Sticking Two Fingers Up to Contradictory Media Messages This Christmas

08/12/2015 17:18 GMT | Updated 08/12/2016 10:12 GMT

Am I meant to be dieting to look my best in a Little Black Dress or eating my body weight in mince pies? I do wish the world would hurry up and decide because all these contradictory Christmas messages are giving me a headache.

First, there's the fitness YouTubers who've given the concept of Beach Body Ready a festive rebrand. Apparently to look good at your office party and even stand a chance at inappropriately snogging a colleague you must lose weight by completing regular LBD workouts.

And if squatting yourself senseless doesn't shift the bulge, you can always sign up to one of the many Christmas diet plans on offer this year (hurrah, said no one ever).

Unfortunately it's not just YouTube stars and weight loss companies telling us to alter our appearance for the festive season. High street retailers are also pushing the "you're fat and you're ugly" message, albeit in a more subtle manner.

Once again plus size models are relegated to the background of most Christmas campaigns (if they appear at all) and don't even get me started on the lack of diversity.

But for every advert showing a skinny white woman strutting her stuff in her LBD, there's another ad showing Brits gobbling down copious amounts of food.

Eating en mass has become so synonymous with Christmas that supermarket adverts are now a cultural event. If we're not talking about Sainsbury's venture with Mog the Cat we're laughing at Aldi's John Lewis parody.

Even Lidl's comparably low budget ad promotes the idea that when it comes to Christmas food, more is more. I was utterly confused when I first watched the teacher proudly telling the class that his long list of food would only cost £70 to buy. When did £70 become a bargain? Also, when did items such as prosciutto become "essential" for a family on a budget?

Plus you can't watch the TV for five minutes without seeing an advert for a drinks brand. If I drank that amount of Baileys mixed with vodka there is no way in hell I'd be seductively sashaying across the floor by the end of the night.

At first glance these ads may all seem like a bit of festive fun, but dig a little deeper and it's clear they're having a negative impact on consumers' wellbeing.

Three quarters of women have cancelled plans over the holiday, quoting "having a fat day" as the top reason for bailing out last minute.

Meanwhile women who are usually fairly positive about their body image (like me) can suffer a crisis of confidence at Christmas.

My usual night out routine includes opening my wardrobe, picking out whatever dress is clean, slapping some foundation on my eye bags and leaving the house within 30 minutes. I don't even own hair straighteners, that's how lazy I am.

But as soon as someone utters the words "Christmas party" I have a personality transplant. This weekend I spent Sunday afternoon darting around the shops before declaring that there was absolutely nothing suitable for a black and white-themed party in the whole of Cambridge.

Of course, advertising that plays on our insecurities is nothing new - women's magazines have been placing articles on How To Impress That Guy next to beauty products for years. But while we're hunting for presents for loved-ones and taking note of TV ads for ideas, these messages are so much harder to avoid.

Unfortunately, like any other time of year, this pressure to achieve an unattainable level of perfection is overwhelmingly aimed at women. My boyfriend had his Christmas do last week, I didn't catch him watching any YouTube tutorials on How To Get The Perfect Smokey Eye before he left.

All things considered, I'm resigning from the Christmas race this year. I won't be filling our kitchen cupboards with extra food we won't finish and can't afford. And I've decided to wear a black dress I bought about four years ago to my Christmas party. It's nothing spectacular but that's just fine with me.

We spend so much time chasing the "perfect Christmas" that we forget what the holiday season is really about - spending time with friends and family and being grateful for what we already have. It really is time we stuck two fingers up to contradictory Christmas messaging.

Now do excuse me, I'm off to drink a bucket of Baileys.