Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Leave Leisel Alone!

Australian swimmer and all around national sweetheart Leisel Jones has been criticised this week for appearing much chubbier than the usual svelte athlete we are used to seeing.

I used to be an amateur swimmer, training with the likes of Jodie Henry (Ok, so I was only a little kid then, but I don't have many claims to fame!) and at my very fittest swimming a minimum of 7km a day, 7 days a week. I was fit enough to run for hours and I looked just like Leisel does now. We also have to remember that she is 4 years older, and her body is getting to a stage of naturally beginning to slow down. She isn't the 15 year old girl we all met 12 years ago anymore, she is a beautiful young woman.

To me, she is our generation's Dawn Fraser, she's different, but packs all the same talent and punch into one dynamic package. If we look back at pictures of Dawn, she doesn't look all that different from the way Leisel does now, but back then nobody cared. Back when the world was proud of all women, regardless of shape or size.

She is the first Australian swimmer to compete in 4 Olympic games, let alone back to back games! The first EVER. She is fit enough to compete at that level so who are we to judge? There are people much thinner, much more unfit, much less confident, and far less healthy in this world.

If we were able to vote for a flag bearer, Leisel would be my one and only choice. I have grown up with her on the screen every 4 years, and if she hasn't done enough to earn the world's respect by now...then honey, I say screw them all.

Leisel has commented that she is in a very different, but more determined and comfortable mindset than she was going into Beijing, and seeing as how she bought us home Aussie gold then, I don't see how this is a bad thing, even if she is carrying a little extra cushion.

Other Olympians have stood by Jones supporting her through this disgustingly low blow, including Cathy Freeman, Hayley Lewis, Alice Tait, and particularly fellow Swimmer Melanie Schlanger, who has led a social media rampage to raise support for Leisel.

I hope to see Leisel do it again and bring home some of that sweet, sweet gold, and wherever she is, I hope she knows she is perfect just the way she is!

Ms. Jones, we salute you!

Tweet with hashtag #layoffleisel to show your support for our first lady of the pool!

Friday, 20 July 2012

Who's up for a challenge?

My friend Sian and I were talking the other day about body confidence, and she mentioned an exercise she had to guide some young teens recovering from anorexia through during a youth counselling course. I thought that this challenge would benefit us all, and help us feel better about the skin we're in.

The challenge is this:

  1. Buy a diary, date book or something to keep a record in.
  2. Everyday write one positive compliment to yourself.
That's it. That is all you have to do. If you can manage more than one then write as many as you like. You might find that it's really hard at first, but the idea is it gets easier and easier, and on those days that you really feel low, or upset, or you're maybe having a 'fat day', get out your book and have a look at all the wonderful things you have said about yourself.

I'm going to give it a go and see if it works, I would love to hear from those who do the same!


Thursday, 19 July 2012

Never mind diamonds, heels are a girl's best friend!

Time for a lighter post, I think!

Have you ever noticed when you put on that pair of killer heels that you look at yourself and think "Hot damn, girl!"? There's a reason for that, and it goes beyond the fact that yes, you are a sexy beast.

To start with, heels often have the effect of straightening your posture and making you stand taller, straighter, and even work your core to make sure you can balance in them.

So, "what's your point?" I hear. All of this obviously makes you appear physically taller, and slimmer (especially if you find you're pulling in that tummy to balance), and by forcing you to straighten up and carry yourself with strength, it might even make you look more confident, in control, and commanding of the attention of those around you. Provided you know how to walk in them!

There is a downside to all of this though, and not only can constant wearing of heels lead to serious podiatry issues, it can also cause lower back pain due to altering the natural tilt of the pelvis, so like all good things in life, wear your heels in moderation. If you are noticing pain in your feet and other areas such as the ankles, knees, hips, lower back, and even neck, give the heels a rest.

I save my heels for special days and occasions. You can't just wear heels places here, it's like carrying a big sign saying "rob me, even if I don't have cash at least you'll catch me", not to mention if you have a fear of being overdressed, sometimes shoes in general are even a bit much in some parts of town! Sometimes if I'm having a low day I might just put all my different shoes on and put on a fabulous shoe fashion show just for myself, and I feel a bit better!, that was embarrassing.


Am I Normal Episode 2 - Body Image

My friend Amy put me onto a program on ABC2 Tuesday night looking into where issues with body image begin from a psychological perspective. Can I just say it was one of the most confronting and in some ways even disturbing, things I have seen in a long time. Everyone MUST watch this episode it is still available on iView through the ABC website, and is incredibly insightful viewing.

To give you a cliffnotes:

Psychological studies that the program addressed, revealed that girls as young as 5-6 years old had made a connection between weight and friendship. They seemed to think that the thinner you were, the more friends you have, and that fat people were less likely to have any friends. These are prep and year 1 age girls. They also would rather look like Barbie when they grow up, than the doll presented modelled off the average size of UK women.

Anorexia is being seen in younger and younger girls AND boys, with some near-death cases being found in girls as young as 11 years old. 

THESE ARE CHILDREN. CHILDREN! 21st century kids are being taught that to be bigger than a size 0 is to be lonely, ugly, something to be ashamed of, and worth risking death to avoid.

Most size 0 models have been found to be around 20% underweight, so not only are our future generations aspiring to unhealthy psychological perceptions of beauty, they are also aspiring to unhealthy physical goals.

The program also touches on sufferers of Body Dysmorphic Disorder, a serious and debilitating condition whereby the sufferer is never happy with their appearance, and may even fear to leave the house because they don't feel attractive or worthy enough. Another issue addressed is the lengths women will go to under the knife, even as far as to completely remodel their genitals using laser surgery.

There is also a lighter side to the program, where they look at people who don't have what would seem to be the 'normal' view on beauty and body image, and the conversation with New York City's bearded lady Jennifer Miller ends the program on a lighter note, and puts things in perspective for us all. 

This is must watch television and will be on ABC's iView for only 12 more days so please take an hour to watch it, I promise you will not regret it!

To end all those horrid statistics on a lighter note, I stole this from a friend's facebook, I hope you all love it:

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Mothers and Daughters in the body image battle

One thing I notice when I talk to other women who have issues with body image as adults is that their relationship with their mother can either make or break their confidence, and unfortunately more often its the latter. Sometimes this is a direct result of 'nagging' by mum, or direct criticism, but other times it can be more passive. Sometimes its a feeling of inadequacy that you will never look as good as mum. In any case, I find it hard to believe as a mother of daughters, that a mother would intentionally destroy her daughter's self esteem, but it happens none the less.

My mother has played a huge role in the way I look at myself in the mirror. It doesn't help that we are completely different body shapes on top of that. She can't see me without ever saying something about my weight. Sometimes it's a compliment, most of the time it's "you're looking a little wide around the middle, at least you have your hair." Not exactly positive or encouraging! For as long as I can remember she has made a big deal about weight, even when I was only a little girl, poking at my tummy and telling me to lay off the biscuits or I'll turn into a fatty. Sometimes its out of love, sometimes it's to be a bitch, but it's always bad news. What's worse is so many of my friends can tell similar stories.

I get that it's looking out for my well being and health, but as they say the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

So what do we, as mothers, do? Maybe if my mother had taught me how to eat right from the start I would never be this way, of course maybe if she didn't marry and procreate with my Dad (Mr. Plod in human form) then that would have helped too! I'm unfortunately built like him. Maybe if I had someone to teach me how to dress, or even just someone who had time for me.

Whatever the answer, I know one thing is for sure, it starts with how mothers feel about themselves. If we feel good about our bodies, we pass on our confidence and our knowledge to our daughters, so that they can build strong foundations on which to build their self esteem. We pass on our habits to our kids, so if we stand in front of the mirror and tear ourselves down, that is the behaviour they will learn. If we are constantly worried about whether something makes us look fat, or pointing it out to other people, then that is the example we are setting, and that is the behaviour we are teaching.

Mums, lead by example, and make that example positive!

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

There is nothing sexy about...

...a 15 year old with visible under ass cleavage.

Here in Townsville, we see this a lot. It's warm almost all year round, so shorts are always on the cards. We also have a lot of bogans, so put two and two together and it makes four.

But why are they that short? I should not be able to see your under ass lines, especially if you're under 18. It's an invitation for sexual assault. If you're at the beach, fair enough, if you're in the bedroom, fair enough, otherwise keep your butt to yourself!

What is worse is that these styles are being aimed at younger and younger age groups. Why are we over sexualising our kids? When I was 16, yes I rocked Daisy Dukes like it was nobody's business. I had great legs and and buns of steel, but said buns were always covered - even if it was just by an inch, they were covered. My parents wouldn't let me leave the house otherwise. But that was 7 years ago, and the shorts are now even shorter, the parent's apparently don't give a damn, and the pressure to fit the media's ideal is greater than ever.

No wonder young girls are feeling the need to dress this way. Make themselves sexier because that's what the magazine tells them they should do. Wear the ridiculously short shorts because that's what the shop window is pushing. What's worse is that our boys are thinking that their women should look this way, and that this objectified version of 'sexy' is what they should want. They don't want to be seen asking out the 'fat girl' even if they get along great and he really likes her, because she's not the ideal of 'hot', and he'll be teased by his peers.

Nobody tells these kids that this notion of bags of bones and silicone being sexy is new, and that for centuries plump women were the ideal, perfect symbols of femininity, fertility, and sensuality. What happened to the days of Marylin Monroe, Jane Mansfield, and Bettie Page? Ask a grown man what he wants his lady to be wearing on a daily basis and I can guarantee you it's not denim underpants and a bra top, with half unlaced Docs.

These products, these images, and this lack of care and education on the part of parents is sending our young men and women the wrong message and it needs to stop.

Monday, 9 July 2012

Fat Days...

Everyone has them. You wake up in the morning and it just feels like nothing fits, or nothing looks good, and you just want to crawl back into bed and pretend today isn't happening. Even outfits you know look amazing just don't make the cut. It sucks. 

I had one of these days this morning, but having kids I can't just go back to I put on my husbands clothes because I figured they weren't supposed to look good on me anyway.

And then I cleaned. I scrubbed, and I mopped, and I vacuumed and I polished until my house was hospital grade clean. I figured that if I couldn't feel proud of myself today I could at least feel proud to have a clean home and to have achieved something.

It worked, I forgot all about it...either that or the bleach fumes got to me.


Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Everybody has their 'thing'

While most of us can look in the mirror and pick our least favourite body part, but how many of us can say our best? How many of us ever stop to think that maybe even supermodels have their insecurities about their bodies? Everyone has their 'thing'.

Everyone can say a multitude of bad things about their body, but there will be one 'bad thing' that gets the top gong for their most concerning body area. For me, its always my tummy, always has been, always will be, and I think the same can probably be said for most people. It's easy for those of us carrying a few extra pounds to find 'bad things' but what about our thinner peers? While I look at my gorgeous and super thin friend Bex and go green with envy over her flat tummy and slim arms, she does the same thing when she looks in the mirror as the rest of us. Whether you're a size 6, or a size 26, you can bet that when you're there beating yourself down in the mirror about your tummy, or your thighs, or your boobs, somewhere, someone, no matter what their size is doing the same.

It's tragic, but sometimes it is nice to know you're not alone, after all, misery loves company.

But everyone also has their 'good thing.' Just ask any of your friends. Just as sure as they have something you want, you have something they want too. I want Bex's flat tummy, she wants my generous DD's.

Everyone has their thing. Yeah, you know what, my tummy is flabby and stretch marked, but my boobs are the envy of my friends (and a few random strangers at the pub) and I should be proud of that.  I also must have pretty amazing hair because there were an extraordinary amount of randoms coming up to me and stroking my hair Friday night. Uncool, flattering, but uncool. They didn't even ask. I'll take a compliment wherever, and however I can get it though!

So next time I look in the mirror, I'm going to see amazing hair and banging bangers instead of a wobbly tummy and bingo wings. It doesn't mean they're not there, or they're going to just disappear, I'm just chosing to see the glass half full.


Tuesday, 3 July 2012

My Beef with Shapewear

Shapewear is the be all and end all of must haves for your wardrobe. There are pieces that nip in your waist, smooth your stomach, and reign in those thighs and tush, and women (and men) around the world are loving it.

Unless they're super short, or super tall.

At 5'2", I cannot get shapewear that actually fits me. I tried a waist sincher, and it was so long that it rolled up under my boobs and made things worse! The same thing happened with the tummy and thigh type contraption with the added bonus that the leg parts would stick out the bottom of my skirt because it went all the way down to my mid-knee. So I tried a full body shaper without the leg parts. It was so long in the body that it bunched and the boning rippled, once again under my boobs, and at my waist - the exact places I want to smooth out. To top it all off, the crotch was nearly midway down my thighs!

Conversely, I was talking to a very tall lady at the pub on Friday night about this very thing, and she said that at her statuesque 6'1" she had the opposite problems. Garments meant to smooth her stomach and rest under the bra would come up short somewhere in the middle, and forget ever getting a bodysuit to fit.

So what should be done about it? Jeans come in various lengths as well as sizes, why not make a waist sincher in a size 12 short? Or a size 14 extra tall? It can be done and it is so simple, so why aren't I seeing it in stores?

I have searched online for shapewear that will fit me right, but we all know you can't possibly know if it will fit until you've already bought it and if it doesn't...well it's a waste of money.

The other thing that perplexes me about shapewear is that it is always advertised by people who obviously don't need it! I want to see someone like the woman I met in the pub, or someone short and round like myself, someone who really needs these garments in the pages of my magazine, not someone built like Miranda Kerr.

Shapewear needs to fit every shape and size, not just the average, especially when it comes to the length, and it needs to be advertised by real women who actually need it. Nobody wants their shapewear to create more lumps and bumps that it's trying to hide.


Michelle Bridges 12 Week Body Transformation

After hearing wonderful things about the Michelle Bridges 12WBT program from a friend I have decided to give it a try.

I hope getting back to my healthy BMI range will help me start to accept my body, because I won't be able to say that being overweight is why I hate it anymore. A healthy body is a body that leaves no excuses not to love it.

I have been trying to go it alone for the last 9 months, and programs like weight watchers have done nothing but fail me - in fact, I gained weight on WW! I went to my doctor who also sent me to a dietician who also didn't seem to understand that I was already doing all the things she was telling me to do and still not losing any weight. On the plus side, I wasn't gaining either!

Then I found out that I suffer from a genetic iron deficiency. My mother and Grandmother both have/had the condition, however it didn't manifest until much later in life for them. My body isn't able to store iron properly, so I need to make sure I have a very high iron diet, something that conventional diet programs like Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig don't usually cater for.

So I emailed the staff at 12WBT and they advised me that most of their meals can be made more iron rich through simple substitutions, and if I was ever unsure I could email them and they would point me in the right direction.

It was good news, and since the program is a one off payment, its something I can actually realistically afford, unlike the ongoing costs of Jenny and WW.

I'm looking forward to having a team to keep me going and kick my butt into gear. I have always lacked motivation but I also hate letting down the team. I hope that working hard to be healthier and lose weight with a team of other people will help me with my motivational issues.

The program starts at the end of this month and I'll be chronicling my journey every step of the way, just click on the My 12WBT Journey tab above :)

Monday, 2 July 2012

Welcome to The Body Image Diaries!


My name is Jo and welcome to my personal blog, The Body Image Diaries. Hopefully you'll find some inspiration here to help you learn to love the skin you're in, and maybe even join me for the long haul on my journey to learn to love my body.