Women are under pressure to be perfect. We receive constant bombardment from the media and society, stating that we need to be the perfect size. Men aren't under the same types of pressure as we are.
While portraying models with washboard stomachs and sexy figures, so many magazines criticise women if they put on weight - putting red rings around their body parts, body-shaming them... It's shocking!
Magazines suggest that we should be perfect lovers; amazing girlfriends, wives and mothers; have a perfect figure; have wonderful careers. In fact, we should be superwomen. This is impossible to live up to. It's a fantasy, an impossible ideal. When some women feel they are failing to reach the dizzy heights of this impossible fantasy, it can - and often does - lead to stress and depression.
I'm not sure when the penny dropped - maybe through the maturing of my own life. But I realised that being happy in my own skin was perfectly okay. My place in the world as a woman was just fine, thanks!
So, I would never be cast as a Bond girl - so what? Maybe, just maybe, I like being an intelligent, focussed woman, living life without worrying about my image. But I am sick of endless columns in newspapers and magazines, trying to shame women into conforming to images produced by photo-shopping and visits to well-known plastic surgeons. It's not good.
It's no coincidence that more and more ordinary women are turning to plastic surgery, often saving up or taking out loans to achieve what is deemed to be a supermodel figure. Some women become indebted, trying to create a celebrity look.
And still, this non-stop parade of body-shaming of women continues on a daily basis in today's celeb-obsessed media, driving doubt into how women see themselves in reality.
Wearing my magazine editor's hat, I'm acutely aware of the signals the media gives out to women. Consequently, I work closely with the picture editors to present women on the covers who represent diversity - in ethnicity, size, shape, and age. I'm very much aware of my responsibilities as a member of the media, so I take a keen interest in the issues that we choose to feature in our women's title, and who appears on the covers. I want to show women you could easily pass in the street, who sit next to you on public transport, who shop at the same shops as you. I want ordinary women represented on the covers.
In a recent survey by Holland and Barrett - The Good Life - a study of 2,000 adults, they found that women are more likely to struggle under pressure, since one in five admit to finding it hard to handle stress. This is hardly surprising, given the day-to-day pressures of life - but when this is coupled with the added stress of our celebrity-obsessed culture dictating how we should look, sound and feel, as women - living up to these expectations becomes overwhelming.
I have a male friend who once complained to me that his partner still had her baby-weight a few months after giving birth. He seemed surprised and disappointed that she had not retained her size 10 figure - unlike, as he pointed out, a certain celebrity.
My answer was: "Does your partner have a PR team focused on positioning her and raising her profile? Someone photo-shopping her image? A personal trainer? A chef? A nanny to take care of the baby while she devotes herself to sculpting her body?"
"No!" my friend answered, warily.
"Well, what are you talking about?" I said.
"Yes, you're right," he admitted, with a nervous laugh.
Dear female celebs - I understand that your image is honed by skilled agents, PR, management, but please stop pretending that losing your baby-weight was a breeze, or that your relationship is perfect.
Stop telling ordinary women that "You, too, can achieve this superwoman status."
The celeb in question has probably not even done this. Of course, they want to look great! They are living a lie to sell products, backed by agents, skilled marketers, image editors and photo re-touchers. Or, as Meghan Trainor asserted, their image has been manipulated against their wishes.
Sitting in a restaurant in my northern town, filing copy while sipping coffee between assignments, I overheard two men (no James Bonds themselves), commenting negatively about a full-figured woman wearing hot pants.
"She shouldn't come out dressed like that! She should cover-up," they said. "You wouldn't see her in [a celeb mag]," they sneered.
No, she would probably not be appearing in a celeb mag, sadly. But maybe the mag is wrong - not her. It should include real women; fuller-figured women; ethnic women; all types of women - all types of shapes. Make 'normal' the norm, so young girls can feel empowered, instead of trying to compete with airbrushed images, caricatures of superwomen and made-up lives.
Learn to love the body you're in and don't feel guilty about not fitting into a model-obsessed society that pushes women to all look a certain way.
As women, we need to learn to look in the mirror and love the person looking back. Stretchmarks, body-hair, cellulite, warts and all.
We, as women, are sassy and intelligent - with skill sets and, most importantly, life experience.
Let's be proud of who we are and what we have achieved. Not attempting an impossible superwoman's fantasy life, but enjoying a fabulous, real woman's life.
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