Book Review: Body Positive Power

Megan Crabbe runs a popular Instagram account, @bodyposipanda, that I’ve been an avid follower of for a while now. Megan’s insta is bright, colorful and fun, but most importantly, it is focused around the body positive movement and self love! Crabbe encourages the acceptance of all body types and pushes for the dismantling of our culture’s fat-phobia.

As a woman who has struggled with my body image for as long as I can remember, Megan has become a true inspiration to me. I finally took the time to read her book, Body Positive Power, and I truly found myself radiating with self-love. Personally, my favorite part of the entire book was her dedication to explaining why diet culture is so problematic. She discusses things like intuitive eating and reminds you that it’s really okay to just eat pizza and not feel guilty about it [treat yourself, girl]! 

Megan’s book redefines what ‘flattering’ clothing is and encourages you to dress how you like. After reading this I found myself online shopping for clothes I would’ve never dreamt of buying a week prior. It’s important for women and girls to wear what they like, feel confident in their own skin and express themselves through their own style. She breaks down the limitations you might have on yourself and your clothing style. Seriously—you’ll be reconsidering everything in your closet and having a ‘screw it’ mentality. Wear what you want!

An important theme in Megan’s book surrounds exercise and why we should do it. Should we do it to get skinny and have a ‘summer’ body? Absolutely not! Exercise is meant to bring you happiness, health and keep you active. It is not meant to guilt you and make you feel like something is wrong with your body the way it is right now. Go to that cycling class because it makes you happy, don’t go because society told you being skinny is equal to being perfect.

Body Positive Power will leave you second guessing everything you used to know and present you with a new perception of the world and it’s incredibly empowering! After reading this book I’ve found myself telling everyone I know to follow Megan on Instagram, buy this book and toss out everything they think they know about dieting and exercise. It’s time to change your life, girl. Go read this book!

Learning to Stay Motivated Over Summer Break

Summer has always been one of the most intimidating times for me in terms of my health and wellness regimen. At school, I have nearly unlimited access to a gym seven days a week. One simple swipe at the front desk and I have all the equipment I need. I mean, working out doesn’t get much easier than that.

At home, though, it’s a bit harder. Despite advocating for people of all genders, ages, sexualities, etc. to have a right to feel comfortable in the gym, I still get gymtimidation from my local Planet Fitness, or any gym that’s not Ohio University Campus Recreation Center, for that matter. I don’t know what it is, but I get so nervous to be in a new place, to not know the gym’s layout, that I psych myself out and forego purchasing a membership summer after summer [not to mention, memberships can be expensive and I’m a college student on a ~tight~ budget]. So, year after year I’ve had to find ways to keep myself motivated to be active.

CHAARG [Changing Health Attitudes + Actions to Recreate Girls] has been instrumental in helping me find my motivation. Though I’m not physically with my #OUCHAARGies, one scroll through my _inchaarg Instagram profile has me feeling connected to hundreds of inspiring women. If I’m having a day where I feel particularly unmotivated, I know one message to our chapter groupchat will leave me with more inspiration than I know what to do with. It’s also comforting to know that National CHAARG has uploaded mini sweat seshes and workouts to the Instagram page [in addition to the annual Summer Bootycamp] and I always have these workouts when I’m in lacking ideas and motivation for workouts of my own.

Last summer was particularly challenging. Not only was I feeling unmotivated, but I was taking all the steps to become motivated and it still wasn’t working. I bought the Summer Bootycamp,  and I only finished less than half of the workouts. I tried to get into running, only lasted a few weeks. I started following new trainers and saving their workouts, but then never looked at them again. By the end of the summer, I felt okay, but definitely not my best.

This summer, after having a particularly stressful semester and having been off my routine for the last few weeks, I knew I wanted to make changes to my summer workout regimen.

For the past few months, my mom and I have been saying we want to run a 5K. For avid runners, this might not seem like a difficult task, but for us [and me, especially as someone who hates cardio] to finish one by the end of the summer would be the most fulfilling accomplishment. It’s helped to watch my mom take this goal seriously and to take her own personal health and wellness into her own hands with her daily workouts. Now, I’m constantly reminding myself that if my mom, who carpools my younger brother around weekly, works a full-time job and takes care of the rest of the house effortlessly can make time for a 30 to 45 minute workout, then so can I.

One of the biggest changes I’ve made so far this summer [and that’s helped keep me accountable so far] is participating in Blogilates’ 28 Day Summer Sculpt Challenge. I started doing Cassey Ho’s pilates-style workouts when I was still in high school and still attribute the initial spark of my passion for fitness to her. However, the past few years I’ve drifted away from pilates and focused more on weight training and cardio with the occasional yoga flow. When she announced the start of her latest series, I knew this was just the thing I needed to keep me motivated this summer [or at least for the month of June]. So far, the 30-minute workouts have been the perfect length to complete before I work in the mornings [yes, I’ve been getting up at 7:30 every morning, but it’s fine. I’m fine] and have had my muscles ~shaking~ by the end. Though I miss lifting and hitting new PRs with weights, it’s honestly nice to take a break and focus on the smaller muscles that have been neglected all year [muscles that I didn’t even know I had are sore as I write this].

My summer health and fitness journey is an imperfect, up and down process, but I’m learning more about myself, my own goals, motivation and capabilities every day. I’ve realized that it’s not about what other people tell you will work [trust me, I’ve asked many people how they keep themselves motivated and tried to copy it, but to no avail] but rather, taking the time to find what works for you. You know your body better than anyone else and as long as you stay patient and allow yourself to experience the process fully, motivation will come naturally.

Book Review: You Are A Badass

I’ve never really been into self-help books. All of those cheesy, usually religious-based, ideals of the books I’d seen before just never seemed like they would actually be any help to me and my life. But one day, while I was taking my weekly stroll through Target [if you know, you know], this tiny yellow book told me I was a badass …  and I almost believed it. So, I bought it. Since then, Jen Sincero’s relatable and comical writing style has begun to convince me of my true power as a female badass.

“You are a Badass” isn’t your typical self-help book. Using personal anecdotes and easy-to-follow steps, Sincero makes the harder, bigger obstacles in life seem easy to overcome. One of her main tips to becoming your best self focuses on connecting yourself with the universe. By connecting with the universe, you’re able to clear your mind from the daily nonsense and give it the room it needs to focus on what’s important. Sincero even goes one step further and lays out how she personally connects to the Universe through meditation and explains some ways to ease yourself into meditation if you’ve never tried it before. The fact that she actually goes into detail on not just the “what” but the “how” of changing your life is what really pulled me into this book.

Another huge tip that Sincero focuses on is that you have to “believe before you achieve.” You can’t just sit around and want something and hope it finally comes to you; you have to take the initiative to get it.

“Our thoughts become our words, our words become our beliefs, our beliefs become our actions, our actions become our habits, and our habits become our realities,” she says. It all begins with the simplest thoughts inside your mind. If you don’t truly believe you can do it, then you can’t. You can still be anxious and scared and worried about what’ll happen or what people will think, but if, in your soul, you believe that you can do it, then you will. If you believe that you’re a badass, then you’ll be one.

Every chapter in “You are a Badass” ends with a list of steps on how to do or achieve what that chapter is about, whether it be meditation or money. However, a few chapters in, I noticed that every list ended with the same step: love yourself. In the end, this is really all Sincero is trying to teach us. If you don’t love yourself all the way down to your soul, and aren’t strong enough to admit it to the universe, then you will never be at your most powerful and most capable. If you know that you’re a badass, instead of just telling yourself that you’re one, you will hold yourself to a higher standard and stop doubting your greatness.

“You are a Badass” is such a unique and impactful perspective on how to take a hold on your life and I’m so glad that I pushed past my usual “that won’t help me” attitude toward self-help books. I’m someone that usually lacks confidence in my skills, both social and tactical, and it has caused some missed opportunities for me. Jen Sincero has shown me that it’s not bragging or showing off if you truly believe in yourself and your abilities. If you’re like me and you need a push to change your life for the better or a boost of self confidence, then I highly recommend taking a chance on “You are a Badass,” too.

Behind the Bills

In the past three months the United States has seen multiple restrictive anti-abortion bills enacted by as Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri and Ohio. None of the bills have yet to take effect and many are hoping that they’ll be blocked while moving through the courts. Aside from the bills that have passed, like the House Bill 258 in Ohio, we’re seeing new legislation and proposed bills popping up all over the country.

Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio and Georgia have all passed similar bills surrounding the “heartbeat law”.This means it will be illegal for a woman to receive an abortion once a fetal heartbeat can be detected. For many, this can occur as early as six weeks into a pregnancy [4 weeks after a missed period]. Most women don’t even know they’re pregnant before six weeks. Alabama notoriously enacted the most restrictive abortion law within in the United States, the Alabama House Bill 314. This bill completely bans abortion in most cases, not even providing an exception to cases of rape or incest and will sentence doctors who perform abortions with up to a life sentence in prison [read more here].

Women, like all humans, deserve the fundamental right to their bodies. Restricting access to abortion takes away this right. It is not the right of governing officials to decide what a woman can and cannot do with her body, it is a decision that only she can make for herself. It is also important to note that the majority of individuals signing these bills are cisgender men. Why are we expected to believe that a man has any idea of what is best for a woman’s body? This is a recurring issue seen within our patriarchal system. Men of power believe they have the right to control a woman’s body, and by extension, this will bring the control over their political freedoms and personhood. This explains why there are bills, such as the one in Alabama, making it a felony to get an abortion. Felons can’t vote.

However, this is not only an issue of sex, but an issue of race. Alongside many of the white men signing these bills has been the support of white women. According to The National Women’s Health Network, the health care of women of color and low-income women is already lacking in the United States and these abortion bans are going to make it much worse. Those who have the privilege and the money will easily figure out another way to acquire an abortion and birth control if needed, but women of color and low-income women do not have this privilege. Instead, this will lead to the less privileged women attempting to end their own pregnancies in unsafe ways, which can result in horrible injuries and many deaths. Abortions were around before Roe v. Wade, and will continue to be around even if it’s overturned. And much like we did during Roe v. Wade, we are only asking to keep access to safe and legal abortions. The personal is political, we recognized it then and we will continue to recognize it now.

The bills enacted under the Heartbeat Law and in Alabama alike are unconstitutional. They infringe upon the decision set in place by the Supreme Court in the 1973 ruling in Roe v. Wade, which gave women the right to an abortion. The current peak in pro-life bills is anything but coincidental. Many right winged, pro-life individuals are hoping to take the abortion bills to the Supreme Court as the current members are predicted to be more in favor of their laws than the those who preceded them. The ultimate goal is to overturn Roe v. Wade and take away a women’s decision to get an abortion. [Read More Here]

It is time for this country’s citizens to come together against the face of oppression. It is not a debate of who is allowed to get an abortion, what circumstances allow for an abortion, or who can afford one; it is a debate of whether or not we should give women the right to their own bodies. For me, the answer is simple: women will have the fundamental and constitutional right to their bodies just like anyone else. Women will decide when an abortion is right for them, regardless of circumstances. Women will decide if and when they want to become mothers. It is her body and her choice as an individual.

It can take months and even years for the Supreme Court to decide to hear a case. It is also unlikely for the Supreme Court to take on such a large case during the presidential election year. However, that doesn’t mean we are in the clear. There is a long road ahead for the Roe v. Wade ruling and it is crucial for individuals to do what they can to prevent it from being overturned. We will not stand by as people strive to take away everything women have worked for in this country. Now is the time to call your representatives, donate, and most importantly, vote in your next election.

Exploring Feminism in a Machismo Culture

During my time in Costa Rica I had the privilege to take a gender and sustainability class. As a biology major, I have not had the opportunity to explore the topic of gender, let alone its impact on the environment. Feminism is not a new word to me, but the meaning behind the word has never been clear. Feminism on a basic level is defined by google as “the advocacy of women’s rights on the basis of equality of the sexes.” This I understood, but the concept becomes more complex as each person redefines it on a personal level.

Ironically enough, my feminist views had only been defined after having spent a semester in Costa Rica’s machismo culture [ defines this culture as one that praises an exaggerated sense of manliness, power and the right to dominate]. That culture, where frequent cat calls occur on the streets and women experience restricted independence along with constant negative attention, only fueled my sense of #GRLPWR.

During class and on International Women’s day we explored topics such as: women’s rights, the gender pay gap, gender roles, women in politics, the feminism of poverty, women and the environment, women and violence and so much more. The one topic that caught my attention the most was women and violence.

Domestic violence and femicide, two topics that are rarely talked about outside of women’s gender and sexuality studies classrooms, are still prevalent issues in Latin America and across the globe. In a group project, for my class in San Jose, I studied the case of Maria Trinidad Matus, a 25-year-old Mexican singer who was a victim of femicide in 2018. She was attacked on a beach in Costa Rica for being a woman and the public immediately resorted to victim blaming. Traveling alone in Costa Rica made Maria a target, so what does that say about me? I came to Costa Rica alone, just like Maria, and just because I am a woman, this increases my likelihood of being placed in harm’s way. This story did not stop me from traveling all over Costa Rica on the weekends or going out in San Jose during the week, but it did make me more cautious. What I learned in class adjusted my mindset outside of the classroom too.

IMG_6544My friends and I had two major rules during our stay in Costa Rica. First, never go anywhere alone! The buddy system is always key, especially in a foreign country. Second, Uber everywhere in the city! Walking past sunset was a big no no in San Jose. With that being said, I never felt unsafe in Costa Rica, but I was not naive to what was going on around me. Even walking to the gym, men would stick their heads out the window of their cars, reverse to watch me walk by and even shout at me. One day, my friend and I fell asleep on the beach in Uvita and woke up to a man taking pictures of us. Boys would form circles around my friends and I while we danced at night clubs. The stories never end and every woman has similar stories of her own.

This is not something women should have to get used to, but they do..

Instead of allowing this type of environment to force me to retreat into my safety shell, I learned to be comfortable in my own skin. My girls and I had to stick together and watch each other’s backs. We refused to give in to our fears and stay in the shadows to avoid attention. We set out to live freely and explore Costa Rica and that is exactly what we did.

My mindset did not start out this way, no matter how hard I tried. Just having a male in

 our group made me feel safer. I hated giving in to that societal view of power. Eventually, I learned not to look at men and women through society’s eyes. My #girlgang 

was full of inspirational women that showed me how strong I am. I stopped comparing myself to other women, keeping my mouth shut in fear of rejection and ma

king myself small for the benefit of others. The confidence I gained from feeling the power of feminism in Costa Rica will be something I carry with pride for the rest of my life. All people deserve to feel empowered and supported, what empowers you?


Book Review: #GIRLBOSS

#GIRLBOSS by Sophia Amoruso was one of those books I casually picked up while scanning the book section at Target. The book caught my eye with its oh-so-trendy blush pink cover that features Amoruso in the most badass Superwoman stance. I’m sure we can all relate to the notion that you walk into Target looking for one thing and leave with ten other things. But, little did I know,this book I picked up on a whim would become something I really needed to help light a fire within me.

The book, written from Amoruso’s perspective, opens with her in her early 20s with no stable income and struggling to make ends meet. The book closes with the fashion empire that Amoruso created through her vintage clothing business, Nasty Gal Vintage [now commonly known as Nasty Gal]. Throughout the book, Amoruso addresses working painful minimum wage jobs, working out of her small studio apartment, the ups and downs of an online retail business and so many other steps that she had to take before Nasty Gal could succeed.

One thing that absolutely astonished me about Amoruso’s eBay business is how dedicated she was when building Nasty Gal. She did everything completely on her own when she first launched the business. From spending hours sifting through thrift shop clothing racks, to refurbishing or modernizing dated items and taking photos and writing product descriptions; Nasty Gal was a one-woman show. She paid special attention to detail [there are multiple pages in the book dedicated to how to craft the perfect product description, something I never would have thought could be so important] and made the shopping experience the best it could be.

While sharing her experiences, Amoruso also touched onwhat she’s learned throughout her journey and offered tips for any #GIRLBOSS out there, including resume writing and job hunting. Some things she talked about in the book that really stuck out to me were to “be who you are and do what you want” and how a #GIRLBOSS is someone who is in charge of her own life and gets what she wants because she works for it. Hearing this from someone who built her own business from the ground up absolutely inspired me to do the same.

I’ve never been super interested in working a 9-5 office job. I’d much rather build my own schedule and do my own thing. It is a goal of mine to one day build a brand of my own, whether it be film, fashion or social media related [or who knows, maybe even all three]. I want to create something of my own that others will enjoy.#GIRLBOSS

From all the lessons Sophia talked about I made notes of what I learned and what it inspired me to do. I encourage any woman to pick up this book and give it a read. It has inspired me on a whole new level and it has showed me that I am a #GIRLBOSS.

Paving Platforms for Positivity

Over the past few years, female empowerment and the feminist movement have made great strides toward encouraging women to speak up, make their voices heard and be themselves without apologizing. The growth of the movement has also sparked an increase in advocates for body positivity. Celebrities throughout the industry have taken to various platforms to share the love they have for their bodies in its most natural form and encourage others to do the same. But, no one has made quite the impact that Jameela Jamil has with the start of her movement i_weigh.

In 2018, the British actress, best known for her current role on The Good Place, posted an Instagram story of a generic mirror photo of herself. Written across the photo were the words, “I weigh” followed by a list of characteristics such as “great friends” and “I speak out for women’s rights.” The one thing missing on this post? A number from a scale.

Earlier this year, Jamil tweeted that her original intention for this post was to protest the way women are valued in society. Outraged by an Instagram post of group of women with their weights plastered across the photo, Jamil decided to take action. She wanted to prove that women are worth more than just a number on a scale. Instead, she wants people to “weigh” themselves as all of the unique character traits that make up who they are inside.

After Jamil’s initial Instagram story, she created an Instagram account dedicated specifically to the i_weigh movement. Since its launch, the page has accumulated 647 thousand followers and over two thousand posts of people sharing what they weigh.

“I started this page so that the moments that these women fought back and took pride in their lives beyond their exterior can live on forever,” Jamil wrote in an Instagram story. “And so that we can inspire other women to do the same.”

Although this movement began with the intent to inspire women, i_weigh is not a narrow-minded initiative. Jamil and i_weigh’s supporters encourage empowerment for people of all ages, genders, races, ethnicities and sexualities. To celebrate its one year anniversary, i_weigh introduced a new interview series where other celebrities have the opportunity to share their stories. The interview series’ first collaborator was Sam Smith.

“This is the first time I’ve spoken about [body image]. My whole life, I struggled with my body and my relationship with it,” Smith said in his interview with Jamil. “… For the first time ever I just had a surge in me to fight against my issues instead of being a victim to them all the time.”

The i_weigh movement has already impacted so many people, from celebrities like Smith, to every day Instagram users. Share with us on Instagram what you “weigh” and how the body positivity movement has impacted you!