Friday, April 29, 2016

Confidence comes from knowing who you are

In a June 2014 article author Elizabeth Kesses detailed the body image and self esteem issues that plagued her childhood and early adulthood:

“ I was a happy little girl but as I progressed through primary school, my smiles were cracking. The truth was that I suffered from extremely low self-esteem, experienced bullying at school and generally felt like an oddball. By the age 10 I had started refusing to have my photo taken at all.

“It began with crumbling inner confidence. I was acutely aware of what I looked like and compared myself to my peers. I wore geeky glasses, had buck teeth and frizzy hair. I was bullied mercilessly at school, called every name under the sun – 'metal mouth' for my braces, 'kiss-ass' for liking studies and 'four eyes' due to my short-sightedness. I was plagued by a constant feeling deep down that I just wasn't enough – not good enough, not smart enough, not pretty enough”.

Now a confident successful author with her body image and self esteem issues behind her, Elizabeth Kesses as spoken about* the enlightening lessons the painful experiences has taught her:

“Low self esteem can affect every part of your life; your relationships, career and overall well-being. If you don't feel that you're good enough you won't choose what’s best for you as you just don't think you deserve it.

“True confidence doesn't come from buying the perfect dress, having flawless skin or silky hair. Confidence comes from knowing who you are and liking it and building your own life around passions and talents. I used to have a job in the corporate world, but it never made me very happy. As soon as I gave it up to become a writer, I started to believe in myself. We can all take small steps that help build our self worth. From ignoring that negative critic in our own heads, to dedicating time to finding our true passions in life. Helping others actually triggers a pleasure part of your brain, boosting your own confidence. I try to finish in today focusing on the positives, celebrating three things that went well undertaking and taking a short moment to rejoice".

Morning Stories - Sky News


Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Altered appearance challenged her sense of identity

When Daniele lost her hair during chemotherapy, her altered appearance challenged her sense of identity. It was a painful experience for Daniele and her hairdresser husband Graeme.



Friday, April 22, 2016

I thought I was worthless - damaged goods

We all have hopes and dreams, some going decades into the future. Imagine what it would be like to have long term relationship/family related aspirations challenged or taken away during your teenage years. Today we will feature the thoughts, feelings and trials that Joanna Giannouli experienced when as a teenager, she learnt that she would not be able to have children.

At the age of 16 Joanna (now 27) was diagnosed with Rokitansky syndrome, a condition that affects females who are born with an underdeveloped or absent womb, cervix and upper vagina. Detailing the physiological anguish that the diagnosis had on her, Joanna speaking to the BBC explained:

“For the first few years, and still sometimes, I thought I was worthless. Damaged goods. Not worthy of being loved. I was a lost soul for many years. It can destroy your life. It puts you in a really hard position. I battled depression, anxiety, panic attacks, you name it…..

“It's a burden, like something that you cannot get rid of it. I had partners who emotionally abused me about this condition. I couldn't have a stable relationship for many years because of that. It is a haunting and unbearable situation. It steals your happiness, your mentality, and your chances of having a good and stable relationship. It leaves you with a huge void that cannot be filled; it fills you with anger, guilt, and shame. It [took] a toll on me emotionally, psychologically - it was really, really hard... “

Happily over the ensuing years, following her diagnosis, Joanna has come to terms with her condition, has a more positive outlook on life and hopes to help others in similar circumstances.

“Well, it's been almost 10 years. I'm still feeling bad about it, but I'm not ashamed any more, it's been way too long. And I've realised that I cannot change it, it's just the way it is, I have to embrace it and live with it….

“I would love to be a mother in some way, be it a biological, a surrogate mother or a foster mum. A mother is not the one who gives birth, but is the woman who cares for a child. I found the strength and courage because I want to help other women in the same position, because if we don't help each other then who will? It gives me strength when I talk about it”.


Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Media, social media and makeup

In the 3rd part of our makeup series based on BBC 1’s Connie on makeup  (part 1 - Why do women wear makeup & part 2 - Choosing not to wear makeup), we will detail Dr Yan Wu’s (media and the beauty industry researcher) viewpoint of the relationship between makeup and the media.

“Advertisement today is very cleverly designed”, said Dr Wu; “they often incorporate feminist ideals into selling. So even though you are forced into buying, the advertisers give you the impression that you made that choice, you made yourself look better and you are the one who achieve that look. If an audience is exposed to a message, a message that is repeated again and again their outlook will be shaped by that message”.

Shifting her attention to social media and the abundance of selfies in which individuals are wearing makeup Dr Wu said: “A selfie has become a culture in itself. So many young people are taking a selfie and I have to say the beauty industry has tapped into this market. I recently noticed some glossy magazines that actually have a line of beauty products tailored for girls to use at the gym and taking selfies at the same time; so you can achieve that naturally look in the gym and your selfie will be great ….

“Now we regard wearing makeup as normal. Not wearing makeup (bare face selfies) is [seen as] something courageous, something great… something exceptional. So the natural look without makeup becomes something so strange, so alien to our culture where the norm is wearing makeup.”

When members of the general public were asked if they would post a makeup free image online, responses included:

“I can take pictures on Snapchat or selfies without me wearing makeup”, said one young woman in her late teens, “but I think, whenever I put on makeup I can take selfie”.

”No”, a woman in her twenties replied. “I've done it once, but that was to my friends; I wouldn't put it on Facebook or anything”.

“It [selfie] has to be perfect on Facebook”, her mother interjected.


Friday, April 15, 2016

New cosmetic surgery guidelines

The General Medical Council (GMC) has drawn up new cosmetic surgery guidelines that cover surgical and non-surgical procedures.
Its purpose is to protect patients by ensuring that they are:

- Not pressurised.
- Fully informed (in writing).
- Given sufficient time before consenting to surgery/procedures.
- Provided with continuity of care and contact details post treatment in case any complications arise.

The guidelines also states that patients should not be on the receiving end of:

- "Unjustifiable claims about interventions.
- Aggressive marketing tactics, such as “two for one” promotions and prizes.

Anyone breaching he guidelines will be brought before the GMC and could be banned from practising if they are found guilty of of "serious or persistent failure”.
The new rules got the backing of The Royal College of Surgeons, who are also calling for a change in the law that would enable watchdogs to inform the public on whether or not doctors are certified to carry out certain surgeries.

'If you are not working to the surgical standards we have set out today, you should not be treating patients at all' said Stephen Cannon, vice president of the Royal College of Surgeons.

Professor Terence Stephenson, chairman of the GMC, said: "Cosmetic interventions should not be entered into lightly or without serious considerations.
"Above all, patients considering whether to have such a procedure need honest and straightforward advice which allows them to understand the risks as well as the possible benefits.

"It is a challenging area of medicine which deals with patients who can be extremely vulnerable.

"Most doctors who practise in this area do so to a high standard but we do sometimes come across poor practice, and it is important that patients are protected from this and that doctors understand what is expected from them."

Health minister Ben Gummer said: "Anyone who chooses to have a cosmetic procedure should expect to have high quality and safe clinical care.
"This new guidance for doctors is an important step forward in improving standards and ending the lottery of poor practice in parts of the cosmetic industry."


Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Choosing not to wear makeup

In part 1 of this makeup series we discussed ‘why women wear makeup’. In this post (part 2) we draw attention to the comments of a woman who (decades ago) took the decision not to wear makeup. Explaining why she does not and has never worn makeup, Myfaney Alexander (a writer in her fifties) said*:

“Well there are a number of reasons; the first one is that I am not very good at it. I also have a little bit of a thing about having to present myself through a mask; I kind of think well this is who I am. I think we all present ourselves in different ways, it's about the way we talk, it's about the words we choose to use, the gestures and the way we dress. Some people feel that makeup helps them present themselves, but it's something that I've never actually felt I needed to do. I suppose for that reason, I've never felt pressured to do it and I've never started….

“I was on University Challenge (as a young woman) with three chaps and we all went into make up and the chaps came out looking identical to how they'd gone in with just a little bit of something (powder) to take the shine down. I was completely transformed into someone on recognisable, so I went to the loo and I washed my face. Then I got into a tremendous row; they said ‘you can't appear like this’ and I said, ‘well why not because this is who I am’. What was quite noticeable to me was that the three chaps were not expected to change the way they looked in order to appear on television, but I was expected to transform myself in order to be acceptable”. Responding to a question about whether not wearing makeup affects her feelings of being a woman, she replied:

“My ovaries have done that for me. I have had six children, so nobody can accuse me of not being a woman; I spent the 80s pregnant… Make up should be about making you more yourself not just the mask to hide behind”.

Myfaney Alexander clearly has a high degree of self confidence. Speaking personally, I don’t wear makeup most of the time. However, I generally wear light makeup for work and formal occasions, because I view it as a necessary part of my outfit. It also helps me to feel properly dressed for the occasion.

* BBC 1’s Connie on makeup


Monday, April 11, 2016

Why do women wear make up

British women spend more than £8 billion every year on makeup, averaging £12,000 per lifetime. BBC 1’s ‘Connie on makeup’ set out to answer the question:

Why do women wear make up?

"I wouldn’t go out without putting my face on”, said Connie in the opening seconds of the show.

A small poll of women (late teens to elderly) received the following responses from some of the women who were asked, ‘would you go out without makeup?

“No. Well I've got to wear it you know, it's like a mask to me. I feel naked without it.”

“No I look like something from the dead; I have not got much colour”.

“I feel confident, but I feel more confident when I wear make up.”

“No, except for the gym”.

'I even wear make up to the gym.”

“My husband always says that women are deceivers [because they wear makeup]."

“I see it as an art really. I like to try different looks and experiment; you can look like a completely different person”.

“Never … anywhere”.

“[No] I just don't feel confident enough; even when I go swimming, I wear my entire face.”

Dr Lance Workman (an Evolutionary Psychologist) argued that the main reason behind women wearing makeup was evolution and that it essentially boiled down to the desire to attract a mate.

Jessie-Ann Lewis a beauty and lifestyle blogger recounted her experience when working in a cosmetic store.

“I think a lot of women who used to come in the store came not just to look good, but feel good as well. So while they were coming for their skincare essentials, makeup was more of a treat; for example if they had a good week they will think, ‘oh I will treat myself to a new lipstick’ or something like that. I was quite shocked really, that it’s more about feeling good rather than just looking good”.

Journalist Sali Hughes said: “It [wearing makeup] can be for one million different things and it could be a different thing on a different day. Makeup helps you to decide who you want to be that day, do you want to be more glamorous, do you want to be pared down; it's a really powerful tool in that way. For very many women putting on their makeup is the only time they spend on themselves all day and that sort of ritual can be a pleasure……..

“So many women who've gone through the worst times, because they have had cancer or they've gone through some dreadful bereavement or other illness, they have really relied on the daily rituals of putting on their makeup, feeling their best or choosing an outfit; it becomes a hugely important coping strategy when everything feels chaotic and a mess.”

“This (professional and general public responses) tells me”, said Connie, “that beauty isn't just a skin deep issue: it can make you feel better on the inside too.


Wednesday, April 06, 2016

Helping pupils manage stress

A survey of 400 members of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) has found that almost 50% of their members believe that stress has caused pupils in their classroom to self-harm. 20% have stated that stressed pupils have attempted suicide. 89% cite testing as a major contributor to school related stress while social media was named as a stress factor that has it origins outside of the school gate.

Mental health campaigner Nikki Mattocks, who suffered from stress at school, told Sky news:

"If I got a bad grade I was certain that I was a failure. We are conditioned to think that and I think it’s a really big pressure for young people. There is also social media and everyone compares themselves to other people and some of that is a really big issue and something that people haven't really had to face as much before.

"When I was ill, I was like attempting suicide every week and there wasn't enough help at all for what was needed. I mean there was only one school counsellor to a thousand pupils and she was only in two days a week, so there was not enough help and it is definitely as serious as they are saying."

Continue Reading


Monday, April 04, 2016

You look disgusting

Over the past few months, I've received thousands of messages from people all over the world who suffer or have suffered from acne, an insecurity or self confidence issues.

I wanted to create a film that showed how social media can set unrealistic expectations on both women and men. One challenge many face today, is that as a society, we're so used to seeing false images of perfection, and comparing ourselves to unrealistic beauty standards that It can be hard to remember the most important thing - You ARE beautiful.

Three months ago, I began posting images of myself without makeup on social media. The following film contains real comments that were left on images of my face.