‘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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I’m A Celeb – The body-bashing commences

So, even if you’re not watching ‘I’m a Celeb’ – I’m only watching the trials now and again – reality TV is so prevalent in today’s media that you can’t help but be exposed to what’s going on, whether you’re interested or not.

As usual, a somewhat confused mix of Z-listers entered the jungle once again the other week to face the scrutiny of the public. Following a long-trusted format, there’s the slightly mad ones, the older ones, the controversial ones, the pretty ones, and the ones you wonder why the hell they needed/wanted to go in there. The latter one of these, for me, is Rebecca Adlington.

2 times Olympic Gold Champion, record breaker and an inspirational role model for young women everywhere, when 2013’s line up was revealed I really did struggle to see why Rebecca feels she belongs amongst the failed, forgotten and frankly  talentless ‘stars’ down under. Ours is not to reason why.

Inevitably, there is eye-candy placed in the jungle and this series is no exception to the long standing yearly tradition of the ‘bikini in the shower’ ogling. The jungle’s current sex symbol for the lads is undeniably beautiful Amy Willerton, Miss Great Britain competitor, who is more than comfortable posing in a bikini. Some are blessed with good genes; others with lots of money to spend on looking good. Whatever their reason, I have nothing against them. What I have a problem with is the unfavourable comparisons now emerging between Amy and Rebecca in the media.

Of course, reality TV by nature is shallow, and Rebecca has after all chosen to be a part of this and in turn exposed herself to any sort of bad publicity that heads her way. That said, the ‘news’ coming out of the jungle really only serves to prove how shallow we as a society are.

Instead of taking into account Rebecca’s incredible achievements, her gentle personality, and extensive charity work, (when of course we aren’t too busy staring at Amy’s boobs or Joey Essex’s hair), some simply dismiss her as ‘fat’, ‘ugly’, or worse. Is this REALLY how shallow we have become?

I noticed the Daily Mail (usual suspects) were running an article directly comparing the two women in the shower. Callously, they point out that Rebecca chooses to cover up in a black swimsuit whilst Amy chooses to ‘stand out’ in a cobalt blue bikini. They then suggest the 3 best cobalt blue bikinis in the shops right now. Subliminally, this suggests that we should want to look like Amy, but not look like Rebecca. That then reinforces our idea of ‘beauty’ and how we ‘should’ look. It’s irresponsible, vile, shallow and absolutely it is a harmful image to project to young women.

To make matters worse, Rebecca broke down this week, revealing crippling insecurities after years of bullying about the way she looks.

This sort of criticism, for me, is one of the most toxic. I’ve posted about comparison before, and how incredibly unhelpful and harmful it can be. Even I, as an adult, knowing what I know and having been through what I have been through, feel uncomfortable and a little inadequate looking at Amy frolicking in the jungle with not a hair out of place and a perfect smile gleaming from flawless skin; for most of us feel we can’t hope to look that good with a shedload of make-up on. It’s the same looking at any model – comparisons immediately are drawn, and I know I’m not the only one here. Clearly, living with Amy on a day to day basis is taking it’s toll on Rebecca’s already fragile self esteem, as it would with any woman.

It’s not an ‘Amy-bashing’ exercise. She’s worked hard at looking good, and has undeniably good genes. She too claims to have experienced bullying when she was younger; and sometimes this can drive you into modelling and onto a quest for perfection, as it has done with me. 

The saddest thing about this, for me, is that Rebecca, despite her incredible achievements, will probably never be satisifed with herself. Because for us to be accepted, and to conform, we have to look good. That’s really all that matters. The most popular people in that jungle are the prettiest. And unfortunately, I don’t see a U-turn in society any day soon.

I personally, am inspired by Rebecca, but not for the reasons that other people might be. I’m inspired by her because of her bravery – because I would not have been able to cope with my own demons in that situation. I also admire her because she has unflinchingly put her career before anything else; and achieved so much because of it. She’s also beautiful on the inside; and that is worth ten times more than an ugly personality, however you look on the outside.

Let me know your thoughts on this – I’m sure it’s a controversial one.

 

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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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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.

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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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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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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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