Pink October

By Jordan Tunks

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. According to Young Survival Coalition, in 2015, there were 231,840 cases of invasive breast cancer. Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women aged 15 to 39. Early detection is a vital component in recovery and remission. Most insurance plans offer a free mammogram once a year. If one doesn’t have insurance and are below the poverty line, Wyandotte Public Health Department and Swope Parkway Health Center offer free mammograms here in Kansas City. On Freemammograms.org you can search any state and city to see where free mammograms are offered and the criteria for these. This could be critical in saving someone’s life if they aren’t sure where to go for help.

According to Young Survival Coalition, 80% of young women diagnosed with breast cancer find the breast abnormality themselves. Knowing how to conduct these tests on yourself is a very important tool to know. Doing these tests on yourself is important to do at least once a month. Using your fingertips and circling the nipple and tracking to the outside of the breast is a simple way to check for any new bumps. Also looking for redness and new markings is important.

Approximately 30% of all breast cancer in young women occur in the few years after a woman has had a baby or while she is still pregnant. If you are pregnant or have been pregnant in the last five years, your body is more vulnerable and can become more susceptible to things like Breast Cancer. All women, but especially mothers, should be informed on when and how to do this exam on themselves. Check out this diagram and become familiar with how to perform the exam properly, and make sure to make yearly appointments for mammograms to ensure you are staying as healthy as possible!

Recovering From Invisibility: #SayHerName

By Morgan Clark

I was recently asked “in what way police brutally has affected you the most?” After pondering on the question, I came up with this answer: There were three death that truly shook my core. The first one was Trayvon Martin; his death lifted the veil that was covering my eyes. Although I knew racism did exist, I didn’t understand how much of an influence it had on our society still. The second death which affected me was Mike Brown; his death was the one that radicalized me. I learned how the media can villainize black life. His death was also the start of the Black Lives Matter movement. The third one was Breonna Taylor because her story (like others) was so sad. Being close to my age, her death was very close to home. Not to mention she reminds me of so many black women in my own life.

Recently the court released the verdict of Breonna Taylor’s case. Yet again American’s justice system has failed us. And although it was not surprising that they did not convict her three killers, it still hurts to see that she does not get the justice that she rightfully deserves. As a black woman it truly infuriates me to see this happens yet again. Sometimes it’s hard to interact with others because of this. I had Drill the week they released the verdict in her case and was so upset that I didn’t want to be surrounded by very opinionated white men. It made me feel hopeless for the justice system when it comes to police brutality. No matter what, or how innocent the victim is, there will be no justice. The process leading up to the verdict didn’t help either. Seeing Breonna’s death being turned into a trend as if it was the next cool thing to be a part of was very upsetting. Black Twitter was in an uproar when they discovered that Breonna’s death was turned into a meme. A meme…a form of entertainment. Something that was so traumatic made into a joke. If that’s not a good example of how our society handles black women’s lives, then I don’t know what is. To see all this happening day by day has been discouraging to say the least.

So, it was reassuring to have the “Say Her Name: The Invisibility of Black Women” event on Wednesday September 30th, 2020. It was a virtual safe space facilitated by UMKC organizations like Multicultural Student affairs and the Women’s Center to listen to and speak on issues for Black Women in our society such as police brutality and societal standards that degrade or limit black women. Being met with the same emotions I have felt validated my feelings and experiences more than anyone will know. To have a panel of Black women from different professional fields and different age groups who were all outraged and upset showed that this is an issue. That it does affects us in ways that sometimes we can’t openly express to our white allies. It was an empowering event to be a part of and I am grateful for those who put it on, and participated, especially in times like this.

New Times, Same Habits

By Jordan Tunks

The world we live in today is very new and different. Everyone is being impacted differently, and are experiencing new obstacles and barriers to overcome every day. One thing that we should be focused on while we are stuck inside and have limited access to gyms or recreation services is our physical health. Women tend to have lower iron compared to men because of pregnancy or heavy menstruation. Women lose a lot of blood during periods and childbirth, so it is important to replenish this mineral. Being low on iron can cause dizziness, weakness, and headaches. These can severely impact one’s daily lifestyle. Adding beans, dark leafy greens such as spinach or kale, nuts, or whole-grain bread can increase the iron intake and prevent the headaches and dizziness. Some easy ways to add these into your diet could be to add them into a smoothie, eat a salad every few meals, try a new bean soup, or trying a new trail mix.

Sometimes it is difficult to add these things to a diet and it takes time for a change to be made, so in this case a multi-vitamin can be added to the daily routine. These will increase iron and some other vitamins that can be hard to get in one day. Finding the right multivitamin for your body is also important and making sure it will work with your body and lifestyle. There are multi-vitamins specifically for women and these would be a beneficial addition to the daily lifestyle.

Nutrition is a big factor in one’s overall well-being and lifestyle. Making sure to still make time for at least 30 minuets of exercise each day is still very important. This can be achieved by daily walks, at home yoga, cleaning the house, or even doing yard. It is important to find a way that is enjoyable to you so it does not seem daunting and you will be more motivated to keep consistently doing it.

Physical Heath: How often to go to the Doctor, Gynecologist, and Breast Exams

By Brianna Green

If you did not know, September 30th is National Women’s Fitness and Health day. I’ve been talking a lot about the female anatomy, so I think it’s important to acknowledge when it’s time to get it checked out and how often to do so.

Although it’s debatable whether yearly visits to the doctor are actually necessary, it’s still suggested that you see your primary physician for a physical once a year. Afterall, as Dr. Earlexia M. Norwood was quoted in Health.com, “You don’t know what you don’t know.” Although skipping a year might not hurt you it’s important to make sure that you’re doing everything to prevent illness, watching out for early signs of an issue, and having your vitals (like blood pressure) checked. It’s better to catch something small while it’s still not an issue and treatable than dealing with a mess later on. Plus, it’s reassuring to know you’re in good health (especially now).

Like the physical exam, it’s suggested to also see your gynecologist once a year. They can test you for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and preform pap tests (aka pap smears) to check for cervical cancer. Although, pap smears are not tested every year, but are suggested every 3 years starting around 21 years old. Gynecologists also preform breast exams to check for cancer.

However, they’re not the only ones who can perform breast exams. According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation (NBCF), “Adult women of all ages are encouraged to preform breast self-exams at least once a month.” This self-exam should be performed a week after your period, while in the shower, in front of the mirror, and lying down. You should do these exams “with the pads/flats of your 3 middle fingers, check the entire breast and armpit area pressing down with light, medium, and firm pressure. Check both breasts each month feeling for any lump, thickening, hardened knot, or any other breast changes”. Also, make sure that you’re visibly checking your breasts in the mirror to see any discoloring, swelling, dimpling, and/or discharge from the nipples. Like I said before, it’s better to catch something small while it’s still not an issue and treatable than dealing with a mess later on. Please stay on top of your physical and mental health, especially right now in this abnormal world.

Music and Mental Health

By Emma Gilham

The effects of COVID-19 have shaken the world. It is easier than ever to fall into a spiral of pessimism and apathy. While we shouldn’t hold ourselves to the same standards as we hold ourselves during a non-pandemic, it is disorienting to look in the mirror and not recognize who is looking back. The World Health Organization reports, women are at a higher risk of having mental disorders. Not to mention, “The high prevalence of sexual violence to which women are exposed and the correspondingly high rate of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) following such violence, renders women the largest single group of people affected by this disorder.” With that in mind, the isolation we are experiencing due to COVID-19 may escalate risk factors or amplify existing psychological struggles. Listening to music has always been a path to inspiration, solace, and focus for me. In fact, listening to music can be beneficial in multiple psychological aspects. Research has suggested that it could improve cognitive performance, decrease symptoms of depression, improve sleeping patterns, and help manage pain. To clarify, I am not saying listening to music will cure mental illnesses or replace any form of professional treatment. However, music could help bring relaxation and reminders of strength to day-to-day tasks.

Have you been needing to clean for the past week, but haven’t had any motivation? Throw on your favorite grooves and get going! Do you need workout inspiration? Look for tracks with 125-140 beats per minute! Are you feeling down? A 2014 study found “overall sad music can evoke positive feelings such as peacefulness, harmony, and kindness.” Go ahead and blast those sad songs, and maybe get a good cry in. You might just come out of it, in a better mood. As we’ve all heard a million times since April, “This is a trying time for all of us.” Don’t forget the simple joys that could help each day be a little better. My personal quarantine favorites by womxn are listed below:

 

Songs

· Gold Dust Woman -Fleetwood Mac

· I Put A Spell on You – Nina Simone

· Savage (Remix) -Megan Thee Stallion (ft. Beyoncé)

· Midnight Sky -Miley Cyrus

· Here You Come Again -Dolly Parton

· Still -Seinabo Sey

· Heart of Glass -Blondie

· Flowers- WILLOW

Albums

· It Was Good Until It Wasn’t -Kehlani

· Folklore -Taylor Swift

· ANTI -Rihanna

· Rare -Selena Gomez

· Cheap Queen -King Princess

· Chilombo -Jhene Aiko

· The Seven Deadly Sins – Shreya

Notice the Pink Tax

By Jordan Tunks

Have you heard of the Pink Tax? The pink tax is a pricing difference between female products and male products. There is not an actual tax added onto these items, but when comparing the female version to the male version, the female version of equal or lesser quality, is more expensive. This happens with items including but not limited to razors, deodorant, skin care products, and clothing.  According to Listen Money Matters, women pay more than men 42% of the time. This equals out to be $1,300 a year in extra cost!

To battle this tax, there have been subscription boxes created to try to fight the unfair price difference. A few examples of these boxes are Harry’s, Billie, and Boxed. These boxes provide quality products for the same price as men’s products. The Boxed subscription sells items in bulk and for a cheaper price than most retail stores, making them a great substitute for shopping in retail stores for personal care items. You can increase the amount that you receive or reduce the quantity if it begins to be too much. Care products aren’t the only thing subject to the Pink tax though.

In 2014, Old Navy was exposed for charging more for plus size women’s clothes than for men’s plus size clothes. Their defense was that women’s clothing has unique fabrics and design elements. Women’s plus size clothing cost anywhere from $10-$15 more where men’s plus size clothing was the same. Regardless of the reason, this can be seen as discrimination to women and we need to keep women aware of these price differences when they are shopping. Today, this price gap has decreased, but it is still a problem.

This has been a problem for decades and will continue to be a problem until we do something about it. To combat this problem, we need to collectively look at the products we are purchasing and compare them to the male product. Check to see if there are any real differences in the product besides the color or size. If these products are the same, buy the male product. Making more women educated about this issue can help reduce the number of women spending more money for the female product when it costs the same as the male. This could make an impact on the manufacture to lead them to lower prices on women’s items.

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.

Another Tinderella Story

By Elise Wantling

If you currently are, or recently have been, single, then you’ve probably heard of an app called Tinder. Or its’ more feminist sibling, Bumble. Perhaps, you’ve even heard of Grindr or Her if you’re LGBTQ+ identifying, or just well versed in dating apps. Online dating is nothing new. It dates back to 1995 with the creation of Match.com, but the creation of Tinder really revolutionized the industry, (though it was not the first dating app on the market). The release of Tinder spurred the creation of more and more dating apps.

With Tinder, no longer did you have to look at full profiles, and read detailed descriptions of who someone thinks they are and why they think they’d be a good match for you. Instead, you could simply swipe through photos without ever opening the profile and determine solely based on looks whether or not you think you’re compatible with someone. Tinder simplified things down to a science: swipe right if you’re interested, left if you’re not. If they like you too, you’ll match and you can chat. If they don’t like you back, you can’t message them. Simple, easy.

When I first got on Tinder back in 2016, I was nearing the end of high school and had recently turned 18, making me one of the people in my friend group old enough for the full Tinder experience. (At the time, Tinder also had a teen section for ages 16-18). My friends had gotten into it while I was seeing my first girlfriend, but after we broke up they encouraged me to download the app. I was recently out as bisexual, and the queer dating pool at my high school was pretty limited, so I decided to give it a try.

It wasn’t until I was a few weeks away from leaving for college that I got brave enough to go on my first Tinder date. It went horribly, we were not at all compatible (plus he showed up almost an hour late, said he would buy me coffee, but didn’t, and talked my ear off for two hours without me getting a word in edgewise). Despite that, I swiped on.

Tinder has a reputation for being a hookup app, an app people can use to find a quick date or a one night stand. While yes, some people do use it for that, a survey of 1,000 Americans done by Simple Texting found 52% of Tinder users surveyed said they never had a one night stand. From that same survey, almost 14% of those surveyed said they were engaged/married to someone they met on Tinder. Despite public opinion, the facts are there: Tinder is a viable way of meeting a long term partner.

Flash forward to my sophomore year of college. One lonely night I’m swiping through Tinder, only half paying attention, when a cute guy catches my eye. I open his profile and see that his chosen anthem is “Fast Car” by Tracy Chapman (one of my all-time favorite songs!). I swipe right, and we immediately match, so I shoot him a message. Flash forward again, another two years, to October 2019. We’re now engaged and counting down to our wedding day that is in less than 7 months. We live together, we recently added a puppy to our family, and we have Tinder to thank for bringing us together.

One might assume my Tinder love story is an exception to the rule, and not the standard. Perhaps it is (though we are the second couple that I know in real life who met on Tinder and are getting married). However, according to the Pew Research Center, as of 2016 5% of Americans who are in a married or committed relationship said they met online. That is not an insignificant number of people! If you’ve been considering giving online dating a try, or getting back into it, consider this your sign- perhaps you can become just another Tinderella story.

 

 

 

Period. The Movement

By Adriana Suarez

Period. The Movement is an organization founded in 2014, by two 16-year old high school students with a passion for periods. Their mission is to end period poverty and stigma through service, education, and advocacy. The organization is now a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization with a nationwide network of over 400 chapters serving local communities. The organization provides service through 3 subcategories: Pads & Tampons, Period Packs, and Menstrual Cups. The organization partners with companies such as TAMPAX Cup, AUNT flow, L’ORÉAL, and Nike to name a few.

The first time I had my period was in the fifth grade, in elementary school. This is a shocking fact because that is when most girls begin. Therefore, the bathrooms are not stocked with the products needed. My first period was thankfully in the privacy of my own home. Yet, the days I begin a new cycle are unexpected and can sneak up on me. Sometimes I would have to leave the bathroom to embarrassingly whisper to my friends (girls) asking them if they had anything in their bookbags for two reasons. The first being there would not be any kind of pad/tampon dispenser in the restrooms, or secondly, because there was a dispenser but it was either empty, or you had to pay a quarter which would not have just been laying around in my pocket.

I personally feel like it would be great to start a chapter here on campus to provide support for all women. It is important for young generations to continue being involved in this movement. It shows a passion for what we believe in. If they can do it, it is possible to start a campus wide movement. If it gains successes, there can be possibilities for other chapters to open up in the community, other universities and in middle and high schools in the area.

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.