Tag Archives: fashion

Falling into Winter

Right about now, people are starting to complain about the cold weather and shorter daylight hours. “Oo, it’s getting wintry,” they’ll say as they shiver and rub their hands together forcefully. Some of us have not so happy memories of low moods during the long, dark season. Spring and summer are like autumn and winter’s bubblier, more popular cousins; the ones we long to be around and can’t wait to see. However, autumn and winter do have their own unique, positive attributes. Here are some tips for surviving (and enjoying) this time of year:

  • Follow in nature’s fashion footsteps and treat yourself to some autumn-coloured accessories.
  • Wrap yourself in cute woolies and go outside. Who needs makeup when you’ve got fresh air to blush your cheeks and brighten your eyes?
  • Walk through a park or by the water and watch the leaves dance.
  • The most important thing is to continue getting exercise and daylight so, if it’s raining, pull on the waterproofs and connect with nature.
  • Take a good book to your favourite café and allow yourself to relax and enjoy just as much as if you were on holidays.
  • Put together an amazing costume and throw a Hallowe’en party for adults. Except do all the things you used to do as a child – play bob the apple, eat coconut and colcannon, watch movies and buy stuff in for the trick-or-treaters.
  • Make plans. If you’ve something to look forward to, it’s less easy to fall into an apathetic mood. Book a January sun or snow holiday or a city break. Or buy tickets for an upcoming show or gig.
  • Grab your best mates for a comedy night or get all dressed up and go for dinner followed by dancing.
  • Join a dating website and use the never-ending nights to chat up some potentials. Then, line up a few dates.
  • Enrol in a new class like pilates or flower arranging or take the time to learn a new language or instrument. Or be proactive and start your own book or film club.
  • Keep warm. Light a fire and snuggle up in a blanket with a mug of tea or hot chocolate.

If you’re worried that you have all the symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), get support from loved ones and professionals. Then, to help yourself further, try out alternatives like homeopathy and acupuncture, take a vitamin D supplement, and do some research on purchasing a lamp. Also, make sure to get at least 30 minutes exercise in daylight each day.

And if it’s (dare I mention it) Christmas you’re (already) dreading, take the pressure off by buying the odd present here and there, starting from today. Or even better, suggest a Secret Santa arrangement so you only have to buy one or two presents each. Remind yourself that Christmas is a time to spend with loved ones, many of whom will travel home from abroad. So, you can look forward to being together, to fun nights out, good food, movies, hilarious board games, magical fairy lights and the inimitable scent of pine.

And just remember, if it weren’t for the cold, dark times, you wouldn’t appreciate the sunshine, would you?

Advertisements

Because I’m Worth It

Today, I ran into a woman I know. She was looking particularly well this wet December morning. She wore a deep purple cardigan and an emerald green scarf. The colours were striking and really lifted her complexion. I told her all this. She thanked me for the compliment, then announced proudly:

“This morning, I had a look at all the ‘good’ clothes that I only allow myself wear on special occasions, which come around just a few times a year. I suddenly decided not to let these gorgeous garments die in that wardrobe.”

Her exuberance delighted me. I revelled in this woman’s candour. It got me thinking about how often we deny ourselves the “good” things in life. Do we not find ourselves deserving enough? Are we treating ourselves like clumsy children, always afraid that we’ll ruin the niceties? We should remember that life is short. Why relegate our most beautiful and valuable possessions to dark closets and dusty shelves?

"You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection." Buddha

Why not give yourself permission to break out the pretty tea set and rip open the box of Leonidas chocolates that you were going to give your posh co-worker? You are entitled to spray yourself with your most expensive perfume and write letters with the sparkly pen you received three Christmases ago. It’s about time you drank from delicate china and ate off brightly coloured delph, dressed in your finest.

If you have it, why not use it? Who knows when things (economy, finances, health) will change? So why not treat yourself right now? Be nice to that inner child, who believed in delayed gratification to the point of self-denial. Send yourself a new message – one of self-worth and appreciation. You deserve it.

Images: http://kittenwhiskersandteacups.tumblr.com/post/4207590683; http://modymoly.tumblr.com/; http://favefavefave.com/zhaohan/view/1428

Poor-ana

Last night’s premiere of Gráinne Seoige’s Modern Life concentrated on anorexia nervosa, a debilitating and life-threatening illness. The show brought tears to my eyes on a number of occasions. Because I’ve seen and experienced how eating disorders can ruin lives. Because the thought of what it’s doing to innocent young girls kills me.

Size zero is on the lips of every celebrity and fashion guru (about the only thing that passes their lips, I hear you say). In last night’s programme, Gráinne holds up a size zero dress and comments accurately, “This looks like something a child, not a woman, would wear.” She also gives the opinion that models resemble something other than human beings and that they definitely don’t look feminine. She adds, “I would never want to look like them.” And why would you, Ms Seoige? You’re beautiful just as you are. However, if she paid too much attention to internet discussion boards, she could easily feel pressurised to slim down (one clown on Boards.ie suggested that the gorgeous presenter needs to lose a few pounds in order to get work).

Women eye up models’ figures and decide that this is the way they should look too. And why shouldn’t they attempt to be like them? After all, the definition of a model is: “A standard or example for imitation or comparison.”* However, we forget that the reason models are skinny is simply because this body shape best allows designers to showcase their collections. But when models turn into role models and make ridiculous statements such as, “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels” (not even a thick line of the white stuff, Ms Moss?), our younger generation of impressionable young females is doomed to a lifetime of diets and exercise regimes, and constantly striving for, but never attaining, that elusive “perfect” look.

__________________________________________________

__________________________________________________

It’s virtually impossible to acquire the perfect body image. Even famous folk can’t do it. Despite paying fitness trainers, nutritionists, and personal chefs to make them look good, and even though they have looming red carpet events in clingy designer dresses to motivate them, they still have fat days. And that is why magazine photographs are airbrushed in order to make celebrities  look better (which usually means skinnier). When did it become such a bloody crime to be human?

However dangerous it is to have a teenage girl flick through a glossy magazine, imagine the horrors she can find on the world-wide web? Have you ever heard of a pro-ana website? It’s a site that promotes eating disorders, giving detailed tips on how to beat hunger pangs, purge quietly and hide weight loss from friends and family. It offers support and encouragement to its participants, even motivating them to compete against each other to see who can starve themselves the longest. The images are shocking, upsetting and seriously disturbing. It truly is a scary place. The thought of young girls stumbling across a site like this is terrifying.

“You become so accustomed to that empty feeling in your stomach. You almost start to enjoy it. Because if you know you’re getting very sharp hunger pains and you know how lethargic you’re becoming and you can feel your body kind of deadening under its own weight, you know you’re being successful.” Leanne Waters

But it’s not all about striving for skinniness. One woman in the US, in her quest to achieve a curvier figure, paid a fake doctor to inject her with cement, mineral oil and flat tire sealant. Needless to say, she ended up in hospital, suffering from embarrassment, an empty bank account and a hell of a lot of pain. The grass is always greener on the other size, eh?

I’ll finish off with an amusing anecdote. It’s a perfect example of this constant striving for anything other than what we are. Last week, I was in the changing rooms of a large department store. As I tried on nine dresses (I only bought one, promise!), I overheard a conversation in the next cubicle. A woman was trying on a dress for her Christmas party.

She moaned to the sales assistant, “I’m beat into this dress!”

The shop woman reassured her, “If I had your figure, I’d wear that dress.”

“Well, I have been running five miles a day.”

“Why don’t you wear magic knickers to hold you in? Not that you need it… It’s just that the dress is so clingy,” she quickly added before changing the subject: “Once, a woman had to be cut out of her dress here!”

I snorted. The customer persisted, unperturbed: “Don’t you think this dress flattens my boobs?”

“I don’t know about that… You could buy a pair of padded panties though,” she suggested.

“I don’t need one of them, I have a bum.”

“So do I but it’s in the wrong place,” the sales assistant sighed.

I would have wet my pants but then I would have had to buy the dress (and I didn’t want it because it made my arms look big).

“Nothing makes a woman more beautiful than the belief that she is beautiful.” Sophia Loren

*http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/model

Featured Image: http://fc09.deviantart.net/fs71/f/2010/010/5/4/Emo_Magazine_Collage_by_Remea.jpg

Images: http://www.healthkicker.com/730791440/pro-ana-borrows-from-healthy-dieting-practices/; http://francesballard.deviantart.com/art/Anti-pro-ana-186511611; http://amazingdata.com/beauty-or-a-beast/; http://the100.ru/en/actors/sofia-loren.html

Dreaded Drug of Approval

I was out for dinner the other night when I spotted the waitress approaching a family at the next table. She asked one of the children, “Have you made your Santa list yet?” The little girl responded in a giggling baby voice, “I want a supwise.” Her mother patted her on the head approvingly. I had heard the child speak earlier and she hadn’t sounded like that. Already, at such a young age, this girl was changing herself and the way she behaved in order to gain approval.

This simple scenario reminded me of a number of similar moments throughout my life…

At five years of age, talking to the insects in the back garden, then hearing my parents say: “Wow, look at her! She’s so into nature!” I stayed out there for much longer than I wanted to because I was sure my parents would like me more if I did… Pretending to be into a certain genre of music as a teenager just so I’d fit in… Pushing myself in school and college so I could be the perfect student and daughter… Hanging around a guy I liked and hiding parts of myself because I thought it would make me more desirable… Losing weight because that’s how “beautiful” was sold to me… Pretending to know the politician/author/website my co-workers were talking about so they wouldn’t think I was stupid… Feeling I didn’t belong in an expensive boutique because surely the sales assistants would stare at me for not being skinny/fashionable/rich enough… Marrying a Muslim, changing pretty much everything about myself, and still feeling crushed every time he criticised me… Only enjoying the hobbies I was good at because I couldn’t stand being anything less than perfect…

Most of us are unfortunate enough to care about what others think. Add that on top of a cruel addiction to the drug of approval and you’re guaranteed a hellish existence. How many of you have turned vegetarian just because your boyfriend turned up his nose every time you scoffed a burger? Would you be brave enough to leave your iPod playing in shuffle mode when other people are around even though you have a seriously embarrassing secret penchant for The Backstreet Boys? Do you squeeze yourself into skinny jeans because that’s what all your style crushes/college friends are wearing? Do you observe yourself behaving differently around different sets of people? You don’t curse and you use words like “potentially” and “ostentatious” when you’re around Group A. You laugh uproariously at dirty jokes and innuendo (“In YOUR endo!”) when you’re with Group B. You discuss politics and current affairs/spirituality and health/psychology and literature/celebrity gossip and makeup tips with Group C, D, E and F, while sipping on a skinny latte/shot of wheatgrass/large glass of merlot/Flaming Sambuca.

"Lean too much on the approval of people, and it becomes a bed of thorns." Teysi Hsieh

These days, I kind of hope I’m not good at stuff because maintaining perfection is a lot of pressure. It’s exhausting trying to keep up the facade. I just want to do things because they’re fun and I enjoy them. From now on, I’m going to leave excellence to the experts. I’m delighted that I’m not going to live like that any more. It’s a relief to finally let go and just be. Yes, sometimes my reactions are automatic (it’s hard to break the habits of a lifetime) but when I stop and ask myself, Do you really care what they think?, the answer is a resounding NO!

It’s about time you found out who the real you really is. Get to know yourself and discover what it is that you want and like and need. It is a thoroughly enjoyable and rewarding process. However, I’ll bet that most people are too afraid to even ask themselves the question Am I being true to myself? because they’re terrified of the answer. Change is scary and a hell of a lot of hard work.

I don’t know about you but I don’t want to waste my life pretending to be somebody else, putting myself under constant pressure, striving for perfection, caring what others think, and giving my power away to everybody else. This drug of approval has lost its appeal. Yes, it will try to claw its way back in. And I will be sorely tempted to give in, just to avoid the crippling withdrawal symptoms. But I am determined to finally kick the habit.

Featured Image: http://www.graphicshunt.com/search/6/butterflies.htm

Images: http://www.imageblogs.org/fabulous-child-photography-to-remember-childhood/fabulous-child-photography-to-remember-childhood-9; http://trendland.net/julia-fullerton-batten-photography/#; http://www.flickr.com/photos/19722425@N02/3890967883/; http://novacaine-kills.xanga.com/?uni33319937-direction=n