Monday, February 24, 2014

Unity in Diversity: What do YOU find beautiful?

"We often go chasing after ideals instead of accepting life in all of its diversity"

When I think of the word beauty, I picture a slim, tall, light eyed, longhaired Caucasian woman. My definition of beauty is a real-life Barbie doll. My definition of beauty is distorted.

When 97% of women look in the mirror they experience an “I hate my body" moment. Their definition of beauty is distorted.

Society promotes the concept that the perfect body is the key to being happy in life. 

So what does this perfect body look like?

In Western culture, the culture I grew up in, the dominant standard of beauty is contradictory. It tells women to be thin, curvy, muscular and delicate (all at the same time). The funny thing is that out of the 158.3 million women living in the United States, only 5% naturally have the body type portrayed as the ideal.

So why do we set these unreachable standards?

Maybe it is because we perpetuate this image through media and culture. The Barbie doll that most Western girls grow up with is an impossibly unreal person.

Research shows that if Barbie were real, her 6-inch ankles would force her to walk on all fours and her six-inch thinner neck would prevent her from lifting her head. Barbie in real life is not what anyone would consider beautiful.

So then who is?

In other countries and cultures beauty is perceived in a very different way.

The Kayan tribe (between Burma and Thailand) considers beauty to be “long necks”. Beauty is measured according to the number of brass rings around their neck.

In India, henna, long hair, fair skin and colored saris is considered beauty.

In Mauritania beautiful women are those with big curves. A “heavy” lady is more likely to get married.

In the Middle East beauty is not what one sees but what one does not see. Beauty is not based on what one looks like but how they present themselves and act.

Some of these ideas of beauty may seem strange and even unattractive to us. But it makes one thing clear that beauty is dictated by the places we come from, the cultures we assimilate to and the traditions we follow.

So what is beauty?

Beauty is diversity. Beauty is an individual and extremely subjective perception.
Beauty comes in all different shapes and sizes- there is no such thing as a good body or a bad body.

There will always be someone who is shorter, taller, thinner, heavier, younger, older, flatter, and rounder.

But there will never be you.

So embrace body diversity. It’s what makes us beautiful.

If you ever feel like you are finding it challenging to accept your body or anything else, call Teen Link at (866) 833-6546. You can call any day from 6-10pm to talk to another teen anonymously about what is going on. 

Monday, February 17, 2014

"Healthy" Diet Gone Too Far?

Unprocessed foods. Vegetables. Multi-grains. Pure water. What's wrong with a healthy diet? 

Well, really nothing...until it goes too far. 

When we think of eating disorders, we often think of anorexia and bulimia, disorders motivated by the desire to be thin. However, orthorexia is a bit different. Instead of thoughts like "I want to be skinnier" or "I'm too big to eat," an orthorexic person might think things like "I know better than them" or "They're wasting their bodies."

What does that mean?

Orthorexia is an obsession with eating healthy. But not only that, it becomes overwhelming to the point that it is the most important thing in your mind. People with orthorexia are driven by the "perfect diet," making this eating disorder more of a moralistic goal than a purely physical goal. They might think that because they are pursuing this diet, they are purer than other people. They might also think that others are killing themselves by eating unhealthy things.

Orthorexic people take healthy eating to an unhealthy level, withdrawing themselves from social events involving food. If they don't prepare the good themselves, they may not feel comfortable eating it.

Even though orthorexia isn't primarily driven by the desire to be thin, it usually results in severe weight-loss and malnutrition. 

Trying to eat healthy or going on a diet does not mean that a person has orthorexia. However, here are some signs that you or a friend might have orthorexia (see more details at
  • Avoiding preservatives, artificial flavors, genetically modified foods, fat, sugar, salt, dairy products, or any ingredients that seem unhealthy
  • Obsessing over the connection between unhealthy foods and medical conditions (i.e. cancer, asthma, digestive problems)
  • Severely limiting the number of foods that are acceptable to eat 
  • Extreme concern over how food is prepared (i.e. if it's washed enough, if utensils are clean)
  • Feeling guilty after eating "non-approved" foods
  • Feeling a sense of pride/superiority from eating "healthy"
  • Consistently planning out meals beforehand
  • Feeling uncomfortable with eating out or eating food prepared by someone else
  • Mood swings, depression, anxiety
Remember that it's okay to eat healthy and it's okay to eat not-so-healthy things too!

If you want to talk about eating disorders or anything else that's on your mind, call Teen Link at (866) 833-6546. You can call any day from 6-10pm to talk to another teen anonymously about what's going on.

Have a delicious day!

Friday, February 14, 2014

6 Things to Remember for Valentines Day

  As all of you know Valentines day is today, you may dread it or love it but here are a few reminders. 

1. Valentines Day is a Hallmark holiday made to help out businesses make money.

2. February 14th is also known as Single Awareness Day

3.If you have a special someone, make smart choices

4. For those who are single - its only one day

5. Accept everyone's choice of their ideal special someone.

6.No matter if you're single or not, know you are cared for and that there is hope for tomorrow



If you happen to feel the need to talk to someone on Valentine's day or any day of the year, call Teen Link. We are an anonymous help line for teens answered by teens. No matter the issue, big or small,we are here to listen. Our number is  1 (866) 833 – 6546. If you prefer chat, visit our website and click on 'chat'. We are open from 6-10 P.M every night all year.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Julia Bluhm & The Body Peace Treaty

Self image is a big deal. How do you feel when you see a clothing advertisement or a magazine cover with a “sexy” model (according to society)? Their breasts are computer enhanced, they are incredibly and rather unhealthily skinny, their skin is airbrushed to "perfection"--they are considered “perfect” in every way. 
How does it make you feel? I know it used to me feel bad about the way I still does.  For the record: I’m relatively tall, not skinny or overweight, & I have a ton of giant zits under my bangs. These magazines can make people feel so insecure about their physical appearance. The truth is: you don’t look like a model. You don't need to look like a model. Even the models don’t look like models (hint: most of it is fake). 
Last year, a young girl petitioned against one magazine's usage of photo-editing software. Julia Bluhm is the 8th grader who petitioned against the use of Photoshop by Seventeen Magazine and succeeded! I' sure you know what it’s like to flip through a fashion magazine, look at the images of the skinny girls with perfect hair, perfect teeth, acne-free complexions, and obviously edited cleavage. After Bluhm's petition and tireless efforts, Seventeen has agreed to stop photo-editing their models and try to show off “real” girls.  If one 8th grader (with over 84,000 petition signatures) can put a stop to this, imagine what we could all do if we told the media how we really feel.

“Julia’s message to all her supporters: ‘Seventeen listened! They’re saying they won’t use Photoshop to digitally alter their models! This is a huge victory, and I’m so unbelievably happy. Another petition is being started by SPARK activists Emma and Carina, targeting Teen Vogue and I will sign it. If we can be heard by one magazine, we can do it with another. We are sparking a change!’” (ThinkProgress)

Monday, February 10, 2014

"Your shirts too low."

My boyfriend raises his eyebrows at me, “That shirt is pretty low,” he says.
It was my shimmery gold shirt,
The one filled with little red triangles and intricate designs,
one of my favorites.
My boyfriend had commented on my shirt being "too low,"
or my pants being "too tight," before.
I laughed the first time he did it,
My mom did too when I told her the story.
“He’s so sweet and protective of you, honey,” she said.
I smiled back up at her, my mom the feminist.
It felt a bit ironic.
My mom, the feminist who thinks it’s cute that my boyfriend comments on my clothing when he isn’t in approval of it
He has the right to tell me if my shirt is too low because he is just being protective.
Protective of what?
Protective of other guys looking at my chest? Because that’s what my body is right? Something to be looked at.
An object that needs to be covered up in order to be taken care of. An object that’s only purpose is too be looked at.
So why for any reason would I wear a shirt that is a little lower than usual other than to objectify myself?
I just like the shirt.

I know my boyfriend was just being protective,
But why aren’t I protective of him in this way?
Maybe because masculinity, means me not questioning what guys wear.
But for girls, it seems to be the opposite.
Femininity is ironic,
it is sexy but innocent.
It is vulnerable.
And it must be protected.
And society has given men the job of protecting women’s bodies.
It’s not just my boyfriend who has commented on my clothing, my guy friends have too, and I see it happen to my other girl friends as well.
But what guys don’t realize
Is that their ‘protection’ of our bodies,
Takes away our right to them.
It takes away my right to wear whatever shirt I want.
Maybe because I feel beautiful it in.
Maybe because I feel strong in it.
Or maybe, I just really like its gold shimmery pattern that is filled with little red triangles. 

I am learning to be strong in my own body. To remember that it is my body and no one else's. I have the power to do whatever I want with my body and no one else can have that power over me. I am learning to love my body and respect my body. My body is what I see the world through and through which I interact with the world. 

If you are ever feeling like you are not in control of your body or struggling with valuing it, you can call Teen Link to talk it out. Just like you can call us for any other reason. We are an anonymous phone line for teens and answered by teens. The people on the line are there to listen—no matter how big or small the issue. Teen Link’s number is 1 (866) 833 – 6546. The line is open every night from 6 – 10 P.M. If you prefer to chat, visit Chat is available all week. 

And always remember, you are beautiful.

Friday, February 7, 2014

I See Nothing But UGLY

Another Day

I take a look in the mirror
I see nothing but ugly
That girl from school is right, I am fat
She sits across from me every day at lunch
“You’re too big, you shouldn’t be eating”
I swallow my last bite and push my meal away
She watches my every move and laughs
I look back in the mirror and hold back my tears
Repeat the same day
Another comment
Another tear
Moving to a new school in a new town
“I’m safe now; everything is going to be okay”
I spoke too soon
Another bully
More Tears
I stopped eating lunch to avoid the comments
I stopped eating even after the bullying ended
Yet I couldn’t eat in front of anyone
I was afraid of another scar

Open your eyes and tell me what you see. Many would say an overweight, ugly boy/girl. We look at media and see tall, thin models. We walk around the mall and visit stores that apparently only cater to size 0. Boys at school going for the petite girls. Girls going for the muscular boys. And at the end of the day we look in the mirror and assume we are ugly because of our “imperfections.” In reality we are all beautiful.

Media brainwashes society to make us believe that, “that girl” on T.V, whose bones are showing, is pretty. Or that store you tried to buy clothes from isn’t made for you because you’re not skinny enough. In reality “that girl” on T.V is unhealthy and most likely unhappy. The store that didn’t have your size didn’t realize you could look good in those clothes too and is missing out on your business. But you can be the smarter one and treat everyone equally. You can realize that everyone is beautiful no matter what size they wear or how much they weigh. Look deeper into their character, don’t stop at skin deep. Be human. Be yourself. Believe in a better day where everyone will be able to accept true beauty.

“If you spent your whole life concentrating on what everyone else thought of you, would you forget who you really were? What if the face you showed the world turned out to be a mask… with nothing beneath it?” – Jodi Picoult

If you ever feel insecure and you want to talk about it, call TeenLink. We are an anonymous phone line for teens and answered by teens. The people on the line are here to listen—no matter how big or small the issue. Teen Link’s number is 1 (866) 833 – 6546. The line is open every night from 6 – 10 P.M. If you prefer to chat, visit Chat is available all week. You matter.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

A Project to end Teen Suicide

     I wasn't aware of depression for a long time. Once I came into high school, however, many of my close friends began developing depression. I stumbled upon depression, and did some research about the symptoms and how to help. However, much of the information was non-intuitive to access and was not relevant to teens. The biggest issue was that the information for curing or for reducing depression was written for the patients themselves - my friends refused to acknowledge the situation. As they came very close to committing suicide, I felt powerless and not like a good friend at all. They have now received treatment, but I resolved not to let this happen again. While teens may feel like they are alone, they never are - they have a network of family and friends who care about them and often see the signs but do not know how to help. To this end, me and my friends aimed to create a network which intuitively presented the facts and resources for the friends and family of the depressed person. We hoped to prevent teen depression and suicide by encouraging others to pursue stopping them in their own communities.

  Noting that our aims were like starting a fire in different communities and that every fire needs a spark, we named our project and our participants Sparks for Life. We hope that over time, the reach of our website increases and that everyone who needs access to this information will get it. To this end, we have created pages on the websites teens use most  - Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and YouTube. We hope our message will be spread through these websites and through community events.

Teen Link is the #1 resource on our web site because it is one of the few avenues for teens to talk anonymously about anything, big or small, with someone their own age who can understand them. Teen Link is open every night to call at 1-866-833-6546 or available some nights to chat at 

Monday, February 3, 2014

Running Away as a Last Resort

                When I was a little kid, I used to threaten my parents that I would run away as some sort of juvenile bargaining chip.  It was similar to the whole “I’m going to hold my breath until you let me have [blank].”  It was always an empty threat, and the one time I managed to work myself up enough to actually make it out the door, I couldn't even make it off our porch.  In the years since then, these times have become “cute” stories that my parents told their friends about, because, after the initial exasperation, it’s kind of endearing to hear what little kids try to do to get what they want.

           Looking back on this time now, I realize just how messed up it is that almost every kid, and a large majority of my friends, have “running away” stories from their childhoods.  In a way, running away has become normalized as something comical for little kids, and the seriousness of leaving home in earnest has been forgotten by most individuals and stigmatized by the general public. 

Even further, the times that we do acknowledge runaways, it’s because we’re trying to find them to return them to their homes, because we believe that is the best way to help them.  It was with this attitude that I found a wikiHow article, written or edited by many different people, on “How to Run Away From Home as a Teen”, and thought that it was just a joke, because there’s no way that a random website would be giving out advice to encourage teens to run away from home. 

                However, the very first part of the article is a disclaimer stating that wikiHow, or its various editors, are in no way recommending running away, but rather recognizing that some teens feel that their best chance in life is to leave their homes, and if they’re coming to that conclusion, they must really have something awful going on in their life at home that they’re trying to get away from. I really appreciated this article because it took a completely different perspective than the ones that you would see in most mainstream news and online media, and it really is something that could help someone who is feeling desperate enough to make such a huge and completely life-changing decision. 

                The main idea to take from the article is to absolutely not do it unless you need to.  And then, if you feel that it’s your only option, do what you have to do, but try to take steps that will ensure your survival and safety.  Also, if you ever feel like you want to talk about what you’re going through or need resources for shelter, Teen Link is open every night from 6-10pm, and we have chat every night as well! You can reach us at 1-866-833-6546 or online at 

Also, another really helpful resource that everyone should know about is Safe Place. They have a staff of volunteers that will pick you up at designated Safe Place locations all over Seattle and take you to local shelters. It is also a national program so there are Safe Place locations across the U.S. They are available any time of day or night. Check them out: