Friday, January 29, 2016

How to achieve your New Year Resolutions

It’s almost February and by now a significant number of people have allowed their New Year’s resolutions to fall by the wayside.

At the end of last year, many people reflected on 2015 as it came to and end and began formulating a plan (resolutions) that would enable them to achieve the list of goals that they had set themselves for the year head. As far as British resolutions are concerned, year after year the themes remain the same. Typically they are to lose weight, improve health (stop smoking) or increase fitness levels (exercise more). All over the country individuals made the decision that they will do something new, restart something that they have allowed to lapse or to stop doing something altogether. Sadly, however resolute and well intended the start; evidence shows that resolutions rarely succeed.

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Tuesday, January 26, 2016

David Attenborough's teeth

When he was 25 years old, at the very start of his BBC TV career, David Attenborough joined the ascent TV team as a trainee. The rest of the story, detailing the meteoric rise of the renowned natural world TV presenter, is history. Interestingly, his on-screen TV career might never have transpired, due to his physical appearance.

During a recent interview (The Telegraph) Sir David Attenborough revealed that his attempts to work on-screen (he produced programmes behind the scenes) were thwarted for reasons unknown. E.g. After he [successfully] filled in for an interviewer, the opportunity was not offered to him again. Later the mystery was solved when as a BBC controller; he stumbled upon a revealing memo that read:

“Attenborough is an intelligent young man and I’m delighted to have him as a trainee producer but he should not be used as an interviewer again because his teeth are too big.”

Luckily for Sir David Attenborough; his natural talents, learned skills and the ability to excel, was not determined by the size of his teeth or any other aspect of his physical appearance. The same is true for the vast majority of people.


Friday, January 22, 2016

What's Beneath Your Bad Body Image?

Have you ever had the experience where you woke up feeling ok in your body, but then suddenly and almost without warning, you fell into a moment of bad body image? The reality is that for many of us, our body image i.e. our perception of our body, fluctuates on a weekly, daily, or even hourly basis. There are numerous things that could trigger someone to experience poor body image and also a myriad of ways that an individual can work to improve their body image. The following is an initial question that is important to ask yourself when struggling with bad body image:

“Is there anything else that is bothering me or causing me stress, which I might be expressing by shifting focus onto my body?”

Often it is easier to focus on what we dislike about our outward appearance, than to think about the other issues in our lives that the body-hatred may be masking. For instance, it may be easier to talk about hating your thighs than to reflect on how your recent breakup has left you feeling unworthy and unloved. Recognizing that sometimes your poor body image is triggered by other situations in your life may help you to see that attempting to change your body ultimately will not bring you the happiness and contentment that you are seeking. When you are suddenly flooded with a bad body image day or moment, I would urge you to really dig deep and try to uncover what else might be upsetting you. This way you can work to address what might actually be bothering you, which you are projecting onto your body. Think of your experience of poor body image as an important signal, which tells you that you might need to pay attention to something else in your life.

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Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Serena Williams - Encouragement, body image and struggles

Serena Williams (34)  is the winner of 2015’s Sports Illustrated Sportsperson of the Year. She is the first black woman to win the award.

Serena Jameka Williams (born September 26, 1981) is an American professional tennis player who is ranked No. 1 in women's singles tennis. The Women's Tennis Association (WTA) has ranked her world No. 1 in singles on six separate occasions. She became the world No. 1 for the first time on July 8, 2002, and achieved this ranking for the sixth time on February 18, 2013. She is the reigning champion of the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and Olympic women's singles and doubles. Serena Williams is regarded by some commentators, sports writers, and current and former players as the greatest female tennis player of all time.

During her award acceptance speech Serena Williams:

i) Encouraged girls/women to pursue their dreams.
“For all the ladies out there, yes we can do it. My hope by winning this award [is that I] can inspire many, many, many more women … to stand right here on this podium and accept another ‘Sportsperson of the Year,’ so yes ladies it can be done.”

ii) Talked about body image and opposition issues she has had to overcome.
“I’ve had people look down on me, put me down because I didn’t look like them; I look stronger. I’ve had people look past me because [of] the colour of my skin, I’ve had people overlook me because I was a woman, I’ve had critics say I [would] never win another Grand Slam when I was only at number seven; here I stand today with 21 Grand Slam titles and I’m still going.”

iii) Touched on the fact that her success has not come without struggle.
“I’m not standing here because I’ve just kind of cruised on. I’ve had my share of ups and downs. I’ve had many struggles. I’ve had blood clots in both my lungs at the same time. I’ve lived through tragedies and controversies.


Friday, January 15, 2016

Women are supposed to look like this

Velform Miniwaist (corset) teleshopping ad has been banned by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) for breaching BCAP Code rule 1.2 (social responsibility).


“The ASA considered that a number of the statements made in the ad implied that a very small waist was desirable and should be aspired to, particularly the references to “that sexy tiny waist, so small that you’ll be everyone’s envy”, “even smaller waist”, “extreme hourglass figure” and “that teeny tiny waist, like the girls, in the pictures and in the magazines”. The ad also implied that all women should aspire to that figure, including by stating, “Women are supposed to look like this, and men like this” and referring to “that womanly figure that identifies us” and the “perfect” figure. Although the statements were made in the context of an ad for a waist compression garment, we considered it was irresponsible to imply that a very small waist should be aspired to and that all women should aim for that figure …. Overall, we concluded that the ad encouraged unhealthy body perceptions and was therefore irresponsible”.


Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Losing face and confidence

Here is Tammy Saunders’s inspirational and poignant story; it’s a heart warming account of courage and hope in the face of physical and emotional suffering:

I don't think there is anyone who could honestly say that they are 100% confident.

We all have those aspects of our appearance, personality or abilities that cause self-doubt at one time or another. The teenage years are often the worst and my teens were an uphill struggle against bad skin, frizzy hair and body woes. The beauty and charisma of childhood were gradually chipped away. By my mid-teens I was so self-conscious that I would try my hardest to avoid any activity that might involve people looking at me.

Within months [of starting work] I had blossomed… I still hated the way I looked but it wasn't the main focus anymore. I was praised and liked for my strengths.
[Then at the age of 32 (Christmas of 2013) Tammy’s looks and life changed forever].

It took ten days for me to be diagnosed with meningococcal septicaemia, a strain of meningitis that causes blood poisoning. I also had disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC) which is a severe version of the rash associated with meningitis. The DIC caused my blood vessels to haemorrhage and bleed under the skin, looking at first like bruising and then turning black as my circulation shut down. My extremities were the worst affected and it resulted in necrosis on my face and limbs. I lost the bottom half of my nose and almost all of my lips. The flesh on the bottom half of my legs and small areas of my arms, hands and feet had to be removed and the surviving skin on my limbs is criss-crossed with burn like scars. Tendons, muscles and nerves were also damaged so I have been left disfigured and with mobility and dexterity problems.

So here I was again with a face and body that I was deeply unhappy with…I felt broken and pathetic. It was as if the old, independent, free-spirited Tammy had died and in her place was this person I hardly recognised. I didn't like what I saw and not just because of my appearance. When I mentioned these feelings to friends or family they were surprised. To them I was the same old Tam but with the added bonus of having fought through a terrible time with a smile on my face.  

As embarrassing as it was, and still is, to hear words like "inspirational" and "powerful" I started to think to myself that all these people can't be wrong. I was still the same person inside and deserved to be happy.  

Read Tammy’s Story


Friday, January 08, 2016

Bikini body - unintentional insult

It's the beginning of January and already body image is on the radar of the media.

Women’s Health (US) magazines editor in chief Amy Keller Laird, recently said that she had taken the decision to change the front page of the magazine, after a survey of their readers found that they were unhappy with certain common phrases found in the publication e.g. ‘bikini body’.

"Since our goal is always to pump you up and never to make you feel bad”, stated Ms Keller Laird, “this is our pledge those headlines are gone". What this means is the term bikini body (and others) which she termed an 'unintentional insult' will not appear on the magazine’s cover throughout 2016.

The Women’s Health survey reflects the findings of another study conducted by One Poll, which established that 75% of women feel pressurised to have a bikini body in time for their summer holidays.

‘Bikini body’, is not a new modern day term; it was actually coined in the 1960’s as an advertising slogan for a chain of on weight loss salons called Slenderella. The catchy term quickly caught on. Today particularly in early spring, ‘bikini body’ has become a common everyday phrase that appears on any number of women magazine covers and featured articles.

Question: should the phrase ‘bikini body’ be banned in magazines? If the answer is ‘yes’ then the next question is: would it help women feel better about themselves?

Psychology Today commented that the term ‘bikini body’ has a negative effect on women’s mental and physical health. They argue that the term and accompanied volumes of imagery give rise to the belief that only certain bodies are attractive. If an individual does not think that their body meets the ‘bikini body’ criteria, it could adversely affect their self worth, body image and self confidence.


Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Self criticism

Happy New Year!

This year marks the thirteenth year that we have been online researching and discussing body image.

Looking at the results of a recent Weight Watcher’s survey, it’s clear that few (if any) body image issues have gone away. In some respects e.g. the pressures associated with the overabundance of media images (traditional and social) seem to have made things worse.

Weight Watchers (and eight experts) surveyed 2000 women in order to obtain body image related information; in a bid to understand how they saw and related to their body.

The surveys results were disappointing to put it mildly.

Areas where women were the most self critical:

    1. Weight 
    2. Appearance
    3. Career
    4. Finances
    5. Relationship

The 2O most common self criticisms:

    1. You're too fat/overweight
    2. Your hair is a mess
    3. Your belly looks big
    4. You don't do enough exercise
    5. Feeling scruffy next to other women
    6. Not earning enough money
    7. You say you are having a 'fat day'
    8. Not wearing certain items of clothing because you think you can't pull it off
    9. You wish you were as photogenic as other women on social media
    10. You deflect compliments by saying something negative about yourself
    11. You worry people are talking about you behind your back
    12. Feeling underdressed
    13. I'm not stylish enough
    14. You don't have sex with your partner enough
    15. You aren't as creative as other women
    16. Your bum looks big
    17. You aren't as organised as other women
    18. You don't spend as much time with your friends as you should
    19. You're not wearing enough make-up
    20. You aren't attractive to your partner

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