Dove Beauty – one man takes on the beauty giant – amongst others

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This man is both brave and inspirational, and leads the pack when it comes to getting big brands to sit up and listen about the real effects of their marketing campaigns. They have a huge responsibility, and this man has turned his back on the industry and made it his mission to change the landscape radically, ensuring brighter futures, better mental health and healthier body image for girls like his two young daughters, who were the inspiration behind this life-changing U-turn.

But why did this successful marketer shun the industry that he had once been so successful within, in favour of criticising it and looking to radically alter the fundamentals of fashion and beauty marketing?

One night, one daughter asked him if he thought she was ugly. This changed his world forever.

Now, Seth Matlin aims to obtain as many signatures as possible on his Truth in Advertising Bill, which offers new hope for the self-esteem and body image of generations to come.

After Dove’s high profile campaign using ‘real women’ in adverts, and shunning airbrushing (remember that viral Youtube video in which the model started barefaced and finished up looking like a different person?), Seth wants them to join his campaign and sign the petition.

Whilst he isn’t outright accusing Dove of doing anything wrong or breaching their own principles , he wants to ensure that their message is as wholesome as they imply; and that none of their models have been airbrushed in any way.

Dove have yet to comment; hopefully this will be their next step in championing real women and combatting unrealistic ideas of beauty.

Rose xx

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Marilyn Monroe – An Inspiration in more ways than one

 

I love Marilyn Monroe. She’s famous for many uplifting quotes about love and life, despite her own troubled existence and many difficulties. She once wrote: ‘Wishing you were someone else is a waste of who you are’. Yet she had numerous plastic surgery procedures throughout her life, rendering her an almost entirely different person from her former self, unrecognisable from the young Norma Jean. Despite this however her natural beauty and infectious personality always shone through.

There is that hypocritical voice inside all of us, I believe. We all know that what she says is right, yet still we insist on relentlessly berating and ‘improving’ ourselves. How can we beat this cycle?

Amongst other things, perhaps we can take heart from some of her other famous musings on life. Here’s my favourites below along with what they mean to me – please share your favourites too!

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‘She was a girl who knew how to be happy when she was sad, and that’s important.’ – Marilyn herself struggled with numerous demons throughout her whole life. A tumultuous childhood coupled with a rise to fame at a young age, added to by a string of high-profile failed relationships must have put a lot of strain on her, and she admitted she frequently felt isolated and depressed. Yet as she rightly identifies here, it’s not feeling sad that’s the issue – it’s how you feel better. If you can at least ‘fake it till you make it’ you’re already winning half the battle.

‘Imperfection is beauty’ – Damn right. There’s no such thing as perfect (if I had a pound for every time I said that I’d be loaded!) – it really is true. Little quirks which some might see as imperfections, such as moles, cowlicks, freckles, the way your nose is turned up slightly at the end…they make us who we are. You might see them as imperfections because they have been pointed out to you as such, but remember that people often throw stones at pretty things. Perspective is everything – look at yourself as a whole and try and see ‘imperfections’ as beautiful additions to your whole self.

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‘We should all start to live before we get too old. Fear is stupid. So are regrets.’ – A stark reminder that life is too short – something which unfortunately Marilyn herself fell victim to. When she died at the young age of 36, she was about to embark on an exciting new phase of her career after taking time out due to illness, and talked of her ambition to start a family. We often get so caught up in the trivia of modern life and how we look yet it’s essential not to forget what’s really important in life and live it the way you want to.

‘Sometimes good things fall apart so that better things can come together.’ – Excepting bereavement, I believe that everything bad that happens to us in our lives happens for a reason. When one door closes, it is so that another can open. I’ve had a lot of bad things happen in my life, yet every time I have been through something difficult, something better than I could ever have imagined has come from it. Each time you’re going through a hard time, you simply have to believe that something better is waiting for you on the other side.

‘Keep smiling, because life is a beautiful thing and there is so much to smile about’ – This one is so, so important. We all have bad days, we all have days, weeks, months and even years where we feel like the world is against us and there’s no way out. But life itself is wonderful. It’s overcomplicated in the first world into a competition that essentially we all lose at. But if you look at it simply, think about all the positive things that happen every day. The sun rises and sets, birds sing. If you’re lucky enough to have family and/or friends, pets, someone who loves you, think about that. Think about the food on your plate, the roof over your head. It’s easy to forget the ‘mundane’ in search of the spectacular, yet if you really look at it, it’s these small things that are the most beautiful, and the most important.

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Rose xx

Victoria’s Secret under fire for ‘Perfect Body’ advertisement

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Recently, Victoria’s Secret has been under fire for a controversial new advert featuring a string of its slim, leggy models emblazoned with the slogan ‘The Perfect Body’. The tagline, they maintained, referred to the product itself and not the figures of the models featured, yet many have taken offence to the implication that anything other than a Victoria’s Secret body is somehow ‘imperfect’. After a successful campaign and petition, the advertisement was changed.

Victoria’s Secret is a double-edged sword for me. On one hand, along with 99.9% of the female population, I find it hard not to be in love with every single one of their products and of course aspire to look like a Victoria’s Secret Angel.

On the other hand, however, I find the latter abhorrent.

From a marketing perspective, the whole brand is built around this aspirational ideal, as are many others (the likes of the ‘exclusively for thin and pretty people’ Abercrombie and Fitch, for example), which society generally accepts and in fact favours over seeing ‘ugly’ or ‘overweight’ models at the forefront of brands.

But what exactly constitutes ‘normal’? Or ‘beautiful’? Or ‘thin’ or ‘fat’? As I touch on many a time in this blog, there are many different ideas of beauty. No two people will have the same perspective on exactly how beautiful a person is, or what makes them beautiful. The general consensus of what beauty is can often be shunned by a wide majority of people in favour of something different, something quirky, unique.

Aside from this point, is it really responsible to market this sort of message to a mostly impressionable, younger age group? Women of all sizes, ages and nationalities shop at Victoria’s Secret. But it is especially those vulnerable younger girls who already wish to emulate celebrities and those polished and preened for their time in the public eye that should be considered here, along with the wider message it sends to society as a whole. The brightly coloured, sparkly looking Victoria’s Secret models are very much like Barbie dolls – temptingly perfect yet all very uniform and similar in shape, height and beauty. They don’t offer a reasonable, measured view of how women should (and do) naturally look. Instead they peddle the super skinny yet intrinsically feminine, high-cheek-boned long, thick-haired ideal which many strive to in vain to emulate, yet of course most of us unsurprisingly fail.

Why is this the ‘perfect’ figure? What makes this the ‘perfect’ form of beauty? And why should we all try to look this way? The truth is, we are simply being told this information and believing it wholeheartedly, which in turn affects our behaviour and what we see as ‘beautiful’.

It’s like this: if I told you there were aliens living on the moon, the chances are you would question it. You would ask me what evidence I had for this, had I seen them? Has anyone else seen them? Who else believes it? Of course in reality it’s bullshit. I made it up. This is different because it’s not personal. It’s tangible. It doesn’t involve self-scrutiny or criticism.

However imagine you were told that a woman was beautiful. The evidence for this is that men and women alike lust after her. She has everything that women of all ages and nationalities find attractive – perfect hair, large sparkling eyes, plump lips, supple smooth skin, a body that is not too thin but not overweight, just the right amount of curve. She is featured on the front of every magazine. Other people agree that this person is perfect. Articles upon articles are written on how you too can emulate this individual, and the reasons why you should are clear: she is loved all over the world by seemingly every single person. This other form of bullshit is very clever, because it taps into our internal insecurities and psychology and makes us believe that we are missing something. Who doesn’t want to be liked? Who doesn’t want to be told they are pretty? It’s not aesthetic – it’s merely the way that being praised for our appearance makes us feel, and the personal , financial and life gains we see associated with that.

Unfortunately, we often think this way without even noticing it. It is subliminally drummed into us, from an early age. We are exposed to it every single day over an increasing number of media. But don’t forget that everybody is different and beautiful in their own way. We are built the way we are for a reason. And just because somebody in an agency somewhere decides that one person should indicate how each of us looks and feels, doesn’t mean we should take any notice!

What do you think about the recent VS advert? Is the uproar justified? Or is it simply a continuation of an industry-wide practice of unattainable perfection?

Rose xx

Finally – the government begins to look at failings in mental health services for young people…

…and it is being discussed in wider society and media!

If you are interested in the poor provision for mental health in this country, especially in younger people, you might have seen Newsnight on 5th November.

In this episode, Professor Tanya Byron and MP Charles Walker discussed new figures which show just how poor the mental health is of our younger people today, and how there simply is not enough provision for those who need help. Obviously, this means that we have a lot of people like myself entering adulthood with impacted issues which have not been properly addressed or treated. The programme spoke to several young people who felt failed by the system, as well as key figures heading up charities who aim to help youngsters who say that the problem really is getting out of control the longer this lack of provision is allowed to continue.

I’m so inspired by Charles Walker, who suffers from OCD himself, who has campaigned tirelessly for years to improve the state of mental health services in the UK. He’s struggled to be heard by MPs; of course the stigma against mental illness as opposed to physical illness is still very much a real and present hurdle for campaigners to cross.

It was also revealed that for every £1 spent in the crucial early stages of mental illness, £84 would be saved later on in life. But of course this is not about money – this is about lives.

I’m really pleased that this episode brought a spotlight upon what has previously been a hushed issue. I wrote a long letter to my MP about failings in the NHS’ Mental Health services not only for younger people such as myself but in general, yet I was sent a frankly ignorant and whimsical response which skirted round the issue rather than address it, completely dismissing the individual examples I had disclosed and refusing to take action. Finally it is being recognised that what is happening is nothing short of a crisis. Having experienced the short-fallings from a personal perspective, both with myself and with friends and relatives, I can really see how these figures add up.

What makes me so sad is the huge number of individual failings that result in deaths of young people (and older people, who were failed in their earlier years). That is the heart of this issue – many die needlessly because they did not have the access to the help they needed. Perhaps the saddest thing about this is that they die feeling as though nobody cared, and that they perhaps weren’t worth having time spent on them to help them to feel better.

I’ve been incredibly lucky to have the support of my family and friends over the years – others aren’t so lucky. That’s why we need a service which will support and help individuals recover before their problems are impacted and worsened over time through ignorance and ill-advised back-turning on the NHS.

Have you had a bad (or good) experience on the NHS regarding a mental health issue? Please share it.

Rose xx