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Archive for June 30, 2016

We are All the Same, Perfectly Unique!

By Lindsay Deans

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When it comes down to it, I believe we really are all the same. We are all humans that have been uniquely made and placed on this earth for a purpose.  Annie F. Downs, author of “Perfectly Unique: Praising God from head to foot,” writes:

In my findings, based only on a small backyard and no scientific equipment used, all blades of grass seem to have common form – straight and growing upward. But they come in different heights, widths, and shades of green. I cannot find two that seem to be exact matches… Humans are the same way. We may come in different heights, widths and shades (not green of course), but we all have common form. Aside from rare exceptions we all have two arms, two legs, two eyes, one mouth (though mine could really count for two or three – I’m loud), a backbone, skin, organs, etc.

-(Perfectly Unique, pg. xiii)

How easy it is to get caught up in the comparison game: oh I wish my skin were that shade of green, if only I was a little taller, I wish I were wider or thinner. But when we start to wish and compare, we loose appreciation for who we were made to be. I was made to be five-feet-nine-inches tall, have a scrunchy nose when I smile, and have brown hair.Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Comparison is the thief of joy,” and that is such an accurate statement. When I turn my eyes away from appreciating who I am, I look toward who I wish I were based on others. This steals my joy concerning who I was made to be.

He made you once. You were worth the work the first time. Then he threw away that mold because one of you is enough for Him. You’re enough. You are the sacred painting, the original.

-(Perfectly Unique, pg. xii)

What if today for “Love Your Body Thursday,” you made a list of ten things you love about who you are? I’ll even participate on the blog!

1.    I love my two colored eye
2.    I love my scrunchy nose when I laugh and smile
3.    I love my humor and wit
4.    I love the passion I have for people
5.    I love that my hair can be curly or straight
6.    I love that I can be intellectual
7.    I love that I am creative
8.    I love how I see good in others
9.    I love that I am tall
10.     I love how I have dimples when I smile really big

We are supposed to love other people the same way that we love ourselves. But do you love yourself? Better phrased: do you love all of you?

-(Perfectly Unique, pg. 3)

Downs, A.F. (2012). Perfectly unique: Praising God from head to foot.
Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

What Is Beauty? Part 3

Continuing on from last week’s Love Your Body Thursday post, we explore other interpretations when thinking of beauty.

 

Quotes : Beautiful

 

 

 

Words : Beautiful

 

Music : Beautiful

 

 

Taking Food Off Moral Grounds

By Angie Michel

It’s as if we order morality off a menu: We choose between “good” and “bad” foods, “clean” and “indulgent” entrées, and “guilt-free” and “sinful” desserts. We attach moral value to eating so routinely that we even label ourselves “naughty” when we order burgers instead of salads and “treat” ourselves to French fries instead of fruit. Only when we excuse ourselves for “cheat days,” it seems, do we give our bodies what they truly crave.

A recent example of this moralized labeling of food appears in an advertisement for thinkThin High-Protein Bars, found in the May 2016 issue of SELF magazine. The ad pairs an image of the energy bar with a message that relieves consumers from food shame. “Guilt free. Unless you steal one,” it reads, implying, of course, that consumers may enjoy these sugar-free, high-protein bars without any guilt.

Despite what the advertisement suggests, thinkThin’s bars aren’t inherently “good” in ways that other foods are “bad.” You see, food is neither good nor bad. We feel bad eating certain foods only because our cultural mindset is bad—unhealthy, dangerous, and wrong.

Food with sugar is not bad. Ditto to food with fat and food with calories. Even if these foods were bad, they couldn’t make us—the living, breathing, surviving-on-food people we are—bad. Contrary to common lore, we are so much more than what we eat.

Food, on the other hand, is just food. From donuts to ice cream to apples to kale, food across the nutritional spectrum is fuel. It’s energy, as basic as the air we breathe and the water we drink. Let’s rid our language of labels that attach moral meaning to our plates. Let’s recognize that food has social, cultural, and emotional value, yes—but no moral value.

Food is food. Let’s not give it more power than it deserves.

“thinkThin.” SELF Magazine, May 2016.

Social Media: Toxicity at Our Fingertips—Part 2: The Solution

Part 2 of a 2-part series on the harmful effects social media can have on our self-esteem and body image.

By Elly Byronsmartphone-1254108_960_720   It seems to me that at the heart of this issue is the origin of adolescent identity and self-worth. As women, we are prone to believing that our worth is dependent on something external to our-selves. Image, success, attention, money, power, beauty: each is a tyrant if it’s allowed, a parasite unknowingly fed by insecurities until its roots reach even to our understanding of who we are. Any time our definition of ourselves becomes tied to something that can come and go, our self-esteem, value and worth can go along with it. It is my belief that nothing fleeting should have that power, and yet every day we post pictures as if the number of “likes” they receive is some-how evidence of our worth.

So, how do we change the heart of an entire culture? How do we stop the sweeping influence of a cyber-world of validation that is so embedded in our society? Though there is certainly no easy answer, I believe the damaging effects of the excessive use of social media can be curbed by first increasing familial awareness of the issue. While some parents may talk to their children about the dangers of social media, warning them not to ‘friend’ anyone they have never met before, I would guess few remind their children that these sites are often misleading in their portrayals of the lives their peers are living. This is a conversation that is not being had, and yet caregivers could have an enormous influence on the way their children view and use social media. Especially because these sites instill a reliance on the opinions of others for validation, parents need to help their girls see their worth as something intrinsic and independent of their peers’ opinions (Manago, 2015). To encourage families to have conversations such as these, I would submit articles about the issue for publication in parenting magazines and on popular websites. I would have schools talk about social media in the same way they do bullying, sexual harassment, drugs/alcohol, etc.

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   Though I believe a push for family awareness of the issue is crucial, I think it would be most effective if followed by an attempt to change the standard of social acceptability on the networking sites. So much of what adolescents post is driven by what is ‘cool’ at the time, and there are certainly trends that are religiously followed by that age group. For instance, for a time, having every photo encompassed by a white frame was the thing to do, but that trend is now ‘out’. As silly as it may seem, popular accounts of singers and celebrities set real trends such as these: the ways they post, the filters they use, the captions they include all have an influence on young adults and the way they use social media. Thus, I would ask professional athletes, singers, actors, fashion bloggers, and fitness gurus to consider aligning themselves with a social networking campaign (i.e., ‘#AsWeAre,’ or ‘#TrueYou’) that seeks to end the pressure to live up to a certain standard. In the campaign, people would post the pictures of themselves they normally would not: the ones without the perfect makeup, outfit, and lighting, pictures where they don’t look like they have it all together. They would share their struggles and their insecurities, and hopefully, others would do the same.

Social networking sites are changing and being updated constantly, responding to what their users want in order to keep the site relevant competitive. If we were to succeed in raising awareness with families, schools, and users of the sites themselves, I believe the networks would be forced to change, if under enough pressure and negative scrutiny. For instance, perhaps the sites might do away with the feature of being able to “like” pictures, a feature I believe supports much of the comparison that happens on the sites.

However, there are many challenges a plan like this would likely face. For instance, there is a difference in the way social networking sites are used by different age groups. This means that those with the power and resources available to start the necessary campaigns and media attention to shed light on this issue are also those least likely to understand the struggles and insecurities of a teenager on Instagram. Additionally, much of what makes social media dysfunctional and damaging is also what makes it addictive and popular. Indeed, these sites have benefited greatly from the very issues I have mentioned. If we succeed in relinquishing the hold of social media on teens’ self-worth, we also succeed in making the sites themselves less popular. Despite these challenges, I believe this issue is crucial to the health of our society as a whole and thus deserves the effort. As someone who has been without a Facebook for three years, I have both witnessed and been freed from the social comparison it supports. The effects can be truly toxic. I am happier, healthier, and more confident without the pressure to prove my online worth, and it is my hope that in the future more young women can say the same.

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Manago, A. M. (2015). Identity development in the digital age: The 
case of social networking sites. The oxford handbook of identity 
development. (pp. 508-524) Oxford University Press, New York, NY.

What is Beauty? Part 2

To continue from last week’s Love Your Body Thursday post, we explore more definitions when asked the question, ‘what is beauty?’

beauty brilliant  what_is_beauty__by_tsarkon beauty qualities

 

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