I’ve always felt uncomfortable about my boobs.
I’m sorry for all the times I made you go hungry.
The patriarchal roots of my stomach-sucking habit weren’t lost on me.
From their size to their function, vaginas really are amazing things.
This show is everything that’s wrong with the world.
Skinny-shaming is not okay, but neither is dismissing fat-shaming.
It’s your most powerful asset.
It’s not fat sex. It’s just SEX. Human sex.
Different shapes require different styles.
Remember the film American Beauty? A middle-aged man develops an obsession with his daughter’s friend – I don’t remember much about the storyline, but I do remember the key scene that has become quite iconic: a naked Mena Suvari lying in a bed of red roses while seductively looking into the camera with only very little of her body covered with petals.
San Francisco based photographer Carey Fruth has now taken this well-known scene as inspiration for her latest photography project in which she snapped 14 women in the same setting as Mena Suvari: naked in a bed of flowers. The main difference? The women she chose don’t necessarily reflect the general American beauty ideal that was portrayed in the movie (young, tall, and skinny).
Quite the contrary, Fruth chose women in different shapes, sizes, ethnicities, and ages. Ranging from size 2 to size 22 and aged 18 to 69, Fruth wants to show what real American beauty looks like; in other words, there is no one American beauty, but a variety.
In an interview with the Huffington Post, Fruth said: “When women come into my studio, I want to prove to them that they ARE as beautiful as they always feared they weren’t, then maybe they can let go of that fear. By stepping into a fantasy dream girl world and by letting go of that fear, they free themselves up to direct that energy they once wasted on telling themselves that they weren’t good enough to elsewhere in their life.”
This sounds absolutely beautiful and is a very good reminder that the women we predominantly see in the media are not a reflection of reality. Only because we don’t look like a model on the cover of a magazine doesn’t mean that we aren’t good enough.
Looking at these 14 images, I can honestly say that even though all of these women look different, they all share one thing: they look confident and beautiful in their own way. What a great way of embracing diversity.
Images via popsugar
Mark Twain said that quitting an addiction to tobacco was easy; he had done it often. But what is an addiction? According to Psychology Today, an accepted definition for an addiction is: ‘a condition that results when a person ingests a substance or engages in an activity that can be pleasurable but the continued use/act of which becomes compulsive and interferes with ordinary life responsibilities.’
We intuitively know what an addiction is; when a behaviour becomes an addiction is more problematic. Is someone watching television for eight hours a day an addiction? Do two cigarettes a day constitute an addiction? Is gambling £10 a day an addiction?
Quite what causes a treat to lapse into an addiction is open to debate. Addictions such as smoking and drug abuse will arise as some form of biological alteration, where the brain and body decides that it likes a certain chemical and wants more. When an attractive and pleasurable behaviour occurs in the animal brain the neurotransmitter dopamine is released into the system, but the brain can grow to desire more, and the initial hit is not enough – combine that with cues around us such as availability and advertising, and the hit becomes irresistible.
Other addictions may be generated by one’s life situation or state of mind. Behaviours such as polishing off pints of alcohol, placing £100 on Arsenal to win, and purchasing wigs do not seem rational or even comparable, but each may counteract a feeling of emotional stress. That stress might be counteracted by one behaviour, or many; a highly-addictive personality might swap between an uncontrollable need for alcohol or drugs, simply because they must quell the needy parts of their behaviour.
This substitution method at least gives an option for the person desperate to kick a habit. Smokers worldwide, for example, have tried many methods of breaking their addiction such as gums and nicotine patches, with varying results. E-cigarettes however not only recreate the addictive chemical element of nicotine, but also the physical actions of lifting a tool to the mouth and drawing.
It is perhaps no surprise then that sales of patches and gum fell by 3% last year, dropping for the first time since 2008. Meanwhile vaping device sales grew by 75%, thanks to the efforts of scientifically astute companies such as EL-Science, creating an alternative to traditional smoking that’s fun, funky and a viable alternative to smoking.
According to journalist Johann Hari, who has researched drug addiction across the globe, a combination of cues and an unhappy, deprived lifestyle can often be the impetus behind an addiction. His theory, revealed in the Huffington Post, was partially based on experiments on rats that had developed an addiction to drugged water before being placed in more pleasant conditions and subsequently kicking their habits.
Combine that with worldwide evidence that seems to suggest placing people in recuperative, replenishing and pleasant environments to conquer their demons, as opposed to punishing them, and the likelihood of success is higher. Much like prisoners, removing negative cues and giving a sufferer a desire to achieve, and more than anything, human connections, seems to work.
To us women, shaving our armpit hair might seem like the most natural thing to do, but if you think about it, it’s not natural at all. In fact, women only started shaving their legs, armpits, and other body parts about 100 years ago when fashion changed and women’s bodies weren’t covered from neck to toe anymore.
An idea of what is beautiful soon turned into a social norm and by the 1950s, every woman knew how to work a razor. Nowadays, it seems like shaving your armpits isn’t really a choice, it is expected of you.
A few celebrities are questioning that notion now and have started a small armpit hair revolution. Leading the pack of modern feminists is Miley Cyrus, who stopped shaving her armpits a few months ago and isn’t afraid to show them off. She even dyed her armpit hair pink at one stage and thanked photographer Terry Richards for not retouching the photos he took of Miley and (all) her hair.
Other celebs who prefer to go au naturel are Girls stars Lena Dunham and Jemima Kirke, and even Madonna showed off her underarm hair on Instagram recently. So, what do we think about this trend? Is not shaving your armpit hair a sign of being an empowered woman fighting for equality?
The answer is yes, if we assume that women only shave their armpits because men want them to. However, it’s not quite as black and white and I am sure that many women out there happily shave their hair without even caring much about what men think, just like most men shave their beards because they prefer it that way.
In the end, the way we look is always going to be a reflection of society’s ideals and expectations, whether it’s women’s armpit hair or men’s beards. What’s important is that we give people the freedom to choose. So if you want to grow out your armpit hair, please do so! But if you don’t, that’s absolutely fine, too.
Image via buzz-hut.com
Women’s clothes are generally less comfortable than men’s clothes, it’s not a secret. But just how much pain do women have to go through and what effects does tight clothing have on our bodies? These questions are easily answered – without any words, but through photographs by Justin Bartels.
In a series of black and white photographs showing women’s bodies who had just taken off tight clothing, such as skinny jeans, push up bras, or lace up heels, Bartels gives us an impression of the impact fashion can have on our bodies. Deep marks are left by every seam, lace, or button; one woman’s bare feet even look as if she is still wearing her lace up heels, the dents are that deep.
Bartels had the idea for the photo series after dating different women who all had one thing in common: Tight and uncomfortable outfits. By showing the marks, which are almost wounds, Bartels wants us women to question why we choose style over comfort. The answer would most likely include society’s unrealistic beauty standards and expectations.
Seeing those pictures as a woman, what is shown seems familiar as most of us have worn tight jeans before or heels that leave not only marks, but blisters and cuts on our feet. What seems normal to us, really should make us think: Why do we choose skinny jeans over loose pants and high heels over medium heels? Are we trying to please others? Is it masochism? And most of all: Is it worth it?
Image via refinery29.com
If I were to ask women about one thing that they would like to change about their bodies, getting rid of some stubborn fat bulges would undoubtedly be among the top three answers. Technically this is achievable through the right diet and exercise, but there are certain areas of our bodies that will never be as flat as we want them to be, mostly due to genetics.
Liposuction is an option to reduce fat, but many people don’t want to go to the extreme of having surgery. As impossible as it sounds, there is a new way to permanently eliminate fat without having to go through surgery and it is still relatively unknown in Australia. It’s called CoolSculpting and it could be the answer to your fitting-into-those-skinny-jeans prayers. CoolSculpting simply freezes fat cells in your body without the use of needles or any other skin penetrating device. But more on that later.
I talked to skin aesthetician Emma Stewardson from world-renowned plastic surgery clinic Silkwood Medical to get all my questions about the seemingly magic machine answered.
So Emma, how does CoolSculpting work?
The CoolSculpting machine cools fat cells down to a temperature which basically causes them to die. However, the temperature is not cold enough to damage any surrounding tissue or nerves, that way only the fat cells are destroyed and gradually removed from our bodies.
What happens when you book a CoolSculpting treatment at Silkwood Medical?
You first come in for a consultation where we explain how CoolSculpting works and then we see if you are a suitable candidate for it. We try to find fat pockets that are easy to pinch and then we do a so-called ‘full transformation plan’ which shows you all areas on your body that would be possible to treat. You can then decide which areas you want to focus on.
On the day of the treatment I advise patients to wear comfortable clothes and the first thing we then do is take 360 degree photos of them, followed by marking up the area that we are going to treat. After that, gel pads are applied and the vacuum is turned on, which sucks the fat in. Depending on the area, we choose different applicators that vary in size and shape.
Lastly, we turn on the cooling and make sure our patient feels comfortable and has everything they need for the duration of the treatment, such as refreshments and entertainment. After the cycle is finished, we remove the vacuum and do a 2-minute massage, which enhances the effectiveness of the fat freezing.
What does it feel like?
Most patients don’t feel any pain, but rather a feeling of pressure, pulling, and mild pinching. This is completely normal as the applicator sucks in the tissue in the targeted area. You will also feel intense cold, but that feeling usually subsides after a few minutes. Overall, it is a comfortable treatment during which you can just lean back and relax. At Silkwood Medical, we will provide you with lots of entertainment such as movies and magazines, or you can work on your laptop or even take a nap if you like.
Does it work on everybody?
In order for CoolSculpting to work on your body, you need to have pinch-able fat pockets. If there is not enough fat, it can’t be sucked into the applicator, but most people have those nasty fat pockets anyway.
When do you see results?
It takes a bit of time for the body to eliminate the dead fat cells. Some people see results after 3 weeks, but the biggest change usually occurs between 8-12 weeks after the treatment.
Are there any side effects or risks?
Prior to the treatment we make sure you are the right candidate and don’t have any health conditions that CoolSculpting could affect. Other than that, your skin might look a bit bruised and swollen at first in the area that was treated and it might feel itchy for a few days, but that’s all. There is no downtime.
Is the fat gone for good?
Yes. Basically, your fat cells can either expand or shrink. With CoolSculpting, you are killing fat cells which are then eliminated. Of course you can still put on weight, but it will be much more evenly instead of just in that one area. So you can maintain a balanced body shape more easily.
CoolSculpting was developed by Harvard University scientists who noticed that some children who were eating popsicles all of a sudden had dimples on their cheeks, which lead them to the revelation that cold temperatures affect fat cells. But don’t just jump into a bath full of ice water, it doesn’t work like that.
Here are some stats: 92 per cent of patients who had just one CoolSculpting treatment noticed a reduction of fat in the treated area and 8 out of 10 patients plan to refer friends or family members. Not bad, not bad.
I have to say, it sounds pretty amazing and the results speak for themselves as you can see in the before and after pictures below. As any cosmetic treatment, it doesn’t come cheap (prices start from $990 for one cycle – still much cheaper than liposuction or a pair of Manolo Blahniks) and is no substitute for a healthy lifestyle, but it is fantastic to have an alternative to surgery.
Are you unable to put down your smart phone? Maybe over eating or drinking is your problem? Perhaps you’re indulging in too many prescription pills? Whether someone is overcoming an illegal or legal addiction is irrelevant. Most addictive behaviours can be treated similarly and have a similar pattern and path. Once these are understood, it is much easier to overcome any type of addiction.
Addiction in it’s most basic form, is excessive behaviour. The difference between regular behaviour and an addiction, is that regular behaviour can be ceased without distress and can be absent from ones life, without causing a significant impact.
In today’s society we have many behaviours than can easily lead to addictions. The following scenario depicts an addictive behaviour, associated with mobile phone use.
You hear the tone of your phone go off during a funeral. Instead of switching it off or declining the call; you choose to pick it up and start a conversation. You therefore need to answer your phone, regardless of your physical situation. In this instance, you may have an addictive behaviour attached to the use of your mobile phone.
Why this person felt inclined to answer the call, could have been, for one of two reasons. Either they did it automatically and neglected to notice their surroundings or they felt an overwhelming compulsion to answer it. In the later, they may have needed to answer the call to relieve distress or considerable discomfort they felt, when the phone rang.
This would have occurred through conditioning. Behavioural Psychologists such as Pavolv and Skinner, did extensive research into how behaviours were learned, maintained and extinguished. This has been exceptionally helpful in the field of addiction.
According to behavioural psychologists, the first step toward changing behaviour, is recognising it. For example; alcoholism can’t be treated without the drinker being aware they have a problem. So if you or someone you know has a problem that goes unnoticed; the behaviour isn’t likely to change.
Once the behaviour is recognised as being excessive, measures can be taken to correct it. In most cases this will involve acknowledging and understanding triggers which lead to the behaviour. Triggers are those things in life which prompt a behaviour. Using the scenario above; the ring tone would be considered the trigger and answering the phone, the conditioned behaviour.
Once a behaviour is learned and has been maintained, it can be difficult to extinguish. Maintenance usually occurs so the person can avoid the negative consequences of avoiding the behaviour. For example, alcoholics and drug abusers maintain their addiction, by knowing they need to ingest their desired substance, to avoid withdrawal.
Avoiding negative consequences can be a powerful maintenance tool. Once this is overcome, the process of extinguishing can commence. This involves avoiding the behaviour and reprogramming the conditioning process. With the mobile phone scenario, an example of reconditioning could involve ignoring the ring tone so it diminishes the conditioned behaviour. It may cause the person considerable discomfort to initially ignore the tone, but after a time, it would become much easier.
To alter the behaviour to answer the phone only when appropriate; the tone should be changed and the behaviour of only answering at specific times, would be practised. This would encourage a less addictive behaviour. Similar practices are done with food intake, such as eating only at the table or designating food free zones, such as the lounge room, where people often snack on unhealthy foods.
In theory, overcoming addictions is quite simple. However, emotions complicates the process. If you view an excessive behaviour as a conditioned, rather than emotional behaviour, your chance of overcoming it will be increased.
By Kim Chartres
I have been a writer for most of my adult life and it comes with one professional requirement: Spending most of one’s adult life alone and sitting in a chair. And so I have been spared a lot of the water cooler conversations women might have together at work. I have no idea what women actually talk to each other about at work, but I’m imagining conversations might turn to food and fat and diets.
I’m basing that assumption on the fact that my mother works in an office and discusses weight and its imminent loss with me all the time, and has done for the last 25 years. “I’m cutting out caffeine, sugar, alcohol and dairy!” she told me last week. “Why live?” was my response and last week, while the rest of the family tucked into a glorious meal of traditional Mexican seafood soup, she scraped at a container of hummus with a rice cracker.
When I told her I didn’t think it was appropriate to bring the tub of hummus to the table and scrape at the corners of it, she sulked and ate it over the sink. I have to admit though, she is terrifically and cheerfully thin. My body, in the meantime, was taking me from place to place okay and when I did put on weight, my mother would have to point it out because I hadn’t noticed. She would try to put it delicately at first, “You’re putting on a little bit of weight,” and in case I hadn’t got the message, she would add, “I’ve never seen you this large.”
So I would head out the door for a sluggish, painful jog at night and when gasping with breath, wonder at how it had only been 10 minutes since I’d left the house. It wasn’t a ‘relationship with my body’ one hears in yoga class that I was having. I was a head my body carried around with the hope that in return, I wouldn’t let it get too fat.
And then something happened to change my head and my body’s life – I started dating a man whose body looked like it stepped off the pages of Men’s Health Magazine. He would peel off his clothing and walk towards the bedroom and it was so laughably perfect, in the back of my mind I would be thinking – no one would believe what I am witnessing right now, even if I posted it on Facebook. Which would be in bad taste, so I can’t do that.
A body this perfect, I soon discovered, requires a bit of work and healthy boyfriends enjoy the company of healthy girlfriends and so I listened without much enthusiasm as he explained how I could get a body this hot. Weight lifting. The last time I considered weight lifting was at high school when another school girl mentioned she had tried lifting weights but it was making her arms too bulky. She peeled back her school jumper and that’s when I turned around to look at her and indeed, her arms did look thick. Nope, I thought, not doing that then. I’ll just keep eating apples and diet coke and see how that goes.
The boyfriend explained that engaging the whole body in a single movement, ie. lifting a bar bell over one’s head, or holding a plate against the chest and squatting, will transform the whole body rather than lying on the ground and doing sit-ups. Movements that use every muscle get one’s heart rate up and strengthen the core and the elusive six-pack is simply a result of having more muscle than fat, all over the body. I wouldn’t get bulky, he promised, but stronger and leaner. If that was something I was interested in…What I was interested in was keeping the hot boyfriend, and lifting a few weights over my head seemed like a small price to pay.
Because I am someone who doesn’t like to be told by their boyfriend how to lose weight, I decided to join a gym and talk to a professional, instead. A personal trainer took me for a tour around the facilities. “See these people on the tread mill, wasting their time,” he said. “They’re here because they’ve put on weight and they are shocking their system by running for an hour after which, their body is going to store fat in the awful event that it happens again.” Okay, so how do I not do that, I asked. “Warm up for 10 minutes on the treadmill and then follow me.” He took me, dear reader, straight into the weight room.
“Muscle feeds on more calories than fat and so if you build muscle, your metabolism is raised and it will stay raised for the next 24 hours. If you want to lose weight and get toned, walk towards the weight room and stay here.”
The weight room, I discovered, doesn’t have a lot of women in it. But the few women in there weren’t Chinese Olympic Swimming Team bulky, but lean and defined. My approach to learning the various techniques was to eagle eye what somebody else was doing and when they moved off the machine, to copy them.
Now I have my own routine and what looks like the beginning of a six-pack. At least when I scrunch forward and tense my stomach, there is definitely something brewing in there. My arms and shoulders are strong and my glutes have a roundness that will keep the dreaded Anglo-Saxon pancake arse at bay. And the greatest benefit of all is that when my mother asked me what diet I was on, I shuddered my head as if it was out of the question and replied, “I lift.’
The very best approach for finding your way around a weight-lifting room is to hire a personal trainer for a session. After which, they will try very hard to coax you into seeing them regularly and if you are like me, you might have to blurt out your after tax income so they will stop hassling you.
After your five to 10-minute warm-up, when you enter the weight-lifting room on your own, head towards with the machines. Ultimately, you will move off the machines when you have developed your muscle strength, but they will keep your movements stabilised at first. I walk over to the machine and I study the stick figure animation. I am not pretending to know what I’m doing and there’s a chance I could get it wildly wrong and nobody wants to be the one doing star-jumps on top of a bench press.
- Position yourself inside the machine and make sure your back is straight. If you have to curl or hunch your back for any exercise, you are doing it wrong.
- Adjust the weight so that there is some resistance, but you can do 8-12 repetitions before you become fatigued. If you can do 30 reps without fatigue, it’s time to increase the weight.
- Rest between sets or move to another machine within a minute or two. Your heart rate has spiked and you will want to keep it high. Be careful not to go too fast. The aim is to engage as many muscles in your body at the same time, even with the simplest exercise.
- If the machine has been racked with heavy weights which will require you to lift them off, I usually find another one that’s less intimidating.
- Create your own circuit by moving between three or four machines.
- Try to eat a small meal before your work-out and a snack as soon as you have finished. The faster you can eat that snack afterwards, the less muscle ache you will have tomorrow.
I lift weights for 45 minutes, twice a week and my body is toned but still very curvy. If I work out more than that, I start looking like Madonna’s Blond Ambition Tour. The greatest benefit of all is the word ‘diet’ never crossed my lips. The more I ‘lifted’, the more proteins my body wanted to eat. Carbohydrates didn’t feel as nourishing, anymore. And when people are struggling to put their luggage into the over-head cabins, I really enjoy that moment when I offer to help and plop that sucker in with the greatest of ease.
Vivienne Walshe is an Australian playwright and screenwriter. Her plays have been highly awarded and published by Currency Press. As an actress she appeared on The Secret Life of Us and many other television shows and performed in plays at the Melbourne Theatre company, Sydney Theatre company and Queensland Theatre company.