Tag Archives: womens bodies

Are Girls Selling Their Bodies To Pay For College?

Marcel and I Doing Our Thing

Every now and then a story like this comes into the public arena. Burdened by college loans and living costs, a girl turns to porn (or escort services or being a dominatrix) just to stay above water. We feel sympathetic to these stories, bemoaning a troubled education system or the poor job market. But with social networking sites like MyGirlFund now littering every corner of the internet, and every fetish, fantasy, and “deviance” attainable at the click of a button, such techniques may become the way of the future. And that’s a scary reality.

MyGirlFund markets itself as a place for men and women to come together to “achieve their specific goals.” By that it means that women sign in to the site and set a fundraising goal they’d like to meet. Men sign in and can peruse the women, engage them in chat and video conversations, and contribute to their funds if they wish. The women will up the ante by posting nude or semi-nude photos and videos of themselves and set prices to certain “goods.” As an example, one woman posted: “$55 til goal… hit it for me and you get 6 vids.” Another posted: “All content $30!!” And there’s no mistaking what the “content” entails.

MyGirlFund is now reporting that many college girls are flocking to the site before matriculating, hoping to make some money for their college tuition. The site’s Director of Business Development, Stefan Patrick commented:

Members list their financial goals when they join and the new coeds are vocal about their tuition needs. One new member penned the memorable line, ‘When good girls can’t pay their tuition, anything can happen,’ on her profile, but overall these are young women who would never consider stripping, porn or public group cam shows.

Patrick argues that the women have total autonomy and that the site can actually be very empowering for them, allowing them to achieve their goals in a safe and private environment. Clearly this guy, and others involved with the website, can’t appreciate the deeply degrading and sexist system we live in that makes girls think their bodies can be assigned monetary value. But we’ve lived in this world with its rampant gender inequality long enough to know that men will pay for women to bare their bodies.

On that note, we’d like to know who these men are who get pleasure out of gawking at women in such a materialistic way. Perhaps it wouldn’t seem so offensive if the exhibitionism and voyeurism at least went both ways, but MyGirlFund organized the site in such a way that male and female roles are rigidly defined. Either way, we have to find healthier ways of paying tuition and making a living — not to mention connecting with other human beings in meaningful ways.

What do you think? Is this an acceptable way for girls to earn their college tuition, or is this as backwards, sexist, and disrespectful as it seems? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below!

5 Quotes From Dr. Christiane Northrup That Will Make You Proud to Be a Woman

 

christiane_prodPeriods, PMS, menopause, morning sickness… Is there any aspect of the body’s cycles women can be proud of? According to the media and mainstream Western culture, women have more to feel ashamed and plagued by than proud of when it comes to their bodies. With messages of body positivity only barely making a dent in women’s overwhelmingly conflicted relationships with their bodies, something has got to give.

Enter, Dr. Christiane Northrup, the women’s health expert shaking every belief we’ve held about the female body for decades. Northrup’s reality check: Menstruation is a sacred experience that demands rest and self-regeneration. So-called “PMS” is really a flourishing of creative energy that surges through the female brain at certain points in her cycle. Menopause is a process of transformation, during and after which women can experience the best sex of their lives.

If any of the above statements contradict your own feeling about your body, then read on. In these 5 soul-shaking quotes from an interview featured in the latest issue of Spirituality & Health Magazine, Northrup offers a rallying cry for women to embrace the powerful bodies they inhabit:

1. The key is to understand that every woman has the keys to the kingdom inside herself, and those keys are found in doing those things that she loves to do.

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2. You [women] have a cycle where you bleed in tune with the moon. It is the cycle responsible for all human life on earth. It is the cycle that connects you to your creativity and to the very essence of the tide coming in, the tide going out, the seasons, the sap going into the roots and then rising up, and we have been taught for 5,000 years to be ashamed of that cycle.

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3. Did you know that we have as much erectile tissue inside our pelvis as men have? only, theirs is on the outside. What we have is the clitoris, which is the only organ in the human body whose sole function is pleasure.

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4. Menopause is when you really move into your goddess energy in a big way. You’re no longer losing your blood, so you move into this phase now where your FSH and LH hormones in the pituitary gland are at the same levels as when you’re ovulating. and for many women that is their peak time
of sexual desire.

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5. What we women are sure of is that there’s a man out there who will complete us. That’s what every movie tells us. But what it’s really about is doing that inner work of completing oneself.

Only as complete, proud, self-loving individuals can women experience the fullness of life that they deserve. Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below!

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SH_JulyAug_CVR_lrgSpirituality & Health is a magazine for people who want to explore the spiritual journey and wake up to our capacity for self-healing, vitality, and resiliency. Read the entire conversation with Christine Northrup in the July-August edition of Spirituality & Health, on newsstands now! Get your first issue FREE here.

Would you like to win a FREE year-long subscription to Spirituality & Health magazine?

This month, Intent is giving away 5 year-long subscriptions to Spirituality & Health magazine. To enter, simply comment below with your favorite empowering quote. Be sure to include your name and email so we can contact you if you win.

 

What If Barbie Reflected an Average 19-Year-Old’s Body?

829420150_1371948989If Barbie were a real woman, she would have half a liver, a head too heavy for her neck to hold up, and feet so tiny she’d have to move on all fours. The iconic Mattel doll’s proportions are so wildly unrealistic yet pervasively admired that it’s no wonder women around the world are plagued with a sense of inadequacy.

Well move aside, Barbie, because there’s a new doll in town! Artist Nickolay Lamm has created a 3-D model of what Barbie would look like if she were based on the proportions of an average 19-year-old American girl (as reported by the CDC.) Granted, the average 19-year-old will have a youthful body, a fast metabolism, and may not yet have had children – so her body is still going to look a lot different than the average adult woman’s. But with eating disorders and body image issues so prevalent during teenage years, it’s imperative to have representations of beauty that model something closer to real life.

In an interview with Huffington Post, Lamm said, “If we criticize skinny models, we should at least be open to the possibility that Barbie may negatively influence young girls as well. Furthermore, a realistically proportioned Barbie actually looks pretty good.”

Drum-roll, please! Here is Barbie as a beautiful young woman, who would have a head raised high, a full set of organs, and two sturdy feet to carry her to college, work, or wherever her heart wishes!

Barbie 3

Barbie 4

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Barbie 1

What do you think of this re-imagining of the Barbie doll? Is it still too far from what the average woman’s body really looks like? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below!

“A Beautiful Body”: Reclaiming Beauty from a Backward Culture that Devalues Mothers’ Bodies

Motherhood brings love, joy, and children into women’s lives. It also brings responsibility, body changes, and considerable sleepless nights – these are parts of the bargain. One thing it should not entail, but often does, is body shame and low self-esteem. In pregnancy and motherhood, women’s bodies become vessels of life. They are the sites of ultimate creativity and abundance, and there is no shame in that.

But then come the stretch marks and scars, the loose skin and soft breasts, and it’s hard not to look at yourself and feel alienated from the image of beauty our culture promotes. This phenomenon has inspired photographer Jade Beall to reclaim women’s natural beauty in her series “A Beautiful Body.” The project began when Beall entered into the world of motherhood and, as way of coping with the changes her body was experiencing, began posting photos of her post-pregnancy body to Facebook. The response was overwhelming, Beall writes on her website. There was clearly a deep longing for and desperate lack of widespread representations of real mom bodies, in all their beauty and life-giving power.

Thus Beall began photographing women in all stages of pregnancy and motherhood, some with big baby bellies, some with newborns, some with grown kids and years-old stretch marks kissing their soft tummies. The degree of enthusiasm for this project led Beall to embark on publishing a book by the same title, now available for pre-order. The book will contain photographs of mothers (like the ones above) along with each woman’s personal story of finding beauty and strength in spite of media-enforced stereotypes.

It speaks to the world we live in to see so many women crippled by feelings of shame and inadequacy. The materialist, superficial culture we live in outlines a narrow box with the label “Beauty,” and anything that doesn’t fit into it gets brushed aside. This leaves us feeling responsible for our own lack. But the reality is that these labels and values are 100% arbitrary, empty, and meaningless. Thus the task for all of us, as Beall’s series demonstrates, is to reframe our lens; to reclaim our bodies, as well as our aesthetic values, which have been co-opted for so many years by a media culture that has no real interest in our well-being.

What do you think? Are you inspired by Beall’s photo series? Please share your own photos and stories in the comments below and on social media!

 

All photographs by Jade Beall.

Redefining Beauty and Brains as a Middle-Aged Hippie

WBeverley-online-Ghen I was much younger people saw me as being so beautiful or so smart. Some who knew me very well, actually saw both. I strove at all costs to have my intellect be recognized as my principle asset and, heaven forbid, someone would relate to me as ‘just another pretty face.”

To some degree that worked. I left high school early and went to play with a large group of boys at university, who were all eager to make their mark in the big bad world of business, as was I. At graduation, I was awarded the gold medal as the outstanding graduate from a class of 400 business students. Not bad considering only ten of us were women. Times have definitely changed.

Now that I’m older, I’d like to think that I’m still smart. My mother at least confirms this for me by telling me “You’re too smart for your own good.” Although I’ve never quite figured out what that means, I am going to take it as a compliment. The beauty issue is quite another story. Actually, it is in fact intertwined with many, many of my life stories, which are chronicled in my upcoming memoir Confessions of a Middle-Aged Hippie, to be published this summer.

Up until a week ago, the picture that lives of me in cyberspace, (although only two-and-a-half-years old), apparently looks to some people like I am a lot younger than I am. One man told me I look like a single woman still in the dating scene who is in her late 20s or early 30s. Yikes! I immediately booked a photo session, as I wanted a fresh new authentic author photo that represents who I am today. Having always photographed well, I’m grateful that most of the time, I do look good in pictures. However, I admit that like many aging women, I questioned how real would be real enough to accurately represent me now. Tough question indeed.

My life, as I write about in my book, has been a journey to shift paradigms and show what is truly possible. Pretty much in most areas of my life. I know that through the magic of Photoshop or air brushing, it is quite easy to appear flawless and young. Does what I represent in my stories and how I live my life mean my author photo needs to be au naturel and show that I truly walk my talk?

As a highly visual person, (with a very strong Venus influence in my astrological chart) I openly confess that I love beauty. Youthful, innocent, flawless beauty. Beauty of course is a very subjective topic, yet for me, I sometimes wonder if having been young and beautiful might have been totally wasted on me back when I was. People still tell me I am beautiful. Somehow I hear the subtext “for your age” in the statement, even though it isn’t spoken. I understand that this might seem to be shallow and I confess it might be.

As a wise cousin once said to me “When you grow up as the pretty one, you learn to walk through the world differently than those of us (meaning her) who aren’t as pretty.” I guess that’s true, however, I can’t know her experience, as I haven’t walked in her shoes. Although technically I did, as I had to borrow her shoes to get married in, because my four-inch platform heals were vetoed before the wedding ceremony. Full story in the book.

Not only do I love beauty, but I find thin plus beautiful even more attractive. Coming from a family who are generally plump or zaftig, I figured out a clever (remember I’m smart) way to get thin, by creating a very mysterious gastrointestinal illness that led to me malabsorbing mostly everything I ate (sometimes up to 4000 calories a day), resulting in me becoming painfully thin. I write about all this in my book, exposing myself in a very raw and vulnerable way, in hopes that it might be of some help to others. I even include a picture of me at 89 pounds looking like a walking skeleton, when my health was so bad that people didn’t think I would make it. But I did. In my case, pictures have always been worth way more than the proverbial thousand words.

Having spent almost an entire decade at an abnormally and unhealthy low weight, I have no idea what I would have aged like, as I moved into middle-age. My fall was so dramatic, that I had truly all but lost hope of ever looking “pretty” again or even getting above 95 pounds. I did emerge after a very long and arduous climb back. Maybe that is partly why this issue is so emotionally charged for me.

Even after all I’ve been through in my life, when the photographer asked if I was nervous about the shoot, I had to admit that the idea of having a new picture taken still surprisingly excites me. After all, I’ve had men become totally enamored with me (before even meeting me) just from my picture, intrigued by my eyes and smile and hopefully, the way I express myself. These might not be the “smart” men that are still out there.

So this middle-aged hippie took the plunge and had a photo shoot done. I’m ecstatic to report that it turned out wonderfully. We left most of the lines in my lower face and around my eyes, but not all of them. Some of the pictures are still pretty scary to me, however, and I won’t make those public. Many are exceptional. When I posted one of these new pictures on Facebook, the comments were incredible. Gorgeous. Beautiful. Radiant. Captured your shining inner spirit. One person asked how long ago the picture had been taken? Three days ago. They thought it was from when I was much younger. Hmm.

I’m still working on accepting the beauty I’ve grown into at this current age. I understand that, especially in North America, we have set warped and unattainable standards because of our obsession with youthful beauty. Times are changing. They have to, if we want to encourage young women to love and accept themselves as they are, so they are equipped to reach their full potential. It is imperative to foster their self-esteem, so they don’t diminish themselves by attempting to be something that is unrealistic and unobtainable for most.

I’d like to be someone who sets an example of what is possible relating to aging. It felt wonderful when a young thirty-year-old friend commented that when she clicked on my new picture online, she was delighted to see I wasn’t trying to look like a 40 or 50-something line-free, flawlessly Photoshopped woman. That I look beautiful and still represent my older age. A great affirmation for me.

Beauty is still an incredibly sensitive subject for me. I know that true beauty does come from inside. It radiates out from the soul. Hopefully my life experiences are shining through and I can continue to contribute to this ongoing conversation about aging gracefully, especially in a time when women feel compelled to have all kinds of “work” done to their faces in an effort to look young. Much of the time, ending up not even looking like who they are, but some fake virtually unrecognizable version of themselves. Each to their own. My vote goes to real and authentic.

All any of us truly wants is to be seen. So with Mother’s Day approaching, I encourage us all to shift the way we look and “see” the true beauty in everyone — regardless of age.

Love to hear your thoughts on women, aging and beauty.

Visit me at: www.beverleygolden.com   or follow me on Twitter: @goldenbeverley

Is Plastic Surgery Making Women All Look the Same?

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Does anyone watch beauty pageants anymore? In a way the tradition seems stale and outdated. But with shows like “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” and “Pageant Place” the culture of beauty contests is surprisingly alive and well. Obsession with physical beauty is nothing new in human cultures, and even body modification for aesthetic purposes has been around since ancient times. But we live in a world now where millions of people have undergone plastic surgery, and shame, body-hate, and dysmorphia run so deep we hardly know what we really look like anymore.

There has been recent buzz over South Korea’s national beauty pageant after a Reddit user posted an image (above) of the contestants and argued that, “Korea’s plastic surgery mayhem is finally converging on the same face.” According to a report from The Economist, South Korea has the highest per capita rate of plastic surgery, primarily for non-invasive skin and hair procedures.

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The United States still takes the cake, though, for more cosmetic surgeries overall, and the “same face” syndrome could definitely be applied to Americans, as well.

Even given all of that, and the many issues surrounding plastic surgery and beauty pageants, take a look at the women in the image above. Do these girls all look the same to you? Is it fair to even judge them in this way, when obviously there are 18 unique lives, experiences, minds, and hearts behind the faces? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below!

 

Photo credit: Reddit

Graph credit: The Economist

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