Friday, September 30, 2011

Obesity and isolation

An Australian study of 3,300 children, who were obese when aged 4 and 5 (13% of boys and 16% of girls), found that these children were 20% more likely to face relationship issues (with peers) by the time they were 8 or 9.

Parents and teachers reported that the group were constantly teased, rejected, on the receiving end of jokes and excluded from social activities e.g. birthday parties. Such treatments negatively impacted the overweight children's self esteem and often results in them becoming withdrawn.

The difficulties associated with the peer relationships of obese children were evident, even after the data was adjusted to incorporate factors that are known to affect social interaction, such as, a mother’s mental health and education, family income and ethnicity (language spoken at home). 

The current study reaffirms previous studies, involving older children and adolescents, which showed that overweight and obese individuals face greater stigmatisation, isolation and disconnection from social networks than normal weight peers.


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Thought provoking discussions

One of the best things about working for My Body Beautiful is that it gives us the opportunity to meet an array of teenage boys and girls. Each encounter, whether it’s with a small group or a large class of 30 pupils, enriches our understanding of what’s important to today’s teens. Not only the issues that affect them, but also how they see their role in society and how they perceive and respond to the unquestionable pressures that modern teens face.

Last week, during a year 11 Body Image workshop, I asked the group of girls what advice they would give to a girl suffering from body image issues (excerpt from a case study).

Most girls offered consoling words and advice about self acceptance, not unfavourably comparing herself with media images .... ...

Moving around, I stopped at another group and asked for their thoughts.

“I’d tell her to get a grip”, said an unequivocal voice. I looked at the solemn face and into a pair of sincere eyes and gently asked her to further explain her comment. “Well”, she replied thoughtfully. “She is allowing her self to wallow in self pity. She needs to get a grip”!

Her words immediately changed the mood of the workshop and a heated discussion ensued. The next few minutes were very stimulating, as the other pupils verbally supported or opposed her viewpoint.

When things had quietened down,  I responded to her words and said, “I can see why you say that … …”

At the end of the workshop, I felt both happy and privileged to have been involved in such thought provoking discussions; discussions that I hope will positively influence their lives.


Thursday, September 22, 2011

Naked protest

This week TV actresses/personalities Gillian Taylforth, Beverley Callard, Sherrie Hewsonand and Andrea McLean posed naked for a group photograph; in a bid to highlight the problems of ageism in television.  The picture and interviews are published in this week's Best magazine - Body Image issue.

Gillian, 56, insisted that she had found it increasingly harder to get work in television the older she gets.

“In TV, it’s OK for men to be 50 or 60, but for women it’s very difficult. Older actresses can feel put by the wayside,” she told the magazine.  "I left The Bill three years ago, and since then TV work has been harder to come by - it probably started in my late 40s,” she added.

Beverley, 54, concurred that the pressure has prevented her from enjoying getting older. “I’ve got less confident as I’ve got older, which is sad. I don’t feel comfortable in my own skin,” she said.  "Women my age face a lack of parts because writers don’t write about women in their 50s.
You used to confront ageism in your 50s, then it was in your 40s, now anyone over the age of 35 suffers the stigma of being ‘too old’,” she added.

Sherrie stated, "I'm very lucky. Loose Women is the only show that actually celebrates older women."

Andrea McLean, who at 41 is is the youngest member of the group said hat she was 'quite confident' when it came to her body.

Picture Here


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Business attire

A new study of 300 participants (Department of Psychology at the University of Hertfordshire) has found that what you wear on the bottom half of your business attire matters. Trouser suits, the current uniform of choice for many business women, is second best to a skirt suit.

Individuals taking part in the study were asked to rate 8 images of women dressed in navy trousers or skirts of the same fabric, according to confidence, success, trustworthiness, salary and flexibility (facial features were obscured). Their timed 3 seconds decision, rated women in skirts more positively than those wearing trouser suits.

The study concluded that skirts create a better first impression than trousers and are more likely to lead to professional and financial success.  The reason is that skirts, as opposed to trousers, give women an air of confidence. 

This finding is the antithesis of previous research that suggested it was important for women wishing to succeed in the workplace to dress more like men.

Unsurprisingly, the research also warns against wearing low necklines or micro-skirts to work, as provocative clothing  is seen as an indication of low professional status.


Friday, September 16, 2011

Cleanliness and feeling good

 A survey by SPA Future (market researchers)  has confirmed what we all knew, evidenced by the growth of male grooming products. The researchers found that 80% of the 1000 men surveyed used deodorant or body spray,  80% wash their hair with shampoo and 70% use shower gel.  

Interestedly, male grooming products were not primarily being used to attract a partner. Instead, the majority felt that cleanliness enabled them to feel good, self confident and added to their overall sense of achievement.

Looking a little closer at the details; younger men spend more on grooming than their father's generation. Among 18 to 34-year-olds the monthly bill was £14.60, compared with £10.50 for those between 55 and 64.

I assume the 20% who don't use deodorants, body spray, shampoo or shower gel are of the opinion that soap will suffice.


Monday, September 12, 2011

Making peace with your body

In Sonal Kalra’s blog (Hindustan Times) this week she states three new body image related resolutions:

1 "I will not ask anyone if I’m looking fat.

2 I will not let my self-esteem depend on my looks.

3 I will make peace with my body, just the way it is".

Making peace with your body is an excellent resolution.  From that moment, many positive mental and physical changes become possible.


Friday, September 09, 2011

Living without mirrors

Bad hair day? 28 year old Kjerstin Gruys wouldn't know. She is almost  halfway through her quest to spend an entire year, including Oct. 1 her wedding day, avoiding mirrors. 

"In my academic life I conduct research on the relationship between "beauty" and inequality. In my former (more glamorous, but less meaningful) life, I worked in the fashion industry. 6 months before my wedding, I decided I needed to go without mirrors... for a year".

Kjerstin has no current plans view her bridal reflection. However, readers of her blog have voted and concluded that she should allow herself this small concession on her big day.  She's still undecided.

Blog -  Mirror, Mirror... OFF The Wall documents her mirror-less journey.


Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Making informed choices

The government is backing a voluntary scheme aimed at encouraging eating outlets to print nutritional information on menus.  Andrew Lansley (Health Secretary) has taken the view that the problems of obesity and associated ill-health can be dealt with through voluntary industry measures and by ‘nudging’ families to change their behaviour. 

Lansley's arguments has been been rejected by health campaigners and doctors, who are adamant that government action is needed in order to force the food industry to introduce healthier food and drinks.

To date,  McDonald’s, Starbucks, Burger King, Pret A Manger, Harvester, KFC and Pizza Hut have signed up to the voluntary code. However,  Subway, Pizza Express, Domino’s Pizza, Nando’s, Caffè Nero and Costa have not yet joined the scheme.

Improving the ability of consumers to make informed choices is a step in the right direction. Whether consumers will choose healthier options, once informed, is another debate.


Monday, September 05, 2011

Perfectly Petite

We have often discussed the stereotypical portrayal of beauty in the media. The extract below is from an email we recently received.  It clearly illustrates how the media uses height as one of the selection criterias to determine which models are used.

Whether its weight, height, skin colour/tone, breast size ....  etc. It is clear that the public and females in particular are being fed 'ideal' images that unfairly misrepresent society at large; leaving many dissatisfied with their physical appearance.  Unjust selection also has an adverse effect on the careers of models who don't 'fit'.


I have been working in the modelling industry for almost 5 years now and I have experience numerous setbacks due to my height. Time and time again a taller skinny model has been selected opposed to myself. Also numerous modelling agencies list requirements for a model to be a minimum height of 5ft 8". Even though, the average woman in the UK is 5ft 4". It really annoys me as I feel that all women should be entitled to fashion and to feel confident with their bodies and not feel pressured into having to have a super skinny, tall and unhealthy image. I have gone down the route of promoting petite modelling due to the challenges with height, body shape and modelling that I have faced so far in the past 5 years. I have spoken to numerous photographers who don't have a problem with working with petite models. However, the fashion industry and agencies continue to demand tall skinny models, which pressures people into unhealthy habits. I am strongly against this.

I have created the group, Perfectly Petite in order to promote petite modelling and I aim to demonstrate that nobody should have to change their appearance, especially using drastically unhealthy measures in order to become a successful model. Not only does the "strict regulations" of the fashion industry cause unhealthy life choices, it also has a great emotional impact as well. I for one have found myself upset due to set backs regarding my height. I have met a number of other petite models in the industry who have similar views to myself. This accompanied with all of the above led me to creating Perfectly Petite. I have been contacting numerous magazines and so far I have had a good response, although some are a bit hesitant in publishing our story so far (due to the normal fashion industry regulations).....