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Why I have stopped buying women’s magazines

This year I made a decision to stop buying ‘women’s’ magazines and I feel so much happier for doing it.  Here’s why…

Im not a massive magazine buyer, I don’t buy them regularly but now and then I will pick up a few and every time I did, I ended up either feeling rubbish about myself or pissed off at the world we live in.  When I did buy them I would flick through this dross and seethe at the three little pigs debate on women, this celebrity is too fat, this celebrity is too thin, this celebrity is jusssssssst right.

body image and womens magazines

 

Look at these ‘shocking’ bodies they scream, let’s join together and shame these women, for how dare they go out in public with any sight of wobbly flesh, a rounded stomach or stretch marks.  Lose weight you disgusting creatures.  But hang on, don’t lose too much weight, because look over here at these women, they must be anorexic or on drugs!! Look at the vile bitch whose ribs we can see…

 

Why the fuck was I buying these things?  I honestly can’t answer that, perhaps it was habit or boredom.  I can tell you I just don’t enjoy reading this shit.  I don’t care how big a Kardashian’s arse is, I don’t want to see that Madonna is too thin or Chantelle is too fat.  Seeing these women, big or small just made me feel angry.  It didn’t make me feel good about myself seeing someone bigger than me though it did at times make me feel shit to see a thin celeb being mocked for gaining a few pounds.  When they are publicly mocking a woman for being fat and she weighs 2 stone less than you it does make to question how society sees you.

 

body image and new magazine

 

These magazines are not interesting, they’re not journalism and they aren’t even amusing.  They are shite and ladies, we need to stop buying into this crap.  Since stopping buying any magazine that’s purpose is to shame women I can honestly say I feel miles better and I have more money in my pocket!

When I look at the magazines my husband buys, there are no images of a celebrity male with a step by step crucifixion of their looks, National Geographic doesn’t fat shame scientists or tell us that Obama has lost/gained a stone.  I know there are magazines such as Mens Fitness that feature toned and muscly men but that is more about health and exercise, it isn’t about how big Brad Pitt’s arse is.

So why do women feel the need to buy magazines that demean and shame other women.  I’d like to think that most of us don’t judge our peers by the size of the bodies so why do we enjoy seeing celebrities judged so harshly? Is it car crash media? Or something more?

I can’t answer that question but what I can say is that buying magazines like Now and Heat does NOTHING good for your self esteem, ask yourself, do you really want to be funding the ridiculous judgement of celebrities, do you want to be part of a society that treats people so poorly and pushes an unrealistic and unattainable perfect body image.  Do you want your daughters, nieces and young women to be surrounded by images and harsh words, cementing the idea that if you aren’t perfect, you are fair game to me mocked and bullied?

I dont. And so I took a stand, its only a tiny stand but if we all stopped buying into this crap then perhaps the editors of these magazines will take a look at themselves… Magazines circulation is dropping year on year, the rise of the internet and smart phones mean that most people can get the celeb gossip fixes at the touch of a button.  So think about your hard earned cash next time your hand wanders thoughtlessly over to the shame section in the newsagents.  What could you be reading in that time that would actually teach you something or just make you feel good?

I didn’t want to bring that sort of message into my home where my kids could see it, especially my 11 year old daughter.  Id never tell her that Susie is so fat that she should NEVER wear a bikini, or that Jane is so skinny, she is definitely starving herself and seeing her bony ribs makes me sick.  I wouldn’t allow people around her to negatively affect her self esteem by telling her that unless she weighs the exact right weight, has the perfect sized tits and an arse that can’t be too small or too big that she is not good enough.  So why would I allow these magazines to be around her?

I found a magazine last year called Psychologies, now I have seen this before but due to the title I assumed it was a health mag or maybe a professional magazine, it isn’t! And despite the terrible name it is actually a really good magazine (so much so that I just bought myself a subscription) It has womens lifestyle articles, fashion, home, work, family etc but there is no celeb shaming, no telling you how to lose 300lb in 20 minutes by juicing your own shoes or any such crap.  It has really interesting and fun pieces that make you feel good.  Fancy that!

I get the desire for celeb gossip, I really do.  I don’t know WHY I want to know what Angelina and Brad’s home looks like but now and then I do.  Im not sure why I care if Richard and Judy fell out but occasionally I like that knowledge.  My (VERY) guilty pleasure is the occasional glance down the Daily Mail website seeing who fell out with who and which celeb got drunk at which party.

But seriously put down the crap mag that’s sole purpose is to bully, mock and shame other women.  Make a stand and think about your fellow woman.

I talk about self esteem a lot these days and it is because facing surgery, scars and having to wear an ileostomy bag 24 hours a day makes to reassess how you look at your body.  I could have gone the other way and felt saddened or ashamed of my body, but instead I just gained a massive respect for it.  My body confidence is higher than it has ever been! I am so proud of my strong body, the battering it has taken, my scars are like battle wounds, they are a huge part of me and I love them.  My bag is there, its on show and I could resent it and despise it, but it wouldn’t change the fact that it is there.  So I have learnt to accept it, and I have used it as a tool to teach other women that no matter what we go through, we are strong and we are beautiful.

Beauty comes in so many different packages, my package has extra bits, its a bit crumpled and torn but it is so filled with joy, happiness, fun, kindness and laughter that it is JUST as beautiful as anyone else’s.

The message in these mags is if you aren’t perfect then it is perfectly acceptable to mock you.  This isn’t true, it isn’t how life is and reading that shit made me feel bad.  Reading that shit when I was an impressionable teenager may have had a really terrible affect on me and so I will protect my daughter from it for as long as possible, life isn’t about Mean Girls judging one another, its about love and kindness, fun and laughter, experience and being brave enough to love yourself and pave your own way, being proud of the person you are, not your dress size, and knowing that true beauty is so far away from the measurement of your waist.

And that, dear reader is why I have stopped buying ‘women’s’ magazines.

 

Love Sam x

 

Keep Your Fork – Brand Booster – a review

Last year I went on a PR and Marketing course called Brand Booster run by marketing consultancy Keep Your Fork.  Run by the thoroughly charming, infectiously positive and wonderfully inspiring Faye Smith it was a six week course run once a week in Sheffield.  This is a review of the course, I have not been paid for this article and all opinions are my own.

I met Faye at a networking meeting, she is one of those people who walk in the room and bring with them such a massive personality and confidence that you are immediately drawn to them.  As I listened to her talk, I was drawn in by her and felt I wanted to talk to her more.  She later told me about her workshop on PR and marketing and I thought it would be great for our photography business The Picture Foundry.  It was £397 for the six week workshop and after careful consideration I decided to go ahead and book on.

keep your fork brand booster

I know this seems like an awful lot of money, but I compared it to paying for an advert in a good magazine and thought I could learn more and earn more from gaining this knowledge and skills.

It was held at a lovely pub on Ecclesall Road in Sheffield, on my first week I was terrified as I walked into the room, but I was warmly welcomed by Faye and immediately felt settled.  I had emailed Faye beforehand and told her about my Ulcerative Colitis, that I was having a flare up and explained what that meant.  I told her about how I may need to leave the room suddenly as I didn’t want it to be awkward on the day.  She emailed straight back and was so understanding and compassionate, saying anything I needed she would sort.  So when I walked in the room and realised just how narrow the route to the loo would be if I was at the end of the table I had a slight panic, but she had thought it through and had nonchalantly put her coat and bag over the chair nearest the toilet, she then said “Sam, why don’t you sit here!”

It sounds like a really small thing, but when you are in a flare, things like access to a toilet becomes vital.  It almost stopped me attending as I was terrified of being embarrassed by running to the toilet or even worse, having an accident in front of a room full of business people!!

Over six weeks Faye teaches you about the following topics; Creating your personal profile, Writing a press release and handling the media, creating a PR plan for press, radio and TV, developing a marketing plan, developing a sales plan and contact strategy and your person style, image and photos.

sam cleasby blogger writer self esteem body image womens health and happiness

You get an email each week with all the notes from the day along with a piece of homework to develop your skills.  Along with this you get Faye as your personal PR machine, sending you all her press requests and supporting you in finding journalistic opportunities for your business.

Its the sort of course where you have to work at it.  She isn’t a magician and isn’t going to make money just fall into your lap.  But what she does is inspire you, teach you and support you in learning everything you need to know about PR and marketing for your business.

Some of it is common sense.  But that sort of annoying common sense where you know you SHOULD know it and be following the rules but just don’t.  Other things are just a real insight into how to push your business PR ahead of your competitors.

There is a little business speak, but on the whole it is really easy to understand and clear.  If I didn’t understand anything I felt completely confident to raise my hand and ask a question without feeling silly.  It was just a really friendly yet professional course, not at ALL stuffy like some business workshops and conferences I have attended before.

So results? Within three months of the course I had got myself, my photography business and the arts group I work for into local and national press and even a 4 page spread in a national magazine.  In the eight months I have got both businesses on Radio Sheffield as well as other local radio stations.  It gave me real life skills of how to make the media work for me in a simple, easy to follow format.  I keep my notes and refer back to them all the time.

It did one other thing.  Faye inspired me to start this blog and really push it forward.  She told me that everyone has a story, something unique and interesting about them that the world wants to hear about.  I had never thought about using my illness and my experience in this way before.  Since starting this blog I have had well over 30,000 views, hundreds of emails and messages of support.  I have been featured on other blogs and I was invited onto BBC radio Sheffield to talk about my International Women’s Day talk.

international womens day 2014

I wouldn’t say its all down to Faye and the course, like I said it isn’t magic.  What I have achieved is down to my hard work, innovation and stubbornness but the skills I learnt have been invaluable.  I now know how to contact journalists, how to write my press releases and I have a solid marketing, PR and sales plan.  I left the course feeling confident and inspired and ran with the ideas, skills and support given to me.  It has changed the way I do business for the better, and things are really going from strength to strength for me.

Just so you know, the amount of free advertising we have had through the skills I learnt on the course outweigh the cost of the course many, many times over.  But you have to be prepared to work at it, if you need some guidance on PR and marketing for your business I would wholly recommend Keep Your Fork and the Brand Booster, but you have to take what is given and make it your own, then work your arse off at it!

Ill give you one example, Faye talked about tying an event to an ‘international day’, she gave us a link to a website with all the weird and wonderful days on it (http://www.national-awareness-days.com/), we talked about different ways to use this to your business’ advantage.  I took a look and realised that a couple of weeks later was Yorkshire Day and started plotting.  With the confidence and skills I had learnt along with a shed load of initiative and probably a couple of loose screws I decided I wanted to do an event on Filey Beach for Yorkshire Day with the arts group Responsible Fishing.  I got on to councils, leapt through hoops and skipped with the red tape and pulled off an event that they said was just too short noticed.  I then got on to local newspapers and radio and got the event covered by several newspapers, three different radio stations and got local councillors to come down to support the event.  You can have a look at the day here.

responsible fishing yorkshire day sand art

responsible fishing yorkshire day sand art

responsible fishing yorkshire day sand art

From this, the group got a huge boost to their audience, Facebook and twitter followers increased and traffic to the site was up.  I was happy with this, we hadn’t been paid for the day, but had managed to get free accommodation from the lovely Filey Brigg campsite.  Then we got a message from somebody who’d seen the day and commissioned the group to do a big paid piece of land art on another beach.  This one event sparked from an idea from Faye has grown into a lot of well paid work and a TON of free advertising.

I think this is a great example of the results of the course.  Like I said, nothing is handed to you on a plate, but it is what you make of the advice given.

For more information on Brand Booster and Keep Your Fork, see the website.

If you would like me to review your product or event get in touch now for details or see the Writing page.

Sam xx

Interview on BBC Sheffield – International Women's Day

I was thrilled to be asked to go on to BBC Radio Sheffield to talk about my part in International Women’s Day with Experience Barnsley.  It was on the fabulous Paulette Edwards show and I had a great time.  It was totally nerve wracking but Im so glad I did it and can’t wait to go on again!

bbc radio sheffield

sam cleasby so bad ass

bbc radio sheffield

sam cleasby so bad ass

It was my first ever time in a radio studio and I think you can really hear the nerves for the first half of the interview but I relaxed into it and had a fantastic time.  Thanks so much to Paulette!

You can listen to the interview below.

Love Sam xx

Is the media too embarrassed to talk about poo?

If you read my blog or know me at all, you will know I talk a lot about poo… Some may say I talk shit, but we’ll overlook that!  I started the blog as I wanted to stop poo being a taboo, to talk about Ulcerative Colitis and IBD.  Over 180,000 people in the UK have either Crohns or Colitis yet it is not something discussed very often.  Now I have my stoma, I talk a lot about Ostomies and what its like to have a bag.  Over 100,000 people in the UK have some type of ostomy, yet again as a nation we just don’t discuss it.

Since starting the blog I have been shocked at the amount of readers I have, in September alone I had over 13,000 views of the site.  I receive so many emails, messages and comments about the site and all have been very positive.  I am delighted, if not a little shocked, at how popular the blog has become.  When I share my blog on Facebook and twitter, many friends share it with their friends.  This is lovely and very much appreciated, it really means a lot.

So I thought it would be good to get the blog out to a wider audience.  I tweeted, messaged and emailed a lot of people in the public eye including several magazines and though the feedback I have is good, no one seems to want to publicise the blog or the subject of poo.  It leaves me wondering why this is?  My viewing figures show that people want to read about the subject so why are people in the public eye so shy of promoting health awareness when it comes to poo?  Is it embarrassment? Or do they think that the general public don’t want to read about poo?

poo taboo

Everyone poops

I emailed a LOT of magazines including a journalist who sent a PR request out for ‘women in their 30s who started an inspiring blog this year about a life changing event’.  It seemed perfect!  But though the journalist thought my story was interesting and inspiring, it wasn’t right for the magazine.

Now I don’t want to seem big headed, and I really don’t expect every journalist in the land to raise their hands in awe and think my story is the best thing ever!! But it does surprise me that no one seems to want to cover the subject.  I have asked a number of people who I know, who are in the public eye if they would share the blog on Facebook or twitter and Im not getting anywhere with that either.

I *know* that poo is a taboo subject with some people, but when hundreds of thousands of people in the UK are suffering from the same diseases or living with a stoma, I just want to speak openly and honestly about it.  When you have these things it can feel very lonely and its easy to feel isolated so it was so important to me to get out in the open and start talking.  What I have gone through and what Im still going through is rubbish, but it shouldn’t be embarrassing to discuss it.  Yes, I had a disease that involved my arse and spent ten years with diarrhoea.  Yes, I now have a stoma, I wear an ileostomy bag.  At times I struggle with these things, but talking about it just makes things easier.  I do not need the media to promote the idea that this is embarrassing or not to be spoken about.

poo taboo

Or even worse, promoting ostomies as something disgusting and horrific.  The Cincinnatti Police department recently started an initiative to lower the gun crime rate by showing teenagers photographs of people with colostomy bags to show the possible affects of being shot.  “You’re not killed, but you’re walking around with a colostomy bag and that’s just not the way to get a girl’s attention by limping down Warsaw Avenue with a colostomy bag,” said Lt. Joe Richardson.

Well fuck you Lt. Richardson, I guarantee you that my stoma doesn’t stop me getting attention from the opposite sex. My stoma doesn’t take away my sexuality. I’d rather date someone with a stoma than someone who is ignorant.

Their message was that having a bag is the most unattractive thing that could happen to you. A news report actually said the police showed teens “gruesome photos of people with colostomy bags” It promotes the thoughts that if you have a stoma, you are unattractive, smelly and you should be ashamed of the fact. Myths like these arise because of campaigns like the Cincinnati Police Departments. By portraying an ostomy as a tragic and gruesome way to live out the rest of your life, it continues the stigma surrounding stomas and discourages people with ostomies from speaking about their condition without shame publicly.

Where are the stories of inspiration? Where are the stories of people feeling beautiful, empowered and proud? Having a stoma means you were in a situation that meant this drastic, life altering surgery was your best chance of having a life without pain. For many it is emergency surgery done to save lives. I think people who have been through this deserve to be celebrated not shamed or ignored.

Obviously it would be lovely for people to share my story and my blog, but if you don’t want to do that – share someone else’s, or just don’t be afraid to discuss poo and illness. One thing that many people have told me is that after reading and discussing or sharing my blog, they learnt that someone they know has IBD or a stoma. It surprises me that once you start talking then others feel comfortable enough to share their experiences too.

After I started this blog I got an email from my cousin who told me that he too has ulcerative colitis. He lives quite far away from me and I don’t see him often but I couldn’t believe a family member had the same disease as me and we didn’t know about it! That no one in our families had spoken about it and connected that we had the same thing!

I had a person come up to me in the street and say ‘Sam!!! I have a bad ass too!!!!’ The power of blogging, eh?!!

I write this blog as I want to share my experiences to help others and to get people talking. Please help me do that by sharing this post and letting me know if it helps you or someone you know.

Many thanks

Sam xx