Wednesday, 30 November 2011

The State or Quality of Being Real.

Reality televisions first made an appearance on our screens in 1999/2000 with shows like Big Brother and Survivor. After a decade of various adaptions in this genre, we have now tipped ourselves into making new genres of shows.
 Monday night saw the start of yet another city showing off their most glamorous citizens - Desperate Scousewives. Yes, seriously, that IS what it called.


There was The Only Way Is Essex, Made in Chelsea and Geordie Shore, now Channel 4 has treated us with Desperate Scousewives following a bunch of nobodies girls who are.. I have no idea what they do... One gets a job in a beauty parlour for drawing on the worst eyebrows ever['The Scouse Brow' as she calls it]. Another is a model, who you later find out has a kid and is trying to support her daughter... Why doesn't she get a better job to support or daughter and show her what a real hard working mother is. The model [I think her name is Amanda], you see in a mass of rollers walking the street with some blonde [Claire?] and later sat in pink lingerie, breasts out, still in rollers, doing buggar all. I'm sure that is really setting a brilliant example for her kid, not to mention the young audience who might be watching.
Who really cares about these people? The conversations are so forced. The people are idiots and cannot think logically or understand the consequences of their actions ie. the girl who is  one guys booty call yet she is hung up on him-really? I also saw more cleavage in 45minutes that I have all year, not to mention fake tan, nails and hair extensions. How is this watchable?These people are desperate for two things- attention and money.


Monday morning, I caught a bit of BBC Breakfast where TV critic from the Sunday Mirror, Kevin O'Sullivan, discussed Desperate Scousewives and the genre that it is supporting.
 They are very strange shows. They are called structured reality which is code for it's all fake. So its not reality, and its all set up by the producers. They take this line that are peoples lives and turn it into a soap opera. It is all rather deceptive. It certainly isn't more glamorous than TOWIE.People watch it are just mesmerized by their oddness. Its very deceptive to the young audience.

What is reality TV? How can you compare X-Factor to Desperate Scousewives or Big Brother. These girls are not wives, and they certainly did not seem desperate to become wives.We need to drop the term 'reality'. Kids think Mark Wright is a superstar as he is on tv. It is a strange point we have arrived at. This genre is ultimately deceptive.

Anjula Mutand, psychologist on the first Big Brother series, talked about the same subject with Kevin and her opinions was:
We are addicted to it. Young people look up to them as role models and see it as a fast track to fame. You appear on the show and you suddenly have a career. People on the shows have to pretend to know each other well when they barely know each other at all. It is unscripted drama.

Producers take these relationships and force situations upon them- It is all set up. There is no reality but these are people in a city, but that is as far as it goes. How people can spend their lives watching these shows on a weekly basis is really beyond me. How dull and exciting can your own lives be that you have to watch other people pretending to have real relationships with others. It's not acting, and yet its not reality. As Kevin O Sullivan said, its mockumentary and it's mocking those who waste hours watching pathetic excuse for entertainment.

Alternatively on Channel 4, there is My Transsexual Summer. Seven people from around the UK who have struggled and coped with changing gender. The fourth and final episode was shown last night, and it was more in touch with reality than TOWIE or Desperate Scousewives will ever be.
 
Fox, Sarah, Drew, Lewis, Donna, Max and Karen. These seven trans-genered people met up over summer in a large house to help each other with their journey in life. Karen, 52, is near the end of change, having spent decades fighting society and trying to accept who she actually is, after also walking away from a wife and child in the mid-80's. Sarah however had been living as a women for barely a few weeks and her family weren't even aware of her new lifestyle.

These are real people. Over the last four weeks you understand the pressures of trying to fit in on a daily basis. Drew, god bless her, has struggled for years to get a job due to her being transgender. She barely had a social life. With help from Donna, the most confident and vibrant of the bunch who adores being transgender, Drew and Sarah found confidence over the weeks as well as great support from the others.

As well as showing how these down to earth people deal with prejudice, it also shows the decisions they face being transgender in how to feel most comfortable with themselves. Karen goes through surgery to change her male genitals into a vagina, which will complete her transition to being the woman she has always wanted to be. There is also talk from a man who had surgery to change from being a woman to having a penis- amazing and so interesting. Since then, I sadly believe this man as been sacked from his job - what a sad world we live in.
 Fox and Lewis have struggled with their chests, both wanting surgery to remove their breasts to feel at ease as a man. What was interesting was the relationship that Lewis had with his father. His father was still struggling with his child's decision to live as a man, even after a few years and a great face of stubble. Heartbreakingly, he even referred to his son as 'her' still.

This show not only gives sight into the prejudice and daily rituals of this life changing choice, but it gives support to those who are still unable to talk about their issues. No longer is transgender a taboo subject, and it shouldn't be. If we are not confortable with our lives, we make change to make ourselves happy and these are truly lovely and real people with real struggles in life.

Forget fake tan, hair extensions and pathetic gossip. We need to focus on loving ourselves and supporting everyone around us for who we really are.

Links
My Transsexual Summer Article at Guardian
Fox [MTS] on Youtube Channel
Fox Art Work
Lewis* [MTS] on Youtube Channel
All seven participants from My Trans Summer can be found on Twitter.

*I love this guy!

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Dear More!

This week, I decided after much ranting on about More! magazine, see previous blog post, I would email them direct about a few issues that I have with the magazine[I really should research other magazines I know]. After attempting to email the editor yesterday, which ended up being an invalid email address,I emailed all email addresses possible,8, on their contact page, so at least someone would recieve my email. And within a few hours this afternoon I got a response.
The two questions I asked were:

Q1: Would More! ever consider doing a whole magazine featuring models of the natural average size [14/16]? [excluding adverts]
Q2: Is More! unable to accept the beauty of a natural body without glamourising it with sex? Would you be willing to a feature on plus-size models without the mention of men, and focus on the struggles of dieting, accepting your body? Women struggle with body anxieties on a daily basis, often struggling for years to find confidence with their bodies.

The email had obviously been passed onto someone relevant, Louise IT Purchasing, and this is what she had to say:

'Thanks for your email. In response, we'd like to say firstly that on our fashion pages, we use professional models from national agencies, as do all other media. Secondly, we feature real girls with real bodies as part of our remit, and have always had a positive response from people when we do so. Every case study we feature has volunteered to take part and is well aware of the context of the feature. Finally, more! has been around for 25 years and has always been about men, sex and relationships. I hope this answers your questions.'

A short answer and covers what I asked but they obviously have passed the buck onto the fashion agencies regarding the models. So is it the modeling agencies that are making us self concious as they fail to hire or encourage the use of bigger models? In a previous blog post, I spoke about Mark Fast and his use of size 14 models on the cat walk, and maybe it is the push of using models on the cat walk that will see the rise of regular models in our magazines? Who do we blame? Where does the problem start?
 Why can't these companies provide a choice of different sized models or why don't the magazines only enforce the use of average sized models? Is it ovbiously too much a risk for a magazine to break the trend, like Mark Fast did, and set a good example.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Body Image Survey

To anyone and everyone!

I would be much obliged if you could help me with a little research. I am currently reseraching issues that females deal with in todays society[if you have not looked through this blog], and body image is one that we all face,male or female, on a daily basis. We are all effected by the pressures to be thin and love our curves.

I would appreciate your help to fill in a survery about body image, and as some questions are mandatory, please feel free to elaborate your answers as much or little as you are comfortable with sharing. All of the information given will be anonymous and will not be shared without consent.

Please click the link to take part in a survey, and I would appreciate any links on Facebook, Twitter, blogs, emails etc etc, but please link back to this blog post so others can look through the work I have been doing.

Thank you everyone.

Herring's Objectification

Through Twitter, I found that Richard Herring was doing a Radio4 program about Page 3 and the objectification and sexualisation of women it encourages,as well as talking about breasts. A lot... His show, he claims at the start of one is 'The show where I [Herring] take a object that has become a hot potato,a beef, a bone of contention,and a laughing stock and try to mix it up to become a delicious mixable compatible soup.'

I haven't listened to the show before, but have been increasing my intake of Radio 4 shows recently because they are so interesting and so varied in topics and issues raised. It was through Radio4 I learnt about various other artists including Sarah Greaves. However, I am aware Herring is from a comedy background[check out a review at Huffington Post here] and I wanted to hear a discussion led by a man and not a feminist either.



So The Sun has been parading breasts on Page3 for 41 years now, and is something that we accept in our society and we are all well aware of it's existence, whether we buy the paper or not. We all joke about the models little comment box responding to current affairs, that a women who degrades herself to pose naked wouldn't understand the politics going on around her. When asking the public their views on Page3, and there were some very interesting and fairly varied response:
A young women - It's up to the model if that is what she wants to do, as long as they are happy and it doesn't hurt anyone.
An older lady - I don't want to see breasts paraded in newspapers, they need to cover up.
A young man - It's part of the heritage of this country and very proud to have it.
Another young man- Do women want to be goggled at? Aren't women more important than that?
 


The responses are very much most points of view that come with the debate over Page3. Do we still need it in our society? What impact does it have on everyone? Surely even if we take it away, people will still find similar imagery in alternative publications anyway such as Nuts and Zoo magazines. The removal from Page3 however wont change the objectification that it imposes on women as well as the sexualisation.
 
Key points about the issue from the rather amusing and lighthearted show came from Doctor Viren Swami from the University of Westminster, author of The Psychology of Physical Attraction, who answered Herrings question: If men aren't bothered by breasts, why are editors of newspapers still putting them on Page 3?
'The main explanation, from a sociological point of view is to emphasis what is acceptable in terms of male and female behaviour. Putting a women in the paper is acceptable for her to be an object to be viewed. It is acceptable in terms for what a man to do;for a man to observe a woman appearing naked in The Sun is acceptable. Of the objectification the woman in The Sun, it is a symptom of the acceptance of the objectification of women more generally and an attempt to focus women's behaviour and their minds on superficial aspects of their identity other than their real competences.'


The show also featured Zoo and Nuts model Lucy Pinder who said she was first spotted on a beach and was approached by a man to do some photos, despite the fact she was going to go to study English Literature a month later at university. This never happened and has appeared in mens magazines ever since.
 On the subject of whether she feels she has been exploited through her work, she said 
'Personally not. Its like outsiders looking in there are a lot of preconceeded ideas about how the girls are treated and I think when I started doing page 3 and was asked to describe a glamour model, I would have said blonde, not very bright, fake boobs. But then I met some the girls and thought well actually this is quite fun and we get paid quite well, we could be doing a lot worse. I think there are a lot of things that are quite kosher that the girls who are trying to get in to the glamour industry, I think they are quite likely to get taken advantage of.'


Asked about how young girls might perceive glamour models and if it might give them ideas on what it mean to be a women. Pinder replied, 'I think it is kind of a weird idea that it was thought up. Maybe its a bit dated and I kinda see all of those arguments I don't think I ever saw a picture of a Page 3 girl but I don't think I would have been traumatized by seeing a pair of breasts.' I dont think that Lucy Pinder quite realised what the question was about. It was the effect of these images on children and if these images will effect how they feel about their body as well as their aspirations.

In the Guardian this morning, it is reported that ASA [Advertising Standards Agency] have received numerous complaints about a Lynx advery that features Lucy Pinder due to a range of offences including objectifying women. The advert had 10 complaints, whilst another poster in which she didn't feature received 113 complaints. Well done Lynx again for using women and sex to try and sell their product. [Guardian article]


The newly banned advert that objectifies women.

In 2005 a survey suggested that Abi Titmus was a popular role model for girls ages 15-19 and that more young girls were aspiring to be 'famous', WAGs or glamour models. What the hell has Abi Titmus done that is so inspiring and worth while? Before she became a bit presenter on This Morning, she was a nurse. However due to her a fling with John Leslie whilst he was accused of sexual wrongdoing, was filmed having sex with a boyfriend that became public and then appeared in various mens magazines without clothes, she found it very difficult to return to her trained profession. That is just sad and uninspiring. She became a target by the media and was dragged down by it completely as well as getting caught up in a 'celebrity' lifestyle meeting famous people and wanting to be on TV, despite her lack of talent.
The program is available to listen to on the BBC iPlayer in the UK only until Tuesday November 29th 2011. Click the image above to listen to the show.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Body Relationships

Whilst also scanning the paper today, I found it quite fitting that after blogging about More! magazines lack of encouraging body image, that the Daily Mail have published an article on couples telling the trust about their partners body.



 The article featured in today's Femail section of the Daily Mail, has images of 5 couples posing naked together. Each couple tell their thoughts on their partners body, and it is so enlightening to read thoughts that these ladies, although a couple of decades older than myself, are content with their own bodies. Bodies that have been through weight gain and loss through anxieties and pregnancies, but are very much adored, especially their bums, by their loving men.

This should really be encouraged for young girls to realize that bodies change constantly and no matter what, it is the person that is loved more than the body[but a pert bottom helps].


Read the article here.

Confessions of an Online Porn Junkie

I was scanning through the Daily Mail this afternoon and came across a wonderful piece from a gentleman who has been effected by his obsessive use of porn sites. Since listening to men form Anti-Porn Men Project, I thought this was rather fitting seeing as he has ruined many relationships because of this addiction.
'I seem to have crossed a line without realising it, and I’d have to admit that those experts who talk about porn having a ‘desensitising’ effect — that, over time, regular users of porn require stronger and stronger images — may have a point.'

Read the rest of the article at the Daily Mail. 

LINKS
Anti-Porn Men Project
Anti-Porn Men on Twitter


Blokes Have Followed Me on the Train to Tell Me I'm Beautiful

Whilst having a flick through my sisters collection of More! magazines, I was astonished to see something refreshing and rare. Use of a plus-size model - Hurrah!

After blogging this week about visiting a talk at Fem11 about ditching dieting and loving your body as it is, it was wonderful to see an article about three women who have 'incredible' bodies and men love it. There was Maxine the body builder, ReeRee Rockette with lots of tattoos and Emma Dunn, a plus-size model. For a magazine that normally consists of articles dictating how you should run a relationship, how to dress and which fake tan will give the best coverage, it was nice to see them promote something normal that real women can actually relate to. An article that actually promotes being individual and to love yourself for who you are, even though the interviews seemed to be very much orientated about what men think of them and sexualizing themselves.



 I read Emma's small piece and it was great to read. Key quotes that need to be reinforced:

'Even now, people make bitchy comments, but I don't let me get to me - I love my size-32 body'

'..learning to be body confident has had a huge effect on my life.'

'I eat healthily and I have no medical problems, so as long as I'm in good shape, I have no reason to worry about my size'


Maxine's[body builder] piece was interesting to read from the start, stating that 'At 5ft 6 and a size 6, weighing just 7st, I hated how skinny I was.' She goes on to say how much she loves her muscles and that she feels 'girlie and glamorous' and the confidence it gave her with her partner. 



I was unable to actually find this article on their website, and had to scan my copy in. It would be nice to see the featured articles online, rather than trailing through 'Lipstick of the day', 'Fancy some free tanning tips' and 'beating the winter hair blues'.. These are actual blog posts in their site. The site actually doesn't have a 'stories' section, only: Beauty, Fashion, Men&Sex, Advice, Blogs and Win..I think that is a pretty low quality website in terms of content for a popular women's magazine. No real stories are uploaded online.. 

Looking back at the front cover of the magazine, the girls were pictured in their underwear in the bottom corner with the caption 'Men can't resist our bodies'. It would have been less objectifying and more encouraging to other women if it had read something more like 'why we love our bodies and who we are'. The magazine needs to promote confident self image more rather than the sexualization of yourself and objectifying yourself for men.




Looking through a couple of editions of the magazine, it was clear that although they have featured a plus-size model in their magazine, they still use slim models for their fashion features. Even in fashion articles to show what suits each frame shape, they use slim models and not embracing the fact that the majority of their readers will not be a size 8/10. Magazines are missing out on really identifying on a personal level with their readers and merely throwing what they think they want to see.


Well done for trying More! magazine; silver star for attempted efforts. Maybe you ought to check out what Gok Wan has been doing these last few years.


The article in question is from issue dated 14th November 2011.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Object!

This is another Fem11 inspired blog, inspired by the group Object, who challenge sex object culture. They spoke in the afternoon about the issues they have campaigned against, as well as their newest protest they are taking to government.

The sexualisation of women can be seen throughout our culture from Porn magazines, lap dancing clubs to the ever growing brand Playboy. Object have protested about all of these issues, tackling the government on laws to change the representation of women in the media as well as the laws on prostitution to help protect the women involved. The representation of women in the media can be unfair, and lead people astray to how they think they can treat women.

Anna on the cover of Observer, August 2010. 
Image from Object.org.uk


Porn magazines, including Nuts and Zoo, exploit women from the front cover to the last page, with reality tv stars posing in underwear and even features with readers girlfriends sending in photos. These magazines can impose ideas that women who flaunt their bodies, rarely larger than a size 12, are easy and fun because of the way they have been photographed. It has been suggested through research that a man who increases his intake of porn, can change his perception and social skills around women because of the way they have been misrepresented.

This is how Object took action against these magazines which are freely displayed in supermarkets and leading newsagents. They aimed their protest at a branch of Tescos, who banned people from entering stores wearing Pyjamas in fear it would offend people.


This video is Anna Van Heeswijk, key activist and leader at Object speaking on BBC News about the objectification of women in certain magazines. This talk also features a former lads mag FHM editor making a bit of a fool of himself.

I think what Anna is campaigning about is spot on. Women are being misrepresented in our culture. However, tackling as something as large as porn magazines is an uphill battle and would be a struggle to completely ban them. The only fight that would win would be the misrepresention of women on the covers of these magazines so that people browsing in shops are not exposed to such images anymore.

The problem is that there are many celebrities in all our magazines and reality TV shows who glamorize exploiting themselves. Many female contestants from Channel 4's Big Brother went on to pose for Nuts and Zoo after their evictions, including Imogen, Saskia, Michelle, Aislenye, Chanelle amongst many others we've never heard of before. Katie Price, formally known as the model Jordan, is renowned for her modelling career, stripping off for various shoots with her large breasts out. Since moving away from her modelling career into writing, star of her own reality show and a mother of three children, she still exploits her body on red carpet events and stories of her personal life. People admire and look up to her for her manic and magazine-exploited life, spending thousands on clothes, plastic surgery and make-up to follow in her example!
These people give women a bad name by sexualizing themselves and becoming a sex object in these magazines. They suggest that there are women who will happily expose themselves to men, which will lead a select few to abuse this perception of women.


 Before I went to the Object talk, I came across twins who run PinkStinks, an organisation to help give young girls better role models rather than women as suggested about. They promote the idea that girls need to be more open minded and not brought up as princesses but as a young person with a choice to play with lego, cars or Barbie dolls. I was very interested in what Abi, co-founder, had to say as they wanted the young generations to realize their potential in life and avoid them being exposed to the sexualization of women that is occurring frequently in society.

A staggering 63% of girls would rather be glamour models than nurses, doctors or teachers, according to the survey by mobile entertainment providers www.thelab.tv. 
[Source: Menmedia, 2005] 

How disgusting is it that our next generation would rather be tanning themselves than helping others? Have we turned our youth into a sexualized self-absorbed society? The poll of 1000 girls, ages 15-19, saw more than half suggest Abi Titmus as a key role model. What has Abi Titmus done that we should be rejoicing over? Only 9% said J K Rowling, and only 4% for Germaine Greer.

Aside from their ongoing Porn Protest, Object recently protested outside Hugh Heffners new Playboy club in Mayfair, London.
I have always been against Playboy and what it stood for, and until Saturday I had not heard another soul so against the brand. The brand has sexualized women for decades, with a pink bunny as the logo which has become popular on merchandise for children on pencilcases, lunch boxes and duvet cover. My sister and best friend purchased their branded goods as teenagers at secondary school which always disgusted me, but was their choice. The way that Playboy represents itself and the women involved, glamorizes what they do- with a tv documentary that had women scattered throughout Hughs Playboy Mansion, suggesting a life of luxury, in a bikini. Who really lives in a mansion with a dozen other women lazing about in bikinis all day? Realistically, we all prefer a day in our pajamas and dressing gowns watching This Morning followed by an afternoon episode of Neighbours and Deal or No Deal.

Todays culture is warped. Women are under the impression they need to be glamorous and wear 'glamorous' clothing, which generally consists of next to nothing. What happened to admiring the sophisticated glamorous Audrey Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor rather than short-skirted Katie Price and 'stars' of The Only Way is Essex?? What happened to looking up to intellectual and life-changing females like Florence Nightingale, the Lady with the Hammer*, JK Rowling, Anne Frank and Joanna Lumley. These are women who made a difference through their passion and belief. What can we actually do to make young people realize that the glamorized culture of being a celebrity is actually a life far from glamorous and admirable.


*Florence Nightingale was given the title of The Lady with the Lamp by the media at the time. Soldiers she dealt with and helped nurse to health called her The Lady with the Hammer. This was due to a cupboard that was full of medical provisions that were kept aside only for Captains and other higher ranking soldiers. Upon a large intake of injured front line soldiers, Florence took a hammer to it so she could help heal the them.

LINKS 
Object - Campaigning against sexual objectification of women
Pink Stinks - Campaign for REAL role models

Bodies Endangered

At Fem 11 on Saturday, I went to a talk about Ditching Dieting: Making peace with our bodies and how to eat happily ever after. As I walked in they were showing this video which summed up part of what they are campaigning against.

Naturally Critical from Stephanie Heart on Vimeo.

This video speaks very strongly from the start: Young women are self conscious about their appearance from a young age. How sad is it that young girls, that haven't fully grown into their body are self aware of what they hate about their appearence. What is it that makes them so self aware. During the open session at the Endangered Bodies talk, a science teacher spoke up and told the room that a pupil of 14 was already saving up for a boob job. FOURTEEN! She hasn't even fully developed as a women and already wants to change her body through expensive and painful surgery. Is this really how we are bringing up the next generation?


The speakers leading the talk spoke about how dieting companies feed off peoples body anxieties which is enforced by the media. I personally think that the majority of female magazines are guilty of making women feel uncomfortable with their bodies. In many magazines, there are articles scrutinizing the weight loss and gain of celebrities and more often articles about celebrities and their post-pregnancy weight, glorifying those who crash diet/exercise to regain their small figures. Weekly magazines constantly criticize celebrities bodies, when they should really be praising them for their figures no matter what. Woman are peer pressured to look a certain way, reinforced by pages of fashion on slim models.
What isn't praised enough, are those who embrace women for their natural size. I highly praise Mark Fast, who used plus size models for his Fall 2009 show. He used models size 12 and 14 to showcase his knitwear collection alongside smaller sizes which casued a lot of criticism from people, including his own stylist walking out.[Guardian article]

 Standard Slim Model in Mark Fasts catwalk.
 'Plus Size' with wonderful curves, and amazing legs!
'Plus Size' showing off her curves in Fasts knitwear.

I discovered a Plus-Size fashion walk by Myer in Sydney in August 2011 showing off the most beautiful women, who are all between size 16-24 and look stunning and comfortable with their bodies.[Mail article]

This catwalk certainly shows that more people in the fashion industry are embracing the idea of change, however slow it might be to change. Realistically, they need to realize that having small models puts pressure on these women to look and feel skinny, leading to eating disorders. By embracing women of natural sizes, they encourage women to be themselves and enjoy their body image. It also shows that you don't need to be size 8 to be beautiful and fit into nice clothes that suit your body.
 Happy plus size Model, whose figure is divine and feminine!
 And don't these women look much happier than standard catwalk models? You never see them smile!

According to Lizzie Miller, who was considered a plus-size model at American size 12-14 that 'In the industry anything over size six is considered a plus-size'. Lizzie bared all for Glamour magazine in 2009 showing that you can be confident with your body, even with a roll of stomach fat.[Guardian article].


In October 2010, figures were released by Office for the National Statistics[ONS] which stated that:

' The average man in England was 5ft 9in (175.3cm) tall and weighed 13.16 stone (83.6kg).
The average woman in England weighed 11 stone (70.2kg) and was 5ft 3in tall (161.6cm). '

 If magazines were to actually use statistics such as these to reassure women that it doesn't matter how they look, they are regular women and need to embrace their body. Peer pressure from magazines can lead to crash dieting which can become obsessive.

Back to where I started- Fem11. After the introduction to the session, a microphone was handed around the women, to the women and men who had come to attend the talk. We were asked to respond to a few questions that were put up about dieting:

What does a diet mean to you? 
What did you think would happen when you started dieting? 
Can you remember a carefree time of eating? 
Do you think you will feel at peace with your body?

For the next hour, the room was full of stories about families obsessed with diets, food as fuel and even encouraging spirit from a 16year old.
The story that touched me most, was of a girl in her early 20's who said she wished she has put more effort into her university degree rather than being next to the toilet with her fingers down her throat. She wished she has spent the hours worrying about her body onto something more productive as she now accepts her body for it is.

An eyeopening account from a woman who came to live in the UK not long ago from Ghana [if I remember correctly] who claimed that she never felt so self-conscious about her body until now, where the media is so critical of celebrities and shelves are packed with junk food, which is so accessible everywhere.

There were a lot of stories from ladies in their 30's and 40's who look back and realized they have wasted years and money on obsessing on their body, and even now cannot feel at peace. It was so sad to hear people could not accept themselves as they were, which can be understandable through body change after giving birth.

What I think really helped the room, was the young girl at the front, who had come to Fem11 with her mum and told the group [how I best remember it]

'I tell my friends that they are beautiful, because they are. I tell them I don’t judge them on their weight. I judge them by how nice a person they are'

 We should tell our friends more often how beautiful they are, as a point was made early on that we only ever tell people how great they look after loosing weight, encouraging a culture where you are only considered beautiful when slimmer.

We should really encourage people to not waste more time, effort and money to companies who take money from women who are self-conscious because of the society we live in.

Lets encourage everyone to embrace our bodies as we are, as to eat healthily is to live healthily.

I'm off to make a chocolate cake.

LINKS

Ditching Dieting - Campaign
Blog - Another review on the Endangered Body workshop.
Guardian - Mark Fasts use of Size 14 Models
Too Fat To Be A Model - Lizzie Miller interview
BBC - Mr & Mrs Average statistics

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Ladies and Gentlewomen..

Saturday I went to Euston[London] to attend Fem11, UK Feminista's national conference.


Upon arrival, I was handed a booklet including timetable of events for the day, which started with an opening session at 10am, including a 30min talk from Sandi Toksvig. I went to the event purely for research on modern feminism as I do not consider myself a feminist. I certainly have strong beliefs about a lot of issues however nothing compares to the spirits of the feminists I was sat with. Through the day, I found myself clapping, laughing, welling up and also silently disagreeing during two of the talks that were held.

After the introduction, which also featured interviews with feminist activists who spoke about their groups and what they are doing.
Speakers:
Cllr Rania Knan [CAPE]
Isabella Woolford Diaz [Camden School for Girls Feminist Group]
Bjorn Suttka [Anti Porn Men Project]
Roxanne Hasley [UK Uncut]

It was quite inspiring to see Isabella, a girl who has set up a feminist group in her own school and has already raided a local Tesco's to move Porn magazines as it is in the eye of all the school children who go there on their break. Fabulous young spirit from a girl of no older than 16 who only started her group in October.

At 11.30 I made my way to see London Feminist Network talk, however the room was full so I made my way to the next room which happened to be a brilliant accident. The room was Endangered Bodies hosting an interactive talk about Ditching Dieting. A really interesting 10 minute talk about how the industry is feeding off peoples anxieties to diet and look slim as media dictates is 'perfection'. After their talk, they opened up to the 100 or so ladies and few men in the room to talk which became very emotional and heartwarming. I will blog more later.

After lunch, I stayed in the main Meeting Hall to hear Object talk about how they are challenging and actively protesting against the sex object culture. This was something I was really interested to see, to see what they are challenging in society and how they are making a difference. I was also interested because they had been a part of the Miss World Protests held on 6th November, which was against the objectification of women. My earlier post on the matter explored their reasonings, however since posting that, I disagreed with their view. These woman strive to achieve a unique post were they help charities worldwide. The way in which they have to prove themselves is definitely up for question, but I think they need to realize that good comes out of the cause. I personally would prefer them to target mothers who put their daughters as young as 6 through pagaents- I think this objectifies the girls from a young age and actually has them body conscious and self aware of their image when they should be children playing on swings, in mud and with lego. Young girls do not need to be dressed up and paraded as objects. [More on a later blog] 

The afternoon consisted of two question times, both of which really didn't interest me that much and would have preferred to go to see more talks. The first talk was a Feminist Question Time, chaired by Cllr Rania Khan and featured:
Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty.
Bea Campbell, writer and campaigner
Zoe Williams, Guardian columnist
Carlene Firmin, Writer
Matt McCormack Evans, founder of the Anti-Porn Men Project.





The debate featured lots of discussion about issues facing women in todays society. As interesting as it was, I wanted to hear more from the small societies and how they are making a difference with their cause. The session of questions got heated a couple of times when women wanted to ask questions to the panel whilst other people in the audience were just making points rather than asking direct questions. This is when I became highly uncomfortable sat amongst the feminists, as although these women are passionate, when strained a few start to shout unnecessarily at their fellow feminists. Manners became lost for this minute which was noted by the lady I sat next to me and we were quite annoyed at these ill-mannered and impatient women.
The second question time was between candidates for Mayor of London, where we were all fairly saddened about Boris Johnson, the current mayor, didn't turn up. More questions, this time directed more at how the candidates could potentially help groups and sort out issues that were raised including Female Genitalia Mutilation in the UK, housing for refugee women and cycling safety in the capital city.

The day was long and full of interesting discussions and people throughout the whole building. During the day, it was reported during the morning session that #fem11 was the second highest discussion on twitter which was quite overwhelming when there felt like only a handful of us there, but overall must have been a thousand of us.

I am going to blog more about the issues raised in the two sessions I attended, as they are very key to the work that I am currently researching and very interested in developing for a piece of work. I hope to attend next year and thank all the organizations and other women for a very fascinating day.

LINKS

UK Feminista  - Organizer of FEM11
Object - Challenging sex object culture.
Endangered Bodies - Ditching Dieting
Rania Khan - CAPE[Campaign Against People Exploitation]
Pink Stinks  - Campaign for REAL Role Models
London Feminist Network - Women only Organising Feminists
Anti-Porn Men Project - Men supporting Women's Rights