Thursday, April 26, 2012

Beyonce - World’s most beautiful woman

This lunchtime, while driving back from a meeting, I heard my local radio presenter say.

“Beyonce has been voted the world’s most beautiful woman”. He followed up this statement with the assertion. “No one can argue with that”!

Well, I am sure that there are many people who would ardently agree and many who would vehemently disagree.

Why? Well I know it a cliché, but beauty really is subjective.

To prove my point, look at People magazine’s top 10 beauties. I bet there are less than a handful of ours readers who would select the same 10 individuals. Taking it one step further, I’d put money on the fact that only one or two (if any), having selected the same 10 celebrities would order them identically.

Top 10:

1. Beyonce
2. Sofia Vergara 
3. Charlize Theron
4. Lily Collins (daughter of Phil Collins)
5. Madeleine Stowe
6. Christina Hendricks
7. Michelle Williams
8. Paula Patton
9. Miranda Lambert
10. Kate Middleton


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Dove’s Body Confidence Census 2012

The Dove’s Body Confidence Census 2012 (1,000 women) results have been published. It details what the respondents identified as the things that increased or decreased their body/appearance related confidence.
Negative feelings/confidence killers:
- 78 % wanted to see ‘real women' in beauty advertising, rather than celebrities and teens.
- 27 % of women admitted that the biggest pressure to be beautiful actually comes from themselves.
- 25% could not remember when they last received a compliment that made them feel beautiful.
- 19 % named society and 13% named the media next on as the greatest source of beauty related pressures. Another 5% pointed their finger at friends, family and partners.
- 13 % have the confidence to describe themselves as ‘attractive’.

Positive feelings/ confidence boosters:
- 72 % stated that being loved boosted their confidence the most.
- 53 % identified having a strong relationship or marriage.
- 50 % specified receiving compliments (unfortunately the number of compliments received reduced with age).
- 35% cited liking how they looked.
- 33% associated it with their level of fitness.
- 31% put it down to taking care of themselves.

25 to 29 year olds were the most assured about their looks.

The census suggests that the happiest and most confident women are those who are in a strong relationship and feel loved. This is not surprising; self worth/confidence is closely associated with how much a person feels accepted and valued by others.
It’s clear that the best way to reduce lack of confidence is for the media to show women other women who have bodies similar to themselves/other women they know (age and body size/shape). Again, no surprise; this would significantly reduce the disparity between what women see in the mirror and what they see in the media.


Friday, April 20, 2012

Vanity verses health & fitness

A survey commissioned by Cancer Research UK Race for Life, has found that 70% of the 2000 young women (aged18-24) questioned, acknowledged that they didn’t do the minimum recommend amount of exercise that is required to maintain long-term good health. This equates to 30 minutes of moderate physical activity five times a week.

Vanity (59%) was identified as the main culprit.

These women tended to avoid exercise in favour of inactivity, an act that could increase their rise of cancer (3,000 cancers each year), obesity and psychological illnesses.

The reason behind the unhealthy choices are:
- high heels (43 % were more likely to take the stairs if they were wearing low/sensible shoes).
- ruining their hair and makeup (16%)
- unflattering gym gear (14 %)

Jo Hemmings (behavioural psychologist) said: “These statistics show that there is a disturbing trend for young women to place a higher value on their physical appearance rather than on their long term health, yet these days there is no need to have to sacrifice the way you look in order to maintain your fitness”.


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Pinterest - Social media

The new social media rising star Pinterest (launched in 2010), where members pin and share photos, has taken action to stop dangerous harmful content e.g. 'thinspiration' images appearing on their site.

Pinterest joins Facebook and Tumblr, in the fight against content that could result in harm.

The new acceptance criteria for it’s 10 million users (and growing rapidly), prohibits the pinning of any image that 'creates a risk of harm, loss, physical or mental injury, emotional distress, death, disability, disfigurement, or physical or mental illness to yourself, to any other person, or to any animal.'

Pinterest early efforts to tackle dangerous messages that are detrimental to the health of its community e.g. 'pro-ana' supporters that share images of emaciated women and encourage extreme dieting is commendable.


Monday, April 16, 2012


On Friday Lady Gaga sent a tweet that flies in the face of her campaign to encourage other to abandon dieting in favour of loving themselves for who they are.

She twitted “Just killed back to back spin classes. Eating a salad dreaming of a cheeseburger". She ended the message with the hash tag "#PopSingersDontEat".

Lady Gaga’s tweet may have been sent as nothing more than a playful joke. Whatever the original intention,  it has attracted a lot of criticism from her followers and has diluted the effect of her ‘Born This Way message’.

Follower replies included the following:

    “Dear @ladygaga, you just blatantly endorsed anorexia to over 22 million followers.”
    “@ladygaga pick a side... Do you want to promote beautiful and healthy kids,
     or anorexia?”
    “Huh? This is the same person who recently implored girls to stop dieting?”
    (the National Eating Disorders Association)

Lady Gaga has not replied (so far).


Thursday, April 12, 2012

Micro and mini beauty pageant

Would you let your baby, toddler or daughter enter a beauty pageant; in which she wears high heels, makeup, fake tan and a bikini?

In May, Miss Mini Princess UK, Britain's first baby beauty pageant (mimicking the US) will be held.

Pageant categories include:-
Baby Princess – Under 1
Tiny Princess – 1 Year olds
Little Princess – 2 and 3 year olds
Petite Princess – 4 – 6 year olds
Little Miss Princess – 7 – 10 year olds

Contestants will be judged on their physical attractiveness, talents including dancing and overall charisma when dressed in chic clothing.

Unsurprisingly, the contest attracted a good deal of controversy, not least because of fears that it will lead to the premature sexualisation of very young girls.

This concern is evidenced by Claude Knight's (director of the children’s charity Kidscape) comments on the issue. “I’m very concerned about this sort of contest for such young girls. Not only is there the ‘Lolita’ issue of little girls being sexualised, dressing as adults and not being aware of the sort of feelings this can provoke in others, but they are also too young to give informed consent".

With girls so young, we must look to the children's mothers, in order to learn the real reasons why the babies/girls are taking part. It's clear that the mothers are getting something, in all likelihood more, out of their daughter’s participation in the pageant, than the little girls themselves.

I don’t have a problem with little girls dressing up and role playing; it’s a normal part of growing up. However, I am concerned that these children are being taught that their value is closely connected to how they look and that society will judge them on that basis.

This is undoubtedly an unwise and potentially dangerous message to etch on their young minds. It could have harmful long-term consequences on their self worth.


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Comparing then and now

15 years after the release of the blockbuster Titanic, comes the 3D version and the expected comparisons of 'then' and 'now'.

Although there was no Kate Winslet and Leo DiCaprio reunion, the release of the 3D film, still had elements of a reunion. Reunions often give rise to mixed emotions. Alongside the excitement of meeting up with old friends and acquaintances, sits anxiety associated with comparing yourself to others.

Will I be less prosperous? Will I have achieved less professionally, have more failed relationships or have less accomplished children?

Then there is the touchy issue of physical appearance. Will I look older, fatter, less well dressed, have more gray hairs or less hair than my peers? The list is much longer than the few I’ve highlighted.

"We do look very different, we're older", said Kate in a recent ITV Daybreak interview about the new release. "Leo’s 37, I'm 36; we were 21 and 22 when we made that film."

"You know he's fatter now; I’m thinner". Almost as if realising that a comparison which is unflattering to her co-star Leo was inappropriate, she added a little defensively. “It’s true though!”

Commenting on her thoughts about their younger selves, she said. “I put my glasses on and I sat there all excited and then the second my face came on I was like, "Oh my God, make it stop, switch it off, somebody make it stop, turn the sound down, is that what we looked like? Oh my God, look what I looked like and look what Leo looks like!"


Friday, April 06, 2012

Do women hate beautiful women?

An article by the Daily Mail writer Samantha Brick titled, "Why women hate me for being so beautiful," has been the catalyst to much internet uproar, speculation and controversy.

The editorial resulted in a record number of public comments; most in hostile disagreement of the sentiments she expressed.

In a follow-up article Samantha stated: "The past 24 hours have been, to be blunt, among the most horrendous of my life."

In light of the enormous international public response, Samantha Brick when onto ITV 1's Good Morning to clarify her position.

"Do I think I'm good looking? Yes, I do. Is that a crime? she asked. The question underlined Samantha's belief that that she is hated simply because she is beautiful.

"Women do not like attractive women," she continued. "Neither me nor my friends have any problem with beauty, but we do not like arrogance. People mistake self-confidence for arrogance, but it's a fact that women can't stand beautiful women."

"This whole experience has proven my thesis", she added. "Women do not like attractive women. This is proven by the thousands of vile messages on my personal email account, on Twitter, and on my telephone answering machine."
Programme host Ruth Langford, commented. "It's not that we don't like beautiful women; it's that we don't like arrogant women."

In response, Samantha completely dismissed the possibility that her personality or attitude could play a role in how she was perceived by others. "People mistake self-confidence for arrogance", she said. "But it's a fact that women are not nice to one another. They all stab each other in the backs in my experience."

As in the case of the original article, This Morning was inundated with viewer comments.

'She's OK looking, but it's what's inside that counts,' said one. “It's much nicer to not say you're beautiful”, said another. Co host Eamonn Holmes adding that it was “better to let others discover your beauty than to tell them about it.”

Whether you are one of the outraged opposing majority or one of the few less vocal supporting minority, one thing is clear. There was nothing beautiful; on the contrary, there was something decidedly ugly about how the events unfolded.


Tuesday, April 03, 2012

The calories we eat

“I think I’ll have a milk shake”, said my daughter scanning the Pizza Hut menu. I thought nothing else about the statement and continued reading my own menu, in a bid to decide what I wanted. Moments later, I was startled out of contemplation by my daughters shocked screech.

“I’m not having that”, she said, “its 490 calories. That’s loads”!

After inspecting the calorific values of the food on the menu, I also decided to forego a calorie-ladened (557) Banoffee Cookie Dough. Looking down the menu, it was disconcerting to see how many calories the desserts contained. Without thinking, it would have been very easy for each of us (myself and 2 children) to consume in excess of 1000 calories.