Friday, 19 August 2011

Thought of the day.....

There is more than one to be gorgeous. There is more than one way to be confident. There are hundreds of ways to be intelligent and even more ways to be brilliant.

But there's only one way to be YOU and only YOU know how to do it right.

Now go forth and be the best you can be.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

A Thought on the Riots...

Since 2008, I’ve worked with approximately 3,000 British teens between the ages of 14 and 18 in schools and colleges throughout the country, as Gossip School (the Body Gossip self-esteem programme).

From observing and speaking with them I understand the issues they face. I don’t envy the teenagers of today. They are invariably shown little respect, but a lot of respect is demanded of them. They are often from difficult family backgrounds. They feel let down and betrayed by various systems of government – the economy, education, employment etc. I’ve been staggered by how well even the reportedly most ‘difficult’ students respond to simply being asked their opinion.

Some young people are angry, others confused, most disillusioned. And it’s understandable.

………..But I’ve always maintained that young people get an unnecessarily bad rep from the press and public. I haven’t yet met a teen I couldn’t find something to like about. The vast majority have been bright, full of humour and have welcomed me into their school and lives.

So over the past 3 days, when thousands of people, mainly in the teenage age bracket, took to the streets of London, my home city, committing arson and assault, looting and vandalising huge areas of the Capital my immediate reaction was this:

“How could you? All those times I’ve defended you in front of wanky middle-class huffer puffers who wanted to tar all teens with the same brush! And then you go and prove them right! You’ve made me look a right knob!”

After further consideration, however, I came to the realisation that it was, of course, me who was being the wanky middle-class huffer puffer.

My initial observations remain true. The people committing mindless acts of criminality represent a tiny minority of all the young people out there. And whilst they might claim that their actions are a socialist protest against the country’s wealthiest and most privileged, this argument doesn’t stand up to scrutiny (Hackney and Clapham aren’t famed for housing the affluent).

So, my thought of the day is this : When all this scariness and unrest has come to a conclusion, please let’s not punish all teenagers for the actions of a few. Let’s not use these events as an excuse to perpetuate myths and stereotypes concerning our country’s youth.

In the meantime, my love goes out to all the people affected by the riots. Special mention to the shopkeepers of East London, who bravely defended their businesses and fought off rioters last night: Rock on.

And that is my two penneth.

Monday, 8 August 2011

EXPRESS-ing Myself

So, as I write this, we’re suitably gutted at Body Gossip HQ.

I’ve been a journalist. I know the score. You meet these wonderful, 3 dimensional people and it’s your job to turn them into caricature-esque tabloid fodder.

Yet, even armed with this knowledge, and with significantly lowered expectations, I was shocked and disappointed by today’s article in the Daily Express. Claiming to give an ‘insight’ into how Body Gossip came about from the perspective of its co-Directors (i.e. Ruth and myself), what it in fact does is present us (wrongly) as two girls who suffered from eating disorders who run a campaign aimed at teenage girls.

Ruth and I are very proud of the fact that Body Gossip does not exclude anyone. Regardless of age, gender, race, culture, social background or sexual orientation, everyone has a body so everyone has a story and can contribute to the debate. The stories we receive offer perspectives on a wide range of topics, from adolescence, to ageing, to sexual relationships, to pregnancy, to illness and injury, even tattoos and piercings. Whilst, of course, we are happy to receive stories from past and present eating disorder sufferers and to present their voice into the mix, we are not specifically an eating disorder campaign.

Whilst I did suffer from bulimia, I am now fully recovered and do not think that my former eating disorder is the most interesting thing about Body Gossip (or, indeed, about me). Eating disorders are currently a ‘sexy’ topic in the media, but they have a duty to report on them in a balanced and responsible way. Rather than dwelling on my physical and emotional symptoms, it would have been far more inspiring to hear about what I have achieved, with Ruth of course, since my recovery.

Ruth, conversely, contrary to what the article states, has never suffered from an ED. She was careful to emphasise this several times during the interview. She once went on a strict diet because she thought she’d get more acting work. This, apparently, translates to a ‘debilitating eating disorder’ in newspaper speak, which is, frankly, an insult to anyone who has ever suffered from one. Ruth knows this and would never make claims to have had an ED.

A few more anomalies which need correction:

• The presentations I do in schools and colleges throughout the UK are aimed at teenagers between the ages of 14 and 18 and whilst, yes, I do share my story, it’s infinitely more about them – It is NOT in any way shape or form “sharing my story with children in workshops”.

• I’ve been involved with Body Gossip for 3 years, not 2.

• The point I made about Marylin Monroe is that in the 1950s plastic surgery wasn’t available to the public in the way it is now, so most people knew they couldn’t totally emulate a celebrity. The point was a lot more complex than the small part that was quoted, which makes me look like a moron.

• At no point in the interview did Ruth suggest that advertising, airbrushing and the media do not contribute to people's body insecurities. The quote printed was taken out of context - she was referring to a specific part of the campaign, aimed at tackling people's self perception, and not Body Gossip as a whole.

In fact, almost all of Ruth's 'story' was either entirely fabricated or exaggerated - She can set you straight on the truth of the matter and I am sure will take the opportunity to do so.

Most disappointingly, our two most exciting projects, the 5 new films we have in the pipeline and the book we are publishing in September, were not mentioned at all.

Ruth and myself work tirelessly to make Body Gossip one of the forerunning body image campaigns in the UK and the Express article does not do us, or our beloved campaign, justice.