Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Is cosmetic surgery the new acceptable face of womanhood?

Here is a confession: at 44 years of age, I have the face and body I deserve. My upper arms are fleshy and fulsome, bearing no resemblance to the sleek undulations of gym-honed muscle I paraded in my twenties. My post-caesarean belly protrudes over the waistband of my skinny jeans, pleading for the forgiving maternity styles I wore with pride eight years ago as I carried my then unborn daughter.

I have a bumpy nose that looks fine from the front, but makes me shudder if I see it in profile. I have a “well-defined jawline” – or a pointy chin, if you ask for my description. There are a few furrows on my brow, lines around my eyes, and the outsize bags beneath them would do Joan Collins proud checking in at Heathrow airport. My complexion reflects more than three decades of suffering from acne. In short, my face is, well, my face. It tells an honest story of a life lived. My life.

And there’s the rub. There shouldn’t be anything unusual in that but, increasingly, I’m aware that I’m in the minority when I mix in certain circles. Arriving at some social events or work appointments, I find unfamiliar faces looking back at me from people whom I know well. These are women who appear one day with startled expressions, unable to smile warmly as they used to, their skin taught, waxy and translucent – like glassine paper.

Having “work” done is the new norm.......

Continue reading


Tuesday, June 23, 2015

'Not the most important thing'

Taylor Swift is a successful, powerful and influential young woman. E.g. she has over 59 million twitter followers.

In an interview with ITV News, Ms Swift uttered some very wise words concerning happiness and how it can be affected by social media sites like Twitter, Facebook and Snapchat.

She said:

"You have teenagers who are attaching their self worth to how many likes they get on a picture they just posted.

"I don't necessarily think that's a healthy way to see yourself.

"I want to always be there to tell them, that's not the most important thing - whether this picture got 50 likes and that picture got 10, please don't base your day and your happiness and your sanity on that."

Taylor Swift is currently touring Europe; the tour includes shows in Glasgow, Manchester and London.


Friday, June 19, 2015


Over the last week, a previously unknown term ‘transracial’ has dominated the headlines, associated videos have gone viral and the tern has exploded across social media platforms.

The uproar is centred on National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People’s (NAACP) leader Rachel Dolezal. Ms Dolezal has been a civil rights activist across Idaho and Washington and works part-time as an Africana Studies professor at Eastern Washington University.

On Monday she resigned from her NAACP post, following the revelation that she is white, but has been pretending to be black for the past decade. The truth was exposed by her white parents, Larry and Ruthanne Dolezal, who disclosed Ms Dolezal Czech, Swedish and German heritage.

The frenzy that surrounds Ms Dolezal’s ‘deception’ almost overshadowed the much deeper and far more profound discussion around identity. The term ‘transracial’ has been adopted across the media as an umbrella term to cover the much broader subject of personal (in this case racial) identity; how someone identifies (who/what am I) and expresses themselves.

Following her parents revelations about her true ethnicity, Ms Dolezal said:

“I know who I am and my kids know who I am and, pretty much, I don't think anyone else knows who I am. Internally my main struggle is how to defend what I want to do and who I am to people”.

In response to the question (2014 interview with Lauren Campbell): ‘would you identify yourself as an African-American? She replied:

“I don't like the term African-American I prefer black. If I was asked, then I would definitely say yes; I do consider myself to be black”.

Again, in an NBC news interview this week”, responding to the question: “Let me ask you the question in simple terms again, because you have sent mixed signals over the years. Are you an African American woman.”?

Ms Dolezal nodded and unequivocally replied, “I identify as black.”


Tuesday, June 16, 2015

'Freedom to choose whether to accept what grows naturally'

An interesting online debate erupted in China last week. It was centred on whether or not women should leave or shave their underarm hair. The catalyst of the discussion was a photo by women’s rights activist Li Tingting that proudly showed her underarm hair.

Commenting on the photo and ensuing online conversations, fellow Chinese women’s rights activist Xiao Meili said:

"Girls are often anxious about their armpit hair as if it's a sign of being dirty or uncivilized," said Meili. "But we should have the freedom to choose whether to accept what grows naturally on our bodies." Xiao also argued that hairless underarms are not a part of traditional Chinese perception of beauty.

In an effort to help women take ownership of their bodies Xiao instigated an "Armpit Hair Competition" on Weibo (China's popular micro-blog).

Thousands of people joined in the online debate; some wholeheartedly rejected the concept of retaining underarm hair while others added their support.

Comments included:

"What is this competition”; one disapproving woman stated on Weibo. “No-one forces me to shave my armpit hair. I do it because I think it's gross not to".
"It's not polite to leave your armpit hair unshaven, no matter if its men or women," added another.

'I'm a college student. I love my armpit hair. I support natural hair, confidence and equality,' a young woman wrote and added a picture of her own underarm hair.

"I think this competition is very meaningful”, said Li Tingting (who is also a women's rights activist). “Consumerism is gender-based. The market is filled with all kinds of shaving products for women. "We need some space to think about why women are obliged to shave ourselves."


Friday, June 12, 2015

Eating disorder hospital admissions almost doubled in three years

Click on here or on image to view enlargement


Tuesday, June 09, 2015

The pros and cons of being beautiful

Below is a presentation given by model Cameron Russell, in which she discusses the pros and cons of being beautiful.



Friday, June 05, 2015

‘Unhealthily underweight’ ad banned

 An Yves Saint Laurent (YSL) advert that appeared in Elle UK magazine advertisement has been banned by the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA). The ban was in response to YSL depiction of an ‘unhealthily underweight’ model; a decision which the ASA deemed ’irresponsible’.

The ASA said the model's pose and the lighting drew particular focus to her chest, where her rib cage was visible and appeared prominent, and to her legs, where her thighs and knees appeared a similar width.
The agency said: "We therefore considered that the model appeared unhealthily underweight in the image and concluded that the ad was irresponsible."
It ruled that the advert must not appear again in its current form, adding: "We told the advertisers to ensure that the images in their ads were prepared responsibly."

Both YSL and Elle UK have declined to comment, but Yves Saint Laurent has indicated to the ASA that they " did not agree with the complainant's view that the model was unhealthily thin”, without any explanatory details.

Other disquieting aspects of the images were highlighted by Grace Barrett (Self Esteem Team) during a 5 News Tonight interview. Grace said:

"There are a few things that are concerning about the image. Obviously the model is very thin. The way that she has been positioned is very odd to me and alarming; she looks quite vulnerable and very young. These three things combined make a distressing image".


Monday, June 01, 2015

Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) - A personal story

Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) is a condition in which suffers have a distorted image of their appearance. BDD can be the source of extreme anxiety, depression and in extreme cases it can lead to suicide.
Minnie Wright (who suffers from Body dysmorphic disorder) recently discussed her condition and the effects it has hand on her life with BBC's John Maguire:

“From the moment I opened my eyes in the morning, the thoughts would sort of start. I'd go into the bathroom and the really negative thoughts, ‘your really ugly’ or ‘you’re really disgusting’ would start and then the extreme distress of actually looking in the mirror”.

Minnie came to Britain (from India) in her childhood, she later suffered at the hands of bullies and was also tortured by her own irrational thoughts; thoughts which left her feeling that she had problems associated with her appearance, which in reality did not exist.

"I've always had a thick curly black hair and it started to get very patchy, I was able to see scalp through my hair. It became a really focused and obsessive existence, just focused on my hair. It [was] very distressing [the] constant negative thoughts.

“When I was at my worst, I did feel suicidal; it was that bad. I’d brush my teeth in the dark; I’d wash my face in the dark; for three years I was doing that. When shopping there are lots of reflective surfaces and mirrors. It is probably quite difficult to understand, but for someone who has BBD, their own reflection can be horrifying literally horrifying”.

Happily Minnie's BDD has been successfully treated. She has recovered to the point where she is happy to have a large mirror in her home.

“If I’m feeling anxious about what I might see when looking into the mirror, then what I do is force myself to look, because that's an exposure exercise. It is important for me to occasionally look into the mirror, because for a long time I was actually too frightened to look into a mirror because the reflection was just too horrific. It's important for me to normalise that situation”.

Minnie now works for a body dysmorphic disorder organisation, in the hope that she can help others to see themselves more clearly.