Wednesday, 20 January 2010

body image is a pretty serious matter, actually.

This might be the most serious article I've done, ever. It probably will remain the most serious post on this 'ere blog for a long time to come.
I warn, it's lengthy - there's an intro rant, a link which you MUST read before continuing, a lengthy dissection of said linked article, and a bit of a pimp to an on-going campaign which is very much connected, but I guarantee you it's worth it, and I hope you do read and leave your thoughts.

I was at home this weekend, which is the only place I tend to read non-fashion magazines. Now, not to say that body image hasn't been addressed in fashion publications, cos I'm sure you've all seen, at least online, the articles in ELLE Canada [
here] and V [here] and [here], mostly involving the gorgeous Crystal Renn. If not, of course, click the links above and have a little look see - all provided by the very opinionated and fabulous Tom&Lorenzo. They pretty much share my views on these editorials.

So yes, at home, I tend to read heat, and the magazines that come with the Sunday paper. Fabulous is the mag that comes with the News of the World, and had an interesting article this week.

As it happens, the article is online, although I was going to scan it. Click the link. Read the article.
I'll wait.



If you read the comments, you might've noticed me. If not, I'll reiterate/edit what I said forthwith - as advice to the 4 gorgeous girls featured, as well as anyone who battles with the way they look on a regular basis.:

"You are all beautiful.
I can only draw on my own experiences here - despite what my mam told me at that age, I was also unconvinced, and thought of myself as an ugly duckling of sorts. Big nose, big thighs, bad skin....

I'm now 21, and am absolutely confident in myself, my body and my looks, despite working, somewhat, in the looks-obsessed fashion industry. (Studying fashion and blogging count, right?)
And though I've changed my hair a few times, pierced my nose and my chest has increased in size somewhat, I'm essentially exactly the same (my nose, thighs and skin are just as they were 7 years ago...).

Please, I beg of all of you, don't commit yourselves to surgery, nor take what boys your age claim to like. At 14/15, they probably don't know any better than what they've seen in magazines; don't know what 'real women' are like.

People do grow into their looks (and you will! Although you are all beautiful already, even if you don't believe me! The best people get better with age, I heard.) and often (again, drawing on own experiences), the 'pretty, popular girls' are the ones who end up living in the same town their whole lives and never really moving on after leaving school. A generalisation, perhaps, but as of my old school, a true one. Trust me, I've done the leg work (on facebook...)

You don't need to me 'slim and pretty' to be successful. Success is measured by hard work and talent, and you can get everywhere with those - looks can fade, but personality, drive and intelligence do not."

Honestly, I think not growing into my looks until my later teens was the best thing that ever happened to me. Not attracting boys until the age of at least 17, and not acquiring one of those proper boyfriend things until 18 and a half meant I threw myself, really, into work and friendship - I passed every single one of my GCSEs, mostly with A grades, and at college I passed my Art course with a Triple Distinction (the highest grade) and got into my first choice of uni... I made a lot of friends at school, despite not being one of the 'popular' kids, and most of those relationships have stuck, too. More so the ones from college. I currently live with a girl I've known since I was four (Gemma), a boy I've been good friends with since Year 9 (Dean), a friend I made in college (Luke) and a friend I made through that friend (Aaron)...

I've gone a bit off topic, I think, but I think the point of that paragraph was meant to be, I think, that re:boys, they're not all they're cracked up to be. And they can, potentially, put your future in jeopardy...schoolwork and stuff, yknow.

And that all leads into success! Success is achieved by working hard - those that are famous just for 'being pretty' rarely stick around too long (no matter how successful a model, unless she's Kate Moss, she tends to have a fairly short modelling career; and glamour models are a flash in the pan type too. I assume these are the kind of girls teenagers compare themselves too). Those who are actresses and musicians and such usually have the talent to back it up, and anyway, they have full time personal trainers/nutritionists/stylists/hair and makeup types.

I think I've done enough rambling, now, but I will include, for shits and giggles, some pictures of me in my teen years. I am digging through the old pics, gimme a minute...

OK, apologies for the dodgy pic quality of some of these, and the sheer number (there are 23. yeah.)...

2002, age 13 - I would be the one in the denim maxi skirt on the right...

2003, age 14, on holiday with the family...

2006, age 17/18, going to a Horrors gig, incase you couldn't tell/pissing about in college - dunno how I did pass with DDD, but there you go/me & Charlotte at an AFI gig...

2007, age 18/19, night out involving Luke/Patrick Wolf gig with Ana&Hana (&Aaron&Loula, off camera)/more larking about at college, including with Luke at our final show, after the blonde/and some blonde/and some 'last college trip', involving me&Deanne&Kim&Lou&Rach&Ange...

...and me&kim, Halloween 07. Told you Corpse Bride was my go-to outfit.

2008, age 19/20, in New York/at the beach in summer/at Latitude festival with somewhat dishevelled hair...

2009, age 20/21. You already know this was the best year of my life. In order: Me and Aaron, a night out in January/in a cafe in London, around the time I started this blog/me and Luke in our best model poses (black&white is my friend)/on another night out in Newcastle - look, I'm even reeling the gays in these days/Daniel being beautiful, followed by Luke being beautiful, after the hair dye...if I can feel good about myself when surrounded by such beautiful people as this, as all of my wonderful friends, then everyone can, non?

And these days (this is about a week old) - age 21, with some of best friends, at 4 in the morning. Proof, if proof were needed, that if you have awesome friends, you need little else.

Thankyou friends&family who are in these photos, for being amazing.
Thankyou friends&mam whose facebook profiles I've stolen these off.

Man, that long natural coloured hair was doing me no favours.

This all neatly ties in to British Style Blogger's Body Image Campaign - do what you can, especially you Brit bloggers. They've already been featured in ifb's link's round up...

And kids, remember, the most beautiful thing you can be is to be confident within yourself.

ah, nice&cheesy. ;)


GiddyStrats said...

in the denim maxi dress thing you look like sarah jessica parker.

and a correction,
you met me RANDOMLY. although through Kim, if anyfin.
i met Luke through you and kimmeyyyyy!

Were you just too cool to say we met through MYSPACE.
i loved this.

jenn said...

well that was too much of a description.....
is my excuse.

fanks darlin'

inmode said...

that was a looong post but it was sooo worth it..i hope a lot of peeps find it and read it..and most importantly remember it..I try to think back to my teens and must say, life was not as much media infiltrated..big brother did not exist, hang on - not even the internet did really haha. I still had the same insecurities and miraculously left most of them behind..What's important to remember too is that there are 2 factors aiding the "fabulous" looks of celebrities: 1. money. they only look their best because they have one style advisor and nail buffer and spot squeezer on each finger! 2. photoshop and the likes. I work in graphic design and know how much is cut off a body and touched up for every public image so you look unrealistically well. I think I could go on but I leave it for next time :) Thanks for this post x

jenn said...

you are most welcome :)
i hope people to get the chance to read - if not to my babble, then hopefully the article i linked...

Mam said...

OMFG - sweetheart, "this" should be in Fabulous mag!! I am SO damn proud of you! xxxxxxxxx (apart from posting naff pics of me in your blog :P)

Anonymous said...

thanks for mentioning us Jen.
Oh I love this post, its great to see people with the confidence to post things like this. I did go through some shocking phases when I was growing up too.
And I spotte the carling (now o2) academy in a pic, I'm from sunderland! I was a regualr at the academy in its heyday

keep up with this and I wish you the best of luck in the BSB blog of the month comp

Rachel, itern, contributer and dec Blog of the Month x

Emma Delaney said...

Jen, I'm a friend of your mam, who is so proud of you!

You are SO right! I was the same when a teen - a late starter on the boyf front. I always knew I was OK and liked myself, but worried that other people didn't see it. But I grew in confidence through my A levels and blossomed at university where I felt I could start to experiment with my personality more freely (nothing bad, though)!!

The genuine boys I know make comments about womens bodies - but it is often, urggh, she's fake; urggh, she's trying too hard. They like us to be real, whatever that may be. There are boys out there who like more curvy, and there are ones who like more skinny ladies - something for everyone. But confidence, success and personality count for so much more and are much more lasting.

I have breast cancer and am bald with one boob at the moment. And my boyf still fancies me, because I am still me. This is what good men are like.

Anonymous said...

Dear Jen,
Your blog was flagged up by your Mum and I couldn't help but read it as the mum of a 15 year old girl. She has been bullied about her looks and weight but to anyone outside her peer group she is utterly gorgeous and more importantly she has a sweet, generous heart.
I wish I could inject your attitude into all girls!! They might then be kinder to each other and to themselves.
However, it's taken me to the age of 43 to realise decent boys (whatever their age really) don't care what cup size you have, they don't care where your wobbly bits are, they are just pretty relieved that you smile at them,chat,think and act with evidence of more than 1 brain cell. Boys of all ages like to see our capacity for joy and laughter and love.
Excellent observations and thoughts.

jenn said...

i'm a little overwhelmed by the response to this! (8 comments is massive for me!) - i'm so glad that so many of you have been, perhaps, inspired by it? Muchly enjoying your additions and stories too!

Emma - it fills me with joy to see someone go through something like cancer and be as strong and positive as you! Good to have someone who supports you though the hard times; that is indeed what good men are like ^_^

Rachel - I think it's an excellent cause; wonderful to see it, and wonderful to see it mentioned on places such as ifb where many of the posts (and indeed in fashion blogs in general) are very fluffy and light and superficial sometimes. I like to think fashion can be uplifting and can change the way people feel about themselves. Very Gok-esque views there...
There seems to be loads of bloggers from round these parts! I used to practically live at the academy; my favourite ever gig (interpol, 07. 07?!?! 'kin hell, i didn't think it was that long ago...) was there, and i were there opening night XD....(and i worked there for about 7 months in 2008!)

Mam - haha, those are the only photos I had of my early teens available! (without scanning, ofcourse) s'alright, they're probs not the best of me either, but that was kinda the point, non?


mam said...

of course that was the point, my darling, I know that. Was jesting wiv yer :D xx

Mary F said...

I saw the link to your post (hopefully you have already seen the mention).

Feeling secure in our own skin is all anyone can ever really want. Unfortunately, it is easier said than done. Even at age 23 I sometimes feel as though people are judging me based on what I look like. It is crucial for young women to understand that unique is beautiful...being the same as everyone else isn't really all that exciting.

At fourteen I had a huge gap between my teeth, got braces and eventually it was gone. My teeth made me feel terrible about myself, but at the end of the day I am a stronger person because of it.

Good luck to all the parents who have young daughters and sons.

That Chelsea Girl™ said...

As someone that went through anorexia when I was 14-15 and again 17-18 and had had bulimia for nearly ten years (I'm better now, in case you're wondering), I really just want to give all these girls a hug. I have bad teeth and I may never be able to have kids because of what I did to my body.
Sometimes the only voice you can hear is your own, and those are the girls I just want to tell that it'll be okay. Size 0 is not healthy or normal for everyone, it's okay if a size 11 is.
The plastic surgery epidemic is becoming ridiculous, especially when you think of how many people still die each year from surgery.
Thanks for this post, I wish I could have read it when I was 11.

Cafe Fashionista said...

This is such an amazing post - extremely influential. Like Chelsea, I wish that I had seen this post when I was a child as well. It may have given me more confidence in myself during my younger years! :)

Claire said...

This really was a good post. I hope the girls in the article read your comment, I really do.