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Suicide Girls…

Devoted to changing your idea of what makes a lady beautiful… As long as you are thin and white?

So there’s this website called Suicide Girls, they’ve been going a few years but I rediscovered them on Instagram recently. Their tagline of being “devoted to changing your idea of what makes a lady beautiful” caught my eye and upon looking through I saw a variety pin up girls sporting tattoos and piercings.

I love tattoos. A lot. If I had more money, I’d be covered!! And so a site and social media portraying so called alternative women with ink and metal made me happy.

That slogan of changing ideas of beauty also appealed to me and so I hit follow, looking forward to some awesome women coming up in my Instagram feed.

And they do. But after a week, a bloody annoying pattern emerges. Yes, there are lots of beautiful, interesting and inked up women. But the HUUUUUUGE majority are both thin and white.

Ok, it’s great to promote tattooed women as beautiful, but thin white women don’t usually have that many issues being portrayed in the media. And as tats become commonplace in society, it’s really not that alternative.

So where are the bigger women? Where are the women of colour?

In the first 100 posts on the Instagram feed there are 6 women of colour.

And one woman who looks bigger than a size 10. And that post is filled with fat shaming comments.

What’s going on Suicide Girls? I love the idea of promoting an alternative view to traditional beauty, but surely you could bring yourself to show some larger ladies to your audience?

As the average size of women is around a UK 16, why don’t you show more average sized women?

Or does the idea of “what makes a lady beautiful” only apply to the thin white ones…

Though progress is being made with more and more plus size women as models and most recently the wonderful Tess Holliday I just wish we could see more of this.

What do you think?

Sam x

To make up or not to make up

I sometimes find make up an odd thing, it’s the social expectation that women will wear make up that I find a little weird. Men have no such pressure to daily paint their faces yet for many women, they wouldn’t leave the house without wearing at least some sort of cosmetics.

I don’t wear make up day to day but I wouldn’t go for an evening out with a bare face. And having no idea why got me thinking. The feminist part of me feels like it’s totally unnecessary, that wearing lipstick that is supposed to make my mouth look more enticing is ridiculous, or putting on fake eyelashes that supposedly make my eyes wider and more attractive is a joke.

But the reality is that I don’t wear make up FOR other people. I wear make up partly as a security blanket, a safety net of habit. My mother wears little make up but my earliest memories are of her dressing table filled with these lotions, potions and paints that seemed to hold the mysteries of being a woman.

I also feel that on a night out I want to transform myself from daytime work Sam and mum to party loving Sam. It’s the reason I wear different clothes on a night out than to what Id wear for work or home. That transformation makes me feel more confident.

I hadn’t really thought too much about the reasons why I wear make up before. I suppose I just thought it made me look better. But on Saturday night after an evening out I was taking my slap off, and for some reason just removed half.

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I was really surprised by the results, I found I was no happier with my made up face than my natural face and it got me thinking about why I wear it and if it matters.

Like many women, I have a make up bag filled with foundation, powder, mascara and all manner of powders and pastes. But why? It is for me but I suppose it’s also about wanting to project a certain image out into the world. Does that sound shallow? In writing this I feel I may sound vain, that I should be entirely happy with my looks and not feel the need to wear a mask. But isn’t most of our image some sort of mask?

Makeup can be a form of self-expression and a way to show your personality and character. And if it makes you feel better then what is the problem? The sexist assumption that women only wear make up for male attention is unhelpful. As is the idea that without makeup we feel unattractive. The reality is that through make up, clothes and hair I want to express myself in a way that shows who I am and then have others see that form of self-expression.

Shallow or not our image is the outward, immediate way we tell people who we are. It’s said you judge a person when you meet them within 10 seconds, that first impression means so much. And perhaps that is why I don’t feel the need to wear any make up and wear joggers and a vest in the house because the people I see already know and love me, they don’t judge me on my external appearance. Whereas out of the house in a work or social environment I know I will be meeting people and want to put across a certain image.

Whether that is in a meeting where I want to show my professionalism, personality and that I’m a mother f**king adult. Or at a party where I want my fun, giddy and party side to come out. It’s all a mask, a costume, an external show of my internal personality.

So to make up or not to make up? Tell me what you think!

Love Sam xx

Turia Pitt on Womens Weekly Australia cover – Inspirational!

I saw this story this morning and was struck by the idea of having inspirational real women on magazine covers rather than air brushed celebrities.  Australian Women’s Weekly have Turia Pitt, a burns survivor who was injured in bush fires on the cover and it makes for a striking and beautiful image.

turia pitt burns survivor womens weekly australiaPhoto via Womens Weekly Aus

Editor in Chief Helen McCabe said

“For eighty years the Women’s Weekly has been celebrating inspirational Australian women, when Turia was photographed as part of our Women of the Future judging panel among a group of similarly impressive Australian women, it was clear from the moment she sat in front of the camera that the July cover had to belong to her.”

“Any attempt to describe the magic and beauty of Turia seems to get lost in platitudes or clichés. Yet I have never met a more remarkable person.”

Seeing images like this accompanying an inspirational and positive story just make my heart soar.  This isn’t about feeling sorry for her, its not a poor me story.  I LOVE her headline of “Im the luckiest woman in the world” – this woman is my hero! She isn’t complaining, there is no martyrdom.

Turia was caught in a bushfire whilst running a marathon in Western Australia, suffering burns to 64 per cent of her body.  Doctors gave her a slim chance of recovery yet she defied that expectation and recovered amazingly. 

She said “For me, it sends the message that confidence equals beauty. There are a lot of women out there who are so beautiful but don’t have the confidence, and that’s what gets you over the line.”

I believe that 100% – Confidence equals beauty

Well done Womens Weekly – this cover is just a start and hopefully other magazines will follow suit.  Women aren’t stupid, we aren’t just drawn in by seeing yet another picture of a perfect celebrity.  I for one would be much more likely to buy a magazine whose cover was showing true beauty and inspiration rather than a celeb who I have seen a million times before!

I would love to see a women with a stoma or scars being portrayed in magazines more, the more we see images of people who have physical scars the less taboo it becomes.  For many women who have an ostomy bag or large scars thy can feel that these things take away their femininity and sexuality, thats the reason I decided to do my photoshoots with my ileostomy bag. I wanted to put out there some positive images that show my bag and scars as just a small part of me, that they do not make me less of a woman.

I think the media could be a great tool for promoting positive images of women who have faced illness, surgery or modifications and I hope that this Women’s Weekly cover is just the start of something brilliant.

For more information on Turia’s story, see the Women’s Weekly website

How do you define beauty?

We all know the old sayings of ‘beauty is skin deep’ and ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder’ but do we actually live by them? Beauty is a billion dollar industry, we are sold images of beauty every day, studies say we see over 3500 marketing messages a day designed by marketing execs to show this narrow western ideal of beauty.

My talk last week for International Women’s Day was about chronic illness and body image and so it got me thinking about beauty, how we see ourselves, how the world defines beauty and where we fit into that concept.

My friend Helen sent me a message telling me to take a look at motivational speaker Lizzie Velasquez, she has an extremely rare disorder which means she cannot gain weight and I watched a video of hers called ‘How do you define beauty?’ where she talks about how she found a youtube video of herself naming her as the worlds ugliest woman.  I was blown away.  Watch this video and then think about it next time you want to make a ‘funny’ comment on a youtube video or random photo on the internet.  Remember her words ‘I felt like someone was reaching through the computer screen and punching me’, think about that before you post a comment about a celebrity or an unflattering picture of a stranger.

The amazing thing about Lizzie is her positivity, she accepts the life and the body she has and makes the absolute most of it.  Her strength, humour and positive attitude are BEAUTIFUL.

So how do you define beauty? Is it flawless skin and a size 0 figure? The perfect gym body? Toned arms and a six pack? Big pert breasts?  Or is it more than that?

Beauty to me is confidence, uniqueness, pride, kindness, positivity.  Beauty can be found everywhere if you are open to seeing it.  Size 0 or size 30, beauty is inside us all.  We just need to accept ourselves and let the awesomeness inside shine through, I KNOW that is easier said than done.  But we need to change the nature of society where we as women constantly put ourselves down, we are our own harshest critics and we need to be kinder to ourselves.

Its a shame that it took major surgery and living with an ileostomy bag for me to recognise and voice my wonder of my body.  It shouldn’t take such a drastic thing to see beauty in oneself.

We need to stop with the negative comments we make into the mirror and start with positive affirmations.  Say to yourself  ‘you are amazing’ ‘you are beautiful’ ‘you kick ass’ – say them enough times and you may start believing them.

self esteem quotes sam cleasby so bad ass

Think about the people in your life who are truly beautiful.  Do they fit into the tiny select package that beauty magazines tell us is beautiful? I have this friend and she is beautiful, but you would never hear her say those words because sadly she doesn’t believe them.  I wish she could see herself through my eyes, I see her as this magnificent person, she is kind hearted, open with her emotions, has  these gorgeous eyes that break my heart when they shine with tears.  I love her hair and she has an awesome rack… She has an amazing style, one of those annoying people who throw on several things that layer up like she’s just walked off a quirky fashion show.  Her heart is so big, she cares ferociously about those around her and has the most beautiful aura.

That is beauty.  That is what counts.

We need to stop giving ourselves such a hard time and be more ready with compliments for ourselves and those around us.  I am learning to accept compliments, I used to be embarrassed by them and make an argument as to why the person giving them was wrong…

Nice person – “I love your hair!”

Me – “Really? Have you not seen my roots?”

Nice person – “Your dress is beautiful”

Me – “This? It was really cheap.  And Im wearing massive fat pants to fit into it”

WHY???? Why do we do this? And so I make myself accept a compliment graciously with a “Thank you, that’s so kind” It doesn’t feel right, perhaps immodest to do this but I know I need to learn to be kind to myself and so if someone is nice enough to be kind to me, I have to learn to accept it.

If you do only one thing today, make it something good for yourself, tell yourself you are awesome.  Find just one thing that is amazing about you and say it out loud to yourself. (Perhaps do this at home rather than on public transport though as shouting “I have amazing breasts” on the bus is generally frowned upon)

Love Sam xxxx

My brave body is no less beautiful because of its scars

My ileostomy is part of me and my scars , stoma and bag make my body no less beautiful than a body without.

If you have an ostomy, be proud of it, own it, love it. It probably wasn’t part of your life plan but it’s here now and you need to accept it and know it is saving your life.

My ileostomy bag is not unattractive, it’s not scary looking or disgusting.  I love the softness and femininity of these images, the lines of my body and lines of my bag become one.

I’m proud of my body and it’s strength, I celebrate my ostomy by showing the world that beauty is not about perfection, beauty is in everything, if only we can have a mind that is open to it.

woman with ileostomy bag beauty art empowerment confidence

woman with ileostomy bag beauty art empowerment confidence

woman with ileostomy bag beauty art empowerment confidence

Love Sam x