societal expectations

New Year, Not A New You.

New Year, Not A New You.

New Year is a time for many to refresh, start over or begin something new. A chance for us to put into action and implement the many things that we want to do, see and achieve in our lives. It can also be an incredibly testing and tough time for many, as we transition out of holiday mode, Christmas and New year celebrations, the post festive splurge and often, lots of alcohol and sugary foods which can leave us feeling less than our best. Holiday celebrations and the start of a New Year can leave us feeling depleted, down and even questioning our life choices.

For some, it’s a winter in a literal sense, and for others, it’s merely a winter of mind.

Why It's Not Okay to Body Shame...

Words By Frou Williams.

I want to talk about body shaming. A massive part of what I do with my clients is exploring body image and self esteem, it's something I've studied in extensive detail and something I believe is absolutely crucial to healing, personal growth and to allow ourselves to be truly open to 'love' whether that's love of oneself and/or others. It's something I'm deeply passionate about.

I want to talk about body shaming. A massive part of what I do with my clients is exploring body image and self esteem, it's something I've studied in extensive detail and something I believe is absolutely crucial to healing, personal growth and to allow ourselves to be truly open to 'love' whether that's love of oneself and/or others. It's something I'm deeply passionate about. It's the very reason I created my company Death By Lycra Collective - From the very core of my being I believe in the empowerment of spirit.

By working together as collective we create the space for individual empowerment. That means helping women to feel more at ease in their own skin, embracing and being proud of the bodies they rock regardless of shape or size. By looking past the exterior. Body image and self esteem are incredibly fragile, it can quite literally make or break another being. It's one of the biggest psychological issues we face in our modern society and it's certainly no laughing matter. 

So what is body shaming? The definition of body shaming is the practice of making critical and potentially humiliating comments about a person's body. 

We all know that we live in a culture that is finely tuned at telling us we're not good enough, that we need to fix and make better. It's never been this intense or this relentless. It's exhausting. And that's just the messages from the media, that doesn't even take into account the pressures we put on ourselves or that we receive from other people.

It makes me incredibly sad that other people feel the need to comment or judge other people based on their physical appearance alone when they know nothing of that person's inner struggles or demons they may be facing. They know not who that woman is when she is at home surrounded by family, what she contributes to society, what lights her up and fills her soul, what ailments she might have had or even how much courage it may take just to leave the house on any given day. By not looking past her physical appearance you take that away from her.

There's a series of consequences to this way of thinking, eating disorders for one but it can also lead to an increased risk of depression, anxiety and social isolation.
And whilst that may be largely as a result of what a lot of the intense media focus has done that does not make it okay. We should be building each other up and encouraging each other, not tearing each other apart. 

How we take care of ourselves is our billboard to the world. I'm not just talking about having abs or a tight ass but by being someone who laughs, cries, embraces their flaws, focuses on what they are passionate about, by being a good person, surrounding themselves with people who make them feel good, and by being real. Having a six pack has nothing to do with happiness or self worth. 

Happiness comes in all shapes and sizes. And happiness is what looks good on people, celebrating your body for what it can do, by refusing to comment on others’ physical appearances and by not letting other people bring you down. Because surely the best billboard for 'wellbeing' is contentment in self.

Just How Much Do You Want it?

We're surrounded by passive aggressive societal guilt trips on a daily basis, jumping out at us from beneath our screens, screaming, ‘hey you, chubs, don’t you know abs are made in the kitchen’, a society that hails us to be better and do better every single day. A society that tells us there's no excuses, plain old black and white - how much do you want it? 

Let's face it, life ain't perfect (in fact it's really freaking hard, it's full of twists and turns, ups and downs and not to mention the u-turns and plot twists thrown in just for bants 😲) so I'm calling you on it and asking you to give yourself a compliment. 

Yes you.

Right here, right now. Just one thing that's not based on aesthetics that you like about yourself... ✨

What's the first thought that comes to mind? 

Either comment below or email me (francesca@deathbylycra.com)⠀⠀⠀

Why me? I am not enlightened, I drink coffee, eat meat, get pissed off, feel more than emotional on any given day, fight with loved ones, have insomnia and days where I hate my body. I don't possess a magic key to life only a desire to create space for people to transform their lives and to facilitate work in the areas in which people want to wake up, shake up and dream up. Think of me like a taxi driver to a deeper dimension. Simply helping you get to where you need to go.

So if we know life isn't perfect then neither should we be. Perfect is boring and perfect is beige. And who's got time for beige? (All the beige lovers be like 🙋🏼🙋🏽🍞)⠀⠀⠀

So sometimes you just need a freaking donut, a glass of wine, maybe even a bucket of wine - hoho - heck sometimes you have the kind of days where a shot of tequila in the eye and a Valium tranquilizer seems like the only viable solution. We’ve all been there my friend.

And what's more, most of us will still do all the above but just mentally torture the crap out of ourselves for our sins or lack of willpower after. And why? Why do you think it's okay to be so mean to yourself? We all do it but it doesn't make it okay. 

It's not always easy but those shades of grey are the moments you look back on with fondness as a life well lived - so today whether you grab the pizza, hit a yoga class, dance on tables or sprinkle cacao nibs from Narnia everywhere - whether it be with friends, with the cat or simply in our own company - just own wherever you are at today.

Allowing ourselves to make conscious choices and taking responsibility for ourselves is not easy, nor is it an overnight journey. There's no end goal or destination. Just you, me and a whole lot of love for this thing we call life. 

Now, tequila for one anyone? 

Social Isolation: A Modern Plague.

Social Isolation: A Modern Plague.

We're connected more than ever so why is it statistics show increasing rates of depression, loneliness and anxiety especially for those in their 20s and early 30s? 

A study published in the International Journal of Behavioral Development found that 39% of men and 49% of women reported feeling similar 'crisis' feelings characterised by disappointment, insecurity, anxiety, loneliness and depression. The quarter life crisis as it's been formally dubbed, whilst it may have a slightly different trigger for each individual, is a very real and common experience for 20 somethings in our culture. 

Aside from the obvious of a different economy and job market to what our parents may have experienced, social pressures have changed along with a shift in gender roles but a lot of this is to do with technology. And more specifically, social media. FOMO anyone? 

What is Beauty?

Words by Frou Williams.

 

Beauty is defined as a combination of qualities, such as shape, colour, or form that pleases the aesthetic senses, especially the sight.

So what makes us beautiful?

And why do we spend so much time of our goddamn lives striving for an ideology of what society deems ‘beautiful’ and not what we in our hearts and in our minds believe to be beautiful?

We tweeze, we pluck, we colour, we straighten, we curl. We sit, we squat, we run, we hurl. We ditch, we dive, we fast, we cut. Not only that, we wax, we shave and there’s always a but. We stare in the mirror for far too long, wishing and scrutinising ourselves over and over again, ‘but’ I could have…(delete as appropriate) longer legs, a smaller nose, bigger lips, thinner legs, more toned arms…the list goes on.

We inject chemicals into our bodies, we take diet pills to make us slimmer, we skip meals, we essentially abuse our bodies in order to attain the most sought after of accolades, which stands proudly there in shining, dazzling lights, ever so slightly out of reach but we continually perpetuate and reinforce the sheer strength of this word or trait and what it means to be ‘beautiful’.

And for what? Does it bring us happiness?

In whatever form you may look at it, be it aesthetically, inner beauty, beauty through art, through food or perhaps beauty merely in the mundane, this notion of beauty has gotten me thinking or should I say slightly curious. Can beauty be universal? And if beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder then why are we so judgemental and brutal to ourselves and one another in the pursuit of an entirely subjective goal?

The saying ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder’ first appeared around 3rd century BC. Now call me crazy but if the concept of beauty and what it holds bares true, since we’ve been running around this little place we call earth then perhaps there’s something beautifully unifying in how our ancestors may have felt and how indeed our own children and their children’s children may go on to feel. The question is to which degree does this vary from culture to culture? And to what extreme do different cultures and people take their level of pursuit for that all singing, all dancing beauty?

Now you could consider me a girly girl, I love make up and getting dolled up for drinks or a nice dinner with friends as much as the next girl, as you’ll see from numerous pics I’ve posted (I’m sure). I’ve been wearing make-up and obsessing about my looks, weight and general image since the age of about 12. In fact I could probably pinpoint to the very moment where things changed. Going from an all girls school where the only thing on my mind was hockey and netball to starting at a comprehensive where the girls at school were rocking these things called bras. I remember the very day that my mum told me it was time for me to get my own, so she marched me to the nearest Marks & Spencer’s and I was fitted in what can only be described as a napkin. I cried. Literally balled my eyes out.

What was I crying for? My youth? Crying for my barbies that yes I was still playing with and crying because I intrinsically knew that nothing would be the same again. I was no longer a girl. Yes, I got all that from an over shoulder boulder holder. And with that ping of the old bra strap from the boys at said comprehensive, well you knew that if you weren’t on the receiving end of that ‘snap’ you might as well call it quits, your life was over, it was time to move to a cave, admit you were deeply uncool and would probably never have a boyfriend. That, of course, was not the case at all, but to my 12 year old self seemed like a huge freaking deal. The bra, and in particular my napkin bra, was the enemy. This was war. Years of push up bras and chicken fillets ensued.

But who was I really at war with? Myself of course. We waste our time and energy wishing that we could look like the girl (or guy) we saw walking down the street, on the tv, in the gym, or on that youtube video. We live in a permanent state of the grass is greener anywhere but here and convince ourselves that if only we could be the size of the girl on the front of the magazine or have her hair/ her eyes/ her make up/ her nails (you name it, we want it) that we’ll be happy or perhaps more guys and girls will like us. That we’ll fit in. We’ll belong. Is that really what we lament and punish ourselves for, to fit in?

One thing is for certain, we are not alone in our pursuit of this damn universal beauty.

The desire to feel beautiful and to follow trends is nothing new, it’s been going on for centuries. Just take a look at the acceptance of tans as one example. From Queen Elizabeth I’s dedication to being pale right through to women of the 1920s, if you had any sign of a tan then you were considered common, working class and belonged in a field. Nowadays it’s not uncommon to hear women complaining they feel pasty and frumpy without a tan. Even in cloud cuckoo celeb land there are but a few who are brazen enough to hail the pale complexion.

Or let’s look at how Tudor women used to pluck or shave their hairline because having a high forehead was meant to be a sign of intelligence or wisdom. It sounds crazy doesn’t it that someone might make themselves appear to be bald just to look intelligent but let me ask you this, is it any crazier than having silicone implants put in your chest to make you appear more voluptuous?

Beauty trends will always come and go, some more permanent than others so you really have to be sure that you’ve truly thought through any procedure or treatment you are undertaking. I know how I felt in my 19 year old skin to how I feel today at 30 is wildly different and whilst hindsight is a wonderful thing, sometimes it’s just nice to know that you’re not alone in having insecurities or even fat days. Hell, I’m sure even Kate Moss has fat days!

What’s important and surely what should matter most is if you like you. Not the guy you’re snapchatting, not your friends who are all 5ft1 and size 0 while you’re 5ft9 and your mum is still giving you your brothers hand me downs (it happened) but if you can look in the mirror and be happy with what you see and know that we are all together in being imperfectly human then there’s something quite magical about that.

 

Hidden Messages Show The Darker Side Of Modern Society

Hidden Messages Show The Darker Side Of Modern Society

Photo artist Igor Morski has a slightly different view of the world, and he invites you to share this view with these surreal illustrations. The Polish artist is a passionate critic of a modern society. With his thought-provoking illustration series “System Failure”, Igor analyses topics like greed and the cult of beauty, along with the crisis of economic and social values.

Can you see all the hidden messages? Would love to hear your thoughts on the pieces.

For more info on Igor his website is here.