Friday, 23 March 2012

Pageants Part 1. WORLD PEACE!

I wanted to do a thread on beauty pageants, as they are something we all know a little about. I bought a book the other day called Pageant: The Beauty Contest by Keith Lovegrove. I have been reading it and it got me thinking. I couldn’t see a better event to write about. This is project looking objectively at the female form. And I believe that female pageants no matter how unconventional parade the female body as spectacle.

A Bit Of History

Miss Great Britain and Miss World were both on television from the early 70’s and were seen as a big TV night in for a family, like the grand national or the Eurovision song contest. In the early 70’s the critiques of the pageant were not about, is it right to objectify women in this way but, were about what was proper. You know questions like was Miss Bournemouth’s dress to showy or is Miss Brightens skirt to short.

 However things seemed to change rather quickly towards the end of the 70’s –possibly due to the change in thinking at the time with the end of the tune in drop out!  hippie days and the beginning of the rebellious punk scene- people began to question the morality of parading those thought the most beautiful women in the country before panels, and judging them mainly on there looks. There were protests against pageants witch resulted in them vanishing from popular TV channels for quite some time.

By the early 1990’s the popularity of the pageant was at its height again, with miss world fetching huge audiences worldwide. In the book Lovegrove implies that it is the worlds fascination with beautiful woman and the spectacle of the females that allowed the pageant to go from strength to strength. The writer Sais that the again growing popularity of these famous pageants proved that politically incorrect ‘sexploitation’ was still very popular.

As you may have noticed the pageant is still a popular formula for entertainment today, especially in America but in Britain too. I just wonder why it is that they are so popular. What is it that makes people want to watch them? Is it just that people like to look at beautiful things, and the woman who take part in these events are judged the most beautiful in there region or country? Or is it the Big Brother fascination? The same thing that makes us watch show’s like America’s next top model, or read heat magazine.

Pageants are very exclusive events that pick the best or most appropriate people according to the criteria the pageant follows. And there for, I don’t know if they are a good thing. But I will speak more about that later.

There is a quote in the book from Denise Quinones who was crowned Miss Universe in 2001.  What I’m most proud of is that I had the chance during my reign to serve as a role model of ‘beauty’ truly is. It is something that can be appreciated only from with in oneself. It is not about how you look on the outside, but how you feel in your own skin that is the important message. It is about belief in yourself and in your confidence. It is not about having a beautiful face, but a beautiful soul that extends to others.” Now I thought this was a lovely quote, I was quite surprised. Then I got thinking, this is coming from a very beautiful woman who won a contest that only beautiful women can enter and win and for me that totally undermined what was said.

I believe pageants judge people mainly on their looks (although some would disagree with this). Now there are many different kinds of alternative pageants witch I will cover in the next section of this thread. Still, to me no matter what sort of pageant is up for discussion they all pigeon hole women in to a category in away, and I think there is enough insecurity in female body politics with out further segregating our self’s in to categories.

There will be further entries on this coming up. Part two will focus on the rebellion against traditional pageants, and the result of this. 

I Plead Temporary Insanity

Hello all,

So the following piece of writing is one that i did very much in the moment. i wrote it at i point where i felt truly awful about myself. it will probably read like a 16 year old's angst filled diary entry, but i will share it with you to show how volatile my relationship with my appearance is. today i feel ok, good even, I'm just me, i look like how i look everyday and I'm mostly ok with that but only a few days ago i felt like this:

As I write this I am watching super size vs super skinny on channel four, I watch it every week, and to be honest I don’t know why because every week it makes me feel the same way.  I’m sitting almost shaking with nerves, seeing my self in the very over weight people paraded in front of the camera in an almost freak show like manner. I see my reflection in every single one of them. I just think I look exactly the same. The more I watch the more nervous I get and it feels like my heart hurts. Then when they are introduced to there equally unhealthy counter parts I’m ashamed to say I am jealous f there flat stomachs and distinctive facial bones.

Its strange I know I am smaller than the very large subjects of this documentary, but I just see so much of me in them. I have my abscess like fold in my tummy where it meats my genitals. And I feel my large breasts heavy on my chest; my chin seems to be blowing up like a seaside dingy. The way I feel inside my skin changes so much in just this one hour this show runs.

Why do I feel like this? Its not rational. Today I ate well, I Had nice yummy food I enjoyed it, it was healthy. But I panic that the tuna salad I had for tea was to big and that maybe I shouldn’t have had two slices of toast at lunch that one would have sufficed.

This makes no sense because if you were to talk to me in my  more lucid moments I would say, ye him a bit fat, but if I just stabilised my weight I would be happy with the way I look…I think. Would I? Is it ok to be my size?

That’s what I wonder is it ok to be my size.  Well is it? Sadly that is a question only I can answer, but I don’t know I ever will, as clearly the question is less about biology and more about psychology.

It is embarrassing for me to write this because it seems so irrational and yet even as I read this back and smirk at how ridiculous it sounds in my heart I still feel like a little useless girl stuck in a monstrous body.   

I feel fine now, but its mad isn't it how some things we watch or read ect, can totally change our state of mind, even if only for a short time. I hope other people feel the same way sometimes haha! and that I'm not just very easily effected by things around me. i imagine as always many people can relate.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

A Blokes Perspective

Something i do not want to happen is for this project to exclude men. soooooo..... i have a blog post about the project to Share with you by a fellow called Andy "chainsaw" Blyth. He is a happily married 27 year old man from Scotland.

I think its important for man to be involved as often they are they ones who see most clearly how skewed our sight is when it comes to what we see in the mirror.

who know maybe in time i will start a project on the male body but until then us women would like to here our dangling counterparts thoughts opinions and idea's.



Hello all, I hope the sun is shining where you are as Leeds is glorious J

Well today I present the first of many guest videos.  The previously featured artist Sam Jack has made her own video specifically for Flesh, Blood and Female. It’s a brief account of the story her body tells and how she reads herself.

Thanks Sam.

As always feel free to comment react or relate to this video, you can email me at or join the facebook group at

If this has inspired you to make a video please do! Everyone and anyone are welcome.

Friday, 16 March 2012

See and act

Hello all,

Well I have created a facebook page to accompany my blog. I think as more people become aware of this project and get involved this will be an easy forum to share ideas pictures, and so on.

Today I would like to share with you some work by Shetland based artist Samantha Jack.

When I saw these and read the small blurb I totally related as, like Sam, my main body issue is weight and its something I think about and try to manage daily. I think these images are powerful and will strike a chord with many woman in Britain and far beyond.

Sam's work is in the obsessions section of Issue 2 of Story Magazine witch begins on pge46 where she as a short description of  the work printed and her actual work is on pages 50 and 51 

After seeing these images it made me think about my opinions and behaviour in relation to my main body issue and I made this video. I guess in a way this is an unconscious reaction to Sam Jacks images.

I feel the video is very personal. If I’m honest I was very nervous making it, and was unsure weather or not to share it. But I feel this is a very organic project and un-planned spontaneous pieces of work like this one are important.

I want to stress that this project is not about just weight issues its about all body issues affecting woman today. Soon I hope to share with you stories from other women covering a wide range of issues and topics. If you want to share your story or thoughts in any way, get in touch.

A big thank you to Samantha Jack for allowing me to share her work. Sam works around a variety of issues using different mediums. If you wish to look at her work in more depth visit this page:  

Friday, 9 March 2012


Hello all

So I have started my line drawing project and it is going well (as well is a drawing can go when your not a talented drawer). I have also done a collage from some of my favorite fashion and lifestyle publications.  Specifically company which I buy religiously and Marie Claire, which I flirt with on occasion.

Company is a publication, which I imagine, is aimed at 18 to 25 year olds and I would imagine that Marie Claire is aimed at 21 to 40 year olds. Company focuses mainly on British fashion with celeb interviews and pop culture articles.  

Marie Claire is a more high-end fashion mag and its little wider spread with real life stories and popular psychology and science. Its tag line is “Think smart look amazing.”

I though rally enjoy a read through fashion mags, and I realize that they are far from an accurate representation of today’s women with their skinny bendy otherworldly models draped in the latest trends (this is especially true of higher end magazines).  I do not read them to see reality; it is in fact escapism for me (and window shopping) it’s the same feeling I get when I rather ashamedly watch the hills.

However (and company is particularly guilty of this) some times I feel as though these publications read as though they are out omnipresent friend, there articles are trying to be relatable and in some cases helpful and make you feel as though you are not alone with your career or man issues and this is where I believe they run into dangerous territory. Company magazine is almost interactive, constantly telling you to get there on street fashion AP and tweet them. The editor’s letter reads like you’re far away pen pals lovely letter. It makes for a friendly and endearing read.

Now as we all know this project is an objective look at the indefinable female form, and I believe that these publications constantly bombard us with the “perfect body” and present us with articles of how to get “beach body ready” and swap out tasty treats for trimming tidbits’. I believe that they are part of the  establishment that makes women feel inadequate about their bodies.

One particularly worrying thing I noticed is after you read you monthly installment of company and caught up with the friendly columnists and relatable subjects you get to the ads at the back and one of the first and biggest ones you are confronted with just two pages after reassuring lifestyle advise for young woman has the tag line
“Confidence starts with cosmetic surgery for the experts” my reaction to this was F*** me that’s wrong.

One thing I have never understood is the horrendous slightly cheaper mags that are practically bully books. Ridiculing c list celebs bodies and looks from page 1 to 100. Call me a snob but I think they are disgusting, however I am going to have to buy some if I'm going to talk about them so wish me luck and forgive me for that.

More over an advert I have seen for a version of Cosmo focused specifically on bodies… I am intrigued to say the least.

These magazines and there relationships with the body is something I will be looking at through out this project. It you have a view please let me know J. Agree, disagree, rant whatever I want to here your opinions and thoughts.  You can leave a comment or email me at or look me up on facebook under the name Donna m young (just leave a message letting me know that you’re a blog reader.

I will be posting my collage up soon I just need a better camera to take the picture.

I’m of to peruse this months vogue ;P

Thursday, 1 March 2012


Last week in the news and in magasines i heard stories about women posing nude after having suffered from breast cancer and having their breasts removed. I loved this photo!

the above photo was found on google, i do not own the writes to it and it was not taken specifically for this project.  

Mirror Mirror

Hello all,

I’m so sorry about the delay in this blog post, I only have a dongle you see and I just got my new allowance of Internet. Any who, excuses over.

In doing this project I am often thinking on the subject of body’s and their representation. And inevitably I can’t stop thinking about my body. Now, in theory I am all for acceptance. I truly believe that when it comes to how people look everything is ok, I swear I do. I mean yes I have preferences there are those who I would consider more pretty than others but I just put that down to opinion. I believe that there is no right and wrong and all women are woman weather they have big tits no tits, hips, a belly, long hair short hair ect… however, I have a question. Why can’t I relate my acceptance to myself? I feel terribly hypocritical doing an art project about acceptance and different bodies when I can’t even accept my own body. I’m having a particularly bad week this week. The flat I live in has large mirrored wardrobes right next to where I sit and sleep. And I swear some times I want to smash them. I look massive at the moment. I know I look know different from how I looked the day before but sometimes I see myself in the mirror and I just want to claw bits of me off.

It upsets me and annoys my partner and I sound like a broken record. I’m fat; I'm ugly ECT ECT ECT.  I know that a lot of people have this and it is a horrible feeling, its like your trapped in something that makes you feel ill and anxious. Whether its because you feel fat, skinny, ugly, bald, flat chested, oddly shaped, big bummed.. The list is endless. If possible I would like this project to have the effect of helping the women involved be able to cope with those feelings better when and if they occur. I think if we see others who are “imperfect” so to speak (which I believe is every one) we will see that everyone is completely different. And yes you will still envy your friend’s tiny waste or your sister’s full chest but you’ll know and you’ll believe that your body is just fine. It will get bigger smaller it’ll perk and droop but its all just part of being human.

 NEW WORK:I’m going to start doing a series of what I suppose are simple line drawings on black card. Focusing on the shape of bodies and the lines the out lines and shadows they cast. I will post them as they are completed.