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You don't have to be perfect to be cruelty free.

Sunday, 23 July 2017

A selection of cruelty free beauty products
It’s funny sometimes being part of little pockets of the blogging ‘community’ – it’s easy to forget that not everyone is as into (so called) ethical living as it might seem in our little echo chamber. Every now and again, something squeezes its way into the bubble and shatters the illusion that… well, that people actually give a shit.

Despite it being 2017, if you tell other folks that you don’t buy cosmetics tested on animals, they’ll likely still look at you as if you’re some kind of hippy weirdo. When your average Joe reacts to this apparently shocking news, the tone of their voice and the look on their face often says it all and they may as well just tell you straight: “What? You don’t buy from brands that fund unnecessary, cruel animal experiments?! That’s pretty extreme.” It’s not surprising, therefore, that there are still scores of people who, while they might not admit it, quite simply can’t be bothered to go cruelty free and more still who feel they shouldn’t bother because it will never be ‘enough’.

There are a number of valid reasons why someone may not be able to buy exclusively cruelty free cosmetics, such as their income being dependent on it (i.e. small MUA businesses), skin conditions that mean they can only use certain brands, living in areas where few, if any, cruelty free brands are affordable or accessible, and so on. Can you guess how many people who aren’t cruelty free cite any of these reasons as why that’s the case? Hint: it’s a very, very small number. In fact, the majority of people who aren’t cruelty free who ever openly talk about why they’re not cruelty free often simply say that either a.) they feel like there’s no point, because they can’t go vegan or vegetarian or be fully ethical or go zero waste or blah blah etc. or b.) they like their favourite, animal-tested products too much to give them up.

Now, let me cover point b. in one quick swing: that’s some selfish bullshit. Yes, you read me right! I’m sure that might ruffle some feathers but, at the end of the day, if the only reason why you won’t even consider cutting animal-tested cosmetics – which aren’t even a necessity – out of your beauty routine is because you like the products too much or boo you won’t be able to wear your favourite lipstick anymore then yeah, that’s a load of shit. To prioritise lipstick and blush and nail polish over reducing the suffering of animals in laboratories who are tortured and killed in order to produce them makes you, quite frankly, lazy and extremely selfish. If there are no other circumstances like those I mentioned above that might make it more difficult for you to buy cruelty free, but you still choose not to in spite of the wealth of excellent quality alternatives at your fingertips, then I say it again: you are selfish. If that stings to read or bothers you in some way, then consider why. Take a seat, take a long hard look at yourself, do some research and try fucking harder.

With that out of the way, back to point a: “I can’t be a perfect cruelty free, ethical consumer so why even bother?” I get it. I really do – it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by all of the different ways to be ‘ethical’ and the different and increasingly demanding expectations that ethical lifestyle gurus seem to have of everyone. We don’t just have buying cruelty free cosmetics after all, we have being vegetarian or vegan, we have being minimalist and zero waste, we have buying organic and non-GMO and local, we have supporting independent brands, we have giving up fast fashion and much, much more. These requirements for being an ethical consumer just stack up and up and up to the point where it starts to seem completely impossible to actually be a good person, and makes you doubt the impact of even trying. Further still, it makes you doubt how well you’ll be received by the rest of that community – if I’m not seen as doing ‘enough’, there’s going to be people who don’t like that and will criticise me for it. If I don’t try at all, at least I won’t be seen as a hypocrite for claiming to be cruelty free but not being cruelty free ‘enough’, right?

Almost everything we buy presents a choice and an opportunity to pick the ‘more ethical’ one, but that simply isn’t possible for everyone. I’m vegan and cruelty free, and I’m trying to make an effort to reduce my waste and to stop buying from fast fashion retailers, but I also still use a lot of plastic and packaging. I still drive and use petrol. I still have to buy some things from fast fashion shops, because I need certain professional, office-appropriate clothes for work. Sometimes I still buy non-vegan clothing or animal tested brands for relatives who asked for them for gifts and wouldn’t take kindly to being presented with anything other than exactly what they wanted. I sometimes slip up and accidentally eat non-vegan things, or forget that some home accessories contain wool and buy them without realising. I will never be zero waste, and I will never be able to live off the land and be carbon neutral or anything like that.

And that’s okay!

There seems to be this common misconception among non-veggies and non-cruelty free folks that if you can’t go the whole hog, you’re not wanted and you may as well not bother. Honestly, I’m kind of tired of hearing that as an excuse. If you weren’t guaranteed that your hard work would get you a good grade or perfect score at school, did you just not bother? “Well, I know I’ll never be perfect so I’m not even going to try!” You can’t avoid accidentally stepping on a snail at some point in your life, so do you just make a point of stomping on all the snails that end up in your path because there’s ‘no point in trying when you can’t be perfect’?

This ‘all or nothing’ approach seems totally ridiculous when you put it into any other scenario, and whether you realise it or not, at the core of it you’re essentially saying: ‘I can’t completely wipe out all pain and suffering and bad things in the world, so I’m just going to carry on inflicting as much suffering as everybody else rather than make some small changes that might have a positive impact.’

The problem is, being cruelty free or vegan or vegetarian or trying to simply be a more ethical consumer has never been about being perfect. We know that we make mistakes, or that small animals might die when the vegetables we eat are harvested or that yes, the chemicals in our beauty products may have historically been tested on animals even if they aren’t anymore. We weren’t disputing that. No one is perfect, and if any other cruelty free people try to tell you that they are, I promise you that they’re full of shit and need to get in the sea. The point isn’t and has never been perfection; it’s reduction. Either we can be causing as much devastation as absolutely everybody else, or we can try to drop it down a few pegs and do what we can to make a difference. If we can all take small steps, within our means, to reduce animal suffering and the demand for animal testing in cosmetics, then we can begin to send a message to big businesses that they need to change.

That change is already happening. The Body Shop’s ethical principles had been heavily criticised since they were bought by L’Oreal (a brand notorious for its animal testing) a few years ago, and recently they were purchased by a new cruelty free parent company. This is at least in part down to the impact of cruelty free consumers challenging their supposed anti-animal testing views while simultaneously contributing money towards animal testing at their parent company.  In spite of their attempts to show that they were still an ethical brand, they simply couldn’t shake the backlash of being owned by L’Oreal.  Years ago Urban Decay had planned to start selling in China, where animal testing is required by law, but pulled out after heavy criticism and boycott threats from buyers who called them out for abandoning their cruelty free morals for the sake of extra cash.

Each time you go makeup shopping, you have a choice. Cruelty free products are not difficult to find, and they’re no more expensive than their animal tested counterparts. You cannot, in good conscience, claim to be against animal testing while still willingly purchasing from brands that test on animals. When you are informed and empowered and financially or geographically able to choose cruelty free products over animal tested ones but still chose not to, your decision is directly funding the torture, suffering and death of lab animals. It isn’t a complex ethical dilemma or a personal opinion – it’s a simple, empirical fact that your money is going towards animal testing, and that your continued custom will reassure businesses that they can carry on animal testing with no consequences to their profits.

Is your favourite lipstick worth the life of the innumerable number of rabbits or mice or dogs (yes, dogs) that suffered in order to produce it or to legally sell it in China? Is your favourite mascara worth the life of the animal who was repeatedly poked, prodded, burned, injected, had scalding chemicals dropped into its eyes and was finally ‘humanely’ euthanised once it looked to be in ‘too much’ pain? Sounds pretty extreme and very grim, right? Well, that’s the reality of beauty brands that aren’t cruelty free.  And all for what, right?  Makeup?  Really?

Next time you go shopping for your usual beauty products, consider trying out a new cruelty free brand instead of the animal tested giants like Rimmel, Revlon, L’Oreal, MAC and so on. If the thought of animals in pain when they don’t need to be strikes a chord with you, consider spending your money elsewhere instead of on NARS, who have now committed to selling in China and will begin testing on animals in order to do so. If you’re not sure where to start, there’s tons of online resources out there that can offer up a wealth of exciting, wonderful brands with ethics as lovely as their products – give them a try! Ask cruelty free beauty bloggers for their tips or suggestions, check out cruelty free reviews on YouTube.

No, we’re not perfect – none of us ever, ever will be – but you have so much more power than you realise, and the choices you make can help to change the world.

If you’re interested in going cruelty free, check out some of the cruelty free directories/blogs below and, as always, feel free to get in touch with me!

Review / Nabla Dreamy Matte Liquid Lipstick in Sweet Gravity

Sunday, 2 July 2017

Nabla Dreamy Matte Liquid Lipstick in Sweet Gravity
When I first heard about Nabla Cosmetics, I knew I was going to have to order from them sooner or later. They do an amazing range of eyeshadows that you can have both as pots or refills to create your own palette, they even have cream eyeshadows and everything is vegan and cruelty free. When they announced that they were releasing a line of matte liquid lipsticks… that was it. Let the order commence.

In terms of shipping times, customer service etc. Nabla was pretty fantastic. I ordered a selection of eyeshadows and one of their Dreamy Matte Liquid Lipsticks in the shade Sweet Gravity, and was lucky enough to get express shipping half off during a special offer. Although based in Italy, delivery was attempted (but sadly not received as the courier only delivered on weekdays and I work full time…) within three days which is a hell of a lot quicker than some companies based even within the UK. And, although possibly for a limited time only thanks to Brexit, since the company is based within the EU we don’t have to pay extortionate customs fees in the UK to order from them!

The eyeshadows I’ll be reviewing in a separate post; today I just wanted to share my thoughts on the – spoiler alert – lovely liquid lipstick.

Nabla Dreamy Matte Liquid Lipstick in Sweet Gravity Ingredients
Nabla Dreamy Matte Liquid Lipstick in Sweet Gravity

Nabla’s Dreamy Matte Liquid Lipsticks are described as having an intense pigment that dries to a true matte finish, and is both long-lasting and non-sticky. They’re supposed to be ‘dreamy’ soft on the lips, so won’t feel heavy or be one of those liquid lipsticks that you’re acutely aware of on your lips as you go about your day. They’re also coconut and vanilla scented!

Sweet Gravity is one of their nude shades, and is described as a warm, rosy brown that looks like a great ‘my lips but better’ colour in their swatches. I was extremely tempted to order some of their bolder berry and red shades too (it’s hard to find a great matte vegan liquid lipstick in red) but I decided to just go for a nice natural shade to test them out, plus I’ve just plain been feeling nudes recently. If you’d like to read a review of one of their other shades, Vivi of Sammy Sans Cruelty did a great review of a pinkier shade called Roses that you can check out here.

Nabla Dreamy Matte Liquid Lipstick in Sweet Gravity



Nabla Dreamy Matte Liquid Lipstick in Sweet Gravity
The packaging for this lipstick, while pretty, does feel a little bit excessive. I don’t think the extra plastic and paper it comes in is really necessary, even if it does look lovely. The tube itself has a sort of frosted matte finish, but you can still see the colour through it, plus a nice, classy-looking gold lid and detailing. The doe foot applicator is one of the better ones I’ve used; it’s stiff but not too stiff, and very precise.

In terms of formula, I’m a real fan. The smell is lovely (but obviously wears off relatively quickly), and it is quite loose and easy to apply. One swipe is enough to get a nice, opaque coat, it dries quickly and, as promised, dries to a true matte finish that doesn’t transfer. On the lips, it doesn’t exactly feel weightless, but it certainly feels a hell of a lot more inconspicuous than other liquid lipsticks I’ve used. As it’s a matte lipstick, it does still slightly dry out the lips, however it’s light and airy enough to not feel unpleasant at all. As it fades, it fades subtly and doesn’t clump or flake, meaning that it both wears out in a flattering way, and is easy to re-apply without either taking it all off and starting from scratch or looking like a hot mess with 12 layers of chunky lipstick. As far as lasting power goes, it isn’t as long lasting as my Colourpop Ultra Mattes, but for the most part it still holds its own against them and lasts for most of the day and even through non-greasy meals.

The shade is one that I really like on me. I am always wary of warmer brown and nude shades, as I don’t always feel like they look the best on my skin, but this is a winner. On my lips and with my complexion, it just looks like a nude with a little more substance, and adds a bit more warmth to my face. Like any good nude lipstick, it draws a makeup look together and makes you look polished with minimal effort, and can be used with bolder and more natural looks. I think this could potentially look great with a variety of skin tones, but cooler toned folks may be better complimented by one of their other shades.

Nabla Dreamy Matte Liquid Lipstick in Sweet Gravity Swatch


Sweet Gravity has become one of my favourite nude liquid lipsticks and one that I find myself regularly reaching for nowadays. It’s a great all-rounder, and with plenty of shades to choose from I already know I’m going to be doing another order for more! Each Dreamy Matte Liquid Lipstick is €14.90, so around £13.10 with the current exchange rate (damn it, Brexit), which is on the slightly higher end of affordable but much cheaper than most other accessible, long-lasting liquid lipsticks. As much as I love Colourpop’s Ultra Matte’s and how cheap they are, with the cost of shipping and customs fees it’s much more economical for me to order my liquid lippies from Nabla for the foreseeable future. Their current shade range is an exciting and unique collection for a first release – as well as more standard reds, pinks and nudes, they also have a more mauve-y greige shade, a powder blue, a black and a petrol green that all look incredible. I can’t wait to order that green and some of their glam red shades.

This lipstick has been super impressive and has definitely left me wanting more! Have you ever tried anything from Nabla before?

Review / PHB Ethical Beauty Liquid Eyeliner in Black

Saturday, 24 June 2017

PHB Ethical Beauty 100% Pure Liquid Eyeliner - Black
PHB Ethical Beauty 100% Pure Liquid Eyeliner - Black

I’ve been a fan of PHB Ethical Beauty for a very long time now. I think I first started using their skincare products in 2013 or 2014, and those and their mascara in particular have been staples of my skincare and beauty regimes ever since. When I saw that they had come out with a liquid liner a while back, I knew that I was going to have to try it at some point!

The PHB Ethical Beauty 100% Pure Liquid Eyeliner* comes in two shades, black and brown, and of course I went for black because that’s just who I am. As well as claiming to be long lasting and water-resistant, the PHB liquid eyeliner also advertises major benefits for people like myself with sensitive eyes – they say it’s great for eyes that water easily, and is also PH balanced and made from botanical oils and minerals that are kind to skin. Over the past several years, my eyes have grown increasingly sensitive and I’ve found that they can get quite irritated when I use heavier eye makeup, so a natural alternative to liquid eyeliner that won’t leave my eyes a bloodshot mess was certainly appealing to me.

PHB Ethical Beauty 100% Pure Liquid Eyeliner - Black

The eyeliner comes in a little tube with a thin, brush tip applicator. When I first took it out of the box, I could see at a glance that it isn’t quite like other liquid eyeliners – it isn’t as jet black, and there’s just something about the consistency in the packaging that seems different.  It also somehow almost seemed glittery in the tube and on the brush, even though it isn’t at all!  The brush itself is decent, but I personally feel it would have benefited more from a sponge-based brush or felt tip applicator like many other liquid liner pots like this tend to have. Although the brush does still manage to achieve thin, sharp lines, if you’re not careful it also has a tendency to leave little bristle lines that you can see in the swatch below.

The formula is a great consistency – not too liquid-y, not too thick, but it doesn’t give you a swipe of perfect, opaque colour and if you want a darker, more intense liner you do need to go over it a couple of times to achieve a bolder look. One thing to also be aware of with this product versus other liquid eyeliners is that, as I suspected, it isn’t a true opaque black. It looks a little bit like a dark, charcoal grey on the lids which I don’t dislike, but obviously won’t be to everyone’s tastes.

PHB Ethical Beauty 100% Pure Liquid Eyeliner Swatch

When wearing this, I can definitely feel its sensitive eye benefits. My eyes didn’t go bloodshot, they didn’t get irritated and they didn’t water after applying this or throughout a day of wear. Often it’s a challenge for me to just get my winged eyeliner done without my eyes freaking out and looking awful afterwards, but that wasn’t an issue at all with PHB Ethical Beauty’s liquid liner. At least for me, this is clearly an excellent option for those days when I want to wear more dramatic eyeliner but my eyes might not be feeling up for being plastered in irritating products.

Throughout the day, I don’t really notice a lot of wear or fading when wearing this and it also doesn’t flake as some liquid liners I’ve tried in the past do (even more of a plus for my sensitive eyes). I can also rub it a lil’ bit and it doesn’t smudge or transfer. However, I will warn you that although it says it’s water resistant, it’s not nearly as waterproof as other liquid eyeliners on the market. It will withstand minor eye-watering, but if my eyes start streaming it starts to smudge in my outer corners and I don’t think it would stand a chance if I started crying or decided to wear it to a sweaty gym session. On the plus side, it’s quick and gentle to remove without ending up with panda eyes or black streaks across your face while you’re taking your makeup off.

Okay, it may sound from the above like this eyeliner doesn’t have tons going for it, but I actually really, really like it (and as you can see from my Instagram, it looks as bomb as any other eyeliner). Compared to other liners there are certainly some criticisms, but it’s also worth noting that none of the other liquid eyeliners I’ve ever used are natural – I’ve only ever used things like NYX, theBalm, Stila and (back in the day when I was still using animal tested stuff) L’Oreal. As a natural product that contains zero harsh chemicals and is designed to be gentle, this eyeliner actually holds up really well. For people like me who suffer from dry, irritable eyes it’s kind of a godsend. The eye makeup I want to do is no longer quite as dependent on how my eyes are feeling – if I want to wing it out and my eyes are feeling sensitive, now that I have PHB Ethical Beauty’s eyeliner I can!

If you live for a bold, sharp, blacker-than-the-abyss wing that will last all day even if you go swimming then, no, this product probably won’t be your jam. But if you’re like me, enjoy a good wing but don’t expect it to face every single trial life will through at you, and have problems with dry eyes or find that traditional liquid liners tend to irritate them or you’ve ever had a reaction to them, then this is probably a perfect alternative for you. This is also a great product for all you green, natural beauty lovers out there, because it’s cruelty free, vegan and contains none of the usual nasties that can end up in liquid eyeliners.

The PHB Ethical Beauty 100% Pure Liquid Eyeliner is available from LoveLula for £12.95, and on PHB Ethical Beauty’s website.

Do you have any liquid liner recommendations for sensitive eyes?

* This review is not sponsored and has not been paid for, however the product was sent to me free of charge. All views and opinions expressed are my own.

New B. Makeup First Impressions

Saturday, 17 June 2017



A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to be invited to B. Makeup’s relaunch event in London. B. is a brand owned by and exclusive to Superdrug, and I had wondered why it seemed to disappear off the shelves for a little while – as it turns out, it’s because they were undergoing a complete rebranding and had some exciting new product releases lined up!

The event was great fun (any event with vegan donuts gets my thumbs up) and I even got to meet some wonderful vegan bloggers for the first time, which was really the icing on the cake. While we were there, we got a sneak peek at what they were going to be releasing and a goodie bag featuring some of their new range to try out too.

After checking out their displays at the event, I was very pleased by what they have to offer now they’ve rebranded. Although I love many of B.’s skincare items, I was never thoroughly impressed with their makeup. One good thing going for them at least was that everything was cruelty free and vegan, and that’s something that they’ve really uplifted and embraced with their relaunch. I like to think they’ve seen how well-received the brand was for being cruelty free and vegan-friendly, and are responding to demand - they even added a small snippet at the back of the promotional booklet we received, explaining the rise of veganism in the UK, demand for items free from animal products and how they continue to avoid any ingredients containing them that don’t fit with the vegan promise.

The first thing we noticed about the makeup is that it has a new look and I’m loving the direction they went with it. There wasn’t really anything that stood out about the old B. packaging (if anything it looked a bit cheap before), but their new packaging is all about sleek, matte blacks and simple, white logos that make everything look chic, luxurious and much more expensive than it actually is. The quality of their brushes has also gone up dramatically – I had a feel of a few of their new ones and they’re by far the softest, nicest high street brushes I’ve ever felt.

Since the event, I’ve been testing out the makeup bits and bobs that I received and wanted to share my first impressions*

Sculpt & Highlight Contour Pen in Dark (£8.99)

Okay, so obviously this is not the shade for me and my white bread complexion, but this is nonetheless an impressive little product. This is a soft, creamy pen with a dark end for contouring and a light end for highlighting, and it glides on and blends like a dream. It comes in four shades – light, medium, dark and universal (whatever that means?!) and although I’m not getting the best use out of it with it being too dark for me, I have still had a little play around with it and was impressed by the results. The formula gives a beautiful natural, dewy radiance that doesn’t look too stark when blended out and at £8.99 is a perfect product to try if you’re new to contouring and prefer cream products.

Velvet Matte Lipstick in Boom Shakalaka (£6.99)

I don’t really use traditional lipsticks much these days, but I can I get a holla for B. for coming out with a range of matte red and berry shades that are all vegan!? I swear, a good vegan red lipstick is hard to come by. This particular lipstick is a lovely true red shade with a matte finish that still retains a bit of sheen, and although it isn’t as long-lasting as I’d prefer it also doesn’t bleed or smudge around too much either. Despite it being a matte lipstick, the formula isn’t drying at all and it’s a perfect cruelty free, vegan alternative to other high street lipsticks. I much prefer to use nude coloured bullet lipsticks to bold shades, and having used this I’m really excited to give their two natural colours a go!

Defining Duo Liner (£6.99)

Another product that I was thrilled to see B. was releasing was this liquid liner pen. Again, decent felt tip liquid eyeliners that are cruelty free and vegan are very hard to come by, and this one has not one but two tips – one slightly thicker, and one thinner for sharper, finer lines. So far so good with this product; I’m always wary of pen eyeliners because I find the tip can start to dry up relatively quickly but I haven’t been using this long enough to know whether or not that will be a problem with this one. As far as colour goes, this is a true, opaque black, glides on like a dream and even produces some great, sharp flicks. My only minor complaint with the colour would be that it does sometimes look a bit glossy, as is the case with several liquid liner pens I’ve used in the past. While it isn’t waterproof (seriously, do not expect it to stay on if you’re really sweaty or cry) it is smudge proof to an extent – rubbing it only causes a bit of greyish transfer and wear but doesn’t smear it all over your face.

Velvet Matte Liquid Lipstick in Ravenous (£6.99)

Matte liquid lipsticks are pretty much my life, and I’m so excited that B. have released a range of colourful vegan ones. The one I received, Ravenous, is a lovely berry shade that applies smoothly and dries to a matte finish relatively quickly. It isn’t sticky and it isn’t as drying as other liquid lipsticks I’ve used, but you do still feel its presence on your lips. It isn’t as long wearing as my Colourpop liquid lipsticks (I can eat even greasy foods carefully in those, but this wouldn’t stand a chance against that), but still lasts a while and when it does wear out, it’s easy to touch up without having to remove the lot and start again. For £6.99 I’m pretty impressed with these – there’s currently 8 shades to choose from (including a great looking 90s brown called 1995) but I really hope these take off and they expand their shade range.

Lip & Cheek Tint in Frivolous (£6.99)

I feel like I don’t really see too many multi-purpose products on the high street, so it was nice to see that B. have created a range of cream lip/cheek products. This soft, lightweight tint is easy to apply and to blend and when used on the cheeks creates a lovely, natural flush once blended out. Although this isn’t a shade I’d have chosen myself, I still like it, it still suits me and the formula is great. This is a perfect product to take out in your handbag for a blush touch-up or to add a quick bit of no fuss colour to your lips on the go. As a lover of dewy finishes, I also love a good cream blush so these are perfect for me.

In addition to the above, I also received a few skincare items but I won’t go into any detail about those as, save for a few new products (including a great Beard Oil for men) their skincare line remains largely the same and has always been great quality for the price. Included in my goodie bag but not pictured, I also received one of their new eyeshadow blending brushes and it’s quickly become one of my favourite brushes, though not for its intended purpose! I’ve been wanting a new highlighter brush for ages but never really had a proper one before; I used to use my Real Techniques eyeshadow brush, my fingers and I had a brief foray into using a fan brush for a while and really didn’t get on with it. B.’s eyeshadow blending brush however, is the perfect soft, fluffy brush that’s still dense enough to give me a blended but bold highlight and I’m pretty much in love with it.

I’m super impressed by B.’s relaunch so far and looking forward to trying out more of their new range. Most importantly, they have fully embraced their vegan appeal and are actively providing an affordable vegan, cruelty free, high street option and have been the first high street brand to really commit to doing this.

The new collection is available on Superdrug.com and in some stores – I’ve heard from other bloggers that not every shop is stocking the new range yet, but fingers crossed and keep your eyes peeled.

* All of the products featured in this post were given to me free of charge, however this post is not sponsored and all views are my own.

The Good, the Bad & the Morality Language Assigned to Food

Friday, 26 May 2017

“I’m going to be naughty and have a donut, YOLO.”


“I’m being bad today, I’ll have a biscuit.”


“Oh, you’re being good having a salad for lunch!”

You may have seen other bloggers and even myself in a previous post mention the problem with ‘morality’ language surrounding food and dieting, and the above are only a few examples of what we mean.  They’re seemingly harmless, inoffensive comments that people make around us on the daily, but this kind of talk about food does far more damage than a lot folks might realise.

Most of us don’t even think twice about saying we’re ‘being bad’ by treating ourselves to a food we enjoy, but the reality is that this one of the many symptoms of a society that values thinness and weightloss goals, and shames those who aren’t thin or at the very least aspiring to ‘health’ or a smaller, more toned body.

When we hear this kind of stuff, it’s almost always light-hearted and never really serious, of course, but this type of language is code that (when you add it together with everything else in our world that elevates thin bodies, dieting and pursuit of so-called wellness or fitness) eats its way into our subconscious, to the point where we can no longer even talk about eating certain foods in some settings without having to either justify it, or to admit to ourselves and those around us that we’re somehow less principled for eating them.

I know what some of you might be thinking – but some foods are bad for you, that’s just a fact! And you’d be absolutely right! Some foods are bad for our bodies (although usually just when consumed in large quantities), or are generally unhealthy, but how often do you hear the people around the office say it’s the digestive biscuit they’re snacking on that’s bad? Or the donut that’s a little bit naughty? Or the low fat yoghurt that’s good and well-behaved? You don’t… because they’re almost always referring to the people eating them, and deciding that they’re behaving either ‘good’ or ‘bad’ based on the item of food they’re consuming. If it’s a healthy food, congratulations – you’re good! If it’s an unhealthy food, you’re living dangerously at best, naughty if you fancy a cringe or you’re down right bad at worst.

The problem with this way of talking about food is that you’re assigning moral language to yourself and to other people based on what they’re eating. The same can be said for ‘cheat days’ in the fitness world – if you have a day where you treat yourself and eat something you enjoy that might be a little less healthy, you’re likening yourself to a cheater, i.e. immoral, bad, untrustworthy. In a certain well-known diet group (you know the one), foods you’re supposed to avoid are even called ‘syns’, as in, you know, some of the most immoral acts you can apparently do according to some religions…

As innocuous as this language can seem when you’re chuckling about it with friends or family or co-workers, it’s closely interwoven with a culture that doesn’t just fear but loathes fat, and upholds the dangerous ideas and stereotypes that ‘we are what we eat’ and that what we choose to put into our bodies somehow dictates whether or not we’re deserving of respect.

Implying that someone is ‘being bad’ for eating a cupcake might seem like nothing, but it’s actually one of thousands of tiny little ripples that feed the tidal wave associating fat bodies with being gluttonous, sinful and shameful. When pieced together these comments create a clear and harmful picture of thin bodies (i.e. those who are good and consume good, healthy foods) as an ideal we are all constantly expected to aspire to, while fat bodies (i.e. those who are bad and consume bad, unhealthy foods) are seen as unsightly and indicative of laziness and a lack of self-respect.  If you’re fat then you’re likely to be automatically branded ‘bad’ at first glance, but if you’re seen as trying your hardest to be ‘good’ and to have set weight-loss goals and be eating ‘good’ foods, then you can be redeemed.  Those who make a point of trying to be thin are elevated somewhat above those who don’t actively advertise to the world that they’re attempting to fit into the very small, lean mould we expect them to.

Regardless of whether or not a particular food or a person is healthy, we need to stop assigning praise to some foods and guilt to others – we should never be made to feel guilty for eating or inferior because we wanted to eat something we actually enjoy instead of something we’re supposed to feel like we ‘should’. That guilt is what can develop into calorie tracking, working out so that you feel deserving of food, low self-esteem, body comparison or in some cases, even eating disorders.  How often have you felt like you ‘need’ to hit the gym because you had a couple of these naughty foods and need to work off the extra calories to feel better about your decision to eat them?  I’ve lost count of how many times this has crossed my mind over the years, and it’s a product of this form of diet talk!

Eating healthy or unhealthy, being thin or fat, or fit or unfit doesn’t define your character. At the end of the day, whatever you choose to eat, your food is just fuel. If you choose to fuel your body with healthy things like salads and quinoa and roasted veggies then that’s cool, but contrary to what this coded language we use to talk about food implies, it doesn’t make you better than someone who chooses to fuel their body with chips, beans and pizza. Further to that, sometimes these so-called ‘bad’ foods are exactly what we need at the time – I don’t know about you, but the occasional donut or burger can be great self-care and make me feel happy!

Eating unhealthy foods doesn’t make you any less deserving of respect and you most certainly don’t have to earn the right to indulge. Next time you think about calling yourself bad or your friend good because of what you’re eating, stop yourself. Remember that saying things like that can feed your own and others’ insecurities, and that food is just energy and not a test of character.

 You’re not cheating for ordering what you want when you’re out to eat with friends; you’re just treating yourself. You’re not bad for eating a cookie because you fancied a cookie with your cup of tea. You’re not naughty for eating a bag of Asda jam donuts all to yourself; you’re just living your best life and eating what you love. You deserve to eat nice things, and you should never have to justify it to other people or to yourself.

You do you boo, treat yo’ self.

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