Unbotched

1235099_10151916503800955_1325535349_nIt seems at the moment we are saturated with headlines and television shows all about the horrors of plastic surgery and aesthetics gone wrong.  Now don’t get me wrong I love a bit of reality television.  My own massive physical transformation was the result of participating in  reality/documentary television.  But, I have been thinking lately that the emphasis seems to have shifted from the “feel good”, albeit cheesy style of the ugly duckling that in the end becomes a beautiful swan to the disasters.  Because if you unpick the whole aesthetic and plastics industry you will find that for every botched boob job or filler fiasco there are thousands and thousands of very happy patients whose lives have been changed for the better following their procedures.  I do love a fairy tale! But, what this is really about is celebrating the amazing work of those who do get it right the first time. 

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Before reconstruction

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After

My own experience could not be further from the “Woman’s implant explodes on the school run” horror stories that get so much attention.    Following a huge weight loss I had a disfigured body.  Even the biggest body confidence cheerleaders could not possibly argue that the body I had following weight loss was nothing less than a train wreck.  Masses of loose skin that hung from every bone on my body, which even the most vigorous boot camp, would not be able to shift.  In addition to the unpleasant aesthetic, the skin was a health hazard that only served as a dark reminder of what decades of obesity had done to me.  It was a dark cloud that hung over the success of my weight loss.

 But, I was offered the holy grail!   My loose skin was removed under the most professional and expert conditions.  Mr Paul Baguley is nothing short of amazing!  He, like the many other professionals registered with The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS – Ya I know!) that do amazing work.  These are in fact the very people often left with the task of putting humpty dumpty back together again following a fall off a dodgy surgeons table.  But, sadly what we see most of the time are the disasters.  These are often the ones that will be discussed on internet forums for what is seen as “stupidity in the name of vanity”.  Putting aside that at some point there was probably a really good reason they wanted the surgery in the first place.  One should never be punished for the desire to improve how they look or correct something that is not quite right.

IMG_20140227_110505Yes, as a matter of fact I am trying to recapture my lost youth, what is wrong with that?  Sadly when I was in my 20’s the world was not ready for the 300 pound pin up.  Keep in mind this was a pre-Beth Ditto/Tess Holiday world.  As glamourous as I tried to be I was never going to be anyone’s pin up girl.  Unfortunately I was relegated to the fat heap with the rest of the retro rejects.  I am not in any way condoning that but, it was what it was.  As a result I never enjoyed the body freedom that I wished for.

The fact remains that plastics along with the non-surgical options such as Botox, fillers, thread lifts, etc give those that choose it a much needed boost some times.  It is not about making you look like someone else, but about looking like a better version of yourself.  I understand the politics and this essay is not about that.  I will save that for another time.  But, what I am talking about is focusing on the safe and talented professionals out there that are making people’s lives better.  I for one am grateful for every nip/tuck and syringe I have had.  It has allowed me to be the person I didn’t get to be at 18.

**There are of course situations when things do go wrong and luckily there is help out there when that happens.  The Safety in Beauty Campaign is an initiative that supports those who have had less than satisfactory results.  They use their position to educate the public about safe practice and advise those who in extremes are left disfigured by poor practice.

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DeVirgination Part 2

11266633_10153383653705955_1719984422_oWith my foray into botox still fresh in my mind I started thinking about all the interventions available to make you feel and look younger.  What is the thing that makes a particular face look younger?

Obviously, with my collagen banks becoming ever increasingly deficient I went to work in accessing all of the procedures that can make a face look more youthful.  Okay, I hear you!!  Why can’t she accept the aging process as it as and just grow old gracefully?  Just accept who you are and move on…What on earth does all this have to do with the weight loss journey?  Yes, I have heard them all.  But, I do have an answer to this, which may or may not satisfy the curiosity of those who do not understand why the aesthetics side of my journey is so important to me.

I have been fat my whole life, I spent all of the years that any normal young person would have been out having fun inside feeling sorry for myself, feeling sorry for the life I was somehow not entitled to lead because I was so big.  So, having finally reclaimed the body I always wanted is it not ok to long for the youth I was denied by trapping myself under the ultimate fat suit?

So, no I will not be growing old gracefully.  If there are interventions whether nutritional, pharmaceutical, injectable or surgical I will try them.  I will of course share the results with everyone here.  Because, I have a huge amount of time to make up for!

11281107_10153383664275955_880154184_oNow that my relationship with Botox had turned into a full-fledged love affair it was only natural that I was thinking about experimenting with other injectables.  Dr Joney De Souza being the amazing practitioner that he is had done the most spectacular job with my face.  Although the botox was in three areas, his approach ensured that my face was youthful, but also very natural.  This is what you want to achieve, a face that still has some movement. Something you can only get from someone that is a genuine expert in the field.

When I saw him again I expressed that I felt my lips had lost some of their youthful volume in recent years and I would like to have a sexier pout in general. He explained that by using a filler to enhance them I could achieve not just a more youthful look, but it would also give me that full symmetrical set of lips that would enhance my profile as well.

11281577_10153383655690955_125182373_oSo, once again I would be on the receiving side of Dr De Souza’s expert needle.  Like all of us I have seen the aftermath of those who have sadly ended up with the dreaded “trout pout”.  Anytime you discuss having a lip enhancement inevitably you get the usual comments about looking like Pete Burns.  But, this is where finding a good injector is vital.  You need to trust the person implicitly with your face.  Unfortunately, if it is done poorly and without care you will have to live with the consequences.

A good injector is not going unload massive amounts of filler into your lips.  They should inject your lips with a conservative amount of filler in the initial appointment as you will have swelling right after 11281517_10153383654450955_1100907017_oso will not be able to get an accurate view of the enhancement for a couple of days.  In the following weeks they should have you return for any tweaks you may want.  After my first appointment I was floored by the results.  It was subtle yet dramatic at the same time.  Truly finished off the amazing work he had already done using botox.  I am incredibly pleased with the results and would definitely consider myself a convert to injectable aesthetic procedures.   The results that can be achieved are amazing and if you are looking for a procedure that will give you a great result that have lower financial and physical investment injectable treatments are absolutely the way forward.  I could not be more pleased with Dr De Souza’s amazing work.

For more information about the brilliant work of Dr De Souza visit his website http://www.drjoneydesouza.com/

Shame we can’t all get along!

How-to-get-a-beach-body-Take-your-bodyIt seems body image and being proud of what we have is the theme for the week.  #PlusSizeWars? #WeAreThey? #ProteinWorld? It is an interesting concept and has me thinking about where I am and where I have been.  Am I a sell out for wanting to change my body?  If I had the confidence as a young woman that I do following the massive amount of plastic surgery I have had would my life have been different?  So many questions that I don’t know the answers to…

But, you have to give Fiona Longmuir and Tara Castello a super shout out on behalf of women everywhere for standing up to the established beauty myth that is perpetrated on us every summer around what makes us as women “beach ready”.  The Protein World ad is not unlike every other campaign that gives us that extra shot of insecurity that we didn’t ask for, nor need to further push us into buying into a product or service that will make us “perfect”.

This is where I have to declare a conflict of interest. Because as much as I would like to say “down with the beauty myth!” “We are all beautiful” and the like I have spent much of the last few years exploring every last flaw that exists on my body and researching ways to “fix” it.   Where does that leave me in this argument?  I firmly believe that nobody should be ashamed of their body.  In the summer we should all feel like we can throw on a fabulous swim suit and hit the beach at any size or shape.  But, have I ever worn a swim suit in public?  That would be a big fat NO! Pardon the pun.  It may have been a lack of body positive role models or just my being locked in my own prison of body shame.  But, I still struggle with the concept of being happy with my body.

I find myself in a difficult position with this issue.  I think there is a line that needs to be drawn here.  This ad is clearly selling products for weight loss and there is nothing wrong with that.  Obesity is an extremely complex issue and this particular campaign is not going to change that.  My feeling around the issue as someone who was on the super obese spectrum is that the messages I received around body image told me that I was doomed and would never be able to achieve anything unless I fit literally and figuratively into a particular body shape. As an adult woman with decades of life experience behind me I am just about strong enough to deal with this.  However, there are millions of young girls and women who are growing up believing they can’t achieve their full potential because they don’t fit the “cookie cutter” image that as women we have been socialised to believe makes us successful.  The profoundly sad thing is, they are probably correct.
I write this not as an anonymous pundit seeking to cast judgement on a misogynist society.  But, as a highly educated woman who continues to experience first hand the advantages and disadvantage being a member of each of these camps bring.  I wish I could say that being proud of my body was enough.  That loving yourself will make the world love you back.  But, I can’t because the very sad truth is, this world will not reward you for your brain, your ability to write a beautiful story or even having the skills to save a life.  The thing that has made me successful in my current endeavour and made people want to hear me is all of the superficiality that we find so distasteful in this argument.  Do I think this is right? Of course not.  But, have I benefited from moving closer to what society expects women to look like?  Yes.
Obesity in itself is a very serious problem and in the same way nobody should be shamed into self hatred about not having that “perfect” body, neither should we shame those amongst us that have, through very hard work managed to create a female form that fits the #Protein World mould.  I find it increasingly sad that the original message of female empowerment is being lost.  If we are ever to make progress in this area we need to stop the in fighting about it being us versus them.  I have reached a point of saturation today where I have began to feel that rather than witnessing a testament to sisterhood it is turning into a pissing contest between Barbie and Midge.  However, my message remains the same.  Body shaming in any form is not acceptable, no matter which side of the coin you landed on.

**Image Courtesy of Fiona Longmuir and Tara Castello

50 Shades of Botox

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Virgin Face

I guess you can call me a late bloomer. I like to think I am adventurous, but there was still one area yet to be explored. As I sat in the perfectly lit room on the sofa waiting I was nervous.  You see at nearly 45 years old I was still a virgin.  I know it’s shocking in this day and age.  But, I guess you could say I never found the right person. I am not the type of woman to give it up to just anyone and maybe that makes me a bit old fashioned.  But, I needed someone I could fully and completely trust. In time I found him. After lots of quiet contemplation I made the decision he was going to the one.  The perfect person to allow in. His reputation was amazing and I knew the second we met he would in fact be “the one”.

So, yes today was going to be the day!  He came into the room and asked me exactly what I was looking for, my hopes for our encounter and my expectations for the future.  We talked though what was going to happen.  As it was my first time he wanted to ensure I was ready and that I left completely satisfied.  This was it, no going back as he drew closer to me with his needle in his hand, I was about to have BOTOX® for the first time!  So, finally with the first puncture into my skin, my journey began.

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Virgin Face

Dr Joney De Souza, my chosen one talked me through the procedure.  He would be injecting Botulinum toxin into three areas around my face.  My forehead which I felt particularly gave away my age.  My Bunny lines, which no matter what cute cuddly animal the word bunny conjured up I needed him to make them disappear before they had a chance to start reproducing. Finally, he injected the area around my eyes that evokes a slightly less cuddly animal, my crowsfeet.

The needle itself is so fine you can barely feel it. The exquisite pain as I have come to refer to it of that first injection was well below that of an eyebrow threading. I was able to chat through the entire procedure.  Dr De Souza made sure I had a hand mirror to see the areas he was injecting and explain each part of the procedure and how his goal was to give me the most natural appearance.  He would use the lower amount of Botox on my forehead as he explained this area is particularly susceptible to the effects of the toxin.  It is always better to be conservative in order to prevent that stunned/frozen look we have grown so accustomed to seeing.  The procedure took no more than 20 minutes and following Dr De Souza’s instructions of no vigorous exercise or alcohol for four hours I was on my way, with the promise of a two week follow-up for tweaks and top-ups if needed.

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Devirginized

Dr De Souza said it would take about a week to see the full effect of the botox.  However, I noticed a big difference by mid-week.  Those bunnies were tamer than last week and my crowsfeet where definitely not flying as high.  By the following weekend my forehead was smoother than it had been in at least 10-15 years.  Friends noticed a marked improvement in my face.  I looked fresh and smooth without looking “overdone”.  My make-up went on better and I just felt more confident.  I think a bit of that magic encased in the little syringe did as much for my insides as it did for the outside. By two weeks “postox” the effects were amazing.  I still had room for more injections around my forehead.  Dr De Souza worked his magic a bit more.  At the end of the follow-up we discussed other areas I had concerns about.  He gave me further advice on other treatments that would enhance the work he already done.  Totally satisfied and very happy with my results, I was on my way again. Would I be seeing him again?  Well yes, 11124837_10153275603980955_2082728750_nbecause although I was no longer a botox virgin, I was yet to have my fill…

Part Two coming soon!!

Nectar of Youth?

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11079804_10153250643605955_1467114390_nI have been researching collagen drinks for several months.  But, having tried samples here and there I had yet to find one that was palatable enough to commit to drinking a full bottle much less drinking it every day for a month. But, following a chat with Agostina from Skinade at a workshop we both attended I was sold.  I took a hideous no make up selfie the day I started.  Notice the dark circles and general uneven tone in my skin.

First things first, the taste!!  It is gorgeous, not overly sweet and tastes like mango juice.  I really loved the flavour.  In the first week I noticed my skin becoming clearer.  Because it was early days I wasn’t sure if it was the drink or if I was just having a “good skin week”.  But, by week two there was no doubt that the Skinade was definitely having a positive effect on not only the tone of my skin but felt my fine lines were less noticeable.  The sciency bit about Skinade is contains 7000mg of marine collagen (7000mg), calcium ascorbate, MSM, B Complex, flax seed and l-lysine.  The ingredients are meant to increase the elasticity and the natural production of collagen in your skin.
11087010_10153250643390955_877713063_o (1)By the third week my skin had a dewy appearance and the difference in my skin was becoming noticeable to my colleagues. At one point I was even asked if I had recently had any “work” on my face.  Another unexpected and very pleasant surprise is that my hair was shinier and I noticed new hair growth.  As I have particularly thin and fine hair this was a huge bonus.  In fact even my lovely beautician commented that I had a huge amount of lash growth in the last month.

11081388_10153250643535955_1337131390_n (1)By the final week there was no doubt my skin was more even and there was a huge difference in the general tone and appearance.  My skin was firmer and glowing even without my bronzer. There was a visible change in the appearance of fine lines.

If the 30 day course has results like this I can only imagine what a 90 day course would do.   would certainly recommend this product and think it makes an excellent addition to your daily anti-ageing regime.

Un-ageing Gracefully

In the run up to my 45th birthday I thought it only right to look at some of the ways to beat back the hand of time. This is the first article in a series about women and ageing.  More accurately the lengths at which I intend to go to in order to look the way I feel.  I suppose it is all part of the bigger transformation.  As a young woman I was so overweight I didn’t have any self esteem.  I don’t think I was ever able to fully experience the luxury of “youth”.  I spent the years I should have been having fun and being carefree stuck inside wallowing in my relative fatness.

So, call it a mid-life crisis or perhaps just complete unadulterated insanity, but I want my youth back, now that I can fully enjoy it!  The fact is I don’t feel old.  I have young children, I am active and love all things trendy.  I don’t see the point of letting father time win.  So, I have made a decision that I am going to opt out of the ageing process or at least fight it kicking and screaming.

Having relatively decent skin for a pre-geriatric I have gone on a quest to find out the most advantageous ways to un-age gracefully.  Over the course of the next couple of months I will be undergoing treatments involving needles, infra-red probes, heat, electricity, more needles, exercise and just plain old good nutrition.   So, with the help of some of best Aesthetic Professionals in the world the clock stops here!

Once upon a time there was a lump of coal…

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The brief was quite extensive and very ambitious. Antonia Mariconda would be showing us how to manifest £250.000 worth of PR for our blogs and businesses. Not a small feat considering I was sitting amongst the current and future leaders in the Aesthetic and beauty industry. The atmosphere like all of Antonia’s workshops was electric, but with that special warmth that she exudes. Antonia is genuinely beautiful inside and out with an amazing energy that makes you feel like you can conquer anything! I have known Antonia for a couple of years now and have come to consider her as a great friend, mentor and Fairy Godmamma. She is the picture of glamour, but with an uncanny ability to deliver a huge amount of information without being repetitive or boring.

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The workshop started dramatically with the lights turned down and lots of glitz on the tables.  She talked about finding your niche and looking within to catch your inner star. I was privileged enough to share my own story of success at both the morning and afternoon sessions. I have attended her previous workshops; “Build a Blog” and “Twitter for Success”. I had started blogging as a way to support others and satisfy my love of writing. However, with Fairy Godmamma guidance and a lot of hard work I managed to parley my little story into one of transformation and become a serious player with a high level of social media influence. Without Antonia’s fairy dust I would be just another blogger looking over the fence wishing I was part of “the club”.

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Being your own PR is daunting and not for the meek.  But, with the steps layed out by Antonia I left feeling like I could do anything.  She is super savy and in every way someone who worked for everything she has accomplished, truly a self made woman in every respect. To say this workshop is essential is a massive understatement. The information encased within the glossy packaging was hardcore and all business. This was a jargon free way to teach PR without relying on old clichés to make a point. Most “how to’s” are nothing more than a repackaged dictionary definition of what Public Relations are. This teaching was on a much deeper level, putting the onus on us, to really think about what makes us special and how to work it. We were forced to stop and reflect on finding your own way of getting noticed and how to sustain it. This was not about being a one trick pony, but more about a robust media strategy and finding new and innovative ways to market yourself.

I left this workshop knowing that anything was possible and that once upon a time a lump of coal became a beautiful diamond that will continue to shine bright.

The Power Within

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This week has been quite a whirlwind.  The week started with an amazing two days attending Professional Beauty in London.  Met some amazing people and was gifted a gorgeous assortment of products which I will be bringing you very soon.   Actually, my blog this week was meant to be an open letter to Bradley Cooper listing all the reasons I feel he should give me his Oscars Goody Bag.  However, sometimes life gives you its own special kind of goody bag.

After a very glamourous two days at Pro Beauty, there was the inevitable return to reality.  But, just as I was preparing for “normal” something crazy happened.  I was informed by the Daily Mail that they would be featuring my plastic surgery story in the Femail section.  In the past I was asked to do a story for them.  But, due to my concerns over being ripped apart by the comment section I always hesitated.  But, now it had happened!  No shelter, no preparing myself, it was raw and although I feel confident about my body, my self-esteem is still very fragile.  Within 10 minutes of the article going live, I was inundated with media requests and offers.  I was not remotely prepared for the interest the story would generate.  I have been involved in media previously having had my surgery broadcast.  But, this had a life of its own.  Again my concern wasn’t in the sharing, but in the scrutiny that I knew would follow.

I worried that I would be channelled right back to my 10 year old self who was bullied so severely over my weight, I was home schooled in the end.  I made the decision that I would not look at any comments.  I have an amazing and invaluable resource in my Advisor, friend and all around Social Media Fairy Godmamma Antonia Mariconda who said, should I be confronted with any negativity to sail through it like a swan.  She was right as usual!  The feedback that I have received has been 99% positive.  With her guidance and fairy dust I am sailing and keeping my power.  I must say at this point I could not have made through the last few days with my sanity intact without the “The Cosmedic Coach” and her superhero powers.

But, in the grand scheme of things what does this all mean? Well, in the end I did succumb to the temptation of seeing what people were saying about me.  It turned into an extremely cathartic experience.  Not only have I been able to share my journey,   deeper than that I learned that I am no longer the vulnerable fat girl. That little girl who wet herself on purpose to get sent home from school as it was my only escape from the bullies is a woman now!  A strong empowered woman who isn’t going to allow anyone to take her power away again!

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A Big Fat Shame…

I have been thinking about fat shaming this week. Recently there have been pictures circulating around social media and the papers of fit Mum’s with the “no excuses” hashtag. They are all the same story over and over again. A mum who has worked really hard for a six pack aptly calling herself “@Superabs” being ripped a part on social media for fat shaming and demeaning other women. I thought about my initial reaction to these pictures. I am envious! I am in awe! Am I demeaned? No! Am I personally happy with my body now? Yes and No. But, I hold my hands up and admit I don’t exercise as I should. Do I have any excuse for not exercising? I have five year old twins and I work full time in addition to my million other responsibilities. But, do I really have any excuses? No, I could get up earlier. I could have a run during my lunch hour. I could even pop in a dvd and exercise along with my children.

Am I going to beat myself up because I do not have “superabs”? Of course not. My body has been to hell and back. I spent most of my life as a size 32, carried twins to term at 350 pounds, lost nearly 200 pounds in the last two years. If not for extensive surgical intervention I would look every inch “road hard and put away wet” as my lovely mum used to say. My body is what it is. I will likely never have a body even remotely close to Superabs. But, who cares? Why would I attempt to put someone down for having something I don’t. Are the naysayers not doing to her exactly what they are accusing her of doing to them?

Throughout the last week due to my commenting on Twitter about “Superabs” I was targeted for my opinions. That I was some how not being very nice to my fellow sisters by not jumping on the anti-superabs bandwagon. I will be honest, I don’t understand how these women are fat shaming. They are celebrating an amazing amount of work that it must take to have that level of fitness. Would we ever tell a woman who posted a picture of her pregnant bump, that she is being demeaning to women unable to have children? Why not? Surely the logic is the same. You are showing off something another women may not ever be able to have. How very selfish. Same goes to the hundreds of pictures that I along with millions of other mums post of our children. What about that shot of the a friends new car that will show up on my newsfeed?

So, what exactly is it about these particular woman’s pride in their bodies that is like a red rag to a bull? Day in and day out we are all inundated with selfies on social media. Glam shots, no make up, too much make up, sunburned bums, wonky eyebrows, big asses, small asses, funky feet, women in all shapes and sizes in various states of dress and undress. None of these come with the amount of venom that a tanned physically fit mother gets. It would seem we have some extremely mixed messages about our bodies and what we are “allowed” to be proud of.

So, apparently the message we want to send out really is “Celebrate” (Insert body type here) as long as your body doesn’t in anyway make me feel inadequate about mine.

Feeling Fresh!

One of the great things about having a blog is the opportunity to not only talk about the latest in beauty trends, but being able to try them for myself.  I was recently invited by the absolutely gorgeous Dr Joney DeSouza to have a look around his clinic and try some of the cutting edge treatments that are on offer.

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Dr DeSouza is one of the leading aesthetic doctors in London.  So, I jumped at the chance!  In addition to the clinic he is also at the forefront in training new practitioners to carry out the many procedures available.  I knew I was in safe hands.

I was greeted by Dr DeSouza and his clinic Manager, the lovely David Waller.  They showed me to the treatment room, where I was met by Milena Naydenov who would be doing diamond point microdermabrasion and laser treatment for my irregular pigment.  Following an extensive assessment of my current health and skin concerns she outlined my problem areas.

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uneven skin tone and sun spots

The microdermabrasion would gently remove the rough and damaged outer layer of the skin that hides the dead cells, trapped oils and dirt and any other impurities that modern life has thrown at my skin. The machine works as the very fine diamond tipped want scrapes off debris and the particles are sucked away from the skin by a small vacuum, leaving your skin fresh and glowing.

During the consultation they identified old sun damage from sun burns long forgotten.  Including a couple of spots that were pre-cancerous.  These would be dealt with by the laser treatment.  In addition to the sun damage I had broken capillaries around my nose and general discoloration around my hairline and cheeks.  She created a plan of action to use a combination of different laser strengths to get rid of the problem areas. Now, I know what you are thinking! LASERS ZAPPING AT MY SKIN!!  Must be painful right? Wrong, actually it never felt like more than a tiny pinch when the stronger laser was used for the broken capillaries.  I was amazed!  Even just following the treatment my skin was glowing.  Milena did warn me that it would take about a week for the full results to be seen.  Basically, all of the pigment would go darker and then flake away leaving a more even skin tone.  It was very interesting watching the spots go darker and then disappear.

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Day 4 spots at their darkest and starting to flake.

I have to say on day 7 my skin is so much more even toned and really smooth.  The treatments are brilliant!  Dr De Souza’s clinic is fabulous and absolutely worth the trip to Marlybone for a beauty top-up.  I certainly look forward to another visit in the very near future!!

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Day 7 broken capillaries gone!

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Day 7 after all of the flaking had finished. Sun spots nearly invisible and skin feeling amazing!

If you would like more information about the treatments I had or anything else Dr De Souza offers please check out the following link:  http://www.drjoneydesouza.com/