Día de los Muertos y Dia de Todos Los Santos


This will be my first year experiencing Day of the Dead, All Soul’s Day/All Saints Day in Spain. Funnily enough I haven’t spoken to any of my friends here about what is usually done to celebrate in Madrid. So consequently I have done some research, and this is what I have come with.

Oh, an interesting note to add before hand; Día de los Muertos has an uncanny resemblance to original Celtic celebrations, which were also celebrated on November 1st. The Celtic peoples honoured their dead; believing that November 1st was a day of transition between the old and the new. The people made offerings to their dead of fruit and vegetables; as those who had died (the spirits) would travel to the land of the dead together.

Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) it is traditionally a Mexican holiday on November 1st; family and friends come together to pray for, and remember friends and family members who have died.

Traditions connected with this holiday include building private altars to honour the deceased using sugar skulls, marigolds, along with favourite foods and beverages of the departed. Visiting graves with these as gifts is part of the celebration too. They also leave possessions of the deceased at the grave.

This holiday has its origins dating back hundreds of years; Aztec festivals for the Goddess Mictecacihuatl were the inspiration.

Day of the Dead has connection with the Catholic holidays of All Soul’s Day on November 2nd.

In Spain Dia de Todos Los Santos (All Saint’s Day) is celebrated on November 1st. In Madrid the 1st has been declared as a holiday, and most businesses will be closed.

Ofrendas (offerings) are made on this day to the dead. Friends and families visit the graves of their loved ones; to pray for them, leave candles and flowers. People will travel back to their home-towns, and villages to offer their respects also.

Presents are often given to children too; usually sweets and toys (similar to Halloween).

Streets are congested with cars heading to the cemeteries, out of the city. Florists sell more flower arrangements than at any other time of the year. Bakeries produce special orders of specific pastries like Hueso de Santos (Saint Bones). This pastry is traditional and made of marzipan, egg and sugar syrup.

People in Spain are frequently named after a saint. As is the case in many other Catholic countries; consequently people have their birthday, as well as their saint day, in honour of the saint they were named after.

Another little fact to add is that the play ‘Don Juan Tenorio’ is also traditionally performed during this time in Spain. In fact, once a year for over a century this tradition had taken place!

Copy Right Notice:
© Bex Houghagen and The Savvy Senorita, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Bex Houghagen and The Savvy Senorita with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

You Can’t Handle The Truth!


Laying it all bare, for the world to see, dropping the pretence, the charade?

I agree with being honest. Just being free enough to say this is me, this is it, these are my feelings and so on; but most people don’t want honesty. In fact studies show we don’t even want honesty ourselves; our own unconscious brain dictates that. Under tests participants have proven to blatantly ignore truthful facts if they are detrimental to them as humans. It seems lies are a human fundamental, a defence mechanism; part of something ancient that remains within us all.

So basically, when we are faced with the harsh truth, our minds deny it so we as a species can carry on living. Maybe without those lies we tell ourselves daily we’d never get up in the mornings?!

If we saw the real truth all the time we might decide to merely curl up and die, because the truth often is grimmer than the reality we think we know and see around us.

Lets face it the truth can be detrimental, examples; chances of getting cancer in your lifetime, chances of dying of a heart attack, likelihood of divorce, chances of being cheated on, murder, becoming homeless, being bankrupt, unemployed or never fulfilling a life’s dream. In short it takes away hope, and no one wants to admit that whatever they are doing could cause themselves harm in the long run.

Truth when applied to some situations merely deprives us of the remotest possibility that everything will be OK. Regardless of the adversity and the odds that are against us, we all hope everything will be OK in the end.

As people we are therefore used to being tricksters, excellent at concealing the truth even within ourselves. We have our reasons no doubt, does it always have to be because we have a hidden agenda or can’t face up to reality? Aren’t some things best left to the imagination or indeed left unsaid?

If we could always see and hear the truth would we choose to? Could everyone cope with seeing behind the veil of everyone’s reality or the world’s for that matter; no I don’t think we all could. I understand there are some things that need to be revealed as truth, but it is doubtful that everything truthful would be received as a ‘blessing’, because people are used to a life in the dark; and there are some truths that might be out of our comprehension.

Maybe then living a half lie is OK?

Perhaps so, as not every lie is meant to be harmful.

We as people should be able to choose what part of life we want to see as a harsh reality, and that which we choose not to; and what pieces of our own psyche we conceal and that which we don’t (it is our prerogatives as humans). After all no one knows anyone or anything 100%; we and everything around us are based on opinions (how we perceive ourselves, others and the world). Who’s truth is correct? Some people don’t even know themselves 100%; so how can they fathom out any lies inside themselves, how can they know what they are seeing in the world is a lie or the truth?

What is the truth anyway? Isn’t it relative to the situation, person, place, time and so on? Perhaps one person’s lie is merely another persons truth?

What do you think? Please leave me some food for thought!!!!

Copy Right Notice:
© Bex Houghagen and The Savvy Senorita, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Bex Houghagen and The Savvy Senorita with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Brain Plasticity – How Do We Learn?


Brain Plasticity – looks as complex as it sounds?

Well, last week I had my first official Intercambio meeting (Spanish and English language exchange), via a college here in Madrid. I have written about learning Spanish in a previous post, and the trials and tribulations of becoming accustomed to a new language and life setting. It is not as though I don’t use what Spanish I have learnt, or practice with others, but this Intercambio meeting was the first step in officially ratifying and testing my learning.

Needless to say I felt very nervous. One reason was the fact I didn’t know who I would be meeting with, and I couldn’t be certain whether we would have any common ground to even begin a conversation with. Secondly I really pinned my hopes on using this meeting as a vehicle to gain acquaintance with new people, and to continue to expand my networks; hence I really wanted the initial meeting to go well. Thirdly I was aware I was succumbing to my inner disappointments, because of my lack of Spanish language skills. I therefore felt I was going to be somehow inferior to everyone else present. I have this belief that everyone I meet has mastered a second or third language far better than I ever will; not a conducive thought for the learning processes to take hold (I know).

Anyway, I was eagerly punctual, as always and begun chatting to one of the staff at the college who is Romanian. He was trying to reassure me that it does take time to learn any language well enough to speak confidently, while proceeding to provide me with the same advice I usually receive; go out more and interact and listen to the language being spoken, watch television and listen to the radio. Basically submerse myself in the language on a daily basis.

Of course I agree with this, but again I seem to struggle, though admittedly I am not submerging myself enough.

However, I have reached a point where I am considering my brain’s capacity to actually learn a new language. Is it physically possible for me to learn a new language, have I the specific abilities required in this type of learning or is it merely my self doubt hindering my abilities because I insist on being under confident?

Learning is a complex, but it often happens without conscious recognition; it is something we do everyday without thought. I wondered how it was possible to even begin learning anything, how is learning made easy or completed by the brain. Well, after studying Psychology I know the scientific facts of how the brain absorbs and retains information; written, spoken, memories and actions. I have learnt about Neurons, Neural pathways and Synapses. Yet, how does what we learn, see or do actual stick; what acts do we complete whilst learning something to make the physical processes in the brain kick in?

I considered the theory of ‘brain plasticity’, I wondered if it were applicable. Put simply this theory states; plasticity is something that occurs when we engage in new learning and experience, the brain begins to establish neural pathways to compensate. Neural pathways or circuits are routes made of inter-communicating neurons. These routes are created in the brain through learning and practice; like retreading a path. Visual and auditory cortex’s can be involved in the process, as well as muscle memory. The more you revisit the new experience or learning activity, the stronger the connections become, the more efficient they are made and the faster cognition will become.

Sounds simple enough right?! Well, I now have begun to wonder if my brain has lost out on this plasticity malarkey. Just how much brain plasticity I have in reference to being able to learn new language skills?

Now I haven’t completed a scientific test, but surely not all people are able to learn and perfect everything? The scientific theory seems to make it all sound so easy; the old adage of practice makes perfect resonates throughout it. Yet, what if the practice itself is difficult? What if you prefer something more than the other, won’t that effect what and how you learn? How is it that I can read or watch something I find interesting in English, and retain the information immediately, and in Spanish I feel as though my brain resists the information and learning process?

Are some areas of learning or things to be learnt, just out of bounds for some people? I mean not everyone can dance, play guitar, recall their maths times tables; so cannot that be true of language?

I feel there is always a piece of the learning process missing when it comes to practising Spanish. I know practice and effort are the key, but also self belief, confidence and understanding what we are learning have importance too. Maybe they hold more importance than the actual effort and practice. From experience repetition and effort doesn’t always succeed in making learning kick in and stick. Or could it be that once you get past your teens learning becomes more difficult; because finding the time and head space to fully dedicate yourself, and concentrate completely on learning something new becomes more scarce?

Anyway, I intend to put the theories to the test, on myself in any-case. I have the opportunity to do so as the Intercambio meeting went well, and I will be meeting with a couple of people on a regular basis to practice Spanish. Hopefully I can then shock my brain into action or reaction! I don’t really want to seriously consider the fact that my brain might not have the capacity to learn a new language; that thought doesn’t appeal to me. I feel there has to be a way! I will therefore use all the learning techniques available to encourage plasticity. After all, I am Mistress over my own brain, or am I?

Copy Right Notice:
© Bex Houghagen and The Savvy Senorita, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Bex Houghagen and The Savvy Senorita with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The ‘Real’ Madrid Experience – The Halloween Extravaganza


Now I know traditionally Halloween is not a Spanish past time. In fact, check the internet for ‘Ghost Tours’ or ghostly anecdotes regarding the city, and you won’t find any! Well, maybe one, regarding the haunting of the Casa de América on Paseo de Recoletos. In fact even making enquiries with people from Madrid about ghosts, and such like, produces strange and quizzical expressions, often followed by; ‘Don’t those type of things scare you’?

Me encanta (I love) Halloween!!!! It has been my favourite time of the year since I was a child. In fact I wasn’t certain what celebrating Halloween would be like in Madrid, so it is now that I find myself missing the UK most; well, at least the part of the UK I was raised anyway. Now there is a place where autumn truly is autumn! This dramatic change of season, for me, adds a touch of atmospheric dark romance to the run up to Halloween. The fragile trees, the colder weather, heavy clouded skies, the rugged scenery and the dark nights all lend their hands perfectly to the Halloween theme.

Madrid is not rugged, not surrounded by old graveyards and churches, cobbled streets, ancient houses, dark forests, rivers, valleys, mountains or fields; so then how can I celebrate Halloween here?!

Well, I may not be going the whole nine yards and re-decorating the house as a scene from a Hammer House of Horror film, but I have managed to find one concession towards making my Halloween feel like home. It is the humble Pumpkin! Don’t laugh, it may seem pathetic and childish, but I love carving Pumpkins for Halloween. It’s a ritual I have held onto for seven years, and I don’t intend to let it slip this year! This one little thing gets me in the Halloween ‘spirit’; so I say thank you Carrefour for stocking them!

Anyway, so what else does Madrid offer with Halloween in mind, well, seems like the other element missing here is ‘the’ party. Of course, on this front there is no need to worry; Madrid does parties probably better than anywhere else!

So, today I have been hunting high and low, not for ghosts and goblins though, but for the locations of these suitably scary parties and themed events.

Something Different:

Parque de Atracciones – Casa de Campo, Madrid
http://www.parquedeatracciones.es/

This theme park throws annual Halloween-fests which run on until 4th November. The park and grounds have been suitably redecorated and is hosting a wealth of Halloween treats such as; music, street entertainers and shows. Also, ensure you take a stroll through Zombie Town, and pay a visit their four interactive fright night experience ‘Haunted Houses’; Horror Circus, Necronomicon, Hospital of the Dead and The Old House.

Extremauncion – outside of Madrid on the A5 (Highway) passed Navelcamero
http://www.extremauncion.com/

A themed weekend of scary events in a remote location; Halloween dinner, drinks, a tour to set the ghostly scene, passage of terror in abandoned mansion, actors dressed to scare and camping out in a ‘haunted’ cemetery. It appears to be the complete Halloween experience in one, for a price.

The Halloween weekend will cost anything from; 70 – 80 Euros. Far cheaper if you just limit the experience to the passage of terror, seems to be roughly 6 Euros.

They do open every Saturday however, and the entry prices are not as steep ordinarily.

For their extra special Halloween-fest the dates are: 31st October to the 4th
November, and the price will be that bit extra.

In the evening the events are not suitable for children.

Enigmatium – Somewhere near to Plaza de Castilla
http://www.enigmatium.com/halloween-madrid.php

I say somewhere near Plaza de Castilla not to be facetious, but because two days before you are due to honour your reservation at the restaurant, you will receive the first clue as to where this restaurant is actually located.

The special Halloween events in this restaurant will be run 31st October / 3 and 4th November.

Check out their website for further details of the evening’s entertainment.

The Walking Dead Live (Zombies Laser Combat) – Esquivias which is 35km from Madrid A42 towards Toledo. http://www.iberikapaintball.com/paintballmadrid/paintballmadridhalloween.htm

There are limited places and ensure you wear Halloween costume as they have prizes for best dressed.

The price 49 – 69 Euros; this includes real-life zombie laser tag combat, open bar, dinner and extra after dinner surprises to test the attendee’s nerves.

Clubs and Festival:

Thriller Music Festival – Madrid Arena
http://thrillermusicpark.com/

Line-up:
Steve Aoki, Autoerotique, live PA by Army of the Universe, Ed is Dead and Julien Leik.

Tickets 22 Euros. Free drink for all who go in fancy dress, also competition for best dressed and the winner will receive 3,000 Euros.

Mondo – Calle Arlaban, 7, Madrid

31st October – DJ Hell

Siroco – Calle de San Dimas, Madrid

Music is usually; breaks, Electro-Pop, House

31st October – Fort Romeau, Hyman Bass, plus other guests.

Sala Lujuria (Creepy Halloween Party) – Leganitos, 7, Madrid

Music; Dubstep

31st October – Ruben G / MadBass.Madrid, 1st Degree / HDK.Madrid
Nubdub / HDK.Madrid, Skaar / HDK.Madrid

Puerta del Sol and Irish Bars:

27th October Halloween Pub Crawl – pick up point Plaza Mayor
http://www.getyourguide.com/madrid/skip-the-line-madrid-halloween-pub-crawl-t15281/

Start time is 22:00 at Tourist Information at Plaza Mayor.

Price is 24 Euros which includes; visit 3 bars and a club, free alcohol, VIP entry to the club, costume prizes.

Most Irish Bars in Madrid are holding some special event or another over Halloween; including fancy dress prizes, drink offers and special cocktails. Here are some of them below.

Dubliners – Espoz y Mina, 7, Madrid

O’Connell’s – (address as above)

O’Neills – Principe, 12, Madrid

Final Note:

I’m planning to do an updated version of this post, once I have sampled the fright night on offer here in Madrid. So with the Madrid party ethos in mind I intend to make the most of Halloween here this year, which will include donning the fancy dress, and taking a stroll around the streets to frequent the many bars. Then and only then will I truly know what my favourite day of the year is like in this crazy city!

!!!!!!Wishing you all a wonderful and happy Halloween!!!!!!

Copy Right Notice:
© Bex Houghagen and The Savvy Senorita, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Bex Houghagen and The Savvy Senorita with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

I Am King or Queen of My Castle and I Refuse to Surrender.


A friend of mine has recently suspended her Facebook account; she has plenty on her plate at the moment, which has of course occurs as part and parcel of her fully developed and healthy adult life. However, one of the reasons she mentioned was how she was fed up with receiving persistent emails, and messages from people she had only known as a teenager.

Now, I have had similar issues with Facebook; as good as it is to locate family and those you value as friends, it allows others to try to invade your space. Some of the people who might try to re-establish contact could be past friends, some could even have be your worst nightmare; the enemy that despised you, and the bully that ridiculed you making your life a misery.

Can you trust these people to re-enter your adult life based on what you knew about them in the past? What are their motives to trying to gain re-entry into your life?

I wonder if everyone is familiar with these types of people; the ones who harp on about the past, those who desperately desire to re-new a friendship that was only founded on a specific place and moment, also those who wish to try and re-establish their sense of greatness (‘look what I have been doing, aren’t you all jealous’), and of course the bullies from the playground?

All these people you may have purposefully lost contact with (years ago), suddenly feel they have a right to wander back into your life, and act as though nothing transpired to make them, a friend from the past or just someone you had to suffer. Maybe you consigned them to the past for a damn good reason!

It seems people are just so eager to parachute back into our lives; to pry, because they are guilty for their past actions, maybe because they have nothing else to focus on or perhaps they want to re-exert their dominance? Have they so little in their own lives that they have to cling to what was? Maybe they haven’t made a new life for themselves? Maybe they are fixating on what was, and are stuck in the same mind set and situations they were when you knew them? Maybe they want to feel a part of something more once again?

If they haven’t moved on and experienced life, if they haven’t changed their ‘spots’, is it because they are too afraid to? How could they have managed to escape immersing themselves in life, maturing and developing into an adult? What I mean is, are they stuck, frozen in one moment forever; unable to escape that child or teenager perspective on the world?

I call this ‘I’m the King/Queen of my castle’ syndrome, it is not uncommon. To explain; people like to feel important and it doesn’t matter whether they are billionaires, popular people in their neighbourhoods or the school favourite. If they have been or are deemed to be ‘top dog’ somewhere, sometime, by someone; this alters their view of themselves. When this self belief (view of themselves) is challenged by those who they bullied or those they classed as friends, because now those people they knew have more or have achieved more than them; these ‘Kings and Queens’ self beliefs are then set at odds. Suddenly their world is no longer rosy.

People don’t like to think they haven’t achieved much by others standards, or that their enemies or playground victims have surpassed them. Yet, who is really judging them, and making them feel inferior; the child grown into an adult that they bullied, their old friend or themselves?

Maybe in the real world, in another setting which is remote from their own, these ‘Kings and Queens’ begin to feel inconsequential? Perhaps they cannot cope with having to re-build their status or gain something new and different, so they have retreated from immersing themselves in new experiences. Maybe something which is outside of their comfort zone is deemed a scary place to be? Is it that they have built a wall of protection around themselves to always feel secure in their choices? If that is their choice, and they are happy, surely it is fine with the world; as long as they then leave everyone else and their choices alone? However, in my experience that doesn’t happen.

If these ‘Kings and Queens’ do feel afraid of the new, of change and development, and they have made their choices to retreat to their castles freely; why then do they feel as though they have lost out, and become jealous of what they perceive to be a better life than theirs? Why is it people cannot just be happy and move on? What to they hope to gain from renewing a long dead connection or forgotten friendship?

I admit that I feel sceptical when presented with these ‘Kings and Queens’. As I have mentioned already I have experienced this, and not just on Facebook either. I have seen some pretty vicious and poisonous things occur through jealousy; from the friend of the past aimed at the person they feel has managed to move on and develop a healthy adult life, from those who were the bully, and also from those trying to re-exert their greatness. It is a frightening thought, as you can never truly know what ‘can of worms’ you will open buying into what is portrayed on the internet; especially with cases of internet bullying on the rise (not just children get bullied), not to forget those who have been stalked or even murdered. Seems dramatic, maybe not, not for those who have suffered as a result of what seemed to be an innocuous internet ‘friendship’.

I will now ask the questions again; can you trust these ‘Kings and Queens’ to re-enter your adult life based on what you knew about them in the past? What are their motives to trying to gain re-entry into your life?

Are they harmless individuals stuck in the past or an enemy, a danger lurking in wait?

Links about Adult and Child Cyber Bullying:

http://www.overcomebullying.org/cyberbullying.html
http://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/adult-bullies/

BBC One Panorama – http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01c00y3
BBC Schools – http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/parents/cyber_bullying/
Childline – http://www.childline.org.uk/Explore/Bullying/Pages/CyberBullying.aspx

Copy Right Notice:
© Bex Houghagen and The Savvy Senorita, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Bex Houghagen and The Savvy Senorita with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Who Is Being Allowed To Redefine Normal: Women The Endangered Species – A Life In Vain


Google search results for websites:

Those displaying Anorexia – 32,500,000
Those displaying Pro-ana websites – 8,530,000
Pro-ana tips – 2,840,000
Those displaying ‘thinspiration’ – 2,700,000

……And those displaying ‘curvaceous women’ – 3,950,000

Women with ‘lovely lady lumps’ are indeed outnumbered, maybe they are even becoming an endangered species.

I have become quite obsessed with body image lately, seemingly revisiting my own troubled teen years, but looking at it all through very different eyes now I have gained life experience. I am more analytical of what I once took to be the truth about what women should be. I am fortunately no longer crippled with self-doubts and hatred, albeit, even I’ll admit it is difficult to keep a healthy mind and attitude with the constant bombardment of what we now call ‘normal’. It has reached new heights, far and beyond more extreme than it ever it was when I was a teen (which isn’t that long ago let me add)! So, if I struggle as a grown woman to see myself as a complete person, even though I am not a size 8 and below, then how do the teens of today cope?

I have been doing some research, looking at and listening to; websites, photographs, opinions and documentaries. I have looked at UK Parliament Publications, Mind, Clinical Knowledge Summaries (CKS) Service, B-eat UK and also pro-ana sites (which I am not prepared to name here for concern of promoting such sites). I have seen the fashion shoots of Solve Sundsbo shown in ‘V’ magazine of normal women with curves, Dove’s ‘real women’ campaign and considered the successes of Beth Ditto and Adele. I read about celebrities who struggle with, and eventually succumb to losing the pounds such as; Kelly Clarkson, Kourtney Kardashian, Jennie Garth, Bryce Dallas, Kelly Osbourne; and even Lady Gaga. I have watched ‘Living with Size Zero’, ‘The Truth About Size Zero’ with Louise Redknapp, Dawn Porter’s ‘Super Slim Me’, ‘Dying To Be Anorexic’, ‘Anorexia’s Living Face’ CBS News about Isabelle Caro’s struggle, ‘The truth About Online Anorexia’ with Fern Cotton, Jennifer Livingston’s response to being bullied about being ‘fat’, ‘Supersize v’s Superskinny’, so on and so on.

The amount of information available and the opinions on the content is vast and confusing. It seems starving to be thin is OK, as long as no one really discusses the effects; mental and physical (using Isabelle Caro as an example; how shocked the world was to see what starvation had done to her body, and yet in other ways we are happy to promote such actions. It is all very contradictory, so is there such a thing as too thin? The fashion industry may not think so, but there are people out there who do and are at last being heard.

So why would the average woman, and by that I mean every woman who will by definition of being a woman, have curves; want to destroy her body to re-gain the body of a teen, or of a prepubescent girl? Who would want to have the body and measurements of a seven year old? Why is that deemed attractive, the ideal model and ‘norm’? Why would anyone starve and make themselves so miserable, weak and unhealthy just to have the waist-line of a child; to become a size 8 or below when that is a highly unrealistic goal for them? Since when did exercising daily, eating healthily, taking all things in moderation become the route to being a painfully thin young woman, with unhealthy body and food relationships?

Surely there is still a place for flesh on women’s bones?

Women should have curves, and frankly what is being classed as ‘obese’ these days is ludicrous, and damaging for peoples psyche; hence the confusion over ‘normal’. A size 14 is seen as ‘fat’! Why? When did that become OK as the new rule? Who was responsible for making that rule?

There is no doubt people are being sent mixed messages about what is healthy and normal; vulnerable girls and boys see it everyday, so why do we wonder that so many people are dying to be thin. One minute size zero is terrible, the next, size 14 is obese; who can win the battle of the waist-lines with this destructive attitude being forced on us all. Yet it isn’t just size zero, now we see size 8 as curvy, when I was a teen size 10/12 was the ‘norm’, now size 8 is the ideal of the curvy woman. Yeah, if you happen to be petite, great; I have a niece who is a size 8 and is petite beyond belief, she still eats and drinks like a horse though. The reason, size 8 is her natural frame for her body shape! It isn’t normal for every woman out there though!

If celebrities and people in general stray off extreme diet paths they soon gain weight, and quickly. Yet, the weight gain is more shocking than their lack of weight and the reasons behind it. Maybe their initial weight was too low to be sustainable; their diet and exercise regime too restrictive and unreal. Isn’t having children also a time of normal weight gain for women? Yet even that is shunned and a disgrace.

What then is so abnormal about gaining weight? Every week a new celebrity is seen larger than before, because they are failing to cope with what the world dictates they should be naturally, and they are not! The weight they gain is seen as gargantuan and unhealthy, but no doubt nothing more than again, a size 14, as the camera is said to also add 10 pounds to the body. If in reality everyone is struggling to remain unnaturally thin, and what appears as their natural thinness is a sham, a lie; then their weight gain merely takes them back to the size they should be!

Look at Christina Aguilera at the moment. I applaud how she is embracing her body as a 31 year old mother and enjoying being curvy. I hope she doesn’t cave in to the mounting pressure and relent to revert to her teen image. Which, people also censured as too thin!

Christina Aguilera now

Christina Aguilera as she was in her early career.

I know there are some people who once they gain weight, do become far larger than Christina, but it is no wonder. In the spot light, their heads must be ruined; all the pressure to conform to, the rules they must obey, the ideals of others they have to attain. How can they know what a healthy food relationship is? Yet, it is as equally unhealthy to starve; eating only 800 calories a day, exercising obsessively, seeing protruding bones, skin and hair falling from the body and having no periods. Being ‘obese’ or too ‘thin’; neither extreme is healthy, yet one gets more encouragement as normal, acceptable and healthy than the other.

I know there will always be people who think ‘fat’ is bad. Kate Moss may believe the mantra: ‘Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels’, but then whenever I see a picture of her face (without airbrushing), it tells the true story of not eating, clearly enough. She maybe a size of a child, but her face isn’t as youthful. It is just so darn sexy substituting food for alcohol, drugs and nicotine! It’s a glamorous life she leads, yeah, the life of an addict; substituting food for every other prop she can find. Ralph Lauren may have famously airbrushed a model to look so thin that her head was wider than her waist; it says freak show to me, it says he likes to make women look like a joke. It is not a ‘must have’ look, it is not healthy or sexy!

It is the insistence that thin is healthy, and fat of any description is bad, which perpetuates ‘sick’ and destructive thoughts in the younger generations. People can insist they are a size zero and don’t starve themselves, but after watching Louise Redknapp and Dawn Porter both struggle to try to become a size zero, I’m not so sure. Losing weight, restricting calories below a healthy level, and exercising 52 hours a week, hearing what the experts said people do to become a size zero; how unhealthy it is, what damage it causes and how it can kill them. Well I think that is not how a healthy life should be led. Why is eating so unhealthy? People eat, as humans we should, because without it we’d die. It is normal not to eat, but not normal to survive off apples and cucumbers, black coffee and cigarettes!

There are pro-ana and thinspiration sites which help to encourage extreme thinness, as opposed to being a healthy weight. As I have already mentioned previously, I won’t give the addresses or names of these websites in this post. On these sites ‘fat’ women or girls, are encouraged with hints and tips, and the mutual bonding, and understanding of a friendly support system, so they can shed astronomical pounds. It is basically camaraderie of death that is being publicly flaunted. Then there are message boards on ordinary sites in response to articles about weight issues; how distorted people’s views are about being ‘over weight’! I was shocked to read them! People don’t realise that thin models can be ill, anorexic, bulimic, and airbrushed. It seems at every turn normal women are being rejected by an ever harsher societal view of once again, female beauty.

Yet, who is anyone to be a judge and jury; no one is perfect. To blatantly authorise women to kill themselves in pursuit of thinness is ghastly though; morbid and akin to genocide. We ignore these issues every day, and everyday someone becomes victim to anorexia and someone will die as a result of that illness. How is that OK, but being ‘curvy’ isn’t?! Priorities and very wrong, spring to mind.

What is this hate campaign waged on normal women? Lack of food and nutrition kills too, not just ‘obesity’, and it will store up trouble for any woman in the future; low Estrogen levels, infertility, brittle bones, heart disease, wasted muscles (including the heart), kidney failings, and so and so on.

No wonder our children suffer with body issues if the media and world at large project this ‘norm’ onto them. We have a responsibility to readjust body image back to healthy, but we refuse.

We keep reaffirming there is a boundary between; merely thin, losing a bit of weight, counting our calories, increasing the exercise, avoiding eating in public, and being anorexia, but I don’t know anymore. What constitutes a disorder, what qualifies you to fit into food disorder statistics? Is it merely a BMI under 18? There isn’t one person I know who hasn’t some issue with food in one way or another, or issues with themselves and their own body image; so what do these statistics mean when everyone is engaging in some form of abnormal act or relationship with food and their own bodies? Are what we see on thinspiration sites, ordinary chat sites, celebrity sites that pull women apart for being a woman to blame; or is it complex internal and genetic issues that spark food and body issues? Who can be sure for all cases?

So much nonsense saturates into the public domain every day, now our view of ‘normal’ is skewed. What people aspire to be is skewed, as we as a society have become increasingly; obsessed, restrictive, and denying our bodies nutrition for the sake of thinness. So what is so unnatural and wrong if we are seeing it promoted everywhere, hearing about and seeing websites dedicated to extremely thin ‘inspirational’ role models?

Maybe this is the new normal; thin, ill, underweight and so on? It will be, if we cannot curb our hatred towards difference and real women, and quit the morbid fascination with skeletal women.

I’m not saying naturally thin women should be scorned or reviled with disgust either, but neither should everyone above a size 8! Who perhaps doesn’t fit this thin mould we are all pressing as the norm. If we continue this way then it will be the norm for young people from now until eternity; always subjected to hating themselves, pulling their minds and bodies apart, making themselves ill, punishing others to succumb too, and even killing themselves. This viscous circle will never end.

If we are happy with that, happy to kill off the next generation of women and men who become afflicted by body issues, then we should by all means carry on this way. Yet, I would rather see someone eat, be happy with themselves and to live their lives; rather than starve and be miserable, feel pain, waste their lives revolving around food and body issues, only to then die an even more miserable death. All of it in vain.

Is this image grotesque? Does it portray a ‘fat’ or ‘normal woman?’

What about this woman?

Are these images inspirational? Is this the face and body of ‘normal’?

Below are some interesting statistics on Eating Disorders; food for thought for us all –

UK Parliament – Publications:
The amount of people suffering has increased from 419 in 1996-97 to 620 in 2004-05.
These figures only represent individual cases admitted into NHS hospitals in England (not the whole of the UK).

Clinical Knowledge Summaries (CKS) Service:
The highest rates of anorexia are seen in female teenagers aged between 13 and 19, with 51 per of 100,000 cases being seen each year.

Approximately 10% of cases of anorexia arise in men.

Around 5% of cases of anorexia will be fatal.

Currently, in developing countries and black communities, anorexia nervosa appears to be somewhat rare.

Mind UK:
In the UK, 1 in 100 women aged between 15 and 30 suffers from anorexia.

Reports show girls as young as five years of age have weight concerns, and think about going on a diet.

There are many documentaries on Youtube regarding children anorexia sufferers. Very upsetting, but honest.

B-eat UK:
‘The most accurate figures we are aware of are those from the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence. These suggest that 1.6 million people in the UK are affected by an eating disorder, of which around 11% are male. However, more recent research from the NHS information centre showed that up to 6.4% of adults displayed signs of an eating disorder (Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey, 2007). This survey also showed that a quarter of those showing signs of an eating disorder were male, a figure much higher than previous studies had suggested’.

Thank you for reading my post, I hope it has given you something to consider?
Leave comments below please!

Copy Right Notice:
© Bex Houghagen and The Savvy Senorita, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Bex Houghagen and The Savvy Senorita with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Happy ‘Fiesta Nacional de España’ Everyone!!!!


Happy National Day!!

Hispanic Day (Día de la Hispanidad) or National Day (Fiesta Nacional de España) is an annual national public holiday in Spain on October 12. It commemorates when Christopher Columbus first set foot in the Americas in 1492.

The oh so severe looking Mr Columbus.

What Happens?

The King of Spain supervises the raising of the Spanish national flag in the centre of Madrid. He and the Prime Minister will then lead a military procession. This parade includes representatives from most of Spain’s military units and various military vehicles. Armed forces’ planes perform aerobatics above the parade route and display yellow and red smoke to represent the Spanish flag. Radio, television and Internet news services broadcast live on these events.

Another day off then?

Absolutely! Did you know that Madrid has celebrated 16 Public Holidays this year?! So many I feel I may have lost count and missed a few in-between!

Hispanic Day IS a day off work!!!! I would say normally spent at home, quietly, with family members and close friends, but, knowing Madrid I’d say more like an opportunity for a PARTY!

However, this afternoon, it is oh so quiet……

Generally many businesses and stores, except Opercor (super market) are closed. Public transport services have a reduced schedule too.

If National Day happens to fall on a Sunday, regional or local authorities can move the public holiday to a different date. Example: If October 12 falls on a Tuesday or Thursday, then many businesses and organisations will be closed on Monday October 11, or Friday 13 October.

Some people may use the long weekend to take a short vacation in Spain or abroad during these days. Either way it is ANOTHER excuse for a, party! ‘When in Rome’, well, Madrid anyway, it would be rude therefore NOT to follow their lead!

A Diary of A ‘Shallow Hal’


I have noticed that whenever kids receive presents they are always fascinated by the pretty, and elaborate packaging of the gifts. Colourful and ornate wrapping papers, ribbons and bows hold absolute obsession for them; they have no interest in the box the gifts are in, so preoccupied with the outer appearances they ignore the real gift inside. I got to thinking; are we still those children, only enamoured and preoccupied by the wrappings of people, and not interested in opening the box to discover the true beauty of the person within?

The human race seems to be fascinated with outer beauty and appearances, so much so that we seemingly cannot look beyond. What is beauty? Is it merely powder, paint and Photoshop or is there more to it than that?

After only a quick internet search it wasn’t long before I discovered articles, blogs, posts and so on, pertaining to physical manifestations of beauty. One such article discussed how women who are a size 14 and above are lost causes in the attractiveness scale, while another stated ordinary women are just not attractive sexually; another pondered the deep and meaningful question of why men settle for a second best woman, so on and so on. Others encouraged men to view potential partners on a 1-10 attractiveness scale; 7 being the cut off point for the dating factor! The site said, ‘if a 6 stops eating for a week she becomes a ‘7’, then she is maybe datable’. Therefore, no woman should be dated who ranks below a 7!

The story of ‘Shallow Hal’ seems to iterate this notion of beauty being the ‘b’ all and end all of the things we should seek in others. Shallow Hal is a man who refuses to see beauty in anyone else if they don’t fit into a stereotypical ideal of perfection, regardless of that person’s abilities and personality; until some kind of spell is cast, and then he meets his true love, a 300 pound woman. Surely everyone has seen this movie? Surely everyone knows someone who might be classed as a Shallow Hal? Do we all need that magical spell to prevent us from becoming him?
The message I found was that only outward appearances are considered or even quantified. Everything was focused on subjective opinions of beauty by those writing the articles, posts, blogs and whatever else! Who are these people doing the judging? I wonder what bad deal life has dealt them that they feel they have this axe to grind against people just being themselves, whatever the physical form! Maybe these people have never experienced a grown up and loving relationship, but with an attitude where they measure everyone against a scale of 1-10, I doubt anyone would come up to their expectations.

Who are any of us to really judge beauty/attractiveness when each person sees something different in the next? We are all different shapes, sizes and colours, we all have different facial features and quirks to bring something different into the gene pool, to be a match for someone out there. So then why are we obsessed with being attractive/ beautiful based on the point of view of someone else, or, based on the view of the fashion or beauty industry? We don’t know them and they don’t know us. If we aren’t happy within our own skin then how can anyone else be happy with us?!

What then is any relationship truly about; love or lust? Certainly everyone lusts, but how can anything of consequence sustain on lust? If we can’t value the person for the person, or if we all have to come with ribbons and bows like all children love, then surely the infatuation and fascination will eventually soon wear off; what is the point? In the end, without all the façade there is only us; why then are we so afraid of that truth coming to light?

If it is a case of us all desperately trying to ‘save face’ then what are we trying to prove to ourselves and one another? If a grown man or woman cannot accept a person for being themselves then maybe it is their own being they cannot truly accept, their own issues they have to deal with first; and to be honest they are better left alone until they do decide to sort themselves out. I personally don’t want a relationship with someone who sees beauty as a child would (obsessing on the pretty bows and ribbons), I want someone who sees me for me; even on my bad hair days! Face facts this is the real world not a TV sitcom, no one is perfect regardless of how they may appear to be, sorry to break the illusion, but surely you are old enough to know the truth by now!

Is this the real face of beauty?

Copy Right Notice:
© Bex Houghagen and The Savvy Senorita, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Bex Houghagen and The Savvy Senorita with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The Final Pound Of Flesh For Lady Gaga


The norm set by most industrious record companies is to have their ‘products’ spick and span, and usually as meat free as possible; especially for the female of their clientele. Yet, I was perplexed, even more so than usual considering the stunts Lady Gaga is constantly fabricating; that at this moment the self-confessed ‘born this way’ girl is allowing herself to be subjected to the old, ‘lose weight or lose your contract’ game.

Apparently Lady Gaga has been ordered to reduce her waist line, after enjoying her food far too liberally; naughty, naughty, naughty. She has also had to issue a statement admitting that she is ‘fat’, and not pregnant, as apparently suggested by Kelly Osbourne.

The question then; is this merely a stunt to achieve more press coverage and maybe raise funds to sponsor another outlandish concert, or, could it be that she has finally crossed the line, and discovered the boundary she cannot break with everyone’s blessing?

I mean, isn’t this the woman who cried blood, donned a penis, wore alarmingly too much cattle on her body and has sung about worldwide acceptance of every living soul. There was seemingly nothing she wouldn’t or couldn’t do; until she committed the mortal sin of gaining weight all was OK in the world. Now, OUTRAGE!!!!

Is it time for an apology? After all, Lady Gaga’s disgusting and shameful weight gain has disgruntled and upset so many of us, (sarcasm).

Should she be forced to fight the ‘flab’ and count the calories with every conditioned soul in the Western world?

Or, to be honest; why should we care if she isn’t as thin as she was? What difference is that to her being her and the music and entertainment she makes?

Will this once outlandish and outspoken woman be tamed for good? Is this where Lady Gaga drops off her yellow brick road?

What do you think? Feel free to leave your comments.

Above: Miss Gaga at her best?

Copy Right Notice:
© Bex Houghagen and The Savvy Senorita, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Bex Houghagen and The Savvy Senorita with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.