Sunday, 18 November 2012

Caroline Pemberton: Body Image Ambassador

Caroline Pemberton
With orphans in Timor
Caroline Pemberton is an Australian model who was crowned the 2007 Miss Australia. For the past 4 years she has run an upbeat, positive healthy body image program called ‘Real Body Image’ which teaches media literacy to teenagers in high schools. It covers the pressures we face to have the “perfect” body and how they affect our body image and self esteem.  We chatted for an hour last week and she is insightful, inspiring and intelligent.

Caroline attributes her adventurous nature and passion for a challenge to her "incredible family". Aged 19, three months in Nepal was her first overseas experience, where she met up with her brother Rex, the youngest Aussie to climb Everest, aged 21.
Modelling since the age of 16, she was convinced by her agent to contest Miss Australia and won in 2007. She discovered, in the ensuing media exposure, "the power to tell a story".

Though she began a psychology degree, she was drawn to travelling and media roles. Caroline praises her studies for her ability to recognise the pressure of media and society on not only the public, but those in front of the camera in particular. Despite being 6 ft, blonde and beautiful, Caroline was regularly being told to lose weight during modelling casting calls. She didn't concede and recognised the "negative thought pattern" that threatened to take over if she allowed herself to focus on it.
Having travelled extensively, she noted "the extraordinary differences in what beauty means to various cultures, especially in the Asian and African regions". This proved to her that "beauty is incredibly subjective".
Caroline pre and post airbrushing
Real Body Image
 'Real Body Image' is a non-for-profit program that scrutinises the airbrushing of images, explores cultural beauty differences and how our ideals of beauty have changed throughout centuries of history. Her approach is "we are all susceptible to feeling overwhelmed and negative about our bodies. Let's TALK about it!"

Her own relationship with health and fitness is a fabulous example. Caroline aims for balance and feeling good as a measure of her wellbeing. She eats a rich and varied diet, and happily admits her weight fluctuates over the year depending on the season and the type of foods she is craving. As a high-energy type, Caroline does boxing 3 times a week and goes for interval training designed to be short and high impact.

We discuss at length the fact that media relies on profit, and therefore advertising to exist. Advertisers need to constantly find new products and new messages - faults and flaws that we need to fix to be beautiful, healthier, better. I mean, "pore minimising" serum? Really?

What we both acknowledge is the immense power of the mind to influence the body. Every day, remember that your body is an "incredible machine". Thinking about how it serves you and how many amazing functions are going on just to allow you to exist. Encourage the men and women you love to see how beautiful they are.

If you fear that the "negative thought pattern" that inevitably leads to an eating disorder and/or depression is affecting you or someone you know, be aware that it can't just be gotten over like a flu and no amount of "positive thinking" will be enough. Speak to your GP and find support and information at The Butterfly Foundation

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