Small Steps – retailers begin to ban Photoshop

31a4334b134ca13897502734d510699f

This year has seen significant steps in reducing the false expectations of beauty we see in the media and marketing, something which I am very passionate about.

In August this year, Modcloth became the first retailer to sign a pledge which promises not to use Photoshop. And when it does, it will add a label to the image making consumers aware that airbrushing has been at play. The bill is part of the Truth in Advertising Act, which aims to present a more realistic view of beauty and body image to women young and old in an increasingly critical and aesthetic society.

Debenhams also made progress this year by vowing not to airbrush their lingerie and swimwear models, as it emerged that girls as young as 11 and 12 were unhappy with their bodies and taking action to lose weight. Now campaigners (including myself) are hoping that other retailers will realise that each and every one of them has a moral obligation to ban airbrushing.

Founder of the bill, ex-advertising exec Seth Matlins  (who features in my last post about Dove Beauty), hopes the bill will be adopted by more and more brands once they see that consumers embrace it wholeheartedly, instead of peddling harmful false representations of ‘beautiful’ women.

‘Please be a part of the solution and a hero. Please consider that you are responsible for the side-effects of how you sell as surely as you are for what you sell,’ he says in a message to advertisers.

It’s heart-breaking for me that the rate of eating disorders, body dysmorphia, depression and self-harm cases are increasing year on year, and at younger and younger ages. The future for our children looks bleak if we don’t take action and change society’s view of beauty and the perception of ‘beautiful’. We also need to lessen the emphasis on appearance and encourage our younger people to focus on the things that really matter in life.

I can’t wait to see what progress next year holds for this bill, and look forward to seeing change soon.

Read Seth Matlin’s blog, Feel More Better, here. http://www.feelmorebetter.com/

Rose xx

Advertisements

Proof that anxiety is a state of mind

A friend shared this post with me the other day and I had to share it with you on the blog.

This inspiring, refreshingly candid, and fairly blunt, article written by Clare Atkinson was featured on the Guardian this week.

Having Generalised Anxiety Disorder myself, I can relate massively to the ‘previous life’ described by Clare. The irrational worry over the tiniest thing; the terrible panic attacks, feelings of acute inadequacy, the need for control over every aspect of my life.

However all that paled into insignificance with the diagnosis of terminal cancer. All the things she had wanted to do, places she had wanted to see; her best-laid plans, were now out of reach, ruined. She talks of the emotions and physical issues she had experienced having been instantly replaced by fear, anger, depression; all understandable given her recent news. With this came the realisation that she had been wasting her time and emotion on trivial things which had prevented her from doing what she truly wanted to do. And now, the crushing reality that it was too late to go back and do it all again differently.

Controversially, I’ve always said that in some ways those who face death (and come through the other side) are afforded an invaluable shaking up which changes their perspective forever. Whilst we all know what really matters (family, friends, love, food and water and a roof over our heads) as opposed to what doesn’t (material things, money, fame, looks), few of us believe that enough to change how we live our lives. To live them with some urgency; to do the things we genuinely want to do instead of simply doing what we feel is expected of us.

In the blog and in my book I talk a lot about this and how it is difficult to do. How unfortunate and horrifically sad that for most of us, like Clare, we are only given that sort of insight when it is regrettably too late.

Please read this; it will move you, and may make a difference to how you currently think or feel, especially at a time when we are busy comparing ourselves to others.

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/dec/22/after-my-cancer-diagnosis-my-anxiety-disappeared-now-ill-do-anything-to-keep-this-body

Rose xx

Good things are just around the corner!

Light in the Forest

There’s a saying – ‘An arrow can only be shot by pulling it backward. So when life is dragging you back with difficulties, it means that it’s going to launch you into something great.’

So essentially, when life is pulling you back and taking things away it is preparing for new things, making room for better things.

Have you noticed that ‘bad things’ all come at once? Life as I knew it a few months ago has been turned upside down and my physical and mental health have deteriorated as a result. But I’ve had an amazing year this year which I am incredibly grateful for and unfortunately that’s life – there are ups and downs and good times can’t be good without the bad.

Yet the bad things aren’t really bad. Perspective is everything – you see them as bad, but if you look at them they are only bad to you because of your opinion and circumstances. Look at what it is you are unhappy about. You may not see a way it could ever be viewed as good. But something good will have (or already has) come from it. You were expecting another outcome – so when the outcome is unfavourable, it’s an understandable blow and knock to your confidence and self-esteem and the plans you had.

It’s also a gift that they all come at once; as happiness often does.   Here’s why I think it’s good sometimes to have a complete ‘meltdown’:

  • You’re forced to re-evaluate, and often see that things can now be better. You take a step back and see that perhaps you’d fallen into a comfort zone which whilst it may have felt like it suited you actually wasn’t the best.
  • Perhaps you lament the way things were and struggle to cope with the changes which have suddenly come about in your life. We are creatures of habit; no-one likes change, especially when it is unexpected and unwanted. But these things happened for a reason. Try and remember the last time things fell apart for you – chances are you felt exactly the same then. But when things were good afterwards, you were pleased that they had done or had perhaps forgotten how hurt you were in the first place.
  • It gives you the opportunity to reflect and learn from your mistakes. You now have time to think about what has happened, and how you can learn from the experience to ensure that in the future you can employ the knowledge and strength you are gaining. Don’t, however, beat yourself up over your mistakes (I’m a perfectionist, I do this daily). It’s draining, counter-productive and unnecessary. At the end of the day we all make mistakes – and that’s okay, as long as you learn and grow from them.

 

Rose xx

Wholesome Food Review: Christmas Pud Nakd Bar

nakd

I spied this little beauty in the supermarket this week and couldn’t resist!

I’m a massive fan of Nakd products, their bars and nibbles in particular but also their flavoured raisins. When I’m in need of a snack I know I can pick up one of their products and not worry whether there are any nasties in it – perfect.

I have to say I was divided on this particular flavour after my first mouthful. It’s very perfumed and sweet and it reminded me of a highly-fragranced Christmas candle. But almost immediately afterwards, I wanted more. Needless to say, I demolished the whole bar in 15 minutes. It’s a really unique flavour but it’s so tasty and moreish – the ideal Christmas snack!

Try it for yourself and let me know your thoughts  – Nakd are stocked at Tesco, Sainsburys, Holland and Barrett and other large retailers.

PS

For those of you who eat clean all year like me, Nakd are doing the PERFECT gift for someone who doesn’t want chocolate for Christmas! Their cute cracker set contains a mega mix much like the old selection boxes you used to get when you were little – perfect for primal foodies.

Rose xx

Philosophy for everyday life from Nelson Mandela

Nelson-Mandela

Nelson Mandela. We all know that he is the epitome of strength and inspiration – and following his sad passing in and a subsequent film documenting his life there has been further recognition and an outpouring of praise for him from a younger generation, many of whom had no idea how instrumental and influential he was not only in changing the lives of many South Africans, but also for his infinite wisdom imparted on the world.

Whenever I feel despondent or negative I always look up his quotes, amongst others (they’ll be covered on the blog too!) This is a man of incredible strength and integrity who despite suffering the most unbelievable injustice, spending precious years of his life in prison for standing up for what he (rightly) believed in, showed no malice, spite or indignation towards his captors, enemies or towards life in general. Instead he had only forgiveness, kind words and wisdom learned from his time in prison to impart after his emancipation.

Whilst I’d never encourage comparison of experiences, this really does make me think: ‘Who am I to feel that my life is over or futile because of what has happened to me?’ We all have so much opportunity in life, yet it is often ourselves and our personal perspectives on it and what happens in it that hold us back.

Below are my favourite quotes from Nelson Mandela. They shift your perspective when you’re feeling down or hopeless – they’re filled with positivity and reason and encouragement.

Do you have any of your own that I have missed here? Please share them!

nelsonmandela1

‘Do not judge me by my successes. Judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.’

This is especially poignant because each one of our lives are full of ‘failures’, large and small. Except they are not really bad things at all – they are challenges which force us to grow and change. The important thing to focus on is not the fact that you fell down, but the fact that you got back up again, and how you did so. That in turn is a success in itself – in addition to the fact that more successes will come from each of your failures.

‘May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears.’

This one scares me! It’s so true. It’s very much like the old adage ‘We only regret the chances we don’t take.’ If we constantly choose based on playing it safe and being risk-averse with our lives, we miss out on all the things we really want to do but just feel too frightened to take on.

We only get one life – we have to do the things we want to do, before it’s too late.

‘Your playing small does not serve the world. Who are you not to be great?’        

We all have the potential the right to be whoever and whatever we want to be. We just have to work hard and believe in ourselves! Not only do you short-change yourself by not reaching your full potential, you may also short-change others who you could have influenced for the better with your experience and wisdom!

‘As we let our light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same.’

Inspiring others by simply making your own positive life choices and having confidence in yourself is completely subconscious yet it can really help give other people the opportunity to shine. I have met several people in my life who have an incredible energy, yet they are also open and honest about their weaknesses which makes them so human and even more remarkable! Speaking candidly about what you can’t do, whilst recognising what you can do (and more importantly do well) is really inspiring to others.

‘Everyone can rise above their circumstances and achieve success if they are dedicated to and passionate about what they do.’

There were so many barriers in the way for Mandela. He didn’t come from a privileged background, yet he worked hard to become a lawyer despite being expelled from a good school at an early age for taking part in a protest. Of course after this he fought hard up against the powerful white domination movement and apartheid on his entry into politics, a dangerous and difficult struggle wrought with difficulty and anguish. He even encountered personal issues such as his divorce from his first wife.

Sat in that prison cell, year after year, unable to speak to his wife or his children, he must have felt as though his life was over. The battle had not been won – in fact everything indicated that he had lost the battle.

Yet still he found that courage and strength to continue. When he was released, despite having spent a large portion of his life in prison, he was not discouraged or disheartened and instead continued his fight for equality, becoming President of South Africa in 1994 at the age of 76.

This is because he was passionate, dedicated and determined in the extreme. Which leads nicely onto the next quote…

‘When people are determined they can overcome anything.’

I have a tattoo dedicated to my dogged determination. It has got me through every single struggle in my life. It’s absolutely true that if you want something bad enough, determination kicks in and you will achieve it no matter what. If that determination doesn’t kick in, it’s not important enough to you.

‘There is no passion to be found in playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.’

Very much like his quote on playing small, this encourages us to live the life we want, imagine, and are more than capable of.

‘As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison.’

People often talk of ‘forgiveness’. Forgiveness is really difficult because it involves accepting and allowing the actions of others which have upset or injured us. We are conditioned not to let people ‘get away’ with things and to hold a grudge.

Whilst we shouldn’t forget what people have done to us, it is possible to forgive in a sense. Not for their benefit, but for yours. Holding on to that anger and resentment only serves to make you feel bad – it poisons your life going forward, not theirs. By not forgetting we can also learn from what has happened and protect ourselves in the future as we can hopefully deal with new situations using knowledge learned from the last.

Mandela realised that if he held on to all the bitterness and resentment (and he certainly had reason to feel that way) he could not move forward with his life, enjoy his freedom and continue his campaign for equality and freedom. Whilst many of us won’t experience anywhere near the level of injustice or condemnation that Mandela had to endure, we can at least apply his mentality to smaller issues of our own.

nelson-mandela-portrait-headshot1

Rose xx

 

You can’t do it all – and you certainly can’t do it all well

to-do-list

There’s increasing pressure on us these days, especially women, to be proficient at everything. The areas in which we must excel in life have increased over the years as equality has been improved, and whilst this of course is a step in the right direction it means that women are expected to fulfil a number of roles with no room for failure in any of those.

The main pressures in life on women, being a good mother and wife, having a good career and being financially independent as well as looking good, all have sub-sectors which often in themselves can take up most of our time and energy.

The truth is, it’s simply impossible to be all of the things above, at least to a degree of excellence in all.

How do you prioritise and concentrate on just one thing, once you decide what it is you wish to focus on? As a younger person, it’s likely that the responsibilities you do have seem huge to you, but when you look at the lives of other women, you wonder how the hell they juggle the things you juggle, in addition to children and work and a husband (I know I do!!). You only have a certain amount of energy. Where do you want to expend it? And what do you want to achieve as a result?

For me, I’ve decided I have to take a look at what I have to do, what I feel I have to do, and what I want to do. When I did, I realised that much of the things I ‘have to do’ and subsequent tasks give myself to do are actually not things I have to do at all. They are things I feel I have to do, make myself do, for the approval of others. It’s not at all simple just cutting these out (especially if you have an anxiety disorder), but I re-evaluated my list and found there were things I could possibly subtract.

The things I actually had to do, like working, and things I wanted to do, came last on the list. Isn’t that ridiculous? No wonder I am so stressed. Sound familiar?

Prioritising isn’t easy because our brains tell little fibs and make unimportant, non-essential things seem imperative and astronomical in comparison to the things we actually need to do day to day.

I’m making a conscious effort to re-prioritise my life, to make room for the really important things that in the long run will make me happy. Try it for yourself – write everything down that you ‘have to do’ and assess just how important they all are. If you really do have to do all of those things, try and grade them in order of importance. If you struggle with that, you most certainly are not alone. It’s just a case of having a real think about what you want, and taking time to try and get your head around what you want to focus on. Focus truly is everything – you can only do one thing at a time and do it well! Then you will succeed. Let me know how you all get on!

Rose xx

George Osborne pledges £150m to battle Eating Disorders – so where do you think the money should be spent?

This month’s budget announcement contained some interesting news for me, and for anybody who has or has had an Eating Disorder in this country.

After years of what can only be described as a poor and unacceptable standard of ‘care’ for people with Eating Disorders, (despite it still having the highest kill rate of all mental illnesses, as it did 10 years ago when I was poorly) the government is finally stepping up and investing money which will hopefully make a difference to a lot of people’s lives. It’s much-welcomed and much needed support granted to those in need when the country and NHS as a whole is already being squeezed; but I’m so glad that it the need has been identified and now recognised.

£150 million sounds like a substantial of money to you or me, but to the NHS it’s still probably not enough to tackle the issue and now those responsible for spending the money will be collating evidence and looking at how best the money is spent.

I know from a personal perspective since I received next to no support, and the little care I did receive was shockingly bad, that the first steps have to begin at the very start of an Eating Disorder, when sufferers are being turned away from their GP continually for various reasons, sadly some of which include not being taken seriously, some of which involve few resources and centres open for GPs to refer people to, and even then, waiting times are unacceptably long for an illness which we know can rapidly deteriorate over a very short period time if left.

This means that, like me, many are only admitted to hospital when they are physically very ill, at a very late stage where you really are walking the line between life and death. Not only that, but that person’s mental state is incredibly poor. Not being taken seriously by healthcare professionals only serves to compact negative thoughts about yourself and that will also make therapy more complex.

Therefore I’m hoping that we will hear about money going into a fast referral system, more specialist hospital places for those with Eating Disorders, but additionally increased awareness for healthcare professionals. I suffered stigma from those who were supposed to be helping me; borne out of ignorance of mental health and a lack of understanding of Eating Disorders. If this can be tackled, along with the more serious urgency needed when treating Eating Disorders, I believe a difference, however small, really can be made. A little care and kindness goes a long, long way.

What do you think? I’m keen to hear your thoughts on this.

Rose xx