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


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.

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.


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.


How Hannah Altman is Glitterbombing Beauty Standards



“Sugar and spice and all things nice, that’s what little girls are made of.”

Not according to Hannah Altman, a 20 year old photography student from Pittsburgh, who is, to put it bluntly, glitterbombing, beauty standards through her thought-provoking, poignant exhibition of feminist art. Hannah’s photo series, titled “And Everything Nice” is a distinct expression of the pressures on women to look a certain way. In the photos, of which her best friends are the models, Hannah substitutes glitter for various body fluids, including blood, vomit and tears to draw attention to societies instinct to sanitise and ornament women’s bodies. Hannah has used glitter visualise the pressure women feel to be attractive regardless of anything else, despite what might actually be going on.The result is a striking and haunting look at today’s beauty standards.







How Is the Fashion Industry Affecting Your Body?

Fashion, Opinion

As I was reading this fantastic article, taken from the 1993 Beauty Issue of I-D magazine, I couldn’t help, not only completely agreeing with everything Avril Mair says, but also finding that many of the issues are still of extreme prominence today. I find myself asking the question, has anything actually changed?

I mean, apart form the obvious differences, the increase in statistics of Eating Disorder sufferers, and the celebrities who we are choosing to idolise, the basic principles remain the same.

“A woman’s experience of her own body arises from how she believes it compares with the magnified images of women that surround her on billboards, on television, in films, magazines and newspapers.”

“A consumer society in which women’s bodies are used to sell products while being presented as the ultimate commodity creates all sorts of body image problems.”

These quotes, taken from the original article, seem obvious, common knowledge to us today, but yet that doesn’t make them any less accurate. Even though the issue of the negative body image caused by the media has been recognised and addressed in recent years, making us aware of what we are being sucked into when we open up a magazine or switch on the TV, this realistically hasn’t changed a thing. Consumerism is all around us, in the digital world we live in, it is impossible to avoid and impossible to live without. Just because as a society we are aware that the media can have a negative effect on body image does not stop it from happening, or even help us recognise when it is.

“No matter how many ‘feminist’ features magazines may run, body fascism is reinforced by the advertisements, the fashion stories and the beauty pages”

The truth is, women’s magazines are still full of diet tips and the latest fat-busting work-outs, they are still full of photographs of celebrities looking their “flabbiest” at a size 10. The models filling the fashion pages are still painfully thin, they might not be size zero anymore but they are certainly not the same size as you or me. Yet even though we are now more informed, more aware, and we know it’s all an unrealistic expectation, we can’t help ourselves but be sucked in. Because it’s consumerism, and at the end of the day we are consumers.

Today, the diet industry is still without doubt, one of the fastest growing industries in the world and we still face the problem that almost half of British females are on a diet at any one time, yet most of these are not obese or even over-weight. The UK diet industry is worth £2 Billion, yet as a nation we are still only growing fatter.

As for the men, it goes without saying that the affect the media has on male body image has certainly not improved. Men suffering with eating disorders is still something which is rarely discussed, viewed as shameful and not masculine, but the same time it is a problem which is only expanding. The worrying thing is, we can have no real idea of the scale due to the only small numbers of men who feel comfortable enough to speak out and seek help.

21 years on from when this article was written, I am struggling to recognise any major developments in the effect the media has on our body image, in fact, this piece could of been written today were it not for the few differences.

If anything, I fear the media has only become more obsessed with our bodies and how we should look, whether it be “too fat” “too thin” “plus-size” or “anorexic” the media is constantly comparing, judging and sending out subliminal messages to its audience, and now with the power of digital and social media, it is almost unstoppable.

Avril Mair was right, enough was enough a long time ago.






5 Reasons Never to Date the Guy Who Wrote this Post…


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The post above was brought to my attention on Facebook a few weeks ago, yes you did read that correctly, this is a blog stating the reasons why men should date a girl with an eating disorder.

I know, and I sincerely hope I’m right in thinking that most people would look at this post and realise that the author of this is a just a complete moron. Still, I felt that I couldn’t let this post go without drawing attention to how ridiculous and ignorant it is. It is worrying to say the least, that there might be men who actually think like this and see a woman with an eating disorder as something to take advantage of. Of course as always, what this ignorance boils down to is a lack of knowledge and understanding, but whoever wrote this may wish to think again before publicly mocking such a serious illness.

1.Her obsession over her body will improve her overall looks

Unless pale skin, dark eyes, hair loss, blistered knuckles, acid-stained teeth and downy hair growing on the skin are among your must-haves when it comes to women, an eating disorder will absolutely not improve her looks, whether it be Anorexia or Binge Eating Disorder. In fact, the opposite could not be more true. Eating Disorders are more often that not, not actually about the way the sufferer looks, it stems from something phycological and the eating disorder is a way of coping.

2. She costs less money

For many sufferers, the idea of even stepping foot in a restaurant is almost unthinkable, never mind a dinner-date. While you may be lapping up her leftovers, she will most likely be in turmoil, wishing she was anywhere but in a restaurant with you.

3. She’s fragile and vulnerable

If as a man, you need a girl to be fragile and vulnerable before you can date her, I think that says more about you than it does her. Only men who are fragile and weak themselves tend to go for women who are too insecure to stand up to them. They are easy targets.

4. Probably has money of her own

Aside from all of these statements being massive generalisations, this one is perhaps the most ridiculous as it is simply incorrect. I don’t know where the author got the idea from that only rich girls develop eating disorders but even if this was the case, that money will most likely be spent on slimming pills, laxatives, junk-food binges, you get the idea.

5. She’s better in bed

Maybe sleeping with a girl who lacks the confidence to tell you what she really wants, makes some men feel macho in the bedroom. As a woman, I cannot expect to fully understand what men want in bed, but using someone’s “pent-up insecurities, neuroses and daddy-issues” for your own sexual gain? Pretty disgusting if you ask me.

“a girl with a mild-to-moderate eating disorder—that hasn’t excessively marred her appearance—is today’s best-buy in the West’s rapidly plummeting dating market”

So as long as the eating disorder doesn’t progress into anything to serious, and it doesn’t damage a woman’s appearance in any way, you have yourself the perfect woman?

Is this a joke?

This post is a fantastic representation of everything that is wrong with society. As well as the shocking stereotypes, it shows the ignorance and inaccuracy that surrounds issues concerning eating disorders and mental health. Not only this but it is also a sterling example of blatant sexism, bringing to our attention that there is men out there who view women like this, and we are far from equal in their eyes.

The perfect woman? Quite frankly I wish any man who thinks like this the best of luck in gaining the respect of any woman at all.


Make Fashion Not War – Chanel, Paris Fashion Week

Fashion, News, Opinion


As if I needed another reason to adore Chanel more than I do already – one of my only ambitions in life is to one day own the classic 2.55 bag – yesterday at Paris Fashion Week, Karl Lagerfeld gave me just that. For those of you who missed the infiltration of images on your Instagram feed, posted by everyone who is anyone, the Chanel catwalk show gave us something completely unexpected.

As the closing of his Spring/Summer 2015 collection, Lagerfeld sent his Chanel-clad models, which included Cara Delevingne, Gisele Bundchen and Georgia-May Jagger, strutting down a runway transformed into a Paris boulevard, placards in hands (and megaphone poised in Delevingne’s case) fighting for women’s rights. Painted on the placards read a number of statements, including “Make Fashion Not War” “Women’s Rights are More Than Alright” “History is Her Story” – you get the gist, but Lagerfeld had also included a placard reading “He For She” in support of Emma Watson’s campaign.

Of course the show has received mixed reviews and its fair share of criticism but I can only come to the conclusion that it was great. Admittedly it seems a surprising proclamation from someone who once said size-zero model concerns were the “whinings of fat mommies with bags of crisps” but Lagerfeld is also noted as saying, “Every thing I say is a joke. I myself am a joke.”

With this in mind, lets not take this too seriously. I don’t believe that Lagerfeld is the new champion of feminism and women’s rights but I do believe his show had good intentions and could have positive repercussions. Fashion has the power to influence, particularly a brand such as Chanel, and by doing this it is helping feminism reach whole new audiences. It is sending out the message that feminism is fashionable. However the show was intended, lets not read too much into it, lets take it for what is is, a whole lot of good fun whilst addressing an extremely significant issue. It’s a fashion statement.





“If Not You, Who? If Not Now, When?” #HeForShe

Features, News, Opinion

I didn’t know what to expect when I clicked play on the video of Emma Watson’s U.N speech, which is now rapidly overtaking social media. Until coming across this video, I doubt many of us even knew that she was a U.N Women Goodwill Ambassador, and now her “game-changing” speech has sparked global passion, causing a remarkable stir across the internet and getting people rooting for feminism.

Watson’s speech signifies the launch of the #HeForShe campaign, which aims to get one billion men on board, as advocates, for equal rights for women globally. The campaign is taking a refreshingly different approach to other women’s rights campaigns, by directing itself at men, rather than just focusing on women. The speech highlights how equal rights effect males too, for instance, not having to suffer mental health problems in silence, being able to talk openly and being able to show vulnerability.

Watson goes on to say what we are all thinking, making light of herself, the “Harry Potter girl” who might not have been taken seriously to begin with, but within a few minutes of speaking, has captivated her audience. She is no longer the school girl with the magic wand, she i a strong, influential woman standing up and speaking about something that she truly believes in.

Perhaps what I find most significant in Watson’s speech is how she talks about the actual word “feminism,” recognising and clarifying today’s common misconceptions.

“I decided that I was a feminist. This seemed uncomplicated to me. But my recent research has shown me that feminism has become an unpopular word. Women are choosing not to identify as feminists.”

Unfortunately, I also find this to be true. Women can often be ashamed to be thought of as feminists because it would mean they were too aggressive, too strong and of course, too man-hating. Why is it that feminism has become something to shy away from? How can an idea that men and women should be equal be seen as something negative?

The truth is many people can’t shift the idea that feminism simply means “anti-men.” Even though most people are informed enough to know that this couldn’t be further from the truth, it is a stigma which seems to be sticking around. I know young women who would never admit to being a feminist, particularly in front of men, for fear of being mocked or causing outrage, but what is so outrageous about an idea, a movement, where everyone in the world has equal rights?

If the young women of today cannot call themselves feminists and do not believe in this idea then what hope do campaigns such as #HeForShe actually have? This is but one of the reasons why Watson’s speech holds such importance and has made such a far-reaching impact.

If everyone – male and female – who watches the speech, while scrolling through Twitter, thinks for a second about what feminism actually means, not just for women, but for everyone, and not just for today, but for the long-term, then Watson’s speech has made a difference.

Too often we think to ourselves,”Who am I to talk about that?” “Who am I to make any difference?” Well, who was Emma Watson? She’s the girl who asked herself and us,

“If not you, who? If not now, when?”


“Are you really going to eat that?”

Food, News, Opinion

“Are you really going to eat that?”

“A moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips”

“Haven’t you got a dress to fit into?”

These are just a few comments which, if aimed at me just as I was about to tuck into my sandwich at lunch, would make me feel sick to my stomach. As someone who hates eating in front of strangers at the best of times, I struggle with any comments made towards my food, even the most seemingly harmless. “Are you really going to eat that?” My most abhorred question, fills me with shame and beckons the answer, “No, I won’t be eating it now, because you’ve made me feel incredibly self-conscious and insecure.”

When a woman sent a tweet last week to the Everyday Sexism Twitter page outlining her experience where a stranger told her not to buy chips in the supermarket because she was “too beautiful to eat them,” it commenced a cascade of replies from other women with similar experiences. It seems that total strangers (usually men in this instance) making negative comments on what women eat is an every day occurrence.

These are a few of my personal favourites:

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Of course this is everyday sexism at its finest, women’s bodies being viewed as public property, fair game for any man to comment on as he pleases. Obviously, before any morsel crosses a women’s lips she must first think about how this will effect her figure and therefore how attractive she is to the male population, because the only reason she would want to look good is for men, right?

Helena Christensen was recently photographed by the Daily Mail for eating a sandwich at lunch, the headline “Not a Model Meal.” The paper then went on to make comments such as “…better be careful with her eating habits in the future…she could end up losing those 35-24-35 that have made her the toast of men everywhere.” Are these people for real? She ate a sandwich.

As well as the obvious issues of sexism displayed in these women’s encounters, there’s the factors of self-esteem and body image, judgements like these can hurt more than a woman’s pride. I know from personal experience – and I’m sure even the most self-assured woman would agree – just how unsettling it can be to hear the words “Should you really be eating that?” or the alike, uttered just as you pick up your fork. It can instantly damage a woman’s confidence, fill her with shame and in some cases, can trigger eating disorders. It may seem extreme, but to someone who is recovering or even recovered from an eating disorder, one negative comment can spark up those overwhelming voices which she has battled so hard to keep at bay.

The message here is quite simple – mind your own business. Women do eat meals. Eating a sandwich for lunch is not “gorging” or “feasting,” it is normal. Men who wish to comment on what women eat really ought to keep their opinions to themselves.