Friday, August 31, 2012

“There is no such thing as perfection”

In a Glamour magazine interview, Kelly Osbourne voiced her opinion that there is too much pressure on attractive women to maintain their looks. She believes that individuals should stop comparing themselves to others.

Kelly said: "Women are so unforgiving of themselves. We don't recognize our own beauty, because we're too busy comparing ourselves to other people. No, we are not all Gisele Bundchen or Beyonce Knowles, but I can tell you even the most beautiful girls in the world have felt insecure”.

"Just seeing the pressure my friends Kim Kardashian and Kate Moss are under”, she continued, “makes me never want to be the prettiest in the room. There is no such thing as perfection.

“Try this; look in the mirror. Find one thing you like... think, 'Well, I've got this, and a lot of people don't'. You have to look at what you do have."

"I call myself an FFP - former fat person. And when you're an FFP, you will always see in yourself what people used to bully you for”.

"Even now [Kelly has shed over 3 stones] I don't consider myself skinny. But I have put a lot of hard work into my body over the years, and in the process, I've really learned to love myself."


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Talking to children about weight

September's Article is entitled 'Talking To Children About Weight'


Recently, during a weight related conversation with my ten year old daughter, I found myself choosing my words carefully.

“Why has he got more biscuits than me”, my daughter grumbled. “He’s got three and I’ve only got two. It’s not fair”.

“Your brother is older than you”, I replied calmly. “He’s a whole head and shoulders above you. He needs to eat more than you, just to stay healthy. Your body does not need as much energy as his. If you eat more than your body needs, it will store the excess. It’s really great that our bodies can do this, particularly in countries where food is short”.

“Are you saying I’m fat”, she responded accusingly.

“No. I don’t think your fat … your weight is fine”, I said deliberately ending the conversation on a positive note. 

Last month the 'Let's talk about weight' survey (Netmums and MEND) polled 1,086 parents of children aged five to 16.

Many parents were anxious about how to broach the subject of weight with their child. Of the parents, who were of the opinion that their child was of normal weight, over a third (37%) were hesitant to talk about it, fearing that it could lead to an eating disorder. The percentage of uneasy parents rose significantly (65%) if a child was overweight or obese.

Read Article


Friday, August 24, 2012

Rise in weight-loss surgery

In an attempt to tackle the UK’s obesity problem head on, the NHS has increasingly decided that surgery is the right course of action.

The 2006-7 and 2011-12 weight loss (bariatric) operation figures from the NHS Health and Social Care Information Centre, speak for themselves:

- Gastric Bypass. This makes the stomach significantly smaller and shortens the small intestine. It stops individuals eating large meals; it also reduces the absorption of nutrients.
Increased from 858 to 5,407.
- Gastric Band. This involves the insertion of an adjustable and removable band that limits the effective size of the stomach.
Less popular than gastric bypass. Increased from 715 to 1,316.

The rise in weight loss operations is predominantly due to an increase in ‘surgery’ decisions, rather than a significant increase in the number of morbidly obese people.

Alberic Fiennes, president of the British Obesity and Metabolic Surgery Society (BOMSS), said: "There are about 1.5 million such adults in the UK. They face premature death, disease and disability brought on as a direct result of their condition. These can be prevented, improved or eliminated by surgery”. 

He continued. “There is compelling evidence that weight-loss surgery to treat the most severely affected is one of the most clinically effective, safe and cost effective treatments available”.  Mr Fiennes believes the Department of Health should, “invest in a long term strategy to ensure that all patients have equal access to this life-saving treatment."

However, Simon Burns MP (Minister of State for Health) has made it clear that the government does not support a continual increase in the number of weight loss operations.

“We want people to live healthier lives so they do not need to resort to surgery,” said Mr Burns, “but as a last resort, doctors can advise procedures like these are undertaken.”

Bariatric surgery currently costs the NHS approximately £50 million.


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Vatican newspaper comments on bald Barbie

Last weekend, the front page of L’Osservatore Romano the Holy See's daily, the official Vatican newspaper, carried an article about Mattel Inc’s Barbie doll.

In addition, internal pages of the paper carried on the Barbie doll theme by outlining the history of Barbie and said that Barbie was a part of the social psyche, i.e. reflected popular social changes.

The article appeared in response to Mattel’s donation of bald Barbie dolls (classified as a "friend" of Barbie) complete with a selection of wigs, hats and scarves to paediatric hospitals and the National Alopecia Areata Foundation in the US. The aim of the exercise is to demonstrate the effects of chemotherapy, other illnesses and conditions to children.

At the April launch of bald Barbie, Mattel said in a statement: "Through a thoughtful approach, we made the decision not to sell these dolls at retail stores, but rather get the dolls directly into the hands of children who can most benefit from the unique play experience."

The decision to issue bald Barbie dolls arose in response to a Facebook campaign, initiated by the mother of a girl undergoing chemotherapy; it attained 150,000 supporters.

The newspaper makes its approval of the initiative clear. Giulia Galeotti, author of the article, congratulated Mattel for evolving Barbie. Barbie has appeared in many guises over the years (doctor, airline pilot & an aerobic dancer) and for its creation of diverse Barbie dolls, including Barbie's friend Becky who uses a wheelchair.

However, all his words were not complimentary. Giulia also highlighted areas where he felt Barbie had had a less positive effect. He said Barbie was, "one of the most criticised and stigmatised [dolls], and rightly so".

Due to her "perfect and unreal" figure, Barbie represented "plastic beauty and vacuous blondeness", adding that "plastic surgery was part of her DNA, before plastic surgery became routine."

In an attempt to advance the evolving Barbie even further, Giulia asked. "Why not sell the bald Barbie?"

"Doubt remains," he stated. "How many of us have ever really found these Barbies on shop shelves? Why is there no trace in the real world of this line-up of politically and educationally correct dolls?"


Monday, August 20, 2012

Feeling overweight may affect weight

I gave up formal dieting many years ago. Why? Because whenever I became unhappy with my weight and consequently dieted; 98% of my waking thoughts immediately became focussed on what I had consumed and what I could/could not consume for the remainder of the day. In a nutshell, my weight and food was all I could think about. The more I thought about food the more I wanted, even though eating more was counterintuitive to my weight loss goal.

Eventually, I learned that eating a balanced diet as a lifestyle (everything in moderation), was the only thing that worked for me.

Given this personal experience, I was unsurprised to learn about the findings of a Norwegian study (University of Science and Technology).

For the study, researchers quizzed 1,200 normal weight adolescents aged 13 to 19, about their perception of their weight. Eleven years later they revisited the participants and gathered weight (BMI) details.

Researchers discovered that normal sized teenagers (59 % girls and 63 % boys) with weight issues of i.e. they perceived themselves as “chubby" or "very fat”, later (in their 20’s) became overweight, compared with 31% girls and 48% boys, who had no weight issues.

The study, published in the Journal of Obesity, concluded that teens, "Girls in particular”, who viewed themselves as overweight, often made poor choices e.g. fad dieting/ skipping meals. Their behaviour, perhaps a consequence of psychosocial stress, ultimately resulted in weight gain.

"This study demonstrates”, stated researchers, “that the adolescents, classified as normal weight though perceiving themselves as overweight, have a larger weight gain into young adulthood than those who do not experience self-perceived overweight."

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Have your say on cosmetic surgery.

The Department of Health (DH) are inviting the public to give their opinion /share their experience on cosmetic surgery. Details will be fed into an extensive cosmetic surgery review.

The review, headed by Professor Sir Bruce Keogh (NHS Medical Director), was triggered by the PIP incident, in which over 40,000 British women received substandard silicone breast implants.

"The recent problems with PIP breast implants”, said Sir Bruce Keogh, “have shone a light on the cosmetic surgery industry. Many questions have been raised, particularly around the regulation of clinics, whether all practitioners are adequately qualified, how well people are advised when money is changing hands, aggressive marketing techniques, and what protection is available when things go wrong."

The review will look at the cosmetic surgery industry as a whole.

“We want to hear views from everyone”, said Sir Bruce Keogh. “Particularly people who have experience of the cosmetic surgery industry or of other cosmetic interventions; good and bad, so we can learn what works best.”

Views required:

    • the regulation and safety of products used in cosmetic interventions
    • how best to ensure that the people who carry out procedures have the necessary
      skills and qualifications
    • how to ensure that organisations have the systems in place to look after their
      patients both during their treatment and afterwards
    • how to ensure that people considering cosmetic surgery and procedures are given
      the information, advice and time for reflection to make an informed choice
    • what improvements are needed in dealing with complaints so they are listened to
      and acted upon.

Have your say HERE

An earlier DH commissioned poll of 1,762 people found that two-thirds regarded the cost of surgery as more important than the qualifications of the individuals carrying it out. Half stated that they would take qualification into account, while less than half would factor the quality of after care into their decision.

The survey also highlighted the fact that, as a result of the PIP problems, almost half of women (who said they would have considered cosmetic surgery before) said they were now less likely to.


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Olympic qualifiers deserve respect

As I write this, Olympic organisers, politicians, actors, musicians, comics, volunteers (thousands) and of course the sports men and women medal winners are, justifiably so, giving themselves a pat on the back for a very successful London 2012 Olympic Games.

Between them British sports men and women collected 65 medals: 29 gold, 17 silver and 19 bronze.

The games unexpectedly captured the nation. At times the watching public sat on the edge of their seats, bit their nails in silent support, shouted encouragement at their tv screens, groaned in disappointment and mirrored both joy or despair as team GB members triumphed over their fellow competitors or failed to attain their goal.

“I’m not into sports”, said my 78 year old neighbour a few days into the games. “I have no interest in the Olympics, but it was on the telly so I watched it. Now, I’m all caught up in it. It’s really good and I find myself watching lots of different sports”.

Whether or not our Olympic qualifiers came away with a medal (whatever colour), I think everyone who took part in the games deserve our respect.

Participating sports men and women have studied hard, worked even harder and sacrificed a lot, in pursuit of their sporting dreams. Most of us watched in awe, as years of commitment to hone a hard won ability gained by slowly advancing their physical and mental capabilities, culminated in individuals securing a place at the Olympic Games to represent Great Britain.

The path to competing at the Olympic Games i.e. to be counted amongst the best in the world at their chosen sport, is not and easy one. It requires a strict nutritional, fitness and lifestyle regime, self-discipline, determination, courage, attainment, excellence, perseverance and the ability to bounce back from failure, injury and disappointment.

Olympic qualifiers are the modern day ‘heroes’ that have the values that I would like my children to admire and develop, whether or not their goals are sports related.

We send our congratulations to all the sports men and women qualifiers, who took part in the London 2012 Olympic Games.


Thursday, August 09, 2012

Body peace treaty

Seventeen magazine’s (US) editor Ann Shoket has recently responded to a teen lead campaign against altered photos.

In the August issue, Ann signed up to a “body peace treaty”. The treaty includes the following statements:

‘We vow to’:
- Never change girls’ body or face shapes. (Never have, never will.)
- Celebrate every kind of beauty in our pages. Without a range of body types, skin tones, heights, and hair textures, the magazine and the world would be boring!
- Always feature real girls and models who are healthy. Regardless of clothing size, being healthy is about honouring your natural shape.
- Be totally up-front about what goes into our photo shoots. You can go behind the scenes on our Tumblr ( and see the whole shebang!

Seeing Seventeen announcements as a step forward, campaigners are now targeting Teen Vogue, in the hope of securing similar commitments.

“I’m not saying it’s a total victory,” said Lynn Grefe (president National Eating Disorders Association). “Seventeen, Teen Vogue, Vogue, Cosmo, every magazine still has ads for diet products and other things that we find problematic, but in terms of the Photoshopping stuff, I believe that Ann is sincere and wants to really educate the consumer and work with the girls and show them what has been Photoshopped and how to recognize that.”

Lynn further commented that manipulated images contributed to eating disorders, depression and low self-esteem among girls as young as 8. She also highlighted the fact that a typical fashion model was thinner than 98 per cent of American women.


Tuesday, August 07, 2012

“It didn't matter what I looked like”

On Saturday, trio Laura Trott, Joanna Rowsell and Dani King won the first ever women's Olympic gold medal in team pursuit. The successful team, that broke three world records on their way to victory, put their win down to "hard work”.

As Laura, Joanna and Dani took a well deserved lap of honour around the velodrome, Joanna took off her helmet, to reveal a bald head.

23 year old Joanna has had alopecia (hair loss) since she was 10 years old. Coincidentally, Joanna won gold on International Alopecia Day (4th August). Happily, she has not allowed the condition to limit her. In fact, Joanna has stated that her hair loss has helped spur her on to Olympic success.

"I wasn't really confident on going out and doing the usual teenage things”, said Joanna.” I didn't have much confidence in my appearance and I became very, very focused on my studies…”

"When cycling came along that was another thing for me to focus on and suddenly it didn't matter what I looked like, it was about how I performed on the bike and that's what I was judged on. That was great”.

"When I started winning that was the best feeling ever. I wasn't going to stop; I wasn't going to let it hold me back.

"You only live once, so go for it."

Commenting on the unexpected wave of public support Joanna said.

"It was a bit overwhelming at first and I was a bit shocked, because I don't want to be known as the girl with alopecia; I don't want that to be what defines me...”

"But I've realised now that I've got a responsibility as such. It's always going to be a part of me, so I may as well embrace it and hopefully inspire other girls."

This is a great Olympic story. Years of dedication and hard work lead to a well deserved gold medal. In addition, Joanna’s actions have inspired many and proved it is possible to triumph over adversity.


Friday, August 03, 2012

Jamaican features

Zahra Redwood & Corinne Harrison.

This week’s Beauty & The Beast: Ugly Face of Prejudice (C4) allowed us to listen in on a very personal conversation between two young women.

On one side we had self accepting Zahra Redwood. Zahra was crowned Miss Jamaica 2007. She was the first dreadlocked Rastafarian Miss Jamaica and also competed in the Miss Universe competition.

Sitting opposite her was UK hairdresser Corinne Harrison. Corinne was the antithesis of self acceptance; she clearly did not like herself, particularly physical characteristics that she had inherited from her Jamaican father.

“I got this nose from my dad, thanks dad… It’s too big. It doesn’t suit my face at all. I don’t like my afro hair. I can’t deal with it. I don’t like the way it looks. I don’t like the texture of it. Jamaicans are [predisposed] to cellulite and I’ve got cellulite, so I blame that on my dad. It’s all his fault”.

On a trip to Jamaica, Corrine and Zarah talk openly about Corrine’s body image issues.

“I’ve been told”, began Zarah, “that the parts of you that you think are Jamaican are the parts that you try to ….”

“Cover up”, interjected Corrine.

“Any reason?” Zarah asked.

“Er.. I don’t really like afro hair. I think my nose is quite Jamaican”, stated Corrine.

“Are you saying that you are dissatisfied with your nose? Quizzed Zarah.

“I don’t really like it that much”, admitted Corrine.

Pointing to her own nose Zahra said. “I’ve walked around with this nose without a problem since birth… Do your friends think the same”?

Nodding Corrine replied. “We sort of see the Barbie image and think we should all look like that. Perfect boobs, perfect nose, perfect lips, perfect hair …”

“That’s your concept of beauty”? Asked Zarah.


“So anything not that is not beautiful”, pressed Zarah.

“I’m not saying Jamaican features are not beautiful”, Corrine responded.” I just don’t enjoy my features.”

“The key to success in the world of beauty”, said Zarah sincerely, “is loving who is authentically you. That is what I’ve realised that model scouts look for. Not half a dozen females who all look the same. So when you embrace what you have been given, that’s when things start to flourish. In the words of Lady Gaga, ‘I was born this way’. Then, you get so much further”.

At the end of her conversation with Zarah, Corrine vocalised her thoughts on the encounter.

“I thought she was gorgeous. She’s really friendly and she is just so natural. I think what’s stopping me from being happy is being myself really. I think that’s something that I need to say to people … this is who I am … so deal with it and that’s it. I’ve had the best two weeks ever really. I’ve learnt about being comfortable from within, instead to putting it all on the outside...”