Thursday, June 28, 2012

'How unexpected that this rapper would do this'


We have all heard the axiom, 'don’t judge a book by its cover'.

The saying was never truer than in last week’s The Graham Norton show.  In this case, a more accurate statement would be, ‘don’t judge a man by his race or profession.’

During the programme, actress Miriam Margoyles (71) said, without malice, to Will-i-am.

"I'm just fascinated by you ….because unfortunately, I don't know many black people, except in show business and that's what's so nice."

On hearing about Will-i-am’s £500,000 donation to the Princes Trust, Miriam,said in genuine admiration.

“Your absolutely right, you’ve done the right thing”. Placing an encouraging hand on Will-i-am’s knee she continued, “and everybody admires you for it… I think that’s fantastic… really. There are a lot of wealthy people who do very little".

Later after hearing that Will-i-am had raised 7 million dollars to create a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) school in the ghetto he grew up in, Mirriam responded.

“You’re fabulous, you really are… This is fantastic … this is fantastic. You're making a difference. He’s making a difference and that’s what we all want to do with our lives”.

Turning to Will-i-am she continued. “I am nearer death than you are believe me and I want to have made a difference. I haven’t got 7 million, but I agree with you education is key to the future and how unexpected that this rapper would do this. I don’t have a very positive attitude towards rappers. I don’t really know any, you’re the first one I’ve actually talked to”

Ignoring the surprised gasps from the studio audience, an unphased Will-i-am responded lightly, “I'm the first rapper and black guy you kicked it with… we need to kick it more”.

“Right-oh”, Miriam replied.

In response, Will-i-am collapsed with laugher and placed his head on her shoulder (picture).


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Eating disorders, fashion and magazines

The tragic death of 14 year old Fiona Geraghty, who hanged herself last year, has once again brought eating disorders sharply into focus.

In the aftermath of her death, family members, teachers , public officials and many others I’m sure, have been trying to identify the underlying cause(s) of her illness.

The verdict of last week’s inquest into Fiona’s death was recorded as misadventure.

During the inquest, her parents stated that she has suffered from bulimia; triggered by taunts about her weight at school. In response, her head teacher denied that Fiona had been a victim of bullying.

Coroner Michael Rose, pointed the finger of blame at the fashion industry and media (magazines). "The one class of person not here who I feel is directly responsible for what happened is the fashion industry,” he said, continuing.

"I know from my own experience that the problems of eating disorders among young people, particularly girls, did not exist before the 1970s. From that period onwards the fashion industry and the magazines promoted thin models and the thin figure”.

"I do ask, particularly the magazines in the fashion industry, to stop publishing photographs of wafer-thin girls. One magazine, I believe Vogue, has recently taken the decision not to do so. It is, I am afraid, an increasing problem and until they control themselves it will continue."

This case highlight individual perceptions of the role that peer pressure/bulling, magazines and the fashion industry might have played in Fiona’s illness and ultimate suicide.

Whatever the reasons behind Fiona’s decision to take her own life; it’s a sad and heartbreaking loss for her family and friends. We send them our condolences.


Friday, June 22, 2012

Body image parent pack

A free body image information pack (Media Smart), aimed at parents and backed by the government is now available.

It is aimed at helping parents educate their primary aged children (6-11 years old) about body image, particularly the media’s manipulation of images (airbrushing).

"Young people are being set an impossible standard by images in media and advertising which can erode their self-esteem," said Lynne Featherstone (Equalities Minister).

"As parents”, she continued, “we are often aware of these issues, but may not have the advice and guidance we need to talk to our children. I want the pack to empower parents to have those difficult conversations and open the door to discussion."

The book Body Image In Primary School for educators, also caters for children in this age group.


Thursday, June 21, 2012

Life or Death - The Right to Choose


This week, the issue of an individual’s right to choose whether they live or die, was widely discussed when two cases ended up in court and in the headlines.

The first was the decision by Justice Peter Jackson to uphold the states right to keep a 32 year old female anorexic sufferer known as ‘E’ alive.

The second case centred on a stroke victim. Tony Nicklinson (58) tragically had a stroke in 2005, which left him mentally sound, but paralysed from the neck down, unable to speak and only able to communicate through blinking his eyes. His condition is known as 'locked-in syndrome'.

“I believe that everyone has the right to take their own life if that is what they want to do”, commented a counsellor who I know professionally. “I wouldn’t try to talk them out of it”.

Personally, I do not support suicide or assisted death; but I do support medical non intervention if a terminally ill, mentally competent person, decides with their own free will, that they do not want to take life prolonging medication.

This is a very emotive subject, where a person’s beliefs, values and past experiences will determine the side of the fence they are on.

Read Article


Monday, June 18, 2012

SHOT Girls

30 year old Vanity Wonder, a 4ft 11 inches mother of two has spent over £10,000 transforming her once slim petite body into one that measures a very unnatural 34-23-45.

The “bootylicious” transformation was achieved with the help of dangerous and (dare I say it) illegal “butt shots” jabs. Her bottom half is a size XL, while her top half is small in comparison.

Last year we published a blog on British student Claudia Aderotimi, who died when the procedure went wrong. Vanity also faced problems including pain and infection; thankfully none that proved fatal. “It was quite frightening”, she said about her infection. “I realised for the first time that I was putting my life at risk.”

Vanity has admitted to a five year long addiction to the injections that cost £325 each. Happily, she has now managed end the life threatening behaviour. Unfortunately, Vanity has been left with a daily reminder of her past, a bottom which is 45 inches at its widest part.

“It does affect me looking like this”, she said. “I get made fun of in the street, but all I care about now is looking after my two sons.”

Picture 1

Picture 2

Picture 3

On a more positive note, Vanity is using her experience to warn others of the dangers of illegal buttock injections.

“I'm just so thankful that I'm here in one piece”, she said adding “and that I'm able to tell people to stop on this path, because somebody's going to die.”

Vanity's book SHOT Girls is available on Amazon.


Friday, June 15, 2012

Three stones heavier than in the 60's

Last night I watched the BBC 2 programme ‘The Men Who Made Us Fat (first of a three part series).

One disturbing statement by presenter Jacques Peretti‘s had the effect of setting a solemn mood.

“On average in the UK “, he declared, “we are all, every man, woman and child three stones heavier than we were in the mid-60s”.

“We haven't noticed it happening”, he continued.

“We have noticed!” I challenged. With TV programmes, magazines, the diet and beauty industries and even the government obsessing about our weight, it’s impossible to avoid.

Peretti then went on to explore the reasons behind societies weight increase.

To cut a long programme short, he concludes that ‘the men who made us fat’ are misguided experts, special interest/politically lobbying groups and the food industry. These men are the main culprits behind our growing obesity epidemic, because they allowed sugar (not fat) to enter our food in gargantuan amounts.

While I don’t profess to be a nutritional expert; I am sure the reason behind society’s weight gain/obesity is not as simple as ‘sugar consumption’.

Weight gain is the product of calories consumed minus calories expended. Yes, we are undeniably consuming more sugar, but it is the totality of our modern calorie rich often processed diet (carbs and fats) and lifestyle that causes us to store excess energy and thus gain weight.

Compared to 40-50 years ago, we are expending much less energy at work (office/modern machinery), in the home (labour saving devices) and partaking in some leisure activities e.g. computer games.

I will reserve judgement until I have seen all three parts, but it’s fair to say that part one left me with more questions than it answered.


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Body Dysmorphic Disorder links with attempted suicide

A recent study by Rhode Island Hospital and Auburn University (published in the journal Suicide and Life-Threatening Behaviour) has linked Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BBD) with increased risk of attempted suicide.

BBD is a mental illness, in which those suffering from the disorder are preoccupied/ obsessed with perceived physical / appearance related faults. In reality, their ‘faults’ are internal and subjective; others perceive their appearance as normal.

The study consisted of 200 people (aged 14 to 64) with a lifetime diagnosis of BDD. 137 (68.5%) were female.

Researches found among BDD sufferers:
- More than 75% had felt that life was not worth living/contemplated suicide.
- 25% had a history of attempted suicide.
- Those partaking in restrictive food intake were more than twice as likely to attempt suicide.
- Excessive exercisers attempted suicide 50% less than those who did not over exercise.
- Harmful behaviours e.g. skin picking and cosmetic surgery (BDD related) were good predictors of suicide attempts.

The study looked at the ‘acquired capability of suicide’, which focuses on an individuals ability to tolerate pain and their fear (low) of death.

The theory is illustrated by the fact that restrictive food practices are unpleasant and often painful. Those who are able to continue despite the physical discomfort may be more able to harm themselves /attempt suicide.

“The results of this study suggest the importance of assessing individuals with BDD for restrictive eating behaviours to identify suicide risk, even if they have not previously been diagnosed with an eating disorder,” said Katharine A. Phillips, M.D.


Monday, June 11, 2012

Body image and aging

At the weekend Observer Magazine published an interview with Professor Nichola Rumsey (co-director of the University of the West of England's centre for appearance research).

In the article, she discussed her research that indicates that there is an increasing number of older people, over the age of 70, who are suffering from negative body image and low self esteem.

This flies in the face of the common perception that body image is a problem that affects the young; evidenced by the fact that research has tended to focus on children, teens and young women.

The study concludes that body and self esteem related anxieties in the elderly, are mostly centred upon their concerns about how their aged body is perceived by others.

"We have conducted a study of about 1,200”, said Professor Rumsey, “ which confirms that appearance-related anxieties persist well into later adulthood…It can cause substantial distress to look in the mirror and see an ageing body, especially if they have very visible conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis or an obvious skin condition….. GPs are not trained to deal with the psychological impact of these anxieties, which can have a significant influence on overall wellbeing."

Dr Alex Yellowlees (Glasgow Priory Clinic) who is seeing an increase in the number of older patients with body image issues, concurs with Professor Rumsey findings. Labelling the phenomena "an epidemic of self-consciousness”, he added. “We are suffering from collective body dissatisfaction, which is a contagion in our society and we must acknowledge that it affects all walks of society, young and old”.

He continued. "It was once the case that we were happy to coast into retirement and relax in our old age, but now even in these later stages of life I am seeing people who are preoccupied with shape, weight and looks in a way that was once the domain of younger people who had yet to find their path or identity in life."

It brings to mind my late father's concern about age spots. For him, the issue was not his appearance or how be felt he was being viewed by others. It was more about unwelcome physical changes that were a daily reminder that he was old (getting older) and would not be able to do many of the things that he had enjoyed in the past. From my perspective; what he experienced was more a sense of loss, than anything to do with body image or self esteem.


Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Low self esteem

In this months article, we discuss low self esteem with a 21 year old university student. She made the statement below as she contemplated the reasons behind her low self esteem.

"Well, I was fine up until a couple of months ago … I think, " she said. " Then my dad said, 'I don’t think you realise how much people like you, do you' ? I think that sort of hit a nerve in me.

'No', I thought. 'I don’t think people do like me'.

That’s something that I have had in me for a while…. I don’t know. I’m a bit harsh on myself I think.

If I do something that I think is even a little bit wrong I tend to beat myself up over it. You know, just really be critical with myself".