Advice, Happiness, Uncategorized

Break Up to Wake Up

I have never heard anyone say a that their break up was easy. Even if it was the obvious option, a mutual decision, or for one parties best interests. Even if the love you shared has slowly dwindled into nothing but a comfortable familiarity. Even if that person ripped your heart into one trillion tiny pieces, the loss of a constant presence isn’t something that can be forgotten in the mili-second it takes to say, “Goodbye”. The simple yet agonising pain of missing someone can be overwhelming and at times inconceivable.

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Of course, some people are quicker to get over than overs, and some are lucky that they are kept busy or disconnected enough that time heals the pain faster without much thought. But, I am almost certain that even those people have at some point found themselves awake at four am thinking, “fuck.”

Love is a real strange thing. You meet a stranger. You like them. You spend your very precious time with them. You share your inner most feelings, emotions and fears with each other. Whether the connection hits you like a punch in the face or is more of a slow burner, creeping up on you unexpectedly, it becomes so strong that our emotions translate it in our brains as ownership. They are yours and you are theirs. Out of the 7.125 billion humans on planet Earth, you have a favourite.

Now take it right back to the begging: you meet a stranger. A stranger that has a whole universe of their own before they enter yours. A stranger that owes you absolutely nothing and to whom you owe nothing in return.

But our brains somehow persuade us that we will never ever ever find a stranger whom we prefer to the present favourite stranger, meaning that when the break up comes, we enter panic mode.

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Cat Stevens wrote, “the first cut is the deepest”. I personally believe that your first break up hurts more than any other. Largely due to the fact that after the first, you have the comfort of experience. You got over them, so you will get over the next. And the next after that.

At 20, I broke up with my first boyfriend after three years together. I honestly, seriously, literally thought I would never meet anyone that made me feel more at home than he did. I thought that, at 20 – 20!!!! – that I would end up un married and childless, with ten dogs and an extremely large wine cabinet, still crying myself to sleep over the loss of my first love.

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I can’t tell you that I felt amazing and free and could laugh at my previous sentiments after two weeks. The cold truth is that I was sad for a good six months. I tried to date after a while, but the table space between the new unknown man and I felt like light years. It wasn’t getting better. I then made the cliche mistake of organising a catch up (let’s-attempt-a-friendship / I-just-want-to-look-at-your-face-in-person) coffee, after which we kissed and I begged him for another chance. Cough he said no cough. I was humiliated, and the hurt I’d felt over the last four or five months quadrupled and hit me in one big blow. I promised I would never beg a man ever again.

After that incident, I felt better by the day. My mindset became completely different, until I met someone whose company I genuinely enjoyed and felt I could have sex with without crying afterwards. I never cried once. A few nice men later, I found myself head over heels in love again. This time, it was my first love that felt light years away, and the forever alone sentiment, down right laughable.

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It is never too late to move on from Mr. or Mrs. Wrong. My mum met her Mr. Right after a failed marriage, two children and countless relationships along the way, aged 49 in Stansted airport after a delayed flight. They have now been together for almost six years and are yet to have their first argument. That’s the best example I have, and it’s a pretty good one.

A big part of waking up after a break up is acceptance; accept who you are, what makes you happy and the kind of person that could add to your unique breed of happiness. Even if your heart is broken and it was completely that persons fault – it wasn’t really their fault – you just weren’t right for one another. Once you come to that understanding yourself through time, self love and rational thinking, that acceptance will come naturally, and forgiveness will follow. If hating that person gives you the power to move on, so be it, but only through letting go of that hate will you truly, truly move on and discover your true love within yourself and for another.

Louis CK said, “Divorce is always good news. I know that sounds weird, but it’s true because no good marriage has ever ended in divorce.” It’s the same with all relationships, whether you’re married or have been dating for four months. A rational break up is always, always, always good news. Life is far too short to be in a complicated or anything less than happy, fulfilling relationship. Plus, the greatest things in our lives happen because something changes. Perhaps the relationship has been subconsciously holding you back from being exactly who you want to be or doing exactly what you want to do.

Being with the absolute right person for you is the easiest thing in the world. However much you try to tell yourself otherwise, or how ever much the nostalgia and the panic mode clouds it: if someone makes you miserable than they are not that person, and you should not be with them. Period. And anyway… You’ll never find the right person if you never let go of the wrong one.

You – whoever you are, whether I know you personally or not – are amazing, and you deserve happiness. The best thing you can do, the only thing you can do, is turn your hurt and heartbreak into a positive drive. Use this time to find yourself, excel at work, get healthy, sort out your shit with no ties. If you’re the revenge type (maybe you should re read the last few paragraphs if your answer is yes), happiness is the ultimate revenge. Being self destructive will get you absolutely NOWHERE. Take that from someone who has made that mistake and learnt from it.

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THINGS I WISH I’D BEEN TOLD TO DO 

  1. SPEND AS MUCH TIME WITH PEOPLE THAT MAKE YOU FEEL HAPPY AS POSSIBLE. Family, girlfriends, guy friends, your pets, your therapist… Etc.
  2. TREAT YOURSELF. Whether that be buying yourself a break-up-gift, pampering yourself, a holiday. Happiness if priceless, even if it’s fleeting. Although please keep in mind your rent.
  3. TALK ABOUT IT. If you can feel certain friends getting bored of it (insert question of friendship quality, sorrynotsorry), find someone that has perhaps been in your shoes and is a talker AND a listener. It really will help. They might even point out some things as an outsider that will bring you to your own realisations.
  4. DO NOT CALL/TEXT/EMAIL/‘ACCIDENTALLY’ BUMP INTO/MEET FOR ‘FRIENDLY’ COFFEE. Under no circumstances. Unless you share a child. Exchange possessions, get your shit and leave. I KNOW it’s hard but it really will make it a lot easier in the long run.
  5. READ:HE’S JUST NOT THAT INTO YOU IT’S CALLED A BREAK UP BECAUSE IT’S BROKEN HEAL AND MOVE ON 
  6. WATCH: 19 Best Movies to Watch After a Breakup  I couldn’t have written this list better myself. 
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Happiness

FUCK YOU, FASHION

Fashion – 

noun: a popular or the latest style of clothing, hair, decoration, or behaviour.

verb: make into a particular form.

As a non celebrity, when you post tweet or a Facebook status, the last thing you expect is an industry uproar.

If you exist within or are at least acquainted with the London fashion universe, you’ll have heard the name ‘Charli Howard’ one hundred times this past fortnight. Her Facebook open letter to the fashion industry – specifically to her now ex-agency – has so far been shared 968 times, garnering so much attention that only days later she appeared on Channel 4 News and the BBC.

On Monday, vogue.com published an interview with her. Now THAT’S a fuck you to her ex agency.

Even the most loyal fashion worshipper is well aware of that this long time controversy within the fashion industry regarding the health of models. I remember an uproar in the mid noughties when the term “size zero” was massively talked about in the news and media after runway models literally starved themselves to death. A decade before that, a teenage Kate Moss was the poster girl for fashion movement “heroin chic”. And even with the seeming rise of plus size agencies, positive body image advocates and models like Cara Delevigne becoming known for their ‘personaltiy’, this issue is now so deep rooted that it has spread way beyond the realm of high fashion runway shows and magazines.

Fashion is arguably the most powerfully influencing industry in modern society. For all the positive, creative and, I suppose, entertaining outcomes, the negatives are terrifyingly dangerous. This is an industry that does not encourage liking yourself, whether you are a model or a consumer. It breeds a sense of genetic hierarchy based on looks alone, no matter how they try to sugarcoat it. It is the romanticism of a one dimensional way of life, that leaves many of us feeling subconsciously empty and not good enough. It is a race in which no one will ever will, because what we are aspiring to achieve is literally impossible.

When I began modelling, I was horrendously naive. I had what I thought was a sturdy high sense of self worth, so that when others around me discussed the negatives on the job, I shrugged them off with such classics as, “It won’t affect me”, “I won’t let myself be pressured into changing”, and “if I get told I’m not good enough, I’ll chuckle and dance and leave, head held high.” I never once considered how something I saw purely as a sweet money maker, could completely transform my self esteem and self perception.

Thankfully, I have never received complaints about measurements from an agency. But I have lost count the amount of times I have been upset by team members and casting managers’ comments about me. Me, a human being. Not a product or a 2d cardboard cut out. When it’s you they’re talking about, it suddenly becomes very personal. But at the same time, there is an underlying sense that it’s your fault, because no one forced you to be a model. You chose this job. You pay your rent because of this job. So, you shrug off all the little looks, whispers, tuts and scribbles, and they quietly store themselves into your subconscious until you start seeing a product when you look in the mirror, instead of a human being with emotions and thoughts.

I am someone that continues to model, albeit very carefully, even though I have recognised this. Maybe because for all it’s faults, being a model can still be fun, rewarding and almost addictive. But I am upset with fashion. I am sick of seeing beautiful, kind, intelligent girls slowly being churned through a factory system and left with broken self esteems and robotic falsities.

I am sick of the thought of normal little girls idolising, thinking that models bodies, features, hair and skin are normal and effortless, and therefore wrecking their minds and bodies striving for something so unattainable.

Since Charli’s honest and down right brave* admission, fresh stories of mistreatment, pressure and negativity continue to surface from current and retired models.

In an ideal world, this negative attention will see this domino effect continue to show ball into gigantic proportion, transforming the industry as a whole. For Vogue, the largest influencer of fashion worldwide, to support Charli, speaks volumes.

*”Brave” is often used lightly in feminist rants. A lot of the time, I disagree with the use of the word. My idea of a brave woman, for right use of the word, is Malala Yousafzai. But if you are too a model, you will agree that Charli’s out pouring was potentially detrimental to her career, so it was indeed brave of her to be so honest on such an open and accessible platform.

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Happiness

Love & other drugs

Romantic relationships seem to be the underlying influence to our emotional and personal lives. Perhaps this is how humans have developed over centuries, but look back to further – Zeus’s lovers and Hera’s jealousy, Cleopatra and Mark Antony, Lancelot and Guinevere, Layla and Majnun, Pyramus and Thisbe – and it becomes quite clear that romance, love and obsession are hardly modern ideas.

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The vast majority of movies, books, music and art are focused on love. In our culture, the majority of adults are in (or in and out) of relationships. Every single one of us are on this Earth due to a romantic relationship or at least a romantic exchange. It’s everywhere you go, and it’s inescapable.

I began my first relationship at 16, living my late teen years and early twenties in and out of love, without much time to comprehend the most important love of all – the love you have for yourself.

Around two years ago, I was single for the longest I’ve ever been – a year – and although it pains me to admit it, it was great. Not because I was “free”/able to sleep around, etc. But because for the first time, I met the real stripped down me – who as it turns out, I actually really liked. 

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If a relationship is right, it’s a wonderful place to be. But I can’t help but feel that we grow in a different kind of way when we’re single. There is a lack of intimate emotional support that deems we look after ourselves like Lionesses look after their cubs. Having a Lion is lovely, and in a weird way, reliving, but perhaps not as satisfying.

We are all aware of the cliche, “Love is drug”, suggesting love has good and bad consequences and addicting tendencies. But scientifically, love is a lot more of a drug than you would expect.

Relationships change the way our brain releases chemicals like oxytocin and dopamine, the chemicals that draw and keep us together. Oxytocin and dopamine make us feel a levelled euphoria. Oxytocin is what is released when a mother gives birth, therefore bonding her to her baby.

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The desperation we feel to stay together, no matter how rational a break up, isn’t just a fear of being alone – it is actually due to the withdrawal from oxytocin. Which is exactly why after days, week, or months, depending on the individual, we look back on break ups with the sense that it was the right thing to do, because our brain chemicals have returned to their normal level once the ‘love rehab’ has been completed.

Relationships are amazing, and I of course cannot speak for everyone. But personally, I am beginning to understand “love” as a chemical reaction, and becoming aware of the negative connotations within that “love”.

No matter how positive and loving the relationship may begin, If we’re not careful, co-dependency and the sense of needing each other for all the wrong reasons, can creep up so quietly and gently that we can look down to find ourselves stuck in waist high quick sand before we even have the chance to say, “We need to talk.”

This stage in a relationship is extremely exhausting. In the past, I have definitely felt that this stage has made me lose my sense of self and my self worth. Being in a close emotional relationship changes our understanding of ourselves, because Oxytocin tells us that “we are one” with that person, therefore blurring the lines of our inward individuality.

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I think most of us unconsciously have looked to our partners to meet our emotional needs whilst at least attempting to accept theirs. For me, years of disappointment has only highlighted the fact that you can never emotionally depend on another human. One, because it is totally unfair to them, and two, because only you and you alone can ever completely emotionally support yourself.

Trust me, this is a new admission for me. I once boasted my ability to remain a completely rounded independent individual within my relationships. I was sure that I would never ever obsess over a partner, revolve my life around theirs or let that person influence my choices or personality.

But ask yourself, really and truly – could you say this?

Or, subconsciously, have you craved unrealistic levels of attention from a partner? Let their mood, decisions, or interests influence yours? Become irrationally territorial over them? Felt a hyper sensitive sense of worthlessness due to their behaviours?

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It’s overwhelming to admit, that I have felt this in probably all of my serious romantic relationships, at some point or another. Instinctually, I thought, “Wow. I am really emotionally messed up.” But if I, a relatively normal, privileged, emotionally stable young woman has, maybe these aren’t such abnormal things after all.

 

I have a lot to learn when it comes to love and relationships. In the grand scheme of things, I haven’t finished the first chapter. But one thing I am sure of, is that we can not be responsible to fixing each other. We can support and encourage, but we each have our own needs and paths to follow. If the compatibility in a relationship is wavering, take a step back and reevaluate. I can tell you from experience that the break down of a relationship is not the end of your world – it’s the beginning of a new one. Maybe, on the way, you’ll fall in love with yourself and settle with that.  

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And if you find yourself lucky enough the meet the perfect person for you, a relationship between two happy individuals will be a lot more successful than two halves of one un happy couple.

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Happiness, Health

Are You Controversy Ready?

There is a protest taking place right now in London’s Hype Park.

But what are thousands of angry Londoners gathering to demonstrate against? Armed conflict? Sexual trafficking? Environmental issues? Foreign aid? Racism?

Nope. Thousands of people are “Taking Back the Beach”, protesting a poster. 

British online fitness company Protein World’s now infamous campaign is the biggest online topic of debate since the Blue+Black / Gold+White dress.

Appearing all over the London Underground, the poster shows a stunning female model standing strong in a tiny yellow bikini, right next to the question: “Are you beach body ready?”

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And the public were so outraged about it that Transport for London have agreed to remove the ad, after countless posters were vandalised by offended commuters.

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And now non commuters all over the country are angry and getting involved, thanks to social media’s tornado effect. Hashtags such as #Everybody’sReady and #EverydaySexism have been widely tweeted.

So strong was the outrage, that the Advertising Standards Authority have received around 270 complaints, mainly under the basis that it “objectified women and that it carried the insinuation that only svelte models were ready to go to the beach.”

And so, a change.org petition was created, boasting 69,204 supporters at the time of writing (4PM Saturday 2nd May).

Furthermore, Dove and plus size clothing brand Simply Be have parodied the poster, instead featuring larger, “more realistic” models.

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Dove said, “In 2004, 75% of women felt advertising and media set unrealistic standards of beauty. Today, that figure is 66%, with the perception being that more diversity is portrayed in the images of women we see around us”.

I must state that I do not support this poster and I do not agree with the ethos it is projecting. However, neither do i agree with the majority of the public outrage and the backlash of a fitness company choosing a fitness model to front their brand.

I find it quite ironic that in the process of defaming a company for their “irresponsible” message and “body shaming”, protestors have in fact extensively body shamed themselves, as have Dove and Simply Be.

Star of the campaign, 24 year old Australian Renee Somerfield, told the Huffington Post,

“I am a real person behind the image. I work very hard and live a healthy and active lifestyle which is why Protein World chose me for their campaign. I couldn’t work every day as a full time model by starving myself, dieting or not looking after my body. Nourish your body, be kind to it and it will love you right back, no matter your size.”

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Renee looks incredible, and in my opinion, she’s not lying about being healthy. She is obviously already of naturally slim build, tall, and her physique is strong. She is apparently a vegan too (as am I), and is probably well read on nutrition and fitness. Her Instagram will give you an insight (trusted or not) into her lifestyle. 

I don’t think Renee herself is the problem. I think it’s Protein World’s ill-advised wording and thoughtless delivery of their company’s values.

“Are You Beach Body Ready?” is offensive as it suggests that we women must conform to certain standards of beauty in order to be accepted on a beach. By placing Renee next to this question, they have connected her body to this notion, suggesting that her body is “Beach Body” standard. And this is wrong. 

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But if Renee’s body is “unrealistic” and “unhealthy”, what is the general consensus of health? Being over-weight? I am sad to say that I think the support of over weight women is just as irresponsible as the original Protein World posters. There is a trend of praising larger shapes. Renee’s physique requires great discipline and effort. Whether you too want to apply yourself to this level of fitness or not, we cannot curse this body shape and praise “curvy” shapes. (I do not agree with the term curvy being thrown around to describe “larger” people. The difference between curvy and unhealthy is quite easy to see when compared.

Every body is beautiful. It is okay to not be heavily body conscious. If you chose not to look after your body strictly, or even not at all, that is okay. But be sure of yourself, true to yourself, and happy with your choice. If you hate that Renee can look like that, don’t complain about it. Except yourself or do your best to create the healthiest version of yourself.

But there is a lot more wrong with this poster than the use of a slim model. In my opinion it highlights a deeper issue much more dangerous than “fat shaming” – it supports the ever growing cultural obsession with how we look, and the constant fetishisation of women’s bodies.

See Protein World’s odd idea of good PR on their Twitter. 

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Happiness

The Big Bang.

“Sometimes when you meet someone, there’s a click. I don’t believe in love at first sight but I believe in that click.” – Ann AguirreBlue Diablo

I’d say it’s more of a “bang”.

I recently accompanied my boyfriend to a business dinner. Usually, when meeting new people, I am met with the same mix of questions: Where do you live? What do you do? What’s your life plan? All replied to with boring cookie cutter answers I have told a thousand times. However, upon my first conversation with a fellow ‘partner’, I was surprised by a query that I have never before been asked: What is it that you love about your boyfriend?

I wanted to answer intelligently; not some cliche answer like he’s caring he’s funny yada yada. I thought for a few seconds, but I could not articulate it at all. I couldn’t pin point that thing that attracts you completely, solely to that one person that was once a stranger. All I could muster was, we just click.

I began to wonder: What is it in humans that makes us decide the difference between connections? We meet people that we have no interest in pursuing. We meet people that attract us physically or as compatible friends. And then, every once in a while, there’s those few that attach themselves to somewhere within us, and stick inside our heads for years to come. Why are some brains strangers to our own when some can become so naturally connected?

I’ve met plenty of men that I’ve found psychically attractive almost instantly. When you converse with them, the attraction either grows or shrinks. A connection could well blossom: it’s possible. I’m sure that happens all the time. That’s how most friendships and acquaintances begin.

But in my experience, there has only been a small handful of meetings over the course of my short twenty-two years alive that present an instant bond – a psychic language inside your heads. Almost like a, “Oh, there you are.”

With some it hits you like a punch in the face.

Think about it for a second: How many people in your life do you feel certain that you know? That you feel 100% yourself and content with? No pretence, no sociability, no secrets, no effort, no inner monologue in the back of your head during conversation telling you “Don’t say that”, “What do they mean?”, or “I’d rather be with someone else.”

There is a monologue in Frances Ha!, that encapsulates this thought:

“It’s that thing when you’re with someone, and you love them and they know it, and they love you and you know it… but it’s a party… and you’re both talking to other people, and you’re laughing and shining… and you look across the room and catch each other’s eyes… but – but not because you’re possessive, or it’s precisely sexual… but because… that is your person in this life. And it’s funny and sad, but only because this life will end, and it’s this secret world that exists right there in public, unnoticed, that no one else knows about. It’s sort of like how they say that other dimensions exist all around us, but we don’t have the ability to perceive them. That’s – That’s what I want out of a relationship. Or just life, I guess.”

Feeling a connection with a fellow human being is an incredible thing, whether it be romantic or not. After all, some of the most rewarding connections I’ve experienced are with girlfriends and family members.

Although. I can’t help but feel that romantic connections could hold negative connotations. In Wuthering Heights, Kathy says:

“He’s more myself that I am. Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same.”

Poetic, yes. Romantic, yes. Healthy? Maybe not.

In the past, I’ve felt amazingly strong connections with people that I now would pass in the street. And that terrifies me.

Because, just because someone has seen the dustiest, darkest corners of your mind, and claims to understand them, it does not mean that they love you unconditionally and it definitely does not make you safe.

“We are all searching for someone whose demons play well with ours.” Just be sure that those demons know how to calm each other after all the fun.

Your soul mate does not need to be your perfect man/woman. It can be your best friend. Your mum. Someone sitting next to you on your commute. Human connection is a beautiful thing. But so is being aware of your part in the connection. Because the best connection you will ever experience, is your relationship with yourself.

Title quote: Ann AguirreBlue Diablo

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Advice, Happiness

Comparison: the cruelest attack on oneself.

989a02cc13f76d2346a4b64c4b0de2e4Insecurities can eat you up like a parasite, until you’re nothing but an anxious shell of what you once were. Trust me, I’ve been there, along with a huge number of young women I personally know.

Living in the best city in the world has it’s downfalls: there’s an unworldly beauty starring down at you from every billboard and up at you at every magazine stand. Throw in being a model: those unreal women become very real indeed when they’re sitting beside you at a casting or appearing on your Instagram newsfeed. (Or, if you’re me, going clothes shopping only to realise the girl modelling them is your ex’s new girlfriend. This wasn’t even an isolated incident…)

Being confident in yourself in one thing. But once you start comparing yourself to others, it’s difficult to stop, as there will always be someone to compare yourself too. The world is getting smaller. Years ago, the only people we could compare ourselves to were class mates, family members and perhaps the untouchable girls on the magazine covers (who, of course, aren’t real people) But then the internet (and within it, social media) came along and presented to us the prettiest girls in every high school, in every area of every city, and opened up the flood gates in what is now an infinite ocean of faces, bodies, features and accomplishments to compare our own to.

But why do we care so much about being pretty? What is it with pretty? How about being pretty kind? Pretty smart? Pretty honest? Pretty funny? Pretty independent? 

I happen to know a young lady who is absolutely stunning. She turns one hundred heads per street, has thousands of Instagram followers and just so happens to be a successful international super model. Yet, the same woman has confided in me that she feels “too ugly” to model, as the fashion industry (the perfectionism, rejection, emphasis on physical appearance) has over time absolutely destroyed her confidence. She has been forced to compare herself to others for years. There is no one that looks quite like her, so it’s not hard to see how she is forced to compare herself to girls with a completely different look. But that’s the whole point. She doesn’t look like anyone you’ve ever seen before. Therefore, she’s shockingly gorgeous. There is only one version of her in the whole world. She is completely unique, like a rare precious stone. But to her… it’s a different story.

This both saddens me and gives me hope. Because, if this beautiful creature can look amazing while feeling rubbish, there’s hope for us all. But self perception is the most important thing of all. All that matters, if how you see yourself. Women are like flowers: there are many colours, shapes, sizes, smells, each intriguing in their own way.

All flowers are beautiful. You may prefer a rose to a sunflower, but somewhere not so far away there will be someone who prefers sunflowers. And that’s looks alone.

There are a thousand ways how someone can be beautiful: Warmth, charisma, good health, kindness. The way someone speaks, the way someone moves, what people say. These things are true beauty.

Adams Family Actress Anjelica Huston once told super model Erin O’Connor, “You’ll never be pretty but you’ll always be magnificent”. Later, when asked about Huston’s comment, O’Connor said, “That was something someone said to her once and she passed it on to me. It wasn’t some big statement, it was just kind of, ‘Here’s a theory for you, honey, and it will get you through your life.'” But how did it feel to be someone who makes their living from their looks being told they weren’t pretty? “Well, it happened to her, so it was her experience,” she insists.

You will never be someone else. You can get all the surgery in the world, but you will still be you, at the core. You don’t have to be pretty like her, or like them. You can be pretty like you. And that’s the easiest, most freeing thing in the world.

You attract the energy you give off, so spread beautiful energies that people will want to surround themselves with, and that you will be content living within. Feeling confident and sure of ourselves makes us feel amazing about our choices and drives us to live and think in a more positive way. Period. In tern, those of us who are confident without a doubt appear more attractive than those that are insecure.  They radiate strength, passion, and in term, beauty. 

“Confidence is not “they’ll think I’m pretty.” Confidence is “I love my inner self too much to care.”

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Happiness, Health

Attack of the New Year Resolutions

Before Christmas has even properly begun, “New Year, New Me!” is a phrase frequently heard as soon as December hits. The post Christmas ‘urgh’ is inevitably close – that feeling of bloat and uncomfortably after a week of hearty home cooking, biscuit tins, cold nights and duvet days.

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Social networks have been plagued by lists of New Year’s Resolutions; the most frequent contender on my girlfriends list’s are “Get in shape”, “Get my eighteen year old body back”, “Summer body” and “Lose weight”. Often included is a photo of a Victoria Secret model on a beach looking AMAZING. It’s great to feel inspired and motivated after the holidays to start / get back into shape, but it will not happen over night, and there is no secret or quick-slim solution. I think what we really need is to re-think our goals.

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Go into a newsagents and pick up any magazine – chances are, the front cover will be littered with images of female celebrities with headlines concerned with their appearance; whether it’s “Cheryl’s New Hair!”, “Victoria’s Skin Secret!”, or, perhaps the most concerning, “Reality-TV-Star puts on weight!”. Yet the same magazines feature pages upon pages of ‘perfect’ woman, with tiny waists, flawless skin, glossy hair, legs like giraffes and Hollywood smiles.

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We compare ourselves to these women. But these women are not real. They may be pretty or even beautiful in real life, but these images have been tweaked to this perfection. When women look at these images, something in their brain says “I need to look like that.” This sort of perfection is impossible to achieve until some science genius invents a real life Photoshop machine. On top of this, when we see a teeny tiny skinny mini, chances are she has worked extremely hard for her body – whether she’s worked out a lot and eaten very well, or she’s been very un healthy with it (please don’t go down that route, it’s definitely not worth it).

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All women (and men) have different body types. We come in many different shapes and sizes. In most cases, no amount of exercise, dieting or starving will change your genetic make-up. If you are holding onto a little extra padding, of course eating right and exercise will help you lose it. The naturally skinny women are the minority. The average dress size for women in the UK is a 14. Research has confirmed that it is more difficult for women to shed the pounds than men, because women’s bodies are simply more efficient at storing fat. It’s nature. 

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We women need to change the way we think about our bodies, our weight and this idea of ‘perfection’. We need to set ourselves realistic goals and concentrate less on our weight or size (unless you are unhealthily below or above your BMI) – and focus on our health, shape and happiness.

The best way to get this mindset working, is to establish your body shape – whether you’re petite, an apple or pear shape, an hourglass, curvy, tall, etc etc. Now, decide what your goal is – realistically. Forget about the fad diets, they will not work in the long term and are not good for you, mentally or physically. In fact, forget the diet mentality all together. You need to make these changes for life. I’m not saying “never eat chocolate ever again, it’s evil!”, because some ‘bad’ food in moderation will not kill you. The 80/20 rule is what a lot of women live by – 80% of what you eat is healthy and nutritious and 20% is indulgence. This means that you are not deprived of food that you crave, and you are therefore less likely to binge when you tell your mind that it’s not allowed. One piece of chocolate won’t make you put on weight – but the whole box probably will.

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Changing your eating habits will make you lose weight, yes. But, this shouldn’t be the priority. What matters most is your health. We need to change the false views that ‘perfection equals happiness’. It’s not real, and you will never find happiness chasing something as real as Santa Claus. It’s health that can equal happiness.

But whatever you do, do not beat yourself up about it. Food is supposed to be enjoyed while giving you energy and keeping you healthy. Do not make food your enemy. Do not make exercise a chore. Do not waste your life stressing about how you look. Do not look in the mirror and hate yourself, because hating yourself will not make you look or feel any better. All women are different, and the most beautiful woman are those that are happy and healthy and confident in their own skin.

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Happiness, Health, Interview

TUESDAY TALKS: Megan Elizabeth Galt

MEET MEGAN: I had a mega girl crush on Megan before I’d even met her…

I knew-then-briefly dated her brother, who at the time I thought was the most beautiful looking person on the planet. That was, until I saw his sister. God Bless their parents.

Megan is an unworldly beauty. A ballsy South African turned Londoner, she is definietly not the girl next door and definitely not some girl you could see in your local high street without a second glance. The fact that she’s regularly compared to Angelina Jolie says it all, doesn’t it?

But where Angelina seem’s to conjure an air of bitchiness, house-wrecking and man-loving-woman-hating (See Chelsea Handler calling her a demon here), Megan, although a “tomboy”, is a girls girl at heart, with a caring big sister vibe.  She has it, and I feel like a lot of the it is the confidence. She is a fierce force of nature; a 5’10 strong woman who will not take shit from anybody. And she’s liked all the more for it.

NOT JUST A PRETTY FACE: After competing in a semi final, Megan is in the finals of reality TV show Model Turned Superstar, in which the winning lady wins a movie contract and $1MILLION DOLLARS.

Check out the final episode preview starring Megan here and vote for her on the website!

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What is beautiful to you?

Confidence is beautiful to me. With that, you can be anything. As well as being friendly and grounded, being a fighter and never changing who you are because society wants you to.

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What’s your top beauty secret?

Coconut oil for everything; eating, hair, moisturiser.

I also take Epsom salt baths, which detoxifies you, and are also brilliant as an exfoliate; you can mix it with a lip balm and use it to exfoliate your lips. As well as use it to exfoliate in the shower. There is about 30 diff ways to use it.

When I get bad skin, I use Colloidal silver, which is a spray that clears up the skin in a few days.

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What do you love most about yourself?

I love my confidence and my ambition. Im pretty stubborn – I won’t change for anyone. When I was on the show (Model Turned Superstar), they wanted me to act more like a lady, but I only act a certain way when I feel like acting that way. I tend to do what I want, when I want. I am very honest. I say what I mean, and mean what I say. People tend to respect me more for not being a bullshitter.

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Advice, Happiness, Health, Inspiration, Interview

TUESDAY TALKS: Rudie McCree

MEET RUDIE: If you know anything about the London fashion world right now, you’ll know about Rudie McCree. This beautiful lady seems to be everywhere you turn your head; whether you’re doing some online shopping with Topshop, keeping up to date with catwalk shows or flicking through fashion magazines, her lion’s mane and pretty feline features manage to steal the attention away from the clothes she’s wearing without even trying. Envy inducing, right? Somehow, whether it’s in her fun, positive attitude, her passion for everything she’s doing or simply her inviting energy, you can’t help but fall in love with Rudie. I’ll have what she’s having.

NOT JUST A PRETTY FACE: Miss McCree is also a talented singer/songwriter with a debut EP in the pipeline. Patience not your forte? Here’s a clip from a few years ago.

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What is ‘beautiful’ to you?

To me it’s about love, the ability to love everything and everyone, it’s more of an aura than a look. Beautiful people are people who know how to love and find the joy in any moment. That’s the best way I can describe it.

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What’s your top beauty secret?

I would say just listen to your body, it has an amazing way of warning you when something’s not quite right, also meditation can increase all aspects of beauty. But if your looking for an actual product it would have to be coconut oil, it can be used as a moisturiser, for healthier and stronger hair, a makeup remover as well as a primer the benefits are endless.

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What do you love most about yourself?

It would definitely have to be my determination and self belief in myself. Once I set a goal I will not stop until I have accomplished it in spite of any set backs. And of course my hair, because why not 😉

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Happiness, Health

LIGHTENING BOLTS & TIGER STRIPES

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The media’s boring and frankly dumb obsession with adding negative connotations to our physical “imperfections” (which, by the way, are mostly completely natural and normal and healthy characteristics of the human body) eternally taint our perceptions of our own bodies and appearances as a whole.

One repeated offence which I REALLY don’t get is the issue with stretch marks:

  • external skin scarring caused by the tearing of a under layer of skin
  • mostly caused by rapid stretching on the skin (growth spurts, pregnancy, weight changes, etc.)
  • also caused by hormonal changes (puberty, pregnancy, body building, etc).

A quick Google search will show you the common opinions and conceptions of stretch marks (this list has not been edited or created for your entertainment).

“”How to Get Rid of Stretch Marks: 15 Steps (with Pictures)”

“Top 10 Celebrities Who Are Not Safe From Stretch Marks”

“Stretch Mark Removal Treatments – Types, Cost & Results”

“OMG! Models With Stretch Marks!”

“101 Reasons I Hate Being Fat!: #49 – Stretch marks”

I was kind of laughing to myself at the ridiculousness of my research, until I saw the last two examples

Why should it be such a shock that models (human beings) get stretch marks? Yes, models do get stretch marks. I know because, well, I AM a model and I DO have stretch marks. I rest my case.

Secondly, it breaks my heart a little bit that stretch marks are associated with being “fat”, which is in tern associated with being unhealthy and even ugly.

Again, I am living proof of this, having never been over a UK size 8 in my life.

Come to think of it, I’m almost sure that every woman I know has them. Yet we have been conditioned to hate them by our perfection obsessed society. Online and print publications twist words to make it sound like they’re doing us a favour by teaching us how to prevent or reverse these AWFUL SHAMEFUL UGLY imperfections. We’re recommended creams, oils, laser treatments, even skin surgery! Stretch marks’ cousin, cellulite, is another hated body “affliction”, with maybe even more crazy “solutions” for erasion.

Why should we have to go through the effort of attempted removal of things that occur on our body so naturally, wasting money, breeding negativity and demoting our self worth?

I can’t imagine any woman pre-1960’s having anxieties about stretch marks or cellulite. Then again, there was no Photoshop, no Instagram, no televised Victoria Secret catwalk show to weep over. The fashion industry is SELLING A FANTASY. I’m not one of these people that are passionate about the banning of Photoshop but I do think that people, particularly young girls, need to be aware of this. Reality and fantasy can co exist as long as we are strong enough to not allow it to cloud our judgements of ourselves and others.

So next time a magazine attempts to emotionally bully you into hating your stretch marks / cellulite / grey hair / wrinkles / any other completely NORMAL AND NATURAL physical trait, laugh in the face of ignorance. They are your badge of honour, the lines of a map of your life – be proud that you grew from girl to woman. Be proud that you went through the growth of pregnancy to create new life. Be proud that you are at the healthiest weight for your body and not the weight that a magazine tells you to be.

Next time you look down at your hips or the side of your thighs, realise how cool it is to have glistening purple and white lightening bolts etched across your skin. Would a tiger hate her stripes? 

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