Thursday, March 31, 2011

Beauty exchange

A survey of female students aged 18 to 65 at British universities found that 30 % of the 320 women would be willing to die younger in exchange for the ‘ideal’ figure. The vast majority of the students were within the normal weight range.

16 % said they would swap one year of their life for their ideal body and 10 % were willing to trade between two and five years.
2 % were willing to forego up to a decade, and 1% said they'd give up at least 21 years in exchange for being thin.

Other things the students were prepared to give up in the pursuit of beauty included:

13 % would take a £5,000 cut in salary
8 % would  forego a promotion at work
9 % their friends
7 % would give up their health to achieve their ideal shape.
7 % would give up spending time with their family
6 % would give up getting a first in  their degree

 Dr Phillippa Diedrichs, an eating disorder expert from the University of  West of England commented,  "This really highlights how important appearance is for women.  Unfortunately,  body weight and shape is seen as not only an indicator of how beautiful they are;  it's also often a marker of success in their life".


Monday, March 28, 2011

My Beautiful Friends

Next time you have a 'feeling ugly day' take a few minutes to remember brave and inspirational people like Katie Piper. The public first became aware of Katie when she told her heartbreaking story (My Beautiful Face) of how her face was ruined in an acid attack.

Katie is back for a 4 part Channel 4 documentary 'My Beautiful Friends'.  The second episode will be aired tonight on Channel 4 at 9:00 pm.

The first programme looked at Katie's support network charity, which she created to help people come to terms with disfigurement. The charity also raises money for pioneering post-operative treatment. The first programme follows her as she organises the charities launch and recruits similarly disfigured ambassadors to support the cause.

The first of her ambassadors was 22-year-old Chantelle whose veins and arteries disorder (from birth)  has given her a bright red enlarged nose. In her childhood, it  was the catalyst of cruel bullying,   in more recent times it has become life-threatening.

 “With everything that’s going on with all the operations I don’t have a life at all, I don’t do anything, I don’t leave the house,” she said dejectedly.  “It’s like a cocoon and then when everything is done I’m going to come out like a butterfly and have loads of new clothes, new shoes, new things, just a new life. Get rid of the old me and start with a new me. I want to experience things and travel the world.”

Next we were introduced to 19 year old ballet student Adele who during her early teens suffered an epileptic fit in the shower. As a result she was left with serious burns across nearly half her upper body. After the accident, Adele chose to end her budding career,  because she didn't think she could achieve the levels of  “perfection” demanded by the ballet industry.

"I feel a lot of the time like I should be at the bottom of the heap," she said.

Verdict: Another poignant programme from Katie Piper.


Thursday, March 24, 2011

Body confidence test

Channel 4 have an online body confidence test. So far over 46,000 people around the UK have completed the test, and it is shaping up to be one of the biggest studies of body image in the UK. You can take the test online at:


Monday, March 21, 2011

Dieting makes you irritable

A study published in the Journal of Consumer Research has found that; "exerting self-control makes people more likely to behave aggressively toward others and people on diets are known to be irritable and quick to anger." 

For those of us who are experienced dieters, the fact that dieting is stressful and makes you irritable comes as no surprise.

Interestingly the authors concluded that, "public policy-makers need to be more aware of the potential negative emotions resulting from encouraging the public to exert more self control in daily choices". And that "a broader range of methods to foster positive behaviours toward long-term goals",  should be adopted.

Speaking personally,  I think self control is vital. Without it,  society at large will be faced with a lot more (and potentially bigger) problems than weight gain.


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Beauty in 1991 versus 2011

Allure magazine (US) recently surveyed 2,000 men and women. The researchers discovered that America’s ideas of what is considered beautiful have changed over two decades (last survey 1991).

While some things haven't changed e.g.  like beauty peaking during your 30s, other things have. Darker hair and skin, more prominent features and curves have replaced the stereotypical blue eyed, stick thin blond preference of the 1990's.


• 64 percent think women of mixed race represent the epitome of beauty.

• 70 percent of those who wish to change their skin colour wanted it to be darker.

• 74 percent of those surveyed believe that a curvier body type is more appealing now than it has been over the past 10 years.

Other changes are detailed below:


Friday, March 11, 2011

Body confidence

Last Friday, Lynne Featherstone, the equalities minister, addressed an international audience at the 'Endangered Species' conference. During her talk she stressed the importance of supporting positive body image initiatives. Lynne called for unity,  so that the factors which contribute to body confidence issues could be tackled.

She said: "Our television programmes, our magazines, our adverts are producing what they think we want to see and what they think that we will buy.  But if each and every member of the public who felt strongly about this issue were to make their voices heard the possibilities for change are huge.  If we work together, then we will herald in a sustainable and lasting change."

Lynne talked about the new advisory panel she convened last year comprising experts from government, healthcare and the fashion and beauty industry, seeking to provide a "joined up, co-ordinated push to tackle problems of body image".

The answers, she warned, lay in a cultural not legislative approach. "This isn't a legislative opportunity", she said. "It is about coalition building. As a minister I am uniquely placed to do this.....We need a cultural shift. Unfortunately a heavy-handed solution will not work."

Suzie Orbach, author of 'Fat is a Feminist Issue and more recently 'Bodies', also addressed the gathering. She stated, "It is not enough to change the practical, legislative aspects of the system. We really have to change consciousness."


Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Mind matters

Last month the Department of Health's Mental Health Strategy stated that it would be putting more than 400m into 'talking therapies' rather than drugs (almost 40 million Prozac - prescriptions were issued last year), to treat the million plus people who have mental health problems.

Studies show that undergoing counselling/psychotherapy is often more effective than pills when it comes to fixing the underlying causes of mental illness, because aims to alleviate psychological distress by retraining the mind to think more positively. Read Article


Monday, March 07, 2011


Over the past few weeks the word 'empathy' seemed to be jumping out at me from newspapers, magazines and TV.   It’s a word that took on huge importance during my counselling course.

Empathy is: The ability to understand and share the feelings of others.

From this definition you can see that empathy involves personal involvement. It requires the recognition of the thoughts, feelings and viewpoint of others. In an empathetic situation, a person will try to put themselves in the others shoes in a bid to understand, support and help them.

Showing empathy also means that you go about your daily life, being aware of how your actions can affect others. You therefore try to maximize the positives and minimise anything negative.

“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.”
–Atticus Finch - To Kill A Mockingbird.

Is mybodybeautiful and empathic site? We believe we are.

Our objective is to:
i. Bring body image and related subject matters into the spot light.
ii. Openly discuss and debate the issues arising from them,  taking note of all viewpoints.
iii. Increase public awareness, in the hope of bringing about positive change.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Women in business

During one of our weekly meeting, a colleague expressed her unhappiness at having to give up full time work to look after her two small children.   She graduated with a masters degree, but was now working part time in a role that didn’t allow her to use the skills she was trained in.

“I love my children", she said, "and I know it won’t be like this forever....”

She wasn’t the only one. Several women in the group lamented about i) the loss of a career/job ii) a necessary reduction in their work related status and iii) reduced working hours,  as they tried to balance work and family life.
Against this background, we learned today that Lord Sugar believes laws preventing a potential employer enquiring about a female interviewee's childcare arrangements are "counter-productive".

He went on to say that women should be "bold and upfront" and declare their status regarding children... "I for one", Alan Sugar added, "would be very impressed with a person who settled this matter at the outset, telling me how they're going to organise their life in order to do their job; how important the job is to them and what they're going to bring to the party....Such people would jump up in my estimation." To Alan Sugars credit he did also stated that he'd had the "good fortune" to employ a number of women in senior roles. "I have to say that I've found women in business to be very focused, determined and ambitious".

This is a difficult dilemma. I know that it's difficult for employers, particularly those who rely on a few employees performing key roles, when someone goes on extended leave.

It's seems that when it comes to having families, women are in a no win situation. If they tell their prospective bosses that they are planning to have children, they may jeopardise their chance of getting a job. Then, even if they do secure a job, they are more likely than their partners (statistically speaking) to be the one making compromises later on.