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?

10_PRETTY_PINK_LIPSTICK

Rose xx

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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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Rose xx

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. 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 ‘professionals’ are 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/

Rose xx

Really??

I was browsing ASOS this morning, feeding my lingerie addiction (don’t ask!) when I noticed something a little strange. Since when did normal women have a washboard stomach and a huge gap between their thighs?

Every single piece of underwear on ASOS is modelled by a pair of spindly legs and a flat, emaciated torso. These under-developed, almost masculine figures baffled me as I (along with the majority of other women) do not look like this, and was therefore left wondering how the hell these pants would fit on my own body.

I want to ask the question – how is this helpful to women when shopping? How are we expected to choose styles and sizes to fit us when the items we are purchasing are displayed on wildly unrealistic looking women. Quite frankly they seem to use girls with the under-developed bodies of pre-pubescent teens. Not helpful when you have hips and a stomach and thighs that don’t have a space the size of the grand canyon between them.

There’s absolutely noting wrong with being naturally skinny – women of all shapes and sizes are beautiful. But exclusively using very thin women to model clothing designed for everyone just seems illogical to me.

What does everyone else think? Has anybody else noticed this on other sites?

Rose xx

ASOStoothin

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

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 – pics below!  http://www.fashionising.com/pictures/b–The-plus-sized-models-of-Vogue-Italia-6957.html

Rose xx

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Another concerning gym visit…

So, this week I was at the gym. As I sat on the bike I watched 3 girls come in. They all looked around 10 or 11, with tiny, skinny, children’s figures.

They alternated on the machines, first running, then on the stair climber, then the bikes. They were all kitted out in gym gear, all swigging water from their bottles like pros.

I ended up totally distracted from my own workout as I watched them go over and start doing weights.

What happened next was the most shocking. A woman who had been on the treadmill since I had arrived got off and went over to the girls. It appeared that she was a parent of one, and chatted to them briefly before switching machines. As I left, she was still sweating away on the stair climber whilst her daughter and friends weighted themselves in front of the mirror, scowling and pinching imaginary fat. 

The whole thing made me livid. I wanted to approach the woman and ask her how she could ever think this sort of thing was acceptable? Was she stupid, or just ignorant?

I realise that childhood obesity is a big concern for many parents at the moment. But these girls were just kids. And they were all naturally tiny. Seeing them pull faces in the mirror and poke and prod at their bodies unsatisfactorily made me really, really sad. Negative body image in girls so young is bad enough as it is, however when it is instigated by a parent, the very person who is supposed to guide and protect them, it’s simply not acceptable. 

Was this woman right to take her daughter and friends on a night out to the gym? Or should she have left her own vanity secondary to the needs of her child? 

I’d love to know your thoughts on this – I’m sure I’m not alone. 

 

Rose xx