Selling eyeliners is one thing… but surgery? How Transform’s latest ad fails to see below the surface

I’ve been tardy with the ol’ blog recently. I’ll be the first to admit it. I was thinking of writing about my work on the recent Trainspotting Live, or the fact that I’ve just left the BBC after more than four years to start at Twitch tomorrow.

And yet, this is what has compelled me to delay my latest attempt to complete Final Fantasy XIII and only half pay attention to the latest love of my life (Gilmore Girls on Netflix). An advert printed in the back pages of Glamour magazine.

In it, 22-year-old London-based fashion blogger That Pommie Girl¬†describes how her recent “boob job” (and yes, because it is aimed at her readers – women of her age or younger, it actually uses that phrase), has made her “love her body”, something bloggers are known for. They’ll post paid for ads for products with names like “Boo Tea” on Instagram promoting speedier metabolisms and “detoxification”, or 24 products at once for a “natural look” on YouTube. And while I’m not saying this is 100% harmless (the thought of me – with my mountain of loose leaves piled up in the corner of my kitchen – purchasing a tea for anything other than the fact it tastes good makes me shiver), it’s nothing compared to surgery.

This woman has been given a free major uncessary ¬†surgical operation – and in my book, that’s something that’s both invasive and requiring the patient to undergo general aesthetic – and most likely been paid a lot of money to do so; she’s been paid to be cut open, stuffed, and to promote this to her young followers. Lest we forget, there’s a reason why bloggers and social media stars are called influencers. She’s someone people aspire to be. Her lifestyle is what her followers yearn to have. And her lifestyle now involves major surgery so she can like herself.

Let’s face it; a lot of young people aren’t comfortable in their own bodies yet. I have a strong body which I’ve worked hard on (I’m not ripped or anything like that, but I can hold my own in a boxing class) and, at the age of 27, I still check how much my stomach sticks out in the mirror when I wake up. I’m not That Pommie Girl’s target audience, and yet I still bought the aforementioned copy of Glamour because it came with a free Benefit eyebrow gel. (And I already own a similar one from L’Oreal that works perfectly fine.)

I decided to do a Google to find out a bit more and discovered the Advertising Standards Authority have actually banned the TV version of the advert, although you can still view videos of Sarah Ashcroft (the blogger in question), on¬†Transform’s website.

There’s a few disturbing things about the advert, which you can view by accessing the last¬†hyperlink. Firstly, Ashcroft explains that she never experienced anything she’d describe as “pain” (aside from back pain). Not immediately post operation or during the aftercare period.

“In terms of recovery I still couldn‚Äôt really believe it. I had geared myself up for a lot of pain when there wasn‚Äôt really any at all. I remember feeling incredibly drowsy, but aside from that the healing process was pretty straightforward, with the major inconvenience being a support bra due to the neck and back pain from my new¬†posture.”

Surgery is going to be different for everyone, but this advertorial really does go out of its way to emphasise “no pain, all gain”.

And probably the part I find the most shocking of all, Ashcroft implies that her career has been progressed by the operation:

“It really has changed my life and cliched as it sounds, I feel like a new person with a newfound confidence and love for my body. Now, I can be as experimental as I want to be with my style; something I always wanted and I feel like my blogging has come on leaps and bounds too.”

Breasts “enhanced”, she can now wear different clothes and write better! Us women had better all sign up for surgery so we can have enough confidence to ask for a big enough pay rise to start paying back our surgery loans and wear the contractually obliged high heels, skirt and at least five items of noticeable make up to the office..

This advert probably concerns me most of all because it suggests that we still associate the idea of physical perfection – or a marketer’s idea of it – as a key to success. Why be comfortable with what you have, when the path to success is the physical embodiment of some ideal dreamed up by someone else who managed to make it catch on years ago? Already successful enough to attract Transform in the first place (and no doubt, other businesses wanting to work with her), why would Ashcroft (and a bunch of others profiled on the website) take such a drastic step?

And why – in heaven’s name why – would Glamour run this irresponsible advert? For financial gain? Don’t they have some semblance of a duty of care for their younger readers? It’s enough to make me ignore next latest lucrative freebie issue and pay full price (for a cheaper copycat version of the same product).

Monikh Dale, another featured blogger who Transform have given a “lip enhancement” explains on the site that “I wanted to be the best version of me I could¬†be” – the same slogan that the Army are currently using in their latest recruitment campaign. But don’t get me started on that one, or I’ll never find out if Rory and Jess get together. (Gilmore Girls. Seriously – you need to watch it!)

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The love list

Right now I’m loving…

Taylor Swift

When I first heard¬†Love Story, the breakthrough song that made Taylor Swift an international star back in 2008, I never thought; ‘in six years time, I shall be running up and down Oxford Street desperately seeking a copy of Taylor Swift’s ridiculously popular fifth album.’ And yet, yesterday, there I was in HMV, feeling slightly sheepish as the cashier expressed her surprise at how insanely popular the album, titled 1989, has been.

Considering how hard Taylor (it feels odd referring to her as Swift, given her personable image) has been working to promote her record, it shouldn’t be a surprise that it’s such a quick hit – or that for the first time in a while, CDs are flying off the shelves at such a rate that they’re selling out (the polaroid images featured in a neat packet inside along with infamous liner notes complete with coded messages about Taylor’s private life are definitely an incentive), but also her sudden credibility – see¬†her Radio 1 Live Lounge reversioning of the aforementioned¬†Love Story.

Clever marketing and changes of sound aside, it really helps that the album is wickedly, infectiously good (and makes focusing on reading on the tube¬†really hard with it playing on the iPod). My current addictive track is¬†Blank Space, but I’d be lying if I said that I won’t be switching my allegiance to another track sometime soon. It might not be for everyone, but I imagine I’m not on my own with my new found enthusiasm for her!

Putting my face in ‘those things you put your face in’ on the wrong side

Firstly, I have no idea what these are called – I’m just going by comic James Acaster’s description in his brilliant 2014 show¬†Recognise –¬†but for some reason, since accidentally putting my face through the wrong side during the summer at Latitude, I have a compulsion to keep doing it…

Face in the wrong place

Sephora jumbo liners

I ‘popped’ over to Paris via a ten hour coach to see my boyfriend Luke at the weekend. He’s abandoned me to go to a French clown school for a month and therefore was a charmingly good sport when I dragged him round Sephora – I bought one of these crayons on a whim (in green) and have totally fallen in love with it – it’s really easy to get thin lines, despite its chubby size, and looks like a liquid liner. It also totally stays put – far more so than a recent liquid liner I bought. It works smudged as a shadow too. Basically I’m in love and want one in every colour. (Please Santa?)

Lena Dunham and ‘Team Legend’

I confess, I’m probably a terribly embarrassing manager – I refer to us as Team Legend for goodness sake, but I’m very lucky to work with two lovely researchers, Shabana and Katie, who stood in the mind numbing long queue to get Lena Dunham to sign a copy of her new book,¬†Not That Kind of Girl, for me on Wednesday.

The book itself is great so far – funny, frank and everything you’d want from Dunham, who has been popping up all over London this week and for some reason hasn’t visited W12. What. A. Shame. Still, I have a signed copy of the book to comfort myself with in these hard times. Thanks Team Legend!

My Christmas list

AGH IT’S DECEMBER!

Sorry family… you’re not getting anything. Well you won’t if I don’t sort myself out. Luckily, I started panic buying tomorrow so hopefully it’ll be alright come the 25th.

For the past couple of years, I’ve publicly drooled over my laptop and I finally found time to resume the tradition – I’m in my last two weeks at Radio Comedy before moving to Eastenders, so things are hectic!

First things first – and this is totally career related, right? I’m hoping for a tuning pedal for my new telecaster guitar. There’s a Korg one here that seems like a bargain, although I’m not too fussy – I’d like it to a) work and b) withstand being stood on, as that’s a key part of its purpose.

As usual, I’m hankering after jewellery by Tatty Devine. I have two name necklaces – a plain black ‘Frankie’ and a large tortoiseshell ‘Get Frank’. However, I’m always hungry for more, so I’m hoping for some different takes on ‘Frankie’ from anyone generous enough to give it a go! They’ve also created new charm bracelets, but they’re exclusive to Selfridges in London and Birmingham.

I’m having a bit of a CD renaissance at the moment, so I’m buying music whenever I can afford to – I currently settle for listening on Deezer when I can’t. I’d love the new albums from Lorde, London Grammar, The National (in fact anything from their back catalogue, it’s a guilty former secret that I only get to listen to them on Spofity or Deezer), AlunaGeorge, Arcade Fire, James Blake, King Krule, Laura Marling or Savages. I wouldn’t be disappointed to unwrap Salute by Little Mix.¬†Move is a TUNE.

In terms of cosmetics, I’m always happy with anything by Lush, haircare by TIGI and makeup by MAC or NARS. I’m on the lookout for a new blusher and orgasm or deep throat¬†(no sniggering at the back!) are two suits-all shades that I’d love to try. Get me False Lash mascara from MAC and I’ll be your friend for life.

The two biggest things on my wish list – and no I’m not really expecting either – are a Fender Blues Junior amp and a Canon 5D camera. The former is to go with my telecaster, which I need to be able to play through an amp at long last, and the 5D is so that I can start making films independently of work and branch out on my own a bit more. I currently work with a 7D – which I’ll miss terribly when I leave the Radio Comedy team!

So that’s me, but what do you want for Xmas?

The ‘what I want for Christmas’ post

“When are you doing your Christmas wish list this year?”

This is what my sister asked me last month. She claims to have found this post from two years ago rather hilarious (but also useful, seeing as she got me one of the items mentioned – thanks Charlotte)!

It occurred to me yesterday, as I admired the resulted of my admittedly pathetic wrapping piled up in the hallway of the ‘Get Flat’ (ahem, that’s my flat to the uninitiated) . I then got a Facebook message from my mother asking what I want, which made me realise that firstly, my Mother has moved on from the humble text message (phone calls were¬†so over a few years ago) and has now decided that social media is the way to go for quick questions – Xmas requests and home visits being the most common – it’s also easier for her and her partner to both question me at the same time. Secondly, it reminded me that perhaps this Xmas wishlist lark is frivolous but useful for those lovely, wonderful people who are going to indulge me this year (my 24th birthday is December 27th… eek).

So now I’m doing a rushed browse around the web, wondering what on earth I could want. I’m going very minimal with my flat in case anyone is ever foolish/grown up enough to move in with me (yes I know that’s years away) and I’m scared of building up clutter. However, one’s sofa can never be cluttered, only squishy and comfy or glacial cool. So, I’ve got the er… ‘hunger’ for some of these amazing biscuit cushions from Nikki McWilliams.

Cushion by Nikki McWilliams

Cushion by Nikki McWilliams

My living room is very ‘masculine’ with loads of greys and black tones with a colour pop provided by an orange sofabed from Made.com so the custard creams might work nicely in the living room, with the party rings or love heart jammy dodgers going down better in the ‘girly’ bedroom.

Jammy dodger cushion

Cushion by Nikki McWilliams

It’s not quite as cute or glamorous as the cushions, but I’m also seeking these shelves to pop in the hallway from Ikea. I’ve got a grey one in the living room, but the¬†white version is perfect for books and more and they’re a snip at ¬£14. I also need some grey machine dye to dye some curtains I’ve been given and a long curtain pole for my living room…. so er, maybe a voucher then!?

Finally house-wise, I’m seeking double bedding donations, contributions to aid my DVD and CD collections (I’ve only got Alt-J and Jessie Ware’s albums from the Mercurys shortlist and there’s a few more nominated I’d love to own, plus – ahem again – the Little Mix and Nicola Roberts albums). There’s also the desperate desire to own a floor lamp for the living room – either the Arche floor lamp or Studio tripod model from Made.com.

I’m still mad on baking – cupcakes are my latest fad (two years later than the rest of the world). I love that they’re so easy to transport to work/friends/places so I don’t end up keeping them all to myself. All baking paraphernalia welcome as far as I’m concerned!

Frankie holds cupcakes

Vanilla cupcakes by Frankie (photo and help from Adam)

You can never go wrong with the gift of a Mac makeover (or one of their awesome eye shadows). You book a slot and then you get to try loads of products and the cost of the makeover covers products of the same value (you can buy more if you like, of course!) Plus, there’s the ever-reliable Topshop voucher to keep you in jumpers for the rest of Winter…

Can I Have Your Opinion Please?

I have what fashion-sceptics would call a ‘First World Problem’.

In other words, it’s not really an issue at all, I’m just seeking the opinions of others over – of all things – a pair of shoes.

Shoes by Deena & Ozzy at Urban Outfitters. Originally £150, now £40

I picked these up on impulse during a spot of retail therapy. I think my Spidey senses were telling me that the week ahead would not be a smooth one (it’s only Tuesday and so much has flippin’ happened!)

Should they stay or should they go (back to the shop)?

Aside from this footwear splurge I finally bought a pair of jeans (that aren’t jeggings) and my first jumpsuit (I may even post pics later, it’s that special).

As I don’t usually tend to spend so much on a single item I’m starting to have serious doubts about the shoes. They’re comfy, feel fabulous to strut in and certainly draw the eye… but are they too much for me? I’ve not worn them out yet as I’m still not sure whether I should return them… and that’s why I need you!

Please let me know what you think with a comment below. Are they worth every penny or a waste of space? And ultimately, should I keep them?

 

BIC Soleil

BIC Soleil have launched a new campaign called 'Just Live', surrounding four new razors with Shaver grip technology all aimed at different styles of shaving.

I've often had people stare aghast at my hands when I grip pens (apparently 'normal people' use their index fingers whereas I use my trusty 'claw' grip), so happily BIC have created a range to suit more 'unique cases' like me as well as the more eloquent of shavers. I'm quite pleased to hear that the emphasis is on grip too, being that I was forever put off more flimsy disposables after slicing into the top of my thumbs during a routine leg shave one morning. Needless to say, it hurt.

Bella razor

BIC have teamed up with body language expert Dr Jane McCartney to tell you how the way you shave reflects your personality. Apparently my long-studied techique of resting the handle in the palm of my hand 'allows me to shave quickly and efficiently and reflects my direct, driven and pragmatic approach', with the razor most suiting me being the generously sized Bella (see above). To find out more about each product, including which shaver could suit you and the way you defuzz, head to the Just Live Facebook Page.

Of course, a promotion wouldn't be a promotion these days without the giveaways, and BIC are getting chatty with their customers over on their Twitter and Facebook accounts, giving away goodies for ten weeks (including Benefit vouchers) and a cash prize to top off their season of giveaways.  The Competition can be entered here using the simple entry form.

To enforce the idea that BIC Soleil can help you to 'just live' by getting you feeling glam in a few strokes of a razor (my Saturday morning routine is pretty much centred around my shower), BIC has recruited bloggers such as Lauren Loves and Blah Blah Becky to dispense their tips for getting ready for a stress-free Christmas. They've also teamed up with Dorothy Perkins, fashion stylist Hannah Hughes, hairdresser Andrew Barton and make up artist Alana Phillips to give you top style and beauty tips to accompany your silky holiday pins.

Oh yes, and before I forget, they've also asked me too! So keep your eyes peeled to the Facebook page where my tips on feeling confident in the kitchen on Christmas Day – and the traditions and recipes I employ to keep myself feeling festive.

This is a sponsored post, but don't worry – if I don't like it, I won't write about it.

Viral video by ebuzzing

All I Want for Christmas…

… Ok so maybe not all I want, but as I’ve been shopping around for friends and family (honest!), I keep seeing things I wish I could treat myself to!

Anything by Tatty Devine

I’m a massive fan of innovative perspex jewellery designers Tatty Devine. I used to live around the corner from their Brick Lane store, which was lethal for my bank balance and I had to limit myself to window shopping most of the time. My sister loved the crazy glasses I bought for her birthday, and on special occasions I get out my massive mayor’s chain.

My favourite piece of theirs has always been their classic keyboard necklace. It’s as tinkly-looking as the real thing and, being monochrome, would go with anything. Recent designs I’m also lusting after include the ivy vines necklaces¬†and the honesty seed pod stem necklace.

On another note, how cool are their models? Far from the ethereal editorial types, the girls on the website look like they wear the jewellery on a daily basis – I want to be them!

Original artwork

I’ve just moved to North West London and I’ve finally got a room I want to invest a bit more in – it’s large enough, for a start and it’s a lovely size (unlike my former ‘shoebox’ in Shoreditch). I’ve spent weeks buying things to make it into my own space, with a sofa, rug and coffee tables (inspired by the amazing makeover Dad’s wife, Deb, did on my old bedroom in Goudhurst, I’ve even got candles in the fireplace). ¬†The one thing I haven’t done is successfully screwed my new mirror into the wall… there may have been, ahem, an issue with a drill…

What I’d really like to do now is get some amazing artwork to put up on the walls. Currently I’ve got a framed season three Skins poster that I got whilst I was at Channel 4, but there’s so much bare space it needs more! I’d love something by my friend Brendan Kearney¬†(I gave this brilliant cat print to Deb when I moved back down South). I definitely need to retrieve my Get Frank artwork by Kate Hindley too – It’s one of the best presents I’ve ever received – I’ve never had the chance to hang it somewhere because I’ve moved so much in the last 18 months. Hopefully that will all change now! Anything from Girls Who Draw¬†would make me ecstatic – ditto, Lizz Lunney.

Smelly stuff

As always, I’m craving bits and bobs from Lush – we don’t have a bath in my new flat but their hand creams, shower gels and hair products are still high in my estimation. Perfume-wise, I’m missing my lunchtime trips to House of Fraser with the Channel4.com Lifestyle girls (Abi, Annabel and Emma… oh and Tom as well, if he insists!). We used to casually stroll through the perfume section, spritzing ourselves in preparation for the afternoon – my scents of choice being Lola or Oh Lola! by Marc Jacobs. I do love good old fashioned nostalgia!

Xbox games

Now I’ve set up home with my beanbag and Xbox, I’m in dire need of new games to play on it. I’m keen to get my mits on the latest Tekken, Skyrim and LA Noire.

Drink!

Now, I don’t mean to sound like an alcoholic but… I really want a cocktail cabinet and things to go inside it! Stop judging me – it’ll be for your benefit when you pop round for a mojito or two.

Togs, clogs and face paint

I’m obsessing over Topshop and Zara. One can never go wrong with Mac.

In essence, I want something for my neck, something for my walls, something for occupying my brain and something for my face! What are you hoping for this year?

The Groupon Experience

Not too long before I changed jobs and moved house I was approached by bargain voucher website Groupon, who wondered if I’d be up for trying out one of their offers and writing about it.

I originally discovered Groupon from one of those site popups – which is usually enough to put me off investigating further. However, the popularity of the website is now growing and the number of people I know that use the service has greatly increased – my new manager at Sky is one of their biggest fans!

Alongside national deals, the site runs vouchers for local businesses all over Britain. You can browse the site for new daily deals based on your chosen location (such as West London) and also subscribe to daily updates so you can find out about deals as soon as they’re launched. Offers vary from cosmetic procedures (dental implants, laser lipo and high-end hair removal solutions) to dining deals and domestic bargains (beanbags, for example). All deals are heavily discounted, with some offering up to a whopping 90% off!

Unlike other voucher sites, you pay for the deal on the Groupon site and either register your code online at the relevant website (if it’s a product rather than service or experience), or print out the voucher and take it with you to whatever you’ve bought. You’ll also need to book if it’s restaurant/salon related.

Groupon also run incentives to get more users active on the site – by successfully recommending friends to the site, users can currently earn ¬£6 credit for redeeming on vouchers on the site – so if you recommend ten friends, that’s ¬£60 for you to spend.

Having finally settled into my new place in Willesden Green, I decided to finally take Groupon up on their offer and see how far the ¬£20 credit would go. Having my friend Charlie‘s housewarming to attend I took a gamble on a ¬£19 KMS conditioning treatment, cut and blow-dry at Gregory’s Hair and Beauty¬†salon in Northfields. Payment with my code was swift and easy and I was instructed that my voucher would be available the next day (once the deal had closed). An email arrived in my inbox the next morning completed with the aforementioned voucher so I sent a message to the Gregory’s, who rang me back a mere hour or so later to book me in. Amazingly, I was able to get an appointment for the next day. Not-so-amazingly I forgot that the Picadilly Line would be closed and I’d need to get a bus replacement service to Northfields…

Pesky travel issues aside, everything else about the experience was entirely plain sailing. My stylist Paula washed my hair, put the conditioning treatment on and sat me under one of those retro heaters for several minutes with a cup of tea and a magazine – bliss!

The results of my blow dry

After a quick trim, Paula asked how I’d like my hair dried. I decided to go against poker straight, but also tend to get disastrous results when hairdressers attempt to dry my hair into its natural curly style (they usually use too little product and go big on the frizz), so I asked for something slightly wavy.

My hair is quite coarse when straightened so it never looks perfectly glossy (Cheryl Cole-like one might say), but overall I was genuinely happy with the results. I did have to overload on products once I got home to try and keep the frizz at bay, which wasn’t entirely successful, but the cut itself was fantastic and has gone smoothly back to curls once washed.

Back to my curly 'roots'

At the salon, Paula how the salon became involved with Groupon. It seems that there’s quite a lot of interest in being featured on the site and the company asks many questions of the businesses apply. This could be to maintain quality control, to make sure that the deals sell and are worth hosting or a combination of the two (and more reasons besides). Ultimately, Groupon has been brilliant for Gregory’s. They’ve been featured multiple times with different treatments and have gained plenty of satisfied new customers. They also offer all Groupon customers the same treatment, at the same cost, for life.

Needless to say, I’ll be going back to both the salon and to Groupon!

Have you tried Groupon? What are your experiences of the site? Let me know below or send me a Tweet.

Nichole de Carle: Undercover Luxury

A couple of weeks ago I became very popular with a number of my male friends.

The reason for this sudden interest was not, as you’d expect, due to my general fabulousness (shock, horror!), but because I’d been invited to the press launch for the new collection from top lingerie designer Nichole de Carle.

'Westminster' bra, brief and braces

Nichole’s high-concept, beautifully constructed designs caught my attention when I first saw them featured by Queen Michelle on the Kingdom of Style blog. Featuring braces, curves and bold cuts, the underwear seemed to achieve something in lingerie that I’d not come across before; stunning, daring underwear that felt feminine in its complexity rather than fetishist.

The past twelve months have been incredibly exciting for the label and the future is looking even brighter. The designs have appeared on many a famous figure, including Nicole Scherzinger and the girls from The Saturdays, and on the day I visited the pop up store at The Lingerie Collective, one basque was being borrowed for a shoot for an international superstar – I’m not sure if I’m allowed to say who, but rack your brains and you might be able to guess, the label is a perfect match for her.

Emily of Nichole de Carle teams her Westminster braces with simple daywear for a quirky edge

Nichole’s also become a familiar face on British television, having had her work featured on the E4 shows Great British Hairdresser and the recent Dirty Sexy Things. Her sister, the lovely Charlotte de Carle (and arguably the breakout female star of the latter show), serves of the face of the brand.¬†Nichole is now ¬†venturing overseas and will soon be featured on the Dutch version of Great British Hairdresser and Russia’s Next Top Model.

Charlotte wears the Chateau Villette

The label gained favourable press attention earlier this year after it was featured in a list of Selfridges’ must-have Christmas gifts for 2011. The product that hit the headlines back in July is ¬†The Diamond Brief Collection; several different shapes of knickers featuring a Coster-produced ‘Brilliant Cut’ diamond set in sold sterling silver by Salima Hughes Jewellery.

The Diamond Brief

The party invite I received to celebrate the launch of the latest luxury Nichole de Carle pieces took place on the eve of London Fashion Week at The Lingerie Collective in central London. Feeling I should embrace my feminine side in celebration of the brand, I donned a pencil skirt and abandoned my usual massive choice of bag for a vintage market find, my lucky housemate Simen in tow.

Going Underground: Skirt by Zara, top by Forever 21

The party itself was packed full of fashiony types (that I always feel slightly hopeless around!) Lucky there Jude’s Icecream and amazing Iceberg Vodka to keep my confidence crisis underwraps and my focus elsewhere! It was also brilliant to catch up with Charlotte, having produced the E4 site for Dirty Sexy Things and to meet brilliant bloggers and photographers such as the stunning Emily of Fashion Politics and the very talented Poppie Ellis Clinch (whose portfolio is truly stunning).

It’s enough to make me want to compete on The Apprentice and get a high powered job… be still my empty underwear drawer!