‘There is no wrong way to be a woman’ – Denise Bidot

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Beautiful plus-size model Denise Bidot has teamed up with Swimwear For All to create a campaign which runs in the same fabulous vein as Panache and Cacique’s recent advertisements empowering women and attempting to challenge current stereotypes surrounding body image. You all know how big a fan I am of this sort of thing!!

I can’t gush about this latest campaign enough, especially given what Denise herself says about body image:

‘There’s no wrong way to be a woman. It’s time to stop apologizing. I want women to feel confident and sexy by knowing that there’s nothing wrong with being yourself. Forget all the rules! I love everything about my body. Every bit of it … the cellulite, the stretch marks, everything that I thought at one point was an imperfection, I now realize is everything that makes me unique… curvy women shouldn’t apologize for anything. They should wear a swimsuit that makes them feel comfortable. It’s all about the confidence. They shouldn’t worry about anything.’

These inspirational words got me stopping and thinking – because although that’s exactly what I advocate, I’ve never heard it said so plainly by someone in the public eye like Denise. What’s more, all images from the campaign are unretouched.image

Hats off to Denise and to Swimwear For All – good work! You can see pictures of the lovely Denise from the campaign here:

 

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Why BMI and Weight mean absolutely nothing

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The massive importance of BMI and Weight – one of the biggest myths of our time.

As I’ve mentioned before on the blog, weight is a number on a scale which essentially tells you what your relationship with gravity is. It doesn’t tell you anything else; it doesn’t take into account other physical or personal qualities. I wanted to expand a little bit on this though because I get a lot of people talking to me about ‘weight loss’ and when I explain why I disagree with that so much I’m often met with a lot of confusion and questions!

I think the main reason for this confusion is the conditioning we have all been subject to over the last 30 plus years, which has seen the idea of ‘weight loss’ painted as a positive and ‘fat’ as a negative.

Of course in the 40’s, there was an influx of adverts promising ‘curviness’ for ‘skinny’ girls, who were ostracised just as bigger women are nowadays for their ‘undesirable’ size. Doesn’t that just go to show the power of the media, and the consequent effect it has on society? Someone, somewhere decides what is ‘normal’ or ‘good’ and we all follow blindly as we are told to do. At the moment, ‘skinny’ is in, and as a consequence we have all become obsessed with how much we weigh, with fat as a rule avoided like the plague.

BMI has long been painted by health professionals as an accurate and reliable gauge of a person’s health, based on the correlation between their height and weight. Contrary to this, many will now tell you that it in fact does the opposite and tells us very little about a person’s physical make up and overall health. Here’s an example: take a body builder who is very lean but has a heck of a lot of muscle. Muscle is more dense than fat, so they weigh quite a lot. They are however lacking in height – meaning their BMI indicates that they are clinically obese. Yet this person does not have a scrap of fat on them – so how can they possibly be obese?

This outdated system lumps people into categories of ‘healthy’, ‘unhealthy’ and ‘really unhealthy’ on opposite ends of the scale.  Another example is a naturally slim, tall person whose height and weight indicate that they are drastically underweight and dangerously so. Yet this is simply how they are made up naturally – it’s impossible for them to put on any weight.

What concerns me about this reliance on BMI is that many people are being told they are ‘clinically obese’ when that simply is not true. It focuses us even more keenly on a number on a scale, and not the health of our bodies as a whole. More recently, worrying stories of children and young adults being berated for the product of their BMI results have emerged in the press, which of course is unhelpful to say the least at such a formative stage both mentally and physically.

 

This brings me back to ‘weight’ as a whole. I admit I weigh myself once a week, same time, same day, so I absolutely cannot sit here and tell anybody not to weigh themselves at all, even though in all honesty that would be the ideal alternative. I know people who weigh themselves incessantly; sometimes twice in a day. When you have body dysmorphia or an eating disorder, gaining one pound can alter your whole perception of yourself and how you feel for the rest of that day. Clothes feel tighter, imaginary rolls of fat appear in the mirror. ‘Weight’ means nothing. The weight of our bodies depends on many different factors and varies from hour to hour, day to day, week to week. Women especially are subject to daily hormonal changes and don’t forget the contribution of our digestive systems to how much (or little) we weigh.

So what’s the alternative? Whilst I don’t suggest that this is widely used and suitable for everybody, I think it’s better to look to more accurate techniques such as fat calliper testing to get a clear indication of someone’s overall health. This coupled with other investigations can really give a true picture of how a person is made up, and where. If you are carrying excess fat, where it is on your body is important, as this often determines whether it poses a risk to your health and also the cause of its presence. Not everyone who carries excess fat eats cake for breakfast!

Next time you find yourself at the doctor’s and they insist on working out your BMI, please don’t lose heart if it isn’t favourable. It is a vague indication, if that, of your health and physical components. Not only that, there is more to you than a number on a scale. You are a wonderful person on the inside, and as long as you are also healthy, that is all that matters.

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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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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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Kelly Brook – Would You Call Her ‘Fat’?

Recently, Kelly has come under fire by ‘celebrities’ and the public alike recently for being ‘fat’ – and not for the first time.

In fact, Kelly is being berated purely because she has the confidence to be herself in the glare of the public and media eye. I find that when people criticize others in this way, it is a product of their own insecurity. Perhaps they are crippled by the expectations of others, unable to dress and look the way they want. Maybe this is the reason they feel they have to take a pop at beautiful Kelly – because they are envious of her ability to be her gorgeous self without following ridiculous diets and trends.

Her naturally porcelain skin, thick brown hair and enviable curves would have anyone feeling a little green, however my reaction to this is to admire her, not to bully her. An example of such recent jealousy is the cruel jibe from Glamour Model and all-round Z-Lister Katie Price, who branded Kelly a ‘heifer’. Frankly this reminded me of the sort of insult hurled between girls at school. However it proves my point – bullies are generally painfully insecure and feel they need to put others down to feel better about themselves. Katie is barely recognizable after years of cosmetics procedures have ravaged her face and body. Perhaps she should concentrate on herself (as she usually does), and leave others be.

In addition to this, public bullying (especially involving the rich and famous) set a terrible example to younger people, making it ‘acceptable’ or ‘favourable’ to assault others verbally and psychologically. Not only is Katie a bully, she is a terrible role model to her children and the children of others.

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Would you call Kelly Brook fat?

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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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