Leah Moore: John Waters was the man who taught me to be a woman

English comic book writer Leah Moore explains how the cult film-maker 'enriched her soul'

“In the U.S. you have to be a deviant or die of boredom”, William S. Burroughs

In 1990, I was 12 years old. Everything is intense at that age. Everyone has films that shaped them. For me it was John Waters’ Hairspray set in 1960s segregation Baltimore, and Crybaby which pitted ‘Squares’ against ‘Drapes’. These films felt like they were made bespoke, to enrich my suddenly growing young soul. If you have a 12-year-old girl, show her these films. Waters dropped some science in amongst the kissing and camp:

Fat girls are valid, they’re cute, they look great in all kinds of clothes, and yes they get the cute boy.


The Big Issue magazine is a social enterprise, a business that reinvests its profits in helping others who are homeless, at risk of homelessness, or whose lives are blighted by poverty.

Being weird is valid, having a weird name, or a weird face, or weird parents is valid. Don’t try to be like other people. Find people you can feel like yourself with. Keep those people.

Being a person of colour is valid, being an ally to POC is vital, people who do not think this are the wrong people.

Rich people are not necessarily good people. Beautiful people are not necessarily good people. Popular people are not necessarily good people. Once you reject these as ideals, you are suddenly free to pursue your own.

Being weird is valid, having a weird name, or a weird face, or weird parents is valid

What is best in life? Capri pants, a leather jacket, and a metric ton of eyeliner.

Dancing with your friends is the best way to fight the heaviness the world puts upon you.

Being pregnant is valid, even if you are single. Having kids with different fathers is valid. Your children are not validated by their father and neither are you.

People in prison are valid. Making different choices does not make them Not People.

The people in charge do not always have your best interests at heart.

Leah Moore.

When people are most angry, it’s probably because they are frightened.

Being poor is valid. Love and support are free to give. A wealthy family can be just as dysfunctional as a poor one. If your family has got your back, they are Good People.

Feeling valid is the most powerful thing in the world. Once you realise you are valid, there is nothing you cannot do. Put on a sassy face, look them right in the eye and DO IT LIKE A BOSS.

If you don’t have a twelve-year-old girl, watch them yourself. It’s never too late to learn.