Tag Archives: body image

#ThisGirlCan have forreals feminist adverts

31 Jan

When Daisy first showed me this ad at my school feminist society, I almost cried. I think this might be the first truly feminist advert Ive ever seen.

In case you don’t know, #ThisGirlCan is an advert by Sport England on TV as well as a poster campaign to encourage girls to do more sport. I adore it so much because it actually promotes sport for girls in a healthy way. There is no mention of weight loss, in fact there was even some diversity in size (although no one who was “too” big. Let’s not get carried away, this is the fatphobic patriarchy after all), women of different colours and ages were shown having fun exercising as a hobby instead of the usual, suffering in the pursuit of the elusive (because it doesn’t exist) perfect body shape, promoting the Pain is Beauty narrative which justifies so much social and emotional violence against women (a.k.a. diet culture) in the name of “health”. The ad shows exercise as something positive in itself, not because it makes a company money, makes you more attractive or thinner, but because it might be enjoyable and make you happy. Full stop.

“Woah” I hear you say “something encouraging women to do sport by not fat-shaming them, profiting off their insecurities, pushing unhealthy diets PLUS showing a reasonably diverse range of women? This must be a hoax”. Now normally I would agree with you, it seems after some thorough googling that this is not a drill however #ThisGirlCan is by no means perfect. Some of the camera angles were *ahem* interesting (read: weirdly sexualising) and there wasn’t brilliant representation of of women with disabilities or older women either but all in all, I’ve definitely seen worse.

As far as I can tell, what sets this #ThisGirlCan apart from the usual “eat my product or no one will love you because you will be fat and ugly” or “give me all your money to join this gym and you too will be able to miraculously run a 10k with perfect hair, no sweat and be 7 sizes thinner” kind of ads usually associated with selling women a healthy lifestyle is precisely the fact that it is not trying to sell women a healthy lifestyle. If we look at some of adverts that have been trumpeted as a revelation and totally feminist for example Dove, Special K or CoverGirl no matter what the adverts say, no matter what stereotype they subvert and no matter what kind of diversity of female images they show, they all have one thing in common; their purpose.

Their purpose is to sell, snatch your money, do anything to get you to buy their product and everything else is just marketing strategy. Empowering women is not their aim and they do not give a damn about women, it’s not what they get paid for because, have no doubt, its all about making a profit. If these feminist ads like #GirlsCan (CoverGirl), Potty-Mouth Princess’ (FKH8) #LikeAGirl (Always) didn’t make companies money then they would give up and try a new strategy. A good example of this is Dove, in the West Dove says “Love the Skin You’re In” but all over Asia they sell dangerous skin bleaching products taking advantage of endemic shadeism that they encourage.

#ThisGirlCan is not from a company seeking to make money though, Sport England is a charity and at complete odds to previously talked about ads, the main purpose of #ThisGirlCan is female empowerment and women taking on a genuinely healthy lifestyle. This is the reason Sport England has been able to create one of the first sincerely feminist ads I have ever seen.

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Double Chins Are Fierce

5 Feb

I have already talked about body acceptance a lot on my blog but now I want to talk about microaggressions against fat people which I have never done before.

As a fat girl it has taken years of hard work and energy to love myself and accept my body, my double chin is no exception. I got my double chin a while after I had been working on my body positivity and at first I found it really embarrassing. I tried to hide it in photos and videos by taking photos from a weird angle or if I was talking to people or even whilst I was playing my viola or bassoon (which gave me really bad back ache), it made me so ashamed. This was happening while I was feeling better about my arms or legs being too wide or the stretch marks on my tummy, so at first I didn’t really notice what a bad effect my double chin shame was having on me because, after all there has never been a point in my life I can remember where I have not been embarrassed of or hated a part of my body so it was not new or surprising. It was not helped by the fact that before, when I had been fat but not had a double chin, people where always saying that I had to stop gaining weight or I would get a double chin in this horrified voice that made it sound like the worst thing ever.

After I started to notice that this hatred of my chin and subsequent hiding of it was taking up like 100% more time than it should have (ie 0% of my time) I started to work of chin-love as well as the rest of my body. A big part of this was taking AMAZING selfies with double chin proudly on display and really appreciating how fab I look (not gonna lie), another was finding pictures of other beautiful girls with double chins. I found this one on Tumblr by Rachele. It is my absolute favourite chin positive picture and inspired me so much!

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So now I was starting to like my chin or at least no obsess over it so much, I started thinking about why I specifically hated my chin so much? What was it about my chin and not lets say my cheeks? Well lets look at how double chins are presented, not just in the media but in everyday interactions between people.

What came to mind immediately for me was a common selfie pose where people give themselves/exaggerate double chins by pushing their chins into their necks and make a funny face. Its meant to be funny but to me it sends the message “look at me with my double chin, ew don’t I look weird”. To me it sends the message that double chins are disgusting or weird and we laugh when people do this pose with fake double chins because why would anyone want a double chin in real life? It tells me that a part of my body that I love should be ridiculed and it is undesirable.

I am guilty of doing this in the past and I’m sure many people reading this are also but let us once again look to the root of the problem and be unsurprised when it is the media. The same story as always which to be honest I am tired of repeating. There are no double chins in mainstream media that are not criticised or laughed at. I am too sick of this to elaborate but I’m sure you know it already.

I am going to keep on loving my double chin and celebrating beautiful double chins everywhere but its hard when they are constantly laughed at by my closest friends.

2014: The Year of the Selfie

1 Jan

This is Lilipop.

I am not going to do a review of 2013 for my New Years post, like everyone else seems to be doing, for many reasons – the first of which being I can’t actually remember what I did this year – so instead I am going to talk about a challenge I am going to take part in for the whole of this next year, 2014.

2013 was the year of many things but it was the year I discovered the selfie. Before August I didn’t have Instagram, let alone Sapchat, so the only selfies I took where the odd webcam picture with Jelly or a pic if I couldn’t decide what to wear so needed second opinions (yes, the struggle is real). In August I had the amazing opportunity to go to America for #SPARKCamp13, a 3 day camp for girls in SPARK Movement. Among the many things I got from my gorgeous SPARK sisters, the most relevant thing to this post is – after extensive manipulation they managed to bully me into getting Instagram. After a few days I caved and got Snapchat as well.

Since then selfies have become a part of everyday life. From taking a selfie with my baby sis for the landmark event of buying her first bra to sneaky Snapchats to my American SPARK sisters in my geography lessons, selfies are a part of the way I communicate and commemorate. The media, and even some feminist media (*ahem* JEZABEL *ahem*), calls girls narcissistic and says selfies are a “cry for help” but to me there is nothing more radical than celebrating with a cheeky selfies. To me a selfie says oh yeah gurrrrrrrl its my time to shine! Selfies promote self-acceptance and love, whats not to love?

In 2014 I will be participating in the #365FeministSelfie challenge, to help me continue the ongoing struggle of loving myself in this world of misogynistic advertising, be comfortable with what I perceive as flaws and to celebrate being me! I think it will also be a completely fantastic way of documenting my year. I have created this tumblr blog for the challenge www.365daysoflilipop.tumblr.com so follow if you are a selfie positive gem or just love my face (lets face it, who doesn’t). Jelly will probably be featuring a lot! If you are also participating then I would LOVE to have a chat or see your blog/insta/however you are documenting and if not then I encourage you to increase your selfie production in 2014, the year of the selfie.

Fat Grrrls Rule… I just wish everyone knew

18 Nov

This is Lilipop and from some of my previous posts, you may have guessed that I am really into body positivity and fat acceptance movements. I really think fat girls are amazing and the body positivity part of feminism has helped me so much. I really love most of the fat acceptance activism and awareness raising things I have seen, it is so refreshing to see differently shaped women in a “normal” frame and not being labelled disgusting, shameful and generally the worst possible thing ever. It kind of makes me realise I am quite happy being fat and the only times I am unhappy about my body is when people say nasty things about me or fatness. My body does not detract anything from my quality of life, happiness, health or even ability to do sport if I want to (I don’t). There is nothing wrong with my body, fat, cellulite, stretch marks or double chin; in fact, my body is incredible, my fat keeps me warm, my cellulite reminds me I am real, my stretch marks are a beautiful pattern on my skin and my double chin is FIERCE!

I just wished other people knew this. Although I want to love myself, accept what and who I am, but I worry all the time. What do my family think? Do my friends still love me? (Jelly speaking: YES THEY DO) Do they see me the way I see myself or do they see me how society describes me, lazy, ugly, stupid, repulsive? I don’t know and I think about it a lot. I know that random people on the street feel this way, I have seen them staring with a kind of hatred in their eyes. I like to think that anyone who is my friend would never reject me or make fun of me because of my weigh and the way I look but is that realistic?

One thing that makes it worse is I cannot see myself or positive images of myself anywhere, it is hard to think of anyone who is a positive role model in mainstream media and is fat. Scientists, actors, musicians, writers, tv presenters and even politicians it is hard to think of many fat women who are displayed positively in the media, we are all but invisible. This is all ridiculous because there are an incredible amount of inspiring, inventive, funny, outgoing, intelligent fat women in the UK and EVERYWHERE! Yet there are nowhere to be found if I open a women’s magazine or turn on the TV.

It is so hard to imagine the future me. We are taught so aggressively that fat is an evil, undesirable thing that it is expected that any aspirational future self will be thinner. We don’t see anyone happy, successful and fat in the media; when I was little I thought that I would never be able to become a scientist or a writer because everyone would be so disgusted by my fat that they would hate me on the spot. I don’t want the future me to be thin, I want the future me to be happy and to keep loving herself.

Some days I feel so disgusted with myself, for being fat, for eating anything, for taking up so much space, for having such large clothes, even for my brilliant double chin and I am absolutely terrified that I will never feel better, I will never love myself again, I will spend the rest of my life agonising about every inch of cellulite, every spoon of yogurt or centimetre on the waistband of my jeans. I don’t want to think like that again ever. I can’t help but feeling if I had more fat women to look up to and aspire to be like, I wouldn’t be so scared. Firstly because I have assurance that I will be able to succeed despite my weight as others have but also so I know that other people see my body as I see it.

I know so many fat girls that have made my life infinitely more special, they are sparkling, strong people and they are beautiful. When I am older I want to be like Kaye and Beth and Kelly and Melissa and Gloria and Megan because Fat Grrrlz Rule, I just wish everyone else knew that!

#Periodgate

2 Jun

So today I wanted to tell you about a project I am involved with called #periodgate. The name is pretty self-explanatory, you talk about getting your period and add the hashtag #periodgate on Twitter. Now you might be thinking “that’s a cool idea” or you may be thinking “why the hell would you do that, you freak?!?”

The reason I think #periodgate is amazing and the reason I take part in it is that around 50% of the population of the world will get their period at some point in their lives yet you would probably be less shocked it some (consensual) hardcore violent pornography popped up in this window right now than if a picture of a person getting their period popped up. I think this is seriously messed up, patriarchal society normalise violence and sexualisation but tells us that something as ordinary and natural as getting your period is disgusting and shameful. This is not to say that all pornography is wrong and I am not trying to kink shame but I think we should be as used to periods and menstruation and be just as open when talking about them.

I am not saying we should do moon dances in celebration to connect with your flow because menstruation (or getting your period) is not always fun. However we should be able to talk about how not fun it is! If you have really bad cramps you should be able to talk about it without feeling embarrassed or if you have run out of pads or tampons or whatever you use, you should be able to ask your friend for help. This sound so simple but many people find it embarrassing and as a result they think what is happening to them they have to bear on their own. If you are having really bad symptoms then you should be able to discuss it with other people to find out if what you are experiencing are common symptoms or if you should go to the doctors.I have had a few negative reactions to doing #periodgate on Twitter. In one particular case I can remember, another woman called me disgusting but I ask you, is getting your period any more disgusting than graphic pictures of violence against women and girls that are readily available on every social media site there is?

In my experience of #periodgate I have found it enormously helpful in terms of moral support and advice. I have been getting my period for 4 years so it is amazing to talk and share with women who have had many more years’ experience. I have learned about myself and my body, I don’t have to be ashamed of what my body does. I feel like this is another step to tackling patriarchy’s hold over me, it makes me feel free.

That time I dyed my legs purple

29 May

So one Thursday, on the way home from school, I decided I wanted to dye my leg hair purple. It was an amazing experience so I decided to show you what went well and what to avoid.

The first thing you need when dying your leg hair is a pair of legs. Here is an example (my legs):
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It is preferable that the legs you choose have hair on them, as you will be dying the hair.

NEXT you should probably grab an assistant. Here is an example:
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My assistant is Jelly.

And to dye your legs you also need some hair dye. I choose purple, cos its the best colour, but if you want another colour-or several then knock yourself out! I used permanent hair dye because semi permanent comes off on colours and sheets and it wears off really quickly! Here is my hair dye:
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The disadvantage of permanent dye will be discussed later…

Now on with the dying! (You should probably do this in the bathroom)

This is the stuff that was in the box, very artfully arranged by yours truly. Make sure you have everything that the box says it has in it. Chances are you need it.

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You also need some plastic glove things.

Next you need make the dye work or activate it or something. Just read the instructions.

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Here is me making the dye work.

Now put on your plastic gloves otherwise your hands WILL turn purple for at least several days.

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Here is me being precautions with my plastic gloves and my small hands.

*NOTE* If you have leg hair that is not very very blonde and the could you have chosen is not very dark then you will need you bleach your leg hair. You can use regular hair bleach or you can get special body hair bleach. The hair dye I got has magic bleach stuff in them so I didn’t bleach mine.

NOW IT IS TIME. I had never dyed any of my hair before this so I was super nervous but luckily I have my glamorous assistant JELLY who is very experienced. I just put the dye straight on my legs but you should not do this unless you are prepared to have coloured legs for several days.

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Some suggestions I have had to protect skin from getting stained is to put vaseline on your legs before you put the dye on or use semi-permanent dye and then the get-dye-off-skin wipes.

Cover all the parts of your leg that you want to be colourful. I just did my lower leg because that is where most of my leg hair is. Looking back I think it is a better idea to do your whole leg or feet as well or else it looks quite strange.

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Make sure all of the dyeing area is covered and roughly even.

Then do the other leg!

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Yeah… I didn’t do this so well.

Now you have to wait for the time it says on the box before washing the dye off. We had quite a lot of dye left and had half an hour to kill so WE DYED OUR HAIR!

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Here is Jelly with the bleach bits of her hair being dyed.

Okay, so the time is up! I left the dye on for a few minutes more than the box said because I have quite dark hair and that’s what Jelly told me to do but DO NOT DO THIS UNLESS YOU KNOW WHAT YOU ARE DOING AND PLEASE DON’T BLAME ME!!

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Here are my legs with the dye on.

So next wash off the dye. If you have used the semi-permanent dye or vaseline then you will need to use wipes to get that off your skin. The semi-permenant dye might still stain your legs a bit but it should come off if you wipe it a lot in 24 hours ish. If you used vaseline then I don’t know what will happen (if you use this method I would love to know if it worked so please let me know!)

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As you can see my legs are still very stained.

I washed my legs a bit more with get-dye-off-skin wipes and it faded a bit.

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Very purple legs.

And here are my legs the next day. They faded a bit but they stayed this colour for about 5 days before fading more than not being purple anymore. The actual hair on my legs is still a bit purple though.

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In conclusion this was an awesome confidence building experience for me as well as a bonding experience for all of my friends we all ended up with at least a bit of us turned purple. I loved having purple legs for the short time they were purple, in spite of the mixed responses I got. To me this is another way to love myself and have fun. When I do dye my legs again (green next time I think) I will definitely be using permanent dye but I will bleach the hair before hand so it shows up better. I apologise for the photography in this post but I hope you are inspired to dye some of your body hair or get creative, I would love to hear about what you get up to or maybe even some pictures!

Its about the the Choice!

2 May

So as you might have guessed from my previous posts or if you follow me on twitter, I am totally pro-body hair and here is why:

Its really cool, you can plait it, dye it and all sorts of fun stuff!

Its a two fingered salute to the Patriarchy (and you don’t even have to do anything!!)

It gets really softie and nice when you grow it out as well.

Its like wearing an extra pair of tights when its cold but it doesn’t make you too hot in summer because human hair is hollow.

Money spent on hair removal cream —> Money spent on CHOCOLATE (or other treats)

Its the way all the cool people know who the other cool people are.

Time spent scraping hair off my body —> Time spent blogging! (or reading or watching TV or knitting micro bunnies)

THERE ARE LITTERALLY SO MANY REASONS

“BUT LILIPOP” I hear you say “Stop being such a yucky feminist, I don’t like my leg hair. Its ITCHY”

Well dear Reader. You do make an excellent point. You don’t have to grow your body hair, you may not like it, it might be ichy, you might like having smooth skin or there might not be a reason why you like to shave (or wax or epilate or tweeze…) and that is fine. Although I think body hair is cool as several cucumbers if you don’t like it then you do what the hell you want with your body! If shaving makes you feel like a rad chick then you do that sister! If you like spending some quality time with yourself by waxing away those wisps of underarm hair then well done, I admire your pain threashold.

The point of growing my body hair is not only about having body hair but about the CHOICE (isn’t that a brilliant word?). That is the secret behind most of feminism. The Patriarchy gives us little boxes we must fit into if we are to be “beautiful” or wanted and so the choice we are given is not between how we want our body hair to be but between societal acceptance. You might not want to walk down the street in shorts with your leg hair swaying in the wind but you SHOULD have the right to choose to. I want to have the option of growing all the hair on my body to look like a yeti and I want the option of having every single little hair lazered off my body. I might not use all those options and I might not go to such extreames (although yetis are amazing) but I want to be able to CHOOSE without isolation, without embaressment, without harrassment and without shame.

Now I’m off to plait my leg hair…

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