Positive Body Image

Positive Body Image Missing On Love Island

LOVE Island attracted another million viewers from last year’s finale.  It broke records on ITV2 – with 3.6million fans in total tuning in but it discouraged positive body image. 

positive body image missing on Love Island

Why am I interested?  Well frankly I’m not either in the TV series or the viewing figures.  Although I admit to feeling saddened by the number of people hooked on yet another vacuous reality TV show.

But I was interested in was the media spotlight on Body Image, which was in response to the series.

News coverage included fierce debates about cosmetic surgery and use of steroids. Kim Kardashian was under fire for her insensitive remarks about anorexia.  Huff Post also covered the #strongnotskinny perspective.

If you follow my blogs and social media posts, you’ll know that I’m an ardent campaigner of positive body image.

There are enough pressures in life without adding an unhealthy attitude towards our bodies.    I’m an advocate of a healthy mind and body.    Yes we do need to work on the obesity crisis.  We should exercise and not lead a sedentary lifestyle.  We need to eat healthily but at the end of the day we are all different shapes and sizes.

But as a result of so much media attention last week I want to discuss the topics discussed last week, share my views and hopefully get your thoughts too.

77% Of Women Believe Cosmetic Surgery Is Fine

positive body image not cosmetic surgeryWhy do we feel that looking different will make us feel happier?

It’s complex and I’m oversimplifying it here!  But it has a hell of a lot to do with seeking others admiration and approval for the way we look.

We see unattainable body shapes and looks in our celebrity-obsessed culture and on social media.  Many of us honestly believe the fairy tale that says we’ll live a charmed life too if only I look like that.

One woman interviewed last week, said of one of the Love Island contestants, ‘she’s so gorgeous she can have anything she wants’.   Seriously?

This was the same young woman who’d had a boob job after having children in her 20s, because they sagged a bit after breastfeeding.  How sad that she can’t change her perspective.  That she can’t see what an amazing job her body has done in giving birth and nurturing a new life.

Let me be honest here and say that I did have a consultation about having breast augmentation.

I’m anti cosmetic surgery and procedures apart from reconstructive surgery or helping someone with disfiguring scars.  So I was really at odds with my own principles when I booked a consultation to discuss breast augmentation.  It was probably the main reason I couldn’t get out of the consultant’s office fast enough when he leered at me!

I had a wake up call as he stared at my breasts.  Surgery was not going to make me a happier person.   Being accepting of my body was going to have a much greater impact.  I needed to have a positive body image.

 

Up To 1 Million Britons Use Steroids For Image

Despite the well-publicized health risks of steroids, it appears to be a risk worth taking for many.anabolic steroids health risks

The most common age group who begin taking steroids are between 20 and 24.  But teenagers as young as 13 and men as old as 70 are using steroids to improve their body image.

The health risks are extensive and the long-term effects may ultimately result in death.   Risks are of course increased if the source of supply is not reliable.  Given that Steroids are a Class C drug it’s not illegal to take them, but it is to supply.

While not physically dependent, users are psychologically hooked on the way the drugs make them look and feel.     Coming off steroids can lead to serious complications if not done properly. The body needs to be weaned off the drugs and suddenly discontinuing them can lead to serious health issues.

But again I really worry that the misuse of anabolic steroids is another consequence of the pressures we put on ourselves and others put on us.  It’s bad enough when sports people use them to enhance performance.  But when they’re used to improve image that’s another symptom of our image-obsessed society.  But it’s a society that does not have a positive body image.

#Strongnotskinny

#strongnotskinnyAn interesting article published in the Huffington Post last month considered the unhealthy heroin chic of the 90s.  Katie Bishop asked if Heroin Chic had simply been replaced by an alternative equally unattainable culture of #strongnotskinny.

The blog points out that for most of us, sculpted abs and well-defined butt muscles are not the norm.  While mermaid thighs are more realistic than a thigh gap; the #fitspo movement has created another unobtainable body form rather than a positive body image.

I largely agree with Katie Bishop, that positive body image is complex.  But for me it’s all about getting our mental and emotional well being right.

That basic education has to start in the home for young children, who need to be given positive role models and attitudes towards food and body image.   Fads about food and attitude to body image can and will be picked up by impressionable young minds.

As a Society we need to change our attitudes to many things so that young people have healthier role models to follow.    Schools, communities and media all have a part to play.

We’ll never totally eradicate our perception of an idealized body shape. We’ve got some very basic instincts that program us when we’re looking for a mate.

But we can choose to accept a positive body image and be more accepting of our bodies regardless of shape and size.   Let’s make this the new ‘style’ for body image and not a fashion.   Fashion fades style is eternal – Coco Chanel.

It’s ‘Simple’ Really!

The bottom line is that we need to retrain our thinking and learn a healthier approach to encourage positive body image.

If you’re struggling to love your body, why not download my 3 Awesome Tips to Body Confidence, which will help you have a much more positive approach.

 

 

 

 

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eating disorders

Eating Disorders: Just Grateful To Be Free

Eating Disorders and Size 0 Models* have hit the news again this week. This must mean we’re coming up to Fashion Week!

eating disorders fashion week

Tears Of Relief It’s No Longer My Life

Only this week I’ve read five articles about eating disorders. I’ve also pre-ordered former model Victoria Dauxerre’s autobiography Size Zero *2.   Tears welled up in my eyes as I read Victoria’s interview in the Times Magazine on Saturday.

‘ Weighed myself: 7.7 stone, I would stop eating until I got back down to 7.4 stone and to speed things up I would do all my travelling on foot.   I walked for miles on end, taking big strides to keep me warm and to lose my excess fat…’

I was shedding tears of relief that this nightmarish existence of eating disorders is no longer part of my life. Not that I was ever a fashion model (Ha!!) and I wasn’t being told to lose weight for the sake of my career but I was living with the hell that is anorexia.

eating disorders size 0

How Bad Is The Problem

Earlier this week I shared an article on Facebook about Amanda Prowse’s latest book Food Of Love*3 and her view that most middle aged women suffer from Eating Disorders or have a poor relationship with food.

The article elicited an interesting response from my followers. It showed that (thankfully) there are women who simply do not have or have not been exposed to eating disorders or a poor relationship with food.

A couple of weeks ago I gave a presentation and shared some of my story.   A Mum of 3 teenagers asked what advice could I give her to protect her children?

Her question got me thinking that perhaps there are people who do not have a clue what dealing with eating disorders is like. But the flip side is that would they recognize it if someone they loved developed an eating disorder?

I was de-cluttering over Christmas and came across some old diaries. I’d originally intended to just shred them, but had hung on to them for some reason.  I want to share a few extracts.

Why? If this helps raise even more awareness of eating disorders or gets one person who is suffering to seek help, then it’s been worthwhile.
eating disorders

When Annie Was My BF

August 12th 1981 – 8st 5lbs

Only 3 days until our wedding day now and I’m just below my target of 8st 7lbs – hurrah! But it’s my hen night tomorrow. We’re going to Cody’s for a meal, can’t eat during the day tomorrow. I’ll get out of the house so that Mum doesn’t notice.

October 20th 1982 – 7st 0lbs

Tried to shave my armpits this morning and couldn’t get the razor properly into my armpit as it’s now so concave… Mustn’t tell M as he’ll only worry.

May 21st 1983 – 7st 2lbs

Went shopping at Brent Cross today. Looking for a new pair of jeans. Only managed to find one pair that fitted – the rest were too big! I told M how fed up I was but secretly I felt really good.

July 3rd 1983 – 7st 4lbs

Feeling sick. We’re off to see the specialist again tomorrow at the Royal Free – dreading the consultation.

July 4th 1983 – 7st 4lbs

The Consultant wanted to admit me. Told me it was for my own good and I just burst into tears and pleaded with the doctor not to.  Mum and M, who had gone with me, took me outside.   When I’d calmed down I begged them not to let the doctors admit me. I promised I’d try harder to put on weight.

Eventually they agreed and persuaded the doctor to let me go home. I was allowed to on the grounds that I’d put on 3lbs before my next visit.

July 18th 1983 – 7st 7lbs

Done it – got the doctor off my back and can celebrate my 21st birthday tomorrow.

July 19th 1983 – 7st 7lbs

21 today! We had a great day at the East of England Show, but Mum, Dad and M were not impressed that I insisted on getting back for my 7pm aerobics class. But I just couldn’t miss it as I’d eaten more than usual for lunch.  They couldn’t say much as it was my birthday!

December 25th 1983 – 7st 8lbs

I was up at 6am so that I could sneak out to do a 6-mile run and be back before M woke up.  Christmas is such a struggle as I feel like everyone’s watching me and what I eat.  Really pleased with myself as I only had 4 peanuts and 3 Neapolitan chocolates apart from the ‘roast with the trimmings’ all day. Just hope that was enough to stop the scales rising tomorrow.

September 17th 1984 – don’t know and panicking

It’s the first day of our holiday in Zante.   Our first holiday abroad!

We headed into the town to look round and get breakfast. M got really angry when I struggled to find anything I felt was okay to eat. In the end I had a bowl of yoghurt.  Don’t know how I’m going to get through the next two weeks without weighing myself every morning.

My only salvation is that I’ve brought my trainers so I can still run every morning.

October 16th 1987 – 7st 10lbs

M was mad with me this morning when I got back from my run.  He’d been listening to the news – apparently I’d been running in a hurricane!   Okay so there’d been a fallen tree over the B656 and lots of water… It was pointless telling him that I’d had to go.  My day had been ruined when I got up and found I’d put on a pound.

eating disorders scales

Eating Disorders Were Part Of My Life

I look back on these entries now with mixed feelings. I’m angry that eating disorders ruled my world for so long. But equally my eating disorders shaped (no pun intended) me into the person I am today.

There was less information available in 1980s when my descent into anorexia took hold. It was long before the vast resources of the Internet were at our disposal.   So in a sense it was easier to hide. I could let it be my ‘normal’ and I was not challenged about it as much as I would have been with greater awareness.

We Must Keep Talking And Sharing

What is important though is that we don’t stop talking about eating disorders and thereby raising awareness.

Anyone can be affected by eating disorders. They are not confined to young women struggling with their identity and body image.

Eating disorders are a mental health condition. While there are symptoms relating to food, this often masks the underlying turmoil of sufferers.

National Eating Disorders Awareness Week is February 27th – March 5th in the UK and B-eat, the UK’s leading charity has a lot of information and suggestions on how you can help support their vision to overcome Eating Disorders.

I will be on Radio Veralum just after 11am on 21st October. I will be sharing my story and adding my voice to those creating more awareness.

You too can help by sharing this post on social media and remember ‘Alone we can do so little together we can do so much’ – Helen Keller

 

Size 0 Models* Is Size 0 still an issue

Victoria Dauxerre’s autobiography Size Zero – My Life as a Disappearing Model *2

Amanda Prowse Food Of Love*3

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