Why Ruby Wax is calling for a ban on the word “fine” this Red Nose Day


This Red Nose Day, Ruby Wax is teaming up with Walkers to end the stigma around saying how we feel — namely, using the word ‘fine,’ which Wax calls the real f*** word.

Every year in March, British celebrities come together for Red Nose Day, Comic Relief’s famous charity telethon in support of causes such as global poverty and mental wellness. 

This year on Red Nose Day, 18 March, comedian and mental health campaigner Ruby Wax has her own campaign: she wants us all to give up “the real f*** word”. And no, we’re not talking about that word; Wax is calling for a ban on the word “fine”.

A collaboration with Walkers, the campaign aims to end the stigma around talking about how we really feel. As a nation, we love to brush our feelings away with a simple, “I’m fine.” In fact, according to recent research, Brits use the phrase an average of 28 times a week. And yet, three in four Brits admit that often “I’m fine” is just a generic reply that they don’t really mean. It would seem the stiff upper lip stereotype is alive and well.

Wax and Walkers are using the campaign to challenge Brits to reflect on how they’re really feeling – and learn to discuss it more openly, too. “As a subject very close to my heart, I’m hoping that through this campaign and banning what is, in my opinion, the most offensive ‘F***’ word out there, we can open up the conversation surrounding mental wellbeing,” Wax says.

Of course, opening up is a lot easier said than done. Almost half of people admit that it’s easier to simply say, “I’m fine.” Plus, many people worry that giving an honest answer will create awkwardness and be seen as negative or a “mood killer”. And yet, the same study found that more than half of Brits really do want an honest answer when they ask the question “How are you?”

Speaking exclusively to Stylist, she explains why having open and honest conversations with our friends and family is so important, even if its hard at first. “When you’re with your friends and family and you know someone’s got something cooking in their mind, it’s a great chance to try and help them open up,” she says. “You can do it with a sense of humour, too – I always start with something like, ‘What’s the weather condition like in your mind?’”

She continues: “Also, if you tell people how you’re really feeling, they’ll open up to you – but you actually have to look them in the eyes and show them you care about what they have to say.” 

Her campaign is encouraging people to have honest conversations that are filled with plenty of laughs. Instead of asking “How are you?” Wax has offered some alternatives that open up room for an honest answer – and maybe even spark some laughs:

  • Give me the weather condition inside your head
  • How’s life?
  • I’ll tell you how I am if you tell me – honestly
  • From 1-10. 10 being fine where are you?
  • Let’s cut out ‘fine’ and now tell me
  • If your life was in the news, what would be the headline right now?
  • Spill!

As for the ‘F***’ word, Wax has some suggestions there, too:

  • The ‘f’ word is how I am
  • How long have you got?
  • Fine-ish
  • I’m whatever you’re feeling. So you tell me first
  • I’m cutting out ‘fine ‘ so you still want to know?
  • Screwed
  • Don’t ask! (In Joan Rivers style)
  • Honestly?

In addition to their support of Wax’s campaign, Walkers has also pledged a total of £2 million for Comic Relief by the end of 2022 to support mental wellbeing programmes. 

Wax’s campaign about the real f*** word serves as an important reminder: it’s OK not to be fine – and perhaps the best way to open up about it is to sprinkle in a little bit of humour. 

Red Nose Day, March 18th, is raising money to support a wide range of causes including support for Ukraine.

The telethon will stream on the BBC One and BBC iPlayer from 7pm.

Learn more about Red Nose Day 2022, donate to Comic Relief today.

Images: Getty

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