Back to Basics #3: Body Posi Club! Starting Now, Ending Never!

By: Sierra Voorhies

Welcome once again to Back to Basics! In these posts, we break down feminist concepts for readers curious about feminist vocabulary, concepts, and ideas! Today’s question is….

“What is body positivity?”

Body positivity is a movement and a set of ideas based around body acceptance and challenging social norms of thinness as beauty. It challenges diet culture and the thin ideal with radical body acceptance and practicing intuitive eating.  We as a society have been policing fat bodies and shaming fat people, and body positivity is a response to diet culture, limited sizing, and discrimination based on size. 

 

“So what does it mean to be body positive, like for me and my body?”

It’s different for everyone, but the basics of the practice are…

1. Practice appreciating all your body does for you instead of evaluating it on aesthetics

2. Do what feels good for your body, not what others tell you to do. This doesn’t mean eat sweets 24/7 because it feels good, it means listen to the cues from yourself to eat when you’re hungry, take naps when you’re tired, and  exercise when you can.

3. De-center your body from your self image and self worth, and cast off magazines, billboards, and other media that would tell you to become thinner to conform to a beauty standard. 

 

“Isn’t body positivity unrealistic? I mean, bodies can’t be healthy at any size.”

 It is literally impossible to know someone’s health by just their body. Body positivity is a response to fatphobia and policing bodies based on their size and beauty standards. The whole idea of body positivity is to not judge yourself, or others based on looks and size. So, if someone is very large or very small, it’s not anyone’s societal duty to shame them. Making inferences about people’s health and shaming them to eat less, or exercise more is not helpful or healthy. 

We should all practice body positivity, regardless of your gender, age, or size. Some people feel like “body neutrality” or “body acceptance” is a more suitable name for the movement, but all three terms describe roughly the same ideas. Wanna learn more about body positivity? Click here. And, if you want to learn more about basic feminist topics, check out our post on the myth of “man-hating feminists” or  intersectional feminism!

Self-Care Tips from Yoko Ono

 

By: Emma Stuart

To celebrate Women’s History Month, let’s start by celebrating you! Take a page out of Yoko Ono’s book Grapefruit, where she lists pages and pages of actions to take for the use of therapeutic self-care. This book and mind set was the precursor for modern day self-care. Here’s just a few of Ono’s suggestions… “Light a match and watch until it goes out. Go into the middle of Central Park Pond and drop all of your jewelry. Scream against the sky” (source).

Now, these actions may seem far-fetched and not anything like the self-care industry that we know today, but all of these seemingly outrageous actions have meaning. These actions are focused on the mind, empowering yourself and others, connecting with others, and helping you connect with your imagination. This category of actions is characterized by self-discovery which has seemingly been overlooked in the modern self-care industry. To put this into practice we can combine Ono’s category of actions with the modern self-care industry. Here is a list of actions that you could do this month to take care of yourself.

  1. Sit outside [weather permitting], put away all distractions, and focus on where you are in that moment.
  2. Write out a list of people or things that you are grateful for. Post it in your living space and contemplate it often.
  3. Go on a walk near your living space, find something from your surroundings that inspires you, it could be a rock, leaf, flower etc. Take it and mail it to a friend.
  4. Take part of a day for yourself, do something that you enjoy and devote your energy to it.
  5. Find a new piece of media to focus on that brings you joy, a book, a piece of art, a song, etc.
  6. Take some time out of your day to earnestly tell the important women in your life how much they mean to you. If you can don’t just say it, show it.
  7. Get ready one day to go nowhere, make sure to wear clothes that make you feel good in your body.
  8. Spend time with someone who fills your heart with joy.
  9. Congratulate yourself for getting through the week, get yourself a little treat to celebrate.
  10. Finally, take some time to reflect and make it known how much you appreciate yourself, do this often.

Even if you can’t do all of these things or these things exactly, try to be intentional about checking up on yourself and taking care of you. As women, that is how we can best celebrate Women’s History Month, by being kind to ourselves.

 

 

 

Sliding from DMs into Real-Life Dating

Source: Creative Commons, https://foto.wuestenigel.com/online-dating-sending-online-gifts-to-lover/

By: Ebony Taylor

Valentine’s Day is approaching once again. For starters, there is a lot of conversation around this holiday being extremely heteronormative. Simply put, there are a lot of stressors put on being relationships and what that should look like. Though we have come a long way with recognizing and accepting other’s perception of “relationship”, Valentine’s Day celebrations, focus on heterosexual and monogamous romantic relationships which leaves out aromatic and asexual people, as Sian Ferguson from everydayfemisim.com points out.

With so much emphasis on finding love and being boo’d up on V-day, it doesn’t make it easier when we have been in a pandemic. Coming out of isolation and getting back to human interaction can be nerve-wracking. Without pandemic restrictions, “going out” means you can leave the house. If you’re making the switch from online dating to in-person dating, I have searched the internet for tips on making it as stress-free as possible.

For starters, you still want to be safe and setting boundaries before linking up can help. If it is important to you, making sure your partner is vaccinated, wearing masks, or limiting personal touch are some things to consider. I found it helpful that apps like Bumble, Tinder, Hinge, Match, OKCupid, BLK, and Chispa have a feature that shows a person’s vaccination status. Also, establish physical, sexual, and emotional boundaries. Talking about sexual orientation and gender identities is another conversation to be had in the world of online dating and meeting someone for the first time. Be mindful and respect others’ views on certain topics to avoid misunderstandings and conflict. Being clear and direct can save you time and undeserved stress later down the road. Communicating with your partner about your needs and what feels good for you can help the transition run smoother.

As for wanting ways to celebrate love as you see it and not what it “should” be, the first thing on any site’s list is practicing self- love. Though this needs to be normalized throughout the year, what better time is there than on Valentine’s Day? Forget the marketing and capitalistic ways of our society to make you think that if you’re not spending money on someone then you don’t love them. Get crafty and make your own gifts, or rather show your love with quality time.

Being back on campus can create a social pressure to make friends and be more involved on campus. Those feeling anxious about putting yourself out there, know that it is more normal than you think. Try not to let in-person dating give you anxiety. With a pandemic still lingering around, feeling anxious is okay. No need to rush. Set limits and boundaries that allow you to move at your own speed and you the most comfortable. When you be yourself, the confidence will take the weight of social pressures off.

If you are single, newly single, or just ready to mingle, remember to take your time and be yourself. So what if people try to compare you to your “virtual” self, or your connection only exists in text messages and DMs? In the words of pop princess Ariana Grande, say “thank you, next”. Instead, go out with your friends or favorite family members. Or better yet, make it about loving yourself. Getting comfy by yourself with your favorite sweatpants, food, and a movie sounds like a memorable date to me.

 

 

 

Something I’m Thankful For 

By Brianna Green

I’m 24 years old and I’ve been in therapy two different times. The first time, I was still living in the Chicago suburbs and my therapist was (surprisingly) a 3-minute drive from my house. She was a nice older woman and I saw her for over a year. I initially saw her because I was sobbing on a regular basis for no “real” reason. However, I only stayed with her out of convenience. Talking to her sometimes helped, but sometimes it just felt like I was boring her. 

This summer, after being out of therapy for over a year, I decided I wanted and needed to get back into it. Since my first stint in therapy, a lot of things had happenedfor example, moving to Kansas City and starting UMKC—and I felt like I needed help. My therapist is, once again, an older woman but now it’s forty-five minutes away. Although at times this is inconvenient, I find the drive to be a blessing in disguise. While driving to her office, I use that time to think about what I want to talk about. Reversely, on the way back, I use that time to digest our session and reflect.  

Unlike with my first therapist, I cry a lot more often at my sessions now, and I do not like crying. That might sound silly, but I take it as a sign that I’ve found someone I’m comfortable being vulnerable with. For me, therapy isn’t easy, but it isn’t supposed to be. It’s hard trying to work on yourself. I’m incredibly thankful I’m able to be in therapy, because not everyone has the opportunity. Likewise, looking at gender, 15% of cis women seek mental health treatment compared to 9% of cis men. I believe this is because cis men are often socialized from a young age to be “tough” and to repress or not show their emotions. This is so unfortunate; a person’s gender should not be a reason why they don’t seek the help they need. Everyone experiences hardships and poor mental health at some point in their livesFurthermore, gender non-conforming individuals are at a higher risk of experiencing mental health conditions as a result of cissexism and discrimination, and they could benefit greatly from therapy, if they have access. For these reasons, we need to cultivate an environment where people of all genders, ages, and backgrounds feel comfortable showing their emotions and seeking help, and where therapy is more accessible.

Finally, finding a therapist you can connect with can be difficult. There are some great general tips out there on how to find one, but don’t forget about your comfort level; it’s okay to specifically seek a therapist who has the same gender and/or background as you do. Even if you find someone who looks good on paper, sometimes you have to see a few therapists before finding one that’s a good match for you. As someone who wants to be in the mental health profession one day, I truly believe that therapy is something everyone should try and should not be ashamed of. After all, our minds deserve the same respect as our body does when it comes to being healthy.   

 

No is a Complete Sentence

By Ace Garrett

Two weeks ago, Brooke told you the story of her discomfort around a man who she struggled to say no to. Today I’d like to ask the question: Why do women—why might anyone—struggle to say no? 

Let’s start with cisgender women and girls. According to sociologist professor, Kathryn Lively, Ph.D, “As young children, girls are socialized to be nice and to be more in touch with their own and other people’s feelings than are boys. [ . . . ] Boys, on the other hand, are socialized to be less attuned to people’s feelings, and to win.”

Other gender minorities may receive this socialization from being born female, from wanting to be perceived as a woman, or from experiencing excessive desire to be likeable or to be accepted due to their gender identity, among a myriad of other reasons. 

This socialization leads gender minorities to go along with things we would rather say no to. This is a hard-to-explain effect of the patriarchy, but it definitely affects many of us and is an unnecessary weight on our shoulders.

I have personally felt the impacts of this socialization: I feel guilt when my wants or needs get in the way of even the smallest whim of someone else. As a young girl, I was led to believe that a good person should be aware of and very considerate of others’ emotions. And since no two people have the same wants or needs, it has always been hard for me to advocate for myself—I have always been worried about everyone else. Today, I am still putting in a lot of conscious effort to try and undo this harmful habit. 

It is important to be considerate of others, but not to the detriment of our needs. Many women, trans people, and non-binary people need to reevaluate their line: at what point do you believe your wants and needs are worth speaking up for? 

Saying no is a crucial skill and a habit you need a healthy relationship with. Saying no is self-care. I hope you all find at least one little way to advocate for yourself this week. Never forget that you matter!

Other resources on this topic:

Saying no and advocating for the things you want is an important tool for all people, in all contexts. However, one of the most important skills people need to have is knowing how to say no to unwanted sexual contact. Due to all sorts of pressure and expectations surrounding sex, this is one of the hardest ways to say no. 

Angie Greaves, a radio presenter and blogger in the UK, has a great post that goes deeper into the specifics of women struggling to say no, including how to say no: “Stop with the ‘I’m sorry’ always attached to the end of saying ‘NO’.”

Book Recommendation:
Earlier this year, I read Untamed by Glennon Doyle, a memoir in response to her realization that she was gay, and even more importantly, her discovery of her own timidity with disappointing others. This novel was ground shattering for me, and it has some fascinating insights about gender and the ways in which women are socialized to act. Caveat: Doyle’s perspective is that of a middle-class white Christian woman, and although she makes some efforts at inclusion, there are parts of this book where her perspective is obviously narrow. You can find the synopsis, reviews, content warnings, and other information at the link above.

How Plants Helped My Mental Health

By Morgan Clark

Recently, I became a full-blown plant mom, something that I am very proud of. My plants helped me stay sane during those long days of quarantine. I live by myself, unless you include my rambunctious puppy, Xena. For the most part, I enjoy having a place to myself. Not worrying if my music is too loud or asking myself how I can be considerate of the other person. To balance my time by myself, I usually step out to hang with friends, which enables me to power up my social battery. This could not be done since March of last year due to Covid, and, unconsciously, I developed a new hobby.

First, I bought one plant to liven up my house, Then I bought another one. And now I have 20 plus plants. There was a time when the employees where I bought my plants knew my face from the many times I visited there. Some would say I have an addiction, but I did notice something important. When I take care of my plants, I feel better. It is like I am taking care of myself, and I feel lighter each time I water and clip my babies. Days when I wanted to stay in bed (and there were many during quarantine), I got up to open the blinds for my plants. Which somehow put a battery in my back to start my day. When I feel lonely, stressed, or down, I go to my “green room” and tend to my plants. It calms my nerves and gives me something else to focus on. Nothing is more exciting than seeing a new bulb from one of your plants. My plants are a reflection of my mental health.

I grew up with plants in the house, because my daddy had many plants. At a young age, I did not understand why he cared for them so much, but I now realize that plants support one’s mental health. And, I am not the only one. I have friends who have realized this too. We now share a bond based on what plants are easy to care for and what plants are harder to grow. Whenever I can, I recommend for people to bring plants into their house, even if it a cactus. It can be a challenge at first, but nothing is more rewarding than having plants…trust me.

 

 

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.

What is Feminist Psychotherapy?

“Sister, I believe you”

By Emma Gilham

Living in a violent, patriarchal world is taxing on the mind and body. How can womxn heal from trauma, build resilience, and understand societal factors that contribute to their struggles? One answer may be feminist psychotherapy. Psychology Today describes feminist therapy as, “…an integrative approach to psychotherapy that focuses on gender and the particular challenges and stressors that women face as a result of bias, stereotyping, oppression, discrimination, and other factors that threaten their mental health.” It is also described as establishing an equal relationship between provider and patient. Indeed, feminist psychotherapy should not only be for womxn. It has the potential to help those affected by toxic masculinity, rigid gender norms, and gender dysphoria.

The article “In Mexico, Therapy Rooted in Feminism Is a Healing Pathway for Many Women” by Chantal Flores, explains how many womxn in Mexico use feminist psychotherapy as a means to reclaim agency and understand gender-based violence from a political perspective. For context, Mexico has high rates of femicide and gender-based violence, with at least 11 women killed daily. Bianca Pérez, a psychologist interviewed for the article said, “From the feminist perspective, we’re reclaiming our body, which has been a territory colonized, raped, and long attacked by men” (Flores). Misogyny within healthcare, employment, and even other psychotherapies is also addressed. Flores writes that women experience mistreatment, judgement, coercion, and non-consensual treatments in the country’s healthcare system. These acts of violence could have long-lasting effects on the victims, in which therapy is necessary. By focusing on the premise of “the personal is political”, patients have the opportunity to learn how systemic patriarchy and societal norms have shaped their experiences.

Feminism has the power to heal, empower, and bring people together. It is a disservice to not utilize it in spaces of gender-based trauma. We deserve healthcare committed to and invested in destroying the patriarchy, and feminist psychotherapy is just the beginning.

 

Reading Through Winter

By Jordan Tunks

With winter only a month away, colder air is upon us. With colder weather it is harder to go outside and enjoy the outdoors, but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy ourselves. This can be a great time to either get caught up on some reading, or begin reading the books you have kept an eye on throughout the year. Reading is a great self-care activity and allows you to get in touch with yourself and learn new things that you may not have known before. Books are also a great way to find encouragement and empowerment for women. In this blog I will cover a few books from a couple different categories. There are books from all different genres in the lists, you just need to find what you enjoy most.

The first category will be woman empowerment. Present over Perfect by Shauna Neiquist is a book about being present in the moment and living life how you want instead of trying to be perfect all the time. Trying to be perfect all the time can be mentally draining and is bad for your well-being. Living life how you want to live will be so much more rewarding than trying to be perfect. This is a good choice for women to read with all the responsibilities that fall on them. Sometimes it is hard to live in the moment and not think about the next big thing coming in life. It can be difficult to not be stressed over things in the future that cannot be controlled in the moment. This can be helpful in learning how to live in the present and let the future, stay in the future.

The second category will be self-love. A category than many women struggle with. The beauty myth: How Images of Beauty Are Used Against Women by Naomi Wolf. This book expresses the beauty myth of women that there is an obsession of physical perfection that traps the modern woman in an endless spiral of hope, self-consciousness, and self-hatred as she tries to fulfil society’s impossible definition of the flawless beauty. Women have such high standards set for them and they have no control over it. They are always seeing social media posts that make them compare themselves to someone that is completely different from them. This is very unhealthy, and this book can help guide and teach women how to love their body the way it is.

The last category is defining self-worth. Own your everyday by Jordan Lee Dooley dives into how to deal with disappointment, remove labels and escape from expectations, remove excuses and unnecessary stress about the uncertain future, and stop thinking that there is an exact path you must follow. This book can help you overcome shame, practice gratitude, and redefine success to fit your life. Women tend to pay a lot of attention to expectations that lead to more stress and anxiety. This book can help tackle this issue and allow one to live her life without always trying to please others and live for herself.

Books can be a great way to find motivation and encouragement from other women. There are a ton of books in different categories that can fit everyone’s lifestyle. Finding what fits best for you will open up a whole new world you may not have known about in literature.

Winter Skin Care Tips for Women

By Jordan Tunks

Cold, dry air is becoming more prevalent as the winter months are approaching. Dry, itchy skin can lead to more serious issues such as eczema or rashes. The pressure is higher for women to maintain healthy soft skin during these damaging months than it is for men. Popular media, and big brands try to push skin care heavily on to women throughout the winter months, and because conditions such as rashes and eczema become more prevalent, women become more desperate to maintain their once glowing skin, and tend to buy into the propaganda surrounding skin care products. But your anxiety, or discomfort may be being exploited for a big company’s gain.

According to WebMD, female skincare products are on average $3.09 more per ounce than male skin care products. These products can be facial moisturizers, body lotions, or shaving creams. These products aren’t exactly necessity items, but when society is pressuring young women to maintain glowing, filtered skin during the cold dry months, the products in this list suddenly seem a lot more crucial to a lot of women. Knowing that the added societal pressure will push women to go out and buy these items is exactly why the prices are so skewed. Even if they are the same exact product, the ones marketed to women are priced higher than the ones marketed for men. Not only is the pressure placed on women by society’s standards unfair, but to make matters worse they make it more expensive to try and keep up with the standards. While it is important to iterate there is absolutely no need to conform to these standards, there are some tips and tricks to keep your skin as healthy as possible, while spending as little money as possible.

Such as, a societal norm set for women is to keep their legs shaved, and this can be more difficult in the winter months. Some women choose to shave in the shower and this can quickly dry up the skin if not taken care of properly. Making sure to use some sort of product while shaving such as shaving cream, conditioner, or coconut oil can help reduce irritation and cuts to the skin. When getting out of the shower it is also important to use a moisturizer that includes hyaluronic acid to help retain the moisture. Though it may be a first reaction to grab the best smelling lotion on the shelf, it is also important to avoide strongly scented lotions as these can dry out the skin faster. And even though this is a norm skewed towards women, make no hesitation when shopping for these products to check the products catered to men. These products typically are similar to or the exact same as the female brand but, at a cheaper price.

Another area to focus on is the face. Facial skin is typically more sensitive than other skin. Everyone has different skin types, so everyone will have a different routine for whatever works best for them. A few things that should be kept in mind are to make sure to still use a moisturizer with sunscreen even in the winter months. Having separate moisturizers for the day and night is also important so that when you go to bed you are not applying sunscreen that will clog your pores. When washing your face, applying your moisturizer soon after is important to keep skin moisturized. Although there are not a lot of facial products catered to men, comparing brands to each other can be financially beneficial. Big brands will usually dress up products in pretty packaging and use beautiful models to sell their item, but there is usually an off brand item that is just as good, or even better in quality, but cheaper than the name brands.

On your next trip to the store to buy any skin care products, check the men’s section, check the cheap racks, and make sure to look at the ingredients in the product while comparing. Weather you are shopping for shaving cream, body lotion, or facial moisturizer there may be a very similar product for cheaper than the name brand female product. Don’t let big brands fool you into spending more money for the same product only because it is catered to women