Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The negative effects of online pornography

The recent Opinium survey*, conducted on 18-year-olds, has found that prolific online pornography, is negatively affecting them.

The study highlights the concerning issue, that teens are feeling pressurised to conform to the appearance and behaviour depicted (as the norm) in pornography.

80% felt that access to explicit online porn was too easy.

Two thirds thought that pornography was addictive.

46% believed that the practice of sending sexual images of yourself to others ‘sexting’ was ‘part of everyday life’.

66% of girls and 48% of boys felt that it would be ‘easier growing up’ if it was harder to gain access to pornography.

70% said that watching porn was normal among their peers; 10% stated that the practise began at 11 years old.

55% said that they had accidently stumbled across porn while surfing the net and that the experience had left them feeling ‘worried or uncomfortable.’ Of these only 10% had told their parents about the unsettling experience.

72% expressed concern that porn was commonplace and that it led to ‘unrealistic attitudes’ to sex. 70% said that as a result, women were viewed as ‘sex objects.’

In a similar vain, two-thirds of females said porn pressurised females to i) look and ii) act in a certain way. For males, the result was i) 61 and ii) 56 percent respectively.

45% of males and 30% of females viewed porn as a way of ‘learning’ about sex. 16% admitted that pornography websites was their main source of information (sex and relationships); 26 % cited the internet as a whole. Only 22% stated that they obtained information from their parents.

In regards to the bigger question of relationships, two thirds felt that the majority of people’s attitude towards sex and relationships was too casual. 86% felt that the relationships should be taught in schools. 40% wanted it delivered by an external expert with only 20% saying that it should be delivered by teachers.

*The Opinium survey was commissioned by the Institute for Public Policy Research.


Monday, August 18, 2014

It's all in the name

Recently my husband and I watched an episode of BBC1’s Dragon’s Den that featured Yorkshire couple Richard and Lynn Bye.

In a nutshell, the couple had found what they believed to be an unmet niche market in the very competitive cycling sportswear sector.

The new company’s target market was men like my husband. Middle aged men with fuller figures that cycled as a way of keeping fit. It offers them lycra sportswear branded, ‘Fat lad at the back,’ that fit and did not make them look like ‘shrink wrapped chicken.’

“One of the guys wore one of their tops last week”, said my husband. I think it’s a great idea.”

As we watched the exchange on screen, it became increasingly apparent that none of the dragons thought it was a “great idea”.

“When you name a product ‘fat lad at the back,’ said Duncan Bannatyne, “that’s the only customer that you are going to get.”

That’s not necessarily true”, countered Richard. “You don’t have to be fat to be a ‘fat lad at the back’. Do you know what I mean?”

“No I don‘t. If it say’s ‘fat lad at the back'…"

“With cycling’, injected keen cyclist Piers Linney, “there is always a ‘fat lad at the back’, they are not always fat.”

“What if it was me at the back? I’m the oldest person there and I can’t make it up the….

“[Then] You’re the old fat lad at the back”, injected Peter Jones, to the amusement of the other dragons.

“I am not a fat lad”, insisted Duncan.

You are metaphorically speaking”, contradicted Piers.

“I do have a problem with the brand”, said Deborah Meaden joining the discussion, “because unfortunately it is a little bit to closely descriptive of the person that you want to attract. “

"Would you want to wear fat girl at the back” Peter asked her.

“No, that’s my point,” responded Deborah.

“It’s (female clothing) called ‘fat lass at the back’, Lynn informed him.

“Are you serious”? Peter asked.

“Yes. A lot of girls have asked for it”.

"Would you have ‘fat kid at the back’ ”, asked in incredulous Duncan.

“No we wouldn’t do that,” said Richard.

“Your presentation is so flawed”, said Kelly Hoppen. “Most people don’t want to think they are becoming middle aged or that they are overweight. They don’t want that pointed out to them. I don’t get the positive out of it ….Morally I don’t like it, because I know people who struggle with their weight.”

“What you are trying to do by exercising”, said Piers, “is not to be the fat lad a the back. …You are trying to be the skinny mate at the front”.

“There wrong”, said my husband in response to all four dragon’s declaring themselves ‘out’. “People will buy it”, he continued, “because it will look better on them than normal cycling clothes. It will also allow them to be light hearted and not take themselves too seriously.


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Celebrities - Public Property?

Celebrity culture has firmly rooted itself in the psyche of the British public. Many people aspire to be a celebrity or personally associate with one. Failing that, they follow their favourite celebrity’s every move and purchase products and/or services that are endorsed by them.

Despite their fame, fortune (for some) and all the accoutrements that are associated with celebrity status; it should be noted that celebrities do not have it all their way.
Celebrities are constantly (and consciously) in the public eye. They are often viewed (not necessarily by choice), as role models. Therefore, some of there actions and words will have positive and negative consequences in the public arena. They do need to take responsibility for the messages they send out. However, this does not mean that ‘open season’ should be declared on all aspects of their lives.

For many celebrities, one of the less appealing attributes of their celebrity status is the fact they are viewed by many as public property. When perceived in this way, the public think it’s natural and even necessary to discuss and dissect their professional aptitude, physical appearance and even their personal relationships.
More now than ever before, physical appearance, particularly in regards to female celebrities, is under the glare of public scrutiny. Formal and social media disseminates a constant stream of information, discussing everything from their makeup, wrinkles, cellulite, weight, fashion sense and cosmetic surgeries or procedures that they have (or are rumoured to have) undergone.

In 2013 Angelina Jolie's went public about her double mastectomy. There was a huge public response; a response that consisted of both praise (majority) and criticism. The Guardian, commenting on the huge groundswell of public opinion, printed an article titled:

“ Angelina Jolie's breasts and the public ownership of body parts,” with the subtitle:

“Criticism of Angelina Jolie's decision to have a double mastectomy suggests members of the public feel they have a claim to the body parts of other people”.

More recently, actress Cate Blanchett, model Crystal Renn, comedian Sarah Millican and Rebecca Adlington have experienced unwanted public attention first hand.

Continue Reading


Wednesday, August 06, 2014

'Cheating yourself out of opportunities'

Every now and again, you hear a story that significantly advances your understanding of inner strength, courage and what it takes to succeed when the odds are heavily stacked against you. For me, this video represents one of those rare occasions.

"Some people are ashamed of their freckles. Some people are ashamed of that spare tire around their waist. They have big ears or a big nose or whatever. I think if you're worried about how you look, you're cheating yourself out of opportunities."



Friday, August 01, 2014

Nell Bryden discusses alopecia and body image

Singer songwriter Nell Bryden’s interview on Lorraine ( Thursday (ITV1), was both touching and motivational.

In the interview Nell talked about how she came to terms with the sudden onset of stress induced Alopecia (total hair loss). With open honesty; Nell went on to eloquently describe how she managed to overcome the huge appearance related obstacles, that are part and parcel of the enormously image conscious music/entertainment industry.

“Within 2 weeks”, Nell explained, “I went from having long blond hair to having absolutely no hair whatsoever.

“You can imagine the level of identity change, particularly for a woman. Your whole femininity is called into question at that point.

“I cried a lot and I flew back to my mother and hid under the duvet to decide what I was going to do next”.

“Did you worry it was all over”? Asked host Kate Garroway.

“Yes. People I was working with at the time said that I should not tell anyone about this, it’s not something I should mention.

“I am lucky that I have music. It’s a cathartic way that I can deal with things. I can write songs about it. The album that I came out with was lyrically more dark, because of what I was going through …. that vulnerability.

“But you know there is an irony in life to exposing yourself and being open, because it made me get off the treadmill and realise that I did want to be someone’s wife; I did want to find Mr Right. And even though I couldn’t bear the idea of being a bald bride. … of walking down the aisle…. that was the worst thing. I hadn’t even met Mr Right yet and I just couldn’t bear that thought.

“Somehow I decided that this is either going to be the best thing that had ever happened to me or the worst thing; it was up to me to decide”.

“Was there a moment when you took the wig off? Big moments?”, Kate questioned.

“Yes. I wore a wig for the first year or so afterwards; while I was touring. It was a very private thing that I was going through.

“Then right around that time Gary Barlow asked me to come on tour with him and I also met Alistair (new husband), so my whole life was just really blossoming.

“I decided that there was much more interest in being honest to who you are as a song writer.

“It’s more liberating for me … being me, rather then some photoshopped, auto-tuned or hiding behind the mask person. I felt like my fans went on this journey with me and they deserved to know the truth.”