Strong Not Skinny

The word “role model” is often banded together with the idea of fame or celebrity in modern media, as the majority of big bloggers might be only too aware. Writing a blog that becomes very popular, or appearing in a reality TV programme can mean that an individual comes to be regarded as a role model, and that of course comes with the heavy burden of responsibility. A role model’s lifestyle, dress code and eating habits can easily be picked up by an eager fan, and this is where debates about good and bad role models arise.

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Made in Chelsea star Millie Mackintosh was criticised at the beginning of last month after sharing a photo of herself on Instagram and Twitter at a photoshoot. The uncaptioned photograph, showed Millie wearing a silver bikini, highlighting her slim, muscular frame. This Instagram picture quickly sparked outrage as Mackintosh’s husband, Professor Green retweeted the photo onto his own Twitter account, adding “#thinspiration”. Experts (according to The Daily Mail) criticised the couple for encouraging young girls to starve themselves. Despite Mackintosh’s prompt reply to her husband’s joke, highlighting that her message was actually one of “fitspiration”, the media soon caught hold, with the uploading of the photo and Millie’s “role model” status even being debated on popular ITV programme Loose Women.

As a young (just about still teenage) girl, who has followed Millie’s Twitter for a good year now, I would have to respectfully disagree that she is in anyway a bad influence to young girls. There are a plethora of horrendous and harmful images available to young people on the internet with the label “thinspiration” – often used by pro-anorexia groups – but this isn’t one of them. Mackintosh’s “strongnotskinny” message, which she promotes heavily both on her Twitter and Instagram pages, encourage healthy, clean, eating and plenty of exercise. Despite her slim frame, it is her strong body which she is promoting, a body far away from the skin and bones look incorporated in most “thinspiration” images.

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It is a sad and indisputable fact that the majority of women and increasingly, younger and younger girls, will at some point, or maybe several points in their lives think about losing weight. However, adding tone to you body, can give the illusion of lost weight without getting to an unhealthy stage. By acting as a role model for young girls, celebrities like Millie Mackintosh – who children should be made aware, are generally slim as part of their job description – are at least sending out a message that strong is the way to be, not skinny, whilst at the same time promoting the empowering idea of improving your body for yourself.

I have never been a girl who’s been desperate to lose weight. Of course I’ve had my moments of “Oh my God, my jeans don’t fit!”, but generally I’m quite lucky that I’m mostly happy with myself. Recently however, I have felt inspired to exercise at least 3/4 times a week, trying to add a bit of tone to my tummy, but also, in the hope it might have other health benefits, such as giving me more energy. Since going to Uni and being able to pick my own food, I’ve always tried to eat well. I’d rather make all of my meals at home from scratch and go for the occasional meal out than eat a ready meal [mostly because they taste vile]. If I can swap a potato for a sweet potato, I will and if I can have slightly more veg and meat on my plate than carbs I will.

Personally I don’t believe in dieting, as I really don’t think it’s sustainable. But making little lifestyle choices, like cutting out bad food and trying to eat more eggs and apples and low-fat yoghurts makes me feel like I’m doing my body a favour. And ofcourse, I’m not good all of the time. I absolutely LOVE bad food. Yesterday I had lunch out, came home and ate 6 profiteroles…. I’m not denying my body food in the slightest, I’m just trying to think more and more about what I’m putting into it.

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In the way of exercise, I am working on strengthening my body through cardio and strength exercises. I’ve been enjoying using Davina McCall’s Body Buff Workout Video, which provides a range of warm ups, workouts and strength exercises allowing you to focus on key parts of the body, as I’m going on holiday soon I’ve been focusing on my “abs”.

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We also at the moment have in our house a spinning bike, which my Dad borrowed from my Uncle in order to train for a cycling race. I was slightly reluctant to give it a go, as  I had previously read a tweet from a female comedian (I’ve forgotten who) that spinning is very much like being punched in the v***** – nice. I have to say the seat is not incredibly comfortable on our old model, but I’ve found once I’ve got all my gear on and found a great workout/pop/r&b playlist on 8tracks I’m pretty good to go AND it helps me mix up my workout if I need a change from Davina.

Personally, I think I’ve been really inspired by Millie’s #strongnotskinny mantra. To me it’s a really important and empowering message to send out to young girls, that if for what ever reason you want to slim down [although I do not believe in doing so if it’s unnecessary] then at least go about it in the right way, with a healthy diet and exercise, to strengthen your body rather than weaken it. Celebrities like this, should be encouraged to spread such a positive message about looking after your body. Hopefully when girls who watch Millie strutting her stuff in her Louis Vitton, look up to her as a role model, and admire her body they will be inspired by the her happy, healthy, balanced lifestyle.

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I hope you liked this post, to read Millie’s reaction to the media attention surrounding her Instagram photo click here.

Harriette

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