Monday, 30 May 2011

p.s.

A short addendum to the last blog…..

Recently, I was extolling the virtues of the American television programme 'Mad Men' to my Mother. “It’s brilliant” I said “there’s this character in it called Joan whose at least a size 14 and sexy as hell”.

“What’s it about?” my Mum, not unreasonably, asked, after I’d exhausted the ‘Christina Hendrix is a goddess’ angle. “An ad agency in the 50s” I replied. “All they do is drink, smoke and shag. Like I said. Brilliant”.

I then commented on how weird it is, in these smoking ban times, to see people lighting up in the office. “Oh, I remember that” said Mum. “You used to be able to smoke EVERYWHERE. On trains, even on aeroplanes. You’d quite often go and see your GP and they’d be sitting there smoking”.

To which I collapsed into fits of giggles.

I hope, sincerely, when I am old and wrinkly (much older than my still annoyingly youthful Mother) to be able to say to some enraptured young thing (much younger than myself, who is old enough to have grown out of being told stories by my parents, even I they are smoking related): “You know, when I was young, models were only one size”.

“No way!” the wee young thing will reply, in shock and disbelief.

“Oh yes”. I will reply. “And we used to feel rubbish if we didn’t look that way and none of the high fashion clothes fitted normal people”.

And it will seem so far removed from what she knows, she will collapse into fits of giggles.......

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Goodbye Size 0 - Hello Diversity?

Whoever is responsible for perpetuating the idea that ‘clothes look good on skinny people’ has obviously never seen a size 0 model in a corset or a wrap dress.

The truth is, of course, that some clothes DO look better on the more slender amongst us. Some, however, require curves.

If I have to use the phrase ‘spectrum of beauty’ one more time on radio/television/at events/in conversations down the pub with my mates I will actually scream. I’m not sure why people seem incapable of understanding that THEIR idea of beautiful is not EVERYONE’S idea of beautiful and that there is more than one way to be gorgeous.

Kate Moss is beautiful. So is Dawn French. So is Queen Latifa. So is Lucy Lui. So is Adele. So is Paloma Faith. Equally. In different ways. It’s not a difficult concept, really.

Today, the Independent reported on an initiative being spearheaded by the amazing Caryn Franklin and Erin O’Connor, whereby fashion students will have to work on size 16/18 mannequins http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/fashion/news/goodbye-size-zero-hello-normality-2290578.html.

It’s based on the idea that a size 16 is the average size of a woman in this country, particularly as they get older (and middle aged women have more disposable income, so are therefore buying the clothes).

Bravo, All Walks – It’s a brilliant endeavour and will certainly provoke a few changes in the fashion industry. After all, clothes are designed to fit on people’s bodies, not the other way around (Iogically, I mean. No doubt certain fashion industry insiders may disagree with me).

I cannot help but hope though that this heralds a time when fashion students have a variety of mannequins, not only in different sizes but shapes too (pear shape, apple shape etc) and can pick and choose according to what would best suit their design?

Monday, 16 May 2011

Body Gossip and Gok Wan: Storming Parliament!


Last week, Gok Wan stormed Parliament petitioning for one hour of body confidence lessons per year to be mandatory for all secondary school students.

Ruth and myself were lucky enough to be part of the group that accompanied Gok - We marched behind him into the inner bowels of the Parliament building, where we were faced with a group of the country's leading MPs and Gok delivered a, frankly, brilliant speech.

I'm not allowed to reveal any more of the particulars of that day, sadly, since highlights will be aired as part of Gok's forthcoming documentary, due out this summer. I will however say this: If you are going to march to Parliament, on camera, wear sensible shoes! My ridiculous (but fabulous) burnt orange patent platforms threatened to topple me into the Land of Perpetual Embarrassment and Constant Cringing on several occasions throughout the day.

What, I hear you screech, on Earth is the point of this blog if not to dish the dirt on Gok (or 'Lovely Gok' as he shall henceforth be known by everyone at Body Gossip) et al? Well, it's to tell you why the campaign is so crucial and why Body Gossip wholeheartedly supports it.

Body Confidence might not be considered as crucial to the education of our young people as English and Maths by some. During my the past 3 years, as I have travelled the country speaking with and teaching students, I am confident in my opinion that this view is not only completely wrong, but a downright dangerous misconception.

The misery which accompanies a lack of self esteem can permeate every area of a young person's life, rendering them incapable of achieving their potential, or from enjoying their existence. In today's aesthetic obsessed society, increasingly teenagers are sacrificing their potential at the alter of superficiality. They might be labouring under the illusion that thinness, buff-ness or conforming to a set beauty paradigm is the shortcut to popularity, wealth and success. Or they might not even be able to formulate the thought that precisely. A lot of teenagers don't know why they hate their bodies and they don't know why hating their bodies makes them hate themselves.

One hour a year is not enough time to solve every student's body image issues, but it will at least introduce the issue and start them thinking, perhaps talking and even seeking any help they might need.

Body Gossip's 'Gossip School' has helped hundreds of teenagers throughout the UK and this year we hoping to be invited to even more schools and colleges to tackle this thorny subject. Look out for us on 'Gok's Teens' and lobby your local MP to recognize how crucial something which has such a profound effect on the mental health of the country's young people really is.

For more information on Gossip School go to www.bodygossip.org/confidence.