Monday 24 May 2010

We boobed: how one women launched the 'bra war' and obtained justice...

We interviewed the wonderfully inspiring Beckie Williams who campaigned against the M&S tax on bigger bra sizes with her Busts 4 Justice campaign  and who has just launched Miss Red, a blog dedicated to making sense of the of the way media portray women, diets and beauty products...

Q. Beckie, tell us about Busts 4 Justice and how it all came about
A. Sick of hearing myself moaning about it, I started Busts 4 Justice on Facebook to protest against Marks & Spencer's policy of charging up to £4.50 more for DD+ bras. It started as a single issue campaign, but within days Busts 4 Justice had evolved in to a unique and positive platform for women to share their experiences and problems - about sizing, availability, products, and body confidence - and help each other with issues that they'd previously felt alone with.  It's been a year since the "bra wars" now, and while M&S still operate their new one-price-fits-all-policy, the group still exists to provide that network of support and advice to all women who want it.  There's also the brand new Busts 4 Justice blog too, which will be full of bras and fitting advice, but also interesting campaigns and body image related issues.  I've always had a sneaking suspicion that if the force of our collective busts could persuade one of the country's biggest retailers in to changing a policy, there's little else we couldn't do if we put our heads together. I'm really excited about what we could do next.
Q. How about Miss Red, your new project?  What prompted you to launch the blog?
A. Miss Red is like a pressure valve: we created it to stop our heads exploding. We were so regularly ranting about adverts and articles attempting to make us feel bad about ourselves in order to sell us stuff we didn't need, that we felt that something - anything - had to be done to stop us from going feral.

Q. How do you think it will help to change the way women look at the media?
A. By poking fun and picking apart where adverts and articles are presenting confusing, misleading or negative body images, we're hoping Miss Red could encourage women to start question the information they're being given.  While things like labelled airbrushing and magazines featuring a variety of body shapes are important, it's also important to remember that it's difficult for even the most secure woman to see these glossy images day after day and always feel happy in comparison. Encouraging women to be critical about the messages they're bombarded with could be a real defence against the never-ending stream of distorted images and attempts to sell us stuff. And perhaps the more we are resistant to it, the more it will force magazines and advertising to try other more positive, less damaging strategies.
Q. What are your top tips for feeling comfortable in your skin and body confidence?
A. Firstly, never say anything about yourself that you wouldn't say about a friend.  It's impossible to feel good if you're always being hypercritical of things you would never dream of pointing out (or probably even notice) in someone else. Secondly, feed your brains. Learn more about the things that fascinate you or develop a skill you've always wanted to.  I'm a secret nerd, and every new thing I learn about the universe or the millions of processes that make up our planet is infinitely more interesting than contemplating the size of my bum.  But for an immediate boost, make sure your underwear fits perfectly.  If you're busty, a properly fitted bra is great for your shape, posture, comfort and confidence. Definitely an excellent place to start...

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