The Beauty Myth: Time To Wake Up

Nothing in American culture has caused so many health problems as the Beauty Myth. The belief, due to media-crazed hype, that women must be painfully thin to be beautiful has caused both physical and mental distress for so many young women. The fact these issues are mostly ignored outside the medical community is an even larger problem. It is ignored because it affects mostly the half of the population that is thought to be unworthy of thought, women.

Using myself as an example; I have been on both sides of the weight issue and have been part of the problem. As a model in my teens and twenties, I was painfully thin and portrayed that image. I was also suffering from a common disorder among our young, anorexia nervosa. I counted every calorie, lived on salad almost exclusively, and exercised like a madwoman to maintain the weight expected of me. At five-foot-five (66 inches or 165.10 CM), that weight was an unhealthy low of one-hundred-ten pounds (50 KG); right off the BMI chart altogether at the low end. Normal weight for someone my height is roughly one-hundred-eighteen pounds (54 KG) up to one-hundred-forty-eight pounds (67 KG): and I strove to lower that even more.

 

Fast-forward to my forties, and I am attempting to find some relief from a lifetime of major depressive disorder. I was put on a medication called Remeron, a tetracyclic drug, used for depression, anxiety, and PTSD. In six months I gained a whopping one-hundred-fifteen pounds (52 KG)! Suddenly I went from the normal end of the BMI chart to the obese domain. I was devastated, as you may imagine. My delayed research indicated that researchers don’t know why, but some medications can cause weight gain of up to twenty pounds a month and change your metabolism and the way your body stores nutrients. I have struggled for the past ten years to remove that weight, with little result.

I now have all the complications you would expect from being overweight: diabetes, high cholesterol, and self-esteem issues aplenty. As a teen suffering anorexia, my self-esteem has always been largely tied to my weight. I now live with “fat discrimination” and “body shaming” as a regular occurrence. One of my oldest friends does not believe that I don’t just sit on the couch, stuffing my face with pies, cakes, and cookies. I have
been called both a cow and a pig, especially by young men.

I have now seen both sides of the beauty myth coin and would like to call attention to them both. Neither extreme is healthy, either physically or mentally, for anyone, man or woman. For men, it is different. Men don’t live under the beauty myth’s focus. Not to say, by any means, that there aren’t young men whose self-esteem is tied to body weight and image, or suffer the debilitating effects of anorexia, there are, but it is far less common than it is for young women.

Human beings come in all shapes and sizes. Many have medical issues that put them on one side or the other of a healthy weight to begin with. Most women do not meet the glorified ideal portrayed through the media naturally. We expect a young woman to be thin to be beautiful putting a tremendous strain and mental fixation on our youth. Who doesn’t want to be considered beautiful?

Especially in this media-driven, advertising society where beauty is worshiped more than any god. It forces young women who were not fortunate enough to be small-boned and low in body fat into being anorexic to fit that image, to fit in, to be good enough, loved enough. In the case of so many, like Karen Carpenter, a music icon of the seventies, it can lead to death, or at the very least, an unhealthy idea of eating. I know an eight-year-old girl whose mother put her into modeling.

She is already showing signs of developing anorexia, and she’s not alone. The age of development of these disorders drops every decade. Body shaming has become a common term because it is so prevalent in our society which is so enmeshed in social media.

The good part of social media is that people have become more aware of health and wellness. We have begun, as a culture, to educate ourselves about a healthy weight and how to achieve and maintain it. At least among some of the adult population. Our young women are still inundated by the media ideal of beauty being an unachievable or life threatening level of thin. It’s time we started to open our eyes to the problem of the “beauty myth” and start to break through it.

Michele is an American writer, a student of psychology, and a substitute teacher. You can follow her blog ‘a single step’ here: 

https://notasweknow.wordpress.com/

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How To Be A World Class Public Speaker

It’s about learning the organic process of connecting with people not mechanical box ticking of things  “you’re supposed to do”

American actor, director and screenwriter Alan Alda has had quite the illustrious career. Streching four decades, not only has he picked up seven Emmy’s, a Golden Globe and an academy award nomination he’s also learned the tricks of the trade in effective communication.

In this conversation with Big Think, he explains why you should be weary of ‘tips’ on public speaking. Methodical steps like ‘take a pause after every paragraph’ or ‘walk from one side of the room to the other’ may sound good on paper but in practice, nothing will lose an audience quicker than the speaker mechanically following pre-planned pointers and movements.

Alda believes you should first and foremost focus on relating and connecting with the audience. That will inform you in the moment when to pause or when to walk. By learning to react to the audience you can sense whether they understand the point, whether it needs further explanation or whether you can tag on something extra to give it meaning and value.

Most importantly, connecting with an audience on a meaningful level requires an adept knowledge and deep understanding of the subject.

Alda eventually cedes towards the end of the clip and admits there are some ‘tips’ which may be useful in adding a bit of flair and compelling edge to speech after the groundwork is complete.

This is an honest and informative clip that offers intriguing insight without sounding preachy or pontifical.

Watch the interview below:

 

Why You Shouldn’t Be A Blogger

A beautiful short on the internal struggle of every creative.

 

Thinking you’re not good enough is something nearly every writer experiences. From thinking ‘what’s the point’ to ‘I’m just not talented enough’ , overcoming our internal doubts is often half the creative process.

Filmmaker and founder of DSLR Guide Simon Cade has unveiled a brilliant short video on overcoming our artistic insecurities and being resilient writers. Shot with the camera looking up at the gloomy grey clouds while handwritten text mirrors the narrator’s dialogue, it is a captivating arrangement which captures the journey of becoming confident and comfortable with your work.

Check out ‘Why You Shouldn’t Be An Artist’ below:

 

 

Why Setting Goals Is Not The Answer To Success

Have you ever reached a goal you’ve worked hard for and expected to feel a burst of elation only to feel a little dissatisfied? Or that you just immiediately increased the target to another goal?

In this short clip Adam Alter, author of ‘Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked’  argues that goals are never fulfilling and what you should focus on is implementing ‘systems’ instead.

Through the example of smart watches and fit bits Alter describes how people initially feel good about hitting a daily exercise goal. Yet soon the number becomes hollow and they

 

 

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have to keep increasing their exercise target in order to feel satisfaction or to feel that they’re achieving their goal. Otherwise they feel like their failing and eventually give up because they feel it’s not worth it.

This is an unsustainable way of achievement and Alter argues the problem with goals is they’re based on negative feedback, “if you don’t hit this goal you’re losing”

Systems on the other hand are based on a positive feedback mechanism. For example a blogger instead of saying “I’m going to write a post a day” can instead adopt a system of spending 40 minutes writing a day. Instead of focusing on getting a specific number of posts your focusing on becoming a better writer and saying

“Here’s my system, 40 minutes of writing a day and whatever number of words I get I’m achieving”

What Makes A Video Go Viral?

What makes a video go viral? Is it a formula or is it just something elusive and unpredictable? trying to make content that will go viral can be a dangerous game for content creators, limiting their creativity or trying to tailor their talents to what they think people like, rather than just trusting their gut with what is actually good content.

Unfortunately we have an online system that prioritizes vitality over quality. Videos such as “Charlie bit my finger” or the salt bae meme show that these things are almost impossible to predict and that trends change often, if you become good at what you like, it is likely the trend will follow you rather than the other way around.

What Would Elon Musk Be Working On If He Was 22?

Inventor, Entrepreneur and Englineer discusses what he views as the most important work to be doing if he was a young person in 2017.

Musk has been at the centre of the conversation around artificial intelligence and sustainable energy consumption over the past 15 years. He is ranked the 21st most influential people in the world and his current company SpaceX are working on a project to eventually allow humans to colonise Mars.

What Do Humans Really Want?

Are humans just naturally lazy, comfort and pleasure seeking beings? Or do we really want dignity and fulfilment?

in this riveting excerpt professor Noam Chomsky discusses how the billions upon billions of dollars spent on advertising has been used to psychologically manipulate are ideas of what we want.

Tracing trends from the industrial revolution of the 1800’s to the educated poor in the 1930’s, Chomsky argues that what we really want is a sense of belonging and dignity in our work, not evermore accumulation and consumption of products.

What are your thoughts?