Friday, September 30, 2016

Males wearing makeup - true freedom of expression?


“Turn on your TV, open a magazine, look at billboards and you will see makeup everywhere. Women decorating themselves; men nowhere to be seen. But why does it have to be like that? I've spent the last few months showing that guys too can get creative with a splash of colour.

“We too can cover our blemishes, experiment with wonderful patterns, styles and bold looks. After all are men's faces really so perfect they don't need a spot of concealer? Are us men really incapable of holding the skills to be a top makeup artist? But society doesn't get it. The gender divide is drawn. By crossing it, I've come in for a whole world of online abuse; trolls trying to take me apart. Telling me what I do is against their religion; telling me that I should stop trying to be a lady.

“But the answer is simple. We all have faces. We should all be free to choose how we express ourselves. Man or woman. There are so many talented male makeup artists that stay quiet, because of the abuse they receive. They don't show their true talent just because of others won’t like it. That is not fair.

“So I think it's time to stop letting social conventions dictate who can paint their faces and how, and let's enjoy the true freedom of expression".


Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Unrealistic dreams of celebrity status

19 year old unemployed Jack Johnson is a benefits recipient whose body image decisions has plunged him into £20,000 of debt. He ran up the debt by taking out loans to fund his Botox injections, tanning, lip fillers and teeth fillers. Jack is also hoping to have a gastric band fitted, as he has not been able to lose significant weight via diet and exercise. Jacks spending spree is all in the hope of transforming himself into his icon David Beckham.

Jack shared his story on ITV’s This Morning with presenters Holly Willoughby and Phillip Scofield. “I know I am not slim like David Beckham,” he said. “I have tried to lose weight, I have tried every diet, every exercise and I can’t do it. I need the gastric band to help me. I will be happy if I look like David Beckham, I want his lifestyle.”

Jack said he believes it is his destiny to be famous like the football star and he is willing to “work hard” to achieve the same level of success. He went on to say that he wants to become famous as an actor or TV presenter so he can have a lifestyle like Beckham, as well as his physical appearance.

In response Phillip asked him: “How are you going to emulate David Beckham’s lifestyle, he became famous as one of the world’s best footballers, what is your talent?”

“I don’t know”, Jack replied,” I will do anything. All my life I have been different and I have never fitted in. I believe I should be on TV, acting or presenting. I want to be good at it, I believe I can, I want to work my butt off to get my goal.” He then added that he wouldn’t be happy till he look like Beckham and has a career like his.

In an attempt to injection some realism into Jacks naive ambition plans, Philip asked: “Won’t that make you sadder?” He continued: “you won’t look like David Beckham and you are incredibly in debt. My concern is you have set yourself such a massive goal you will never get to that level of happiness.” Holly agreed and advised him that no amount of surgery would make him happy if he didn’t first “learn to love yourself.”

Sadly, if Jack doesn’t listen to reason, concerns and advice like those expressed by Philip and Holly, he is going to experience painful disappointment along with a huge debt load.


Friday, September 23, 2016

I am ugly

Would you talk about your body to your younger (child) self differently than you talk to your current self? 




Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Makeup free Alicia Keys

Interestingly, Alicia Keys attended this year’s MTV Video Music awards sporting a new look; she was completely makeup free. In actuality, Alisha’s new look had been taking shape over the previous months. In a powerful May 2016 essay for Lena Dunham’s newsletter ‘Lenny’; Alisa discussed how many years in the public eye had altered her perception of beauty and perfection:

“I remember when I first started to be in the public eye. Oh my gawd! Everyone had something to say. ‘She's so hard, she acts like a boy, she must be gay, she should be more feminine!’…This was the harsh, judgmental world of entertainment and my biggest test yet”.

Alisha went on to explain that industry pressures had changed her, turning her into a “chameleon, who “was never fully being who I was, but constantly changing so they would accept me”. She continued: “ Every time I left the house, I would be worried if I didn't put on makeup: What if someone wanted a picture?? What if they POSTED it??? These were the insecure, superficial, but honest thoughts I was thinking. And all of it, one way or another, was based too much on what other people thought of me”. Eventually her insecurities began affecting her music to the extent that her lyrics became full of metaphors about masks and hiding e.g. the song ‘when a girl can’t be herself’ states: 'In the morning from the minute that I wake up / What if I don't want to put on all that makeup / Who says I must conceal what I'm made of / Maybe all this Maybelline is covering my self-esteem’.  “No disrespect to Maybelline’, Alisha added, “the word just worked after the maybe. But the truth is … I was really starting to feel like that — that, as I am, I was not good enough for the world to see”.

Alisha went on to recall the moment that everything changed: “I'd just come from the gym, had a scarf under my baseball cap, and the beautiful photographer Paola said, ‘I have to shoot you right now, like this! The music is raw and real, and these photos have to be too'! Although she initially resisted she eventually allowed Paola to take some photographs.

“That's how this whole #nomakeup thing began", Alisha said. “Once the photo I took with Paola came out as the artwork for my new song 'In Common', it was that truth that resonated with others who posted #nomakeup selfies in response to this real and raw me. I hope to God it's a revolution cause I don't want to cover up anymore. Not my face, not my mind, not my soul, not my thoughts, not my dreams, not my struggles, not my emotional growth. Nothing”.


Thursday, September 15, 2016

Acid attack survivor models at New York Fashion Week

Reshma is a campaigner who stars in beauty tips videos. She is an acid attack survivor.

“I got attacked in 2014 by my brother in law’, said Reshma*. “He poured acid on my face after making various attempts to harass my sister as well. He also poured acid on my sister’s hands. On that day so many people around us were watching, but no one came to help. My life changed completely after the attack. When I saw my face for the first time after all the surgery, I couldn't believe this was me. I used to tell my family members [that] I would kill myself. Everyone tried to make me understand but I had to live on”.

Reshma got involved with a charity called, 'Make Love Not Scars'. She is the face of one of their campaigns.

Talking about the charity Reshma said: "Their counselling really helped me recover and gave me courage to live and to do something. Now I am campaigning to stop the open sale of acid in India. The Supreme Court banned the sales in 2013,but it has been ignored and today anyone can buy acid from general shops for less than half a dollar”.

Reshma has accepted an invitation to model at New York Fashion Week.

“Going to New York after what I have gone through”, said Reshma, “is a really big thing for me. I am really excited to walk on the ramp and happy that I will be able to tell my story to people there. Even other acid attack survivors will get courage after seeing me.

“I have learnt that beauty does not just come from how your face and looks. If you believe in yourself - you will be beautiful. We have to show a lot of courage to live our life fully. I want to tell all the acid attack survivors to come out in the open... And do whatever good work they can”.

*Interview produced by Kinjal Pandya-Wagh;  filmed and edited by Vishnu Vardhan.


Monday, September 12, 2016

Stacy Solomon body shamed by the Sun

Last month while on holiday with her family, Stacy Solomon found herself on the receiving end of body shaming by the Sun. The newspaper printed a picture of Stacy in a bikini with the caption ‘Top flop … former X Factor singer Stacey gets that sinking feeling”.

Stacy responded on twitter with the following post:

The media is not solely to blame for the rise of negative body image in society. However, articles like this make it easy for individuals, who believe that the media is the main culprit, to point to it as evidence that substantiates their viewpoint.


Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Skin Lightening - Western Beauty Ideals

An example of this is a advertisement (January 2016) for skin-whitening pills with the slogan "white makes you win". In the ad Thai model Cris Horwang was seen with gradually darkening skin, as she states: "If I stop taking care of myself, everything I have worked for, the whiteness I have invested in, may be lost." The message was loud and clear: ‘lighter skin is desirable, attainable (via skin lightening products) and brings success’.

The ability to alter physical characteristics via cosmetic surgery, procedures or products in pursuit of looking more Western or ‘white’ is extremely controversial. Recently Ana Kasparian the co-hosts of YouTube channel ‘The Young Turks’, discussed skin lightening, beauty pressures and why she had cosmetic surgery to change her ‘Albanian nose’ with host Cenk Uygur.

Ana Kasparian:

"The underlying issue is pressure to look a certain way, have lighter skin and to appeal to the notion that European looking individuals are more attractive.

“If you are considered too pale and white you are pressured to tan. If you are considered too dark there is pressure to lighten your skin, to stay out of the sun (you don’t want to get darker). However, there is more pressure on those with darker skin than those with lighter skin, but it’s a disaster either way….”

Host Cenk Uygur then commented that historically South East Asian cultures admired pale skin, because it symbolised that you were wealthy and did not have to work outside in the fields and be tanned by the sun. The desire to be white or very light, lead to Japanese women covering their face in white makeup. Likewise, Turkish women were considered beautiful if their complexion was so light that you could see a dark grape go down her throat. Then there is the Western media that is so dominant in our culture, that when people around the world view it they think; ‘I want to look like that’, because all the people who are glamorised and in the movies are Western.

“I know why it happens”, Uygur added “but it still breaks my heart’.

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Monday, September 05, 2016

Body image anxieties experienced by children as young as 3

New research[1] from the Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years (PACEY) reveals anxieties about body image are starting in some children as young as 3.

Nearly a quarter (24%) of childcare professionals have seen signs that children aged between 3 and 5 years old, in their care, are unhappy with their appearance or bodies.

But this figure almost doubles as children get older. Nearly a half (47%) of child carers have witnessed body image anxieties in 6-10 year olds.

The PACEY research reveals that phrases such as she/he is fat are commonplace in childcare settings 37% of practitioners have heard these statements in their setting. While 31% have heard a child label themselves fat.

One in ten (10%) have heard a child say they feel ugly, while 16% of early years practitioners have witnessed children saying they wished they were as pretty or good looking as someone else. Around one in five (19%) have also seen children reject food because it will make them fat.

Early years practitioners believe parents and peers have the biggest influence. 37% believe the anxieties they have witnessed stem from peer groups, while 32% cited parents. A quarter (25%) say that media is fuelling a culture of self-consciousness and anxiety.

Dr Jacqueline Harding, PACEY advisor and child development expert comments: By the age of three or four some children have already pretty much begun to make up their minds (and even hold strong views) about how bodies should look. There is also research evidence to suggest that some  4-year-olds are aware of strategies as to how to lose weight.

Of course, there is now mounting concern that the formation of these views (so early on in life) may develop into later eating disturbances or depression. We know for sure that early experiences matter the most and we need to be very careful about how (even inadvertently) we signal to children that they should think negatively about their bodies and how they look. More research is needed in this area but contributing factors are likely to include: images on TV; images in story books and animations and the general chat by adults about their bodies, dieting, cosmetic surgery etc. There is little doubt that low levels of self-esteem appear to contribute significantly to negative perceptions of body image.

Continue Reading

[1] PACEY - childcare professionals 27th June to 8th August 2016. Base sample 361.