Thursday, 10 April 2014

Dove Patches & A Chinese Proverb (Sort of)

Those of you who read my Cosmo column will know that I am somewhat of a medical mystery. Spleens don’t usually rupture for no reason at all and yet that’s exactly what mine did, a little more than a year ago.

Since then, I’ve been having weird skin freak-outs over my neck, chest and temples – a google search revealed this was very likely to be allergic eczema. I went to my NHS GP and got the same response I always do ‘it’s because you’re overweight’. It really is staggering the vast array of medical conditions which GP’s blithely explain away using your BMI. (I’m assuming thin people never, ever get eczema).

Quite certain my skin was trying to tell me something and unable to accept that something was simply ‘you’re fat’, I looked for second, third and fourth opinions. I tried a private doctor, a reiki healer and finally some Eastern medicine. All unanimously agreed that my immune system is shot to shit. This makes far more sense, what with the spleen being in charge of immunity.

The doctor in my local Chinese Medical Centre suggested I take an allergy test. The results showed I’m pretty much allergic to every fun food (although not white wine - woo hoo!) and I was bemoaning the fact that I might have to live on mung beans and thin air forever.

Then the doctor said something interesting. He said “no, you are allergic right now because your immune system is weak. If we can make your immunity stronger, then you can eat those foods again”.

This struck me as a potent metaphor for my chosen field of body image. There’s a lot that’s potentially toxic in our culture, particularly in the worlds of fashion, beauty and fitness but if we build our immunity, strengthen ourselves and improve our resilience, we can indulge in these things without side-effects.

As coincidence would have it, that’s the exact message behind Dove’s latest viral ad campaign, which was launched yesterday.

‘Dove Patches’ documents a placebo-effect experiment undertaken by ten women who discover that beauty is a state of mind. I recommend.

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