Caitlin Moran used drinking and smoking to combat ‘massive social anxiety’

Caitlin Moran has said she used drinking and smoking to manage her “massive social anxiety” as a young woman.

But the author and journalist, whose semi-autobiographical novel How To Build A Girl has been adapted into a film, said she was no longer a “problematic” drinker.

She recalled apologising to Jimmy Carr and Jonathan Ross by email after embarrassing herself at their parties while drunk.

<figcaption class='imgFCap'>Jimmy Carr (Peter Byrne/PA)</figcaption>
Jimmy Carr (Peter Byrne/PA)

Writing in The Big Issue’s Letter To My Younger Self section, she said: “I had massive social anxiety due to being raised at home and never talking to anybody.

“I wish I could go back to the earliest point where I started socialising and tell myself I didn’t need to drink and smoke in order to talk to other people.

“I’m a lightweight so I’ve been to amazing celebrity parties going around talking to all my heroes and I’ve just been the twat that fell over backwards into a hedge.

“And then sent an email to Jimmy Carr or Jonathan Ross the next day going, I’m so sorry.

“I haven’t been invited back since so I just want to tell them I’m not a problematic drinker anymore, I’ve cured my social anxiety.”

<figcaption class='imgFCap'>Beanie Feldstein starring in How To Build A Girl (Lionsgate/PA)</figcaption>
Beanie Feldstein starring in How To Build A Girl (Lionsgate/PA)

Reflecting on her younger self, she said: “I don’t think my 16-year-old self would be very surprised by anything that’s happened to me.

“I absolutely have lived the life I presumed I would when I was 16.

“When I read the novels of Jilly Cooper, and she described to me what a middle-class life was like, I was like, ‘I want that’.

“I’ve always had really gigantic dreams so I absolutely imagined a future of film premieres and books being published.”

Moran, who has been in a relationship with her husband, rock critic Peter Paphides, since she was 19, said she didn’t need to drink or smoke to feel comfortable around him.

She said: “When I met Pete, because he wasn’t a dangerous f****ed-up dark boy I just presumed he was a mate.

“I knew I felt more comfortable around him than anyone else. I didn’t have to pretend to be anyone, I didn’t have to drink or smoke.”

Beanie Feldstein stars in How To Build A Girl as Johanna Morrigan, a 16-year-old extrovert from the outskirts of Wolverhampton who yearns to make a name for herself and answers an advert seeking “hip young gunslinger” journalists for a cool London music magazine.

Read the full story in The Big Issue in print after vendors returned to work following lockdown, or by subscribing online at or downloading the app.