How to stay healthy while travelling

How to stay healthy while travelling

Originally published by me on BeautyNews.com.au.

We’ve saved the money, packed our bags and planned ourselves an awesome trip. Everything has finally fallen into place and things are looking great. However, great times often lead to some not so great results; think discovering that our once beloved skinny jeans no longer fit, or that we’ve reached a number on the scales we’ve only ever seen on calculators. That giant Italian pizza and Nutella crepe seemed like a good idea at the time, but now we think it’s worse than any of the decisions we ever made in high school. To make sure it doesn’t happen again, here are the best ways to stay healthy while travelling:

Drink plenty of water

Yes, we sound like our mums, but water is actually one of the best things for us. It keeps us hydrated, energised and best of all; it has no calories. It’s extremely important to stay hydrated while travelling because we do so much walking, exploring and general touristy things that drain us of our natural supplements. Water can also replace snacks when we’re feeling hungry, as a lot of the time we’re not actually hungry; we’re just thirsty and our bodies confuse the two feelings. Replacing fattening snacks is a great thing because it stops us from gaining excess weight and adopting pimply skin. What more could we want?

Exercise

Exercising to keep healthy isn’t rocket science, but it’s surprising how many people are hesitant about exercising while overseas. We make countless excuses, such as ‘we don’t know where the local gyms are,’ ‘we have no idea who will be at the gym,’ and ‘we don’t know what the instructor will be like.’ But even if we don’t go to an actual gym, there are many other ways to get some much needed exercise under our belts. Why not set an hour of exercise aside every day or two to ensure it gets done? We can go for a run on the streets, jog along the beach or even go for a nice power walk around the local area. It doesn’t have to be an intense workout; it just needs to get done and we need to understand thatWhether we send ourselves a calendar notification, leave ourselves a note or get someone to remind us – just effing do it.

Commit to at least one healthy meal a day

Yes, this is hard. We know one of the best things about being in a foreign city or country is the yummy food we can’t find back home. But don’t worry; the good thing about this one is that we can still stuff our faces with awesome food twice a day (instead of three times). Similar to setting aside time to exercise, we should afford the same courtesy to food. Whether the chosen meal is breakfast, lunch or dinner – we just need to make it happen. We can even mix it up every few days by changing a healthy breakfast to a healthy lunch, or even a healthy dinner. There are nutritious restaurants all over the world, and contrary to popular belief, googling does more than tell us the best places to find chocolate, alcohol and milkshakes. If that doesn’t suit, we can head to the grocery store and bag some great ingredients that showcase those superb cooking skills.

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Keep healthy snacks handy

Let’s face it; snacks is where it goes wrong. Those devilish little things don’t look fattening at all. In fact, they’re so small and insignificant that we find it hard to believe they contribute to weight gain. But the thing is, they add up. They add up a lot. Quickly devouring a Mars Bar before hitting the shops and then thinking, ‘hey, why don’t I get a quick ice cream while I’m here?’ and then ‘one more Mars Bar won’t hurt’ is what gets us good. They slowly but surely cause pimples and then suddenly, our stomachs resemble our dads’ Christmas beer bellies. While this can be very concerning, there are ways to prevent it. We should carry healthy snacks that are low in calories at all times. According to experts, some of these snacks include bananas, almonds, strawberries, muesli bars, nuts, crackers and other foods high in protein. We should eat them whenever we feel hungry and refrain from indulging on those fattening, sugary foods.

Stick to routines

Holidays are exciting, and it’s extremely hard to maintain our everyday routines. We know that. Most of the time we just want to jump out of bed and head straight to the beach or something as equally exciting. However, before doing so we need to make sure we’ve washed our faces and applied our usual toners and moisturisers. It might not seem that important, but our bodies are thrown out of proportion when change occurs. As weird as it sounds, our bodies know when we’re messing with their routines and they’re not happy about it. Cue the intense breakouts, frizzy hair and weird shape changes. It’s a good idea to shower just as much as we usually would, exercise the same (if not more) and maintain our health eating habits.

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How to exercise according to your mood

How to exercise according to your mood

Originally published by me on BeautyNews.com.au.

We all go through rough patches from time to time – some of us more so than others. And although we deal with our emotions in different ways, there’s one thing we can do to make sure we don’t push ourselves over the edge. It’s not a new concept but that thing is exercise.

Sometimes we’d rather do anything (think major surgery) before resorting to exercise, but studies have found that different kinds of exercises have the ability to shape, affect and direct our moods. For example, there are certain sports we should avoid like the plague when we’re angry, and vice versa. Here are some of our strongest moods and what we should do when we’re experiencing them.

Angry

Obviously, feeling angry isn’t the best thing in the world. Our blood is rushing to our head, we can’t think straight and all we can see is red. The only thing we want is to punch someone in the face and then down a bottle of wine. However, there are better and more healthy alternatives to this. Why not head to the nearest gym and go to town with the punching bags? Better yet – take your anger out on some of the poor souls in the ‘boxercise’ classes. After all, they signed up for it! Many anger management classes even employ boxing as a means to help eliminate anger, so we know it’s legit. Go for it.

Happy

The aim here is to maintain our happiness levels. This can be difficult because our moods change so quickly, especially when our lives are as hectic are they are. We need to find something not too intense – yet something that’s full of endorphins to achieve that natural high. One sport that fits this criteria is running – and no, running’s not going to kill us. We just need to choose an intensity we can adhere to without scarring ourselves for life. One great place for light jogging is along the beach – where the ocean will provide an excellent scenic backdrop. If we’re feeling really adventurous, we can even go for a dip afterwards!

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Sad

The last thing we want to do when we’re sad is hit the gym or perform something equally as excruciating. However, exercise gives us endorphins and endorphins make us happy. Yes, we know chocolate does that too, but it’s not as effective and chocolate makes us fat. So, balance it out and do something that makes you happy. Dancing is great for sadness because our bodies respond positively to movement. Research has found that we’re programmed to ‘jump for joy’ when we’re happy and ‘slump’ when we’re sad, so trick your body into thinking you’re happy by dancing up a storm. It really works – our brains react to messages and signals from the brain – it’s science.

Stressed

One word: yoga. The goal here is to zen your stress levels and chill the hell out. We know that taking time to do this can be annoying, especially when we’ve got a million other things to do, but you gotta do what you gotta do. Experts believe there are psychological benefits to yoga, as it has the ability to help us ‘return to meaningful activity’ and provide a sense of accomplishment. “Exercise may be a way of biologically toughening up the brain so stress has less of a central impact,” said Michael Otto, a professor of psychology at Boston University. “Exercise has such broad effects that my guess is that there are going to be multiple mechanisms at multiple levels.”

Fast track your morning routine

Fast track your morning routine

Originally published by me on BeautyNews.com.au.

Some mornings we jump out of bed, drink kale smoothies, and strut out the door feeling and looking like a million dollars. Other days we sleep through our alarms, skip breakfast, and spill toothpaste all over our shirts. There’s usually no in between.

Lately it seems the latter is happening more often than the former. It could be something to do with the new year, but we’re all feeling the tiredness more than usual. We all lead busy lives, and, frankly, our scattered morning routines aren’t doing us any favours. Luckily, we have some ‘fail safe’ methods to ensure we get out the door on time and in one piece.

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Make use of the night before

Anything that can be done the night before should be embraced with open arms. Showering at night will save us from having to shower in the morning, and we’ll still be clean when we wake up. We can also prep our skin the night before by exfoliating or using a face mask. That way, in the morning, all we’ll have to do is splash on some water or even a light cleanser. If our face is washed properly at night, there’s no need for extreme cleansers or scrubs come morning time. Some other methods include packing lunches, preparing handbags and deciding what clothes we’ll be wearing the next day.

Use multi-tasking products

Let’s be honest, makeup can be incredibly frustrating. Not only is it tedious, but it’s also super time consuming. Yet sometimes we still want to look fabulous, so we soldier on and do what we have to do. Fortunately, that’s where multi-tasking products come in. These are awesome, as they combine a number of different cosmetics that get the job done in half the time. Some products, such as lipsticks, also double as makeup for your cheeks, eyes and lips. To make it even more convenient for the fashion-savvy gal, they even change colour depending on where they’re applied. Other all-in-one products include BB creams that combine both sunscreen and tinted moisturiser. BB creams boast great coverage, and they basically eliminate the need for other foundation and powders. There are so many multi-tasking products on the market – finding them just requires a little bit of research.

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Embrace the low-key beauty routine

We know it’s nice to look our best, but realistically it’s not always possible. With that being said, there are a few low-key beauty routine won’t leave us looking like trolls. Just because there’s not enough time to achieve those on fleek brows and savage eyeliner wings doesn’t mean we can’t still look hot. Leave the contouring kit for important days and embrace the quick concealer and mascara routine. We don’t need to spend copious amounts of time straightening and curling our hair – just run a brush through it and throw it up into a ponytail, messy bun or even leave it out. And don’t even think about washing it – there’s no time for that. If necessary, use dry shampoo to give it a quick refreshing spray. Don’t worry, it’ll still look shiny and clean throughout the day. Just wash it when the opportunity presents itself.

Have a quick and easy breakfast

We all skip breakfast from time to time – mainly to spend more time mastering our beauty sleep. Yet eliminating breakfast on a regular basis can be harmful to our health. Studies have shown that not only is it unhealthy, but it has the ability to make us gain weight. This is probably because we get super hangry later on, and devour anything and everything we can get our greedy little hands on. To break this habit, prepare something quick and easy the night before, or even eat some simple yet nutritious cereal. Better yet, grab some fruit and yoghurt en route to eat during the commute. If you’re heading somewhere that allows food (like a food friendly office), just eat it there. Be creative and resourceful – there are so many ways to keep both you and your stomach happy.

Practice makes perfect

We know mornings usually suck, but cutting our routines in half isn’t that hard. One easy way to master all of these things is to time ourselves each day to figure out how long it takes to get everything done. Once we have an idea of how long we spend on certain things, we can re-evaluate our methods, and work on improving them. Practice everything, and soon the mornings will be our beautiful little oyster.

Sneaky things that make you think you’re hungry

Sneaky things that make you think you’re hungry

Originally published by me on BeautyNews.com.au.

While we all eat for pleasure sometimes, it’s important to understand the difference between your tastebuds’ urge for treats and actual stomach churning hunger. I, for one, find it extremely difficult to differentiate between the two, and find that 90% of the time I’m just eating because I’m bored, stressed or both. And although this can be healthy in moderation, overeating can lead to weight gain, poor skin and other health issues like diabetes. That’s why it’s important to know how to identify the sneaky things that trick us into believing we’re hungry when we’re actually not. Some of these include:

You’ve been looking at delicious food

For someone with very little self control, I completely understand this one. According to experts, humans are designed to feel hungry when looking at food. Evolutionary psychologists believe it’s a trait we acquired way back in our hunting days when survival mechanisms were designed to help combat sparse food. And even though we now have access to plenty of sustenance, our instincts haven’t really changed. It’s particularly difficult in the 21st century because we can’t even check social media without being confronted by chocolate cakes, pies and juicy burgers. By understanding that, just looking at food causes unnecessary hunger, you should be able to refrain from eating the next time those survival instincts kick in.

You’ve been thinking super hard

When we’re slaving away at the office or doing something of equal intensity, we can easily run out of energy. This is because our brains aren’t very good at storing calories for fuel, and once they run out of energy they trigger an urge to eat – no matter what we already have in our stomachs. Fortunately, there are easy ways to prevent this. Exercising as soon as we start to feel hungry is a great way to increase the amount of lactic acid and sugar in our blood streams. This will eventually spread to the brain and it will be used as a fuel for energy. Goodbye, hunger!

Your normal routine is telling you it’s food time

Sometimes I’ll eat just because society dictates I eat three meals per day. However, experts say it’s not essential to eat if we’ve already snacked throughout the day. It’s always good to get into a routine, but we often force ourselves into the habit of eating at specific times every single day. Obviously meals are important, but sometimes we even get used to excessive snacking and then our bodies begin to expect food all the time.

You spent your last meal multi-tasking

When we spend our meals eating and scrolling through social media at the same time, our senses don’t meet their full expectations. They’re not able to smell, taste and look at food as it moves from our forks to our stomachs. And because it can take up to 20 minutes for the food to be digested and for our brains to receive that signal, we think that we’re still hungry. It’s time to put the iPhone down and concentrate on the task at hand. Otherwise, we might end up eating twice as much every day.

You’re actually thirsty

This is a huge one. When I become dehydrated, I can’t differentiate between whether I’m hungry or thirsty. According to experts, our bodies receive mixed signals when we haven’t had enough to eat or drink. Some foods also contain certain percentages of water, which is when things become even more confusing. The solution to this problem is extremely obvious: drink plenty of water. Nutritionists recommend at least eight glasses per day, so we should take our water bottles everywhere you go – the office, our friend’s place and even to bed at night.

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Some other things that make us unnecessarily hungry include stress, sadness, alcohol, messy environments, other junk food, tiredness, anger and believe it or not, sad movies.

But as long as we can learn to recognise all of these things, we should be able to combat the tricky little buggers.

Fitness myths you shouldn’t believe

Fitness myths you shouldn’t believe

Originally published by me on BeautyNews.com.au.

If you’ve spent even 20 minutes in a gym with other people, you’ll know that suddenly everyone in the vicinity becomes a health and fitness expert. Whether they’re criticising you for eating non-fat yoghurt for breakfast or trying to convince you how important it is to take a million different supplements a day, they think their word is gospel.

But let’s be honest – most of these people have absolutely no freaking clue what they’re talking about. To clear things up, I’ve done a bit of research and have discovered some of the top fitness myths out there. And let me tell you, there are plenty.

Strength training makes women bulky

According to certified fitness and nutrition experts, this is one of the biggest lies out there. While lifting weights does build muscle, it takes a hell of a lot more than three kilo dumbbell curls to transform you into the Hulk. You might be thinking of all those female bodybuilding pics you see on Insta, but let me tell you, those women pretty much devote their entire lives to gaining muscle and looking buff AF. They also complement their training with super high protein diets and a really, really strict fitness regime. Trust me, you’re not going to turn into a superhero just by performing two to three sets of light weights a few times a week.

Squats are bad for your knees

Again, this is complete BS. In fact, experts say squats are actually good for your knees. Squats are among some of the greatest moves for performance enhancing and core-building strength. Not only do they develop all of your major muscle groups around the knees and hips, but they also help other muscle groups, such as the glutes, calf muscles, quads and hamstrings. Once you strengthen these muscles, the pressure is eliminated from the knee joints and onto the muscles that are designed to stabilise those joints. Unfortunately, no matter how much research is done about squats, many personal trainers and media personalities are still spouting off incorrect facts.

The more you sweat, the better your workout was

Not always. Some people naturally sweat more than others, and that definitely doesn’t mean they’re working out any harder. The amount you sweat also depends on your fitness level, body type and genetic history. Experts believe that the best way to measure your workout is by intensity, not sweat. If you did an intense workout, but didn’t produce any sweat, it’s definitely not something to worry about. As long as you completed your fitness regime properly and gave it all your all, chances are you totally killed it.

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Sit-ups and ab exercises will give you a six-pack

Sorry to burst your bubble, but your six pack isn’t making an appearance any time soon if you live by this rule. According to research, “you can do sit-ups for days, but if you have a high percentage of body fat, your abs will stay in hiding.” Abs will only appear when you eliminate the belly fat that covers them. To achieve a toned stomach, you should try high intensity training. However, the simplest way is to just cut out artificially sweetened drinks and sugar from your diet.

The sorer you feel after a workout, the better your workout was

Soreness is usually just a sign that you haven’t performed a particular move before, or for a while at least. While stiffness and pain can be signs that you absolutely nailed your workout, it’s also possible to exercise without feeling like you’ve been kicked in the shins, thighs and buttocks with giant arse heels the next day. Everyone is also different, and some people experience delayed muscle soreness. Experts say that pain is not a suitable indicator of effectiveness, and that you shouldn’t worry if you’re not feeling as sore as your expert resident gym buddies.

Best ways to get to bed early

Best ways to get to bed early

Originally published by me on BeautyNews.com.au.

It took me a long time to master the art of getting to bed early, and sometimes I still fail miserably. You see, I have one of those minds that never shuts up. And don’t get me wrong – it’s not like I’m inventing the cure for cancer; most of the time I’m just thinking about how someone would look with purple hair or what my next meal’s going to be. And let me tell you, having a busy mind isn’t good for someone who aims to get to bed reasonably early. I want to retire and get a good night’s sleep, but there are so many things my mind is insisting I do. I have things to google, online shopping to do, TV to watch and I should most definitely shave my legs before wearing that skirt tomorrow.

Before I know it, it’s 3am and I’m sitting on my bed; pondering my career choices while memorising the lyrics of Adele’s new single and watching YouTube videos about how to communicate with my dog. Yes, that’s pretty much a typical night for me. My laptop usually has more tabs open than you’d think is possible. Think beauty blogs, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Boohoo, Netflix, Flight Centre (one day I will be out of here), cooking websites and so much more. And it all needs to be done that night.

Not to mention – there are many other obstacles that can derail my nights and ruin that much needed beauty sleep. Housekeeping, for example, is a huge one. I find having a messy house so stressful that most of the time I try to get it all done as quickly as possible. And on top of that, I then proceed to go through all of the above time wasting steps after I’m done. Other days, I’ll get random guests who want to hang out and gossip all night. And while I love most of them dearly, the next day I’m not only tired as hell, but I’m more hungover than I’ve ever been in my entire life.

But the thing is, our nights don’t have to be so busy. I’ve recently discovered some great ways to ensure I get a good night’s sleep and am ready and raring for the next day (yes, even those dreaded mornings).

Set yourself a curfew and enforce bargaining tools

If you’re anything like me and have absolutely no self control, you’ll need this. If you don’t get home before your curfew or make it to bed in time, appoint yourself a punishment. For example, on weeknights I aim to be in bed by 10:30pm. If I’m unsuccessful, I refuse to buy myself anything nice the next day. If I make the deadline, the next day I’ll reward myself by splurging on a giant burger, complete with a mango smoothie and maybe even some ice cream and/or chocolate (why not both?) It’s a great bargaining tool; even if you are bargaining with yourself. Sometimes grown ups have to be their own parents, and it sucks, but it’s the only way we’ll ever make it in this big, scary world.

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Notify all family and friends that you won’t be available that night

Like I said before, these people have been responsible for many of my sleepless nights. When I’m dead set on going to bed early, I text the people closest to me and politely ask them not to bother me that night. This means no Facebook notifications, no phone calls, no text messages and especially no spontaneous visits. It’s not always possible (there’s always that one person), so another good idea is to shut off all social media for the night. It’s easy to deactivate Facebook, and it’s even easier to log straight back in once your strike is over. Just think: your friends and family aren’t going anywhere; you’ll be able to catch up on all the goss before you know it.

Keep a notebook nearby

This is the perfect way to get all your thoughts and feelings down as soon as they pop into your head. If you’re anything like me, you’ll think of something very important as soon as your head hits the pillow. I usually tell myself it’s no big deal, and that it doesn’t matter if I forget about my recent revelation come morning time, but that never works. After all, what if sleep clears my memory and makes me forget the Bachelor finale is on tomorrow night? That would be an absolute disaster! Cue the notebook. Write absolutely everything down (birthdays, work ideas, grocery lists, you name it) and then make sure you read it all in the next day. I found this method creates a long, peaceful sleep free of worry and regret.

Don’t drink caffeine several hours before bed

I know this sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people I know who drink coffee before bed. Everyone knows caffeine keeps you awake, so keep away from the stuff before heading hitting the hay. If you really love a good cup of coffee, opt for decaf. Experts say we shouldn’t drink coffee or consume anything high in caffeine four to six hours before going to bed. I’m not a coffee drinker, but I used to eat a lot of chocolate at night and I was always tired the next day because I couldn’t get to sleep. Ever since I improved my eating habits, I’ve been much more alert and satisfied with my sleeping routine.

Complete your bedtime routine, and then read a book

Did you know screens are more likely to keep us awake more than anything else? For me, this is especially true. Screens are bright, require a lot of concentration and can give you tension headaches. This makes me want to stay up even later because I know I won’t be able to drift off once I go to bed. Books, on the other hand, are a godsend. I love to cuddle up with a great book and let myself doze off naturally. Before doing this, I make sure to create a bedtime ritual and complete it a few hours prior to bed so that I’m ready for sleep as soon as the tiredness kicks in. After all, taking showers, brushing my teeth and other night routines tend to keep me alert for longer periods of time.

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Mum gives dolls ‘makeunders’ and now she has a thriving business

Mum gives dolls ‘makeunders’ and now she has a thriving business

Originally published by me on Mamamia.com.au.

Have you ever refused to buy your child a doll because of the way they look?

Were you told by your child that ‘all the other kids have them’ and ‘you’re being so unfair?’ You are not alone.

One Sydney mum has decided to do something about it by transforming traditional dolls into a toy she really wants to give her daughter.

Mim Hammonds collects pre-loved Bratz dolls from various op shops and garage sales and transforms them by removing their makeup, repainting their faces, fixing their hair and eliminating the six-inch stilettos.

The mother-of-two appeared on The Morning Showearlier this week where she told hosts, Kylie and Larry, she initially only intended to ‘makeunder’ dolls for her young daughter. But the word spread and now she’s receiving hundreds of orders from people all over the world.

“I have a three year old daughter who’s obsessed with dolls, and I wanted to give her some to play with,” she told The Morning Show.

“The ones I found in the shops I wasn’t happy with. I just didn’t think they were appropriate. And being a crafty mum, I thought – ‘right, I can do this’.”

Mim began her creative pursuit after she won a competition where she was gifted with a gorgeous repainted doll from talented artist, Samantha Murphy. Mim became so inspired she nabbed a DIY booklet from Tree Change Dolls, and with the help of various YouTube tutorials, she slowly learnt how to manufacture these dolls herself.

And now her thriving online business, Mim’s Dandy Dolls has become more popular than she ever anticipated.

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With Mim’s doll of choice to ‘makeunder’ being the popular Bratz doll, she has had a surprising reaction to her venture.

“Since starting my page, I have been abused, trolled and attacked by hard-core Bratz fans who are obviously heavily influenced by the Bratz image,” the businesswoman told Mamamia.

“There’s a big emphasis on being skinny, on appearing sexy and having attitude. The sexual connotations and comments, the shocking language and level of abuse they direct towards anyone who doesn’t like Bratz, and the open bullying on social media is quite frightening and disturbing,” she said.

“Children have the right to not be bombarded with that message when they’re simply being children and playing, which is just one reason I think my dolls are important.”

Each one of Mim’s Dandy Dolls has her own unique story and personality, as opposed to existing on appearance alone.

In fact, they’re just like the special kids in your own life. They climb trees, play in dirt, help each other, solve puzzles, run fast, are intelligent, love reading and writing, have great senses of humour, throw their heads back when they laugh and are one of a kind.

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“Meet Lisa! My little thinker, kissed abundantly by the fairies. She may appear to be listening to you but is more likely inventing something terribly clever in her mind! Lisa is often in trouble at school for not paying attention but it’s so hard to stay focused on something that doesn’t interest you when you have more pressing matters to think upon! Like why one layer of clouds is moving faster than another, or how the bird outside is making such a compact, fiddly little nest with out any fingers, or how she could save time in the morning by wearing her school clothes to bed at night.” Image and caption via @dandelionthread on Etsy.

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“Meet Alison – a vivid reader with a vivacious and cheeky personality. Her heroine is Hermione Granger because aside from the fact that they share the same thick, bushy hair, Hermione is brave and clever and kind – all things that Alison tries to be. Alison wants to be a writer when she grows up.” Image and caption via @dandelionthread on Etsy.

By creating these stories, Mim hopes to pass on messages that children should come just as they are, and to embrace their perfect imperfections. To show that sometimes the thing that makes them a little different can actually be the thing that makes them so special.

“I love the quote ‘We get so worried about being pretty – let’s be pretty kind, pretty funny, pretty smart, pretty strong.’ That’s the message to young girls that I hope my dolls encourage. To put more value on character, on kindness, on the ability to solve problems or help others. On appreciating all the amazing things the human body is capable of doing rather than how hot or sexy it can be.”

Additionally, Mim has dabbled in the art of recreating a few Barbie dolls. And although she’s not 100% confident with them yet, she’s determined to keep practising.

For more information on Mim’s Dandy Doll, please visit Mim’s Etsy page.