Thursday, September 27, 2012

Body Revolution 2013

Lady Gaga has posted an unadorned 'warts and all' photo of herself dressed in her underwear, with the caption "Bulimia and anorexia since I was 15" on her site The purpose behind the action is to encourage positive body image among her supporters.

It comes in the wake of the recent publication of several unflattering photos and open discussions about her weight gain in the media.

In response to animated media attention, Lady Gaga confirmed that she had indeed gained weight, approximately 11 kilograms. She also denied rumours that Universal had asked her to lose weight and tweeted a picture of Marilyn Monroe with the caption: "To all the girls that think you're ugly because you're not a size 0, you're the beautiful one. It's society who's ugly."

The latest news is that she has launched a project that aims "to celebrate 'perceived flaws' entitled, 'A Body Revolution 2013' . It falls within the remit of her Born This Way Foundation (to celebrate individuality and empower the young).

“Now that the body revolution has begun”, she wrote, “be brave and post a photo of you that celebrates your triumph over insecurities.”

There has been a flood of responses, both in words and images. E.g. The scarred neck of a young cancer patient, scars caused by a double mastectomy, an amputee and numerous overweight bodies. Teenagers took part in large numbers; including one who bore the scars of open heart surgery, another who suffered from psoriasis and a teenage girl that posted a photo of self inflicted injuries on her arm (self-harming), along with the words “‘been suffering with cutting since i was 13. I’m very self conscious about my body but today I'm inspired to be brave and share this with you. Thank you gaga.”

In response Lady Gaga commented:

“I have been startled and overwhelmed with pride and emotion the past few days. Gratitude mostly. Seeing you post photos of things on your bodies and in your minds that you feel society tells you you should be ashamed of. You are showing them you have no shame” she commented on

"My weight/loss/gain since i was child has tormented me. No amount of help has ever healed my pain about it. But YOU have," she continued. "My boyfriend prefers me curvier, when i eat and am healthy and not so worried about my looks, I'm happy. Happier then I've ever been. i am not going to go on a psycho-spree because of scrutiny. This is who I am. And I am proud at any size. And i love you, and want you to be proud in any form you may take as well."


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Julie Court's Sky TV discussion

Julie Court (My Body Beautiful's founder) recently made a guest appearance on the Chrissy B Show (Sky 203), to discuss 'body image and the media'.

Here is a short clip of the exchange:



Unable to view video? Click here


Friday, September 21, 2012

Diet survey

The average woman:
    - lives to 82 years old.
    - weighs 11 stones.

A Diet Chef survey has found:
    - women diet twice a year with a 11lbs weight loss each time.
    - diets away nine times her body weight (if she starts dieting at 18).
    - spends 17 years on a diet (figure based on dieting approx 2 months a year ).
    - diets failed due to:
           - love of food 1/3.
           - lack of willpower 1/3. 
           - self 1/3.
    - 1/5 think that healthy food is too expensive.
    - Less than 1% of diets last more than 12 months.
    - 1/3 of women diet for at least six months per year.
    - Will power (diets lasting at least a month ) is greatest in the North East (11 %) and
      East Anglia (17%) and weakest in the North West (diets last 4 days an average).
    - The main incentives to dieting were: 
          -  ill fitting clothing (52%).
          - holidays (33%).
          -  health reasons (22%). 
          - weddings (18%).


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Natural Women Versus Professional Models

Our October article recounts a recent BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, that discussed Germany’s Brigitte magazine’s decision to reverse their policy to use real people rather than professional models.

Marie O'Riordan, former editor of Marie Claire opened the discussion with the statement that she was “not remotely” surprised that the initiative had not worked.

“The thing about magazine readers”, she continued, “is that what they say they want and what they actually want are two different things”.

“As an editor”, Marie continued, “you try to read the runes of the Zeitgeist (the spirit of the times). There was a bit of a fashion for real women in advertising a couple of years ago; the Dove campaign especially”.

“I ran a fashion story once”, Marie recounted, “featuring real women and I got a backlash of readers saying: ‘I don’t want to look at pictures of real women, I want to look at pictures of models, because models are quite good at their job, they tend to wear frocks and pout a the camera in a way that is more appealing’”.

“This is the best scenario (use of professionals)”, stated Marie, “for the editor; and ultimately when you buy a glossy magazine, you are buying into a bit of a fantasy and escapism and reality is not what you’re paying your three or four quid for”.

Read Article


Friday, September 14, 2012

Constantinou's view on female weight

London Fashion Week is here again. Days before the start of the event Achilleas Constantinou, a founding member of the British Fashion Council commented on the weight of:
    i) Fashion models
    ii) Women in relationships

i) Fashion models
Mr Constantinou is seasoned campaigner for the introduction of measures to help reduce eating disorders which he said, “run like a cancer through the fashion industry” .

He is currently advocating the introduction of legislation to prohibit the fashion industries use of under age and size zero models.

“Israel is the first country this year to introduce a law on skinny models on the catwalk and in advertisements, which should be applauded”, he said.

“Although other countries have taken steps to prevent size zero, they have not introduced legislation; a step I believe should happen in the UK.”.

“Skinny models still appearing on catwalks around the world has shown that the problem has not yet been eliminated,” he continued.

“Diseases such as anorexia have had a devastating effect on today's youth and there can be no denying that the fashion world and the 'role models', they promote are partly to blame.”

“What has been happening on the catwalk for a number of years is highly irresponsible...Yes the camera puts on a size usually to the viewer, but so what”, he said.

ii) Women in relationships
“Women should be slim for their men”, said Mr Constantinou. He then added, “but not size zero... An ideal weight is the goal. An ideal weight for health and an ideal weight to appease your partner.”

While I am a supporter of Mr Constantinou’s admirable efforts to eliminate the use of unhealthy models within the fashion industry; I do not support his belief that women (not men) should stay slim for their partners.

Women should try to maintain a weight that is conducive to their health and emotional wellbeing; men should do likewise. In doing so, the issue appeasing your partner (whether you are a man or a woman) should take care of itself.


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Increase in cosmetic surgery

In the UK, body reshaping via cosmetic surgery is on the increase.

The summary and charts below detail the growth of cosmetic surgery between 2008 and 2011.

Total Procedures Summary:

     2008 -  34,187 + 5 %  2008 versus 2007

     2009 - 36,482  + 6.71 % 2008 versus 2009

     2010 - 38,274  + 5 % 2009 versus 2010

     2011 -  43,069  + 5.8 2010 versus 2011


Source: British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons


Monday, September 10, 2012

Paralympian role models

Generally speaking, the word disabled often conjures up negative stereotypes and feelings of sympathy or worse pity, towards disabled people.

Last night, the London 2012 Paralympics came to a spectacular end.

Let’s hope that the closing of the games is not the end, but the beginning of a change in the public perception of disability. This hope is exemplified in the words of International Paralympic Committee president, Sir Philip Craven.

“The Paralympic Games have truly come home and found their pathway to the future here in London ... These Games have changed us all forever”, he said.

Similar sentiments, that the games will herald a change in attitude towards disability have been expressed across the globe.

E.g. Vangaurd (Nigeria) stated : “Paralympics have given humanity an opportunity to push the limits of human capacity to adapt, as evident in the stunning performances of disabled athletes in various sporting events.”

The Paralympics enabled disabled athletes to really challenge our assumptions of what disabled individuals are and what they can achieve.

Each competing paralympian, without exception, showed “super human” endurance, courage and managed to beat the odds, with and without the benefits of medical advances.

I have heard the paralympians being called “hero’s” on numerous occasions. Whether or not you agree with the term hero, I’m sure that most of you will agree that they serve as excellent role models, to both able and disabled individuals; especially to the young and impressionable.

Hopefully one of the enduring legacies of the Paralympics will be to change the general view of disability and the disabled away from what individuals cannot do, to what they can do.


Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Victoria Pendleton - Between the Lines

We have all come to know Victoria Pendleton (31) as an accomplished cyclist, who successfully secured gold and silver medals at the London 201 Olympic games.

Victoria’s autobiography, Between the Lines, serialised in the Sunday Times, has revealed another side of her life; one that included self harm, a difficult relationship with her father and body image issues.

In regards to self harm, Victoria admitted that she cut herself on the night she won her first gold medal in Beijing.

 "I did not sit down and decide, consciously, to cut myself” she wrote. “It was almost as if, instead, I slipped into a trance.

"I held the Swiss Army knife in my right hand, feeling the solid weight, as if it promised something beyond the empty ache inside me."

"I did not want to kill myself. I just wanted to feel something different. Pressing down harder, I had a sudden urge to make myself bleed."

In 2004, she received much needed help and support, from psychiatrist Steve Peters; who helped her deal with her fear of failure and worries about disappointing her father.

Victoria outlined how her father, an amateur rider, pressured both her and her twin brother to ride.

"Dad dealt in clear and simple truths," she stated.

"He never told you that you were better than you were … even to boost you at your most vulnerable. Dad just expected you to do your best every single day".

"He was tough but, when I pleased him, I felt radiant with happiness. I knew how much it meant when Dad said he was proud of me."

The demands associated with becoming world champion also created inner insecurities.  

She was unhappy with her slim stature and became overly focussed on personal hygiene.  In her memoirs she described how she "wanted to be a germ-free girl". This manifested in repeatedly washing and avoiding opening doors with her hands.

"Most other girls in my class, at the ages of 15 and 16, were going out, getting drunk and talking about boys. A few of them were already having sex. I was different. I just wanted to play sport and look a little prettier and much less skinny. It wasn't much to ask," she said.

"Understanding how fortunate I was, that my problems were so trivial compared with the trauma that people all around the world face every day, made me feel ashamed. I didn't want to be self-indulgent”.

Victoria retired from cycling after this year's Olympic Games. Following her Olympic success, commercial success awaits e.g. Victoria is the new face of Pantene shampoo.


Monday, September 03, 2012

Anorexia: Force feed ?

In our June article article we discussed a court case in which Justice Peter Jackson ruled in the favour of a local authority application. His decision allowed the authority to force feed and keep a 32 year old female anorexic sufferer known as ‘E’ alive.

Justice Jackson argued against the express wishes of E’s parents with the words. "We only live once, we are born once and we die once and the difference between life and death is the biggest difference we know."

His decision was essentially based on the fact that he believed that E’s ill health (both mental and physical) had brought her capacity to make a life or death decision into question.

At the end of last month a similar case was once again in court. This time the situation and ruling was very different.

The NHS trust (north of England) involved was not seeking permission to force feed a 29 year old anorexic patient (known as L).

Bridget Dolan, representing the trust said. "It has reached a point where the NHS trust who have her physical care are of the view that force feeding is not in her best interests, notwithstanding that it is probable that if not fed she will die."

"The issue is what do the doctors do?” Ms Dolan told the court. “Do they force feed her against her wishes, or do they allow her to be the barometer by which the decision about how much nutrition she takes in is made."

After taking the evidence into consideration, Mrs Justice King ruled it would be in L's best interests for medical staff to provide her with nutrition, hydration and medical treatment, "in circumstances where she complies with that administration".

Medical staff were "not to provide L with nutrition and hydration" if she did not agree to it, and it was not possible to do "without the use of physical force".
Justice King’s order also stated that "all reasonable steps" should be taken to help L, including the use of persuasion involving her parents and others "in whom she might have some trust".

Should L enter the "terminal stage of her illness"; she should be provided with palliative care so that she "suffers the least distress and retains the greatest dignity until such a time as her life comes to an end.