Byram leads celeb stance against size zero culture

FORMER Irish model and presenter of the controversial Swan extreme makeover TV programme, Amanda Byram is the just one of a growing number of celebrities taking a stand against size zero culture saying “there are more important things than being a certain size”.

Her comments in women’s magazine Cosmopolitan, which has run a ‘My Body Rocks’ campaign this summer, come days after Germany’s most popular magazine announced it is banning professional models from its pages in favour of “real women”.

The editor in chief, Andreas Lebert, said the magazine will feature a mix of prominent women and regular readers in photo spreads for everything from beauty to fashion to fitness.

On its website, Brigitte magazine announced to readers that “a new epoch has begun” and women to submit a portrait and full-body photos of themselves to be considered for a photo shoot.

“We will pay the same fee as we would for professional models,” Lebert said, adding that the magazine views the move as an investment.

Appearing alongside a host of celebrities, 35-year-old Byram said the “secret to feeling good about your body is in your mind”.

Byram is best known outside Ireland for presenting Paradise Hotel and The Swan, an American show where each week a woman was selected for a head-to-toe makeover, including extensive plastic surgery and liposuction, before one woman was eventually chosen as The Swan. There was widespread criticism of the show as many feared the women needed psychological help for low self-esteem rather than going under the knife. Byram long defended the show saying the women had extensive counselling as part of The Swan makeover and learnt a much more healthy attitude to life.

Wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with the slogan ‘My Body Rocks’, she told Cosmopolitan: “I’ve tried every diet going, and been at my physical best but still miserable so I believe the secret to feeling good about your body is in your mind. You have to be happy in your head before you can be happy with anything else, regardless of what shape you are.

“It’s like feng shui in that you have to clear out your drawer before you can clean out your life. Believe in yourself and stop worrying about the exterior – there are more important things in life than being a certain size.”

Bodywhys communications officer Ruth Ni Eidhin said people with poor self-esteem often battle with their body image – some succumbing to anorexia and bulimia.

“There definitely does seem to be more action to tackle the size zero culture of late. It was great to hear that German magazine openly asking normal women to try out for their images.

“The impossible images being put out to women have a huge impact on vulnerable women who don’t have great self-esteem. We’ve been busy for the last few months here as many women suffer huge problems when they return to school and college as it brings up lots of low self worth,” she said.

Earlier this summer, the editor of British Vogue, Alexandra Shulman wrote letters to American and European designers accusing them of making magazines hire models with “jutting bones and no breasts or hips” by supplying them with “minuscule” garments for their photoshoots. Vogue is now frequently “retouching” photographs to make models look larger, she said.

Zoe Salmon, the former Blue Peter presenter from the North who has a huge male fanbase, echoed Byram’s sentiments.

“Body confidence is all about being content in yourself. No one is 100% confident, but we can work towards it by deciding our likes and dislikes. Try to focus on your best assets. I’ve learnt to appreciate the way I look – even my big bum, which my sister always says is out of proportion,” she said.

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