I'm one of those people who likes to try their darnedest to find the positives in every situation. I find it much more enthralling to seek out the good instead of what is perceived to be the bad. As a sufferer of depression, it can be somewhat difficult to actually carry this out at times as I have to actively battle with my own head. I have had to train my mind - very, very hard - to become an optimist.
Winter and the festive period is without a shadow of a doubt, my favourite time of year. Personally, I find that there is so much to love about this season; the glittering of stars in the bluest of black skies, the sweet singing of robins, the dazzlingly eye-catching sequins of party dresses and the crunch of snow beneath your feet. There's something about this time of year which seems to generate an iridescent glow that encases the majority of human beings. We seem to basque in the festivity and revel in the apparent elation, firmly shoving our woes to the back of our minds until the novelty of the New Year has worn off. But, as hard as I try to maintain my new found positivity, I often find my old pessimistic tendencies creeping back through where the festive period is concerned. Just how jolly is this season?
When you look deeper, right into the heart of the build up to Christmas, you begin to see cracks in its foundations. What on the surface appears to be a time of abundant merriment for all, is actually a vicious cycle that keeps us all manipulated like puppets. The voices of the media and marketing industries boom louder than ever during the festive period. The sheer amount of mixed messages is enough to make you feel as though you're on a playground roundabout, spinning at one hundred miles an hour, with no way of getting off. To your left, you will find clothing and weight-loss companies who pressure you into losing as much weight as possible in as little time as possible in order to fit into your party dress (because apparently, only the slim are allowed to wear what they want). To your right, you will then come across food companies who forcibly ram about three million different kinds of treats you never even thought could exist down your throat. Directly in front of you is the beauty industry; displaying a dazzling array of retouched images to remind you that stereotypical beauty is the key to happiness. Come January 1, you will then discover the dieting industry who has been behind you, patiently watching the festive goings-on like a lion; rubbing its hands together, just waiting to profit from your insecurity created by its brothers and sisters.
I know from personal experience just how powerful the media industry can be. It is literally everywhere and when contradictory messages like these are spewed out without a second thought (the first thought of course: PROFIT) the effects are potentially extremely harmful. In my case, it resulted directly in clinical depression. How sad is it, that in 2015, a public holiday that is supposed to be ultimately centred around happiness and generosity supports competitive culture without us even realising it? www.vouchercloud.com recently conducted a survey and found that 51% of 2,000 women have bailed on a December outing because they were having what they describe as a 'fat day'. It makes me want to sob when I think of anyone missing out because they're worried that the way they look will be seen as paramount to who they are as a person.
All I want for Christmas this and every year is for us to finally be armed with the knowledge we need to break these monstrosities down. We need to be taught from a very young age that these companies only care about generating profit, not our souls. My hope for you is that you continue to grow at whatever pace feels right, break down barriers and stereotypes placed upon you and learn to appreciate the unique, innate beauty within you and every other human being on the planet.