Body Bleugh

Love it or Hate it, Social Media is everywhere. You can’t escape it, as much as we like to try. It’s the younger sister that you were forced to bring along because your parents asked you to ( just kidding love you Charlie) , sticking to you like an incessant piece toilet paper, clinging on to your shoe for dear life. At one time or another, we all make that same sweeping declaration. “I’m deleting {insert toxic social media platform here]”. Whatever you poison is: Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram or any other form of social media that I am too much of a granny to have heard of, I can guarantee that they are just as bad as each other and the world would probably be a better or at least a lot simpler a place without them.


In Mañana, I have spent the last few months harping on and on about my mental health from my depression diagnosis and my struggles with anxiety. What a crowd pleaser. As depressing as that might sound, it really has been an uplifting experience to write about. It’s helped me make accept it and in turn, I think a lot of you have felt less alone in your own struggles. Or maybe it’s just nice to feel good about your own lives, who knows. The point is, I am now well versed in divulging the personal and uncomfortable. I’ve written about everything from relationships and dating to my mental health and my body image issues. Which perfectly segway’s into this week’s post- it’s as if I planned it or something?!


To those of you who have lives and jobs and responsibilities, you might not be aware that this week is the Mental Health Foundation’s ‘Mental Health Awareness Week’ but I forgive you, so your consciences are clear.

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I have been critical about having a set awareness week like this in the past. It feels like a holiday, a one-off that pops up now and again- like Mother’s Day. You think about how great your mum is for one day because some card company tells you to. Get her some flowers and that magically makes up for being a crappy child for another 364 days. ( Love your mums guys) . The point is, we should be talking about our mental health all year round- the way we talk about how much we hate Mondays or that we really need to go on a diet again.


Diet. Ugh…correct me if I’m wrong but I think it just might be the worst word in the English language. It embodies everything that is wrong with humanity- wait, no that’s Trump but this is a pretty close second. It’s the idea that we aren’t beautiful the way we are- that we must strive towards something ‘better’- the “perfect body” so to speak. We’re all guilty of it- I am too- so this is by no means a lecture. I spent months dieting and exercising to an obsessive level for a summer body last year so that I didn’t get upset looking back over my holiday pictures. For months before, I had a series of dramatic breakdowns at the thought of going to the public swimming pool in Budapest looking the way I did.


When I spoke to people- my family, friends and my boyfriend at the time, they laughed and told me to stop being ridiculous ( in their defence I really was). It’s not as if I was the Hulk- where if I canon-balled into the pool, all of the water would comically explode out, soaking everyone. Yet, the imaginary glares and scoffs from other tourists plagued my sleep. Unfortunately for you, this self-conscious party of 1 has room for more self-criticism and body insecurity. In fact, according to the Mental Health Foundation’s Body Image Report, 1 in 5 of adults felt ashamed of their bodies last year. Welcome to the party guys, did anyone at least bring cake? All jokes aside, that just isn’t okay.

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We talk a lot about Body Image. We all know the script when it comes to the impact of photoshop, false advertising and the power of social media influencers can have especially on younger audiences. I wouldn’t be making headlines to say that more should be done to prevent it. I am thrilled to see that the Mental Health Foundation is recognising the relationship between the physical issues like body image with our inner mental health. Equally, the report, does an excellent job in not only illustrating the problem but also identifying what we can actually do about it. The pressure that the report is putting on the Advertising Standards Agency as well as the Government’s Online Harms White Paper is a welcome development but it’s what we can do as individuals that I found the most intriguing.


I’m going to play Devil’s advocate here and I’m not sure it’s going to make me any friends but I feel bad for social media. It gets a bad rep but it’s not really its fault. The little sister never asked to tag along- that was the parents. At the end of the day, social media is a platform, a tool that we are all free to use how we see fit. The reason that reality TV personalities like Kim Kardashian and her appetite suppressant lolly pops have 138 million followers on Instagram is because 138 million people let her.It’s easy to say if you have a problem with social media then just delete the apps but as I said it’s everywhere. And as any good mole will know, the best way to change something is from the inside. I know, I know I would make a terrible spy so it’s a good job that I don’t need to keep any secrets here.- in fact it’s the opposite. The report recommends we do the following:

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So, essentially let’s call them out, put a big neon flashy sign over their body-shaming backward ways and not let them get away with it. In the mean-time, be the change you want to see. Cheesy I know but a good kind, like a nice mature cheddar.I can feel you all sighing behind you phone screens while you read this. Like all advice, it’s easier said than done but just like the Body Image Report, I have a few recommendations of my own.


1) Spring Clean your following list.


You have the power to follow whoever and whatever you want. Fill your feed with positivity and who knows you might end up feeling a little positive too! To get you started, I have found a couple of body-positive influencers that will make your feed a much happier and friendlier place.

Ashley Graham (@ ashleygraham)

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If you haven’t heard of this amazing goddess then I can only apologise for not writing this sooner. She’s been on the cover of all the world’s biggest magazines, she’s a judge on America’s Next Top Model and has dedicated her life to making women realise that there is more to #beautythansize

Zach Miko (@zachmiko)

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I’m particularly aware of how body positivity movements ( as amazing as they might be) often do not include everyone in the conversation. Despite us all having bodies and equally insecurities about them. Men, in particular are often forgotten about so we NEED to recognise fantastic role models like Zach Minto when we find them. He is not only the first “Brawn” model for IMG models but he also has his own podcast and column to keep the conversation about body positivity going. HE NEVER STOPS!

Kelvin Davies (@notoriouslydapper)

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My heart goes out to this fellow blogger and activist with the self proclaimed ‘best smile on instagram’ which is hard to disagree with. He’s a ray of sunshine, one of the brain boxes behind @effyourbeautystandards and I think we all need that kind of bold attitude in out lives.

Virgie Tovar (@virgietovar)

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This woman is KILLING it. Haters will hate but they don’t all have a column with Forbes, their own four week course ‘Babe Camp’, a politics degree, their own books including: You have the Right to Remain Fat, is the founder of a viral hashtag: ‘Lose Hate Not Weight’. Oh and she did a Ted Talk. What did you do today?

Kellie Brown (@itsmekellieb)

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I just came across Kellie Brown today and I’m still in awe. She opens her blogwith the simplest but one of the most effective lines I have come across: Hi i’m Kellie and I’m awesome. THIS is the attitude we all need guys. Put me down for whatever she puts in her cereal in the morning ’cause I guarantee that’s where she gets it.


If I had spent longer than 5 minutes researching this, I would probably have found hundreds more of body positive, amazing and influential people and the more the merrier! If you have any recommendations, send them my way because this is a party I can get behind!


2) Treat yourself the way you would treat someone you are responsible for.


Okay, okay. I’ll be the first to admit that I didn’t come up with this. Not sure I could ever be that eloquent. This golden piece of advice comes from one good thing that I did read by Jordan Peterson: his second rule of life. It’s something that has really resonated with me . I’ve struggled over the last few months to strike the balance between selfless and selfish. You either don’t make anytime for yourself or your “self-care” just makes you broke and fat. If we treated ourselves the way we treated our pets ( and I guess our children) then I think we would all be that bit happier. It’s not necessarily doing just what makes you happy for example I’m a pretty happy ( if slightly oblivious) drunk but that doesn’t mean that drinking is good for me or that I should get my dog drunk.


3) Rebrand your life- and your social media


I’m a huge advocate for social media- when it is used in the right way. On top of spring cleaning your following list, I think we should all be taking more responsibility about what we put out on our profiles. I think the basic rule of not posting unflattering photos of you steaming on a night out so that your boss doesn’t see them falls a little short. Just as we should be aware of what others are posting on social media, we should be actively changing what we post as well.


To inspire you, I have found some of the major body positive campaigns over the last few years and posted my versions of them. I was really nervous about posting these. They’re not all particularly flattering; they expose more than I would often expose in public, never mind in such a open and permanent setting like social media. I felt super exposed without a filter since I normally take twenty minutes debating which one I should choose but I can’t preach endlessly about being kind to ourselves, loving our bodies if I didn’t attempt to do the same. So #hereIam , you can judge or not, it’s up to you but I’m definitely not going to change.

#iweigh

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This campaign was launched by the fantastic Jameela Jamil, following a picture of the Kardashians, branded by their weight across them. She went “on the war path” and incredibly brought about the #iweigh movement, showing that a women’s worth is measured by more than just a number on a scale. Their ‘weight’ is rather made up of very full lives, interests and passions so here’s mine.

#whatmakesmebeautiful

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Project Heal launched a campaign in 2016 to try and redefine what we mean by beauty. They wanted women to recognise that their personality traits, talents and passions all make up someone’s beauty and not just someone’s physical appearance. They asked contributors to include a statement- why they thought they were beautiful and then tag 5 women who inspired them. So, in an attempt to do the same ( with the attention of not offending anyone), I will mention 5 women here.


My Mum, My sister, My granny, Fem Soc (That’s all my amazing friends- Billi, Imogen, Klara, Annabelle, Gabby -sorry I totally cheated but I love you all) and Barbara. There are too many to choose from all, you’re all amazing and inspire me in so many different ways.


I’ve been starting off easy, filling your heads with fluffy self-loving statements and happy thoughts . That’s all very well good and is definitely a big part of the #bodypositive movement but I wanted to make some kind of statement with this post. I promised you vulnerability, honesty so here it is.

#nomakeupselfie

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The world sees me without make up pretty often. Only because I honestly can’t be arsed and I would rather be in bed. What I found more difficult was taking this and then not putting a filter on it. It’s such a reflex for me that I am consciously not do that. For someone who doesn’t wear a lot of make up and generally is okay with doing so that scares me a lot.

#whatliesunderneath

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Oh, here’s the big one. Over the last few years, there has been a few different kind of hashtags about fat shaming — including the likes off #effyourbeautystandards #thisfatgirlcan #fatkini but this was one has stood out to me. The bravery that goes into baring all and being this vulnerable on a public platform is unimaginable. So, I did it. My stomach is rolling at my stomach rolls and bra marks not to mention the mismatched underwear and dirty hair. But this is me. While I feel sick thinking about it on here, out for everyone to see, it’s also kind of liberating, well for a minute anyway.

#bebodykind

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And finally, this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week is asking us to be #bodykind and post a photo of us feeling confident. I love this photo of me, I had worked hard to get there and in that moment I was completely at peace.


Thank you for reading guys, I hope you have enjoyed it. As always, if this has hit a little close to home- there are plenty of people to listen. Breathing Space — 0800838587, SANE line 030030470000 x

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