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Lena Dunham is not known for shying away from the camera.

And now the 32-year-old has taken to Instagram to bare everything – in terms of how she has come to a realisation that she is enough just the way she is.

Something we could all do with realising, right?

The write, actor and director has struggled with her weight and body image in the public eye but it seems that she is in a place of contentment now.

Lena posted a black-and-white snap of herself in her underwear lying on a bed and penned a passionate post about self-acceptance.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Lena Dunham (@lenadunham) on

She captioned it, ''I’ve spent a lot of time in this life feeling like too much. Too hungry. Too anxious. Too loud. Too needy. Too sick. Too dramatic. Too honest. Too sexy (jk lol.) I was always sent the message, in insidious ways, that I took up too much room and demanded too much from life and sometimes gave too much to people who didn’t want any at all.''

She then made the point that the way she is will be perfect for someone.

She continued, ''But something has changed, and it started when I realised: I don’t have to be *for* everybody, and that for the right people, my too much is just enough. My too much also means I have room for their too much and we can take turns too muching all over each other.''

She concluded the post with words of wisdom and we are LOVING it. 

She added, ''At 32: I weigh the most I ever have. I love the most I ever have. I read and write and laugh the most I ever have. And I’m the happiest I’ve ever been. Not the frail, precarious happiness of “things are going perfectly.” The big, generous, jiggly happiness of “I think I’m finally starting to get the hang of this.” Not too much… Just enough.''

Gwan Lena. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Lena Dunham (@lenadunham) on

Her fans were quick to praise the writer and creator of GIRLS in the comments.

One said, ''True words from a wise, strong, emotionally intelligent woman. Thank you.''

While another wrote, ''Love this message! Thanks for changing society and its thoughts on body image.''

We adore these words of Lena's and think more of us need to be honest like her.

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Instagram is increasingly being told to take responsibility for the harmful effects of it's site on the mental health of young people.

Between celebrities endorsing weight-loss products which have no scientific backing, the NHS encouraging body-negative adverts to be banned, and the new sensitivity screens being put in place to prevent graphic violence and self-harm being depicted; Insta is a dangerous place.

Yet, we cannot deny that selfie culture and self-branding through social media has become just a normal part of our everyday life. Me, myself and Instagram has taken over, and young people growing up today assume it's perfectly normal to try to look perfect.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by  (@khloekardashian) on

It's so prevalent in society to share the highlights of ourselves and desperately emulate others who we assume have 'better' lives, which writers such as Matt Haig have emotionally discouraged.

FaceTuning images to blur seeming 'imperfections' such as stretchmarks, wrinkles, spots, freckles, teeth, smiles, body hair, even elbow wrinkles or unwanted curves is the new normal, according to our society.

Having flaws is deemed unhealthy, and the notion of 'narcissism' or vanity is no more.

Now Rankin is trying to counteract the idea of editing ourselves in a new photo series, and it's beautiful.

The amazing photographer is attempting counteract self-editing, by showing people just how damaging the effects of social media can be.  His photo series, aptly named Selfie Harm, was launched last week on Instagram.

The renowned artist captured portrait shots of 15 teens and handed power to them and their filter apps, asking them to edit the retouched image until they felt it was 'social media ready'.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by @rankinarchive) on

He commented;

“Social media has made everyone into their own brand. People are creating a two-dimensional version of themselves at the perfect angle, with the most flattering light, and with any apparent flaws removed.”

“This is a new, enhanced reality, a world in which teenagers can alter themselves digitally within seconds. Mix this with the celebrities and influencers flaunting impossible shapes with impossible faces and we’ve got a recipe for disaster," he attested.

The photographer shows images of youth and natural beauty which massively contrast with the newly filtered, edited versions. It's shockingly easy for the young models to blur the lines of reality, but what is 'perfect' in a world such as this?

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by  (@rankinarchive) on

He wrote on Instagram;

“People are mimicking their idols, making their eyes bigger, their nose smaller and their skin brighter, and all for the social media likes. “It’s just another reason why we are living in a world of FOMO, sadness, increased anxiety and Snapchat dysmorphia."

"It’s time to acknowledge the damaging effects that social media has on people’s self-image," he concluded.

The visible differences and changes made allow the teenagers and subjects to transform their entire identity, so much so that their natural state is completely erased. There are smaller noses, smooth complexions, wider eyes and lips, everything you can imagine.

Interestingly, the photographer notes that most of the models preferred their original image, but it's still disturbing to witness the power of filters. These edits can convince people that they're regular image isn't good enough to be seen.

It's becoming harder to discern what's real and what's fake; soon the idea of reality on social media could vanish altogether.

Feature image: Rankin Instagram/Fashionista

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Kissing is fun, everybody knows that. But who would have known that the act of smooching can actually give you HEALTH BENEFITS? 

Does it heal your broken heart, clear your skin and boost your immune system? You're about to find out.

Strap yourselves in ladies, here are each and every glorious health benefit of puckering up. You should probably find someone to practice on…you know, for the sake of your body. It's a temple, isn't it?

Just don't do it like this:

mr bean love GIF

According to a 2009 scientific study, when we kiss somebody, our bodies release hormones which can actually ease stress. In the case of men, it increases bonding too. We love a good bromance alert.

Oral healthcare, anyone?

Now, we're not saying that you shouldn't brush your teeth or use mouthwash, but allegedly, a good kiss marathon is great news for your teeth and gums. How? Listen up:

Andréa Demirjian, author of Kissing: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about One of Life’s Sweetest Pleasures, explains:

“When you’re kissing, you’re secreting more saliva in your mouth. That’s the mechanism that washes away the plaque on your teeth that leads to cavities.” A shift a day keeps the dental plaque away, girlos.

allison janney kiss GIF by The Late Show With Stephen Colbert

It acts as a painkiller (Seriously)

Your achy, break-y heart deserves some attention. Especially when you've got some form of cramps, like your time of the month.

Apparently, some lip action actually helps to reduce the effects of chronic pain. Some savvy scientists at Current Pharmaceutical Design conducted some research into smooching, learned that the “cuddle hormone” oxytocin is packed full of analgesic painkilling properties.

Oxytocin s released whenever you kiss and hug your partner, so do it as much as possible, we say. Blood vessel dilation after a good kissing sesh is great for reducing aches and pains, so when you're on your period, pucker up. You NEED it, right?

ryan gosling kiss GIF

Hayfever or Bae-fever?

Anyone who suffers from allergies can rejoice at this news; apparently kissing eases itchy eyes and snotty noses (ew).

Researchers at Satou Hospital in Japan investigated the protective effect of kissing against allergies, and claim that locking lips for only 30 minutes can do wonders for the immune system.

It decreases the release of histamine (the chemical which is produced in response to allergens) as it relaxes you, and also can work miracles for eczema sufferers. Is there anything a great shift can't do?

blooming lisa simpson GIF

No pressure, honeys

So apparently, kissing can even reduce your blood pressure? We've all felt butterflies in our stomachs and a weakening of the ol' knees, as well as a quickening heartbeat, and now we've figured out that kissing passionately does even more:

Demirjian explains: “It gets your heartbeat revved in a healthy way that lowers your blood pressure. It dilates the blood vessels, allowing blood to flow more freely, taking pressure off your organs, especially your heart and brain.”

Hot Diggedy Damn, we're 100 percent HERE for this science.

Feel Better In Love GIF

Let's talk about sex, baby, let's talk about you + me

Your sex life gets some HELLA drastic improvements from kissing; the two go together like Grace & Frankie, like women and vibrators, like Netflix and chill. You get the idea.

Kissing is also WAY more likely to increase your chances of having an orgasm. Lord knows we could use some of those…

As Carol Queen, the staff sexologist at Good Vibrations, explains;

“Kissing is a powerful type of foreplay… it helps increase the chances that both partners will have a good and pleasurable erotic experience.”

sexy nun GIF by Originals

Face the Facts

So BASICALLY, kissing involves more than 30 facial muscles, which can be given a major workout from a good kiss.

According to Demirjian, tongue wrestling can strengthen your neck and jawline – very good news, as these are particularly tricky spots to exercise on a daily basis.

“Your mouth has a number of facial muscles,” she says. “When those are engaged in kissing, you can tighten and tone them.”

Tighten and tone, you say? Sign us up.

muscles what GIF

2019 Mood

A perfectly-timed kiss can be the ideal mood booster. If scientists are saying it, then it must be true, right?

Puckering up can give your body a big-time release of happiness hormones, such as serotonin, oxytocin and dopamine. Ooh la la.

Those hormonal bad boys can help you relax, restore and revitalise your system. What more could you need?

romantic lady and the tramp GIF

NOW do you believe us about scientific research? 

Grab that lad or lassie and get your smooch on, it's for your own benefit, and theirs too.

Your doctor has officially given you one prescription to visit the LOVE shack *winks* 

Get it, gurrrlllll…

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What should have been an amazing 21st birthday celebration for Modern Family actress turned sour, when body-shaming trolls attacked her weight-loss.

The gorgeous actress posted a number of photos from her birthday bash, alongside her beloved boyfriend Levi Meaden, and the comments quickly became focused on her physique.

The images show Winter wearing a plaid jumpsuit, showing off her beautiful body, but trolls claimed her slimmer figure was because of plastic surgery.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by (@arielwinter) on

She captioned the post: "When you see the zankou chicken on the left turn right, and then you’ll be in Marina Del RAH. Happy 21st. Love you always, I couldn’t ask for a better day."

Comments have since been disabled on the series of snaps, after horrible social media users targeted her with hate. One said; "You’re losing your thick", referencing her famously curvy body.

"Healthier? She got work done to her face. She looked 'healthier' before,” one person wrote.

“Nothing wrong with being honest and telling her we liked her better before 'the change' she was so beautiful before she started chopping up her body and if me saying so helps one girl out there to feel beautiful who's thinking of surgery then its worth it,” another person added.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

A post shared by (@arielwinter) on

The judgemental, harsh words prompted a response from Ariel herself.

“I appreciate you wanting to help girls love themselves the way they are, but you are also kind of cutting me down,” she wrote. 

“I also didn’t get plastic surgery. That is also not being supportive of women if you’re just assuming something about the way they look," she added. She's had to fight back the haters multiple times before:

She tweeted a few months ago: "My friend sent me the funniest article that's apparently in OK Magazine about my 'super strict diet' and how I only go out to eat if it's healthy food and I don't allow sugar in the house…I eat every carbohydrate possible…"

"I make chocolate chip cookies every week," she added. YES GURL.

Winter has long been the subject of criticism online, especially since her breast reduction surgery at the age of 17 and her choice of fashion.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by ARIEL WINTER (@arielwinter) on

Earlier in January, somebody even suggested that she binges on drugs to lose weight; "Not half as bad as all the coke.meth she uses. She literally dropped 30 ponds." After correcting her spelling of pounds (thank God), Winter fired back.

“Yup… I dropped 30 bodies of water so fast…” she said. ”And yes!! My psychiatrist switched me from my previous antidepressant that didn’t work and made me gain weight, to coke/meth!! 

Her body shouldn't be attacked by random online users hiding behind a keyboard. Keep doing what you're doing Ariel, you're slaying the game and snatching wigs left, right and centre.

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Only a few days ago, Grammy-nominated singer Bebe Rexha took to Instagram to proclaim her anger and frustration at body-shaming designers who refused to dress her for the ceremony.

Why? Because she's a SIZE EIGHT. She didn't name names, but if only she did. They'd have been ripped to shreds in minutes.

The Meant To Be singer is nominated for two awards at the Grammys, and said in a video; "If a size six/eight is too big, then, I don't know what to tell you, then I don't want to wear your f*cking dresses, 'cause that's crazy."

Image: Instagram/@beberexha

She continued; "You're saying that all the women in the world that are size eight and up are not beautiful and they cannot wear your dressed,"

"Im sorry, I had to get this off my chest," Bebe captioned the post. "If you don't like my fashion style or my music that's one thing. But don't say you can't dress someone that isn't a runway size."

"Empower women to love their bodies instead of making girls and women feel less then by their size. My size eight ass is still going to the Grammys," she concluded. 

Demi was quick to comment her support; "F*cking preach!!! Love this and you for speaking your mind and using your voice!!!"

Image: @beberexha

Demi Lovato has always been vocal against body-shamers online, and supportive of plus-sized models in the industry.

She even told a fan who created a detailed sketch of the singer; "That's not how my body looks", insisting that her body be represented accurately.

Rexha has received an overwhelming amount of support from the public and celebrities alike following her video, with numerous designers offering to dress her.

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We live in a world where implants and fillers and Botox can be seen as the norm, especially in the celeb world. 

So it was a surprise when Yolanda Hadid took to Instagram to say that, at 55-years-old, her figure is natural. 

The former star of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and mum to models Gigi and Bella and Anwar posted a sizzling snap of herself clad in pink underwear.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by YOLANDA (@yolanda.hadid) on

She captioned it, ''Fifty Five and smiling from the inside out….Finally back to the original 1964. Living in a body free of breast implants, fillers, botox, extensions and all the bullshit I thought I needed in order to keep up with what society conditioned me to believe what a sexy woman should look like until the toxicity of it all almost killed me.''

However, choosing to be free of cosmetic surgery wasn't something that was immediate. 

She continued, ''Your health is your wealth so please make educated decisions, research the partial information you’re given by our broken system before putting anything foreign in your body. It took me many years of undoing some bad choices I made for myself before I finally found the freedom to sustainable internal beauty and acceptance of what is the best version of myself by no standards but my own.''

She added, ''It’s on us to learn to love our selves and celebrate our unique, one of a kind beauty at all ages as we move through this journey called “life”. Beauty has no meaning without your health.''

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by YOLANDA (@yolanda.hadid) on

Her followers were in awe at how fabulous she looked and took to the comments to praise her for looking after body.

One said, ''What a beautiful words.''

While another wrote, ''Such a wonderful post. You are a beautiful soul.''

She is getting so much support for her refreshing attitude to health and taking care of her body.

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Women's bodies are complex, to say the least. Half the time we aren't sure what the hell is going on with them, but men are doubly confused.

This lady decided to tweet an image of skin-coloured nipple covers to see the level of knowledge which male brains could handle, and it essentially broke them.

Twitter user @cxffeinated cheekily wrote; "Since men know everything. What are these?" and the responses were absolutely GAS.

The guesses which came in were so pure, so absurd, and so… wrong.

The silicone nipple covers were mistaken for things such as petri dishes from laboratories, wax melts in 'Caribbean Peach' flavour, and even FROG EGGS. (We died at that one)

It has definitely proven that men do not, in fact, know everything. 

Her boyfriend wanted to know the scientific scale, but he wasn't any closer to guessing correctly. Try again, lad.

Another wanted to ask if the nipple covers were actually a puncture repair kit.

Yes, that's a serious tweet. The poor fella is clueless;

Some estimates were over-confident, some were highly unsure of themselves, and others were just plain baffled.

dos equis what GIF by Dos Equis Gifs to the World

However, this one is definitely our favourite;

MASH POTATO. Let that sink in for a second. Wow.

We've got to give ten points to Gryffindor for their originality, at least. They've got their creativity if nothing else.

Better luck next time, boys.

mel b good luck GIF by America's Got Talent

Keep trying and failing to understand the complexities of the female body.

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It's a pretty grim day, in an age when we are supposed to embrace our bodies and empower each other, people are STILL fat shaming. 

Love Island's Megan Barton has a body of a goddess, but it doesn't stop the body shamers coming after her.

The 24-year-old stunned in a white dress that hugged her curves in all the right places.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Kendall Rae Knight (@kendallraeknight) on

However, in her Instagram stories, Megan posted a screenshot of a message from an Insta user.

The message showed a picture which had been on Megan's story, along with three words: "So fat now."

Megan slammed the body shamer and said people like that are the reason why a lot of young girls have issues with their bodies. 

The Love Island babe wrote: "Mate, it's people like this tool that are making young girls pick fault with themselves."

"How's she calling me fat at a size 10?! Girls embrace your curves," she added – you tell them, gal!

It's hard enough to accept our bodies, so if you've got nothing nice to say about someone else's bod – do everyone a favour and just don't comment.

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Bodies.

They come in all shapes and sizes, right?

Curvy, slender, tall, short etc. etc. – but all gorge none the less. 

So why, when it comes to something oh-so-normal like a hip dip, do people feel like they can't show it off in all its glory?

Are unrealistic and increasingly difficult-to-reach standards set by social media to blame?

Ok so first up, what is a hip dip?

They are an inward curve on each side of your body, just below the hip bone. Some women have quite prominent ones, some don't – pretty standard and deffo nothing to be ashamed of…because it's your body and it's normal. 

That's all well and good until social media begins to poke its nose in and declare something natural like a hip dip is something worthy of being banished.

Ads boasting titles like ''how to lose those hips dips'' began to appear on Insta and women were beginning to ask why…and worryingly, question if their hip dips were something they should be tryna lose. 

Many took to Twitter to hit out at these dangerous ads and to say that they're happy with their bodies as they are, thank you v much.

One hit the nail on the head when she tweeted, ''sorry, but it’s 2018. We’re out here loving all women and ourselves, time to stop conforming to Instagram beauty standards.''

Amen, sister. 

So what effect is this having on us and our view of our bodies?

If the influencers that we follow are editing their bodies so much that they're actually morphing into a version of themselves that isn't real, what kind of false impression does that give us about our body image?

Carys Gray is an influencer who has been quite vocal about this – and she is v v pro-hip dip.

She wrote that, ''if anyone else has these cute ass hip dips then you should rock them…For 20 years I've picked at areas of my body I hate but not once did I pick up on these! A few years ago I would have  felt insecure and wanted to change them. Now I don't care what other people think looks good on women or not. I think they're cool.''

However, some women are not as positive about them and are even going so far as to get filler injected in their hips to create a curvier shape. 

this is known as a ''hip job.'' (what next?!) 

Dr Ross Perry, GP Dermatologist explains the procedure: ''firstly, create a pocket between the skin and muscle to put an actual "implant" in, that is specifically shaped for this area. Secondly, use fat from your body that is harvested and are injected into this area.''

Wtf?!

According to New York plastic surgeon Arthur W. Perry, most people have a bit of fat over their hips and then a depression or a ''hip dip'' and then fat over the outer thigh and it is NOTHING to do with being overweight so procedures like a hip job are crazily unnecessary. 

So lads, if you're part of the hip dip gang, show them off loud and proud and don't edit them out of your social images.

Embrace and love your body because it is perf as it is. 

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With winter quickly approaching, most families dread the onset of seasonal ills. From contracting the common cold to coming down with a serious case of the flu, there is nothing as frustrating as a blocked nose and a sore, scratchy throat when you’re trying to sleep during a long cold night.

Why does the air become so dry in the winter? When the cold winter weather sets in, we tend to crank up our heating system which causes overly dry indoor air. While your heater increases the temperature in your home, there is no moisture added to the air. As a result, the relative humidity drops considerably.

If you haven’t thought about the benefits of using a humidifier, here are five reasons why you should consider humidifying your household when the cold winter weather sets in.

 

1. Reduction in the Spread of Viruses

Unlike those old wives’ tales, there is research behind why you should keep your air moist. There was a time when doctors would suggest leaving windows open for those suffering from colds and flu. Although they didn’t have the science yet to prove it, we now know that influenza viruses hate moist air and are less likely to spread throughout the household if you use a humidifier. No, you don’t need to open a window to let the snow in, get a humidifier!

2. Relief from Sinusitis

While you may not come down with a cold or flu—sore, dry noses are prevalent in winter months. Most households are heated with dry heat and, as a result, many people suffer from what is called sinusitis. It’s simply an inflammation of the sinuses, but you can find a great deal of relief from a humidifier.

3. Hydrates Dry Skin

The same dry heat that causes an inflammation of the sinuses can create havoc on your skin. If you find that you suffer from dry skin, humidifying your household can bring you relief. Some people have reported that they can even cut back on the amount of moisturizer they apply during the winter because the moist air in their homes helps to protect their skin.

4. A Better Night’s Rest

As silly as this might sound, humidifiers can offer the benefit of improved sleep, especially if your partner is known for those loud snores that keep you from drifting off. Considering that humidifiers keep the air moist and moisture keeps the nasal passages clear, a humidifier just might offer the relief you are looking for.

5. Promotes Faster Healing

A humidifier can help reduce the symptoms of a common cold, influenza or even allergies.A humidifier keeps your nasal passages clear which helps speed up the healing process if you’re feeling under the weather. For people with bad allergies, there are even humidifiers which can help purify the air.

When all is said and done, keeping the home humidified in the winter months can truly be beneficial to your health. However, if you don't want to spend the money on a humidifier and would like to use natural solutions to combat dry air this winter, try these alternative ways to increase humidity at home.

Keep in mind, if you’re struggling to fight the dry air in your home, it is vital not to overuse your heating system, especially when a simple jumper may suffice. It will obviously take intervention on your part, but these are five very important reasons to use a humidifier during those long, cold winter months.

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If you're looking for a reason to give up the cigarettes, this might be the sign you've been looking for.

Lung cancer mortalities in women will increase by 2030 warns a study conducted by the journal, Cancer research.

The prediction estimates that death rates among the female population will rise by almost half within the time frame.

This means that from 2015 to 2030, the disease affecting women in 52 countries will jump by 43 percent, claims the study.

Europe and the Oceania which includes countries such as New Zealand and Australia should pay particular attention to the research, as it indicates women in these nations are most likely to have the highest death rates from the deadly disease. 

Although Asia and America aren't far behind us, according to the data

"Different timelines have been observed in the tobacco epidemic across the globe,” said Dr Jose Martinez-Sanchez, the study’s lead author and an epidemiologist from UIC Barcelona.

“This is because it was socially acceptable for women to smoke in the European and Oceanic countries included in our study many years before this habit was commonplace in America and Asia, which reflects why we are seeing higher lung cancer mortality rates in these countries.”

The doctor drew a comparison between breast and lung cancer.

Doctor Martínez-Sánchez warned the majority of developed countries will be the "first to witness" lung cancer mortality rates surpass that of breast cancer. 

"While we have made great strides in reducing breast cancer mortality globally, lung cancer mortality rates among women are on the rise worldwide," said Martínez-Sánchez.

"If we do not implement measures to reduce smoking behaviours in this population, lung cancer mortality will continue to increase throughout the world."

However, the reality might be closer than we think as their study suggests in 26 countries of the 52 they reviewed, lung cancer rates are already higher than that of breast cancer.

In order to carry out their research, the group analysed the World Health Organisation records of breast and female lung cancer mortalities between 2008 to 2014. 

The team did encounter some restrictions to their work as Africa could not be included due to insufficient information being available. 

Additionally, the research could not account for changes in lifestyle from conventional cigarettes to electronic cigarettes, which could impact trends.

Future screening technology and therapeutics may also lower mortality rates, said the doctor. 

Either way, whether you're a social or chain smoker – you may want to give up for good if this study is anything to go by. 

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By Martha Gilheaney

We have loved or loathed our bodies throughout different trends, depending on what we were being fed, told or sold.  

Trying to keep up with any fad is tiresome, but ones based around bodies? Well, they are just a waste of our good energy, thoughts and time, detrimental to our wellbeing and for the most part unattainable.

Jeans come and go, but genes are for life.

Girls, we need to stop listening to the dictators, to the influencers and even to ourselves because (breathe a sigh of relief) there is a new neutrality in town!

To understand the journey towards Body Neutrality we’ve got to go back, specifically to the Noughties when size zero was in and body confidence was out.

Celebrities, already slim, lithe, gorgeous creatures, who we often admire, began to waste away in front of our very eyes, and we wondered.  

‘Size Zero,’ at first a laughable term, began to register on our psyches. ZERO. You lived through the Noughties, you’ve heard it before, but let it sink in.  Zero equates NOTHING, non-existent. But suddenly, ‘Nothing’ existed, and we all wanted it.  

If you also lived through the Eighties you might remember a classic kids’ film called The NeverEnding Story, in which the big baddie was also known as the 'Nothing'. 

A scene from the movie comes to mind when the main character asks why the fictional land of Fantastia was dying, only to hear that it was because people had begun to – and I quote – "lose their hopes and forget their dreams. So the Nothing grows stronger."

"The Nothing is the emptiness that's left. It’s like a despair, destroying this world… because people who have no hopes are easy to control; and whoever has the control… has the power!"

Life imitated art when the real world of Earth also became infatuated with the Nothing. The media and diet industries had the control and therefore the power. Young, impressionable people lost hope and fell into despair and the emptiness of empty bellies, shrunken selves and shattered self confidence were the only things left.  

Famous faces like Nicole Richie, Victoria Beckham, Rachel Zoe, Lindsay Lohan and Keira Knightley epitomised this Noughies' skeletal trend. The memory of their gaunt, jaw-jarring faces still jade me today, like they did when I was a young adult, struggling to own my own, newly grown, more curvaceous body.  

Simultaneously the Atkins diet exploded into our lives, dictating that carbohydrates were ‘bad.’

Before this, growing up in an Irish home, bread had been King and potatoes Queen(s) for breakfast, lunch and dinner. They were standard, filling, fast, easy, cheap and yum. But carbs did not lend themselves well to this new emaciated mirage on the front of every tabloid magazine and so bread, pasta and potatoes were blighted in a whole new manner. 

Back to the present and things are somewhat different.

In an era of social media soakage, an opposite attitude has emerged, but before you get to thinking things have come up rosy, think again. Opposite ‘bad’ does not necessarily mean 'good'. Health and fitness fads have been amplified, with fitness becoming more fashionable than fashion itself.

Our feeds are awash with hashtags such as #HealthFoodPorn, #Gymshark and #Fitspo. Personal trainers have become rife, gym rest days rare. And then there’s the healthy lifestyle influencer types soaking their slow-soaked overnight protein oats, acting like it’s a piece of (natural, skinny, no sugar, or additives) cake to find the time, money or appetite for slow-soaked anything.

Don’t get me wrong, body love is lovely, but when it’s excessive it can begin to feel narcissistic, silly and somewhat alienating, especially for those who cannot, those struggling with body issues, eating disorders and low-self esteem, those who end up feeling more detached than ever as they cannot muster up the same level of love for themselves.

Speaking of narcissistic, spare a thought for Narcissuses, fame boy of Greek Mythology who drowned in a pool of his own reflection, in 2018 he would certainly drown on his own Instagram feed. There goes life again imitating art…  

While there’s no doubt that the move from body loathing to body loving is an improvement, it’s no less consuming, and our endless consumption of what we should and shouldn’t be consuming is exhausting!

It’s limiting, controlling, expensive and distracting. Investing all this time and energy in our bodies means depriving ourselves from other, perhaps more noble pursuits. If we weren’t naming days after abs, legs or shoulders or working on our #FitFam (whatever that is), what would we be working on?  

Maybe we’d be using our time, energy and head space to spend time with our real ‘fam,’ or to take up a new hobby, set up a business, read or write, cook, create, do some home decor, dance, learn a language or a musical instrument, reconnect with nature, strengthen our skills or our relationships?

The answer to all of these trends, my friends, is not blowing in the wind it’s written here: ’Body Neutrality.’  But what does it mean and how do we get it?  

As that Baz Luhrmann song says, "Enjoy your body, use it every way you can, don’t be afraid of it, or of what other people think of it, it’s the greatest instrument you'll ever own." 

Notice the word ‘instrument,’ because at the end of the day that’s what our body is. It is the vessel that makes everything else possible and THAT (not it's shape or the size) is what makes it incredible!

So yes, love your body, respect it, take care of it, listen to it, exercise it, rest it, nurture it and be proud of it and what it can do for you, but try not to become infatuated with it.  

Don’t just shift the focus, lift the focus.  

Free yourself from the barrage of information about our bodies. Block the white noise and now block me and then you’ll have achieved Body Neutrality!

Martha Gilheaney is a Fashion & Lifestyle Blogger, YouTuber, Personal Shopper & Stylist based in Dublin. Website: www.marthaslookingglass.com

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