Farewell Women’s Center

By Abbie Lewis

This semester I was a program intern at the Women’s Center and I really enjoyed it! When I applied for the internship, I have to admit, I didn’t really know what to expect or if I would like it or if it would just be something I needed to do for graduation. Little did I know what a talented, motivated, and all around amazing group of girls I would meet and get the opportunity to work beside.

My role as a program intern was to find programs either from past years or help develop new ones and organize and host them throughout the semester. My big program was our annual Walk a Mile in Her Shoes which was a one mile walk throughout campus to raise awareness for gender based awareness. Covid definitely made an attempt to ruin this event but I think we did an amazing job of making it a safe and socially distant event after all, taking away new things to do for years to come! I also worked on a couple more programs, one to do with voter education since this was a big election year, and the other on loving your body and overall body positivity. Both events were social media based and I think did well.

I really loved working with all the girls on all our projects and things this semester. Everyone is so smart and hardworking and always ready to lend a hand. I feel very blessed to have met all these fine ladies and know they will all go on to do big things. I learned a lot about event planning, writing blogs, and feminism this semester and I know I can take all of that with me to my future endeavors. Overall, I am so glad I had this opportunity and would highly recommend an internship with the Women’s Center!

Think Positive

By Abbie Lewis

In the past few years, self-care has become a very hot topic. Positive affirmations are a genre of self-care that I’ve recently been curious about. I never really knew how I felt about them and if I’m being honest they really did seem silly at first to me. Why do I need to tell myself in my mind, or out loud, that I’m awesome, and worthy of happiness? Surely that’s not going to do anything for me. But then I did a little research and found that there is a lot of science and theory behind it all.

Women are nearly twice as likely as men to suffer from depression. For women especially, things like positive affirmations can really go a long way. Positive affirmations come from the self-affirmation theory, which basically states that everyone needs to establish a sort of self-identity that is positive and warm, and assures oneself that they are deserving of kind words. I can only speak for myself, but I know that I often have a very negative inner voice when it comes to myself. I don’t always think very highly of myself. This can be a dangerous journey toward depression and the very simple act of telling myself positive things can help steer me away from that. It may sound silly, but wouldn’t you rather feel a little silly sometimes than suffer from depression?

The fun thing about living in our world of technology and social media is that there are all kinds of different apps, or profiles on socials to help beginners. I know that I didn’t even know where to begin so these tools are very useful just to give examples of affirmations and get you started. A couple of easy examples are:

I love and approve of myself,

I choose to enjoy this moment,

I am smart,

I am brave,

They can be as easy as that or as long and in depth as you want to make them, as long as you are always speaking in a positive light. This is such an easy tool for a long and happy life.

So What Is Feminism Anyway?

By Abbie Lewis

Friday October 30th, our amazing staff member Morgan Clark kicked off our new program Phenomenal Feminist Friday, dedicating every Friday to a feminist of our choosing and posting why he or she is important to know about. I was doing my research for my feminist figure and got to thinking, what exactly is feminism? I know I’ve always considered myself one, but do I even know what exactly I’m claiming to be? I decided to do a little reading and figure out exactly what people think it is, what the actual description is, and to share it so that everyone can be on board.

The definition of feminism is “the advocacy of women’s rights on the basis of the equality of the sexes”. A lot of people are under the impression, I think, that feminism is a movement to make females elite or maybe to take away men’s rights. Feminism is only trying to put females on an equal playing field as men, and it’s ludicrous that that is something that isn’t already real in society. There’s a lot of people who genuinely think that woman already are equal to men and there’s no need for this movement or mindset whatsoever. I hate to say it, but that is probably their privilege talking and they probably haven’t ever had to work extra hard to prove themselves just because they are a different gender.

The wonderful thing about feminism is, you don’t just have to identify as a woman to be one. Lots of men, as well as non-binary people, out there consider themselves feminists and this is a wonderful thing, as everyone should be fighting for equal rights. Just because there is a negative impression of it sometimes, does not mean it is a negative thing whatsoever. Feminism is for all and being one can only move things forward.

SAD Winter Blues

By Abbie Lewis

It’s that time of year again where it’s dark all the time, or so it feels, and cold as all get out. Not my favorite of the weather options but we don’t get much of a choice living here in the Midwest, do we? I know that for a lot of us students, things are getting kind of stressful as well since we’re now over halfway done with the semester and things are piling up. People make a lot of jokes sometimes about the depression getting to them around this time, and about Seasonal Affective Disorder, but it is a very real disorder, and it’s never more important to monitor your mental health than in the cold months, especially for women.

Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, as defined by the Mayo Clinic, is a type of depression related to season and weather changes. People don’t always realize it, but the sun and good weather really can play a huge part on our moods and emotions! Going without them for a long time when things are already stressful can be very hard. I know that I personally go through this kind of depressive slump throughout the winter. When we get a random sunny day with even a glimpse of the 40s, I get beyond excited and feel the need to do my make up, get all cute and make the most of it!

This is especially crucial information for women.  According to Mayo Clinic, women are nearly twice more likely to be diagnosed with depression than men are. It’s partly due to our biology and our hormones, but it’s also due to the immense amount of social stressors women experience. A lot of women work a job as well as carry most of the weight in their home life, making depression a much more prevalent thing for them. During the cold seasonal changes, when SAD can occur, it can be very hard for women, especially the many of us who already battle with chronic depression.

There are ways to combat SAD though, cool things like a lamp that mimics the sun and you can set it to be an alarm for you in the morning so it’s more like waking up to sunlight. As always, therapy can help tremendously too! I’m no expert by any means but I think that making sure you go easy on yourself during these times and staying as positive as you can, can help a lot. Hang in there and we will make it through this cold winter and come out on the other side!

 

My Secret Eating Disorder

By Abbie Lewis

I’ll never forget the day I stepped on to the scale and saw a number that horrified me, and made me want to change everything I knew about myself. I used to be a very overweight woman. I didn’t know or care a lot about healthy living, nutrition, or any of that stuff. What I did know was: that number I saw when I looked down made me feel disgusted with myself, and made me want to take drastic measure to make sure it decreased. Looking back now, I realize that that was my first mistake, not loving my body for what it was and not deciding to go a way that would benefit my health as well as celebrate who I was. Instead, I developed an eating disorder and went about things very wrong.

Eating disorders are common, and I’m sure if you really investigated, you would find that you know someone that has or had one at some point in their life. In fact, over 30 million Americans have experienced an eating disorder at some point. The most common eating disorder is anorexia nervosa, a disorder that implores people to starve themselves. The eating disorder that I developed was bulimia nervosa, where one either purges the food they intake via self-induced vomiting or using laxatives. I would eat what I considered pretty healthy but then take an obscene amount of laxatives to purge everything out of me so that I could lose weight rapidly. It worked to an extent and I dropped weight pretty fast but the pain it was causing me was unbearable. The stomach cramps and nausea was so intense that soon I saw what I was doing was wrong and changed my ways. I then did my research and learned how to be healthy and exercise to lose weight and ended up dropping over 50 lbs. and becoming very proud of my accomplishment.

I’m not telling you all of this to make you think that you have to be thin to be pretty or happy or feel accomplished. In fact, I’m trying to tell you the exact opposite. Going to insane lengths like bulimia to lose weight all because you’re so unhappy with yourself is not the way and chances are, there’s something going on inside that you probably need to deal with or you’ll never find inner peace. During my weight loss journey I also learned a lot about myself and what makes me happy and I truly believe that that is the reason I become so proud of myself. Being a woman or non-binary person in today’s beauty standards is really hard and I think we all need to be there for each other and lift each other up. We should share out stories and become one with them and only then can we learn how to overcome our hardships.

Two Steps Forward, A Hundred Steps Back

 

By Abbie Lewis

As if this pandemic hasn’t caused enough trouble, women all around the world are once again being set back. An article in the New York Times discusses how women with children make up much of the unemployed people right now. Women make up 56% of the overall job loss due to COVID, even though, before the pandemic, they only made up 43% of the overall workforce. Experts theorize this is due to the already struggling stance of women in the workforce, as well as the overall societal expectation that women are still responsible for the care of the household and children. With daycares and schools closing or switching to all virtual, someone must stay home with the kids and in most cases, it’s the woman. With everything women have going against them in the world, this seems to just be another obstacle that will set us back.

I know what some of you are wondering: Are gender roles really still that relevant? The answer probably varies on who you ask, but the reality of the situation is, there is still a wage gap between men and women in the workforce, and there is still an expectation placed on women to be the caretaker of the home, which is why men have been slower to step down from their positions at work to help with child care during this pandemic. Why must it always be the woman who steps back in her career choices if it comes down to one parent in a heterosexual marriage needing to? It’s not just men being unreasonable, the answer is also entangled in some institutionalized issues. Such as, in America, it only becomes harder for a woman to get another job once they’ve become unemployed, even if it is because of a pandemic. A 2018 study found that even after 1 year of unemployment women stand to lose 39% of their wage. That is on top of the gap they already face by just being a woman when compared to their male counterparts. I guess it would make sense for the one who makes the most money to continue their job, and that is often the male, which is a whole other discussion relating to how women are still behind in society.

With this year being the 100th year anniversary since women were given the right to vote, you would think we’d be further in society than we are. While the pandemic was certainly a shocker that we didn’t think would ever happen, even without it, women fight daily for the chance to be held as high as men are, in society, but especially in the workforce. As a woman, it makes me want to fight harder than ever and do whatever I can to make a name for myself and all my fellow ladies everywhere. This pandemic is just another hurdle we must jump over, but let’s jump super high and show everyone what we’re capable of!

 

The “Perfect” Female Body

By Abbie Lewis

We’re all out here trying to get the perfect body, but what does that even mean? Ask a man what it is, you’ll get a different answer than if you’d asked a woman. Ask someone from Jamaica, you’ll get a different answer than someone from Finland. Ask someone from the 1950s, you’ll get a different answer than someone from the 2010s. So, with all these varying answers, how’s a girl supposed to know what she’s “supposed” to look like?

First, let me start off by saying that you can look however you want and however makes you feel good! Who cares what the media or that person you’re trying to impress says! You do whatever makes you happy. Happiness is the most important. If we go back in time, the “perfect” body, according to society, has changed so many times there’s no way anyone could keep up. In the 1800s, Queen Victoria brought us the widely known hourglass shape, with the help of corsets. In the 1920s though, forget the hourglass shape, boyish flapper style was what was in! The 1950s came around though and bam, right back to the hourglass figure thanks to Marilyn Monroe. Her appeal showed us that wide hips but thin waist was the ticket to stardom. Then the 1990s came and told us: no girl, you must be stick thin like Kate Moss to be pretty. Now in today’s media, if you don’t look like a Kardashian, well just what are you doing? As you can see, time goes on and society’s image of the perfect body changes rapidly.

Health and body image are often not paired together. Being healthy and happy is what we should all be focused on, however looking good usually takes the precedent in our minds thanks to the media and fads. While I know it’s easier said than done, try and

always remember that it doesn’t matter what you look like, if you are happy and healthy out there you’re doing good in the world!

Intersectionality, Love, and Basketball

By Abbie Lewis

Being a woman is certainly no easy task. We must hold car keys between our fingers from the store to our car, carry pepper spray to go for a run, work our butts off at a job and still not get paid as much a man, and all the while be expected to “smile more”. As a woman, we’re used to our everyday injustices, but some women have it worse than others and experience intersectionality. Intersectionality is when more than one of your attributes contributes to your criticisms and injustices. For example, we experience harassment for being women but sometimes women experience it for not only their gender, but their gender and their race, or their gender and their social economic status, or race and sexual orientation. The combinations are endless and sometimes women experience bias from all the above.

The #SayHerName campaign was created in December of 2014 by the African American Policy Forum (AAPF), and Center for Intersectionality and Social Policy Studies (CISPS), and its goal is to bring awareness to Black women and girls who have been victimized by racist police violence. A lot of the times, these poor women and girls’ sufferings, or even their deaths, get swept under the rug and never discussed. This campaign is to make sure that behavior ceases. The topic most known right now by this group is that of Breonna Taylor. For those of you who don’t know about Breonna, she was an emergency room technician in Louisville, Kentucky and was watching a movie in bed with her boyfriend when police busted into her home, claiming they were surveilling the apartment for a drug raid, and Breonna was shot 5 times, bleeding out and dying on the floor of her apartment. Breonna was a victim of intersectionality, doing nothing but trying to sleep in her own bed. She was murdered for being a Black woman who maybe didn’t live in the greatest part of town. Breonna is not the only victim of intersectionality in recent news, there are far more, a couple of examples being Jacob Blake and Sandra Bland. Many are rising up to take a stand and spread awareness, including the WNBA.

The WNBA has always had to fight to be recognized and respected in comparison to the much more widely known and followed NBA. They are no strangers to standing up for themselves as women and a lot of them as Black women. The WNBA has joined with the #SayHerName campaign and is using their platform to spread awareness and get people talking They are wearing shirts and jerseys with Breonna Taylor’s name on them along with ones that say Black Lives Matter. The WNBA ladies are also making sure that before their games, they hold a moment of silence for the victims along with a photo and video montage.  An article in the New York times dives deep into their cause and platform and interviews specific players with their thoughts on everything as well.

I know a lot of the time, we think that we’re just one person or we’re too insignificant to really create any change. This is not the case. Women everywhere share the same struggle and therefore can band together and fight for what is right and what we deserve. We can use our passions and talents just like the WNBA ladies have done. Let’s keep fighting and spreading awareness until they can’t ignore us any longer.

New Intern Abbie: More Than Just a Cat Lady

By Abbie Lewis

I’m so excited to be a part of the Women’s Center, to help advocate for women, and be a part of fun programs to celebrate women everywhere. As a woman living in today’s society it’s super important, now more than ever, to stand up for what you believe in and fight for your rights. I think that being an intern for the Women’s Center at UMKC is a great way to do just that. 

I’m a super outdoorsy girl who loves to travel, hike, and play with my pets! I have a blue heeler named Otis and a cat named Oprah. Reading is also a passion of mine, specifically rereading Harry Potter repeatedly until I can recite it word for word! I play tennis from time to time and you can catch me at the pool all summer when there’s not a pandemic happening. I’m into all kinds of music, currently jamming on the new Glass Animals album. If you haven’t heard it I suggest you go to Spotify right now and download it, it’s amazing!

I’m very excited to be a part of the Women’s Center and thanks for letting me share a little bit about myself with you all!