Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Ed Sheeran - 'a weird little ginger kid'

In an interview with Q Magazine, successful singer songwriter Ed Sheeran, brilliantly evidenced how appearance and health issues are not (necessarily) determining factors in how successful a person can be.

In the interview Ed said: "I was a weird little ginger kid, with a stutter, big NHS specs and no ear drum."

Ed's perforated eardrum was repaired when he was 11 years old. He also received medical intervention to resolve a detached retina which resulted in him having a “lazy eye” and underwent therapy that enabled him to overcome nerve damage, the result of an operation during his childhood.

Ed reflected: "I wasn't exactly normal and I've come out of it on top. My view on it is God looked down one day and was like 'f*** hell, you need some help mate, here's a guitar'."


Monday, November 24, 2014

New doll Lammily versus Barbie

There is a new doll on the block that hopes to go head-to-head with Barbie. Although known as Lammily, it does not have an official name; the idea being that each child names their own.

In appearance, Lammily is very different from Mattel’s Barbie, being shorter, broader and brunette. The doll comes complete with a set of stickers that includes stretch marks, cellulite, spots and tattoos that can be attached to its body; a body with the proportions of an average 19-year-old American female.

Lammily, funded by crowd sourcing, is the brain child of American artist Nickolay Lamm. Nickolay told CNN that he wanted to use “realistic body proportions to promote a healthy body image.

"I feel she looks so real, so ordinary, that you don't focus on what she looks like but ... on what she does."

If Lammily is successful, Nickolay plans to launch an associated line of clothing and accessories.


Thursday, November 20, 2014

Lizzie Velasquez - How she learnt to define herself

In December's article we talk about the remarkable and often painful (emotionally and physically) life of Lizzie Velasquez.

At the age of 17, Lizzie Velasquez (now 25) watched an eight second YouTube video that featured her. She watched it in horror, because it described her as the world’s ugliest woman. The video with over 4 million views had attracted thousands of negative mean comments; one of which advised her to ‘do the world a favour’ by putting a gun to her head and killing herself.

Lizzie was born with a rare syndrome (she is one of three in the world), which left her unable to gain weight, blind in one eye, partially sighted in the other and suffering from exhaustion on a daily basis. She can eat several times more than the daily caloric intake for females and not gain weight; in fact she has never weighed more than 64 lbs.

On the day she was born, doctors had told her parents: “Expect your daughter to never be able to talk, crawl, walk, think or do anything by herself.” However, their pessimistic diagnosis was soon proved to be very wrong.

Lizzie described her first day at school during a speaking event at the TEDxAustin Women talk.

She explained that at the age of 5 she’d started school, with “absolutely no idea” that she looked different. Her first day proved to be a “slap of reality for a 5 year old”. She’d walked up to a little girl and smiled at her.

At the time, Lizzie was completely unprepared for the reaction. The girl “looked up at me as if I was a monster. Like I was the scariest thing she had ever seen in her life. The day just got worse and worse with a lot of people not wanting to have anything to do with me and I couldn’t understand why…Why? What did I do? I didn’t do anything to them; in my mind I was still a cool kid”.

Read Article


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The perfect body?

US lingerie retailer Victoria Secrets recently found itself at the centre of controversy, centred on their super thin air brushed ‘Perfect Body’ ad:

The slim perfect bodies instantly received backlash from across the blogosphere and social media sites. Notable opposition came from underwear company Dear Kate, which made the following comment:

“As if women need a reminder of our society's homogenous definition of beauty, the [Victoria's Secret] ad features ten models with almost identical body shape. We show the multitude of shapes perfect bodies can take.”

Alongside their comment, the company posted an image of its own. The image depicted ‘real women’ (not professional models) e.g. a doctor:

In response to the criticism, Victoria Secrets maintained the original image, but changed the caption on the image from 'The perfect body' to ‘A body for every body.’

“The change to the ad, replacing the caption, is minimal to say the least,” said Julie Court (our founder). “It does not, in any way, address the lack of diversity in the body shapes and sizes of the models; which was the underlying rationale for much of the criticism targeted at the original ad”.


Thursday, November 13, 2014

Sugars in fruit based juices, drinks and smoothies


An investigation* of 203 UK fruit based juices, drinks and smoothies has discovered that 25% or more contained an equal or greater quantity of sugar than Coca Cola, which has five teaspoons of sugar per 200ml.

E.g Tesco Goodness Slurper Apple & Banana Fruit Smoothie Snack for kids is sold in 90g portions; its 200ml equivalent would contain eight teaspoons of sugar.
Despite the fact that fruit is naturally sweet, 29% (59) of the fruit juices tested contained added (and unnecessary) sugar or glucose-fructose syrup.

Such high concentrations of refined sugar, the researchers argue, will increase the risks of individuals, particularly children, developing tooth decay.
"It is highly concerning that many parents are still buying fruit juices and juice drinks for their children thinking they are choosing healthy products, ” said nutritionist Kawther Hashem (a member of the survey team). “Children should be given as little juice as possible.

“We call on all manufacturers to stop adding more sugars to already sweet juices, particularly in children's products.”

Commenting on the findings, cardiologist Dr Aseem Malhotra said “"It is not just tooth decay but there is increasing scientific evidence that regular sugary drink consumption is associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease, independent of body weight, suggesting we are all vulnerable. Fruit juice and smoothies should not be part of a healthy balanced diet.

The overall recommendation is that individuals should drink water and eat whole fruits, rather than consuming juices and smoothies.

*Action on Sugar, an international group of healthcare specialists


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Society is becoming narrow and stereotypical


I often bemoan the loss of individuality, in regards to what is and is not considered attractive in our culture. There is an optimal look for females and, more and more, there is one for males too. All around us, it is easy to identify the growing number of people who are seeking to conform to the narrow stereotypical and unrealistic beauty ideal.

This morning Lorraine Kelly (ITV’s Good Morning) interviewed record producer Pete Waterman OBE.

During the interview, we learned that a lack of variety and individualism is not restricted to beauty, but extends far beyond it and can be found in many sections of society. These include beauty, fitness, fashion, business, entertainment and the media in general.

Focussing in on the music industry, Pete Waterman said:

“The problem we have Lorraine is that we don't have anything else now. We have basically got two radio stations that dominate. There are no longer any independent stations.

There is no Saturday morning television, which is the way we dominated. There was Smash Hits and Top of the Pops on Saturday morning’s; these had 12 million audiences. Dare I say it; it was Twitter / social media of the day. You appeared on top of the Pops and everybody rushed out to buy your record the next day.

“Now because there is so much social media, people don't concentrate on what they have to do as artists. They have songs because people buy into the lifestyles of the stars. There are some great artists … but now they have a different way of doing it."

Pete’s words adds weight to my belief, based on many years of research, that physical appearance and the perceived lifestyle of celebrities are, for many, valued more highly than genuine ability and talent.

“At the moment", Pete continued,  "I don't think there is enough variety which is a pity. I mean, the greatest thing about music is it's a very broad church and that there something for everybody. At the minute it seems to be very narrow”.

Sadly, it seems that the more we progress as a society, the more we choose to severely limit our choices, to the few that our culture has deemed to be the 'ideal'.

The pursuit of the ideal look or lifestyle can only have one outcome. It will stifle individuality and make our society poorer (less interesting and diverse).


Friday, November 07, 2014

Lupita Nyong'o prayed for lighter skin

The picture above is of Actress Lupita Nyong'o. She is holding the Oscar® for Best Supporting Actress, which she was awarded for her performance in ‘12 Years a Slave’ at this years event.

Currently basking in the glow of professional success; Lupita recalled a time when the words spoken to her were not, as now, filled with respect and praise. In stead they were prejudiced, judgmental and extremely hurtful.

"When I was in the second grade”, she told Glamour magazine, one of my teachers said, ‘Where are you going to find a husband? How are you going to find someone darker than you?’ I was mortified.

"I remember seeing a commercial where a woman goes for an interview and doesn’t get the job. Then she puts a cream on her face to lighten her skin, and she gets the job! This is the message: that dark skin is unacceptable. I definitely wasn’t hearing this from my immediate family. My mother never said anything to that effect, but the voices from the television are usually much louder than the voices of your parents….”

“European standards of beauty are something that plague the entire world. The idea that darker skin is not beautiful, that light skin is the key to success and love.
“Africa is no exception."

It was not the first time that Lupit had publically discussed her dark skin tone and the negative effect it had had on her. In March this year, while accepting the prize for best breakout performance at Essence magazine’s Women in Hollywood luncheon; she admitted:

“My one prayer to God was that I would wake up lighter skinned.”

"The morning would come and I would be so excited about seeing my new skin that I would refuse to look down at myself until I was in front of the mirror, because I wanted to see my face first.

"Every day I would feel the disappointment of being just as dark as the day before.”

Happily, Lupita became acquired with Sudanese-British supermodel, Alek Wek.

“She [Aleck] was dark as night and was in all the magazines and on runways”, she explained.

“My complexion had always been an obstacle to overcome. I couldn't believe that people were embracing a woman who looked so much like me as beautiful.
"It was perplexing and I wanted to reject it because I had begun to enjoy the seduction of inadequacy. But a flower couldn't help but bloom inside of me.”

I am sure will be seeing a lot more of this talented actress in the near future.


Wednesday, November 05, 2014

What would you change about your body?

This video highlights very different responses, depending on whether you were talking to an adult or child, to the question:

 What would you change about your body?