Elizabeth Balsom

Elizabeth Balsom is a first year student in Algonquin College’s Professional Writing Program. She previously attended Humber College for Broadcast Journalism. Elizabeth is a self-confessed beauty and style junkie. In her spare time Elizabeth enjoys experimenting with make-up and creating combinations of outfits. Based out of Ottawa, ON, Elizabeth hopes to write professionally for fashion and beauty when she graduates in spring 2013.

Beauty Behind the Scenes

A look into the uglier side of the beauty and fashion industry.


Our Perception of Beauty

The beauty and fashion industry has a bad reputation because of the way they portray how we as individuals should appear. The fashion industry in particular has been criticized for its thin models, with the potential to spark eating disorders in young girls. The beauty industry is known for its evolving concoctions which claim will make you better looking or younger. What is with the obsession with youth frozen in time?

I believe that body image is so important because it affects the way you feel about yourself, and who you are as a person. According to Dictionary.com body image is defined as, “the subjective concept of one’s physical appearance based on self-observation and reactions of others.” So that’s it, our perceptions of ourselves are also based around other’s reactions. How self-destructive does that sound?

Society in general puts pressure on women (sometimes men feel this pressure too), and these issues are present in our everyday lives. Celebrities have appeared in the media regarding the way they look, and because of growing technolog, it’s easier to criticize them without revealing your true identity.

Recently, Ashley Judd addressed the public over speculation regarding her “puffy face.” I loved her attitude and the way she dealt with it because she took such a no-nonsense approach. She responded by stating: “The assault on our body image, the hypersexualization of girls and women and subsequent degradation of our sexuality as we walk through the decades, and the general incessant objectification is what this conversation allegedly about my face is really about.” Judd’s response was refreshing. Why is it anyone’s business but hers? Why do we focus so much on the appearance of other people around us? Shouldn’t we just focus on our own health and happiness?

We are constantly bombarded with advertisements that tell us if you’re skinnier you will attract a better-looking partner, if you buy a certain type of makeup it will make you look younger, or if you buy the latest fashion trends you will have more friends. But none of this will make you change the way you feel about yourself.  

Even though most of the attention is placed on celebrities, it still affects us as individuals because we often compare ourselves to others. It’s always a competition about who is the prettiest, who is the skinniest, who was the best dressed, and who was the worst dressed. Maybe after considering this, the best question to ask yourself is, why does this even matter?


Feature: Liz Fleming, Travel Writer

It’s a cold winter day in early March. I am in my office preparing for my interview with travel writer, and family friend, Liz Fleming. I call her at 5:30 pm, just as she is getting in the door from a meeting. Her voice is cheerful, and the conversation begins as we joke about having the same name. We discuss how we have been since we haven’t seen each other in years. She asks me how school is and what my plans are after graduation. She offers me advice since I am an aspiring writer, as well as candid information about the writing life.

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Column: Confessions of a (Semi) Reformed Shopaholic

I usually find myself roaming the mall without a purpose, stopping into stores and going home with lots of small purchases – most of the time with more than I actually need. I recently noticed that I’ve accumulated a ridiculous number of bath and beauty products, which are now piling up on a side table in the corner of my office. As a student my budget doesn’t stretch very far, and that has made me re-evaluate what I consider a want and a need. I now have to ask myself – Do I really need this? How I ended up with five generous blocks of LUSH soap is beyond me. I have embarked on a little project; to use everything I own before purchasing anything new. This has been ongoing for about month or so, and I continue to play by my rules until every product I’ve been hoarding is gone. The main challenge of this project is not to deprive myself of anything I really need. I try to find a happy medium between staying budget conscious, and not compromising on the quality of the products I buy.

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The Dangers of Safe Sun

Tanning is a topic I wasn't sure I should even get into, mainly because I have to admit, I like to go tanning. I go tanning because it improves my overall body image, it evens out my skin tone, and let's face it – everyone looks better with a tan. And even though I'm aware of the dangers of both indoor and outdoor tanning, it seems to be a habit I'm unable to shake.

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Review: Hamlet’s BlackBerry

Hamlet’s BlackBerry, written by William Powers, reminds us all how hard it is to disconnect from our technology-driven lives. Powers explore our media and technology-saturated world, and gives firsthand accounts of the struggles he faces himself trying to balance the real world with the online world. He also compares our lives in the 21st century to those of centuries past, and shows there has always been a technological hold on society. With headlines in the news (which Powers discusses) like, “Teen Girl Falls in Open Manhole While Texting” you’ve got to think – maybe it’s time for a change.

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