This Podcast is brought to you by the Gender Equality Team in the School of Pharmacy. Presenter and Broadcaster, Donna Legge is joined by a host of female influencers to discuss BEAUTY IN A DIGITAL AGE.
We hope you enjoy this discussion. Happy Listening!
Donna Legge has over 20 years experience presenting a variety of BBC radio and TV shows, including a stint as a specialist music presenter for Radio 1. Since 2016, Donna has worked as a Communications Officer for a charity, and is a professional voiceover artist.
Donna graduated from Trinity College, Dublin with a BA (Hons) in Psychology. She lives in Belfast with her husband, two daughters and a "badly behaved dog."
As well as being a Psychology Lecturer at the University of Exeter, Hazel is also an Employability and Professionalism Officer, the Programme Director of SOP and a Senior Academic Misconduct Officer for CLES.
10 years ago, Hazel became passionate about women's relationship with food and their body.
"Although the medium of how women view and compare their body might have changed dramatically Hazel says "we are bombarded with unrealistic images that we are supposed to emulate.
#thinspiration saw damaging images of thin women celebrated in society as the 'ideal' - where thinness was synonymous with success. #fitspiration was supposed to represent the backlash to this, showing a more realistic image. Sadly, research has shown that these images are just as damaging to women. Men seem slightly more resilient to the power of Instagram - but these are conversations that need to be happen in the public arena."
Rebecca is currently a community pharmacist working mainly in West Belfast, where she is originally from. She also owns her own aesthetic and skincare business with her partner who is a doctor. During the Covid-19 pandemic, however, Rebecca returned to the front line.
"After winning Miss Ireland in 2012 it was always very important for me to return to Queen’s University Belfast to complete my education in pharmacy. I took one year out from university during the time I was at Miss World. Having one of the best pharmacy schools in the UK on my doorstep was excellent, and I am very proud to have studied at Queen’s.
I have four years pharmacy experience, although it feels much longer. I competed my pre-reg in Woodbourne Pharmacy, which is one of the busiest in West Belfast. I was told if I could work there, I could work anywhere and the experience was invaluable. Since then, I have worked for large multiples and also small local pharmacies across NI.
I am passionate about pharmacy because the local pharmacist is such a vital part of the community and even more so now during the pandemic. I’m so proud to be able to help people when so many other services are unavailable. The role of the community pharmacist goes far beyond the 9-5 and a lot of people are not aware of just how critical we are to facilitating optimum patient care. Pharmacists have always worked very hard for little recognition and I’d like to highlight the vital work they do in NI.
There are vast options available for graduates today and less traditional careers are now accessible for pharmacists more than ever before. Pharmacists have become more integrated in primary and secondary care as our skills are so appliable. In my case for instance, I learned how to run a clinic while working at Boots as I trained to be one of several vaccination specialist pharmacists in NI. From this experience, I gained the confidence to start a private clinic after completing further advanced training."
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Alexandra Sikiniotis is a health and fitness expert with 20 years of experience within the industry. She’s a personal trainer, martial arts, yoga, mediation and mindset coach, and motivational speaker. She is also a mother of two to Chløe 23 and Dea 9.
Her passion is to empower others to step into their own innate beauty through building confidence by exercising body, mind and heart.
Alex's career highlights include a stint on the TV programme 'Gladiators' and being part of an international team, running wellness retreats across the U.K. and Europe. Check out yogafit RETREATS for further information.
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Katrina Doran graduated from Queen's University Belfast with a BSc (Hons) in Psychology and is currently a beauty writer and make-up artist for Film and TV. Katrina is a pro-aging skincare advocate, acne and rosacea specialist and a self confessed lover of Dermatology white papers!
"As a Psychology graduate and a make up artist I’m fascinated by the concept of ‘beauty’. As a child I learned to draw by copying comic book artists which is probably the most idealized representation of the structure of the human body and the essential element is symmetry.
From a purely biological point of view we are predisposed to be attracted to symmetry - as a sign of high quality DNA. In nature - symmetrical patterns are the most pleasing to the eye – flowers, leaves, pets and partners! How the eyes perceive and process symmetry is just another word for beauty. The golden equation is how the brain views symmetry without judgement and translates it into what is ‘pleasing to the eye’. We are programmed to look for that genetic perfection.
An ideal of beauty has been put forward in art since the renaissance with portraits being painted of an idealised beauty. The sitter may have had pock marks and boils on their skin but the artists paintbrush smoothed that out like a modern day photoshop or a filter. A plumper figure showed that they could afford to eat well so this was aspired to at that time. The idea that social media is to blame – it’s just a tool that can be as positive for our self worth and mental health as it can be negative.
To be beautiful as we age is absolutely possible. For me, to care for your skin is the basis of positive mental health practice - a daily form of self-care that promotes positivity and self confidence. If women want to have tweakments or full surgery that is for them to decide. The big issue comes when women alter themselves so much that they are unrecognizable – psychologically is that healthy for their minds? But who are we to judge?"
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Cara is a final year undergraduate pharmacy student and is very passionate about hearing the concerns of other students, working closely with charities and working to break down barriers in mental health.
"I think we have so much work to do to reshape how we think about mental health and lay the foundations for better support for future generations to come. Students in particular make up some of the most vulnerable groups to experience poor self-esteem and body dysmorphia. We may also be the most culpable group in society for feeding the concept of ‘beauty sickness’ through social media. In any case, I’m hoping my voice can contribute to the transformation of what we conceive beauty to be, and how our children and grandchildren will grow up to view themselves."