Empowering 'Don't Label Me' Project Helps Women Stand Up to Body Shaming

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This article originally appeared on People.com.

A group of women created a powerful photo series that has them literally crossing out the names they’ve been called — with a bit of glitter.

Abigail Spencer and Meg Bishop of Salt and Light Photography in Grants Pass, Oregon organized the “Don’t Label Me” project to help women reclaim power over their bodies.

They photographed a diverse group of seven women, each with their own unique story and struggles. Each model wrote words they’ve been called — such as “useless,” “cripple,” “fat,” or “crazy” — on their skin.

“We have yet to have met a woman who is completely comfortable in her own skin and wouldn’t change a thing about herself. We’ve been called names, cat called, abused, sexualized, looked down upon and labeled because of our appearances,” the photographers wrote on Facebook.

After taking pictures with their labels, the words were crossed out with glitter and paint.

Spencer and Bishop told Scary Mommy the idea for the shoot came to them when they were talking about their own insecurities and realized that most women deal with the same criticism.

“On our way driving home from a photo session, we were talking, how most best friends do, about how we struggle with our self-image and how things that people have said to us, or labeled us, are hurtful and we can remember vividly being called things clear back to grade school,” they said. “One thing led to another and as the conversation continued we came up with the image of ‘Don’t Label Me’ as a way to help EVERY woman feel beautiful and hopefully break the mold of the stereotypical skinny/curvy/contoured woman being the only ‘beautiful.’ ”

Participant McKyla Crowder was diagnosed with vitiligo, a skin disorder that causes the loss of skin color, at age four. She was teased, being called names like “spot” and “cheetah” — words she recalled and used at the photo shoot.

“Now I am happy to say that I love the skin I wear,” she said on Facebook. “And I wouldn’t be McKyla without it!”

Candice Constantin said that surviving various types of abuse led her to develop eating disorders.

“I am fat,” she said. “This is the first thing you will know when you look at me. I am not curvy or chubby, I am fat. What you won’t know is that is just a label and not who I really am.”

She added, “I am intelligent, creative, loving, involved. I am a mother. I have been through a lot of things that have tore me down and left me damaged, made me feel like I was worth nothing and would be nothing. Here I am though, I have survived.”

A car accident left Cassie Giesbrecht needing a wheelchair, but she’s trying to change the way people look at those with disabilities.

“I’ve turned a lot of these obstacles into positives in my life because I enjoy being different,” she said. “I want to turn the label of handicapped into handicapable.”

Anja Crawford said she grew up as the “big girl” in her group of friends, but the comments really got to her in college.

“I would be upset and call my mom to vent and cry,” she said. “There were a few people who would try to shake my confidence, by calling me a ‘fat girl’ or a ‘fat bit*h’… but I would look at them and think ‘That’s all you got, really?'”

She also shared her experience from the first time she was called the n-word, but now she doesn’t pay attention to what others say.

“But no matter what people say I will always love myself first,” Crawford said.

Aimee Griggs lost her older brother as a child and later had to put her own father in jail.

“I don’t need to really verbalize what he did. But, people thought my mom should have stayed with him. My mom didn’t — she believed me when so many other mothers failed their children and blamed them,” she said. “My mom taught me to forgive isn’t for the other person but is for you, you may need to forgive over and over often to begin with, forgiveness is a command not a choice. And my dad did change … for the good and at a very old age. He was never alone with children again, but He truly found his Savior in Jail.”

She added, “We are more. More of what any human can discern.We are each created with a purpose, a future, and a hope … not for evil and not for labels.”

Melissa Bowers said overcoming struggles with bullying, a suicide attempt and eating disorders encouraged her to participate in the project.

“I’m involved in this movement to show that no matter how you grew up, or what you look like, or what you are labeled … you can overcome those obstacles,” she said.

On the Facebook page, the photographers wrote, “Today, we want to say ‘screw you’ to the contouring and spandex. To filters and tummy trimmers. To weight-loss pills and pushup bras. To every horrible, uncomfortable, unrealistic standard of which we feel we have to live by. We are mothers, daughters, sisters, aunts and friends. We are women. We are strong. Unified. Bonded. We are unapologetically confident from here on out.”

Source: Mind and Body

Aaron Hernandez's Brain Suffered Severe Damage From CTE, Doctor Says

This article originally appeared on Time.com.

(BOSTON) — Former New England Patriots player Aaron Hernandez suffered severe damage to parts of the brain that play an important role in memory, impulse control and behavior, a researcher who studied his brain said Thursday.

Dr. Ann McKee, director of the CTE Center at Boston University, said she could not “connect the dots” between Hernandez’s severe case of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, which is linked to repeated blows to the head, and his behavior. The 27-year-old hanged himself in April, while serving life in prison for murder.

But McKee said she says Hernandez experienced substantial damage to key parts of the brain, including the hippocampus — which is important to memory — and the frontal lobe, which is involved in problem solving, judgment and behavior.

“In any individual we can’t take the pathology and explain the behavior,” said McKee, who has studied hundreds of brains from football players, college athletes and even younger players, donated after their deaths. “But we can say collectively, in our collective experience, individuals with CTE — and CTE of this severity — have difficulty with impulse control, decision-making, inhibition of impulses or aggression, often emotional volatility and rage behaviors,” she said.

Hernandez hanged himself in prison days after he was acquitted in the 2012 drive-by shootings of two men in Boston and just hours before his former teammates visited the White House to celebrate their latest Super Bowl victory.

Prosecutors claimed he gunned the two men down after one accidentally spilled a drink on him in a nightclub — and then got a tattoo of a handgun and the words “God Forgives” to commemorate the crime.

He had been serving a life sentence without parole in the 2013 killing of semi-professional football player Odin Lloyd when he killed himself in April.

Hernandez, who said he was innocent, did not raise CTE in his defense at either trial.

But after his death and September CTE diagnosis, his attorneys filed a lawsuit against the NFL and football helmet maker Riddell, accusing them of failing to warn Hernandez about the dangers of football. The lawsuit, which seeks damages for Hernandez’s young daughter, said he experienced a “chaotic and horrendous existence” because of his disease.

Hernandez inherited a genetic profile that may have made him more susceptible to developing the disease, McKee said. She said Hernandez had the most severe case of CTE they’ve seen in someone his age. Hernandez was diagnosed with Stage 3, out of 4, of the disease.

While the outside of Hernandez’s brain appeared normal, the inside showed evidence of previous small hemorrhages, which experts associate with head impacts. Other parts of his brain had begun to shrink and show large holes in the membrane, McKee said.

“Individuals with similar gross findings at autopsy were at least 46 years old at the time of death,” McKee said.

Source: Mind and Body

Olympic Gymnast Aly Raisman Reveals Sexual Abuse By Team Doctor Larry Nassar

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This article originally appeared on Time.com.

Aly Raisman, a six-time Olympic medalist and one of the most accomplished gymnasts in U.S. history, says she was sexually abused by Dr. Larry Nassar, who worked as the women’s gymnastics national team doctor for decades.

Raisman is the second member of the gold medal-winning 2012 Olympic women’s team to accuse Nassar of abuse. In October, her teammate McKayla Maroney tweeted that Nassar molested her for years, beginning when she was 13. Raisman disclosed the abuse in an interview scheduled to air Sunday on CBS’ 60 Minutes, as well as in her new book, Fierce.

Nassar, who worked as a volunteer doctor for USA Gymnastics, is currently in jail awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to child pornography charges in Michigan. He is also named in more than 100 lawsuits filed by gymnasts and athletes he treated while working with USA Gymnastics and at Michigan State University. Those suits claim he sexually abused athletes under the guise of medical treatment. Nassar resigned from USA Gymnastics in the summer of 2015.

In the interview, Raisman says she spoke to FBI investigators about Nassar after competing at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janiero in 2016, after an investigation by the Indianapolis Star revealed that USA Gymnastics had a policy of not reporting sexual abuse reports unless they were filed by the victims or a parent.

Raisman, who competed on the 2012 and 2016 Olympic teams and is the nation’s second most decorated female Olympic gymnast, is pushing for change at USA Gymnastics, which governs the sport and oversees the selection of world and Olympic teams.

“I am angry,” she said in the 60 Minutes interview. “I just want to create change so [that young girls] never, ever have to go through this.”

In a statement to the program, USA Gymnastics said it has adopted new policies that require “mandatory reporting” of any potential abuse. “USA Gymnastics is very sorry that any athlete has been harmed…we want to work with Aly and all interested athletes to keep athletes safe.”

Source: Mind and Body

Women Pose Nude in Glittery Body Paint for Body Positivity: 'They Feel Freed of Their Shame'

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This article originally appeared on People.com.

Each year, a group of around ten women gather in Queensland, Australia to strip down and cover themselves in glitter body paint, all in the name of body positivity.

“Women are taught from a young age that we’re not good enough, we need to be fixed. There’s a dozen industries telling us we can pay for a cure to our shame,” photographer Jill Kerswill, 27, tells PEOPLE. “The message of this shoot is all about being body positive, celebrating what you have and letting go of your insecurities.”

Kerswill says the women came up with the idea and then reached out to her to photograph their annual meet-up. At first, Kerswill says, the women are nervous to undress, but the insecurities soon fall away.

“There’s always a moment right as the girls strip down where they seem hesitant. They might touch their bellies or lift up their boobs because it’s something they’re self conscious about. Then they look around, see a girl with a flat tummy or perkier boobs is covering something she’s self conscious about and suddenly all that fear melts away,” she says. “It’s so beautiful.”

“Watching women in their most vulnerable state relax into their own skin, seeing strangers become sisters, is something I wish everyone could experience!”

And after the shoot, many of the women feel reborn.

“The feedback I’ve received from the girls after each shoot has been overwhelmingly positive,” Kerswill says. “Many of them have spoke of feeling freed of their shame. I think every girl takes something different and unique away.”

The shoot is also transformative for Kerswill, who says it’s forever changed her relationship with her body.

“Seeing these women so comfortable and free in their own skin has really helped me to deal with a lot of my own hang-ups,” she says. “I no longer care about my cellulite or my flabby tummy. Those things can’t hurt me! Why worry about something that has absolutely no baring on who I am or what I can achieve?”

Kerswill, who specializes in boudoir and pinup photos, wishes all the women she shoots were this body positive.

“I get so tired of how women I photograph apologizing for their cellulite or scars or flabby bits,” she says. “Your body does amazing things! It carries you through everything you achieve, it bears your children and without it you wouldn’t exist. Praise it! Appreciate it! Love it for every bump and bruise!”

Source: Mind and Body

The New iPhone X Camera Is So Advanced, People Are Afraid to Take Selfies

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We were as excited as the next selfie fan about the seriously amazing camera on the just-released iPhone X. But Apple lovers who managed to get their hands on the hot new phone have quickly discovered the camera might just be too good.

Apple’s website makes it sound like the sophisticated TrueDepth technology will turn iPhone X users into legit photographers: “Shoot selfies with a depth-of-field effect that puts your face in sharp focus against an artfully blurred background.” It’s that “sharp focus” that not everyone was ready for.

Twitter users fessed up to feeling self-conscious about seeing themselves in such detail.

Some were downright disturbed by their looks.

Those super clear selfies seem to highlight the very skin woes some people were hoping to hide, like dry skin and dark circles.

It even prompted some to wonder about switching to the competition.

But others were impressed by how the new technology is even better than viewing someone or something IRL.

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Now, we happen to think that worrying about so-called body flaws is not a reason to stop posing for selfies or taking snaps with friends using the iPhone X. If the powerful camera does bother you, finding the right lighting and knowing your best angle can't hurt. Or maybe you just need to make like Kim K. and stick to full-body selfies taken from a safe distance with a full-length mirror!

Source: Mind and Body

Miss Washington USA Contestant Hopes Her Disability Will Empower Others

This article originally appeared on People.com.

When Madeline Irwin steps onstage to compete for the Miss Washington USA title, she won’t just be standing up for herself.

The 22-year-old college student was born with arthrogryposis multiplex congenita (known as AMC), which is a congenital joint contracture in two or more areas of the body. Irwin, who is unable to fully straighten her arms, hands, fingers and one leg, and has severe scoliosis as a result of AMC, hopes to use her pageant platform to help others.

“I knew I wanted to someday advocate for people with physical disabilities like myself,” the Port Angeles, Washington native tells PEOPLE of her decision to enter her first pageant. “The only issue was that I wasn’t ready for a while because I had a long way to go to accepting and loving myself. So I worked really hard with self reflection and using social media and surrounding myself with people who had morals and values like I do, I finally reached a point where I felt confident enough to share my journey about accepting yourself as you are.”

Irwin – who if she wins her state competition on November 5, will go on to represent Washington in next year’s Miss USA pageant – also wants to be a role model for children.

“The challenges I faced mostly, and what I’m advocating for now, is that there was no representation for someone like me that I could look up to growing up,” she says. “So it was really difficult to know, as someone who is disabled, who I can be and what I can do because I wasn’t able to see that around me.”

She continues: “There is a pretty strong stigma around the word ‘disability,’ a negative stigma. People think of ‘disability’ and they think of someone who needs to be pitied, and so I felt like growing up I didn’t want to be associated with that for a long time, until I could use the word ‘disabled’ to empower myself so that’s what I’m doing now.”

Irwin’s drive also led her to follow her childhood passion for the piano. “I played behind closed doors for a really long time because of my AMC,” says the Washington State University, Vancouver junior.  “I felt like I wasn’t good enough because my hands weren’t able to play like everyone else.”

Now, she’s avid pianist thanks to hard work and an encouraging teacher. “[My piano teacher] would teach me different ways to play if I wasn’t able to do it as it was written, but still make it sound good,” says Irwin. “I don’t like to toot my own horn, but I’m very proud of myself for doing that.”

And she’s taking that positive outlook to the stage. “[Due to AMC], I’m unable to wear heels for the pageant which is a bummer,” says Irwin. “But I found some really cute shoes.”

Source: Mind and Body

When Is the Beaver Moon?

This article originally appeared on TravelAndLeisure.com.

It's one of nature's most arresting sights: a full moon slowly rising in the east as the sun sets in the west. Yet few people bother to look at this highlight of the lunar month.

November's full moon is known as the Beaver Moon, or sometimes the Hunter's Moon or the Frost Moon, and its rising this year is extra special because the moon will be closer to Earth than usual. This slightly bigger, brighter full moon is sometimes called a “supermoon.”

When is the full moon in November?

Though it will look very bright for a few days on either side, the moon is only full when it's precisely opposite the sun, which will illuminate all of its Earth-facing side.

Related: Where to Find the Darkest Skies in the U.S. for Serious Stargazing

This moon phase will happen at 5:23 a.m. UTC (Coordinated Universal Time) on Saturday, Nov. 4, 2017. That's 1:23 a.m. in New York (EDT), 12:23 a.m. in Chicago (CDT), 11:23 p.m. on Friday, November 3 in Salt Lake City (MDT), 10:23 p.m. in Phoenix and Los Angeles (MST & PDT) and 9:23 p.m. in Anchorage (AKDT).

However, that's not when to look at the full moon. By the time it's risen high into the night sky, it's too bright to comfortably look at.

A far better time to observe the moon is as it rises, which it will do on November 3, at the same time as sunset. As well as being much dimmer, it will appear orange – for the same reason a rising or setting Sun looks orange – though a rising full moon is far paler.

This highlight of the lunar month is a gorgeous sight, not least because the moon will appear impressively large as it rises. Not because it's a supermoon — the difference in apparent size is negligible — but because of the so-called “moon illusion” perspective, where things look bigger when they're viewed close to the horizon.

Why is it called the Beaver Moon?

November's full moon comes as the temperatures start to drop in North America, where it's become known as the Beaver Moon.

It's a name from Native Americans and early colonists that indicates that November was when they needed beaver furs to survive the coming winter months. They therefore laid beaver traps in rivers under moonlight, taking advantage of when the animals were at their most active.

Additional November Moon Names

The many Native American tribes all had different names for various full moons to track the passing of the year. The Cherokee on the East Coast and the Carolinas called November's Full Moon the nu-da-de-qua, or Trading Moon, because it was a time when much trade was done between tribes for goods, while the Kalapuya in the Pacific North-West called it alangitapi, which translates as “moving inside for winter.”

Since it arrives at a time of year when it's getting colder and just before the first frosts and freezes, there are many other Native American names that associate it with cold. The Assiniboine of the Northern Plains called it cuhotgawi, or the Frost Moon, while the Haida tribe in Alaska termed it the Snow Moon.

November's Full Moon has also sometimes been referred to as the Hunter's Moon, because it illuminates prey at night.

Whatever you call it, the rising full moon on November 3 will be a beautiful sight.

And there will be more reasons to gaze up at the sky in November: The Leonid meteor shower will peak on November 17.

Source: Mind and Body

Personal Trainer Needs Help for Her Life-Threatening Illegal Butt Implants: 'It's Just Rock-Hard'

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This article originally appeared on People.com.

A personal trainer is looking to The Doctors for help after her illegal butt implants started causing her major pain.

Jenelle Butler decided to get butt injections in 2010, soon after the birth of her son.

“After I had my son I was going through post-partum depression,” Butler, 35, explains in this exclusive clip from Tuesday’s episode of The Doctors. “I felt insecure about how I looked.”

The Atlanta-based mom-of-three decided to go with an unlicensed procedure.

“The word on the street was you call, you make an appointment, rent a room and bring cash,” Butler says. “You’re not supposed to ask any questions.”

But the silicone injections started to go wrong. “Within two years, I started to notice issues,” she says. “I have pain if I sit for too long, sensations of itchiness, discoloration, indentations. Scar tissue has formed. It’s just rock-hard.”

Butler’s concerns are multiplied after she goes to see Dr. Andrew Ordon, who says that the implants may be putting her life at risk.

“It’s just a matter of time that silicone injections in massive amounts in the buttocks are going to create a problem,” Dr. Ordon says. “The big deal though, is that it could be life-threatening.”

The Doctors airs daily. Check your local listings for the time and network.

Source: Mind and Body