Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Young girls, 'thigh gaps', You Tube and the 'F' word.

Fat. The 'F' word I've probably used more recently than any other. Yes, even that one.

Long story short, I turned 40, broke my coccyx, bought a car, stopped walking everywhere, exercise was too painful - and I put on weight. No sh*t Sherlock. That is something I am still - and always will have, to work on. The back won't heal and I love my car.

What I let slip though was saying the 'F' word in front of my daughter. Fat - not the other one. She's used to that one. (Judge away - I'm human).

Then I heard stories from my child about girls at school talking about their 'thigh gaps'. Young women seeing a gap at the top of their thighs as something to look up to. Or saying things like 'Oh God I wish I had a gap like you!' to girls who are naturally thin. And some of her friends would call themselves fat in my presence - and my heart would sink.

These are young, healthy, intelligent, insanely intelligent, beautiful young women, who we are bombarding - through social media, advertising, videos (don't get me started on the videos) with images of what 'society' thinks is attractive. See also: Disney films. Anyone else notice that the girls in Frozen look like Bratz dolls? Big eyes, no waists, perfect boobs, long flowing hair that looks like it's trapped in a wind tunnel like a bad Meatloaf video from the 80's?
Yes, they may be the 'heroine' of the movie, but they look like a cartoon version of what real girls look like. And I'm sick of it.

This house is now an 'F' word free zone. I'm turning the 'F' in 'fat' to 'Fabulous'. I can't take it anymore.

We are our own worst enemy. I am in the process of editing my first YouTube videos. The first thing I thought when I saw them was 'God. Fat.' And I very quickly thought of my daughter - and her friends - and stopped myself. We are so much more than our outside appearances and yet we are continuously, relentlessly, made to feel inferior because we are not one of the 10 women in the world that look like the 10 supermodels in the world.

Watch this from Amy Poehler - it's wonderful.



No more. I'm sticking with the other F word. Fuck it.




54 comments:

  1. This is brilliant, both the post and the video of Our Blessèd Amy. I have caught myself thinking the same "God, fat" things in the last week, one week after I ran the London Marathon. THE MARATHON. So now I'm going to thank my legs, arse, back and every bit that got me round that course, and then I'll take them for another run and have a lovely time, and turn the volume down on all thoughts negative.

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  2. A heartfelt & resounding YES.

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  3. Fucking Fabulous! x

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  4. Thank you so much for this post, we need to see more strong ideas like this one in the media and blogsphere. Thank you so much indeed.

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  5. I so feel you. I'm naturally stick thin which if i was a girl would be very great I'm sure but as a boy who's putting hour after hour into the gym, reforming my entire diet to cut out all the crap and supplement it with good stuff and still only getting slow but adequate progress It's disheartening. I've had a day off today and no word of a lie i've spent it browsing gorgeous boys, models, stars, Francisco Lachowski, Ed Westwick, Joey Essex, Justin Bieber and ripping myself to shreds cause I don't look like them but you forget they have access to literally EVERYTHING. Still, i'm not happy with the way i look but better to be pro active and positive. I think it's the gays and girls that feel these pressures more so than the typical straight 'bloke' types, but why? :\ I feel guilty too when you see people who are in such worse off positions than you and you should feel so fortunate but you don't because you're so brainwashed by society into wanting to be perfect. Mad world but still, i digressed.

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  6. I am 100% with you on this! I hate the whole "real women" "skinny women" thing its all just got ridiculous I think every woman should stand up and not give two hoots about what body shape is in the media this week. If we stop obsessing over our so called body image then the media wouldn't be able to feed off of that and young girls could accept that they are the way they are and not feel this pressure to be something else! Brilliant post!

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  7. Yes, yes, yes! The media's focus on scrutinising physical appearance is just, crazy. We're bombarded with it and it's 'ok' to self deprecate your own appearance; it's as if we're left feeling inferior to 'ideals'. I posted about something similar months ago here. Sticking with fabulous!

    Danielle · danielletc.com

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  8. I couldn't have said it better :) we are no cartoon characters, no Barbie dolls and no robots ... We are allowed to be different and should be proud not to be like everybody else ... Hell I am :)

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  9. The single best ending to a blog post ever. I applaud you, but more for the other message you are sending too.
    Well said.

    Becky

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  10. Oh those Frozen girls drive me crazy!!! With me it isn't so much the thin-ness of them, but the crazy thick, long gorgeous hair. I am skinny as hell but damn it I have thin curly unruly hair. We will always find something about ourselves to hate. F it!!!!!!! My 4 year old sees women on the street and comments on their looks and I can't believe how at such a young age, she already thinks that skinny, blonde, whatever women are the only pretty ones. It's crazy how much girls are affected by the media at such a young age.

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  11. Thank you for this Caroline, I really (like really really) needed this today.
    What do you think about Caudalie Moisturizing sorbet? Is it okay for combination (cheeks are normal, t zone oily) rosacea prone skin as a daily moisturizer?
    Thank you for all what you're doing. Following your advices improved my skin so much!
    xx

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  12. Top post. You are so right.

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  13. Yes to all of this. I grew up with a mum always on a diet and I really think it had an effect on my own state of mind. I'm swearing to myself and future children that I will never pass my insecurities onto them.

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  14. I am skinny, but seriousely I wouldn´t mind being fat, because I don´t consider it ugly. After all, if you are fat you can work out if you want...but when you have an ugly face (me) you have an ugly face.... Damn it...
    A few days ago I saw a group of woman in TV demonstrating against "being skinny and beautiful" and so on...Honesly, I had to look twice to see there were actually woman... and they was like: "Your appeareance is not important"...and I thought of course they are saying this -__- I feel bad because of this, but...
    I TOTALLY agree that it is not important what people think of you and what the society wants you to look, but you can´t act like "I am beautiful" when you actually don´t think so...
    I don´t have a boyfriend, but let´s just say I would... I would fell in love with him of course because of his personality. In fact I always fall in love with people who are not my type at all.... but would I have fallen in love with him when he would be really ugly...like REALLY ugly.. I don´t think so... I mean, I also would want my boyfriend to find me attractive. Does that makes sense? ....If somebody reads this, I am really sorry for my English.. And Caroline...you´re definitely not fat. I saw your video for RENs youtube channel... You looked georgeos (and you was really funny)
    I know that your right. A friend of mine find herself ugly, because she doesn´t look like Megan Fox, althought she is actually extremely GEORGEOS...what a bitch... And yes I´m anonymous, so what...

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    1. Aww Anon, I kinda want to shake you a bit. Here is why. "After all, if you are fat you can work out if you want' There are people who have weight concerns through medical problems and treatments and they can't just work it out. You said that you have an ugly face, this obviously bothers you and you have insecurities around this, if you have this insecurity please think of how other people feel with their own insecurities around their bodies. I also find it quite sad that you could never love someone who is really ugly. Then your final comment about your 'friend' you said that your friend feels she is ugly because she doesn't look like a celebrity, but you say she really is pretty, but you call her a bitch for this. Why does that make her a bitch? This is meant to be your friend, you should be supporting each other.

      I apologise to Caroline, and she doesn't have to approve my comment, but I find your comment negative, hating, contradicting and mean, amongst other things. Sometimes it's not our faces that make us ugly, but our personalities. :-)

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  15. Caroline, I think I'm yet to hear a thing that comes out of your mouth that I don't agree with.

    I am naturally fairly thin, but if somebody dares to judge me for my looks rather than my intelligence & hard work then I would rather like to punch them in the face.

    Any time my mother makes a negative comment about her weight, it makes me sad, because somebody has taught her to think like that. I one day hope that my children can grow up knowing that whatever shape or size they are, they matter just as much as the next person and it's what's in their head that is going to make a difference.

    I honestly think that it's women like you who people should be looking up to. Intelligent, hardworking women who aren't afraid to rock the boat a little!

    Sorry for my essay. Congrats if you made it to the end! Thank you for writing this post :)

    Emily x - prettypleaseblog.co.uk

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  16. Hey Caroline you're not fat! I saw you in Space NK debate video and in REN video (yes, I'm stalker ;)) and you looked amazing. Beautiful, intelligent and self-confident. In my opinion- best combo ever! :D

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  17. I just watched that Ask Amy video and it made me tear up; thank you for this post, I needed to hear something like this x

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  18. I've always been between 7.5-8 stone and I'm 5ft 7. Throughout my school life I was called twig for being too skinny, yet at University I was called "fat and disgusting" numerous times by a boyfriend of mine. Needless to say he didn't last long haha! But my point is people will always have an opinion and sometimes it's just to make themselves feel better to be honest. I'm glad I was strong enough to see he was a complete idiot, however I totally understand why people go onto to develop eating disorders with comments and attitudes in general about how people "think other people should look".

    By the way Caroline, I think people are going to be much more interested in your F for *FABULOUS* advice rather than anything else. I respect you for your knowledge and advice, and can't see a reason to judge you beyond that. I am also really looking forward to your videos, and know they are going to be great, just like this blog is! :)

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  19. I wish I could say it better than Hollie McNish, but she is brilliant https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qCO-YmLT8t4

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  20. I couldn't agree more, my little girl is nearly four and the crap already they get subjected to is horrible (Sofia the first?! The worst Disney tripe ever) you should read this amazing article from a journalist whose mother thought she was fat, brought a tear to my eye. Xx https://medium.com/human-parts/bf5111e68cc1

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  21. F'ing love you, Hirons.

    Was glad to see this by Rosie Mullender in Cosmo last year but we need more. A lot more. http://www.cosmopolitan.co.uk/diet-fitness/fitness/-thigh-gap

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  22. Great post, Caroline - and by the way, can I just say how insanely excited I am for your YouTube channel? Oh yes.

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  23. Mrs. H, you're the bomb.

    I've struggled with my weight ever since junior high, and even before that for a bit. I know I need to exercise more, but I want to be healthy for the sake of being healthy, not because I believe I need to conform to a certain body type.

    Weirdly enough, though, Elsa & Anna didn't bother me that much simply because they were so cartoon-like. Elsa looks like an exaggerated Tinker Bell and embraces her slender curves.

    Love you, love your work. Kudos, Mrs. H!

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  24. Brilliant post ! As the mum of two young girls, I agree with every word. I was brought up with a mum obsessed with her weight ( at 65 she still is ! ) I never ever want to pass that on to my kids. When I hear my 8 yr old day she is fat I die inside, I try not to react as I don't want to make an issue out of it, really I want to scream at her you are 8 and totally beautiful! Thanks Caroline I will teach her to say she is fabulous and not the other F word.

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  25. So true! Thank you! I love how genuine you are :) xx

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  26. Hell yeah!
    Love it, love you Caroline keep up the hard work :)

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  27. Bravo! So perfectly stated! As a mother of a teen daughter this resonated with me in many ways! Thanks! Love the blog. Rock on!

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  28. Thank you a thousand times for this!

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  29. Ahaha, great post!!!! We are all fantastic!!

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  30. When I have one of those days, I always watch Embarrassing Bodies. That program, while incredibly fascinating to watch and educational, makes me feel absolutely grateful for having the body I have, the bones that I have, the joints that I have, the vision, the hair, the health and appearance that I have. While your heart goes out to the people with serious and real health issues, diseases or rare conditions, it's is blindingly comforting to know that you are not inflicted in the same way and are really very very normal by comparison. Similar things that niggle me about my appearance are swept away after watching Embarrassing Bodies. I think all students should be directed to watch same when they're have an F-day!

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  31. The whole "thigh gap" issue really makes my blood boil. It's dangerous and unrealistic for the majority of people, not to mention it's stupid to want to starve yourself for the sake of a gap between your legs! I naturally have quite a large thigh gap, as I'm one of the irritating people who can eat for England and not gain weight, and nowadays I reckon people look at me and think that I must starve myself. All our bodies are beautiful, "fuck it" indeed!

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  32. Fantastic post, Caroline!
    Really giggled when I read the tag ''bollocks to it'' lol
    I am overweight and I love myself (cue shock and horror from all size 0 thigh gap media folk) no one else can judge me, except me.

    I'd really love if you did a Product Recommendations List for each skin type (and what items you recommend for cleanser, moisturizer, serum, etc)
    I'm in the process of re-vamping my skincare regime (Clinique 3-Step is the devil) and would love your thoughts pls.

    Best wishes
    x

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    1. Ha ha me too! I was really disappointed there weren't more posts labelled under bollocks to it when I clicked it. Ha ha.

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  33. Fantabulously Fesity! Flowingly Funny! Falalalala! xxxx FREEDOM!

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  34. Agreed! And whats wonderful, is that you have created a brilliant platform from which to shout your message. If we all sing it loud enough, we might encourage girls/women to question some of these social constructs that we are bombarded with on a daily basis.

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  35. LOVE this so much! it's ridiculous how an inch of space between your legs is has become a desirable trait among young girls, more desirable than knowledge, kindness, intelligence. girls and women are bombarded with ads that play upon our self consciousness regarding our looks, and as a result we knit-pick every little NORMAL flaw. <3

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  36. Thanks for addressing this. It's so important. Wish I'd understood this issue better in my teens and twenties instead of judging myself so harshly. I still do a bit now in my 40s, but like you I'm working at doing it less and--as Amy P said--focusing on appreciating the things about my body that work well.

    Here's hoping more women have peace around their bodies at younger ages!

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  37. I love this post. It was only recently I was willing to admit to my real weight, to anyone, because of so many years of being 'fat' in high school. I'm not sure if I'd ever been able to deal with it, if my body hadn't provided me with bigger problems.
    I'm still not sure why thigh gaps are a thing. When i was in high school, less than 3 yrs ago, it was all about flat stomachs, perfect boobs, being less than a size 12 & weighing less than 8 stone. So, I mean it was bad but I dunno I think it was at least a little bit healthier than this thigh gap thing.....

    Sally

    http://www.wheelingalong24.com

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  38. I am now 30 yrs old but as a teenager developed anorexia and dropped to 6st (I'm 5 ft 7). I had an "impressive" thigh gap because I looked like a skeleton. It messed up my skin, my hair and my body. Even now at a healthy weight I have no boobs and most likely would struggle to have kids. I just wasn't worth it, but my teenage self was so preoccupied with trying to fit with what society said I should look like I didn't care about the repercussions.
    Now I have no thigh gap but I'm not fat - you need muscles in your legs to pick up a big motorbike and that is waaaaay more fun that worrying about seeing daylight around my nether regions!
    We, as society, needs to make it clear to the media that WE decide what's pretty and what is "the way we should look", we don't need to have it rammed down our throats, and especially not down those of our teens.

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  39. Best post I have read tonight.
    L x
    Http://workingmumy.blogspot.com

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  40. I absolutely love this. Enough said!

    xx

    http://izzbizzz.blogspot.com.au

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  41. Brilliant post. Thank you.It is always women who put other women down. We are deluded if we believe in a 'sisterhood'. However, once in a while a woman will stand out and decry the insanity of the pressure we put upon ourselves and our daughters to be physically perfect. I lost a lot of weight over the winter after my husband had a serious accident and broke his back. I dropped a whole dress size in a matter of days. I had the 'thigh gap' and looked absolutely dreadful. At my age (47), my neck and face were sagging, along with my bust, and my hip bones were beginning to protrude. This kind of weight loss happens to me often when I am under stress or have suffered a trauma. Most people said I was too thin, but some women actually thought I looked fabulous!!! I have now put most of the weight back on, but shopping for clothes in London recently made me quite depressed - and I'm only a size 10! The shops are full of drainpipe jeans that I could barely pull on, or t-shirts with such tight sleeves that made my arms look like sausages. WHEN ARE THE RETAILERS, THE PRESS AND THE MEDIA GOING TO STOP FEEDING WOMEN NEGATIVE BODY IMAGES???? And don't get me started on the botox/fillers/anti-ageing craze. Vaginal rejuvenation surgery??? Bloody hell, when will it ever end??? How many more ways are there to put women down? At 47 I am full of insecurities about my looks, but I will not bow to the pressures of conforming to an ideal that results in a lot of women my age looking like production-line zombies. Well done Caroline. Love your post and your blog.

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  42. Bloody brilliant Caroline! Thank god there is some sanity left in the world. Can we please just let everyone in media/beauty/retail know? STOP TREATING US LIKE MUGS AND FEEDING OUR INSECURITIES.

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  43. These poor young girls, if only they knew that, if you don't have a thigh gap, you will never get a thigh gap, no matter what you do. Thigh gaps come all down to your genetic make up and bone structure, it's sad to think how many young girls will be making themselves ill to try and achieve the unachievable.

    Ooh I see your F word and I raise you the O word! That's right, I'm the O word, Obese. I have struggled with my weight from the age of 14, I'm 34 this year and I've been a mix of sizes. At my smallest I've been a crippling(crippling for me as I didn't suit me) size 10-12 and my biggest a size 24-26 (depending on how shops decide to make up their clothing sizes) The big gene runs through my family, everyone one of us, have had to watch our weight. I naturally have broad shoulders, big boobs, child bearing hips to be proud of and a fantastic pair of legs. My weight is centred around my middle and I am trying to get to a size I can be comfortable with, my goal is a 14/16. I was happy within my shape when I was at that size, anything smaller and it doesn't suit my bone structure, yet I remember feeling like I should be smaller because of society and magazine features. I don't buy magazines now, I've never cared much for 'celebs' either I've never felt influenced by that crowd. I couldn't pick the Kardashions out of a lineup, anything after Brad and Jennifer then I have no clue lol!

    Now, after years of the pill, diet pills, 2 children (1 with a hip related bone disease) PCOS, medication, abusive relationship and other factors I have finally come to accept myself FOR myself. I am never going to be slim, and I don't want to be, I want to be womanly, curvy and fabulous! I have a pretty face, great legs, boobs and hair, these are things that I like about my physical self self and they outweigh the things I don't like about myself, I tell myself these things everyday, it is so much easier to live a life you love, when you can start to like yourself.

    I just want to quickly add. My 11 year old started to pile on weight when he was diagnosed with a hip disease at aged 7. He spent over 12 months in a wheelchair following major surgeries and could not be active like other kids, this is when the weight started to go on. He's at a point now when he has a few limitations, like contact sports but the weight is there and he struggles with it and emotionally too. He calls himself fat, fat idiot and other things and it is upsetting, especially when he's a gorgeous, caring and intelligent boy, that he can't see that over his weight. He is trying to loose weight and it is working but it is not from the help of anyone but us. He was seen by a nutritionalist over 2 years ago and they said his diet was ok, to change a few things, no other advise was given. He was measured at school a year ago (those weight and height calculations that all the children do at school) the letter came with the results that said he was overweight and a leaflet inside. So I took him to the Dr's to get some advice and help for him, we was turned away, they said he would grow out of it, they said they don't put children on diets. I was fuming, the news and everywhere you go tells us that children are getting heavier etc and when you go for help you can't get it or they admit there is a 'problem' but won't help.

    I wish that schools would be more involved with educating children on cookery, learning about foods, portions and do more with personal health and growth.

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  44. Thank u, Caroline. After reading this, i feel there´s still hope in this plastic world we live in.
    I recently went through a crisis like that and decided that I needed to say something, so I started my own blog a week ago. I realized that there's a lot of bad intentions in the beauty industry - instead of empowerment, feelings of inadequacy seem more common everywhere. I live in Brazil and I see this exercise on futility, so i thought I needed to get out there and help women in my country to learn what its needed to make smart and conscious choices when it comes to beauty.

    Thank you for the inspiration and for reminding me that we have the power to change it. Your post today really inspired me to write something soon.
    I love my body and fuck this thigh gap rule !

    www.thepoliticsofbeauty.wordpress.com

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  45. Great post, much needed from a reliable and well respected voice - thanks Caroline!...educating and supporting young women is essential in challenging these ideals, help them to deconstruct, to look past the marketing message and start to believe in and celebrate their own strength and individual beauty and indeed of those around them.

    N x
    www.happyremarkableyou.com

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  46. Best blog post ever. xoxoxoxoxoxo

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  47. This is absolutely brilliant! I just want to share this with everyone! So many people I know are suffering with 'Body Image' issues.

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  48. INSPIRATIONAL BLOG! IN EVERY SENSE!

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  49. I shouldn't say this as it's more of the same crap, focus on appearance blah blah, but I'm saying it anyway... I watched one of your vids with Ruth C & the first thing that popped into my head was... luminous. Just saying.

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  50. Well said! we are all constantly bombarded with society's idea of what is beautiful and if you don't look anything like that it can be soul destroying especially for a teen girl. Love this blog post!
    www.naomitalksbeauty.com

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