Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Male attitudes to body image study

Central YMCA, the Centre for Appearance Research and The Succeed Foundation have recently collaborated on a major national study which explores male attitudes to body image and appearance.

The study reveals that 4 in 5 men engage in conversation about their appearance which in the majority of cases affects men in a negative way.  The majority of men are unhappy with their appearance, with 4 in 5 wanting to be more muscular, and this in turn may explain why one in three men take protein supplements or are on high protein diets.  Body image anxiety also puts as many as 1 in 4 men off exercising at the gym.

"Historically conversation about your body has been perceived as something women do", said Rosi Prescott, Chief Executive of Central YMCA. She continued, " it is clear from this research that men are also guilty of commenting on one another's bodies and in many cases this is having a damaging effect."


Friday, January 27, 2012

The beautification of soap characters

The Wright Stuff (Channel Five) had an interesting discussion this morning. It asked the studio and viewing audience the following question.  "Have noticed that new soap characters are becoming more attractive?"  My answer to this question is a simple, "yes" .

Until quite recently, the epitome of a soap character was that they looked like the typical man or woman in the street.  Things have changed.

The TV discussion highlighted the fact that, as story lines alter, it seems to be out with the old (less physically appealing) and in with the new (gorgeous). In EastEnders former model picks of the reigns as Lucy Beale. Coronations Street's Battersbys family have given way to the better looking Price family, while Emmerdale's, cast is bulging at the seams with 'beautiful people.'

The beautification of soaps is just one more indication that, in our culture,  "looks matter", almost to the exclusion of anything else e.g.  talent.  

This is not a healthy or wise message to send to society; particularly to the young.


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Finding peace with your body

Here is an interesting article from the American Psychological Association's Blog. It's titled, 'Finding Peace With Food & Our Bodies: Q&A With Dietician Julie Norman'.

The insightful article contains informative responses to questions such as, how to find peace with your body.

Julie's answer: ' By agreeing to be in them, accept them, love them and care for them exquisitely. I realize this sounds easy yet is hard to do. It’s a huge process that takes time and support given our conditioning and cultural environment.

Read Article


Thursday, January 19, 2012

Pupil Referral Unit

“You’ve fallen in love with a pixel!” The exclamation was followed by much laughter and merriment from other members of the class.

The outburst took place in a Body Image and Self Esteem workshop, that we ran at a West Midlands Pupil Referral Unit, earlier this week.

The statement had come from a year 11 male pupil with autism. His outburst, was in response to a teaching assistant's (male) comment that he found airbrushed pictures more attractive than natural ones.

The vocal pupil wasn’t the only one determined to remark on the honest comment.

"Natural beauty is better, because it’s real “, insisted a girl in the far corner; words that the girls in her group echoed.

For a while, behavioural, mental and physical issues were mostly forgotten as discussions on body image, self esteem, the media & advertising, beauty and weight captured the classes attention.

When talking about weight issues one girl said, "some poor people can't afford  to buy healthy food. Fattening food is cheaper so being fat isn't totally their fault".  

The fact that the workshop was talking place in a Pupil Referral Unit with several teaching assistants (who all took part) in attendance, changed the usual workshop dynamics and made for some interesting assistant/pupil dialogue.

One thing is clear. Children, however diverse, want to be heard.

We appreciate the opportunity to listen.  


Friday, January 13, 2012

PIP Implants

Yesterday afternoon we received a call from a woman who was very concerned and upset about her PIP breast implants. The caller is one of the UK's 40,000 women who have received PIP implants. In recent weeks the implants, made by Poly Implants Prosthese in France using industrial grade silicone gel filler, ignited health fears after reports that they are more prone to rupture than other products. 300,000 women have received the implants worldwide.

We explained that we did not perform cosmetic surgery or provide medical information. We then advised her to speak to her doctor or the clinic that had performed her breast augmentation.

To our surprise, she said that she had already spoken to her doctor and that he had also advised her to speak to the private clinic concerned.

A little confused, we asked her why she had called my Body Beautiful. She replied that she wanted to know what we thought she should do.

Sadly, we were unable to do anything other than utilise our counselling skills and listen, before suggesting that she follow her doctor’s advice.

The Government has promised that NHS PIP implant patients, who request it, can have their implants removed and replaced free of charge. Some private healthcare providers including Nuffield Health, BMI and Spire, have given their former patients the same guarantee.

On the opposite side of the fence stand several large private clinics, including Harley Medical Group, Transform and the Hospital Group who have stated that former patients will have to pay for their PIP removal and replacement. Mel Braham, the Harley Medical Group chairman, has publically stated that the company did not have the resources, surgeons or operating facilities required. The NHS has offered to remove, but not replace the implants of women who fall into this category.

"I do not think it is fair to the taxpayer for the NHS to foot the bill for patients who had their operation privately." Heath Secretary Andrew Lansley told the Commons last week.

Andrew Lansley is currently investigating the possibility of pursuing private providers, who are refusing to cover removal and replacement costs, through the courts.

At the very least, the PIP controversy has highlighted the need for a review of the current ethics, regulation and safety standards of the cosmetic surgery industry.


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Leadership and degree of attractiveness

Yesterday BBC Radio 4 presenter John Humphrys interviewed Ed Milliband for the Today programme. When discussing the Labour party's leadership role, John voiced his opinion that "politics has changed".

To explain his viewpoint further, John spoke about the late Robin Cook.  'Everybody accepted that he was a brilliant politician, brilliant mind, brilliant orator; could've been a great leader.'  He stated, before continuing. 'I asked if he was going to go for it [labour leadership] and he said no. I asked him why not and he said "because I'm too ugly, they wouldn't have me".

'Is that a comment on me, John?' Ed asked. 

Surely, as leader of the Labour party, Ed should have been interviewed on his party's policies i.e. how Labour intends to address the issues that affect everyday voters such as the economy, health and education. Linking his ability to lead his party with his degree of attractiveness is a very superficial way to determine whether or not he can effectively carry out the role. 

Unsurprisingly John Humphrys, despite immediately backtracking the implication of his words, has been criticised for his comments.  


Monday, January 09, 2012

The pressure to be thin

This month's article looks at last Thursday's Tonight programme 'Dying To Be Thin' (ITV1) that highlighted the disquieting rise in eating disorders among children.


On Thursday we saw 7 year old girls clearly illustrating that they were very aware of their body shape. They used the terms ‘chubby’,’ porky’ and ‘sad’ to describe being overweight and voiced fears that being overweight could result in others calling them names. Clearly, they perceived being overweight as something bad, something to be avoided.

Sadly the fear of being fat is very real for some children. This fact is inescapable when reviewing the emotions that a group of 12 year olds consciously (and subconsciously) linked to their body size and shape.



Friday, January 06, 2012

Food and drink related lies

A survey, commissioned by Timex to launch its Health Tracker watch, questioned 3,000 people about their eating habits. Researchers found that woman tell 474 food and drink related lies (average) each year.

The top 20 are detailed below:

    1. 'It was only a small portion'
    2. 'I'll have a big lunch so I won't eat much after this' 
    3. 'I only treat myself once in a while'
    4. 'I always eat my five-a-day'
    5. 'I didn't touch any of the biscuits'
    6. 'I only had one glass'
    7. 'I didn't eat the last one'
    8. 'I won't eat again today after this'
    9.'I was too busy to have lunch'
    10. 'I might as well polish them off now or they'll go bad'
    11. 'I had a salad so that's healthy'
    12. 'I never touch fast food'
    13. 'Red wine is good for you'
    14. ' I only have half a sugar'
    15. 'I limit my carb intake'
    16. 'I'm testing the dinner'
    17. 'I only had a drink because we were toasting an occasion'
    18. 'I only drink diet fizzy drinks'
    19. 'I just finished off the kids leftovers'
    20. 'I don't drink tea after 5pm'

Speaking personally, my favourite excuse  for eating an extra biscuit or two is ' I'll burn it off tomorrow'. I wouldn't call it a lie, because I mean it when I say it.  Honest!


Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Body image prediction for 2012

"Mum,  is the world going to end in 2012 ?" 

"Of course not", I replied to my 11 year old son. 

"Why does everyone at school say it will?" He persisted.

"Well", I began. "The Mayans calendar ends on 21st December 2012. Many people think it’s the end of the world, but it's really just the end of one of their long time periods. The first date of their new time period begins on 22nd December 2012.  It's a bit like 31st December. It is the last day of our year and is followed by 1st January, the first day of the new year".

As stated, I don’t think the world will end in 2012. One other thing that I don’t think will end this year, is our cultures preoccupation with physical appearance. Not only will it not end; here’s my New Year prediction for 2012.

The pressures associated with the need to look beautiful, slender, (with disproportionately large breasts if your female), well dressed and youthful will increase.

The good news is that the number of self acceptance crusaders, my Body Beautiful has been numbered among them for over eight years,  will also increase.

Watch this space.