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Posts tagged ‘self image’

PinkStinks (44 #oneaday)

PinkStinks is a campaign I have been meaning to blog about for a while, and today this blog post over at BitchBuzz reminded me of that fact. Sisters Abi and Emma Moore are running the PinkStinks campaign to challenge the way female children are raised, in a world of pink, surrounded by fairytale princesses. These princesses are meant to be passive, and to hang around waiting for their prince to come. And it’s all leading to negative female self image, a reduction in confidence and lots of other negative things. And it’s down to upbringing, and what is thrust at us, the choice we are given in toy shops, and the attitude of society as a whole.

I’m in two minds about the campaign. I applaud the idea behind it. Girls should have choices and understand that they can, and should, take control of their own lives. For most girls their prince will not come and rescue them. Even if he does appear he’s probably going to need some assistance (often men do – no man, or infact, woman is an island and all that). Furthermore, these days relationships are about equality and pulling your own weight. Why should your prince be expected to rescue you and keep you for the foreseeable future? Answer – they shouldn’t be.

A further point raised on the website is the idea of body image, one I very much agree with. We grow up with the idea that actually we should look a certain way, and fit into certain sized clothes. When my sister was five she told me she didn’t want anything to eat because she felt fat. Don’t try to tell me that came from some deep routed instinct inside her as a girl. It didn’t, it came from the images projected on the TV and what she heard from her friends at school. It was deeply disturbing.

However, however, however… I grew up with pink stuff. I religiously watched every Disney film known to (wo)man. I wanted to be a princess, I wanted my handsome prince to find me. But, and this is a big but, in my make believe games I was a princess who climbed mountains (literally, with a skipping rope). I got to the top, helped out the prince in his challenge, and looked stunning doing it. Frankly I dazzled the prince with my resourcefulness and brains. I more aspired to be ‘Belle’ from Beauty in the Beast, than any other princess. You know, the Disney girl who traded herself in exchange for her father’s release, rejected the handsome ass Gaston and saw through the ugly beast to see the beautiful soul inside. Yes ok at the end of the story the beast turns into a handsome prince and she gets to dance in a fancy ballroom in an amazing dress, but that’s only the last fifteen minutes. Besides, she’d done the work, didn’t she deserve it?

My point is growing up with pink and princesses has not tampered my ambition, independence and drive. I’m not waiting for a prince to come; I never was. I haven’t shunned the life of a girl completely, because, *shock horror* I like dressing up and being pretty, and… the colour pink. And that is true whether it is a convention of my childhood or not.

I think the biggest things I took away from a childhood of Disney and dresses was the core idea of love and loving people for who they were, not what they were (Aladdin anyone?); to be yourself (Cinderella); and not to take apples from strangers (Snow White).

That said I think PinkStinks has an important message behind the name, so you should check it out and make up your own mind.

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A Different Kind of Skinny (36 #oneaday)

Although the size zero debate seems to be dying down, even in the throws of fashion week (usually the time of most criticism), the pressure to be skinny remains.

It is no longer the case however, that the skinnier you are the better. Oh no, nothing as simple and straightforward as that. The new pressure is to be healthy skinny.

Everyone and their mother are competing for hours in the gym and running time on the roads. ‘How long did you spend on your bike yesterday?’ they ask flexing their triceps. ‘How far did you go?’ ‘Drinks? Oh darling I can’t. Think of the calories, besides I have swimming in the morning’.

Celebrities now have fitness DVDs and books, showing how they achieved their new figure. Gossip magazines show ‘stars’ pre and post gym visits.

The pressure to be thin takes on new meaning. In the midst of ‘eat five fruit and veg a day’ ads and ‘The Biggest Loser’ and similar programmes, it’s not enough to be thin. You have to be ‘fit’ and eat healthly, as well as having a minimal waistline. Being fat is no longer an image no-no, it’s considered instead a health issue; a drain on our free health care system.

If you are over a size 12 or even 10 then you are viewed as lazy and ignorant. This bothers me (and I’m not even above a size 12). Every other person I meet is a runner (ouch your joints must hurt) or a gym attendee (ouch your bank balance must hurt). And great, good for you, I wish I had the time, energy and money to do the same. But don’t you dare judge me for not pounding the pavements at five am.

I eat healthly, I walk the dog everyday, and yes I get pangs that I should be thinner. I occasionally mountain bike and occasionally run. I’m not a gym member currently, but I have been one in the past. I enjoy all these things (apart from the pangs) but why should I have to prove how ‘fit’ I am. Gosh I almost miss the days where being skinny was just taken as skinny. I’m not sure this new move isn’t more challenging and demoralising than simply choosing to eat less and exercise more to fit into a dress. Now you need small talk about how many miles you ran to achieve that figure, and how many stomach crunches you did this morning. Ah for the good old simple days of judgment on appearances, I sort of miss thee.

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