Thursday, 27 June 2013

BodyGossips #BodyLove flashmob - it's tomorrow!

A lot of you will know that this year I became an ambassador for the charity BodyGossip - a charity that is run by two inspirational ladies Ruth Rogers and Natasha Devon, which aims to get the whole of the UK - and the world, embracing and loving our bodies and taking a stand against insecurities and self-hatred.

BodyGossip runs a programme called Gossip School, where the ladies go into schools and teach young people of all ages, from school right through to University, about having a positive body image. We also sell books and t-shirts - click here to see and buy them! 

This charity is something that I certainly wished had existed when I was in the depths of an eating disorder during my teens and earlier this year I applied to become an ambassador in an attempt to help the charity spread the word about positive body image and as we like to say 'rocking your own brand of gorgeousness'!

TOMORROW - we are hosting the #BodyLove Flashmob - down at Londons South Bank.
What is the flashmob all about? It's simple, we're gathering as many people as possible from all across the UK of all shapes, sizes, ages, races to fight back against the ever so powerful messages we are often faced with from our media, that we're not good enough or need to look a certain way to be beautiful. We are simply saying that we are proud to be who we are, and are proud to look the way that we do.

How can you get involved? - If you're a Londoner or have easy access to London, get to the Southbank Centre in London a little before 1pm, so you can grab one of our BodyGossip love hearts and write what you love about your body in big bold letters on the heart. At 1pm, we're all going to be standing and posing with our hearts for three minutes - we're going to be papped by the national press which is quite exciting!

If you don't live in London, don't fret! You can download a #BodyLove heart here and upload it to Twitter or Facebook using the hashtag #BodyLove. Host your own flashmob at your school, workplace, college or university - download the hearts online and gather to hold them in the air at 1pm. You can participate in the Flashmob wherever you are in the UK! This is an event for anyone who has a body. And that's everyone!

I'm really looking forward to seeing some of you there and also to meet Ruth and Natasha themselves, as well as some of our other amazing ambassadors! 

Love you all - let's rock our own brand of gorgeousness tomorrow!

Monday, 10 June 2013

What I've been up to

I'm deprived of blog topics at the moment so thought I'd take a few minutes to share with you what I've been up to recently.

I'll start with today - where some of you may or may not know that I attended the funeral of my dear cousin Kevin, who passed away from a very short battle with lung cancer on the 30th May. I wrote about Kevin's diagnosis back in December on my blog, but many of you will undoubtedly know that no matter how much you try to prepare for the death of someone, it still acts as a huge shock. We attended a beautiful service today, where my uncle and his sister are also buried. Kevin was a huge lover of Volkswagens so the coffin was an actual Volkswagen which was so unique and special - one of our family members also got a garland of flowers in the shape of the Volkswagen logo as well. There was an extremely touching tribute speech where I was mentioned and it really hit me hard at that point. After the service we spent the rest of the day remembering him alongside my family, laughing and giggling over random things my Aunt was saying, and shedding a tear or two.

I am running the 2013 Race for Life in his memory as well as for all victims of cancer and their loved ones - if you can I'd love it for you all to donate here :)

In other news, I've been essentially a social butterfly for the last three weeks or so. Here's just a short snippet of what I've been up to!

Best friend Lucy's 21st birthday!




We also celebrated my best friend Becky's 21st too!



And Friday night - where not all the pictures are up (probably a good thing) - insane night in with my favourite people:



And finally, last night - celebrating my boyfriend and I's 4 year anniversary:


So overall, it's been a good, fun month, complete with drinking and good friends. Besides struggling with some extreme anxiety alongside other things, life is good.
In other aspects of good news, I've been accepted onto the Youth Panel at the mental health charity Time to Change! This means I will be participating in more events and fights to tackle stigma and discrimination against mental health problems and helping Time to Change work towards positive ways of working with young people and reviewing materials to ensure they are accessible for young people. I'm very excited to be on board!
I'm also an ambassador for the charity BodyGossip and will be taking part in some exciting things for them soon too - watch this space!

That's a main rundown of my life right now, combine that with work and generally trying to sort out my mental health/life in general, things are pretty busy. Fingers crossed I'm going to get some sort of clear head and a proper sort of schedule in place soon!

Take care!

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Company magazine, you've let us down

I wouldn't say I'm a religious avid reader of glossy mags, but on occasion if certain celebrities or articles are shown to be sporting the covers I tend to treat myself to one. This month I decided to buy Company magazine as part of a value pack alongside Cosmopolitan and Elle and was thoroughly shocked, as was the rest of the nation, to be greeted with a disgusting article entitled:

'This is Skinny Club...and the first rule of skinny club is that you don't talk about Skinny Club'

Intrigued, I read on and became a mixture of disappointed, disgusted and downhearted.
The article includes a unnamed supposed 'honest' writer who describes in utmost detail how she stays thin, how being thin takes dedication, how being thin is 'worth it', agreeing with that annoyingly famous Kate Moss quote 'nothing tastes as good as skinny feels' and well, you get the general idea.
Part of the article asks its audience if they find the article offensive or refreshingly honest - surely they would know that an article such as this would send all kinds of audiences into extreme uproar.

I'm extremely shocked, for one thing, that the article was even published in the first place, in a magazine with of all people Demi Lovato on its front page - a young woman who spent the majority of her teens battling eating disorders. Likewise, this article appeared just a few pages after an article about feminism and documenting women who fight for feminism, only to be completely juxtaposed by an indication that women should be ashamed of what we look like if we are not pin thin. 

Whether this article had included a trigger warning or not (which it didn't, by the way), it does not excuse the content in any way, shape or form. 
I'm very much a believer that the media does not cause eating disorders, but simply fuels them, and fuels sufferers in early stages of eating disorders to worsen their illness further, taking crap articles such as these and using them as reasoning or inspiration to stay/get thinner. Same applies with articles about eating disorders, where magazines too often than not completely ignore Beats general media guidelines on publishing eating disorder content and post those shocking bone jaunting images we're all used to seeing. Similar to this, what is with magazines posting clothes encouraging you to 'embrace your curves' then as soon as you reach the back of the magazine includes cellulite removal surgeries and the latest dieting fads all in one easy to access page? Why?

My friend Eva decided to fight back (as did many others) and write a note on the magazines Company Collective page - which is a page run by the magazine staff, regarding the horrific article and their thoughts on the matter. The editor responded by saying this:

Hi collective - thanks for your comments. I think this article has been a little misunderstood. We spend a lot of time in the office discussing weight and diets etc and one of the things we all found frustrating was the fact women are often so secretive about how hard it is for many women to be slim. It was in no means meant to be a 'role model' but moreover highlight just how crazy it is that we can't be honest around food and diets. Company is not a magazine that judges on any front but we do like to give room for honest opinion. Healthy eating is always the message we would deliver. The girl in the story is not anorexic she is simply always watching what she eats. The two things are very different. And we were hoping that it was clear we wanted her story to be an example of how NOT to behave. And how daft it is to lie to friends about what you have or haven't eaten.We opened the forum on the website as there had been so much debate. It is not cynical just a response. We could have ignored it. I think it's crucial that weight and women's attitude to it is discussed but not judged either way, so if you want to follow a healthy eating regime that's fine. If you don't that's fine too. But essentially we should stop criticising each others choices.Vic - the ed

I can't be the only person who finds the editors response not only extremely rude but not just thought out in the slightest. Whether the girl in the article was supposed to be anorexic or not - it doesn't matter, the article practically glorifies an unhealthy body image and a dangerous obsession with dieting, all of which can be linked to severe eating disorders. And the girl in the article is not following a 'healthy eating regime' in the slightest, she's promoting a diet of self-deprivation and extreme exercise, which, last time I checked, was not linked to 'healthy'.

As you guys no doubt all know, I battled with an eating disorder throughout my teenage years and, despite eating 'normally' (whatever normal is), I still majorly struggle with my body image. Reading this article, although making me angry, actually gave me a sense of huge empowerment which I think I've been waiting for, for a long time. I don't want to be part of the 'skinny club', if such a thing should ever be allowed to exist. I want to buy clothes that suit my body and not bog standard clothes that 'I know' will fit me or will hide those lumps and bumps I should be flaunting. I love going to restaurants and trying all the varieties of food there is to offer, rather than depriving myself of necessity. I like exercising because I want to exercise, because I want to be healthy and get fit and HAVE FUN!' To whoever wrote this article, maybe I don't want to 'rock a crop top like Rita Ora' or 'parade around in a denim mini dress with Alexa-worthy pins'. I don't want to look like any other celebrity. I simply want to be myself and be able to rock my own brand of gorgeousness. (check out www.bodygossip.org) for more information on how we are trying to do this!

All I can say now is Company, I am thoroughly disappointed in you, as are many other young readers. We expected more from you. Printing this article only adds to the huge pressure and struggles young people are still battling in today's society, which surely by interviewing Demi Lovato, you should be all to aware of. We deserve a better explanation than simply 'let's stop criticising each others choices'. It was immoral and insensitive and something which surely was expected to receive criticism. 
I guess that this article justified how much I despise the magazine (especially glossy magazine) industry. It is simply a claim that clothes only look attractive on 'thin models' and that we are only interested in dieting and losing weight. Well, take this, we're in the 21st century, guys, we're not a shallow bunch and we care much more about embracing our bodies and what we have rather than envying what we don't have. Thinness happens to have been the selling point of magazines for years and is supposedly what attracts viewers to them and makes them purchase. I don't think that's the case anymore. I think we're past that. I think we're fed up of it and it needs to stop.

I want to be part of the club that is free of body banishment and welcomes self-appreciation. I really hope you all can join me!

I'd also really recommend that you watch this fantastic video by Rosianna regarding this article, who probably explains the issue in a much more coherent way than I have managed to do in this post! Rosianna makes some fantastic points and I urge you all to watch this too:


And please also check out the BodyGossip website (for which I am an ambassador) for information on our great charity and how we're currently learning to embrace ourselves and our bodies for who we are.
Leave your opinions and comments in the box below!