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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Advice, Happiness

The 21 Year Old Itch: Attack of the Quarter Life Crisis

If you were to ask a twelve year old me where I expected to be at twenty one years old, I would have, without hesitation, replied that I would probably (definitely) be in Hollywood, with two (or perhaps, three) Academy Awards already sitting comfortably on my marble mantle piece. I’d be wearing head to toe Chanel, with an equally designer clad boyfriend/ fiancé (probably a previous co-star) who loved me for me, not only just my class, fame and money. I’d be made.

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Flash forward ten years to a newly twenty two year old me. And guess what?

No, I am not in sunny Hollywood. I am 5,437 miles away in a very stormy London. I have – drum roll – zero Academy Awards (are you dissapointed?). I am certainly not dressed head to toe in Chanel, but draped in a comfy mens t-shirt (twelve year old me shudders).  I do have a nice boyfriend at least, although he was most definitely not my co-star. My taste in men has changed considerably since then. Actors make me cringe nowadays.

I’m not completely helpless on the career front either. Since I graduated with a Literature degree I have been modelling somewhat successfully. I’m still an “actress”, going to auditions and taking acting classes. My life, on paper, sounds sweet. And let’s face it, things could be a lot worse. But one day, very recently, as I was minding my own business, it hit me. A little devil in a graduation gown popped in my brain.

“Hi. Where you aware that you’ve been out of education for a whole year and you haven’t even paved out your career yet? Ha! You failure!”

I found myself suddenly overwhelmed with life’s big questions: Am I on the right track? Am I doing well enough? Am I making enough money? Am I really and truly making the most out of my life?

We’re brought up on happy endings; you just happen to bump into your Mr. Perfect and bang, you’re married off with a perfect relationship. Somehow, you’re picked out of a crowd and handed an opportunity for your dream job. Happy endings just don’t come to us quickly or as suddenly, unless it’s the type of happy ending you receive in a massage parlour. My parents always told me I could be whatever I wanted to be, and I believed them. But no one tells you how difficult it is or gives you a step by step guide of how to get there. All this false expectation leaves us with an immense amount of pressure.

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Born in 1992, I am a member of Generation Y. I come from an era in which every thought, goal and achievement is posted on multiple sites for us all to witness on portable screens. It is impossible not to compare our lives to others when it’s shoved in our faces every time we unlock our smart phones.

Let’s face it, we carefully pick and chose what we are sharing with our social network. In the words of Kurt Vonnegut, “We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.”  Oh look, she’s having soooo much fun at that party. He’s making soooo much money. She loves her boyfriend sooooo much. We are forced to keeps tabs on what everyone else is up to, whether it’s getting married and having babies, sitting front row at LFW or getting promoted to CEO of some big shot company. We all know it’s grossly exaggerated, rose tinted and carefully portrayed, yet it still manages to persuade us that everyone else has it better. At the basis, the internet is a platform to show off. No one would dare admit that they too are struggling. It’s all about keeping up appearances.

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So I went searching for some honesty, and the results were surprising: almost everybody I spoke to admitted to experiencing some sort of personal existential panic between the ages of 20-23. Some remember this crux period as a distant memory as long as twenty years ago, while some were, as I am, presently lost in the culmination fog.

If this is something we all experience, why is this quarter life crisis epidemic not openly discussed? Why weren’t we warned?

Everyone tells us that the twenties are our prime. It’s supposed to be this magical time in our lives where we have fun with our friends, build relationships and careers. See the world. Make memories that we can tell our grandchildren around a camp fire. But nothing will ruin your 20’s more than the anxiety that you should have your life together by now.

Perhaps the quarter life crisis is a crucial part of self discovery. Those who have over come it, say that “things just happened naturally”. Many are now happy and successful in fields they had no intention of getting into when they were 21. I suppose life is all about being happy, and success is liking what you do. Instead of looking at the ultimate goal and end outcomes, perhaps taking the one-day-at-a-time approach will help everything fall into place. In the meantime, work on deciding what you enjoy, and enjoy it. Instead of trying to figure out how our lives are supposed to be, maybe we should just live. Instead of comparing every aspect of our lives to that of our peers, maybe we should concentrate on our own individual journeys and on making them more meaningful to us.

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All those suffering from QLC can do is have fun, be nice, take risks and and work hard, and the rest should (will) work itself out. I’m yet to discover my purpose in life, but I refuse to stay stuck in this quick-sand of self doubt. So here I embark on a new lease of positivity and forthrightness, open to new experiences and willing to learn.

If you need a little faith that success is a gradual process, see what some of the most successful people in the world were doing in their early twenties here.

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