Culture 20 March 2017
It's been an interesting few months for the media. A rejuvenation of sorts has taken place and since Mr. Trump's election, support for the media and its freedom of expression has grown inexorably.
Only where does that support stop?
Perhaps when, instead of squealing adulation for a powerful speech made to the U.N about ISIS genocide, they focus primarily on Amal Clooney's baby bump and Prada dress.
If the media coverage of Amal Clooney's speech at the U.N has told us anything, it's that we never learn, and the most important question now is will we?
And while I wish it was just tabloids that got involved in the outfit critiquing and heel commentary, the fact is, it wasn't. It was credible news sources, estimable outlets and that's the very reason why the commentary is so crushing.
I recently attended a U.N Women's event with the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS) addressing the #freebeingme campaign propelled in combination with the Dove Self-Esteem Project. The campaign has been running since 2014 and is centred around the need to reclaim the woman's body image in the public eye.
'The Image Myth' has plagued women for as long as the press has been in existence. Why? Because to sell papers and magazines, the press have utilized every means necessary to create unattainable beauty standards so copies will sell. Because human condition rules that we always want what we cannot have. It's a human failing - a flaw in our make up. It's how greed came to define Shakespeare's oeuvre and how both world wars began. The media play on this need to aspire - to dream, and thus manifests the image myth, whereby the women and men you see in publications are not actually real.
They are fictitious beings, transformed by lighting, makeup, sculpting, and since 1988, the great power of Photoshop. They are unrealistic portrayals of humanity, and of course therein lies the problem. If that which you seek to replicate is unreal, your goals are consequently unreachable, and you will forever be disappointing yourself by not reaching them.
And until recently, the problem with all of this has gone veritably unnoticed and unrecognized. Nobody appears to care, because, apparently, it hasn't done much harm. What women are doing isn't as important as how they look - right?
The underlying problem here is that no matter what we do, it's how we look that defines us, still, as women in the 21st century. Here of course, it was motherhood that most came to define Clooney, which in itself is problematic because if we are only ever to be considered as potential mothers or wives, women will never be elevated to those same positions men achieve daily throughout the world. To be seen through the lens of the mother or caregiver only is detrimental to the future empowerment and recognition of women on the global stage. If we're only ever seen as pretty, homely, petite - we lose the potential to be serious, intelligent and informed.
Representing Nadia Murad, an IS survivor, Clooney delivered an impassioned and eloquent speech about the U.N and Iraq's neglecting to bring to court the terrorists that have indeed been tearing apart the lives of millions of families for years now. Not one has stood trial for international war crimes. And yet, this abhorrent fact seemed to slip the minds of those who coined headlines such as "Amal Clooney Puts Her Growing Baby Bump On Display In Chic Yellow Dress For U.N. Speech" or "Wearing 4.5inch heels at 6 months pregnant... Is that wise Amal?"
“Mass graves in Iraq lie unprotected," Clooney said in her address to the U.N, “Witnesses are fleeing, and not one ISIS militant has faced trial for international crimes anywhere in the world."
Dove, together with the #freebeingme campaign collated results from a survey done in 13 countries throughout the globe and found that over half the women in the entire world have body image issues.
Why are these two events connected? Because until we start recognizing women for the real work they're doing, not the fake portrayals of people on the internet or in magazines lounging around on fake holidays - women will never be self-assured or confident enough to do anything else. What we should have been talking about the other day was Amal's speech; her client, her words and the corrosive inaction of the U.N. Instead I am painfully aware of the designer of her dress and the height of her slick black heels.
I do not want to be aware of these insignificant details. I do not care for how far along she is in her pregnancy - if she's showing a bump or not, because frankly, that is not what she was there for nor what she would have hoped people would be reporting on.
How do we fix it?
By reporting what matters; by fixing the image of the female in the public perspective; by rectifying the mistakes of those writers, advertizers, editors before us.
We are no longer household objects - we work, we build, we lead, we talk.
And what we have to say, is important.
3 Min Read
With a lack of certainty surrounding the future, being and feeling healthy may help bring the security that you need during these unpredictable times.
When it comes to your health, there is a direct relationship between nutrition and physical activity that play an enormous part in physical, mental, and social well-being. As COVID-19 continues to impact almost every aspect of our lives, the uncertainty of the future may seem looming. Sometimes improvisation is necessary, and understanding how to stay healthy and fit can significantly help you manage your well-being during these times.
Tip 1: Communicate with your current wellness providers and set a plan
Gyms, group fitness studios, trainers, and professionals can help you to lay out a plan that will either keep you on track through all of the changes and restrictions or help you to get back on the ball so that all of your health objectives are met.
Most facilities and providers are setting plans to provide for their clients and customers to accommodate the unpredictable future. The key to remaining consistent is to have solid plans in place. This means setting a plan A, plan B, and perhaps even a plan C. An enormous amount is on the table for this coming fall and winter; if your gym closes again, what is your plan? If outdoor exercising is not an option due to the weather, what is your plan? Leaving things to chance will significantly increase your chances of falling off of your regimen and will make consistency a big problem.
The key to remaining consistent is to have solid plans in place. This means setting a plan A, plan B, and perhaps even a plan C.
Tip 2: Stay active for both mental and physical health benefits
The rise of stress and anxiety as a result of the uncertainty around COVID-19 has affected everyone in some way. Staying active by exercising helps alleviate stress by releasing chemicals like serotonin and endorphins in your brain. In turn, these released chemicals can help improve your mood and even reduce risk of depression and cognitive decline. Additionally, physical activity can help boost your immune system and provide long term health benefits.
With the new work-from-home norm, it can be easy to bypass how much time you are spending sedentary. Be aware of your sitting time and balance it with activity. Struggling to find ways to stay active? Start simple with activities like going for a walk outside, doing a few reps in exchange for extra Netflix time, or even setting an alarm to move during your workday.
Tip 3: Start slow and strong
If you, like many others during the pandemic shift, have taken some time off of your normal fitness routine, don't push yourself to dive in head first, as this may lead to burnout, injury, and soreness. Plan to start at 50 percent of the volume and intensity of prior workouts when you return to the gym. Inactivity eats away at muscle mass, so rather than focusing on cardio, head to the weights or resistance bands and work on rebuilding your strength.
Be aware of your sitting time and balance it with activity.
Tip 4: If your gym is open, prepare to sanitize
In a study published earlier this year, researchers found drug-resistant bacteria, the flu virus, and other pathogens on about 25 percent of the surfaces they tested in multiple athletic training facilities. Even with heightened gym cleaning procedures in place for many facilities, if you are returning to the gym, ensuring that you disinfect any surfaces before and after using them is key.
When spraying disinfectant, wait a few minutes to kill the germs before wiping down the equipment. Also, don't forget to wash your hands frequently. In an enclosed space where many people are breathing heavier than usual, this can allow for a possible increase in virus droplets, so make sure to wear a mask and practice social distancing. Staying in the know and preparing for new gym policies will make it easy to return to these types of facilities as protocols and mutual respect can be agreed upon.
Tip 5: Have a good routine that extends outside of just your fitness
From work to working out, many routines have faltered during the COVID pandemic. If getting back into the routine seems daunting, investing in a new exercise machine, trainer, or small gadget can help to motivate you. Whether it's a larger investment such as a Peloton, a smaller device such as a Fitbit, or simply a great trainer, something new and fresh is always a great stimulus and motivator.
Make sure that when you do wake up well-rested, you are getting out of your pajamas and starting your day with a morning routine.
Just because you are working from home with a computer available 24/7 doesn't mean you have to sacrifice your entire day to work. Setting work hours, just as you would in the office, can help you to stay focused and productive.
A good night's sleep is also integral to obtaining and maintaining a healthy and effective routine. Adults need seven or more hours of sleep per night for their best health and wellbeing, so prioritizing your sleep schedule can drastically improve your day and is an important factor to staying healthy. Make sure that when you do wake up well-rested, you are getting out of your pajamas and starting your day with a morning routine. This can help the rest of your day feel normal while the uncertainty of working from home continues.
Tip 6: Focus on food and nutrition
In addition to having a well-rounded daily routine, eating at scheduled times throughout the day can help decrease poor food choices and unhealthy cravings. Understanding the nutrients that your body needs to stay healthy can help you stay more alert, but they do vary from person to person. If you are unsure of your suggested nutritional intake, check out a nutrition calculator.
If you are someone that prefers smaller meals and more snacks throughout the day, make sure you have plenty of healthy options, like fruits, vegetables and lean proteins available (an apple a day keeps the hospital away). While you may spend most of your time from home, meal prepping and planning can make your day flow easier without having to take a break to make an entire meal in the middle of your work day. Most importantly, stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.
Tip 7: Don't forget about your mental health
While focusing on daily habits and routines to improve your physical health is important, it is also a great time to turn inward and check in with yourself. Perhaps your anxiety has increased and it's impacting your work or day-to-day life. Determining the cause and taking proactive steps toward mitigating these occurrences are important.
For example, with the increase in handwashing, this can also be a great time to practice mini meditation sessions by focusing on taking deep breaths. This can reduce anxiety and even lower your blood pressure. Keeping a journal and writing out your daily thoughts or worries can also help manage stress during unpredictable times, too.
While the future of COVI9-19 and our lives may be unpredictable, you can manage your personal uncertainties by focusing on improving the lifestyle factors you can control—from staying active to having a routine and focusing on your mental health—to make sure that you emerge from this pandemic as your same old self or maybe even better.