As an adolescent, I struggled with the ongoing battle for thinness. I was a dancer, constantly having to look at myself in the mirror, and never happy with the reflection looking back at me. My negative self-image followed me into my late teens and then into my early 30’s. I realized that my battle was a mental one, one that could be conquered each day in the choices that I made. I realized that I could either choose to give in or to run from my eating disorder.
Although I chose to run, I did choose to continue to be a part of a world that is to some degree focused on outward appearance. In 2013, I was crowned Miss Kansas United States. I worked hard to stay in shape. I was tempted at times to go back to my old ways, but I never gave in. After being crowned, I chose REbeL Peer Education as my platform. This organization spoke to me and helped me to stay focused on the way I was choosing to live my life, eating disorder free. I wanted to funnel my time and energy as Miss Kansas into helping empower young women. I wanted to show them what it really means to be beautiful. Beauty is not what is on the outside; rather it radiates from what is inside each of us. I also wanted to show women that developing confidence, love, and respect for your own body truly sets you free from the unrealistic standards and constant pressure our society places on us.
This drive to empower women and to create change is what inspired me to create the Be You Bash, the first of which was in March of 2014. I wanted to help raise funds for an organization that is desperately needed in our schools. If I had gotten the chance to be a part of REbeL in middle and high school, this would have made a huge impact on me and would have certainly altered my path into adulthood.
We all have a purpose here on Earth. When you’re at battle with yourself, you’re unable to find and to live in line with your purpose. It’s organizations like REbeL that help you to find your way. REbeL Peer Education has influenced the lives of thousands of adolescents and its reach will continue to grow for years to come. I’m honored to be a part of this incredible organization, and I’m so proud of its expansion beyond the Kansas City metro. I haven’t met a single person that cannot relate to feelings of insecurity, shame, or depression surrounding their appearance. We have all experienced these feelings at some time or another in our lives. REbeL is out to change the world – for all of us and for future generations. I support REbeL because I want to be a part of the change, and I strongly encourage you to be a part of the change with me. Donate to REbeL, attend the second annual Be You Bash this Friday, July 31st, or sign up to volunteer your time to support this one-of-a-kind organization!
Be You Bash Creator & Planning Committee Member
Not only are we expected to have perfect skin, long, full eyelashes, a gap between our thighs, and small waists; now we’re told that our waists should be even smaller so our bodies takes on a curvy hourglass shape. And how do we achieve this look? With the help of a waist trainer.
The waist trainer, one of the most popular body shaping tools on the market today, is nothing new. Remember corsets? They were popular in the 1800’s when having a teeny, tiny waist but wide, child-bearing hips and big bosoms were in. Because this isn’t natural, women wore corsets to achieve this look. Often they were so tight that women could hardly breathe. Sitting down or bending at the waist were completely out of the question. Many women even ended up with broken ribs trying to squeeze their waists to a mindboggling 12 inches. Sound familiar?
But we’ve renamed the corset. It’s now a waist trainer. That sounds legit, right? The name implies it’s some sort of exercise routine. So we think to ourselves, “This must be good for me!” Not true. According to Mary Jane Minkin, Clinical Gynecologist and Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences at the Yale School of Medicine, “Pelvic and abdominal organs are slippery. They can shift during waist trainer use, which can interrupt digestive processes. When intestines are restricted by [these devices], regurgitation can occur because food cannot travel properly through the digestive tract.” Um…I think I’ll pass.
Advertisements for waist trainers and images of women, often celebrities, who appear to have achieved the coveted hourglass shape through use of these organ-crushing devices are everywhere, especially on social media. According to recent studies, use of social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram is highest among young women between the ages of 18 and 29. They’re the ones seeing these advertisements. Many of these young women also happen to be Kim Kardashian’s fans, one celebrity who has heavily endorsed this product. Coincidence? No! Advertisers know that having Kim Kardashian endorse their product will boost sales. Whether or not she actually uses the product is of no concern to them; what matters is that we think she does. And if Kim Kardashian uses a waist trainer to achieve her sought-after look, if we can actually see the results with our own two eyes, we think that it must be legitimate. Think again.
Waist trainer before and after photos are highly digitized to sell consumers on their miraculous results, but the squished appearance of the abdominal region is only temporary. Think about when you squeeze a sponge. What does it do? It pops right back to its original size. Waist trainers are a scam. And not only that – and they are dangerous and also further propagate the idea that we have the power to completely alter our bodies. And not only that we can, but that we should. Waist trainers are yet another product that emphasizes appearance over health, promotes unrealistic standards for women, and fuels widespread body dissatisfaction in our culture. How do we escape these sorts of messages when they are everywhere we look? Well, while we can’t escape them, we can do our best to educate ourselves about the truth behind types of products, keep our eyes peeled for the hidden agendas of scheming advertisers, and surround ourselves with body positive messaging that reminds us that we are just fine the way we are.
Co-written by Jamie Nottberg & Jessica L. Betts, MS, RD, LD