Too Fat or Too Thin, Stop Body-Shaming Full Stop

Opinion

I can honestly say that Cheryl Fernandez-Versini (or Cole, if you prefer) is not a figure who has ever been of particular interest to me. I have never disliked her, but equally I have never liked her enough to care. Sure, I have found her accent mildly irritating at times and have experienced the occasional hair envy, but until now that’s about as far as it went. Recently however, I have found that I am not indifferent to Cheryl’s extremely high profile media persona any longer. I have found myself standing quite firmly alongside the rest of Team Cheryl, I am even cheering from the sidelines.

What could have possibly brought on this sudden shift in opinion? For that, we need to talk about body-shaming. You’re probably used to hearing the term quite often by now, because we live in a culture obsessed with doing exactly that, body-shaming. Society does it, the media does it, even we as individuals do it – whether we share this outwardly or keep our guilty, intrusive thoughts to ourselves. For some reason, which is utterly lost to me, we live in a society which is obsessed with slagging others off, and our favourite genre is the body, particularly – but not exclusively – the female body.

This is not news of course, it has been happening forever – or at least since the Daily Mail was let loose on society – but I’m bringing it to attention now because of two instances which in my eyes, highlight just how ridiculous this body-shaming thing really is.

Example one: newlywed Jennifer Aniston returns from her honeymoon, positively glowing and presumably still on a high – as you would be if you had just married Justin Theroux and spent the last few weeks at the Four Seasons in Bora Bora – only to be publicly body-shamed, ridiculed and humiliated by everyone’s favourite newspaper tabloid. What did she do to deserve this? Supposedly ‘over-doing the dinners’ and relaxing her diet whilst on honeymoon, heaven forbid. Apparently we live in a world where people, or rather those people over at the Daily Mail who actually consider this to be a work of journalism, are more comfortable criticising someone for their body (what happens to actually be an extremely enviable body, I feel I must add) instead of just being happy for them. Sorry Jen, we can no longer label you the poor, jilted women, we’ll just have to call you fat instead.
  jennifer-aniston

Then at the other end of the scale there’s Cheryl, who has also fallen victim to the body-shaming culture. Her crime? She’s far too thin. Cheryl’s noticeably slim figure has had tongues and tabloids wagging non-stop since the start of the X-Factor, accusing her of being ‘too thin’ a ‘bag of bones’ and even a negative influence on young girls. Even though Cheryl had already spoken out honestly about her weight loss, putting it down to illness and stress caused by a recent personal trauma, the skinny-shaming was so insistent that Simon Cowell jumped to her defence, reassuring us that Cheryl was in fact eating properly.

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As I have also lost weight recently due to illness, I too, have of course found myself at the receiving end of body-shaming comments (whether these are intentional and malicious or not, the end result is the same) you’ll now understand why I am completely resonating with Cheryl on this one. It is equally as hurtful and frustrating to be labelled as “too thin” and constantly told to eat more and gain some weight, as it is to be told the exact opposite. So if no one can win, why can’t we just stop the body-shaming full stop? Public shaming, in the cases of Jen and Cheryl are not just one-off media assaults on individuals, they are attacks on all women, proving to us that no matter what we do or perhaps more importantly, what size we are, we will never be good enough. At least not in the eyes of the Daily Mail anyway.

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Have Yourself a Healthy Little Christmas…

Food

It may be the season to eat, drink and be merry, but that doesn’t mean you have to lose sight of the healthy body and mind you work hard for the other 364 days of the year. The meaning of Christmas isn’t ‘eat yourself into a coma’ or ‘calories don’t count today’. Christmas is about family and tradition, though for some reason, Britain can’t help but turn it into an excessive eating and drinking binge, packed to the brim with parties, buffets and leftover turkey sandwiches.

At the same time, you don’t have to be sat in the corner with ‘humbug’ on your Santa hat if you decide to go for the healthier options this year. By making just a few simple swaps and altercations to your Christmas menu, you could save yourself from a sack load of calories, fats and guilt.

Satsumas

The days of getting one in the bottom of your stocking on Christmas morning might long be gone, but the satsuma is the fruit of the season. They are great for adding to desserts, such as trifles (soak in 15ml of Brandy) or a simple fruit salad and the peel can be soaked in chocolate for that cocoa fix. They’re full of vitamin C too to keep the winter colds at bay!

satsumas

Pretzels

At parties and buffets, swapping a bowl of crisps or salted nuts for a bowl of pretzels reduces the amount of fat and calories but is still a great snack. In 30g of pretzels there is 0.8g fat, a much healthier (and more original) option!

Less Pastry

The less pastry, the better! Cutting back on the pastry means you can still enjoy the same Christmas pleasures, but they don’t have to be guilty ones. For example, make mince pies without tops on, choose cocktail sausages rather than sausage rolls, and nibble on breadsticks instead of cheese straws!

Vegetables

This is obvious. On Christmas Day, load your plate with vegetables, they are fat free and full of vitamins and though it is tempting to give those sprouts the wide birth, they are probably the best veg on the table. To keep your vegetables clean, flavour with herbs rather than butter.

Copyright of theguardian.com

Copyright of theguardian.com

Potatoes

Although potatoes have a bad rep, there is actually barely any fat in them, and it’s okay to allow for a little extra carbs at Christmas. Boiling or baking, rather than roasting the potatoes for your Christmas dinner, is a much healthier way to enjoy them and still just as tasty and traditional.

Dates

Granted, dates aren’t for everyone, but they are a great alternative to snacking on chocolate and sweets on Christmas afternoon. If you can’t be persuaded try other dried fruits instead.

Mulled Wine

Mulled wine is THE festive drink, it has the ability to make  even the grinch feel christmassy instantaneously, and the best part? If made with 50% orange juice, it is much healthier than a glass of regular red wine, so you can enjoy a guilt free tipple – or five!

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Most importantly, my final tip for having the healthiest Christmas you can is to enjoy yourself. Don’t get too bogged down worrying about what is passing your lips and how long you’ll have to spend on the treadmill come January. ’Tis the season to be jolly, after all.

“There Are No Good or Bad foods, Only Good and Bad Attitudes”

Food, Opinion

I first heard this statement from a dietician and it has stuck with me ever since. It is perhaps, the sentence which has allowed me to have a healthy lifestyle and a better relationship with food.

Every day we are told by the media what we should and shouldn’t eat, and every week there is a new diet craze, instructing us that if we eat anything other then cabbage for the week then we will remain fat, forever. We are endlessly being warned about the foods that give you cancer, make you obese and only end in diabetes. Then, there is the other end of the spectrum. The “super foods”, the “I’ll make you skinny foods”, the foods we must be consuming every day in order to live to a ripe old age. Yes, it is important know what is good for you and what isn’t so good, and it is important to pass this on to our children, but what actually needs to change in most cases, is the attitude, not the food.

It’s simple, people who have a good attitude when it comes to food are fitter and healthier, both mentally and physically. We don’t need a complex study to determine this, it is an obvious fact of life. Whatever food someone may be eating, whether it be ”bad” or “good”, if their attitude is distorted and unhealthy, they are always going to struggle with themselves, it could be by binge eating, obsessive dieting or in extreme cases, eating disorders.

Society doesn’t need to separate foods off into “good” and “bad” groups, so that one group is forced  upon us and the other is forbidden fruit (although not so much fruit, in this case) and it is clearly not working as a way of getting Britain healthy – we all know how the human brain works, when we tell it it can’t have something, it only makes us want it more. It shouldn’t be a case of having to eat something you don’t like just because it is “good for you” or being miserable because you are constantly denying yourself food, and we shouldn’t be overcome with guilt if we have dessert. I hate the phrase “everything in moderation” but it definitely applies here.

What we should be doing is trying to change our attitudes. Recognising if we have an unhealthy relationship with food, and trying to change it for the better. This won’t happen over night, and it is up to the individual as much as it is up to the media, but eventually we would all be healthier and happier, for longer.

‘It’s Okay to be Overweight’ – Say Size 16 Mannequins

Fashion, Opinion

As fashion department store Debenhams take the bold and brave step of introducing size 16 mannequins to their high street stores, I’m wondering if this is a step too far? Don’t get me wrong, it is definitely a positive sign that fashion retailers are starting to acknowledge the unhealthy body image issues that surround their models and campaigns, I just fear that this is the right move but in the wrong place.

It is quite a remarkable move for Debenhams to make, although they must believe there is a profit to be made from these, equally unrealistic, overweight mannequins. Size 16 might be the average women’s size in Britain, but generally speaking, size 16 is not a healthy size to be. Britain is not a healthy nation. I’m not discriminating against those who are naturally a size 16 and for whom this is a healthy weight to be, I’m talking about the majority of those size 16’s who are so because they lead an unhealthy lifestyle, of eating too much and not exercising enough.

I don’t believe shops should be promoting the message that it is okay to be overweight, it is not, and the government spends millions of pounds telling us this. This isn’t because the media says a size 16 is fat and only size zero is beautiful. It’s not okay to be overweight because its dangerous for our health. This is mind, I can’t help but wonder why Jo Swinson has decided to undo some of those millions by reassuring and encouraging people that – to put it bluntly – it’s okay to be fat.

It is the attitudes of the media, and women themselves that need to change, not the size of the shop mannequins. Of course the mannequins are not a realistic model of the average size 16 woman, with flat stomachs  and legs slimmer than my own ‘size 10’ legs, but that is because they are just that, mannequins. Dolls. Not real. Therefore, I am doubtful about how they are going to make real women feel better about their bodies. This change needs to be applied to the real women who front the fashion industry, then maybe we will get somewhere in the battle for better body image.

 

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Copyright of itv.com