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 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.

Cosmopolitan UK Covers 2017
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.

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  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
  4. Cosmopolitan, UK. Retrieved from
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  11. Smith, K. B., & Smith, M. S. (2016). Obesity statistics. Primary Care: Clinics in office practice43(1), 121-135.
  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.
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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!

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…”

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

Fashion Month Catwalk Trends SS18

If I was to describe this years Fashion Month looks in 3 words words, I would say: bright, bold, and beautiful.

Since the ultimate Fashion Month has come to it’s end, I’ve done some Spring Summer 2018 trends research from the NY, Milan, London, Paris Fashion Weeks catwalk looks.

As you know, this year was full of glamour and glitter, in other words the ultimate plethora of themes for the fashion-hungry. So now that I’ve got your attention, let’s take a look at the 7 hippest trends…


We saw Rihanna wearing Saint Laurent’s snow white fringing boots, then the trend started becoming really famous during musical festivals, and now designers went a step further showing us how the ‘hippie’ look can also be chic.

Chanel went for a bright full fringe look styled with transparent plastic boots and hat. Céline opted for the -hot trend- beige trench coat over a black long swirly blouse and slightly darker trousers underneath.

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Fringe look by Chanel and Céline



Mood: Is it summer yet? 

Gucci rocked this two piece pyjama style Hawaiian tropic print. Even though it’s the most colourful look it still doesn’t feel too much, it really pleases the eyes. Versace matching blue-gold ocean inspired outfit is one of my favourite looks, the shoes, the accessories, are just bold and beautiful.

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Gucci and Versace beach clothes look



Louis Vuitton, Saint Laurent, Balmain and many more have pulled off the suit short look. We usually think shorts are boring, and why wear shorts when you can wear a skirt? Satin or leather, you name it, shorts are now statement pieces.

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Louis Vuitton and Saint Laurent suit short looks



Personally, I’m over the moon with this trend. Bold, sexy, strong, confident, comfy and you can wear them with heels or trainers. Marc Jacobs styled the one piece suit with a belt bag and a cross body bag -hot trend alert-

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Sporty looks by Isabel Marant and Marc Jacobs



I’m sure you noticed that all the shows were booming vibrant, bold shades to suit every colouring. It’s spring after all! Pantone colour of the year is ultra violet yet, the designers showcased the runways with tomato red, sunflower yellow, emerald green and many more.

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Crayola colours looks by Balenciaga and Givenchy



Let’s admit it,  these are great colours for spring and summer! Love pastel colours but don’t want to be too girly? AKA – pretty, delicate yet powerful.

Try mixing pieces that are loose with an element of boyishness. Color-blocking is a really great way of standing out. Whether lilac, pink, lemon or baby blue it’s in vogue when worn together in the weirdest combos possible.

Céline pulled out the perfect lemon, lilac, purple and beige combo, really impressive colour matching. Emporio Armani also opted pastel colours in many of its SS18 runway looks.

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Pastel colour looks by Céline and Emporio Armani



If this Fashion Month has taught us something, it’s that plaids and tartans are not only for the colder months, and I strongly advice you not to put them away with your winter clothes. Designers have proved us that checked clothes and accessories are good for spring.

The Fendi model was dressed in a nude check print open shoulder dress, styled with pecan brown check print sock boots. Alexander McQueen rocked a black, red, white plated look and black boots.

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Fendi and Alexander McQueen check print looks

Why you should slip on a Spacemask

I don’t know about you, but when I see a product over and over again, I have to try it. Spacemaks is yet another brand I’ve been seeing all over my Instagram feed recently.

I love a good face mask, sometimes I wonder if I use too many. Is that possible? Anyway, I won’t say anymore because, this isn’t anything like the others I’ve tried.

What are spacemaks?
They are disposable, self-heating eye masks infused with iron powder and essence of jasmine. Each eye mask is designed to “transport you to another dimension whilst relieving tiredness, eye strain and many other tensions” for approximately 15 minutes.

What makes Spacemasks so amazing?
The fact that they are great for everyone and very convenient to use. I mean, can’t fall asleep? Spacemask. Had a long day at work? Spacemask. Studying hard for exams? Spacemask. Travelling long distance? Spacemask.

The experience…
So…when I put the eye mask on, I sat in bed, got comfy and opened up the mask. I must admit that at first, I wasn’t impressed, but after 3 minutes I started feeling the warm sensation.

I felt relaxed and calm during the duration of my interstellar relaxation experience with the spacemask however, they say the duration is 15 minutes, but at that point I couldn’t take it off yet. The mask was still slightly warm so I continued to use it for a little longer until it cooled down completely.


P.S. I wouldn’t recommend trying this product if you don’t like heat on your face, the mask gets really warm at some point and if you don’t like the warm sensation it’s not worth it.