Jo Swinson – ‘Don’t Tell Your Children They’re Beautiful’

I came across this article on the Telegraph website today, and I thought I should share it with you guys.

The first thing to say about this is that I always find women with no children feel that they are best placed to give advice on how to raise them, despite having no personal experience themselves.

Childless Jo Swinson is our Women’s Minister here in the UK. Wading in to the Self-Esteem and Body Confidence argument whole-heartedly, she says that we should not tell our children that they are beautiful, nor talk of beauty around them, to stop the emphasis in society on appearance.

:“I know as an aunt, you fall into the trap of turning to your niece and saying, ‘you look beautiful’ — because of course all children do look beautiful — but if the message they get is that is what’s important and that is what gets praise, then that’s not necessarily the most positive message you want them to hear.” Instead, Ms Swinson suggests that children should be praised only on educational achievements, such as completing a jigsaw or learning to ride a bike.

She also mentions that talking about our own bodies in front of children can be harmful. Her comments come ahead of a long-anticipated dossier by the government on how we can combat self-confidence issues in young people, which for me is way overdue.

Although her comments are probably well-meant, I feel they really are somewhat misguided.

I find that although our parents have the greatest influence in our lives, as we are growing up and become older outside influences (such as television, magazines and peer pressure) become more powerful. My Mum loved make-up and has always been a glamourous lady; she would put plaits in my hair and let me wear lip gloss to go to a party. Frustratingly I was a bit of a tomboy back then, more interested in climbing trees and riding my bike. But does this mean that my Mum is responsible for my Eating Disorder and various appearance-related issues later in life? Of course not.

Personally I feel it is futile to refrain from mentioning beauty around children. If we hold back, what’s to stop Granny, Aunty, or Emma from school, or Hannah’s Mum from complimenting your child? Are we supposed to ban certain words around our children, treating them with the same caution and vehemence as swear words?

For me my peers and school mates were the cause of my downfall. I think it’s likely to be the biggest influence for many young girls and boys – after all, everyone wants to be liked. Everyone wants to fit in. Historically children have always laid store by appearance – which is why the ginger kid, the fat kid and the one with glasses copped for it every time.

This, coupled with society’s fixation on perfection in all areas including how we look, which is supported by images of how we ‘should look’ accompanied by articles on ‘how to look that way’.

It’s only natural that a younger, more vulnerable mind will look at these altogether and, as I did, use every single piece of ‘advice’ I can find and study every perfect image in a desperate effort to be beautiful and therefore to be liked. With Role Models such as Rihanna, Nicki Minaj and Kim Kardashian, (Not to mention dolls like Barbie) who are maintained by copious amounts of surgery, hair dye and make-up, there really is little evidence to suggest that what a parent says will make a difference. After all, aren’t we hell-bent as children on ignoring the requests of our parents?

It is this association between beauty and self-worth, plus acceptance by our peers, which I believe is really toxic here. And that’s going to take a lot more than neglecting to compliment our daughter’s hair or our son’s new t-shirt.

To my mind, the obsession on looks is only going to end when the media ceases to bombard us with fad diets, celebrity bodies and over-photoshopped models, and the goverment stops releasing statistics on ‘harmful’ foods and obesity.

Perhaps the Minister ought to concentrate on regulating the media and campaigning for better self-esteem in women and young girls, provision for those with EDs and mental health issues on the NHS, and a clamp down on ‘nutrition’ experts flooding the press with dubious ‘research’.

Do you agree with me? Or is the Women’s Minister right in asking parents to avoid the subject of beauty with their children?

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‘Don’t tell your children they’re beautiful’

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Curves – As Harmful As Skinny?

There’s a lot in the media about a desire to be ‘skinny’ affecting the mental and physical health of women in today’s society. But I wanted to address a less-publicised issue, which involves curves. Or more precisely, ‘curves in all the right places.’

When is a woman ‘curvy’ and when is she ‘fat’? Surely this comes down to perception. For me, being curvy involves going in and out like an hourglass, with good cleavage,a round bum and tiny waist. How many of us really have this figure?

To me, it’s another unrealistic ideal. Just as it’s true for most of us that we will never have the lithe, long legs of a Victoria’s Secret model, it’s also true that a lot of women aren’t shaped perfectly. This promotion of a specific shape again makes us think that there is something ‘wrong’ with us the way we are. So you’re flat up top and have got a huge backside? Or maybe you have big boobs and a flat bum? We start to feel inadequate because things aren’t perfect – but as we all know, NOBODY is perfect.

I’ve included a picture of Kim Kardashian below, before and after photoshop with her famous curves. She hasn’t needed to be altered much – but note how the proportion of her hips and chest are maintained whilst her waist and legs have been slimmed down.

What do we all think about this? Personally I find curves more beautiful than skinny, but I think it’s important to know that curves come in all shapes and sizes.

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You can make a Difference – Research and Helping Others

It’s difficult to talk about an upsetting past experience which has affected you greatly. I for one appreciate and empathise with anyone who doesn’t feel able to tell others what they have been through, through fear of judgement, stigmas, negativity or alienation. With any mental illness there is always a risk that being surrounded by everything from your past is going to make you feel worse again and bring back some fairly unpleasant memories.

But you don’t have to be ‘hands on’ to help. Of course, I’m passionate about raising awareness of eating disorders and supporting anyone suffering. There are so many ways to do that though – more than just the blog and the books. I’m currently taking part in a study conducted by Manchester University on treating those with Eating Disorders in the NHS. From my own personal experience and that of others, it’s shocking and concerning just how ignorant and misunderstood some ‘professionals’ can be when it comes to EDs. With this issue being particularly close to my heart, a book on the way and on a waiting list for Ambassadorship with B-Eat, I decided to take part in research to make a contribution (however small) to the care and treatment of those going through these issues now and in the future.

Many Universities are running research programmes on this increasingly concerning issue, as more and more people are diagnosed with EDs at an increasingly young age. Participation is anonymous and you are required to fill in a survey beforehand to ensure that you are not still poorly or vulnerable in any way. To know that I may make a difference is really important to me, and it really doesn’t involve much time or effort. If you would like to help others and take part in research, go to http://www.b-eat.co.uk/support-us/get-involved/research/

Give and you shall inevitably receive. Even simply sharing your experiences is invaluable! If you’re able to, you can be part of research and helping others.

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This Week’s Inspirational Woman – Robyn Lawley

I think you’ll agree that Robyn Lawley is absolutely stunning. The 24-year-old Australian model has been featured in campaigns for Calzedonia, Ralph Lauren and Boux Avenue.

Robyn is a size 16 and 6′ 2”, and in the fashion industry she is classed as ‘Plus-Size’. However as she rightly says, this is rather misleading.

“I’m normal size. I wish we could all be known as models, rather than ‘plus-size’. It’s the skinny models who should be called ‘minus-size’.

The most inspiring thing about her for me is that she has been through the trials and tribulations of any of us girls in her teen years. Of course her height (plus beautiful face and hair) meant she was perfect for modelling; but ‘All I had to change was my body’.

She spent her late teens on extreme diets with a fluctuating weight, with one constant theme; she was terribly unhappy. She’s experienced the crippling insecurity borne out of trying to be someone she isn’t; someone she feels she ‘should be’.

She entered her first modelling competition aged 15. “The other girls were skinny…but I was thinking, ‘Oh my God, my thighs are touching.’ All my weight was in my face, I’d plucked my eyebrows into a skinny line and was bleaching my hair to look pretty.”

Haven’t we all been there? Perhaps not standing in a bikini in a modelling competition…but almost in our own competition, lining ourselves up against other, ‘skinnier, prettier’ girls and feeling guilty, disgusting and inferior as a result?

Robyn’s attitude to life and appearance is refreshing for someone who is in such an image-obsessed industry. She firmly believes that life is to be enjoyed, not to be spent worrying about how fat or thin you are. “If you feel guilty about food, it stops you from being in the moment”. She says.

Isn’t this a refreshing breather from the onslaught of Victoria’s Secret models, all muscle and bone with harsh fitness regimes and extreme diets which girls all over the world are trying to replicate.

Each and every one of us can take inspiration from Robyn and try to love ourselves a little bit more. She is proof that it can be done – and she is now successful, happy and, of course, beautiful.

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Rose xx

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Belle Vere – My Favourite ‘Plus-Size’ Shoot of All Time

This shoot for me epitomises real glamour, beauty and femininity. It’s a couple of years old, from Vogue Italia. The images are shot by Steven Meisel, and the first time I saw it I couldn’t stop looking at it – art at it’s best!

Most importantly, aside from all the over-used ‘so nice to see plus-size in Vogue’ arguments, it is unapologetically sexy and beautiful.

This, for me is a true representation of women. Confident, provocative, sensual and fierce – everything a woman should be!

Here’s a link to see the full gallery for Belle Vere – pics below!  http://www.fashionising.com/pictures/b–The-plus-sized-models-of-Vogue-Italia-6957.html

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Ideas of Beauty – Pale and Tan

‘Pale is interesting’. Right? Chances are, you’re thinking ‘wrong.’ I know I am!

I love to be tanned; I feel healthy, happy and pretty.And many other girls I know feel this way. Fake tan is a huge business in this country; and ‘tanorexic’ is now recognized as an addiction to sunbeds. In our culture, it’s ‘cool’ to be tanned. Ironically in the UK we don’t have much sun, which is why we resort to such methods as above!

Elsewhere however, it’s a very different story. In Asia, the opposite is true. In some societies being tanned signifies working outdoors and ultimately poverty, as it did many years ago here.

When I worked for Estee Lauder, we stocked a different range at the airport for our Asian customers. These included whitening creams, to lighten skin-tone. If you go into an Asian beauty store, it’s likely you’ll see many different brands of this product. Some of these contain harmful chemicals and harsh bleaches, but in the name of beauty women still apply these to their skin.

The same is true of fake tan – many claim that the ingredients are potentially dangerous, especially to younger skin. But would you give up fake tan? I’m guessing not. The same is true of sunbeds and sunbathing – would you ever stay in the shade for the sake of your health, to sacrifice your tan?

Just remember – however you look and feel, you are conditioned to lean towards one idea of ‘beauty’. But of course we can’t all look the same. And there are many different types of beauty. Bear in mind when you are having a bad day that you only feel bad because you feel you don’t ‘conform’. It’s so hard to change something which has been embedded in you for a number of years, but study different cultures and see that beauty really is in the eye of the beholder!

Rose xx

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Ideas of Beauty – 1940’s Beauty

As a society, we are constantly changing. Our opinions, our habits, and also what we find acceptable. The way we see ourselves and the way we feel we should act and look has also changed over the years.

How many adverts are now promoting weight loss foods, fitness fads, diet pills and such? Count how many are in between your favourite programs on television; in your magazine. Make-Up, skincare, hair, fashion; all for us to look a certain, socially acceptable way.

This isn’t a new thing. However back in the 1940’s, a very different look was in vogue.

In fact, if you were skinny in the 1940’s, you would probably feel incredibly self-conscious.

These adverts below all feature curvy women, marketing ‘weight-gain’ products to look a certain way. Notice the similarities – empty promises, made-up ingredients and potentially harmful advice.

http://thesocietypages.org/socimages/2011/08/25/i-put-on-ten-pounds-three-ounces/

Let me know what you think! Interesting, isn’t it?

Rose xx

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Photoshop Before and Afters

Now this is not an exercise to bash celebrities…I personally think all of those featured in this article are absolutely beautiful before photoshop! But I think it’s really important for people to see this, especially those who are young or vulnerable.

It always surprises me how many people are not aware of Photoshop, or how advanced it actually is technologically. Arguably you can do anything on Photoshop, and this is why it is so dangerous in the wrong hands.

Dangerous sounds dramatic but in fact the constant onslaught of perfect images bombarding young women is bound to subliminally effect how we feel about ourselves. Subconsciously we will compare ourselves – and we will never, ever measure up. Slowly the idea of beauty is changing.

The link below on BuzzFeed includes some interesting GIFS of some of our favourite celebrities. Some have only been altered slightly – others rather noticeably. What do you guys think?

http://www.buzzfeed.com/jessicamisener/17-mesmerizing-before-after-photoshop-gifs

Rose xx

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Plastic Surgery and Body Dysmorphia – should everyone be screened before having plastic surgery?

When I was 17, I wanted a boob job desperately. I was transfixed on their size and shape, to me they were so terrible that I hated even looking at them in the mirror. I’d constantly compare mine with others, on television, in magazines, in the supermarket or at college. I must have looked crazy staring at other girls’ boobs. Eventually I booked a consultation at a cosmetic surgery clinic in Manchester, against my parents’ wishes. I was planning to use my life savings for the operation, lovingly stowed away for me by them for a deposit on a house, travelling, emergencies. My mum came with me to the clinic, and I allowed her to come into my meeting with the surgeon. To my surprise he asked me if I’d had any mental health problems or eating disorders. At this point I hesitated, and as I considered saying ‘no’, my Mum blurted out that I had. She added that I was on Anti-Depressants and he shook his head at me. “I’m sorry, I can’t perform any sort of cosmetic surgery on you.”

That night I cried uncontrollably; I felt like my world had collapsed. I was so upset for months; then finally with the help of friends and family I started to love myself the way I already was.

Looking back now, I am so glad that the surgeon refused to operate. I’m absolutely happy with my boobs now – I don’t want to change them. In the 4 years since that appointment my body has changed; as I was promised it would by my family. The sales lady was understandably disappointed. This begs the question; is it really acceptable for the Cosmetic Surgery industry to make money out of vulnerable patients? Girls with Body Dysmorphia will never be satisfied. They are pre-disposed to become addicted to treatments and surgeries, striving for an unachievable goal.

Glamour model Alicia Douvall is famed for having surgery time and time again, despite admitting she has Body Dysmorphia and wanting to stop to set a good example to her daughters. This once again shows the grip Body Dysmorphia can have on an individual, over a long period of time, despite the desire to recover for loved ones.

What are your thoughts on this? Should all young applicants for surgery be psychologically vetted before continuing to treatment?

Rose xx

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Photoshop – Photoshop Name and Shame

Working in the industry in various different roles, including being a Make-Up Artist and Model, I understand that editing is both important and essential. However the purpose of these articles are to highlight when photo-shopping is harmful, irresponsible or misleading. Many celebrities are now hitting back at the notion of being photo-shopped beyond recognition – and Beyonce recently forced H&M to pull their whole campaign after they made her slimmer than she actually is, to be replaced by images that truly represented her size. These posts should also demonstrate to you that you really are striving for something that does not exist!

These girls DO NOT look like this in real life. To prove my point, I will be providing some images of me before and after editing. I haven’t been overly edited; but it’s important to see the small differences that make a perfect bigger picture. As a model I try and keep myself as good as I can possibly be – editing isn’t supposed to be used to alter huge flaws or change someone’s appearance completely. Watch this space everyone! For now, I saw this image a while back on Pinterest…and it’s so true!

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Rose xx

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