Change your world, not your body.

It’s a misconception that confident people have always been that way, or that they hide some terrible ‘flaw’ behind the mask of confidence. Although both can be true; sometimes you just need to find your feet and blossom into a truly confident person, usually through your perception of the world and your interactions within it. And more often than not, this requires change. A change of perspective and an open mind.

In my previous post I wrote about how I became interested in feminism and equality, and it was during this time my interest bought me to many sources of inspiration.

Throughout my school years I was bullied because of my weight and appearance, something I know unfortunately too many of us can relate to. I was the ‘fat’ one, even though I’ve never been above a size 16. It never made sense to me. I come from a home where I have always been told I am smart and beautiful, so although the taunts were hard to bear and sometimes it was exhausting, I trusted my families judgement better. I know others who weren’t so lucky.

I feel I grew up not seeing a diverse enough range of bodies in mainstream media. I had people I looked up to, sure, but I wish I had seen more fabulous curvy ladies like me. I loved Dawn French because she was so unapologetically herself but that just wasn’t enough.

My weight has always fluctuated; I really really LOVE food, I put on weight easy but I exercise regularly and enjoy it. I spent years never fully being myself, holding parts of myself back or not doing things until I could ‘lose some weight’ or change in some way. It seems madness to me now, when I not only like but appreciate what I see in the mirror. But a lot of people never emerge from that negative cycle.

So I offer up to you now some great resources of inspiration for me personally and hope it encourages you to find your own. This post tends to veer on the curvier side as that is a body type I feel is not represented well but hopefully there is something for everyone. I know I have some male readers so apologise for the distinct lack of men but I’m only just scratching the surface with this, so in time I will develop a broader knowledge base . In the meantime perhaps, as a starting point check out Jackson Katz an anti-sexism activist who was featured in the Miss Representation film.

But this is for all of you, male or female. To remember that all different shapes and sizes are amazing and those inside deserve respect.

Laura Wells

An environmental scientist with an extreme passion for our oceans and protection of biodiversity, international plus size model and a promoter of positive body image. She is one of the first plus size models I came across during my research. ‘Plus’ size causes a lot of debate when models like Laura state they are only a UK 14-16 but the industry starts at an 8-10 and at the moment that is just the way it is. She doesn’t gripe about this: an industry that has given her so much. Instead she talks a lot about healthy body image and also being more than just your appearance, highlighting the importance of education and global causes.

check out her Facebook page for links to all her projects and other sites.

 

HILDA

The creation of artist Duane Bryers, ‘Hilda was one of the only atypical plus-sized pin-up queens to grace the pages of American calendars from the 1950s up until the early 1980s, and achieved moderate notoriety in the 1960s.’ Full of fun and not shy about her body, she’s out living life through fabulous illustration.

See more at ToilGirls.com

 

GABI FRESH

OH this woman is stylish! She runs a personal style blog aiming to showcase high fashion is for all sizes and has collaborated with swimsuits for all on a range of diverse sized swimwear. It was this picture that first caught my eye…she is so right.

Go to her website for great posts and beautiful clothes.

 

NADIA ABOULHOSN

Another wonderful fashion blogger, Nadia is also a brand ambassador for boohoo.com. She is one of the people featured that encouraged me to just GET OVER myself and my fear of wearing shorts.

Go to her website for diverse style and ways to wear the newest trends.

 

CHERRY DOLLFACE

I’ve previously interviewed Cherry on her involvement with the modelling industry and her struggle with body shaming due to being smaller. It’s important to highlight that although smaller body types are better represented, this kind of image based bullying goes both ways. Cherry has many fashion and beauty collaborations and supports the Bombshells Against Bullying campaign, all of which are all mentioned in the interview ‘A bite of the cherry’

Her Youtube channel also has great hair and beauty tutorials.

SAFFI KARINA

A former ‘straight size’ model who instead of suppressing her natural figure to fit the industry decided to embrace her body and switched to the plus size industry. One of her former agencies dropped her for being ‘too big’ at a size 10 (yes, really!) but she didn’t let this stand in her way. She has launched The Curve Project in London, the UK’s first plus size model workshop, offering advice, inspiration and body confidence masterclasses.

 

TESS MUNSTER

I found out about Tess through Cherry as they have done various events and videos together. She always wanted to be a model but struggled with bullying and rejection from the mainstream agencies. Following a passion for beauty she became an amazing makeup artist and began blogging, through which she built up a strong fan base. Recently named one of the world’s top plus size models by Refinery 29, Huff Post, & Vogue Italia, her career has really taken off in the last couple of years. She has fulfilled her dream of modelling and uses her platform to be a fierce ambassador for women’s empowerment.

Founder of the #effyourbeautystandards movement, more images and links can be found on her website. I spend way too much time following her updates!

 

DENISE BIDOT

In the last month Denise walked the runway at both New York and London fashion week with elle.com naming her this seasons break-out plus size model. She has been the face of Levi’s, Forever21 Plus, Target Plus, Kohls, Macy’s, and stars in Nuvotv’s series Curvy Girls. I’m sure we’ll be seeing much more of her in the future.

More of her editorial work can be seen on her website.

 

ASHLEY GRAHAM

American plus size model Ashley is also making waves in the industry by spreading the message of positive body image. She recently walked the catwalk for the SS15 Evans Design Collective which was full of beautiful pieces and a breath of fresh air to see a variety of different body shapes wearing the clothes. She also has a lingerie collection with plus size retailer Navabi. And like many of the women featured in this article she encourages those who can to exercise with the #curvyfitclub.

vogue.co.uk recently named her as one of ‘the new role models’.

Ashley Graham website

 

THE BEAUTY MYTH. NAOMI WOLF 

This book was essential for my dissertation, I have read and researched both praise and criticism for it and highly recommend you read it.

 

HEALTHY IS THE NEW SKINNY

At first I found the HNS title a little problematic, however it is not stating there is anything wrong with being skinny, as for some of us this is a natural body shape. It is simply a comment on societies ability to make certain body types ‘fashionable’ and desirable over others. They have turned this on its head and suggested ‘how about we make health the priority, the most desirable thing’. Now I’m a believer that ‘healthy’ is different for everyone, not a one size fits all deal, so I always just take what I need from healthy living resources and apply it my own way. HNS is great for this as there are plenty of good recipes, workout tips and messages of positive thought!

You can find out more about founder Katie (above) and her husband Bradford on the website and facebook

“Healthy is the New Skinny is about revolutionizing how we think about, talk about, live in and love our bodies.”

 

JESS BAKER

When the news broke that Abercrombie and Fitch CEO had stated that he didn’t want ‘fat’ or ‘not so cool’ kids wearing his companies clothes I felt like face-planting my desk. However Jess Baker had a much better response which I found through Huffington Post. This lead me to her unique brand of awesome-ness on her website The Militant Baker where she describes herself as:

“A mental health professional, pastry chef, ex-art major, crazy cat lady, fat model, fiery advocate, and total pain in the ass.”

She has very recently given up her 9-5 in pursuit of becoming a full time international body advocate and I wish her every bit of luck, she’s already doing a fabulous job. Her website has a great selection of intelligent and funny articles to check out, as well as her Ted Talk!

 

 

she also had on one of her posts this awesome quote (via tumblr)

And that is right, being a Body Image Warrior isn’t always easy because it can feel like a battle. But every time I think it’s too hard to fight such a huge industry and ingrained societal ideals, I remember what it was like to be 14. To be a teenage and to be taunted for simply looking like you, and I remember is it so worth standing up for what you believe in.

Yes there are more terrible things happening in the world but as Jess Baker says in her Ted Talk; it is not superficial, because how you perceive yourself on the outside effects the inside and your whole participation in life (watch it, she explains it in more depth). Happiness and health start from within, they are things that are different for everyone and look different on everyone. But more acceptance and respect means more happy people, which makes a better world to live in. And to me, that sounds far from superficial.

So go, get searching, take these few inspirations and use them as a springboard to find your own positive body image warriors. But remember it all starts with YOU.

 

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Interview: Endangered Bodies

I have always been interested in women’s representation and ever since starting my degree I have had the opportunity to explore these ideas further. Over the past 6 months I have been researching this and related topics for my dissertation which questions ideals of female beauty.

I came across AnyBody UK and was fascinated to find such a fantastic resource for the types of issues I was looking into. I was lucky enough to get an interview with the London team to discuss their work.

Tell us about Endangered Bodies and how it all started:

Endangered Bodies is an local-global initiative launched by the international Endangered Species summits in March 2011, held in LondonNew YorkBuenos Aires, Sao Paulo and Melbourne.

As of April 2013, Endangered Bodies has chapters based out of London (also known as AnyBody), New York (via The Women’s Therapy Centre Institute), Buenos Aires (AnyBody Argentina), IrelandSao PauloSydney (run by Body Matters Australasia), Germany (AnyBody Deutschland) and most recently, Mexico.

We, the London team (along with Argentina and Germany due to the translation issues of Endangered Bodies) identify as AnyBody UK, which began as a blog convened by Susie Orbach in 2002 as we have a strong following using this name, it can get a little complicated at times!

We are a society that are more visually literate than ever before yet we still buy into the marketing strategies that sell us the belief that we are “not good enough”. Why do you think women have become so disillusioned with their bodies and how has it become accepted as ‘normal’ to dislike ones appearance so much?

Well there are a few factors that have sadly converged to help along this ‘normality’

As we all know a great deal of money can be made from manipulating insecurity and desire so aggressive marketing strategies have capitalized on this very cleverly, advertisers are using the rhetoric of the body acceptance movement to cajole, comfort, guilt or shame potential customers into buying their products.

Then there’s the rise and rise of celebrity culture and cheap gossip magazines pitting women against each other constantly with their school-bully mentality, heaping praise one minute and shaming the next.

There’s also the filtering of a commercial porn-aesthetic into the mainstream further cementing women as a passive object, often with a body quite removed from natural reality.

New technology and social media have also had an impact, as the numbers of manipulated images we see on a daily basis is in the thousands for the average person with a smart phone and access to the Internet on other devices

However ‘knowing’ we might all be about advertising and even how images are manipulated, the sheer volume of visual media we are exposed to and that we also process very quickly before reason has a chance to kick in, is staggering.

How and in what ways is this enduring negative mindset affecting women?

It’s affecting women and girls (and ever increasingly men and boys) in pretty much every aspect of their lives to greater and lesser degrees, depending on their resilience and confidence about their bodies. The statistics are extremely worrying, 72% of girls will avoid ordinary activities like going to school, to the doctor or voicing an opinion because they do not feel they look good enough, they feel ashamed. Shame is an extremely powerful emotion and the use of it by the fashion, beauty and diet industries and even the government who are weighing school children with the discredited BMI as a guide to their health, is disturbing.

Your ‘Ditching Dieting’ information is very interesting and along with other resources has finally cemented my view that the so called weight ‘crisis’ we are apparently faced with is nothing more than a business model constructed to induce fear and make money. Do you think we will ever be able to break the cycle, how can we tackle such a powerful industry when it holds such influence?

Such a tough question, there is huge potential to break the cycle, but you’re right, the diet industry has so much money and power at its disposal and, crucially for companies like Weight Watchers for example, they have passionate advocates who are emotionally invested, people who are Lifetime Members (if it was so great why would you need to be a member for life?!) and despite having to keep returning will defend their chosen programme. Weight Watchers and other diet programmes do have some good points, mainly the regular meetings for mutual support, many people rely on these meetings, bond with others and even make friends. The fact that these meetings could be free of charge or virtually free of charge and even better, free from weight stigma and a space for discussion about food, well-being and dealing with emotional eating, is something that would be great. Great for those who feel they want to get healthy and share the burden of how society and the media make us feel about our bodies, but obviously not so good for the diet industry.

But also there are huge issues around health which do need to be addressed: sedentary jobs, stress, mental health issues and poor nutrition resulting from low income are factors that need to be taken into consideration. What many people misunderstand (because it profits so many that there are such misunderstandings) is that you can be bigger and still healthy, in fact many of the practices people follow to lose weight are extremely unhealthy. Thinness at any cost is destroying many lives. Really what we need is to help people understand, care for and occupy their bodies, rather than seeing them as something troublesome that does not conform and that needs to be flawless and thus over-hauled, made-over or fixed. To single out one thing is to miss the point, health is holistic and we need to tend carefully to our minds and bodies without the intrusion of shareholders’ interests.

Your work links a lot with feminism; the connotations of which are constantly being redefined. Through its evolution it has been marred with the assumptions of needing extremist views and hatred towards men, causing a reluctancy amongst some women to declare themselves as such. But what is it really to be feminist today?

Yes, absolutely, feminism is inextricable from what we do partly because I don’t think there’s a woman on our LDN team who wouldn’t identify as such and partly because we see ideas around valuing oneself, diversity, positive representation and equality to be inherently feminist. We follow and share all sorts of feminist resources online and try to all stay as informed as possible around gender debates and related issues.

Also it’s not a women vs. men thing, that’s far too simple and aside from it painting a horrible stereotype of us all as man-haters, it also ignores the fact that men can be wonderful allies that benefit as much as women from feminist achievements as women and such a simplistic explanation forgets that some women can be fierce misogynists because they feel they would benefit more from patriarchal ideals than a balanced world.

To be a feminist today could in some ways seem more complex than it was historically because of the co-opting of the language of liberation by profiteers and also because of the different kinds of things we need to do throughout the world and in our own lives. How do we help? What is most important? We know about so many more social and political ills thanks to technological communications, sometimes being worried about where to start is a huge task. Ultimately the achievements of feminism, civil rights and human rights and rightful challenging of various prejudices, means that feminists must be more inclusive and thoughtful of potential discrimination. Feminism is about challenging the idea of a binary split between the genders, that we recognize ambiguity, imperfection, fear and vulnerability for what they are, part of human experience and accepting these things and accepting ourselves and others. Believing we should not be discriminated against because of our biology, gender, race, abilities, sexuality, class or geographical location. Being a feminist in a nutshell means understanding that we are all human with strengths and frailties and we all matter as much as anyone else.

How do your campaigns aim to target the self-loathing epidemic? What changes does Endangered Bodies want to achieve as short and long term goals?

Our Ditching Dieting* Campaign aims to give people a voice and speak out about their experiences of dieting, so many people feel ashamed that they’ve ‘failed’ even though the diet industry sets everyone up to fail as they need the repeat custom, if the diet industry really cared about their customers’ well-being they would become victims of their own success and rightly so, any business or organization who wants to help people who are struggling should really hope for a time when they are no longer needed. This campaign has been dormant for a while as we are quite stretched for time since we are all volunteers.

*When we use the term Diet (to be ditched) we do not mean a person’s diet i.e. what they generally eat day to day ‘a balanced diet’, we mean a programme that is finite and centres around restriction, deprivation, points, calories, measuring, indeed anything advocating an unnatural way of eating that ignores ones bodily cues in order to lose (or even gain) weight.

Our Shape Your Culture project, has been, and hopefully will continue to be, fantastic and effective. It is part Media literacy, part consciousness-raising and part activism. We work with young people to unpick the falseness and bias of mainstream media, we ask the groups we work with to question what they see, hear and even say themselves in relation to bodies and body image and ask them what they’d like to say, do or change and then help facilitate their completion of a project.

We have seen confidence, friendships and support networks grow over the first nine month project and couldn’t have been happier with the outcomes.

In short, with our campaigns we want people to feel they have a voice, that they are agents of change in their own lives and potentially the lives of others. We hope that we can help people feel more at home in their bodies and not be so desperate to change something if they can learn how to understand and care for themselves. We believe that DOING and getting engaged is the way to help facilitate such changes and we hope to continue to do so.

How can like-minded people get involved with Endangered Bodies?

At present we’re not able to manage volunteers as we’re all volunteers ourselves and are a bit swamped searching for funding and various other projects. But, we have created an online Activist Pack which is free to download from our website and contains all sorts of resources, from an intuitive eating guide, to tips for hosting a Ditching Dieting Speak Out to images to circulate and raise awareness, so for now we’d love for people to use those resources, spread the word and get inspired and as soon as we’re able we’ll be taking on volunteers to push everything further!

A huge thank you to the team for their response. They are very busy individuals doing a great job. Spread the word and get involved!

Follow on twitter: @Anybodyorg @Endangeredbodys

 

Life is a balance…

…of holding on and letting go.

I read this the other day and thought how true it was. Balance is so key to all of us and how we experience the time we are given. We make choices of what we hold near to us and what we let drift away or even push, so it’s important to know that you’re doing either for the right reasons.

My personal journey has seen me cross paths with this idea recently; emotional de-cluttering is more cathartic than you could believe! In the last couple of months I’ve felt a great increase in pressure of Uni work, attempted to deflect the ever persistent questions of “What are you going to do after you graduate this year?” and also, sadly suffered a personal bereavement. All events which are common and relative to us all in some way. It is our reactions to these situations that determine how we move forward, how we attempt to stay balanced.

Now when I say ‘balanced’, I think that can often conjure some misconceptions. An image springs to mind of a juggling act or a plate spinner, both of which are skilled to keep so many elements in play at the same time but it does not evoke peace, more like underlying tension. And perhaps in our increasingly chaotic culture the meaning of balance has shifted. It is seen as the achievement of spinning more and more plates at the same time and still being able to move. At some point though your arms will get tired, you might start to lose focus and the balancing act becomes more of a stress-managing act. True balance is being able to put down a few plates every now and then, even the lot and not beat yourself up about it. We all do it in different guises; I did it about this very blog, set up as an addition to my college work and an outlet for my writing but when other things had to take higher priority I felt guilty about not writing and that’s when moments of enjoyment become ‘tasks’. When enforced expectation takes over.

There’s always lots of discussion about not living up to cultural and social standards but what I’ve found the hardest is measuring up to the ones you set yourself, disguised as someone elses’ so there is someone to blame when you’re not hitting the mark. But they aren’t stone pillars, they’re just stakes in the ground that can be moved whenever they need to be. And that’s where real balance lives, in between the ever-changing guidelines. Really look at what you hold on to and make sure it makes you smile.

You don’t have to stop ‘wanting it all’ to achieve balance just don’t have it as your life goal. Accepting the transience of all things will help expose your enjoyment and appreciation of what you have already and the importance of the present moment. Holding on and focusing on what is now and letting go of expectations, negativity, of past and present.

Balance is much like contentment which I have mentioned before. Although it is intrinsically linked with happiness, that is not all of its story, it is much more about acceptance.

Acceptance of highs and lows, light and dark. We can’t be balanced with one foot in the past and one in the future, you have to be rooted in the presence.

So what’s the moral of this psychoanalytical waffle?

Well, when you’re feeling like it’s all too much and you need a time out perhaps you should…

check your feet and put down those plates!

And here’s a nice little story to round this up, taken from The Buried Life:

A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, he wordlessly picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls. He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.

The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.

The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar was full.. The students responded with a unanimous ‘yes.’

The professor then produced two Beers from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar effectively filling the empty space between the sand.The students laughed..

‘Now,’ said the professor as the laughter subsided, ‘I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things—-your family, your children, your health, your friends and your favorite passions—-and if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full. The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house and your car.. The sand is everything else—-the small stuff.

‘If you put the sand into the jar first,’ he continued, ‘there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life.

If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff you will never have room for the things that are important to you.

Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness.

Spend time with your children. Spend time with your parents. Visit with grandparents. Take your spouse out to dinner. Play another 18. There will always be time to clean the house and mow the lawn.

Take care of the golf balls first—-the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.

One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the Beer represented. The professor smiled and said, ‘I’m glad you asked.’ The Beer just shows you that no matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room for a couple of Beers with a friend.

Pressure Cooking.

I heard the term ‘Quarter-life Crisis’ which I will refer to as ‘QLC’ a few years ago, just in passing conversation as an amusing anecdote. It meant nothing to me, I was just starting of University and with graduation four years away, the immediate future was a smooth, linear plan.

I’m now 26, I graduate next Summer and I recently became acquainted with the QLC. Life got scary again.

Now I’m no stranger to scary life occurrences. But the ones before I have had no control over. The decisions were not mine and I just had to pick up what pieces I could and start again. This time it’s different.

“Balls in your court now” taunts the future. “Hope you make the right choices. Y’know, not to pressure you, it’s just the rest of your life that’s all.”

Right, ok. The rest of my life. So what have we got to work with…I’m doing a degree which I love but I’m not sure where it’s going to take me yet, I’ve had various jobs before that-though none I’ve really loved, I’ve got lots of big dreams but I’m not quite sure where to start.

And then the future is back like Jeremy Paxman on University Challenge. “Yes, come on!”

Ok, I’m thinking. Just give me a minute…

Hey is that tumbleweed blowing past?

“I’m going to have to hurry you!”

I DON’T KNOW! PANIC FACE!

If this sounds familiar (you don’t have to do the face) then lets just take some deep breaths for a moment…

Ok? Right lets continue.

There are many statistics that support the notion that QLC does exist. If you’re prone to dramatic tendencies like myself it can often be written off as some random existential crisis. But with more and more pressure placed on younger and younger shoulders, with expectations ever-increasing and with societies strange compulsion to compare and measure ourselves against each others achievements, is it any wonder Twentysomethings are cracking under the strain?

“41% of 20-29-year-olds say they feel significantly pressured or  “under almost more stress than they can bear.”Amanda Robbins.Conquering Your Quarter-life Crisis: Advice From Twentysomethings Who Have Been There and Survived. 

That’s a huge percentage. And it rises in regards to individuals suffering anxiety because they simply feel they ‘aren’t doing enough with their lives’.

I better state here that I’m not going to rattle out anymore statistics, complain about the intense competition in the job market, point the finger of blame at anyone specific, I’m not even going to offer you a fixed solution.

Because I’m sorry, there isn’t one.

Don’t do the face. It’ll be ok.

Transitional periods of life are always going to be tough. A lot of us fear the new and unknown, we want to get it right first time, no one likes tripping up along the way. But you will and the only way to make peace with your QLC is to take on a bit more acceptance. Maybe even embrace it?

I’d say 80% of the articles I’ve read on QLC have been very negative. Whereas instead of wallowing you could use it to motivate you. Be proactive; make a list of what you want to accomplish, sit and work out your finances, prioritize what you’d like to achieve, research areas of interest, speak to other people and network. It wont necessarily make everything suddenly fall into place, you will no doubt have to make sacrifices. But if it’s worth it and you are willing to work hard and never give up no matter how many times you hear “We’ve decided to go in another direction” or “You’re a bit too over-qualified for this particular position” you WILL get there.

The most important thing is that you always believe it.

And if you are struggling with a QLC and maybe even don’t have a clue what you want to do; be patient and never stop looking and learning from everything around you because inspiration can come from anywhere.

You are unique; everyone has their own purpose and reason for being here. It’s just some of us have negativity blinkers on or have got our head stuck in the sand. Don’t use your QLC as an excuse to mope and become hardened to the world. Those things you feel you will never achieve, they aren’t make-believe, they’re out there! And don’t let that picture in your head of what you feel your future should look like rule your decisions; nothing is fixed.

If you need some perspective, think of what you wanted to be when you were little. I’m sure your picture is significantly different. I wanted to be in Animals of Farthing Wood. Advancements in science have not been progressive enough to allow me to change species and I am yet to make it to the elusive White Deer Park. You never know though eh.

To finish here’s 5 little helpers for when future is snapping at your heels and you have no answers…

  • Lean on those close to you. It may be family or friends, but look to someone with unconditional love for support. Trust their honesty and in turn be honest with them.
  • Don’t worry about making mistakes. Accept that you will make them, if you didn’t you would stand still forever and learn nothing. And when you do make them, take responsibility for them but remember to be kind to yourself. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and start again.
  • The things that try to break you sometimes open other doors. Life will at some point will inevitably throw something at you that will turn everything you knew upside down. Take the time you need to heal your wounds or heal your heart but don’t be defeated.
  • Understand your strengths and build on what you love. Don’t focus on what you feel you can’t do this benefits no one! Successful foundations are only ever built on positivity.
  • Laugh. It seems simple but it’s probably one of the most important. The first time you laugh after a long period of sadness can feel like a new beginning. When you learn to laugh at yourself you’ll find things a lot less stressful.

We can’t predict the future, we can’t even predict tomorrow, but don’t let yourself live in fear of that, use it to drive yourself.

Remember you don’t have eternity to be you and whether you realise it or not being the only ‘you’ in the world is pretty awesome,so make the most of it!

How to get the perfect body.

Are you sick of seeing that statement splattered everywhere you look? Or does this hollow promise fill you with a sense of glee that perhaps this could be the one that works? This could be the one that ‘changes your life’ and transforms you into this other person whos’ entire life improves simply through their physical appearance.

We all know the truth really…

It’s not your body that’s imperfect or tainted. It’s your mindset.

I would like to note early on in this post that I speak generically about the majority of individuals’ day to day struggles with body image; not when it becomes an illness. Although it is intrinsically linked with this subject, I make no assumptions about eating disorders as they are a serious matter and I have not the insight or knowledge for my comments to be that far reaching.

We live in an age where we are constantly bombarded by imagery and advertisements. A quick internet search with approximate estimations states that we can see anything up to 5,000 media images a day. We are shown how we should make a career, how we should earn money but most of all we are shown how we should look. This is not completely female orientated either anymore, with a dramatic rise in men worrying about their appearance too. A BBC article stated that the Centre for Appearance Research at UWE found that four in five of the men surveyed were unhappy with their bodies. This has been a prevelent problem amongst women for some time; many blaming the media and fashion industry for their distinct lack of enthusiasm for diverse body types.

Sure I can see where blame can fall within these areas but I do not feel they can be solely to blame. Surely we should be able to look at images of other women without feeling threatened thus inducing more self-hatred in terms of our looks. Yes, I know it is because these images have almost always been manipulated beyond belief as can be seen in the 2006 campaign by Dove:

But no matter how much we protest about photoshopped images, technology will not go backwards. It just keeps progressing. The levels of how much it can be used certainly need looking into, but getting rid of it altogether….I find that very unlikely.

The crazy thing is that we are so media savvy and proficient at reading advertising messages these days that we know it’s all a money making ploy; yet we still buy into it. We sign up for the slimming clubs, purchase only their diet options, buy the mega bucks creams and lotions that promise to banish cellulite, some of us even go as far as cosmetic surgery proceedures. All to obtain a ‘perfection’ that we don’t even understand.

Because we are being sold the message ‘You are not enough.’

I’m ranting about it but don’t think I’m immune to all this. I’ve been to the clubs and wasted my money on the products. It didn’t make me happier. It fuelled what can only be described as a narcissistic obsession to achieve an ever shifting goal.

What changed?

I just simply got fed up with it all to be honest. It’s exhausting chasing something that is so relentless in it’s desire to make you feel inadequate. I stopped following the negative breadcrumbs set down by the media power-houses (though they would have perhaps been celery cubes instead as don’t forget, carbs are evil right?) and just started seeking out more positive influences and taking it all ‘with a pinch of salt’.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t just sit on my ass all day now eating muffins thinking I’m sticking it to the system. If you’re health is suffering at either end of the weight spectrum then you may want to look at making some changes. But for goodness sake do them for YOU not because you think you need to fit into some sort of unrealistic ideal. And on that note ‘healthy’ comes in all shapes and sizes. It’s not just the size 10 athlete; it can be the size 20 or the size 6 as well. You know nothing about a persons inner health by judging their external appearance.

And this is what has to stop; the constant judging. We’re all guilty of it at some point. Women hating on other women because of their size and appearance. This over hyped bitchyness that is so widely accepted in the media now. Why has it become ok?

Participating in this in any form will not make you feel better about yourself. So just quit it.

Deal with your own issues before projecting your self-loathing onto others. And that’s what I did. I went back to the venomous words of bullies from school and acknowledged them as just words, looked at the reams of extreme diet tips and acknowledged them as just fads. And then I looked at my pale,wobbly, cellulite covered thighs that I have hated for so long and acknowledged them as part of a body that has taken me through 26 years so far of love, hate, sadness, hope and finally acknowledged it with the thanks it deserves.

Your body and you, with all the ‘flaws’ you deem to be imperfect are beautiful. The only person that can take that away is you. I’m not saying you actually become Narcissus, nobody needs to love themselves that much. But we have been told for too long that we should want to change something about ourselves and anyone who says they are happy and love the way they look is immediatley classed as extremely arrogant or lying. If you’re positive it directly affects those around you, so start setting a good example.

It’s not easy. I know that from experience. Our perceptions seem to have become extremely warped and not everyone will want to fix that. But things can change. So if you’re there already, struggling through or just plain can’t see through the fog of self-hatred, remember for now….

Plain and simple. Don’t let your physical appearance determine your life choices, you are so much more. Don’t waste your time, your life, wishing you were something else. And in regards to my original statement; how do you get the perfect body?

You’ve already got it.