The Art of Healing: Self-Care as an Act of Feminism

By Allani Gordon

“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”- Audre Lorde, 1988.

As individuals we are extremely vulnerable. Physical, emotional, political, economic, social, and spiritual factors are constantly weighing down everyone’s contentment and well-being. It can be hard, or even impossible, to set aside time for yourself. Caring for one’s self is a distinct and important means of understanding “self” that cannot be gratified through friends, family, career etc. Not only does self-care benefit the individual, but it collectively offers unity among groups. Applying the practice of self-care to the modern day feminism and activism that we know can and has positively transformed these movements.

Caring for one’s self through self-expression is arguably necessary. Whatever practicing self-care means in your life, it is an art form, a conscious connection with self. There is truth in art, and seeking refuge in these truths can give us more unity within ourselves and our communities. For feminists and activists alike, self-care is a critical part of the journey, Lorde said it herself, it’s an act of political warfare, and there is power within the process.

It’s important to emphasize the notion that self-care is in no way self-indulgent, because self-care is community-care. Maintaining a healthy relationship is necessary for healthy social-relationships to transpire. It doesn’t mean going out and buying candles and face masks necessarily, but rather taking a moment to be with yourself, for yourself. Whether that is five minutes or an hour, self-care can offer us an untapped sense of positivity and confidence. This is a major principle I have seen within myself and other feminists for achieving success and solidarity in the efforts of creating constructive and successful societal changes.

Ending War On My Body

By Elise Wantling

 

One day, when I was very young, probably 6 or 7, I was drawing at the kitchen table with some crayons. I was furiously working on a self-portrait. I picked out the perfect shade of blue that matched my eyes, made sure my hair went down to my waist (as it did at the time), drew a t-shirt and pants in my favorite colors. I remember looking down at the drawing of a little girl lying in front of me, and something struck me as off. Then I realized the difference between the drawing and myself: she was skinny, and I was not.

My weight has been my biggest insecurity since I was young. I have always resented my flabby stomach and my thick thighs. I have been consciously fighting my body for over a decade now, trying to make myself slim while my body insists on being all curves. It didn’t help that other people enabled me. Like when my fourth-grade teacher, who ran into me in the cafeteria when I was in fifth grade complimented “it looked like I had lost a lot of weight.” I can’t recall the exact words anymore, but at the time they stung, and they weighed on me for years. Or the aunts and uncles who were always quick to give me dieting tips when I saw them on the holidays, or let me know if I had gained or lost a few pounds since I had last seen them. Some of my worst enablers were my friends, who would sit with me and lament about their own bodies. We would plan how we could lose weight and dreamt about how great our lives would be as newer, skinnier people.

I wish I could say one day I woke up and said “no more” and that was it, but that wouldn’t be the complete truth. I have reached high points with my self love a number of times. There have been many times where I have concluded this is just how my body is meant to be and what is truly important to me is being healthy. But I’ve dipped to low points as well, like crying in the fitting room while trying on clothes and vowing that next time I came back to that store, they would fit like they were supposed to. Loving your body is a constant struggle, especially when we exist in a society that is constantly encouraging us to do the opposite.

While no one has found the perfect solution to the problem of negative body image, there are tools out there to help. One such tool is Jameela Jamil’s “I Weigh” campaign. The purpose of her campaign is to push back against the negative things people see in the media and on social media, like advertisements for weight loss products, body negative posts, toxic beauty standards, etc. She encourages people to take unedited photos of themselves and over those photos insert texts saying “I weigh….” And then list the positive, immeasurable things they “weigh”. For example, one could say “I weigh wonderful friendships, fulfilling career, loving partner, bright future”. She then encourages people to post these photos on social media and tag her account @i_weigh so that she can like and share them on her page. She also encourages people to redo their posts when they’re feeling down and need a reminder about why they are worthy and wonderful.

Maybe making a social media post won’t be the final thing to help me end the war I’ve started with my body, but it can at least help me in not feeling so alone while fighting these battles, and it’s a good way to show support for others who are fighting their bodies too. The important thing is to remember, there is so much more to every one of us than the number on the scale.

Is Barbie Forever?

By Skye VanLanduyt

My English professor in college distorted my image of Barbie after assigning Marge Piercy’s poem, “Barbie Doll.” Piercy’s poem criticizes Barbie’s negative psychological impact on young girl’s body image. In my opinion, the last stanza is particularly haunting not just for its sexual implications but for its praise of non-bio-degradable beauty standards. For me, this is what makes Barbie so controversial. Her “perfect body,” painted lips, and little outfits are put into the hands of little girls around the world. This teaches little girls there is only one standard of beauty.

I was excited when the UMKC Women’s Center announced M.G Lord, author of “Forever Barbie: An Unauthorized Biography of a Real Doll” would be coming to The National Museum of Toys and Miniatures to speak about the complex role Barbie plays in the feminine experience. In September, Mattel launched “Creatable World,” a gender-inclusive doll line. I was surprised by the Lord’s response to Mattel’s efforts. She felt the gender-inclusive doll is nothing new. “Children mutilate and cross-dress their dolls. I was that child. Children have been making dolls their own for years.” So, perhaps, Lord has a point. I know as a child, I too, cross-dressed and cut the hair off of my Barbie dolls. I am sure most kids experimented with their dolls’ hair and clothing.

For Lord, her reasoning is deeply psychological. At the height of her childhood, her mother was diagnosed with cancer. Lord believes she coped by “cross-dressing her Barbie dolls as a way of protecting her vulnerability.” The act of dressing Ken in feminine clothes preserved her image of her mom. For corporations, she poses these questions, “is there only one way to be non-binary?” and “does Barbie reflect or shape the market place?” In some respects, Barbie is a teaching tool for gender performance. Lord calls this “impersonation, approximation.” Drag Queens have been using Barbie as a feminine paradigm for years.

While I think it is amazing the LGBTQIA community is uniquely invested in Barbie’s femininity, I wish the doll was not idolized by young girls. Lord talked about a number of different Barbie’s Mattel released such as the Sally Ride Barbie, the David Bowie Barbie, and Skipper. Lord claims none of Mattel’s career themed Barbie’s are deeply loved. She calls the David Bowie Barbie and Skipper “grotesque,” and I would have to agree with her. Although the Skipper doll comes with a desk for academic studies, Lord explains, “When Skipper grows up her desk for homework turns into a vanity.” What is even more alarming is knowing Skipper and the David Bowie doll were created by men. It seems like corporations are teaching girls to become vain and overtly feminine. In the case of women’s equity, the marketplace is a bad teacher for “shaping” women to be a certain way. Thus, answering Lord’s previous questions regarding non-binary expression and the market place.

Lord’s extensive knowledge on the inner workings of Mattel and the corporate world reiterate similar, troubling themes from Marge Piercy’s poem. However, Lord provides some hope for those worried about gender expression and equality. If children are making Barbie their own rather than being swayed by corporate ideas, where does children’s idolization of Barbie come from? Is Barbie really forever? Maybe this all draws from childhood psychology. Lord’s talk left me with so many unanswered questions. It would be interesting to continue research on why and how Barbie is still in the hands of so many young girls today.

Join The “I Am Enough!” Photo Campaign

By Kiana Mullins

Body image was one of the many things I struggled with in my high school career.
Over the years, I learned the definition of self-love. I had to learn to love myself first and accept the fact that I am beautiful regardless of how I look. I would look at social media and see so many women and believe they were the definition of beauty because of their body image. Today, I look in the mirror and see I am beautiful enough.

The phrase “I am beautiful enough” means I do not have to strive to show my worth, I do not have to change the way I look, I do not have to be self-sufficient, and it does not mean I am the final product. Being enough does not mean you are changing yourself, but you are being yourself.

On October 23, 2019, I will be coordinating the “I Am Enough” Photo Campaign.
This event will inform people on campus on how to love their body. Participants will be able to take a photo with their board describing why they are enough. This will build confidence in the participants to know they are worth it despite their body image. I am very passionate about the development of this event because I want to reach out to the community to help them understand the importance of positive body image to achieve overall health.

Body positivity means feeling comfortable and confident about your body image and accepting oneself concerning body size and appearance. Negative body talk can be linked to negative health issues. I want this event to intervene with the risk of health issues by promoting resources that are available on campus for students.

We hope you will join us on Wednesday!

When: Wednesday, October 23 from 11 a.m. -1p.m
Where: UMKC Student Union, 5100 Cherry St.

Co-Sponsored by: Campus Recreation and UMKC Counseling Services.

Why I Choose Not To Wear Makeup

By Anonymous

After I graduated from high school, I made the decision to stop wearing makeup. I vividly remember looking at myself in the mirror without makeup and being scared to really look at my own reflection. It was only until I had on makeup for the day that I could look at myself without cringing. I knew in the moment, this was not okay. On one hand, I generally enjoyed makeup, but on the other hand, I realized I had been using it as a crutch to keep myself from truly loving my physical appearance. So, I made the choice not to wear makeup for a while. I wanted to get to the place where I would be able to wear makeup in a way that added to what I hoped would become my already existing self-confidence.

Flash forward two years later, and here I am, still not wearing makeup. After getting over the initial hurdle of desperately wanting to cover every imperfection I perceived, I realized I was so much more at peace with my personal confidence when I forgoed makeup altogether. It was amazing to feel truly comfortable in my own skin for the first time in my life. However, I was confronted daily by many feminist issues surrounding the modern conversation about makeup. The first difficult crossroad I came to was whether or not I should wear makeup to a job interview. I was so paranoid if I did not wear any makeup, my potential employer would perceive me as lazy, tired, unkempt, etc. Nearly every woman that wears makeup has experienced the slew of “concerns” people have for their well-being if they go a day without it.

Among other women, I noticed some speculated I choose not to wear makeup as an attack on their freedom to enjoy the artistry and enhancement of makeup. Others envied the freedom I had in my workplace to wear makeup, or not wear it. I had a close friend at the time, who was required to wear a full face of makeup as a part of her dress code. Her male coworkers could wear makeup but it was by no means a requirement. At the heart of the issue, perpetuating all of the trickle-down effects that follow, is the media and many men make something like makeup into a requirement, indication of character, standard of beauty, etc.

My decision to stop wearing makeup was not a politically charged act of defiance. It was a choice made as a personal step toward being at peace with my physical appearance. But those around me, for better or for worse, often box me into having an agenda. All of this has opened my eyes to the larger issues about this topic. I made the conscious choice going into that job interview to not wear makeup and risk the negative opinions someone might have of me. In the interview, I had to ask “Is it okay that I do not wear any makeup?” Their response was ‘Yes, of course” but there was hesitation.

I made the conscious choice to not work anywhere where I might feel pressured to wear makeup. But I still love the artistry of makeup. I love the talent other people have, and I appreciate the passion others have for it. I encourage the women around me to present their face to the world in whatever way makes them feel the most confident.

A Black Female Rapper Is Changing The Narrative

By Skye VanLanduyt

During my last semester at Baker, I discovered Lizzo’s single, “Good As Hell” off her EP, Coconut Oil. I found it catchy, empowering, and fun to listen to during my 7 a.m. workouts. Between studying for exams, writing papers, and enjoying my remaining days as a college student I did not know the song released earlier in 2016, nor did I know her third studio album, Cuz I Love You would release on April 19, 2019.

After graduating from college, a friend asked “have you heard of Lizzo?” I shook my head not realizing she was the mastermind behind “Good As Hell.” It didn’t take long before I found myself falling in love with her spunky vibrato. Lizzo’s songs on her newest album, “Cuz I Love You” do more than promote single-woman hood. Her songs celebrate sexuality, black female power, and body image. In an interview with NPR, she says her intentions for writing this album come from wanting to be “body positive” and “help people find a positive place within themselves.”

I started listening to Lizzo because I liked how catchy and uplifting her lyrics were but now I appreciate her in a different way. Lizzo isn’t just a female rapper who encourages self-love and body-love through her music. On social media, she encourages her fans and followers to be intune with their mental well-being. A lot of young artists, especially in the music industry struggle with opening up to fans about their mental health. I love that Lizzo isn’t afraid to sit down and be emotionally honest. In June, she opened up about her struggle with depression and encouraged fans to start a conversation about coping strategies. This was inspiring, given so many Americans struggle with a mental health disorder. By being honest and willing to have tough conversations, Lizzo is creating a dialogue for men and women of all different backgrounds to unite in pursuit of self-love.

A couple of days ago, she posted a video on Instagram asking her fans, “not to be like her” but to” be like themselves.” I think it is refreshing to see an artist preach what they sing, especially when the message is so positive. I wish more people, including myself discovered Lizzo when her first EP came out in 2016.  I am thankful she is making her voice known in 2019 but it concerns me that it has taken her this long. Sure, we have other artists such as,  Cardi B, Beyoncé,  Camila Cabello, and Rihanna.  All have grown to be successful women in the music industry but there is something different about Lizzo.  She is consciously aware of the struggles she is up against as a black woman and she is not afraid to tear them down.  Her lyric, “I am a queen but I need no crown” is repeated countless times in her albums.  She is ready to break down the medium and encourage women they can love themselves and their bodies no matter what. I hope Lizzo and her music continues to inspire change in the music industry.

Loving Yourself During the Holidays

By Samantha Anthony

One of the very first concepts I understood as a young girl was the importance of beauty.

As I’ve grown, I have begun to understand that beauty does not have just one physical form; however, any woman can sympathize with my struggle to resist diet culture and toxic beauty standards, especially during the holiday season. For many of us, the word “skinny” has become synonymous with “better.” Corporations want this, because diet culture is extremely profitable. The U.S. weight loss market is worth $66 billion and is projected to grow even more, according to a 2017 study conducted by Market Research.

In an effort to preserve self-love, some women have made a vow to give up diets entirely: in her article about the negative impacts of succumbing to diet culture, Samantha Mann writes about how she has noticed the ways women talk about their health. “I still accidentally tell women they look skinny as an automatic compliment,” she says. “It feels nice to make other people light up, and nothing does it as quickly as telling a woman she looks thin. Most people want to make their friends feel confident and happy, but we have to find better ways of doing it.”

It is especially important that we avoid thinking about food in a toxic way, because the holidays celebrate food in a way that is troubling for some of us. In “Diet Christmas: when did the holiday season become a time for disordered eating?”, Deirdre Fidge notes, “For those of us staying home over the festive period, food is a huge part of celebrations. It can mean connecting with our own family by making a specific dish, or passing down traditions of our own.” Fidge continues, “If we allow ourselves to be consumed by diet culture, we run the risk of missing out on these meaningful moments around us, and of the pure joy in celebrating with others. We also, of course, may find ourselves with an unhealthy obsession.” 

This holiday season, I plan on following the words of these wise women and avoiding conversations about dieting, or complimenting my friends on their weight. This contributes to the idea that our value is rooted in our appearance, which isn’t true: instead, we should be recognizing the beauty in others that cannot be tied to a number. (It doesn’t hurt that the easiest way to combat diet culture is to eat what I like during the holidays.)

Event Preview: “I Am Enough!” Photo Campaign

By Ann Varner

Part of being a feminist is empowering yourself and others and reminding them that they are “enough.” When your friends are feeling down, it’s easy to remind them that they are smart enough, beautiful enough, and strong enough. However, we are our own harshest critics.

This campaign organized by the UMKC Women’s Center, UMKC Counseling Services, and Swinney Recreation Center will help you encourage yourself and others to face your biggest insecurities and realize that you are “good enough.” The goal of this movement is to help students reject the pursuit of what society deems as perfection and realize that all of us are perfect the way we are.

For this event, we will have whiteboards and markers with the words “I Am _______ Enough.” In the middle is where you will write something – for example, I am insecure about my looks and my intelligence. In the middle, I would write “beautiful” and “intelligent.” We’ll then take a picture of you holding your sign. This is to empower students and help them realize that we are all enough in our own way. I encourage you to come and participate in this event with a powerful message!

What: “I Am Enough!” Photo Campaign

Who: UMKC Women’s Center, UMKC Counseling Services, and Swinney Recreation Center

When: Wednesday, October 17, 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

Where: Miller Nichols Learning Center Lobby, 800 E. 51st Street

For more information, contact the UMKC Women’s Center at 816-235-1638 or email umkc-womens-center@umkc.edu.

See you there!

Putting an end to body policing in the media

By Korrien Hopkins

http://bit.ly/2zoifcb

Demetria Obilor, a local traffic anchor with ABC affiliate WFAA in Dallas, made headlines for her inspiring response after a woman body-shamed her on social media. Since then people all over social media have been showing their support, while many others are shaming her for simply being herself.

“I’m waking up from my Friday nap to some controversy, but a whole lot of love,” Obilor said in a video she posted to Twitter. “The controversy is coming from people who aren’t too happy with the way that I look on television saying, ‘Oh, her body is too big for that dress. It’s too curvy.’ Or, ‘Her hair, it’s unprofessional, it’s crazy. We don’t like it.’”

Women are continuously being policed to live up to societal expectations.

More specifically, women of color and black women, in particular, have been consistently scrutinized and body-policed. This includes being shamed for attributes that are seen as desirable on women of other ethnicities. What is “hot” on the Kim Kardashians and Iggy Azaleas of this world is often seen as “ghetto” or “inappropriate” on women of color.

Obilor told ABC News in a statement that “helping to cultivate confidence and self-esteem” in women and girls “is something that I put my entire heart into.”

“For so long, women have been marginalized and prescribed a narrow-minded concept of beauty. We have to shatter all of that and unite to shape a better, more tolerant world for the future,” she added. “We need to embrace every body type, every color, every hairstyle … at the root of it, we are all human and no one should ever be discriminated against based solely on the way that they look.”

Obilor is using her platform to show that her hair and body is just as professional as those with more European features that society is more comfortable with. The media should continue to show the uniqueness of all people. Every news anchor doesn’t have to look the same and shouldn’t be shamed for how they are. It is up to us to stand up and accept diversity. To see Obilor so unapologetically curvy and curly is very inspiring to me and many women around the world.

To see people around the country are supporting her is even for inspiring. It shows us that we have a platform, as well. With this platform, we can accept and uplift each other, putting an end to the haters.

Your Summer Body

by Thea Voutiritsas

Summer is just around the corner. In KC, that means the sweltering, dog breath days of summer are upon us. For some, that means breaking out the daisy dukes and spaghetti straps; and for others, it means doing laundry three times a day and sticking with light fabrics and colors. No matter how you choose to beat the heat, remember that your summer body is simply your body in the summer.

Summertime doesn’t mean you, or anyone else should to shed a few pounds. You don’t have to wear skin bearing clothes if you don’t want to. The most important thing is to wear what makes you comfortable, and what makes you feel confident. Here’s a list of things you should actually worry about this summer:

  1. Sun protection: Protecting your skin from damaging rays can curb your chances at cancer. Wearing sunscreen higher than SPF 15, or wearing hats to protect your face from the sun can help. Wearing lightweight clothing that covers your forearms or legs can be helpful too. Plus keeping your skin shaded will help keep you cool.
  2. Hydration: If your spending long spans of time out in the heat, you’ll need to replenish your body. Staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water can help prevent heatstroke.
  3. Bug prevention: avoiding mosquitoes seems to be easier for some than others. If you find yourself getting bit frequently, wear a bug spray or repellent to protect yourself from excess itching and even disease. Additionally, avoid sweet and flowery perfumes that may actually attract bees and other bugs.
  4. Water safety: When venturing into deep waters, wear a life jacket with the right fit. Whether out on a lake or in the ocean, even the best of swimmers can get cramps or fatigue. When in shallow water, be sure to take breaks and have ample wait time after eating before reentering the water.

Regardless of what you choose to wear, protecting your body year-round will help keep you happy. We hope you find these tips helpful, and have a wonderful and safe summer!