THE SILENCE THAT SURROUNDED HARVEY WEINSTEIN CANNOT BE IGNORED.

If this week has shown me anything, it's that women are still a long way from equal.

The news this past week has been rife with Hollywood's Shame. One of its most beloved producers, Harvey Weinstein, has been accused of sexual harassment and fired by his own production company. The allegations, that he promised to further young womens' acting careers in exchange for sexual favours, date back three decades. He is accused of paying off sexual harassment claims for years and now, unsurprisingly, story upon story is emerging and everyone is asking the same thing: who knew about this? Was it ignored? Have Harvey Weinstein's crimes been common knowledge for years and just accepted as 'one of those things'? Sitting on Twitter at the moment I feel like the wool has just been pulled from our eyes. Hollywood's biggest cover up has just had its cover blown.

And it's taking out everyone in it's path. Celebrities are coming forwards by the dozen to disassociate with the man. Picture upon picture has surfaced of Weinstein with every A-lister that ever lived and they are quick to denounce him, to explain themselves, to assure the world that they knew nothing, that they would never have associated with him had they known. Meryl Streep, who dubbed him a 'hero' in 2012 has been incredibly quick to disassociate, to promise that she had no idea what he was doing. There is no doubt in my mind that the hordes of actors and actress' coming out now to label his behaviour as 'inexcusable' knew nothing of it. Or at least, they couldn't see it. Didn't see it. Chose not to see it. Whatever. They also, I suspect, have had a kick up the arse from their agents who have just remembered that thousands of photos of the two of them together exist online. The Daily Mail cannot believe their luck. Finally, a chance to use all those pointless photos they commissioned. Everyone jumping to defend themselves. To pass the hot potato. Plausible deniability.

'I didn't know. No one knew.'

He has been defended, most shamefully and notably by a woman, Donna Karen, DKNY head, who this week praised 'wonderful' Weinstein and suggested that the women he targeted were probably asking for it by dressing the way they did. Yes, a woman, a fashion designer, said that. Of all the people to victim shame. And then there has been silence. A handful of celebrities, Meryl Streep, George Clooney, Kate Winslet, Jennifer Lawrence, Lena Dunham to name a few, who have come out and spoken against him. In part they are defending themselves and the picture they had taken with him, in part they are talking about something incredibly important, standing together to say: this is not acceptable. But the silence cannot be ignored. Because we've lived in silence. It's been widely reported, at least in Weinstein's case, that the 'inner circle' knew. Of course they did. Dirty old man, that's just what he is. No real harm. That's probably what they said to themselves. Either that or everyone was too shit scared to stand up to him. A bit of both I suspect.

People knew about this, of course they did. And now the bubble is burst and yet again we are forced to stare the overwhelming injustice that is sexism in the face. The easiest thing to do here would be to look at what has happened and assume that these were the actions of one rich man who abused the position of power that he had. That's a very small part of it. The crux of this issue is that these were the actions of a man who got away with sexual harassment for three decades because society allowed him to.

At some point the world got it into their heads that we were equal, men and women, and we've been plodding along in a haze of unwilling acceptance since then. Women who are prepared to stand up and say 'no we're not' must be prepared for a string of violent and abusive messages from men who perceive their observations to be a direct and personal attack on them as individuals. Equally they are going to need to accept that they are going to be perceived as butch, shrill, bossy and man-hating. They are going to point out injustice and then have to argue their point time and time again. 

We found out this year that the British Broadcasting Company was severely underpaying their women workers. And now we find out that Hollywood have been harbouring and potentially protecting a man guilty of sexual harassment. And people are still here and prepared to argue that we are equal, that this was an anomaly. Great, thanks Weinstein, you've really pissed off the feminists. We can't even get women to stand unanimous, the Donna Karen's of the world are standing with the men, throwing sticks, blaming other women for the decisions that we are supposedly free to make.

And I don't want it to be an 'us and them'. There are countless men ready to fight the good fight. This behaviour is not, to most, considered remotely acceptable. Fathers, sons, boyfriends, brothers, they know that this isn't right. And Hollywood is full of fathers and sons and boyfriends and brothers. It's also full of women, who are vulnerable. The two things should not coexist, they should not be possible. One bad egg should have been broken and removed by the hundreds of good ones witnessing it's behaviour. And yet it sat there rotting. There are millions of people who are just sitting in silence. Accepting this. All of this. 

People have turned a blind eye to this in the same way that they have done to similar stories for years. Out of sight, out of mind. People have never said anything. About anything. And the ones that do, are silenced. In an industry as fickle and precarious as Hollywood, no one wants break their silence, least of all against a man who has the power to end you and your career faster than you can say the word 'no'. No one wants to be the one that pops the bubble, no one's brave enough to pop that bubble. And then, one day, the bubble bursts. And we're quick to demand equal pay. And even quicker to demand that film producers don't sexually harass us anymore. How long would we have waited had that bubble not popped?

We should not be sitting here waiting for the bubble to pop. We need to be the ones popping it. 

WE CAN'T JUST SHAKE THIS OFF - LET'S TALK ABOUT THE TAYLOR SWIFT TRIAL

EDIT: Since writing this, Taylor Swift has won the case against ex-radio DJ David Muller. She was awarded a symbolic $1 and in a statement following the verdict the singer said: "I acknowledge the privilege that I benefit from in life, in society and in my ability to shoulder the enormous cost of defending myself in a trial like this. My hope is to help those whose voices should also be heard. Therefore, I will be making donations in the near future to multiple organisations that help sexual assault victims defend themselves." 

Taylor Swift has been sexually harassed. ‘Or so she says’, scream the anti-feminists who claim she is shining a light on this because she hates men. And the world is being weirdly quiet about the trial.

Normally when a celebrity is wrapped up in a legal dispute of any kind, you can’t get away from the headlines, the Tweets and the divided opinions. So when TayTay went into court last week to defend herself against Radio DJ David Muller, who has sued the star for ‘trying to destroy his career’ after she accused him of groping her at a photo op event in 2013, I expected Twitter to fly into the place of passionate feminist splendour that it did after the case that Kesha made against her manager last year, alas, it has been alarmingly quiet. 

U.S District Judge William Martinez threw out the case against Taylor Swift on Friday in which Muller was seeking up to $3 million, saying the allegation of sexual harassment cost him his reputation and his job. The judge, upon hearing the case, said that Taylor Swift could not be held liable for the loss of Muller’s job since he could not prove that she purposefully set out to get him fired. Swift’s ordeal is not over yet though, as identical accusations have been made against her mother and her radio liaison, which will go to jurors on Monday. Taylor Swift meanwhile, in a countersuit, is demanding a symbolic $1 from Muller and the chance to stand up for other women. The jury is also considering her claim. 

Taylor Swift spent an hour on the witness stand on Thursday describing the ‘despicable and horrifying and shocking’ encounter in which Muller. Whilst posing for a photo with Swift and his girlfriend, Muller put his hand underneath her skirt and onto her bare bottom. She says her security guard saw Muller lift her skirt but points out that he couldn’t have seen the grab itself, because that would have required him to be lying on the ground underneath her, and even got some laughs from the jury as she pointed out ‘we didn’t have anyone positioned there.’ She says she didn’t say anything to Muller after it happened as she didn’t want to let down the other people waiting in the queue to meet her. 

The case is interesting, most notably because of course it was brought forwards by the perpetrator of sexual harassment against the victim in a quite audacious move, if you ask me, to demand money. In other ways it’s totally predictable, in that Taylor, after she took the stand, was subject to the victim blaming that is all too common in cases like this, the reason that so many women decide not to come forward. 

To a lot of people, what happened to Taylor is ‘nothing.’ She wasn’t raped, or violently assaulted and I think, because of that, and because to many Taylor is famed as a ‘girl power activist’, known for her 'girl squad' and dating history with various men which she has sung about extensively, she is assumed to be making a ‘mountain out of a mole hill’. Feminism gone mad. A sense of humour failure perhaps. “It was nothing”, they cry, “just a bit of banter!”

A bit of banter that saw a man put his hand onto a woman’s body without her permission.

In other words: assault.

What is wrong with the world that when a woman stands up to take possession of her body, to own it and defend it, she is SO quick to be attacked? And why is it that, in a case involving one of the most famous women of her generation, is the world being so quiet about it? 

There have been numerous articles written about it, I grant you, and I’m sure that people the world over know that this is going on. But the lack of open conversation surrounding this is something that I have noticed. Normally, when something like this happens in the news, my Twitter feed is rife with hashtags and comments from strong, passionate women and fans who are ready to stand with a victim and say: THIS IS NOT OKAY. 

But this time, I have hardly seen any of that. In fact, the only tweets I see about it at all, not from the news outlets, are ones that I have had to actively search for using Taylor’s name. 

And I don’t understand that. Because this is a woman, who is all too aware of the judgement and criticism that comes when you take a stand for yourself in a sexual harassment case, being brave enough to stand up and lead by example: to show women and girls everywhere that it is OK to speak out, that you will be supported and that sexual assault and harassment is never okay. Why are we not behind her, loudly, every damn step of the way?

There are men, and tragically some women, out there who believe that what happened to Taylor in 2013 at the hands of David Muller is totally okay. There are people who believe that she is being 'ridiculous' to pursue this and that she needs to 'get over it'. There are even some people suggesting that if it did happen, that she was in someway asking for it or deserving of it. And that’s crazy. It should also be the reason why the rest of us, those of us who know full well how terrifying and common sexual harassment is, and how a woman is never, ever asking for it, must stand up and talk about this case. 

A symbolic $1. That's all Taylor wants. How fucking bad-ass is that? How cool do you have to be? How brave and how passionate?

This is not ‘feminism gone mad’ and this is not Taylor doing anything for ‘attention’ (as if the poor girl needs anymore of that). This is one woman standing up women everywhere.

And I am annoyed and I am disappointed that the people in my life who I talk to and follow and engage with both on and offline, are being so quiet about this. Not least of all because I know how much a case like this should mean to women everywhere. Women who are sexually harassed and assaulted. Women who know people who are. Women who are still judged for wearing what they want or scared to walk home alone at night. Women who just want to be safe in their bodies, but can’t be. Women who are scared to speak out for fear that they will be judged and blamed. Women who are voiceless. 

In whatever capacity, sexual harassment is wrong and here is a woman, an icon and a role model to young girls everywhere, who is standing up against it. 

Let’s show our support for her, now and always.

WHY CALLIE THORPE MUST NEVER STOP FIGHTING FOR HERSELF AND FOR GIRLS EVERYWHERE

In April, plus size model, kick-ass blogger, total girl boss and all round hero of mine, Callie Thorpe ended up in Vogue. The photo of her in a bikini was put into an article alongside the likes of Kendall Jenner and Ashely Graham. 

Not long afterwards, in a move so sassy our heart's swelled for her, Callie shared the article on Twitter with the caption: "To all the people that called me fat and ugly growing up, catch me on Vogue with your WCW." It. Was. Awesome. And, as is often the case with blogging, the immediate response was sensational, we were so damn proud of her. 

For years we women have wished for a body like Callie's, for a body like our own, to appear in Vogue and then suddenly, there it was. A great day, made all the better by the fact that this couldn't have happened to a nicer person. A role model in the Blogosphere already, Twitter was just so happy for Callie. Not just because she delivered the news with the sass that most of us can only dream of, but because Callie, whether she knew it or not, was paving the way for women everywhere. She was the proof of change in the fashion industry, she was exactly what we needed. 

And then, something unthinkable happened. 

Callie became a target. 

Once her tweet had been picked up by news outlets all around the world (which in itself considering Callie is a plus size model, a WOMAN no less who is being un-ashadmedly proud of herself, is remarkable), people began trolling her. Except, I don't want to use that word anymore. What happened to Callie wasn't just 'trolling', a stupid word implying that these comments have come from oversized green monsters incapable holding an independent thought, what happened to Callie was abuse. People started abusing her. 

This was nothing new to her; in an article published in Vogue this week Callie said "for as long as I've been blogging (five years this summer), I have endured mean comments about my weight, my size, my health..."

Being trolled, sorry, abused, was something that she had come to expect and she's not alone with that. Many of us will tell you, myself included, that after a while it starts to feel like part and parcel of daring to be different on a public platform in this day and age, but in Callie's words, the comments in response to this were "a lot deeper" than they had been in the past. 

I saw it for myself on Twitter, what Callie went through this summer was hell. She was sent death threats, truly abusive and violent messages, by the thousand, simply because of her weight. 

Three weeks ago though, she decided that she would not take this lying down and she made a beautifully honest response video, which she uploaded to her YouTube channel and that has since been viewed over 85,000 times. 

She describes herself at the beginning as a 'normal' girl, which in lots of ways she is. She doesn't see herself as famous, she's down-to-earth and hard working. Of course what she is too modest to say is that she is so NOT normal, due to her amazing strength and positivity, but whatever, she's mostly right in her description; she didn't ask for this, she is pretty normal.

It's a hard video to watch. Callie cried, I cried, you'll probably cry too. 

She addresses the 'vile' and 'abusive' comments of which there were 900 on one article alone: "I want people to see the level of abuse that I receive and understand that it isn't just me that receives it, it's women on the internet..."

She then shared some of the comments that were made about her. They call her fat, they call her obese, the say she's a 'cow', that she's making them 'puke'. One guys even goes so far as to say that "even fat men" wouldn't find her "the least bit appealing" (oh hey hypocrisy). 

She says "I'm fat, yes I am." She then asks if that makes her less of a human being. 

She addresses the lack of diversity, particularly regarding fat women, in the media and acknowledges that she was the 'token' in Vogue. She's so honest and so real about this. 

She finishes by saying: "realistically we can't just pretend that it's not happening. We do need to highlight the level of abuse that women are experiencing."

"It's absolutely okay to be who you are. No matter what body type you are, whether you're fat, whether you're thin, whatever colour you are, whatever background, what race, what culture, you do not deserve abuse."

"I will not be silenced by people."

Watch the video and I bet you any money that you can't get to the end without an overwhelming urge to beat your chest and yell out your support in a Braveheart-esque battle cry. 

And true to her word, Callie Thrope has not been silenced. She has continued to speak out about this, to show off her body, to run her blog, to love her husband, to get on with her life, all the while being a bloody inspiration. Her article in Vogue this week was just the beginning for her and I cannot wait to see what comes next. 

Because I need Callie Thorpe. 

In lots of ways she isn't doing what she is doing for me. I am riddled with privilege. I am white and I am slim. Of course I am a woman with a voice so I am far from exempt when it comes to my fair share of abuse online, but where my body is concerned, I have it 'easy', or 'easier' anyway. I have never been told that I am going to die because of my weight or been aggressive and violently threatened because of my size. Sure, I've been called fat, it's 2017, who hasn't, but I'm not fat and that does, on paper, make everything easier for me. 

But the lack of diversity in the media affects me too. Despite being a size ten, there aren't an awful lot of women out there who look like me. Not when they sit down and their stomach rolls spill over their waistbands anyway. I'm not trying to compare myself in anyway to Callie, it's so different, I am so lucky. But I do want it to be acknowledged that Callie is not just helping plus-size women, she is there for ALL women. 

Whatever size you are, the lack of diversity in the media and the body-shaming culture that we find ourselves in, makes being a woman so hard. We are ALL under-represented. We are not supported. Despite my privilege, I have spent a very long time, very unhappy in my body and that has been made all the harder by having absolutely no one in my corner. There was nothing like this, no one like Callie when I was growing up and, as I fluctuated between a size eight and a size fourteen due, in the most part to an overwhelming unhappiness throughout my teen years, I was all too aware of a lack of support. Support that, after all of this time, is finally here.

I will never understand the extent of what Callie has been through and my hope is, nor will most of us. 

But from me, a girl who has been in such dark places because of her weight, to her, a girl who is shining the brightest light on these issues, I need to thank Callie Thorpe, for everything. 

HERE WE WERE THINKING THAT THE BBC WANTED DIVERSITY, WHAT THEY WERE REALLY AFTER WAS A BARGAIN.

It seems the British Broadcasting Corporation are sexists. The BBC has, up until now, always presented itself as a leading organisation for diversity in this country. Where other organisations have blatantly favoured white men of a certain age to present  their top shows, the BBC have, in recent years at least, been careful to ensure that there is diversity on every panel, in every studio and behind every scene. To many the BBC and their quest for diversity has been laughed at in the past for trying so hard, obviously favouring black presenters, women, and those with disabilities. By many though, myself included, they have been applauded for their valiant efforts to diversify television in this country.

But now it has emerged that all is not as it seems. Because whilst they might be fighting tirelessly for equality on the outside, inside their walls it seems they couldn't give a shit. Inside their walls, as it transpires, they are blatant sexists, clearly neglecting the fight for equal pay when it comes to saving a buck or two with their female stars. 

Recent findings suggest, no, show that the BBC, like the rest of the country, have been seriously underpaying the women in their employment for doing exactly the same job as the men, Take Claudia Winkleman for example, the BBC's highest paid female star who is making a mere fifth of what Chris Evans receives. Sure, her salary of £450,000 is barely believable to the rest of us, the fact that she is paid less than a quarter of the highest paid male star is laughable at best. 

Today 42 of the BBC's top female broadcasters, along with a huge demand from the public, have stood up against the BBC. In an open letter to director general Tony Hall, they have urged him to end the discrimination. Signatures included are those of Sarah Montague, Emily Maitlis, Jane Garvey, Clare Balding, Sue Barker, Annabel Croft and Gabby Logan, to name but a few. In their letter they make clear that "compared to many women and men, we are very well compensated and fortunate. However this is an age of equality and the BBC is an organisation that prides itself on it's values."

And they're right, on both counts. These people, these stars, are paid a lot of money. And to a lot of people, to Joe Public, it is felt that these stars are being paid 'too much' by the tax payer, but that's not the important bit here. No, the important thing here is that this organisation is one that prides itself on it's 'values' and one that has been deliberately ignoring and actually worsening a problem of such magnitude in the fight for equality. 

Tony Hall has said that he would 'sort' the pay gap by 2020. That was his solution, and this letter, and the rest of the world, is calling for this problem to be 'sorted' now. This is not a dent in the boot of a car that is still drivable, it's not a subtle stain on the carpet that can be hidden by the sofa, this is equality and is not something that can be 'sorted' when the man in charge has a spare  minute. This is a problem that doesn't just need to be 'sorted', it's one that needs to be TACKLED, head on, right now.

This letter was written by a group of women 'with strong and loud voices... on behalf of all and for an organisation that had to be pushed into transparency to do the right thing.' Smart women. Educated women. Hardworking women who are being undervalued, simply on account of their gender. 

This is not funny, this is not a joke and this is not just 'one of those things'. We are in a world now that should not even have to consider these issues, least of all from the biggest broadcaster in the country who pride themselves on their fucking values. What. Fucking. Values? It is not a remotely acceptable notion that two people are being paid such differing amounts totally and utterly because of the body that they were born into.

This is not a group of women asking for more money for the sake of more money, they're not being greedy. The amount that they are asking for is irrelevant. What they are asking for is what is owed to them. It is what it is right and fair. It is what is needed. Dock the pay of the blokes to make up what is owed to the women. Dig deeper. It doesn't matter how this problem is fixed, as long as something is done. 

The BBC is not only an organisation that sits on a pedestal made up of it's 'values', it is also one that is totally funded by the people in this country, both the men and the women. As a part of our monthly outgoings, the people of this great nation are accidentally supporting an industry that is not only not fighting for equality, but one that is actively working against it. We don't have a choice in this, our biggest crime here has been wanting to watch the Great British Bake Off and since that has gone, why we feel the need to stick around is beyond me. I for one won't support a corporation that won't support me. Because that is what is happening here; this is the BBC not supporting women. Which, if I didn't know it to be a cold hard fact, I would consider to be a laughable and ridiculous notion. Alas, sexism is alive and well.  

WHY I'M REALLY PLEASED THAT THE NEW DOCTOR WHO IS A WOMAN

It was announced this weekend that Jodie Wittaker, yes, A WOMAN, has been cast by the BBC as Doctor Who's 13th Time Lord. The advert, featuring the revelation, was shown, rather sensationally in my opinion, after the Men's Wimbledon Final today. Wittaker, famous most recently for her role in Broadchurch is taking over from Peter Capaldi who has been the Doctor since 2013. 

Unsurprisingly, Twitter has exploded at this news, the country has really. I can only imagine the conversations that went on during today's Sunday lunches up and down the country; families divided over this quite frankly groundbreaking announcement. Die hard Who fans are no doubt furious: 'The Doctor is a man, he has ALWAYS been a man. This is the BBC trying too hard to tick the boxes, you wouldn't have a female James Bond would you? So why a female Doctor FFS?!' The rest of the world seem to be pretty happy about it though, I think we're working on the logic that this move will open the door for women to go out and, you know, maybe become REAL doctors. Who knows?! 

The idea that people are hopping up and down complaining about the fact that it is 'unrealistic' for a woman to be the star of a show that's focuses pretty heavily on time travel and various alien species is laughable really. Having never been a huge fan of the show myself I'm not entirely sure if it is stated anywhere if the Doctor HAS to be a man, but I have to say I did notice in the episodes that I have watched that the focus of the episodes themselves were rarely revolved around his penis which to me suggests that it doesn't matter that much.

On being cast as The Doctor, Wittaker says "It feels completely overwhelming, as a feminist, as a woman, as an actor, as a human, as someone who wants to continually push themselves and challenge themselves, and not be boxed in by what you're told you can and can't be." 

She has told fans not to be "scared" by her gender. (Which is an interesting point in itself...) saying: "Because this is a really exciting time, and Doctor Who represents everything that's exciting about change," adding: "The fans have lived through so many changes, and this is only a new, different one, not a fearful one."

She is of course right. Doctor Who has been through a lot of changes, that's kind of the point. I'm not sure where the problem lies in the fact that this time it is now a woman, because I don't know why I wouldn't be. It's not exactly like the producers of the show were just swapping in white man for white man for the last however many years hoping that their fanbase wouldn't be able to tell them apart. They've never tried to hide the change before, so why not embrace it, make it bigger and better than ever?

People are making the comparison here with James Bond. "James Bond would never be a woman!!" they say. No, but James Bond is also called James, which is, you know, a bloke's name. He might be black one day though, something that people are really struggling to get their heads around. 

I'm disinclined to label the antis in this instance although I have seen them referred to on Twitter a lot this evening as 'menists', I don't like that, personally, but maybe because the concept seems so ludicrous. Anyway, the antis here have sort of fallen into two categories, those who are disappointed because they are worried that the dynamics of the show will change and Wittaker might not do it justice, and those who are just pissed off that it's a woman, the ones who are arguing that the BBC are becoming too politically correct for their own good. 

But here's the thing, for me at least. The Doctor was a man originally because that's how it worked. Women have NEVER been the star. They weren't written in as the main roles and if they were they certainly were not given the support by the public. Bond, Who, it's the same thing: it's always been a man's world. If Doctor Who had always been a woman, we would never have needed the feminist movement, either that or it would never have gained the popularity that it did, it probably wouldn't have made it past the pilot. 

Now though, now women CAN be the stars. But the only way that that can happen is if we allow them to, you know, BE the stars. This is the change that we NEED. This is how we work to break barriers, smash through the glass ceiling and I have to say, the fact that this has become an issue at all shows me quite how far we still have to go....

WHY YOU CAN'T HELP BUT LOVE LOVE ISLAND

You can't help it, you love Love Island. And if you're anything like me, you can't quite work out why...

Do you remember what it was like when you were younger and on school holidays and the frustration that you'd feel when shit went down and there was no one that you could talk to about it? There would be some huge drama amongst some of your school friends that you would find out about whilst surrounded by people who didn't give a shit because they had NO idea who you were talking about? Do you remember how annoying that was? You'd look forward to school starting again with a hunger you didn't think possible, doing everything in your power to remember exactly what you'd heard. You'd get through the gates on the first day back and a cry of WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT THIS would be said by everyone who had ever laid eyes on the people in question.

The gossip train was relentless at school, it never stopped and everyone had a ticket. There was of course the added threat that you could be knocked down by it at any minute, but that was by the by, we didn't care, we liked the risk.

But then we left school. We became grownups and found that it wasn't just the gossip train that slowed down, but the amount of passengers onboard too. (Probably something to do with our student rail cards expiring now I think about it...). Although our thirst for gossip remains as strong as ever, the chances to do it become fewer and further between. Apart from the fact that we feel that we are so 'beyond' that, the truth is, we're sort of lacking in opportunity. In a school with over 100 people in your year group who you saw every day, everything was sort of everyone's business, you could talk about strangers almost justifiably. 

As adults however it is sort of less okay to talk about Sue from accounting to Dave from marketing, and it's very much less okay to then go to the whole of the PR team and expect them to give a shit about whatever piece of salacious information you have acquired, since they've never even met Sue, or Dave for that matter. 

So we are left a little bereft, still gossipers at heart but with no outlet. That was of course until two of the 21st Century's greatest loves came together: social media and Love Island.

It's a turbulent time to be online. Voices are raised, arguments ensue and political opinions are being rammed down people's throats at an unbelievable rate. But at 9pm every day, apart from on Saturday's when thankfully most of us are too busy getting pissed to notice, all of that stops, just for an hour and we unite. We put our manifestos down and come together over our love of Jamilla, our amusement at Sam's total lack of knowledge surrounding any well known British expression, and our fury at Liv for being, well, a bit of a tit. 

And it's not jut online either. Articles are shown to me by friends who are desperate to know if I think Mike and Jess really slept together. The pre-starter conversation at many dinners is filled with speculation as to whether Amber really is into Kem and lat night I had a heated discussion with a friend about whether Dom should have walked out with Jess or not. 

Sure, not everyone is *quite* as invested in it as I am, but the sense of unity is undeniable. It's the show we love to hate and hate to love. It's the only reality show that we watch, or so we tell everyone. It's actually really rather great, we say defensively as our parents us again why on earth people are shagging on TV, and actually, why we are watching it. 

So why do we really love it so much?

Well, it's fascinating. For most of us the idea of going on a show like this is truly terrifying. We consider ourselves to be a million miles away from these beautiful, toned, made-up creatures who seem to have no problem knowing that their parents, along with the rest of the UK, are fully able to watch them have sex with basic strangers on television. The language that they use is amazing and the concept is, for lack of a better word, inspired. It's reality TV on acid, they are real people with a real job to do and we are invited to watch them every day of their lives for eight weeks. It reminds me of the time my friend and I found a website with live CCTV footage showing baby pandas in a zoo. Every day, unbeknownst to the pandas, we would come back to check on them, oddly invested in creatures that we would never meet, just because they were there.

Love Island is something like that. It is something that I would never do and not just because I am too wobbly, incapable of wearing heels on holiday and in a very happy relationship. It's just so far from my life. And all of a sudden, this keen people-watcher has been given an access all areas pass to stranger's lives. So I sit, a voyeur, living vicariously through people that I do not know. I'm sure this show, and our obsession with it, is a psychologist's wet dream, but for me, and my less than impressive qualifications, I think it probably boils down to the fact that human beings love to do two things: be nosy and gossip. 

For the first time, since being at school, I am able to talk openly about a group of people that all of my friends, both an on and offline, know. I haven't got to sit and patiently explain the whole back story to a whole load of people who don't really care about what I'm telling them, everyone just knows. 

NB. Don't read 'bitch' where I have used the word 'gossip'. This is so much more than bitching and I don't believe that is what Love Island is about to the average viewer. This is gossip, nothing more, nothing less. It's speculation, rumours, observation, even obsession. 

It's so inclusive and, after a really shit time online, it's really rather welcome. It also gets me out of feeling guilty about *another* night on the sofa, which I'm thankful for.

It might be 'trash', but God it's fabulous. 

NOW WE NEED ARMPIT CAVES. IT'S TIME FOR OUR ANNUAL BODY-SHAMING TREND.

New summer, new trend. Or at least that's what it feels like anyway. We've had the thigh gap, the thigh-brow, the collarbone challenge and not long ago were even comparing ourselves to an A4 piece of paper. What could they possibly have for us this summer, you must be thinking, surely, surely, there is nothing else that they could possibly have us aspiring to... I'm sorry to say that there is.

This summer it's all about the armpit cave apparently. According to this month's heat magazine, 'toned arms are not quite enough these days' and what we really need to be doing is ensuring that there is so little fat on us that we can create a hollowed out armpit cavern, it's all the rage they say, all the Hollywood A-listers are doing it. 

According to the magazine all the celebs (worth knowing of course) have been walking down the red carpet with their 'fashionable pits on show....'

Or in other words, they've basically just been walking down the red carpet and obviously decided to take their arms with them. Funny thing about that, I've heard if you want to take your arms with you to something like this, it's easiest when you've got shoulders with which to attach them. Even funnier thing, the way a shoulder works normally means that there is a space of sorts underneath it that allows free movement for said arms to do things, useful things like hug people and hold drinks. They normally call that bit an armpit.

Armpits have a bit of a hard time normally, the association is not normally fantastic. I would personally list off a huge number of things about myself if asked to rank my 'best feature' before I got to the part of my body that was often stubbly, smelly and white with deodorant stains. But it seems that's about to change. It seems to me that, just like with everything else on your body, there is a lot of room for self-improvement and a trend that you need to be following.

And no, before you ask, it's not enough just to keep the damn things clean shaven. Now dear friends, sheep if you please, now it's time to add to the summer stress in the stupidest of ways, by creating a pot-holing destination in your pits.

Guys. What the fuck is going on here? HOW IS THIS SERIOUSLY HAPPENING? Who comes up with this shit??? Like, actually, who was it that came into work one morning and thought: 'you know what I'm going to do today, I'm going to create another way in which I can make ordinary women feel shit about themselves. But, everything has been done already... surely there must be something else. What do all of these Hollywood A-listers have in common, something that makes them special? Ooh, I know, armpits!!'

This is ridiculous. If it wasn't such a serious issue it would be laughable. I want it to be laughable, I want us to laugh at the stupidity of it all, at these 'journalists' out to body-shame us at every chance they get, but mostly I feel sad. Sad that we are now living in a world where your armpits are a fashion accessory. Where it's not enough to be happy and successful, not even close. Your thighs must not touch, your skin must glow, your collarbone must stick out and now ladies, YOU NEED HOLLOW FUCKING ARMPITS.

I'm out. Seriously. Can't deal. Stop the world, I want to get off. 

ASHLEY GRAHAM SAYS BODY POSITIVITY IS NOT A 'FAD'. THIS IS A VIDEO THAT YOU NEED TO WATCH.

Maybe it's because I'm tired but I have just spent the last ten minutes sobbing my eyes out watching a video of Ashley Graham directing an empowering lingerie shoot. My queen for a long time, Ashley is to my mind, one of the most amazing role models, and she has now surpassed even my very high estimations of her. Teaming up with Glamour Magazine, a short film has been released of her directing a photoshoot of four women who are insecure about their bodies. 

You. Need. To. Watch. This. Video.

Each woman comes into the studio and talks a little bit about the bits of their bodies that they are insecure about before de-robbing and taking part in a shoot directed by Ashley. At the end of the video she shows them each their photos, all the women look drop dead gorgeous and so damn happy. 

I felt myself welling up early on but by the time Ashley and now-model Alyssa, who has suffered with anorexia, talked through her photos I was a full blown snotty mess. Alyssa said: "I still hate a lot of parts of my body. When I was the most anorexic it was ten years ago, but the way I see myself it doesn't really go away." Ashley, crying herself by this point said to her as the end : "I'm about to cry because I'm looking at you and I'm thinking about all the young girls out there who'll say 'if she can do it, I can do it.' (EXACTLY what I was thinking whilst I was crying too, she's so right.)

At the end of the video Ashely, still crying, still in her underwear gave the most glorious speech. If you're in the office and unable to watch the full video, this is what she said:

"People just think that body image and the body revolution is a trend and a 'fad', you guys, it's not! It goes from big girls to little girls, it goes from Spanish girls to black girls, it goes from white girls to young girls. It's everybody in between. And if we keep having this conversation, if we keep talking about the things that society has said are ugly or the things that we don't see in media, that is what is going to change.

That's how we make a statement, that's how we rule out all the things that are here right now and make a new normal. I really hope that this video impacts you in the way it did me because I'm supposed to be the host and I feel like I've had a changed day. I just want to thank the women that came into this video today because not only did you make an impact on your own life and everybody watching but clearly you made an impact on me so thank you."

Despite the fact that I spend SO much of my time campaigning for equality in this industry, this video seriously moved me. I looked at the photos of these women and I felt truly empowered. SO empowered in fact that I took my trousers off and am now working in my pants. It feels great and there is now way I would have done this had it not been for this video. This work is so important, THANK YOU Ashley Graham for being the absolute tits. 

PS. The trousers thing: I'm self employed. If you're not, maybe not the best thing to do. 

EQUAL RIGHTS AND COFFEE - DITCH THE LABEL

"Divided we fall. United we stand."

No more disempowerment. No more prejudice. No more bullying.

TOP: Ditch The Label
SKIRT: Asos
SHOES: Superga

That's what the anti-bullying charity Ditch The Label are fighting for. A fair and equal world, no more labels and no more bullying. They are an international charity that works to promote equality and empower people aged between 12 and 25 to overcome bullying. I adore them. And I'm not alone. It is estimated that every 3 minutes someone will benefit from their support.

The online based charity have done surveys which have found some astonishing results. For example they found in 2016 that: 1.5 million young people (50%) have been bullied within the year. That 145,800 (19%) have been bullied every day. They also found that people who have been bullied are almost twice as likely to go on to bully others. That's half the charity's mission, to work not just with the bullied, but with the bullies too. Those statistics don't even scratch the surface of the job at hand, you can see more HERE. This charity has a lot to do, but my god they've made a great start.

They're cool. So cool. Interactive, young, helpful. inspiring, relatable, accessible. I love them. And now they've made t-shirts. Really great t-shirts. I want them all. I will have them all. But for now I'm starting where I always do: with Equal Rights and Coffee, the two things that I am most passionate about in life. 

The collection is great. Totally great. T-shirts telling us to stay weird. Vests claiming to like our faces. There's even mention of an avocado somewhere. And you know that by buying one your money is going somewhere SO good. You know that you're raising awareness for a great cause and giving money to a charity that needs it.

Take a look at the shop HERE.

 

MY LOVE LETTER TO LONDON

Over it’s lifetime, London has seen more than it’s fair share of hard times. From the Blitz in World War Two which saw entire families, homes and streets torn apart, to the terror attacks we have seen over the last ten years both above and below ground to the tragedy that occurred today in a high-rise apartment building in West London, this magnificent city has had trying times. 

One of the most famous in the world, London has always been my favourite city. Perhaps it is because of the history, perhaps it’s because of the people or perhaps it’s because it’s my home: it has always held a special place in my heart. 

The diversity here, the beauty, the culture, the fun, the strength. It’s contagious, it’s mesmerising, it’s everything. I have been a stranger in this city and I have been a friend, it has watched and nurtured me and supported me as I have grown. Twenty three years ago a south-west London hospital welcomed me into this world and it’s neighbours have done nothing but welcome me since. Restaurants, cafes, tube stations, full of people who have been welcomed by this great city with open arms. 

By the world we are considered a grumpy bunch; lacking in neighbourly spirit and nothing short of rude on main roads and the circle line, but to our own we are known as so much more than that. We might grumble, we might moan, we might not smile much, but boy are we amazing. 

London, in the aftermath of a crisis is the most beautiful city in the world. 

This morning I awoke to discover that an apartment block in a part of London that I called home for three years, was burning. My dad, who could see it happening from his house, called me and told me to donate what I could. Twenty minutes later I got in my car with a boot full of clothes and headed towards Latimer Road. Pulling onto Shepherd’s Bush roundabout I saw, for the first time, the building, still on fire. I burst into tears.

Arriving at one of the rescue centres I opened my boot and was nearly moved once more to tears as people arrived to help us carry our donations. We were then told by the shelter that they had all of the clothes that they needed. 

How truly incredible. I was there by 10am. Not three hours after London woke up to this news, the shelters had been inundated with donations. Doors opened, wardrobes emptied, love pouring out by the bucket load. 

This crisis, this tragedy is ongoing. London is still burning. London is still bleeding. How this can happen in the 21st Century is beyond belief. It’s a question that needs to be asked, but not today. And London knows that. Today is not about blame. Today is sad, it is so sad, and the priority here is love and support. Churches, Mosques, homes, all open, all offering support. 

It has been reported that Stella Mcartny's chef arrived on scene this morning and made an emergency lunch for 300 people featuring artichoke. I have seen that Jim Chapman has booked hotel rooms for people affected. And then I have seen thousands and thousands of normal people all asking the same thing: WHAT CAN I DO TO HELP?

And THAT is London. 

London is kind. It is beautiful and beyond anything it is so strong. 

My heart is broken for the people involved in this tragedy. I cannot imagine what your life looks like today, what an ordeal you have gone through. I do hope you know though, that your city is behind you.

London is my city. Eight million people will say the same thing. The same eight million people who woke up this morning and thought exactly the same thing: what can I do to help? 

Although the shelters do seem to have enough in the way of clothes at the moment, I am lead to believe that beds are still required. If you have a spare bedroom, please let someone know. Equally in the coming days I’m sure clothing, bedding and food will still be in demand so perhaps wait for that. There is a donation page HERE.

A ROLE MODEL AMONG INSTAGRAM MODELS: I'M JUST LOVING LOVE ISLAND'S CAMILLA

Sometimes, television scares me. As a child, it took little more than a killer clown to have me quaking in my boots, but as an adult, the problem has become not only more subtle, but more sinister. Television has become a reflection of society and this particular mirror has me jumping higher out of my skin than every horror film shot in a bathroom ever did. I am of course, talking about the fact that, over the next seven weeks, normal, well-to-do, well-meaning members of society find themselves cancelling all hopes of a social life, opting to sit instead in front of the television watching would-be Insta-stars shag their way to victory. Welcome, ladies and gents, to Love Island. 

Last year I ridiculed my flatmate mercilessly for watching it so obsessively (until I too became hooked that is) and this year, I'm harbouring a full-blown obsession. Just like the rest of my Twitter feed, I have deemed Love Island to be the thing of the summer. But whilst it is fascinating, entertaining, amazing really, it is also a fucking disaster full of some fairly obvious, and sizeable problems. 

The contestants, the game, the whole premise of the show really: Not one of them has even an ounce of cellulite, the double standards and blatant sexism are abhorrent and at the end of the day the aim of the game is really to be the first to shag on TV, even if it does mean being stripped of your Miss GB title and make the rest of us cry "OH MY GOD, YOUR POOR PARENTS!!!". The contestants are also encouraged to remain interesting by creating drama where there just isn't any (I refer to the Amber/Chris/Kem situation which aired last night) and of course the totally unrealistic notion that all women look that made up whilst lounging by a pool. 

Any one of those things would allow you to justifiably express concern for the youth of today: what role models are we offering up to our children? People who genuinely took some time to work out if there was more than one moon and a girl who legitimately uses her (not-natural) hair colour as an excuse to be thick. Sorry, but that's SO 2007. 

But this year, there is one big difference. This year, we were given an offering. An offering of light in a very dark space, a role model amongst, well, Instagram models. A pretty normal girl that found herself as a contender. I am of course talking about the Pippa Middleton of Love Island 2017: Camilla Thurlow. Well actually, before I continue I ought to say, she's isn't totally normal normal. She works in landmine disposal, she has the most fabulous figure, she is beautiful and smart and seems to have an abundance of self respect. 

So she's not like me normal. Or probably you. But pretty bloody fabulous none-the-less. So what is she doing on Love (not friend) Island, I hear you ask? Is she not just as 'bad' as the rest of them for selling her soul to shameless reality TV? Are you sure you're not just loving her the way that you might love someone interviewed in a prison documentary? A really lovely person but at the end of the day, still a convict?

In truth I don't know WHAT Camilla is doing on there, but I love it. I actually really need it, we all do. Because Camilla has turned me, and the rest of the world, into proud mother hens. (If proud mother hens got excited watching their babies passionately snog 7 men in a row that is...). She's got us 'awwing' when we would usually be 'ewwing'. She's not just the best of a bad bunch, she's actually just the best. 

"In a world full of Ambers, be the Camilla."

- A tweet that I saw this morning, and fairly sound advice. Sure, we weren't going to find Gandhi in there, at the end of the day it is is the weirdest thing on television, but we have got SOMETHING at least. A shred of normality, even it has come in the shape of a size 8, DD'd bomb-disposal working humanitarian. We seem to have been offered, dare I say it, a role model.

AMBER ROSE SHARED A PHOTO OF HER BUSH ONLINE AND IT'S MORE FABULOUS THAN ANYTHING

Oh my god, I've died and gone to fan girl heaven. A woman, a gorgeous, sexy, powerful role model of a woman has shared the most epic photo of her pubic hair online and it's just the most empowering damn thing. Amber Rose, the model and actress, has shared a photo of her pubic hair on social media in a bid to encourage women to #bringbackthebush. 

BELOW IS A PHOTO OF AMBER ROSE'S BUSH. IF FOR WHATEVER WEIRD REASON YOU DON'T WANT TO SEE IT, DON'T SCROLL DOWN.

The image was originally posted onto Instagram but Amber said it was removed over their nudity guidelines, since then she has shared it onto Twitter where it has had almost 100k likes. 

The image is part of her promo for her upcoming Slut Walk Event, which aims to fight for gender equality. Hosted by the Amber Rose foundation, the festival is "geared towards education and raising awareness about social injustice issues, gender inequality and arts empowerment." It includes HIV testing stations and sexual awareness booths. According to the website, money donated through this event is used to support "groups and organisations of women subject to slut shaming, a lack of implication of double standards, sexual assault and even rape." 

Now let's get back to the bush. Anyone who has followed this blog for a long time will already know that I am a big supporter of women having whatever damn body hair that they want to. In fact I've written a chapter in my book about it and made an entire video talking about it last week. So to see someone as influential as Amber Rose talking about this is, for lack of a better expression, fucking fantastic. 

In a study done it was found that 31.5% of women remove their pubic hair because they believe it makes their genitals more attractive with 21.1% saying that they do it because it is their partners preference. The study also (unsurprisingly) found that "the mainstream media's portrayal of women discussing and engaging in pubic hair removal" was linked to the amount of people who were stripping their bodies of the stuff. 

I understand this totally. I don't love it, but I do get it. We just weren't raised to believe that pubic hair is sexy, or I wasn't anyway. Damn porn. 

And it's not just Amber who's embracing it, last week Ashley Graham said that she was proud to have a "full bush" and encouraged others to do the same. 

So right now it's me Amber and Ashley telling you to grow your pubic hair, if you want to. Ahahah I'm joking, I won't put myself in with those Goddesses but I am going to share their message, because it's great. A model just shared a photo of her fanny online and it's literally nothing short of great. 

WEARING SKIRTS WHEN YOU'RE 100% A JEANS PERSON

I literally live in jeans. They're comfortable, their easy and they don't require an awful lot of effort on my part. They're also so flattering, so damn flattering. I don't have to shave my legs, I can tuck my tummy fat after a big meal into the waistband and they pretty much go with everything that I own. But anyone who is in London right now will know that it's basically way too hot for jeans right now. Like, way too hot. So it's time to brave the skirt. 

That in itself though is a faff. It's early days of the summer so I am yet to get a tan, I totally can't be arsed to shave my legs every day (not least of all because I don't know where my epilator is and I have lost my razor), I bruise so easily so my knees always look a bit blue and yellow and my toenails are always fairly minging. 

But what's a girl to do? Melt in jeans? Or find a way to make the skirt work? For me at least, it's got to be the latter. 

Easier said than done though right? Getting your legs out. I don't know about you guys but, as a nineties baby, the skirts that existed when I was a teenager were those grim as hell body-con ones that rode up every time I moved. Looking back at photos now I cringe at how short they were and how daft they made me look. So now I'm having to find a way of looking cool AND feeling comfortable in 'grown-up' skirts. 

Well I think I'm getting the hang of it. Now the body-con stage of my life is behind me I'm able to look at what else is out there and slightly fall in love with all of the options. Pairing them with a top that isn't a vest and shoes that aren't flip-flops are great ways of smartening them up and wearing ones that I'm truly comfortable in have made it a whole load easier.

And by that I sort of mean, ones that don't show my arse to the world and that I don't have to pull down every other step.

So how do you do it? How do you get comfortable enough to start rocking the skirt? 

Well there are a few things at play. First things first you need to work out WHY you want to wear one. For most people the answer is the same: because it's too hot or not to. So once that has been decided, you know, that to save ourselves from melting we gotta do it, let's work out what's scaring us...

Well for most of us it's the fear of getting our legs out. For some reason, our legs are something that we get so self-conscious about. In photos they are airbrushed to hell and most of us channel Bridget Jones when it comes to feeling like our legs only come up to here! 

But I'm going to let you in on a secret, you are l.i.t.t.e.r.a.l.l.y the only person that notices them. Bit stubbly? No one notices. Bruised? No one notices. Pale? No one notices.

When was the last time you noticed somebody else legs? Try to remember. Was it today? It wasn't for me. Or yesterday. Or the day before that. Other people's legs are not only not in my line of vision (unless they are SO tall) they're also not my problem. Much like a spot is much worse in your own head, so are your legs.

I promise you, no one cares. I promise you. 

It's not just body cons and mini skirts anymore, maxi skirts are ah-mazing. Midi skirts look weird as hell on me but look fabulous on some people. Classic black ones can be smart as hell, denim is so fun. 

Sure, the risk of chafing is there in a big way, but at least the risk of melting is down to a bare minimum! 

THE WEEK THAT THE FASHION INDUSTRY TOTALLY AND UTTERLY FAILED US

Where fashion is concerned, last week was an absolute shit show. It is no secret that I am not fashion's biggest fan at the best of times (how can I be where everywhere I look it is causing so much misery?) but last week it came to a head from so many directions that I find myself utterly miserable. Every day it seemed there was another whack on unsuspecting women from the people in charge with supplying us with clothes. 

First we saw a tweet from a woman who had seen that Asos were stocking clothes by company Pull & Bear that were labelling size 10 clothes as a LARGE. Yup, size 10, as in MY size, as a LARGE. WTF? (A 12 was as big as they went FYI, an Extra Large apparently...)

Next I was forwarded an email from a a friend of mine who had received a newsletter from the company Skinny Coffee which was promoting 'Thinspiration Thursday." Thinspiration?!?!?! As in the thing that we've been fighting against for years since a direct link was made between words like this and eating disorders. I had thought and I had hoped that companies were now finally moving away from this and taking a leaf out of Dove's book and instead encouraging women to love themselves. But oh no, not Skinny Coffee apparently. They're still busy encouraging us to be thin. Twats.

On Friday I was internet shopping with my sister, looking for a dress for her in a size 16, when we discovered that more companies on Asos had adopted Pull & Bear's labelling techniques. Kiss The Sky and Honey Punch were the two brands, just in case you're looking for something to boycott at the moment.

And then, the final straw came yesterday when I tried on a pair of trousers that my sister had ordered for herself from clothing brand Nobody's Child in her size, a size 16. And was obviously SO disappointed to find that they actually fitted her size 10 sister, me, perfectly. I am SMALL, I am a size small, according to most shops, and they fit me. This company are happy to post clothes out to bigger women who they know won't fit into them. 

And we wonder why women can't love themselves? Love their bodies? But after a week like this, how can we blame them? On every level this week has been a disaster but the worst thing is that this is just so normal that we are becoming immune to it, we're now just used to it. After every one of these instances I shared my outrage onto Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and I noticed two worrying things. First of all, people agreeing with me, time and time again, telling me how this happened to them too, all the time. And the second is from people who were asking me why I was banging on about this, since it was SO normal and it's been going on for so long that it can't possibly be body-shaming. 

But what I need people to understand is that just because it has been going on for so long, does NOT make it OK, it just means that we are finally calling bullshit on this, and this 'it's not body shaming' stuff? That's so wrong, This IS body shaming. The fact is, people are being judged simply on account of their size. When clothes don't fit them or shops don't stock clothes that they can wear, they are being body shamed. They are being judged and they are being excluded. That is SHAMING. It is also shameful on behalf of these companies. 

I don't know how they are still getting away with this, I really don't. It makes me SO angry that 15 million women in this country, who are over a size 16, are in exactly the same position as my sister. How are we letting them get away with this?

Guys please can we start calling bullshit on this, do NOT accept this, share it, shout about it, P.L.E.A.S.E. If we kick off enough, if we actually boycott them, if we can call them out, they will be forced to fix this and that is something that we really need them to do. We'll stand together and shout until they hear us. 

THE DARK SIDE OF MEMES AND WHY WE NEED TO BE WARY OF WHAT WE SHARE ONLINE

I'm as guilty as anyone when it comes to memes, I save them, share them, tag my mates in them. The ones that I like are *normally* involving dogs or scenes from famous films or bad photos of Donald Trump, but then occasionally one will slip through the net that is my over-cautious mind and I will laugh and share a photo that wasn't mind to do that with. One that was perhaps stolen and created behind the owner of the images' back, one that might be really funny to everyone else but one that is humiliating and hurtful to somebody. 

I was a meme once. Thankfully it happened before the things went bloody everywhere and hopefully it has been lost somewhere now in the deep dark realms of the internet (just in case you were interested someone photoshopped a photo of my dad's face over mine and made some grim sexual comment... DON'T LOOK FOR IT). Thankfully I wasn't deeply scarred and I'd actually forgotten about it until this morning.

But the topic of memes and their 'stars' is not a new thing, I've seen a few videos doing the rounds on Facebook of people coming forwards to say how hurt they were after seeing themselves on the LadBible or whatever. I remember seeing one interview with a disabled girl who had been made into one and it was truly horrible. I have also seen a few Tweets recently from people who have had their photos taken from their Instagram pages and turned into something that we're free to laugh at. 

And then today something really hit home. A friend of mine sent me this:

This friend has a little girl and said, quite rightly: "It just pissed me off because you wonder where this "fat shaming" or desire to be skinny and feeling insecure starts" and pointed out that if her daughter saw it it would imprint on her. 

Of course, she's right! I don't know who made this, whether the the parents are even aware of it. The problem is with this is that it IS quite funny, in that it is relatable to so many people, I can understand why it is so popular. But there are actually some really quite sinister things at play here:

- What happens when these little girls grow up and see them? Sure, they might find them funny, hopefully. But for the girl on the right especially, you have to wonder if she will be happy knowing that countless people laughed at her baby photos because she was 'overweight'. 

- What happens when this image is seen by other young children? This was my friend's concern regarding her daughter. Although kids seeing this might not necessarily understand what the grownups are finding so funny, they will subconsciously question why these two images have been put side by side and might end up looking for the difference between the two girls, deeming one size to be more desirable than the other. 

- By relating to this, we are projecting a lot of grown up, dangerous, fucked up issues onto children. These issues shouldn't effect anyone, we should not be drawing these comparisons at all. And it's one thing that it is a problem that we adults have, but to put it on children? It's actually so wrong. Fat shaming is ugly, it's horrible, it's bullying, and on some level we are doing this to these girls, comparing them to one another, saying that one is better than the other. This is grown up shit being forced on kids.

And so, whilst I hate to be a fun sponge, I really do, I might ask you to thank twice before sharing shit like this online. We need to remember that there is a story behind every picture, and sometimes that story is not ours to tell. 

INSTAGRAM LABELLED AS THE MOST DANGEROUS SOCIAL MEDIA SITE FOR YOUNG PEOPLE'S MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES

A survey of almost 1500 14 to 24 year olds has found that Instagram is having a serious impact on young people's body image and the quality and quantity of sleep that they got. Research by the Royal Society for Public Health and Young Health Movement found that it also contribute to bullying, anxiety, depression and a genuine fear of missing out that make is difficult to disconnect.

The people being questioned were asked about all social media sites and the only one that came out as even slightly positive was YouTube. The rest all fell into the negative category with Twitter being second to YouTube, Facebook in third, Snapchat in fourth with Instagram coming in last. 

RSPH and YHM are calling on social media platforms to introduce a "heavy usage" pop up and to identify users who could be suffering with mental health problems and "discretely signpost to support". They also say that these sites should highlight when photos have been airbrushed, a move supported by more than two thirds of young people.

FYI. I wasn't surveyed but as a young person, I FULLY believe that this should be the case and am desperately hoping that soon any airbrushed photo will have to be labelled as such. Just so you can see QUITE how shocking the difference is, here's my face PRE Facetune and after it, I should NOT be allowed to get away with the false advertising in picture two. Influencers have to say #ad if a post is paid for. Everyone should say #ps if their photo has been photoshopped. Just sayin. 

Shirley Crammer, Chief Executive of RSPH said: "Social media has been described as more addictive than cigarettes and alcohol, and is now so entrenched in the lives of young people that it is no longer possible to ignore it when talking about young people's mental health issues. It's interesting to see Instagram and Snapchat ranking as the worst for mental health and wellbeing - not platforms are very image-focussed and it appears they may be driving feelings of inadequacy and anxiety in young people. We want to promote and encourage the many positive aspects of networking platforms and avoid a situation that leads to social media psychosis which may blight the lives of our young people"

This comes at an interesting time actually as yesterday a plus size blogger who I follow on Twitter shared an image of herself asking why Instagram had taken her image down. The suggestion is that it was 'fatshaming' and would not be the first time that a social media site has done this to a plus size model, famously Facebook removed a photo of Tess Holiday in a bikini last year. Despite this however Michelle Napchan, head of policy at Instagram said that keeping the app a "safe and supportive place" is its "top priority when it comes to young people. For those struggling with mental health issues, we want them to be able to access support on Instagram when and where they need it."

Again, I'll say, I am so happy to see that these findings are being talked about and people are now putting pressure on social media sites to do more, but as social media users this is an important thing for us to hear too. I know it seems like a great thing to do, photoshopping your face just a tiny bit, sending Snapchats of yourself having SO much fun to people who might be a bit lonely, but it's worth remembering that our actions do have reprecussions. Let's all learn from this and do what we can to be more considerate social media users, at least until the sites themselves get a grip eh?

CLOTHING BRAND PULL & BEAR HAVE CLASSED A SIZE 10 AS A LARGE AND QUITE FRANKLY THEY CAN GET F*CKED.

Every time I think we're getting somewhere, some dickhead comes along and does something like this. A Twitter user has just noticed that clothing brand Pull & Bear are now stocking clothes on the Asos website which class size 10 as a large. 

The item in question, or items I should say, are a crop top/tiny short type scenario modelled by, you guessed it, a tall, thin model. The smallest size that these bad boys come in is a size 4 (extra small, FINALLY, something that we can all agree on) and the largest is the ABSOLUTELY GINORMOUSLY DISGUSTING SIZE 10. 

What the actual holy hell is this madness? Just for your records, here is my size 10 body. My VERY SMALL size 10 body.

Get fucked if you think that is 'large'. Go get seriously fucked if you think that seems like an appropriate size to stop making clothes at. 

Asos replied to this Tweet by the way, with the ever encouraging: “Sorry to hear this Maeve. We understand how you feel. We’ve passed the feedback on to the relevant team.” (Do they understand though? Also. The 'relevant' team knew exactly what they were doing. FYI).

Rather fittingly I wrote a piece for Fabulous Daily about size-ism in shops today. About how ridiculous and unfair it is that women are prevented from doing something as simple as shopping, simply on account of their size. It's something that I talk a lot about and is one of the main themes in my book. 

But I wrote those things when shops stopped stocking clothes bigger than a size 16. Because that's unfair, that's stupid. But this? Stopping at a size 10? That's revolting. It's abhorrent. It's down right dangerous.

This isn't funny. This isn't OK. What it is, is a massive fuck up with some potentially really serious ramifications. I will not be shopping at Pull & Bear going forwards and have actually lost a great deal of respect for Asos that they allowed this to happen. These aren't just little mistakes that can be 'sent for review', these are massive problems that need dealing with and NOW.

FEMINISTA JONES HAS INSPIRED A TREND IN WHICH WOMEN AGREE WITH MEN'S COMPLIMENTS AND IT'S DISTRESSING AS HELL

Can you take a compliment? I sure as hell can't. For some reason, when somebody says something nice about me, rather than saying: thank you or even I know, (appropriate when someone tells you your makeup looks fierce and you know that because you spent hours on it), I squirm, go bright red and quickly bat the compliment back: No, YOU look great, I say. Or worse: No, I look gross, you're just being nice. What a shitty state of affairs.

Well. One woman has had enough and took to Twitter this week to encourage us to agree with a compliment. But not the ones that you get from your mates when they tell you that your jeans are fab-ul-ous, no. To acknowledge AND accept a compliment given to you by a man. Feminista Jones clearly knew that this was going to evoke trouble (because women should have absolutely no self confidence right?) and put out the following tweet:

She told BuzzFeed News that: "It's not a new idea, but in my own experience when [a man] complimented me and I say, 'I agree,' they get upset," Jones said. "It’s the idea that they bestow the compliment on you, and you’re not supposed to be aware of it." Anyhoo. She asked people to accept compliments and guys, the result was SHOCKINGLY SHIT.

And my personal fave...

This whole thing was met with SUCH a massive response of women all asking the same thing: WHY IS NOT OKAY THAT WE LOVE OURSELVES? Jones asked: "Why are people so bothered by someone having self-confidence and self-love?" and pointed out that "we have a culture that says it’s 'rude' — we obligate people to be appreciative of a compliment."

This girl is SO spot on and I am SO pleased that this whole thing has come up. But good God. What a shit show. I can't BELIEVE that loving ourselves is still such a shocking and terrible notion to so many. Obviously, it's not all men that do this, but if we're honest, we can't deny that this is a huge problem. 

I'll leave ya with this. A great tweet that basically summed up everything I felt about it.

Oh, and the next time someone compliments you? Take it. Grab it with both hands and run with the damn thing.

DOVE'S NEW BOTTLE SHAPES HAVE CAUSED UPROAR - BUT I DON'T UNDERSTAND HOW A BRAND PROMOTING BODY POSITIVITY CAN POSSIBLY BE A BAD THING

On their quest to get women loving themselves, Dove have just bought out a new range of body-shaped shower gels and there has been quite the backlash. As part of their 'Real Beauty' campaign, Dove have released these products to reflect the "one of a kind" body shapes of their consumers. In a statement, Dove said: "Each bottle evokes the shapes, sizes, curves and edges that combine to make every woman their very own limited edition." 

And I GET why there has been a bit of a reaction. What with Pepsi recently 'solving' the problem of racism in their advert, people have already got their haunches up. The last thing we need at this point, people say, is another patronising marketing campaign. 'It's PC gone mad.' 'It's at best condescending, at worst it's insulting'. Twitter is, as you might imagine, awash with people, for lack of a better expression, losing their shit about it. Blog posts have popped up here there and everywhere kicking off about this and even the Daily Mail branched away from copying out the press release to offer their opinion. (If you care, they think Dove should stick to making products that make them money and stop pretending to be our friends). 

So yeh, I got it. The reaction of Twitter, for the most part, made me laugh. People comparing the bottle shapes to their own figures, playing around with photoshop, it was good, it was fine. But it was also really annoying because it proved to me, once again, that you can't do right for doing right anymore. 

For a long time, Dove have made some great adverts. Their 'Real Beauty' campaign is, to my mind, wonderful. YES at the end of the day they are a mahoosive company who's end goal is probably to do nothing more complicated than make themselves some money, but their process over the last few years has been admirable. In a world overcrowded with Insta-Stars and body shaming and photoshopping and sexist, boorish adverts asking us if we're 'Beach Body Ready Yet', I've sought comfort in brands that are working to promote body positivity. That are encouraging women to love themselves.

So these soaps. I mean, I do have a few questions, of course I do. What happens if I were to buy the wrong one, for example? Would it simply not open for me? Would the person at the checkout tell me that I couldn't buy it because I had made the wrong choice? They might be, I concede, a tiny weeny bit off the mark. They're not everyone's cup of tea. But, you've got to admit, the gesture is there. The idea is nice. 

Despite the fact that we are talking about body positivity A LOT at the moment, big businesses aren't really doing an awful lot, by and large. Fashion houses are still not stocking clothes big enough, makeup brands are only using young, beautiful models and to find a brand that doesn't photoshop their campaigns is literally like looking for a needle in a haystack.

There has not been a company doing something like this before. Dove are pioneering, they're experimenting and it IS a good thing. So what, they got it a bit wrong here, it wasn't all that well received, but give them a break would you? They are trying to do something good. They are trying to do something that we actually really need right now, and there is no one who has done it first to show them how it is done.

What we should be doing, is saying thank you to Dove. Perhaps not for this campaign, I'm not asking you to love it, but for everything else that they are trying to do. They are a NICE, SUPPORTIVE, REAL brand and actually, that's something that we've been crying out for for years, so let's not scare them away shall we?

FRENCH BAN ON 'EXTREMELY THIN' MODELS HAS COME INTO EFFECT

You may remember back in 2015, France promised to ban the use of unhealthy thin fashion models. Well as of this week, the law has come into effect. Models will now need to provide a doctor's certificate attesting to their overall physical health, looking specifically at their BMI (body mass index), which is a measure of weight in relation to their height. 

The law also means, and this is my favourite bit, that digitally altered images will have to be labelled from October 1st. Images in which a model's appearance has been manipulated will need the label "photographie retouchée, which of course means: retouched photograph in English. 

The first version of this bill in 2015 received a backlash from models but this one, backed by MPs puts the power in the hands of doctors. Now, employers breaking the law could face fines of up to €75,000 (£63,000) and up to six months in jail. 

Marisol Touraine, Minister of Social Affairs and Health in France said in a media report: "exposing young people to normative and unrealistic images of bodies leads to a sense of self-depreciation and poor self-esteem that can impact health and behaviour."

Statistics in France suggest that anorexia affects between 30,000 to 40,000 people in France, 90% of whom are women. They are not the first country to legislate on underweight models, Italy, Spain and Israel have already doe so.

Initially when I read this story I was concerned that it would receive another backlash, that people would scream out that this was 'thin-shaming' and that France were being unfair by doing this. That models were being forbidden from doing something simply because of their weight... (the very thing body shamers would do...) But thinking back to some of the fashion shows that we have seen recently, (*hrhum* Victoria Beckham) I can't help but feel that this is good news. Not least of all because every day we hear from yet more models who were told that they had to lose yet more weight in order to get a job in one of these shows. This is not, as it first seems as it is not the models that are being punished here, it is the companies. For a very long time we have had unrealistic body standards thrown down our throat and the fact that the French Government have acknowledged the dangers of that has got to be a good thing. 

The fact that retouched images now have to be labelled however, I believe is the greatest thing ever. It is one thing for us to see crazy thin models walking the catwalk but it is quite another seeing the same models photoshopped to make them even more 'perfect'. I met Abbey Clancey IRL once and thought that she was the single most beautiful woman in the world. I then saw a photo of her in a magazine, where she had been photoshopped and I remember thinking: if they' having to photoshop her, this GODDESS, can you imagine the work that they would need to do on me??? THAT is causing a LOT of problems. So the fact that companies now have to label them? That really is great. Finally, we'll get a chance to see through this shit. 

Now I suppose we can only hope that Britain follow France's lead and do something like this here. It cannot be a bad thing, it has taken a very long time for this to be acknowledged and I think it would be a very welcome change in the UK fashion industry.