Miriam’s Musings

Why do we women feel pressured to be perfect?

According to research carried out by the Dove Self-Esteem Project, Irish ladies are amongst those who have ‘the lowest levels of self-esteem in the world’, sometimes experiencing self-doubt when it comes to how we look – and that’s terribly sad on so many levels.

Okay, we’ve all said things like ‘I hate my knees’ or ‘I really wish I hadn’t eaten that second piece of cake’ etc., and that’s fine, so long as these phrases don’t become the mainstay of our daily lives. If they do, and we become obsessed with striving to have the so-called ‘perfect body’, I’d worry that some of us may engage in unhealthy dieting, back-breaking exercise regimes, or worse, that we’d influence negative body image issues and disordered eating in any vulnerable teenagers or children who may overhear us.

However, when the likes of supermodel and catwalk queen Linda Evangelista, a woman who, along with pals Cindy Crawford and Naomi Campbell allegedly ‘refused to get out of bed’ for less than $10,000 (€8,530.00), is unhappy with how she looks, is it any wonder us mere mortals are experiencing insecurities? I’m referring to last week’s much-publicised stories regarding the beautiful Linda’s claims that she has been ‘left unrecognisable after a fat-freezing procedure’ which apparently went wrong.

I’ve never undergone any cosmetic procedures – surgical or non-surgical – for the simple reason I have an autoimmune disorder which makes it extremely risky to my health; otherwise I’d have my wrinkles filled with so much stretchy collagen, that when I die my body could be used to make knicker elastic.

Ms. Evangelista has alleged that this particular procedure had “not only destroyed my livelihood, it has sent me into a cycle of deep depression, profound sadness and the lowest depths of self-loathing”. She added: In the process, I have become a recluse”.

Reading these comments, I became pretty shocked. I also became relieved that my compromised immune system prevents me from messing with Mother Nature – despite what the battle-axe has done to me in my advancing years!

I feel terribly sorry for Ms. Evangelista. I cannot imagine what led to her undergoing such a procedure, especially as, in my opinion she’s clearly been blessed with a perfect face and body. But hey, it goes to show that no matter how much we women are loved and admired and told how beautiful we are, we still regularly underestimate ourselves and we will, in some instances, go to extraordinary lengths to attain those unrealistic body images and standards we imagine we should have.

With that in mind ladies, why is it that we feel so pressured to be perfect? Why are we so terrified of growing old or of gaining a few curves?

I once had a conversation with a female friend who broke down and confided to me that her fiancé told her he could envisage her being dead before he could envisage her being overweight.  Seriously! This from a man who is himself so well-proportioned Dora couldn’t even explore him.

I asked my beautiful friend if she was really happy living in a reductive relationship with an individual who was so soulless and so toxic, his main goal in life would always be to make her feel below average. Clearly she did…she married him; and, guess what, she asked me to be her matron of honour. She never told this creep what I’d said about him; she didn’t need to…I told him myself; along with a few more home-truths, all way too graphic to publish in a family newspaper.


Spay/neuter to prevent surge in kitten abandonment

To those who believe it’s acceptable to abandon an animal in this country – and, as we’re living in Roscommon, I’m placing an emphasis on this particular county – can I alert you to the fact that, under the Animal Health and Welfare Act of 2013, this is an offence which is punishable by law.

How do I know? I was one of the consultative bodies around the drafting of this Act so that we could replace the archaic Protection of Animals Act 1911, thus making the world a better place for our four-legged friends. Under this Act, all pet/companion animals are protected…this includes cats; yet only last week, some despicable, depraved sickos decided it was okay to dump defenceless new-born kittens in several locations across this county, leaving animal welfare charities/volunteers to, once again, pick up the pieces! How dare you!

For anyone who insists that ‘cats are wild animals’, they’re not…but let me enlighten you further and say that wild animals are also ‘protected’ by law, especially when they come under the control of a human. So you get it, cats/kittens are protected by law and those who put them in a box, a bucket, or a suitcase and callously dump them/jettison them from a moving vehicle into an environment where they cannot fend for themselves, are criminals committing a serious crime.

Just so you know…most animal abuse offences carry a fine of up to €5,000 and/or imprisonment for up to six months. More serious offences carry fines of up to €250,000 and up to five years in prison.

I don’t wish to distress anyone but I have to alert readers to the fact that pet/animal abuse should be seen as a ‘red flag’ as in it’s one of the four predictors of domestic partner violence. Put simply, any individual who commits an act of cruelty/causes unnecessary suffering or harm to an innocent animal is more likely to harm another human being; this could sadly be a partner or a child.

While those disturbing statistics sink in, can I say that if you have a domestic cat, in order to prevent unwanted litters, please speak to your vet about spaying/neutering. If you have feral cats in your area, please contact your local TNR/SPCA charity and seek help with their extremely low-cost community-based humane trapping, spaying/neutering programmes.

I cannot stress enough that the majority of people living in this beautiful county are wonderful, caring, compassionate human beings who genuinely love and cherish their pets/animals. I know this to be true, because I’ve met them; I’ve worked alongside them. I’ve rescued with them. I also need to stress that I know that reading about new-born kittens being dumped will provoke a deep-seated sense of upset and outrage in my lovely readers who could never, ever contemplate mistreating any animal; yet sadly folks, it’s happening; and animal charities are becoming overwhelmed, volunteers are becoming overworked and heartbroken, and someone needs to raise awareness. That’s what I’m trying to do here…thanks for caring.


Why I agree with Ming (kind of)!

Fado, fado…I remember a time when, along with my TV programme development colleagues, I was knee-deep in pilot season trying desperately hard to think of a catchy, snappy title for a new show.  However, no matter how uninventive, uninspired or drunk we got, nobody would have come up with the title ‘cheap Irish homes’; but viola, that’s what RTÉ has gone with for its new property show! Cheesy or what?

While I know a good title will never carry a poor show, I believe perhaps RTÉ should have run this one by a few focus groups first. Therefore, when I read that local MEP Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan had taken issue with the show’s content, saying: “There’s nothing cheap about house prices in Roscommon. They’re just normal. I don’t like this legitimisation of people being ripped off. The programme should be called Fairly Priced Irish Homes”, I found myself agreeing-ish!

Given it was highly unusual for me to agree with anything Mr. Flanagan said, I did consider texting Evelyn Cusack to ask if hell had frozen over; but hey, there’s a first for everything. However, what annoyed me about this show was the use of the adjective ‘cheap’ when describing anything to do with Roscommon!

Why not say value-for-money, highly affordable or popularly-priced, instead of using a word that connotes negativity, low-grade, inferior or garish? I mean, for me, the show kind of gives viewers, and those who don’t know this beautiful county and its people, the overall impression that everything is tawdry and shoddy and worthless; when it is not!

Roscommon is friendly, it’s beautiful, it’s inclusive, it’s glorious and it’s amazeballs; and I wish people would stop labelling it as being some tin-pot, below-average location! Rant over!