Web 2.0 Protest #MeToo

On Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and other social media platforms, the #MeToo appeared to be in the heat of what turned out to be a global protest. In 2017, Alyssa Milano used her power and of influence 3.49 million followers on Twitter, spoke out on Twitter and kicked off the #MeToo campaign on social media, which explains the importance of raising awareness to tackle sexual harassment and assault issues. Popular Youtube clips with million views show Bollywood actress Hungama talking about young girls coming from small towns that have to face blackmailing producers. Also, Kendall Jenner, Gigi Hadid, Ashley Graham, all famous supermodels sat down with Vogue Runway Director Nicole Phelps to talk misconceptions, evolution, and the cruel reality of their powerhouse careers. Examples abound in our technologically mediated society, where messages about feminism are frequently expressed in the form of hashtags, memes, and video spread across social media platforms. In this paper, I discuss the potential benefits and drawbacksof hashtag activism, with an emphasis on the creativity it involves and how digital media has affected the way people use the internet to protest. The reach of social media platforms makes it a potentially valuable tool for activists, the online space allows for “intertextuality, or cross-reference between social context, public events and developments, and the political scene” (Harp, Loke & Bachmann, page 208, 2018)

As Iosifidis and Wheeler (2016) have discussed, over the past two decades since the spread of the internet, a new general opinion has emerged. The authors further argued, that at first some negative voices have expressed their opinion and claimed that it would have little impact on the political world. However, now most scholars agree that the emergence of modern mass communication and spread of social media, have ardent impacted politics and participation.The authors further explain the issue until now, that there hasn’t been a consensus in relation of how and to what extent the internet has impact on democratic politics.The problem has been expressed in debates and has vastly widespread to a group of participants, ‘optimists’ and ‘pessimists’ as the authors have described them.At the majority of these debates, even though these labels for the participators are to some extent valid, they lack to provide sufficient analytic insight. “All too often in the past, the questions themselves were formulated in a totalising way: either the web, with its social media and affordances, is good for the democracy and the public sphere, or it is detrimental-with expectations set on a once-and-for-all answer.” (Iosifidis, & Wheeler, p. 5, 2016)

Hashtags in particular I argue, go beyond creating dialogue and conversation. By creating a ‘common language’ it has helped create global awareness, further the hashtag works as a cue in the public sphere working against the traditional gatekeepers that block this kind of stories from surfacing. The hashtag, is also an easy identifier helping activists but also people that heard about it to find out news and stories about that topic instantly. In addition, extensive input in hashtag activism works as a cue to repeatedly grab the attention of social media users in order to pass the massage of social justice. It is also noteworthy to mention, that there is a big potential in hashtag activism as it can reach expansive audiences, a space of communication is a positive attribute for activists. Sapiera, E., (2017) has observed three ways new media contribute to democratic politics. Firstly, it provides direct communication between all levels of authority and enables deliberation and shared communication and shaping opinions about issues. Furthermore, new media allow the creation of new kinds of subjectivity, potentially creating a more democratic model of politics, powerful enough to make an impact within the society rather than to the broader system. Lastly, it complements journalisms’ main political functions which include informing the mass, enabling them to form an opinion, express that opinion and hold authorities accountable for their actions, in an era where traditional media have been criticized for failing to fulfil its duties, in producing ethical journalism because of prioritizing profits at the expense of serving politics. (Sapiera, p.56-57, 2017)

As many have described as eccentric, author Gauntlett, D. (2013) in his book Making is Connecting, has vastly concentrated on addressing how the Web 2.0 has helped in some particular ways to contribute creativity in order to favour social links. As Thély, N. (2013) said, the book seems to echo the question of the concept of modern emancipation, as voiced in the 1980s by the French philosopher Jacques Rancière. Guantlett’s study thus contributes to the debate that has then started, about the formulation and acceptance of the society’s emancipations, an elemental concept of humanism and for modern-day democracies. Guantlett, D (2013) has argued that Web 2.0 works as a tool in the online and offline world, embracing those activities, enabling communication, creating networks. He gives an example that made real world impact, the case of environmental concerns that inspired people around the world to diminish the number of things they consume, and discover new ways to recycle. In relation with online protest, I argue it has empowered people to create networks of people and through the advances that the web has to offer, to make and connect. This tool, gives people access to other ways of protest without having to ask any kind of permission. Through the online movement that has been created #MeToo, against sexual assault and harassment, the hashtag that has shared its massage and will stay online. Users using different platforms were using this form of protest hoping to raise awareness and optimistically create social change. People protested by sharing their stories, just by sharing their stories and adding the particular nametag, making their input to the movement.

Guantlett, D (2013) has described making is connecting in three principle ways:

  1. “Making is connecting because you have to connect things together (materials, ideas, or both) to make something new;
  2. Making is connecting because acts of creativity usually involve, at some point, a social dimension and connect us with other people;
  3. And making is connecting because through making things and sharing them in the world, we increase our engagement and connection with our social and physical environments.”(Guantlett, p.2, 2013)

I believe what Guantlett said in relation to protest is a form of making and connecting. Protest relates with making is connecting because people connected together their ideas to create something new, in the case of the #MeToo a viral hashtag movement. Secondly, because of this act of creativity that involved thousands of people from different parts of the world finding a mutual connection; saw the issue that has proven to be a global problem, that was revealed through the usage of the several variations hashtag in different countries. Lastly, through the collaborative creation of the movement and the sharing of stories, people found physical connection which is shown by the real protests that have been organized also through digital media. I reason, that the break of silence on the topic in the traditional media was as a result of covering the events that took place after the movement, and after the accusations of celebrities surfaced numerous articles were written. It seems like the media acted in their best interest and produced stories that knew would generate monetary profits for their publications.

Web 2.0 has helped people understand the power they hold as both consumers but also producers. The fact that the internet gives the opportunity to everyone who has access to the internet to be producers has empowered many to protest, changing the way people connect and interact on the internet. This marks a powerful shift from the ‘sit back and be told’ culture to the ‘making and doing culture’ as Guantlett has described. Guantlett defines everyday creativity as “a process which bring together at least one active human mind, and the material or digital world, in the activity of making something which is novel in that context, and is a process which evokes a feeling of joy.” (Guantlett, p. 76, 2013). In the definition the author makes two important statements. Firstly, that the act of creativity can include more than one person, and the material or digital world, and that the process itself evokes a feeling of happiness. I argue that the definition is quite narrow since it has been shown that human beings not only create to feel joy but in many cases creativity is also as a result of expression good or bad. It has been for many years now speculated that there’s some correlation between sadness and creativity, globally renown Van Gogh has created amazing acts of creativity and is also very famous about his melancholy. However, professor Ken Robinson, also talked about creativity and has defined it as “the process of having original ideas that have value.” Even though Robinsons definition may be broader in context, it fails to make reference to emotion and instead focused in the value of the act of creativity.

Gauntlett, D., (2013) has identified this shift of the culture, a shift towards a more of a ‘making and doing culture’. He argues that “…offline and online activities –with bigger issues: real social problems rather than virtual online socializing. This connects with the argument –or the hope –that we are seeing a shift away from a ’sit back and be told’ culture towards a more of a ‘making and doing culture’. (Gauntlett, p.14, 2013) Furthermore, he has discussed that there is an obvious shift towards a more interactive tendency online, while impacts the way people spend their time and therefore how they connect with each other. In the book he defines creativity as “a process by which a symbolic domain in the culture is changed.” (Gauntlett, p.20, 2013)

From a different perspective, Castells, M. (2013) in Communication Power, has argued that freedom of expression on the internet in the world is often scrutinized since its surveilled by some governments, ideological religious institutions and others powerful authorities. He also mentions that privacydoes no longer exist, after the birth of “cookies” and personal data-retrieving strategies. However, Castells understands the benefits the internet has to offer. He argues that at the same time traditional institutions are still using power to regulate the web, “social actors and individual citizens around the world are using the new capacity of communication networking to advance their projects, to defend their interests, and to assert their values… furthermore, they have become increasingly aware of the crucial role of the new multimedia system and its regulatory institutions in the culture and politics of society… so, the new field of communication in our time is emerging through a process of multidimensional change shaped by conflicts rooted in the contradictory structure of interests and values that constitute society.” (Castells, p.57, 2013). Castells, further acknowledges that these kind of social movements are often formed by people communicating common massages of range and hope. He argues that the structure of communication that the Web introduced, gives the opportunity to the given society to form social movements, politics talk, revolutionary or not, to be shaped in the public space. This public space, is the space where societal, meaningful as he has described interactions where their values and ideas, can be formed, supported, or even disapproved. In other words, a public space that fits action and reaction. The control of socialized communication throughout history, Castells describes as what was the power of ideological and political authorities, since it was under their control. This new networked society thus has empowered people more than ever. In the era that is described as an era of the rise of mass self-communication, social movements and digital activism have the opportunity to enter the public space from many sources. Furthermore, I identified that there is the advantage of both digital media to work as a tool for activists to express themselves, this increases their chances of making a change.

However, the author makes an important identification that the particular multimedia networks themselves as a new structure of communication do not have the ability to create networks, it is the decisions and instructions of their programmers that holds the power in this space. In his framework Castells argues that the networking power strongly consists if the people in power allow the medium of message enter through gatekeeping procedures. This contradicts theories of many scholars, possibly over-optimistic such as Guantlett that have argued that the Web 2.0 is a space of free communication, a significant shift in the democratization of politics through social media. Even though this is true to one extent, I argue that more research must be conducted in order to determine the pitfalls of self-mass communication through social media platforms and examine the power that the companies behind them hold. It has been proven recently that we might live in an era where we want to believe that this new kind of social-media oriented society gives us the opportunity to freely communicate but with the surface of scandals such the recent Facebook privacy breach has brought some debates regarding the democracy involved on the internet. Further, Castells argues that “those in charge of the operations of each communication network are the gatekeepers, and so they exercise networking power by blocking or allowing access to media outlets and/or to messages that are conveyed to the network.” (Castells, p.418, 2013)

The late Kurt Lewin, was a scholar that has provided the field of social science with an applied definition of the phenomenon gatekeeper. Lewin argued the process of a news item entering the gatekeepers, that functioned as gates and affected where or not it would pass through certain communication channels. In order to explain the process further, Lewin said that the process is ruled either by industry rules or by gatekeepers, and in the concluding phase by an individual or group of individuals that have the authority of making the decision if the news items passes the ‘gates’. In other words, Castells calls it gatekeeping the nodes and gatekeeping the messages.  However, it is important to identify how the rise of mass self-communication has affected the power of the gatekeepers’ capability of the programmers of mass communication. In the case of #MeToo has been proven that the creation of the idea has reached the world at large and to further cause social change and brought justice to same cases of sexual harassment and assault. Expectantly, after bringing light to the problem may benefit and act as a cue for the public interest, bring awareness and changes in the space of workforce where statistics prove a power epidemic, where “Nearly 50% of men think women are well-represented in leadership in companies where only one in ten senior leaders is a woman.” Despite Castells further claims that “gatekeeping still yields considerable networking power because most socialized communication is still processed through the mass media, and the most popular information web sites are those of the mainstream media because of the importance of branding in the source of the message.” (Castells, p.418, 2013) It is also evident that the government still holds control over the internet, there are examples of countries that have an immerse impact on what their people can access. Internet censorship in China is among the strictest in the world that includes a variety of laws and regulations imposed by the Chinese government. “The Great Firewall of China” as it has been widely described is governed by the authorities that not only block website content but also monitor internet usage of individuals. Even though the apparatus of China’s internet control is possibly the severest than any other country in the world, it could be argued that other more democratic states such as the US face other problems. Corporate businesses have showcased attempts to enclose telecommunication networks in their privately owned digital platforms, proving that the persistence of the networking power stills is held in the power of the gatekeepers.

The movement fights against the high numbers of sexual assault and harassment. Statistics show that there have been numerous attacks especially in the workplace. According to UN Women, it is estimated that 35% of women worldwide have experienced either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or sexual violence by a non-partner (not including sexual harassment) at some point in their lives. In addition to, around 120 million girls worldwide (slightly more than 1 in 10) have experienced forced intercourse or other forced sexual acts at some point in their lives. Furthermore, it seems to be a vast problem in the workplace. According to the TUC, Sexual harassment in the workplace in 2016 research, 52% of women are sexually harassed at work in the UK. To further back up these claims, according to Cosmopolitans Survey: 1 in 3 women has been sexually harassed at work.

The hashtag was virally spread in October 2017, after American Actress Alyssa Milano tweeted: “If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted write ‘me too’ as a reply to this tweet.” Within 24 hours she had received more than 500000 responses using the hashtag. Her post not only generated thousands of replies and retweets but also inspired thousands more original posts on social media, with women and men from around the world sharing personal stories. Among the celebrities who responded were Cara Delevingne, Lady Gaga and Evan Rachel Wood. I believe that the involvement of renowned people boosted the ongoing movement. However, the fact that in 2006 when the movement was firstly created, hashtag activism didn’t yet become a popular form of digital activism, also raises some questions.

Bonilla and Rosa (2015) explains the symbol, a familiar tool across platforms mostly Twitter often used as a way of creating a conversation within the platform. It is also “an indexing system in both the clerical sense and the semiotic sense. In the clerical sense, it allows the ordering and quick retrieval of information about a specific topic.” (Bonilla & Rosa, page, 2015). According to data from Ezy Insights (2017) the hashtag has been used more than 200,000 times by October 15 and it was tweeted more than 500,000 times by October 16. On Facebook, the hashtag had been used by more than 4,7 million posts during the first 24 hours. The platform reported that 45% of users in the US had a friend who had posted using the hashtag.

According to a study conducted by D’Efilippo, V., (2018) The anatomy of a hashtag — a visual analysis of the MeToo Movement.A data visualization that represents Trending seeds, of the most popular tweets from October 2017 through March 2018. While media outlets created substantial awareness on Twitter regarding the issue, the hashtag has allowed celebrities and regular people to share their opinions and experiences, with the help of digital media as a tool and space to create discussions without the traditional gatekeepers. The data visualisation also represents Seeds where, each seed shows individual tweets and conversations around key events. Results from the MeToo Momentum, (2018) include important stepping points that formed the movement.

On October 5th2017the New York Times, published an article with very detailed allegations of sexual harassment against famous Hollywood persona Harvey Weinstein, uncovering the dark corruption of Hollywood’s gender culture. Furthermore, on October 25th2017the European Parliament hosts a discussion on sexual violence and harassment, following claims that Brussels government ignored serious allegations of institutional assault, rape and harassment, an abuse of power, something that turned out to be a global phenomenon.  Tweets show involvement of other powerful men, such as American president Donald Trump, a few British MPs and other high profile individuals. On January 8th2018, Oprah Winfrey’s gave a speech at Golden Globes. Oprah delivered a powerful speech as she received The Cecil B. DeMille Award, she was the first black woman to be honoured with it. Her speech has helped other hashtags and initiatives grow. This reveals a profound shift, a statement that after raise of awareness comes action, and thence social change.

On the 21stof January 2018 when themovement went from the web to the streets, hundreds of thousands of women around the world take to the streets for the 2018 Women’s March. It was massive in scale, believed to have been achieved through high social media engagement. The movement further spread around the world on International Women’s Day, on March 8th2018.

MeToo may have started in America their voice spread quickly around the globe, helping survivors.The hashtag has managed to spread across the world, and was trending in 85 countries. Other than celebrities, many women also spoke out: nurses, teachers, engineers, lawyers, waitresses and students. The people who have broken their silence span all races, all professions and virtually every corner of the globe. It offers hope that many of the unheard voices can help bring results in institutional and cultural change. In the case of #MeToo people demanded a change in the issue, as a result their anger has turned into a powerful voice and bloomed the creation of other similar movements such as TimesUp, a movement fighting for the same things but specifies more about sexual assault and harassment in the workplace.

In addition, the movement is also very approachable, accessible but also widespread. This means that even though it has positive outcomes many have criticized it for promoting wrong feminism values and creating hatred towards feminists.In an article by Zeilinger, J., (2018) The #Metoo Movement is affecting men too. Zeilinger explained a poll that MTV created showed, thattweets have helped raise awareness by victims sharing their stories. 40% of young men said the #MeToo movement has changed the way they interact in potential romantic relationships. Therefore, as a result, many came forward and apologized for their behavior on social media. Also, many other media outlets such as The Record and NorthJerseyhave asked for peoples stories. Anzidei, M., (2017). the author of the article #MeToo: The stories of sexual assault you haven’t heardsaid, “Now, people living beyond the limelight — those who otherwise might have remained silent — have felt empowered to come forward.”This proves that for decades, many women lived with those bad experiences, not reporting it or even mentioning it to others, they claim that the movement has changed everything.

 Social awareness has been raised, about the taboo topic that was not discussed much in mainstream media, has managed to make some kind of social. Optimistically, people might now change the way they act but also how they react to this kind of situations. The hashtag has motivated many women around the world to speak up for their rights, not only online but also on the streets. Women protest in Hollywood after allegations of high profile individuals surfaced. As a result of the allegations followed, Spacey lost roles, and others have admitted their wrong doings.Simultaneously, The Google global protest began at 11.10am in Tokyo,they followed allegations of sexual misconduct made against senior executives, which organizers said are the most high-profile examples of thousands of similar cases across the company.Following, McDonalds employees who marched for their rights all around the US, shouting, “Hold your burgers, hold your fries. Keep your hands off my thighs.” In other cities, they had blue duct tape that said “MeToo” covering their mouths, as a form of epxression. The demands included improvement of training programs, a more effective way to report complaints and a committee dedicated to addressing sexual harassment issues.Other protesters were arrested during a demonstration in opposition to President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, after he was accused by Christine Blasey Ford after the alleged sexually assaulted her roughly 30 years ago. This particular story was highly discussed in traditional media since, it was a hot debate topic. Many criticized Mrs. Ford for waiting so many years to come forward and make the accusations. However, this might discourage others who may have also never opened up and shared their story.

Further, high profile individuals, someof the most well know people on the planet such as Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, and more have been accused. This has affected Companies, have also been affected some suffered from the acts of individual people. Netflix cancelled production of hit series House of CardsAfter Kevin Spacey was accused. Furthermore, victimsmight be today able to relate better with other victims. #MeToo has made this silenced issue very public. Optimistically, they are able to come forward and make sure the alleged attack is properly investigated. Raise of social awareness, is apparent in the most popular search terms on Google search globally. It had much impact concerning bullying, harassment and feminism. I argue that the movement has made quite an impact on society, especially the younger generation and may possibly lead to institutional change, where women are respected more and where workplace isn’t a hot environment where these unfortunate events take place. Movements like this may lead into changes in legislation, as it has been shown, some countries such as Sweden, started a political debated over abuse, sexual harassment and equality after the movement began. Lastly but not least, it affected values and ethics, in other words, sexual harassment is enabled by a culture of silence, for many reasons. Now it is something that is loudly spoken about.

In conclusion, the internet age has better equipped people to deal with these issues. Social media has democratized feminism, helping women to share their experiences. It has brought the idea of sexual harassment and assault into the public consciousness, breaking the taboo conversations. The #MeToo movement with many local and international alternatives, that was founded in 2006, but it wasn’t until 2017 the hashtag #MeToo has made it renowned worldwide. I argue, is it possible that it wasn’t spread due to the limitations people digitally had and was widely affected to become mainstream due to celebrities’ stories. Whatever the case it is arguable that the hashtag has been an important tool for social and political activism online. People in this case have fought to raise awareness, as a new form of social change through social media, hoping to draw attention to the issue of sexual harassment and assault by using a specific metadata, #MeToo. Even though its questionable from many scholars and academic, this new mechanism for social change in our new media environment, I argue that #MeToo was effective and managed to change some ideologies especially in the workforce but also bring justice to some victims and optimistically enable others to come out and speak up for the experiences on such a taboo issue. We must keep in mind that the benefits the Web 2.0 has to offer are huge. It can help people discover, inform and create both as consumers and producers. This shift is a stepping stone for activism since, as Castells has mentioned “anything that reaches the Internet may reach the world at large.” (Castells, p.418, 2013) However, there are limitations that need to be researched in order to determine the correlation between traditional media and online activism in our technology mediated society.

Reference: 

  1. Abrams, R., The New York Times, (2018) McDonald’s Workers Across the U.S. Stage #MeToo Protests. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/18/business/mcdonalds-strike-metoo.html
  2. Anzidei, M., (2017). #MeToo: The stories of sexual assault you haven’t heardRetrieved from NorthJersey https://eu.northjersey.com/story/news/2017/12/11/metoo-stories-sexual-assault-you-havent-heard/924437001/
  3. Bonilla, Y., & Rosa, J. (2015). # Ferguson: Digital protest, hashtag ethnography, and the racial politics of social media in the United States. American Ethnologist42(1), 4-17.
  4. Castells, M. (2013). Communication power. OUP Oxford.
  5. D’Efilippo, V., (2018) The anatomy of a hashtag — a visual analysis of the MeToo Movement.Retrieved from https://medium.muz.li/the-anatomy-of-a-hashtag-a-visual-analysis-of-the-metoo-movement-ba4ecf9b130b
  6. 6.    Donegan, M., 17. The Guardian (2018). After the Google walkout, is #Me Too about to get more militant? Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/nov/02/google-walkout-me-too-strike
  7. Ezy Insights (2017). Retrieved from https://ezyinsights.com/metoo-viral-event-2017-1/
  8. Gauntlett, D. (2013). Making is connecting. John Wiley & Sons.
  9. Harp, D., Loke, J., & Bachmann, I. (Eds.). (2018). Feminist Approaches to Media Theory and Research.
  10. Iosifidis, P., & Wheeler, M. (2016). Public spheres and mediated social networks in the western context and beyond.
  11. Karson, K., ABC News, (2018).Kavanaugh protests serve as flashpoints as #MeToo movement and politics collide. Retrieved from https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/kavanaugh-protests-flashpoints-metoo-movement-politics-collide/story?id=57983874
  12. 12.  Kendall Jenner, Gigi Hadid, Ashley Graham, and Paloma Elsesser on Modeling & #MeToo | Vogue. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-kdDrdXV6_E
  13. Lady Gaga. (2017) (#MeToo Tweet). Retrieved from https://twitter.com/ladygaga/status/919698717392887808
  14. Make-music-better.com. Retrieved from https://www.make-music-better.com/definition-of-creativity.html
  15. (2018) Retrieved from http://metoomentum.com/trending.html
  16. Milano, A. (2017) (Viral #MeToo Tweet). Retrieved from https://twitter.com/alyssa_milano/status/919659438700670976?lang=en
  17. Rachelwood, E. (2017) (#MeToo Tweet). Retrieved from https://twitter.com/evanrachelwood/status/919778625536245760
  18. 18.  Rakhi Sawant: “Short Skirt Pahno Par SHORT CUT Mat Apnao” | #MeToo Movement. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IwOMfaWO5gA
  19. The Guardian. (2018). #MeToo: thousands march in LA as sexual misconduct allegations continue. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/nov/12/metoo-march-hollywood-sexual-assault-harassment
  20. Thély, N. (2013). David Gauntlett, Making is Connecting, The social meaning of creativity, from DIY and knitting to YouTube and Web 2.0. Cambridge: Polity Press, 2011, 232 pages.  The French Journal of Media Studies,(4).
  21. Retrieved from https://www.tuc.org.uk
  22. UN Women. Retrieved from http://www.unwomen.org/en/what-we-do/ending-violence-against-women/facts-and-figures
  23. Women in the workplace (2018). Retrieved from https://womenintheworkplace.com
  24. Zeilinger, J., (2018) The #Metoo Movement is affecting men too.Retrieved from MTV NEWS http://www.mtv.com/news/3059457/mtv-survey-men-metoo/

Plus size model controversy and obesity representation in the media.

It is widespread believed that we live in an alleged obesity epidemic, this has been discussed by public health authorities and governments expressing their concerns. Obesity is highly discussed in traditional mass media and digital media, raising numerous issues that have drawn the attention of academics, healthcare workers, policy makers and others in the fields of health and illness. Obesity and overweight, according to the World Health Organization, are defined as abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that presents a risk to health. Most of the world’s population measure of obesity, is the body mass index (BMI). There are many health risks associated with obesity and globally more than 1 in 10 humans are obese. Simultaneously in this era society norms define beautiful as thin, statistics say, 70 million are suffering from eating disorders worldwide and 1 in 4 in the world. James, Leach, Kalamara and Shayeghi (2001) have argued that “this focus on thinness emerges as a universalistic value that not only rests on questionable assumptions about health benefits, but is loaded with implicit ideals around body norms.”

Scholars have described obesity as “a chronic disease that is associated with increased morbidity and mortality, including cancer, cardiovascular disease, disability, diabetes… and stroke.” In addition, it further mentions the crude reality of the disease arguing that, “overweight and obesity are the fifth leading cause of death in the world, accounting for nearly 3,4 million deaths annually.” (Smith, & Smith, 2016) The significance of the problem is much larger because the numbers show worrying signs, especially since according to WHO, 41 million children under the age of 5 were overweight or obese of these over 340 million children and adolescents aged 5-19 were overweight or obese. Furthermore, worldwide obesity has nearly tripled since 1975, the recent WHO report has showed evidence of what was the cause of the obesity epidemic. It is caused by energy imbalance between calories consumed and calories expended, the report also indicates that is a global obesity epidemic because there has been an increased intake of energy-dense foods that are high in fat in addition to the significant shift in our lifestyle over the past decades – urbanization, desk work, and change in transportation.

We are seeing obese people being portrayed as an ‘acephalous society’ in the mainstream media. Obesity causes health problems but also can lead to numerous psychological problems caused by the societal stigma associated with it. This doesn’t only affect obese individuals, since this obliquity of the thin body ideal may have caused some misperceptions about the socially constructed body image. Research has shown that the “majority of females and about one-fourth of men who are objectively normal weight perceive themselves to be overweight.” (Cash, & Hicks, 1990) In addition, Webb, Fiery, and Jafari, (2016) further discuss the problem of the thin body ideal in culture, where the idealization of the thin and ‘fit’ body is affecting many women and girls negatively, resulting with the intolerance and devaluation of being fat. In addition, argues that stigma reflects badly fat individuals in a dominant sociopolitical ideology that values self-determination and personal control in a way that overweight individuals are deemed to be responsible for their appearance and that their consequent marginalization is of their ‘deserving’.

Obesity sceptics disagree, argued against this sociological ideology. Deborah Lupton (2013) argues that obesity sceptics have for some years now argued against mainstream medical and public health perspectives surrounding the topic. She argues that some writers, have convincingly defined obesity, by identifying inaccuracies, biases and misleading assumptions and overviews made in scientific and epidemiological research which have added to the idea that we live in an era of an obesity epidemic and that being over the defined ‘normal’ BMI inevitably damages people’s health. Lupton further points out some particular points that obesity sceptics specify. One of them is that because there is a concerning increase of fat individuals compared to some decades ago, whereas there has been a modest increase in average weight does not prove the alleged obesity epidemic. In addition, excess weight is often a symptom rather than the cause of health risks and diseases. Furthermore, Lupton argues that there is no statistical evidence that fatness is linked to greater risk to health. The statistics show that only morbidly obese individuals, are in high risk and show negative health effects due to their body state. Obesity sceptics also point out data research, that in some cases such as in the instance of older people, higher body weight may have positive effects on their health.

Fat discrimination still socially acceptable even though, obesity and all the related effects of it are still being researched, societal ideology and perceptions, as well as other factors, influence the way individuals feel, communicate and participate. Often, people who are deemed overweight or obese suffer discrimination and humiliation in different forms. In the mainstream media, television programs present themselves as producers of entertainment and as influencers for tackling obesity by raising awareness and maybe motivating for some individuals, often are discussed on social media between viewers ordinarily fat shame participants. In news media reports, it is common that the ‘acephalous society’ is constantly displayed headless on photographs with their heads cropped off, and the commonly use such critical expressions, is marginalising to those individuals. Furthermore, Luton (2013) discusses how this perspective is leading to a massive vicious circle “given the discrimination to which they are subjected, it is not surprising that fat people are more likely than others to suffer from depression, anxiety and low self-esteem, which in turn may lead to a greater likelihood to eat for comfort. Medication taken for these mental health conditions may also lead to gaining excessive weight.” The author further discusses, whether or not the socioeconomic disadvantage can lead to obesity, or if obesity itself causes different forms of socioeconomic disadvantage, is a hot point of discussion. Lupton, also argues against people who discriminate and those who think fat shaming is appropriate “All of us are implicated if we accept the negative concepts of fatness that currently circulate in our culture and tolerate fat discrimination from others.” (Lupton, 2013)

Cosmopolitan is an international fashion magazine for women, it is one of the best-selling magazines, and is read mostly by women. On October 2017 even though Cosmopolitan UK featured a plus size model before, that particulars months’ issue staring Tess Holliday sparked some debates. Piers Morgan famous British TV presenter, tweeted: “This is very sad. She badly needs better friends, who are going to be more honest with her & explain she is dangerously overweight & should do something about it.” On the 3rdof September the critics continued on the ITV chat show Morgan presents, where he was hosting a debate following the news that obesity is likely to overtake smoking as the leading cause of women’s cancers in the next 25 years. Morgan once again defended his comments and accused Cosmpolitan of ‘glamourizing obesity’. He further claimed Holliday was being exploited by the fashion industry which discourages her from losing weight to make money from her being plus size. Morgan also invited the editor of the magazine, Farrah Storr to a debate, criticizing that the cover is ‘wrong’ and ‘dangerous’. Storr, argued that they are not promoting obesity but diversity: “We have a crisis with mental health and people feeling terrible about body image. So this cover, this one cover which has a larger lady (how could it promote obesity) in a world, in a culture which has venerated since I can remember thinness?” Most of the discussion focused on the risks, and that the industry is glamourizing obesity, without considering the dangers of it, solely for the sake of money. As Cosmopolitan editor stated above, it wasn’t trying to glamourize obesity but promote a positive body image.

Over the last years, many body positivity activism has emerged. Holliday, herself is a body positivity activist, who started the #effyourbeautystandards campaign on Instagram which has more than 3 million posts. The movement shows women that they do not have to be a certain size to love their body (big or small) and that their size should not dictate their fashion choices. She also is the author of The Not So Subtle Art of Being a Fat Girl, a plea for modern women, to be comfortable in their own skin. The model pushed back against Morgan’s comments about her body, on ITV’s This Morning show and stated “My message isn’t ‘let’s all be fat’, my message is ‘let’s love yourself, regardless of how you look in your current body’ – because your mental health is far more important, before you can worry about your physical health.” Thompson and Heinberg (1999) have addressed many factors that influence the development of eating disorders, some of the factors include, criticizing and fat-shaming by parents, peers or other individuals, negative emotions, poor interceptive awareness, and social pressure. However, they said that recently it has been received that the most important contributor to body image and eating disorders is the role of the media and sociocultural factors.

According to Bailey, Gammage and van Ingen (2017) “body image is a complex phenomenon, including many components with gender, ethnic, and sociocultural influences, which has led to some terminological confusion among researchers” (Bailey, Gammage & van Ingen, 2017) From the earliest days Slade, (1994) argued that it is not a simple perceptual phenomenon, even when an individual’s perception of their own body is measured, the judgments he/she makes are highly influenced by cognitive, affective, attitudinal, and other variables. Thompson and Heinberg, (1999) have argued how sociocultural pressures can be caused by a variety of factors, also that mass media are the most persuasive and effective communicators of these sociocultural standards. Mass media, further have the ability to communicate with large audiences with the goal of maximizing their profit, and the way images of beauty are communicated today has changed, resulting into a harsh criticism by body image researchers. In addition, they have argued that “It has been clearly demonstrated that print media and television affect how individuals feel about their bodies.” Further the exposure to media may lead to influence body image negatively causing eating disorders, mostly among girls and women, and that based upon the findings, high dose of exposure may be considered “toxic.” ” (Thompson & Heinberg, 1999)

This essay explores whether Cosmopolitan which has immerse influence on the most affected people, practices journalism in a way that prevents unrealistic body image ideals? A content analysis of articles and magazines covers helped conduct a small research in order to determine body image influence by the media. In order to determine whether lifestyle magazines such as Cosmopolitan are glamourizing obesity or thinness, I have observed the last 24 cover issues (January 2017-December 2018) of Cosmopolitan UK and conducted a content analysis of the 13 articles Cosmopolitan.com.uk has published under the search term: obesity. The articles were analysed but determining from their content whether they are glamourizing obesity or are against it. Results from the covers show that from the 24 covers only two models are plus size. In 2017 only 1 out of 12 covers featured a plus size model, renowned Ashley Graham and in 2018 again only one cover featured a plus size model, Tess Holliday. Furthermore, results obtained from the content analysis showed that out of 13 articles that fall in the obesity category, 10 of the articles are neither against or glamourizing obesity, 3 are against it, and none of the articles seem to be glamourizing obesity. Interestingly, the results from the search term: diet, come up with 529 articles, but why only 13 articles about obesity? The articles that are neither against or glamourizing obesity are mostly informative, indicating risks for example without being insulting. Furthermore, the articles that were against it, include an article that points out the tax burden of obesity to other citizens.

cosmo2017
Cosmopolitan UK Covers 2017

collage18
Cosmopolitan UK Covers 2018

For those interested I would strongly suggest that focusing on theoretical perspectives for understanding media effects on obesity representation and the thin body ideal in society. Further research is needed that examines exposure to media representations of the thin female body and its influence on women’s body image satisfaction. It is important to get a better understanding whether publications such as cosmopolitan, glamourize obesity how they use their influence on an immerse audience of 14,087,000 total women, according to their recent demographic profile. This study lacks a broader evaluation of anti-fat perspective article content in the media. Further research is needed to understand why dieting articles are more popular. Yamamiya et al. (2005) said researchers found that in the USA, 94% personalities in television are thinner than the average woman, where they are associated with happiness, attractiveness, and success in life. They further observed how the media urge people to diet in order to accomplish a thin body. And this thin body ideal is also positively correlated with body image dissatisfaction, which often results to mental disturbances, eating disorders and lack of self-esteem. Limitation in studies up to date also need to examine further the immediacy of digital media that enables users to form an opinion and share it instantly, and how that further affects body image, and its critics by media but also the networked society.

To conclude, females in our society are suffering from body dissatisfaction resulting the strong media attention on thinness in relation with beauty. They further argued that societal and institutional changes need to made in order to change those unrealistic norms. In particular, they argued that the media could replace zero size models with average size ones. From the findings, it is unlikely that Cosmopolitan promotes obesity, but the results neither prove that they made massive efforts to promote positive body image, as the Farrah Storr has claimed. Body image affects both mental and physical health, consistently studies show how traditional and digital media can influence the perception of body image of people. Research to date has provided insight into the often mainstream, anti-fat, perspectives. My argument, is that for Cosmopolitan and other publications to argue that they promote body diversity, to be truthful to their claims they should balance their selection of models but also of their articles. This indeed might then help the mental and physical state of obese people but also those who suffer from eating disorders.

References: 
  1. Bailey, K. A., Gammage, K. L., & van Ingen, C. (2017). How do you define body image? Exploring conceptual gaps in understandings of body image at an exercise facility.Body image23, 69-79. Retrieved from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1740144517300232
  2. Cash, T. F., & Hicks, K. L. (1990). Being fat versus thinking fat: Relationships with body image, eating behaviors, and well-being. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 14 (3), 327-341
  3. Cosmopolitan Demographic Profile. Retrieved from http://www.cosmomediakit.com/r5/showkiosk.asp?listing_id=4785154&category_code=demo&category_id=77109
  4. Cosmopolitan, UK. Retrieved from https://www.cosmopolitan.com/uk/
  5. Cusumano, D. L., & Thompson, J. K. (2001). Media influence and body image in 8–11‐year‐old boys and girls: A preliminary report on the multidimensional media influence scale.International Journal of Eating Disorders29(1), 37-44. Retrieved from https://spssi.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1111/0022-4537.00119
  6. Good Morning Britain. Retrieved from Youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xkgtvs_ugDY
  7. ITV (2018) Retrieved from http://www.itv.com/thismorning/food/tess-holliday-plus-size-cover-girl-causing-a-storm
  8. Lupton, D. (2013). Fat politics: Collectedwritings.https://poseidon01.ssrn.com/delivery.php?ID
  9. Rose Pike, M (2018) Retrieved from: Daily Mail  https://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-6209233/Plus-size-women-accuse-Piers-Morgan-obsessed-Tess-Holliday.html
  10. Slade, P. D. (1994). What is body image?Behaviour Research and Therapy, 32(5), 497-502. Retrieved from http://psycnet.apa.org/record/1994-45211-001
  11. Smith, K. B., & Smith, M. S. (2016). Obesity statistics. Primary Care: Clinics in office practice43(1), 121-135.https://www.primarycare.theclinics.com/article/S0095-4543(15)00098-6/abstract
  12. Webb, J. B., Fiery, M. F., & Jafari, N. (2016). “You better not leave me shaming!”: Conditional indirect effect analyses of anti-fat attitudes, body shame, and fat talk as a function of self-compassion in college women. Body image18, 5-13.https://ac.els-cdn.com/S1740144516301656/1-s2.0-S1740144516301656-main.pdf?_tid=506fbf2a-be32-48ac-837e-d37b0988aacd&acdnat=1543739772_516fefecf541ef56c1f4146a61c2d74b
  13. WHO, World Health Organization. Retrieved from https://www.who.int/topics/obesity/en/http://www.who.int/en/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/obesity-and-overweight
  14. World Economic Forum. (2018) https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2018/10/stop-measuring-obesity-with-a-ruler-we-ve-discovered-a-far-better-predictor-of-health/
  15. Yamamiya, Y., Cash, T. F., Melnyk, S. E., Posavac, H. D., & Posavac, S. S. (2005). Women’s exposure to thin-and-beautiful media images: Body image effects of media-ideal internalization and impact-reduction interventions.Body image, 2(1), 74-80.

Together Apart | The life of a labour migrant in Cyprus

A couple of days ago, I watched a screening of the documentary Together Apart by Maren Wickwire. I left the place frustrated thinking how could this possibly happen?

The global demand for domestic workers has motivated labour migration from the Philippines and many other countries to more than 160 countries around the world. Women are working abroad for years or even decades, before returning home.

Together Apart is an intimate family portrait of two Phillipino women, a mother and a daughter, who left the Philippines to seek work abroad, for a “better future”.

The film contemplates notions of self-hood, belonging and care, shifting between serial migrants’ transitory present and projections onto the future.

When Guil Ann arrives on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus to join her mother a domestic worker, the women reunite for the first time in over a decade. Joining the global workforce of Filipinas abroad, Carren (Guil Ann’s mother) spent most of her adult life apart from her children.

Only months later, unexpected events lead to Carren’s deportation and challenge both women to confront their precarious dreams for togetherness and a better future.

Screen Shot 2018-10-30 at 13.58.12.png
A scene from the documentary Together Apart, the moment Guill Ann’s children look at pictures their mother sent them.

The whole documentary is about the life of Guil Ann in Cyprus, it also takes you to the Philippines after her mother was deported, showing the life of her children and family. But, don’t expect to see interviews of policemen, Cypriot citizens, or the exact deportation process.

In my opinion, this is what makes the movies’ narrative so strong, since these women are mostly unrepresented especially in Cyprus.

OFW (Overseas Philippines Workes) usually work 6 days per week and have only Sunday off. Imagine doing that for years … maybe decades. In addition to that, if they work at a house where they also happen to live in, it means that its 24/7 for 6 days a week.

There needs to be a line drawn between work and privacy. How does that leave them the space to have a private life? A relationship, education, family? These are literally basic human rights…

There was one lady in the audience, a contributor to the film, living in Cyprus for almost 20 years, she raises her own children here. Some of the girls feel more connected with Cyprus rather than the Philippines. She raised many issues the community deals with!

The fact that they are paid 309 euros per month says it all… It could be argued that they work more than anyone in Cyprus and are ridiculously paid!

If this exploitation isn’t modern slavery then what is?

As I said before money isn’t the only problem. There is legislation that needs to be changed! Cyprus is one of the few left remaining countries in the EU that refuse to change the ridiculous minimum wage for OFW workers.

They have no right to unemployment compensation, and if they fail to find a new employer within 30 days of being laid off, they become illegal.

In addition, if they wish to change an employer for whatever reason they need to stand in front of court and demand to have the right to change their employee. If they fail to do so in 30 days or if the court refuses their request, they are deported.

OFW workers by being nannies and by providing domestic aid have helped change Cyprus economy in many ways.

One good example is that numerous Cypriot mothers now have the opportunity to have full-time jobs, whereas this wasn’t the case many years ago where women were mostly housewives.

It is a pity though that this “luxury” has ended up being a form of exploitation against some people that come here for a “better future” and in some cases end up losing their “dignity”…

 

 

Banksy did what?!

One of Banksy’s most known artworks, Girl With Balloon, started self-destructing.

The piece was the final item in an auction at Sotheby’s in London on Friday night and started shredding in its frame after a winning bid of more than £1m is accepted at the auction.

The Bristol-born anonymous artist is known for his pranks but this one has left the audience with shock. The street artist later that night celebrated by posting a picture on Instagram quoting “Going, going, gone”.


View this post on Instagram

Going, going, gone…

A post shared by Banksy (@banksy) on

 

The image seems to been taken from the audience. Perhaps was Banksy there to witness his prank? There are many speculations around Banksy as he has been successful and managed to hide his identity for all these years. But now, what’s his message?

//www.instagram.com/embed.js

Banksy wrote “The urge to destroy is also a creative urge”, quoting Picasso.

So many questions until now…the good thing is, at least we know that he planned it! The detailed video he posted on Instagram said: “A few years ago, I secretly built a shredder into a painting … in case it was ever put up for auction.”

The video then shows an unidentified person in a hoodie installing the sharp blades in the frame of the picture. However, Banksy has not revealed yet how the device was activated.

Many users have questioned his actions by asking him; Why would he destroy it? If he was planning to destroy all of it or did the shredder malfunction? Or was this whole thing slightly cynical to keep the artwork intact for an increase of value culturally and money wise?

Who knows!

As far as we know Banksy discloses information that only he wants us to know, and I believe that it’s one of the things he does that makes him so mysterious and so good at what he does, cause he doesn’t give everything to us and keeps us thinking.

I think he has managed to grab the media attention at least! I never saw so much discussion about artwork especially street art on TV. I guess his rebellious creative urge to destroy has taken them by surprise!

Phuket Island Hopping

The largest island in Thailand rightly known as ‘The Pearl of the South’, is a rainforested, mountainous island and has some of Thailand’s most popular beaches… in other words a tropical paradise.

Despite visiting it at the so-called rainy season, we were lucky enough to go through two weeks of beautiful sunshine, and hot humid temperatures. Even though it is a risky choice, if you have the weather on your side, the perks of the low season are many, as tourism levels decrease.

Phuket offers such a rich variety of experiences – of course the white-sand beaches, culture, diving, fabulous food, spas, wildlife sanctuaries, national parks, nightlife – that visitors are spoilt for choice.

Over the course of our two week vacation we tried to do as much as possible to uncover the beauties the Island has to offer.

Here are some of the highlights…

The first hotel we stayed at was located at the 11km long Mai Khao beach. This was probably the quietest beach on Phuket. The area largely consists of the luxury hotels situated there but also a small outdoor shopping mall. There are local restaurants and pubs too where you can try authentic local food and drinks.

The beach is surrounded by nature, we saw different kinds of species such as a water lizard that looked more like a baby alligator, and butterflies in the size of a pigeon.

We were told that if we see a water buffalo in the road not to run since it might then attack us! Hopefully that didn’t happen.

IMG_0607
Mai Khao beach, Phuket

The best way to discover the hidden gems of the Providence is to go on island hopping boat trips, so we took the opportunity and I can say that we were pleased with the experience!

IMG_1164
Boat trip, Andaman Sea

By this way you can enjoy the beautiful views of hundreds of small islands. It was a really hard pick since there are so many different trips. Our first destination was the famous James Bond Island.

It was chosen as one of the locations for the 1974 James Bond film, The Man with the Golden Gun. The landmark is among the most popular activity in the region. Located in the National Park you will need to pay a little fee for entering the park, but if you are on a tour it’s usually included in the price.

IMG_1388
James Bond Island, Phang Nga Bay

After that came the adventurous part of the trip, canoeing! We canoed in the absolute quiet and peaceful ambience at Kong Island, along the amazing landscape before entering the beautiful caves and lagoons.

It got really dark in the caves and we had to lie down at some points in order to pass under the caves, but at the end of the tunnel the views are breathtaking!

We also stayed for 2 nights at Phi Phi Islands, which was probably one of the best decisions we made about our vacation.

It was a constant feeling of serenity… but how couldn’t it? Living in a cute little cabin right next to the beach, being surrounded by palm tries and nature, surely embraced that feeling.

I must add that the beach of the resort was like a postcard picture!

IMG_1578
Phi Phi Island Village Beach Resort

Moving around the island is interesting and quite unusual for a person like me that uses a car everyday. After the tsunami in 2004 the roads were re-built, however they are used only for pedestrians. There are cars but only those permitted  for emergency services, so the only way to go somewhere is either by bike or by water taxi.

I don’t usually describe myself as an early bird, but waking up early in the morning to watch the sunrise, was totally worth it!

IMG_1682
7:00 am, Phi Phi Island

The Monkey Beach was definitely one of my favourite island hopping destinations! Although the beach didn’t have as many monkeys as I thought there were gonna be, they were a bit aggressive and it was quite crowed, you don’t get to swim with them everyday!

IMG_1775
Monkey Beach

I love spas, I mean who doesn’t? But an outdoor spa that has a jacuzzi with this view? I think it totally exceeded my expectations!

Thai massage is among the most famous massages in the world. We couldn’t resist not getting spoiled by the traditional oil aromatherapy and natural scrubs.

IMG_8045
Outdoor Spa

After returning back to the mainland, Phuket we decided to visit the Big Buddha. They call it Big Buddha, but as I said after my first glimpse at it: “It should be called Huge Buddha!”.

It is a 45m marble statue of Buddha, on a mountaintop in the middle of the jungle, and offers panoramic views of the city.

An interesting fact of the temple is that it’s still under construction, since it is being built by the people. You can buy a brick at the entrance to help the work progress. However, that fact that it is still unfinished, doesn’t undermine it’s beauty at all.

IMG_3288
Big Buddha Phuket

Last but not least, Phuket Town is the capital of the Island and the old town is lined up with colorful 19th-century shophouses and buildings. It’s a perfect place if you want to find out more about the history and culture of Phuket, shop, or dine.

IMG_2438
Phuket Town

 

Ethical Fashion

Shop ethically. Shop responsibly. Shop slow fashion. All these are things I’ve been seeing around for some time. But what exactly do they mean?

Sustainable fashion AKA eco fashion, is a part of the growing philosophy and trend of sustainability, the goal of which is to create a system which can be supported indefinitely in terms of human impact on the environment and social responsibility.

This is an umbrella term used to describe fashion design, production, retail, and purchasing. It covers a range of issues such as working conditions, exploitation, fair trade, sustainable production, the environment, and animal welfare.

It can be seen as the antithesis of fast-fashion and that habit of buying a new, cheap top for every night out, which might never be worn again or may well fall apart after a couple of washes anyway.

Conclusion? What you wear matters!

The more times you think about it, the more clear it becomes that shopping responsibly is not black and white and it deffo isn’t something that can be changed over night. It is a whole lot of gray. And with all of that gray, it makes it really hard to achieve ethical shopping.

So what’s a girl to do?

  • Go Eco-Friendly. Buy items made of natural fabrics that don’t harm the environment. Opt for textiles that will naturally decompose instead of sitting in landfills for ages. Such as: silk/ cashmere, organic cotton, linen etc.
  • Buy Fair Trade. Support companies who respect human rights and believe in a  living wage for their workers. Over the years many scandals have came up – last year unpaid workers were slipping pleas for help into Zara clothes. However, not all overseas manufacturing is bad. Do a little research and see which ones are enforcing fair trade regulations, especially in developing countries.
  • Look for Vegan or Cruelty Free. Buy cruelty free items and support the rights of animals. You can find out how you make a difference for animals by choosing cruelty-free clothing and accessories on the PETA website.
  • Pick Chemical Free/Organic Items. The chemicals and dyes in the majority of our clothing is harmful not just to the environment, but to the workers creating the garments as well as the consumer who is wearing the clothing. You can avoid harmful side effects by shopping products only made of organic material and natural dyes.
  • Shop Local. By supporting the small businesses in your community, you are keeping your money in the local economy.
  • Thrift Shopping/ Recycling. If shopping on a budget and avoiding massive amounts of clothing ending up in landfills are your priorities, shopping resale is the one of the best ways to go.
  • Upcycle and Sew. This is probably the most fun and creative thing to do! You can use fabric to re-sew and re-create old garments into something completely new and unique.
  • Wear What You Buy. A Lot. Supports quality items over disposable fast fashion. Before purchasing, ask yourself if you will get a sufficient number of wears out of the item. Can you mix and match it with current wardrobe items? Is it functional? Will it last?

A lot of these overlap each other and many others contradict each other.

Shopping local shops may support your community and its makers, and some may come from fair trade manufactures but not always.

Supporting cruelty free products and buying vegan sometimes means buying products hard on the environment, made out of synthetic materials that end up in landfills and don’t decompose.

Lots and lots of gray!

Fortunately, there are more and more choices and ethical clothes could be fashion forward, on trend and compete with the scene. It’s up to you to decide what values are most important to you and make your choices based on them.

Body image perception on social media

Social media are an integral part of today’s society and while they might be great in many things, that’s not always the case!

As they continue to play a major role in our lives – more than 2.1 billion people have social media accounts, and there are 70 million photos and videos posted daily on Instagram. Research shows that they have a huge influence on body image especially affecting adolescent girls and young women.

There have been many positive outcomes, especially when social media are used in ways that promote positive and productive ideas in society, but they also tend to create a wrongful perception of beauty.

Living in the era of Instagram, the fact that fitness models and fashion bloggers are all over news feeds, it makes things much more difficult for peoples self-esteem and the perception of beauty.

The ubiquity of the thin ideal is not a good thing. Not that there is anything with being thin but – we should be celebrating women bodies of all shapes and sizes. 

In a society that promotes unrealistic body ideals, it is challenging to not get caught up in comparing yourself to these perfectionist standards. It is unfortunate that the emphasis on appearance is spreading, and it is important to include a much greater range of appearances of what we as a society think of as ideal.

But also as important is; to make appearance and body ideal less important and less defining to women and girls.

Body image an increasing problem, is associated with a number of mental health outcomes including depression and anxiety but also may contribute to serious eating problems such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia.

Approximately 1.25 million people in the UK are affected by eating disorders. While young women are most likely to develop an eating disorder, in particular those aged 12 to 20, anyone can develop an eating disorder.

So if you ever find yourself concerned about your body image ask yourself: “Is my perception of beauty distorted from the media exposure that glorifies the thin ideal that is unrealistic for most people to obtain living a healthy lifestyle?”

Never compare yourself with others and try to always feel comfortable in your own skin!

The Parisian Food Affair

The capital of France, Paris is definitely a must go destination. The city attracts people from all around the world and is a global centre for art, fashion, gastronomy and culture.

The city of light is well known for its cafe culture that serves as a centre of social and culinary life. Our mission was to eat and drink like a local, so we ended up visiting all the places a foodie would go…. and fell in a Parisian food affair.

We stayed at a hotel next door to Les Halles, so it was really easy to move around and most of the times we walked and enjoyed the vibrant city life.

We arrived at 10pm so the first thing we did, is leave our bags and go for a quick glass of wine. The first place we visited was Le Bon Pecheur. What made us pick this particular cafe was the atmosphere it seemed to have.

The next morning was rainy so we decided to visit the Louvre Museum. An exciting fact about it is that entrance for people under 25 from the European Union can enter the museum for free with a valid passport or ID.

We spent around 5 hours there, and we still didn’t manage to see all of it. It is a really impressive museum, contemporary mixed with history. Technology enhances the whole experience, audio guides and apps give you the opportunity to listen to informative commentary for the art and all the information you need to get around.

img_2715-e1527874868401.jpg
Louvre Museum

After a long day we decided to treat ourselves with a meal from Ralph’s. The garden outside was perfectly arranged, I promised myself I would visit again – hopefully on a sunny day! The interior of the designer restaurant was elegant and the food and service was great. The menu offers a variety of foods and cocktails.


Galeries Lafayette Paris Haussmann is located on Boulevard Haussmann in the 9th arrondissement of Paris. It is a massive department store and visitors can find brand-name items of nearly every variety.

Even if you are not shopping it is worth the visit, the architecture of the building speaks for itself. You can also treat yourself with the famous Pierre Hermé macarons & chocolats.

IMG_2818
Galeries Lafayette

On the following day we enjoyed breakfast at the lovely Hôtel Costes courtyard. The hotel has a Parisian character and the decoration is impressive. It’s also worth visiting for dinner as the restaurant is proud of its music.

Overlooking the Place Vendôme in the 1st arrondissement, The Ritz is definitely a place to visit even just for a cup of coffee. The hotel is designed with spectacular detail every interior design lover would admire.

L’Avenue on avenue Montaigne, is a 10 min walk from ChampsÉlysées. It is a very trendy place, just a few steps from the grand Plaza Athenée hotel with its top designer boutiques, L’Avenue is the go-to dining spot for many celebrities such as Kim Kardashian, Kanye West, Rihanna, Beyoncé and many more.

Kong Bar Restaurant is located in Les Halles neighbourhood. You can enjoy food and cocktails amazed by spectacular views of the city of light and the concept of the restaurant. It has it’s own character and unique vibe, and it’s open for all meals of the day.

img_3175.jpg
Kong, Les Halles

Four Seasons Hotel George V had a wonderful flower displays in almost every corner. At the lobby of the hotel you cannot miss the -human size- flowers decorated in beautiful mirror vases that create colourful beautiful reflections.

Au revoir!

Stella McCartney starts Trashion Bag campaign for World Oceans Day

British designer Stella McCartney is calling on consumers to get involved in their local communities to clean up nearby beaches and rivers as part of the labels’ on going commitment to sustainability.

The fashion designer aknowledged on Instagram that the industry is the second most harmful environmentally, and there is a level of responsibility that has to be taken.

According to research, half a million tonnes of plastic microfibres are released per year from washed clothes – 16 times more than plastic microbeads from cosmetics – contributing to ocean pollution.

She further commented: “In my mind, if I’m working within it – and especially as I’m in a privileged position where I have a voice that can implement change…”

SMC_TRASHION_BAGS_SW7_IA_2.jpg
Photo courtesy: Stella McCartney

Stella McCartney has always been passionate about making a change to the environment
and doesn’t fail to prove that high-end fashion and sustainability can co-exist.

In order to honour World Oceans Day the brand is calling on as many people as possible to get involved in local charity beach and river clean-ups. In support of this initiative, they are giving away recycled and recyclable Stella Trashion bags at selected stores across the world.

More than seven-tenths of Earth’s surface is blue. This should be enough to remind us how important oceans are for us, and that – small or big, effort is effort.

As I’ve mentioned in a previous blog, by 2050 there may be more plastic than fish in our oceans by weight.

This proves that drastic changes must be made now, and I believe it is very important to see the industries that harm the environment with their existence, to make things right and join their forces with their consumers to avoid letting our oceans overflow with litter.

The brand hopes to begin a positive chain effect that will result in change for the better, by raising awareness about the increasingly urgent issue of plastic pollution in oceans and rivers. And hope to inspire as many people as possible to get involved in this kind of environmental movements.

Organising charity beach and river clean-ups in many countries across the globe, not only gives the opportunity for communities to come together but also collectively act on a shared love of the environment.

To find out where you can find which Stella McCartney stores are giving away the Trashion Bags, and if you want to get involved with cleaning up and promote circularity through recycling visit www.stellamccartney.com