Advice, Happiness, Uncategorized

High On Likes

Ten years ago, if a guy were to approach you in a club, knowing your name and other details about your life, you would run away and scream, “Stalker!”

Now, if a guy does the same, it’s cool; he follows you on Instagram.

It happened to me a few months ago and the guy quickly became aggressive when I apologised for not knowing who he was. It wasn’t cool, it freaked me out.

This angry stranger “followed” my life is pictures. Scrolling through my posts attempting an outside point of view made me feel sick: there were photos of me and my friends in bikinis on holiday, selfies, modelling photos half naked… All which seemed innocent, fun and worst of all normal at the time now seemed seedy and boastful in this weird collection of exhibitionism and narcissism called My Profile.

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It was the last straw on something I’d considered for a while. I disabled my account.

Alarmingly, I’d never thought about Instagram in terms of my privacy. Instead, I’d been building up to disable it after realising that it affected my mental health in a negative way.

Within an hour, no less than four people had sent me texts, ranging from concerned to hurt, asking why I had ‘deleted’ them. I later learned that they had been told this through an app which alerts you when you’re followed or unfollowed by an account. People really are invested in this thing. Relationship dynamics are affected and ego’s are hurt.

Social media is weird. The terms “follow”, “like”, and “share” mean completely different things now than they did years ago, with those phrases and others like “retweet, unfriend, block” becoming everyday conversational dialogue. Social media has become as normal as brushing your teeth.

So many relationships begin, grow, or solely exist in cyberspace. Whole persons and careers are created and maintained on smart phone applications. On a whole, social media is undeniably dumbing us down and running our lives, but I believe Instagram to be the worst; Twitter is a platform for words, a space to be intelligent, funny, witty, charming in 140 characters or less. Facebook, however you use it, is designed to share and keep in contact with friends and family – but Instagram? Instagram puts importance on the physical image. You can write a funny caption, but it’s the photo above it that’s going to get ‘liked’.

Yes, it can be used to share beautiful photographs. But it is photos of people  – particularly attractive women’s faces and bodies – that receive the most likes. Just look at the 11 most liked photo’s on Instagram ever – the physical is of sole-importance.

 

 

It allows us to construct our own fairy-tale image; psychologists use the term ‘self-presentation’, “positioning yourself the way you want to be seen.” A study found that self-presentation is so powerful, that viewing your own social media profiles increases self-esteem.

Compilation of boastful, ‘fun’ posts featuring me as an apparent party girl who holidays more than she’s at home

But Instagram never made me feel good. I’d subconsciously compare myself to everyone else seemingly having a better time, looking their posed, filtered best, usually from the comfort of my own bed while I looked like a frog. We never scroll through Instagram when we’re having fun, do we? I would only scroll when I had nothing better to do, making me receptive to negative feelings of boredom or loneliness before photos had even loaded. I would often close the app feeling undeniably depressed. So why did I continue to use something that was bad for my mental health?

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I’d never thought much about why and what I post until I disabled my account. When I was modelling I used Instagram to network with photographers and promote freebies like skincare and haircuts. I never felt that I was sharing too much of myself. But amongst those arguably useful posts are a few that, after my reflective time out, I now see as nauseatingly narcissistic.

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I actually thought I had made it acceptable because I was being philosophical in my caption, lol

 

Why at 23 years old did I feel that it was necessary to post a photo of myself in a bikini, alone, while on holiday with my boyfriend? The honest answers are:

  1. I wanted my followers to know I was on holiday.
  2. I obviously didn’t think I looked bad, or else I wouldn’t have posted it – I wanted my followers to see that I looked alright.
  3. I knew that a photo of a girl in a bikini will get the likes that, at the time, I unknowingly craved.

It all sounds arrogant, but are you honestly going to tell me that you can’t relate? Chances are you, your friends, your girlfriend, have posted photos for the same reasons. Why else would you take time out of your day to share a photo of yourself to the internet?

We are an insecure generation, constantly feeding off likes and follows for some sense of empty validation from strangers. Although I may look confident in that pink bikini, and at the time I thought I was – if I hadn’t needed validation then I wouldn’t have posted it. My ‘racy’ photos littering my feed now make me feel uncomfortable, especially now realising that strangers have studied them.

Compilation of meaningless, strictly narcissistic, vainglorious, egomaniacal posts posted by yours truly

After my much needed detox, the image of a girl alone in a bathroom seems like the epitome of vanity and shameless narcissism. I want to scream at her, “No one cares! Go jump in the pool! Go live your life! No one needs to see that!”. Yet, 99% of sexualised female celebrities and models do exactly the same thing and are praised for it.

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I recommend every one –even those who think I’m dramatic for thinking an app could affect my mental health – carry out a social media detox for a week and see if you notice a difference in how you think or live your life. I personally have so much more time for productivity; all the time you spend taking photos, or thinking about what photos to post and simply looking into other people’s lives, really does add up.

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The main thing that was putting me off disabling or deleting was FOMO and keeping up appearances; almost as if not posting was in inkling to the outside world that all was not well. But trust me, you are missing out way more on actual real life than what other people are up to. And those ‘likes’ lose importance strangely quickly. After six weeks, I reactivated my account, but now peeking into others’ lives feels really invasive. I have also completely lost that need to post; once or twice I have almost posted something and then asked myself, why?

Close the apps, put down the phone and enjoy the moment. If you’re going to take photos, print them, and give thought to the ones you do post. Don’t try to create an image of the perfect life – live your version of your perfect life.

The only person you should let validate your life is yourself.

PS. Follow @_theluckyleo on Instagram (no selfies, I promise)

ALL IMAGES TAKEN FROM GOOGLE IMAGES & MY OWN INSTAGRAM 

 

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Happiness, Health

Top-Secret Beauty Tips that Modelling Taught Me

One question I am quite regularly asked is,

“What beauty secrets have you learnt from modelling?”

Although I always seem to get on really well with MUA’s, I’m really not interested in make up at all. I usually sit in the chair, let them do their thing whilst day dreaming or chatting, and voila, there’s a much better looking girl staring back at me in the mirror.

I’m atrocious at my own make-up and don’t wear much at all when I’m not working. So I’m afraid I don’t have any make-up tips… Although Britney Spears did teach me to dab lipstick of my cheeks instead of blusher, when I was a 10 year old watching her “In The Zone” DVD.

The so called ‘tips’ that I have learned are simple and already well known:

  • Bioderma (once secret way before it became available to buy in every pharmacy in London)
  • Coconut oil erry’thing (face masks, hair masks, hand cream, sexy oils)
  • Enough water and sleep – I know it’s mega boring and seems like bullshit but it is 100% annoyingly true

I have replied with these answers, usually met with politely disappointed responses. But actually, the older I get and the more at one with myself I become, the more I realise what I have in fact learnt from my experience as a model.

So without further ado, here are my top 5 beauty secrets that no one will tell you.

1. No one is that beautiful.  

Some people ask if modelling makes you insecure. Sure, it can make you feel insecure for a number of reasons; rejection, not fitting into clothes, bitchy comments that get you right there and linger forever… But in some ways, modelling actually made me feel more secure. Because, I have seen up close, met and shared toilet cubicles with some of the most gorgeous models in the world… And not once have I been so overwhelmed by one’s beauty that I have felt disgustingly unattractive. Don’t get me wrong, they really are beautiful. But so is that girl that lives down the road from you. They’re still human. Some girls have very picturesque, doll like faces and the standard “perfect” body (yawn), yet suffer from bad B.O and even worse breath. Some move like ballerina’s yet sound like a burly truck driver. Some are simply dumb as shit.

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There’s usually two ways this scenario will pan out – I will either see a photo of a girl that makes me feel like the ugliest troll in the world, only to meet her and be shocked by her humanness… Or I will meet women who are sexy, beautiful, attractive and interesting, who’s character and aura is simply too intense to be captured in a 2d image.

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The Western world and particularly the fashion industry is far too entranced by beauty in a 2d image or a film clip that it mostly disregards the unexplainable beauty many people exude; the kind that you can’t bottle and sell, or even pin point. None of the most beautiful, attractive people I have ever met are models.

2. It. Is. Literally. All. About. Confidence. 

Not every model is an intimidatingly confident superwoman. It’s extremely human to be insecure and not entirely self assured. Many models are actually faking confidence, really really really well. And actually, that’s all anyone can do in terms of confidence and beauty; fake it until you make it.

Standing tall. Holding yourself with poise. Speaking with conviction. A smile. Easy and completely free things we can all do which make such a difference to how we feel about ourselves – as well as the less important – how others view us.

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3. Accept your body shape and focus on it’s health more than what it looks like. 

Hardly anyone is naturally that thin. I know that some girls are actually that thin even though they eat 5,000 calories a day and don’t exercise. Yeah, ok…

The majority of models’  – not the 1% of models that become super models but normal, nameless models – careers begin at 15 and end in their early twenties. A lot of them still have their childhood metabolism and prepubescent shape. Some have that typical prepubescent shape their whole lives. Plus the fact that they are taller than the average women, meaning their bodies are longer and someway stretched out. But many fashion consumers are more typical shaped women, who are a lot older than the girls they are bombarded with photos of. I don’t think a lot of people really consciously consider that.

That being said, a lot of women that do not have this natural, thin shape are ultra skinny regardless. They’ll tell you it’s from diet and exercise. But in the case of most of the models I’ve been in close contact with, it’s extreme, sometimes life debilitating: i.e no carbs, dairy or sugar EVER, no more than 500 calories for 5 days of the week, at least an hour of cardio a day, etc, etc.

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Others rely on an unhealthier life style to keep the pounds at bay. It’s a rarity to find a model in London that doesn’t smoke 20 cigarettes a day.

There is a dark side of modelling that I once thought only existed in cliche parodies. I have so many examples and anecdotes about this, but there is one so brutal it sticks out.

One of my closet model friends was working in New York for a few months signed to a top agency. During fashion week, they called her in between castings to have a “polite” word about her weight. She was “too big”. At that point she was eating under 500 calories a day (that’s a banana, two slices of bread and a few pieces of ham), exercising for two hours every morning, and at 5’11, was the skinniest she had ever been. Her Instagram feed scared me. She looked ill and a far cry from the bubbly, happy girl I love. Shocked, she told them that she didn’t know what else to do about it, since she was already fainting and crying herself to sleep. This is when they suggested she try cocaine.

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Of course, it was no secret to me that a lot of the more party loving models used cocaine and other drugs recreationally, and cocaine especially is known for it’s laxative and appetite suppressing qualities. My friend, completely without judgement, is personally against drugs and cigarettes and hardly drinks alcohol. For her to be pressured by the people that were supposed to be protecting her, so far from home, made me feel psychically sick.

I’m not judging anyone’s choices. But I do think it’s unfair that women are duped into thinking that all of these bodies were achieved in a healthy way. The majority of bodies in the fashion world are completely unobtainable for the average woman.

And I haven’t even touched upon eating disorders…

4. Be aware of the fakery. 

A lot of models were not born exactly the way you see them. Although a lot of them had lovely faces already, a good 50% of the girls I know have had nose jobs, sometimes multiple, and even more of the less high-fashion girls have had boob jobs. A few of the ‘celebrity’ models of the moment and countless ‘Instagram models’ have had undeniable face surgery, which for fashion models a few years ago was near unthinkable. I’m ashamed to say I have, more than once, found myself in a black hole of girls’ social feeds, chronicling their changing faces and attempting to pin point exactly what they’ve ‘had done’ and when. It kind of fascinates me…

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Plus, it’s important to remember that you only see models photoshopped to within an inch of their life, with Heaven-like lighting and even better angles. A lot of girls, including myself, have or still do suffer from break outs and adult acne, but you’ll never see that.

I truly believe that the next generation will grow up feeling weirdly human because of their natural human features, surrounded by alien ‘perfect’ features in the media. But that’s for another article.

5. Imperfections really are what make you beautiful. 

Picture your favourite model; Cara’s eyebrows, Cindy’s beauty mark, Iman’s neck, Lara’s gap, Erin’s nose, Lily’s hair… a lot of the most recognisable faces have something unusual about them that makes them stand out from the other hundreds of models wanting to book that gig.

Sculptor Marc Quinn described this perfectly while discussing Kate Moss.

“I think she’s got a very symmetrical face and yet when she opens her mouth she’s got slightly elongated teeth on the top row, so there is a tiny element of threateningness within her beauty, and there’s a kind of balance between seduction and repulsion going on. That’s one thing, she’s not completely flawless. It’s the flaws that make her. In all people, it’s the flaws that make you interesting.”

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It’s a lot easier to say than to do, but accepting and growing to love and appreciate your flaws in probably the best thing anyone can learn from the modelling industry. You begin to see how changeable and fluid our ideas of beauty are and how manipulated we are within societies perceptions. Once a feature or trait is confirmed as attractive and desirable, there’s an uncontrollable domino effect. However, as soon as we start to become aware of just how mindless the trends of what is considered beautiful really are, we can begin to unsubscribe from this forced ideal and truly learn to accept and appreciate our own so called flaws.

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Happiness, Health, Review

A Love Letter to: Bodyism

I’m not what some may call, a huge “foodie”. I don’t get excited about swanky new restaurants or Michelin Star chef’s. I’d state Whole Foods and my mums kitchen’s as my all time favourite eateries, and I let out a sigh of relief when my flatmate asks, “Shall we cook a big dinner tonight?”

But while walking in my fabulous neighbourhood last week, I noticed a place which conjured excitement within me mostly reserved for upcoming American Horror story seasons and mama’s vegan Banfoffe pie: the Bodyism cafe. I don’t know how I’d missed it.

I recognised the name straight away; I have been an avid follower of James Duigan and the Clean and Lean cookbooks since the start of my healthy living obsession in 2011. If you haven’t heard of James – where have you been? – you’ll most certainly have heard of his clientele; the wellness guru is the highly acclaimed personal trainer of Rosie Huntington-Whitely, Lara Stone and Elle Macpherson. Along with his unworldly beautiful wife Christiane and a team full of experts, he has developed the Bodyism Clean and Lean concept: not a fad diet or patronising unobtainable rule book, but a positive philosophy which is more of an empowering movement than a food and fitness guideline.

 Clean and Lean has a simple philosophy: Be kind to yourself.

Along with a range best selling cookbooks, Bodyism London, a state-of-the-art members club was opened in late 2015, ‘revolutionising the wellbeing experience’. Boasting a perfect team of top performance coaches and fat loss specialists, it is a space designed to help their clients ‘realise their physical and mental potential’. Within the club is the the Bodyism cafe; a hidden treasure, but gratefully easy to access and enjoy, as soon as you enter.

So, last Tuesday, I woke my flatmate up like a spoilt child and pleaded that we wrap up warm and go for brunch at Bodyism. It didn’t take much persuasion.

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As I stepped through the door I felt transported from rainy Westbourne Grove. The tranquil atmosphere is immediately calming; whether it’s due to the warm lighting, clean interiors and greenery, or the very inviting, bright and friendly cafe team, the welcome was similar to the one I receive after turning my keys in the family front door – if my family lived in Australia, and not a seaside town in Essex. Whatever it may be, it’s clear that the principles of the Clean and Lean lifestyle have manifested within the energies of the Bodyism cafe and club. It almost seemed as if I’d travelled out of London in a matter of seconds, only reminded that I was in fact minutes from Notting Hill Gate when I looked out the front window.

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I’d checked out the menu online before I arrived, which being very informing and detailed,  was nothing compared to the knowledge of the team – with no hesitation, they replied to my quizzing of food and products available. As someone with specific, sometimes difficult intolerances, I often find eating out tedious, forever holding the fear that the staff don’t really know what they’re selling, resulting in a unhappy tummy by the time I leave. But here, I trusted them completely. I had faith in my order before it even reached the counter.

That was, after ten minutes of whittling down my order. I went in with the intention of ordering a savoury meal and perhaps a smoothie, but at the risk of sounding cliche, it really was so hard to chose from the wide range of food available. It all sounded delicious, muddling my senses so that my ears could taste. After much deliberation, I decided on the Pancakes (it was Shrove Tuesday, after all), the Protein Boosting Paleo Slice topped with almond butter, the Nourish Me acai bowel, the Berry Burn shake, and a Clean and Lean Cookie. That really was hard enough…

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Instagram worthy #brunchgoals

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Controversial, I know – but I’m not a big lover of pancakes, and would never make my own on Shrove Tuesday. I did mention this when they were recommend to me, but, you know, the whole taste buds in my ears thing… Anyway, I’ll be honest, I was expecting disappointment. What I experienced could only be described as an orgasm in my mouth. They were without a doubt, the best pancakes I have ever eaten (sorry mum). As I ordered, I actually said, “If I don’t finish this, can I take it home in a doggy bag?” (I love that expression). Oh, what a fool I was! I inhaled the whole thing. My brain switched off for a minute or two in pure pleasure, until I attempted to scoop the bottom if the plate. Please, Bodyism, may I ‘av some more?

Buckwheat Pancakes: coconut milk + organic egg + buckwheat flower + berries + coconut oil + maple syrup + almond butter + cottage cheese

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After the inhalation of the pancakes, I doubted that my little stomach could manage the acai bowel – who am I trying to fool? I ADORE acai bowels. They are my favourite comfort food because they are oh so comforting and happy and delicious yet not unhealthy – Bodyism’s acai bowels aren’t just not-unhealthy, they are actually nourishing, metabolism boosting, and will flush out toxins and alkalise the body.

‘Nourish Me’ Bowl: Acai + Body Brilliance + granola + organic berries + almond butter + hemp seeds

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It’s very rare that I eat bread, and when I do my favourite is Pumpernickel. So I thought I’d try something different: introducing the Protein Boosting Paleo Slice. I topped mine with almond butter to continue with the sweet theme. It was melt-in-your-mouth-grainy-perfection, and I wasn’t left with the usual heavy bloat sludge after other breads.

Protein Boosting Paleo Slice: almonds, eggs, coconut flour, flax seed, pumpkin seeds, virgin coconut oil, apple cider vinegar, baking soda, coconut nectar, sea salt

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Admittedly, I was now happy and satisfied. So satisfied that I had to loosen my belt. So, I took the cookie home with me. Later that evening, I dipped it into an Earl Grey tea with soy milk. When I was young I was a biscuit fiend, and cut them out completely when I went health mad, at risk of overindulging. Biting into this cookie was like looking at a childhood photo album, or reminiscing family holidays at a dinner table. Biscuits, how i’ve missed your sweet crumbly deliciousness! I wanted to weep when I’d swallowed the last mouthful. But instead, I made my flatmate promise she’d buy me another on her travels the next day.

SOMEHOW, how on Earth I do not know, this cookie is made only of lovely, nutritious things, and is completely gluten free AND vegan (and comes in the cutest little cookie bag. Although, I did forget to breathe for a minute while eating this cookie, so probably very appropriate advice).

Clean and Lean Cookies: oats, coconut flour, raw chocolate, coconut oil, coconut palm sugar, vanilla, egg, Himalayan salt, baking soda

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The Berry Burn shake was the perfect finisher to the perfect Brunch. So good, I forgot to take a photo of the actual shake: it was a beautiful rich red and the texture was incredibly thick and creamy without being sickly.

Berry Burn shake: mixed berries, goji berries, coconut water

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Also available to buy is a wide range of amazing supplements. The whole team were so helpful in explaining everything you need to know about them. It’s clear that this isn’t just a job to them – they really are so passionate about the products and food that they are offering. If makes such a difference to the usual boredom portrayed in other cafes and restaurants. Bodyism really is a lifestyle.

I was genuinely sad to end our brunch and leave Bodyism, but not before I signed up for information of their countless classes, with a promise that I would return very soon. I really could eat there every day.

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Check out Bodyism and see (and taste) why it’s my new favourite place to eat!

Clean and Lean Cafe

222-224 Westbourne Grove W11 2RH

Monday – Friday: 7am – 6pmSaturday and Sunday: 8am – 5pm

www.bodyism.com

@cleanandlean / @bodyism / @_theluckyleo

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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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Advice, Happiness, Health

THIS GIRL CAN (AND DOES)

Exercise is good for you.

Without a shadow of a doubt.

100%.

Period.

I know I know… You’ve heard it all before. But it really does has no negative consequences, and will improve your life ten fold if done right. Have you ever heard someone say, “Wow, I really regret that work out”, or “I wish I didn’t start exercising” ?

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Only some of the health benefits include:

•up to a 35% lower risk of coronary heart disease and stroke

•up to a 50% lower risk of type 2 diabetes

•up to a 50% lower risk of colon cancer

•up to a 20% lower risk of breast cancer

•a 30% lower risk of early death

•up to an 83% lower risk of osteoarthritis

•up to a 30% lower risk of depression

•up to a 30% lower risk of dementia

I’d be a liar if I told you that I exercised purely for the benefit of my health. Not only does exercise make you lose weight, tone and gain muscle, it also improves your skin, posture, produces collagen, and generally makes you appear healthier physically.

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If only there was a magic way to get into shape without all the effort, huh? Because exercising can be a lot of effort. There’s no short cut, there’s no magic spell. Just hard work, motivation and determination.

While I was at university, when I was going through a hard period in my life, I used exercise as a way to escape all of my stresses. I can’t say it made all of my stresses disappear, but it was a lot better than drinking my sorrows away at a bar. Also, the rush of endorphins I got after a work out improved my mental health for the rest of the day, and wore me out ready to sleep well in the evening.

Eventually, I completed university and my dad died. I was having a lot of therapy at this time too, and gradually something in my brain adjusted. I let go of a lot of negativity and became a lot more chilled out. Watching my dad die so young enforced in me the importance of living for the moment and being as happy as possible. Unfortunately, this meant I gradually stopped exercising all together, eating food I had kept from myself for so long, and ending my sober stint.

Although I didn’t put on a huge amount of weight, I was very aware of my lack of fitness and loss of muscle definition. I also had developed a sleeping problem and found my mental health dipping. After a year of not having one solid base, I finally moved into a flat, and finally re joined a gym.

It only took one proper session to get straight back on the saddle. I came out feeling that incredible high of endorphins and wondered how I’d gone so long without it.

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But I can not lie to you… When I am exercising, I am not enjoying myself.

Quite often, a little demon pops into my head, saying

“WHY on Earth are you choosing to do this to yourself?”

“You are literally paying to be in pain.”

“This won’t be over in five minutes. You have to do this for THE REST OF YOUR LIFE.”

“You’re in pain, dripping wet, and you’re still not a Victoria Secret Model.”

I ignore it, and keep going. I like to push myself until I am wet with sweat and my legs feel like they can’t move any longer. But that’s just me. Once you get to the stage, the rush of endorphins kick in, and the little demon gets blown away.

Until tomorrow.

Exercise-Class

^WHY ARE YOU SMILING? 

I think we should be more honest about exercise.

Feminism in our times and place still has a long way to go. There are subconscious pressures and judgements in all areas of our lives, without the added pressures of trying to exercise and not feel awful about it.

“Fitspo” accounts on Instagram boast incredible bodies without showing all the effort these people went through to obtain it. Not to mention the good camera angles, lighting, editing and poses used to create a perceived perfect body. This, along with news of celebrities, athletes and models, looking amazing down to a so called simple work out regime, only makes us feel awful about ourselves. Don’t forget, there is a lot that these people don’t allow us to see. Nothing annoys me more than when someone claims they love exercise and find it easy. A lot of us, including me, do not. Constantly being fed images of happy, carefree exercise is undermining, patronising and intimidating.

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^Yep, because the difference has nothing at all to do with the angle, knickers, lighting or pose… Sure. 

I am also well aware that the majority of people have actual grown up lives and don’t have the luxury of time to exercise. I am a bit spoilt in this sense, but, I do believe everyone should make time where your health is concerned. It could be as little as walking instead of driving or using public transport. Even walking up the escalator instead of gliding up in the air on the right hand side is an excellent way to exercise.

Thankfully, it seems some companies have got my back on this subject.

Nike’s “Better For It” campaign (2014) proves that even the biggest sport and fitness companies are turning their backs on unrealistic advertising.

Finally! A multi million dollar company is branching out to a wider range of people, and at least begging to recognise the problem with false advertising. This is a powerful and inspiring ad, and definitely made me feel better knowing that other women have a little demon too.

While waiting for my tube the other day, I noticed this poster:

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“This Girl Can is a national campaign developed by Sport England and a wide range of partnership organisations. It’s a celebration of active women up and down the country who are doing their thing no matter how well they do it, how they look or even how red their face gets.”

I would urge everyone to visit http://www.thisgirlcan.co.uk for more information on the campaign. I am so happy that this has been created, and that we women can inspire and encourage each other without discrimination or pre possessed ideals.

There are many ways to exercise. You do not have to lock yourself in a gym for hours on end. Personally, I love going to classes because there is someone to guide you through it and the group atmosphere really helps with motivation. And at the end of the class, you all feel connected, because you have achieved something great together.

So let’s stop being so hard on ourselves when it comes to exercise. Health is paramount at the end of each day. In order to love yourself you must look after yourself.

Your body is your home – don’t burn it down.

PS. I hightly recommend:

LDN Muscle for everything health and fitness, especially their range of fitness guides for men and women of every fitness level.

Virgin Active for an all round amazing gyms across the UK with an excellent range of classes.

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Health

A Love Letter to: Juicebaby

The phrase “Vegan Food” conjures images of cold, limp food: unattractively smelly cabbage, stale vegetables, cardboard carbs and rabbit food. Even foods which I personally consider tasty (arguably due to years spent without the purely delicious taste of fried bacon and cream cake) are rarely met with praise.

If that wasn’t enough to turn people off the idea of a vegan meal, the image of a vegan restaurant or cafe has been plagued by the numerous dingy, snobby, “hipster” establishments dotted around off-the-map areas of London.

Being a vegan is extremely rewarding for a number of reasons. But something often disregarded by non-vegans is the difficulty in eating out, and actually enjoying it.

For years I have groaned at lunch invitations, knowing full well that I will finish my meal unsatisfied, with a rumbling belly and an empty purse.

That was until I discovered Juicebaby.

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Located in the heart of Chelsea, on the King’s Road, Juicebaby is not your average vegan eatery.

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The site itself is easy to find and a pleasant walk away from the wonderful Sloane Square. There is an instant atmosphere as soon as you step in the door – a chilled out, natural and peaceful vibe, with cosy corners and comfy seats, and clean, bright counters and fridges illustrating just how fresh and clean the food itself is. I will definitely be bringing my laptop along and turning a corner into my lunch time office in the future.

Although specialising in fresh cold pressed juices, Juicebaby’s plant based menu features milks, smoothies, and culinary delights suitable for breakfast, lunch, dessert and snacking – all vegan friendly, wheat, gluten, dairy, GMO, sugar and GUILT free.

“Our philosophy is simple. Little by little.
 When it comes to eating right, we believe it’s the little choices that make a big difference.
 Don’t deprive yourself of foods you love. Make small changes. […] Ditch the processed foods for unprocessed, wholesome ones. Swap out conventional desserts for desserts that are free of unrefined flours and sweeteners. […]
 Our aim is to make sustainablehealthy food accessible, on the go. Our food and drinks are handmade. We source the absolute best produce, cold-press our juices on a daily basis and maintain the highest standards possible. We never pasteurise, water down or add sugar to our juices. We avoid the use of dairy, eggs, gluten, soy, chemical additives or preservatives of any kind. We avoid cartons and cans. We produce drinks and food that maximize real nutritional value.

The location, site and values are all great, sure. But the absolute best thing about Juicebaby? The unbelievably amazing taste of the food and drink on offer.

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I dragged my soul sister and fellow vegan Jordan along with me so that we could each pick a few dishes and drinks and share in order to experience more tastes, more economically. It’s my favourite way to eat out, as I always end up picking from my friends plates and forcing forkfuls down their throats. What can I say – I like to share my taste experience!

For our savoury main, Jordan chose the Rainbow Buddha Bowl:

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Steamed quinoa, sesame kale, beetroot carrot slaw, arame, alfalfa sprouts, avocado, miso-sesame dressing (*Miso is rice & soy derived)

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While I chose the Taco Bowl:

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Steamed quinoa, cos lettuce, walnut taco mix, Pico de gallo, guacamole, sour cashew cream, chilli

Having scoffed half of the Buddha Bowl, I can hardly deny the amazing taste. It was light, clean but also filling and satisfying. But I was so excited by the Taco Bowl, as being vegan does deprive you of such exciting spicy, creamy, Mexican style foods. The taste is so astoundingly good and satisfying that it’s hard to believe it doesn’t contain any nasties.

For dessert, Jordan chose the Coconut Yogurt Pot:

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Probiotic coconut yogurt, mulberry granola (nut-free), stewed seasonal fruits.
While I chose the Chia Berry Parfait:
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Almond milk, chia seeds, coconut butter, dates, cinnamon cashew cream, raspberry chia compote, flaked almonds, coconut chips, seasonal fresh fruit.
The parfait is PURE PERFECTION, and is by far my favourite fast snack or dessert. It is honestly so good, that at taste value you would never know that it only contained natural, healthy ingredients.
Food this good makes me so happy, not only because I get to fully enjoy the taste, but because it completely supports my notion of good vegan food not necessarily having to taste boring and bland.
To finish, Jordan ordered an AWAKEN juice: Pink grapefruit, orange, lemon.
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While I, amazed by my Chia pudding, chose the Chai Spiced Maca smoothie: Banana, almond butter, coconut nectar, filtered water, ice, maca, chai spice, vanilla powder, figs, cinnamon, pink Himalayan salt.
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We left as two very happy and full vegans indeed, with a new favourite lunch spot.
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