Monday, 11 June 2018

The Truth About Love Island

So, I have never watched Love Island before (other than one episode last year that my sister was desperate for me to watch with her!!) This year, I've kept relatively up-to-date with the happenings.

And it has a massive influence. It influences our social media conversation, our real life conversation, our view of our face, our view of our body, our view of relationships, our view of hook-up culture, our view of their lifestyles, beliefs, values, opinions. And more.

What I want to share with you is a bit of my reflections on the impact it has had on my view of my self and my body.

1. I don't look at the other guys' bodies, I instinctively look at the girls
2. If I try not to look at their bodies as I watch, I fail instantaneously
3. If I haven't gymed or have eaten 'badly' that day, I feel worse (p.s. it's ok not to gym and ok to eat badly)
4. I wonder whether I need to find/buy the clothes they wear because maybe then I'll look good or like them
5. I get frustrated that they're literally half naked the entire time
6. 1 hour every night and 7 hours a week of subconscious, direct comparison to the girls on my TV screen can't be healthy for my 'self-esteem'
7. It feels like the only glimpses of realness and normality are seeing them without make up
8. I start to wonder what % of the population actually look like they do
9. I feel energised to keep doing the work I'm doing; speaking truth into girls' lives

(It's an odd number of reflections, apologies)

Possibly the thing I find more frustrating is the fact that this would all be so different if the people on the reality show were representative of real life.

Imagine if all shapes, sizes and ages were represented...actually imagine that...

I can imagine that we would spend a lot more time, even if only in our heads, focused on their personalities and characters rather than their flat stomach, toned legs and curvature.

Possibly the thing I find more scary is the fact that girls are watching Love Island with absolutely no awareness whatsoever. I liken it to the influence that America's Next Top Model had on me when I was younger: a very small proportion of the nation's women prancing around in minimal clothing with doll-like bodies.

So what do we do about this? And what do we do if we're already hooked on the show and not willing to give it up...

SELF-TALK: you've got to do a lot of positive mental self-talk a day to make up for the hours worth of negative mental self-talk you're already doing. I give examples of how to do this in my book but here's a general jist:

Negative Self-Talk = negative start of thoughts + negative end (i.e. 'their bodies are so much better than mine' + 'my body is therefore rubbish' + 'I feel rubbish about myself')

Positive Self-Talk = negative start of thoughts + positive end (i.e. 'their bodies are so much better than mine' + 'but their bodies don't represent the "ideal", nor do they represent all female bodies + my body is inherently GOOD' + 'I feel good about my body')

GENERAL TALK: talk about what you're watching and how you're feeling. The likelihood is that others are thinking the sane. This also means that you can mutually support eachother in your encouragement of your real bodies. Speak life-giving, body-assuring words to your friends. Actually, take the focus away from their bodies (we get enough of that right!) - speak life-giving words about who they are!

I'll keep you posted friends.
Pre-order More Than Just Pretty here #10daystogo

Monday, 4 June 2018

The Truth About Girlhood Today

What scares me the most about Girlhood today, currently, in the 21st century, is that it’s so different than for previous generations.


Now, there are many things that aren’t different. For example, I talk about ‘corset controversy’ in the 16th century in my book; the expectation for women to drastically alter their bodies as fashions change (being slaves to their body). This isn’t too dissimilar from the pressure to drastically alter our bodies or appearance with changing fashions and craze’s today. Again, this is only one example of many.


However, I recently had a conversation with a teenage girl who was explaining her struggles. She explained how she wished her parents had even the slightest inkling about what she was going through on a daily basis – but that they didn’t because things have changed so much since their teenagehood.

The pressure to fit in is monumental because the failure to do so is threatening to their identity. The promotion of perfection through posting pouting and posed photos, full of pretence is overwhelming and constant.

Most of all, the feeling of isolation is mega. Community and conversation is digital. Mentorship is incredibly low. Spaces to have fun, escape, be still, fail, let go and just ‘be’ are minimal. Funding for chaplains, mentoring and support in schools is struggling. There is a lack of people who emphasise with their struggles in their lives. Competition and comparison is predominant at school, even in friendships. Authenticity  and openness is risky.


I have frequent conversations with my husband in relation to our role as Youth Workers. We talk about how we need to be real about our story with young people, what we experienced at school/in life, to emphasise with their story and allow them to open up about it. Otherwise, we risk alienating ourselves from their lives in entirety.  

This is one of the aims of Belle Workshops; to be real with my struggles to allow girls to be real with their own. This creates mutual empathy and conversation and allows for the exploration of perceived ‘norms’ and ‘realities’. I.e. the thought that we are what we look like can be assessed for its reality; it’s not true.

I wonder how you can be a driving force behind change for girlhood in your family, church, community and/or nation?

Let’s discuss.

#17days until #MTJP