it starts with a brushstroke • Digital Illustrations

Communication has always been key to express thoughts and emotions. Around 6,500 languages are spoken around the world and each is unique to the other. Although English is considered a “universal language”, many struggle to learn the language and are left behind. However, there is one form of expression that unites everyone no matter the background, gender, religion and culture – it’s art.

Art is a wordless language that can be understood thoroughly, but differently at the same time.

Wiktoria puts her thoughts on paper or more specific, on screen – not only as Journalism student at the University of the Arts, London but also as digital illustrator.

“Be careful, she is a cosmic lover” by Wiktoria on her Instagram account @_lady_fatale

“In a way, my art works the same as my Journalism, to tell stories. I’m obsessed with that, and art is a sweet and intimate way of doing that. Especially things hard to explain in just words.”

When did you start to create illustrations?

“I have been drawing since I can remember. My mother went to an art college and university in Poland. Creativity has always been part of the family, my brother does a lot of art related stuff too. But specifically illustration, digitally, started a few years ago on my tiny ass phone screen using my finger. I realised I was pretty alright at it, given the very limiting tech and enjoyed it a lot, so last year for Christmas my boyfriend bought me a Wacom art tablet so I can pursue that. “

Creativity and mindfulness are essential to every artist. Drawing on screen offers another challenge. Technology has the advantage to use different techniques at the same time, as well as offers a great spectrum of colour palettes that reduces cost and mess caused by traditional paint.

What programmes do you use for your illustrations?

“I’ve used a series of different apps and programmes like Adobe draw, where I drew on my phone, a little on Adobe illustrator. But mostly I use clip studio paint, I love it so much and find it the most easy to use.”

On Instagram @saturated_auburn_artjuice

The internet creates a new world that connects people and Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter, etc. are more frequently used among every age group. Social media is more frequently used by artist to share their work, nonetheless, every piece of art is meaningful in its own way.

Wiktoria has two Instagram accounts @_lady_fatale and @saturated_auburn_artjuice.

What is the difference between the two social media accounts?

@saturated-auburn-artjuice is just a huge mess of everything and anything. I never took it half as seriously as I should’ve, you can see me experimenting with a lot of different styles and approaches to figure out my style. Its great in a way but I felt it lacked impact and consistency and a real PURPOSE. I just posted my art like, yes…here you go, art. Without any real drive.

I knew I wanted to focus on social political issues, especially women empowerment but didn’t know how. That’s where @lady-fatale came in.”

The artist is the only one knowing the full meaning behind the work, the viewer might grasp the concept but could also build a new notion.

What is the meaning behind your illustrations?

“The messages in my art are mainly surrounded by relatable thoughts and feelings and presenting them in witty and easy on the eye illustrations. I guess it’s about putting thoughts to paper. Conversations with friends, my current moods and news and current events inspire the next illustration. In a way, my art works the same as my Journalism, to tell stories. I’m obsessed with that, and art is a sweet and intimate way of doing that. Especially things hard to explain In just words.”

Powerful ideas are hidden behind colours and brushstrokes. Even colours have an affect – red associates with love and anger, blue for sadness and confidence and white for purity. Art can be seen by anyone, nevertheless, one person might have a deeper and more emotional connection to an illustration than the other. Who is your main audience?

My audience is anyone who cares for art really, but with a huge focus on women,

I’d love to empower, normalise and make my art relatable to women. Some are more blatantly feminist work than others but I’d love to think that all my work channels, excuse the expression ‘bad bitch vibes’

I guess that’s the goal – to make women feel good and heard and knowing their worth. I have other focuses too, but definitely women are my focus almost all the time. “

Do you have an artist/s that inspire you?

” I am inspired by too many amazing and incredible female artists! Pollynor, I have loved and followed her work before I even took up digital illustration, I’ve seen her exhibitions and fell in love with her strong messages through visual art. Florence Given is another one, honestly her work has really been the source of my own growth as a woman and I saw myself alot in her and what she does. Venus Libido and her ‘daring’ and raw illustrations of women just being women, REAL women has been a huge inspiration too. It took a while to figure out my own style, I tried to do everything, but I didn’t finally find my ‘thing’ until I came across artist MeanMachine and it clicked, and I guess all those inspirations just combined. It is still a work in progress and i’m still experimenting but that’s the way to be!”

The pandemic has a significant influence on creativity flow and mental health. Being stuck at home can both be positive as you have time to think more about your creations but also negatively as the pressure increases and emotions seem overwhelming. How did coronavirus influence your work and everyday life?

“Oh god, at the start of coronavirus I didn’t touch my tablet or a pencil for that matter for a long time. But once I got comfortable being home I learnt to take the time to do it for myself and not feel guilty for not posting much art. So I took up clay modelling, pottery, painting. Literally everything. And Lady-Fatale may have never happened without Coronavirus where I had so much time to figure out what I want to do with my creativity. I’ve usually found I draw when I’m not feeling 100% so its almost an escape…coronavirus truly did its thing in that department and I have found a lot of motivation to post my illustrations.”

What are your goals and wishes for the future and your digital illustrations?

“My goals would be to master the skill of treating my hobby as something serious. Like I always used to brush it under and undermine it but I realise it makes me happy and it is what I enjoy, so why not take it further?”

There is no doubt that incredible talent, passion and effort are reflected in Wiktoria’s artwork. Every illustrations speaks for itself and presents a meaningful story. Make sure to check out both Instagram accounts for more illustrations- @_lady_fatale and @saturated_auburn_artjuice.

Sources used: 
https://www.livescience.com/33523-color-symbolism-meanings.html 

So You Want To Be A Journalist? • The first steps into a role in the media industry

Being a journalist is not only sitting in front of a camera, computer or microphone. It is about knowing your audience, considering all sides of an argument and then to deliver your message clearly. Usually, a big team of editors, writers, technicians, vice versa work together to produce all sorts of content – however, many journalists don’t have this luxury and have to do everything on their own. Especially, young people, such as students, struggle to properly integrate into the complex world of the media industry. The account So You Want To Be A Journalist takes a huge weight off of the shoulders of those who seek help and support.

When it comes to journalism, many factors influence the creation of content, and most of them are based on your personal strengths and weaknesses. Some people are good at composing the right questions to ask to get their intentions across but have difficulties approaching strangers to ask them. Others might have problems with technical equipment and how to edit audio and video material accordingly.

University teaches the most important aspects of journalism, as well as provides the necessary knowledge. Nevertheless, every journalist has different abilities, and it is crucial to get experience outside of the university.

So You Want To Be A Journalist offers a variety of tips and tricks for everyone in the media industry.

“I wanted to provide people looking into media careers with information about getting into the industry. The pandemic has made it harder to find jobs, and I wanted to help people with job applications in whichever way I could. So I thought I’d provide my own advice and what I’ve found works, as well as advice from industry professionals – most of them have also applied for jobs in the last couple of years.”

Where and how can I find a mentor?

Where can I find other journalism resources?

How do I write a cover letter?

What is a green screen and how can I use it from home?

You can find all these questions, interviews with professionals from the media industry and tips about pitching, freelancing, etc. on Chandni’s Instagram account @soyouwanttobeajournalist.

The account is not only beneficial for the audience but gives a great experience to the creator as well.

“I’ve been able to speak at a couple of (virtual) events which has been so fun! It’s also a great way to continue developing my video and picture editing skills.”

Instagram account @soyouwanttobeajournalist

To find a job in the media industry can be very difficult for young journalists, as most companies look for already experienced people. Chandni focusses on this issue and presents opportunities on her account.

“My main goal is to help as many people as I can get the media jobs they want, so I’d love to grow the account however I can and continue providing helpful advice and resources!”

So You Want To Be A Journalist emerged in September 2020. Since then, Chandni published 96 useful posts on the Instagram account.

“I post once every Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, and twice on Wednesdays and Fridays, and each post usually takes a few minutes to write copy and upload. But if it’s a day when I’m filming/ creating content, it’ll usually be between 3 and 4 hours for filming, editing, and creating images.”

This great dedication to help other people requires time management, creativity and determination.

“I tend to have a list of ideas on the go, and when I’ve got a free day, I’ll make as much as I can. With the advice-led videos, I tend not to script them (even though I probably should), and I’ll try and film three or four at once, and edit those all straight afterwards. For the video interviews, I’ll try to edit them within a few days – usually not much needs cutting out, it’s more a case of formatting it for IGTV. I’ll then send the finished draft to the interviewee and ask if they’d like me to make any changes. If it’s a written Q&A, I just send over the questions and format their answers into Instagram posts. With other text/ picture content, I can usually do these pretty quickly, it’s just a case of researching and compiling information.”

Regularly creating and publishing content on your own can often be very challenging, although it gives the creator freedom and originality.

What is your experience with working alone?

“As I run the account by myself alongside a full-time job, I think the biggest struggle is finding the time to create content. I try to put aside one or two Saturdays a month to create loads of content in bulk which I can then post throughout the next few weeks.”

Chandni adds: “Having complete creative control is great. There’s no one policing what I post or questioning my decisions, I can pretty much post whatever I want!”

The pandemic has influenced the working life of many people. Do you have any recommendations for people in the industry to stay focussed during the pandemic?

“It might sound counterproductive, but make sure you take breaks when you need them. It can feel so easy to just sit at a desk for hours with no break, but you’ll just end up tired or burnt out. I always find that after I’ve stepped back for a little bit, gone for a quick walk or even made a cup of tea, I feel a lot more ready to work.”

What has been your proudest achievement so far?

“It sounds so cheesy, but it makes me so proud when someone messages me saying they’ve got a job because of advice I’ve given or something I posted!”

Chandni and her account @soyouwanttobeajournalist provide the answers to all the worries that young journalists have. The incredible effort she puts into her content acts as an inspiration and motivation for her audience, especially during these difficult times.

A huge thank you to Chandni for this interview! Make sure to follow her on social media to support her amazing work.

when plants can’t keep it in their pants • Oral Allergy Syndrome

TW: mental health

DISCLAIMER I’m not a professional health adviser, thus the posts should not be used for a diagnosis. Every person that has been interviewed for this project shares their own personal stories. If you have any worries concerning your own health, you should consult with a doctor

Puffy and itchy eyes, a running nose and sneezing – many people are affected by pollen, especially, as the weather gets warmer and dryer. However, sometimes the body confuses a protein that is found in food with a pollen protein, causing an allergic reaction. This condition is known as Oral Allergy Syndrome – this is Annie’s bitterpill.

Oral Allergy Syndrome is known to develop on top of an environmental allergy, such as hay fever.

“I remember being told nearly half of those that have experienced hay fever will have this syndrome, but however, for most, it will never fully develop or only appear with one or two foods.”

When did you get the diagnosis?

“I don’t remember exactly at what age I developed it but I remember when I was around 12, I ate a banana, and it felt as if something was stuck in my throat and I remember already experiencing that before but ignoring it as I was young and didn’t know better. I remember telling my mum and she just telling me to wash it down with water. From then on, I remember reacting to more and more foods like this, but when bringing it up to my mum, I was told I was just being picky and imagining it. My mum didn’t believe me until one time I think I ate strawberries and it got so bad I was wheezing. Then she took me to the doctors about it, and they just said I likely have this reaction and there is nothing I could do about it. I was told it was because of my hay fever, and the best thing I could do was to avoid the food.”

Mostly raw fruits, vegetables, nuts and soya cause the body to response this way. The structure of their proteins is very similar to the ones of pollen. When the raw food comes into contact with the mouth, an allergic reaction occurs – also known as s cross-reactivity.

“However, once cooked or if bought canned, the food is usually then safe to eat. In my personal experience, I react to every possible food there is to react.”

When the food is cooked, the proteins start to ‘denature’ due to the heat, meaning that their bonds break apart. This process makes it safer to eat for people with oral allergy syndrome.

“Accidental reactions happen so often that at this point, I have stopped trying new foods as I really hate the feeling I get.”

The symptoms vary depending on the type of allergy. Annie is allergic to alder pollen, birch pollen, grass pollen, mugwort pollen and ragweed pollen. Due to these allergies, she has to be careful with the following foods:

Annie provided this summary.

“It always feels as if there is something stuck at the back of your throat and that no matter how much water I drink, it doesn’t go away.”

How does it influence your everyday life?

“It influences me a lot, and it’s personally awful for me. I cannot just go to any restaurant and eat anything I want. I often can’t eat “healthy” foods like salads and starters and always seem as unhealthy or picky like a child. I’m always limited to the foods I can eat at a restaurant and when I go there, and they ask if I have any allergies I have learned to keep my mouth shut and say no because otherwise they will not serve me anything as they take the job very seriously which is good for those with a serious food allergy, but for me, it just stops me from eating anything. Majority of the staff don’t know anything about this allergy, so they are lost.  I have to take an antihistamine every day as well as always carry a stronger medicine like Benedryl with me at all times in case of a reaction.”

It is difficult to avoid foods that could trigger this kind of allergic reaction. Especially with already prepared food, it is challenging to distinguish if the ingredients could affect your body or not.

“I guess when I was growing up, I would always avoid fruit and veg and therefore seemed as if I was picky and unhealthy. I often would eat foods I knew caused an allergic reaction just because I wanted to fit in, and often that was the only food available for me.”

As the freedom of an essential process like eating is limited, constant worry and the strict diet takes a toll on mental wellbeing.

“According to my allergist later in life, she thinks I most likely was also experiencing panic attacks which would explain the tight pain chests I would feel when I ate the food.”

Although Oral Allergy Syndrome is normally not life-threatening, people with this condition have to change their diet drastically to avoid the uncomfortable consequences.

A cure for this condition has not been found yet. Like people suffering from environmental allergies, oral allergy syndrome requires consistency and monitoring.

“The only solution is to avoid the foods and that is extremely hard when I am allergic to so many. I did see a dietitian who suggested me ways I could still maintain a healthy diet but honestly it is so hard to follow that I definitely need to see someone again soon.”

Special thanks to Annie for sharing her story!

Haus Dahlia • Sustainable Fashion

Fashion is a form of expressing ourselves. Our style is represented in all sorts of clothing, accessories, furniture and more. However, many fashion brands do not consider the importance of sustainability and fair trade as profit is their primary focus. This is not the case for Haus Dahlia – a fashion brand lead by students of the University of the Arts, London. Their handmade fashion is not only sustainable but also creative, inclusive and made for every body type.

How did you come up with the name Haus Dahlia?

“Haus Dahlia was born through two things. Haus refers to the drag term, which defines a group of people that are like family, which we use to encourage cooperation between practitioners. The spelling is not symbolic but is simply aesthetic. Dahlia is after the dahlia flower itself being a symbol of change, creation and inner strength which goes hand in hand with our tagline ‘inclusive, creative, sustainable’

What makes Haus Dahlia stand out from other brands?

“Dahlia, at its core, is a slow fashion sustainable brand. We are very transparent with pricing, materials, content creation and use our following to help us design more intelligently.

We have our core values at heart when designing our packaging, clothing and conceptually as almost every item we use is either recycled itself or recyclable. 

Our romantic designs also give a nod to classic period pieces, from Victorian to the 1970s, but with our own unique twist. One final way in which we stand out is that our service is purely made to measure for better inclusivity of all bodies, which was a main reason for starting this brand!”

The designs are based around nature – botany and wildlife . The simplicity of the prints creates a unique style that can be worn by anybody.

Available at https://hausdahlia.com

Sustainability continues to be a pressing issue in the fashion industry. But what does sustainability mean? It indicates that the materials used, as well as the production and distribution of clothing, are environmentally friendly.

For example, the material polyester, which is typically found in clothing and other products, is known to be unsustainable. The industry uses this fibre mainly because it is cheap, strong and prevents wrinkling. Nevertheless, polyester is petroleum-based, and even the production is not sustainable, as Forbes reports:

“Nearly 70 million barrels of oil are used each year to make the world’s polyester fiber, which is now the most commonly used fiber in our clothing. But it takes more than 200 years to decompose”

SOURCE: CONCA, J. (2015), MAKING CLIMATE CHANGE FASHIONABLE – THE GARMENT INDUSTRY TAKES ON GLOBAL WARMING. [ONLINE]. FORBES. (LINK BELOW)

What materials do use for Haus Dahlia and where are they from? 

“We mainly use an organic cotton from the Organic Textile Company as it is comfy, high quality and sustainably sourced. We also use bamboo silk for similar purposes, and during the summer we used bamboo jersey which is super soft and really beneficial for the skin! We make sure before buying fabrics that they are sustainable and ethically sourced, we try and buy locally within the UK to reduce carbon footprint, and we buy our trimmings, so zips and buttons from small local sewing haberdashery, to make sure we are giving back to the small business community. “

The industry is incredibly competitive. Time management and a flow of exclusive ideas are essential. However, being a student makes this more difficult as the work for the university degree takes the upper hand.

“It sometimes does prove difficult with deadlines and creative blocks or sometimes just the unforeseen circumstances that get thrown our way. We try our best to work as a team which we have found is the most important part of being in a partnership.

What one of us can’t do the other does. This does not mean however we work seamlessly, all businesses have different opinions sometimes, but the important thing is to always support one another.

I think we have a good dynamic and have evolved quite quickly given we have very little experience.”

Being part of the industry gains a lot of experience and knowledge. How does Haus Dahlia benefit your career and personal life?

Emma says: “Haus Dahlia really benefits my skills, since starting the brand I have seen the biggest improvement in my sewing and pattern cutting skills. I have also learned skills I wouldn’t have learnt at university, and I am using fabrics I had never heard of! And in personal life, I do feel like Dahlia is my creative diary, whenever I have a design idea or get inspired I will try and incorporate it rather than ignore it and push it to one side because I am too busy with uni! So it’s definitely taught me to hone my personal creativity.

Ben: “For me, it will allow me to develop my printing skills and help me develop my ability in designing prints. Dahlia helps me to keep creative and see where I can improve and move forward with my work. “

The pandemic creates another pressuring factor. Many have to fight their own personal battles during isolation. Even creativity is tested to its limits. However, Haus Dahlia was born during the lockdown. What benefits and problems have you encountered during coronavirus?

“I think we should start by saying lockdown has not been an easy adaptation for anyone, we have found that daily calls to check on things and plan are very useful. We both had a hard adjustment period where neither of us had seen each other for a while, so making and creating fell solely on Emma, which was by no means easy. Now we are both back in London things are slightly easier because we can travel and create together in a studio. We are looking at a bright future and are learning something new every day.”

Emma adds: “Yeah having daily calls, rather than texting all the time was definitely better, but it was still difficult because we couldn’t see each others work in 3D, so it was hard to critique or understand because it wasn’t physically with us.”

The Haus Dahlia online shop features amazing t-shirts and accessories, like these berets:

“Who loves a good blackberry? We do” Blackberry Thief Beret – £16
“Now this beret is peachy keen!” Peachy Beret – £16
“When life gives us lemons we turn them into berets!” Sour Lemon Beret – £16

Great things are planned for Haus Dahlia. The fashion brand recently announced a new project called “Rebirth” The new project focuses on “God’s versus nature, sustainability and tradition”. How will this concept be displayed in the products?

“We have taken some design inspiration from natural elements such as botany and combined it with traditional and often religious imagery. Our designs themselves often are inspired by period pieces themselves. Sustainability is one of our key pillars which is shown through the sustainable materials we use all throughout the process of creation. The concept will be mostly visible through our use of print and design silhouette, but we want the concept to be more of a feeling, a stand point of where you are in the world.

We want people to use our clothes to start conversations and educate others about the state of our environment and ponder, well if we believed that Poseidon still ruled the sea would we still litter it with plastic?”

“We really want people to feel at home with themselves, confident in their skin. We want them to live in their own fantasy worlds, as we all have a happy place we escape to!” 

The project will be launched on February 14th, 2021 – Valentine’s Day. Does this holiday play a unique role in “Rebirth”?

It has romanticism connections through the style of the designs, and we may be working on printing a similar concept. The choice of day was also because we wanted to make something for a reason and what better reason than to spoil the one you love.

Emma : “Yes, and also what better day to release a Greek god inspired collection than on Cupids special day.”

What are you goals and wishes for the future?

“To be able to make made to measure a normality as a solution to the lack of body diversity in the industry today. Also bringing it into the High-street setting without making it off putting.”

Haus Dahlia sets a remarkable example for the new era of fashion. They not only offer amazing designs but also take a significant weight off the shoulders of our environment.

If you would like to read more about Haus Dahlia, make sure to visit their online shop on https://hausdahlia.com and check out their products. You can also find them on social media! 
• Instagram: @hausdahlia_london

A big thank you to Emma & Ben for talking about their brand. 
Links used: 
• https://www.forbes.com/sites/jamesconca/2015/12/03/making-climate-change-fashionable-the-garment-industry-takes-on-global-warming/?sh=2c348e979e41#7b4156ed778a
•  https://www.kleiderly.com/our-blog/fabric-series-all-about-polyester 

let’s talk about endometriosis

TW: mention of menstruation, infertility, pain needle

DISCLAIMER I’m not a professional health adviser, thus the posts should not be used for a diagnosis. Every person that has been interviewed for this project shares their own personal stories. If you have any worries concerning your own health, you should consult with a doctor

Rania suffers from endometriosis, a painful disorder affecting female reproductive health. In the following interview, she talks about her life with this bitterpill.

” 1 in 10 women are said to be affected by endometriosis, and I wouldn’t be surprised if more women in my family have it, but were socialised to undermine their own pain.”

Pain is your body’s response, signalling that there is a problem. It is one of the most uncomfortable feelings a living being can experience, and it is even more frustrating if the cause is not found.

Menstruation is a significant part of a woman’s life. It indicates fertility and growth. Although it might cause cramps, an imbalance of hormones and overall discomfort, it should not be associated with immense pain.

“I first got my period when I was nine years old and started noticing problems in terms of abnormal amounts of pain and irregularities when I was 11 years old. Unfortunately, endometriosis is often misdiagnosed or largely dismissed by healthcare professionals and can only formally be diagnosed through surgery. So seven years later, when I was eighteen years old, I had a diagnostic laparoscopy.”

Endometriosis affects the female reproductive system – more specifically the “endometrium” which is the tissue lining the uterus. It is typically shed during the menstrual cycle.

The endometrium of people suffering from the disorder grows outside of the uterus, so during menstruation, the tissue layer is unable to leave the body.

A laparoscope is used during the diagnostic laparoscopy. Organs in the abdomen are examined using this instrument.

“The swelling and blockage of the endometriosis not only leads to cramping and discomfort during and outside of the menstrual cycle. It can also cause painful sex, intestinal issues, frequent bleeding, infertility, and cancer.”, says Rania.

It took many years for Rania to get the diagnosis. What goes through the mind now that the reason for the pain is determined?

Honestly, it was both a relief and extremely disorienting to receive a diagnosis. Part of me was glad I finally had a name for all the pain that I was experiencing, but I had a lot of information dumped on me all at once, and it was overwhelming. I also learned about how hard it is to treat endometriosis, and it scared me to learn about my increased risks of infertility and cancer. After all of that settled, I realised I was kind of angry it took this long for me to be diagnosed.

Women with endometriosis do not only face problems during their period. Consequences resulting from the disorder affect their everyday life fundamentally.

“It takes a toll on me every day. It’s rare that I wake up not in pain, and it affects what I eat, how often I can exercise, and even what kind of menstrual products I can use. It has also made vaginal penetration extremely painful for me.”

What kind of treatments do you go through to help you control endometriosis?

“There are new medications to treat endo, but most treatments are not covered by standard insurance. I have tried conventional medication and birth control, but the minor pain relief wasn’t worth the cost and side effects. To treat it, now I use CBD products, lidocaine, acupuncture, pelvic floor therapy, and massages. I have pain medication for severe flare-ups, but I try to avoid taking too much because it can cause a dependence.

Everything I do to treat my endometriosis only minimises my pain to an extent, I still deal with my pain on a daily basis despite the various treatments.”

Rania uses a variety treatments, such as acupuncture.

“The best way I deal with my endo is to just take it one day at a time. I also lean on my support system, like my family and friends when I’m going through hard times. That’s all that I can do for now.”

Endometriosis changes your plans for the future. What are your main concerns and hopes thinking about the next years?

“My greatest fears for the future are that I might not be able to have children, and I may have to live with this pain forever. I try not to think about those things too much.

I stay up to date on any new treatments and medications for chronic pain and endo. I hope that there will be a cure for it in my lifetime. For now, laparoscopies are an option for me to remove endometrium and scar tissue, but having this procedure too many times is both costly and dangerous for your reproductive system.”

“Discussing women’s reproductive health is still pretty taboo in current society, and my pain often gets dismissed or minimized as “regular period pain” which is pretty offensive to me.”

Endometriosis is a common disorder. Women from around the world unknowingly suffer from the condition. It is hiding behind the fact that many experience cramps during their period, therefore raising awareness is essential to understand the body’s cry for help.

I used the following link to read about endometriosis: https://www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/endometriosis 
However, most of the information was gathered during the interview with Rania. 

A special thank you to Rania for taking her time to share her story.

The issue on the table • Eating Disroder

TW: eating disorder (anorexia), depression, mental health

DISCLAIMER I’m not a professional health adviser, thus the posts should not be used for a diagnosis. Every person that has been interviewed for this project shares their own personal stories. If you have any worries concerning your own health, you should consult with a doctor

The issue is quite literally on the table. Eating disorders are severe and should not be a topic of debate. This is the story about Mara’s bitterpill.

Drawing by Mara (@mara_ic2002) “You would not look your 5 year old self in the eyes and tell her the things you yourself now, would you?”

“Eating disorders are not so much about how one looks. They are about the spirals one goes through every time they catch a glimpse of themselves in the mirror and can’t hold back tears because they cannot see how they can ever look good enough.”

Growing up in a world of expectations has always pressured young people’s minds—every Barbie or princess movie – toy commercial – a trend on social media. The perfect body image sticks and shapes our society.

Beauty standards seem to be set, although beauty hasn’t been defined. Body acceptance decreases and the individual value plays a less critical role. Many have experienced this first hand, just like Mara.

“I was 13, I was in Paris with my mother, and I looked in
the mirror one morning, and I thought to myself: ‘Hmm I could lose a bit of the fat that I have on my legs’. Before that, I was obsessed with googling the height and weight of girls I saw on Disney channel. I was both shorter and heavier than them. As soon as I got home, I started to starve myself and to try hundreds of different diets.”

There are several types of eating disorders – the most commonly known are anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorder. Life of the people affected revolves around constant worries about what and how much they eat. It also has a significant impact on the emotional state.

“I still know how many calories are in a slice of bread. Or in an apple. Or in exactly 45 grams of porridge. Or in half a biscuit. I starved myself for a week to the point where I texted my best friend that I am close to passing out. She told me to eat which I did.

Weight measuring, avoiding interaction with other people, dizziness, uncontrollable cravings – are just a few of many consequences.

Crying when you receive a slice of toast with a bit of cheese instead of just plain toast- so having to eat 20 calories more- is not just a phase.”

How has your everyday life changed from that point onwards?

“I remember getting to school early and taking photos of my legs, searching for a thigh gap to appear somewhere- and to have proof that my legs seem bigger at night not because I suddenly got fat, just because the body gets bloated. I also remember not getting my period for two months which to me was very scary, given that I had quite regular periods. I was always hungry, always thinking about what I want to eat next.”

The imagination of a child’s life full of love, success and happiness often overshadows reality and it is harder for parents to notice if something is wrong.

” ‘But you always eat when you are eating with us’- would my family say, because, indeed, those were what I considered ‘cheat days’. Only I would hate myself with such burning passion that once I was done eating, I would get home and run on the spot for an hour to “make up” for the food. I tried to go vegan to get rid of all the calorie dense foods I was eating. I would binge-watch “what I eat in a day to lose weight” videos; I would watch anorexia recovery videos, I would watch raw vegan recipe videos. Anything that would ensure I would end up as thin as the girls on my phone. The worst part is that I was being encouraged because come on, who does not want to look like a supermodel?”

Photoshop, as well as face – and body -enhancing filters on social media act as motivation to continue to follow the socially constructed standards. The most challenging part is to find a way to accept yourself. It is easier said than done, especially since media continues to flood our minds with images of people that appear to look perfect.

How have you found a way to moved forward?

“Gaining weight was my biggest fear. And it happened. And frankly, nobody ever seemed put off by it. And if they did well… they can f*ck off. I did put on weight. And it seemed like it would not stop, and I was still so hungry all the time. And it is important to keep going because I can promise you that one day you will wake up and you will no longer feel the need to demolish the fridge. Because your body will finally feel safe. But it won’t happen in a week, a month or even a year. The longer you have hurt it for, the longer it will need time to recover. And so do you.”

2020 has changed our way of thinking dramatically. More people raise awareness about this issue and support body positivity on social media. Nowadays, uniqueness is more recognised and praised. However…

“I believe that while this statement starts to appear more and more online and offline, it has not been internalised. I find myself being rude to my body a lot still, and even though I do believe that everyone should be at least accepting of the exact way they look, I still have a hard time finding that acceptance for myself. And I think most of us do. And that does not make me or you or anyone else a “fraud”. We have heard for so long that we are not good enough which is much easier to believe than to believe this new trend of ‘actually, you are good enough’.

And hopefully sooner rather than later, with our kids, this will be more than a trend. It will be the reality.”

Introduction – “bitterpill”

Created with PicsArt.

Everyone has to swallow a bitter pill at some point in life. It might not be visible to others and might taste more bitter, but accepting and embracing this distasteful situation is essential for growth.

“Growth is the only evidence of life.”

JOHN HENRY NEWMAN

The concept of this project is to raise awareness about all sorts of health-related “bitterpills” that people encountered and continue to live with.

THANK YOU! 
 ... to everyone that took part in this project and shared their stories. 

Feel free to share your opinions on the project at any time! I'm thankful for every feedback. 

DISCLAIMER I’m not a professional health adviser, thus the posts should not be used for a diagnosis. Every person that has been interviewed for this project shares their own personal stories. If you have any worries concerning your own health, you should consult with a doctor