Our Bodies, Our Selfies: On Body Image Online

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The ubiquity of social media exerts a certain pressure to post photos of oneself — often, selfies — and submit them to the scrutiny of others. One study estimatesthat a third of all photographs taken by people ages 18-24 are selfies — photographs taken by the subject of the photograph, usually at arms length.

Selfies, it seems, have become one of the important “body projects” of the digital age. In her book, The Body Project,historian Joan Jacobs Brumberg chronicles the increasingly exacting standards of appearance that girls and young women in North America have felt pressure to conform to. As others — such as Naomi Wolf in The Beauty Myth — have noted, gains in women’s rights have often been undermined somewhat by ever-more unrealistic and unattainable standards of beauty.

Photographer and documentary filmmaker Lauren Greenfield has given considerable attention to the significance of girls and women’s appearance in our culture. There is, she has written, an “element of performance and exhibitionism that seems to define the contemporary experience of being a girl.” Or, for that matter, a person — actor James Franco defended his abundant posting of selfies in a New York Times op-ed piece, noting that poems and thoughtful quotations didn’t garner nearly as much attention as selfies — particularly shirtless ones.

It goes without saying that selfies posted to social media are the most attractive ones that the person can create, with the help of camera angles, cropping, filters, and other editing tools. Selfies are images of the self for the consumption and approval of others; some selfie-dedicated websites serve no other purpose than to promote the posting and approval — or disapproval — of images of the self.

I spent at least a ten-year period in my teens and early 20s obsessed with my appearance, constantly asking: Am I ugly? Does this make me look fat? Are you sure my hair is all right in the back? If I were going through that difficult decade now instead of then, I suppose I would have been taking selfies and posting them online, waiting for the “likes” and the “favorites” and the comments — hopefully all complimentary — to come pinging in.

Back then, I mostly used my first digital camera to chronicle our growing baby with pictures to be emailed to grandparents. But secretly, I’d also place the camera on a table or bookshelf, set the timer function, and pose so that the camera could help me decide for myself whether I seemed to be getting a little heavier in the thighs. Then I’d delete the pictures. At the time – and even now — I felt a measure of shame over what I was doing. It was a desperate attempt to find answers to the questions that my husband, mom, and best friends were so tired of hearing: “Do I look okay?”

There is a double layer of scrutiny that comes with selfies. We play photographer, model, and editor, asking ourselves again and again if we look ok, before inviting feedback from our networks.

Of course, attractive faces play better on the Internet than polished words. No surprise there, but the selfie’s way of highlighting physical appearance (sometimes using editing techniques similar to those employed by the much-reviled advertising industry) should give us pause. Do we want to be known and admired primarily through the visual images we make of ourselves and put out for the world to see?

(We may not all be Jennifer Lawrence, but don’t be fooled — the images you capture on your smartphone have a footprint that’s potentially indelible.)

There is a certain grace to allowing others to photograph us, and select the photographs they like best. (“Let another’s camera capture you, and not your own,” an updated version of Proverbs 27:2 might read.) My mother tends to like photos of me that show an angle or expression that’s unfamiliar to me. Hearing our own voices on a recording can be similarly jarring; not quite what we expected. Yet when I look at photographs my friend Lisa has taken of my family, I feel I’m seeing all of us through different eyes, and I feel better for it — broadened, somehow.

That, I think, should give us pause in taking and sharing selfies: are we endeavoring to be seen, physically, in a certain way? Are we crowdsourcing approval and affirmation? Is the spiritual truth of our being images of God highlighted in our postings, or do we make ourselves out to be less multifaceted miracles than we are?

What, exactly, it might mean to “honor God with your body” in relation to photographs and selfies is not necessarily clear. I am not prepared to eschew images of human faces, as the Amish do. But I think it must mean that we offer some form of resistance to a culture that, as Lauren Greenfield writes, lifts up appearance as “the primary canvas on which girls express their identities, insecurities, ambitions, and struggles.”

That might mean taking fewer selfies, or indulging fewer selfies with abundant “likes” and approval. It might mean seeking first of all the comments of our Creator, who looked at the human beings he made and called them “very good,” a word of approval that is better than any our peers can offer.

CornerStone Family Services Counselor Snapshot: Dominic Solli, CT

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Dominic is a counselor trainee at CornerStone Family Services.  He is in his second year of graduate studies for Clinical and Mental Health Counseling at Ashland Theological Seminary. He holds a bachelor’s in psychology and in sociology with a minor in criminal justice at Mount Vernon Nazarene University. Having grown up in the Columbus area, Dominic can identify with the trials and tribulations that people may go through growing up in the area. 

Dominic focuses as a counselor trainee on the following areas:

Addiction, Adjustment issues, Adults, Anxiety, Children (7+), Depression, Emotional Disorders, Men’s Issues, Mood Disorders, Self-worth/ Self-esteem, Sexual Abuse, Spiritual Issues, Young Adults (15+)

You may contact him at 614.459.3003.

CornerStone Counselor Snapshot: Nina Helene, ED.D, LSW, LICDC-CS

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Dr. Nina Helene, ED.D, LSW, LICDC-CS has been licensed by the State of Ohio Counselor and Social Worker Board since 1990 and by the Ohio Department of Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services since 1994. Her graduate work and doctorate were completed at Boston University in Humanistic and Behavioral Studies with study in psychology, education, sociology and theology. She conducted an extensive interview study into the near-death experiences of Christians, since revised for book publication.

Since moving to Columbus from Boston with her husband, Dr. Helene has been a case manager in a homeless shelter, counselor in an inner city high school dropout program, middle and high school teacher, geriatric counselor in nursing homes and assisted and independent living facilities, mental health and education consultant in the Columbus public schools, university lecturer in developmental and educational psychology, and Christian counselor in private practice.

Dr. Helene developed and conducted workshops on marriage, parenting, adolescent depression, suicide and substance abuse, aging and eldercare, communication, stress management and other related topics. She has led inpatient and outpatient alcohol and drug and dual diagnosis therapy groups, and co-led domestic violence groups for perpetrators, lectured on alcohol and drug addiction and recovery to medical professionals in inpatient treatment, provided agency-wide Drug-Free Workplace employee in-services and directed a family recovery program.

Dr. Helene developed the Christian counseling program for Lutheran Social Services of Central Ohio, provided Christian counseling to Franklin and Pickaway County area churches and Trinity Lutheran Seminary and was on the planning committee and a panelist in a conference on faith-based mental health services and programs. She has led women’s church, community and prison Bible study and prayer support groups.

Dr. Helene volunteered with the Salvation Army in Manhattan in October 2001, helping provide disaster relief to 9-11 survivors and in March 2002 at Ground Zero at the pit rim primary site, as a Coordinator of Volunteers serving and ministering to recovery workers. She also volunteered February 2006 with the Salvation Army’s New Orleans’ Disaster Recovery Center, as an Emotional-Spiritual Care Counselor and assisting case workers servicing Katrina-Rita survivors.

9 Things You Should Know About Intimate Partner Violence

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9 Things You Should Know About Intimate Partner Violence

By Joe Carter

The issue of intimate partner violence has been in the news recently after the National Football League suspended Ray Rice for hitting his finacee. A video from an elevator camera surfaced in which Rice is seen punching Janay Palmer in the face, knocking her unconscious. Rice and Palmer were wed the next day.

Here are nine things you should know about intimate partner violence.

quiet1. The term “intimate partner violence” (IPV) describes physical, sexual, or psychological harm by a current or former partner or spouse. This type of violence can occur across age, ethnic, gender, and economic lines, among persons with disabilities, among both heterosexual and same-sex couples, and does not require sexual intimacy. IPV affects more than 12 million Americans each year.

2. In 48 population-based surveys from around the world, 10-69 percent of women reported being physically assaulted by an intimate male partner at some point in their lives. In large national studies, the range is between 10-34 percent.

3. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 1 in 4 women (22.3 percent) have been the victim of severe physical violence by an intimate partner, while 1 in 7 men (14.0 percent) have experienced the same. Female victims frequently experienced multiple forms of IPV (i.e. rape, physical violence, stalking); male victims most often experienced physical violence.

4. Women who experienced rape or stalking by any perpetrator or physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime were more likely than women who did not experience these forms of violence to report having asthma, diabetes, and irritable bowel syndrome. Thepercentage of women who consider their mental health to be poor is almost three times higher among women with a history of violence than among those without. Women with disabilities have a 40 percent greater risk of intimate partner violence, especially severe violence, than women without disabilities. Men and women who experienced these forms of violence were more likely to report frequent headaches, chronic pain, difficulty with sleeping, activity limitations, poor physical health, and poor mental health than men and women who did not experience these forms of violence.

5. Most female victims of completed rape (78.7 percent) experienced their first rape before the age of 25 and almost half (40.4 percent) experienced their first rape before age 18 (28.3 percent between 11 and 17 years old and 12.1 percent at or before the age of 10). About 35 percent of women who were raped as minors also were raped as adults compared to 14 percent of women without an early rape history. More than a quarter of male victims of completed rape (28 percent) were first raped when they were 10 years old or younger.

6. Approximately 1 in 5 Black (22.0 percent) and White (18.8 percent) non-Hispanic women, and 1 in 7 Hispanic women (14.6 percent) in the United States have experienced rape at some point in their lives. More than one-quarter of women (26.9 percent) who identified as American Indian or as Alaska Native and 1 in 3 women (33.5 percent) who identified as multiracial non-Hispanic reported rape victimization in their lifetime. One out of 59 White non-Hispanic men (1.7 percent) has experienced rape at some point in his life. Nearly one-third of multiracial non-Hispanic men (31.6 percent) and over one-quarter of Hispanic men (26.2 percent) reported sexual violence other than rape in their lifetimes. Male rape victims and male victims of non-contact unwanted sexual experiences reported predominantly male perpetrators.

7. In 2002–11, 8 percent of female intimate partner victimizations involved some form of sexual violence during the incident. About 4 percent of females and 8 percent of males who were victimized by an intimate partner were shot at, stabbed, or hit with a weapon in 2002–11.

8. Three fourths of all murder-suicides (74 percent) involved an intimate partner. Of these, 96 percent were women killed by their intimate partners. Interpersonal violence is the leading cause of female homicides and injury-related deaths during pregnancy. On average, more than three women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends every day.

9. Adolescents and adults are often unaware that teens experience dating violence. In a nationwide survey, 9.4 percent of high school students report being hit, slapped, or physically hurt on purpose by their boyfriend or girlfriend in the 12 months prior to the survey. About 1 in 5 women and nearly 1 in 7 men who ever experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner, first experienced some form of partner violence between 11 and 17 years of age.

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If you or someone you know is or has encountered intimate partner violence, please seek help. See our Support page for some potential resources.  

Please feel free to give CornerStone Family Services a call to set up an appointment with a counselor or coach: 614.459.3003.

Would vs Could – Men Say There’s a Difference

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Would vs. Could— Men Say There’s A Difference

By Joy Eggerichs

Do men and women really process words differently? 

“Joy, it’s not men vs. women, but just people who process and hear things differently.”

I don’t want to argue, I just want to share some enlightening tidbits I learned from asking a few good men what they would love women to know…

 

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Would vs. Could- He Says There's A Difference

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1)   Women: Ask men for help.

This doesn’t communicate to him that you’re weak, it simply communicates that you’re strong enough to set pride aside and ask. Many men desire to feel needed—and with the amazing accomplishments of women today, men don’t get as many chances to be affirmed in that area.

Stated authentically, asking a man to accomplish a task for you can often be a gift…to him. (This doesn’t mean he wants to become your French maid while you eat bon-bons. Annnnnd depending on the task, it doesn’t mean he will jump for joy either.) The point is that every man wants the woman he loves (or is interested in) toBELIEVE that he CAN help you.

It DOESN’T mean he thinks you CAN’T. 

2)   Women: How you ask matters.

As a woman, I always thought I was being polite when I said, “Could you please ______ for me?”

The guys I spoke with pointed out that “could” can subtly imply that I doubt if they can handle the task.

Even if they actually can’t handle the request, they still feel more encouraged if I say, “Would or will you please ______ for me?”

It’s up to the men to decide if they will be honest if they can or can’t complete the task, but the phrasing shows our belief, (which is honestly why so many men probably kill themselves doing things the woman they love BELIEVES they can. Belief is a powerful drug for men and can lead to notions of indestructibility.)

Note to the men: Being humble about your weaknesses is hot to women too…

Working for Love and Respect and studying men and women has made me acutely aware of just how sensitive men are to the women in their lives, especially in the area of competency. If she communicates that she doesn’t think he is able to do something—even in a joking manner—it can be like a swift kick in the pants to him.

Ouch.

I’ve started testing this out. (Not the kicking men in the pants part.)

For me—as a highly competent woman, who has to handle most things on her own anyway— it took setting my pride aside to even ask for help or allow help.

When I do though, I’ve seen something in many mens’ spirit ignite and I see something in my own spirit soften.

Sometimes it’s not even romantic! I’ve even practiced just letting cab drivers take my bags instead of going, “Oh no, no, no, it’s fine I need the exercise.”

Maybe that’s a bad analogy, or maybe I’ll end up marrying the yellow cab driver the next time I hit up the big apple. Until then, I think all of us can try to figure out what gifts we might be able to give to the person we like, love or are married to. Not because we can’t live without them, but because we want to let them live fully into the way God designed them.

Would you? For me?

Believing “Yes, We Can,”

Joy

How To Make Stress Your Friend

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Stress. It makes your heart pound, your breathing quicken and your forehead sweat. But while stress has been made into a public health enemy, new research suggests that stress may only be bad for you if you believe that to be the case. Psychologist Kelly McGonigal urges us to see stress as a positive, and introduces us to an unsung mechanism for stress reduction: reaching out to others.

Watch her talk about How to Make Stress Your Friend at this 2013 TED talk.

Ted Talk Stress

Choosing to Believe in Goodwill in Marriage

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Dr. Emerson Eggerichs’ counsel to married couples who are serious about practicing Love and Respect:

In your marriage, whenever your spouse’s good intentions fail to produce loving or respectful actions toward you, you only have one good option, and that is to deliberately choose to trust your spouse’s goodwill.

Goodwill

CornerStone Counselor Snapshot: Wendy Feusse

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WendyMeet CornerStone Family Services certified life coach, Wendy Feusse.

Wendy brings life experience and years of coaching to the table as she helps people in a variety of situations.  As a coach, Wendy offers help in these areas:

Relationship Coaching, Accountability, Anger Management, Boundaries, Communication Issues, Conflict Management, Couples, Family Individuals, JERK Training, Marital, People adaption from other countries/cultures (knows some Spanish), Spiritual Issues, Stress Management, Strong w/teens, Troubled Relationships, Women’s Issues