Friday, March 27, 2015

How websites influence self harm & eating disorders


Channel 4’s recent documentary, ‘My Self Harming Nightmare’, highlighted the plight of three young women, Becky, Charlotte and Chrissie. The programme told their very personal experiences of suffering from eating disorders and self harming; behaviours that were started / encouraged by websites that glamorise both illnesses.

Over 1 million people with an eating disorder have used pro anorexia/bulimia websites. These websites enable sufferers to trade dieting tips, post unhealthily thin, skeletal pictures of themselves and gather information on how to lose weight and self harm more effectively. Read whole article

Becky's Story Excerpt:
"I do cut quite deep. I don't think the depth reflects how a person is feeling. I think for different people it serves different purposes. Some people do it for the pain, some people do it for the blood. I do it to feel a sense of control over my body. I like to be able to run a blade over my skin and it opens up and I feel powerful that I can do that to my body, because there are so many things that I can't control".
Becky’s Story

Charlotte's Story Excerpt:
"You make friends over the Internet and they say they will help you to lose weight, but really you want to be thinner than that friend and they want to be thinner than you. So you compete to be the thinnest; being the thinnest means that you are the strongest. Even though it kind of contradicts it, because you are so thin you have no energy … you are so weak you cannot even get up”.
Charlotte’s Story  - Pg 2

Chrissy's Story Excerpt:
"My old blog had about 10,000 followers. There was constant competition on there and we'd all be commenting on the pictures and sending each other messages, wishing each other well and asking ‘are you okay’ and ‘saying you look really ill’ and stuff like that. So I got all these supporting messages, but I'd be thinking: 'Oh she's just saying that, because she wants me to put on weight so that she can be thinner than me' ".
Chrissy’s Story  - Pg 3

Read whole article


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Quentin Blake 'We need more disabled children in picture books'


Friday, March 20, 2015

Cruel celebrity centred ads

Recently, I have noticed a rise in the number of mean, cruel and even malicious celebrity centred ads.

These ads pay no attention to the talents of the celebrities concerned and even target their partners, most of who have not chosen to live their life in the public arena.

How a celebrity ages and the people they choose to share their lives with is, to but it bluntly, their business and theirs alone.

We discussed this issue in our post 'Celebrities - Public Property?' In it we outlined how the media and general public are increasingly treating a celebrity's public and private life even their body and relationships as public property and subject to microscopic inspection, uninvited judgement and debate.

 The aim of this particular type of advertising is to grab the reader’s attention and get them to click through 10, 15, 25 …any number of fee paying ad filled pages. In this instance being cruel pays!

Speaking personally, I have taken the decision to boycott (refuse to click) on such unsavoury ads. Hopefully many people will choose to do likewise. Reducing page views, read ad revenue, will (in time) result in ads of this type disappearing all together.


Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Wonderful (luxury) world beautiful people

We are use to an abundance of beautiful people (airbrushed or natural) in the media, on catwalks and magazines of many types, e.g. health & beauty, fitness, teen focussed etc.  Studies have also shown that certain physical attributes e.g. being a tall man can positively impact whether or not a person secures a role and/or is promoted. Last weeks channel 4's The Billion Pound Hotel, bought both these points into sharp focus.

Over the past 25 years the small gulf nation of Dubai, has become a luxury holiday destination. The Burj Al Arab Jumeirah hotel, which is approaching its 15th year, has become one of Dubai’s landmark luxury hotels; 11,000 Britain's visit the hotel each year.

Located on a man made Island in the southern coast of the Arabian Gulf, costing £1 billion and standing over 1000 feet tall; its distinctive sail-shaped silhouette has made Burj Al Arab the epitome of modern Dubai. Its opulence is enjoyed by kings, queens, sheiks and those with deep enough pockets.

Australian born Oscar Van Der Veen heads Burj Al Arab's concierge team. One of his main roles is to ensure the guest arrival process runs as smoothly as possible. 70 hotel employees assist him in this task.

Lobby hostesses and door men are recruited from around the world. "Minimum height [of hostesses] ", Oscar tells us “need to be 160 cm tall. We can give or take a couple of centimetres, depending on the culture and the languages that they are offering". An unspoken characteristic, that becomes clear when you look at the lobby hostesses, is that they also need to be very attractive.

Regarding doormen, Oscar continues. "They need to look handsome. They need to be physically 6ft 1 or 185 cm tall. So a lot of the time when I'm interviewing and recruiting I need physical validation from passports to make sure that they are tall enough, because I can't bring someone over if they are 5 ft 8".

In the words of one of the doormen:
"We have to greet the guests, receive luggage and shake hands. There are a lot of things that I have to do; not only to stay a tall handsome guy."

The programme reminded me of the words in a song, by Jimmy Cliff:

‘Wonderful (Luxury) world
Beautiful people’.


Friday, March 13, 2015

The truth about 'before and after' photos

We have all seen them; those amazing ‘before and after’ photo’s that convince us to purchase a product or service, in the hope that we too can achieve similar results. Often we hear, but choose to ignore the quiet, but insistent voice in our subconscious saying: ‘if it looks to good to be true then ……..’

Recently, BBC Wales's Week In Week Out programme broadcasted the results of their investigation into the accuracy and reliability of before and after images.

The truth may shock you. The two sets of before and after images above, depicts impressive transformations. They imply (without saying so) that the individuals had followed a health, fitness and/or beauty regime over a period of time.

So, exactly how much time had passed between the before and after images? Answer: less than two hours. The dramatic makeover involved 15 minutes of light exercise, spray-tan, attention to posture and subtle lighting.

"I was amazed when I first saw the difference," says Joe, the male volunteer, who also had his chest shaved for the shoot. "We hardly did anything in between. There was hardly any editing of the photos, either. It just goes to show what complete rubbish some of these adverts must be."


Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Female ideal body types throughout history

The ideal female body size and shape has changed over time.

The video below gives us a brief insight into how and when the changes occurred.




Friday, March 06, 2015

Kelly Clarkson 'She doesn’t know me. I’m awesome'

Katie Hopkins’s recent tweet about singer Kelly Clarkson’s weight gain, has once again bought celebrity and their appearance into the spotlight.

After seeing Kelly on The Graham Norton show, Katie commented “Jesus, what happened to Kelly Clarkson? Did she eat all of her backing singers? Happily I have wide-screen.”

Shortly followed (in response to a deluge of public support citing the recent birth of Kelly’s baby) by: “Look chubsters Kelly Clarkson had a baby a year ago. That is no longer baby weight. That is carrot cake weight. Get over yourselves.”

Kelly was informed about the unkind tweets during an interview with Heat magazine. In response she said, “She’s tweeted something nasty about me. That’s because she doesn’t know me. I’m awesome! It doesn’t bother me. It’s a free world. Say what you will.”

Congratulation’s Kelly, on your great, dignified and confident response.


Wednesday, March 04, 2015

In the eye of the beholder

In the last few days, the question of the week that got my children, their school and the whole of the online community buzzing was: What colour is this dress?

Many were convinced that the dress was blue and black, while others were vehement that it was white and gold. Speaking personally, my son and I saw it as white and gold, while my husband and daughter saw the dress as being black and blue.

The photo of the dress set a new record (BuzzFeed) when it was viewed over 30 million times in a 24 hour period. Sales of the £50 dress (sold by Roman Originals) subsequently increased by a 347%.

We are fully aware that individuals view things differently on an intellectual/mental level. However, in a purely physical sense, we expect others to see what we see, unless they have a visual impairment or are colour blind. This dress directly challenged this viewpoint.

Visual scientists and experts promptly waded in on the controversy and attempted to explain why some people were seeing the dress as one duo of colours when it was actually a different pair of colours.

A neuroscientist (Wired interview) explained that when your brain tries to determine what colour something is; it “discount the chromatic bias of the daylight axis;” i.e. it subtracts the lighting and background colours around it.

In this particular case, the colours in the dress sit on a visual boundary, with an even mix of blue, red and green. Those of us who see it as white and gold have eyes that subtract the wrong background and lighting.

It brings a new angle to the idiom, “[beauty is] in the eye of the beholder.”


Monday, March 02, 2015

Rise in self-harm figures

Click here or on image to see enlargement.