Comparison is The Thief of Joy

The author of this quote is unknown; however they were incredibly wise.

I talk a lot about comparison. And this sums up my opinion on it.

Body Dysmorphia I believe is fuelled almost completely by comparison. What is it that first makes us think ‘Something is wrong with me?’ A throwaway comment perhaps. Or maybe you see so much of other people, and see that they aren’t the same as you. And that makes you think, ‘Why am I different?’

Children see ‘different’ as ‘wrong’. Which is why anybody who stands out gets picked on.

We appear to take this philosophy through the later life with us, and instead of using it as beating stick against others, we turn it on ourselves.

Have you noticed how generally your comparisons are opinions? And rarely positive?

“She’s fatter than me.”

“He’s more built than me.”

“My skin isn’t as nice as hers.”

Ever heard a positive comparison?

Someone always loses. And that person is usually you.

Instead of making comparisons, try to see other people and admire their beauty impartially. Try to see them as someone different, not somebody that you can, and should, emulate. Look at yourself kindly and try to make a list of the things you like. You don’t have to like everything!

And don’t forget how many people are looking at you and comparing themselves unfavourably to you. They want to look like you. And there you are, wanting to look like someone else! Isn’t this ironic?

 

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Comparison is the thief of joy…

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This Time Last Year…

Bad day?

Nothing’s gone right? Feeling down, inadequate, stupid, ugly? Frustrated that you still haven’t achieved your ‘holy grail’ – to ‘be pretty’, to pass that exam, to get that job or make more money.

Try and think back to what you were doing at exactly this time last year. Then, look at what you’re doing now, what you’ve achieved, how far you’ve come. Living one year is an accomplishment. Are you measuring your success fairly, as you would with a friend?

Or, alternatively, are you measuring it against somebody else’s? (see my quote about unhealthy comparisons…). More fatally, are you striving to measure up to your own unrealistic expectations?

Aim high. Of course you should. But don’t do so at the expense of your happiness. Don’t be so busy concentrating on the next step that you miss out on everything wonderful around you right now.

Let me share something with you. This time last year I worked in a department store. I felt like I had so much more to offer but it was so difficult to prove that to any potential employer that I was of worth and had capability beyond what I had already done in life.  I was young. We were in a recession, and it showed. Unemployment was at an all time high and everybody seemed very negative about everything. Some of my colleagues had been made redundant from the most amazing jobs, and now worked alongside me, some of them on less money than me. How could I take inspiration from anyone or anything?

I did what I have always done. I put myself in the right places, took every opportunity, and believed in myself. I believe that everything happens for a reason, and I had faith in that, and in myself, even at the worst times.

Now, I am in a job I never, ever thought I’d be doing. It’s an exciting job full of everything I love and with amazing opportunities on the horizon. The value of my CV has increased massively. I now have the luxury of a choice of careers, all of which I have always wanted to do. I’m setting up my own business, writing more and travelling abroad more than I ever have.

It’s easy to moan and feel defeated when the rain is pouring and someone has said something or done something shitty to you, nothing has worked out, I’m stressed and frustrated with work or life in general. But it really is just one bad day.

Now, if I’m ever having a bad day, I remind myself of this. I think of the hours spent on the dirty, smelly buses to go and stand alone in the middle of a shop devoid of customers, to be berated by management for things that were out of my control. If I need to, I’ll go back another year, working shifts at 5am for an agency spraying perfume on people for 12 hours a day.

Think about where you were last year. Now congratulate yourself on all your achievements in that time. A year flies but it’s a long time – you can do a lot in a year. Looking back and counting your blessings helps you to focus on the positives rather than the negatives.

 

Try it, and see!!

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PhotoShop Name and Shame – The Boys!

So it isn’t just girls who can suffer at the hand of the avid retoucher. Here’s a few examples below of how men have been altered beyond recognition using Photoshop.

1. Jonathan Rhys Meyers – Not many fans would kick him out of bed with or without retouching, but the subtle differences in improved skintone are remarkable.

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2. Matthew MacFadden – Famous for many a drool-worthy role in TV and film, this comparison yet again shows crucial differences in skintone and the eradication of imperfections without making him look alien.

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3. Sven Barucha. Prime example – not too much, but just enough.

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Seen any crazy photoshops? Share them with me!!

 

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Plastic Surgery – Before and Afters

These photos make me so sad. Just by looking at these people, both famous and unknown, I think it’s clear that they have serious issues when it comes to how they look. Just a browse on the internet of before and afters, or what can go wrong, should be enough to strike fear into the most image-obsessed. What is even more worrying is that even when money and ‘expertise’ is involved, things can still go horrifically wrong.

I’ve included a few below – celebrities who sadly rather than being advised to invest in therapy for their issues have instead been encouraged to spend money on countless cosmetic procedures – resulting in what you can see here.

The worst, for me, is those who are not in the public eye. Those whose obsessions and illnesses are fed by others, and funded by the most unlikely of people. The glamour models whose parents save just to give them a breast enlargement and the subsequent ‘necessary surgery’ to be able to pursue their chosen career. The women whose husbands pay for them to be ‘perfected’ into somebody they would rather be with. For me, this is the worst crime of all.

carlabruni images (4) Pete-Burns-plastic-surgery-before-after

 

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Inspirational Woman – Monica Bellucci

For me, Monica Bellucci is femininity defined. Like the quintessential ‘Madonna’ figure in the beautiful murals of Caravaggio and Michaelangelo, she is sensual and demure, exquisitely expressive and passive all in one.

What’s more, she is not afraid to be herself. Unapologetic, many of her images in her heydey were nudes. Sprawled in front of the camera, with a wry half-smile or a piercing glare dominating the image, it’s still impossible not to notice her figure.  But voluptuous Bellucci is not a stick insect. She is a woman with imperfections, yet this is what makes her so perfect for me.

Not only does she refuse to conform or comply with ‘rules’ on body image and a desire to be perfect, her attitude to life is also unique and she feels strongly about beauty not playing  a dominant role in her life, despite being imbroiled in an industry which is centered around it.

My favourite quote from Monica has to be this one:

“I know many beautiful people and their lives are just so terrible. They feel so uncomfortable with themselves. Being comfortable is not about what you look like, but how you feel.”

This rings true for me because often, those who are the most insecure are very beautiful, striving constantly for a form of perfection which simply does not exist. It really is so important that you feel comfortable and love yourself, as that way you don’t worry about the opinions and expectations of others.

In addition to this, how many of us have ‘fat days’ – when you feel ugly and huge and nothing is right? You stare vehemently at your ‘imperfections’ in the mirror, and berate yourself inside for not paying more attention to your appearance. The next day however, you could be on top of the world. Those imperfections which were so mortifying just 12 hours ago now seem to have disappeared. This proves the power of the mind – and that it really is down to how you feel, and not how you actually look, that determines happiness.

Isn’t this a running theme that these women are all beautiful, in completely different ways; yet what they all have in common is their incredible hunger for life and desire to live it to the full, without being shackled to an obsession with appearance.

Enjoy Monica in all her glory below:

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Inspirational Woman – Cindy Crawford

An iconic model in the 1980s and 1990s, Cindy Crawford is world-renowned for her exquisite beauty and luscious curves.

Yet throughout her whole career, and even now, she struggles with body image issues. Despite a goal to ‘come to terms’ with her body before she is 50, she still remains sensible about food.

“Being five pounds lighter…what it would cost me…I don’t want to be like, no salad dressing, no wine, no fun.”

Unwilling to sacrifice the better things in life to be a certain weight or shape, Cindy is setting an example for all of us. There really is so much more to life than a number on a scale.

Cindy’s heyday feels like a lifetime ago, even though it is literally a matter of ten or twenty years. Back then, models had shapes, figures – no bones in sight. They looked happy and healthy, smiling was in vogue, as was having breasts and thighs and curves.

She has commented in the past that she would not be able to be a supermodel now. And she’s probably right. If so, Cindy would be ‘Plus Size’. But isn’t she beautiful? See some vintage Cindy below…

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Recovery Foods

When I was in recovery, there wasn’t much in the way of advice given on what to eat and why, to help the body rebuild and heal what has been damaged or lost. Although I had a dietician, they were focused solely on calorie intake, which of course wasn’t the best focus for me as it was one I was trying to avoid! Each week I’ll be exploring a different food and its nutritional benefits for recovery, but today I thought I would give it an introduction and an overview of my personal star foods. The yummy goodness in these following foods, such as protein and calcium, are also good for non-sufferers to incorporate into their diet.

1. Nuts. I’ve already posted about nuts – you know my feelings on these little guys! Packed full of energy and nutrients and really tasty.

2. Steak. Lean beef steak is really good for repairing damaged muscle and body tissues as it has a high protein and iron content. Lovely with peppercorn sauce and a nice dark green leafy salad. Alternatively 100% beef burgers and mince are still high in these vital nutrients.

3. Eggs. Eggs really are a wonderfood in my opinion as they are so versatile. Even if you’re not a big fan of eggs in their normal state there is so much you can do with them. I like mine poached, in an omelette or frittata, quiche, or scrambled with bacon. You can make soufflés, pies and even shakes with eggs so if you’re not a fan yet, don’t rule them out. They are full of protein which again will be crucial in aiding your body’s recovery from the inside out.

4. Greek Yoghurt. Besides being thick, creamy and ludicrously tasty, Greek Yoghurt also boasts twice the protein content of other yoghurts, as well as being high in B12, Potassium and Protein. Don’t forget that it’s also a great source of calcium which really is important during recovery as your bones need it to grow strong again.

5. Fish. Oily fish to be precise, however if you’re not a fan of ‘fishy fish’ (I’m not), then Tuna, Cod, Haddock and shellfish are also good options. The best ones to go for are Salmon, Tuna and Cod.

6. Sweet Potato. So tasty and unlike normal potato packed with Beta-Carotene, Vitamins and Fibre. You can mash it, roast it, cut it into fries or wedges – the perfect accompaniment to any meal.

There will be profiles on all these nutritious superstars – plus many more! If you see anything missing – let me know and share it with everyone else : )

 

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Balloons…

I thought of this after a conversation with a friend this week, who is unsure where to go next with their life.

When I was a little girl, and I accidentally let go of my balloon, I would cry uncontrollably. It is the ultimate lesson in letting go – I still remember the devastation and feeling of loss as I watched it getting smaller and smaller until it became a shiny pin in the satin blue sky.

My Mum would say not to be sad, as the balloon was happy. Now the balloon was free, and going wherever it wanted; where it was supposed to go.

I think we are all like balloons. Whichever direction we are floating, and however strong the uncontrollable breeze that carries us is, we are going to our rightful destination. Stay strong and believe in your destiny – then make it happen.

Of course, sometimes you will stray from the path, perhaps influenced by cross winds or knocked off course by a storm. But rest assured, you will readjust and find yourself where you are supposed to be. Trust me 🙂

Float and fly like a balloon, bask in the warm sun, and take in the scenery. Everything is going to be okay.

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Try approving of yourself…

“You’ve been criticising yourself for years and it hasn’t worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens.”

Sounds impossible, doesn’t it? I know, as much as the next person, that this is easier said than done. But just try it, for one day. Take it in small steps. Every time you have a negative thought about yourself, recognize it and turn it around. Ask yourself – is the evidence I’m using to berate myself factual? Would it stand up in a court of law? This is excellent advice from my friend Sylvia. You’ll find that chances are, your ‘evidence’ is in actual fact your opinion. If it wouldn’t stand up in a court of law, that evidence is not good enough to justify punishing yourself. Try it!!

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Inspirational Woman – Lizzie Miller

This is Lizzie. These images of the model were featured in Glamour magazine in an article on self-confidence. Previously she’d been informed that she was ‘too large’ for plus size. Now her agency have instructed her ‘not to lose any weight’. These beautiful un-photoshopped images instantly gained popularity with readers, who flooded Glamour’s website with a deluge of praise for the model. The surprise here is that Lizzie has a ‘tummy’. Girls I think you’ll all agree that Lizzie is very slim…yet just the inclusion of a tiny roll of skin or fat has got real women everywhere rejoicing. We want to see real, normal women in magazines, not plasticised doll-like creatures. It shows the extent to which images are altered and perfected in the media, so much so that a perfectly beautiful, slim woman is championed for having a tiny bit of tummy.

Again it demonstrates how unaware the public are of how what we see daily as ‘normal’ is actually doctored and tampered with beyond recognition. If adults are so oblivious, what effect is this all having on our children?

Personally, I’d like to see more images like this in the media. I didn’t even notice the tummy until it was pointed out to me. Did you? Is it really so important that every lump and bump should be flattened in photoshop before publication?

More than anything, this is proof that trend, money and popularity determine people’s idea of ‘beauty’, not truth.

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