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Archive for July 30, 2015

The Shameless Selfie

By Emily Champoux

Emily Champoux Selfie

Cheesy selfie atop Mt. Olympus in Greece courtesy of Emily Champoux #selfiestrong

 

In today’s society, with more than 300 million Instagram users and over a billion active Facebook accounts, it seems only logical that these sources of media are a main form of communication and interaction in many people’s day to day lives.  With media constantly pushing the thin ideal and the role that weight and size plays in this ideal figment of beauty, many women are finding themselves less confident and more insecure with their own bodies.

When looking at my own photos on social media, I notice that I rarely find a picture of just myself.  I am either with my family, a group of close friends, or non-existent in the photograph all together.  Don’t get me wrong, family reunions and Mount Rushmore are all worthy of being captured in a photograph.  But whatever happened to a picture of just you?  A selfie.  Some may argue that a selfie is a call for attention.  A desperate way to get Facebook notifications, Instagram likes, or favorites on Twitter.  But did anyone ever think that a selfie, a picture of you and only you, is actually a statement of strength? Of empowerment?  Of course it’s awesome to snap a picture of the beautiful view you enjoy at the top of the mountain after a long day’s hike.  But what’s even greater and more beautiful, is when you are in front of that amazing view from that mountain peak.  Instead of concentrating on how sweaty and gross you may look after completing that two hour ascent, focus on the pure satisfaction and strength you feel knowing your body allowed you to climb that mountain.  The same goes for a day when your hair or outfit is completely on point and you just feel beautiful.  Stop and snap a selfie.  It takes only a second and once you snap that picture, take a couple more seconds to appreciate yourself.  Then go one step further and share your selfie with the rest of the world.  Tweet it, Instagram it, or post it to Facebook, all as a way to remember how amazing you truly are.  A selfie isn’t narcissism or shallow self absorption, it is a pure act of self empowerment.  A way for you to show the world that you appreciate yourself just as you are.  Of course there are days when our hair wakes up on the wrong side of the bed, or we spill coffee all over our brand new shirt.  Those things will happen.  Those days are the ones where selfies are needed.

On the days where you rip your pants because you’ve put on a few pounds over the last month, or you eat an entire tub of Ben and Jerry’s because your boyfriend cheated on you, that is the time to take a selfie.  Look at that picture and reflect on that day.  Realize that life is full of ups and downs; but regardless of those lows, it is the journey all together that makes life interesting and the inner strength and confidence in ourselves that keeps us pushing through to the next day.  So waste no more time, and get out there and #selfiestrong.

No Adjustments Needed

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256508_Time_7_8

By Ellen Squires

Time Magazine’s feature article a few weeks back was about plastic surgery. The argument? Pretty soon, plastic surgery will be the new norm, accepted by all and used by many. The author believed that liposuction and Botox would become as ubiquitous as makeup, just another mainstream way to coerce our bodies into being something different than what they really are.

Maybe the author was right, and maybe not. But what I do know is this: that’s certainly not the path for me. As someone who rarely uses even makeup, perhaps I’m a little biased. But here’s my rationale: when I’m tired, I believe the dark circles under my eyes are an indication that I should sleep more. Why hide them? When a smattering of acne peaks through on my forehead, it usually means I’m stressed. Why obscure it with cover-up and pretend like I’m not? These outward signs are pointing to a need to care for my body, to get more sleep or to take a deep breath, and I’m grateful for the reminder they provide.

My feelings about more extreme modifications, like plastic surgery, are similar. I’m young now, but when I age and my body starts to show it, I want to wear my wrinkles with pride, a symbol of the wisdom that comes with all the years I’ve lived. I want be comfortable with the shape that my body becomes, perhaps more droopy because I had kids and still enjoy the richness of food. Of course it’s easy to say now, but I want to love my body in all of its stages, and to demonstrate this love by leaving it in the form that it’s in. And I think the time to start practicing this is now, because I’ve heard that habits that form in our twenties are the ones that stick.

I don’t judge others who wear makeup or get plastic surgery, but I know it’s not for me. And even if plastic surgery becomes the new norm, as the Time  article claimed, I don’t think I’ll convert. I want to embrace my dark circles, sleep a little bit more, and just be me. Because the me without adjustments is the me I want to be.

 

 

My Mole

By Audrey Blankenheim

Ever since I can remember, I have had a mole on the left side of my neck. It is a dark brown and the size of a pea. Over the years, two more small moles have appeared. The smaller moles rest right above the bigger, like 2 moons rotating around their planet.

Mole

I first took awareness to this mole during kindergarten. Kindergarten was a time for me blessed with the absence of body shame, a time where I was more focused on how my drawn horses appeared than how I did. I distinctly remember it was the end of the day, and my class was lining up to leave. The boy behind me poked my neck and yelled, “MOLE”. I was humiliated. I had barely recognized my mole, and there he was, announcing my blemish for the world to see. It was at this time that I gained the fear that maybe it was weird I had a mole. Maybe it was different. Being a shy kid, having any reason to be noticed terrified me.

I remember being cautious, especially around that boy, to hide my mole. I would push my hair to rest on that side of my neck.  I hated the idea that I was different, and that other people could see the dissimilarity.

After years of fighting this shame for my mole, I have finally come to love it. This love began with my realization that the world is bigger than my kindergarten classroom. It is not as intimidating to stand out in a place with so much diversity.

Once I learned to accept the uniqueness of this planet that resides on my neck, I began to appreciate it for its beauty. It is a simple dot that highlights the long, elegance of my neck. My neck is one feature of my body that I have always admired. It is perfectly proportioned between my shoulders. It is slender and defined. Despite its splendor, I felt forced to cover it to protect my mole from seeing the world. Now I hold back my shield of hair and appreciate my mole as an accessory, only to enhance what I already love.

In addition to its physical beauty, my mole has a way of connecting me to my childhood. While I have lost my baby teeth, my hair has changed color, and my body has shifted through puberty, my mole has always been there and will continue to do so. It is a validation that while so much in my life is in transition, I will never drift so far as to lose my mole.

Lastly, my mole is solely mine. I have my dad’s nose and my mom’s eyes. My skin belongs to my German heritage. Even the majority of my clothes have at one point belonged to my sister. In a world of borrowed identity, my mole is my own.

Mind Games

By Tori Sundholmmindgames

There are a number of disturbing realities in John Bohannon’s article explaining how he fooled millions into thinking chocolate helps weight loss. The most disturbing being the harsh reality of mind games, which many fall victim to – especially in the name of body image.

Bohannon’s factitious article deceived so many partially due to the alluring headline, which promised a loss of weight by eating chocolate. After all, what’s more appealing than being able to indulge in our favorite sweats while losing weight at the same time? We all want to have our cake and eat it too and the media knows this all too well. In his tell all article, Bohannon admits to the clever tricks that enabled him to fool vast amounts of people in stating

With the paper out, it was time to make some noise. I called a friend of a friend who works in scientific PR. She walked me through some of the dirty tricks for grabbing headlines

Although, the headline grab of Bohannon’s fibbing formula isn’t too surprising. The public isn’t ignorant to headline editor’s tricks. Nonetheless, they continue to fall for them time and time again.

We live off headlines in the current age. Ads flashing our way right and left, all trying to catch our precious, fleeting attention. Product slogans are just one of the everyday mind games we fight through and chocolate brands have some of the most tempting ones out there:

 

KitKat: Gimme me a break

Maltesers: The lighter way to enjoy chocolate

Nestle Crunch: For the Kid in you

 

KitKat targets the modern day consumers fast paced life and offers them a break. Nestle Crunch brings the consumer back to easier days as a child. But Maltesers may have the most compelling slogan, which focuses on portraying their sugary product as a “light” snack, fully aware of the consumer’s obsession with body image. Regardless of which slogan is best, mind games are in full force in each.

Another component of Bohannon’s formula involves an even dirtier side of the mind games in advertising–graphics. Bohannon and his team created music videos in order better to pitch their scientific article to publishers. It became evident publishers were interested in the scientific results, but none were interested in the music videos. Bohannon commented

No one dipped into our buffet of chocolate music videos. Instead, they used vaguely pornographic images of women eating chocolate…

Disinterest in music videos rapping about chocolate is understandable. Disgust comes in the exploitation of women for page views. Even the most self-confident of readers will most likely compare themselves to the photoshopped woman on the screen and flounder in their flaws. The use of unrealistic photographs is another mind game all internet users must navigate on a daily basis, which can plummet one’s personal body image.

At the end of his article, Bohannon stated that hopefully our little experiment will make reporters and readers alike more skeptical…but why stop at being skeptical only about science? Bohannon not only blew the whistle on the falsities in some of the diet science craze, he also brought to light the negative connotations on the use of headlines and graphics–to name a few. Sadly, we need to be skeptical towards just about anything we come across on the internet, especially when it pertains to beauty and body image.

 

Who’s the Judge?

Submitted by Erin Maas nothing-can-steal-happiness-bikram-choudhury[2]

A few months ago, I sat in a hallway waiting for class to begin.  As I hunched over a book that I was interested in finishing, an acquaintance passed by me and dropped off her bag in the classroom. When she returned to the hall, she stared at my stomach and then asked if I was pregnant again.  Not being pregnant, I pretended to laugh off the comment with a, “No, of course not.  I am done having kids.  Two is enough for me.”  The woman proceeded on her way into the classroom.  Little did she know how much her comment had stung.

Throughout the rest of the class I sat ruminating over her comment.  Why would she say such a thing?  Was my stomach sticking too far out?  Had I eaten too much at my last meal?  Maybe she just remembered my being pregnant and thought I might be trying again.  The thoughts kept swirling in my mind.  I had to reassure myself more than ten times that I was healthy and that my body looked good.

“Old Me” that had used an eating disorder to cope with my social anxiety would have let this woman’s comments destroy my day.  I would have let her judgment control my emotional stability and bring me to my knees.  Instead, the stronger “New Me” took a different approach.  As the class neared the end, I came up with a plan to talk with the woman about what she had said and how it had hurt me.

I slowly approached her as she was packing up to leave.  I asked her if she had a minute to talk.  She said she did.  Then I said, “I was just wondering why you made the comment about my being pregnant.”  I paused, waiting for her response.  She hesitated and then looked again at my stomach.  Another lady overheard what I had said, and she immediately commented that I did not look pregnant.  Still hearing no response from the woman who made the comment, I said, “I just wanted to let you know that your words hurt me.”  The woman looked up into my eyes and said, “I am so sorry.”  Then she commented that she had been feeling inadequate about her own body and must have been comparing her body to mine.  I was amazed by her honesty as well as my own ability to admit being hurt.

On that morning instead of walking away thinking I needed to lose ten pounds, I walked away feeling powerful.  I overcame my own negative thoughts that were triggered by a comment, and I had let someone know that their words hurt me.  I did not try to manipulate my body to please others.  I told myself that my body was great the way that it was, and that I was a healthy weight.

This incident brought to the forefront one of my favorite quotes by Bikram Choudhury, “If you let others take your peace and happiness away from you, you are the loser.”  By separating my own thoughts from the opinions of others, as well as honestly expressing my feelings, I was able to once again restore my sense of happiness.  On this day, I came out a winner.