Friday, October 30, 2009

Wanting a normal life

24 Katie Piper was young,  very attractive, a model and an up-and-coming TV presenter with a bright  future ahead of her. In 2008 a cruel acid attack destroyed her face and changed her life forever.

As I sat watching  my Beautiful Face on Channel 4 yesterday, I was filled with a deep sense of sadness, due to the pain and loss that she had suffered. At the same time, I felt truly awe inspired and privileged to be able to witness her bravery and determination to overcome her natural fears and regain control of her life.

Special moments from the film include the following open and deeply personal discussions.

In a conversation with her sister:

"I would go out with someone who was facially burnt like me, because that's the surface of your face. It doesn't change anything. You know if someone was able to love you for you  .... and have a normal adult fulfilling relationship. If they had a few scars, a funny nose or whatever on the outside.... I don't really care. I don't know ....  we'll just have to see what happens".

Talking to the interviewer:

"Sometimes when people look at me, all they can see is the accident. And if they couldn't see that maybe it would take away the stigma and the invisible  wall that I sometimes feel around me; it stops people from wanting to get close to me......"

"The way I feel inside, I  am always screaming 'I just want to be  a normal girl' ".

Interviewer: "Who are you talking to?"

"Girls my own age. I think the same as you ... I feel the same as you ... and I am normal ... I am not a freak".


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Taybarns - all you can eat

Taybarns restaurant has been in the UK for a little over 12 months. They differentiate from other restaurants by focusing on the working class and the US 'all you can eat model'.  This allows their customers pay £5.99 - £7.99 at the door; then they can "grab a plate, help yourself, help yourself again".  Over 10,000 people a week are severed across it's most popular branches.  "We're doing volumes that are eye watering for the industry. Our Wigan branch, which has been open for a year, has served more meals than the population of the town - 300,000," Taybarns told the BBC.

"It encourages greed" said Professor Martin Caraher, professor of food and health policy at City University London.  "There is a sense of getting value for your money. And we've moved away from the notion of stopping when we feel full. People think I'll just have another bit, I'm not paying for it".


Professeor Martins' concerns seems justified when you realise that the average number of platefuls eaten by Taybarns' customers is 3.37 "When I come here I pig out " said Heidi who was celebrating a birthday "I've had two puddings already. I'll be regretting it when I go on the scales next week."

The 'all you can eat model' serves multiple large portions of poor quality food. The rise in the numbers of overweight and obese people in Britain suggests that we need to eat smaller portions of good quality food. Great value? Or are we simply laying the foundations of future problems? The debate continues.....   

Meanwhile Taybarns are formulating plans to open another 30 restaurants.


Monday, October 26, 2009

Confessions of a Digital Retoucher

This video is worth watching. It highlights the role of a digital retourcher and the false impressions that his retouched images give to the magazine’s readers.
Here is a small extract:-
“The nature of my job is not to be seen…..If it’s obvious that I’ve worked something to death then I’ve done a bad job. If it looks like it hasn’t been touched at all then I’ve been totally successful….

You can see (looking at a picture) that originally her forehead had a bit of mottling in her skin, where it was too bumpy, too much texture, there was a couple of pox marks on her cheek there, if you look here you can see her knuckles are pretty knobby and this finger is a little lumpy here. If you look here (retouched photo) we have toned them down a little bit to make them seem a little less obtrusive.

They (advertisers) are not going to go ahead with the photographer and keep something that is going to appear flawed or natural because they are not concerned with something that looks natural. They’re concerned with something that is going to sell their products.

This has caused a problem. This is an issue in the world”.



Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Age 8 and wanting a sex change

I found last night’s Channel 4 programme ‘Age 8 and Wanting a Sex Change’ compulsive viewing. After being diagnosed with gender dysphoria, children as young as 8 years old were being allowed to as the opposite sex.

Two of the main characters (pictured) were Josie 8, born a boy, but living as a girl since the age of 6 and Kyla, who was about to return to school as a girl for the first time.

The main message of the programme being that the children felt that they were born and subsequently trapped in the wrong bodies. Sadly. they saw their sexual organs as deformed. Josie’s mother said, “She looks at her penis as a birth defect that she wants to get fixed.”

All the parents clearly loved their children and after much soul searching and heartache they had agreed to them to live as the opposite sex. None of the parents were prepared to face a future in which their child was unhappy, depressed or suicidal.

The program also introduced the TV audience to 16 year old Chris. Born a girl, she had started testosterone treatment at age 14. Chris now looks like a typical male teen, broad shouldered, with a deep voice and hairy. The early commencement of hormone treatment has given Chris a better chance of becoming the male he sees reflected in the mirror; a male that is ‘male enough’ to be accepted by society.

As a parent, I can imagine the pain of seeing my child in such an acute state of distress. I applaud the parents for adapting to such an extraordinary situation, one they could never have anticipated

Having said that, evidence shows that most children who are diagnosed with gender dysphoria, will eventually outgrow it. For this reason, I believe that I would find the courage to wait until my child was a lot older. I accept that it’s easier said than done.

The programme was a truly thought provoking and tacked the emotive subject well. The issue will be under the spotlight in the coming months as the UK reviews its guidelines (16 minimum age) for treating transgender children.


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Airport body scanners

Manchester Airport is controversially piloting a full body scanner. The powerful x-ray scanners, already in use in the Netherlands and America, allow airport security to see weapons and the naked body (virtually)  of the person being scanned.  As well as the naked outline, the scanner also reveals breast enlargements, false limbs, piercings and a clear outline of the passenger's private parts.

Passengers are allowed to opt out of the new scanner and instead undergo the normal security procedures, which may include a 'pat down' search. 

The hotly debated issue falls into two camps.


i) It is anonymous - The person viewing the scanned images are in a remote location and cannot pair up and image with it's owner.  They will also be scanning 1000's of images a day, which increases the impersonal aspects of it.

ii) It will speed up the very time intensive security procedures, because it will not be necessary to remove metal items, shoes etc.


It is an invasion of privacy - Every individual should have the right to decide who sees them naked. The scanner is optional at the moment,  but could easily become compulsory (if you want to be allowed onto a flight).

In this debate I am siding with the No's. My body is a large part of who I am. It's private.   For me, the new scanners are an anti-terrorism step too far.


Thursday, October 08, 2009

Carol Vorderman's assets

Early yesterday morning, I listened to a Carol Vorderman interview, publicising last night's Pride of Britain Awards.

During the interview, Carol talked about the bravery and/or selflessness of the award nominees. The conversation then moved to the tight dress that she wore, a dress that revealed the size and shape if her bottom. Her response made me chuckle.

“It’s huge”, she said laughingly. “All the black girls kept coming up to me and saying ‘Carol, you’ve got a black ass’. I just said thank you!”

I watched the Pride of Britain Awards (truly inspiring) and looked out for the bottom that had got Carol so much attention.

She looked great and the tight dress certainly made the best of her natural ass-ets.


Wednesday, October 07, 2009

General public interview has recently carried out it’s first detailed body image interview with a member of the general public. We are very happy to have achieved this milestone, it’s been on our ‘todo list’ for some time.
The full and very moving interview will be in published as an article on 1st November 09.
We plan to conduct additional interviews in the coming months.  If you are over 18 and have a personal ‘body beautiful’ related story, that you would like to share with others, please contact us.


Improving your childs body image

This is an excellent video, giving tips on how to help your child a) improve their own body image and b) accept themselves and others.



Monday, October 05, 2009

The 640,000 Simpsons campaign

The Government are planning to sponsor The Simpsons during the pre Christmas season. They hope the ads will confront obesity during the traditional time of excess.

The Simpsons couch will be inhabited by plasticine family (designed by Wallace and Gromit creators) scoffing junk food. The junk food is then replaced with fruit and veg.

The £640,000 campaign runs on Channel 4. Public Health Minister Gillian Merron said: "It is an engaging way to get the message to families about ways of improving their diet."

At a time when government debt is escalating at an alarming rate, can the government really justify spending such a large amount of money in this way?