Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Happy Wednesday, y'all. It's difficult to believe that this is the last week in March! I've taken a bit of a hiatus since my last post, but have a few articles I wanted to link to real quick. Today I have a blog post featured on Know Your Value, the official blog of Wonderfully Made, which is a Christian organization that is "dedicated to helping today's modern young women discover, strengthen, and reclaim their true value and worth." I just love that. The post is entitled Discerning True Beauty, and you can check it out here.  

Also, is doing a series on perceptions of beauty, and the articles have been pretty thought provoking. You can check them out below.

Facebook: The Encyclopedia of Beauty

Fat is the New Ugly on the Playground

Beholding Beauty: How It's Been Studied

Dieting Companies Targeting Men

One last link for today! I mentioned last month that Ellen Morrison and I had a chance to visit a local radio station during National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, and I wanted to link to the podcast if you are interested in our conversation on body image! I was a little nervous, so ignore the awkward laughter that pops up. :-) You can listen here.

Hope everyone is having a great week!!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

I have something fun to share today! A few years ago, I met Cristina Roman when I was living next door to her sister, Sara. Recently, we have connected through a group that Cristina organized for Raleigh bloggers. It's been a fun way to connect with other local bloggers, and we've done some cool things!- more on that in another post! Anyways- Cristina is a really neat girl. She is co-owner of a local business (she and Sara launched The Raleigh Forum), a recruiter for Living Social, and overall great person. Her blog, Scintillating Simplicity, is a fun one- you should check it out! She posts recipes, random tips, fun stories, and is passionate about volunteering and social enterprise. She recently came up with an idea to feature local bloggers, and you can read her interview with me here

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Emperor's New Clothes and Body Image

If you are a woman (or a man!) that lives in America, you probably think about your body and what it looks like. It's pretty difficult not to when you your everyday tasks encourage it- for example, you go grocery shopping and see magazine covers that boast about quick fix weight loss solutions, or how to snag that killer bikini body in three simple steps. Or maybe you just watch TV and pick up on the relatively homogenous body types represented. Or maybe you interact with people at home, or work, that say things like, "Ohhh man my thighs", "I was so bad today", "Did you see so-and-so? She looks so thin!" This is known as 'fat talk.'  I have numerous conversations a day about body image, the media, 'fat talk'-- and I spend a lot of time trying to help people challenge the negative beliefs that they have about themselves and their bodies. Changing our body beliefs is not an easy task- we are bombarded by soo many messages each day, both explicit and implicit, about how we should look. It is difficult not to absorb and internalize these messages.  

I was recently reading about a study (in this book that I often use with clients) that was conducted back in 1980 that has some pretty interesting implications about the power of perception and the thoughts that we have about ourselves, especially as it relates to body image. Psychologists at Dartmouth University (Kleck and Strenta 1980) had make-up artists create facial scars on a group of participants before they were to spend time talking with a stranger. Said stranger, unbeknownst to the group of participants, had been specifically trained by the research team on how to respond neutrally to each participant. Also unbeknownst to the participants? The make-up artists had actually removed the scars before the group members talked with this stranger. After the conversations, the researchers asked the participants about their experiences and how the stranger had interacted with each of them. 

"Compared to the control group, who had not been given a 'scar,' the participants who believed they had the facial scar 'witnessed' more discomfort in the stranger's behavior- such as staring at them or avoiding looking at them at all. They reported experiencing the self-conscious and adverse effects of their facial 'flaw' even though no flaw existed. Obviously, since there was no actual scar, these people created their own reality. Their experiences reflected what they believed about their looks, not the objective facts of the situation. This fascinating experiment demonstrates a profoundly important truth: The most influential dictators of negative body image emotions are your own ways of judging and thinking about your looks."

This kind of reminds me of the Emperor's New Clothes!!- minus the vain emperor part. This idea that our own judgments and thoughts about ourselves, our bodies, etc. predict our experience is important! Why? Our beliefs and judgments typically impact our emotions and likewise, our actions. The beliefs we hold are crucial in how we experience the world, and play a major role in our confidence, our relationships, and our health! When we have negative thoughts and beliefs about ourselves, we perceive the world in ways that reinforce our beliefs. Why not try replacing your negative thoughts with some positive ones today? Our thoughts don't simply change over night-- our thoughts are automatic, but when we regularly practice replacing negative thoughts with positive ones, this becomes a habit. When it comes to having a healthy body image, the ways that we think about ourselves is key. Consider practicing positive thinking!

Monday, March 12, 2012

This weekend, I noticed an interesting article on about how women in the media are portrayed- lots of conversation about beauty ideals included. It's a lengthy article but has some interesting things to say. You can check it out here

Hope everyone is having a great Monday!! 

Monday, March 5, 2012

International Women's Day

This Thursday, March 8, is International Women's Day! I have posted about this before (here) because I think this is a special day. In fact, 32 countries all over the world celebrate International Women's Day as a national holiday! (It is also known as The UN Day for Women's Rights and International Peace.)

Someone sponsoring this event reached out to me to let me know about this celebration, and I wanted to be sure to pass it on. The event is from 2p-6p, this Thursday downtown, and the details are below! Be sure to check it out! It sounds like there will be things to see, things to do, and refreshments. You will likely meet some new people, gain some new ideas, learn about opportunities for women, and even become involved in projects, if you choose!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

This week, one of my friends posted a link to an article on her Facebook page that I really wanted to share. I was just mentioning in my last post how difficult it can be to report on eating disorders or share recovery stories without triggering others, or providing 'how-to's' and new ideas for people to engage in eating disordered behaviors. This particular article was written by a Duke student who struggled with an eating disorder- and she does such an amazing job of sharing her recovery journey in such a sensitive way. You can read it here. It is also posted below for your convenience.  

If you or someone that you know is struggling with an eating disorder, consider seeking help. It might feel like a scary step, but like this student shares below, keeping your eating disorder a secret will not help you heal. For more information on eating disorders, you can check out the National Eating Disorders Awareness website (here), or to find eating disorder professionals in your area, you can check out this link.

A Duke Student Shares Her Story – National Eating Disorder Awareness Week 2012

So I’m your typical premed student right? I follow doctors around, do research, volunteer at my favorite nonprofit weekly, have taken 10 times the required NS courses, and watch House religiously.
Well, wrong. I have life experience that you won’t find on any resume- I recently overcame an eating disorder.
It began for me in 10th grade, for reasons I can’t explain. I started taking a higher interest in how my body looked and began to experiment with how I could change it. My mom also noticed this and would bring it up when we were alone, but of course I told her she was just overanalyzing things as usual. I just wanted a “beach body” in time for summer, like the magazines promised, that was all. In my head, I told myself, once you look toned, you can stop. Just for bikini season…Bikini season lasted much longer than I had planned.
Teachers and coaches commented that I was looking thinner than usual- but that wasn’t saying much. My teacher’s own daughter was on the heavier side and my coach wanted me to move into the post position, so I thought they were just biased. I ignored them… Then, that summer I hit my lowest weight since 6th grade.
Sure, I noticed that I would get tired quickly in basketball games, but just attributed it to the summer heat. And that’s how it went for another year- if someone commented on my weight; I would just brush it off.  After a car accident, I gained a lot of it back and became very unhappy. My mom took a big interest in what I ate, and started to make me sit down with the family for dinner since I could no longer go to practice. It’s funny how if you told me to do one thing, I would do the opposite. I had to get in shape!! I was going to college in a matter of months- and you know, freshman gain a whole bunch of weight. The harder she pushed, the harder I pushed back. And that brings me to Duke.
I’ve never been one to care what other people think. It was all about what I thought of myself really, and that was my biggest problem. For me it was never about a number or a size, it was some idea in my head that I just had to keep pushing towards. You could say that’s what got me into Duke in the first place- I always did what I set out to do. Now that I lived in the same room as another person, got even better at hiding my secret- so good I had even convinced myself that nothing was wrong…I probably would never have stopped, but I dove right into rock bottom. One day I found myself hiding in the last bathroom stall with a lap full of junk-food, hating myself and my habit. That was the day that I decided there was, indeed, something very wrong and I needed help.
It wasn’t just what food I ate, it was how rarely I would eat in public, how much time I put into working out, how much I had to lie to keep my secret. I was isolating myself, while still being surrounded by people. I began to see a psychologist, nutritionist, and physician to help address every aspect of my disorder- how I felt about myself and food, and what had done to my body. After building these connections for almost 4 years, it was hard to just let them go. It’s like any abusive relationship- despite the tears and pain, this is what I had grown close to. But I knew if I wanted to have a true relationship with someone, if I wanted to have faith in myself, if I wanted to serve others, if I wanted to live out my life, I had to stop.
It took a lot of courage and pep talks in my head before I could my friends, but what came next was shocking. After telling my story, I heard a string of quiet “me too’s”. Some of my best memories are at Duke, but so are some of my worst ones. My biggest mistake was thinking that I was alone. I was never alone in my struggles; my friends gave me strength without even trying, and some even carried the same battle with them. Everyone knows somebody like me. And if you don’t think you do, you probably just aren’t paying close enough attention. If you are that somebody, please, please don’t ever feel like you are alone. Talk to your friends, talk to CAPS, talk to anyone. But believe me, keeping it a secret will not help you heal. What defines us is how we rise after falling.
I no longer check out my belly in the mirror every time I walk out of a bathroom.
I no longer do math in my head to figure out what I can and cannot eat.
I no longer see pictures of other women and think “I wish I looked like that”
I no longer feel guilty about specific foods, nor do I battle with cravings.
I have forgiven myself and have healed mind and body. I was only able to do this because I finally admitted that I had a problem and asked for help.

Something that has stuck with me is the ability to pick up mannerisms and attitudes like my own. Duke is no stranger to eating disorders and something needs to be done about it. Don’t be afraid to raise your hand and say, “me too”.