Time for change
I'm part of Dove's #pledgetobereal. Will you join me?
A few weeks ago I went to the Mumsnet bloggers conference, Blogfest 2016. It was an amazing day of networking and inspiration with serious powerhouse women, and I came away feeling pretty great.
I had a hundred brilliant and memorable conversations that day, but one in particular has stuck with me more than any other. Perhaps that’s because it was quite timely, given that I had decided only that week to publicise my battle with a debilitating eating disorder via Mumbelievable.
That conversation was with a couple of gorgeous women from Dove, who were one of the main sponsors at Blogfest.
They have launched an incredible campaign to challenge businesses, publishers, editors and advertisers to up their game in promoting true diversity and ending the unrealistic media depiction of women.
When I look back on my life, I realise just how much subliminal messaging hitting me from all angles as a young woman growing up has shaped the way I have felt about myself in terms of my physical appearance and how it is inextricably linked to my worthiness.
I’ve spent years battling with low self-esteem and body confidence, and my issues are shared by millions of women in the UK. This has to stop.
The Dove Global Beauty and Confidence Report was published earlier this year and found that not only does body-focused advertising have a direct effect on how women and girls feel about themselves (no surprise there) but that this leads to a staggering number (89% of UK women and 85% of UK girls with low self-esteem) missing out of amazing life experiences and holding themselves back from living their lives to the full.
Even more worrying, was the report’s finding that 90% of UK women and 88% of UK girls who report low body confidence have skipped meals or put their health at risk in other ways because they feel so terrible about how they look.
I went through hell during my battle with an eating disorder. It is a battle I will always be fighting. Now, I’m winning. But it took years to get to this place. The place I wondered a gazillion times actually existed.
Until now, I had looked at my own experiences, the people in my life and how they had shaped my self-perception.
But this campaign has forced me to face up to the fact that I too have been profoundly affected by the ways women and girls in the media are thrust at us.
So what can we do?
We can teach our children about what qualities are truly important.
We can show them why the media portrayal of what’s real is a complete lie.
We can model the confidence we want them to develop, and help them by helping ourselves to re-programme a lifetime of false messaging.
We can tear up the magazines and refuse to buy the ones that make us feel terrible that we don’t match up.
We can refuse to look at online tabloids which perpetuate this disgrace and shame us into believing we’re not good enough..
We can bombard social media with images of real beauty, in all its forms and drown out the noise of unachievable so-called perfection.
Here’s one, taken at Blogfest in front of Dove’s giant #pledgetobereal mirror alongside two truly gorgeous women, Emma (the hilarious and all-round mega HashtagBadparent) and Elaine (the brilliant and very cool Hackney Mama).
I’m part of the #pledgetobereal. Will you join me?
I created this post in support of Dove and the Be Real Body Image Pledge.