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Archive for November 27, 2014

Giving Thanks to My Body

This week’s Love Your Body was written by volunteer blog contributor Caitlyn Rosellini. Thanks, Cait!

If you are interested in writing for our blog, please contact Julia at julia.birdsall@emilyprogramfoundation.org

Thanksgiving branded

Do you ever just have those days that are just strangely off? Like sometimes you can’t remember how to spell the word “house”, or you say something so many times you don’t even think it’s a word anymore? Or you walk into the laundry room with the intention of going to bed, or you end up putting your cell phone away with the groceries? I have been having a lot of those days lately, and as unproductive as they seem, I think I have actually stumbled upon something blog-worthy!

So, bodies. They’re pretty weird, aren’t they? Think about it, you have all of these bones and organs and systems and so much blood, so so much blood, and a brain and wow, there are just a million different things, right? And oddly, they all know how to work together without much help from us.

The past month has been a rollercoaster for my body. I began having seizures in October, and after two hospital stays we are still trying to figure it all out (by “we” I mean the doctors; I’ve just been watching a lot of Gilmore Girls). In and out of machines, poked and prodded with needles and unidentifiable scary things, and lots of down time gave me some space to think. I began thinking through how my body was reacting to whatever stressor was happening in my brain, and how after each trauma my insides still fought to repair and protect me. I left the first hospital stay with a deep distrust of my body, and a fear of ever going back to classes. But after this second round I am confident that no matter what happens, my body knows best.

Looking back on it, I wish I would have realized this in the depths of my anorexia. Despite all that I was doing, my body was continuously racing to repair anything it could. Sometimes it’s hard to love your body, and I would be lying if I said I did 100% of the time. However, it is important to think of all it has done for you, and marvel at the body’s ability to compensate for what it has lost. Be grateful for that, but also remember that it cannot last forever. We need to start reciprocating the love back to our bodies, because they’ve been doing a lot of work.

This can mean a lot of things, so let’s brainstorm! Self care is huge, give your body a break and do something fun: go for a jog, take a nap, whatever you love to do. Eat intuitively, and I know for some of us that is easier said than done…but even if you’re following a MP strictly, maybe reach for one of those things you’ve been struggling with and give your body some positive energy. Get up, have a dance party, play games, talk with friends, surround yourself with people who can give you the support you need.

Give your body some love, folks, because it’s giving you more than you know.

 

Plus Size

This week’s Media Monday comes to us from volunteer Caitlyn Rosellini. Thank you, Cait! If you are interested in contributing to our blog, please email Julia at julia.birdsall@emilyprogramfoundation.org

As I walked into my Feminist Thought class Monday I wondered what kind of discussion would ensue as I took my seat. Talking about intersectionality had my head spinning and was in many ways twisting my brain to uncharted territories. But that Monday the computer was on and the projector was buzzing and there was a picture of a model bending her body and advocating for Calvin Klein’s underwear line. My professor asked us, “What do you think of this image?” We discussed how normal the model looked; there were no sharp bones threatening to crack her open, not a single trace of lifelessness in her eyes. She is beautiful and healthy and she looked real.

Then my professor dropped the bomb: this model is considered a plus sized model.

Fury and anger and unadulterated disappointment flooded the room. That cannot be a “plus size” model, this is what my friends look like, this is what the women I see in Starbucks look like…this is a real life body. So how dare a brand claim this to be “plus sized”?

So, what’s the issue here? The perpetuation of this as “plus size” furthers the idea that, somehow, this is bad. That the ideal that needs to be, what are for many, unattainable bodies. There is also a clear issue of misrepresentation in the media, and feeling as though not all people can relate.

I find myself grappling with this problem of size and portrayal in the media, and the overall battle people fight to justify being a size that is natural and healthy for them. However, leaving that class left me a bit more hopeful for this fight. My professor shared that this image had gotten a lot of heat online and Calvin Klein was receiving significant backlash from the community. We need to get angry, get PISSED that this is happening in our communities. The demographic of models and designers and photographers pale in comparison to the millions of people who reject this notion of beauty and who want, and need to be justly represented. [editor’s note: It seems to be the modelling industry, not Calvin Klein, who was labeling this model “plus size”. Click here for statements from the brand and the model!]

It is a big problem, and sometimes issues of this size become too scary to act upon. I often find myself wanting to break something every time I try to come to an answer of how to simply STOP all of this. So yes, it is frustrating. But this fight is worth it. So get mad, get upset, and most importantly voice your opinion. Because no matter who you are, you deserve to be justly represented.


Read here for more info!
(same link as in the editor’s note)

 

So, what do you think? Is “plus size” a bad thing? What does “plus size” mean? And what does it mean that a model who is considered “plus size” is actually smaller than the average American size? We want to hear from you!! Comment below or feel free to email Julia if you’d like to write a response, julia.birdsall@emilyprogramfoundation.org

 

**Special thanks to Dr. Ann Ciasullo at Gonzaga University, and the students of Feminist Thought 466

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Visibly Unseen

A Love Your Body poem by Awazi Jaafaru

Source: garnerstyle.blogspot.com

Source: garnerstyle.blogspot.com

Obscure and emotionless eyes.

Yet you stare on with pride?

Large figure that will never fit into a size 9.

You go on walking anyway.

The streets are your runway.

Your hips do not match the volume of your lips.

But never are you afraid.

To conclude amongst the truth of your unattainable beauty.

Because Society Says So

This week’s Media Monday post comes to us from Madilyn Cook. Thank you, Madilyn! If you are interested in writing for our Media Monday series, please contact Julia at julia.birdsall@emilyprogramfoundation.org

Budweiser

“Act like a lady” and “Man up” are two common phrases American society is used to hearing. When a little girl is misbehaving it is not unusual for her to be told to “sit down and act like a lady”. When a young boy gets hurt while playing at recess often times when he goes to tell a parent they will just say, “You’ll be fine, man up”. The question is, what do those phrases really mean? In everyday advertisements, we see gender roles portrayed. Masculine folks are typically shown as strong and powerful figures, and feminine people are unfortunately shown as sex objects in many cases.

In this advertisement for Budweiser, a young model is basically transformed to become part of the beer bottle they are selling. The model is blended in with the product, losing their sense of humanity and turned into an object to sell the product. When you look at the model’s face, you can hardly see any emotion in their eyes. Our society today categorizes feminine people by how they look rather that what they can do. This model is advertising by using simply “good looks” that conform to societal standards.

In this specific ad, the bottle itself says, “King of Beers,” suggesting that being the “king” of something gives you the most power. When they are advertising the king status they are still using a feminine presenting person to sell their product.  Perhaps they are implying that if you drink this beer, you will become a “king” and will have power over or possession of a person who looks like the model in their advertisement.

The swimsuit the model is wearing says, “all natural”. Now, they are talking about the beer of course. But, we have to wonder, is the model really “all natural”? This image has clearly been digitally altered.When children see advertisements of the showcasing this idea of “perfection”, they can decide that they want do anything to be able to look like that; when in reality most of the time the models themselves don’t even look like these photos.  When my mom was growing up, she didn’t have to worry about what filter she used on her Instagram post, or how many likes she would get on the selfie she just posted on Facebook. In today’s children and young adults sharing images on social media can influence why we want to look a certain way.

Over all as a culture, the ads that we see everywhere are used to try to persuade us to feel a certain way. When analyzing these messages, though, we begin to ask ourselves if what we’ve been taught all along is actually accurate. The question becomes, “Have I shaped my beliefs about how people, including myself, should be? Or has society done it for me?”

 

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No Shave November

This week’s Love Your Body Post comes to us from Cait Rosellini

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I’ll be honest: I love No Shave November. No, not because I like a good beard, although I really don’t have anything against it, but because I can shamelessly kick off my hairy winter coat while cracking a few jokes about my prickly legs. Here in Spokane, Washington we are just beginning the cold, gray, inevitably snowy season and what better way than to add a natural layer of warmth? It may seem that this is just a good excuse for men to avoid the razor, but there is actually a context to this tradition. Some men participate in this not only for fun, but also to raise awareness and funds for mens health.

One of my good friends at Gonzaga University proposed a new idea- she felt everyone should have a commitment to themselves the same way some men do during this month, Ally Crha asked a group of seniors to participate in No Makeup November. Her aim is to allow more people to feel comfortable in their natural skin, and to challenge the institution of beauty and the implications that come from makeup versus no makeup. She posted this idea in one of our Facebook groups, and it was met with overwhelming support and enthusiasm.

This idea of stripping ourselves of the mask our culture has taught us to wear is admittedly scary; I am not ashamed to say I am hesitant towards this challenge. I began thinking, what part of me not painting my face every morning makes me feel uncomfortable, or furthermore vulnerable in a way that I am not used to? I realized this part of my routine is me becoming the person I have cultivated, and not necessarily my normal self. Think about it: we spend hours in the morning blow drying, curling, putting foundation on topped with bronzer, mascara and eyeliner, lipstick and blush.  These things aren’t inherently bad or wrong, but the way we feel pulled towards them becomes problematic.

I challenge you to make a commitment to yourself and try and live in your natural skin. More importantly, though, spend time thinking about what it means to unmask yourself, and why that is comfortable or not for you.