Do I look strong in this?
Body image. It’s something most of us battle with every day. When we look at ourselves in the mirror we often overlook the important things and concentrate on the ubiquitous, i.e. do we look fat in whatever we have chosen to wear that day?
My good friend who — when working as a house mistress in a girls boarding school — coined the phrase ‘Do I look strong in this?’ This was in response to the tide of girls basing how they felt that day on whether or not they thought they looked, ‘fat’. I wish I had thought of it!
There are more days when we need to be strong than those when we need to be thin. In fact I cannot imagine a situation when being thin would win the day. Being thin does not make you smarter, more interesting or more likely to win the lottery.
“Having the resolve to ignore the trend for super skinniness takes some strength that’s for sure. Even if you don’t actually go as far as dieting and exercising to reach this ‘industry standard’ it will still be in the back of your mind, lurking there, mocking you, as you pour another glass of wine or eat (gasp) a piece of toast. If you are immune to this particular media led piece of rubbish then I salute you.”
I am scared to be on the road as people rush to reinvent themselves for the ‘New Year’ ahead. Lest someone on the latest fad diet – the 5.2 regime which involves fasting for two days a week, then eating what you want the rest of the time – is driving towards me. Can you imagine the lack of concentration as they struggle to get through the day on 500 calories?
There are many issues surrounding body image and the way women perceive themselves starting with images in magazines and on film. There was a small nod to being less obsessed with thinness when as a result of a media protest, the designers begrudgingly chose what they thought of as ‘regular’ sized people to parade their wares up and down the catwalk. This magnanimous gesture lasted one season and everybody knows that size 8 is still tiny…
Your body image is your armour for the day ahead. Inner strength, which is accrued with age and life experience, gives us our outer beauty. Feeling confident in your appearance leaves room to concentrate on the important things in life. Younger people devote quite a lot of time to their outer casing as they set out to find a mate! Thankfully with age that irritating situation begins to take a back seat. Don’t think of it as throwing in the towel but rather embracing the circle of life.
Obviously don’t indulge to the point of it being a danger to your health but take the brakes off and enjoy bullishly wearing mismatched outfits, dancing enthusiastically at your children’s weddings while they cringe in a corner, eating that slice of cake or indulging in that carefully chosen bottle of wine remembering that little and often is better than a big blow out at the weekends.
“What is perceived as being beautiful changes by the century, even by the decade and not just body shape but the proportion of eyes to nose to lips, hair colour and even the size of your hands!”
A smiling face is a beautiful face
Twenty years ago, having a gap in your teeth meant endless trips to the dentist and braces. Today that gap could be your passport to success as a model. A winning smile is a true asset in social situations. It’s a common saying to have ‘plastered on a smile and got on with it’. If you are smiling then all is right with world or at least that is the message you are sending. Oral health is a big concern for everybody at any stage of life. Past generations suffered dreadfully from rotting teeth, receding gums and horrid abscesses that would have been extremely painful. We are so well off for treatments for our teeth these days that we have invented another goal and that is to have teeth white enough to blind those on the receiving end of your smile.
However there is no point in having the whitest of teeth if the rest of your mouth is in a state. There are many areas to consider including your gums and tongue not forgetting your lips. Looking after your teeth is a vital necessity not an indulgence that can be let go as you age. No. In fact doing the hard work now will mean that you do not spend your final years listlessly reading out of date magazines in a dentist’s waiting room.
Not missing your yearly check up and visit to the hygienist can mean addressing problems before they spiral out of control. Regular brushing and your chosen method of cleaning in between the teeth goes without saying but did you know that the time you clean your teeth is also important?
The most effective time is either an hour before eating or an hour after. This is because the acids in foods soften the enamel making it vulnerable to being destroyed as you wade in with a heavy hand and a hard toothbrush. Calcium and mineral salts found in saliva reverse this by hardening the enamel again.
Acids are well documented in sugary foods and juices but even starches such as bread, crackers and cereal cause acids to form.
Sugar is loved by bacteria. Of course limiting the amount of sugar you eat is win-win all around for your health but most importantly don’t snack on sugary things such as dried fruits (the devil’s work) and those ‘healthy bars’ composed only of nuts and fruits coated in yoghurt or chocolate. Yes, they are better for you generally than a slab of cheap chocolate. But, bacteria doesn’t make that distinction. You are more likely to eating these things on the hoof meaning your teeth will be bathed in sugars for what could be many hours.
5 tips for maintaining a healthy mouth
- Floss or use interdental brushes each time you clean your teeth. You will be amazed at the amount of debris you can find even after cleaning your teeth properly. Interdent brushes also massage the gum;
- Brush an hour before or an hour after eating. Protect your enamel. Look for toothpastes that mention being kind to enamel;
- Replace your toothbrush every 3 or 4 months. Use a soft headed brush with a flexible head;
- Be wary about bleaching or whitening toothpastes. Ask your dentist what they recommend if you want to go down that path and avoid ‘at home’ whitening trays;
- Brush gently for 3 minutes. Don’t go at it like the clappers for 30 seconds. Make sure you brush the area where the teeth meet the gums. Plaque — which is a deposit that is formed of bacteria food particles and saliva — can form at that point bringing gum disease and bad breath to the party.
I’ll leave you to stand in front of the mirror looking strong before setting off to win over the world with your dazzling smile.