Friday, March 28, 2014

The joy of hearing for the first time

I love the emotion and joy expressed in this video.

It shows the moment when 40 year old Joanne Milne, who had been completely deaf since birth (she is also blind), hears for the first time.

"The switch-on was the most emotional and overwhelming experience of my life and I'm still in shock now”, Joanne said.

"Hearing things for the first time is so, so emotional, from the ping of a light switch to running water. I can't stop crying.

"I can already foresee how it's going to be life changing and the implants will get better and better over time, I'm so so happy

"I'm also attempting to use the telephone at one point but it's one step at a time as it's all so daunting. It's the small things that are huge life changing experiences to me right now and this will probably last a few months.

"Over the last 48 hours hearing someone laughing behind me, the birds twittering and just being with friends - they didn't have to tap my arm or leg to get my attention, which is a massive leap for a deaf person."

The procedure was carried out at the Midlands Implant Centre based in Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham.


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Rise of the Selfie

Here are four selfie related stories that caught my attention this week.

1. I overheard a man in his mid twenties talking to his male companion.

He said that he had always thought himself to be OK looking. Not handsome, but OK. However, after a series of selfies, he now considered himself to be “**** ugly”.

2. A friend told me that a couple if days ago, she received the dreaded call from the school nurse. Her daughter (12) had run into a fire door and broken one of her front teeth.

On arriving at school, her tearful daughter showed her the jagged front tooth and cried:

"It’s really bad. I’ll will never be able to take a selfie again”.

Luckily, the dentist was able to repair the tooth and it is almost impossible to tell it was damaged.

3. Currently, the week old no make up selfie campaign (#nomakeupselfie) has raised over 8 million pounds for Cancer Research. The money was raised by individuals posting makeup free images of themselves on Facebook and/or Twitter and donating £3 to the charity.

The campaign was devised by 18 year old Fiona Cunningham, after family members lost their fight against cancer.

Approximately 2 million women from around the world, including TV presenters Kirstie Allsopp and Holly Willoughby have uploaded their selfie.
Cancer Research UK said it had been surprised by the “unprecedented” increase in donations in response to the unofficial campaign.

4. On Monday we learned about 19 year old Danny Bowman (ITV's Daybreak). Danny became so obsessed with the task of taking the perfect selfie; the desire became an addiction.

In an attempt to capture the perfect picture, Danny ended up taking 200 selfie’s a day. He even dropped out of school, became a recluse (he did not leave home for six months) and lost two stones in weight.

“I was constantly in search of taking the perfect selfie”, said Danny. “When I realised I couldn’t I wanted to die. I lost my friends, my education, my health and almost my life.

"Well, perfection is impossible," Danny admitted. He is now getting help for his addiction.

Until these four closely timed incidents, we had not realised just how prevalent selfies had become. They are clearly playing an increasingly important role in society, one that can significantly affect an individual's body image and view of their own attractiveness.

We can therefore expect many more stories, along similar lines, in the not too distant future. 


Thursday, March 20, 2014

Target's Photoshop blunder

Last week the US retailer Target clearly and very publically showed how Photoshop should not be used.

The Photoshop blunder occurred on the photograph of a young model wearing a leopard print 2-Piece Swimsuit. When attempting to insert a thigh gap, a space between a female’s thighs when their knees are together, the person manipulating the image accidently removed part of the model’s anatomy.

Responding to wide spread criticism both on and off line, Target apologised and removed the ad. Unfortunately (for them), they will not be able to remove it from the many news, blogs and image sharing sites that copied the image.

The extremely amateur attempt to edit the image raises many questions. Putting those aside; I must ask: “why is the ‘thigh gap’ now viewed as the ideal look for females”? The answer is particularly important, because the model is petite and slender.

By inserting a thigh gap, Target has created yet another unrealistic, unattainable physical ideal. The image is also, in all likelihood, unhealthy for many (most) and detrimental to the body image of the teenagers to whom the ad was aimed.


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Being different has its own rewards

If you walk past a senior school on own clothes day, you could easily form, the mistaken belief, that pupils were told what to wear.

Looking around, you will not fail to notice that the vast majority of pupils are wearing the same designer clothing, footwear and accessories. In essence, they have simply exchanged one uniform for another (designer).

Happily I can report that there is life at the end of the tunnel. Individuality, the desire to be different and stand out from the crowd is not dead.

A few days a go my teenage son informed me that his IPhone 4 was the talk of the school. Why? Originally his phone was black. When he broke the screen he opted for a white replacement kit. He thought this would result in him having a white phone, one of many in the school.

After completing a DIY repair of the screen, my son realised that the home button was not part of the screen kit; it should have been ordered separately. Deciding that he liked the black and white exterior, he took the phone into school. His phone became and instant hit, simply because it was unique in appearance.

“Everyone likes my phone,” my son bragged. “They kept saying that it should be much easier to change the colour of your phone and even have multi coloured ones”.

The experience taught my son a very valuable lesson:

Being different has its own rewards.

Sometimes society, peers, friends and families do or promote points of views or activities that do not line up with your dreams or chosen course of action.

It is acceptable, inspiring even, for you to choose to be different…. to stand out from the crowd. It is a perfectly reasonable stance to take. Those who care about and respect you and accept your individuality will think nothing less of you. Those who have a problem with self determination, on your part, are best kept outside your inner circle.

An inherent aspect of humans is that we want others to be like us. By this I mean, think like us, behave like us, dress like us and share our values. Then and only then will we fully accept them as ‘one of us’.

Despite this, it’s the inherent differences between us that often enable us to form social relationships, where individuals compliment each other. Each person will bring a different set of strengths and weakness to the group. E.g. An introverted person may become more outgoing and confident if others in their social group are naturally more extraverted.

This ideal scenario results in social relationships where the group (as a whole) is much more than the sum of its individual parts.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Girls with low self esteem

A recent Girl Guiding reports reveals that a growing number of girls are suffering from low self esteem.

Click here or on the image to view enlargement.


Monday, March 10, 2014

Pupils, eating disorders and possible contagion

Many of us have heard, taken part in discussions or read about cases (USA) where school children, who have not been vaccinated e.g. MMR / Chicken Pox, have been threatened with exclusion or excluded from school.

E.g. In 2011, Dr. Anita Chandra(American Academy of Pediatrics), commenting on a West Virginia vaccine exclusion case, said that parents who failed to vaccinate their children, ran the risk of endangering not only their children, but also other children, who came into contact with their offspring.

The news item below caught my eye, because the reasons behind it are similar to the vaccination related ‘contagious’ argument above. The story is particularly interesting, as the possible contagion has mental not physical roots.

Last week 16 year old Lottie Twiselton stated that she was forced to leave Northampton High School , a £12,000 per annum private school,  because she suffered from Anorexia.

In a Daily Mail newspaper interview (with Lottie and her mother Claire) Claire explained:

 “One of the main reasons Lottie was not allowed back to school is because she was someone who lots of people looked up to”.

“In the headteacher's eyes, she may well have inspired copycat disorders. I find it unbelievable that a school can treat a mental health condition differently from a physical condition.”

Expressing her own viewpoint of the situation Lottie said:

 “I felt abandoned by the school because they feared other girls would follow my footsteps.”

“When I was very sick and still at school I felt like I was being treated like an outsider.”

“It was as if the school wanted me to keep my head down and pretend nothing was wrong.”

“Nobody can understand how important the return to school is when you’re in recovery.”

“My illness got worse and the school needs to realise that it very nearly killed me. I was completely ready to go back and be with them and just get back to normal but I was told the school weren’t able to have me back.” Lottie now attends a different school.

In response Lottie’s former headmistress Sarah Dixon, refuted Lottie and her mother’s account of what had taken place.

“The health and wellbeing of our pupils is at the heart of everything we do,” she said.

“The school responded to say that they were very keen to support Lottie’s integration but remained of the view that it would be preferable to wait until Lottie was well enough to return on a full-time basis.”


Wednesday, March 05, 2014

It could be worse...I could be fat

We have been researching all things related to body image and associated social attitudes, for well over 10 years. Every now and again, something catches our attention and instigates impassioned debate. The headline below falls into this category.

The words; ‘I killed 3 men. It could be worse…. I could be fat,’ became the catalyst of a very animated discussion.

These two comments illustrate the wide spectrum of opposing viewpoints within team:

“I find it hard to believe that someone sane, I assume she is sane as she has not been sectioned, could actually think that.”

“I am not in the least bit surprised!”

What are your initial thoughts?


Monday, March 03, 2014

Ideal to Real Body Image Survey

In this months article we discuss the findings of  AOL's  ‘Ideal to Real Body Image Survey’.  Released at the end of last month, the survey collected information from 2,059 adults and 200 teenagers (aged 16-17) who took part in the nationwide (US) study.

Changing self perception
It is normal for individuals to feel good about their appearance one day and negative towards how they look (self perception) the next day. The amount of time someone spends thinking about their appearance varies greatly from person to person. It also varies from one period of time in someone’s life to another, according to what else is going on in the person’s life/mind.

An example, highlighted in the study, of this situational viewpoint is that 73% of mothers admitted to regularly worrying about their appearance compared to 65% of women without children. It is often said that being a parent is not easy, and this is the case for mothers 57% of whom voiced their concerns about the undesirable effects, their negative body image, could have on their children.

Preoccupation with self
One of the main findings of the AOL survey is that the participant’s thoughts were often centred on how they looked. Over half of adults reported that they thought about their appearance at least “several times daily”.

Read article