There’s Nothing Aspirational About Exhaustion

News

A website called ‘Fiverr’ which allows people to offer their freelancing services to others for rates reported to be as low as £5 has, quite rightly, been subjected to a social media shit storm. Their new advert was spotted in a London Tube station and shared on Twitter where users have labelled it “deeply depressing”, “irresponsible” and damaging”. It is all of these things and worse.

The advert which features a photograph of a model with hollowed cheek bones and unkept hair, yet still looking admirably glamorous, reads: “You eat a coffee for lunch. You follow through on your follow through. Sleep deprivation is your drug of choice. You might be a doer.”

It then signs off as: “In doers we trust”. Sorry, what?

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Photo by @b_cavello on Twitter

 

“Eating coffee for lunch” and choosing “sleep deprivation” as your “drug of choice” might mean you are a “doer” but it also means you are well on your way to some serious health issues. Not getting enough sleep alone, leaves you prone to a whole catalogue of problems, don’t even open the Pandora’s Box of caffeine addiction and skipping meals.

There is nothing sexy about pushing yourself to the brink.

Working hard is great, but so is self-care. At some point we all have to realise that nothing is as important as our health and wellbeing. Nothing even comes close. I came to this realisation far earlier in my life than I had intended to. I had envisioned that my twenties would be a whirl of working and playing hard, spending long hours and late nights pursuing my career. Alongside this, I thought I would also be able to balance a social life, relationship and exercise regime and had even hoped that I would travel, when time and money permitted. These weren’t unique or even unobtainable aspirations, as my generation goes they were pretty average.

However, a chronic illness had other ideas and it soon became clear that I would be lucky if I could manage two of these successfully. On a good day – and thankfully there are more good than bad – I can get up early, drive the hour commute to work, be productive for the most part of eight hours, drive home, cook dinner, have a bath and wash my hair. Not exactly rock and roll is it? On a bad day though, these basic, fundamental tasks are a real struggle, if manageable at all.

My point is that there is nothing glamorous about exhaustion; take it from someone who deals with the effects of it far more often than they would care to. There is nothing glamorous about bursting into tears after taking a shower because it has used up every single drop of energy you had managed to muster. There is nothing aspirational about not being able to progress at work because the brain fog has replaced your once highly functioning brain with cotton wool. There is nothing at all cool about not being able to get out of bed because, even though you had a full eight hours sleep last night, your body is aching from head to toe. And no, you didn’t run a marathon yesterday or dance until the early hours, you went to work.

To get back to the advert, I don’t think there is any question that to promote exhaustion in such a way is beyond awful. To advertise working long hours at the cost of your health and wellbeing, is not only irresponsible but sickening. As one Twitter user pointed out, are we really supposed to feel guilty for eating something at lunch time and making sure we get enough sleep? And all for a company who’s freelancing rates start at £5? Well no thanks, Fiverr. You simply can’t put a price on  someone’s health.

6 Reasons Why We Should ‘Drop The Plus’

Fashion, Opinion

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“I am a model FULL STOP.” Says the face of Dita Von Teese’s lingerie line, Stefania Ferrario.

“Unfortunately in the modelling industry if you’re above a US size 4 you are considered plus size… I do not find this empowering… I am not proud to be called ‘plus’ but I am proud to be called a ‘model'”.

Stefania is one of a group of models, alongside Australian TV presenter, Ajay Rochester, who are campaigning to get the fashion industry to #DropThePlus – as in ‘plus size’ and stop classifying models by their size. The campaign is now widely trending on Twitter, with women worldwide tweeting their support and sharing selfies like Stefania’s.

There have been objections, of course, with many in the industry saying ‘plus size’ is a term simply used to differentiate. How is it any different from petite? But whereas petite describes a certain body ratio, ‘plus size’ doesn’t describe anything. Plus what? What is normal? Is normal the industry standard size 10? That’s ridiculous, right? That is the message that the fashion industry is currently sending out.

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Here’s why we need to ‘Drop The Plus’:

1. ‘Plus size’ is a pointless classification, when we already have a very successful, numerical system of differentiating between sizes e.g. 10, 12, 14

2. The term implies that anyone who is larger than a size 10 is not normal, or too big. This is extremely damaging and leaves women wondering “If she is a plus size, what the hell am I?” A perfect example of this is the Calvin Klein model, Myla Dalbesio, who was labelled as plus size, causing outrage.

3. Fashion is about empowering people to express themselves and be confident, it shouldn’t be about excluding people because of their size and making them feel insecure and inferior.

4. ‘Pus size’ is not just negative for the consumers of fashion, it is damaging for the models themselves. It stigmatises all size 12 and above models as “not real” or “not normal models”, just as the label of “real women” with “curves” excludes those models who are smaller, as if they are not real women.

5. Yes, ‘plus size’ did serve a purpose when women over size 10 had completely separate divisions within model agencies and were so rarely seen in campaigns and editorials that it genuinely shocked us to see them in Vogue. ‘Plus size’ was a fashion movement and it worked. Yes this is great, but the real success is when fashion rejects the plus label and starts accepting these models as an industry standard.

6. Language matters. Contrary to popular belief (we are all familiar with the rhyme – sticks and stones may break my bones….) words have an exceptional effect and can be irreparably damaging. As Stefania says “I am a model FULL STOP.” Just we are all women FULL STOP.

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#droptheplus

@stefania_model

@ajayrochester

@droptheplus

“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?”

The Weight of Living

Fashion, Food, News

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In a country where obesity rates are soaring, but at the same time roughly 1.6 million people are suffering from eating disorders, there is no doubt something needs to be done to help people’s health, the solution? Stepping on the scales to see which celebrity you are weighing in at.

According to Superdrug, one of the best ways to help people be more open about discussing their health needs, is the introduction of weighing scales which don’t tell you the figure you weigh, instead, they replace the numbers with the names of various celebrities and compare you to these famous faces, in front of your very eyes. As if our own mind isn’t good enough at comparing us to every other woman encountered, these scales will instantly compare you to some of the most celebrated women on the earth.

It’s a joke you must be thinking, and you’d be right to. If it wasn’t such a serious issue the whole thing would be laughable. Superdrug have since released a statement saying they wont be trailing the scales in their stores after (unsurprisingly) receiving a great deal of public backlash, but what concerns me is how Superdrug thought this was a good idea in the first place. In fact no, scrap the ‘good,’ how did they even think this was an idea?

It is widely known that the celebrity culture of society today has an immensely negative effect on women and young girls when it comes to self esteem and body confidence. This product is exhibiting the very worst of this culture, if I was to create a product that depicted everything that is wrong with the media culture we have today, this would be it.

The celebrities used on the scales, including, Cheryl Cole, Ellie Goudling, Adele, Gemma Collins and even Kate Middleton – even royalty can’t escape the wrath of the bathroom scales – have obviously not given Superdrug permission to involve them in such a monstrosity. Therefore, their weights are more than likely to be presumed, though this is besides the point, as our weight fluctuates anyway and actually tells us very little about how healthy we are since it is made up of muscle mass and fluid as well as a proportion of fat.

Cheryl Cole tweeted a genuinely shocked response when she saw an article about the scales, posting “..Pls do not include me in your scales. Girls should be worried about the number on their exam page not a weight scale ffs.” True as this may be Cheryl, it couldn’t be further from reality, especially when this is one of our leading high street brand’s idea of a solution.

'Jimmy P. (Psychotherapy Of A Plains Indian)' Premiere - The 66th Annual Cannes Film Festival

Mind the Gap – The ‘Thigh Gap’, That Is

Opinion

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Type “thigh gap” into Instagram or Twitter, and you have yourself a huge collection of photographs of women’s slowly disintegrating legs. You will also find the Twitter page @CarasThighGap. Yes, it is exactly what it says on the tin, a Twitter account dedicated to Cara Delevingne’s thigh gap, with various photographs and tweets from followers, paying their great respects to the nothingness between her limbs. Cara is one of the the few women on the planet who can have (if it is possible to ‘own’ thin air, I am not entirely sure of the correct terminology here) a thigh gap, without becoming completely emaciated – though I’m fairly sure you won’t catch her down McDonalds. The problem is, that young girls, teenagers and to be honest even some “fully-grown” women see this obsession sweeping across social network sites and believe that, in order to be good enough, they too must look like this. This is partly down to low self-esteem, bad body image and the media, but a large part of it is down to other women.

We, women, are so judgmental of each other in all aspects of life, but when it comes to weight, it is every woman for herself in a viciously competitive world, where there are no real winners at all. We shouldn’t be marketing these forms of body hatred and dangerous obsessions to vulnerable girls, who are already struggling with their bodies and self-esteem and do not need any encouragement from social media. Once the idea of the “thigh gap” has lodged itself in the mind, it is extremely difficult to get rid of, resulting in young women everywhere starving and torturing themselves in an attempt to achieve something completely unrealistic.

We should know better than this. We should be uniting against ‘thinspiration’ and extreme body hatred, such as the thigh gap, not witnessing it as a worldwide Twitter trend. Extreme and unhealthy obsessions on social media, like that of the thigh gap, need to stop, if we have any chance of moving on from this culture of eating disorders and emaciation.

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Great British ‘Slate’ Off

Food, Opinion

 

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As Britain’s most talked about cooking show came to it’s much anticipated finale this week, more than eight million viewers tuned in to find out which of the three bakers would take home the title – and the prize of the glass cake stand, of course! However, it was neither the cupcakes, nor the puff pastry which attracted my attention to the reality cooking show, which, as well as making baking a hot topic among Britons everywhere, has caused a ridiculous amount of controversy on the internet. I was shocked to discover that a show which, essentially is just about people baking pretty cakes, could have caused such outspoken and vicious opinions to surface.

“Not much skills, female tears and a winner so thin who makes me doubt her love for cooking,” wrote TV chef Raymond Blanc on his Twitter page, about finalist Ruby Tandoh. Another classic example of good old weight stereotyping. It is not unfamiliar now, for us to hear about a woman’s weight being used as a way to judge and attack her other, usually unrelated, skills, but yet I still find myself in a state of disbelief at how someone could be so narrow-minded and think that this is a perfectly reasonable statement to tweet to their hundred thousand followers.   article_3682adc07d4e587c_1382507536_9j-4aaqsk

However you felt about Ruby Tandoh as a contestant, there is simply no need, or reason, to use her weight as a weapon against her. Does the fact that she enjoys cooking (and happens to be pretty good at it) mean that she must sit there stuffing consecutive cupcakes into her mouth, barely giving them a chance to cool? Do you have to be overweight in order to be successful in the kitchen now? If this is the case, it’s one social stereotype I must have missed.

The media is constantly warning about obesity and slating people for being fat, but when a slim girl wants to make a cake, it is simply not acceptable. It just won’t do. It is almost as if society has gone to such extremes that we can no longer fathom the fact that there are svelte women out there who do eat food, with calories in it and everything.

If this isn’t enough, then there’s the rest of the attacks which were made about the three female finalists. Too meek, too confident, seducing and manipulating the judges, and of course using those “female tears” as a tool to get to the top. I personally, wasn’t aware that a female’s tears were any different from a male’s. Not forgetting the predictable debate on which of the finalists was the most “shaggable.”  I just can’t help but wonder how different, the tweets and comments which went spiraling across social media might have been, had it been three males in the final. Then again, I’m sure those trusty internet trolls would have devised some other nasty stereotypes as they sat poised behind their keyboards.

When a TV show about baking becomes a national platform for judging, slating and stereotyping, perhaps it is time to chill out and just let them eat their cake.

 

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