People throw rocks at things that shine

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Bullying. A word we all learn to become familiar with from a young age- which in itself says a lot about the society we live in. Bullying can take many shapes and forms and isn't always recognizable. It can affect people mentally, physically and emotionally. It can be done in the work place, in the street, in schools or clubs, over the internet. And most importantly of all- it can happen to anyone.

Here in the United Kingdom, there is currently no legal definition of bullying. This only proves more so that it can be so complex, and sometimes so hard to pinpoint in all of its forms. Defining bullying does seem nearly impossible when it can cover so much. So whilst we can't define exactly what bullying is, what we can define is what a bully is. A bully is "a person who uses strength or influence to harm or intimidate those who are weaker".

That is what bullying ultimately comes down to- having power and control. Bully's often feel the need to have power and control over other people because they feel as though they lack power and control in their own life. This could be for a multitude of reasons- they themselves have been bullied before and want to feel powerful again, they could be being bullied at home or at work, they might be jealous of you and what you have achieved/are achieving, they might be unhappy with a certain aspect of their own life. The list could go on and on. Either way, a bully just wants to feel better about themselves, more secure in their own skin and about the person they are.  Unfortunately, the only way they feel they can achieve this is to make others feel worse about themselves- and by encouraging others to make the chosen victim feel worse about themselves as well.

Encouraging others to join in is also a way for a bully to gain power. The more people that are on the bully's side, the stronger the bully will feel. The bully will often rally it's 'troops' through the fear factor- people would rather be on the bully's side than be the victim of the bully, and so even if they don't agree with the bullying they choose to side with them for an easy life.

As I have already said, bullying can happen to anyone. It doesn't always have to be through violence- it can be through words and intimidation, through pictures and immature acts such as acting as though the person doesn't exist. It has no boundaries when it comes to age, gender, race- anyone can be bullied at any time. Approximately 69% of children report being bullied. 87% of parents a year report their child being bullied. 85% of people reported witnessing bullying. But shockingly, given all these statistics, only 20% of people admitted to bullying. These statistics are horrific for anyone to read, but also goes to show how bullying happens around us, every day, yet we are so often blind to it.

It is important that people can differentiate between bullying and a simple squabble between 'friends and equals'. Bullying is always an unprovoked attack. No one ever asks to be bullied, and no one ever deserves it. It is always an attack done 'for the sake of it'- yet the consequences are often exceptionally serious. Suicide, self harm, damaged self confidence, a change in personality, becoming withdrawn from school and work and becoming closed off from the world can all be consequences of bullying. It is sad but true that a victim of bullying is more likely to cause harm to themselves or to shut down than to seek out help- this is something that needs to change.

As a victim of bullying myself, I will be the first to admit that it is difficult to come forward and say the words out loud "I am being bullied. I need help". It becomes even harder the older you get, as it becomes 'embarrassing' to admit that as an adult you can't stand up for yourself, that you are being pushed around by someone else. This is a scenario that has recently been portrayed in TV soap 'Hollyoaks', where teacher Jon Paul was too embarrassed to admit he was being bullied by a pupil, for fear of being perceived as 'weak'.

It is important that victims of bullying remember that they are not weak. They do not deserve this. They have done nothing wrong. As hard as it is, you must deal with the situation sooner rather than later. I personally left my own situation too late, and let it go too far. It is important for people who are being bullied to know that they are not alone. There are always people who are going through the same thing as them, and who have been through the situation themselves. Even if there is no one you feel comfortable talking to, there is people you can call, such as the NSPCC and Childline. You can even talk to councilors at your local Connexions unit, or within your school. You must never forget that there is always someone to talk to.

So, next time you are at school and see a group of girls calling nasty names at the quiet girl in your class, don't sit there in silence. If you're at the park and see a boy being picked on by a bigger lad in a game of football, don't sit there in silence. If you're on twitter and you see people writing nasty tweets about someone else, don't sit there in silence. Don't be the 85% who report witnessing bullying. Make a new statistic- be the 100% of people who do something about it. Tell an adult, tell a friend, talk to the person being victimized or even the bully themselves. Stand up for the victim and show the bully that they are not as powerful as they think.

Always remember to keep yourself safe too. If you feel that the bully will become even more violent and threatening towards either the victim or yourself through confrontation, find an adult you can confide in to approach the situation themselves. Bullying can become very serious, and whilst it is so important to prevent it from happening, it is also important to look after yourself too.

Most people are bullied in their lives at one point or another. Most people keep quiet about it. Please, don't be scared to be the 'tell tale'. Don't be scared to 'get the bully in trouble'. More often than not, the bully is a sad, lonely person who needs help. Whilst this does not excuse their behavior in any way, by reporting bullying you could be helping more than just the victim.

If you feel that you are being bullied, or need someone to talk to about bullying, here are some numbers you can call.

Childline: 0800 1111
National Bullying Helpline: 0845 22 55 787
Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-68-68

Life may seem tough now, but 'after every storm comes a rainbow'. Life will get better, and you can get through this. You are never alone.

Love from,
Florence Grace

If you can relate to the issues in this post please call one of the numbers provided, or feel free to get in touch with me using one of the links in the sidebar or in the comments section below. 


Cancer charities freezing out ALS as they take over the latest charity craze...again

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WARNING: The following content may be upsetting for those suffering from/recovering from/have suffered from cancer. No harm is meant by my words but if you are easily upset regarding cancer please do not read on.

So, August 2014 has seen the newest craze spread over the internet- the Ice Bucket Challenge. Not sure what this is? Google it. The Wikipedia definition reads "an activity involving dumping a bucket of ice water over someones head to promote awareness of the diseases amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ASL)". Once this has been done, the participant nominates some friends to also participate and donates to the charity. It's an excellent way to promote awareness of a disease that I will admit I did not know about until now. The videos posted on facebook are also humorous and encourage other people to join in, spreading awareness even more- excellent.

Except that, it seems a lot of people are missing the point of the Ice Bucket Challenge now.

Lets just take a minute to take in the key info of the definition. It involves a bucket. It involves ice water. And it is to promote awareness of the disease ASL. So why all of a sudden are people using washing up bowls, or even dinner bowls, instead of buckets? Why are people like infamous Katie Price using hot water rather than 'ice water'. Why are people doing the challenge for attention from their friends whilst forgetting to even mention ASL, what ASL is or even to donate?

Let me just point out now, for those who aren't aware- there is no challenge in throwing a washing up bowl of lukewarm water over your head. None at all. There is no challenge, Katie Price, in throwing a bowl of warm water over your head- you may as well have filmed yourself having a shower. What does create a challenge is throwing a bucket of freezing cold water with ice cubes over your head. That is a challenge and is something that takes guts.

The origin of the ice challenge is unknown, but what we do know is a few people have done similar challenges before, the 'Cold Water Challenge', which involved donating to a charity of your choice then jumping into cold water. Note that this is the Cold Water Challenge. The Ice Bucket Challenge is not about donating to your own charity. It is about donating to ALS and raising awareness of a disease that affects so many and yet so little people know what it's about. How many of you knew about ALS or had even heard of it before the Ice Bucket Challenge? I bet not many of you had.

It's excellent that a lesser known disease is being thrust into the limelight, and given the opportunity to share with the world what it is, and how it effects people. More uncommon diseases need this opportunity also, as well as other smaller charities that do so much for people and gain little recognition, such as the NSPCC.

So is anyone else in agreement with me that they were slightly annoyed when cancer charities started hijacking the Ice Bucket Challenge?

Don't get me wrong I am a strong supporter of any research towards eliminating cancer for good. It is a horrific illness that ruins families and causes so much grief among so many people- including myself and many close friends. It is selfish in who it chooses to target and who it chooses to keep alive. It is a horrific disease- but we are conquering it step by step. We are all aware of what cancer is, what it does, how it can effect anyone  already. We know where to donate to cancer charities and we know how to. Basically, we are well informed on cancer. But we are not well informed on ALS. The Ice Bucket Challenge has thrown ALS into the limelight- suddenly, we are aware of another disease we didn't know about before. We have learnt about a new disease, a new charity to help even more people. Cancer charities such as Macmillan come along and they see the success of the Ice Bucket Challenge. They see how much money it raises. And so they join in.

So what happens next? Everyone thinks oh gosh, cancer. That kills so many people. I'll do an Ice Bucket Challenge (lukewarm washing up bowl challenge more like) for Cancer Research. And just like that yet again cancer charities have hogged the limelight of the latest craze. No longer are people donating to ALS. No longer are people concerned with ALS. They are consumed by the big C- cancer.

Let me just reiterate- I am not a bad person. I am all for supporting cancer research in any way I can, and if this is a way to raise more money for any cancer research based charity then that's brilliant. But I believe we already spend so much time and money on cancer. Would it really hurt for cancer charities to just one time not get involved and let another disease like ALS- which by the way kills people too- have a turn at taking the money from people's pockets to help people affected by it? Cancer charities, it is too late this time. Type 'Ice Bucket Challenge' into Google and the first thing that comes up is not about ALS. It is about Macmillan. But next time, maybe just leave the smaller charities trying to gain some attention alone. We all know about cancer and if we want to donate we know what to do. Smaller, unknown charities need opportunities like the Ice Bucket Challenge to help them out. They don't have the attention that charities like Cancer Research do. Not all charities for diseases have Midnight Walks and charity shops to support them and fund them. Not all charities and diseases have a big base of of people who donate and help out. Charities supporting diseases like ALS need all the help and attention they can get.

The Ice Bucket Challenge's point is being missed now. If your friend nominates you, think about it before you do it. Are you going to donate to ALS? Are you going to use a bucket filled with ice water? If you're thinking of doing a Katie Price, think again. If it's not going to raise awareness for ALS and if it's not going to be a 'challenge' then how is it in any relation to the 'Ice Bucket Challenge'? In the 21st century, we get caught up in social media crazes so easily- often forgetting where they originated from, or their true meaning.

Don't forget about ALS. It needs all the help it can get whilst it takes more lives every single day.

Love from,
Florence Grace


A letter to David Cameron

David Cameron, 

I am an 18 year old student from a small town, with no interest in Politics whatsoever. But I am an opinionated 18 year old, and I have very strong opinions on some of the things going on in this country. They may not be right, they may be ridiculous to someone who really knows how to run a country, but it doesn't stop me from wanting to express my opinions to you. 

One thing that really grinds my gears is benefits- or rather, who receives benefits and for what. If you are physically disabled and really can not work, benefits are needed. If you are plain fat and can't work because you've sat around eating one too many pizzas, you do not need benefits. You need to get off your fat behind, lose weight and get a job. There is a difference between people who physically cant work and cant earn enough money to support themselves and people who put themselves out of work because they refuse to act in the appropriate way to keep a job, or they make themselves unemployable. Furthermore, there should be a new law- you must be able to speak English to gain benefits from our country. If you come to live in England from somewhere else, and can't speak English, why do you deserve money from an English tax payer? You don't. End of. 

Following on from that point is the immigration system. Our country is growing more over-populated every single day. There's not enough houses, not enough jobs, not enough money. And yet we continue to let more and more people into the country. Yes, whilst some people are hard workers and do want to come here to work and support their family, many of them come here to escape the hardships of their own country, and provide nothing for England. We are a well developed country but we need to stop being viewed as a shelter, a safe haven. In my opinion, we should be more like Australia- if you can't bring something beneficial to this country, you should not be allowed in. We can't support so many of our own citizens, how are we supporting citizens from all over the world? It seems slightly ridiculous. 

Taxes. The ever so annoying issue of taxes. Whilst I appreciate that taxes are necessary and that they help to run certain aspects of the country, I have noticed that there is so many issues with them. Firstly, people get taxed so much they can't live on their monthly wage. To improve this situation, people become ambitious and get a second job- and being the supporting country that we are, we tax them an even greater amount, so much so that a second job seems worthless once the taxes have been deducted. Helpful. Secondly, the people who sort out taxes are just the most incompetent people I could ever imagine. They make you fill in sheet after sheet of paper work to make sure you don't get taxed if you're a student, that you get put into the right tax band. You pour over this paper work only to then be taxed the wrong amount anyway. How does this happen when we are so efficient with paper work?! How?! Then you end up on the phone to HM Revenue and Customs for half an hour waiting to talk to someone and have it sorted out, only to end up talking to someone you can't understand. Once the refund is sorted, you have to wait months- literally months- for it to reach your bank account. How would we be treated if we all took months to pay our road tax or council tax? You can bet we'd be in trouble. Respect is a two way thing, if you want respect from us then we need to feel it coming from the powers above too. 

In addition to these points, we often don't see the benefits of the taxes we pay. For example, road tax. The citizens of England fork out from their wages to pay for roads- yet these roads are filled with potholes and loose stones, they're shut at inconvenient times and drastic changes are made without considering the people who use the roads and often creating difficulties for them. When being forced to fork out for such things, we expect to see the benefits of it- yet we rarely do. 

The schooling system is also a shambles. Quite frankly, teachers aren't paid enough for what they do- neither are dinner ladies, LSA's and other members of the school system. Unpaid overtime including work in their free time too often goes unnoticed and unrewarded. Furthermore, the curriculum is outdated and boring- as a student, I know. Teachers and adults who aren't participating in the curriculum should not be the sole deciders of it. Children should get a say in the curriculum too- the subjects should be interesting and exciting, things that will help spark a passion inside of the pupils. This would help encourage students to want to go to school and want to do well. You can be sure if a pupil enjoys a subject and what they are learning, they will do better in it. And yet still we stick to an age old curriculum that changes very little. How intelligent. 

Mr Cameron, I could go on. And on. And on. But I do not want to bore, only express my own opinions. As I said previously, I know nothing of Politics and I have no particular interest in it. You may laugh at my opinions and even mock them- how can an 18 year old student tell you how to run a country? You're probably right, I probably don't understand the full complexity of it. But what I can tell you as an outsider is that I am far from alone in these opinions. Many people feel as I do- whether you are aware of this or not I do not know. I can only hope that one day this country will stop making it's situations worse and will start to progress instead- possibly with ideas I have mentioned in this letter. 

The country needs to turn itself around. Too many people are unhappy and unsatisfied. But who am I, but a humble blogger, trying to get my voice heard? I'm sure things will never change. 

Love from,
Florence Grace  

Think of yourself as a delicious cake and never look back.

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As humans , we have the capability to love very intensely- and the capability to love everything! We find it very easy to declare our love for something, whether it be for our new shoes, the latest TV sitcom on E4 or our best friend, the word love is tossed around more than a bottle of coke on the river Thames. And yet whilst we find it so very easy to love things, both people and inanimate objects, we find it so very difficult to love the most important thing in the world- ourselves.

It is very rare that you come across a girl who isn't constantly aware of the flaws she believes she possesses. More often than not the issue is weight, but it is other smaller things too, like boob size, the amount of visible pores she has, height, foot size, even intelligence- or lack of it. A lot of the time, she comes with a some groupies who support her- they tell her how wrong she is, how amazing her figure is and how smart she is. This is very nice of them, obviously. It's never okay to make someone feel bad about themselves, even if you too can see that the feature they're pointing out may not be their strongest. But isn't it also equally as mean to fill them with a false sense of security about themselves? If your friend is overweight and you lie and tell her she's thin, will she thank you in future after she's been labelled obese by her doctor, for lying to her rather than gently encouraging her to lose weight? Probably not. You don't have to agree with your friend, nor lie to her either. Just tell her not to feel too bad about it, and highlight one of her stronger features instead- she's bound to appreciate it more and it will give her a huge confidence boost. What girl doesn't need that? On top of this, she will start to love the feature you have highlighted. Voila, you have played a part in helping someone to love their self. But maybe you aren't finding it easy to love yourself? Don't worry, you aren't alone.

The first step you must take to begin loving yourself and your body is to realize that nobody is perfect. This is a mantra that you must repeat to yourself over and over, whenever you can (obviously not out loud as you're sat on a may get a few odd looks!). The more you tell yourself something, the more you remember it, a bit like revision at school. More importantly, the more often you tell yourself something, the sooner you will start to believe it. Repeat after me: nobody is perfect.

Once you have set yourself into this frame of mind, you can begin to love yourself. Forget these 'flaws'. There's no such thing. These 'flaws' are a part of who you are, and you are beautiful. You may not like the size of your nose, how much you weigh or how your hair is at that awkward stage, where it's not curly or straight and just does it's own thing, but these features make you the person you are, the beautiful person you are. In the words of Queen B you woke up like this- flawless.

Why waste time being bothered by these though? One of my favorite quotes is "the separate ingredients that go into a cake are pretty gross on their own. Put them together, and you have a cake, which is pretty damn delicious. It's the same with people- there may be a few things you don't like on their own, but as a whole person, you're pretty damn special". And it's true. So you don't like your nose. Look past that. Instead of spending hours in front of the mirror, getting caught up on this one feature you don't like, look in the mirror past that. There's more to you than just your nose. Look at your eyes, your lips, your straight teeth, the natural highlights in your hair- look at these and appreciate them. Whilst you may have one 'flaw', or two, don't let these hold you back. Instead, play up to your strengths. If it's your eyes, emphasize them with new make up techniques. If it's your lips, again, try a new lipstick that will draw attention to them- whatever it is you like about yourself, start loving it instead!

Furthermore, by emphasizing your favorite features, you not only draw attention to them, but away from the features you feel more self conscious about- it's a win win situation.

It's normal for everybody to have insecurities of some kind. There will always be someone who you feel looks better than you, or does something better than you. Even Kim Kardashian admitted that when she stands next to her model friends she feels fat. Kim Kardashian. Feels fat. You wouldn't believe it, but it's living proof that literally everyone is effected by insecurities, things they don't like about themselves, no matter how perfect others may perceive them to be.

As well as keeping up with the mantra "Nobody is perfect", there are other things you can do to help appreciate the person you are and to start loving yourself as much as you love that new Gucci handbag. Make a point of setting aside 5 minutes in the day to look in the mirror and find one thing that looks good- be it something permanent about yourself, like your cheekbones, or something temporary, like your hairstyle for the day. Doing this will gradually implant a feeling of self love and self worth into our minds. If there's something you're really unhappy about, and you know you can change it such as hair, or weight, or how you dress, then make a checklist of things you can do to go about getting the results you want. Things on the checklist could include "ask friends what hairstyle would suit me" or "go for a jog once a week" etc. etc.. By creating a checklist, you are more likely to achieve goals- and if achieving these goals will make you love your body, then go go go!

Whilst changing yourself to improve the happiness you feel with your body and who you are is okay to do, you must also learn to accept there are things you can't change and you must just learn to love the way they complete you as a whole. It is also important that when changing yourself, you stay safe and don't take things too far. Being healthy is just as important as being happy.

Learn to love yourself. Remember, no one likes raw egg, but cakes and cookies are pretty tasty!

Love from,
Florence Grace.


Should how you look have an effect on your job opportunities?

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The year is 2014. It is now easier than ever before to modify the way you look be it through body piercings, tattoos, plastic surgery etc.. If there's something you don't like about yourself you can upgrade it to a better, newer look- or eradicate it completely. It is in fact so advanced people can even change the gender they are. You can literally be whoever you want to be.

But it's not always easy being who you want to be. Whilst you may finally feel happy with the person that you have become, it might not please everyone else quite as much. It is widely acknowledged that if you look too 'different' it can effect other areas of your life- such as job opportunities. Whilst this is superficial and cruel to judge someones appearance in order to determine whether they are suitable for a job, is there a beneficial reason for doing so? The question we must ask ourselves in this modern day in age is: should how you look have an effect on your job opportunities?

When it comes to jobs, we have just about managed to deal with problems of racism and of sexism- of course, there is always incidents here and there. A woman gets paid less than a man, someone of an ethnicity other than White British was fired over the White British employee. But besides this, most people think we have managed equality in the work place pretty well. But have we really? Although we have considered people of different genders and of different races we have not thought about people who just look a little different, a little more creative. If you have unnatural colored hair, visible body piercings and tattoos you can guarantee you are in the minority of job applicants when you apply for any position other than in a 'creative' industry such as a tattoo parlor or an artist. The same goes for anorexic, bulimic and overweight people- if you don't look healthy, you are less likely to be employed.

Whilst it is understandable that employers want the best employees they can have, it is completely wrong to judge someone based on their appearance. I took some time to investigate both sides of the argument as to whether or not someones appearance should affect their job opportunities.

The way a person looks should effect their job opportunities.
Employers have a hard time when it comes to picking employees. There is a lot of things they have to take in to consideration- will this person make work a priority, is this person qualified to do this job, does this person look like a shining example of what the company represents? More often than not, it is the last question that overrides all other factors.
It is perfectly understandable that an employer wants their employees to look a certain way. They rely on their employees to create a certain image for their company, and certain images come with certain connotations. For example, if you are overweight, the connotations of that can be lazy, greedy, unmotivated- all negative things that you don't want to be linked to your company. Being covered in tattoos with bright pink hair and an ear stretcher can connote things such as being 'rough', lack of self respect and not very smart (looks wise, not intelligence). Again, these are all negatives that no employer would want linked to their company.
An employer wants someone fresh faced and smart looking, with sensible hair and neutral looks that gives off a positive, professional and knowledgeable image for the company. And it is true- if you were to go into a bank and were served by someone with green hair, a 15 mm hole in their ear and gaudy make up, would you feel comfortable giving them your personal details, and with them having access to your money? Most people would not. Therefore it is important, more so in 'serious' industries, that employers hire people who look what is regarded as 'normal'.

The way a person looks should not effect their job opportunities. 
In the 21st century we have had to adapt to a lot of changes that, whilst they were once not a normality, now they are. Things such as transgender people, gay marriage and people going to extreme lengths to change themselves via plastic surgery. Although it has been a long, rocky journey that is still on going, more and more people are growing more accustomed and comfortable with these modifications to the human race. Alongside these more drastic changes are the smaller ones, such as piercings, tattoos and hair coloring- all things which are now easier to do than ever, with most of them having an easy way to be done yourself at home. The current youth generation is one of the most tattooed and pierced generations there has been, with people doing more experimental things all of the time.
It is now harder than ever for young people to get a job due to the modifications they have done to their bodies. If they are accepted for a job, they are asked to take out piercings and either leave them out or 'if they must' keep them, replace them with clear ones that aren't visible to others. The same goes for tattoos- if you are fortunate enough to be offered the job despite tattoos and piercings you are expected to cover them up at all times. But in a world where we are constantly told that we should be ourselves, and we shouldn't let people change who we are, why should this rule not apply to employers also?
The fact of the matter is, current employers are going to get older and they are going to eventually retire. Who is going to replace them, other than the pierced, tattooed youth of today? Employers need to stop being so superficial and realize that the way someone looks doesn't effect their ability to work. Furthermore, more and more people nowadays are pierced, tattooed and have crazy colored hair- including the customers of a company. Are they going to care if the people who serve them look like them? Probably not. Would a business turn away a customer for looking a certain way? Definitely not. So why should the turn away employees? A lot of businesses are too traditional and have to modify their expectations of people and their appearances to match the modifications of society.

There is two equally relevant sides to the argument 'Should how you look have an effect on your job opportunities?". It is understandable that employers want their employees to look smart as they represent the face of the company. However, at the same time, it is cruel and wrong to judge people based on their appearance- cruel of employers and customers. A happy medium needs to be reached.

People should be allowed to be themselves when hired- they should be allowed whatever piercings and tattoos etc. that they like. However, they also have to understand that a work place is an official place where they do need an element of smart-ness about them. They should never not be allowed to be themselves, but they should keep in mind they do need to present themselves in a respectable way that will please the vast majority of people. Keep your tattoos, and keep your piercings- but if you have a tattoo that says "F*ck off" across your forehead, understand you may need to grow a fringe. Be yourself but make sure you can adapt that self to help you in your career.

Love from,
Florence Grace

What do you think about peoples appearance having an effect on their employment? Leave a comment below or get in touch using the links in the sidebar! 

Katie's hopping into action to maximize the levels of eating disorders.

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WARNING: This poset contains content that may be found triggering to those suffering from /recovering from/have recovered from eating disorders due to mental health problems.

Katie Hopkins, a woman infamous for her controversial opinions and brutal honesty, aired through her weekly columns and over her Twitter account. Some say her honesty is a fresh new change for someone working in the media industry and agree that she says what everybody else is thinking but too scared to say, whilst others believe that she takes her opinions to far until they become rude and targeting towards certain subcultures.

The former 'Apprentice' stars most recent opinions have been aimed at overweight/obese people- including celebrities such as bolshy pop star, Lily Allen . Katie frequently tweets about how if you are over weight it is through no fault of your own. Many people seem to respond positively, telling her their own story and saying how it is all down to you. Others don't agree at all, and offer their own experience- stories Katie refers to as 'excuses'.

In a further attempt to prove her point and back up her opinion, Katie has started an experiment of her own in preparation for a new documentary 'Journey to fat and back'. This preparation has involved Hopkins purposely piling on a whopping 3 stone to become overweight. The writer admitted to eating 13 ready meals a day, alongside  variety of snacks of sweets, chocolate and crisps. Throughout this, she has kept movement and exercise to a minimal. Once she has gained as much weight as is needed, she will then get back into a healthy regime with a regular exercise plan to reduce her weight back to what it was. It sounds like a lot of hard work just to prove your point...

The idea behind the program, according to Katie, is to prove that "If someone sits on their sofa all day eating rubbish, they will quickly become overweight...I also want to show that anyone can get down to a normal size just by eating less and moving more". Whilst this documentary does sound positive and inspiring, to me it also sounds dangerous and like a health hazard.

Eating disorders is an issue that is ever growing, with the number of people being affected by them constantly on the rise. Eating disorders is not only about losing extreme weight but gaining it too. Airing a program that emphasizes just how easy it is to either lose or gain weight by leading a certain lifestyle could be majorly triggering to anyone, but especially young teenagers, who are more exposed to issues such as body dismorphia than any other age category.

The documentary is also filmed over a short period of time- making the amount of weight gained and then lost straight away even more dramatic, and even more unhealthy. Although our bodies are very clever machines, it is not always easy for them to cope with such rapid body changes, especially ones regarding weight- something that affects the whole health of your body. Furthermore, losing and gaining weight so quickly does come with other side effects such as fatigue, chafing of the skin, skin sores, hair loss and many more- all of which you can be sure will not be discussed in the documentary.

Katie has spoken out about the weight gain she has had to participate in, saying "I am ashamed to be this big...the way you feel when people stare" and has spoken out about being a "normal body size". These words may not be intentionally triggering but are definitely harmful. Pointing out the negative emotions you experience when you are overweight may make a viewer who is overweight/feels they are overweight feel even more self conscious about themselves and their health problems. And as for 'normal size', well, who is to decide what is and what isn't a 'normal size'? There is no one 'normal size'- your body shape and size is all dependent on genetics and bone structure. Your body's shape and size is unique and one of a kind. There is no 'normal'.

Whilst I can see the good intention behind the making of this program and the goals it is supposed to achieve, I think the producers have been a little narrow minded about who will be watching and what effects it could have. In my opinion, they have thought that the viewers will be overweight people- but haven't thought about people who are overweight due to health problems, both mental and physical, rather than people who are just 'lazy'. I don't believe they have thought about the advertisement of the program and what viewers that will bring in. "My journey to fat and back" implies the program will show you how to lose weight- and you can guarantee a large amount of insecure young adults will tune in to watch that, which could potentially lead them down a very serious path if they gain/lose weight at the rapid pace as is demonstrated in the program.

Rapid weight gain and loss is never a healthy change for your body. It is important to always live a healthy lifestyle, eating the right sized portions of the right kinds of food, whilst exercising regularly- even if that is just walking the dog once a day, everyday. I hope that this new documentary doesn't cause too much damage to people's health and that it displays the negatives to rapid weight loss/gain rather than telling people it is the 'right thing to do' to help them become a 'normal size'.

Love from,
Florence Grace

What do you think about Katie's rapid weight gain? Is this a sensible documentary? Leave a comment below or get in touch using one of the links in the side bar! 

10 people you're guaranteed to meet in September

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So summer is drawing to a gradual close, and September- a.k.a the start of school- is drawing ever closer. Whether it is a new school you're starting, University or a new career path, you're going to be meeting a lot of new people. You might not love them all- you might not love any of them! But everywhere you go, you find the same groups of people. When you do meet them, check them off of this list...

1. The 'it' girl.
Her presence will be made clear as soon as you step foot in the building. You may not see her straight away but you will feel her presence. She will be all smiles and hugs and act thrilled to meet the new girl- but look into her eyes and you'll see they have hell behind them. She is the queen around here and you aren't to do anything to ruin that, or disturb her empire. Get in line, peasant.

2. The eager beaver.
Someone who is eager to stick to your side- either because they have no friends of their own or are trying to impress someone higher up e.g. a teacher or employer. The eager beaver won't leave you alone, and whilst you will appreciate the company at first, you will soon grow to despise their presence and want to lock them in the staff room lockers.

3. The pervy one. 
There will always be that one pervy boy/man in your work place/school. Even if it's an all girls school, there'll always be one teacher who's 'not quite right'. They might be too over friendly, too keen... and very creepy. If it's a classmate, it's usually the 'it boy' who thinks he can have his way with all the ladies. Move along saddo, no one here is interested.

4. The superior.
Either a head girl/boy at school, or someone above you at work, there is always someone 'better' than you. And they make it known, from the way they order you around, brush off anything your say- and just your general presence- like you're something someone stood in and the way they physically look down at you. You will never be good enough for them- don't even try.

5. The one no one likes.
On your first day, someone (probably the eager beaver) will point this person out to you and whisper only too loudly that "oh, no one likes them you don't need to meet them". You'll probably never get to know this person outside of secret run ins in the toilet.

6. The relative.
Someone who has some link to the school/business and therefore receives no end of favors and perks because of it. It will wind you up, but it won't stop. Deal with it.

7. The one you don't like.
This will probably not be the one everyone dislikes but rather the one everyone likes and you don't know why. You can't stand them- and again, you don't know why. Something about them just gets on your nerves.

8. The competitor.
The new person who starts at the same time as you. You become friends because you have something in common- you're both new. And whilst your friendship remains, both of you know that really, you aren't friends. It's just convenience to track each others progress and try and out do each other- in a totally nice way of course.

9. The gossip.
They know everything, about everyone...or at least they think they do. Don't feel too comfortable talking to them, especially about someone else. You should know they're only going to go and tell someone else a more twisted version of what you just confessed.

10. The crush.
There's gonna be someone you find so attractive they make coming to work/school worthwhile everyday. Obviously they're completely out of your league/already have a boyfriend or girlfriend, but you can look from afar can't you?

'Celebrity' status glorifying everything that is wrong with Britain.

After the greatly anticipated launch of 'Celebrity Big Brother' (CBB) last night, I think it's safe to say viewers were more than a little disappointed at the programs idea of a 'celebrity'. Guests included former Made In Chelsea star, Stephanie Pratt, Ricci Guarnaccio from Geordie Shore, Angelique Morgan- no one has a clue who she is!- and infamous 'White Dee' from Benefits Street.

Although I do not watch Celebrity Big Brother, 'White Dee' being crowned a 'celebrity' really ground my gears. Having earned herself the title 'Queen of Benefits Street', the woman has a don't-care attitude, with no motivation for life. Instead, she prefers to sit around sponging off the hard working tax payers- at least, she used to- and she see's no problem with this. Furthermore is her blatant racism to differentiate herself from another woman, who is black, with the same name. 'White Dee' and 'Black Dee'. Does anybody else see this as a problem. If I had a black friend called 'Flo' and decided to call her 'Black Flo' not only in our own time, but over television too, you can be sure that I would be called a racist, and probably get into some trouble. But 'White Dee'? She gets nothing. Surprise surprise. Now, on top of this, our country has decided to name her a 'celebrity'.

The queen of Benefits Street, a celebrity. A woman who is known for sitting around, doing nothing with her life and being paid for it by UK tax payers a celebrity? That is the biggest joke in the UK this year. As a country, many of us sit around complaining about 'benefit scroungers' who take our money for nothing and use it to live better lives than the tax payers do half the time. And now, now we are glorifying a woman who did this exact thing!
How can we expect to even attempt to progress in regards to trying to solve the problems with benefits when we call a well known 'benefit scrounger' a celebrity? She may not be allowed to claim benefits anymore (thank you David Cameron!) but you can bet your bottom dollar she will gain way more money than she deserves from her 5 seconds of fame in the Big Brother House. You can be sure a book will follow- "White Dee- My Troubled Life".

Programs like Benefits Street only opened our eyes even more so to the benefit problems that Britain is dealing with. Not only that, but it glorifies the life a 'benefit scrounger' lives, as well as making it seem easier to sit and claim a part of tax payers income than to go and earn your own money. Really, it sends a pretty negative message to the viewers, especially the younger viewers.

Some benefits are worthwhile- if you're genuinely injured to the point you can never work again, of course you will need some financial help. If you're a single mum who can't earn enough through her job, and doesn't have the time to get a second job whilst balancing a career and childcare, of course you need some form of financial support. But if you are fat and lazy, having kids at the rate of rabbits and not even attempting to look for a job, yes you may think you need some form of financial support, and yes you probably do. But you don't deserve it. Why should a hard working tax payer, who can barely support their own life style, support yours too?

Celebrities are always role models to people, because of the high status they are given, from both members of the public and the media. Making someone like 'White Dee' a role model for people of Britain is not something that should be allowed. If people look up to someone like her, the benefit problem will not get better, ever. It will only get worse, with even more young people leaving school and deciding to try and claim benefits rather than go to work.

We shouldn't make benefits look easy. We shouldn't make benefits look desirable. They should be viewed as a desperate last resort. They definitely shouldn't be seen as a way to gain 'celebrity' status. We don't want to raise a generation of "White Dee"'s.

Love from,
Florence Grace

Robin Williams

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As if the death of the late, great actor, Robin Williams, wasn't devastating enough for both family and fans, it has now been reported that members of Westboro Church, based in Kansas, are planning on disturbing the memorial service held for Williams, for no reason other than their dislike towards one of his previous roles- the role of a gay man.

Westboro Church, based in Kansas, is infamous for its controversy, but letting its members make the effort to travel to the memorial service and interfere with it is not only disrespectful to the actors family, but completely out of order. Members of the church have announced over their official twitter page that they plan on picketing the memorial service and preaching the message "Repent or likewise perish".

Repent or likewise perish. Likewise perish.

Let's just take a look at Robin Williams and the person he.As an actor he was extremely versatile, and took on many wonderful roles for both children and adults to enjoy- Hook, Jimanji, Goodwill Hunting, Aladdin, The Birdcage and Mrs Doubtfire to name just a handful. His roles were always brought to life in such a magical way that they stayed with you long after you stopped watching. Furthermore, his roles were always so unique. In Hook, the role of Peter Pan, played by Williams, was transformed completely. No longer was Peter Pan a little boy who never grew up, but rather, an adult who still had a lot to learn before he could really grow up. In Mrs Doubtfire, Williams dressed as a woman twice his age in an act of desperation just so he could be with his children every day. In The Birdcage, he played a gay man, forced to conceal his sexuality to impress his daughter-in-law-to-be's parents.

Not only are his roles unique, but the latter are also extremely brave. Not many men have the confidence to dress as a woman, or act as a role that is not real for them e.g. a straight man acting as a gay one, but Williams pulled off both in true style, acting in a persuasive way that brought the characters to life.

Williams was also an incredible human being outside of his acting work. He participated in a lot of charity work, founding Comic Relief USA alongside Whoopie Goldberg and Billy Crystal. He also made benefit appearances to support many great causes, such as literacy and womens rights and was a regular on the USO circuit, where he would perform all around the world for soldiers. He has performed a Rolling Stones song in French for the charity 'Children's Promise' and started his own charity with his wife, The Windfall Foundation. More recently, he donated an extortionate amount of money to rebuilding the New Zealand city of Canterbury after the 2010 earthquake, and throughout all of this supported St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

Williams also invested a lot of time into supporting cancer patients. Not too long before his own death, he spent some time recording a special video for a young girl who was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Williams sang to the girl and blew her a kiss- knocking something off of her bucket list before she died.

The death of such a well loved actor and such a selfless, caring man outside of his work has devastated such a huge amount of people- including Koko the gorilla who Williams spent a lot of time bonding with. Koko loved Williams' films and the pair spent a lot of time together, involving a lot of tickle fights! After being told through sign language that her 'dear friend' had passed away, Koko came close to tears and was 'very upset'. It is clear that Williams was deeply loved by animals and people alike.

So why are the members of the Westboro Baptist Church letting one role this man played, one role that this man played whilst doing so many other selfless deeds throughout his life- surely of which made him a worthy angel of God in a religious church-goers eyes- ruin his entire reputation? The members of the church are being nothing but rude and close minded. Yes, whilst everybody is entitled to an opinion on homosexuality, is anybody entitled to an opinion so important it gives them the right to ruin the memorial service of someone who has passed away? No. No one has an opinion important enough to do that.

The members of the church are preaching the message "Repent or likewise perish". Robin Williams was a wonderful actor, a selfless person- an incredible man. I can only hope I 'likewise perish' being half the person he was, leaving behind a memory as wonderful as his. R.I.P


Eating Disorders- the other end of the spectrum.

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WARNING: The following content is sensitive and may be found triggering to those suffering from, recovering from or those who have recovered from an eating disorder or mental health problem.

When we think eating disorders, we think skinny. We think sagging skin and jutting bones, two fingers down a throat forcing food to reemerge from our system. We do not often think of the other end of the spectrum- not the people who refuse to eat, but rather, the people who can't stop. Obesity effects between 16 and 33% of young adults and kills 300,000 people a year. Although it is one of the easiest medical conditions to diagnose, it is one of the most difficult to treat.

In comparison to anorexia and bulimia, obesity is not regarded as an eating disorder. Rather, people will look at a victim of obesity and think "they clearly eat too much" or "they're so fat it's disgusting". People don't often stop to think about why the victim may be eating too much. They simply assume it is plain greediness. However, they could not be more wrong. Whilst it is true that yes, some people do just like food, more often than not there is a psychological reasoning behind the weight gain. Some of these include lack of exercise, use of steroids, stressful life events or changes, a family history of obesity therefore implanting the idea of extreme weight gain as a normality into the victims mind, low self esteem, depression and other emotional problems. 

Looking at the list, you can see many of these problems are the same as people who suffer from anorexia or bulimia, the only difference being that a person struggling with obesity handles these problems in a different way. This doesn't stop it being a severe medical condition which also has severe side effects if untreated like any other eating disorder. Obesity can go on to cause an increase in blood pressure, breathing problems, increased heart problems and diabetes. The more weight you gain, the more sore you skin can become under the layers of fat. As a teenager, becoming obese can lead to lower self esteem and to being less popular among their peers, as well as anxiety and depression. So why don't we regard obesity as a serious illness? 

The media obviously plays a key role in playing down the seriousness of eating disorders. Whilst anorexia and bulimia are often wrongly glamorized by the media, we are frequently made to regard being overweight as humorous, or as a joke. Look at programs such as the Biggest Loser, or Secret Eaters. Although the idea of the program is really to help these overweight people lose weight and become healthier, we still have to sit and watch them struggle through their work outs, sweating like pigs, being tortured with smaller portions than they're used to and just being humiliated publicly. This is one thing people on the opposite end of the eating disorder scale do not have to deal with, and although people who rather than over eat, starve themselves, have to deal with comments such as "you need to eat something, get some meat on your bones!", they do not always suffer the absolute humiliation that obese people do. 

A lot of people find it easier to comprehend that anorexia and bulimia are a mental health problem, a disease of both the mind and the body. However, they find it harder to understand how someone just cant stop themselves from eating. What a lot of people don't realize is that obesity is often the result of a food addiction. Food addiction is much the same as a drug addiction- you crave the product desperately, you start to rely on it and it starts to take over your body with serious side effects. Food addiction even effects exactly the same area of the brain as a drug addiction. 

Food addiction is more common in processed junk foods and foods high in sugar and wheat. It is not about being weak willed but is all to do with complicated chemical reactions inside of the brain (please remember I am a writer, not a scientist and there is an extent to my knowledge!). Therefore, even if you wanted to try and control these addictions, ultimately, your brain has control over your body and will not let you. This indeed makes obesity a mental illness just like anorexia and bulimia, and we must not forget that obesity requires the same amount of attention as the latter diseases. 

People can die from obesity. A life can come to an end. Families can experience a loss. Just like victims of anorexia and bulimia. And still we spend too much time making fun of people that we close minded-ly regard as 'fat'. We laugh at their attempts to exercise, we criticize what they're eating and bitch about it with our friends when we see them doing so and we just don't stop to think about why this person is the way they are. When we ask why they're fat and they say "I can't help it" we laugh, or make a cruel remark about how all they need to do is eat less. We don't understand that, actually, sometimes they really can't help it. And with the lack of understanding from their peers, this sort of reaction only crushes their confidence and prevents them from wanting to seek professional help for fear of receiving the same reaction. 

As the human race, how can we be okay with all of this? Not only do we push people into eating disorders and then act so ignorant we don't even notice them in our every day lives, but we then choose to make fun of the people who suffer. How can the human race be so cruel and so narrow minded. 

I've said before that eating disorders are not glamorous, they are diseases and I will say it again. There is nothing positive about an eating disorder. There is nothing funny about an eating disorder. There is nothing humorous, unimportant, 'stupid' about an eating disorder. They come in all shapes and sizes with all sorts of reasoning's behind them. Every single victim deserves our full capacity of understanding, and every ounce of our help, comfort and support. 

Love from, 
Florence Grace 


Feminism- Are We Doing It Wrong?

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Feminism is something we hear about all the time- girls defending it and boys taking the mickey out of it. It is an important movement that should not be forgotten, and it moved women forward in society, into the position that we find ourselves in today. So many opportunities women have are down to the feminists who lived before us, fighting for women's rights and equal opportunities.

I for one am pleased with how feminism has changed the lives of so many woman and, although we aren't completely there yet, how it has helped some men understand that women are in fact equal to men. Yet, although I am a feminist myself, I do think that somewhere along the line, something has gone wrong. Somewhere along the line, whilst fighting for women and men to be equal, we decided that actually, not all men were equal. Somewhere along the line, we started treating men the way men treat women. Doesn't this defeat the point of feminism?

Feminists, including myself, are continuously put out by the sexualisation of women in the media. Women are displayed as nothing more than objects of desire for the male species, and women hate it, often writing articles, blogs and even whole books about it (see one of my previous posts "women, the media and sex"). And I totally agree with everything that is said, women should not be used and abused to sell products- they shouldn't have to sell themselves to help sell products.

Hang on.

Let me invite you to open your eyes a little wider. Take a closer look at advertisements. Whilst yes, it is mainly women being used to sell products via their sexual appeal, it is happening to men too. Take a look at the H and M adverts featuring David Beckham. Shot in black and white, David is featured in water, running around and in skin tight underwear that doesn't hide a lot, with the camera focusing...well, let's just say from the waist down. If this advert had been a woman- and in many cases, it has been a woman- there would be uproar from feminists all over the world. Where was the uproar when David was running around in next-to-nothing? I didn't hear one. All I heard was the sound of every girls jaws hitting the floor when David graced us with his nude presence via the tv.

Similarly, lets look at the diet coke advert, which features a group of young ladies having a picnic. These ladies then spot a young, handsome man with a lawnmower just a few feet from where they are sat. The girls shake up a can of diet coke and roll it to him, indicating that he should drink it. The man is unaware that the can has been shaken (although it has just been rolled down a hill...) and opens the can, resulting in him being covered in coke. The girls all have a bit of a giggle but the man surprises them, and just pulls off his shirt. The girls mouths fall open and they just stare and stare and stare. Again, if the role of the males and females had been reversed, there would have been uproar from the feminist world. But where was the uproar from the men? Again, women all over the country were fine with staring at this undeniably handsome, semi-nude man.

And although objectifying men is still far less common than that of women in film, tv and music, it is happening. It seems to me that on the way to gaining equality between men and women, we decided to give men a taste of their own medicine and start treating them in the exact same way we can't stand to be treated.

Look at the film 'Horrible Bosses', a film that features 3 bosses who are completely out of line when it comes to the way they treat their employees. When a film like this is advertised, most women would probably think 'great, another film where a poor innocent female secretary is going to be sexually harassed by her boss'. This time, you would be wrong. One of the bosses featured is a female in a dental surgery, played by Jennifer Anniston, and it is in fact her who sexually harasses her male employee, to the point where he becomes extremely uncomfortable (much to the audiences amusement).

 In television, girls are taking on the roles of male in soaps and sitcoms, such as The Big Bang Theory. Bernadette and Howard are two scientists who are newly engaged, and as the series goes on, newly married. However, Howard is well under Bernadette's thumb- he does as she says, and does what she wants- rather than the usual scenario of the female being at the husbands beck and call. Bernadette is also the primary source of income, as she works in a higher position than her partner- again, an unusual scenario.

I'm not denying that feminism is one of the most important historical movements there has been, and that it is desperately needed even now, to continue to fight for equality between men and women. But I think that a lot of women have got a bit confused, or maybe even taken the idea of feminism too far. It is not the action of moving women from being beneath men to above men. It is not trying to rule men, so we can give them the same degrading treatment we have received from them. It's about equality. It's about men and women being equal, on the same level, treating each other with the same amount of respect. Whilst treating men the way they treat us may make us feel better, it doesn't encourage them to respect females more. In fact, if anything, it makes them want to continue with the degrading treatment, except now they have an 'excuse'- women do it to us.

If you forget what the real definition of a feminist is, there's a quick way to learn. Listen to Beyonce's 'Flawless'. It quotes, "Feminist: the person who believes in the social, political and economic equality of the sexes".

Two wrongs don't make a right, ladies. It's all about equality.

Love from,
Florence Grace

Do you agree or disagree? What do you think about the roles of males and females in the media? Leave a comment below or get in touch using one of the links in the side bar! 


Women, the Media and Sex.

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Sexualising females in the media is not a foreign concept. It is something we understand and are forced to see every single day- the way we have been for years and years and years- only, recently it seems to be getting worse. In advertising, in artwork, in music, the sexualisation of females is everywhere. There's no denying that the feminists from 100 years ago achieved excellent results. At last, all females can vote. Females can work in all kinds of jobs, not just "feminine" ones. Females don't have to be married to be respected. Females are undoubtedly more independent than they were 100 years ago, and it progresses all the time in leaps and bounds. But one area we seem to be going backwards is in the representation of women in the media. Whilst women are feeling stronger and usually feeling more equal to men than ever before, the media are doing their best at trying to reverse over 100 years of hard work that has got women to the position they are in today.

Female artists often sing songs about falling in love, breaking up and everything that comes in between with a relationship. As females are known for feeling more emotions than robotic males, this is not out of the ordinary. However, in the last 15 years or so, sex has become an increasingly more recurrent theme to the lyrics of many songs, a lot of them being quite explicit. You only need to listen to a few of Rihanna's hits, such as 'Birthday', or worse 'S&M' (to which the music video was so explicit it could not be shown on TV!), or Wynter Gordon's 'Dirty Talk', or even Neon Hitch's 'F*ck you better'. Not only do these lyrics talk about chains and whips being exciting but they all seem to scream out the need for male dominance in the bedroom. The fact that it is coming from females that they need a man to dominate for them to feel good, only further enforces the idea that men are more powerful than women- as well as saying that women need men to feel good. These messages not only make men appear to be the dominant species but also provides men with an ego-boost, leading them to believe all women are the same and all women will be thrilled when a man chooses to force himself upon her. So, so wrong.

But if we thought female artists were bad, it is nothing on the male artists. I think the one song that springs to everyone's mind when talking about poor representation of women and the sexualisation of women in music is the infamous 'Blurred Lines' by Canadian singer Robin Thicke. His lyrics, including "I know you want it" and talking about tearing "your ass in two" as well as referring to the fictional woman as "b*tch" and "good girl" were not only patronizing and 'rapey' but served as proof alone as to how little respect men still have for women, despite how the position of women has progressed over the years. Alongside the appalling lyrics to the irritatingly catchy tune was the male-dominated music video, which features Robin himself and co artists Pharrell and T.I 'dancing' with scantily clad, gorgeous women who move across the screen in an overly provocative way. This is one of the worst representations from males in the music industry of women and how they should be treated, but many other men have performed similarly, including artists such as Chris Brown. Although many females do enjoy listening to his heart-melting voice whispering down your ear what he'd like to do to you, it, again, enforces male dominance over women and shows that men still think they have ultimate control.

Films and Television.
Feminist Laura Mulvey came up with the idea of the 'male gaze'- an idea that described the way males view females, mainly in cinema, and the idea that females were made to take on this 'male gaze' when watching other females. Although the idea was originally applied to cinema, it can now be applied to almost all forms of media. When watching a film or tv program, or when taking in an advert or poster displaying a gorgeous, usually sexually provocative woman, we can't help but want to act and look the way that she does, as we know she is pleasing males, and ultimately that is a woman's purpose. Of course, this is completely incorrect, but is the message that the mass media have driven into our minds.

Just look at the James Bond films. How many 'Bond girls' came and went in that series of films? Every movie featured another girl, dressed in tight, skimpy, sexy clothing and prancing around for the pleasure of James, who of course, had no respect for women. He would enjoy looking at them, enjoy sleeping with them once, maybe twice, and then enjoyed leaving them behind. Sometimes there would even be more than one girl in the space of one film. And don't even get me started on Miss Moneypenny, who James strings along throughout the duration of every single James Bond film there has been. Although it seems he was a 'ladies man', he was really just a...well, a word too inappropriate to use in my blog! There are several occasions were James is depicted slapping, pinning down and just plain abusing the girl. With the huge fan base these films and books have attracted, and with many men aspiring to be as 'smooth' as Bond, sending out such a misogynistic image to these males only helps to worsen the treatment of women, thanks to a few measly books and films.

 In TV, the sexualisation of women is common in TV soaps. Popular TV soaps even have ' XYZ Babes' calendars, such as Hollyoaks. Whilst Hollyoaks has also been praised for its sensitive portrayal of serious issues such as drug abuse, bullying and death, it is not excluded from the soaps that sexualise women. Two characters in the episode are both young, single mums, who conceived their children from men in other relationships- they are, what would be called in today's society 'sluts'. However, like the more respectable, old mums in Hollyoaks such as Dianne, who is always pictured in jeans and a jumper or a flowing dress, these two young mums, Sinead and Theresa, are always dressed in skimpy, revealing clothes and Sinead in particular always has a racy story line- at the moment, she's having an affair with her mothers fiance. Scenarios such as these only tell men that older women are not appealing- the younger, the better. It also tells women that revealing everything is the way to attract a man- it will even lure a man out of his relationship to sleep with you. Which of course is an ultra positive message to send to the young adult and teenage audience that watched Hollyoaks.

Advertising...the worst, most in-your-face form of sexualisation of women. TV adverts, YouTube adverts, posters in shops, posters at bus stops and on the side of buses- adverts are everywhere. And more often than not, they're using a woman to advertise the product in a sexual way. A particular star used for this at the moment is ex-Pussycat Dolls singer Nicole Scherzinger. It started with the Herbal Essence adverts, where Nicole is depicted thrashing her hair around and screaming 'yes' in what can only be described as the voice of a woman who is climaxing. Obviously, the company felt that showing Nicole acting as though she was experiencing sexual pleasure when washing her hair with this kind of shampoo would cause it to sell better. Yes, while it may have raised attention to the brand and generated some extra profit, I did not see Gilette turning a mans shave into a sexual experience, or the men in the Lynx adverts pretending to have an orgasm as they spray themselves with deodorant.

Nicole's sexual acts being used in advertising only continue with Muller yogurts. Whilst closing her eyes and saying 'mmm' both slowly and sensually, the star then ends up with thick, white yogurt on her face through some scenario on the other, as Nicole sits with a cheeky expression on her face. There's no hiding what the yogurt is supposed to represent. The sexualisation of women in advertising is now at such a low point, we are using sex to sell yogurt.

And what about posters for clothes, or perfume? The female models are never shown just stood there casually and smiling, like a normal woman walking down the street. If there is more than one woman present, more often than not they are draped over each other- an image found to be pleasing to males, who just can't resist a bit of girl on girl action. If the girl is alone, she may be touching herself in a sensual or sexual way, with a saucy look on her face- and she probably won't be very well covered up. Why is this? The product is for females, so why the sexualisation that only males would enjoy? Again, it all boils down to Laura Mulvey's male gaze. We are made to look at these females who are selling us this particular product, as though we are a man, so that we find it more appealing and then buy it, but also so that women can understand that this is how men want women to look and behave.

Sexualisation of women in the media is toxic. It teaches women from a very young age that a woman's key role is to provide pleasure for men. That women must be dominated and controlled by men. And that women are not as powerful, or as equal in society, as men. This is not a message that applies to just the men you know, such as the boys at school. This message will then be taken into your profession, into your place of work, into the bedroom. Women all over the world will see these messages from the media and will learn their place- by the side of a man. Men all over the world will see these messages from the media and will only believe even more so that the way they think of women and the way they treat women is okay, and tolerable. It is not.

Feminists have worked so hard to get women to the position they are in in our society today, and they still continue to work hard to improve it. Half the opportunities that we have as women would not be available if we had not had so many strong women fighting for us before hand. It seem's incredulous that a seemingly patriarchal media is trying to reverse several years of hard work, and that in the 21st century people still aren't treated as equals. Women shouldn't have to use their body to get to where they want to be. They shouldn't be made to believe that they are born into the world just to please men. Boys, open your eyes. Women are strong, women are independent and women are not toys that you can play with and then drop when you're done. Don't use women to sell your product just because you're not creative enough to come up with a real marketing idea. And girls? Open your eyes too. See past the poor representation of women. See that you are here to try new things, to push your limits and achieve your goals- not to please a man, but to please yourself. Not to make a man happy with the way you dress, and your bedroom behavior, but to make you happy with the person you have shaped yourself to be.

A female is a human being, not a sexual object that can be used and abused.

Love from,
Florence Grace.

Depression- The Silent Killer.

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WARNING: The following content is sensitive and may be triggering to those suffering from, recovering from or recovered from depression and/or other mental health problems.

We all know when somebody is ill, or not quite right. It is normally quite obvious. If it's anorexia, they look frail and you can see every bone in their body through their skin. If it's a cold, we see the victim with a red raw nose, tissues in hand. If someone has broken a bone, we see a cast, or crutches. If it's cancer, we see people who are losing their hair, in wheelchairs or maybe even hooked up to an oxygen tank. Most of the time, when we see these people, we feel sorry for them. If it's a friend, or a family member, we might even buy them a card and some flowers, telling them we hope they get better soon.

Depression is not the same as the other illnesses above. Yes, it is like anorexia and can take over your life, affecting every aspect of it. Yes, like a cold, it will affect you for the whole day, constantly interrupting what you're doing like an oncoming sneeze. Yes, it is like a broken bone in the fact that it causes a great amount of pain. And yes, it is like cancer, in that it has the possibility of killing you.

But how many people would you look at and be able to say "They're ill- with depression"? The sad truth is, probably not many. It is estimated that 5% of all teenagers/young adults will suffer from depression, with only 20% of those cases being appropriately diagnosed and treated. Why? Because too often someone who is brave enough to come forward and say "I am depressed and I need help" is laughed off and told they're a teenager, they're not depressed, they're dramatic and hormonal. Bottom line is, most teenagers who claim to have depression are not taken seriously.

And we wonder why so many cases go without diagnosis. Why so many people die before we even have the chance to realize that they weren't happy with their life. The number is too large, and it has to stop- now.

One of the most difficult things about depression is that, as it is a mental health problem, for so long it goes unseen and unheard- totally invisible to the people surrounding the victim. It is a chemical imbalance in our brain that affects our moods and our thoughts and causes this depression- and with no one able to see into our minds, how is any body supposed to realize that there is something wrong? Surely it is impossible?


Here is a list of the symptoms of someone with depression:

  • Irritability or depressed moods. 
  • Loss of interest in usual activities/hobbies etc. 
  • Low energy- restlessness.
  • Poor concentration.
  • Sleeping too much/too little. 
  • Noticeable weight loss or weight gain
  • Feeling hopeless or helpless
  • Feeling worthless or guilty. 
  • Thoughts of death or suicide. 
This list is long enough, there are more than enough symptoms to look out for. Sometimes, all it takes is an extra minute of your time. For example, your friend has seemed sad for a few days now, keeping themselves to themselves, not eating much, looking a little tired. You thought she was just hormonal. Maybe you should take that extra minute to ask again. Ask how she feels. Ask what's going on. Many cases of depression are missed purely because no one took the time to ask more- the victim told everyone that they were okay, and even if no one believed them, no one quizzed them further. Depression may be a mental illness, a silent killer of sorts, but there are plenty of subconscious symptoms the victim portrays to look out for. We need to start paying attention.

Sometimes, it's alright. The victim is able to seek help themselves and feel a little better. However, experts have found that once a victim has had one case of untreated depression, they are likely to have another one in the next five years. And as passers by, we just don't see it, don't notice and don't care enough to try to help. Unfortunately, it's not usually until the depression becomes more than an illness of the mind but becomes a physical one too that we end up noticing- and sometimes, by then, it's too late. Whether it takes the form of a severe eating disorder, self harming or suicide, by then the victim not only has the mental illness to deal with but the cuts on their arm, the damage they have done to their insides with an OD on drugs or the fact they'll never give birth because their eating habits have ruined their system. And dealing with all this extra stuff, that came about because of depression, only then makes the depression worse. A vicious, seemingly never-ending cycle. Look at actor Robin Williams, who passed away just yesterday morning (12/08/2014). Known for being a comedian, and a humorous actor, no one was even aware he had depression- until he committed suicide.

But it doesn't have to be this way. All it takes is a little less self-absorption and a little more interest into other people's lives. Keep pursuing the question. If your friend is tired everyday, don't give a sympathetic smile and say "yeah, know the feeling". Ask them why. What's keeping them up so late every night? If you see your friend looks a bit teary pretty regularly, take the time to get them on their own and ask them what's going on. 

Obviously, this won't end the depression. This won't make them better, just like that. But it does do two things- it gives your friend someone they can now trust with their problem and it makes you aware of the problem. And while it seems a big responsibility for you to deal with alone, it doesn't have to be. You can rely on a responsible adult, your friends parent, your own parent, a doctor- there are even helplines you can ring. It can be tough trying to help someone you love cope with a mental health issue such as depression, but it's something you should never have to do alone, and even if the person you're trying to help has made you swear blind that you won't tell anyone, usually it's a good idea to. 

As I have written already, helping someone with depression won't happen instantly and it won't happen easily. But those baby steps towards helping them, just paying the people around you a bit more attention, they're all so important and so beneficial. They can stop depression ending in the heartbreaking way it can. They can try to avoid letting it go too far. You can try to help your friend, your mum, your aunty, your cousin- and maybe even save their life. 

Depression can be a silent killer. Look at the people around you. Are they happy? Or just pretending to be? 

People shouldn't have to go through this alone anymore. Just take some more time out of your own day and invest it into someone else's. You never know how much you may be doing for someone else.

Love from, 
Florence Grace

Eating Disorders- the Blunt Truth.

WARNING: The following content is sensitive and me be triggering to those suffering from, recovering from or who have recovered from eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia and other health problems such as depression.

As I sit down in my local pub ready to tuck into my generous portion of gammon and chips, I feel a prickle on the back of my neck- that all to familiar feeling of knowing that someone is staring at you. As I whip my head around the dining area, my eyes fall on the slender figure of a girl, probably around my age, maybe a few years younger, looking at me with disgust in her eyes- disgust clearly at the way I look and what I'm eating. I feel fat, bulky, uncomfortable and I let my glance fall to her own plate, noticing she has a salad, mostly untouched. She sips constantly at her water like it's the only thing keeping her alive.

It probably is.

It is a sad but true statistic that over half of teenage girls and one third of teenage boys use unhealthy weight control behaviors such as skipping meals, vomiting and taking laxatives. It is also sad but true that it is becoming more and more of a regularity to see people with eating disorders in our everyday lives and to regard it as 'normal' and therefore failing to help this person who is desperately struggling- whether they accept that or not.

The media is without a doubt the biggest cause of weight and body problems. Picking a beautiful girl to pose in your company's latest bikini for summer, you set the chosen image up in photo shop and edit her into a completely different being. You cut skin away from her thighs, her waist, her cheeks. You stretch out her legs, improve the lighting over her cheekbones and chest so she looks striking- angular but curvaceous all in one. And when you send this image to print and splash it over the side of buses and in shop windows and the covers of magazines, you force girls to feel that this is how they should look- literally unreal. How can any teenage girl compare to a computer generated image?

The truth is, they can't. And it doesn't matter how many times a girl is told "it's all lighting and special effects", she will still look at this model who has been chosen to represent this huge company, who is being called "divine" and "exquisite" by fans, journalists and other members of the public, who is earning millions of pounds for the way she looks and think I want to look like her. And this is where it begins.

It's just a diet at first, and your parents don't mind. They are more than happy for you to start trying to live a little healthier. You stop snacking during the day, eating only 3 regular meals, breakfast, lunch and dinner. Everything is fine- that is, until you stand on the scale. The number has hardly change. You need to do more. So you start to move a bit more- walking to school instead of taking the bus. Maybe starting at the gym, or going running once a week. Your parents are thrilled that they can get you away from the laptop for a while and get you feeling a bit more active. Again, everything is fine until you step on that scale. Still, the number is larger than you would like it to be. Just a couple more pounds, a stone at the most you tell yourself, then, I will be thin and pretty. So you start to skip meals, first one, then two and then them all. You fob off your parents, saying you ate in town, with your friends, you're sick. You work out silently in your room for hours on end- your parents still believe you spend 4 hours a night on your laptop. You can feel yourself getting slimmer now, and your clothes are a little baggier. You feel so proud, accomplished, beautiful. 

At school, no one really notices. No one compliments you on your hard work, no one tells you how slim and pretty you look. No one says you look like a model.

So when your friends pull out the latest cover of Vogue, and gaze longingly at the cover girl who's all angular and sharp and bony, you think I want to be beautiful like that. 

So you work harder and eat less. Your clothes look shapeless on you, you begin to lose hair. As you hang over the toilet and watch your dinner disappear down the plumbing you notice your breath is tainted with the stale smell of vomit. But you just cant stop. You're hooked.

People start to notice, of course. Your friends offer you a finger from their kitkat, half a sandwich. You smile and shake your head and drink from your bottle of water. Water is all you need. Your parents are no longer patient with you. They try to force feed you. They make your portions larger, greasier, more calorific. They tell you that you were beautiful anyway, you still are beautiful, but they dont understand. Not really. The arguments start, between you and your mum, your mum and your dad, you and your friends, your boy friend, your cousin. No one understands and no one will listen. They think that you're ill, that what you're doing is wrong. You don't need to hear this, you don't want to hear this. So you push them all away and close yourself up- it's all you can do.

And then you go upstairs, to the people who do understand. The people with blogs and chatrooms and facebook pages with the word THINSPO spread over them. You see pictures of girls who are skinnier than you, skinnier than anyone you've ever seen. Obviously you aren't working hard enough. These girls, they send you messages and offer you tips and encouragement. Drink lots before your doctor weighs you says one. Invest in some of those pink tictacs for the breath problem says another. Who needs parents or your friends from school when you have these girls online who know exactly how to help you?

At least you thought they were trying to help you. You thought you were trying to help yourself. And then you ended up in a hospital bed, your body to weak to do anything anymore. To walk, to move. To breathe. Is this where it all ends?

Although this story is pure fiction it is a representation of a scenario that happens to people all over the world, every single day. All it takes is one picture to imprint itself into the mouldable mind of a teenage girl and she is lost to the diseases that are anorexia or bulimia. Sometimes, she can even be lost to death.

No one can blame the parents for their naivety at what they thought was a simple diet. No one can blame parents for not understanding. In their time, models looked like Marilyn Monroe. They were thick thighed and curvy and people thought they were stunning. Parent's cant so easily relate to the fragile figures we see spread over magazine covers today- and so can not relate to their daughters hunger (if you'll pardon the pun) to be as slim as they are. They can only sit at their daughters bed side, holding her hand and crying and crying and crying.

Alongside the medias portrayal of the 'perfect' body image, which is only possessed naturally by 5% of women, social networking platforms do not help- namely the popular blogging site, Tumblr. Using the search bar, you can type in words such as thinspo, thinspiration or skinny and the images that come up are- well, to be frank, quite frightening. Girls with bones sticking out where they shouldn't, their eyes big and bug like, their skin pale and paper thin, with tag lines such as "Fasting. Because I will get skinny eventually". What sort of message is this telling our daughters, our sisters, girls all over the world?

What's worse is how easily images like this can be accessed, even with a safety lock on the search bar. Every where a girl turns she is confronted with images of women who don't really exist and made to believe that this is the ideal body image.

Is it getting better? 
It comes and goes in lulls. Sometimes it seems the world is moving in a more positive direction, when you see popular female icons refusing to have a photoshopped image of herself used to represent a brand- such as Beyonce for H and M. Tumblr, known for glamorizing mental health problems such as eating disorders recently added this message to the site when searching for the word 'thinspo'.

But advertising companies are still using stick thin girls more often than not. And tumblr- alongside other forms of social media- have not banned images normalizing or glamorizing eating disorders completely, making them accessible to more influential minds every single day- and it needs to stop. 

Eating disorders aren't just to do with food. They are a form of mental health problem. There is nothing glamorous about starving yourself. There is nothing glamorous about being ill. Anorexia, bulimia, they can all affect so much more than just the size and shape of your body. They eat away at your mind, they cause your relationships with everyone to fall apart. They can lead to other negative addictions such as smoking and drugs. They can lead to further mental health issues such as self harming and depression. And although you may see images or text with quotes saying "kiss my cuts and fix me up", or words to that effect, no one is going to do that. There is nothing romantic about being ill. Yes, there will always be people who love you and stand by to support you and help you on your road to recovery. But in the end, only you can help yourself. You can listen to what the doctors and councilors say, you can listen to therapists and parents but in the end it's down to you to want to get better- and once you recognize that you want to get better, the recovery will start. You may relapse. You may have to start over and over. But once you start with that positive mind set, it will get better. It could take days, months, years but you will get there. It is important that you never give up.  

So I restart my evening meal at the pub and look at the situation in a new light. I see this girl, who before I viewed as slender, as a very sick young lady. I no longer see her bones as angular and delicate but as fragile and jutting out of her skin. I notice the salad on her plate and realize that it is the least calorific thing on the menu. I see her sipping that water, depending on it to keep her from passing out from the lack of food. And I see that she needs help. 

If you or someone you know suffers from an eating disorder, it is important to speak up. Tell a friend, a parent or a responsible adult if you do not feel comfortable talking to the affected person directly. Many people, when asked why they didn't tell anyone, will answer with "because no one asked". Go up to people. Ask if they're okay. Help them out, and save a life. You don't need to starve to be beautiful. Just be healthy. You are beYOUtiful. 

Love from,
Florence Grace

All images my own.


Sugar and Spice and All Things Bitch- Wait, what?

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As a child, we are taught from a fictional nursery rhyme that little girls are made from "sugar and spice and all things nice". In the modern era we live in, this can be translated to 'sweet' as a lover, a wife and a mother, 'spice' to keep our partners satisfied in the bedroom and 'all things nice' to please everybody around us- family, colleagues, lovers and friends. From a young age, this nursery rhyme drills into us that girls are 'all things nice'. But as we get older, staying sweet and nice becomes more of a challenge as we lose our naive sight of the world and the people around us and start to become more cynical in the way that we view things.

Sometimes in life though, we want to be a 'bitch'. Opinionated and bolshy with a sharp tongue and blunt words, the only term that has come to describe a woman with these attributes is 'bitch'. Screw manners, screw politeness and screw being sweet. This is no longer the 1800's. We no longer need to keep our mouth shut in order to maintain our sweet disposition. Here, in the 21st century, feminists have granted us the power to use our voice and use our words and speak up when we aren't happy. They have granted us the power to be honest- with ourselves, and to others. 

So when your partner comes home from work, and you find out he's been sleeping with his secretary, you no longer need to cry yourself to sleep but stay in the failing relationship, miserable, for the sake of keeping your nuclear family unit together. You can slap him across his lying face, throw his clothes out of the window and scream at him how cliche he is and how you hope he catches an STD. 

Similarly, when you're queuing in Tesco to buy some bread and a man old enough to be your great uncle approaches you offering you an hour (probably less at his age) in his company, no longer do you have to simper and smile and awkwardly walk away pulling down your skirt. You are well within your rights to throw a middle finger up and call him a b*stard before sashaying away in your mini skirt. 

The great thing about being a bitch though, is that it doesn't just have to be men you can get the better of. You can be a so called 'bitch' to your fellow females too. Although the year-old rule stands that 'sisters have got to stick together', sometimes females can be damn right evil for no reason. Why should you stand by someone who wont stand by you? If a girl sniggers at you with her friends as you walk down the road, why shouldn't you turn around and call her a cow? (May I take this time to apologize to cows all over the world for being the chosen animal used to insult rude and grumpy females). And if one of your co-workers is being an ice queen, shredding all your paperwork by 'accident' as she competes for that promotion, why shouldn't you turn around and tell her that the shade of lipstick shes wearing is the same colour as your dogs rear end? 

There is no harm in being a 'bitch', when being a 'bitch' is just a woman who is not afraid to be honest, frank and true to herself. Why do we look at a woman who can independently stand up for herself in such a negative light? Surely this is what we would wish of all of our daughters and mothers and sisters and aunts? Independence is never a bad thing. Standing on your own two feet is never something to be ashamed of. It is something that feminists all over the world have fought for- and still continue to- for years and years and years. Feminists from 50 years ago would be proud of each and every one of us girls for being a 'bitch'. It is probably something many of them only ever dreamed of. Not the 'bitch' who shoves a girls head down the toilet at school, or the girl who posts a photo of you online that she's edited to make out as though it's something explicit- that girl, she's not a 'bitch'. She's a bully. And being a bully and standing up for yourself, they aren't the same thing. Don't be a bully. Be a 'bitch' who won't let anyone walk over her or tell her what to do. 

Let's bring an end to the word 'bitch'. Let's replace it with the word 'strong'.

Love from,
Florence Grace

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