Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Who won Leg-it?

When a very important meeting between the UK’s Prime Minister Teresa May and Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, a meeting focused on Brexit, the UK’s future relationship with the EU and a possible second Scottish Referendum; one would assume the main issues would dominate the front pages of newspapers. The seriousness of the occasion was nowhere to be found on today’s Daily Mail front cover which read: ‘Never mind Brexit, who won Leg-it!’

Unsurprisingly, the Daily Mail found itself on the receiving end of much criticism; many people took to Twitter to publicise their displeasure:

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn): ‘Its 2017. This sexism must be confined to history. Shame on the Daily Mail

Yvette Cooper (‪@YvetteCooperMP): It's 2017. Two women's decisions will determine if United Kingdom continues to exist. And front page news is their lower limbs. Obviously

Speaking to Sky News, Nicky Morgan (former equalities minister) said:

"These two very senior female politicians are being judged by their legs rather than what they said.
"I think this headline is deliberately provocative and it is deliberately demeaning.

"There are very important issues at stake that the Prime Minister and First Minister were discussing yesterday.

"The union between England and Scotland is very important, the United Kingdom is very incredibly important and I think that's what should be focused on in terms of their meeting - not a picture of their legs."

In a BBC radio discussion of the front page, Catherine Mayer (co-founder of the Women's Equality Party, said that it was "laughable and ridiculous" to present two government figureheads in such a way. Continuing:

"This isn't treating women as professionals: this is treating two national leaders as unlikely sex symbols.

"It's precisely meant to diminish their power."

In response to the negative feedback from public figure and the general public, the newspaper attempted to minimize the damage by adding, "Sarah Vine's light-hearted verdict on the big show down" to the article. The action did little to appease its critics.

The Scottish edition of the paper had the alternative headline: "Oh so frosty! Secrets of Nicola and PM's talk-in”; giving the two women and their topic of discussion, a headline more befitting the sobriety of the occasion.




Friday, March 24, 2017

Dieting failure - Your body working against you

Evidence points to the fact that dramatic weight loss that stays off is possible, however over twenty years of research points to the fact that’s its highly unlikely that lost weight will not return. The scientific evidence was presented in Channel 4’s Super slimmers, did they really keep the weight off.

1. Significant weight loss is usually followed by regaining most, all or even more weight than was initially lost.

Dr Thomas Barber Human Metabolism Research Unit University Hospital Coventry:
"This is a hard wired response deeply set within our genetic architecture to change that it's not easy.
"The majority of people who lose weight ultimately do regain that weight. Certain studies have shown that over the course of 3 to 5 years the majority of people who have lost weight will then regain most of that”.

Professor Traci Mann, Health and Eating Lab University of Minnesota:
“Very few people know that diets don't work in the long run. Their body is changing, physically changing because of dieting”.

2. The body will try to replenish lost fat

Dr Barber:
“The current theory is that it comes down to our genetic hard wiring. During evolution one of the biggest threats to our species survival is starvation. Any loss of fat mass would have typically occurred during famine and so it makes sense, during those circumstances, to conserve energy and lay down more fat to mitigate the harmful effects of starvation. When we go on a diet and we lose weight that is a similar biological scenario to being starving.
“The bottom line is that regardless of how much weight you lose and the rapidity of that weight loss, the body will respond typically to regain the way that you've lost”.

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Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Beauty premium challenged

Beauty = Success ?

Beauty and attractiveness has long been associated with success e.g. in relationships, jobs/careers etc. This belief, supported by previous studies and anecdotal evidence, is known as the “beauty premium” or “ugliness penalty.”

Happily for those who are not considered attractive, a study conducted by the London School of Economics and the University of Massachusetts and published in the Journal of Business and Psychology, has found that individuals are not automatically discriminated against solely on the grounds of their physical appearance.

Researchers Satoshi Kanazawa and Mary Still examined data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Adolescent Health (Add Health), which measured the physical attractiveness of individuals over a period of 13 years using a 5-point scale.

In their analysis of Add Health Kanazawa and Still found that more attractive individuals often acquired more knowledge than their less attractive peers, largely due to their possession of other qualities, such as being more intelligent, conscientious, healthy, calm and extroverted.

“Physically more attractive workers may earn more, not necessarily because they are more beautiful, but because they are healthier, more intelligent, and have better personality traits conducive to higher earnings,” says Kanazawa.

Interestingly, those who were categorized as being “very unattractive” were high earners. They all exceeded those who were considered “merely unattractive,” and earned more than individuals categorized as average and above-average attractiveness.

It is notable that the study points to the possibility that individuals on both ends of the beauty spectrum earn more than those in the middle. Clearly a lot more research is required before any valid conclusions c


Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Hair care and identity

Each one of us has a unique head of hair, whether it straight, curly, frizzy, long, short, bleached, coloured or natural. We have approximately 150,000 individual hair strands on our head that grows approximately 1 cm every month. Hair care and retention (loss treatment) is big business; globally the market is worth a £60 billion and £ .5 billion respectively. Our hair, its health, style etc is very important to many of us. Recently BBC Horizon’s ‘Hair Care Secrets’, asked individuals about their hair.

What is hair?

"Hair really is the crowning glory, it can represent you in so many different ways."
"Hair is the most important thing with your identity."
"I think my hair says I'm a bit bohemian. It is totally flowing freely and bouncy; it's a bit like me."
Hair is something you can immediately see; it's like the clothes you're wearing, you are effectively making a statement."
"A lot of people laugh at me and say your hair (ginger). I just acknowledge it and move on".

How important is your hair?

Continue reading



Friday, October 21, 2016

Weather with Lucy

A few nights ago, I sat watching the weather forecast on TV and found myself paying more attention to the presenter than to the details of the weather that was being presented.

The reason why I was paying such close attention to the professionally executed forecast was that it was presented by a disabled presenter. Lucy (@weatherwithlucy) is a young woman who was unapologetic about her disability; she did not try to hide her arm, but did her job just as well as an able bodied person would.

I hope we will all start to see many more disabled people in the media; that way we will pay less attention to their disability and more to what they are saying.



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".



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.



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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Wednesday, August 03, 2016

Now I just feel normal

In a world where bad news dominates the headlines, here is something positive that has a happy ending.

20 year old Ellie Jones from Rhyl was born with a congenital condition that stopped her jawbones from growing properly. The disorder, which was not diagnosed until she was 14 years old, caused facial deformity and severely misaligned teeth.

Over a six year period Ellie bravely endured painful operations, a processes that ultimately changed her appearance and boosted her self confidence. Speaking* about the first operation Emma said:

“It was really painful, but had to be done to sort the problem. I was on a liquid diet for about a month, which was really hard, and I couldn’t talk properly. I had to use a notepad to communicate. After a while I was able to mumble a few words, and had a lisp for a while due to how swollen my mouth was.”

A year later she underwent corrective surgery on her chin, which was also misshapen:

“I’d always felt like my chin was too small, so the second procedure, which was optional, made another big difference.
I mostly just felt relieved. I finally felt like I could be myself. Now I just feel normal.

View enlarged images: one two

*Daily Post



Monday, July 25, 2016

If I can't unsee this ...

Over the years there have been many social media related stories that sadly highlight the worst side of human nature. These include bullying, racism and fat shaming of the worst kind.
Recently Playboy model Dani Mathers has been forced to apologise after publically ridiculing an unsuspecting naked woman, who was taking a shower at her gym.
A laughing Dani posted a photo of the showering woman on Snapchat, with the caption: "If I can't unsee this then you can't either."
Unsurprisingly, the unkind post resulted in a flood of criticism:

katie finn ‪@katie77f
‪@DaniMathers‪ absolutely appalling behaviour, to violate a woman for the world too see is disgusting, you should face charges for this!!‬

Amelia Pepper ‪@PervyPepper
‪@bekkirivz‪ @sassimommi @DaniMathers She may think she's beautiful but she's just showed everyone how ugly she really is.‬

With mounting accusations of body shaming, Dani quickly deleted the image and apologized. She then attempted to limit the damage the photo had caused; responding to the public condemnations she tweeted:

"There is no excuse. I understand fully the magnitude of this post that I have hurt a lot of people, women. Body shaming is not okay...and not something to joke about."

She went on to say that it was a private conversation that "should never have happened" adding that she was "deeply sorry" for "hurting and offending you all." In addition she uploaded an apology video to Youtube.


Not everyone was convinced that  Dani's apology was sincere:

Bonnie Reynolds ‪@bonniereynolds
‪@DaniMathers‪ No, you're sorry you got caught. Do you feel better about yourself by putting others down? You need to do some self reflection.‬

Claire ‪@StoriesCemetery
@DaniMathers Vile. You're a bully and an apology won't ever change that. Do you have any idea of the damage nastiness like this causes?

Greg Mann ‪@gmann72
‪@DaniMathers‪ Shame on you. Now we know who you really are. Can't unsee that either.‬

Dani ended by saying: "I need to take some time to myself now to reflect on why I did this horrible thing."


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