Tag Archives: body shaming

Dude looks like a lady.

A couple of weeks ago (this has been sitting waiting to be published), a relative posted the following meme which I found pretty offensive, I am sharing it here only so you can understand this blog, and my motivation behind writing it.

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I immediately pointed out that this statement is erroneous, that advice often is to give the child the lead in decisions of gender, that enforcing gender stereotypes isn’t helpful, I finished by pointing out that little in life is truly skin deep. I figured… naively that it would be left at that. The OP is not someone that garners much in the way of debate. I am not sure exactly what prompted me to say anything, I do try and keep discussions and debates in forums I feel relatively safe.

Well, that was bloody silly of me. I was told by a stranger that ‘legitimately half the transgenders are not born into the wrong body’. I mean how are you supposed to respond to that? What is that even supposed to mean, where do these figures come from? And this is the reply ‘Look ‘guy’ there is a difference between being born of both sets of genitalia and wanting to dress up as another gender because your emotions and outlook on life make you feel that way’.

Now, the thread got deleted shortly after this exchange, by reply was to point out that I am in fact, a girl and the reply to this statement was… well it wasn’t polite and there was an implication that I am trans. Not the first time this has happened, probably won’t be the last. Now, a couple of paragraphs ago, I had stated that little in life is skin deep. The person replying to me would have done well to remember this. I use a different first name on Fb, one that could be considered masculine. Coupled with a female profile picture, I guess it is easy to become confused. If you are super lazy and don’t do a quick sweep of a person’s profile.

I have no issue with being called trans, it bemuses me more than anything else. What upsets me is that it is used to hurt, upset, to insult. There are wider issues here. The fact that laws being passed or being attempted to, at least, in America have called into question what gender means in wider society. When you are walking down the street, how often do you really look at a person walking toward you. How often do you really notice the person serving you in the corner shop. Why are people suddenly concerned about how is using the rest room with them.

It is one of those strange situations, where I don’t entirely know where I should fall. Should I be happy that these topics are being discussed and therefore making them less of a taboo subject. But on the other hand why are these things still needed to be debated. Why does it matter if one dressed like Saul during the week and Sally at the weekend. If Harry became Claudia by their 21st birthday. Does it matter who your co-worker shares their life with? I don’t think you can legitimately say that it does, it is genuinely not harming you. But MEME’s like the one I opened with are adding nothing to the debate. It is small minded attitudes, regurgitated in a way that makes it look legitimate, it validates a train of thought. That it isn’t okay, it isn’t normal and people that we are bought up to trust are in agreement.

Fit for danger

So last night a friend shared a diet that was followed by an actress in preparation for a film role. Having followed various links on same subject it is easy to see how quickly the initial article has been disseminated in to the wider world, with the message becoming blurred.

The reason my friend shared it was her concern over young girls coming accross this article, and more like it and influencing them. Girls look toward images presented to them in the various mediums, whether it is via social media, TV, film, magazines for idea of what they should look like. As girls grow up, they look around, outside their own immediate family, and peer group to understand what is normal, social norms, what is considered attractive.

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When you are told a diet that works is 80% just fruit and veg with the images next to it of the actress having lost 12 lbs … it sounds like the perfect solution. It seems deceptively simple and easy to stick to. So of course, this will be a great idea to shift those imaged layers of fat. But it is a diet. Diets are short term. Many athletes use diets when training. You only have to follow someone like Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson on social media to understand the importance diet has when training. Actually please follow him, he genuinely is an inspiration.

We see it all the time as well on shows like Strictly Come Dancing, where the contestants lose weight, but what is actually happening is that they are toning up. Because they are dancing around 8 hours a day 5 or 6 days a week including the performances. This isn’t something most people will be able to replicate. It is an unrealistic look for people to attain.

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We need to change what we present to people, instead of advertising a quick fix, maple syrup diets, 80% diets that work in short terms, CRASH diets by any other name as a normal, and healthy way to get the body you want. Instead of focusing on the shape and size of the body, the focus should be on healthy living, doing things that make you happy and finding passion in your life, about spending time outside, finding a sport that you enjoy and doing it with friends, about healthy choices with food. It shouldn’t be about the size of your waist, thigh gaps, how prominent your hips or rib cage is.

The focus should be on healthy attitudes and eating, on being healthy, active and moderation. Of course there will always be sensational articles and sales pitches to do something quickly, to cheat, articles will be misquoted and torn up to suit an agenda. But if we can change the conversation so that teenagers see messages that are predominantly positive, so they are going to be able to make more educated choices about their life, so they are able to make more informed choices. So your body is not the most important thing in all transactions.

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The Naked Effect

So, you may or may not be aware, but Kim Kardashian posted a series of naked selfies on line a few weeks ago. The first titled ‘when your like, I have nothing to wear’ which has resulted in a number of other celebrities following suit, including Sharon Osborne. Now don’t get my wrong, I am not a fan of the Kardashians, their life style or the environment that created them. But I have a lot of time for what the photo did, what it has done and hopefully what it will continue to do (hopefully).

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What plays on my mind is that one of my favourite artists , Pink has already condemned the selfie, although not naming anyone directly. And let us remember her song on the matter Stupid Girls You Tube Link which she illustrated her feelings on the matter rather eloquently. But I am I getting ahead of myself, her feelings on what? On using your body, and not your brain to get what you need/want/desire. Pink has long made a stand against the conventional and expected and beaten her own path, in her work and in her personal life. She is a fantastic role model for women of all ages, tackling some pretty hard topics in her music. I adore Pink. I really do.

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But on the matter of naked selfies, she is wrong. Now I am going to sidestep the issue of whether or not Mrs K W is a feminist at the moment (as it will be looked at in another blog) and just look at what she has done. She has empowered women to share their self. No makeup, no hiding, sharing a photo of yourself in a mirror selfie is pretty empowering. A while a go there was a thread in a group I spend a lot  of time. It was basically a middle finger to haters, but it was so empowering, everyone posted a mirror selfie either naked or in underwear. I was not confident enough to bare all. But I have to say it had such a strong, community spirit that I joined in wearing my undies.

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So yes, while I guess, there is a lot to be said about someone in a position of power, using that platform for good. And that should be with strong, empowering messages – stay in school, eat healthy, think positive, don’t drink and drive. But can we just hold on a moment. Just .. imagine, for a moment, that a woman looks in the mirror, and… you may want to sit down for this… DOESN’T HATE WHAT SHE SEES! What if a woman, who is famous, thinks, you know what, I am going to share my confidence in my own body with everyone. I am going to put this publicly, I am going to be in control of the images of my body, I will call the shots, and share what I want and how I want it. What if girls, and women, start being able to see that their body and its image is for their own consumption. And that by appreciating their own body, self love, by being able to objectively look at the image and see what is beautiful about it. By seeing the result of those gym sessions is paying off, by seeing the tiger marks, by realising that while their body isn’t perfectly formed, it is perfect for them.

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What if girls and women, learn that the female form is nothing to be ashamed off, it isn’t slutty to think you look good, to see that we come in all shapes and sizes. Not to feel embarrassed, to learn to look in the mirror, to love what you see. I may be reading too much into Kim K’s motivation for sharing THAT selfie, but isn’t interpretation what is comes down to. What conversation it starts, how it effects people and how minds change?

So, while I love Pink, I am sorry this time, I don’t agree with you!

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Update: Since first starting this blog post – i am not sure how obvious it is, but often I have several unfinished blog posts on the go, so it can take up to a month for me to publish a blog…. Kim K just released another topless selfie, this time with a friend. I fully commend her, and her sense of humour 🙂

Now, I want to share my beautiful friends page, Haelin Rayne is a beautiful person inside and out – if you want to see more of her work : Click Here below are some images she recently took with Absolute Images, which I adore! Celebrate the female form, it is stunning! 

Haters, gonna hate!

An Aborted conversation

Massive trigger warning – clue is in the title. Do no continue reading this blog post if you feel that it might upset you.

Now, a beautiful friend of mine, based in America, shared a post last night. It was beyond upsetting. I was swearing before i even opened it up to read. Now, it is only fair that I share the article with you if I am basing a blog on my reaction to it … well if you want to see if Click Here.

This is the opening stanza of the article :

On Thursday, Indiana Governor Mike Pence signed one of the most vicious anti-abortion bills in the country into law. It forbids women from getting abortions in cases of fetal disability, requires women to inter or cremate fetal remains, and a whole host of other fucked-up things.

Now, at the risk of spending the remainder of this article swearing again and not being entirely eloquent, I want to look at abortion. I want to discuss what is wrong with the attitude that has made this law possible.

To do that, I will give you some background. I have had an abortion. I was … 23 years old, in a relationship, using contraception , it was an accident. But lets go back a little further. My own mother had a rather… relaxed attitude to abortions, how they effected people. Watching Sex and the City and it was repeatedly implied that abortions were used as a form of birth control, and speaking to people working in hospitals again, implied that abortions are widely used, and repeatedly, by women as a form of birth control as others might use a condom or implant. So you will have to forgive me for thinking that, I would be okay.

I was pretty stubborn about being pregnant. Missed periods aren’t always the best indicator. I guess the fact that I was in deep, physical pain if I didn’t eat when hungry could have been an indicator. As it was, I did buy a pregnancy test, and discussed it with my partner. We were sensible in our discussion, not having our own house, I was at college waiting to go to Uni (mature student… what a joke), we realised that we were just not ready to be parents. I quickly made an appointment with my G.P and was seen the next day (Tuesday) by one of the senior partners. And WOW. I have been belittled, felt small, stupid, insignificant many, many times in my life. But I have been bought up to think of the family doctor as someone to trust, to turn to in times of need. But I have to be honest… rude doesn’t cover his attitude to me. I felt like I was dirty, a whore, cheap, a slut. Did I know who the father was (after explaining my living situation etc with him) and had I discussed it ‘with the father’. Now this was a while ago, I am sure things have changed, but at the time, you had to see two doctors in the practise to sign off on the abortion. I was lucky that the next doctor was a completely different story and treated me with dignity and respect. Although I found out I was approx. 11 weeks gone and was referred to the hospital for … well… again this was all new to me, I had gone by myself and suffered a horrific questioning already, I thought it was an out patient’s appointment, before an abortion date would be organised. I really didn’t understand how these things worked and didn’t have anyone to turn to. (more on that to come)

So when i rocked up at the clinic, I was there… maybe 5 mins, nervous doesn’t begin to cover it. I am not good in hospitals. So I was hoping for reassurance, help, understanding…. no. Big bag of no. I was in and out in 5 mins, I was told to come back the following morning, and to bring a pair of PJ’s and slippers. So.. as quick as all of that. When I came back the following morning,  I was told that my partner couldn’t wait, but they would call when I was ready to leave. No ETA, no nothing (this resulted in my begging that he wait anyway). He was shipped off, I was asked to change and sit in a waiting room with other women, who I had to assume were all there for the same reason. But we were not even making eye contact, let alone conversation. No member of staff to speak to, until I was called in to see the doctor. Great, I thought I would be able to have a conversation with the doctor, have an explanation… nope, a quick overview of stats, and a rather unpleasant experience later, I was back in the waiting room. None of us had a way to pass the time, no one to talk to, to offer comfort. We were called in one, after the other. No way of really telling the time. Finally, I was called in, and because of the medication it gets super hazy around this point. But a nice man stabbed a needle in my hand without explanation and then told me he was going to put me to sleep, could I count back from 10. Being me, I suggested he sing a lullaby.. and BAM i was gone.

I have only been under general (or in a surgical situation) twice that I know of, and I don’t stay down long. I came around to the nurses laughing about my asking of a lullaby… I guess that gave them something to talk about for a couple of days at least. I was offered squash and dry toast, and told to get dressed. So, drug induced sleep to getting dressed in under 10 mins? I made it groggily to the waiting room, saw my partner, and ran past him to the toilets. Threw up. At this point, I am feeling thoroughly miserable. The only other person I had told was my manager to explain why I couldn’t work that weekend (working as a bar supervisor, I felt it best I take the weekend off work) but I suddenly needed to see my mother, which was massively out of our way home. And of course she wasn’t in. I must have thrown up 5 more times on the journey home. Pretty undignified, having to pull over, to throw the door open and carry on a moment later.

I was in pain,not so much that I couldn’t move.. more that moving was pretty uncomfortable, and stayed on the sofa for the weekend. I didn’t go to my follow up appointment with the doctor, and my GP neither asked, or followed up either, although I went in for a change of contraception shortly after. Now, I have never wanted children, that is a story for another blog. I will be honest, I was a little upset. There is something about being pregnant that changes everything. I would have happily taken that baby to term. But it was right for me, my situation. I don’t begrudge the abortion as such. But what I do begrudge is the taboo surrounding the subject. If I am honest, out of all the health care professionals that I saw during the ordeal, it was the second doctor that signed off my application for the abortion. To everyone else, I was cheap, nasty, a number, cattle. I was not human. I was not worthy of basic dignity and respect.That, that is what I take away from the situation.

Now, I realise that I have rambled on quite a bit about my own experience. And I thank you for sticking with me. I went back to work, and was honest with my co-workers about my time off. My boss was lovely, and understanding. My co-workers, shocked and curious. I worked in a student bar and I guess this was part of the rich fabric of their education. And yet, not even a month later,  I realised what a taboo an abortion was (if you recall earlier, my view was formed on open conversation and pop culture references so I assumed it was open season). I hadn’t really mentioned it to people because of time, and I didn’t really have any close friends as such at the time. So when a co-worker came to me and said he had been told off for mentioning my abortion… I was shocked ? It was … public I guess. In the way, it is now. Because I am transcribing it ready to go live on line. So I felt strange that he was being told not to talk about something, like it was a dirty secret when I hadn’t presented it as such. It was just something I did. And then having another co worker, a year later, swear, loudly, to my face about how disgusting I was. Then I started to realise being open about abortions, free and open debate.. not the best way to play it.

And so, it has continued, I mention it generally speaking in context, but when i feel it safe to do so. Not long ago, a FB friend threw up a Pro Choice article, I saw red and went on the offensive. It resulted in not only us connecting via messages, opening up in a way neither of us had, but the resulting thread was a forum for women to be open and express themselves in a way that they maybe felt they couldn’t or shouldn’t.

AND THIS MY FRIENDS IS WHAT IS WRONG.

Having an abortion is not something we should be ashamed of, of course we shouldn’t view it as a form of birth control. But there are reasons, many, many reasons women chose to go through with it. It is not a simple choice, not one anyone takes lightly or goes through unscathed.

As I said on my friends post last night, Pro Choice, we have the right to chose. It is not saying one is better than the other. It is just saying that many have fought hard, and in many cases, died for our right to chose. And that choice is actually – because I am a facetious cow, the same right to choose to go to Whole Foods to pick up dinner over MacDonalds. It is about our right to make informed, educated choices about our lives, and our bodies. To take control about what we do, say, think, our actions. And be RESPONSIBLE for the outcome.

And so we come back to the start of this blog. It is a disgusting and not especially subtle dig at Pro Choice. Let us not get bogged down in the arguments surrounding abortion, wrong sex, disability  – no different than my own reasoning when you come down to it. If that is really the concern, tackle it head on and don’t make families, who are emotional and vulnerable, feel any worse than they already do. It is a cheap trick and a low blow. We need to talk about this. We need to have conversation, we need to bring it out of the shadows, be honest. Stop making women feel like shit for even considering it. Only then will this stop happening.

A body of expectation

So in the show, and I guess, a follow on from my Body Shaming post a few weeks ago…. unrealistic expectations of body image. 

The images we see everywhere, in films, on TV, in advertising…. it is all smoke and mirrors, even day to day, people wear slimming aids, support wear, enhancing underwear, and dress to suit their shape. 

When you look at yourself in the mirror? Are you happy? I know I am not, some people look fantastic naked – others… (like me) look much better in clothing. And I mean that from a personal perspective. I don’t make a habit of looking at people naked, but all those I have seen in a state of undress look fantastic! For example, the always stunning Aura – she is a fantastic model – check out her page : Aura – Alt Model and I love seeing what she has come up with. But don’t get me wrong, I don’t look at her with any jealousy!

But when we are subjected to images from every direction it is easy to start doubting yourself, so it is important to make sure you understand the work that goes into the images you are seeing – for example, Victoria’s Secret Angels that walk in the VS catwalk show are contracted for 12 months, where personal trainers, chefs, physiotherapists, nutritionists are all on hand to make sure that they are on top form for their show. They aren’t living the same life as many of us. 

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Then we have people like Liz Hurley and Elle Macpherson who are refusing to let age be anything but a number. Liz quotes ; ‘it’s part of my job description to not be too fat. As you get older you have to make more effort’. She apparently avoids sweets, bread, pasta, cheese and crisps. For both these women, it is vital to their career to make sacrifices. 

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But more and more, we hear that children are thinking they need to diet – you know something is wrong. It is important to make sure that children understand the work that goes into looking so good. There is a rise in eating disorders in children. Reading more and more stories of people having ribs removed so they can have a more slender waist. The models, people in the public eye, like Liz are role models, but as much as they can do interviews and explain what does into their daily regime, people do need to make sure they take this in, and it filters down to the next generation. We need to start looking toward out athletes to provide a good role model for not only children, but everyone. Is there any other industry that has such a varied range of bodies, in both men and women? Any other industry where you body will not be judged on the outside alone? Where strength, commitment and endurance are lauded? So while I am not for a moment knocking the hard work the ladies I have mentioned already in this post, maybe we can look at people like Jessica Ennis-Hill as role models?

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Jessica Ennis-Hill competes in the womens long jump during the Loughborough European Athletics Permit Meet at Loughborough University, Loughborough.

What I am trying to say, is that transparency is great, and we need it. But you need to be honest with yourself. You need to be prepared to do some work. By blaming models for their bodies, is body shaming. It isn’t okay just because they are slender, and tanned, that they are tall, they work hard, and although I wish society would not put so much pressure on women to conform, beating each other up about it is not going to change anything! 

Remember, you are beautiful, you are strong, and it is your body. You are the only person that should matter when making any decisions with regard to your body, how you dress, how you eat. It does mean you take responsibility. It also means, appreciate the work that goes into that ‘perfect’ body you wish you had. Don’t try and find something negative when looking at WWE’s Naomi – just remember all the training, bumps, bruises, all the missed holidays, all the nice food she won’t be treating herself.

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In case you missed our show this week :

Lifestyle:MK Theatre and Film

Beauty is only skin deep

Beauty, or its perception is a very personal thing. It is taste. This will be down the individual, it can be environmental, what you were bought up around, it can be cultural. But I digress.

I am working in collaboration with a friend and fellow (albeit infinitely more talented) makeup artist, Wechselbalg (find him on facebook) to bring to life some concepts inspired by the Hansel and Gretel : Witchhunters film. To this end, I selected the Desert Witch as my first witch.

The image I have included with this blog is the unedited image I uploaded to Instagram last night. It got some positive comments on it – which of course delighted me. But it also made me think about the perception of beauty within our own and other societies. I was told that I look pretty, amazing, beautiful. But… and this is really what I am trying to get it. Is it really me that they are complimenting or my work.

I call myself a makeup artist although I have no formal qualification. I do however, use makeup as my artistic medium and outlet. So, if we take it as a compliment of my work, I am honoured. I am very pleased with the way it turned out. I was lucky that the weather was bright and worked in my favour.

However, the other interpretation is that they are saying that I, am pretty. And it feels wrong. I cannot really accept this as a compliment. And please let me explain why.. take a moment to look at the picture. I am wearing a wig (which I customised), blue contact lenses, self tan, and a bucket load of makeup. So .. there is nothing in the photo that makes me, me. I am the canvass a painter starts off with before applying paint.

And this is the point that bothers me. Is skin truly only skin deep. Am I only pretty when I have so many layers of makeup, my own mother wouldn’t recognise. This is a difficult topic as clearly, I do love makeup and apply it at times, with wanton abandon. And yes, it makes me feel beautiful, I love looking at the mirror, and seeing what I have created. I don’t want to bring the patriarchal or feminist gaze into this. Really, makeup is a personal thing, wear it, don’t wear it. Throw it on with a trowel, go natural. If it makes you happy, then really whether someone is hitting like on it, count it as a bonus and not a comment on you as a person. They are liking the art created?!