Personal Space

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By Matiara Huff

This slam poetry video featuring Reagan Meyers a great description of what it feels like when a women’s personal space is constantly being invaded.  It is degrading when someone ignores my existent and lazily reoccupy the space I am taking up. No one deserve to be force to feel small and insignificant. Try to be mindful of the people around you, consider how they might be feeling. Someone’s personal space should not be a tactic for negation or away to make yourself more comfortable. If you feel like your personal space is being invaded, speak up. You deserve to always be comfortable where ever you are.

Black Dolls Matter

ByImage courtesy of Flickr. Korrien Hopkins

Dolls play a pivotal role in the development of girls. I remember going to Toys R Us with my family to use the gift cards our uncle had given us for Christmas. I remember going through the aisle looking for that Easy Bake Oven I had been anxious to get. After I got it, I went to the doll section. I glanced through the dolls looking for one that resembled me. No Luck. So grabbed a doll from the long selection of white dolls. My grandma came over with my brothers and asked me if there were any black dolls. “No,” I responded. She quickly found an employee and kindly asked them if they had any ethnic dolls. The employee helped us look through the dolls and checked in back. Unfortunately, they had no luck in finding a black doll. I spent the rest of the money on something else. I was a bit disappointed but quickly got over it. I learned my importance and worth from my mother. What my mother didn’t tell me I found on my own. Thanks to community, to black media, and my spiritual interpretation; I have been greatly influenced by the black excellence I see. That I am pretty and important but, why is this something I had to find on my own?

Positive self-images should be poured into children. I can clearly see why it is important for stores to sell black dolls. Playtime Projects is an organization that collects toys for homeless children. “Author Debbie Behan Garrett explains, “When a young child is playing with a doll, she is mimicking being a mother, and in her young, impressionable years, I want that child to understand that there’s nothing wrong with being black. If black children are force-fed that white is better, or if that’s all that they are exposed to, then they might start to think, ‘What is wrong with me?’ By providing children with African-American dolls that reflect their beauty, we can help to instill in them a positive self-image.”

In my psychology class we have talked about the “Doll Study.” This was a study that’s was done in 1939 by psychologists Kenneth & Mamie Clark, it examined black children’s preferences for white and black dolls and found that the children tended to find the white doll to be “nicer” and more enjoyable to play with. Perhaps fewer people, though, are aware that this study was repeated in 2005 by the then 17-year-old Kiri Davis. She found similar results to the original study. While Dr. Thelma Dye of the Northside Center for Child Development cautions that these results should not lead to the assumption that all black children suffer from low self-esteem, she encourages continued exploration of the meaning of these studies.

Self-representation matters! Children should be able to think highly of themselves and see that they are thought highly of in society. Whether they are of African decent, European decent, Hispanic, or Asian, a child should be able see their culture present in the world. The United states is a country full of many different cultures and I believe those cultures should be represented and embraced in all communities. It should be easy to locate a variety of dolls that represent a wider spectrum of ethnicities wherever you may go.  Children should be able to see dolls of all shades because that is the refection of the world.

The Hairy Elephant in the Room: You Shouldn’t Be Embarrassed About Your Facial Hair

Photo courtesy of google images.By: Danielle Lyons

I totally have a beard. Seriously, I do. That feel’s weird to say, let alone type. It’s caused by Hirsutism. Sound unfamiliar? It’s new to me too. UCLA states, “Hirsutism in women is defined as excessive coarse hair appearing in a male-type pattern. It represents exposure of hair follicles.”  It can be caused by other conditions such as Insulin Resistance, Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome, Cushing’s Disease and much more.  According to WebMD, 5% of women have hirsutism. However, I’ve encountered a lot of women that suffer from facial hair or excess body hair in general. For a condition that made me feel so alone, I was shocked and relieved to find comrades with the same issue.

One similarities I’ve noticed amongst women with hirsutism is the struggle of self-esteem. Most women don’t have to wake up to stubble or worry about their excessive body hair growth. I’m telling you, it’s not easy to manage. Like, dates for example. It sends me on an anxiety fueled hair removal frenzy. Armed with a razor, I’m like Conan the Barbarian preparing for battle. Nothing horrified me more than the thought of a date brushing against my stubble by accident. It’s a giant ordeal. According to Monash University, “Undesirable hairiness for a girl or woman can be a substantial cause of anxiety leading to low self-esteem and restrictions in lifestyle. For most women, unwanted facial hair generates the greatest anxiety.”

According to The Guardian, 40% of women have hair on their faces. Sure, some is more course or thick than others.  But that is a rather large number. The reactions I’ve gotten have generally been good. Some women confide that they have the same issue, or they know someone with it. Other women are just fascinated. I will admit, one or two people have been uncomfortable. But when raising awareness, you may not win them all.

Here’s the thing: Bodies are all so different. Any anyone worth keeping around, isn’t going to judge you or look at you any different. I forced myself to be more open about it because I was tired of being embarrassed. Slow but surely I started talking about it. And one day someone asked if they could feel my stubble. And you know what? The world didn’t end when I let them. They didn’t flinch or cringe. Without awareness, there isn’t much acceptance. Tina-Marie Beznec shared a photo of herself shaving to create awareness about Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome. Hirsutism is often a symptom of this syndrome. In the caption she states, “Do you know how UNFEMININE this can make a woman feel?!? I’ve always been super self-conscious about it, but really just have to put this out there because I want create more awareness.”

Now, I’m not saying every sufferer has to post a photo or shout of from the rooftops. However, we owe it to ourselves to drop the shame. And we owe ourselves self-acceptance. S. E. Smith of XOjane states, “Women come in a lot of different flavors, and all of them are pretty great.” Next time you look in the mirror inspecting stray hairs or stubble, I hope you remember that you are beautiful, strong and wonderful. With or without the beard.

If you are at the beach, your body is beach ready.

By Mirella Flores

summer-timeSummer is quickly approaching, and with it an influx of articles on how to get that “summer body.” I am all for taking care of your body, including being more conscious of what you eat and drink and exercising. What disturbs me about these types of articles are not the tips they give, but rather the message they convey – Your body is wrong and you need to fix it.

No. Your body is not wrong. Society is wrong. There is a difference between taking care of your body and fixating on “improving” it. If it is summer, your body is summer ready. If you are at the beach, your body is beach ready. Unfortunately, I cannot control the hurtful messages out there, but I can provide you with a couple of articles that may help you reclaim your body.

11 Easy Things You Can Do When You’re Just Not Feeling Yourself. As the title gives away, this article contains 11 things you can do start feeling yourself again. Numbers 5, 6, and 7 are some of my favorites. Number five is “Give yourself a pep talk you would give your best friend.” Yes, feel free to go Leslie Knope on yourself.

The Cognitive Triangle

The Cognitive Triangle

Number six is “Do something that tests your strength, endurance, or coordination.” Instead of trying to “fix” your body, doing something that tests your body’s ability would help you appreciate your body for what it can do. Number seven, “Come up with a badass mantra that actually gets you pumped up,” is something I use in my work with clients (as a counselor). This tip is effective because it taps into the “thoughts” of the cognitive triangle (see right). Allow me to get into counselor mode. Our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors are connected. The idea under telling ourselves a positive mantra is that we are controlling our thoughts, which then will affect our emotions and actions.

10 Little Spells That’ll Help Send Love To Your Body. Again, the title of this article is self-explanatory. Whether or not you are doing working for a flatter belly, take some time and do the spell for your abs, “Blow up a bunch of balloons to different sizes (or you can use bubble wrap) and attach them to your body, like you’re creating a balloon body suit. Jump up and down, dance, and roll around in your balloon armor because your belly is a beautiful shield that can expand and flex and handle a lot of crazy things that we don’t give enough credit for.” Silly I know, but no judgement whether you do it or not. The point here is to take some time to appreciate our abs (because we all have abs) and other body parts… you can have some fun with it!

Stop body shaming others and yourself. Get out there and enjoy the warm weather and water, or whatever outdoors activity you want to do.

How CrossFit helped me love my body


By Mirella Flores

For years I struggled with an eating disorder. It started with me restricting food and evolved into a cycle of restricting, binging on food (like anything I could get a hold of), and doing cardio for hours. My journey to recovery has been long and hard. Even when I was at a point where I no longer was engaging in disordered eating, I still struggled with my body.

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Source: CrossFitMatters Instagram

As a cisgender woman, I have been socialized to base myself worth on the appearance of my body and being sexually desirable to others. While I was working towards recovery, I was with a partner who was very affirming of my body. This helped me start to believe that my body is great and beautiful just how it is. However, I was still relying on someone else’s opinion of my body to feel good. I still can not say that I do not care what others think of my body, but I can surely say I have learned to value my body in a different way.

When I moved to Kansas City in 2014 for graduate school, someone asked me what I liked to do for self-care (if you’re a counseling psychologist or trainee, you are probably used to being asked that question). I told her I liked working out and she suggested I try CrossFit. I had grown bored of my gym routine (running and doing some weight lifting), so I told myself, “Why not?” I joined CrossFit Matters, and during my first day heard about the holistic approach they take to fitness. Being aware of my eating disorder history, I knew this would be a good change.

CrossFit showed me that I am competing against myself and nobody else. It also showed me that this too, like recovering from an eating disorder, was a journey into learning about my body. As CrossFit pushed me physically and mentally, I came to notice and appreciate my body for what it does. Yes, I have noticed my body change, but that is not what I have come to value. I have come to value my body because of what it is capable of doing. Every time I break a personal record, I am even more amazed with the functionality of my body and my own dedication. I rejoice, not because of how my body looks like, but because of what it does. I have not been alone in this journey. I have had other athletes and coaches be as excited as I am. CrossFit has given me a supportive community that encourages each other to keep discovering our strengths and improving our skills. Without my body being properly fueled, I wouldn’t be able to continue amazing myself by breaking a personal record!

 CrossFit helped me love my body and improve my self-image. What has helped you appreciate your body?

Showin’ off Her “Map of Tasmania”

by Danielle Lyons

When we hit the age of puberty, it happens: We start growing pubic hair. In that weird puberty video the teacher shows you, they explain that it’s, “natural and a part of life.” But as we age, there is an almost stigma that revolves around a ladies pubic hair. It can be seen as dirty, unnatural or unkempt.

Our labia are such a personal area, obviously. So, why are theyGetAttachmentThumbnail constantly up to public scrutiny as fair as grooming goes? According to Sutter Health, shaving of the pubic hair did start in ancient Egypt and Greece as a hygienic practice, but it was the porn industry that really set pubic hair removal as a norm, as this is a common practice in the adult film industry. This puts pressure on ladies to achieve these “norms.” Actress Kristen Stewart says, “I think it’s ridiculous that you need to look a certain way to be conventionally pretty.” I think that extends to a woman’s personal grooming habits. What one does with their own private parts shouldn’t be up for critique from society. No one should be made to feel lesser, when they’re doing what makes them feel comfortable or attractive.

Amanda Palmer’s Song “Map of Tasmania,” is an anthem to advocate for ladies choice to do what she wants with her pubic hair. The term “Map of Tasmania,” is slang in Australia for women’s pubic hair. She mentions, “I think if I have any purpose at all, it’s to stand up there and say, ‘Oh, no, no, no, no, girls. You totally have a choice. You can wax it, you can shave it, you can grow it out, and this really is up to you.’ That’s the way that I feel about everything, that you just need to know there’s a choice out there.” Her lyrics are geared towards her preference of au natural. But the message behind the song is still the same: “Do what you want with your pubic hair.”

So ladies- crank it up, and you do you.

Cutting the Crap in the Comments Section

By Logan Snook

Alright, question: Anyone guilty of reading comments on web and social media postings to see what crazy things people will say? All guilty parties, raise your hands.  Next question: Those of you who raised your hands, who gets about halfway through the comments only to become completely disturbed by the way people talk to each other, respond to issues, and disrespect differing opinions? All guilty parties raise your hands. For those of you who follow feminist blogs, websites, or groups, chances are you see this a lot. Does a post like this look familiar?

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Well. That got out of control quickly. Posts and comments on feminist posts range from general misunderstanding of what feminism and being a feminist is to simply harassing the author or other commenters. The post above was from an article Women’s Rights News shared on their Facebook about “slut-shaming” and female dress codes for high school proms.

Recently, I was scrolling through my Facebook and the saw another shared article from Women’s Rights News about becoming a feminist blogger. The article, published by the editor of Everyday Feminism, focused on tips for starting a career as an internet writer, focusing on the topic of feminism. What I saw in the comments was this:

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*As of 4/15 these comments have been removed from the post.

Now, I am all for seeing discussions started on posts and seeing the spread of positive, clarifying information, but both commenters here are bashing one another. The first commenter clearly did not read the article, jumping straight into posting uninformed and insulting remarks. Rather than correcting or offering relative information, the second poster fought fire with fire, posting derogatory assumptions about the first, and creating a domino effect of offensive statements. There was a similar pattern or comments seen in image one.

What happens that makes these comments so hostile? Can we not have a civilized dialogue about these issues? Differing opinions or not, doesn’t everyone deserve respect? Reading through these posts, there are very few harassing comments on posts that offer a strongly worded opinion. Instead of slinging insults at one another, each side defends their viewpoint. The point of this is not to make someone think the same way you do, rather it is to better inform (both sides), and create an open discussion.

Let’s drop the name calling and assumptions and increase the respect.

3 Minutes Could Save a Life

by Danielle Lyons16755-illustration-of-a-clock-pv

According to NEDA, 3 minutes could save a life. “But how?” you make ask. Something as simple as taking their online screening can lead someone in a positive direction. Early detection of an eating disorder is challenging, it is of the utmost importance. The American Family Physician says, “Early diagnosis with intervention and earlier age at diagnosis are correlated with improved outcomes in patients who have eating disorders.” If you are a loved one is struggling with their relationship with food, NEDA’s quiz and the UMKC Counseling Center are good places to start on your journey of self-discovery and recovery.

Mindfulness Eating of Chocolate

By Mirella Flores

February can be a challenging month for people experiencing difficulties with eating disorders, body image, and size acceptance. By February, the food-related activities of the holidays are behind us and a lot of New Year’s resolutions to work-out and lose weight have begun to dissolve. And [drum roll]…there is also Valentine’s Day, a day that intertwines being loved with receiving chocolate. I find it ironic that we use chocolates to show our love and affection,

healthyplace.com

healthyplace.com

while ourselves or loved ones might feel unlovable because of our body image and/or disordered eating.

Eating chocolate might also be associated with shame of eating “forbidden” and “bad” foods. If you have experienced an eating disorder, you might have heard your eating disorder telling you that, “You’re fat. You’re disgusting. You don’t deserve to eat.” So, chocolates may have become a big no-no. But it does not stop there. Society often tells femme people that chocolates are bad if we want to fit this body ideal we ought to be aiming for. This can led us to place judgment on some foods and then avoid them, which disconnects us from food. If you have ever binged on a whole bag of chocolates, you probably did not experience the chocolates either. Just because we eat a certain food it does not mean we are experiencing it or that we are having a healthy relationship with our food and body.

Regardless of whether you are experiencing difficulty with eating disorders, disordered eating, body image, and size acceptance, mindfulness eating can help you build a positive relationship with food and your body. Mindfulness eating does not involve restricting food or giving up anything at all. You can mindfully eat a hamburger; it is about the practice, not what you are eating. Mindful eating is allowing ourselves to become non-judgmentally aware our own actions, thoughts, feelings and motivations as our body interacts with food. I find it a powerful tool in creating a healthy relationship with food and my body.

Are you interested in practicing mindfulness eating? Then stop by our Every Body Is Beautiful- Information Table, on Monday, February, 22 between 11am-1pm at the Miller Nichols Library lobby (800 E. 51st, KCMO). In honor of National Eating Disorders Awareness Week (February 21 – 27), we will be facilitating a mindfulness eating of chocolate exercise, as well as other activities to promote an appreciation of our bodies. Don’t miss out!

The Root of Eating Disorder isn’t About Food

Danielle Lyons

I’ll let you in on a little secret: Eating disorders are never really about food. It’s usually linked to a bigger issue or trauma. But that’s not what we see when we think about eating disorders. Our minds flash to some lifetime movie about a girl obsessed with her weight an appearance. But this isn’t Lifetime, folks.

Melissa A. Fabello insists, “Eating disorders are bio-psychosocial in nature, which means that there are biological, psychological, and sociological factors at play that make a person susceptible to, and triggered into, eating disordered thoughts and behaviors. Eating disorders are seriously complex. But at its root, your eating disorder is a mental health issue.” Although looks can be a part of the disorder, it’s a very miniscule part of the puzzle. Eating disorders are extremely complex in nature. At the heart of it, many people use withholding, purging and binging of food as a means of control through a different time. It is important to remember that an eating disorder is a mental health issue. It is just the surface of a deeper issue.