Body Lovin’ Burlesque | Q&A with the Expert…

14322720_10210675413621738_3115954432277712644_n.jpgIf you follow me on social media you’ll know that my most recent endeavour has been burlesque. For a long time, I’ve been interested in taking lessons but it’s only been since I’ve discovered body positivity that I’ve actually booked the damned classes! And what can I say – after winning a ‘gold star’ for the best come to bed eyes – I’m loving it.

If you’re still doubting the body positive benefits of burlesque – even after reading my post, ‘7 Reasons Why Burlesque Rocks the BoPo World’, then look no further! I cornered my burlesque teacher, the fabulous Lizzie Cheeld of Burlesque Jems and we enjoyed a little Q&A session… Continue reading

7 TIPS FOR SELF-LOVE IN ACTION… 

 

tumblr_static_tumblr_m8z7snvl4b1r4d9kxo1_500Unlike delicious Instagram-worthy oats, self-love is not something that can be conjured up overnight. After listening to society drone on about the ideal body image for most of our lives, it will understandably take some time to undo the negative effect that the media and ‘friends’ have on our self-esteem.

There is more to learning to love yourself than just the ‘power of positive thinking’ (although this does help) – so here are my 7 Tips For Self-Love in Action. Continue reading

3 Flaws of Body Positivity…

Over the last few years the body positive movement has been phenomenal in the progression of bodily acceptance. As a society, we are acknowledging the presence of more body shapes and sizes in mainstream media – and this movement is one that has been a long time coming. People across the globe are making a stand and declaring love for their bodies in spite of everything that we have been told my the media, and subsequently, we are deconstructing and reconstructing our own body image values and ideals – can I get a hell yeah?!  Continue reading

Let’s talk about skinny-shaming…

tumblr_moh1ztOCa91ssdigko1_500.pngMy kind of body positivity is not exclusive.

The body love that I promote aims to encompass all body types: skinny, slim, curvy, fat, plus-size, voluptuous, male, female, gender-fluid, I don’t care what your sexuality is or what colour you are, you are fully entitled to love your body. That said, I feel that there is a subject that is rarely acknowledged within the body positive community – skinny shaming. Continue reading

Let’s talk about self-esteem…

beautifulSomeone that I grew up with recently unearthed a photo of me at 11 years old as she was packing to move, and when she shared it with me, my heart stopped. It stopped because I remembered. I remember how it felt to be the fat friend. I remember how it felt, at 11 years old, to be afraid to run around with my friends. I remember how it felt to not climb on rocks, or be able to join in with games through sheer fear that I’d be judged, not only that, but because I’d been told that fat people couldn’t accomplish the things that they’d set their minds to. I always long to look like the girls in the magazines or the girls in school. I wanted to be someone slimmer, it didn’t matter if they were a bad, mean, horrible person, because in my eyes the only thing that society cared about aesthetic value – beauty meant success.

Low self-esteem is something that blights many people’s lives from a young age. I bet, looking back, there are many dark spots in your life where you came to blows with low self-esteem? I’d like to say that since I was a teenager, experiences of self-confidence in young adults have marginally improved, but in this image-obsessed world that we live in, I’d be lying. It is so significant that we find a way to break through preconceived ideals about beauty, I have battled long and hard with self-esteem issues and having emerged from my journey stronger and better informed, I can safely say that I am in a much better body-loving position than I was 10 years ago. Now I know that these ideologies that I held on to are fake. They are created by a wider society that is changeable, you just need to find the strength to challenge it – familiarity breeds contempt, and the more familiar I became with societies ideas about beauty, the more I detested them.

However, not everyone is in the same position that I am. As the digital revolution has exploded, young people are constantly seeking out ways to be more; they flavour their lives with social media, with likes, reposts, comments and social popularity. But this social contest to be the best isn’t without its hindrances. The constant pressure to succeed often breeds low self-esteem amongst young adults, mostly with relation to beauty – if you are not a social butterfly, then you are reduced to nothing of importance amongst your peers. The 2015 Bullying Survey states that “43% of young people have been bullied, 44% of which are bullied at least once a week” with “appearance [being] cited as the number one aggressor of bullying, with 51% saying they were bullied because of attitudes towards how they look.” With these statistics in mind, it’s no wonder that young adults are feeling the burden of their own self-esteem.

It is imperative that self-confidence issues among young people are tackled head-on. This habitual display of self-hate caused by society is one of the reasons that I put myself out there every day on social media – the culture that we live in can be so toxic if it isn’t challenged. I no longer want young men and women to be persecuted for not being society’s idea of ‘perfect’. It is also why I support ground-breaking campaigns such as Dove’s Self-Esteem Project. Pioneered in 2004, their mission is simple: “we have a vision of a world where beauty is a source of confidence, not anxiety. We are on a mission to help the next generation of women develop a positive relationship with the way they look, helping them raise their self-esteem and realize their full potential”. This is the kind of body talk that needs to be happening, not the conversations that the aesthetic-obsessed media pushes upon young people to be slimmer, to be more beautiful, to fit the mold.

The inability that young women feel to live comfortably in their own bodies is astounding. Dove reports that “Australian girls say that body image is one of their top three worries in life. 1 in 3 six-year-olds in Japan experiences low body confidence. 81% of 10-year-old girls in the U.S. are afraid of being fat. And more than 110,000 girls in Brazil underwent cosmetic surgery in 2009”. Just let those statistics sink in for a moment – but remember, these aren’t just statistics, these are real young women with real body issues. If body confidence doesn’t improve with this generation, then the never-ending fight that people face with their bodies and the negative relationships that they have with them will become all consuming for the generations that follow. With only 11% of girls globally calling themselves beautiful, you can see why projects such as Dove’s are so important – this is why I document my body positive journey so publicly, because if I can stop one person from hurting themselves, from becoming mentally distraught, if I can reach out and make someone realise that they are worthy, then my job is done. Young people need to realise that they can be their OWN kind of perfect, they can set their own body ideals and trust me, once you’ve got them set in your mind, there’s no stopping you.

Go Naked or Go Home…

lush

Nakedness, why do we fear it so much? The origins of fear of someone seeing our naked bodies can be mapped across most of our lives: from strategically placing a towel when in the changing rooms, to averting our eyes from the TV when nudity is in front of us, to hiding under the covers when becoming intimate with a sexual partner. But why do we fear it so much? There is something so raw, honest and vulnerable about presenting yourself totally bare. You cannot hide behind the clothes you are told to wear or not wear, you cannot hide your body size or shape, you cannot disguise yourself as another, but instead we are forced to feel exposed. But why is naked exposure seen as synonymous to weakness? Allowing another to see you stripped is both an empowering and honest act, but it is intensely feared. At the end of it, really this is all we have left – our bodies and our souls. We are born this way and we leave this way, but something happens in between that makes us question the skin we have been given, but we need to learn that it is nothing to be afraid of.

LUSH Cosmetics have recently come under fire for allegedly promoting ‘pornographic’ and ‘offensive’ images with their new Go Naked campaign. LUSH prides itself on being an ethical, raw and clean cosmetics company – thus the Go Naked campaign was born as an as “inspirational” movement to highlight the issue of too much packaging on lush3cosmetic products and to promote the continuing up rise of body positivity. The campaign image in question features four naked women holding on to one another – some have tattoos, some have cellulite, some have dyed hair, but all are representative of a non-edited, non-altered female aesthetic.

In spite of this positive and non-offensive stance, some took it upon themselves to contact the Advertising Standards Bureau (ASB) and make statements against the campaign. One woman complained that the advert was at “child’s eye level” and another stated that she was “offended as this is nudity for the sake of causing a stir and is offensive and unnecessary”. I’m pretty sure that LUSH were not up for causing a riot, it amazes me that the nakedness of others can be seen as “causing a stir” when underneath our clothes we all have the same thing – a body. LUSH, on responding to the negative backlash received, defended their inspiring campaign by asserting that “the image is completely untouched, as we feel that we should not be ashamed of our bodies in their natural state, and that every single one of us is beautiful in our diversity”. Hoorah! As far as the complaint against the images being at child level goes, children are exposed to much more harmful images and messages than the one that LUSH is promoting.

These people, who took it upon themselves to complain about such a positive and real message, need to rethink their standards, for if they are going to complain about a representation of un-retouched and realistic female bodies, then they need to tackle the issue of the photo shopped and unrealistic ones that are presented every day in the media too. They need to argue against the display of sexualised images for the sake of selling a perfume, they need to argue against misogyny for the sake of selling an album, they need to argue against the whitewashing of the fashion world, they need to disagree with the promotion of body shaming (as seen in this summer’s Protein World advert), they need to fight against the promotion of a toxic diet culture and they need to fight for intersectional feminist and bodily respect. There are far more pressing issues that they can concern themselves with and much better lessons that they could be teaching their children than complaining about the display of honesty and realness that LUSH have presented.