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Thoughts on Nike Mannequins

After seeing @nunude_official shared a post stating that Nike’s flagship store in London has introduced a plus sized mannequin on their shop floor, I was absolutely delighted. Then I saw that the Telegraph had published an article about Nike’s shop titled

“Obese mannequins are selling women a dangerous lie”

I was fuming. There isn’t just one body type. By having a curvy mannequin, Nike are broadening their representation of our female demographic. It should not be restricted to a 6ft size 8 mannequin.

I had a discussion with a fellow blogger Sinead from @paddingtontheservicedog who has a similar condition to me called Parkes-Weber Syndrome. She had some interesting points to make about Nike’s mannequins:

“I’m considered on the cusp of plus size, but have to buy plus size trousers ALWAYS because of my leg…Do I think it’s healthy to be obese? No, but there are so many factors as to why someone could be. To have gym clothes that are available in a wide variety of sizing may make people more comfortable to work out”

What is even more shocking is that the Telegraph are supposed to be backing Changing Faces who support people with visible differences through counselling, skin camouflage clinics and also campaign for diverse, positive representation in the Media for equality for people who look “different”.

Yet they publish an article which slates Nike’s flagship store for being diverse?

During Face Equality Day (22.05.19) at the Telegraph offices, which I attended, Baroness Williams said that

“Value is placed on appearance and that there is a distorted view of what beauty and perfection looks like”

Yet today, on the 10th June,  less than a month after the launch of Changing Faces report “My Visible Difference”, Tanya Gold has described Nike’s plus size mannequin as

 “Immense, gargantuan, vast. She heaves with fat… She cannot run. She is more than likely pre-diabetic and on her way to a hip replacement.”

I understand that obesity can cause many health complications, but there are lots of reasons why someone may be overweight other than unhealthy diet and lack of exercise. They may have a disability, condition or could be on medication which causes weight gain. So to say that this Nike Mannequin represents a fat, gargantuan woman is not just rude, but body shaming.

Therefore, by the Telegraph sharing these hateful words, it’s entirely contradicting the Christmas Charity appeal “Words Matter” they did with Changing Faces to challenge everyday prejudice!!!

Nike’s mannequins encourage a positive body image. They are encouraging women of ALL shapes and sizes to be fit. As Nunude pointed out,

“The issue with the fitness world is that it looks so perfect that the people who really want to get to the gym feel too insecure to do so”

I would feel far more comfortable and happier shopping for fitness clothes where a board range of bodies are being represented.

It’s time we embrace all forms of the body!

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Thoughts on Love Island 🌴

June is just around the corner, which means one thing: Love Island.

I have had various discussions during the build up with my friends. To watch or not to…
Last year, the answer was simple: Yes. But now, I’m not so sure. What changed my mind? After all it’s a great antidote to a dull day in the office. TV where you can escape reality and watch without a worry. Or so we thought.

There had been some anticipation of plus size models and a more ’diverse’ group of entering the villa this year, so when I saw ITV had released the line up, I excitedly went to investigate. Scrolling through bright candy coloured images, I saw 12 gorgeous human beings… from scientist to surfer. But not one person with a visible difference.

18% of people self-identify as having a visible difference such as a mark, scar or condition* (me being one of them- I have Klippel-Trenaunay Syndrome). Which means, that there should be at least one person on Love Island representing this demographic.

Why do people who look ‘different’ need to be represented? 

1 in 3 people feel depressed, sad or anxious as a result of having a visible difference*

I believe that a contributing factor to this is how people are portrayed in the media.

Adverts show a very narrow perspective of beauty and we are under constant pressure to look like what their idea of ‘perfect’ is. This in turn can influence our happiness: we experience low confidence and self esteem , as our bodies do not match what we see in the media; suggesting that we are simply not good enough.

People with visible differences are putting up barriers because they assume that they wouldn’t make the cut. I would never apply to go on Love Island purely because I don’t think they would want someone like me, who has a swollen foot and is a size 12/14. We aren’t putting ourselves in situations to gain opportunities because of our insecurities about looking different.

What can we do to change this?

I am very proud to be a Campaigner for the charity Changing Faces and we want more brands to sign our Pledge To Be Seen and commit to better representing people with a visible difference.

Love Island attracts millions of viewers, with the average amount being 3.6 million.

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My friend Heather and I bumped into Love Island winner Kem Catinay in Ibiza!

Over half a million people with a visible difference will be tuning in on Monday to watch a new group of singletons entering the villa. Amongst the viewers will be many teenagers.

For me, I was most self-conscious when I was in my teens. I never felt good enough and I was constantly comparing my body to what I saw in magazines, films and reality TV.

At times, I was very sad and wished I would wake up one day and for my KTS leg to have miraculously shrunk to the same size and colour of my left.

If only I had a public figure to look up to who had a visible difference! This person could be a Love Island contestant. I know I would’ve felt a bit more comfortable with my body, knowing there are other people with visible differences who are successful.

Instead, it’s taken me years of anti depressants, therapy and counselling to help me on my journey of accepting my visible difference.

On the plus side, I feel a lot better about my body and how it looks and I am comfortable enough to show my leg in public: I’m not hiding it anymore!

*Statistics are taken from the Changing Faces report: My Visible Difference.