Is Your Sunburn Cause for Concern?

SCFCThe sun’s effects on our skin can range from some seemingly innocent freckles and a healthy glow to blisters and pain. It can be difficult to know when to let it go and when to freak out. Although all exposure to the sun is damaging and can cause skin cancer later in life, there are some warning signs to look out for when you get sunburn. Continue reading “Is Your Sunburn Cause for Concern?”

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The Importance of Good Sleep and How to Get It!

(Image Credit: Rachel Titiriga)
(Image Credit: Rachel Titiriga)

Today I want to address a problem which is definitely an issue for many people in their day-to-day life (including mine!). Sleep. Sleep is essential for life; it allows our bodies to recuperate, it gives us the energy for the next day, and it gives our brains time to process all of the information we absorb each day.  Plus we tend to feel a bit under the weather and start getting snappy when we haven’t had enough. Most sources suggest that not getting enough sleep for a prolonged period of time can be detrimental to health – it can leave you with extra stress, lack of energy and even weight gain. But getting enough sleep, and satisfying sleep at that, is easier said than done. Continue reading “The Importance of Good Sleep and How to Get It!”

5 Tips for Good Gym Etiquette

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There seems to be an unspoken “gym etiquette” code that some gym goers understand, while others seem to have missed the memo. But what are some of these unspoken rules? Continue reading “5 Tips for Good Gym Etiquette”

Is Your Computer Making You Sick?

(Image Credit: Ray Smith)
(Image Credit: Ray Smith)

We are living in a technology-obsessed society. Even those who argue they aren’t obsessed, I bet they won’t deny they need their gadgets. These days, phones and tablets are doubling as computers as everyone is on the go, trying to get their fill of information and entertainment. But what some don’t know is how much these devices are turning into vices, as they are beginning to affect various parts of our health. Continue reading “Is Your Computer Making You Sick?”

What to Do When You Have a Panic Attack

What to Do When You Have a Panic Attack

The first time I had a panic attack, I thought I was dying. I’d gone to see a movie with some friends one Thanksgiving night in high school, and I ran into an ex I’d had a messy breakup with and thought I’d never have to see again. Continue reading “What to Do When You Have a Panic Attack”

Easy Ways to Revitalize Your Hair!

SFD 105Spring is all but gone and summer is right around the corner. You’re probably hard at work on your new beach body, but your figure is not the only thing that needs some revitalizing- your hair probably needs it too! Bring on the sun with these beautiful, healthy hair tips. Continue reading “Easy Ways to Revitalize Your Hair!”

Prioritize Your Smile: Learn From My Mistakes

(Image Credit: Aleksandr Doodko)
(Image Credit: Aleksandr Doodko)

These days, it’s common for the majority of pre-teens and teenagers to have braces or some kind of orthodontia to straighten their teeth. I’d wager there are many more young adults who have had braces than who haven’t, especially in countries like the US where straight teeth are clearly the ideal, and dentists are eager to refer kids to orthodontists if their teeth are even the tiniest bit out of whack, even if it’s not medically necessary.

I am one of those teenagers who had braces, but my experience with them was different than most. I had a bit of crowding in my top middle teeth, but rather than referring me to an orthodontist, my dentist offered to give me braces at a discount if he did them for me. My parents were eager to save some cash on the expensive procedure, and they trusted my longtime, smallish-town dentist to get the job done right.

Rather than giving me a full mouth of braces, my dentist placed braces only on the teeth he thought needed it – the eight teeth in the top middle part of my mouth. Because of this, I dealt with wires snagging the insides of my lips constantly, but hey, like anything else, you get used to it. My dentist seemed to know what he was doing, and he gave me bright colored rubber bands, which is important to a 16-year-old. I wore my braces for about a year, then was fitted with a retainer.

At first, my teeth were straighter. I wore my retainer faithfully for a few months, then sporadically for a few more, before I stopped wearing it entirely. Yes, you know where this story is going. My teeth eventually shifted back to their original uneven position. Here’s the thing, though – my dentist never explained to teenage me how important wearing my retainer was. It seems obvious now, but I didn’t understand that the effect of the braces wasn’t permanent if I didn’t keep wearing my retainer.  So there’s problem #1.

Problem #2? Well, since my teeth have shifted back to being uneven, I’ve had additional orthodontic consultations. Turns out there isn’t just a problem with my top middle teeth – my entire bite is off. There’s no way my eight braces could have truly fixed my issues fully, even if it did make my front teeth appear straighter. Even if I had been diligent with my retainer, there would still be problems that need fixing. I should point out here that my dentist was successfully sued for malpractice just a few years after he did my braces. It was major vindication, but small comfort.

So here I am, an adult with crooked teeth. And, as much as I try to ignore it, I can’t help but feel extremely insecure about it. There is a stigma with having crooked teeth, whether we openly acknowledge it or not. I’m always self conscious about smiling for photos, and I worry that my first impression on people is skewed by my teeth. I hate to be so hung up on a superficial thing, but it’s hard when I so rarely encounter other people with crooked teeth like mine. It’d be one thing if they were just a little crooked…crooked in that slightly imperfect and endearing way. But sadly that is not the case, and I can’t seem to get over it.

As I mentioned, I’ve looked into additional orthodontic treatment to fix the issues. I’d love to try something like Invisalign, but braces and Invisalign are comparable in price, and both are quite expensive, especially if you’re an adult. Insurance companies are much more likely to cover a significant chunk of the cost for braces or Invisalign on kids, but you’re lucky to get even a couple hundred dollars toward them if you’re over 18. Even if I use a provider with a generous payment plan option, I’m still looking at $200+ a month. It feels selfish to add $200 to monthly costs for what is ultimately a superficial procedure, especially when there are more pressing things like rent and student loans to pay.

I’ve come to terms with the fact that I will probably never get my teeth fixed, but that doesn’t make it easier to live with. So here’s my point: if you’ve been recommended orthodontic treatment, or maybe have had braces but are slacking with your retainer usage, take action. Visit an orthodontist for a treatment plan. Make a point to pop in that retainer at night. If you’re an adult who has considered orthodontia and can afford it, make an appointment and get the process rolling. Trust me when I say it will be worth it and you will regret it if you don’t. It is no fun to be self-conscious about your smile.

5 Simple Ways to Break Your Nail-Biting Habit

(Image Credit: Freddie Peña)
(Image Credit: Freddie Peña)

Although it is the most common nervous habit, nail biting is actually a bigger problem than it seems at first glance. Not only is it unsightly, but it can also pose several health risks due to damage to teeth and nail beds. Continue reading “5 Simple Ways to Break Your Nail-Biting Habit”

‘Plus Size’ Celebs and the Obsession with Labeling Body Types

(Image Credit: Bravo Media, LLC)
(Image Credit: Bravo Media, LLC)

Everywhere we turn, women’s bodies are being judged. Everyone is either “too skinny” or “obese,” and figures on both ends of the spectrum are “unhealthy.” This judgmental behavior has become so popular that people seem to feel the need to put a label on all shapes and sizes.

Earlier this year, Glamour magazine put out a special issue in conjunction with Lane Bryant focusing on plus-size women. The beautiful Ashley Graham graced the cover, and women such as Melissa McCarthy, Adele, and Amy Schumer were featured.

As a woman who fluctuates from sizes 6 to 8, Amy wasn’t pleased that she was featured in this particular issue. She shared a post on her Instagram page letting her fans know that she doesn’t want “[y]oung girls seeing [her] body type and thinking that [it] is plus-size.” Because if a size 6 is overweight, then what is acceptable?

Friend to the comedian, Jennifer Lawrence, spoke out in light of the controversy in an interview with Harper’s Bazaar. She said that she doesn’t like that people consider her body type to be normal; she puts way too much work into her body for it to be normal, but we’re so accustomed to seeing underweight women that we think it’s the norm. This, in turn, makes us think of a normal body type as being a curvy but thin one.

Why are we so focused on judging other women? Social media makes it far too easy to do this publicly (and anonymously). If you go to any woman’s Instagram page with a large number of followers, you’re bound to see negative comments strewn about regarding her weight.

When did this become acceptable?

Another famous actress who has made it clear that she doesn’t want the focus to be on the size or shape of her body (ironically also featured in the Glamour plus-size issue) is Christina Hendricks. In an interview with the Sun-Herald, Christina’s “full-figured” body is referenced not once, but twice, and she is clearly displeased by the comment both times. Why would any highly-regarded actress want to be interviewed not about her incredible talents or current roles, but instead about her figure? Why does size matter to us so much?

In this era of body scrutiny, the lingerie company Aerie has tried to make a stand. They’ve stopped using standard “models” for their ads, and instead opt to use “real” girls. This means there are sizes being featured above a 4, stretch marks make appearances, and no airbrushing is done.

Until the real normal becomes the media’s definition of normal, it doesn’t seem girls will accept each other’s bodies or their own as being beautiful. We need to stop acting like the Kardashian waist-to-butt ratio is attainable (or like it’s anything that anyone should aim for) and start encouraging each other’s healthy, natural figures. More companies and influential media outlets need to stop allowing women to be placed into “skinny” and “fat” classifications and encourage all women to be proud of how they look, regardless of their weight.

Simple (and healthy) ways to boost your energy levels!

Simple (and healthy) ways to boost your energy levels!

Energy, is something that we all wish we had more of. Some days it can be ridiculously hard to pull yourself out of bed, others you start flagging in the afternoon. Often you find yourself reaching for a third cup of coffee for the day just to keep going. We all know those annoyingly energetic people, the sort that have an endless bounce to their step and always seem to get everything done and are still raring to go at the end of the day. I can’t give you the secret to these people’s gusto in life, but there are ways to boost your own energy levels. Just a follow a few small tips to hopefully improve your ability to make it through the day and make life a little bit easier! Continue reading “Simple (and healthy) ways to boost your energy levels!”

Meditation for Stress Relief

(Image Credit: Daniella Segura)
(Image Credit: Daniella Segura)

What’s the one thing people always tell you not to do, but seems impossible not to do? Stress. Stress seems to be an inevitable part of daily life that many people cannot overcome. Although stress seems unconquerable, there are remedies to lessen daily stress, such as meditation.

As far back as prehistoric times, meditation was used to deepen people’s understanding of higher beings in life, but has since transitioned into a common way to practice relaxation and stress reduction, according to Mayo Clinic. A simple definition of meditation is that it “consists of simply sitting quietly, focusing on one’s breath, a word or phrase… [and] a meditator may also be walking or standing,” according to Psychology Today.

Some studies have proven that there is a link between meditation and stress levels, such as one conducted by researchers in China and at the University of Oregon, according to Science Daily.

The study consisted of a control and an experimental group of undergraduate college students. The control group received five days of relaxation training, while the experimental group received five days of meditation training. In the experiment, stress was induced by mental math. Although the two groups both released the stress hormone, cortisol, the experimental group, or the one with meditation training, released less of this hormone and also showed “lower levels of anxiety, depression, anger and fatigue.”

Overall, the study found that there is “a measurable benefit that people could achieve through body-mind meditation, especially involving an effective training regimen, but larger studies are needed to fully test the findings of this small, short-term study,” according to a researcher quoted by the Science Daily.

Although everyday stress reduction is the prime benefit of practicing meditation, there are also other benefits linked to meditation. According to Jaan Suurküla M.D., because practicing meditation can lower the amount of cortisol that your body releases, this may in turn help to lower the chances of chronic stress.

Other studies have also found that meditation may both prevent and treat cardiovascular disease.

Some forms of meditation include: guided meditation, mantra meditation, mindfulness meditation, qi gong, tai chi and yoga. Each of these practices has different elements and levels of difficulty, which helps make meditation a practice that is accessible to anyone.

So the next time someone tells you “don’t’ stress,” remember to take a deep breath and meditate.

Originally posted July 14, 2013
Thigh Gap (Image Credit: Rui Santos)

The Unhealthy Quest for a Thigh Gap

Thigh Gap (Image Credit: Rui Santos)
Thigh Gap (Image Credit: Rui Santos)

It’s becoming more and more apparent that “the gap” is the root of all evil in the beauty industry. Not the clothing store Gap (although some may actually feel that way), but rather, the absolutely insane new obsession with having a “thigh gap”. For those unfamiliar, a “thigh gap” refers to exactly what it sounds like, a gap or space between your inner thighs.

Back in my day (I’m 21), girls got braces to fix gapped teeth and cursed their bowlegged thighs because they walked like an old school western cowboy.  Fast-forward to the present, and these same girls want to surgically separate their teeth and have rail-thin legs all for the sake of a gap.

Victoria's Secret Models (Image Credit: Victoria's Secret)
Victoria’s Secret Models (Image Credit: Victoria’s Secret)

Excuse me, but when did this become acceptable?  And why is it even a thing? When is the last time you heard someone say, “Yeah man, I love a girl with a nice ‘thigh gap’.”? The whole idea seems totally irrelevant to what makes someone attractive or not.

The most celebrated women in the world don’t even come close to having a space between their legs (think: Beyoncè, Christina Hendricks, Sofia Vergara), and it doesn’t stop anyone from calling them “beautiful”.  To those who have a natural “thigh gap”, that’s fantastic.  If you are like most of the female population that experiences the occasional thigh chaffing, who cares?  You’ll work a space into your thighs only to find that next season’s trend will be something equally ridiculous like “thigh friction”. You’ll be screwed then, huh?

The feminist in me wants to try and relate the “thigh gap” to the idea of a woman having her “legs open”, but it’s fairly apparent that this isn’t the case.  Instead, the “thigh gap” seems to be a satanic child of designers like Victoria’s Secret and Chanel who limit their runway models to women with a space down the center of their bodies…from their teeth to their thighs.

Beyonce (Image Credit: Ian Gavan/Getty Images for Gucci)
Beyonce (Image Credit: Ian Gavan/Getty Images for Gucci)

Maybe you’re thinking that guys have similar predicaments, what with the ideal of a “six-pack” and all that.  The difference here is that for a man to be in shape (by society’s standards), they need to be healthy.  “Six pack abs” don’t magically appear unless Photoshop is involved. They are actually a reward for having proper nutrition and exercise ethic.  Women, on the other hand, are pressured to have ridiculous features like “thigh gaps” which usually come with physical malnourishment and mental stress.  Just like there are tons of men who aren’t meant to have a six pack, there are millions of women who were not put on this earth to have a “thigh gap”. Add in the fact that a good majority of women, no matter how much they diet or work out, are physically incapable of having a “thigh gap” due to their anatomical structure and the ideal becomes even more ludicrous.

It’s a relief knowing that the “thigh gap” obsession will likely pass, along with the Sir Mix A lot-induced booty infatuation and the Pamela Anderson-esque breast fixation.  We know by now that when the fashion industry, or pop culture in general, focus on one part of the female anatomy… it’s likely to explode into an international plague of copycatting.  I suggest rubbing your thighs together loud and proud, because in reality…no one cares about a stupid space between your legs unless it’s a guy or girl trying to get in it and even then, if they’re not happy with what you’ve got, screw them (not literally, kick them to curb and find someone who appreciates your beauty).

Originally posted August 29, 2013.

Is Amy Schumer’s nude photo brave? We say YES!

(Image Credit: Pirelli)
(Image Credit: Pirelli)

By now, we’ve all seen the photo of Amy Schumer that will appear in next year’s Pirelli calendar. Apparently, my initial reaction to it was far mellower than the the rest of the world’s. I wasn’t overcome by shock, extreme joy, anger or disgust. I didn’t feel the earth move beneath my feet in a quake of feminist pride. Instead I felt a simple “good for you, Amy.”

Would I have given her a fist bump if we were on fist bump status? Yes. The funny girl’s doing her thang and GNF about it; I can respect that. And I can respect her choice to strip down, because why not? Hell, I can even respect that random cup of coffee she’s choosing to drink in nothing but heels and panties because, let’s face it, we all like to feel like a badass bitch sometimes who will do whatever she wants, even if that means just wearing a killer pair of heels and skimpy underwear while drinking a chai latte. What I can’t respect is the the ridiculous backlash she is receiving, and how the use of the word “brave” to describe the photo has backfired in the worst way possible.

A lot of people were delighted when they saw Schumer’s photo, along with its witty caption of “Beautiful, gross, strong, thin, fat, pretty, ugly, sexy, disgusting, flawless, woman.” The adjectives Schumer threw out there were a list of words that could easily be hurled at the photograph, based on whoever was looking at it. Some people might be fans, some might be critics, some might be neutral, but all would have something to say. Instead of waiting for it, she presented it, realizing that everyone has their own views and opinions. Lo and behold, the public had a lot to say about it, and just as Schumer’s caption predicted, there was no general consensus.

As a woman who from time to time struggles with my own body image, I saw Schumer’s photo and was happy. Sweet, I thought, here’s a woman who more what the general population can relate to. She’s not a size zero model, she doesn’t have Kim Kardashian’s ass, and she likes Chipotle and beer just as much as the rest of us. She’s a busy woman, like many women are, whose main priority is not the gym, but the other hundreds of things she still doesn’t really have the time to do. She was owning who she was, and most importantly, she wasn’t ashamed of who she was or what “flaws” she might have as decided by the world of Hollywood and fashion magazines. Some people even ventured to call what she did “brave.”

The word brave, like most words, has several connotations. Here are two of them.

  1. ADJECTIVE

ready to face and endure danger or pain; showing courage:“a brave soldier”

  1. VERB

to endure or face (unpleasant conditions or behavior) without showing fear

The first definition describes a person. The second describes what a person does. People who are brave often do show courage, and in more extreme cases, they willingly face and endure danger or pain. People who brave something do things that they know may result in unpleasant consequences, but they forge forward anyway to take a stance or to prove a point.

Upon hearing that people thought Amy Schumer was “brave” for her actions, haters jumped all over the topic. The adjective brave should be reserved for only certain types of people: soldiers, police officers, firefighters, cancer fighters – just to name a few. And I agree- this is a word that we shouldn’t use lightly. You don’t apply it to every little thing. You don’t want to generalize its meaning. But do we not also use this word as a form of encouragement? When young kids are afraid to be themselves, do we not tell them to be brave? When our friends embark on a new journey, is brave an inappropriate way to label their actions? Did Sara Barielles not write a smash hit that implores all of us to do brave things in our everyday lives?

Amy Schumer posing nearly naked for a magazine is not the bravest thing anyone has ever done by a long shot. What’s brave is that she was willing to brave the onslaught of criticism and nasty remarks that were to come her way. What’s brave is the giant middle, finger she’s giving to any man or woman that tries to tell her that her body is not the ideal type. While the topic was trending on Facebook, one popular Facebook personality took it upon himself to comment on the photo, saying there was nothing brave about posting a disgusting photo of yourself. He went on  to call Schumer fat, ugly, and lazy, comparing her to women who “take care of themselves.” He completely demeaned the woman, acting like no person on Earth could ever find her physically attractive. THIS is why Amy is brave, you POS – for posting a photo that would receive such confidence-shattering slander as the garbage you posted. What makes her BRAVE is for not letting the millions of comments like yours break her.

Schumer was not posing for this picture so others would call her the sexiest woman on the planet, she posed for the picture to show that it’s ok to consider yourself a beautiful and strong woman who doesn’t need the confirmation of others to make herself feel so. Women as a whole need to stop analyzing what everyone and their mother thinks – anyone who has the time to try to bring you down is clearly lacking something in their own life. It’s been shouted at us for years that everyone comes in different shapes and sizes, and we can preach the idea as much as we want. We can go on to tell others that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, or we can start to live it and stop passing off judgement on others.

You are brave Amy, just like a million other people who have gone out on a limb to prove a point. Thanks for showing us what it is to be a self-assured and confident woman who doesn’t need the approval of anyone else to tell her that she rocks.

Essena O’Neill: Social Media is Not Real

Essena O’Neill: Social Media is Not RealRecently the internet has been blowing up about Essena O’Neill quitting social media. She deleted her very popular Tumblr page and edited many of the captions of her pictures on Instagram.

For example, in this picture on Instagram, the model wrote about being paid to promote a tanning product and how appearance on social media is deceiving and should not be something to strive for.

She also posted a 12 minute video on Vimeo explaining why she decided to quit social media. She says that followers and likes cause insecurity and leads to never being satisfied with yourself.

There have been two sides responding to O’Neill’s message this week. Some applaud her and support her advocating for people to stop viewing social media as if it’s realistic because a lot of work and effort goes into those pictures and often they are the opposite of natural. On the other hand, critics of the model have been slamming her, as they believe this whole ordeal involving the model is just a publicity stunt in order to gain more popularity. Whether they are right about O’Neill’s intentions or not is unclear, but the model has definitely gained more followers on her Instagram and YouTube account.

However, if young and impressionable girls and boys see O’Neill’s message and realize that their worth is not measured by their appearance, followers, or likes on social media, then her anti-social media campaign will have accomplished a step in the right direction.