Archive for May 28, 2015

Recovery Story told through Images

Submitted by an anonymous writer who received treatment in Minnesota.

Click the images to enlarge them.

This blog post was sponsored by: Metropolitan Mechanical Contractors

Messages Stick With Us

Submitted by Dana Rademacher

Your eyes are too far apart. Your butt would look so much better if it were bigger. You have elf ears. Your thighs are pretty big. Look at your moustache! Whatever the comment or statement, we all have had someone say something that just stuck with us. And whether these comments were intentionally hurtful or not, they can torment us and make us totally rethink how we perceive ourselves.

To address this issue, BuzzFeed just released two videos of both men and women responding to the people who made fun of them in the past and they are amazing! Some of their stories are exactly what I went through and it shows that we all have been hurt or affected by someone critiquing our bodies but we also don’t have to let those comments define us. My favorite part of the video was when a guy responded to his bullies with, “I think the best I could do was be above all of it and the worst you can do is believe what they say, so I guess I would just say ‘I don’t believe you.’” That can be the hardest thing to do when a person says something hurtful to us, to say that they’re wrong, but we need to know we can’t be defined by a few comments and we don’t need to change for anyone.

When I was in middle school, I was made fun of for being flat chested and having thick, dark eyebrows and even today, I struggle to look at those parts of me and say “Wow, these aspects of me are really beautiful, just the way they are.” I always think “I would look better if….” and that type of thinking is never productive nor helpful. Those statements have carried with me through the years but it’s about time to let them go. If I were to respond to the kids who picked on me, I would say “This is how my body naturally is and it’s lovely and perfect. If you can’t accept that, then tough luck. PS: dark, thick eyebrows are in now so hah!” Yes, messages about body image can stick with us, but they don’t have to.

What would you say back to those harmful comments? Check out these awesome videos to see what they said!

 

This blog post was sponsored by:

Greene Espel PLLP Logo

Setting New Expectations

Submitted by Brit Williams

After watching the new Direct TV commercials with Hannah and her talking Horse, I felt as though Direct TV took the cheap and easy route to try to sell me on their benefits over cable. I was underwhelmed and frankly a bit disgusted by them using the tactic of “sexy, thin, half-dressed woman” to entice me and their other targeted consumers to buy Direct TV. Sure it’s clever to have a talking horse with the tagline “From the Horse’s Mouth,” but why is that not enough to engage someone to buy? Why is that they needed a sexy woman to draw the viewers in? Is it okay that our culture accepts this as a way that they can be sold to?

What’s most interesting is that the industry has trained us to expect this type of advertising. Seemingly it’s somewhat of a shock and even displeasing to see someone on the screen that doesn’t fit the high-standard mold of a hot, sexy, thin, perfectly groomed person. The good news is that there are companies out there standing up for women’s self-worth and disrupting the industry standard of what looks good. Take, for instance, the work Dove has been doing with their campaign for real beauty (http://www.dove.us/Social-Mission/campaign-for-real-beauty.aspx).

Even with the work companies like Dove are doing, I still have the question of where was the expectation set that ads can and should glorify a certain body image in order to sell a product or service? However, the bigger question and the one we influence is: it an expectation that we should keep?

Would it be possible to set a new expectation in which will we no longer buy from companies using degrading tactics, like the “perfect” body to entice us, and, instead only buy from companies that use a more accurate portrayal of men and women using a product or service in realistic and relatable situations? This takes awareness and courage; but wouldn’t it be great if when we looked at ads we felt empowered to buy because we felt better about ourselves, rather than making us buy because we feel worse?

 

This blog post was sponsored by: Mall of America

Loving your body in all stages

Submitted by Victoria Sundholm

 

Near the end of high school and the beginning of college, girls turn into women. So many changes occur in the female body during this stage and it’s important to love your body in all stages of its growth. This is easier said than done, especially in college.

For some girls, college is the stage they start hating their body instead of loving it. It can be hard not comparing yourself to other figures while living in a college dorm with so many girls. Just today, as I walked in the sunny morning rejoicing from a cancelled class, I looked down and immediately started to criticize my freshly white “spring” legs. My negative body image instantly ruined my bright disposition for the day. What a waste to steal myself such joy from being embarrassed about my legs. I decided I wasn’t going to let my negative thoughts ruin my day by comparing my body to others. Since class was canceled, I treated myself to a “spa morning,” which is a perfect way to get over some college girl blues.

I asked around Bethel to hear other ways college girls love their body in the midst of college pressures and anxieties. “I love having spa days!” said Alex Lidstone, junior at Bethel University. “There is something about taking care of your body that relaxes the mind and gets me rejuvenated to focus on school. It’s so fun getting together with roommates and friends to laugh and pamper ourselves.”

Paige Davis, junior at Bethel, shared some ways she likes to take care of her body during school. “When I’m feeling down I like to remind myself that treating myself right is just as important as school.” Davis said. “I like to eat right and exercise to stay on track. Sometimes I even treat myself and buy cute clothes, which makes me feel good in my body.”

College can be stressful and hard, but loving your body instead of criticizing it is crucial. Within the hustle and bustle of academic life, pampering yourself with little things is such a great way to enjoy the stage your body is in as a young woman.

 

This blog post was sponsored by: McDonald Construction

Mental Health Month: Being an Advocate and Maintaining Recovery

Submitted by Kristine Strangis

 

It is Mental Health Month! The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), one of the most dedicated and passionate organizations advocating for mental illness prevention, awareness, and recovery is promoting this event in order to break the stigma that surrounds mental illnesses.

 

This time gives us the opportunity to raise awareness about mental illnesses, and therefore, we should take advantage. We need to break the stigma and raise awareness about these issues in order to see change. Mental illness can only thrive when it is in the dark and kept in isolation, so let’s shed some light onto the issue by speaking up and letting other’s know that they are not alone in their suffering.

 

When I saw that it was mental health month, I was so excited, thinking that this is a great opportunity to raise awareness about these issues and finally bring eating disorders out of the darkness. But, along with my optimistic thinking, my perfectionistic and obsessive-compulsive tendencies started to emerge as well. Immediately, I felt this urge to do more than I could handle, like this was going to be the month that I had to do it all in order to get my voice out there.

 

My mind started racing with ideas as I methodically planned out the month ahead. I needed to volunteer more, participate in all of the events going on, set up a fund-raiser or two, share my recovery story at multiple organizations, and finish writing my book on my recovery story, all in this one month. I was putting a lot of pressure on myself to do it all so that my dedication to these issues could be known. But, the ironic thing is that, I do not have to participate in everything in order to be heard. Therefore, I want to let you know that you do not have to be a part of any extravagant fund-raisers, write a memoir about your own experience, or participate in all of the events going on in order to be heard, but rather, all you have to do is be you.

 

Now, while I am all for advocating for mental health and helping others, I did not want this perfectionistic thinking to send me backwards in my own recovery. So, I took a step back, put my racing mind on pause for a moment and just thought: why not just take things a day at a time? Instead of thinking within that black-and-white, rigid mindset, I decided to be more flexible and spontaneous in terms of how I could contribute to this wonderful month. Today, I am writing this blog post, letting you all know that it is okay, and even critical to your recovery, to slow down and just live in the moment rather than thinking that you need to do everything now. The greatest thing about this is that, by focusing on your recovery, you are contributing to mental health month in the most important and valuable way that you ever could.

 

I know where your minds may be going with this because mine went there too. You may be thinking that focusing on yourself is selfish, but I am here to tell you that focusing on your recovery is not selfish, actually, it is exactly what you need to be doing during a month like this.

 

Focusing on yourself, you are building a foundation; you may not see the growth for a while, but, one day, you are going to blossom. By gathering knowledge and wisdom from your own experiences-failures and successes, you are building the foundation that you will need in order to help others who are going through similar struggles. Eventually, you will have the coping strategies, tools, and empathy that you need in order to help others; by focusing on your own recovery, you are saving lives; and, even if this is not so obvious on the surface, it is happening inside. As you give yourself the strength to fight your own demons, you will be able to pass that on to someone else who needs it, but only when you are ready.

 

Remember, you do not have to do it all in order make a difference in the world. The simple act of giving a friendly smile to someone is enough to brighten a person’s whole world.

 

As the wise Gandhi says “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”

 

This quote is my mantra because it reminds me to be true to who I am, to focus on modeling the behavior that I want to see in the world around me instead of setting such high-standards for myself. For example, by taking the time to write this post, I am hoping that my words will resonate with you so that you can find the strength within yourself to stay on the path of recovery. I may not have had a choice in having an eating disorder, but, by continuously choosing recovery and focusing on myself, I am sharing my wisdom, creating a ripple effect, and changing the world one person at a time by taking small steps in the moment.

 

You can get involved in Mental Health Month and break the stigma simply by embracing who you are. You may not know who that is just yet, but I guarantee that you will find yourself by staying on the path to recovery.

 

Never give up on yourself. You are enough.

 

This blog post was sponsored by: Mairs & Power, Inc.