Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Super Human

On Sunday, I sat down with my husband and caught the end of Moonraker (James Bond film). In it, James Bond (Roger Moore) confronts billionaire industrialist Hugo Drax (Michael Lonsdale), who plans to murder the world's population so that he can repopulate the earth with a super-race.

Throughout the film I found myself laughing at the humorous dialog and ancient looking technology (1979), Paradoxically, I was also disturbed by the plot.

The term superhuman has been misused and abused thought history. It is usually used to elevate a few on genetic/physical grounds while eliminating, subjugating or ostracising the vast majority.

Today the beauty, diet, fashion, personal care and cosmetic surgery industries are broadcasting the message that if you buy their product, service or undergo a procedure / surgery that 'you too' can become 'super human' in appearance. i.e. achieve the impossible.

Like Moonraker, the advertising/media message is nothing but fiction.


Friday, August 27, 2010

Weight loss surgery

The British Medical Journal has reported that over the last decade, there has been a tenfold increase in the number of people undergoing NHS funded surgery to help them lose weight. e.g. Gastric bands and bypasses rose from an annual 238 to more than 2,543 in 2007.

Gastric banding works by reducing the size of the stomach with a band fitted around it, whereas a gastric bypass reroutes food to a small stomach pouch created by surgeons. Both facilitate weight loss by restricting the amount of nutrients absorbed by the body.

The researchers concluded, “In conjunction with the growing level of obesity, as patients become more aware of surgery as a viable treatment option, demand for surgery among morbidly obese patients increases.”

Shouldn't surgery be viewed a last resort.  when all else has been tried and failed? 


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Snap judgements

Have you ever dared to ask a child "does my bum look big in this" or something similar? If you have, did you receive an honest response, as children are prone to give e.g. "no offense, but yes it does".

Knowing from experience how honest my own children can be, I'm sure some of the responses would make me laugh. However, there is a more serious consequence of asking this question. It encourages them to look at you, themselves and others and make judgements that are purely based on appearance.

Making snap judgements based on appearance has become the norm. Overweight people are perceived as lazy, attractive people as vain, young black males as thugs etc.  Added to the mix is the fact that attractive people are often viewed as good, happy, healthy and successful. The logical extension to this viewpoint is that everyone else is bad, sad, unhealthy and a failure.  As we go about our daily lives, we all look at people and sum them up in an instant.

Pick up any girls or teen magazine and you will not have to thumb through many pages before you find letters voicing concerns about perceived physical defects e.g. nose shape, breast size, weight etc.

The next time you are in the presence of children and feel tempted to make a negative comment about yourself or someone else, pause and think about the wise saying, "if you can't say something good, say nothing."

In addition, if you hear something negative from a child e.g. "my thighs are fat", why not put a positive spin on the feature they are focucssed on like "your legs are strong, healthy and do a wonderful job. Just think how much harder life would be without healthy legs".


Monday, August 23, 2010

Allergic to rain

The next time you look :

    - in the mirror and recoil at the fact that yet another wrinkle has appeared overnight or

    - down at the readout on your bathroom scales and grimaced or

    - at your hair in exasperation, because it is experiencing yet another 'bad hair day',

count yourself lucky!

Things could be a lot worse;  like they are for Yvonne Simon dubbed 'the most allergic woman in Britain'

Yvonne is allergic to a multitude of things including deodorant, perfume, paint, fizzy drinks, minerals in bottled spring water, chocolate, onions, car fumes, hydrocortisone cream, nuts, bleach, fish, tea, coffee, oranges, tomatoes, latex, talc, newsprint dye, coins, banknotes, pasta, sunflower oil, dairy products, wheat, bread products, white rice, porridge, white sugar, sweets, cigarette smoke, nickel, gold, silver, food colourings, sulphates, calcium chloride and rainwater.

Read more: thesun.co.uk

We wish Yvonne a speedily recovery and hope everyone will learn to appreciate and celebrate life and health.


Friday, August 20, 2010

Growing awareness

It is really good to see the number of programs, books, articles and discussions about the issue of body confidence ballooning.

Notable personalities include Susie Orbach, Erin O'Connor, Debra Bourne and Gok Wan. Caryn Franklin's 'All Walks Beyond the Catwalk ' and Girl Guides 'airbrushing' number among the well publicised campaigns.

It all evidences the growing awareness of the problems that body confidence issues can cause or exacerbate. The topical subject of eating disorders are often in the news. A less news worthy, but affecting far greater numbers is the problem of low body confidence.  Here individuals are negatively affected by the constant pressure to look unnaturally (impossible to attain) perfect. It impinges on both sexes and spans many age groups.

The more the issue is openly discussed, the easier it will be to bring about real and lasting change for the better.


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

NHS austerity

Visions of Britain 2020, a new health report is urging the government to reduce the amount of free treatments the NHS provides and to penalise unhealthy citizens who do not change their lifestyle.

The report commissioned by Friends Provident and the Future Foundation is raising the alarm, because it argues, the NHS cannot continue along it's current financial path and remain viable in the long term.

The survey of 1,000 consumers anticipates that by the end of the next decade, treatments like IVF, fertility, dental, drug, obesity and dementia treatments will not be offered free of cost.

“We all know that we should follow a healthy low-fat diet. " said Dr Sarah Brewer, one of the reports authors. She continued, "eat at least five (portions of fruit and vegetables) a day etc. But how many actually do anything about it? Unless an unhealthy diet and lifestyle is penalized in some way no-one will change”,

It is clear that we all need to start making healthy choices now. Those of us who don't will find the NHS austerity much harder to handle.


Saturday, August 14, 2010

Body Confidence

The beauty and fashion industries have both been on the receiving end of very negative publicity recently. Both industries, it as been argued, are guilty of promoting an unrealistic body image to both females and males.

Read article.


Thursday, August 12, 2010

Natural versus chemical

'Natural', seems to be the word that causes products to fly off the shelves; whether its food, drink, cosmetics, clothing, furniture .... In this blog we'll take a look at the organic (natural) cosmetics market; a market that grew by a third to £36 million last year.

The general belief seems to be that natural is good and healthy, while chemical or synthetic is bad and unhealthy. This viewpoint is the goose that laid the golden egg for the organic cosmetics industry. It so infuriated the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) that it has offered one million pounds to the organisation/person who can prove that their product is chemical-free. RSC are very sure that their money is safe, stating, "natural and synthetic chemicals are essential for life as we know it".

So all organic products have chemicals in them, how then can companies claim that their product is 95% (or more) 'natural'. They can do so, because the constituent products have been derived from natural products i.e. they have not been created in a laboratory.

The real crux of the matter is not whether or not a product is natural, but whether or not it is safe to use on your skin. Here we can take comfort from the fact that stringent regulation and testing will keep the most of the bad stuff off the shelves.


Monday, August 09, 2010

Going grey versus going bald

A new consumer survey by Mintel, published in the Telegraph,  has found that men in Britain are more concerned about going grey than going bald. 50% of the 2000 men questioned confessed to being unhappy about going grey.

Going bald was second on the list, with 40% of men worrying about thinning hair or hair loss. Unwanted hair in the ears and nose (38%) took third place, while being overweight was an issue for 37% of men.

In men, having grey hair is often seen as a distinguishing feature, yet for men themselves, it appears to be much less so. “The physical changes associated with aging can act as a catalyst to mid-life crisis,” says Vivienne Rudd, Mintel’s head of beauty research. She notes that their research indicates that “men become less content with their appearance after the age of 45.”

The fear of aging rises it's inescapable head again ....


Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Girlguiding UK and airbrushing

 Girlguiding UK. has today launched a new campaign calling on the Government to introduce compulsory labelling to distinguish between airbrushed and natural images in order to ‘shape a generation of self-confident girls and young women.

The petition, which at their Fusion event today and online tomorrow,  follows on from Girlguiding UK’s 2009 research, the Girls Attitudes Survey. This survey demonstrated that 50 per cent of 16-21 year old girls would consider having surgery to change the way they look and 42 per cent of 11 to 16 year olds admitting to watching what they ate or cutting down on certain foods to excess.

The Advertising Standards Authority has said it is aware of people's concerns but that the use of airbrushing and other post-production techniques in all media was an accepted creative practice.  It added it would "act where necessary to have problem ads withdrawn; noting that it had only receives a small handful of complaints about airbrushing in ads.

Liz Burnley, of Girlguiding UK, said: "We know how profoundly they feel the pressure to conform to a particular body image and how badly they can be affected by these unobtainable ideals.... We are proud to support the calls of our members who believe that it is time that the Prime Minister addressed their concerns and acted in the interests of girls and young women across the country."

In connection, last week the Government said it intended to push for health warnings ( a Kitemark) on airbrushed images in adverts in an attempt to promote body confidence. 

This is a step in the right direction.  Hopefully it will lead to action (rather than more talk).


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