on the move all the time. When I am working as an actor, it is first and foremost a physical act, on stage or on set. I was lucky, that when I took this challenge on, I wasn’t doing physical action, stunts and battle sequences.
Live Below The Line made me think about food in an entirely different way. I had to plan better, to budget better. I didn’t waste a penny, or a crumb. It was a test of mind and will power. It was a test, simply because I am unused to being hungry. In order to stay within my budget I had to think carefully, and pay more attention when cooking my own meals. I had to cook my own meals and not buy food on the go. When you only have a 1 kg bag of rice, you take care not to burn it. When you only have two eggs per day, you take care to cook them right.
I enjoyed cooking during my Live Below The Line week more than I ever have. I enjoyed the meals I made for myself, more than I enjoy the food I would normally buy on the go – a coffee, a sandwich, lunch at a café, or a take-away.
Through this challenge I learned the importance of preparing food carefully. I learned to be grateful for every single mouthful. I understood how wasteful I used to be.
I realised that I have an addiction to caffeine and coffee. For most of the morning on the first few days I found it very hard to concentrate on simple tasks, without a cup of coffee. This won’t come as news to anyone who has ever tried to go cold turkey - and to stop taking a substance they are addicted to. But after a few days, my head cleared, and I found a more sustainable equilibrium.
More than anything, I learned that I could not live the life that I have, if I were hungry all the time. Some say that hunger strengthens the will, keeps you sharp. Steve Jobs once said: “stay hungry”. But that great innovator was speaking metaphorically in the language of creative ambition. In his field, he’s absolutely right. Real hunger, however, kills the spirit. More than that, it is still one of the world’s biggest killers of children in the developing world. Every 15 seconds, a child somewhere in the world dies because they can’t get enough food to eat. This is the truth about Hunger. UNICEF is committed to eradicating this tragedy from the face of the earth.
I’ve seen the difference UNICEF can do first-hand, at every level of care for malnourished children, in Guinea in West Africa. I undertook the Live Below The Line challenge to raise awareness and support UNICEF in their commitment to save the lives of the poorest children in the world.
Ultimately Live Below The Line has taught me gratitude, on a level far beyond the intellectual. This week, if you have done the same, you have my greatest respect”.
Please visit livebelowtheline.co.uk/unicef to pledge your support.
ROLLED-UP SHIRT SLEEVES
CASUALLY UNBUTTONED COLAR
THIS IS THE BEST OUTFIT ANY MAN EVER COULD WEAR EVER. Everyone should wear it every day. Then my ovaries literally will explode.
this man s breathtaking!
I didn’t think I would want to comment on this sort of thinking, but I’m going to, just once.
There are those criticizing Tom as “playing poor.” They say the only way he would know how others feel is if he had lived that way his whole life, or if he straight up gave up all of his material possessions including heating/AC, nice clothes, and the roof over his head. Even then, they seem to think that there is no way someone who isn’t in the position of the poor could understand. This thinking is flawed in so, so many ways. If that were true, no one could ever empathize with another person who isn’t from the exact same background, socially or otherwise, which is so clearly not the case that I don’t even feel the need to explicate it.
As someone who has been fed on foodstamps, close to homeless numerous times and has many friends who have been both homeless and hungry, I personally doubt most severely underprivileged people really care how they get help. All they see is the aid. Does it really matter to them how it came? Who provided it or why? No. Someone actually in need would never say “some privileged celebrity helped feed me”; they would say “someone helped feed me and thanks to them I can live a little better than I would otherwise.”
True, it’s possible they could be bitter on some level that someone might have more than them, especially someone who is famous. They could very well think, on dark days, “if you care so much why don’t you give up your designer clothes” or something. Okay.
However. Tom Hiddleston is an actor. He acts for a living. It is how he earns money. An actor without the proper wardrobe to attend special events and the like, one who can’t dress for respective occasions or has a reputation for being unpleasant, is not very well-received in the acting world as a whole. How many times have you seen someone reamed for their clothing choices, and often just ignored? It’s up to Tom (and his stylists, and Luke, and whoever else) to present well, to basically wrap up in a nice bow with a tag that says “Hey! I’m a pretty swell guy, and I sure do clean up nicely! Don’t you want me in your next movie?” If he doesn’t have the look and the overall demeanor, he may not get the job. That’s just a fact. You wouldn’t berate a wealthy computer software programmer for having a really amazingly powerful machine at home. That’s expected for his career. In the same way, you shouldn’t hold Tom to the same standards as people without elevated status. (Especially since his home and personal wardrobe both seem relatively modest, and he seems to take public transportation regularly. This is not someone with a luxurious 20-room mansion, ten cars, and servants, people!)
People seem to want him to feel bad for doing well in life yet still caring. This is such non-logic that I really, truly wonder if these same people would tell that to Bill Gates, who gives significant amounts of his income to charity but is known for his technological advances instead of his acting talent/looks/whatever it is that’s making people feel such disdain for Tom. It’s like saying to them, “you don’t count because you’re famous.” What ludicrous nonsense.
EVERY PERSON COUNTS. IT DOES NOT MATTER WHAT THEIR STANDING IN LIFE MAY BE, IT MATTERS WHAT THEY DO.
Thanks to Tom, people who might never even be aware of Unicef and the situations in Guinea or otherwise are actually taking action to make the world better. Hiddlestoners Have Heart alone has raised £31165 for charity. Isn’t that in itself an amazing thing?! Children will be fed! Teenaged Hiddlestoners are actually trying to understand their world a little better instead of taking everything for granted! That’s what this whole thing is about—appreciating what you have, and realizing other people don’t have that. Any step towards understanding, and ultimately bettering, the state of your fellow humankind is a good one, however minuscule.
And you know what? Guess what, everyone? Tom is not perfect. He is not some saint sent from a benevolent higher deity to meet the increasingly-higher standards set by his fans (or nosy faux social justice naysayers). He has his own belief system that may or may not clash with your own. Gasp! Personally, I don’t actually entirely agree with Unicef as an organization. In the past, they’ve pushed for certain things I found, in a word, stupid.
But I also can’t deny that they do good work when it comes to fending off hunger and raising awareness for areas that require aid. I can’t deny that they make a difference in a world where more people are concerned about buying the newest model of iPhone than caring about each other. I am no exception. I could give more to charity, but man I sure would like to keep my internet connection. But then, here’s someone who wants to use his celebrity to stand for what he believes in, who is willing (AND ABLE, YES, OKAY) to “play poor” and share his experience in order to bring light to a dark subject, to better connect with those he wants to help, and he’s being raked across the coals. How is this sensible?
Can we please remember who this is we’re talking about? Is there any previous evidence to support the idea that he’s doing it “just for attention” or that he honestly thinks this is the EXACT SAME as being poor? There is, in fact, only evidence to the contrary, and I wish people would stop underestimating his intelligence, humility and general kindness. He’s doing whatever he feels is right. He reserves the right to make his own decisions, and to stand up for what causes he thinks are worthwhile.
Okay. I’m done. I hope this made sense. Sorry for the wall of text, but the kind of faux social justice type commentary people are tossing out just gets under my skin so much, and it’s been a long day.
this post deserves a proper standing ovation.
thank you for that comment! I agree with that statement completely *applauding you* :)
You know what annoys me? In the time it took people to harass Tom Hiddleston about this, they could have googled local charities to donate money too. OR They could have called their local soup kitchen to volunteer.
It really bothers me that we excoriate the rich/wealthy/fortunate/privileged for not understanding poverty and deprivation, but then they turn around and excoriate Hiddleston when he’s trying to make an effort TO understand.
You want him to learn but you criticize him for learning.
Not to mention that he’s doing it FOR. CHARITY.
So that other people can get food and stuff.
He’s HELPING. PEOPLE.
Which is more than people criticizing him are doing.
And btw I get to have an opinion because I grew up poor my entire life.