Sunday, 30 March 2014

March Favourites

It only feels like yesterday that I was putting together my February favourites and yet here we are again, another month gone. Where does the time go? Anyway, here are a few things I've been obsessing over recently.

I raved about the La Roche-Posay Effaclar A.I. Targeted Breakout Corrector recently, which as well as being an every day staple in my skincare routine also takes the award for longest product name ever, but I also picked up the Effaclar Duo+ and am equally impressed. This blogger fave is working wonders on my old acne scars and combined with the targeted corrector is helping to prevent current blemishes leaving new marks. Just like the targeted corrector it has a lovely fresh scent, is easily absorbed and wearable under makeup. I use this more as a treatment with a separate moisturiser on top as it's not enough for my combo/dry skin but it isn't overly drying in itself and would probably be fine alone on oilier skins.

There's been a huge stir about the new Revlon ColourBurst Balms and that was a bandwagon I was quite happy to jump onto! I prefer the glossier lacquer balms as I think the colours are just a bit more flattering on me, especially with my new found love of a bold lip, and my absolute favourites are Provocateur (bright reddish pink) and Enticing (darker red with a hint of brown). Staying power is reasonable, especially Provocateur which fades to a pretty stain, and they have a delicate minty fresh scent.

I'm actually on my second bottle of Lush Tea Tree Water and that in itself is a sign of approval as I'm not generally one for the repurchasing unless I really like something. This is light, refreshing and offers the antibacterial benefits of tea tree without being drying or stinky. I like to spritz it onto a cotton pad and gently wipe across my face, focussing on any pesky blemishes. It's also nice to hold the pad against any particularly irritated blemishes for a minute or two to help take the heat out of them.

I have to confess I'd never tried a fixing spray before but I saw Sineadycady use the MUA Pro Base Fixing Mist on a video a while back and figured it was worth a try for only a fiver. I've used it for a couple of weeks now to try and give me makeup some extra sticking power at the office and it's done a pretty good job. My foundation and concealer stay looking fresher for longer and my blush doesn't disappear quite so rapidly. A fiver well spent me thinks!

And a few other things I love but I've already bored you enough singing their praises:
Bourjois 123 Perfect CC is my current go to base giving me even skin, decent coverage and just a hint of the glowies.
S&G Endless Glove has officially taken over from Hand Food as my favourite hand cream.
Percy & Reed Perfectly Perfecting Wonder Balm is doing something fab for my hair and I like it!

What's got your beauty senses tingling this month?

Friday, 28 March 2014

The Humble Facecloth

There are all manner of weird and wonderful tools for applying our various skincare lotions and potions these days - muslin cloths, exfoliating brushes, even solid jade rollers - but why are we shelling out loads when there's a pretty nifty multitasking bit of kit available for mere pennies? I'm talking about the humble facecloth!

How much easier, quicker and less messy is it to wash cleanser off with a cloth rather than by splashing water in the general direction of your face? Or, in my case, around the entire bathroom!  Plus if exfoliation is high on your list of skin priorities but you can't handle a harsh manual exfoliator then a facecloth is perfect for a little every day polishing - soft enough not to irritate but those little cotton loops provide a gentle exfoliating action while you simply wash your cleanser off.  

Want to open your pores for a really refreshing, deep clean? Forget your elaborate steaming techniques and simply take one facecloth, soak with very warm (not hot) water, wring it out, drape elegantly onto face and relax as it cools. Now cleanse your skin and see how much fresher and cleaner it feels, not to mention how zen and chilled you feel.

Now I'm sure skincare purists will argue any facecloth for skincare use should be made of strictly undyed natural cotton allowed to grow freely in a field bathed in sunshine and carefully hand picked by unfeasibly happy people whistling a jaunty tune. Nice idea, but back in the real world Primark do a huge range of funky coloured ones to match any bathroom for the princely sum of £1.50 for 3. Just make sure to wash coloured ones first to remove any loose dye (40°C, no fabric softener).

I'm really quite fond of facecloths. You can keep your jewel encrusted spiky roller thingies - sometimes the simple things are best. Don't you think?

That's Bat Duck sitting atop my facecloths. I have no idea where I got him but he stands guard over my bathroom seeing off evil doers and generally making me giggle childishly. Everyone should have a Bat Duck!

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Change is a coming!

Handlebars & Hairspray is changing to Shining August!

I started this here blog a few months ago mainly to see whether I'd enjoy writing one as much as I enjoy reading them and now that I'm getting into the general blogging groove of posting regularly and coming up with ideas I'm really enjoying it! So much so I want to keep it going and work harder on building it up into more than just my quiet corner of the interweb, but there is one itsy bitsy snagette - I didn't exactly choose my blog name wisely, did I? It's a bit of a mouthful, easy to mis-type and doesn't work for Twitter or Instagram. Way to make things difficult for myself!

So, it's time for a change to something I like and which works a bit better. Shining August is just a combination of my birthday month and what the sun is supposed to be doing that month. No deep and special meaning but I quite like the way it goes together. I'll be changing both my Twitter and Instagram handles to @ShiningAugust too.

At the same time as implementing the new name I'm setting up a custom domain name to match so it will take a little time for everything to catch up but there will be a redirect in place and if you follow on Bloglovin' they're on the case doing all the techy link changing behind the scenes. All I ask is that you please bear with me for a few days and then normal service will be resumed!

The change will happen on 31st March and for that week I'll be posting simultaneously to both the old and new names so I promise you won't miss a thing.

Thank you for your understanding and I really hope you'll take this little blog change journey with me. In the meantime if there are any other changes you would like to see then please leave me a comment and let me know!

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Endless Glove (aka Soap & Glory does it again...)

Just when I though nothing could beat Soap & Glory Hand Food for scrumptious smelling, totally moisturised mitts along came Endless Glove 2 in 1 Mask & Hand Cream and proved me wrong. Not only is this a divine smelling, incredibly moisturising, non-greasy hand lotion but when paired with a pair of cotton gloves and a little snooze time it's a moisturising mask for your hands!

Now don't get me wrong, I will always be a loyal Hand Food girl but I must admit Endless Glove has stolen my heart at the moment. It contains all sorts of hand loving ingredients such as macadamia and grapeseed oils, pomegranate and Shea butters and an impressive sounding Eight Oil Aqua Wrap. You don't come across those every day, now do you?

I haven't tried the mask option yet but in the general hand lotion stakes the moisturising action does last a bit longer than Hand Food. The formula is a touch thicker too but is still easily absorbed with no greasy finger marks once it sinks in. The Fruitigo scent is just amazing - fresher and more fruity than the original S&G scent used in Hand Food with yuzu, orange oil, green fig and jungle pomelo essence. Now, reading that made me wonder, what exactly is a "yuzu"? I pictured it being a some sort of exotic coloured berry but according to Wiki it's an East Asian citrus fruit thought to be a hybrid of a sour mandarin and an ichang papeda. Oooo-kay! Well it smells good and I'm happy with that!

Have you tried Endless Glove? Or a yuzu for that matter?!

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Effaclar A.I. Targeted Breakout Corrector

There are many words one could use to describe La Roche-Posay Effaclar A.I. Targeted Breakout Corrector, "mouthful" being just one of them. I'll settle for two though - pure genius!

I've seen a fair bit of press recently for the newly reformulated Effaclar Duo+, which apparently is da bomb for da blemishes (innit), but I must admit in all my blemish prone years this is a range that has never really pinged my radar. More fool me! Anyway, curiosity piqued and Boots 3 for 2 coinciding nicely with payday, I thought I'd investigate. I happened to be in the market for a new on the spot treatment as my beloved Clinique gel was leaving my skin a bit flaky so rather than opt for the much touted Duo+ I got the targeted corrector instead, which is actually the one product in the range I haven't seen blogged of late.

To me a good on the spot treatment should relieve irritation, soothe skin and of course get rid of the spot being targeted. It's an added plus if it can be used under makeup for daytime blemish blitzing too. The Effaclar corrector (that name is just too long to keep typing) is, if you'll pardon the pun, spot on in all respects. It soothed a particularly irritated patch on my jawline in minutes and has noticeably taken down one of those super sore, under the skin monster lumps after only 2 applications. It then continues, after 3 or 4 applications, to destroy the spot in much the same way you might destroy a plastic cup by running over it with a monster truck - completely and absolutely (but in a much gentler way). Added bonus it helps prevent those horrible red marks spots can leave, and which are a complete pain in the bum to conceal. 

Since this is a cream formula which sinks in quickly, isn't at all drying and doesn't leave any residue, stickiness or weird greasy patches on the skin it can be used day and night without interfering with makeup. I usually apply it between serums and moisturiser, giving it a few seconds to really sink in. I've even applied a tiny dab on top of makeup when a particularly nasty beastie has popped up during the day and it hasn't done any damage that couldn't be fixed with a dab of concealer. As if all that wasn't enough the absolute icing on the cake is that it even smells nice - fresh and mildly citrusy with not a hint of pungent tea tree to advertise to the world that you're in spot fighting mode.

This is without doubt the best blemish zapper I've ever tried and is now a permanent fixture in my skincare stable. I'm so impressed with it I've just picked up the Duo+ too. Take that, evil scars and blemishes!

Have you tried any of the La Roche-Posay Effaclar range?

Friday, 21 March 2014

Bourjois 123 Perfect CC

The whole double letter cream thing pretty much passed me by. I tried the Garnier oil free BB version and hated it (rubbish coverage, too dark, left me looking greasy) so pretty much avoided anything similar, but I was tempted to try the new Bourjois 123 Perfect Colour Correcting Cream as it promised to be something a little different.

Containing three coloured pigments to battle multiple skin woes (white for dark spots, apricot for fatigue and green for redness) and offering SPF 15 and 24hr hydration in an oil free base this sounds like a pretty impressive offering, and it is.

Although coverage is medium at best it's not meant to conceal everything (that's what concealer is for, duh!). The coloured pigments do even out my various skin tone issues, mainly redness and purplish scarring, rather well and leave my skin looking more awake and just the right side of glowing to be luminous without looking greasy. The formula is lovely and hydrating, which my dry skin appreciates, but also light weight so it shouldn't sit too heavily on oily skins. Staying power is also pretty respectable lasting pretty much all day with only one blot around lunchtime.

This is definitely one to apply with the makeup brushes God gave you (i.e. your fingers) as I found my Real Techniques expert face brush absorbed some of the product making application look a little patchy. My one complaint is that the shade range is pretty poor with only 4 to choose from. As always I went for the lightest (31 Ivory) and it's still ever so slightly dark for my pale winter complexion but this is a problem I have with all Bourjois bases and to be fair as it's not heavy or full coverage it's still perfectly wearable.

A quick word should also go to the accompanying 123 Perfect CC Eye Concealer. This is a hydrating(ish) and highlighting offering which comes in a clicky tube with a nice hygienic plastic applicator. A little goes a long way with this and it does brighten nicely but it's quite sheer so I tend to use it either as a second concealer or apply a second coat on the darkest areas of my eyes (usually the inner corner). Sadly I do find it settles into my lines a little, although at the moment my undereyes are so dry and dehydrated I suspect even the most hydrating concealer in the world probably would!

There is a third 123 Perfect product, a proper foundation, which I'm rather tempted to try...

Have you tried any of Bourjois' 123 Perfect products? Any recommendations for a super hydrating eye cream?!

Thursday, 20 March 2014

What's on my nails #11

It's spring, it's sunny and I am in the mood for something super bright and super girly! So, hot pink and glitter it is courtesy of Bourjois 10 Day Anti Chip in shade 15 (discontinued in Boots but widely available on the interweb) and Butter London's Lovely Jubbly.

In my humble little opinion Bourjois make some of the best polish on the high street, and certainly the best brushes. The colour of this little beauty speaks for itself and while it doesn't quite make 10 whole days in pristine condition it is one of the better lasting polishes in my collection. 

What can I say about Lovely Jubbly? It's absolutely packed with little flecks of magenta, red, blue and gold glitter and is so packed in fact that one coat gives plenty of coverage for an accent. This truly is one of those glitters you could build up to full coverage if you wanted, although it would be a nightmare to take off! 

Watch out for more pink things on this here blog very soon... 

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Percy & Reed Perfectly Perfecting Wonder Balm

If you've picked up a copy of  Elle's April issue you'll no doubt have also gotten your mitts on a tube of Percy & Reed's new Perfectly Perfecting Wonder Balm. It's so new in fact that it was initially exclusive only to Elle (released to the wider world on 15th March), so not bad as freebies go! I'm a big fan of Percy & Reed's Quite Frankly Flawless Finishing Polish, especially if I've curled or waved my hair, as it's a lovely lightweight cream which moisturises while giving flexible hold and definition. Plus it smells ah-mazing! So naturally I was pretty curious to try this new potion.

Wonder Balm is described as basically a primer for hair, a leave-in balm which gives moisture, shine, smoothness, definition, softness, light hold, high humidity protection and manageability. Phew! Can one product really do all that, and be suitable for all hair types? Well I can't vouch for all of those claims, but after using it a couple of times I and my dry, colour-treated, heat tortured hair do quite like it.

I've added his into my post wash styling routine as an extra step between oil and styling products - literally where you would add a primer into your makeup routine - and simply work a splodge inTo the ends and then up to about an inch below my roots. In and of itself it doesn't seem to do much except make my hair smell yummy (yup, it has that fragrance I love so much in the Finishing Polish). Where it does make a difference is in how the other products I apply work on top of it - they seem to work that little bit better so I end up with my usual style but a slightly improved version. Straightened hair looks a bit healthier and swingier and stays straight for longer, requiring only a brief touch-up come morning. Similarly, curled hair has a little more bounce and takes longer to drop.

Although the concept of a hair primer might be something new I do think there's something in it, and even if you don't style your hair as such I think this product would still add a little su'thing su'thing to an all natural do. Even if it's just that yummy scent!

Have you got your hands on this yet?

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Gone Fishin'

Although I routinely blog about various beauty bits you may have guessed that I'm not an entirely girly girl. Sure I revel in all things skincare, haircare, makeup, etc but I also ride a hulking great motorbike, do my own car maintenance and repairs and am no stranger to the many uses for WD40. I even remove spiders from the bath all by myself. So it should come as no surprise that I also have one or two hobbies which aren't your typically feminine pastimes and, since I'm trying to get more lifestyle into my wee blog, I thought I'd share one of them with you today.

Mention fishing to most people and they think of a bloke perched on the end of a pier with his rod and a bucket of bait enjoying some alone time. Most of the time that's pretty accurate but unfortunately for Mr P going fishing doesn't mean a bit of quality "man time" as I like to tag along too! I have my own rod and reel (a 12ft Shakespeare Sigma and SurfZone 70 in coordinating black and turquoise) and I'm perfectly capable of setting up my own rig, although I must admit I tend to leave the whole baiting business to Mr P. The is nothing about ragworm that makes me want to touch them - they're slimy, they smell and they bite!

You might imagine that the attraction of fishing is catching something yummy for tea, and for some that is the case, but I'm a vegetarian and haven't eaten fish in over 20yrs. For me the attraction is all about peace and quiet, picturesque surroundings and the chance to truly relax and spend time with my man and, sometimes, dog. Let me explain... 

In my professional life I work very hard. I manage staff, I manage big projects, I'm always on hand for professional advice and I'm always busy. At home I still spend a lot of time managing - bills and finances, housework and DIY (which we do share to be fair), dog, holidays and outings, etc. If I'm honest it all gets a bit tiring sometimes! Going fishing gives me a chance to truly relax. I don't need to organise anything, I don't need to manage anything and all I have to worry about is watching the little blue light on the end of my rod for that telltale twitch which suggests there might be a fish chowing down on my bait.

Even better I don't even have to worry about inclement weather (because we all know what a tropical paradise Southern England is) as we can relax in the relative comfort and warmth of Mr P's Defender, which has comfy seats, plenty of space and is kitted out with a stove and mini gas heater. I can ignore my phone if I want and just chat and enjoy Mr P's company. Honestly, it doesn't get much more chill-outy than a mug of hot chocolate in a nice warm truck accompanied by your lovely bloke and surrounded by peaceful nighttime countryside just waiting for something interesting to swim along! Besides, real live fish are way more interesting than what you see on the counter at Tesco. I've caught sea bass, pouting, whiting, dab, sole, bream, eels (icky, slimy things) and some really fascinating species including thorn backed rays, dogfish and smooth hounds (both types of shark, which is very cool!). In fact all the fishy photos in this post are animals That I personally have caught!

Have you ever been fishing? If your man/dad/mate goes why not tag along sometime?

Friday, 14 March 2014

A Body Shop Haul

I've always been a massive fan of The Body Shop, ever since my first whiff of satsuma bubbles as a little 'un. I always have a few body butters on the go (my current favourites are the passion fruit and vineyard peach ones) and my shower gel of the moment also happens to be one of theirs but I must admit I haven't really bothered with their skincare much in quite a long time. However, when a recent offer of a free night cream with a day cream purchase coincided perfectly with the latest episode in my never ending quest for the perfect moisturiser I took it as a sign...

So let's start with the day and night cream combo. Now I'm 30 and while I might not feel particularly old my skin is starting to remind me I'm not 18 anymore so I opted for the Nutriganics Smoothing Day and Night creams which are designed to hydrate for 12hrs, tackle first signs of ageing and generally smooth, plump and revitalise skin.

The day cream is lovely and light but still delivers a good dose of hydration to my dry, dehydrated and generally grumpy skin. It's been noticeably happier in the horrible Office Air conditions at work (y'know the sort of thing - dry, warm, recycled through a few too many people's lungs). It does look a tad shiny when first applied but quickly sinks in leaving a nice base for makeup. The night cream is a little heavier, as one would expect, but is absorbed just as readily and feels rather more luxurious than its price tag suggests. It also mixes wonderfully with the Trilogy Rosehip Oil I use each evening. They both smell yummy too - sort of citrusy with a hint of liquorice. Weird but oddly refreshing!

I've been using both of these fairly religiously for the last 3 weeks and I'm really pleased with them. My skin is loving the extra dose of hydration, which is also helping prevent my makeup from disappearing into my pores, and I am seeing some small improvements in the lines on my forehead and general texture of my skin. I don't think this is entirely just down to these creams as I'm using the REN Resurfacing AHA Concentrate religiously too but they do seem to be working together very well and I'm interested in seeing how longer term use works out.

This wouldn't be a haul if all I talked about was two moisturisers and since one of them was free I had to find something to make my cart up to the minimum for free postage. Well, two things and I blame TBS entirely for this next one as they made it too good an offer to refuse - a tub of Seaweed Ionic Clay Mask half price because I have a Love Your Body card. This is your typical clay mask designed to draw out impurities, clarify and refresh the skin and as a bonus it smells considerably nicer than most (although I'm sure this must be added fragrance). While this does do the clay mask thing pretty well, especially cleaning out pores, I do find it stings somewhat as it dries which would certainly irritate sensitive skins and means I limit use to once a week at most. It's nice but probably not one I'll repurchase as there are plenty of other similar masks out there which don't feel as irritating.

My final purchase was borne out of pure curiosity. I tried the tea tree range when I was younger and while it was ah-mazing at helping blemishes it was far too harsh for regular use on my skin so I was intrigued to try the new Tea Tree Cool & Creamy Wash which promised the same tea tree benefits but in a kinder cream based cleanser which also leaves skin feeling cool and oh so fresh. I must admit I was expecting this to be a bit harsh but it cleaned really nicely without leaving my skin feeling at all tight or stripped, and my goodness it really does give skin an icy blast! This is definitely more of a morning cleanser as it's great to help wake you up but I suspect wouldn't be great at removing makeup. While it won't be my every morning cleanser I'll definitely be keeping it around for skin freak out moments and mornings when I just can't wake up.

Do you use Body Shop skincare? What are your favourite products?

Thursday, 13 March 2014

What's on my nails #10

Firstly, yes I have finally gotten round to cutting those talons I was growing! I didn't have much choice after two of them snapped on my right hand (that'll teach me) but hopefully it won't take long for them to grow back. I must admit I much prefer this length - so much more manageable and I can type without hitting half a dozen keys at once.

Now, onto the real reason you're here, that gorgeous vivid turquoise currently adorning my nails. Isn't it just fab? With the weather finally taking a turn for the sunnier it's definitely time for a spring shade and this Barry M Gelly polish in Guava fits the bill nicely. It's bright and cheerful and if a polish could be happy then this one definitely would be. Unfortunately I found the staying power of this polish a little disappointing but I have been quite hard on my hands recently so it I'll reserve judgement until it's had another outing.

What's bringing your nails into glorious spring?

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

New Dressing Table

Ok my makeup collection may be tiny compared to most beauty bloggers but since getting into reading and then writing beauty blogs it has had a bit of a growth spurt and outgrown its little green storage baskets in our compact and bijou (i.e. minuscule) bathroom. Plus the bathroom ain't really the best place to be keeping it what with all the steam and soap flying about. So recently I set about finding it a new home...

We don't use our spare room much so it's been feeling a bit unloved but it happened to have the perfect spot for a dressing table area atop a chest of drawers, with the top draw providing plenty of storage space. Add a nice mirror, a pair of lamps, some storage baskets and some pots and the job is, as they say, a good 'un!

Chest of drawers - Aneboda by IKEA (no longer available but Austmarka is virtually identical)
Lamps - I've had these for years and can't remember where they came from but these Hyatt table lamps from Argos offer a similar lighting effect.
Storage Baskets (set of three) - Tesco Home (I can't see them online but they seem to be widely available in-store)
Brush pot and Glasses - stolen from my desk and my kitchen cupboard!

I have to say, though, no matter how pretty that mirror is or how much the organised storage pleases my inner librarian, the thing I like most is my tiny mini wheelie bin. I've no idea where it came from but I think it's pretty funky. If only I could find some mini bin liners for it!

Do you have a dedicated dressing table space?

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Conversations with Dog

As I write this Keeta, our Siberian husky, is stretched out on the couch with her head resting on my left arm. In fact she's making my arm go dead but she looks so content and sleepy I haven't got the heart to move her. She's a lovely creature who is in equal measure affectionate, stubborn, independent, excitable, greedy, lazy and daft. She's also addicted to cheese and Haribo which is why my packet of fizzy cola bottles is cunning hidden under a cushion next to me. She knows they're there and whenever I rustle the packet she grumbles at me.

Huskies are quite vocal dogs and although ours is quieter than some (she rarely howls, despite Mr P spending hours trying to encourage her with some interesting wolf impressions) she nevertheless let's us know when she wants something. If you have a pet, especially a dog, have you ever wondered what it would be like to have a proper conversation with them? Here are a few things I can imagine Keeta saying if she suddenly mastered English...

On being told she's not having any of my cheese sandwich...
Keeta: I suppose that's fair, it is your sandwich, but I like cheese. Besides, I'm cute and you love me. Please can I have some? Pleeeeeeeeeease? I'll just sit right here next to you while you think about it.

When one of us picks up her collar...
Keeta: That was my collar. That means I'm going somewhere! YES! Where are we going? Are we going in the car? Are we going for a walk? I'm so excited! What are we doing? Oh god, I hope it's not the vet. No I can't sit still. I'm far too excited! Lemme out! FREEDOM!!! (By which time we've usually just  about managed to get her collar on her)

On opening a packet of Haribo...

Keeta: Those are jelly sweets aren't they? I love those! Can I have one? Please? PLEASE? I'm soooo hungry. I don't care if you hide them under a cushion, I know they're there. I love you! Give me a sweetie! PLEASE! Ok, just give me a sweetie NOW!!!

On deciding she wants to go lie on our bed...
Keeta: You two look tired, you should go lie down. I know you're watching TV but you have a perfectly good TV upstairs. Come on! Look, I want to go chill out and your bed is so comfy! I promise I won't take over the whole bed, I'll make sure you have a little bit of space too. I know I'm not allowed upstairs on my own so please will you come with me? I just want to snuggle up with you all comfy like.

On meeting a very small dog...
Keeta: Lunch?
(To be fair she usually just wants to play but huskies are very rough and mouthy when they play, which small dogs tend not to appreciate!)

Do you have any pets? What do you think they would say if they could talk?

Saturday, 1 March 2014


I felt compelled to write an extra post this week in honour of National Eating Disorder Awareness week, which is this very week. Eating disorders are an issue rather close to my heart as I suffered with anorexia and depression during my late teens and although my relationship with food is a little better 10yrs on my body and I are still uneasy bedfellows.

To put no finer point on it I starved myself from a healthy 11.5st and size 14 (I'm 5ft 7 inches) down to a skeletal 6st. At my smallest I was a size 4-6. I was a little plump to begin with, but by no means overweight, yet I was convinced I was a huge, disgusting whale which no one would ever find attractive. I honestly believed the key to being happier was to lose weight, to be skinny. I was wrong.

Over the course of a year I cut all fat from my diet and then started reducing my calorie intake ultimately down to less than 100 a day. I existed (you can't call it living when you barely have the energy to walk up a flight of stairs) on water and thinks like sugar free jelly pots. And it worked - I lost a lot of weight and quickly - but I also destroyed my body. My breasts stopped growing and have never started again (I am a 32A on a good day), my hair became thin and dry, my skin was sallow, my eyes sunken and the widest part of my legs was my knees. My periods stopped, I was constantly shattered and freezing cold even in the middle of summer. Yet I ignored all of these negative things because I thought I looked good.

I don't think my parents knew what to do. They never really tackled me on my secretive eating habits (I used to pretend I'd already eaten or take food up to my room and hide it so they would think I'd eaten it). It wasn't their fault - they just didn't know what to do and we were never the sort of family that talked openly about feelings or emotional stuff. Fortunately I had some amazing friends and teachers who did see what was happening and who did try to help. I can vividly remember my A Level chemistry teacher sitting me down and telling me, in the gentlest way, that if I did not start to improve the school would consider having me sectioned. They never did but that was a turning point. 

A couple of months later I started to eat again, very slowly as my body couldn't handle more than a mouthful without me throwing up at first. Slowly I gained the tiniest bit of weight and it terrified me. I felt out of control and that's the crux of it. Anorexia isn't really about food, even if it may start out with a desire to lose weight - it's about exerting control over something. Now I can recognise that I am a total control freak and put that to constructive use but as a teenager, when so much is happening to you that you can't control,  that side of my nature was destructive.

10yrs on I suppose you could say I'm cured. I am a healthy weight and I eat regularly. I even eat junk food. That need to control, though, is still with me. If I find myself in a stressful situation I still start to unconsciously restrict my eating, almost like a reflex, but at least now I can recognise it and take steps to prevent it becoming an issue. I still compare myself to others all the time and find myself wanting. I wore a size 10 pencil skirt and size 6 jumper today but still had moments where I felt big, clumsy and fat even though my rational mind knows I'm not. I refuse to have scales in the house and don't know what I weigh because if I did there would be the potential to obsess over it.

I don't think you're ever totally "cured" of something like that, but what I do believe 100% is that you can learn to live with it! You can learn to control the impulse to control. I don't completely blame the media and images of tiny women, often with airbrushed or otherwise enhanced bodies, but they certainly did have a negative impact on my teenage mind. They absolutely do not help and I get really angry when I read magazines which promote healthy body image while using super skinny models on their fashion pages. Hypocrites! The thing is according to the vast majority of men I've spoken to, including my husband, they don't find those skinny women sexy. Go figure.

I know this has been possibly the longest post ever but I did say this was an issue close to my heart. If sharing my experience can help someone recognise a problem with themselves or their friend or family member then it was worth if. If you are worried about someone or yourself then talk to someone, maybe a GP or a teacher or a friend. Don't assume that dieting and being funny with food is just a normal teenage or female thing (anorexia affects men too). And please please don't fall into the trap of thinking that what you see in magazines is a true image of beauty which you must emulate. It isn't.