A Story of Body Acceptance

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by Bronwyn O’Neill

Since I was around twelve or thirteen, I realised my body would never fit the stick figure body type. It wasn’t something I was over excited about. In my eyes, tall, skinny girls were the most beautiful things ever. However being five foot three, I knew I would never reach the tall part of my dream girl.

I struggled with being curvy when every “pretty” girl I knew was so tiny. To me, that body standard was the norm. And that was the only figure that meant anything. They were the beautiful ones and I would never reach that.

One of the prettiest girls I knew was a tiny size six, with an A-cup bra size. By the time I was thirteen I was wearing a D-cup bra. I used to get so nervous before going to get a bra fitting. What if I had gone up in size? The usual answer was yes.

I would get so upset when the lady who measured me told me my new size. Afterwards, I would have to trawl through ugly, beige bras. Every time I went shopping in my early teens, I would look at the gorgeous bras that were aimed towards A and B cups. Envy would make my blood boil. Why couldn’t they make them three or four sizes bigger?

The larger bra size did not cater towards young girls. They were either too maternal or too sexy. Neither of which I felt at the age of thirteen. So, I donned my beige bra and glared enviously at the pretty floral bras.

Having a fuller bust made it difficult to do PE. Sports bras barely fit over my chest, so I tended to get moody around the time of exercise. For five out of the six years of my secondary school life, my PE teacher was male. So, they would never understand my pain at holding my boobs while jogging the length of the gym.

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Another thing that made me uncomfortable about having a fuller figure was the leering looks. At the age of fifteen I ventured into the big city of Dublin for my Transition Year work experience. I was wearing a blouse or something professional for my first day of “work”. I innocently asked the gruff bus driver for a child’s ticket into the city centre. His gaze dropped from my face to my breasts and asked me what age I was.

My whole face drained of colour and I had never been so nervous whilst I replied with a dry mouth my age. He shrugged and gave me my ticket. But I was still shaken until I arrived at the building where I was to work for five days. Yes, I was fifteen and yes I had boobs and hips. My top wasn’t inappropriate, a problem I had with most tops. It was not low cut but still my boobs were brought into question.

Of course, I thought that if I was smaller this would never happen. If I fitted that beautiful model body, I would never get unwanted attention like that. Only boys my own age would think I was stunning. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen.

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Another part of having a “curvy” body type, are wide hips. These are still a challenge whilst trying to squeeze into seats in lecture halls. However, the first time I really noticed this was on a swing. Yes, I was on a swing. I was visiting my little cousins and I was playing outside with them. I tried to fit into the swing seat, a seat I had fitted comfortably into only a few months prior. My hips were squeezed into the now narrow seat.

So, my hips had widened and how I had to face it. In school, trying to squeeze into narrow desks was a struggle. At times I would hit tables with my hips or my ass and try to play it off. I could fake joke about it, except I didn’t find it funny. Still everyone was so tiny and skinny, no boobs, no hips. It was still the perfect body to me.

It wasn’t until around a year ago when I finally got comfortable with my body. Unfortunately, it took me this long because in my opinion popular culture doesn’t promote curvy women. In any tv show or film, the main character is a stunning stick figure girl. Any curvy women, like Nicki Minaj or Kim Kardashian, are mostly ridiculed for their body type. Maybe because they are sexualised in the public eye. I don’t know. However, I felt this negative view from a young age.

Getting into a positive mind set about my body was difficult. However I now am more comfortable with my curves. Of course, I still think that the skinny, model figure is the most beautiful body type. Although, now I am happy that I don’t fit into that body type. My curves make me who I am, they make me unique.

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Now we need to make the curvy, fuller sized girl a positive thing. Not a sexualised body type, especially for young girls. And to end on a cheesy note, to  all the young girls out there struggling with their body image, whether it be you feel too skinny or too heavy, you are still beautiful and you need to love yourself no matter what.

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The Women Who Won 2015

by Rebecca Lumley

Though the Oscars may be over, the red carpets haven’t been rolled up and stored just yet. While the traditional awards ceremonies we see every year (Golden Globes, Emmys, Oscars) focus on a very specific section of society and a focused range of talents, magazine awards have somewhat broader horizons. Yesterday saw the release of Grazia’s “Most Inspirational Women 2015” and the announcement of the Elle Style Award winners. These awards seek to celebrate the talents and efforts of women from a range of careers in the public view, such as music, fashion, entertainment, sport and even political activism. Here are some of the women that won at life during 2014 and continue to do so into ’15.

Grazia; Most Influential Women 2015

Grazia chose a variety of women for their list with one central idea; they wanted to celebrate women who “inspire, empower and game change” in society. Now those are traits worthy of an award.

Most influential woman in FASHION- Victoria Beckham

Once known as Posh spice and now a phenomenally successful fashion designer, Victoria is no typical WAG and certainly isn’t afraid of hard work. Far from slapping her name onto a clothing line she had nothing to do with, Victoria is a hands on designer who is the true creative influence behind the designs her label churns out. She originally launched her brand in 2008 and was named “Brand of the Year” in the UK in 2011.

Victoria is a great example of someone who could have done a lot less. She could have rested on her former pop career and famous husband but she chose to pursue her passions and work incredibly hard to prove herself in one of the most critical industries there is.

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Most influential woman in ENTERTAINMENT- Emma Watson

The past year has been huge for Emma Watson. The former witch, Brown graduate and now UN Goodwill ambassador has been making great strides for women with her efforts to highlight the importance of feminism. The HeForShe gender equality campaign went viral after her eloquent UN speech, earning the actress serious respect from people everywhere. In an era marked by celebrity derailment, Watson has emerged as an intelligent, insightful and influential young woman. (Ps. I wish the rumours about her and Prince Harry were true, she would be the coolest princess ever).

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Most influential woman in CULTURE- Lena Dunham

You may know Lena Dunham as the sassy, self involved protagonist of the tv show “Girls” or as the author of the book “Not That Kind of Girl”. If you don’t know her at all, you should get to know her because she’s really cool. At just 28 she can list director, producer, actor, screenwriter and author on her CV and it’s undeniable that her kooky sense of humour, free spirited disregard of social norms and feminist ideals have made an impact on pop culture. In the pilot episode of Girls, her character, Hannah, called herself “the voice of a generation”, which, coincidentally, is exactly what Dunham has become.

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Most influential woman in POLITICS: Malala Yousafzai

This probably wasn’t the biggest award Malala’s won recently (she was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize after all). The young woman’s story is famous around the globe and her poise, bravery and dedication to change is an inspiration to people everywhere. In her own words, “I speak not for myself, but for those without a voice”.

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Having seen the highlights from the Grazia awards, we look briefly at the worthy winners at the Elle Style Awards.

Elle Style Awards

Woman of the Year- Taylor Swift

Also known as “T-Swift”, “T-Swizzle” or “T-dog” (these are actually just what I call her). Terrible nicknames aside, it’s been a great year for the superstar, what with the successful launch of her pop career and brand new album, 1989. Swift has come a long way from her curly haired country music days and is only growing in chart popularity. Her kindness and humour have endeared her  to a harsh public and her ability to “stay grounded” (excuse the cliché) has set her apart from scores of other pop stars. My opinion: T-swift probably won’t be going out off style for the foreseeable future.

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Other winners: 

Model of the Year: Rosie Huntington Whitely

Breakthrough Actress: Cara Delevigne

Rising Star: Rebel Wilson

So now you have it, the top women who won at life this year. Let’s let the diligence, dedication and creativity they encompass inspire us in our own quests for self-improvement or self-fulfillment in 2015.

Black Girl Problems

by Zainab Boladale

Foundation

Every time I visit the foundation aisle in a pharmacy or a beauty shop my shade of brown seems to be non-existent. I hope this isn’t a problem in countries that have a large black population e.g. the U.K and the United States.

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In many cases it is just that these retailers only order a small amount of darker foundation and they choose not to restock them once they are gone. This annoys me greatly as I always find myself wishing that the foundation shades available do not end at Caramel. Do they really expect me to pull off caramel foundation when I clearly need something that is three shades darker? I really hope not.

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Hair

When people ask me how long it takes me to get my braids done and I tell them it takes nine hours, it’s always the look of shock on their faces that amuses me. Their shock is always followed by “I could never sit that long”. In my head I am thinking “yeah, but if you counted how long it takes you to get your hair a certain way, you’ve probably collectively spent more than nine hours each week.

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Also, never spontaneously decide to touch a black girl’s hair. I mean, it’s just rude. Whether it’s her natural hair, braids, dreadlocks or a weave do not randomly decide to feel it. We spend a lot of money and time trying to get our hair a certain way and we will more than likely internally curse you for touching it. Even if you’re just curious.

Nude clothes

The fact that when I find myself in any clothing department there is only ever one shade of Nude available says a lot about our society. I mean, whose nude are we talking about here? It’s clearly not mine. If I want to buy nude tights or any other nude clothing items I should be able to find them easily and they ideally should be as close to my colour as possible.

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Token Black Friend

Just because I may be your only black friend does not mean I am the official encyclopedia for all things black. I do not speak or represent every black voice. Unless it’s a genuine logical question please keep your sometimes condescending questions and slightly racist comments and save them for this thing called the internet.

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College: Expectations vs Reality

by Zainab Boladale and Hayley Halpin

Your first year in college; it’s something you’ve probably been thinking about for years and a dream that kept you going through the torturous final months of the Leaving Cert. You’ve watched 22 Jump Street, you just KNOW it’s all parties, fun and vodka-fueled shenanigans…

When you get to college, however, you realize there’s a little more to it than that…

(1)Expectations: On the first day of college you think you will form close bonds with all the like-minded people in your course.

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Reality: Everyone is too nervous to talk to each other. Being the first one to start a conversation is just too awkward.

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(2)Expectations: Now that you’re a college student you must live the college lifestyle that involves going out every single night with all your cool new friends.

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Reality: You’ll never be able to go out because you’re poor and so are all your cool new friends!

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(3)Expectations: You’re convinced that you will be able to attend all lectures even on days you’re hungover from drinking Tesco value vodka!

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Reality: Lets face it you’re too hungover for college and you convince yourself you’ll make up for it by doing extra readings.

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(4)Expectations: Your course will be fun, easy and you’ll learn lots of cool and interesting things.

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Reality: You feel like an idiot because you understand nothing. You feel confused, stupid and overwhelmed.

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(5)Expectations: You think that you’ll be able to eat junk food but also maintain a healthy diet.

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Reality:You eat anything and everything that crosses your path and find that you are gaining weight in all the wrong places.

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(5)Expectations: Being interested in your course means you’ll be really good at it.

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Reality: Everyone seems to already have a genius degree in your course and you’re light years behind.

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6)Expectations: You will be determined to be on time with all your assignment and be up to date with all your readings.

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Reality: After the first assignment and the first reading it all goes downhill.

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10 Better Female Role Models Than Ana Steele

By Bronwyn O’Neill

After subjecting myself to a torturous viewing of Fifty Shades of Bleh, I felt an overwhelming surge of anger. Not at the terrible plot, chemistry or “romance”, I was outraged at the fact that Anastasia Steele is the most unappealing, anti-feminist character I have come across. So how about we count down the top ten strong females on the big and small screen. I think this would make up for the appalling female characters in that film.

  1. Black Widow – The Avengers

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First up we have secret spy and all around badass lady, Natasha Romanoff. Under the alias of Black Widow, she’s pretty awesome. Showing us she can fight with the big boys and even be better.  She’s just all around great.

  1. Amy Elliott-Dunne – Gone Girl

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“Why is Amy Elliott-Dunne on this list,” you cry incredulously at me as you stare slack jawed at your computer screen. Simple. If you have read/seen Gone Girl you know how crazy this woman is. Do you think she would listen to Christian Grey for two minutes? Not a chance. She’s not going to be anyone’s “cool girl”. She may be crazy, but she does stand up for herself.

  1. Amy Pond – Doctor Who

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I have heard a lot of criticism of Amy Pond over the years. Possibly because she wears short skirts or maybe because she had a schoolgirl crush on the Doctor. Either way, you’re wrong! Amy Pond reminds us you don’t have to be ice cold to be a feminist. You can cry and wear dresses, whilst managing to be a strong female character.

  1. Michonne – The Walking Dead

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Following on from that, Michonne is the complete opposite. However this could be mainly due to the fact she is pushed into being hard and closed off. It is a zombie apocalypse after all! She can take on any Walker or human. A serious role model for all women out there.

  1. Buffy Summers – Buffy the Vampire Slayer

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A high school cheerleader who cares about her appearance but also manages to slay vampires in her spare time? Yes please. Although Buffy ended in the early 2000s, the character still endears, once again showing that you can wear pink and still kick ass.

  1. Katniss Everdeen – The Hunger Games

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If you simply watch the films you only receive the smallest glimmer of what Katniss is capable of. Not to say Jennifer Lawrence isn’t flawless, but books always outshine the movie. The sixteen year old manages to overcome serious dangers, mostly death and by doing so, shows that girls can be incredibly resilient. Everyone knows that females are more loyal and protective. Fact.

  1. Lagertha – Vikings

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Back in the day before the patriarchy took over, women had almost equal rights. Here is a prime example, where we see Lagertha fight alongside men as a shieldmaiden. Not only is she a fierce warrior, but she is an incredible mother and supportive wife. She is basically an all-rounder. Once again highlighting the point that women are not so two-dimensional.

  1. Eowyn – Lord of the Rings

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Eowyn is by far my favourite character in Lord of the Rings. Although she is rejected by the man she longs for, she moves on. She doesn’t mope and dwell on it. Instead she pretty much saves the day. “I am no man!” The best line in the trilogy, it pretty much gives me goosebumps every time I watch that scene.

  1. Daenerys Targaryen – Game of Thrones

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Dany has been through a lot over the past four seasons and even more in the books. She loses people she loves, however she strives onwards to claim her rightful place on the throne. In doing so she saves thousands of people and is seen as a liberator. In the male centred world of Westeros, Dany is one of the few females who does not have to use her femininity and sexuality to get her way. If she doesn’t win the Iron Throne by the end I will cry.

  1. Hermione Granger – Harry Potter

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Most of us grew up with Harry Potter, be it the books or the films. Hermione was an integral part of my childhood and an amazing role model for me. She incorporates brains, strength and courage. Unlike a few of the females on this list she does not use physical strength to get her way. However she is still leaps ahead of the boys. Honestly, without her Ron and Harry would probably be dead.

This list hopefully shows a better range of female characters rather than Ana Steele or heaven forbid, Bella Swan. Altogether I feel this list shows us women are not defined by beauty or the men they get with. Women aren’t just two dimensional characters to survive as the man’s love interest, heart breaker, or to simply sit in the background and look pretty. It’s 2015 girls, let’s represent.

Top Ten Most Memorable Oscars Moments

by Keava O’Loan

With the 2015 Oscars fast approaching and competition as fierce as ever, here’s a rundown of our top 10 most memorable Oscars’ moments of all time.

  1. Oscars’ hell with Franco and Hathaway

What we’re kicking off with is less of a moment and more of an ordeal. When James Franco and Anne Hathaway took to the stage to host the 83rd Annual Academy Awards, we were treated to a night full of awkward jokes, forced laughter and uncomfortable silences. This pairing will go down in history for their complete lack of chemistry.

  1. Cuba jumps for joy

Cuba Gooding, Jr. couldn’t hold in his delight in 1997 when he won Best Supporting Actor for his role in Jerry Maguire. In what has to be one of the most exuberant speeches in Oscars history, Cuba’s contagious happiness and ecstatic leap of joy brought the entire audience to their feet.

  1. Gwyneth Paltrow’s endless speech

Now on the other end of the spectrum, Gwyneth Paltrow’s win for her role in Shakespeare in Love. Paltrow’s never-ending rundown of thank-yous regularly tops lists as the most annoying Oscars speech of all time. If you’re in the mood to torture yourself, feel free to watch (it really kicks up a notch around the three-minute mark):

  1. Heath’s posthumous win

Proof that although he is gone, he’s never forgotten; Heath Ledger posthumously won the award for Best Supporting Actor in The Dark Knight at the 2009 ceremony. His family accepted the award on his behalf, delivering a moving and humbling speech that brought many in the audience to tears.

  1. John Wayne’s last hurrah

In what was to be his last public appearance before he lost his battle with cancer, John Wayne presented the Best Picture award in 1979. As the crowd rose to give him a standing ovation, he said: “That’s just about the only medicine a fella’d ever really need.” He passed away just two months later.

  1. Scorsese’s recognition

Martin Scorsese finally took home the gold in 2007, winning a long overdue Best Director award for The Departed. The director, who had been passed over for the award five times previously, couldn’t believe it, incredulously asking “Could you double-check the envelope?”

  1. Jack meets Jennifer

Okay, so it didn’t even take place during the awards ceremony, but when Jack Nicholson interrupted Jennifer Lawrence’s post-ceremony interview to tell her “You look like an old girlfriend”, it definitely provided some comic relief. Props to Lawrence for her quick response of “Do I look like a new girlfriend?”

  1. Bigelow wins big

Kathryn Bigelow made history in 2010 when she became the first woman to take home a statuette for Best Director with her low-budget war film, The Hurt Locker. Beating her ex-husband James Cameron’s blockbuster Avatar, Bigelow described it as “the moment of a lifetime.”

  1. Lupita’s debut

Lupita Nyong’o caused waves at last year’s awards, not only taking the red carpet by storm, but also taking home the Best Supporting Actress award for her breakout role as Patsey in 12 Years a Slave. She then topped it off by giving one of the most beautiful and inspiring acceptance speeches in Oscars’ history. “When I look down at this golden statue, may it remind me and every child, no matter where you’re from, your dreams are valid.”

  1. Oscars’ selfie

The moment Ellen DeGeneres decided to jump on the selfie bandwagon at the 2014 Oscars, history was made. In what became the most retweeted tweet of all time (3.36million retweets and counting!), a host of famous faces crowded together for the ultimate celebrity pic. Featuring Bradley Cooper, Meryl Streep, Jennifer Lawrence, Jared Leto, Julia Roberts, Kevin Spacey, Brad Pitt, Lupita Nyong’o and Angelina Jolie amongst others… there’s no question that this was a pretty iconic moment.

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Inexpensive Valentines Gifts (for even the most poverty-stricken students)

Zainab Boladale

As Valentines day rapidly approaches many people find themselves stuck for meaningful presents to give to their significant other. Here is a list of gifts that will not only impress your partner but also save you a bit of money.

Love Jars:

As the name suggest, this literally is a jar filled with love! On printed or handwritten squares of paper you will need to write down things you admire about your partner, your special memories together, important dates or even silly jokes only they will understand. For this to work effectively a good memory would be ideal. You can purchase Love Jars at most gift shops at a low price or simply make one yourself to add that extra personal touch. Materials such as coloured paper, glitter, ribbons, etc. will make your love jar look more presentable. This present is guaranteed to pull at their heartstrings.

Romantic Scavenger Hunt:

Never underestimate the benefits of a good scavenger hunt, especially on Valentines Day. For this, you will need to buy various items and hide them in significant places. Give yourself enough time to plan ahead and make sure your gifts are well hidden. Each clue you leave must lead to the next until they manage to find the last gift. This simple activity will be fun for you and your partner. It shows that you devoted time into coming up with this activity meant just for them.

Valentines Day Tickets;

Rather than buying your partner many expensive gifts just for one day why not create a ticket system that will prolong the idea central to Valentines day. This system requires you to write down things you usually wouldn’t do on a regular basis but would be willing to do with due notice. When your partner checks in their ticket you are obliged to treat them to whatever is on the ticket. This gives you time to save money and you can budget the overall cost of each treat. Things like, “Dinner for two”, “Romantic Movie at the Cinema”, “Breakfast in Bed”, “Car wash” are ideal. Websites such as http://www.homemade-gifts-made-easy.com have free downloadable “love coupons” which you can choose from or just create to suit you

Indoor Picnic:

How about surprising your significant other by turning your kitchen or sitting room into a five star picnic room rather than wasting money in an overpriced restaurant. Prepare a nice meal for two and don’t forget to have a picnic basket filled with yummy desserts.

 

Do an activity together:

Most recreational centres offer short term activities that you can pay for in weekly or monthly instalments. Around this time there are offers for couples that you can avail of. Now the activities offered might not be as daring as simultaneously skydiving out of a plane but you can still choose something you both haven’t done before, A water sport or maybe even dance classes? What’s important here is you’re spending time with them and learning something new together.

Why Dieting doesn’t equal happiness and the merits of self acceptance

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Hannah Kelly
@hanlouwho_

I’ve always been a bigger girl, in every sense of the word. I’m 6ft tall and I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t overweight. I often got teased about it when I was younger and I was always conscious of it. So, from the young age of about eleven I found myself doing what the majority of women in our society do, dieting!

At first, I started out innocently, just cutting out junk food and joining basketball. After a month or so I’d be disappointed that a fat girl was still what I was seeing in the mirror, I’d get upset about it, eat a load of food to comfort myself and give up entirely.
It was an exhausting cycle that went on and on for years. I would get so frustrated with myself that I was standing in the way of my own happiness. Why couldn’t I just stop eating if I knew it was what was keeping me from having self-confidence issues?
After seven years of dieting, 100’s of failed diets and countless nights crying over how I looked I realised where I was going wrong. I was letting myself believe that the key to my happiness was solely in the amount I weighed. My diets never worked because after a few months, despite the fact I’d lost weight, I never felt happier and so I thought they weren’t working.
What I’ve now realised is that loving and accepting myself for who I am as more than just a “fat girl” is the only way to be happy. So, that’s what I did. I worked hard. Every day, I forced myself to see the amazing qualities I have, and how much there is about me to love. Something that I think everyone needs to do is sit back and realise how great they are, because we all are our own unique being, and that’s pretty amazing to me.
It’s a journey I choose to take every day and will continue to do for my whole life. It isn’t easy and sometimes my self-doubt and lack of confidence creeps back in. However, I can honestly say that I’ve never felt better in my own skin and it’s such a relief.
Yes, I still want to lose weight. I want to be healthier and fitter. The difference now is, I know I can be happy at any size, because I’m so much more than just a number.

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Top 10 Valentines Movies (to watch with your cat or eating ice cream)

Bronwyn o’ Neill

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner and the release of the 50 Shades of Grey tomorrow, most people are in a frenzy to get tickets or get dinner arrangements planned. If you’re an unfortunate student who has no money, then spending it on fancy restaurants isn’t something you want to do.

Why don’t you spend the night curled up with your significant other, in your favourite jammies watching some sappy film? Chocolate and tissues advised, as we count down the top ten Valentine’s films.

Number 10: The Vow

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This film is basically a modern version of The Notebook. His wife forgets all about him, very dramatic. Although, if Channing Tatum told me we were married I would totally go along with it.

Number 9: Pride and Prejudice

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Although, I’m a Bronte fan through and through, this adaption of Austen’s novel is perfection. Kiera Knightly gives an amazing performance as strong headed Elizabeth Bennett. It makes all your fights with your boyfriend seem ridiculous.

Number 8: (500) Days of Summer

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This quirky movie, starring Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Jordan Levitt, deals with modern day love. Although not in the conventional way we are used to. Tissues at the ready it’ll make you weep.

Number 7: Titanic

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If you haven’t seen Titanic you are either too young to have a Valentines or simply have not been out in the world. This film will make you sob. Don’t lie that you don’t get teary eyed at “You jump. I jump.” Bonus points for young Leonardo.

Number 6: Love Actually

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Before he went to kill zombies, Andrew Lincoln was in love with Kiera Knightly. Liam Neeson’s son was in love. Martin Freeman was in love. And even Severus Snape was getting it on with Nanny McPhee. There’s quite a lot of love, actually. With almost every British actor under the sun, it is definitely worth a watch.

Number 5: Beauty and the Beast

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Yes, it’s a Disney movie, but it is by far the best love story Disney has told. A pure tear jerker! Even though your boyfriend might not appreciate it, your inner child certainly will. Plus, it’s kind of the kid’s version of 50 Shades!

Number 4: Romeo + Juliet

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More young Leonardo in this explosive telling of Romeo and Juliet. Although it may throw you back to your Junior Cert days, can you say no to that face? The soundtrack, the cinematography, Leonardo! Yes to all.

Number 3: Casablanca

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“Here’s looking at you kid.” Iconic. That’s all that needs to be said about this film.

Number 2: The Notebook

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I’m crying just thinking about it. The most quotable movie in the world (after Mean Girls of course) “If you’re a bird, I’m a bird.” Tissues at the ready girls, it’s a heartbreaker.

Number 1: Moulin Rouge

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This film has everything one could ask for; love, costumes, songs and tears. Perhaps it is one of the best films that have been made. Therefore it steals the top stop. If you only watch one movie this Valentine’s, let it be this.