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Body image refers to how you feel about yourself and your body, and how attractive you think you are. The media and images we see in culture play a strong role in how people view their bodies.  Having a poor or distorted body image can lead to eating disorders. Learn more about body image

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Recently, Emma Watson has come forward with powerful speeches presenting her personal beliefs about feminism and the role each person has in progressing this movement forward. Her UN speech, which can be seen here, http://bit.ly/1rB2PGG, discussed the HeForShe campaign and was a beautiful start, but recently she has also come out to Elle UK to discuss what feminism specifically means to her. Time has quoted Watson as saying, “Feminism is not here to dictate you… All we are here to do is give you a choice,” (http://ti.me/13eYpMS) which I think is a principle that everybody can support. The idea that feminism is personal is so, SO real. Feminism is different to every person and no type of feminism is wrong or better than another. Feminism is about equality and it can take form in a variety of ways. Here is what my feminism looks like.

My feminism looks like peace. The anti-choice movement pisses me off. So does slut-shaming. And victim-blaming. And general oppression. I identify as a feminist and I care about a lot of issues and I channel that passion into making a difference in the world. More importantly, however, I believe in the power of peace. Anger is a powerful emotion and I could never deny that, but more importantly I identify with peace and the power that tranquility can have on the world. During my freshman year of college my friend Shannon, at the time co-chair for our campus’s Student Women’s Association said to me, “peaceful, powerful, and pro-choice,” and since then I have really identified with it. This does not make me any less passionate. It does not make me any less of a feminist. It makes me, me.

My feminism looks like bandage skirts and crop tops. Sometimes, and not all the time, I like to wear heels and short skirts and heavy eyeliner. That’s okay. Everybody knows that the way a woman dresses or drinks or acts is not an invitation for rape. It’s also not an invitation for hate.

My feminism has no girl-hate. I try to accept women for wherever they are in their life. I accept girls who wear mini skirts and drink and have sex with different people every weekend. I accept girls who think girls like that are everything that’s wrong with feminism. All I want in my community, is for all of the women I know to accept all the women that they know. I encourage us all to focus on girl-love. Love the girls who stay in and study. Love the ones who go out every night. Love them for whatever they need to do to be the woman they want to be. Love each other. Because that’s what makes us all a beautiful and powerful group.

I think as a society we have a tendency to lose sight of what acceptance means. Not everybody has the same opportunities, the same knowledge, the same opinions. It is important for us to each share a little part of ourselves, share the things that matter to us in a way that is both respectful and enlightening for other people. We have to stop expecting that everybody knows what matters to us and start actively teaching each other to care. We have to start realizing that we all have the same goal and together we’ll be closer to the equality we are all striving to reach.

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There is a lot of discussion when it comes to body image. Everyone just wants to fit in. Barely anyone wants to be them self. Society has us wrapped up in a box and is just fabricating to us. It tells us that if we do not look a certain way then we don’t have the “look”. “The look”, what is that? I am ecstatic that you asked. It is an image that we must be or we are worthless. For example, if we do not have the latest styles and or trends then we are nobody. I have both female friends and male friends that go on diets because they ponder that they are overweight and they only weigh between one hundred pounds and one hundred seventeen pounds and they are high school seniors. Here is another example, I wanted to take a friend to the Homecoming Dance for my school but she turned me down because she didn’t have time to find a certain dress because she is really skinny and when contemplated on my invitation to the Homecoming Dance she changed her mind and went to go find a dress, she still turned me down because she couldn’t find a dress that has “The Look”. This body image situation is making people insecure, and I am not just talking about females. We were all created in a certain way and I don’t see why we have to hurt ourselves doing that? Yes, a model, I can not recall her name at the moment, but she died from dieting so long to make a photo shoot. This look also discourages people. Many people try so hard to look a certain way that is not them, to get a certain role but end up not even getting it. Also people do it to please their significant other, but I say if that person really likes/loves you she or he would have no problem with your body image.

Categories: Body Image
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fa·cade
(fəˈsäd/) – A superficial appearance or illusion of something
We as individuals tend to just take negative and offensive slurs as not really serious because they may have a joking connotation about them. Instead we have a habit to put on this mask, a facade as to say, pretending we are happy but in reality we are hurting even more. Slurs said and repeated everyday such as “faggot” and “slut” are merely tools used by the weak to try to minimize the confidence of others. Even though things said may hit you hard, that does not mean they are true. As long as you are true to your self you will have negativity thrown your way, but as long as you hold your head high you won’t need to wear a mask of happiness over a face of sadness because you yourself will be happy. Truly truly happy.
-Nicholas Cole, 17

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Feminism isn’t about making women stronger. Women are already strong. It’s about changing the way the world perceives that strength.

- G.D ANDERSON

Some people might not understand the importance of the latest Pantene commercial, but I can relate completely. While it’s become clearer in the last few months that the war on women extends way past reproductive rights, issues like the one reflected in the TV spot often go unnoticed because there has only recently been rhetoric about the deep-rooted origins of gendered behavior.

In the last few years, I’ve learned that women are raised to believe that we should take up as little space as possible. While we may have progressed from the days of believing that we had to be “seen, not heard” and maintain our proper place in society, we still find ourselves trying to be as small and inconvenient as possible. For example, if a man and woman are sitting next to one another on a bus or train, the man will sit with his legs splayed, often taking up space that is not his. The woman on the other hand, will sit with her legs clamped together, no matter whether she is wearing a skirt or pants, never asking the man to keep to his side of the allotted space for leg room.

I myself have been guilty of this in the past. I boarded a plane about a year ago and made my way over to my assigned window seat. The aisle seat was already occupied by a middle-aged man. When I indicated that the window seat was mine, he did not stand to let me pass, but did that half-standing thing to let me scooch by. I apologized for the inevitable bodily contact once I had sat down and distinctly remember that he asked me, “Why are you apologizing?” In that moment, I thought to myself, “Yes! Why AM I apologizing?”.

But I never made the connection between my need to confine myself to certain amount of space and patriarchal dictate. I undoubtedly repeated that mistake until I realized that I had to overcome societal programming. I had to stop shrinking myself, stop smiling when I was asked to smile, speak up when men tried to trespass onto my spaces both mental and physical.

Dear women everywhere, make yesterday the last time you ever apologised unnecessarily or gave up your space because you felt you were undeserving. Sit comfortably, state your opinions boldly, walk tall. If a man tells you to smile, tell him to take a running jump. As the commercial states, “Shine strong!”

 

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This is my birth story: Fifteen with twins. It was
the night of my year 10 formal. I went with my
boyfriend, Cameron, of 3 years. We had a really
good and fun night and decided to sleep together
later that night.
Around Christmas/New Year time I started to
feel quite sick. I had missed a period but didn’t
think much of it since it was still quite new to
me and the have odd times. On the 5 Jan my
older sister, Kate, took me to the doctors
because of how sick I was.
They looked at me and did some tests and then told
me the news- I was pregnant. At first I was in
shocked. I didn’t know what to do. But then Kate
hugged me and said it will all be ok.
When I got home I was brave enough to tell my
parents. They were both watching TV on the lounge. I
walked in and just told them straight out. They were
so surprised ( I was a straight A student that was in
dance groups, choir, musicals, social justice group
and tennis) they never thought I would get pregnant.
The first thing my mum did was hug me. My dad just
kept saying you should have been more careful.
After that we just talked about and I was keeping the
baby. The next day I asked Cameron over. I sat him
down sand told him. He didn’t take it well and left. I
was so upset but I had Kate and my parents to help
me through it. A few days later I was scheduled to go
out with my two besties, Hanna and Maddie. When I
told them they were surprised and supportive.
Then it was school time. When I returned to school to
start a new year I was already 4 months pregnant but
I wasn’t too visible luckily. I got called a lot of names
but I had Maddie and Hanna to support me and clear
up rumors and things.
When I got my first ultrasound I found out I was
having twins! I had so many emotions then. I was
having twin girls. My whole family was do excited.
We had the baby’s room ready all in pink by the time
I was 7 months.
When I was around 7-8 months Cameron came back
to me. He said he was stupid to leave and can’t
imagine his life without me. I decided to take him
back and give him a chance.
One day when I was just at home reading a magazine
my water broke. I was only 8 months pregnant so I
was shocked! I ran and told Kate and she called mum
and dad and took me to the hospital. When I got
there I was 9 cm dilated and was having really painful
contractions. Because I was so ready I couldn’t have
an epidural and had to push through the immense
pain.
2 hours later my beautiful girls arrived. Sophie Lily
Grace Atkins-Portman at 7:36pm, 11 May and Mia
Kate Elizabeth Atkins-Portman 7:52pm, 11 May.
Since the birth of my beautiful girls I went to
university, married Cameron and moved from
Australia to Los Angeles. I am currently pregnant
with my first son.

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For months, I have thought, read and surfed the
web and other extensive files and documents of
ways by which ; Males and Females , can have
safer sexual intercourse without STDs and not
having to worry about Unwanted pregnancy.
Although , Abstinence is a profound alternative
which is practiced by volunteering to Refrain from
sex , till a divine time. Abstinence is laid on a
foreground of not having any kind of sexual
relationship with a partner – it is simply
diminishing this urge with self will (i.e not willing
to oblige).
But , I have often dabbled at rigorous questions I
can’t answer ( like : Can we all abstain from sex ?)
If only a handful can, then what about the
majority ? I got the idea of Outercourse, from
Medical Reports I came across and other
documents too.
“Outercourse allows people to express their
sexuality in many ways, to Abstain from sex, and
avoid the risks of sexually transmitted infection
and unplanned pregnancy”.
“Outercourse is any sex play with no penetration
at all, whether — oral, anal, or vaginal”.

http://www.mariatalks.com/birth-control/

abstinence-and-other-behavioral-choices
It also, defines the situation of intercourse –
between youths and adults experimentally.
Most youths, especially young couples who desire
no intercourse between themselves for a long time
can delve into outercourse :
Because there are no side effects and medical
faults , since the fondling of the body is meant to
cause stimulation and provide satisfaction.
Outercourse is a the best option for the young and
old, since sexual intercourse cannot be ultimately
ruled out.
Outercourse, is not an education, but rather
abdication of the role of guiding youths with the
information they need to make personally
influenced decisions based on sound reasoning
facts. “Knowing, what is safe and what you should
avoid will help you make proud and responsible
choices”.
Outercourse gives an outstanding solution to the
aches we have in the society due to certain notions
most youths and couples partake in.
There are ways in which youths, couples and
adults can life an outstanding life without being
cut short by unwanted and unplanned
circumstance. For sexual health – which is every
youth desire , Outercourse should be considered to
reduce sexually transmitted diseases and
Unwanted pregnancy.

http://m.plannedparenthood.org/mt/

www.plannedparenthood.org/health-topics/birth-
control/outercourse-4371.htm?
un_jtt_v_expand=7#un_q7

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Thoughts at puberty”

Thoughts may come and go,
And minds made decisive,
Mates may stay to cuddle,
And tears cease to stop,

http://reverbednothesblog.wordpress.com/category/poetry-sex-ed/

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I have seen people change and at the same vein witnessed a retrograde in youths. I have been around areas where there\’s no hope for light and peace, but in this same situation some people still survive.

I have been around youths – Boys and Girls, that have made life difficult for themselves due to lack of knowledge. And my countenance has dwindled, because I have witnessed a holocaust of ruined lives in the past, even now.

I love peace and the prospect it brings. I love sanctuary – a foundation laid on the rocks of simplicity and the Arm of Justice.
I stand against the illegal acts displayed by the so-called Governmental body. I stand against rape, child abuse and its associated acts. I stand against the malfunctioning of child rights and value – I stand for a change, as an \”Advocate\”.

I stand as a Youth, Not a man, alone. But with men – the colony of change.
\”A man cannot be a faculty, men can. The necessity of change begins with not one man, but with the uniformity of all\”.
(Victor Omovbude Brown)

I stand against – Child punishment, Tribalism, criticism, Discrimination, and Queer visions. I stand for change, which is my first goal. As a youth, I stand for Unity, Peace and Progress.

I stand for a free and transparent Health service attributed to (children,youths and adults) – I stand against unequal rights and segregation in roles.
I stand for Quality Education – Void of preferential treatment, equal for all.
I stand against poor governance.

I am an \”Advocate For Youth\”.

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I have seen people change and at the same vein witnessed a retrograde in youths. I have been around areas where there’s no hope for light and peace, but in this same situation some people still survive.

I have been around youths – Boys and Girls, that have made life difficult for themselves due to lack of knowledge. And my countenance has dwindled, because I have witnessed a holocaust of ruined lives in the past, even now.

I love peace and the prospect it brings. I love sanctuary – a foundation laid on the rocks of simplicity and the Arm of Justice.
I stand against the illegal acts displayed by the so-called Governmental body. I stand against rape, child abuse and its associated acts. I stand against the malfunctioning of child rights and value – I stand for a change, as an “Advocate”.

I stand as a Youth, Not a man, alone. But with men – the colony of change.
“A man cannot be a faculty, men can. The necessity of change begins with not one man, but with the uniformity of all”.
(Victor Omovbude Brown)

I stand against – Child punishment, Tribalism, criticism, Discrimination, and Queer visions. I stand for change, which is my first goal. As a youth, I stand for Unity, Peace and Progress.

I stand for a free and transparent Health service attributed to (children,youths and adults) – I stand against unequal rights and segregation in roles.
I stand for Quality Education – Void of preferential treatment, equal for all.
I stand against poor governance.

I am an “Advocate For Youth”.

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Many a time, I have tried to survey and parry the questioning effect on sex and its constituent. I believe it is a redefined commitment entitled to both parties ( man & woman ) on a divine standard.
The world we live in today define sex as a ‘social commitment’, which is a taboo to fundamental notions displayed from old.
Afore, Sex, occurs after a marriage right is fulfilled – which connects a man and a woman together perfectly. Today, sex, is now seen as an avenue to satisfy common urge.

* some say we should have sex to satisfy ourselves and set our burdens at ease.
* others say, when you feel the urge get someone to have sex with. And a girlfriend should serve as a friend with benefits.

Notion :
Sex is good and fun in the making, not to be confused with a Mutual Engagement between a male and a female. There are so many medical attributes linked to sex – one dominant property I know of is a reduction in emotional pressure or tension, resulting from ‘Anxiety’.

If we define sex on the basics of mutual engagement, then it is the right for every one (Adolescence,Teen,Youth and Adult), to have sex.
We have a situation where a boy of 16, gets a girl pregnant,at the expense of the so-called love. And the girl demands for an abortion or decides to conceive the child due to having sex at the wrong time.

Note :
There’s an increase in Abortion, Unwanted pregnancy and a retardation in fundamental growth of boys and girls. Most people who see sex as a social commitment end up having a bad experience, because they capitalise on the lust of satisfaction, instead of seeking to understand the reason for IT.

In most homes where a man considers sex more than his wife, there’s a high tendency for an upheaval of distrust to occur – which will massively dwindle their growth. Most who youths originated from these homes have become the heir of most illegal acts displayed in the world.
There’s an increase in divorce rate,children from this background become prone to harsh circumstance etc.

Youths who lack parental care and control end up doing irrational things, having unprotected and unwanted sex and other juvenile act.

I believe that if a minimum of 15% of youths are taught :

* Pre-sex affair and its influence.
* The fundamentals of sex education,
* Health education and its relation to sexuality.

Then change can commence.

My question :

* How do we educate boys and girls in : Developing and under-developed countries on sex education.

Proposed Query :

80% of youths living in these areas, constitute to the progression of illegal sex and the un-demanded notion it dictates.

Proposed Answer :

* I believe that changing the dialogue of sex affair is on great step .

Educating Youths on :
– what sex is ?
– why is sex needed ?
– what are the effects of sex on life ?
– who are the right persons to have sex ?
– And the required age for sex ?

* A notion I surveyed recently is doing a Poetry on sex-education : which will play a huge role in schools ( High school mostly, in rural and localised areas ).

In localised areas where there’s a gargantuan growth in sex rate, only few schools teach Sex education and a handful of these schools practise it.
– At locations where there are no computers for learning, no Adverts on sex-Ed, no Online orientation, and no seminars and outlets for diverse learning , an introduction to a reformed part of learning on sex education will help.

If we have a preamble poetry on sex education, health and orientation in under-developed areas, then we can help shape most of the questioning we have.

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Sometimes I ask myself questions : questions which are ever aching and proving stubborn to define or understand. I can’t recall the last time; a friend ,organization or social community discussed the affair of Youth Development via Sex Education and the threat it poses to Humanity and its affair.

In America there’s a flexible, progressive link for Sex development. Although not perfect but better than what we have here in Nigeria. At most case I have wondered why we are still in the loop hole ; a pit filled with ill-fated people who only acknowledge the receipt of their welfare.

The role of sex Education , is to foster a spontaneous change in : Sexuality, Heterosexual-conscience,Attitude and also promote a Beneficial role in Moral and Value. Youths , (especially boys), will massively grow in self esteem as it will tremendously shape Thoughts and increase a positive intake in Sex orientation and Education.

Educating people on Pre-sex Affair which is the Basics for a good foundation on Youth sexuality, will change lives. What we fail to understand is our, ” inability to Define what Sex Education and the Orientation it has on Youths”.

Sex education is instruction on issues
relating to human sexuality, including
human sexual anatomy, sexual reproduction, sexual activity, reproductive health, emotional relations, reproductive rights and responsibilities, abstinence, and birth control. Common avenues for sex education are parents or caregivers, formal school programs, and public health campaigns.

sex education is defined as a vital public health strategy – which will play a role in the Reduction of STDs : By initializing Health centers, Health tips, Options (Gadget) and Orientation. And will also diminish an increase in Abnormal Behaviors displayed by Youths (Boys mostly) ; which are ,Bullying, Coercion and Discrimination). If Every youth know the basics (i.e, its preventive methods (Abstinence), techniques, and Healthy tips) then we can have a possible outbreak of change in Heterosexuality.

I believe that when people become enormously aware of their Sexuality and how it tends to : Affect, Diminish and Increase STATUS’, we will begin to see change – Fundamentally, Socially and Mentally in schools, society, Environment and the world at large.

Starting with schools – which is a great idea, is one profound step. Advocating Sex-ed in public places, outlets like Seminars, NGO programs and other governmental aids will contribute too.

We need to spread the word which is a,”PROMOTION ON SEX-ED” in schools, outlets, Rural and Urban sphere and other geographical locations.

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Sometimes I ask myself questions : questions which are ever aching and proving stubborn to define or understand. I can’t recall the last time; a friend ,organization or social community discussed the affair of Youth Development via Sex Education and the threat it poses to Humanity and its affair.

In America there’s a flexible, progressive link for Sex development. Although not perfect but better than what we have here in Nigeria. At most case I have wondered why we are still in the loop hole ; a pit filled with ill-fated people who only acknowledge the receipt of their welfare.

The role of sex Education , is to foster a spontaneous change in : Sexuality, Heterosexual-conscience,Attitude and also promote a Beneficial role in Moral and Value. Youths , (especially boys), will massively grow in self esteem as it will tremendously shape Thoughts and increase a positive intake in Sex orientation and Education.

Educating people on Pre-sex Affair which is the Basics for a good foundation on Youth sexuality, will change lives. What we fail to understand is our, ” inability to Define what Sex Education and the Orientation it has on Youths”.

Sex education is instruction on issues
relating to human sexuality, including
human sexual anatomy, sexual reproduction, sexual activity, reproductive health, emotional relations, reproductive rights and responsibilities, abstinence, and birth control. Common avenues for sex education are parents or caregivers, formal school programs, and public health campaigns.

sex education is defined as a vital public health strategy – which will play a role in the Reduction of STDs : By initializing Health centers, Health tips, Options (Gadget) and Orientation. And will also diminish an increase in Abnormal Behaviors displayed by Youths (Boys mostly) ; which are ,Bullying, Coercion and Discrimination). If Every youth know the basics (i.e, its preventive methods (Abstinence), techniques, and Healthy tips) then we can have a possible outbreak of change in Heterosexuality.

I believe that when people become enormously aware of their Sexuality and how it tends to : Affect, Diminish and Increase STATUS’, we will begin to see change – Fundamentally, Socially and Mentally in schools, society, Environment and the world at large.

Starting with schools – which is a great idea, is one profound step. Advocating Sex-ed in public places, outlets like Seminars, NGO programs and other governmental aids will contribute too.

We need to spread the word which is a,”PROMOTION ON SEX-ED” in schools, outlets, Rural and Urban sphere and other geographical locations.

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The American porn industry: a world of opportunity for both actors and consumers. Everyone wins, right? Actors and actresses with “desired features” have sex and get paid for their performances; meanwhile, consumers happily perpetuate a market with an estimated value of between $10 and $13 billion, which boosts our nation’s economy. By virtue of increased access to pornographic content through the Internet, the industry has permeated American culture so much that the average person views their first pornographic image at the age of 11. Moreover, by 2006, pornographic videos were released on an average of one every half hour.

This is how capitalists would describe the porn industry. They love it because it’s profitable… and it’s also seemingly becoming more “normal.” But while it can be easy to “normalize” the porn industry in light of statistics like the ones above, the porn industry is far from normal. Notably, the actors and actresses who star in pornographic films are subject to abnormal, oftentimes degrading treatment by the same people who consume their products. This fact may not be readily apparent for most of us – how many pornographic actors do we know personally? More than likely, we know none. Porn actors per capita in an arguably moral nation like the U.S. are few; moreover, those who do star in pornography use stage names – most of the time to protect their anonymity. However, for one freshman at Duke University, the struggle to function in society while performing in pornographic films took a serious turn when her anonymity as a porn star was stripped away from her.

Most of America knows her by her stage name, “Belle Knox.”  Her real name is Miriam Weeks, but she has only recently divulged her birth name – out of fear. This 18 year-old Duke University freshman has starred in over 30 pornographic films. Weeks has claimed that starring in pornography brings her both confidence and economic stability. On the one hand, Weeks says that as a degree-seeking 18 year-old, no other job could provide her with enough income to pay for her education – a hefty $50,000 per year bill. On the other hand, Weeks states that freely doing pornography is a part of her agenda as a person – she confidently approaches the adult film industry as a way for her to express herself as a woman and to take a stand against the way sex workers are ostracized.

However, after a fellow Duke student “outed” her name to her classmates, Weeks’ struggle as a pornographic actress trying to live a normal life has spiraled. Her ideals and her dignity have been shattered by threats of rape and death, opinions of her perceived economic freedom, critiques of her morality, and objectifications of her body above consideration of her personal ideals. Intense public scrutiny of her aspirations of becoming a respected member of society while working in the porn industry have done an injustice to the human worth of Miriam Weeks and highlight several important problems with the way this country treats sex workers.

By virtue of our technological society, it is much harder for sex workers to remain anonymous. And when these workers are put in the spotlight, our culture’s perpetual stigmatization of their profession leads to many negative, unwarranted responses on a large scale. Disagreeing with sex work is one matter. However, “slut shaming,” often in the form of death threats, rape threats, belittling, bullying, and objectification are unwarranted but present byproducts of being “outed” as a sex worker in our morally conscious culture. While it can be easy for us to think that sex workers have the ability to shrug off degrading comments because of their knowledge of how many people perceive their work, studies have proven otherwise: Extensive literature on the psychological state of sex workers has shown that the suicide rate among sex workers is six times that of the rest of the population. Clearly, these degrading comments are unsurprisingly degrading the mental and emotional state of sex workers at an unconscionable rate.

A second issue at stake for men and women like Miriam Weeks is society’s perception of the true freedom of sex workers. In Weeks’ case, many have argued that the pressure of paying for college has “coerced” the Duke freshman to seek sex work as a means to survive in a country that often prioritizes the value of an education. This is simply not true, according to Weeks, who claims that the money is only one of several reasons why she loves staring in adult films. However, although Weeks has asserted that she feels completely free to choose to do porn, it is not fair to say that all sex workers engage in their work purely out of their own free will. Sometimes, we hear stories of men and women in disparaging economic circumstances, who resort to sex work as a means to stay alive.

But why do some of us instantly typify Miriam Weeks as one of these people who do sex work as a “last resort” – a way to survive economically? Maybe its because when it comes to sex work, many of us are sharply divided on the issue, even though all of us are trained by society to find compassion for others, especially the “marginalized” members of our community (e.g., sex workers, as you probably guessed.) It’s not necessarily our fault: as soon as a conversation about porn starts, so starts the stigma, and instead of believing the possibility that a human being could ever want to do sex work, some of us tell ourselves that the person is just short on money. They’re just getting by until some other opportunity comes up. We excuse them for making the decision to sell their bodies. But when we perceive sex workers collectively as un-free workers, we all too often put words in their mouths. We rob them collectively of the value of their ability to choose. We rob them of their dignity as a rational human being.

Dignity: a word normally not associated with sex workers. But is there any inherent dignity working as a porn star? Miriam Weeks argues that this question is perceived with great bias by a majority of our society. I couldn’t agree more. There is an inherent dichotomy in the ways in which our society thinks about pornography. Although roughly 50% of American citizens freely admit to watching porn regularly, Weeks thinks that society at large has a tendency to shame pornographic actors and actresses publically and professionally while they cannot get enough of it privately. I cannot help but agree with Weeks that this enigma is one of the great plagues of our society. We jerk off with one hand, and we point our fingers with the other.

Breaking down this dichotomy will be a fundamentally challenging but necessary step to search for justice in the many issues surrounding our perception of sex workers. But the struggle for fair treatment of sex workers only begins there. We as a society also need to stop slut shaming as a means of expressing our discontent with someone’s profession. We need to realize that nobody likes being degraded; even if we consider someone derogatory, they are still a human, equally deserving of dignity and respect. Moreover, we need to give back the freedom of choice that we oftentimes take away from sex workers. Instead of being content with telling ourselves that sex workers as a whole are economically disabled, we should work to ensure that all sex workers are economically enabled. We should help those who are not as fortunate as Miriam Weeks and are struggling economically to be able to choose a career just like everyone else.

In closing, I’d like to address that I say “we” throughout this article because this issue affects all of us. Even if you have never watched pornography (I will be a little skeptical of that, but I will take your word for it) or you have not engaged in sex work, I’m sure someone you know has directly or indirectly struggled with the sex-negativity that so pervades our culture. We need to break the stigma surrounding sex work in our society because the reality is that some of us desire to engage in sex work. And no human being deserves to hear that their desires are disgusting.

By: Eric Thomas Roy

Sources:

1.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pornography_in_the_United_States#Economics and

          http://www.xojane.com/sex/belle-knox-duke-university-freshman-porn-star

2.  http://www.internetsafety101.org/Pornographystatistics.htm

3.  http://www.internetsafety101.org/Pornographystatistics.htm

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Valentine’s Day. People seem to have this belief that you need a special someone in your life to validate you with candy and heart shaped stuff or it makes you hyper aware that you are lonely and single.

As women, we are especially prone to thinking we are supposed to feel like we are crazy in love or bitter, while eating a carton of ice cream on our couch feeling sorry for ourselves.

I’m not sure where these expectations of ourselves have evolved from, but I’m here to tell you the best news!!!

Why not love yourself today???

Earlier today, I wrote on my Facebook, something personal:

“Last Valentine’s Day, I didn’t love myself at all. This year, I love myself almost too much!  <3 you Bree Bree!”

I think self-love is a beautiful thing. It’s taken me quite some time to realize that I’m awesome! Before, I felt really lonely, I was insecure, weak, doubtful of myself and my abilities and I absolutely hated looking in the mirror. I also relied heavily on someone else to tell me they loved me in order to feel worthwhile and validated.

Looking back at who I used to be and how I used to think of myself is not a great feeling, but I must acknowledge my old way of thinking in order to embrace my new, much happier thoughts!

These past few months, I have learned to be my own best friend, my own love and support system and to me, that’s the best gift I could give myself, ever! I don’t need to feel bad for being single. I surely don’t feel alone. Looking at myself and seeing how far I have succeeded in overcoming depression, self-hate, and sadness is so validating!!!

So, if you have a special partner or you’re flying solo this Valentine’s Day, I highly encourage you to reflect on self-love. Treat yourself to something nice. Why rely on someone else to give you flowers and chocolate when you can do the same for yourself? Why should we feel bad about rewarding and loving who we are?

Love yourself this Valentine’s Day! As a matter of fact, make a vow to love yourself everyday after that, too!!!

As Rupaul always says, “If you don’t love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else?”

Can I seriously get an amen???

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I was curious about getting a legitimate chest binder. I was using Ace bandages, but am now using one of those binders used for surgery recovery.

 

Does anyone know where to purchase a legit chest binder for cheap?

Categories: Body Image
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So people come in all shapes and sizes, right?

Well, some people struggle with accepting how their bodies look. Well, I’ve finally come to accept mine.

Sure, I have issues with my body due to my being transgender, but I don’t let that rule my life! :) I’ve learned to compromise and set goals. Like for instance, I’m a tad overweight, but why stress out about it when I can do something about it??!

Just learn good habits, and practice them at least two to three times a week.

Why worry?

GO WITH THE FLOW! :)

Categories: Body Image
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Drunk in Love = Safe in Love?

A few weeks ago, Beyonce quietly dropped an album (thanks for being awesome #QueenBey), and a hit single “Drunk in Love” is blaring from every angle. Corner stores, cars on the highway, my dentist’s office. You name it, and “Drunk in Love” is on everyone’s playlist. While the entire album is well received by her audience, “Drunk in Love” raises a bigger question about the role of sobriety in sexual encounters.

As a third-year college student in America’s biggest college town, I’ve seen and heard all the effects of alcohol in sexual encounters.

“It makes flirting easier.” “It makes cumming faster.” “It makes talking smoother.”

Easier. Faster. Smoother.

Things alcohol does to your hook-up/sex life (because not all hook-ups involve sex). Sounds good, right? But, then glance over at the role of alcohol in sexual violence and the role of alcohol in America’s rape culture, especially among young people. While there is no direct correlation between alcohol and sexual violence, is there a safe way to be drunk during sex and, of course, during love?

For Beyonce and Jay-Z, one of the most powerful couples in the entertainment industry, their marriage seems like something out of utopia: a child, money, love, fame, etc.

But most couples aren’t like this. In fact, how many women can say that they completely trust their partner when they are drunk? How many times are women left feeling comfortable in their vulnerability and sexuality with their partner?

That’s what struck the most in this song. Beyonce feels safe enough to trust Jay-Z when they’re both drunk. And that’s actually so rare. Society places so many preconceived notions of sex and alcohol, especially on the role of alcohol to get women drunk for sex. With sex comes vulnerability and trust, the trust to be with someone during your most intimate moments and the vulnerability to linger with your most intimate thoughts.

While “Drunk in Love” represents a part of a relationship rarely depicted in media, I would like to see other women feel more safe and secure in their relationships, sober or not.

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In my early adolescence, I spent a lot of time at rehearsals. Dance rehearsals, vocal rehearsals, theatre rehearsals, the list goes on. I spent most of my preteen and teenage years in dance studios and on stages, being picked at and prodded. So, of course, when I watched the video “Pretty Hurts” on Beyoncé’s new self-titled visual album (short freak-out- YES!! PERFFFF), I related on a seriously deep level.

The entire song and video, “Pretty Hurts” is a take-down of beauty standards our society has and how they can be detrimental to our women. The ‘perfect’ woman is often seen as having straight blonde hair, tall, slim, fair, and dainty. This is  Eurocentric, and these standards and expectations can lead to assimilation, self-hatred, and just nasty stuff.

In my own personal experience, I never really looked much like my friends. I was always the first one to be pointed out, and I was often addressed by physical characteristics rather than my name. I wasn’t white, I wasn’t tall, I wasn’t petite, the list goes on.4501_1075007470560_3380138_n

Being in an entertainment industry, I was often reminded of this. I lost out on roles that again and again went to the more stereotypical ‘pretty’ girl. I remember I was in a winter musical; I got an old costume that used to be one of my friend’s, and when I tried it on, it didn’t even fit over my bum. My theatre instructor told me I needed to eat a little less and shed some pounds, because I needed to fit into that skirt like my friend did before the show date.

In the video for “Pretty Hurts”, Beyoncé portrays a pageant woman (as she was in the past) that struggles throughout the video with trying to fit the script of ‘pretty’ by taking pills, exercising excessively, getting botox, and vomiting in a bathroom. The entire video she is trying to fit into a set of beauty standards that are suffocating her, quite literally, and then she still loses (to one of her more fair-skinned counterparts, may I note).  We see her wreck a room of her trophies and crowns, scream and break her level-headed demeanor, and basically lose her sh#$. It’s only after this at the very end of the video that we see her wash off all of the makeup, take out her hair, look in the mirror, and give the most authentic smile of the video yet.

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When I was younger, I tried everything to look ‘pretty’. I wanted to look more like my friends that got the lead roles; I wanted to fit in when I went out with them. So, one summer, I decided to do everything I could to become more fair-skinned. I didn’t go out during the day unless absolutely necessary (covered in pounds of sunblock and clothing), I covered myself in lighter colored foundations and powders, I did everything within reach of my little thirteen-year-old hands. I became depressed, I developed an eating disorder, and I truly hated myself. I was told again and again that I would never make it in the industry, could never be a ballerina because I was too dark and too fat, could never be a singer because my nose drew too much attention. Only when I pulled myself out of that environment and took a long couple of months to myself (and counseling) did I realize that beautiful is not just one thing. It can’t be.

Beyoncé does a wonderful job of ripping these notions to shreds while admitting her own struggle with trying to adhere to them. I saw myself in so many different parts of this video and song, it felt like she read my diary. This song is a beautifully written critique of the unrealistic Eurocentric beauty standards that are ever present in entertainment industries and elsewhere. Queen Bey ends the song with this phrase, “When you’re alone all by yourself and you’re lying in your bed, reflection stares right into you; Are you happy with yourself?”
Beyoncé is unafraid, strong, flawed, and she is starting dialogue and leading us in the right direction.

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Yes, Beyoncé. I’m happy with myself – most days – but I wasn’t always. It’s a struggle, and it will continue to be, but the more artists in the spotlight that are diverse and beautiful in everything they do and are (just like you), the easier it will get.

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I am a pretty big fan of sitting at home with food and shows to binge on.  And East Los High caught my full and undivided attention.  I’m not normally into soapy teen dramas, but the problems teens face everyday, especially teens of color in neighborhoods like East Los, were real.

While many find sex and the details of it to still be taboo to discuss, teens are left without the rights and respect to get the knowledge they need to better protect themselves.  I found it so refreshing to find a series that is easily relatable, stimulating, and educational.  Oh, and guess what?  Characters in the show can actually say the word “abortion.”  There wasn’t a Voldemort treatment of an actual medical procedure that one out of three women in the United States will experience in their lifetime.  Even better, several choices and paths that follow unprotected sex are explored and tidbits of helpful sexual health facts and info are casually placed into the dialogue.  There’s even brief but impactful conversations on masculinity and gender roles in regards to safe sex throughout the show.

I had a Hulu Plus account and was fortunately able to view the “Hulu exclusive” series, but anyone can watch the full episodes on the East Los High website.  It’s a good and fairly accessible teen drama with lots of examples and lessons to share.    There are little whispers about a second season to appear, and I am excitedly waiting.  Not everyone shared my enthusiasm for the show though.  An online “news” article from Life Site News expressed an opinion:

Planned Parenthood’s has its guns aimed squarely at Hispanic teens, as it continues its latest foray into eugenic targeting via an unbelievably salacious novella featuring an all-Latino/Latina cast…

What kind of public service is done by the airing of this trashy novella directed to Hispanic teens? And just what is the “moral” of Episode 1? Finish the dance with your boyfriend before dashing to the car to have sex with someone else? Watch out when you have sex in a car because someone may be videotaping you? Being voted Winter Queen will make you extremely popular on the hookup circuit?

How can anyone even use the word “moral” in connection with this series?

There are some other significant things that this writer neglects to mention besides the awesome sexual health info and examples found throughout the series.  East Los High is the first English language show with an all Latino cast.  And what is even better is that the cast defies the mainstream roles that Latino people are often forced into.  For something like this to be left out in this diatribe is quite telling of the kind of perspective the writer has, especially with the condescending and twisted but very nonexistent link between the show and fictitious eugenic attempts.

Miriam Perez, a past contributor on Racialicious, Feministing, and RHRealityCheck, has written on this topic of anti-choice movements making it seem like they care about women of color.  Her post was originally found on RHRealityCheck, but I pulled it off Racialicious.  From the succinct and eloquent post Worried About Women of Color? Thanks, But No Thanks, Anti-Choicers. We’ve Got It Covered:

At first glance, it’s nice to see the anti-choice community pretending to care about communities of color. But within a few minutes, the skepticism sets in. What’s really behind these tactics, coming from a group that is majority white, middle-class and Christian? In the end, we know this isn’t actually about women of color and their well-being. It’s a sensationalist attempt to pit women of color against the reproductive rights movement. Classic divide and conquer…

We’ve fought back against governmental policies like welfare family caps and limits on access to certain types of contraception over others. We’ve fought with the reproductive rights community to get them to care about these issues and how they affect our communities—and we’ve won.

We’re fighting for access to contraception, to abortion, to options for childbirth and parenting. And now we’ll fight the racist and paternalistic logic behind the eugenics arguments being made by anti-choicers.

Life Site News has urged concerned citizens to call  Hulu’s corporate headquarters at 310-571-4700 to remove the series and to make sure a second season contract cannot be extended.  Please use the number to the opposite.

(This has also been posted on my blogs FanTalk and STFU, Pro-Lifers.)

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Hello there ! X_x

Its been forever!

…………………………………..

What is the ideal image for you?

Accepting who you are is a major difficulty for all, even the person who believes they have the “perfect body or image”. Being an outcast because of the way you look is never a surprise to me, as I have had the experience. However, after finding  who you are and appreciating yourself for that person, is when life becomes worth living.

It frustrates me to no end, when people stand and say they don’t love themselves because others think they are too fat, too skinny, too black or even too copper-skinned. Lacking any sense of hypocrisy, I understand what these people go through and way they feel this way. Undeniably, society plays a major role within this “acceptance” of a person. The truth remains that not everyone is from the same ilk, and that we all have and stand for different ideologues, but would it not be tolerable if everyone accepted each other for who they are?

I do not blame society for all the negative connotations an individual have about themselves, for the factors of : low self esteem, abuse (mental, physical and emotional) are a few aspects that contribute to this lack of respect for thyself.

En mi opinion, a person is as beautiful as they make themselves. Ironically, within this appreciation of ones’s inner and outer beauty, they should acknowledge the fact that Not everything will suit them. They need t find their style, balance their minds, and be free within, because this world is already a cage and  it makes no sense to be a captive to yourself .

#Do&Be You #LoveYourself For All You Are Worth.

Categories: Body Image
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The Key to a healthy relationship with someone else is to have a healthy relationship with yourself first. If you don’t love yourself then how will someone else. Loving yourself is different from being arrogant, conceited or egocentric. Loving yourself means caring about yourself, taking responsibility for yourself, respecting yourself, and knowing yourself. It all starts with your personal hygiene. Stay clean and look good for you, not someone else. Go to the gym, go for runs, brush your teeth, do your hair, tell yourself you look beautiful each and everyday because we all know we do not hear it enough from anyone else. If you think you’re fabulous then no one else can tell you otherwise.  Get fully aquatinted with yourself: Learn what you like and dislike. Take yourself on dates and show yourself a good time. No one is going to treat you better than you treat yourself and once you find someone you’ll be able to teach them exactly what you like. And most of all accept yourself for who you are. Learn your strengths and weaknesses and embrace them. You’re a human being and we all have our faults so don’t feel ashamed of them. So light candles in your bed room, put on slow R&B music, paint your toe nails or pull out your ingrown facial hairs, and sing your heart out. Be happy with yourself and the rest will fall into place. Stay Happy and Stay Healthy.

Categories: Body Image
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I recently had an interesting experience at a party while I was on the dance floor. It inspired me, and this is the result!

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Body image is something that is becoming very important to teens. I know growing up  really cared what I looked like. I think that in today society it is ever more important to have that “perfect body”. I don’t think that there is such thing as a “perfect body”. Yes, I do think that being over weight is a problem and should be monitored but I do not think that just because you weight more than your friend you should feel down about yourself. I think that no matter what size you are, as long as you are healthy, it shouldn’t matter.

Categories: Body Image
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Ending a relationship can leave you depressed, lonely and just down right sad but here are a few tips to help you fight that feeling of depression so that you can carry on with your life and be happy.

1. unload your schedule

make time for yourself go watch a movie and do something fun with friends.

2. Laugh more

they say laughter is the best medicine and its true, if you laugh more you will be happier with yourself.

3. Don’t heal the pain with alcohol 

it never works, drinking only makes you think more and all sorts of crazy ideas can pop in your head, so put down that wine bottle and get some fruit juice you’ll thank yourself afterwards.

4. Accentuate the Positive
Focus on the good things in your life, especially when you feel buried under stress and worry.

5, Treat yourself to some food!

Let that inner foodie out and go get some good healthy foods,Certain vitamins and nutrients, like omega-3 fatty acids, change the brain chemistry that affects your mood.

6, Be honest with yourself

Be honest with yourself. “If you try to deny the pain and put on a happy face, it’ll get to you

Categories: Body Image
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I mean, really?

The author of the post about Miley Cyrus is one Jincey Lumpkin, founder of Juicy Pink Box – “a lifestyle brand that entices all women to explore their lesbian fantasies” and sex columnist at HuffPo.

She has since written a blog post apologizing for her piece in which she entirely disregards the claims of appropriation and use of black women as props, choosing instead to focus on Miley’s right to express her sexuality. A standpoint which, from my point of view, is not really the main concern. Yes it’s a little disturbing that her tongue seems to spend a lot more time outside her mouth than in, and that her latex shorts were seriously eating her butt during her VMA performance (*cringe*), but I think we all know that it’s unfair for her to be the sole target when Mr. Robin Blurred-Lines-is-a-Feminist-Movement Thicke was an equally inappropriate part of the performance.

Granted, the two posts in the snapshot above were written by two different people, but it’s a pretty good depiction of the lack of inter -sectionalism in feminism. That brings to mind the following quote:

“Black women wake up in the morning, look in the mirror, and see Black women. White women wake up in the morning, look in the mirror, and see women. White men wake up in the morning, look in the mirror, and see human beings.” – Michelle Haimoff

 

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self esteem is one of the hardest things to get back once you have lost it. it is hard to love yourself yet so easy to hate every single thing that makes you…you.

especially as a woman. we want to be skinnier, we want to be bigger, we want to be darker, we want to be lighter, want our hair to be long or curly. we don’t know. we just want to be everything that we are not. what creates such bad self esteem is the simple knowledge that we can’t change it. the things we hate the most are the things we are stuck with.

the key to loving yourself is to simply do so. stand in the mirror and stare. sick notes all around about what you DO like about you. everyday until the most beautiful woman is your very own reflection…

Categories: Body Image
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(Image reposted from Amplify Facebook – click here for more)

Urban Retreat 2013 was truly an experience beyond any tier.  Never have I ever been surrounded by so many like-minded individuals–as much of an oxymoron as that might sound.  We were all individuals because we all had our own story to share.  We came from many different walks of life and parts of the world.  All of us had to overcome some type of unique trauma and oppression that we were facing in our own separate lives.  But we celebrated our diversity.  And we were all there in unison trying to contribute to the vision we shared for the world.

I might have been a tiny bit apprehensive about making the trip to Washington, D.C. at first.  I wasn’t really enthusiastic about being away from my girlfriend.  It was a place I had never been to on my own.  I would be surrounded by strangers.  But these strangers quickly became my friends.  And these friends were all activists and advocates for social progress in their own communities from all over the world, so I had a lot to learn from them.  And I found, to my surprise, that I had things I could share with them as well.  Together we received training to become more effective activists and leaders.  And after the inspiring trainings and workshops, we headed to Capitol Hill together to share our stories and insight with our representatives.  It was a self-affirming and inspiring experience.

I even got to meet Janet Mock!  We talked and had dinner.  She even tweeted me and followed me on Twitter!

It’s thanks to Urban Retreat that I’ve gained new tools, resources, and concepts that would empower me and inspire me to be more involved in activism and advocacy for social justice.  And it’s thanks to Urban Retreat that I’ve gained a new family with YouthResource.  Today I woke up this morning and found myself in my own bed in Michigan.  I wasn’t in Washington, D.C. with my fellow advocates anymore.  The realization was bittersweet.  But I know I’ll see these faces soon enough with stories to share.

 

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It never fails to frustrate me when people can’t respect  the way one looks and the choices they make about how they choose to show expression with their image, or style.  Instead of dealing with their own issues, and insecurities they thrive on projecting their ideas onto anyone noncomplying to their beliefs, by tearing them down with ignorant words.  If a man can wear a tank top that has the straps covering only his nipples and the neck of the shirt so low to show his stomach without glares , why can’t I wear baggy cargo shorts and a mens T-shirts without being scorched by eye canons wherever I go?  Why is it anyone’s business to try and change how I Look?

Of course “Not everyone is the same, You can’t go around forcing your ideologies down others’ throats”, and “Everyone is entitled to their own opinion”. These are statements that would be valid  if  everyone just accepted that people are different even with their opinions and didn’t make people who choose to break the cookie-cutter mold feel uncomfortable and ashamed for doing their own thing.

I actually think that by complying with the closed minded judgments and ignorant comments, we allow the problem to continue. This is especially true here in America where so much of the culture if focused on outer appearances.

If you are  being harassed by others who don’t respect how you look, what you pierce on your body,or how you cut your hair, stay strong.  As long as you feel comfortable in your skin and allow only love/support into your mind, negativity will not affect you.

#doyou #loveyourself #staycomfortable

Categories: Body Image
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 1.   Must-See: Gabrielle Union’s Black Women in Hollywood Speech

“It’s easy to pretend ‘to be fierce and fearless because living your truth takes real courage. Real fearless and fierce women admit mistakes and they work to correct them. We stand up and we use our voices for things other than self promotion. We don’t stand by and let racism and sexism and homophobia run rapid on our watch. Real fearless and fierce women complement other women and we recognize and embrace that their shine in no way diminishes our light and that it actually makes our light shine brighter.”

 

2.   Jay-Z And Azealia Banks Call Out Miley Cyrus On Cultural Appropriation; She Doesn’t Get It

When I saw the way that Miley Cyrus was shedding her Hannah Montana persona and moving forward regardless of what people thought of her new image, I was excited for what was to come. I liked a number of tracks on Can’t Be Tamed and I was really looking forward to seeing what the product of working with Pharell would be. I thought her cover of “Lilac Wine” was an indication of where she was headed but apparently I was very wrong.

I never made it through the first 2 minutes of “We Can’t Stop” and every time I hear that song now I cringe. The fact that it’s so high up on the billboard charts is a testament to the ugly society that we live in.

 

3.   Did you hear about the #ThankMiley tag on Twitter? It’s hilarious.

I died laughing and my spirit went wherever spirits are supposed to go. Some of my favorites include, “Miley helped Craig beat Debo on Friday” and “Cyrus v. Board of Education led to the integration of schools”. This stuff is gold I tell you!

 

4.   Five ways that “staying safe” costs women

How about people stop telling women how not to get raped and teach men not to rape instead?

 

5.   Pantless Wonder

This Clutch Magazine piece offers up hilarious writing and an insightful discussion of the many ways that women are continuously encouraged to find something to dislike about our bodies; in this case, our vaginas.

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It’s odd but, I can remember a time when I never thought about my body. I knew that my body was physically female and that when people looked at me, that was what they saw: a female. For a long time, I accepted that fact about myself and I played the role I was meant to. I made myself grow accustomed to wearing makeup like the other females, fawning over my hair and obsessing about my body fat. It was never enough for me though. It never felt completely right to be doing these things, to be pretending to be something that made me unhappy. Every time I looked in the mirror and stared at my body, I never saw someone who was skinny, just a gut that I wished would go away and boobs that I wasn’t sure why they were even there in the first place. Female clothes; they never looked right on my body, they never felt comfortable to me. Showing off my belly, wearing the short shorts or even high heels felt silly to me. The only thoughts that were usually running through my mind when  I was dressed like that was, “Why?”. I knew that I wasn’t happy being this way, dressing this way so, why couldn’t I bring myself to stop doing it? I also knew that, no matter how many times I looked in the mirror and saw a female’s body, I couldn’t accept that it was actually my body and for the longest time I didn’t understand why. It’s been…a while since that time and I’m 19 years old now. I now understand why I had such a inner struggle with myself. Why I felt such discomfort with my physical form and it was because mentally I am a guy and will always be a guy. Even now, it’s hard for me to deal with the body I’m stuck in. I’ve been in such depression that I made myself gain a stupid eating disorder. I’m okay now though. I  eat like I’m supposed to but, it’s not as much and I think it’s because, I’m not happy. Being the way I am, feeling how I do, it’s hard to enjoy much of anything in life until I can make changes to be the person I fully want to be. I wish though at times I had help in my life to guide me on this journey I face. I wish a lot of the time I wasn’t a guy in a female body because, I don’t know how to love myself anymore.

Categories: Body Image
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When we hear about politicians making unqualified and uneducated statements about abortion and reproductive/sexual health, we just shake our heads, asking ourselves and our peers, “How does someone like that get into office?”

Not to diminish your faith in humanity, but less than a couple weeks ago, Brian Nieves, a Republican state senator of Missouri, commented in a Facebook argument to a pro-choice priest, “‘Life of the Mother?’ Your own argument proves it is a matter of convenience!”  State senator Brian Nieves later denied that he said this.  But the denial wouldn’t do him any good since his comments have been screencapped and the comment is still on the Facebook page.

There are people who treat this like it’s an isolated incident.  Like it’s nothing to worry about, but you’d have to imagine the kind of culture it takes to condition people to be able to say these things.  You don’t even have to imagine because that’s the culture we’re living in.  It’s not just one old, white male politician.  It’s several.  And they’re not necessarily always white men.

Brace yourself.  This is pretty triggering.

“These Planned Parenthood women, the Code Pink women, and all of these women have been neutering American men and bringing us to the point of this incredible weakness…We are not going to have our men become subservient.”

— Florida Rep. Allen West expresses a clear understanding of how oppression and privilege works.

“In the emergency room they have what’s called rape kits where a woman can get cleaned out.”

— Texas state Rep. Jodie Laubenberg, discussing why there shouldn’t be a rape or incest exception in bills restricting reproductive health care because clearly she understands how health care works.

“I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something God intended to happen.”  —Richard Mourdock, an Indiana state senator candidate who fortunately did not win.

“Understand though, that when we talk about exceptions, we talk about rape, incest, health of a woman, life of a woman. Life of the woman is not an exception.”

—Joe Walsh, former Illinois congressman revealing just how “pro-life” he really is.

“If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”

—Missouri Representative Todd Akin basically sharing how much he doesn’t know about a female body in one terrible sentence.

“The facts show that people who are raped —who are truly raped—the juices don’t flow, the body functions don’t work and they don’t get pregnant. Medical authorities agree that this is a rarity, if ever.”

—former North Carolina Rep. Henry Aldridge using imaginary doctors as his sources.

“As long as it’s inevitable, you might as well lie back and enjoy it.”

—Clayton Williams regarding rape, he was a former Texas Republican gubernatorial contender and a past fundraiser for John McCain.

This is one of the many reasons why I’m in total support of Advocates for Youth.  The politicians I’ve listed are the kind of people who have been supporting legislation that not only hurts people who need abortions, but rape victims and teens in desperate need of comprehensive sex education.  It hurts people who need access to contraception, affordable health care, and everything else a person would need to live a quality life.  And it’s not going to stop until we change the culture and institutions that allows it to happen.  So, we advocate for the youth.  We have a responsibility to them to ensure that they have their rights and are to be respected.

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When I mention the term taboo I DO mean the game in which you guess the word someone on your team is explaining. I mean taboo as in  is a vehement prohibition of an action based on the belief that such behavior is either too sacred or too accursed for ordinary individuals to undertake, under threat of supernatural punishment as explained by Wikipedia(you know you refer to that site).  Parents today are just not taking the initiative to  teach their kids or even answer questions.Everything starts at  home.  The schools does not enforce sexual education like they should hence why advocates does the work they do.  I hearing all kinds of things that are just plain crazy and I have to correct the young people and send to different resource. If different organizations are providing the resources then parents should back the kids it’s only right.  I want education for all dispite the topic. If only I can educate the world.Sex shouldn’t be taboo instead it’s should be talked about.  I am positive parents don’t want students learning from the wrong person.

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Believe it or not us males face issues regarding our body as well, being apart of this large group of men who have this challenge i must say its not an easy road. It isn’t different from the issues women face but it stems from the need to be liked by someone.

In today’s society the fat guy gets no “game” with all the women and in some cases men going crazy over the abercrombie and fitch model or the guy on the cover of last months issue of mens health it gives guys the urge to want to be like those “idols” not for health reasons but to feel attractive, the thought of someone liking you and wanting to build a relationship with you is a great motivation but reality is that society has made it challenging for men faced with weight issues to find this little piece of dare i say “happiness”.. you get “oh your really nice” or “i like you but i’m not ready for a relationship” a lot.. But what can one do? you can either give in to society and go broke on an expensive gym membership or embrace hope and pray that the universe will send someone who will love you not for your abs but for the kind person you are.

Causes of negative body image

Some of the factors that contribute to a negative body image include:

  • Teasing in childhood and adolescence (for being too thin, too weak or too fat)
  • Peer pressure among teenage boys to be tough and strong
  • A cultural tendency to judge people on their appearance
  • The emphasis on male sports players as role models for boys
  • Advertising campaigns and media coverage featuring idealised male images
  • Promotion by society of the ideal man as always being strong, lean and muscular
  • Well-meaning public health campaigns that urge people to lose weight.

Things to remember

  • Body image is the way you perceive, think and feel about your body.
  • Poor body image is a male problem too, with around half of all men feeling unhappy with their body shape or size.
  • Figures on male anorexia, bulimia and exercise dependence could be much higher than quoted, since men are traditionally reluctant to seek medical help.

 

Categories: Body Image
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Hey world :),

I’m tired of the old sexy… aren’t you? The traditional long legs, big busts, tanned skin, long hair.. perfect teeth- the ideal barbie. The truth is only about 5% of the world’s population look like that… so why should we the other 95% strive to look like them… shouldn’t majority rule?

Beauty has become so commercialized. An image of what sexy should be is defined by the media which then cons us out of million’s of dollars to attain that image. Its a flawless pansy scheme really.

Me? I’m not that kinda sexy and will never be. Struggling through those awkward adolescent years have taught me that. But eh! who cares? I’ve invented my own :D Its a new kind of sexy you know. In fact I’ve pretty much turned the concept around. I’m not tall.. I’m short, My hair isn’t long or straight, I don’t have big boobs…ok I do have perfect teeth but I had braces lol… but the point is, this look works for me.

I don’t like showing skin; I like my skin covered… I like wearing suits not mini skirts. I don’t think glasses are nerdy. I prefer real hair versus fake and I’m a no make up kinda girl.

What’s your kind of sexy? What ever it is embrace it ^.^

Inspired by Mario Jackson’s post -> “Be Your Own Beautiful” and also by this song by a new fave artiste :D – watsky :D

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=131mogMpo5E

 

<3 kevz

Categories: Body Image
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I’m skinny. I always have been. Because I am skinny people think that they have an automatic licence to make me feel ashamed for my body.

Let me introduce myself. My name is Emma Rose and I am a natural size zero.

‘No such thing’ you say? Well, think again because there are more of us naturally skinny people than you might believe.

When I was younger I used to get strange looks from mostly parents who would whisper to each other about how my mother was probably starving me at home. But, as I got older the insults turned straight on me and people began to tell me off right to my face for having a slim figure.

I’ve heard everything: chicken legs, twig, shrimp, skinny Minnie, and string bean. Then, at one point I remember a girl coming up to me in the middle of math class during fourth grade and asking me if I was anorexic. Nobody said anything, not even the teacher, they just waited for me to respond. I finally shook myself out of my shock and said “no.” That was when all hell broke loose.

From then on it wasn’t just my classmates calling me silly kid names. No, now people, adults even, would ask me or my parents to our faces whether I had worms or, if not that, then maybe AIDS.

I recall one teacher in middle school who would not let me leave to go to the bathroom because she said in front of the entire class that I wasn’t going to throw up my lunch on her watch.

This still happens but to a much lesser extent. But, I still have an undeniable desire to end this kind of harassment everywhere I see it. Just because I’m skinny, people think that they can terrorize me about my natural body size.

From putting me into lockers to calling me a skeleton it seems like my weight is my defining factor. I got my licence though I am not yet the legal weight requirement to sit in the front seat of a vehicle  (87 lbs). I get clothing from the children’s section still since nothing fits me. I  have to add elastic to the waistband of all my pants and take in all of my clothes.

No matter how hard I try to gain weight I usually end up losing a pound without even trying. And then, after all that, I turn on the television to see some guy talking about how ugly skinny girls are and how all ‘healthy’ girls have curves and it makes me want to scream.

I am a human being. Aren’t we ALL supposed to be beautiful just the way we are?

Have You Ever Been Bullied For Being ‘Underweight’? Then Check Out These Resources And Fun Stuff:

  1. extrasmall.me
  2. lil diddies (Music Video)
  3. Why Are Thin People Not Fat 1/7 (Video)
  4. You Say I’m Skinny! (Video)
  5. Naturally Skinny (Video)

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WD time is now

What if all the empathy that transpired in the speeches and talks of policy makers I listened to today at the Women Deliver pre-youth conference could immediately be converted to action? This is the question I asked myself during my reflection on the pre-youth conference that ok place on the 27th May 2013 in Kuala Lumpur.

Passion, enthusiasm, and determination were perceptible in the way the policy makers I listened to and spoke with today spoke about how painful, frustrating, and humiliating the consequences of inequalities that exist in todays world are.   But does this mean these people have finally heeded to the call of social activists to act now for inequality to be eradicated? Only time will tell as youths will be keeping a keen eye on these people to ensure that all the promises they will make this time around are kept and within the minimum possible time frame.

The biggest risk to the continuity of humanity is inequality, declared UNFPAs deputy Director; Kate Gilmore during an intervention at the Women Deliver pre-youth conference. Conscious of this, it is unavoidably true that, by delivering on their promises to not only reduce but eradicate inequalities and injustices of every nature, policy makers will be contributing to the continuity of humanity. Therefore by failing to deliver for Girls, women, and Youths, policy makers of this generation will be committing a crime that present and future generations will not pardon.

But well, we the youths of this generation wont sit arms folded to see you commit such heinous crimes, because our silence-that of Girls, Women, and Youths is a roar that will degenerate into something worse if not listened to.

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5 Facts About Body Image

1.Body image is the way that someone perceives their body and assumes others perceive them. This image is often affected by family, friends, social pressure, and the media.

2.Approximately 91 percent of women are unhappy with their bodies and resort to dieting to achieve their ideal body shape. Unfortunately, only 5 percent of women naturally possess the body type often portrayed by Americans in the media.

3.58 percent of college-aged girls feel pressured to be a certain weight.

4.Students, especially women, who consume more mainstream media, place a greater importance on sexiness and overall appearance than those who do not consume as much.

5. Body image is closely linked to self-esteem. Low self-esteem in adolescents can lead to eating disorders, early sexual activity, substance use, and suicidal thoughts.

Media has such great power over most of our lives, we allow it to dictate what we do. We allow media to tell us how we must dress, what clothes to wear, how to walk, how to talk and how to look.

Being our own kind of beautiful consists of being who we are from the inside first, and then translating that onto the outside of our bodies secondly.” -J. Johnson

So no matter what BE YOUR OWN BEAUTIFUL!

http://www.dosomething.org/tipsandtools/11-facts-about-body-image

Categories: Body Image
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Respect. I think the word that best describes what I’m trying to get at with this blog. I feel like there’s this notion in society today that a women’s self-respect and self-worth lie completely between her legs, and because of this notion a lot of other social issues arise. I can’t even begin to count how many times I’ve heard some variation of the phrase have some respect for yourself ladies and keep your legs closed. Statements like this pigeonhole women and keep society in that outdated mindset that all a woman is good for is sex and childbearing. Self-respect, to me, has to do with self-love and standing up for yourself and what you believe in. It’s like a reverse golden rule, “treat others how you would like to be treated” treating yourself that way too. Self-respect has nothing to do with how much sex you have or how revealing your clothes are.

So, “slut-shaming” is what I’m getting at now. “Slut-shaming” is the shaming or acting of woman, making her feel inferior or guilty for engaging in certain sexual behaviors that deviate from traditional norms or expectations. Girls do it, calling each other sluts with no self-respect because they make sexual decisions that are simply different from their own. And by doing this, they open a door for men and the rest of society to disrespect women and look down on women who simply have different viewpoints than their own. This just adds to the inequality of women and double standards, because you less often see anyone calling a man a slut with no self-respect.

So all of this serves to contribute to another, bigger societal problem which is “victim blaming.” It’s the mindset that women are responsible for being raped, or “they were asking for it,” because of the way they were dressed, the way they were acting or the amount of drugs or alcohol in their system. This culture in society emphasizes and teaches victims not to get raped, or not to do things that would promote getting raped, rather than punishing perpetrators and teaching not to rape. No matter what the person is wearing or how they may be acting, forced sex without consent is rape. Keeping in mind that consent cannot be obtained if the person is passed out drunk. So where did “rape culture” and “victim blaming” come from?  Well if we’re allowing society to look down on women as “sluts,” then we can’t be surprised when that same society isn’t sympathetic towards them when they are raped.

Back to respect. Respect is essential to stopping “slut-shaming” and the problems that emerge from it. Having respect is having an open mind towards understanding that not everyone’s opinion on sex and how and when to have it is going to be same as yours. Rather than resorting to calling each other names, we should open our minds and our hearts towards understanding people who are simply different than ourselves.

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Today when I heard that Angelina Jolie had recently undergone a double masectomy, I just KNEW that somewhere on teh interwebs, there were some really dumb men completely missing the point and making ignorant comments about her.

Angelina made her decision after doctors told her she had an 87% chance of developing breast cancer, and a 50% chance of developing ovarian cancer. Her mother died of cancer at 56 and she decided she would rather begin to minimize the risk than have her children have to deal with her death from cancer.

She did a really great thing. She personalized the issue and has hopefully inspired women everywhere to begin to take the appropriate measures to safeguard against cancers. Many people, myself included, applaud her decision, especially in light of the possible damage to her career as sex symbol extraordinaire.

But what are some other people doing? They are making fun of her and saying she’s only seeking attention.

Look at these idiots, fetishizing her like all she ever was, was a pair of boobs. Like the fact that she could have died from cancer means absolutely nothing. Look at #2, a proper quack-salver he is. Are you a doctor sir? A specialist? And #6, who knew that he was going to sound like an asshole but forged ahead nonetheless, charging into the abyss of stupidity.

Next time someone calls you a misandrist or states that feminism isn’t needed, or that feminism is merely a political agenda, show them this post.

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Women are the most beautiful creation of God and by default they are expected to take care of their beauty. This quest for ultimate beauty has given rise to various cultural practices that have victimized women since centuries. One of these customs is the ‘Chinese Foot Binding’ practice.

The process of foot binding is started for the young girls anywhere from the age of four to six. The daughters’ feet was first soaked in warm water or animal  blood and herbs with a special potion that caused any dead flesh to fall off. Then  her toe nails were cut as short as possible therefore not allowing them to grow into the foot. After she received  a foot massage, the four smallest toes on each foot were broken. Then the mother soaked silk or cotton bandages(10 feet long and 2 inches wide)  in the same liquid the girl’s feet were soaked in then the bandages were wrapped around the smallest toes and pulled tightly to the heel. Every two days, the binding was removed and rebound. This part of the process went on for two years. To assure that the feet stayed small, the ritual continued for at least ten more years.

Even the description of the process sounds awfully painful but besides just the pain of the process, there were many after affects that were detrimental to the young  girls’ health. The most common consequence was infection  caused by the folding of the ball of the foot directly into the heel.  A second was that the toenails continued to grow, eventually curling into the skin. These led to the rotting off of flesh and sometimes even a toe. The worst part of the process was that the feet would practically die after three years causing a terrible smell that the girl  carried with her everywhere.

Foot binding not just affected young girls, but several severe long terms consequences were also seen in old women. The women who had their feet  bound were more likely to fall, less able to squat and less able to rise from a sitting position in their older years. The combination of the lower hip bone density, along with the fact that women with bound feet  were more likely to fall, put these women at an extremely high risk for hip fractures.

Despite the pain, the deformities and the health risk, foot binding was widely popular and an integral part of Chinese culture. Well, the persistence of this painful culture cannot be attributed only to the ‘desire to be beautiful’. Various social and cultural constraints played a significant role in its continuation. Men in China in that era would not marry a woman who did not have bound feet. Foot binding kept women weak, out of power, and dominated by her husband. When women bound their feet, men could dominate more easily and not worry about women taking their power. Also, women were seen as an object to the men, to be observed and look pretty, therefore appealing to men mattered more to the girls than their health.

Foot binding was not just considered a fashion statement but had rather become the way of life of Chinese women. It had integrated itself so much in their culture that the Chinese were indifferent towards its detrimental effects. Thus, it took more than laws , rules and protests to bring the Foot binding custom to an end. Despite various attempts to discourage ‘foot binding’ in the mid 1600s, the practice was far from discontinuation. It was only in 1911 after the revolution of Sun Yat –Sen that foot binding officially ended for good, aside from a few group of women living in the country side.

The elimination of ‘foot binding’ is an epic achievement considering its long history of more than 1000 years. The ideas used to eradicate such deeply rooted cultural practice can also be applied to act against various other similar customs such as Female Genital Mutilation in Africa, Chaupadi  Pratha in Nepal, Neck ring in Myanmar etc.

The foot binding reformers worked in three key ways. Firstly, they used an education campaign which explained that other countries did not bind feet and that China was ‘losing face’ and being internationally ridiculed. Secondly, the advantages of ‘natural’ feet were explained, alongside the disadvantages of binding. Thirdly, natural foot societies were formed, with members pledging not to bind and only allowing sons to marry unbound girl. Three groups were involved in the campaigns against foot binding: a group of Western missionaries focused on Chinese Christians, another group focused on Westerners and the elite, and a group of Chinese reformers campaigned with the non-Christian Chinese elite. A London Missionary Society (LMS) member founded the first anti-foot binding society in 1874, and in 1875 Mrs Little founded the first Natural Foot Society. Chinese groups followed and were the first to succeed in moves to eradicate the practice in 1897 (Hong 1997).Each group took different approaches against foot binding practice. The missionaries gave scholarships to unbound girls, later educating only unbound elite pupils under unbound Christian elite teachers. The anti-foot binding societies provided marriage partners for members, registering ages of children for convenient match-making. Mrs Little focused on powerful officials and wealthy elite women.

Thus, multi-sectoral and integrated interventions designed by keeping in mind the cultural background, to overcome the social constraints, can be a useful strategy to help eliminate the various cultural taboos that has been restraining women all over the world.

 

By,

Shristi Khadka

YALC 2013

Nepal

Categories: Body Image
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By April Grayce Dunlop for The Black Sheep Journal

To not have children and act thoughtfully towards the Earth are perfectly valid life decisions on their own, but claiming that not having kids is the best thing we can do for the health of the planet threatens reproductive rights and climate justice.  This misled moralistic approach to denouncing procreation is exactly the platform of an emerging group of women who self-identify as GINKs- Green Inclinations, No Kids.  Their main stated motivation in being “child-free by choice” is to reduce their “carbon footprint.”  An article shared and widely “liked” on the GINK Facebook page states that, “To insure that the reduction of emissions in the developed countries is not cancelled by increases from the developing world, we must slow the growth rate of our human family.”

Drawing this connection between population control and environmental health encourages reproductive rights policies aimed at low birth rates instead of bodily autonomy.  Blaming climate change on large families and “overpopulation” distracts us from the people responsible for massive environmental destruction – such as oil companies, polluting factories, and militaries to name a few.  To lessen one’s harmful impact on the environment is an admirable goal, but the individualist frame of GINKs hugely limits their potential for change.

Often, the financial burden of raising kids ($234,000 for each child’s lifetime according to the GINK article) is posed as the most urgent reason not to have any. The cost of feeding, clothing, and housing children undeniably takes a chunk of parents’ paychecks.  A GINK WordPress blogger says household clutter is an eyesore of families with kids – “stuff” increases 30% when you have a toddler.  But how much of that financial drain and “stuff” is necessary and how much of it is the result of rampant consumerism?  Families who make more money spend more money on their children.  A 2008 USDA study found that “total family expenses on a child through age 17 would be $210,340 for households in the lowest income group, $291,570 for those in the middle, and $483,750 for those in the highest income group.”  Not spending money and resources on children leaves you with more for yourself, sure, but how many of the child-free by choice are living lavish lives and how many get by with the bare minimum?

In addition to the environmental motivations, paradoxically, many material benefits are cited as reasons to be childless.  The dream life depicted as an alternative to child-rearing includes luxurious vacations, all the sleep you could want, and a fancy house free of fingerprints on the glass.  This presumes, of course, that everyone’s life could be like this if they didn’t reproduce.  It is telling that the photo on the GINK manifesto on greenprophets.com is a flat, white stomach with a bit of long blond hair hanging at the side.  Beyond the obvious fat-shaming implications of this, it makes me wonder how many women “choosing to be child-free” are white, upper-middle class, and/or college-educated.  All types of people decide not to have kids, but it’s hard to imagine GINKs are representative of diverse backgrounds and socioeconomic status when “traveling the world, running my business, getting massages, getting pedicures and manicures, working out with my trainer, enjoying great dining experiences and enjoying life to the fullest” is depicted as the non-parenting life.

Perhaps childrearing wouldn’t be “too expensive” if our economic structures and public spaces accommodated raising children in families that didn’t fit the mold of a couple with one high-income-earing parent and a full-time caregiver.  To encourage people to forgo having children due to the cost reinforces it as a privilege for middle to upper class people – and an irresponsible choice for lower class folks.  Instead of examining our buying practices, inadequate wages, price inflation, and the need for publicly supported childcare, the GINK approach relies on individual choices as the solution to systemic problems.

Many people choosing not to have children for the benefit of the planet do not identify (openly, on the internet) as GINKs, but the rhetoric is similar and equally precarious.  A Seattle Times columnist, Sharon Pian Chan, voiced her support for not having kids as “the most important thing [she] could do to reduce [her] carbon footprint.”  She cites a 2009 study by Oregon State University that calculated the emissions impact of each new child in the United States to be 9441 metric tons of carbon dioxide – which is five times the emissions of a child born in China.  It is important to acknowledge the national differences in pollution, but fearing non-U.S. countries’ rapidly increasing emission rates should signal us to take a critical look at our own country’s policies and practices.  Instead of interpreting high individual emissions rates in the context of a larger pattern of production and consumption, the GINK framework shifts the focus to a micro level.  From that vantage point, it is easy to overlook the magnitude of change needed on corporate and institutional levels to halt environmental damage soon enough to be meaningful.

No matter how many light switches we turn off when we leave the room, pounds of food scraps we dutifully compost, and hours spent on public transit instead of driving an SUV, the Earth will still be under violent attack.  The GINK ideology may be well intentioned, but evades the root causes of climate change and unintentionally humiliates mothers who are less than totally enthusiastic and prepared to have kids.  Reproductive freedom must necessarily include the freedom to have – or not have – children.  Encouraging women to sacrifice their right to do what they want with their body for the “greater good” stirs up guilt in individuals that is widely disproportionate to their personal impact.  We need collective action- not individual shaming- to effectively address the global environmental crisis.

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In the past few weeks, both online and “in real life”, I have experienced a number of events that have puzzled me, angered me, and led me to consciously confront the question “Why do we care what other people look like?”.

In the past, I have confronted the question “Why do we care what other people think of us?” and the conclusion I have come to is simple. It has to do with our desire for connection. Connection is an important part of the human experience and possibly the most important part of the human experience, aside from basic survival necessities. Our desire for connection and our fear of loss of connection are the reason we care about how others view us. Naturally, it takes time and a conscious effort to overcome this fear and the shame that is often associated with it. While I have resolved this question, another related one has surfaced for me and I am beginning to believe that the answer may be quite similar.

Why do we care what other people look like? And in association, why do we feel the need to tell people what they SHOULD look like?

From a simple biological standpoint, the answer is simple. Naturally, the appearance of others is important to us because of things like reproduction and natural selection and blah blah blah. To be frank, I don’t buy it. I don’t believe that the pheromone explanation cuts it. Isn’t what separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom our innate ability to distinguish right from wrong? Mean from kind? Why is our moral compass thrown out the window when it comes to physical looks?

A few weeks ago, on facebook, a “friend” of mine posted a picture of a girl in his class bending over to pick up her books. She was larger and was wearing a long, lightweight sweater. The caption was “For those of you that remember my statuses about the Michigan loving girl that makes me hate English classes, I present to you IT.”

First of all, as if the caption, which degraded her to something less than human with the pronoun “it”, wasn’t bad enough, the photo got a total of 55 likes and over 20 comments. While some people defended the woman in the picture and criticized the boy who posted it, many of the comments were offensive, degrading, and directed at her weight.

“I just wanna play with dem titties”, said one boy.

“Is she wearing a curtain?”, said a girl.

I was enraged. I couldn’t believe that people, including some of my own friends, were gathering around a photo to make a spectacle of a person that most of them did not even know because her looks did not fit their social ideal of beauty.

Another incident that stuck out to me was a facebook post by a boy that said “Ladies, once your estrogen levels start decreasing and you start to grow a mustache, SHAVE IT!”. For some reason, this post struck a part of me and it hurt. Similarly, I heard a boy on the bus talking to his friend about how women who don’t have a “nice ass” should not be allowed to wear yoga pants. I understand that everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion, but to make comments like these, that personally attack certain groups of people are just NOT ok and should not be ignored.

My question is: what gives a person the authority to make these defining statements regarding what everyone should look like? Why are we so obsessed with telling people what would make them look better? Why do I hear something like “You would look so much better if ________ ” directed at someone every day? Why can’t we grasp the fact that maybe, for some, looks are NOT important. That maybe life is too brief to worry about something as temporal as looks. That maybe they DO feel beautiful? That maybe they don’t NEED anyone’s approval?

I started off this post talking about our desire for connection, which leads us to care about what others think of us. However, the criticism of the way that people around us look provides nothing to the experience of human connection. This hatred and bullying only aids in DISconnection and perhaps even comes from a place of our own self-hatred. The more we project our own self-loathing onto other people, the more alienated we will all feel.

To judge someone’s appearance, or to offer someone unwanted advice about how to look more “acceptable”, is to posit the belief that you, yourself, are flawless. Flawlessness doesn’t even exist. So let’s all draw our attention AWAY from telling people what we dislike about their appearance and direct our attention toward supporting positive body image and appreciating people for who they are.

Categories: Body Image
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Categories: Body Image
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Video From NAW 2013!!!

Thanks to Advocates For Youth, I had the privilege and pleasure of attending the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health’s National Advocacy Weekend for 5 days this past March. As I packed my bags and boarded the plane that would take me from Ithaca, NY to Washington DC, I had no clue as to the intense intellectual, emotional, and passionate environment I was about to step into.

This year’s Advocacy Weekend was focused on the inclusion of immigrant women’s health care in immigration reform. Immigration policy directly affects an immigrant woman’s access to health care. According to the NLIRH website, the majority of female immigrants do not have healthcare coverage. State legislatures continue to introduce legislation that would restrict non-citizens’ access to basic public health programs, including prenatal care. Immigrant women are less likely to receive adequate reproductive health care, including cervical and breast cancer screening and treatment, family planning services, HIV/AIDS testing and treatment, accurate sex education and culturally and linguistically competent services.

Reproductive Justice tells us that these services are essential for women to have the basic human rights to dignity and self determination. It was under this belief that over 50 activists from across the country joined together. We represented the full spectrum of american latina identity- some of us were undocumented, others were second and third generation citizens. Our command of English and Spanish differed, but we were united in our conviction, and most of all in our support of one another.

Yo te apoyo. This is one of NLIRH’s campaign slogans, and it was this sentiment that was most felt throughout the weekend. As we learned about the intricacies of immigration reform and of it’s intersections with Reproductive Justice, we were free to voice our personal experiences and frustrations. People spoke of very personal obstacles- young motherhood, the pain of familial disruption by deportation, the inability to be seen by a doctor for a cyst in the breast- openly and honestly, and were always received with respect and the assurance that they had in their power the ability to create change.

At the rally for Immigrant Women on Sunday, speakers shouted, “We are on the right side of history!” to a church full of applause. I clapped and shouted right along.  It was only later that I questioned the assurance I felt that this is true. I suppose I feel that I am “on the right side of history” when I am working with people who sound least like a history textbook.. People who choose not to simplify and sterilize an issue, because they are not afraid to admit to and confront the complexity and diversity of it. People who gain collective power through their willingness to admit to vulnerability, to the need to support and be supported in their struggle.

 

For more information about the issue of Immigrant women’s access to healthcare, and how it is affected by immigration policy, check out:

Our Issues: Immigrant Rights

The Economic Effects of Granting Legal Status and Citizenship to Undocumented Immigrants

 

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I have seen this post circulate on Facebook and loved its message. I apologizing for not crediting it since I am not sure who put it together. There is absolutely no way to sugar coat the rape stories that are happening today and we should keep doing our great work loud and proud until we no longer hear about these savage crimes happening in our world. It is about time we teach our fellow humans NOT TO RAPE. Full Stop.

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Technology has become more integral to our daily lives, so it’s no surprise that millions use online dating websites and social apps in search of friendships, romance, and sex. This reality continues to bring individuals closer while removing personal communication as well as creating controversial news headlines.

For many LGBTQ youth, using their internet devices to interact with others is both convenient and comfortable, especially for those who are in the closet about their sexual or gender identity. While most of these youths are skilled at using electronics and social media networks, they are also unaware of the potential risks that come with meeting strangers and sharing extremely personal information.

Just recently, a 16-year-old Broward County student contracted HIV after having unprotected sex with two older men he met through a social app. Stories like this as well as rapes, abductions, and murders have been in the news, where young teens meet unknown persons through websites as popular as Myspace and Facebook, yet end in tragedy.

More than ever, it’s become a necessity for teens and adults to become informed about bullying, privacy, and sexuality so they can actively defend themselves from cyberbullying, predators, and sexually transmitted diseases.

As a young queer male, I’ve studied the habits of friends and pop culture trends.  While South Florida has a rich network of resources for the LGBTQ population, a large portion prefer to join websites like Craigslist, Manhunt, Plenty Of Fish, BGCLive or download apps like Adam4Adam, Grindr, and Jack’d seeking a new friend, love, or a one night stand.

These websites and apps (especially those catering to LGBTQ persons) emphasize shallowness (you can filter users based their physical appearance, age, and ethnicity) and reinforce unrealistic social standards (many profiles will write phrases like “No Fats, No Fems, No Blacks, No Old”).

I don’t suffer from social anxiety or instant gratification and declare myself an online dating skeptic. In the past, I browsed these websites to understand the psychology of online dating and was shocked at how the members had no hesitation in revealing their partially or fully nude bodies and used explicit or unintelligent language in messages.

When I downloaded an app 2 weeks ago, I revisited the same behaviors I encountered on those sites, except it’s more invasive: you can see how many miles each user is from you. I was messaged daily from users aged 18 to 45, of various racial groups, hobbies, and intentions.

Not only did these last 2 weeks teach me that we’re too dependent on technology, but that it’s important to maintain meaningful and personal contact with each other. Online dating has its upside, but with the increasing lack of privacy and dangers associated with chatting to strangers, you never know who is on the other side of that laptop or iPhone.

We may be more connected than ever, but we must be more safe and protected than ever.

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Refusing to learn how to pronounce Quvenzhané’s name says, pointedly, you are not worth the effort.  The problem is not that she has an unpronounceable name, because she doesn’t.  The problem is that white Hollywood, from Ryan Seacrest and his homies to the AP reporter who decided to call her “Annie” rather than her real name, doesn’t deem her as important as, say, Renee Zellweger, or Zach Galifianakis, or Arnold Schwarzenegger, all of whom have names that are difficult to pronounce–but they manage.  The message sent is this:  you, young, black, female child, are not worth the time and energy it will take me to learn to spell and pronounce your name. You will be who and what I want you to be; you be be who and what makes me more comfortable.  I will allow you to exist and acknowledge that existence, but only on my terms.

“After being a part of The Real L Word, I learned of many other young LGBTQ people of color who were also in need of LGBTQ role models, a role I certainly couldn’t take on alone. So I wanted to create BlackOUT as a space were LGBTQ individuals can see themselves, people like them, experiences like theirs.”

“…But would it really be horror, Shayla? It’s 2013 in allegedly post racial America.  Your president is Black for crying out loud.  Wouldn’t that word just roll right off your back?

Quite the contrary.  All that is precisely the reason why it doesn’t.  A complete stranger has the ability to come along and remind you that, still, after all this time and all the progress you think you’ve made, people still hate you just because your skin is brown.  And in an instance, with little more effort than it takes to breathe, can reduce you to absolutely nothing…”

No, really. It did.

Colleen Clark is an Illustrator and she made this awesome comic about body image. It’s short but it highlights the frustrating scale by which a person’s worth is measured. You’ve gotta be something, but not too much.

 

 

 

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by Kendall Goodwin

“I suspect it’s difficult for men to imagine a world in which their bodies have long been inextricably linked to their value as an individual, and that no matter how encouraging your parents were or how many positive female role models you had or how self-confident you feel, there is an ever-present pressure that creeps in from all sides, whispering in your ear that you are your body and your body defines you. A world where, from the time of pubescence on, you can feel the constant and palpable weight of the male gaze, and not just from your male peers but from teachers and sports coaches and the fathers of the children you baby-sit, people you’re supposed to respect and trust and look up to, and that first realization that you are being looked at in that way is the beginning of a self-consciousness that you will be unable to shake for the rest of your life. Even if they are never verbalized, the rules of bodily conduct for females become clear early on: when school administrators reprimand you for the inch of midriff that shows when you lift your hands straight in the air or youth group leaders tell you that the sight of your unintentional cleavage is what causes godly young men to fall, you learn that your body is dangerous and shameful and that it’s your responsibility to cloister it in a way that is acceptable to everyone else. You learn that your body is a topic of public debate that everyone is entitled to weigh in on, from a male classmate telling you that those jeans make your ass look huge to the male-dominated United States Congress dictating the parameters that rape must fall within to be considered legitimate. To be a woman, and to live life in a woman’s body, is to be held to a set of comically paradoxical standards that make you constantly second-guess yourself and jump through a million hoops in pursuit of an impossible perfection.”

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“Lasting beauty, never fades, embrace your body by using *****”

Advertisements are created with the purpose to convince people that the product is good for use to them. This point must be quick and direct, therefore in most cases these advertisement appeals or sends a sexual connection to an individual. This is done deliberately as humans react easily to sexual details as we are considered to be sexual beings.

The tag line in the first stanza highlights a section in a well known advertisement on television. Within this advertisement, much emphasis is place on the physic of the female body.  Thus, in this advertisement it is easy to get a man’s attention to it as the using of women’s bodies and associate getting the woman if he buys the product. It is playing on his instinctive rather than intellectual view of the world. The advertisement spends no time discussing her qualifications for sexual desire — her mere existence is enough. No wonder, why so many of our young man in our society bleaches the skin. The advertisement promises a lighter skin hue and with its high level of sexual connection to the male gender they turn to the product. Then we say as a nation the young men have not found their identity thus they are not comfortable with their sexuality.

“Four men sit alone at the beach. Three beautiful women in bikinis walk by and ignore the men’s invitation to join them. The drink arrives. Immediately, those same women join the men, sitting on their laps or hugging them. Obviously, it was the drink that convinced the women that these men were desirable.”

After a male view this advertisement they are convinced that this drink is definitely going to give them that sexual appeal to woman that they so desire. Thus this advertisement would prove to be effective to the company that is advertising the product. Even though it is sending a false connotation to the male some males may not detect it that easily, as it arouses their sexual senses. No wonder you hear the popular saying “sex sells” in advertising ones business. These advertisers might play on an individual feelings; the desire to be sexually attractive; strong beautiful or healthy; to be a perfect example of masculinity or femininity.

 

Jason Madden

IYSO Council Member 

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  1. Ten Things I Wish I’d Known When I Started My Transition – Annika Penelope, a Trans Issues contributor at Autostraddle, writes a personal essay about some of the things she has experienced during her MTF transition.
  2. Al Roker Slams ‘Small Minded Idiot’ for Insulting Melissa McCarthy – Film critic Rex Reed wrote an irrelevant review of “Identity Thief”, choosing to be sizeist instead of providing an actual review. It’s so rude no one can believe he thought he’d get away with putting all that vitriol out in public space. Al Roker, like many of us, thinks Rex Reed can shove his review up his you-know-what. Well done sir! Well done!
  3. Uh, Yes, Franca Sozzani, Racism is a Problem in Fashion – Vogue Italia puts an Asian model on it’s covers for the first time. Apparently, the US and UK editions are yet to do this as well. Also, editor-in-chief Franca Sozzani doesn’t think the fashion industry is racist, but has advocated for the inclusion of more women of color in fashion. Her magazine is also responsible for this highly offensive spread which some people tried to explain away as “Racist in America but not in Europe”. What? Grrrrrrrr!
  4. Taylor Swift Grammys Performance: Pop Star Sings ‘We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together’ To Open Show – All comments about this would be fueled by exasperation and followed by hyperventilation so I won’t even go there. What I will say is, “What are you, five?”. She is welcome to all the seats on the planet and more. Ugh!
  5. Farewell to an Uninspiring Pope – NYT Op-Ed Contributor, John Patric Shanley, writes about the gender inequalities within the Catholic Church and how it will lead to a sorry fate.

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Hey ladies! Valentine’s Day is upon us, the day when those of us who choose to celebrate get beautified for our Valentines.

But are the products you’re using to express your beauty harming you in the long run? Many of the products we use on our face, hair, and even in the bedroom may contain toxic chemicals that can accumulate in our bodies and cause adverse health effects.

We all know that long, luxurious locks are coveted by women all over the world, but at what cost? Hair straighteners, such as relaxers and Brazilian keratin treatments, contain toxic chemicals such as formaldehyde. Yes, the embalming agent is used to straighten your hair. Ever wonder what that funny smell was and why it lingers even after you wash?
I’ve always despised the smell but I just wrote it off as the price of beauty (because beauty is pain, right? But it shouldn’t have to be dangerous!). Formaldehyde is still in your hair when you get under the dryer and also when the hair stylist runs the flat iron through it. All that heat releases the formaldehyde gas into the air to be inhaled, which can cause allergic reactions and in some instances, asthma.

But that’s not all. Top makeup brands and fragrances, like perfume and cologne, have heavy metals and hidden chemicals in them which have been associated with cancer and reproductive health issues. Many women don’t leave the house without their makeup and their “smell good” as I like to call it, myself being one of them.

The scary part is that these chemicals are not required to be listed in the ingredients. The same companies that are making these products are the ones that regulate them. There are no definitions for what “herbal” or “organic” means on our cosmetics. Some products claiming to be herbal contain components of crude oil. The FDA is not authorized to test these chemicals and the government is often not aware of the chemicals being used.

So how do we protect ourselves?

There are various websites that allow you to search for the cosmetics you use every day and rate their safety. One way that I cut down on my chemical intake is by “stretching” my perms. I will go up to twelve weeks without a perm. This means I only get about four perms a year. I do this by being sure to moisturize my hair every night and choosing hair styles that call for a lot of volume or curl.

Another way is that I only wash or “co-wash” my hair every week or so. For Black women, our hair does not produce an overload of oils to where it is necessary to wash every day. When we do, it is actually stripping our hair’s precious oils and adding toxic chemicals instead.

If you have a date in the bedroom this Valentine’s Day, there are many personal lubricants that are safe for use. However, be weary of scented and warming lubricants. They often contain chemicals that negatively affect your immune and reproductive systems.

On this Valentine’s Day, be mindful of what you’re doing to your body. In order to look your best you have to feel your best and the best way to do that is to keep it toxin free.

If you’re interested in learning more and taking action on this issue, check out the Toxic Zombie education and activism toolkit. And make sure to email my co-worker, Sara Alcid at salcid@rhtp.org if you’d like to get more involved in the campaign!

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Flex your femininity with a colour collection that’s fearless, elegant and strong. Strike a powerful pose, stand out, redefine the notion of beauty – and do it with strength too irresistible to ignore.

Kudos to M.A.C for its Strength campaign, a statement against the conventional, stereotypical definitions of beauty and feminity. The model is Jelena Abbou, a Serbian bodybuilder. Compared to all the images we see of “beautiful” women in the media, this is refreshing. Usually, women as fit as she is are considered mannish and not at all attractive. I remember flipping through a magazine and seeing one of those celebitchy spreads commenting on the “mannish” and “too muscular” arms of Jennifer Garner and Cameron Diaz.

It’s like women can never win. We’re either fat, or sluts, mannish, or too dumb to know what’s best for us. All I can say is, society is threatened by the notion of strong women and so, finds ways to dismiss whatever kind of power we have. I hope that this campaign will pave the way for less body policing and a re-definition of what it means to be a woman/feminine.

Now excuse me while I stand up in this crowded Starbucks and give a standing ovation.

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It was my first year in the University of Abuja, and I must say, I wasn’t impressed. The student hostels were an abomination, and goodness knows that I still haven’t a clue how I got the resolve to stay there during the entire course of my studies at the University. That was 5 year too long, if you ask me. The hostels were filthy and badly maintained. It also didn’t help that the spaces we were all crammed into had the breathing space of a can of sardines, or less. I still have nightmares of finding myself waking up to a box room crammed with barely clothed girls sharing beds and sleeping on the floor…(therapy need. Badly)

I’ll never forget the day that a neighbour of mine in the hostel recalled the time she caught “something” from the public bathrooms. That was just…URGH!!!

When she first started living in the hostels, she was a good girl. I mean a very good girl. The porters and hall administrators absolutely adored her. But then, something terrible happened…she caught what people around here like to refer to as “thrush” or more aptly “the vaginal scourge.” It itched, it shed, it was irritated by almost every single movement you made, and worse of all, it was humiliating. Social suicide to admit that you had something like that.

Now thrush isn’t that much of a big deal, really. But then again, those who say stuff like that are:
1. Those who probably will never get infected the way girls do. That includes the entire male population of the world who will probably never itch and smell himself in that way.
2. Those disgustingly lucky women who the rest of us secretly hate. All I can say is, their time will come…

Thrush is an infection caused by a yeast fungus called Candida spp. Small numbers of Candida spp. commonly live on the skin and around the vaginal area and are usually harmless. The immune system and the harmless bacteria that also normally live on the skin and in the vagina usually stop Candida spp. from thriving. However, when conditions are good for Candida spp. (like a badly, if ever cleaned bathroom is used by no less than 200 girls per day), numbers multiply and may invade the vagina and cause symptoms. Conditions like dirty pit toilets (yes, my school believed in archaic bathroom conditions) without an adequately closed off base that stops hot air rising from the clogged pits…

My dear, sweet friend caught this pretty embarrassing issue and went home to get treated, away from the sniggers of girls and the indiscreet school doctor whose credentials were more than a little doubtful. A man, as rumour had it, would share every juicy detail about a girl’s sexual assault to other students if given a listening ear.

Now, the traditional treatment was not fun. First of all, it was believed, and maybe still is, that in order to stop thrush from occurring at the infected area, that is, the vulva and the skin around it had to be scrapped with a razor. When infected that area of the skin is already weak and peeling and incredibly painful. “Ouch” isn’t enough to quantify the pain that image did to my body just thinking about it.
Secondly, that newly scrapped area had to be submerged into a basin of hot, anti-septic water for a period of days at least twice a day. I wish I could swear on this blog, but I’ve been warned in writing and over the phone that the F word and the S word aren’t words I’m allowed to use. But by all means, feel free.
Thirdly, and thankfully, less brutally painful, she underwent a series of medication where pessaries (vaginally inserted pills) and orally taken drugs were used.
I guess what I’ve been trying to say through this very sad and painful post is that, all that stress and pain and humiliation she had to go through for what?

I was brought up to think that women who have thrush are to be laughed at. I never got any form of sex education or any real information that referred to “the talk” in high school (where I was told by my biology teacher that if I sat on a toilet seat that had sperm on it that I could get pregnant) or by my parent (who till this day still refuse to recognise that their kids may probably have sex before they get married in the catholic church).
I’ve known young ladies who have suffered in silence for months at a time because they were embarrassed to confide in anyone, or even go to a hospital or gynaecologist to seek treatment. What’s even sad is that thrush isn’t even a sexually transmitted disease. And it does make you wonder – if people react so negatively to a vaginal infection that has nothing to do with sex, what else are they hiding under there?
If educational institutions can’t even get the courage or initiative to discuss feminine hygiene that goes beyond washing “that” area properly without using the appropriate words, then when are we going to have the courage to discuss other important issues like HIV, gonorrhoea or even contraception? They believe that ignorance is key to reducing the rate at which young people have pre-marital sex. But then, they fail to realise that with hormones, anything can happen.

Instead of holding vital information back that could potentially save someone’s life, why not give them the information and trust that as responsible individuals that young people will be able to make their own choices? Why not help, instead of laughing at a girl who has trouble with an issue she’s embarrassed about?
When we give young people access to relevant information, we give them the power of choice, the power to make their decisions knowing that whatever they pick, whatever the outcome gives them the confidence to be responsible members of the society, to be empowered young men and women around the world that could contribute their views, to the development and advancement of their communities and the world to a larger extent.

Information and the use of said information is key to ensuring innovative solutions to issues concerned with sexual and reproductive health.

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Call me crazy, call me backward and repressed due to my education and culture because I was born and breed in a highly religious yet corrupt nation like Nigeria. Call me stupid and call me unsophisticated…call me what you will.

But whoever called parents irresponsible, unknowledgeable, unconcerned for the welfare and self esteem of their daughters at Abercrombie and Fitch must have a very crappy relationship with their daughters.

Whoever heard of push up bikinis for & year olds? Why would someone think up of a ridiculous thing like that? It’s bad enough that seven and eight year olds are given bikinis to where, but then create one that’s supposed to attract male attention and make them feel insecure because they don’t have anything to push up? Now that’s just terrible!

I know it’s an old story, but it also calls to attention to this day that companies who target sex and sexuality at young kids should be sanctioned. Why would anyone even consider a product like that? Talk about pushing the boundaries of offering your kid to the pedophile who hangs around the beach on a silver platter.

 

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Let the record show that this U-DGurl is in absolute LOVE with Laci Greene!

I am literally watching her video on “A is for Abstinence” and I think it’s such a great thing to do for those who need (and may not need) to be informed about abstinence and making the choice

She’s funny and so real…did I mention funny, too?

I do wish there was a Laci Greene symbol back in my high school days. So many girls grew up, confused about the changes in their bodies, confused about their desires and the world they lived in that seemed to change after they discovered two weird things growing on their chests. And what towhere telling you was worse, the “grown ups” we turned to made it their duty to give developing girls and growing boys the most untrue and confusing information possible. Either that, or they made you feel guilty about know what was happening to your body. It’s Yours! It’s your duty and privilege to know as much as possible about your body, your likes and so on without anyone, anywhere telling you that it’s wrong and sinful to.

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Talking about young people in the part of the world where I come is already a sensitive issue and adding ‘rights’ which is another very explosive issue to this makes advocacy for the placing of youth rights at the heart of development a very difficult but not an impossible task. Behind these words lies the fears, doubts, and optimism of a participant at the just ended International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD)-Beyond 2014 Global youth Forum (GYF) which held from the 4th to the 6th December 2012.They are also the words that come to my mind whenever I think about this forum and the impact its outcomes will have on the future of young people and therefore our world as a whole. The fruits of the optimism raised and the hopes re-enkindled by the ICPD-Beyond 2014 GYF not only in the young persons that attended this event but above all in the lives of the millions of young persons that are marginalized, down trodden, and persecuted because of their gender, age, political choices, and sexual orientation, will no doubt become reality as youths irrespective of their social status, religious beliefs, and gender have been empowered and energized by this forum. With most of the recommendations from the ICPD-Beyond 2014 GYF urging governments, international bodies, and civil societies to recognize the rights of all young persons especially the marginalized, suffering and persecuted(the girl child, sexual minorities, rural dwellers, the uneducated) and establish an enabling environment for the potentials of every young person to be unleashed and his/her dreams fulfilled, the forum is ended but has opened an avenue for youths to claim what is theirs and take their places in decision making cycles in their various countries. Enlightened, empowered, and inspired by the passion and enthusiasm I witnessed in Bali, the following words came to my mind in the evening of the 6th of December as the forum ended: ‘What happens when it comes time to part? Well you know how when you’re listening to music from another room and you’re singing along, because it’s a tune you really love, when the door closes, or a train passes, and you can’t hear the music anymore, but you sing along anyway?’ Just like the song described in this scene from the movie, ‘Music from Another Room’, the journey towards achieving youths rights might have begun long ago, Bali marked a new beginning in this fight for the rights of young people in all their diversity to be recognized and respected in the society where they live.

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With the holidays coming up, that means the home cooked meals are rolling in. This gives us a reason to stuff our faces with our favorite foods and worry about packing on the pounds later. But after all the craze of the holidays die down, we may be stuck with a few pounds that we want to shed. “Lose thirty pounds in thirty days!” or “I can eat whatever I want and lose weight!” is what we hear as we watch the infomercials on television. These ads can make it more difficult to choose a weight loss program that is healthy

You should consult your doctor or health care provider before tackling those extra pounds. A few tips to consider are:

  • If the program requires special foods, can you make changes based on your likes and dislikes and food allergies? Is it sensitive to your lifestyle and cultural needs?
  • Does the program help you be more physically active, follow a specific physical activity plan, or provide exercise instruction?
  • Does the program teach you to make positive and healthy behavior changes? Does the program provide ways to keep the weight off?

Being happy and comfortable with your body is always important. People who care about themselves and their bodies usually take the necessary precautions to also protect it from STIs and unintended pregnancies. So besides eating healthy and exercising, remember to practice SAFE SEX also!

For sources or more information check out Choosing a Safe and Successful Weight Loss Program, Weight Loss and Nutrition Myths or Finding Your Way to a Healthier You.

Categories: Body Image
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Another day has come and gone over Bali ICPD Beyond 2014 Global Youth Forum.But as days come and go, the discussion intensifies and young people are more demanding to their governments, religious and traditional authorities, parents, and society at large.

Universal access to education,inclusive education, relevant education, quality education ,financing and partnerships, as well as ccomprehensive sexuality education were identified by participants at the ICPD beyond 2014 Global Youth Forum participants as being vital for comprehensive education to become a reality in our world and were thus recommended in that other for discussion by the United Nations and possible inclusion in its post-2015 international  development agenda.

Transitions to decent work, and famiies,youth Rights and well being are the themes which were on the discussion table today.These being of course issues which are relevant to every young person irrespective of  where he/she hails, the debate in the plenary was so intense and continued into the various work groups.

During the plenary on transitions to decent employment, it was revealed by the International Labour Organisation’s representative that we now have the highest number of unemployed youths that the world has ever. Also, during this plenary it was disclosed that 1 in 9 young workers in Africa are in the informal sector, 4 out of 10 young workers are working on a temporary basis, and 5 in 10 low paid persons are youths.

Productivity, fairness, and rewarding are the major characteristics of a decent job as defined by the International Labour Organisation(ILO). If one is to go by this definition, one will have no choice but agree with the above statistics. One other area in which there was total agree is on the fact that  stronger families, respect of  youth rights, and the well being of youths are the basis for any society and so for  a world at peace with itself, there was need for these issues to be tackled with maximum care.

According to Mr.Anatole Makosso, the president to the conference of African youth ministers and youth minister of Congo Brazzaville, there exist three reasons for governments to carefully consider the above mentioned issues and ensure that the needs of youths are met: They are the majority, they are the future, they will not identify with any decisions taken without them.

Another day is come and gone,  and the desire for action by youths on the part of their governments has not faultered Youths want to make the Bali declaration not only a declaration but a platform for action. Hear our voices!

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What a long awaited and historic day for mankind has today being. The ICPD Beyond 2014 Global Youth Forum was officially opened today. In the presence of   close to a thousand participants, Indonesian officials, and  representatives of governments the world over, Dr Babatunde Osotimehin, UNFPA’s executive Director , in his speech  decried the  situation in which so many young people, especially those in the global south, live in before pointing  out the importance of this event, and then inviting  representatives of governments and those he termed “Seniors” to look  at the  young people around them and  challenge  how they  relate to them, and then think of how they can release  the potentials of these young people.

Further setting the context of the Bali ICPD Beyond 2014 Global Youth Forum, the Indonesian minister for people’s welfare, declared that: we believe that a meaningful dialogue is necessary on the means and ways of engaging young people to release their potential. He further emphasized that , young people need to understand the values of life that will make them  stay healthy, be educated, foster family life, actively participate in building the  world they have always dreamed of.

Staying healthy, comprehensive education, transition to  decent work for youth, Families, youth rights and well being, leadership and meaningful youth participation, and realizing youth rights are the themes which will be discussed and recommendations made by the over 650 participants for  discussion and adoption  by the UN member states as one of its post-2015 agenda.

 

Staying healthy and comprehensive education were tackled today in discussion groups (world Cafés) and recommendations made on the former. Access to data, putting in place of an enabling environment for youths by governments, religious and traditional authorities, access to   quality, affordable, and comprehensive health services, and finally  the abolition of laws and policies that   that hinder youth empowerment   are the recommendations that came out from the 15 sort of work groups that brainstormed on this topic. The recommendations on the comprehensive education will be presented  tomorrow, Wednesday December 5th 2012.

It should be noted that the above recommendations were arrived at by participants including representatives of governments, UN agencies, and civil society in a very interactive, safe, and open environment  after attending the plenary session that addressed  the issue of staying healthy for a young person. At this plenary Advocate for Youth’s Meredith Waters acting in her capacity as young person commentator for this theme, declared amid thunderous applause from the audience  that: the Global Youth Forum is a great way to start but not enough. Dr Nafsia Mboi, Indonesian minister of health, answering to questions from the participants declared to conclude the plenary that: Every person, I repeat every person including young people has the right to health.

Good as the speeches may be, world leaders should be conscious that young people are tired of speeches and want to see concrete actions being taken solve the pile of problems in which young people from all part of our beloved world are drowning. World leaders! Take action now or be fired! We are ready for the fight and I assure you we will always out power you; for we are the majority.

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Fighting HIV/AIDS and other diseases like malaria is one the Millennium Development Goals(MDGs) voted by the United Nation’s in the year 2000. Given that this fight seems to be slowing down and that more than 5% of Cameroonians are living with HIV/AIDS-60% of which are women and 40% falling in the youths category-there is a cause for concern on the strategy to be used for the achievement of MDGs.

 

Conscious that handicapped persons are also celebrated in December and given that living with HIV/AIDS is more and more considered a handicapped. This article is going to dwell on the inclusion of the handicapped in the achievement of MDGs.

 

Concerning the non-achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by most countries of the global south, much has been said and so much more left unsaid. But if there is one thing that has so often been ignored by policy makers, politicians and all those in charge of implementing policies that will lead to a timely  achievement of MDGs, it the absence of human rights in these goals. The non-inclusion of human rights in the MDGs means the exclusion of handicapped persons, indigenous people, and other minority groups in their achievement.

 

Given that handicapped persons constitute 10% of Cameroon’s population and are among the poorest people in the country, it is evident that talking of poverty, the fight against hunger, improvement of maternal health care and reduction of infant mortality child is pretentious if nothing is done to the more than 85% of these handicapped persons aged14-64 years who are jobless and the other 15% of them who are confined to shoe mending, shoe shinning and other informal sector activities.

 

Also, talking about achieving universal access to education without paying particular attention to the fact that less than 5% of handicapped children in Cameroon can afford to

go to school with only 2% of these handicapped children completing secondary school, is wishful thinking.  What about the  ever increasing number of albino children who because of their sight defect and the inability of their parents to buy them glasses drop out daily from school?

 

The government of Cameroon recruited 25000 certificate holders in 2011 under a special recruitment scheme. But none of them was an handicapped person and as if this was not enough, a good number of handicapped persons were sent away from public schools because they could not afford to pay the required fees. This despite the fact that they are officially exempt from the payment of school fees in public schools in Cameroon. To protest against the above acts, the handicapped organized a protest march in front of the prime minister’s office in October 2011 but were violently dispersed by the police and military forces.

 

Can we say of a country whose government carries out such horrible acts against its own very population, even if it achieves all the MDGs, that it is developed? Can MDGs be achieved if the strategy to achieve them is not inclusive? Can the achievement of MDGs, as they are now, lead to sustainable development?

 

My answer to the above questions is ‘NO’. Because I am intimately convinced that, unless inclusive and people-centered, no development plan can produce any sustainable results. It is high time for our government and civil society to listen to and amplify the voices of the handicapped so that they are heard and acted upon by policy making and implementing structures because like all poor people, “they long to belong to, and participate in their communities on equal footing with others. Most of all, they do not want charity. They want opportunity”, as former world bank President James Wolfehnson once put it.  Anything short of this will make the achievement of MDGs in Cameroon, even by 2035, a far-fetched dream.

 

How can one expect a country like Cameroon to achieve the MDGs related to literacy, health, and economic empowerment when it does not take the handicapped into consideration when designing and constructing public buildings and other infrastructure like roads, hospitals, universities, and schools?

 

How can one expect Cameroon to be democratic, united, and emerging by 2025,as exposed in its vision 2035,when more 10% of its population(handicapped persons) are disenfranchised due to their non-consideration when designing and producing electoral material(especially ballots) and situating polling stations(Most being inaccessible to the handicapped)?

 

Realizing that the above is impossible without respect for human rights, we, at the Education 4Development (E4D) have made human rights the 9th MDG and therefore one of the elements of our advocacy and awareness creation campaign on a participative, timely, and inclusive achievement of MDGs in our community. Through our MDGs participative achievement programme, we reached out to more than 1000 pupils and students in 2011 and look forward to reaching out to a greater number in 2012.

 

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Editor Virgie Tovar is celebrating the release of her book Hot & Heavy: Fierce Fat Girls on Life, Love and Fashion by giving her readers a glimpse of what they can expect. For her internet followers, it means we get to gush over all of the fun, radical, body positivity!

The List of 50 “fat and ferocious” femmes came in day installments, though the whole list is now viewable here. Among the ranks we can find Nobel Peace Prize winner Rigoberta Menchu, Missy Piggy and Honey Boo Boo. The list of course includes a number of smart, fat, femmes who are transgressing boundaries and confronting patriarchy and rigid beauty standards. Get it, grrrls!

Categories: Body Image
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In the awesome section today of nerd news today, here is a post I found on Tumblr, critiquing the less than realistic posing on the cover issue of Amazing Spider-Man #601 by J Scott Campbell. I’ve seen a lot of threads discussing the rampant sexualization of  female comic characters and superheroes through posing and costuming, but I really like this one because there are men joining in on the conversation. My Spider senses are tingling and I can sense some people telling me to go natter about something else. But you know what? This is a “Stripperiffic trope”, tropes are an important thing to notice and counter when standing against misogyny and sexism, and it’s important to me so, BOOM!

 

This apparently originated on 4Chan

 

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World Ball 2012 // Welcome to the North Pole

Join Metro TeenAIDS, RealTalkDC, STIGMA, SMYAL, Sasha Bruce, and the Latin American Youth Center for a night of competition, prizes, and voguing. This is your chance to compete in 15 categories, win a prize, and snatch a trophy!

The event will be hosted at the Eastern Market North Hall

225 7th Street, SE
Metro: Eastern Market (Blue/Orange Line)
7:00PM – 11:00PM
Friday, December 7th, 2012

Open to ALL YOUTH aged 13-24 years old.

Special Guests:
DJ Tony Playboy
Commentator Taye

Performances By:
Xquisite
Team Playboy
TASA

===========

ENTRANCE TO THE BALL IS FREE IF TESTED FOR HIV OR $5
To gain a FREE entrance pass to the Ball, you will need to get tested at the following locations:

Metro TeenAIDS
651 Pennsylvania Ave, SE
Testing Times: 12-8pm (Mon-Fri)

SMYAL
410 7th Street, SE
Testing Times: 3-5pm (Mon-Thurs), 3-6pm (Fri)

Sasha Bruce
701B Maryland Ave NE
Testing Times: 11-8pm (Mon-Fri)

LAYC
1419 Columbia Road, NW
Testing Times: 3-6pm (Mon – Thurs)

Youth can get tested between now and December 7th or at the actual event. We recommend getting tested prior to the event to skip the lines! Youth who chose to not get tested for HIV can enter the event for just $5.

All youth who are tested for HIV will receive a FREE entrance pass and be entered into a raffle for a $25 gift card (10 winners total!)

DON’T FORGET TO GET TESTED!

============
WORLD BALL 2012 CATEGORIES

1. Virgin:
Runway- Green and White effect
Vogues- Red and White effect
2. Realness (OTA)
Bring it in a North Pole effect
3. Runway
European- Jack Frost
All American- Nutcracker
Female Figure- Ice Queen
4. Face
Holiday Paint
5. Hand Performance (OTA):
Blue or White gloves
6. Performance (OTA):
Female Figure – All White effect
Butch Queen: Santa’s Elves vs. Realness with a Twist: Reindeers
7. Tag Team:
Runway of 2 (1 Female Figure & 1 All American)
Female Figure- Snow Angels
All American- Snowman
PERFORMANCE (1 female figure & 1 BQ/ RWT)
Female figure- Ms. Claus
Butch Queen or Twister- Mr. Claus

The winner of each category will receive a $25 gift card and a World Ball 2012 trophy!

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Education is one of the cornerstones on which any development worth the name is built. The growing acknowledgement of this fact has led to the emergence of many nations in our world today. But the fact that education has become an item at the top of the agenda of major international bodies and policy formulation processes is not enough. The efficiency of the educational system is an important aspect of quality education that is most often neglected by educational authorities and policy makers in Cameroon. In fact, many now believe that our educational system more than any other thing  is the cause  of our problems.

If the educational system in Cameroon is as inefficient as it is, more inefficient even has been sex education in primary and secondary schools. Sex education in schools in Cameroon has been so inefficient that the government had no choice   but to acknowledge this and take necessary measures to correct the failings of sex education in Cameroon.

Introduced by Cameroon’s government through a ministerial decree on the 18th of January 2007, Education on Family life, Population Issues, HIV/AIDs has been implemented in Cameroon’s schools only since September 2012. To build the capacity of teachers and correct the failings of the abandoned approach to sex education, a series of Radio programs have been organized by ministries in charge of education and health in Cameroon alongside UNAIDs. Through active and collective listening of these programs by teachers in the 350 centers selected across the country, teachers of secondary, primary, and   teachers training colleges are enlightened and given the opportunity to ask questions to clear their doubts and deepen their understanding on the new approach of imparting knowledge on family life, population issues, and HIV/AIDs to pupils and students.

The new approach to sex education in schools in Cameroon is aimed at developing   positive, protective, and safe behaviors among students for their present and future lives  as grown-ups and  thereby fully understand and take the reproductive health rights agenda at heart. Despite the fact that this new approach has been   developed with  the support of international bodies like UNAIDs, my  greatest fear is that, like the abandoned approach to sex education, this  new approach will fail in achieving the laudable  goals for which  it has been  created.

Lack of monitoring and evaluation is one of those things which could easily lead to the failure of the new approach to sex education in Cameroon’s schools. The government and its donors must therefore ensure that there be a constant monitoring and periodic evaluation of the efficiency and effectiveness of this approach.

Coupled with the above, resistance by  a cross-section of society of the new, realistic, and down- to-earth manner of the approach to sex education in Cameroon’s schools  could further complicate  the implementation of  this laudable reform in Cameroon’s educational system.

 

This reform to Cameroon’s educational system in itself is one that should be considered in countries whose approaches to sex education have over the years not produced the desired results. The use of radio will enable a huge number of teachers to improve   their knowledge of sex education increased and thereby bring about a revolution in the teaching of Sex, Population Issues, HIV/ AIDs in Cameroon.

This reform is proof of the fact that, Youth and reproductive health rights are slowly but surely taking their place at the heart of the development policy agenda in Cameroon. Though full of obstacles and challenges, the path chosen by the thousands of young Cameroonians who day-in, day-out advocate for the inclusion of youths in the formulation and implementation of  youth-focused policies is the right path. We shall overcome!

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by Deb Hauser
President, Advocates for Youth

Advocates for Youth congratulates President Barack Obama on his historic reelection. We also celebrate the amazing role that young people played within his administration and his reelection, and we recognize the growing power of youth to drive social and cultural change for a better world. Young people represented approximately 19 percent of the electorate yesterday—a larger percentage even than in 2008!

In the years ahead, we call on President Obama to stand with us in recognition of every young person’s right to honest sexual health education, safe and affordable sexual health services, and an equity of social, educational, and economic opportunity – the type of opportunity that builds healthy lives and strong communities.

(more…)

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Sonya

It was the last day in our Urban retreat 2012. The next morning we would all pack our stuff and head back home. Walking into the main room we saw everyone one last time. Sarah from Advocates for Youth started talking about having a conference crush.  I wondered why a presenter was speaking about crushes. Sarah told us the story of how she met Sonya Renee, her movement crush. Before Sarah had even gotten on stage we all already knew she was referring about Sonya. Julia from Advocates had been sending out emails explaining what we would be doing in the conference, and she had sent one whole email talking about Sonya.  Sonya Renee is the founder of the loving your body revolution called ” the body is not an apology”.  She is a poet, an activist, spoken word performer, movement builder.  After you read about her work, you build up  in your mind expectations around what she would be like. But when she walked into the room she blew everyone away. She was sooo stunning. Her presence in the room was breathtaking. She was wearing very high (impossible to walk in) black stilettos, a black and white polka dots dress and a zebra head scarf.  Her energy came to life when she got on stage. Once you heard her speak, you knew that you were in the presence of something divine, something powerful, something greater than all of us. She shared poems and impromptu spoken word, and her solid powerful voice resonated across a room filled with hundreds of us. She spoke about self love, she spoke about having joy in life, about realizing where the joy thieves are and deleting those from our lives. She spoke from her soul. Her poems relayed different messages, some of hope: a less racist society where her dad was the president of the United States. They also spoke about emptiness, numbness and death; she told the story of an abortion she had and how that felt. One of them was funny and sarcastic; it was about being a full bodied women in Europe and going shopping for dresses.  Her voice, her words, and her fierceness spoke to everyone’s hearts.   She brought it all home to the self. Loving ourselves is the most radical act we can ever engage in.

Categories: Body Image
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1Flesh is a new online organization promoting the message that condoms and hormonal contraception are ineffective at preventing STDs/STIs and unintended pregnancy as well as being harmful to the health and relationship of a couple. They believe that people should not have sex before they are married, and then should use a method of “birth control” called the Creighton Model, which is really just a suped-up version of the Rhythm Method (despite how much they tried to convince me otherwise).

Need to catch up?: Part 1: The Basics, Part 2: Religion, Part 3a: Education

This is part three of an in-depth interview I conducted by e-mail with Anna Buckley of 1Flesh, from July 15- 19. All of their responses are printed in full and unedited. My response and criticism can be found below.

1) What kind of government involvement, if any, is appropriate when it comes to sex education?

Tough question. The government has recently become involved with what for all time has been considered an intensely familial matter.

We imagine that a daughter told by her mother that she is beautiful, loved, of infinite value, worth a man who will cherish her as such, and that sex is a positive good and a total gift of self oriented in its nature and chemistry towards "forever," would be more likely to make holistic sexual choices and achieve inner happiness than if by watching a Planned Parenthood employee put a condom on a banana.

Similarly, we believe that a father telling his son that he is proud of him, that he loves him, that sex is a positive good and a total gift of self oriented in its nature and chemistry towards "forever," that it is no manliness to use women for pleasure, but it’s epically manly to sacrifice your desires for the good of your beloved, and to seek the woman who you will promise to be with forever, and once that promise is made, then fulfill that promise with your entire body in the act of sex — We believe this would be — in the long run — far more effective than being shown a slideshow of diseased penises and getting free rubbers from your gym teacher.

However, we’ve created a culture of awkwardness between parents and their kids, to the point where this discussion has become a far scarier one to have than it should be. We are inundated with the culture’s idea of sex from a young age, and thus parents feel like they’re competing with everything cool in a kid’s life. Want to talk to your son about this when he turns 12? 11 is the average age a boy is exposed to hardcore pornography. Want to tell your daughter her body is valuable and beautiful? She’s already seen the female body used to sell cars on TV.

So if the government is to be involved in sex education, we believe it should be finding people who can effectively speak against the current sexual culture that’s making everyone miserable. Maybe Obama could help us out. After all, he speaks very effectively on the importance of families staying together, and of fathers resisting the easy route of divorce and instead being present for their wife and children, to which we tip our hats.

2) Do you believe sex education courses belong in schools? If so, and if you were able to write the curriculum, what would you include?

See previous question. Add to it teaching the Creighton MODEL to girls.

3) As part of sex education classes, you would recommend the Creighton Model be taught to girls. If the boys in the class will presumably one day be married to women, isn’t it important for them to be familiar with the Creighton Model as well?

Absolutely. You’ve got fantastic ideas: Teach it to boys and girls — perhaps not together, as there could be a maturity gap in the discussion of things like luteal phases and mucus patterns — and watch the male respect of the intricacy and beauty of the female body soar.

4) You refer to girls as having "infinite value." How do you define this phrase? And is the same true for boys?

The value of the human person is immeasurable, priceless, and infinite. We hold this truth to be self-evident, that the value of all else pales and bows before the value of a single human life. And yes, the same is true for boys.

5) In your ideal conversation of how mothers talk to their daughters about sexuality, you say that girls are "worth a man who will cherish her as [having infinite value]." To me, this phrase suggests that her value is her virginity and her ability to become pregnant. I agree that every person deserves to have a partner (if they want one) that loves and cherishes them, and treats them well. But I don’t believe that virginity or fertility are the reasons someone deserves to be valued and treated well.

We had no intention of suggesting that a girl’s value is her virginity and her ability to become pregnant. That’s ridiculous. Girls are worth men who will cherish them as having infinite value for the simple reason that they are girls. That they are human persons. Dignity and infinite worth are products of being a human person, and girls — who are so often bombarded with the idea that their worth depends on being "hot", being productive, having sex, making children, being popular, being rich, etc. — need to be affirmed by their lovers in this manner: "You are of infinite value to me because you are."

6) Do you think it’s important for religion to be included in sexuality education?

No. Then again, we’re a little confused why it’s so important for the government to be involved with sex education, but whatever.

7) How does information of and access to condoms increase the chance of someone -who wants to remain abstinent- having sex?

There’s folks way more qualified to answer that question, so we’d again refer you to the following study.

Response and Criticism

1) The Federal Government has been involved with funding sex education programs, unfortunately giving hundreds of millions of dollars to abstinence-only programs that are proven failures. But there’s been no federal law about what is taught in these classes. Some states don’t require sex ed be taught at all. And the curriculum for sex education programs are decided largely by the school districts with consideration for community input.

Also, were you serious when you said that telling your child they’re loved is more effective at achieving a positive, health sexual outlook and practice than learning how to prevent STDs and pregnancy? I agree that the female body is often objectified in media, but, if anything, wouldn’t that make it easier to talk to your child about body image and sexual autonomy since you have so many accessible, cultural examples to make your point?

2) Much more on the Creighton Model later!

3) Since I don’t think you’re suggesting that the Creighton Model should start being taught in 5th or 6th grade (where they wouldn’t understand it anyway) or in jr. high (see how far you get talking about cervical music to a room of 13 year olds), I don’t think that a maturity gap is what you should be worried about.

4) If the term “infinite value” has the same meaning for boys as it does for girls, why have both times you said it, you’ve applied it to girls, especially considering that you made the choice to use different language for boys?

5) It’s a nice thought, but there’s no denying that girls are held to a much higher standard of “purity” than boys.

7) This link is to the Duke study, described above. If 1Flesh doesn’t feel they’re qualified to answer this basic question, I guess I’ll jump in. Knowing how to use a condom will not magically make a person who has chosen to be abstinent change their mind and make sex a “habit.” Sex is a personal and consensual choice. Just because I have a life-jacket doesn’t mean I’m going to go water skiing.

Next Up, in pt. 4: Sex

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1) I’ve been reading books about body image; learning about how social, cultural, and historical influences have subtly (and explicitly) demanded that bodies look a certain way. I cannot ignore the world around me and the messages I receive from it, but I believe that I should be the one who decides when my body looks good and what I do to feel good about the way I look.

2) More and more, I’m noticing how certain people in my life are effected by a number on the scale. Whether it’s over-exercising, under-eating, or fretting about they way they look in outfits, it hurts me to see people I care about manipulating their bodies (and risking their health) to feel like they “fit” a certain mold. This especially bothers me because it seems as if they have no control over what that mold looks or feels like, yet they strive to become it.

3) Girls today physically develop earlier than they did 100 years ago. This change, largely due to better nutrition, means that at a younger age, girls start to compare their changing bodies to their peers. As advertising and pop culture media have increasingly focused on these younger girls, the image of a developed 11 year old starts to look more like a developed 17 year old. Although their bodies do start to mature earlier, the difference between an 11 year old body and a 17 year old body is not just physical. When the mental and sexual maturity of older teens is superimposed onto grade-school girls, it seems they are purposely set up to feel dissatisfied with their bodies. I don’t want to reinforce this message.

4) I don’t want a number on the scale to determine how I feel about my body. I want the opportunity to feel good about how I look based on how I look, rather than a number. If I look in the mirror and think “Yes, I like this!,” only to have that feeling diminished by stepping on the scale and seeing a number 10 or 20 pounds above what I’d prefer it to be, my body image is no longer based on the image of my body. I think I darn well deserve to use my own eyes to look at my body and decide for myself how I feel about what I see. It’s about rejecting a number chock-full of socially imposed meaning and judgment, and instead looking at my body as it is and appreciating the way it looks.

What is your relationship with the scale like? Do you feel pressured to constantly know how much you weigh? Do you think more about the number itself than what the number means? Who decides what it means or if it matters?

~ Samantha
Community Editor

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Public school sex education is a huge deal. I don’t think most of the parents or teachers realize how huge of a deal it is. They might perk up and pay attention, but then again, maybe not. May be if they knew exactly what curriculum in what ways is being taught? Then they might would ask it to be more of a comprehensive and an age appropriate one.
I still remember my past clinging. When I use to be in my school days, all of us mates use to be timid when the teacher entered the class to give us lecture on “sex education”. The term itself was enough for us to behave peculiarly. Though the topic is intriguing still the culture that we follow makes it nebulous. And the most interesting fact is that the teacher himself would hesitate in front of us. As a result the chapter would be left untaught or half taught. Yes, that’s exactly what happens and I am sure every one of us might have same or a different story. So on with my question since this issue is fundamental why is it still neglected? It’s something that’s debatable and owes an answer. This issue might also turn into a blame game- “one blaming upon other”. But I think I have my own counter to this. I was wondering what people’s views are on the age children should start sex education in school. I personally don’t think my age group got any sex education at the appropriate age and the government seems to be putting off the idea by not revising the curriculum according to the altering requirements of the children. In my opinion, sex education should start as soon as puberty starts. Most important hormonal changes in our sexual lives start at puberty. Puberty starts somewhere between 8 and 13 for girls and 9 and 14 for boys. And prominently having being born in a Nepalese society it’s hard for us to approach to our parents in case of any queries that pops in to our mind regarding sexuality. That results psychological tribulations, cerebral tensions and depression. The earlier the better and the more comprehensive even more better. These days most teens lack sex education because parents feel shy to talk about sex and teachers think it is inappropriate to start sex education at a younger age. These days children as young as 12 are having sex because they think sex are fun! Not knowing the consequences. The curriculums that are taught here start as early as 4th grade teaching children about HIV. I am stunned and appalled. I have a 5th grader brother and I don’t think that children this young need to be taught about sex as explicitly as these curriculum teach them, and I certainly don’t think they have a need for HIV info either. Tell them about puberty and teach them from a scientific and medical standpoint about the changes that will occur in their bodies, but HIV . . .? I also find it very strange that in these curriculums the STD and HIV lessons are at the bottom. After they have talked to the kids about “touching,” “sexual exploitation,” “gender identification” and “sexual health and hygiene” then they will tell them, well you could get a disease. This is beyond ridiculous. I am so shocked by these curriculums, that I am just doing a little critique of them here.
Comprehensive Sexuality Education is a program that starts in kindergarten and continues through high school. It brings up age appropriate sexuality topics and covers the broad spectrum of sex education, including safe sex, STDs, contraceptives, masturbation, body image, and more. If this is the type of sex education your teen is receiving at school there may be times that you need to buffer some of the information, as it may have come sooner than your teenager needed it. Typically, most schools fall in the middle of the two types of programs. Either way, you will need to know what your teenager is being – or is not being – taught about sex and their sexuality. Then you can be prepared for their questions with the correct answers, and not leave it to their friends or the media to educate them and importantly not leaving them with psychological traumas.
Kriti Giri
Youth Activist Leadership Council
 

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Ads that sexualize women are nothing particularly surprising these days, but ads that play to the same ideas about men aren’t as common. It’s important, though, to recognize objectification of either sex. It is just as necessary to push back against misogyny as it is to understand that while sexualizing men isn’t as prevalent (or, isn’t recognized for what it is because of the absence of a concept of a male version of misogyny) objectifying men is harmful for men for the same reasons it’s harmful for women. It’s well known that things like negative body image and eating disorders disproportionately affect women, but it would be negligent to overlook how these issues affect men. If in discussions about body/weight/ability issues men are left out, it enhances the notion that these are not issues for men, which alienates the men who are struggling with their bodies.

Edge shaving gel has two new ads that oddly address their male audience not with the usual chiseled cheekbones and jaw lines but with allusions to penis size. While advertising has shown its ability reduce every possible product to sex, shaving gel has nothing to do with penis size. You can’t even really make a “man-scaping” argument. The association with products being advertised to men being linked to what makes them “a real man,” is almost as universal as the association of “manhood” with the penis. If we can agree that women being reduced to sexualized body parts or their ability to be sexual, we should also agree that placing a man’s worth in his pants is wrong for the same reasons.

 These ads from Edge, promoting a $10,00 sweepstakes, claim that “You can spot an Edge man by what’s in his pants,” and “Edge men are better endowed,” both referring to finances, but clearly associating a man’s penis to something that is worth cash. Imagine if this ad featured a woman, claiming, “You can spot an Edge woman by what’s in her pants.” It’s completely inappropriate. Yet we recognize this more quickly in the female example because female sexuality has long been thought of as something of monetary value, able to be owned or sold. But selling male sexuality is just as problematic as selling female sexuality.

As we argue that a woman is more than what’s between her legs, we have not been as adamant about defending men from the same attacks. Maybe this is because, generally speaking, we have accepted that men understand their male identity based on their physical body and what they can physically do with their body. Part of the way we broadly define men is as bigger, taller, broader, and stronger than women. Aside from the problematic language of women being, by default, smaller and weaker, this language and perception messages to men that the “real male body” should look a certain way, have a certain muscle mass, be able to manipulate the environment to a certain level, all encompassed, for some illogical reason, in the penis.

Advertising like the Edge prints, similar to ads objectifying women, have an overtly sexual message yet their impact is more subtle. On the surface, these bawdy ads are often viewed as humorous, which usually makes them appear harmless. But as we have come to understand the harm inherent in the regularity of sexualized female images, we’ve largely overlooked the fact that sexualized images and messages are not exclusively female. Men are affected by the subtle power of advertising too, and disregarding this impact means that we ignore the effects of those influences.

~ Samantha
Community Editor

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On Tv, in magazines, even in Disney movies, the image of skinny girls is everywhere. In order to fit in, you have to be skinny. This stereotype is unfortunatly reality for so many people with careers that require them to be a certain weight. Ballerinas, gymnists, wrestlers, jokeys and models all have to go to extremes to fit in. Luckly, there has been some improvment, and more and more plus size women are becomming role models. But, it’s not enough. If your not toothpick thin, you are ok. If you are thin, you are ok. Your body was ment to be the way it is. Don’t go and change it because someone says so. Do what your body tells you. Everyone’s is different, so why are we all trying to be the same?

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Wisconsin’s state legislature has passed a "sex education" bill that undoes many of the tenets in the more progressive 2010 bill, and it now moves on to Governor Scott Walker, who is likely to sign it. The new sex education law:

1) Transforms sex education "requirements" into "recommendations"
2) Removes the following topics from sex ed curriculum recommendations
"pregnancy; parenting; body image;  gender stereotypes; and the health benefits, side effects, and proper use of contraceptives and barrier methods approved by the federal Food and Drug
Administration (FDA) to prevent pregnancy and barrier methods approved by the
FDA to prevent sexually transmitted infections"
3) Requires that students be taught that abstinence is the "preferred choice of behavior for unmarried pupils" and "the only reliable way to present pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections."
4) Requires the promotion of the socioeconomic benefits of marriage and the connection between marriage and good parenting.

In short, the bill takes Wisconsin’s requirement that sex education programs teach about contraception, and turns it into a requirement that they teach about abstinence.  

Conservatives in Wisconsin have never liked 2010’s Healthy Youth Act.  In fact, one county’s district attorney sent a letter to teachers of the district threatening to prosecute them if they taught comprehensive sex ed.

But while the new law isn’t a surprise, it’s certainly a disappointment.  The removal of instruction about contraception is bad.  But calling abstinence "the only reliable" means of prevention is simply a lie.  Firstly, many methods of protection work and work well.  The IUD is over 99% effective at preventing pregnancy, while condoms are "highly effective" at preventing the transmission of HIV, according to the CDC.  

Secondly, reliability is largely dependent on the user.  The user must RELIABLY USE a method.  Abstinence is very reliable if you remain abstinent.  Condoms are very reliable if you use them consistently and correctly.  By removing information about other methods, and by implying that they are unreliable, the legislators are doing young people a severe disservice: they are endangering young people’s health and violating their rights.

Further, as we tried to communicate in this video, abstinence-only-until-marriage lessons at best exclude LGBT youth and at worst vilify them.  Wisconsin has a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, yet students will be taught that abstinence is the "preferred behavior" for unmarried students.  Just….forever, Wisconsin?  So it’s basically just a program of shaming for LGBT students –  "stay abstinent" or "do wrong."   That seems contrary to the section of the bill that cautions against bias against students on the basis of sexual orientation.  And not to mention, almost half of high school students have already had sex, so it’s a program of shame for them too.

Finally, a "promotion of marriage" tenet is profoundly offensive and presumptuous.  Why should that value be forced on students?  In a nation where 50% of marriages fail and 50% of pregnancies are unplanned, how many of Wisconsin’s students will be taught that their families are subpar, inferior to the married-heterosexual parents their sex education teacher is so keen on?  And why is promoting a particular type of relationship even an aspect of learning about sex and sexuality? 

Students shouldn’t be misled, lied to, and stigmatized. They shouldn’t be denied information that could save their lives.  This shame-based bill is shameful. 

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Everywhere we turn there are images of these skinny women plastered on magazine covers, billboards, music videos and the internet of what we should aspire to look like. Fake hair, fake, faces, implants and eating disorders, its no wonder a small percentage of women in the world actually look like the images we see. With technology, it leaves one to wonder whether or not the images we see are actually real.

These images affect the way that people view themselves. Body image is the way that people see themselves when they look in the mirror or how they perceive themselves. There are both negative and positive body images. A person with a negative body image has a distorted perception of their body and they see their body in a way that it is not. They are convinced that everyone else has an attractive body and they feel uncomfortable, awkward, ashamed and self conscious. They are more likely to suffer from eating disorders, feelings of depression, isolation and low self esteem. They take risks with their sexual health, cut people off socially and stop engaging in activities that require them to show their bodies.

A positive body image is when you perceive your body as it is. You celebrate and appreciate your body and feel proud of it. You are comfortable and confident in your own skin. It can be hard sometimes, even with a positive body image, to keep positive ideas. Having a positive body image is important because people with positive body images tend to take great of their body and treat it with respect. This can play a role in one’s sexual health because they will not won’t to take risks that put themselves and their health in danger.

Always remember to love your traits and treat your body with respect. Remember that YOU are the one that lives in your body and only YOU need to be comfortable with it and that is what matters. Being aware of your options to practice safe sexual health is important. Keep your body healthy and happy!

For sources or more information check out Planned Parenthood: Body Image, Teens Health, or Body Image.

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 After watching “Toddlers & Tiaras” (again) last week, I was writing about it in my journal, getting dispirited about how much emphasis is placed on such a limited idea of female beauty and how these marketable expectations are being placed on the shoulders of younger and younger girls. Before going to bed, I finished by writing: “I wish the world was different. I wish more women were better respected. I wish that most of the comments made about women weren’t about the way they look.” But as I tried to fall asleep, I just kept wondering, “How often are comments about women based on their looks?” Was it as high as I thought? Or was I exaggerating the problem in my head because I’d just watched a show about 3 year old beauty queens?

After a few minutes, I got up, turned the light back on, and grabbed my notebook. I knew I wouldn’t be able to sleep with this thought running through my head, so I made a list of 32 well-known people, 16 women and 16 men. I decided that I would survey my friends and family, asking them to give me a short comment about each person. Then, I would keep track of whether or not the comment was about their physical appearance. I ended up getting 8 men and 10 women to respond to my survey. Admittedly, this is not a large group and I am not suggesting that the results would be the same among a broader spectrum, but they were surprising.

Women commented on a physical aspect 15% of the time.

          1/3 of these comments were about other women.

          2/3 of these comments were about men.

Men commented on a physical aspect 8% of the time.

          1/3 of these comments were about other men.

          2/3 of these comments were about women.

When I started this, I thought the percentage of physical comments would be much higher, so I was pleased to see people commenting on a variety of other aspects (whether positive or negative) that these people had. I was also encouraged that women were not overly judgmental physically about their fellow women. Women are thought to have a bad habit of basing their own body image on other women. It’s said that we either try to emulate other women who we’re told are attractive, or we criticize other women for not looking more like us.

I was also pleased to see that the number of physical comments men made was so low. I think men are often stereotyped by the assumption that all they’re interested in is looks. This devalues the emotional and intellectual attachments and relationships that men are capable of having. Further, the stereotype reinforces the idea that all a woman is good for is her looks. As I saw with my survey, some of the perceptions/ stereotypes/ common knowledge we have about the opposite sex just aren’t true. Or, they’re not as true as we’re led to believe.

If we don’t like our bodies, and we’re told that the main thing that attracts people to us is our bodies, then…what? We buy more make-up, get a gym membership, set up a consultation for cosmetic surgery, starve ourselves? No. We realize that people see and value a lot more about us than our appearance. Between 85 and 92% more, according to the people I talked to.

I’m glad I did this survey. It was really interesting to hear everyone’s comments, and it definitely made me feel better about the way we see, interpret, and respond to each other. Thank you to everyone who helped me with this! I greatly appreciate you being a part of this research.

~ Samantha
Community Editor

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Yesterday just happened to be World AIDS Day and I happened to be handing out condoms at SFSU. Most of them were distributed in my "Sexuality, Ethnicity, and Health" class. Some classmates and I did a presentation on Representations of Women in Media. We discussed sexuality and body image, bringing up the stigma and double standards attached to female sexuality (we also showed clips from Let’s Talk About Sex and from interviews we did with peers on campus). Lots of condoms were handed out, classmates were stoked!

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Written for NOW’s annual "Love Your Body Day" blog carnival.

Poor body image has become something that many people now almost assume that nearly all girls and women have. Why? It’s true that there are a lot of people dealing with a less-than-accepting view of their physical form, but what is the consequence of assuming that most or all women and girls want to change something about the way their body looks or moves? I think when the idea of being dissatisfied with your body saturates our media, marketing, and discourse, it makes disliking your body seem normal.

Being constantly surrounded by advertisers offering people ways to improve the look and function of their body, they begin to believe there’s something about them that needs changing. And when someone enjoys their body the way it is, they shouldn’t feel pressured to find a feature that isn’t someone else’s definition of perfect. We need to change the mentality of looking for what’s wrong with our body to loving what’s right with it. It’s about taking ownership of our body and valuing it as it is more so than the opinions of those who only see its value in its ability to be manipulated.

When we think our body isn’t perfect, we have to stop and ask ourselves whose standards we are judging ourselves by and what the intentions are of those who are trying to change us. We are the ones who have ownership of our body, and when we know that we look good we have the right to take pride and pleasure in it. All of us deserve to assume that when we look in the mirror we will like the person smiling back.

~ Samantha
Community Editor

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Tomorrow I defend my graduate project on sexual health education. I have read about the history and current status of sexual health education, and the factors that impact it.

One common belief for a long time was that you couldn’t increase condom use and delay the initiation of sex at the same time. Current research has shown programs are capable to positively impact both behaviors – abstiencing form sex, and condom use, concurrently.

This post isn’t actually about sex ed, but it is about respecting our bodies.

In the current public health discourse there is an obsession with obesity. Many in the medical and public health community forget we come from a society that holds prejudices against people based on the size and shape of their body. The healthy living community – may it be medical professional, public health officials, fitness and nutrition experts, and individuals promoting healthy living, claim their main goal is to improve the health, but in their approach they further oppress and shame people, telling them their bodies are wrong – they are wrong.

Here is my question then – can we positively impact body image and size acceptance, but also promote healthy living? If we tell people to accept their bodies, they will never actively do something to change their bodies they may ask. Well I ask, how can you get someone to make real positive changes to their health – eating who foods, being physical activity (not marathons, just 30 minutes cleaning your house, walking your talk, taking the stairs), drinking enough water and so on if they are constantly told to hate their bodies?

Personally, I don’t treat things I hate very well. Therefore, fi I hate my body, I see no reason to take care of it. I think you can promote body acceptance and healthy behaviors at the same time, I think that is the only way we will see real change in holistic health – mind, body and spirit.

I have many more thoughts on this topic, but that graduate project I mentioned still isn’t done. Consider this a to be continued kind of things …

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    This article covers the coping difficulty that a young woman, struggling with an eating disorder, had when she entered the college social scene.  After all, food is a huge part of the social culture of America and if you’re not that into food, it could put some obstacles in your social life.  I realized how true this was when I too when to college.  I can’t claim that I have the cleanest slate when it comes to a healthy body image and healthy eating habits, just like the young woman in this article.  However, I will say that I think if you’re in our shoes, there is hope for coping, a social life and maybe even the chance for working through your problems in college if you so choose.        And this does not nessecerily entail the sort of counceling services or health services mentioned in the article.  The truth is (I found at least) that there are a lot of people out there that share the same problems.  Sometime it is our problems that will lead us to meet these people (for me, over-exercising and joing a running club).  But, if we open up and start to talk about, compare our problems, it can be one of the biggest steps to overcoming them.  
      Below, you will find a link to Laura Yochelson’s take on facing the college social scene with an eating disorder.  Seeking counceling and support groups as recommended in this article are definitely one big step in over-coming a problem.  But, I’ll also say that being open with friends and having a discussion about our difficulties can be useful step that college has to offer.  

www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-checkup/post/eating-disorders-and-the-college-food-scene/2011/04/11/AFvwxPND_blog.html

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Written by Michelle Cohen, MPH, CHES who is a Health Educator at the Georgia Institute of Technology

As a health educator who has worked at two major institutions in the Southeast, I have seen many students who have not received comprehensive sex education before college.  This lack of education can negatively impact college students’ reproductive health and body image.   I define body image as a concept which includes our perceptions, attitudes, and behaviors about our bodies (not only how we look, but what our bodies do for us). Young people must have the skills to evaluate the messages they give to and receive from their peers, friends, and family regarding body image.  They need to be able to critically analyze how the media positively and negatively influences body image and their health behaviors.   Science-based, comprehensive sex education programs offered from kindergarten through 12th grade can help prepare students for all the challenges, decisions, and opportunities that they will face in the future.

A committee at Georgia Tech (GT) is helping college students explore the many influences on body image and health behaviors.  The mission of the GT Body Image Committee is to encourage GT students of all genders to examine their perceptions of body image and to generate discussion of body image issues on-campus.

See what GT students have to say:

What does body image mean to you?

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Katy Perry has an interesting history with the gay community. While many of her songs have undoubtedly been blasted away at gay clubs across America, her lyrics and songs have at times stigmatized and stereotyped gay and gender non-conforming men. Her first single, “You’re So Gay,” describes a young teenager’s ex-boyfriend, as the speaker lists off his traits that aligned with stereotypes of gay men.

I hope you hang yourself with your H&M scarf
While jacking off listening to mozart
You bitch and moan about LA
Wishing you were in the rain reading Hemingway

The implication in the song is that no straight man could like Hemingway, wear makeup, or be a vegetarian. The song reinforces notions of what it means to be a straight man. Many may claim that the song is satirical, and shouldn’t be taken seriously. Perry herself has commented that the song was not intended to be homophobic, but instead “it’s not, ‘you’re so gay,’ like, ‘you’re so lame,’ but the fact of the matter is that this boy should’ve been gay. I totally understand how it could be misconstrued or whatever … It wasn’t stereotyping anyone in particular, I was talking about ex-boyfriends." The song is arguably an interesting piece of social commentary while simultaneously reinforcing current gender norms.

In the last couple of weeks, Perry has released the new music video to her song “Firework”. In contrast to “You’re So Gay”, “Firework” features a more positive portrayal and discussion of gender and sexuality. The message of the song is very positive, with lyrics that support individual’s diverse identities.

“You’re original, cannot be replaced…”

 The music video features images and stories of individuals dealing with difficult situations. We see a young woman grappling with body image issues, a young person sick at a hospital, and a young boy dealing with arguing parents. In addition, at the start of the music video we see a teenager at a raging party, sitting alone by himself. As the song goes one, we see his interest peaked by a young man across the room. He goes over, kissing him as digital fireworks go off around the two of them.

What is so important about this video is the way it deals with homosexuality in a manner that is both non-judgmental, and similar to others around him. He is not called out as “more unique” than the other characters in the video. This young man, be he gay, closeted, bi-sexual, or simply interested in men, is portrayed in a matter of fact way similar to the other characters in the video.

Recently the New York Times published a piece discussing the new prevalence of singers singing about and featuring gay characters in their works. The author writes that many gay and lesbians have been disappointed in Perry’s works in the past, but that maybe with this song Perry is signaling her new maturity.

“Many in the gay community felt used by her,” said Barry Walters, a music critic for Spin and Rolling Stone who is writing a book titled “100 Albums Every Gay Person Should Hear.” He added, though, that maybe the new records “are these artists telling us they’re growing up — and emblematic of an entire generation growing up with them.” 

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Glee wrapped up its huge first season on Wednesday with a lot of awesome music, a somewhat too-neat plot resolution… and a peek at the night Quinn’s baby was conceived.

Some folks were disturbed by this clip, in which Puck pressures Quinn to say yes to sex, dismissing their loyalty to (her boyfriend and his best friend) Finn, telling her she’s not fat, and encouraging her to have another drink. It certainly isn’t the picture of healthy sexuality. But is it rape, like some fans are claiming?

I went back and rewatched the scene and I just don’t see it that way. Sure, Quinn hesitates. But her objections don’t seem to be about her lack of desire – to the contrary, they’re arguments about why she shouldn’t give in to her desire. She’s president of the Chastity Club, she took an oath, she has a rep to protect, she’s worried about hurting her boyfriend, Finn – none of these are the same as "I don’t desire you, I’m not enthusiastic about having sex with you."

As for the wine coolers, well, we really don’t have any evidence of how drunk Quinn was – we only have her appearance, which is perfectly alert and responsive.

I don’t know, maybe I’m off-base here, but it just doesn’t seem like enough evidence to call it rape. Was he putting pressure on her? Sure. Did he take advantage of her body image issues? Unfortunately yeah. Realistic? Yep. Is that cool? No, it’s really not. But that doesn’t mean it’s rape. There are lots of not-cool things people can do to other people, sexually, which don’t rise to that level. It’s important not to get confused. Quinn could quite easily have been enthusiastic in her desire to sleep with him, even if it was for less-than-healthy reasons.

Glee’s real woman problem is becoming clearer and clearer to me as I rewatch the earlier episodes. When this show started out, it was really progressive about sex. I’ll never forget how my heart skipped a beat when Rachel made her speech to the Chastity Club about how girls want sex just as much as guys do, or even, in the same episode, how boldly Rachel tells Finn, "You can kiss me if you want to." Talk about enthusiastic consent!

But a funny thing happened in the back nine episodes – the ones that were produced after the show had become a megahit. Suddenly, as if they’ve decided that because there are so many of us, we must all be 9-year-olds, Glee has been backsliding into afterschool special territory in ways that are not really so special. In the Madonna episode, three characters consider having sex for the first time, and the only one who goes through with it is the dude. The two female characters are just "not ready," even though they’re contemplating doing the deed with guys they love and who ostensibly love them, and Finn, our now-deflowered hero, is sleeping with Santana pretty much just for the heck of it.

Coincidence? I wish. They’ve also declawed Jane Lynch’s genius villain Sue, making her a grouch with a heart of gold instead of the hilariously dangerous egomaniac we all fell in love with. The unabashedly slutty competing choir director played by Idina Menzel goes from macking on Mr. Schue to settling down with a baby in no time flat – leaving Santana & Brittany, who get about two lines each per episode if they’re lucky, the only females on the show who actively pursue sex. And if I have to sit through one more lecture by Will about how the boys need to learn to treat the girls more delicately, I’m going to be singing my own version of Papa Don’t Preach, for real.

So, no, I’m not troubled by the complex, real interaction between Quinn & Puck. I’m not interested in being black-and-white about them. I just wish the show would return the favor.

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Each week, I’ll be posting a list of the most news-worthy and/or inspirational, informative, well-written, thought-provoking, and/or unique posts of the week. While every post and every contributor is valuable to our community, these are the blogs that I feel are must-reads.

(Again, sorry this is a day late. I had a busy Father’s Day!)

June 13- June 19

Gov. Crist Vetoes Florida’s “Forced Ultrasound” Anti-abortion Bill- by AFY_Nikki

Why I chose this post:

Most of the time when we write about anti-abortion bills on this site, it’s bad news. But, alas! This time, the bill was vetoed by Florida’s Governor Crist. This doesn’t happen that often, so let’s enjoy it while it lasts.

FDA retains gay blood ban- by AFY_Viviana

Why I chose this post:

Last week,drs0043 told us that the FDA was looking into ending the ban on gay and bisexual men donating blood. Now, Viviana gives us the unfortunate update. The part that pisses me off the most…

 FDA policy allows heterosexual men and women who have had sexual contact  with an HIV-positive partner to give blood after a one-year deferral period.

This ban is perpetuating a damaging stereotype. If the government can discriminate against a man just for being gay or bisexual, then they’re saying it’s okay for citizens to discriminate against them as well, because they “might be a threat/risk.” It is things like this that keep homophobia alive and well in this country.

Get Active: Anti-Choice “Freedom Rides” Set to Begin this Summer- by AFY Julia

Why I chose this post:

 An anti choice group led by Dr. Alveda King, the niece of Dr. Martin Luther King  Jr., is planning to embark on a new kind of ‘freedom rides’ that seek to limit a  woman’s right to choose.

 Specifically targeting the black community, she proclaims that abortion is a “tool  of genocide against …black people.”

If we don’t raise our voices to speak out against actions such as this, then the only rhetoric people will hear is that belonging to groups that oppose what we believe in. We have to join the fight because if we don’t, our rights will be further compromised. If you live in Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, or DC, you can take direct action against these “freedom rides.”

The Power of Our Jiggle: Jiggly Boo Dance Crew- by Media_Justice

Why I chose this post:

Bianca writes about her amazing experience with the Jiggly Boo Dance Crew, whose aim/goal was:

 Within this framework, Jiggly Boo Dance Crew (founded by Alice Fu and Kantara  Souffrant) will run a series of workshops which will culminate in a performance.  These workshops will create a space in which other self-identified female “fat”  dancers, movers, and performers, can dialogue about the following questions:  What is a "fat dancing body"? How are fat bodies read, understood, felt  (emotively and viscerally) and represented? What does it mean to identify oneself  as a “fat dancing body” and what are the political implications of identifying  oneself as such?

She speaks passionately about how fulfilling and rewarding the experience was for her, and says:

 I share my time with my Jiggly Boos because I think we are media makers. We are  using our bodies in ways we have been told we should not. In ways that we are  told nobody wants to see; that challenges and redefines movement, as we know it  today in this country. There are multiple ways of creating media and being media  makers.

Urban Outfitters promotes unhealthy body image with “Eat Less” shirt- by dandaman007

Why I chose this post:

When Dan saw a group of protestors outside his local mall, he wanted to find out why. What he found was that the popular clothing store Urban Outfitters had been selling a shirt that said “Eat Less.”

 This T-shirt, which has been removed from the Urban Outfitters website, is  promoting a message that young women are only attractive if they are super thin,  and that they should eat less to fit this unrealistic model of body size.

Thank you to everyone who posted a blog this week! You are part of what makes this community great!

~ Samantha
 

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I was intrigued to see protesters at the local mall here in Durham, NC outside of an Urban Outfitters. What were they protesting?  This shirt, and the lifestyle it promotes: 

The protest at Southpoint mall was led by Amy Lambert:

It wasn’t unusual for Lambert, who had an eating disorder for more than eight years, to consume little more than one 80-calorie container of yogurt in a day. Now recovering, Lambert led a protest last week outside of Urban Outfitters at Southpoint mall in Durham. (via The Independent)

Protestors at Southpoint Mall

PHOTO BY REBEKAH L. COWELL/Indy WEEK

While some say this shirt is encouraging youth who are obese to become healthier and eat less, I see something much more misguided and sad going on.  This T-shirt, which has been removed from the Urban Outfitters website, is promoting a message that young women are only attractive if they are super thin, and that they should eat less to fit this unrealistic model of body size.  

This makes me really angry. At least 24% of Americans have an eating disorder, which has the highest mortality rate of any mental disease.  Stores like Urban Outfitters should be doing everything they can to promote healthy body image, but instead they are doing the opposite:

Telling an individual with an eating disorder to "eat less" aggravates emotional, psychological and physical issues. And for those still stuck in dangerous patterns, it is a message of validation, says Chase Bannister, clinical director for Carolina House.

The banner-statement ‘Eat Less’ can be a stinging trigger for women and men with anorexia, bulimia or binge-eating disorder," Bannister added, "ultimately providing reinforcement for the distorted belief our patients work so hard to stamp out: ‘I will never be okay unless I’m thin.’
(indyweek)

Urban Outfitters is promoting a lifestyle that is killing young men and women, when as a clothing store I argue that they have a duty to do everything they can to promote realistic, healthy body images.  When countless people are suffering, oftentimes alone, Urban Outfitters should promote the message that it is Ok to eat, and that one can be sexy and fun and beautiful while also being healthy and safe.

Be sure to check out Amplify’s issues page on body image.

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It’s not often that we celebrate what goes on in Hip Hop. Speaking solely for myself (and maybe for some of my homies) watching the BET Awards is really about who can have the more witty commentary about how to diss the show. As someone who used to identify as a “Hip-Hop feminist,” and still identifies as a “Hip-Hop activist” I still understand the importance and need of the community and its cultural practices and artifacts. For that reason, I’d like to focus on and celebrate some amazing songs that really do connect for me and that I use in my classroom when discussing sexuality and sex.

One of the first songs I began to really use in my classroom was by the group Dead Prez. This song was only one I enjoyed in my personal life and when I introduced it to my students when I began to teach their response was extremely favorable. The next time the song came back into my working-professional life was when I was doing interviews with Puerto Rican men living in the US between the ages of 18-30 and asked them what cultural images, artifacts, songs, poems, narratives, etc. One of them shared that the way they learned about intimate sexual relationships that they defined as “healthy” was through the Dead Prez song “Mind Sex.” If you are not familiar with the song take some time to check it out below. I’d suggest you listen to the song first then watch the video to see the difference:

This video gives a different impression versus just listening to the song. In the video there is more of a “why would I not have sex with you on a regular basis? Oh because I’m incarcerated.” However, I can still find ways to use this video and song as a way to teach abstinence in the classroom. I really adore the line: “for me making love is just as much mental. I like to know what I’m gettin’ into.”

Needless to say, when I heard that Dead Prez has a new single out that was released just in time for Mother’s Day I had to check it out. The song “The Beauty Within” is along the same lines of affirming and supportive lyrical content and delivery, yet the focus is on body image and beauty. Although this is another heterosexist example where a Black man is speaking just to Black women, I find it extremely affirming. The line: “real Black girl I salute your existence” alone gives me chills. I mean when was the last time someone, anyone, saluted your existence? Check out the song below:
 

I’m also loving all over again Blackalicious’ (they existed BEFORE Beyonce and her “Bootylicious” song) song “Purest Love.” I like the entire Blazing Arrow album, yet these lyrics really bring it home for me: “The two realest cats I know? My two older brothers/The most beautiful woman in the galaxy? My mother/The strongest black women raising kids alone? My sisters/The best part of my future is my present love interest/The most important time? Right now and ever after/The greatest expression is love, happiness, and laughter.”
 

Then there are the amazing forms of media and music surrounding “safer” sexual activities by young men of Color. My homegirl and sister sexologist Mariotta Gary-Smith  , whom I’ve mentioned before, shared a video early this week. Mariotta wrote:

My co-worker, Solamon Ibe, works with young men around safe sex, responsibility and decision making skills. Here’s their video. Good work, Solamon! 

 

 The video synopsis reads: “A6 (African American Aids Awareness Action Alliance) and The Jefferson Young Men’s Academy along with 503tv brings you a fun yet educational video about the importance of safe sex.” Check the video out below.
 

One of the things I love about this video is that it centers boys of Color. Far too often people think they are working with young men of Color, but really they are not. It is actually pretty scary what some men think they know about sexuality, birth control, contraception, and sex in general.  This is a fabulous video of using Hip Hop and creating social change among young people of Color around sexuality and sexual health.

What other examples can you think of to add to the list?

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When I first saw Venus Williams’ attire for the French Open I was enamored. I was sent the story of her outfit a few times by friends. The last time it was sent to me  , and when I decided to write this piece, I said to my homegirl: “Sigh. Black women’s bodies are always causing stirs.”
 
 
Honestly, I love that Venus Williams chose, wore, and won in this outfit! What is wrong with a woman choosing to have fun in her sport? What is wrong with a female athlete of Color claiming her femininity and sex appeal that is often taken away from them? What is wrong with a Black woman who is one of the best tennis players in the world demonstrating her ability to do other things besides play tennis? In my opinion, and as I shared about the days when I made my own clothing as well  , I see this as a form of media making.
 
Haven’t seen the outfit? Check it out below and you can see a slide show here.
 

The outfit was described as:  “a lacy, black overlay giving it the illusion of being see-through, and bright red trim on the bodice, Williams’ corset-like get-up made her look as if she were ready to perform in a 19th century Parisian cancan chorus line.” I love Venus. I love the fact that she got lace onto a tennis court. I love that she has a curvy body that she adores and is proud of.
 
What messages is Venus sending when she creates her own outfits and wears them on an international competitive stage? How do our racialized, classist, and sexist ideologies that are based on gender expectations and body image become so transparent in seconds? Questions such as “why would you wear that to play tennis” I, a non-tennis player would answer/ask “why wouldn’t you wear that to play tennis” I mean she’s in sneakers, she is supported, she can move around. Seems like a good and fashion forward option. Would this be an issue if the person wearing the outfit were: White, physically smaller than Venus, and/or not as well known or wealthy? (I’d also make the argument that in our country there is also a discomfort with Black wealth, no matter how minimally distributed it is among members of the community).
 
Then you have the idea that her attire resembles a corset and petticoat. This I happen to adore personally. If I could find a petticoat to fit across my juicy goodness I’d wear it all over the place. I even have friends who love to ride their bikes in the city with their petticoats on. Is there something about our own psyche that will not allow us to have a Black women imagine herself in such attire without overly sexualizing her? Are we so far removed from Black female narratives that we can’t imagine how it may have been a reality for some Black women living in this country to have put on, created, and wore such attire?
 
What I also appreciate is Venus’ decision to very clearly state she wanted to play with the idea of “illusion.” This to me is art. People love, hate, and get confused by art all the time. As the daughter of an artist, I was raised to see art as something that produces knowledge, that challenges people and that can invoke a response/reaction regardless of what it is, and that is power!
 
So is her outfit more that people are more uncomfortable with a Black woman being confident in her body, in her ability, in her power versus watching a Black woman get “screwed”? I think our US society is much more comfortable watching Black women get screwed (think Halle Berry in Monster’s Ball) versus watching them embrace and own their power. Why are we so comfortable taking away Black women’s agency/self-determination because they challenge what we find problematic? It’s a fine line and I’m not comfortable taking anyone’s power away, especially as a media maker, a young person, or a young person of Color.
 
Perhaps it is her name that may invoke a response so intense that people are uncomfortable. If one appreciates the mythology of the name Venus , and it’s connection to fertility and beauty than understanding some discomfort around Venus Williams’ gender expression may be clarified. Of all the images I’ve seen of “Venus” they are of light skinned women with long (often blonde/light) hair. Recognizing that in our society Black women are often seen as “too fertile” or not beautiful in general  (but especially when skin color comes into play), does this shift our ideologies and reactions? Then there is the symbolism of the Venus  , an image that many people have identified with to not only recognize sex assigned at birth, gender identity, but also a form of gender equality and empowerment. An African/afro-centric examination into the symbolism is of the Ankh,  which is connected to life.
 
I write this knowing that it is not the most popular position to take especially among many people who identify as “feminists.” This is one of the reasons I no longer identify as a feminist but as a radical woman of Color. I’m not down with having such a limited understanding and elitist conversation (as many feminist conversations often are  ) about what sexuality looks and sounds like for women of Color in this country. Instead, I’d like to learn more about the thought process within communities that are often ignored or just talked about and Othered by feminist spaces and among people in the sexology field.
 
I’d love to hear more about what people’s reactions to Venus’ outfit included. Will we give ourselves permission to deconstruct her choices without taking them away from her? I have confidence we can.

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For Mother’s Day, I decided to interview my mom and share her answers with the Amplify community. I was very glad that she agreed to do this. Part one focused on her experience as a mother. Now, part two will cover other topics that are often written about here on Amplify.

1) How do you find where to draw the line between guiding your child’s actions and letting them make mistakes?
Dependant on the situation, I feel neglecting to draw the line and knowingly letting a young child make a mistake is bad parenting. I feel the difference between drawing the line and letting your child make a mistake should be apparent in the pre-teen and teenage years. The guidelines I use in making that decision are safety factors, moral issues, and house rules. At this age, the big issues you step in, and the small issues you back off.

 2) How do you think a parent can instill a positive body image for their children?
A positive body image is something we all deal with at some point in our lives. Parents can help foster positive body image by steering away from all critical comments. A child’s interpretation of a critical comment, even not directed toward body image, can easily become just that to them. Complementing your child on what they have chosen to wear, mentioning a particular color is flattering on them, telling them the way they did their hair looks good today is so beneficial to body image. Don’t go overboard though; otherwise your child may not believe your comment is genuine.

3) What do you want your children to know about healthy relationships, whether they be friendships or romantic?
A healthy relationship is a two-way street. If you give and do not receive or vice versa in any aspect of the relationship, the cornerstone is compromised. If the cornerstone is not stabilized, the relationship will surely turn unhealthy. My advice- be aware a relationship is a two-way street.

4) At what age do you think parents should start talking to their kids about sex?
I think that parents should answer in an age-appropriate way, any question about sex that a child asks. When having “the sex talk” with a child, I think it is a good idea to have the talk just before the school starts teaching sex education, which generally is around the 4th grade.

5) Were you nervous about having “the sex talk” with your kids? Looking back, would you have done it differently?
I was not nervous about having “the sex talk” with my children. I believe it is a necessary conversation between parent and child that fosters open communication. Looking back, I don’t believe I would have done it differently.

6) Why do you think comprehensive sex education is important?
Unlike it is today, when I was younger, comprehensive sex education was not part of the program in grammar school and only minimal information was given in high school. I think the change to begin teaching sex education starting in the fourth grade is a valuable part of the education process. Children are much more prepared today for understanding the changes that happen to their bodies and since they receive reliable sex information they are able to make better educated decisions regarding sex.

7) What characteristics would you like your children to look for in a significant other?
Characteristics to look for in a partner are: do they make you feel good about yourself, do they have focus, and do you see they have potential.

8) How do you think that social acceptance of interracial relationships has changed since you were a teenager?
I think the acceptance of interracial relationships has changed greatly since I was a teenager. At that time, it was totally unacceptable to even consider introducing a boy of another race to your parents even as a new friend. If you saw an interracial couple, the common thought was: what is wrong with him/her? Was there something about them that made them that made them unattractive to someone of their own race that they had to choose this other person? Today, I feel it’s refreshing to see an interracial couple. I think it takes a special person to look prejudice in the eye and know that their love for each other will sustain them.

9) What would you want your children to consider when deciding to have sex?
I would like my children to responsibly consider their choice in deciding to have sex. Do they really want to have sex with this person, and have they taken the precautions necessary to protect themselves as well as their partner from disease and pregnancy.

10) What can parents do to help prevent unintended teenage pregnancy?
A previous establishment of open communication is one of the most beneficial things you can give your child to help them as they navigate the world. If an older child feels comfortable talking to you, they will surely ask sex related questions. The best way to guide a teenager is through communication. Answer their question, but also listen to how they ask the question. Take a moment to think beyond the question, and ask a few yourself. There is no way a parent can prevent their teenager from an unintended pregnancy. What they can do is communicate to them in a respectful manner your expectations. In the end, whatever happens, happens. If you become faced with your child having an unintended pregnancy, your child already knows they made a mistake. Don’t as a parent also make a mistake by not letting them know you love them no matter what.

11) What would you want your children to consider when deciding to be parents?
In deciding to be parents I would want my children to consider their relationship with their spouse. Raising a child should be a two parent job. If their spouse is reluctant to have children because they are unsure if they want the commitment, they should be aware having a baby won’t necessarily make their spouse come around or deepen their relationship. I would advise not to have a child if they know they don’t have a solid relationship.

12) How do you define feminism? Do you consider yourself a feminist? Why or why not?
I believe feminism is the belief that all women were created equal to men. I believe being a feminist includes this belief along with action to support it. An activist I am not, but I will take action in any affair if spurred.

13) Having a daughter who is an activist for equal rights for LGBTQ  people and a daughter who has had several gay friends, how do you feel your views on gay and lesbian people have changed over time?
I have never had prejudice views. Having one daughter who is an activist for LGBTQ rights and another who has several gay friends has made me more aware of the inequality these people are faced with. And it’s an outrage that discrimination on this level can lead to violence. I applaud my daughters involvement as an advocate. I believe legal rights should not be denied to anyone. Although I do believe religious rights should stand as they are.

Thanks again, Mom, for being willing to share your answers!! <3

~ Samantha
 

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I was pleased to listen to an NPR series called "The Hidden World Of Girls" where they explored adolesence and emerging womanhood in different contexts aroudn the world. The first story was about Jamaica and the body standards there.

As I have been recently struggling with a GI disorder, body image has become an important issue in my life right now. The pressure on young people like my self to fit a certain body ideal is difficult and is something I think may resonate with several people in the Amplify community.

The focus of the story was the different paradigms of beauty that many young Jamaican girls are pursuing from the anorexic European standard of thinness, skin bleaching and most unique the chicken pill phenomenon. The chicken pill is what is used by the agricultural industry to make chickens grow faster, but young Jamaican girls are looking for a way to grow fuller breasts and hips.

The explanation for this desire for a voluptuous body is explained in the interview NPR did with several Jamaican academics and young women:

"Most males, they love to see women with big bottoms. The whole idea of Coca-Cola bottle shape" Carol says. " ‘I don’t want a meager woman,’ that’s how the men would speak. … They’re figuring if you look meager, you look poor, in the sense that you’re not being taken care of.

Women take the chicken pills to get broader hips and bigger bottoms," says Carol’s son Jason. "In our Jamaican culture, we love a girl that has a lot of shape."

According to Carolyn Cooper, professor of literary and cultural studies at the University of the West Indies, "big bottoms" reveal power — but there are competing norms of beauty in Jamaica.

The NPR article is titled "Taking Surprising Risks for the Ideal Body" which I think is a bit misleading. Young girls here in the United States take numerous risks for the ideal body with everything from dieting, eating disorders and over-exercising. Although it is true that the chicken pills are especially harmful because they contain arsenic and can have a wide variety of ill effects, there are also evident harms from eating disorders and the desire to be thin. I think what suprised the NPR journalists the most is the idea that these young women would take so many risks to become curvy which is an idea that runs so counter to our cultural milleu.

I analysis I found at the F-Word blog was particularly compelling to me because I think it really gets to the heart of the issue here. It is not so much that women are stuffing themselves or starving themselves to fit an ideal but instead the fact that they are facing so much pressure and that the same sort of pressure does not seem to be present (to the same extent) across gender lines:

Fat bottoms. Chicken pills. Bleaching powders. It all may seem strange and bizarre to the rest of us, but the whole discourse of dissatisfaction and anxiety about the body is a common thread among most, if not all, cultures.  In Jamaica, women take chicken pills.  In America, we down Fen-phen and diet pills.  If women have anything in common with our sisters worldwide, it’s that the natural body is never enough

I hope that people can recognize that although this is a distinct cultural pattern, that it also represents this widespread trend of pressure for females to fit an ideal body. And that is what I appreciate about this peice because I think they are trying to show that despite our differences and variations, we all share a common humanity and common human experiences. Unfortuantely the subtext of gender inequality is not covered in as much detail as I would like but that is a different matter.

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I have spent a large portion of the last year working to help others see the beauty that they posess, both inside and out, through poetry, discussions, blog posts, performance art, and so on.

This mission comes after years and years of struggling with my own demons; in fact, I’ve been fighting to feel pretty and worthwhile for so long that I think, maybe, I have lost sight of the bigger picture. In my quest to help myself & others feel beautiful, I’ve stopped asking questions. Questions like…

What is beauty, anyway? How can EVERYONE be beautiful?

Why do I even want to be pretty? Why are beauty and self worth so intertwined in our culture?

Why does it feel more important to be beautiful than nice, or smart, or interesting, or funny… or any of the other awesome traits people have?

Now, I’m not saying that all of the work that I (and so many others) have done is worthless by any means, but at the same time I have to ask…

Just for a few minutes, at least, can we try thinking of something even more radical? Namely, why can’t we just say F*** YOU to beauty?

Out of all of the things there are to find admirable and valuable in a person, why is it that beauty so often seems to win out over intelligence, strength, compassion, athleticism, creativity, bravery, honesty, and so on? Rarely do we see people wasting countless hours fretting over their lack of compassion for others, or their cowardice. Rarely do we compliment others on their kindness, or their strength… for whatever reason it all seems to come down to beauty, at least it does in my life.

Its funny that until now, I just accepted that unquestioningly, asking myself over and over again how can I feel beautiful? when I should have been asking WHY.

Why does everything  come down to being beautiful in the first place?

Let’s think about this logically: what does me or you being beautiful do to improve the lives of others?

Nothing, really. Certainly it does not do as much as passion, or kindness, or empathy, or bravery… these are the attributes that change the world… not beauty. And, even better, these are the attributes that have nothing to do with genetics. We can CHOOSE to go out of our way to be kind, to be brave, to passionately chase dreams, to harness our talents to change the world. At any moment, each and every one of us has the power to be a strong, compassionate, brave, and make a difference in the world.

You can’t wake up one morning and just decide to change your apperance to fit whatever mold beautiful takes on in your society (at least, not without a lot of money and pain)… either you fit the mold of beuatiful or you don’t. We all know this and yet, we all seem to spend so much more time obsessing over beauty than we do over all of those other wonderful and useful qualities.

So again, I say fuck beauty. Beauty is passive, either you have it naturally or you waste endless amounts of time on primping and preening until you look as beautiful as possible. BEAUTY IS DISEMPOWERING!

Even the concept of "inner beauty" to a degree bothers me. Why not inner strength? Inner kindness? Inner AWESOMENESS? Why does it always come down to beauty?

Now, don’t get me wrong, I am NOT trying to belittle the struggles of those who wrestle with body image issues. How could I be, when I am just as entrenched in this as anyone else? All I am trying to do is shed some light, shake things up, and get us to question just WHY it is that we feel so much pressure to look a certain way; to be beautiful.

Instead of trying to change perceptions of beauty, maybe we should just run with it… embrace the title of ugly and use it to force others to see the value in the rest of us; our thoughts, our hopes, our dreams… because at the end of the day, that’s where the real value lies.

The Ugly Manifesto

I’d rather be courageous than beautiful. I will not be demure, quiet and pretty… instead I will be loud, I will get into the face of those who try to oppress others and I will confront them. I will be that loud, "ugly" feminist.
I’d rather be unique than beautiful. I will wear the clothes that make me feel happiest in whatever manner I desire. I will wear as much or as little makeup as I feel comfortable with each day. I will shave as much or as little as I see fit. If I happen to fit some standard of beauty one day, fine; I will not care one way or another because my confidence does not depend on anyone’s approval but my own.
I’d rather be happy than beautiful. I will not waste a moment of my life worrying about how I look to others. I’d rather spend my time concerned with how I am trating others, and interacting with them!
I’D RATHER BE UGLY THAN BEAUTIFUL.
Being ugly means saying fuck you to the beauty norms and embracing the person I am, not the person that the world is trying to tell me to be; being ugly means being totally happy with the person I am and never hiding that girl from the world, no matter what.

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According Adfreak.com, "The ad, in which Pamela Anderson and another lady pour milk all over each other in the fantasy of a male co-worker, was tagged by Down Under’s Advertising Standards Bureau after fielding "hundreds" of complaints."

Wach the Video:


 
The managing director of Crazy Domains, Gavin Collins has blamed “feminist bloggers” for stirring up the controversy and is fighting the ban, the Daily Hearld reports.

The Bureau President has these words to say concerning the ad:

“It’s meant to be a cheeky, over-the-top depiction, but in the bureau’s view it did cross the line,” says Bureau president Fiona Jolly said.


While the ad has caused controversy, many believe it shouldn’t have been pulled from television.


What are your thoughts?

Is the ad to Raunchy? What does it say for Women, Media, and Body Image?

To read more at the Daily Hearld, click here.
To read more from Ad Freak, click here.

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(I decided to keep posting body image-related stuff from my past today — since I am so busy with this play project that I mentioned on my other blog post. I can’t wait until it is over and I can reflect here on Amplify and hopefully even share some video clips!)

A recent class discussion on body image really got me thinking. The professor shared a very apt analogy about pants and how they can make or break someone’s whole day. She asked us to think about our skinny pants; the pair that most people have, the pair of pants that make you elated when you can fit into them and miserable when you can’t… for some people those pants spell out the climate of their whole day. She likened life to those pants; some days, they fit, everything goes right and you love yourself; other days, you can hardly you’ll them over your hips, you feel defeated and huge…you wonder why anyone would even want to look at you. Its scary how easily I could relate to this metaphor.

This is when I began to wonder why it had to be this way. In the last few months I have made great strides in feeling better about my body, loving every inch of it… but even I still had that size-too-small pair of skinny jeans just sitting and taunting me in the drawer.

I decided to throw out the jeans, and with them throw out my negative attitudes about shopping for my body as well.

I have compiled here a list of common thought-traps that drag us down to that place where we feel as if we cannot fit into anything, not the pants, the fashion, or society in general… I compiled that list and then replaced those sentiments with positive ones; an army of affirmations to pack along with your credit card next time you head into the mall.