Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Demi Lovato - A Real Teenage Role Model

Until November of last year the name Demi Lovato meant nothing to me so when I read in the news of this 18 year old girl who had entered treatment for self-esteem issues that included an eating disorder and cutting, I wanted to know more.  It was at this point that I discovered that she was one of the Disney kids from the Camp Rock movies, I'd only heard of these movies because of my 5 year old niece Kady, she loves all that High School Musical/Camp Rock stuff.  So anyhoo, I found out that alongside the Camp Rock movies she was also a singer who at the time of her public breakdown, was on tour with the Jonas Brothers, now I'd heard their names before but had no idea who they were!  It turns out that Demi had at the time just been dumped by one of them, Joe I think his name was...and then in true classy style, Joe had pretty much instantly started going out with Ashley Greene from Twilight.  Now this sort of situation would be awkward for anyone, could you imagine the love of your life breaking up with you, whilst you were working shockingly close to one and other, and then he starts dating someone else.  It would be horrific.  However add to that the fact that this relationship was highly public and all the trashy magazines and tabloids were keeping tabs on it, this is enough to lead anyone to an emotional breakdown.  

Now I personally hate all the sugary sweet Disney nonsense in films such as Camp Rock and High School Musical, my sister Susan loves all this stuff...but we can't all have awesome taste such as myself, haha.  These movies are such an untrue representation of life and it doesn't remotely surprise me that so many Disney kids go a little mad...hell, even watching these movies is enough to drive me all the more insane!  I took a liking to Demi though and really empathised with her.  Her public meltdown which included an altercation on a plane where she lashed out at one of the tours backing dancers, led her to realise just how unwell she had become and she immediately pulled out of the tour to seek treatment.  

Growing up is difficult enough for any teenage girl, but to be in the spotlight, living a lie, it must be an absolute killer.  I hated reading all the comments on the IMDb message boards where people were being complete assholes about this poor girl, basically saying that as she gets paid so much, she deserves this sort of stuff.  I mean what the hell!?!  I took a lot of shit just sticking up for her on these boards and it made me further realise the amount of assholes that are truly out there.    

At the end of the day, it doesn't matter how much money she gets paid.  When she went into that industry, she was just a kid.  It's the kind of job that many little girls dream of...but with that dream comes a price and Demi most definitely paid it.  At middle school she was bullied by classmates, being the subject of verbal harassment, something that I find to be equally, if not more damaging than physical violence.  

Being in an industry where your body is constantly scrutinized as well, again, this would be hard enough for anyone, but she was just a teenage girl.  I can completely understand why she developed an eating disorder.  It's the same with the cutting...in a world where she is basically dictated what to do on a daily basis and lives under such public scrutiny...both cutting, anorexia and bulimia are forms of control.  It's a way of taking something back and making it your own...it's a fucked up thing to make your own but it's also one of the most personal things a young girl can take control of.  

During her 3 month stay in treatment, she learned that she suffered from bipolar disorder...something that her combined issues most definitely pointed too originally. 

So why do I think this pretty teen is a good role model?  After leaving her 3 month stay in treatment she really opened up in interviews.  She is speaking very candidly about these issues that she hid for a long time, and by doing so she is helping others out there in the same situation.     
"I allow myself a lot of freedom and I'm very peaceful now," she says.  "I have come to realize that just making yourself happy is most important.  Never be ashamed of what you feel.  You have the right to feel any emotion that you want, and to do what makes you happy.  That's my life motto"
When people think of the cliche of teenagers cutting themselves, they think moody goths.  That could not be a more ridiculous statement.  Everyone is vulnerable to forms of self harm, be it drugs, alcohol, eating disorders, cutting, burning, scratching...the list is endless.  Cutting is a way of trying to kill the pain, be it the feel of a blade on the skin, or the relief when the blood trickles down...it is not a healthy mode of expression and the visible scars that you are left with is an everyday reminder of a time you have went through.  Sometimes though, that can be a positive thing, it can be a reminder of a place that you don't want to go back too.  Scars can last for a very long time, trust me.  Sometimes scars that are 10 years old can still look fresh.  Demi has admitted that she started cutting at the age of 11 and the fact that she goes out in public and doesn't try to cover up her scars, that is an incredibly admiral thing. She is dealing with it now...and sharing her pain.  And that just makes me like her all the more!

"It was a way of expressing my own shame, of myself, on my own body, I was matching the inside to the outside. And there were some times where my emotions were just so built up, I didn't know what to do. The only way that I could get instant gratification was through an immediate release on myself."

So out of therapy and getting on with her life, dealing with the body image issues she had before and trying to lead a happy and healthy life...Demi has been doing great!  Which is why when I read that she was getting shit for being "FAT" at the VMA's that I decided to write this blog.  I respect her and it felt like the right time to get my thoughts out there.  I was editor of a mental health newsletter for 2 years and I understand how important it is to let people realise that they are not alone in their struggles.  And FYI, if this is the idea of FAT for her haters then they clearly have serious issues of their own.  There was nothing remotely fat about her, it sickens me to read things like "she should try skipping some meals" and what not!  These people are pathetic, sad little beings.  I loved Demi's reply to them all on her Twitter account

"Guess what, I'm happy and healthy, and if you're hating on my weight you obviously aren't. :) #UNBROKEN

Go, Go Demi!  Stand up to the bullies and keep on staying strong! :)

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

The Dukan Diet - Yet Another Fad Diet That is Both Bad for You Physically AND Mentally!

Whilst flicking through the latest edition of Marie Claire that dropped through my letterbox today I came across an article on the Dukan diet...the diet that apparently got Kate Middleton's sister and mother in shape for the Royal Wedding.  It's the latest fad diet to hit the celebrity circuit and as usually goes with fad diets, it's absolutely horrific for your health.  Like the Atkins diet, a diet that I have long voiced my disgust at, it includes eating meat, meat and more meat!  One of the writers for Marie Claire, Danielle Hine was asked to try the diet out and was inititally happy about it.  What followed though was 11 days of pure hell, starvation, very little sleep and a feeling of exhaustion and emotional hell!  Wow, sounds great doesn't it...NOT!!!

For a start, as a Vegan, I find diets that are so largely meat centric to be vulgar in nature, terrible for the environment and to the creatures living in it!  Yet again, it is an example of the vanity of human nature promoting animal cruelty and environmental destruction.  For health reasons, both physical AND mental, there are no positive outcomes.

Eating large quantities of meat is really bad for your cholesterol levels and add to that the large quantity of eggs that this diet requires and you're walking your way to a heart attack!  This diet requires you eat no fruit or veg for  3 days and then you are allowed vegetables or salad every other day...what the hell!?!  After 18 days you can introduce some carbs, fruit and cheese.  Now it doesn't take a genius to realise that this is not healthy, so why are so many people jumping on the bandwagon!?

Our Marie Claire tester lasted 11 days, in this time she had a couple of slip ups and then on the 11th day decided to call it quits when her friend invited her out for pizza.  I actually really liked her article as she was blatantly honest about how horrific the diet made her feel.  Yes she lost 3 pounds but when the most exciting food that she ate all week, and that was a little bit of a cheat in itself, was Edamame beans on Day 4, you know that this diet is not for those of us who don't have an eating disorder.  And that's what I class diets such as this to be.  An anorexic doesn't eat, a bulimic eats and then purges...this is the same  kind of calculated insanity in my humble opinion.

What further annoyed me about this diet was that it was okay to drink copious amounts of coffee and fizzy drinks, the same as adding artificial sweeteners to food to get taste...again, what the hell, this is NOT good for you!

If you want to lose weight, it is always best to stick to a healthy diet, one that includes lots of fruit and veg, various pulses and grains, minimal dairy and ideally zero meat products.  The whole thing about you can only get protein from meat is a load of rubbish, in fact it is better to get protein from the grain Quinoa, that way you are getting your amino acids as well...it's 110% healthy and so versatile you can use it for tons of stuff!

Another problem with diets such as the Dukan diet is that whilst you might quickly lose a few pounds, the lack of vitamins and minerals in your system means you skin is going to look like shit.  Yes celebrities have their make up artists at hand to make sure that you can't tell how horrible their skin actually looks but regular people don't have that...we don't have a professional who can touch up our make up every 5 minutes.  So yes, whilst they might look great in the movies and magazines etc. I can only imagine how awful they actually look when they get home and take off all the slap!  And I'm not meaning that in a bitchy way, whilst it might sound like that.  It just infuriates me that women are led to feel insecure and horrible about themselves, wishing they could look like the people they see on magazine covers, when at the end of the day, take off all the make up and take them away from the joy of airbrushing and they look just like your and me, albeit probably with worse skin.

So ladies of the world...and men...let's stand up against all these fad diets and fake images, let's lead a healthy life and eat our veggies.  Our bodies both inner and outer shall thank us...and if you need to lose some weight, do it the healthy way.  Get out walking, or join the local gym.  If you're a woman who would like to be in a gym where it's just other women, in an environment where you get total support to lose weight and trim up in a quick and healthy way, then why not join your local Curves?  You will get complete support, make friends AND get closer to the body that you've always wanted...in a healthy and happy environment.  :)