Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Teens preoccupied with how they look

The new series of BBC1’s Child Of Our Time, hosted by Professors Tanya Byron and Robert Winston aired last week.

In the first episode they looked at the effects of biology and technology on the body image of modern teenagers.

Professor Winston stated: “All our teenagers are more concerned about the way they look and their body image than they ever were as children”.

When the teens were 7 years old, the BBC asked them what they felt about their bodies. They were shown a set of images and asked to select the one that was most like them. They were then asked if they would prefer to look like one of the other images. On the whole, the children were happy with their body.

However, at 16 the teenagers are now much more critical of their appearance. Unlike when they were 7, given the choice most of them would prefer a different body”. The teen’s body image comments included:

'I would like to be taller, less fat.'
‘ I would prefer myself with a slimmer frame'.
‘I am a bit too skinny, I would just like to be able to put on a bit more weight. Being called anorexic is not too great'.

Most people recognize the fact that teenagers tend to be self-conscious. Science now points to a particular change in the teenage brain. In experiments with adults and teenagers, an adult brains shows little activity when asked to think about being judged by others, while teenagers show a huge amount of activity. The part of the brain of interest is called the Prefrontal Cortex; it is associated with how we perceive others and how we think others perceive us. During the teenage years, the Prefrontal Cortex undergoes enormous changes, resulting in a preoccupation in what teenagers think others think about them.

Alongside brain changes; technological change, social media in particular, has created an environment where teens are constantly posting selfies online, which are then judged by others. This effects, significantly in many cases, teenage body image and confidence.

“The combination of a world obsessed with selfies and a brain extra sensitive to the judgment of others”, concluded Professor Winston, “means that it is no surprise that today's teens are preoccupied with how they look”.



Thursday, April 06, 2017

'Apprehensive about taking my wig off'

Victoria Derbyshire has posted a video diary titled 'Taking my wig off'. In the video she expresses her feelings about her hair, wig, cancer and body image”

“Okay, so it's time to stop wearing a wig, which I have been wearing since December 2015, since I had chemotherapy for breast cancer treatment.

“Probably about ½ my hair maybe ¾ of my hair fell out as a result of the treatment. I have to say losing my hair was the worst bit about cancer treatment for me; more so then having a mastectomy. Don't judge me for that, it's just the way I felt. I am grateful to this wig actually, because it helped me get on with things, go to work, live my life normally without worry, it is time for it to go”.

[Victoria takes of her wig]

“This is my new hair, this is about 12 months growth since chemo finished and it's come back as thick as it was if not thicker; as shiny as it was, slightly more 'ringlety' than it was before, but I am actually apprehensive about taking my wig off, because this is not me. I know it doesn't really matter what my hair looks like, the point is this, if proof was needed, once chemotherapy is complete your hair does grow back. When you're in some of those dark moments during chemo, you do doubt that, as irrational and absurd as that sounds.

“Your body does slowly renew itself once chemo is complete and there is something really optimistic about that."



Friday, March 31, 2017

Acne affects teenage confidence

Acne affects approximately 80% of teenagers aged 13-18 years. Despite acne being commonplace, a British Skin Foundation (BSF) study (10-18 year-olds) found that teenagers with acne are often on the receiving end of bullying, by friends, family and strangers.

The BSF survey of teens with acne found that, due to their acne:

• 62% have experienced verbal abused by friends, family or a person they knew
• 40% have been verbally abused by a member of the public
• 46% reported being bullied regularly
• 19% have contemplated suicide due to their acne, with another 4% actually attempting suicide
• 19% have considered self-harm and a further 16% have actually self-harmed

On a more positive note 48% relied on their family for support.

Regarding an acne remedy, 52% have tried five or more acne treatments.

BFS’s Dr Mahto’s tips for tackling acne by include:
• Cleanse your face twice a day with a face wash designed for acne-prone skin. Products that contain salicylic acid and zinc may be beneficial. Exfoliate your skin weekly, this will remove the upper layer of skin cells, resulting in a brighter complexion and help reduce blackheads
• Try over the counter acne treatments such as benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid to apply directly onto spots
• Avoid heavy cosmetics and products that will block pores and choose items that are oil-free and non-comedogenic
• See your GP or a dermatologist if your acne fails to respond to these measures, if you notice scarring, or it is starting to affect your self-esteem

Source: British Skin Foundation



Friday, March 17, 2017

Magazine covers - A whole new place to go to

 Daniel Wheeler’s muscular physique following successfully losing (and keeping off) 8 stones earned him the coveted place on the front page of Men’s Fitness magazine.

Daniel explained (on Channel 4 Super Slimmers – Did they really keep the weight off?) the difficulties associated with achieving and maintaining his picture perfect muscular form.

“My mind-set at the time when I lost the majority of weight was kind of obsessive and addictive.

“A lot of people wont realise this, but in order to get that magazine shot, although you may look pleasing to the eyes, because of the abs and pecs and all that type of jaz, its a whole new place to go to; from a physical prospective it’s just disgusting. So any guy you see on the front cover, they’ve had to diet for months and months to achieve that spot like physique; which maybe they could hold for a couple of weeks and then they have got to let go of it.

“Dieting to low body fat levels is incredibly difficult, mind-set wise, because the body doesn’t want to lose that fat. You know, body fat is a protective mechanism, its an energy source and survival tool; and it doesn’t want to let go or it. So it does everything it possibly can not to get rid of it.”



Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Scales removed from fitness centre


Carleton University (Canada) has removed scales from the campus fitness centre “in keeping with current fitness and social trends” aimed at people with a special sensitivity to learning their weight.

“Scales are very triggering,” Carleton University freshman Samar El Faki posted to Facebook in support of the decision. “I think people are being insensitive because they simply don’t understand. They think eating disorders are a choice when they are actually a serious illness.”

The college’s athletics manager, Bruce Marshall, explained the decision in an email: “We don’t believe being fixated on weight has any positive affect on your health and well-being. The body is an amazing machine and even when we are dieting and training it will often find a homeostasis at a certain weight. It takes weeks, even months to make a permanent change in your weight. So why obsess about it. Why not look at other indicators?”

Speaking on CBC Marshall suggested an alternative way (than weight) to measure health and fitness.

“Although it (scale) can be used as a tool to help measure certain aspects of fitness it does not provide a good overall indication of health and here at athletics we have chosen to move away from focusing solely on bodyweight. ”

“If you need a number to focus on in regard to reaching certain fitness goals we suggest using girth measurements. You can start by recording measurements in multiple areas, for example your torso, hips, chest, legs and arms. You would then revisit these measurements after a few weeks to keep tabs on your progress.”

Students and many others criticised the decision, a number went online to publicise their feelings.

“This is absolutely ridiculous,” Eduardo Platas posted to Facebook with a link to The Charlatan story. “Why is society becoming stupidly sensitive? So #Carleton gym removed the scale so that people won't be offended by the measurement it provides. Novel concept, don't step on the scale".

Aaron Bens, a communications student at Carleton, posted that he was “frustrated” by the “next escalation of trigger culture” and offered a common sense solution.

“We stand up for free speech and defend the books that offend certain people because of their merits. They can simply choose not to read them,” he wrote. “This is the same thing. Those who are offended by the scale can simply choose not to use the scale. Certain athletes like boxers and rowers rely on those measurements, for them (the scale) is vital,” he wrote.

Other comments were harsher. The fierce backlash has forced the college to revisit their ruling to remove the scales.

“We will weigh the pros and cons and may reconsider our decision,” Marshall said.



Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Body positivity unhealthy?

We know that there are at least two sides to every story.

Pro Body Positivity:

Recently 24-year-old blogger Megan Jayne Crabbe posted a self-love, body positive response to negative comments about her weight gain:

Her caption read:

"'Wait so you just decided to RUIN your body?'
Nah, I just stopped torturing myself every day for not fitting an image I was never supposed to be.

'But you look so much healthier to me before.'
That's funny, you looked so much more intelligent to me before you equated health with weight and forgot that mental health is health too.

'You could have stayed the same and loved your body, you didn't need to get fat.
I could have stayed the same and spiralled back into the eating disorder that almost killed me when I was 15. I could have kept starving myself and obsessively working out for hours everyday but it never would have lead me to self love. No matter how much weight I lost there was always still something to hate. And sure, people don't NEED to gain weight to find their self love, this is just what my body needed to do to match up to my mental freedom. THIS IS MY HAPPY BODY.


Anti Body Positivity:
Online presenter Owen Shroyer responded to the post, zeroing in on the physical and mental health related issues of being overweight:

“This woman is clearly uninformed on the actual subject matter of health. You don't need to be a doctor to know that in general not being overweight is more healthy. That doesn't mean that overweight people can't be healthy, there is give-and-take. But if you think for one second that being physically healthy doesn't contribute to mental health, you haven't done the research folks; trust me on that one. There are all kinds of studies that can equate to the fact that people that are in better shape have better self-confidence and then succeed more often. The sad thing is that she now decides she wants to be fat. Would you want to see your daughter put on a bunch of weight and [then] tell her that it is body positivity and a good thing for her?

Read article



Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Fat shaming pros and cons


Many of us, myself included, have been on the receiving end of weight/health guidance from an overweight/obese health professional. I must admit that the thought ‘why should I listen to health advice from someone who is clearly unhealthy and is not following their own advice crossed my mind more than once.

Recently hypnotist and presenter of Sky's Fat Families, Steve Miller argued that health professionals should lead the fight against the flab. He defines a fat person as anyone who cannot see their feet whilst standing and controversially proposed that all obese NHS staff should carry a fat shaming badges stating, 'I'm fat, but I'm losing it.' This he believes will motivate them and their patients to lose weight and improve their overall health.

Taking the anti obesity message outside the health profession into society at large, Miller also proposed that restaurant menus carry warning messages such as 'if you're fat, think before ordering'. The presenter is also proposing a government ban on groups, which promote 'plus sizes'. He said fat people shouldn't be on the catwalk , ridiculed the word 'curvy' and is asking Theresa May to implement his badge initiative.

Continue Reading



Friday, February 24, 2017

Oprah weight 'my shield and my shame'

In the April edition of ‘Good Housekeeping’, which goes on sale on 1st March, Oprah Winfrey (63) discloses her weigh related issues and how they affected her thoughts and actions:

“[My weight] has been the go-to comfort for me. You use it as your coat and your shield, and it keeps you from doing things.

“You don’t have to go to that party because you don’t have a dress to wear and nothing is going to fit you.

“But the wonderful thing for me is that I reached a point where I no longer wanted to hide.

“I know that sounds strange for somebody who is in the public eye, but it was my shield and my shame.”

Oprah is a Weight Watchers spokesperson and recently successfully lost 3 stones by following the company’s diet regime. Speaking to Weight Watchers earlier this year she said:

"I lost at a steady pace and then went through this whole summer without losing a pound. That was OK because I was so happy with my life. There was no longer a sense of urgency to just lose the pounds; there was now a strong desire to be fully present and savour every meal. I focused on what I was eating and appreciating my life. Isn't that what everyone is looking for?"

Commenting on how weight loss has affected her, Oprah said told Good Housekeeping: “Now I feel liberated. It’s the thing I have been looking for my whole life - to feel a sense of freedom.

“The taste of freedom, there is nothing better than that.”



Monday, February 20, 2017

Overcoming anorexia and bulimia

Rebecca was anorexic and bulimic for 12 years. Her story was featured on BBC 2’s Trust Me I'm A Doctor.

“I've been fully recovered for about two years now. I can confidently say that I am probably the happiest that I have ever been. It feels very freeing, like you're in control of your life now not this voice that is telling you how to behave.

“I was very malnourished and underweight and very sadly I don't think my family were well informed enough to see the red flags before that to know anything about it, to do anything about it. So it wasn't until the weight loss that they actually decided to approach it. My cousin noticed that I would go to the bathroom after each meal and he came up and actually said, ‘you have to stop going to the bathroom after we've eaten’”.

Rebecca works for the charity Beat, which helped her to overcome her illness. She wants families to know what to look out for:

“Going to the toilet after meals. I think a general attitude during meal times is important. Sometimes you could be looking for someone being really hyper and really drawing your attention to them, so that you are not looking at what they eating, because they're not eating it. Other times they might be sullen and withdrawn and not able to kind of cope with the situation. Behavioural changes during mealtimes are a big red flag.

“Some people over exercise as a way of purging as well, so looking for secretive exercise, like someone who is going to their room after meals”.

How to help:

“Approaching it with honesty, but not always seeing the eating disorder, but the person. People can forget that underneath you're still the girl who loves to read and you watch films. People won't ask you what books you’ve enjoyed lately or have you enjoy reading this book; instead they just talk about food.

“When anyone would address it during mealtimes; I found that very difficult, because I'd already decided what I was going to eat during that mealtime. So for example, I remember someone saying to me, ‘you've put absolutely no carbs on your plate’, and that just made me not want to eat anything at all”.

Road to recovery:

“I went to a GP, it was my cousin who drove me there and took me back to make sure that I was going; then I went to a psychiatrist.

“It was all about the small targets at first. At first I increased my portion sizes; I didn't change what I was eating, I just ate slightly more each time so I could still enjoy the foods that I enjoyed. Then that led to me deciding to give myself actual activity tasks outside of the eating disorder itself.”



Friday, February 10, 2017

'“I heard my body is a topic of conversation'

On Sunday Lady Gaga performed at Super Bowl; during her act, one outfit in particular exposed her midriff.

Social media erupted with comments, not only on her performance, but also on Lady Gaga’s body.

Negative body related comments included:

    “I just feel like #Gaga’s dough belly should’ve been tucked in better. #jussay@jfsartainin,” wrote user .

    "Tried to enjoy @ladygaga's performance, was distracted by the flab on her stomach swinging around," tweeted Nathan @negans_swing.

Gaga’s fans quickly rebuked negative posters e.g.:

The Lipstick Print @lipstick_print
Lady Gaga was stunning and put on one hell of a show! To those body shaming her- you are disgusting! #stopbodyshaming #ladygaga #SuperBowl

riley finnegan @riley_finnegan
Lady Gaga has a perfect body and this is why girls in America hate their bodies. Promote self love not self hate. https://t.co/jL2FCKMfVi

Casey Pruett ‎@CaseyJane05
Love @ladygaga even more for her normal yet still incredibly hot body she just rocked

Alexa Morgan ‪@alexamorgan_
Guys making fun of Lady Gaga's "muffin top" is the reason why girls have so many body image issues

Rachel Osier Lindley ‪@RachelOLindley
For me, the star of the halftime show was Lady Gaga's normal-person stomach.

Erin Moore ‪@erin_m24
Shoutout to lady gaga's stomach roll for showing girls that you don't need to have a perfect body to absolutely kill it

After learning that disparaging remarks about her body, her stomach in particular, were posted and being debated on; Lady Gaga decided to respond to her critics on Instagram:

“I heard my body is a topic of conversation so I wanted to say, I'm proud of my body and you should be proud of yours too. No matter who you are or what you do. I could give you a million reasons why you don't need to cater to anyone or anything to succeed. Be you, and be relentlessly you. That's the stuff of champions. thank you so much everyone for supporting me. I love you guys. Xoxo, gaga


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