THE BODY POSITIVE POEM THAT YOU NEED TO HEAR RIGHT NOW

Okay guys, I am in love. I have just watched a video of Actor Olivia Warren reciting a poem that she has written all about body positivity. She put it out on her Facebook page on April 12th saying that she was "so sick of men and women poking their bodies with contempt and feeling anything less than beautiful."

Since then the video has been watched 10,000 times (although I think it should be mandatory watching for EVERYONE so hopefully that number will seriously multiply!) and has been picked up by the Huffington Post UK. Speaking to them she said: “Social media and conversations are so full of ‘change yourself’ campaigns or sly ‘hate yourself’ language and images that I just wanted to add one thing that wasn’t that. Something that could perhaps calm the minds of people like me and just remind them that we are all okay and that there will always be something to change. So learning to love what you have really is the only way to live outside of the shadows of food and body guilt that are so ever-present."

Olivia is 22 and in her final year studying at a London drama school and yeh, basically, I'm in love with her for this. Check out her poem here and PLEASE share it 'cos it's great and needs sharing. For anyone unable to listen to it because they're still stuck in an office or classroom, I have typed it out below!

"This is a poem for all those who jiggle, 
I’ll scribble down some reasons to wiggle,
Do not be niggled by the thigh gap brigade, 
I’m a homemade upgrade,
And the last time I weighed my sense of sass, 
I broke the scale.

I’m a kale-dodging female,
Double the squish, it’s cool you can wish on this dish.
Measure my kindness, 28 inches of smiles, miles of compassion, 
And piles of the fashion taking us by storm, called defying the norm. 

70 kilos of smart under your nose, 
Suppose I weigh one tonne of weirdo, don’t fear though, it’s clear to me that 12-stone of trusting is heavy but busting through the disgusting numbers that weigh us down.

To drown in the river we call ‘beauty’,
Now I’m a cutie, but my booty is not the reason why.
I’ll die before letting a size 12 label disable my sense of self.

Smoking hot, but not because I forgot to have lunch.
No, I’m firing a punch to the books that showed us that thin is in, gingers are mingers and the short need support - it’s bullshit. All of it.

Measure my wit, quit the shitty myth of pretty, 
It’s a pity that we all feel the way we do, fuck it, me too.
But I know that I am fierce. 
No more tears, I quit the game that leaves its winners fucking hungry.

Put bluntly, I’m a spunky chunky monkey, 
But I’m also glowing from knowing that growing into my own skin is a win for me and the world. 

Girls, you’re gorgeous; boys, you’re swish, a fucking dish; so join with me and embrace the squish."

Olivia thank you so much for this- never stop being fabulous. xxxx

THE COMPANY CREATING HOSPITAL CLOTHING THAT WILL HELP CANCER PATIENTS LOOK AND FEEL BETTER

This is a company that is creating hospital gowns for cancer patients that will help them to look and feel better whilst undergoing treatment. 41-year-old entrepreneur Nikla Lancskweert has set up a clothing line, INGA Wellbeing, for patients in hospital in the hope that it will make men and women feel more like people and less like patients.

(Picture: INGA Wellbeing/Stephanie Derouaux)

(Picture: INGA Wellbeing/Stephanie Derouaux)

She has worked with fashion designers, doctors, nurses and patients to best create clothing that allows you to dress and undress with total ease, that is adjustable and that allows for medical examinations that is also flattering and comfortable and I'm so in love with this idea that I had to share it the minute I saw it.

Nikla first came up with the idea eleven years ago when her mum, Inga, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer aged 52. Claire Robinson, INGA Wellbeing's co-founder told Metro.co.uk that "during this time the cancer threatened to take her life away, but the treatment threatened to take everything that made her, her, too." Describing regular hospital gowns Claire said: "It changer her relationship with those that she loved and who loved her as she increasingly saw herself, and felt others saw her, as a patient, no longer as Inga. That is one of our key drivers" to help people be seen as more than a patient and a person too."

(Picture: INGA Wellbeing/Stephanie Derouaux)

(Picture: INGA Wellbeing/Stephanie Derouaux)

Claire herself had had a similar experience with her own mother, Diana's treatment for breast cancer and after meeting, the two of them, with a fashion designer, co-founded this company. The pieces are currently sold on the website although they are working to introduce them into hospitals and care homes soon.

(Picture: INGA Wellbeing/Stephanie Derouaux)

(Picture: INGA Wellbeing/Stephanie Derouaux)

Claire said: "our goal is to completely re-imagine how patients seem themselves and are seen by others, improving their psychological and physical wellbeing, and returning vital hours to the carers that support them."

(Picture: INGA Wellbeing/Stephanie Derouaux)

(Picture: INGA Wellbeing/Stephanie Derouaux)

She finished by saying this, which, I have to say made my heart sing: "it wasn't so long ago that women dressed in grey, baggy tents when pregnant until somebody decided that clothes that flattered the body would help those wearing them feel better. We hope that the same will be said of this new genre of 'patient clothing' which will transport us from the the age of the hospital gown, to a state where these living with ill0health are able to enjoy their clothes, be comfortable, retain their mobility and their desire socialise, and feel dignified- not different and marked out from others by the clothes that they wear."

I absolutely LOVE this brand that think this is SUCH a beautiful idea, I'm wishing them so much success and hope that they will one day soon be available in hospitals everywhere. If you do, God forbid, know anyone who might have use for this, please check out their website HERE. 

BODYFORM TO DONATE 200,000 FREE SANTIARY PRODUCTS TO HELP THE "PERIOD POVERTY" PROBLEM

Last week, I wrote about the fact that girls are being forced to miss school because they don't have access to sanitary products or can't afford them. The charity Freedom4Girls announced this after they revealed that they had been handing out sanitary products to girls in schools in Leeds.

On the back of this, Bodyform has pledged to donate 200,000 free products to women and girls who are unable to access or purchase products for themselves or their families by 2020. The products will be distributed to various charities who support women and girls affected by issues such as homelessness, poverty, disability, illness and domestic violence. 

The founders of The Homeless Period (a project helping to raise awareness of issues faced by homeless women when it comes to menstruation) said: "The new pledge could make a huge difference to homeless women in the UK. It means fewer women will have to go without sanitary products during that dreaded time of the month. Knowing that they can rely on a local shelter to provide these essential products means that they will have just one less thing to worry about in an already difficult situation."

The Amber Foundation, based in Wiltshire is a charity that gives homeless, unemployed young people a fresh start, will also be receiving some of Bodyform's donation. Their centre manager Barbara Bewley said:

"Many of the young women we work with come from very tough backgrounds and being able to provide them with feminine hygiene products means that this is one less thing for them to worry about. Amber's Centres are a young person's home and so having access to all the home comforts that we take for granted is essential in terms of helping them to focus on achieving their goals and aspirations." 

The marketing director for Bodyform, Nicola Coronado has asked other manufacturers to step up and look at how they can support further and added: "alongside campaigns such as The Homeless Period we can overcome the taboo of talking about menstruations while ensuring sanitary products are reaching those most in need." 

The reaction to the announcement last week that girls are having to miss school because of something so simple, was massive. Bleeding once a month is something that us women cannot control and the fact that our eduction is suffering as a result? That's SO wrong. So big thanks to Bodyform for their great donation and I hope that other companies will follow suit very soon. 

RECYCLING LIKE YOU'VE NEVER SEEN IT BEFORE...

Last night I heard a talk form Kresse Wesling MBE at the Chivas Venture, a woman who in her own words, is 'obsessed with trash'. She is now a co-founder of an incredibly successful luxury brand that makes products using only recycled materials and I was so inspired after leaving the event last night that I had to share the story of Elvis & Kresse.

So in 2005, after a chance meeting with the London Fire Brigade, Elvis & Kresse discovered fire hose for the first time. After 25 years or so, all fire hose gets 'retired' and was, after becoming too old or damaged, simply going to landfill. Upon hearing this, Elvis & Kresse decided that the hose was too beautiful with too much left still to give, to simply go to the scrap heap.

So they decided to recycle it, working with skilled craftspeople to create luxury fashion pieces in the shape of belts, bags and accessories. They then decided that they wanted to give back to their 'suppliers' and they pledged to donate 50% of all the profits from the firehose range to The Fire Fighters Charity. 

Since then the company has only crown and now uses a range of recycled products to create the products that they sell. Parachute silk makes an ideal living for bags and wallets, tea sacks are recycled to make their packaging, auction banners are used for the lining of their bigger bags and leather is used for everything. 

The European luxury industry produces 35,000 tonnes of leather waste each year, normally just in scraps and offcuts. Elvis & Kresse have designed a system that transforms smaller scraps into components, creating bags, chairs and even rugs out of them. 

Kresse last night, speaking at The Venture, shared some horrifying statistics about waste in the fashion industry: of the 1.13 million tonnes of clothing waste in the UK each year, 31% goes to landfill and 7% is incinerated. It is second only to oil in terms of industrial pollution and the most shocking to me? That 30% of clothing hasn't been worn in a year. 

I had no idea that the fashion industry was so wasteful and I don't think that I am alone in that. This is why I wanted to put this brand onto your radar and hope that it will make all of us think twice next time we buy something new! I hope Elvis & Kresse are able to set a precedent for the rest of the industry by using their business as a force for good.

HOW IS IT THAT GIRLS IN THE UK ARE HAVING TO MISS SCHOOL BECAUSE THEY CAN'T AFFORD SANITARY PRODUCTS?

The charity Freedom4Girls have said that girls in the UK are missing school because they cannot afford sanitary protection after they were contacted by a school in Leeds who were concerned about teenage girls' attendance. The charity normally focuses their efforts providing products to girls and women in Kenya but are now doing the same thing in Leeds.

After the findings were published, the BBC spoke to a number of teenage girls. One of them said: "I wrapped a whole tissue roll around my underwear, just to keep my underwear dry until I got home. I once scellotaped tissue roll around my underwear. I didn't know what else to do. I kept this secret up until I was 14 years old and then I started asking for help. I didn't get any money because my mum was s single parent and she had five mouths to feed, so there wasn't much left over money in the pot to be giving to us." As a result, this girl had started to take a few days off school every month.

Another teenager said: "When I went on my period, I started taking time off school, because I didn't know what was actually going on with my body. That made my attendance really low and I was getting in trouble. One day the teachers came to my house and asked why I'm not at school and they actually took me. I thought it was only happening to me... So I was scared and I wanted to stay at home."

Tina Leslie, a public health worker in Leeds and part of Freedom4Girls told BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour: "I wasn't shocked at all. We ha an idea that there was something happening in schools. It's linked to poverty- 250,000 visits to food banks in just Leeds last year. We need to give these girls dignity back. It's happening in other schools. Teachers have told me they are buying towels to have just in case. If you're hoy no goof, you've got no money for sanitary protection. If you have a mum with two teenage girls, that's a lot of money each month when you're on zero-hours contracts, benefits or low income. It's the working poor that we are looking at."

Conservative MP Jason McCartney has since said that he will raise the issue in Parliament and wants to enlist other MPs to help start a campaign for free sanitary products for young girls in need. Labour MSP Monica Lennon is calling for sanitary products to be given out free in Scotland, telling Woman's Hour: "We are trying to establish a principle here, that this is a health issue. If you go to a food bank or homeless shelters, they know people who are having to go without."

There are places to donate sanitary products in the UK if you want to help (and I would encourage you to if you can!):

The Monthly Gift (Manchester based)
Campaign increasing donations of sanitary products to charities helping the homeless and those in poverty.

Bloody Good Period
Collects period supplies and toiletries for refugees and asylum seekers.

The Homeless Period
Needs donations of money or tampons for those women living on the streets.

Food banks also accept them.

When I read this story yesterday I couldn't believe it, how is it possible that in this day and age, in such a rich and powerful country, girls are forced into this position? Not only can they not access basic sanitary products but they are also left totally in the dark about what their bodies are going through, this to me, highlights are huge gap in the syllabus at schools. Every single month our bodies bleed and there is nothing that we can do about that. But we should not be embarrassed of it, or ashamed of it and we DEFINITELY should not be missing out on our eduction because of it.

M&S LAUNCH "FRAZZLED CAFÉS" WITH RUBY WAX WHERE CUSTOMERS CAN TALK ABOUT THEIR MENTAL HEALTH

Cafés within M&S stores will now open after hours on a fortnightly basis as part of an initiative with Ruby Wax to help customers improve their mental wellbeing. The idea of the cafés is to remind people "that it's okay not to be okay" and to allow people who are feeling "frazzled" to meet and share their stories in a "safe, anonymous and non-judgemental environment".

Ruby, who has been honest about her battle with depression said in a blog on The Huffington Post UK: "These meetings are for people like you and me and everyone who feels frazzled from the burden of everyday life. Often we don't want to tell our relations or friends how we're feeling because we worry that we're a burden.

People at the Frazzled Cafés listen to you and care. What's said at those meetings stays at those meetings. We live In a time where to have a life crammed to the hilt is considered a success story. But with all this pressure, so many of us have nowhere to go to meet and talk about it. Frazzled Café is about people coming together to share their stories, calmly sitting together, stating their case and feeling validated as a result. Feeling heard, to me, has always been half the cure."

11 M&S stores will be hosting Frazzled Café meetings over the next few months; three in London and others in Brighton, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Cambridge, Nottingham, Leeds, Newcastle, Canterbury and Norwich with more locations set to be added throughout the year. Each session will be lead by a trained volunteer. 

Sacha Berendji, retail director at Marks & Sparks said: "Ruby's Frazzled Café is a simply, pressure-free way of tackling what can be a taboo subject - feeling stressed. We hope that by providing free and calm venues after the café has closed, we can help any members of the community who simply need to talk about things and what's happening in their lives."

At the moment 1 in 4 of us in the UK are struggling with some form of mental health issue and that is why I am so pleased to hear about this initiative: it really is so important to talk. 

If you want to find out more about Frazzled Café, sign up to their mailing list or attend an event, you can do so HERE.

All there is left to do now is to thank both Ruby Was and M&S and wish them so much luck with this amazing project.

THE BEAUTY AND THE BEAST BACKLASH SHOWS THAT WE'RE MORE ACCEPTING OF BEASTIALITY THAN WE ARE OF HOMOSEXUALITY

It was announced last week that the new Beauty and The Beast film would feature Disney's first openly gay character and today there is speculation as to whether the film will be allowed to air in Malaysia where being gay is still a crime punishable by a prison stay or corporal punishment. Disney has since ruled this out but it is yet unknown as to whether or not this scene will be cut with a bit of good old fashioned censorship.

The character in question is LeFou, Gaston's right hand man who is played by Gosh Gad, and Malaysia was not the only place to dispute it after a cinema in Alabama cancelled all screenings of the film.

And my question is this: how are people SERIOUSLY able to get their knickers in a twist over ONE GAY SCENE when the entire film follows the story of a beautiful young woman falling in love with a buffalo. A FRIGGING BUFFALO.

A couple of weeks ago, when the news of this scene first broke, the film's director Bill Condon said that the "gay moment" is "not a big deal" and on one side of course he is right. It's not a big deal at all. HELLO, it's 2017, so what if there is a gay guy in the film? It DOESN'T matter. But on the other side, it is a big deal. It's a very big deal. It's a huge milestone; the first time that a Disney character has been exclusively gay, it's a massive indication that times are changing, that the world is becoming more accepting and that cinema is starting to portray the real world a little bit more accurately. Even if it is in a film where a woman falls in love with an animal.

The controversy that this film has caused, though incredibly frustrating, might be a good thing. It has started a conversation, opened the door to change and got people thinking. Of course it's the backlash that has made the news but by and large the response has been good: either in the shape of support or indifference - both are reassuring. 

I'm loathed to tell a country off, not least of all because I have absolutely no authority with which to do it, but seriously, Malaysia, if your ONLY ISSUE in a film where the teapots sing and a woman falls in love with a BUFFALO is that there is ONE GAY MOMENT, then you need your heads checking. 

NET-A-PORTER'S PHOTOSHOP F*CK-UP IS JUST WHAT THE WORLD DOESN'T NEED ON INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S DAY

Today is an incredible day for female empowerment. I am not even ashamed to admit that I've basically got no work done today because I have literally spent the whole morning scrolling through Twitter and totally buzzing. Everywhere I've looked I've seen women being unbelievable, standing up and doing great things. But then I saw something that depressed me more than I can say.

We all know that photoshop happens. Every other week we see some huge exposé of yet another huge fashion house, magazine cover or celebrity on Instagram who have embarrassed themselves on their hunt for perfection. I hate that photoshop happens. I hate it so much. It's giving young girls, hell, all girls, totally unrealistic beauty standards to live up to and reminds us of the sad fact that society still doesn't regard us as good enough.

But I thought that today, of all days, we might get a break. Today I thought that MAYBE the world might give us a break. Alas. it only gave us another reason to keep fighting. This time it happened at the hands of Net-A-Porter who added an image to their site advertising a pair of Maria La Rosa Sailor Man Socks with the instructons for the graphics team (AKA photoshop notes) still on it.

"Please slim" they say. PLEASE FUCKING SLIM?! You have got to be bloody kidding me. Unsurprisingly the image has now been replaced but seriously. PLEASE SLIM? Look at the size of this woman. This woman, who is literally just modelling a pair of socks, has been deemed 'too fat'. For the love of God.

So apart from the fact that £35 for a pair of socks is a crime in itself, the fact that this has been found today, of all freaking days? It is just beyond depressing.

But since we're all feeling so inspired today, it seems like a good a time as any to stand up against this stuff. We've asked to #BeBoldForChange today and this is a great opportunity to do that, we won't take this lying down and we won't let the fashion industry get away with this forever. Cheeky bastards.

 

LEGO ARE DUE TO PRODUCE WOMEN OF NASA SET

Guys great new for you to start off this wonderful Thursday: The Danish toy company Lego are making a set of five new figures based on real female scientists, engineers and astronauts. Lego boxes already contain Batman, Harry Potter and Starwars characters but these characters will be available late 2017 or early 2018 after the design, created by US Science writer Maia Weinstock won the Lego Ideas competition. It was picked after receiving 10,000 public votes, which made it eligible for consideration.

Ms Weinstock said: The reaction has been overwhelming. Messages of congratulations and excitement at the prospect of this set actually being on store shelves have been poring in." 

The five women that will be portrayed in this set will be:

- Scientist Katherine Johnson
- Computer scientist Margaret Hamilton
- Astronaut, physicist and educator Sally Ride
- Astronomer Nancy Grace Roman
- Astronaut and physician Mae Jamison.

Ms Johnson was also a character in the recent Oscar-Nominated film Hidden Figures which tells the story of female African American mathematicians working at Nasa in the 1960s.

Lego Ideas spokeswoman Lise Dyotensborg said:

"As a science editor and writer, with a strong personal interest for space exploration as well as the history of women in science and engineering, Maia Weinstock's Women of Nasa Project was a way for her to celebrate accompanied women in the Stem Professions."

Ms Weinstock said herself: "I hope it sets a new example for both girls and boys. Girls, in that they can and should be engineers, scientists and mathematicians, and boys, in that they internalise at an early age that these careers are for everyone, not only men."

In a blog post a guy who runs a website called Jay's Brick Blog made a great point:

"Imagine this very scenario extended to young kids and parents taking the time to not only build this set with their kids, but to also explain who these women are and why their contributions were so important to space exploration and astronomy."

Margaret Hamilton was awarded the United States highest civilian honour, the Presidential Medal of Freedom last year. 

I don't know about you guys but I am personally so excited about this sort of thing. Only last week I was reading some horrible statistics about the low self worth of so many girls and how few of them look to people of their own sex to be inspired by and I feel like this is going to be a huge step in changing that! Any parents out there, big sisters or God parents please do keep an eye out for this hitting the shelves later this year!

GOD DAMN IT ZARA - THEIR NEW ADVERT IS THE FASHION INDUSTRY'S MOST RIDICULOUS YET

Another month, another fashion house is here to shame the living shit out of us. Happy March everyone and welcome to this month's episode of 'the fashion industry won't make clothes for girls with cellulite!', this time it comes from Zara who, in their latest campaign have told us all to 'love our curves' alongside a photo of two of the tiniest damn women that I have ever seen. 

Thankfully this BS is being tolerated less and less and the backlash to this campaign has been huge. The photo was first shared by Irish Radio Presenter Muireann O'Connell who shared the photo, that she took in Dublin, to her followers with the caption: 'You have got to be fucking kidding me Zara' - my thoughts exactly. 

The response from the masses has been wonderful, inevitably, and I'm pleased to see that this has not being taken lying down.

But seriously, Zara, what the actual FUCK are you doing? Telling us to love our curves is great. It's perfect, in a pretty messed up world it is exactly what we need to bloody hear. BUT HOW DO YOU EXPECT US TO LISTEN WHEN OF ALL THE WOMEN OUT THERE YOU COULDN'T FIND ONE BLOODY MODEL WITH A CURVE WITH WHICH TO DEMONSTRATE YOUR POINT?!?! 

The fashion industry is ridiculous, every day I find another reason to hate the whole bloody thing and THIS is why. So many shops don't stock bigger than a size 16, every mannequin looks more like a pencil than a person and every time I put on a piece of clothing I realise that it actually wasn't designed for a real woman at all, because, quelle surprise, it won't flatter, or fit, my stomach/arse/chest/arms/thighs.

How many people work at Zara? How many hundreds, thousands of people do they employ? That this ad campaign will have had to be designed, created and approved by? And not once, in that whole, long, thought-out process, did one person think to say: hang on - something isn't right here?!

I love the reaction that this has received, it's great, it's exactly what needs to happen. But it something that shouldn't have to be happening, because adverts, campaigns like this should not exist! It's beyond ridiculous and I hope that one day soon someone, somewhere, will grow the balls to stand up and say, you know what? ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.

HPV VACCINATION IS NOW AVAILABLE AT SUPERDRUG

Superdrug is extending vaccinations to even more nursing clinics after seeing a service uptake for the vaccine increase by 224% over the last two months. Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer in women aged 35 and under and since almost all cases of cervical cancer (99.7%) are caused by persistent infections with the Human Papilloma Virus, Superdrug have decided to offer the service 

The in-store HPV vaccination service is priced at £150 per dose and is suitable for patients aged between 9 and 26 and depending on age, two or three doses are recommended. As of this week it is available in 49 stores nationwide and will be available in 62 by March. Cancer Research UK is projecting that cancer rates will climb nearly six times faster in women than in men over the next 20 years with the projected incidence for cervical cancer being identified as one of the highest rising rates. 

HPV is a very common infection that four out of five sexually active adults will come into contact with in their lifetime. The infection often clears by itself due to the body's immune response but in some cases the infection persists and remains unnoticed. In some, the HPV virus can cause genital warts and for others the virus can damage the cells' DNA and causes cells to start dividing and growing out of control and this can lead to cancer.

Currently all girls afed 12 to 13 are offered the HPV vaccination on the NHS (something that I REALLY recommend for any parents or older siblings reading this!) but for anyone that missed the opportunity when it was offered to them and now wants the jab, it's great that Superdrug are now offering it and something that I think we ALL need to take up.

And it might not just be for women either. It's not routinely provided to teenage boys but it is highly beneficial for young men. HPV is associated with certain types of penile, anal and throat cancer as well as genital warts. 

Robert Music, chief executive of Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust said: "The Human Papillomavirus Vaccination offers one of the best forms of protection against cervical cancer. Uptake of the free vaccination, offered through the NHS childhood vaccination programme, is currently at 86% and increasing each year which is extremely positive to see. Research has shown that if uptake of the vaccination continues at over 80% we could see a two thirds reduction in cervical cancer incidence in women under 30 by 2025. 

Cervical cancer is largely preventable however every day nine women are diagnosed with the disease and two will sadly lose their lives. I would encourage all women to take steps to protect themselves against cervical cancer and it is excellent to see Superdrug provisions that opportunity."

I was very lucky and was offered the Cervical Cancer jab on the NHS when I was at school aged 17, since then my sister and most of my friends have had it and that is really great. But I know that there are a lot of people out there who haven't yet had the opportunity and so I wanted to share this story for them.

I also wanted to say quickly that I am aware that there is often a stigma attached to the cervical cancer jab as a lot of people consider HPV a sexually transmitted disease and therefore something that only 'sluts' (HATE THAT WORD) are likely to get it. This is NOT true. Four in five people will come into contact with it in their lifetime. Men carry it too and it's silent, it's not an indication of anything at all and is simply a fact of life. Getting the jab is so important, if you get the opportunity and are still yet to have it, then PLEASE get down to Superdrug. 

POVERTY IS SEXIST - 'NONE OF US ARE EQUAL UNTIL ALL OF US ARE EQUAL'

Did you know that there is currently nowhere on earth where women have the same opportunities as men? The ONE campaign have released a global video this week as part of their "poverty is sexist" initiative to show us that there is nowhere that we are equal. They're calling for people to take action for women hardest hit by gender inequality - those in extreme poverty. 

The film, created by Don't Panic, shows us that women are being told "no" at every stage of their lives. They want to generate a conversation and celebrate how powerful it would be to empower women and girls and say "yes" to equality on a global scale.

Even as a raging feminist (self proclaimed), there are times when I ask myself: can it really be that bad? I'm doing OK. I haven't been sexually harassed today and no one has said no to me since Tuesday. But guys, I think it really is that bad. 

Take a look at just eight ways that our world isn't equal that we NEED to know about:

1) Girls in Uganda miss up to 8 days of study each term because they are on their periods with limited access to sanitary products and washrooms

2) Women living in the least developed countries are almost a third less likely than men to be connected to the internet.

3) 1 in 3 women worldwide experience physical and/or sexual violence.

4) In the Democratic Republic of Congo women are half as likely to have any savings in the bank as men, even though they have roughly the same percentage of adults working in the labour force. 

5) Girls born in Kenya are 2 times more likely than boys to experience sexual violence in their lifetime.

6) Six year old girls are less likely than boys to think members of their own gender are 'brilliant' (and they're more likely to shy away from activities requiring that exceptional intelligence).

7) There are more men leading the UK's biggest companies called JOHN than there are women.

8)In Nigeria, 28% of girls will be married by the age of 15.

These statistics are not okay. None of this is even slightly okay and to anyone that thinks they are, then that is why the problem exists. We might think that we are equal, we might look around and think 'this isn't so bad' and if that is the case, then we are one of the lucky ones. Or maybe we're just having a good day. Or maybe we're wearing rose tinted glasses. Because the truth of the matter is: we aren't equal and as this campaign says: none of us are equal until all of us are equal. 

ASOS RELEASE A PLUS SIZE RANGE FOR MEN AND THE TOTAL LACK OF BODY SHAMERS PROVED THAT MEN ARE 'ALLOWED' TO BE FAT.

So I saw it announced today that the clothing brand Asos have launched a plus size line for men, seven years after it fist introduced the one for women. It is the first big fashion house to do that and as a result it is for sure something worth celebrating. *queue celebrations*

I've been reading about it a lot this afternoon and my Twitter feed is awash with pictures of the five men that were the first to try out the new range. The four guys who are always bigger than a XL tried out the line first and the images of them in their final outfits have been released. They look great, the clothes looks great, it makes Asos look great, basically everything is great. Even more wonderful than that, after a good half an hour of checking the reaction I noticed something remarkable: there was not a body shaming tweet or comment in sight. In fact, there was nothing but positivity exploding out of everyone. 

So where are the body-shamers? Their silence is overwhelming. Although I should be seeing this as nothing but a good thing, I have to admit I have found this a little alarming, not least of all because it's made me acutely aware of yet another injustice in the fashion industry. When a plus-size woman models clothes she is shot down, every single time. For every positive comment there are four nasty ones. For every 'like' there is disgust. For every compliment there is a medical warning from someone that isn't a doctor, warning the model in question that she is definitely going to get diabetes and die. When a bloke does it? Well for every positive comment there is one more positive one. I realised, sadly, today that people only feel the need to stick their noses in when it's women's bodies that are on display.

One of the male models used in this launch is a guy called Nick Holliday. He is married to plus-size model Tess Holliday.

Tess Holliday who did a shoot in a swimming costume last year and had the photo removed from Facebook as it didn't adhere to their guidelines. Something to do with viewers finding it offensive. Tess Holliday who is told daily that she is disgusting and hideous and that she is going to die. Take a look at some of the comments on her Instagram for a second will you:

By comparison, let's see what people had to say when Nick modelled under the title of 'plus size'...

Did you notice the difference there? Cause I sure as hell did. And it's not just on Instagram, it's everywhere. At the bottom of news articles you can normally expect to see hoards of horrible messages from hundreds of nasty people, I am SO used to seeing that on the bottom of an article about Tess Holliday, Ashley Graham or Iskra Lawrence, but here? They're all nice. Every single one of them.

So what the hell is going on? 

Well I found out today that men are allowed to be fat. I've suspected it for a long time, of course I did. There are millions of fat actors and male celebrities out there, they can do what they want as long as they're funny. It's not the same for us girls, we can't be fat. We can't be seen to be weak, to have 'let ourselves go', we can't carry baby-weight or pizza weight, we have to be a size eight or ten and even then there will be someone in the sidelines waiting to body shame us. 

This injustice is one of the worst that I have discovered and it's something that we have to fix.

I am happy for Asos and for the men that they can now cater for, I really am. Why shouldn't men have the same access to clothing in all sizes as we do? They absolutely should. But with that in mind, don't you think that when we put on the clothes we deserve to be treated in the same way? Is that really too much to ask? 

IF LADY GAGA HAS A BEER BELLY THEN I HAVE A BREWERY. LEAVE THE WOMAN ALONE.

So I saw in the news yesterday that body-shamers had got their teeth into Lady Gaga following her Super Bowl performance due to her beer belly. Before I carry on I'm going to share the photo of this monstrosity below, take all the time that you need to process how REPULSIVE this woman is, how DISGUSTING her stomach is, how much she has LET HERSELF GO. 

I know guys, I know, take a minute. Unbelievable isn't it?!

YES. It is unbelievable. It's unbelievable that this woman; this beautiful, powerful, incredibly strong, feminist, talented role model to millions is being shamed for something that is so totally and utterly ridiculous. I can't believe I'm writing about this, I didn't want to, because I didn't want to justify this, to admit that it was happening but I couldn't leave it, I couldn't let this be. Because this is ridiculous. 

The good news is, scrolling through Twitter this morning I found it to be awash with very 'positive' tweets: "if Lady Gaga is fat, I want to be fat too", "if you think Lady Gaga is fat then you need to delete your account", "I hate anyone who says that Lady Gaga is fat." It seems the majority of the human race don't think she is fat. In other words, the majority of the human race can see.

But if it didn't come from them, from us, the majority, then who did it come from? Who started this? Why has it been news for three days? This didn't happen because one troll said quietly on Sunday night "she's looking a little porky", no one would have noticed this. This happened for other reasons. Most worryingly, I think it happened, I think it is happening not just because of the trolls, but because of the 'positive' comments too. Well meaning tweets such as: "It's so nice to see Lady Gaga with a bit of a tummy" and "how great that Lady Gaga now has stomach rolls" might just be the problem here. Because, compliment or not, they're calling her weight into question. Which of course proves to us once again that there is seemingly nothing that you can do in this life, as a woman, without your appearance being called into question. 

I work out a lot. Over the last few weeks I have been in the gym nearly every day. I also eat incredibly well, in part because I am ill and I have to and in part due to the fact that I am trying to take better care of myself in general. There is one thing that I know for certain: I am not fat. However, because I am a human who enjoys a pizza from time to time, when I sit down, my stomach rolls. When I jump, I wobble and if you look closely you will see evidence of stretch marks and cellulite on my body. See for yourself:

Sometimes it frustrates me that my stomach does this; I often think to myself: I work out so much and eat so well why is it that my stomach still does this? Well a nutritionist or personal trainer would tell you it's because I do indulge from time to time; I work out for an hour a day when I could be working out for three. Sure having a burger without a bun is really great but if I was serious about this I wouldn't be having a burger at all. Oh you like gin do you? That'll be to blame. 

Why am I showing you my body? What have I got to do with this? I wanted to show you the body of a 'relatively' fit, not fat person, so that you can draw a comparison and realise, in case you hadn't, quite how un-fat Lady Gaga is.I still have stomach rolls because I am not a machine. I don't know how I could physically do better than I am doing to get rid of them, I am at a loss. So I can only imagine HOW HARD Lady Gaga must have worked to get the body that she has got. The training, the nutrition, the strength, it's so truly admirable. And yet... to some, she's 'fat'?

To anyone in any doubt still, I will say it again: LADY GAGA IS NOT FAT. Lady Gaga does not have fat. Lady Gaga has not let herself go. She doesn't have a beer belly. What Lady Gaga does have is a figure that MILLIONS of people envy. That most of us, I suspect, look at and wish for. Society has made us believe that she is fat. We know she's not. Deep down, we KNOW she's not. Hell, we don't even have to go deep down, most of us only need to look down, to confirm it. 

I cannot bear this. I can't bear that this is a story that has been in the news for so long, that it has even been called into question, but here we are. In a world that I hate. Guys, enough of this. We cannot keep commenting on weight, even if we think that it is a compliment. We need to get ourselves to a point where we can respect someone enough to look at them, really look at them, and truly, honestly, totally, not give a fuck what their stomach is up to.

IT'S SEXUAL ABUSE AND SEXUAL VIOLENCE AWARENESS WEEK AND WE NEED TO TALK

Today marks the beginning of Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence Awareness Week and with it, it brings up a conversation that we need to have. Last weekend I wrote about Anti-Rape clothing, the underwear that had been invented that couldn't be removed by anyone but the owner. Whilst I celebrated the fact that this may well help to reduce the number of attacks, I couldn't believe that this was just another thing that was becoming a woman's responsibility when it came to protecting themselves from sexual abuse. Why was this another thing that we had to do, just to be safe? The assumption is that rape is a rare occurrence, that it is an awful thing that happens to a select unhappy few. The assumption is wrong. 

The World Health Organisation estimates that 1 in 3 women will be raped in their life time. 1 in 3. And that does not include rape as a weapon of war. In the UK Rape Crisis says that one 1 in 5 women have experienced rape or sexual assault. In the US RAINN asserts that 1 in 6 women have been raped. According to the UK Office of National Statistics it is estimated that there are 85,000 rapes of women in England and Wales every year. That's a woman being raped ever 6 minutes. In the US RAINN estimates that that's a woman every 2 minutes. Not a rare occurrence at all as it turns out. Of those women, 54% of them were younger than 18 when they first experienced rape or attempted rape. 1/4 of women experience domestic abuse and two women a week in the UK are killed by their partners in domestic abuse attacks. 

And if those statistics weren't shocking enough, there is the utterly terrifying fact that 29% of rape victims will tell no one, not even friends or family and that only 15% will actually report it and become part of the statistics. So those statistics saying that 1 in 5 women have experienced rape or sexual assault? That's 1 in 5 that we know about. 

But the real reason that we need to have this conversation? Why we must have it every day until something changes? Because when The Fawcett Society Sounds Familiar report asked: "If a woman goes out late at night wearing a short skirt, gets drunk and is then the victim of a sexual assault, is she totally or partly to blame?" 38% of all men and 34% of all women said yes. That if a woman was RAPED, she would be to blame. 41% of men and 30% of women aged 18-24 agree. I'm in that category and the fact that that many of my peers believe that to be true? It makes me feel sick. Even worse: 14% of men aged 18-34 say that if a woman were to be sexually assaulted after getting drunk in a short skirt, she would be TOTALLY to blame.

THAT is why we need to have this conversation.

BECAUSE IT IS NEVER EVER EVER A WOMAN'S FAULT. Rape, sexual assault, sexual harassment and sexual violence is NEVER okay. A woman is never asking for it, she shouldn't need to protect herself, to be 'careful' and 'wary'. A woman should be able to walk down the street in whatever she wants and know for a fact that she is totally safe, that she won't be attacked. But she can't, and going on those statistics I suspect it will be a very very long time before before she'll be able to. Before I will be able to, for my sister to or my daughter one day. 

This is the week to start this conversation, I am begging you to have it. Let victims know that you are not part of the percentage that thinks that they are to blame, let them know that they are not on their own and that you support them. Let it be shouted, until it is heard that #ITSNOTOK.

ALTON TOWERS CRASH VICTIM VICKY BALCH POSED NAKED TO "CHALLENGE WHAT SOCIETY REGARDS AS SEXY"

Back in 2015 Vicky Balch, now 21, was involved in the Smiler crash at Alton Towers that saw her having to have her right leg amputated. Last year Vicky posed for some beautiful photos in her lingerie in a bid to challenge society's idea of what it means to be attractive. And because she's great and a total hero, she's done it again, only this time she's done it totally naked. I LOVE THIS WOMAN. 

Speaking to the Sunday People she said: "I'd be lying if I said I didn't consider suicide at my lowest points. In the beginning especially, there were days when I didn't want to be here anymore. I'd think 'what's the point I'm not going to be able to live my life to the full or love my life ever again.'"

But now she says she has come to the realisation that "it doesn't matter what you look like, there will always be someone who finds you attractive. I have been intimate since the accident but it was difficult, especially when I wasn't happy with my body because I'd been so body confident before. It wasn't nice really because I didn't feel sexy. I was very self-conscious and aware. It brings the good down and I'd prefer the lights off."

'I've had to learn to completely lovely my body all over again. I don't think I'll ever come to terms with what's happened but I love my body as it is,. I call them my battle scars and I've had to accept them. I don't care who sees them now. I've been through hell a lot and that shows it. The photographer asked me if I wanted them edited our of the pictures and I said 'No." I'm not changing them. They're part of me now."

Last time Vicky did something like this, and the reason that I wrote about it was because she was trolled for doing it. (Yes people are really that disgusting), but because, like I say, she is a legend, she says: "After the last photoshoot and 18 year-old girl with terminal cancer contacted me to say she thing's it's amazing that I'm showing my scars off. I don't think what's happened to me can even compare to her and it makes me feel great that I've helped someone. I expect I will get trolled again, but I won't let it affect me. I know I'm doing it for a greater good. If I can show my scars off and it helps one person then it's worth a thousand horrible messages or tweets. 
I am doing it for attention, but it's not about me."

"I want to make a difference. I'm never going to be the carefree girl I once was, but I'm a lot stronger for it and I want to inspire others. I'm still a normal person, I'm just missing half a leg." 

I think these photos are BEAUTIFUL and I am so excited to see that Vicky has done this. I've always thought that posing naked is so so brave, and to do it after everything that she has been through? Well quite frankly I don't think 'inspiring' is a big enough word. Thank you for everything Vicky, you're doing more for body positivity and self-esteem than you realise, and you look cracking xxxxx

WOMAN BEING BODY-SHAMED ONLINE JUST GOT OFFERED JOB AS A PLUS SIZE MODEL BY ZENDAYA

There is not much that I love more on a Monday than a story like this, a true, make you smile, realise that the Universe might not be that bad after all, kind of story. So what happened I hear you ask?

OK so, the world is slightly full of arseholes (as we know) and last week on Twitter, a guy (@StarpowerXVC), who has now (unsurprisingly) deleted his Tweet, shared a photo of a woman saying: "Never trust a top half posting ass female lmfao"

Lol how funny is this guy.... yeh, no didn't think so. Whatever. I don't know how she came across it but it wasn't long before Zendaya, the actress and singer who has her own clothing line, got involved, tweeting "stumbling across this stupid shit, she is fine as hell head to toe and guaranteed not to know you exist man. As for her, slay on queen."

Awesome right? Yes, but she didn't stop there. She then put out another tweet: "Can we find her @... I'd love for her to be a @dayabyzendaya model." and upon finding her handle she said: "hey, you're gorgeous lol".

And now? Well you guessed it. The girl is now a plus size model for Zendaya's line, which she said in a Tweet of her own: has always been her 'number one goal.'

So there you go. Proof that the trolls will never win. Isn't that great? I hope this cheers up your Monday as much as it's done mine. Thanks for being awesome Zendaya!! 

PLUS SIZE CHOKERS ARE A THING, AND THEY'RE GREAT.

Unless you live under a rock, you will have notice the choker craze that has taken over the world in the last few months. I love a choker, as a true nineties baby these things take me back in ways that only flared jeans can and I was quick to go out and buy a million of them. 

But something that has been annoying me recently is the fact that they only ever come in one size. I was watching one of Louise Pentland's vlogs the other day (whom I LOVE can I just say) and she made a comment after a shopping trip about why she disliked them so much. To quote her she said: "If I wore a choker, I'm a little bit chubby, well quite a lot chubby actually, so if I wore a choker and looked down I'd lose it! And then everybody would be like 'Oh what's that string around your neck?' and I'd be like 'oh what?' and look down and then it'd be like oh never mind, it's gone." Upon playing this in the kitchen, my sister, laughed and agreed saying: "If I wore a choker my neck would just swallow it up!" I buy most of my necklaces in Accesorize and I have never once seen one that wasn't a 'one size fits all' and if tights have taught us anything girls, it's that one size does definitely not fit all.

But this is of course something that won't have occurred to fashion houses will it? The fact that MORE THAN ONE SIZE OF WOMAN MIGHT WANT TO HOP ON BOARD THE TREND-TRAIN. Nope, it hasn't. Until finally, now. Katya, my sister who has been looking for one for ages just got very excited after finding one on Boohoo and after a bit of exploring myself, I have discovered the ASOS Curve have released a range too.

To those of you who have known about this stuff for ages, excuse me for being a little behind the times, but for those of you who, like my sister and like Louise get frustrated with their very noticed absence, I thought I would share the good news with you! I also thought I would link some of the ones that I like down below. 

It's a pain in the arse that it's taken so long, and I'm not promising that they are going to look good on everybody, but the fact that they exist at all is something to celebrate I suppose! So let's do just that by swinging back to my roots with the one accessory that I couldn't live without.

PLUS LYDIA HAMSA HAND LINE CHOKER £4

PLUS SCARLETT LACE CHOKER £4

SOMEONE HAS INVENTED 'ANTI RAPE' CLOTHING PROVING ONCE AGAIN HOW F*CKED UP OUR SOCIETY IS

I have just come across something called "Anti-Rape Wear" and I have been overwhelmed by the urge to whack my head against the wall until I can't anymore. The product that has been created is a pair of pants that cannot be removed by anyone but the owner, in the hope that this will act as a deterrent for rapists. The company that created it are currently crowdfunding to get their product off the ground and say on their IndieGoGo site that it is a 'clothing line offering wearable protection for when things go wrong."

This sounds like a great thing, so why am I feeling so headwhacky about it? 

This is a great idea. I'm sure it is, I'm sure so much went into researching it and that statistically something like this will really help. I am sure that it will help to make so many women feel protected and ultimately I would hope that it would decrease the number of sexual attacks that happen. But the fact that this had to be invented? The fact that preventing sexual assault is ANOTHER thing that has fallen upon women to do? THAT. That is my problem with this, or one of them at least.

Another problem that I have with this, and this is more of a question than anything else is: surely this would make a rape more 'violent' than it would otherwise have been? If an attacker tries to remove a pair of pants, with a knife let's say, and he can't get through them? Will he really just give up and walk away? Or will he fly into a rage and perhaps hurt the victim physically out of anger or frustration, maybe with the knife? I don't know and I may be totally wrong, I am sure that the creators will have thought about it but that is one of my concerns. Another concern I have is that these products were only modelled on very thin, 'fit' women, This isn't a huge point of contention for me in the grand scheme of things but there is a part of me that was very distressed to see this? Do bigger girls not get attacked or just not look so good in the product? Either way their absence was noted.

But let's get back to my main bugbear shall we? The fact that our society is apparently so fucked up that women are being advised to wear actual, real life chastity belts in order to ensure that they are not raped. They are having to lock themselves into their underwear to protect themselves. 

Rape is such a sensitive subject for me, as it is for most people, both men and women. I have had friends attacked and raped and am, like lots women, sexually assaulted regularly walking down the street. It is something that I talk about a lot, that I think about a lot, but not something that I write about often. I should, I wish I did, but I often find myself wondering what I would say.

But there is one thing that I am sure of: the woman is never to blame. She is never asking for it. A girl could have her skirt hoisted up around her waist and be passed out drunk on the street, she is NOT asking to be raped. Having spoken to lots of victims of sexual assault I have often been shocked to hear that one of the first questions that is asked by the police is: what were you wearing when the assault happened? I have also witnessed the cries of horror that come from people when a girl who was under the influence of alcohol or drugs calls rape, how sorry people feel for the man who perhaps 'didn't realise' that the woman had not given consent, I am of course referring to cases like the one of Ched Evans'. I wasn't there, I don't know what happened. But I do know, as I always know; that it wasn't the woman's fault, because it never is. It can't be.

I'm not saying that by making the choice not to wear these pants will mean that a court will look less favourably on you or that you are, by going with out them, for whatever reason 'asking for it'... at least I hope I'm not. But what if I am, for argument's sake, saying that? These pants don't exist yet, but there is a part of me that worries that in years to come, when they are common place, the first question that women will be hearing from police men is: 'well were you wearing your anti-rape pants?'

The point is of course, that you shouldn't have to be. These things should not have needed to be created. In 2017, in any year, things like this should NOT be happening. And it certainly shouldn't be another instance of women needing to take another preventative measure. An extension on the advice that we are given already: 'dress appropriately, travel in groups and don't drink too much.' What we should be doing instead, what the focus of this should be is of course raising the next generation of men, and teaching the ones already fully grown, that women are not objects, that we are not asking for it, that we need to be treated with respect, that rape is never EVER okay.

I'm not angry with this company, in fact, I am impressed with them. Much like I celebrated the invention of the nail varnish that could detect date rape drugs, I am sure that this is a great thing that will help to protect women. But the fact is, we shouldn't need this. It saddens me so so much that we do. That something like this had to be created. 

I invite you to support the brand if you want to, you can find their crowdfunding page HERE. But more importantly I invite you to stand with me and fight against sexual assault and sexual harassment. I invite you to speak up and speak out about it. We women are sexually harassed more than we realise and many of us don't even bat an eyelid anymore, we see it as one of those things that 'just happens', but it shouldn't, it shouldn't happen at all, and we need to remember that as we stand up and fight against a culture that is still so far from perfect.

THE MEDIA IS ABOUT TO BECOME WAY MORE DIVERSE THANKS TO GETTY IMAGES LAUNCHING "THE NO APOLOGIES" CAMPAIGN.

Have you ever noticed how in every single 'stock' snap of women that you see in newspapers, blogs and websites, the models are slim, tall and white? Doing the job that I do means that I see it every day and it drives me up the frigging wall. The good news is, I think it's about to change. 

"The NO Apologies' image collection has been launched by image provider Getty Images in partnership with Refinery29 for publications to use that are "unapologetic in their authentic depictions" of real women. 

Co-founder of Refinery29, Piera Gelardi said that the images are important as "historically, the 'aspiration' women have been sold by media and advertising is that they should be tall, thin, white, hetero and blemish free. Through collaborating with Getty Images, we aim to shift our societal beauty standards with inclusive and unfiltered visuals images that provide the tools for others in the industry to more realistically portray women's experiences, and create an opportunity for them to better connect with these important generations." 

This has come about since Getty Images discovered that in recent months journalists have been searching for more diverse images, they say that in the last year searches for images with "differing abilities" increased by 229%, "unfiltered" increased by 219%, "real bodies" by 147%, and "body positivity" by 144%. Even searches for more 'taboo' topics such as "menstruation" saw an increase of 142%.

Director of visual trends at Getty Images, Pam Grossman said: "Getty Images has always understood the power of imagery to incite change, and we are passionate about elevating the ways in which women are portrayed by the media. While social conversations have become more inclusive in recent years regarding who is seen, traditional media has been slower to change. We're excited to expand our partnership with Refinery29, and create a collection together that enables the millennial female experience to be more accurately and unapologetically represented in the editorial space." 

I'm excited too. This is great. Chances are this is a change that won't be instantly noticed by the masses, but I'm sure that overtime, after seeing images like these more and more, the world will start to accept that there is more than one kind of normal. That we don't all need to look the same and that one day soon these outdated, unrealistic pressures put on us might begin to change. What do they say? A picture speaks 1000 words. I think it's true. Well done Getty Images and well done Refinery29!