The dilemma of the school reunion invitation

23 March 2016

I still can’t walk past a group of teen girls without shuddering. The giggling, the whispering bring back years of teasing and bullying at school. I’m over forty and they are fourteen but I still break into a sweat and keep my head down, as if I’m back in the playground.  So when I receive the […]

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Confidence on the Curriculum

19 March 2016

The Government’s New Education White Paper: Educational Excellence Everywhere was published on Thursday. It made the headlines for its plan to make all school academies, and for the additional hour being added to some school days. But there was a real nugget of hope for self-esteem campaigner like me. Formal education has traditionally failed to […]

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Is social media creating Generation Insecure?‏  

11 January 2016

When I was a teen I suffered from crippling low confidence – I was bullied, hated my appearance, but after school I could shut the door on the horrid world outside and hide in the safe confines of my family.  Now nowhere is safe. The challenges of the playground have entered children’s bedrooms via social […]

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Will your choice of Christmas present affect your child’s confidence?

24 November 2015

In years gone by, children would have been lucky to get a wooden horse and an orange in their stocking. Then over time the Christmas marketing machine snowballed into the gifting mania that exists today. Even when I was a child, thirty years ago, there was still greater simplicity in toys – baby dolls were […]

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Self-Esteem – The Next Frontier for Women’s Equality

15 October 2015

I was privileged to attend London’s first Women in the World summit this week. Some, many in fact, may question why women would need their own event in this day and age. Speaker after speaker at the Summit demonstrated why there is every need: the scale of sex trafficking of women, basic rights like education […]

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Why do we dread the start of the new school year?

2 September 2015

It’s that time of the year when I used to get very wobbly, seeing the stationery sets in shops, the cooling of summer, the sewing of labels on uniform spelt three miserable words, back to school. It wasn’t about homework or exams, I didn’t mind the academic side it was the fear of the unknown. […]

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Why ‘sex’ is becoming a shorthand for attractiveness

22 July 2015

Wanting to appeal to others is in our human nature. It’s in the flair of the peacocks tail, the flare of rhino’s nostril or the howl of a chimp. But while animals have stayed pretty consistent in their attempts to woo a mate, over time us humans have evolved, through pious epochs and the more […]

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Amy: Panel Discussion Video

2 July 2015

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Amy: A Panel Discussion with Author, Elizabeth Kesses

2 July 2015

One of the major revelations for many coming out of the new Amy Winehouse documentary is that the singer suffered from bulimia from her mid-teens. It was a condition that emerged before she found fame and continued to plague her until her death, aged just 27 years old. One of Amy’s doctors is quoted in the […]

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Elizabeth Kesses on Amy

1 July 2015

I saw Amy Winehouse three or four times in person at the London Clinic in December of 2009. I was there regularly, visiting my terminally ill father. Even in that environment, she was vibrant yet restless, surrounded by bodyguards, but somehow alone. My Dad commented on how sad it was that she was there from […]

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Are we living in a culture of aggression and harassment online?

29 April 2015

Social media is not known for its tolerance of diverse views and supportive commentary, but in the last few weeks, the social media ranting has reached a deafening volume. Against the constant backdrop of Katie Hopkins, there has been Jameliagate and now the storm of words around Protein World’s advertising campaign. I am a writer […]

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My ‘Choose Beautiful’ Experiment

21 April 2015

If you had asked me to ‘choose beautiful’ only a few years a go, I would have laughed out loud. The idea of calling myself pretty, beautiful or even ‘attractive’ was absurd to my mind. Ever since school I was plagued with insecurities, always feeling the odd one out, the ugly little girl. As I […]

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Should the UK follow France’s moves to tackle the promotion of ‘excessive thinness’?

13 April 2015

As a British woman and body confidence campaigner living in Paris, I read reports that the French National Assembly has recently passed a new health reform bill aimed at tackling anorexia with a real mixture of emotions. The bill aims to clamp down on pro anorexia (pro-ana) websites with measures to fine or imprison those […]

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Why low confidence at school can become a lifetime of insecurities

27 March 2015

I used to love games as a kid, egg and spoon races, Brownie badges, running without caring what I looked like, a bit like Phoebe in Friends. But ballet was my thing, the grace, the discipline, the shows. Then puberty happened and it all came to a grinding halt. I got bumps in all sorts […]

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Are you a compulsive do-er?

20 March 2015

Are you an overachiever (because deep down you feel you’re an underachiever?) Do you only feel satisfied when you’ve ticked all the day’s list off and been able to add extra tasks accomplished? Do you wake up with the nagging ‎feeling that you have to do, rather than just be? Are your holidays a nightmare […]

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Beyond the catwalks

18 March 2015

As a British woman, living in Paris, I read the reports of French parliament discussing the need for models to maintain a healthy body weight and considering legislation to ensure this happens in practise, with a mixture of emotions. In the UK, I am also an ambassador for the government-backed Be Real campaign – a […]

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Elizabeth Kesses outreach – March/April 2015

5 March 2015

The Ugly Little Girl Author, Elizabeth Kesses will be participating in two outreach programmes in the coming months. On Friday 13th March 2015, Elizabeth will share her story at ‘SELFIE – promoting positive body image’ at The Gallery Cafe E2, to an audience of young people alongside other live performances, poetry and special guests. Additionally […]

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Why Yoga Can Bolster Your Confidence

19 February 2015

There are few places today where we aren’t able to see our reflection – mirrors abound, selfies taken at every opportunity not to mention the media obsession with perfect looks. Yoga is one of the only spaces where all devices are out of sight and the external is abandoned. I used to hear friends singing […]

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Why the Tide Is Turning for Sexist Ads

27 January 2015

Female equality is a given today, women have the same rights as men and inequality is largely unacceptable. If a boss is heard critiquing a woman’s appearance he will be reprimanded. If a woman wants a family she is also able to keep working if she wants to. If a man behaves inappropriately in public […]

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An antidote to the January blues…

19 January 2015

Many people find this time of the most gruelling of the year – grisly grey weather, Christmas a distant memory and fully entrenched in the day-to-day grind. The media have coined the term ‘Blue Monday’ to describe the feeling that can overwhelm us mid-January. January is meant to be the first month of a blossoming […]

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New Years Resolutions – a phoney exercise or the stuff of dreams?

31 December 2014

If you had told me 5 years ago I’d be living in France, with three step-kids, as a budding writer…I’d have fallen off my chair. I spent my 20s and 30s doing what was expected of me, the career, the established husband, the cottage in the country. I remember making my yearly resolutions – eat […]

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Why visions of a perfect Christmas can make us all feel inadequate

19 December 2014

I used to love Christmas when I was a little girl. My Dad was off work and the time was filled with a magical sense of anticipation. But I also remember the sinking feeling once I had opened all my presents, when the decorations came down and the excitement was all over for another year. […]

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Why your choice of present this Christmas could affect a child’s confidence

24 November 2014

In an ideal world, Christmas should be all about sharing happy family time, but the present-giving dimension can dominate and make the day a bit of a minefield. Choosing a gift for someone is a statement from you about them, so for children who get very excited about the gifts under the tree, that message […]

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Mumsnet Blogfest 2014: Why blogging can boost self-esteem

8 November 2014

Sometimes when I tell people that I blog, I get that quizzical look as if to say ‘Is that a real job?’. I’ve had ‘real’ jobs but none have helped me, nurtured me, evolved me and ultimately created life-enriching opportunities the way writing has. Today, we live in a world where information is democratised and […]

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Why winning the X-Factor is all about confidence – do you have the Self-Factor?

29 October 2014

Standing up and singing in front of the nation is one of the ultimate tests of self-confidence. The X-Factor competition not only judges singing ability but it also offers its contestants up for judgement in the eyes of the general public. Unknown wannabe singers go from a few hundred Twitter followers to 50 thousand overnight. […]

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Why the UK is finally taking low confidence seriously

17 October 2014

Last night the unbelievable happened. An awards ceremony took place in the House of Commons for body confidence. No need for a red carpet or pomp and circumstance. No male politicians driving agendas to win elections. Just a group of individuals of all shapes and sizes, fighting for the right for us all ‘to be […]

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Elizabeth Kesses and Body Confidence Week 2014

10 October 2014

Dove, All Walks Beyond the Catwalk, bareMinerals, Debenhams, Facebook, Forster Communications, Government Equalities Office, N Brown, New Look, Superdrug and YMCA have all come together to celebrate the first Body Confidence Week from 13th to 19th October 2014. The initiative was developed in response to a report from the All Party Parliamentary Group for Body […]

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What do we need to do to give girls today the best chance of becoming happy women?

24 September 2014

100 years ago, young girls had little expectation of a full and fulfilling adult life. For many, the future was one of service and duty. The expectation of motherhood was one of the few joys available. 50 years ago, women had secured the vote and greater access to the world of work but the opportunities […]

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‘Back to School’ Tips from Diana Award Anti-Bullying Ambassadors Programme

28 August 2014

Have uniform ready One of the key things young people worry about when returning to school is whether they will fit in. Will they have the coolest back pack, do they wear their uniform correctly. A week before they go back to school ask them to put on their uniform to make sure shoes fit, […]

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The Spectre of ‘Back to School': why it was the day I dreaded most

22 August 2014

This time of the year always fills me with dread. Holidays are almost over and the countdown to that day starts – the day that’s ringed in red on the calendar. At the end of the summer term, it felt like the holidays stretched out endlessly ahead of me, but throughout those weeks, the first […]

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What will be more useful later in life, double physics or a course in self-esteem?

13 August 2014

I left school with a stash of good GCSEs and A-levels, a place at Oxford and zero confidence. I was a keen student but a miserable member of the class. I loved writing and reading but that made me a geek. I had naturally curly hair and big eyes but I felt like a frizzy […]

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Exam disappointment and self-esteem

7 August 2014

I remember getting my A-level results as if it was yesterday. I had been an overachiever throughout school, pushing myself harder and harder to do well. It earned me the label, ‘geek’ and ‘swot’ but I consoled myself with straight As at GCSE and a coveted place at Oxford University to read Modern Languages. The […]

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Head Teacher Calls Time on ‘Little Miss Perfect’

6 August 2014

The headmistress of a high-achieving independent girls school has introduced an initiative called ‘The Death of Little Miss Perfect’ to stamp out damaging perfectionism amongst her pupils. Judith Carlisle, the headmistress of Oxford High School, believes perfectionism can leave girls feeling fearful and insecure to the extent that it starts to affect their performance. “Perfectionism […]

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My 21 Days to Holiday Heaven – Why I Have Ditched My Bikini Diet For Good!

31 July 2014

Holidays are meant to be the highlight of our year, our ‘best of times’. We save up for them, spend hours picking out the perfect destinations and then dedicate weeks preparing for them. But many women secretly dread them. They mean getting semi-naked on a beach, going without our usual array of tools and home […]

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Diana Award Anti-Bullying Showcase – 2nd July 2014

3 July 2014

Bullied at school, or even at work? Real help is close at hand thanks to Princess Diana’s foundation. I was teased, called names and bullied for being different. I never belonged to a gang, not even the geeky one so spent a lot of my school days in a bubble, writing, dreaming but quite, quite […]

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Let’s banish the pre-holiday ‘Bikini Diet’ body tyranny!

29 June 2014

‘How to get a bikini-perfect body in just 3 weeks’ is one of the main headlines adorning the covers of women’s magazines at this time of the year. Alongside is a picture of a young woman with the perfect body frolicking on a beach. The article will then go into all the daily exercises you […]

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Do you believe you’re enough?

17 June 2014

Do you walk into a room dreading what people think of you? Do you break into a cold sweat when you speak up in meetings? Do you sigh more than smile when you see your reflection? Do you hate it when things go wrong? Do you get easily rattled by others’ comments? These are all […]

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Selfridges Social Media & Self-Esteem Debate: The Conclusions

9 June 2014

Social Media & Self-esteem – The Dove Debate @ Selfridges, 6th June 2014. The Dove Real Beauty Debate explored evidence from the latest research and drew on the personal and professional experience of the following panellists: • Olympic Swimmer, Rebecca Addlington • Mumsnet Founder, Carrie Longton • The Ugly Little Girl Author, Elizabeth Kesses • […]

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Social Networks – are they empowering or damaging?

5 June 2014

There isn’t a day goes by without someone bemoaning the ubiquity of social networks, particularly concerned parents. Social networks have the potential to enable the widespread sharing of inappropriate content, endless posting of provocative ‘selfies’ as well as vicious cyberbullying campaigns. Indeed, social media sites are nowadays routinely cited as a contributing factor in tragic […]

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Elizabeth Kesses at The Selfridges Social Media Debate – 6th June 2014

26 May 2014

Social media and self-esteem: is it empowering or damaging? This topical debate features experts, academics and commentators including Olympic Swimmer, Rebecca Addlington, Mumsnet Founder, Carrie Longton, The Ugly Little Girl Author, Elizabeth Kesses and Dr Phillippa Diedrichs, Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Appearance Research at the University of the West of England addressing the question […]

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Growth of ‘Anti-Bullying Software’ for Classrooms

25 May 2014

A software company called Impero has developed a range of tools to better prevent bullying in schools. Impero has a suite of online tools to help teachers keep tabs on pupils in the classroom, monitoring students online activities for signs of bullying and self-harm. Impero has worked with the Anti-Bullying Alliance to create a dictionary […]

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10 steps to self esteem

6 May 2014

Ten steps to Self Esteem ! Knowing yourself and understand what make you feel great for getting yourself on top.

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Does Social Media Make Us More Narcissistic?

21 April 2014

Absolute beauty is an obsession of modern times but the latest beauty test to hit cyberspace is pure narcissism. We had ‘the thigh gap’ (if your thighs touch at the top you’re fat), ‘the bikini bridge’ (when you lie down on a beach you need a window in between thigh bones) and now ‘the finger […]

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University of Strathclyde Research on Social Media & Body Image

11 April 2014

The latest research from the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow suggests that there is a link between spending lengthy periods of time looking at photos of friends on social media sites and body image insecurity. Researchers surveyed 881 US university women about their Facebook usage, their eating and exercise habits and overall body image. The research, […]

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Girlguiding Launches Be Body Confident campaign #BeBodyConfident

27 March 2014

Girlguiding launched a new campaign on 20 March, aiming to unite young people in a body confidence revolution. It runs concurrently with the launch of Girlguiding’s ‘Free Being Me’ Peer Education programme and badge to empower a whole generation of girls with inner body confidence. The focus of the campaign is an easy-to-take action to […]

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Girlguiding Explores Body Politics on 25th March 2014

25 March 2014

Girlguiding Explores… is a series of events that gives girls and young women the opportunity to engage with leading voices and experts on the issues they say are important. The aim is that by giving girls the chance to speak out, that they can be a powerful force for change. Chaired by Girlguiding’s CEO, Julie […]

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Girlguiding’s Evidence on the Body Confidence Crisis

22 March 2014

Girlguiding has been documenting girls’ attitudes to body image since 2009, tracking how girls and young women negotiate the pressures they face. The evidence documents girl’s views and feelings on their own bodies and the role of media and celebrity culture in influencing them. It also reveals some of the ways girls change their behaviour […]

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© 2014 - The Ugly Little Girl by Elizabeth Kesses