Thigh Gaps

Strange title for a blog post, I know, but lately I’ve been reflecting on the illustrious thigh gap. A small gap between the thighs, pre-determined by the width of your hips and exaggerated by extreme weight loss, somehow comes to gather a meaning reflective of self-worth. In the anorexic community, having a thigh gap is a trophy of achievement, somehow launching you into a higher tier of being, respected by the mentally ill, and pushed into a new category of the ultimate anorexic. How strange, you might say. But after years of double checking my legs in every mirror, standing with my toes together, pushing my knees apart so much they couldn’t sit straight, I began to equate losing my thigh gap to losing my identity, my status and my beauty. When my thighs touched, I was nothing. 

Looking back, clearly its a ridiculous motion, and yet it still feels weird as I walk down the street, heightened sensitivity to my own body parts, a strangely unpleasant sensation. However, there is that sense of a new kind of achievement; of beating my demons, of embracing curves and flesh and health. Of no longer feeling every bone and atrophied muscle, and quoting the circumference of my thighs to how worthy i was of happiness. And that is a bloody miracle.

I will end this ramble with a stunning sketch by Mirrin Hegharty, which to me shows the extremes of body dysmorphia that came part and parcel with my eating disorder. Within seconds I could see both bodies in the mirror, both with infinite meanings to a twisted anorexic brain. I also think this drawing shows the complexity of our society, in that we have warped views of a healthy body, that actually doesn’t take health into account at all, only aesthetics, and this leads to millions of people pushing their bodies to the extreme.

 “Listen to me. Your body is not a temple. Temples can be destroyed and desecrated. Your body is a forest – thick canopies of maple trees and sweet scented wild flowers sprouting in the underwood. You will grow back, over and over, no matter how badly you have been devastated. “

– Beau Christopher Taplin

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BBC The Social: Illuminate

I am so excited to finally be able to share a project I’ve been working on for the BBC; Illuminate, a series of 12 mini documentaries about Scottish designers and artists. Together with the most hard-working twenty-something I know, cinematographer Perry Jonsson. I’m so proud of what we achieved, and really enjoyed being involved in project based on supporting local creatives, a subject of true passion for me, and working with a talented friend was the icing on the cake. 

Here is the very first episode of BBC The Social: Illuminate, featuring Mark Vice. A talented pop-artist, Glasgow-based Mark Vice translates fashion into paintings complete with embellishments and glitter and everything a fashionista could want. 

From Karl Lagerfeld to the Ab-Fab girls, Mark covers popular culture in a wonderfully unique way, using delicate paint splatters and drip art to build an iconic image. His work is available at The Scottish Design Exchange, and you can check out his Instagram here (he also rocks Pinterest). 

I hope you have enjoyed this wee video and look forward to the others, which will be coming out weekly on the BBC Social Facebook Page

Ruth @ Urbanity xxx

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Blogger Anxiety

 I’ve been thinking about doing this blog post, Blogger Anxiety, for a good few months now. In fact, its almost been giving me blogger anxiety. Oh the irony! Basically, I’m not diagnosing myself with a newfangled mental health issue, I’m just simplifying the huge bank of worries that as a blogger I experience daily, and I’m sure many other bloggers do too. I believe that being a creative individual automatically gives you a million things to be anxious about, so this overview can probably be applied to anyone from musicians to models. However, its not all doom and gloom, as I will be offering a few tips for newbies to help break through the barriers of self doubt.

Firstly, I wanted to address the issue of blogger events. As a regular attendee, I’ve noticed a few things that seem to happen to me at nearly every fashion show, drinks reception, group meal, networking meet, product workshop or press release:
1. I immediately scout the room for someone I know. Of course, over time, I’ve got to know more familiar faces, but even now when faced with a room full of bloggers, I feel my stomach hit the floor. Who will I talk to? Will I look like a total loner?
2. I instantly analyse what I’m wearing. Am I too formal? Am I underdressed? Oh god, everyone else looks far more fashionable than I do! Will brands take me seriously as a fashion blogger if I don’t dress up to the nines?
3. I feel young, naive and inexperienced. At any given event I’m usually at least 5 years younger than the rest, and perhaps a smaller-scale blogger or in the earlier stages of my fashion career. Does everyone think I don’t know what I’m talking about? Can they relate to where I’m at?

Next I wanted to discuss anxiety around numbers. Anything from how many followers, post views and Instagram likes to how many emails I get from brands, how many posts I can write while managing my studies, social life and career, or how I can monetise my blog, all give me the fear. I can’t be the only one who suffers from the constant comparison to other bloggers who have tens of thousands of social media followers and blog subscribers, make heaps of cash through sponsored posts, freebies and guest blogging, own all the latest designer clothing and make-up, and seem to have all the time in the world to dedicate themselves to their blogs without life getting in the way.

Overall, I wanted to share the advice I give myself when all these feelings of doubt relating to blogging get too overwhelming, a quote from Theodore Roosevelt: “Comparison is the thief of joy”. To me this embodies the love I have for fashion journalism and engaging in creative communities being cruelly taken away just I perceive someone else to be more successful. When you’re just starting out, blogging can feel like talking to a brick wall, but you must remember that the blogging world is extremely competitive and above all, saturated; there will always be someone doing it ‘better’ (read: differently) than you, so you may as well embrace your unique blogging style.

Images by Skye Lyon Photography

Ruth @ Urbanity xxx

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Reasons to Stay Alive

Its Monday, which I’d say half the world hates with a passion, so probably a fitting choice for World Mental Health Day. It is estimated by the World Health Organisation (WHO) that 450 million people have mental illnesses or disorders, and thats just the ones that are reported and treated, so it is extremely important to discuss as an international issue, rather than just a Westernised phenomena. Last year, I wrote about my eating disorder, you can read that here, but this year I thought I’d focus on another pertinent area, one interlinked with every mental illness, suicide and suicidal thoughts. This is inspired my my recent revised reading of Matt Haig’s Reasons To Stay Alive, after my mum met the writer and got me a signed copy, as well as some other fantastic books about mental health recovery, and includes some of my own experience.

Reasons to Stay Alive is a story of how the writer found joy again after a harrowing experience with depression and suicide. For me, the book did exactly what it says on the tin; reminded me of all the things to be grateful for in this life and encouraged me to make the most of my time on this planet. It also provides a really accessible insight on an indescribable and bizarre phenomenon of mental illness; compressing it into a tangible explanation that is easy to relate to, no matter where on the spectrum your depression may lie. Here is my favourite quote from the book:

You will one day experience joy that matches the pain. You will cry euphoric tears at the Beach Boys, you will stare down at a baby’s face as she lies asleep in your lap, you will make great friends, you will eat delicious foods you haven’t tried yet, you will be able to look at a view from a high place and not assess the likelihood of dying from falling. There are books you haven’t read yet that will enrich you, films you will watch while eating extra-large buckets of popcorn, and you will dance and laugh and have sex and go for runs by the river and have late-night conversations and laugh until it hurts. Life is waiting for you. You might be stuck here for a while, but the world isn’t going anywhere. Hang on in there if you can. Life is always worth it.”

Of course there are countless other books on the subject of mental health, some of which have undoubtedly helped me on my journey and thousands of others too. Brave Girl Eating by Harriet Brown and An Apple a Day by Emma Woolf were both incredible insights into anorexia, while Brain over Binge by Kathryn Hansen and The Bulimia Help Method by Ali Kerr helped massively during various stages in my eating disorder. However, Reasons to Stay Alive really covered all bases and I believe it is a truly engaging book for anyone suffering from mental illness, so I thought I’d run a little giveaway so you lovely readers can own a copy of the inspiring tale. Enter below:
Finally I will leave you with a quote I came across while scrolling through Instagram recently, apologies as I couldn’t find the source, but it really hit home for me as someone who has come through the other side of the tunnel of depression, and I thought it might be of inspiration to those recovering. “Suicide doesn’t end the pain. It simply passes the pain onto someone else”.

Ruth @ Urbanity xxx

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Back to University and Gap Year Reflection

I have recently started my first year at university after taking a gap year. This time last year I had just started my first year at a different university, after taking a gap year after deferring from that university. Confused yet? 
I may not have had the linear path that many school leavers take, and now at nearly 20, I’m a fresher yet again. A perfect time to, when I’m not snowed under with coursework, reflect on the last few years of studying, working, interning and travelling, and how they have benefitted or costed me in many ways. This post is aimed at those in their final year of school stressing about university, those who are at university and unhappy, or those that consider themselves inferior for not having a degree. I hope it helps!

I’m nearly a month into my BA (Hons) in Fashion Communication at Heriot Watt university, with the school of design based in Galashiels, a small town in the Scottish Borders with a strong textile heritage. Its a real effort to wake up at 5:30am each morning to grab the train down there for 9am lectures, but the facilities and expertise at the campus make it all worth it, plus it means I get to stay living in Edinburgh, the city I am totally and utterly in love with, with my best friends in a hilariously 70’s flat. So far I’m happy with my decision, which is so rare for me as one of the world’s least decisive people (I genuinely struggle with deciding on breakfast options every morning!), and this is a breath of fresh air after a year of stress about my options and the burden of choice.  

The first time I took a gap year I thought I would miss out on the social side of university that all my friends were enjoying, and be miles and miles behind my generation academically and career wise. It turns out the opposite was true. Without the stacks of coursework to do like my peers, my social life truly blossomed and I met my soulmate. Whats more, I got a year’s worth of work experience in fashion, and even travelled across the pond to study a fashion short course and explore my dream city. Most importantly, I got my mental and physical health back on track. I realised quite quickly after starting university the following year at RGU,  that wellbeing should value far above education, after experiencing a relapse into severe depression and bulimia. So the second gap year was necessary too. I also scored a job I adore at The Scottish Design Exchange, which I still love to this day. 

So why did I decide to go back to academia? Well, put simply, this time it was because I wanted to. I am an absolute nerd for learning everything I can about the fashion industry, making new friends and getting good grades will just be a bonus. And if at some point I decide its not for me, I know I have the skills and experience to fall back on. University isn’t everything. It isn’t essential. Its a choice. And I would recommend to any school leaver to take a gap year or two or three or more, because who really knows what they want in life at 17?!

Pictures by Louise Brown, blogger at
Ruth @ Urbanity xxx
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