Thursday, July 28, 2011

Moooooom!

This was a nightly occurrence at my house growing up.
Especially when it was time for Mom to tuck us in to bed.
Anyone else?

Ads Banned for Overly Airbrushing

L'Oreal advertisements of Julia Roberts & Christy Turlington have been banned for being "overly airbrushed".

I'm pretty happy to see somebody actually taking a stand for this.

I wonder where they draw the line at "normal" airbrushing versus "overly" airbrushed. It just seems so confusing. The ads were banned because they couldn't/wouldn't show exactly how much airbrushing had been done and what had been altered which is a requirement for cosmetic advertisements.

Basically, everything we see on TV and in Magazines has some kind of airbrush technique. Did you know that Julia Roberts had a body double in Pretty Women? Seriously, she is GORGEOUS as is- even without makeup!



Do you think airbrushing/photoshopping should be regulated? What messages, if any, does it send? Some would argue that we already know the pictures are fake so it doesn't even make a difference.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

$6.72 Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred





I've been doing Jillian Michaels Ripped in 30 and it's a great, fast workout where I still feel the pain. I've heard a lot of good things about this one. It's a great deal


Oh, here's another good deal. I almost feel guilty posting this at the same time...

Free Appetizer or Dessert at Chilis

MyHabit Clothing

MyHabit is an Amazon shopping site with daily deals. Right now, you can get $25 off by using the coupon Summer25.

I just browsed through there and it looks like most of the current items $25 or under are out of stock, but the coupon is valid until August 1st.

I'm jealous that most of the adorable children's stuff is for little girls.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Good Deals on Diapers & Wipes (without any work)


That pretty much sums it up.

How Amazon Mom Works

  1. It's a completely free membership
  2. Sign up for qualifying Subscribe & Save Offers. This means that you can choose how often you'd like to receive an item. You can cancel a subscription at any time without difficulties or repercussions. If you need an extra delivery in between, you can request that, too!
  3. Get 30% off Diapers & Wipes, 15% of household/grocery and more!
  4. Get Free Standard Shipping!
  5. Everything delivered to your doorstep- usually within 2-5 days. It used to all be free 2-day shipping, but they recently got rid of that.... but it's still a great deal!
For an example, I currently have a subscription to Pampers Cruisers (186 Count) that I get monthly. It works out to be about .17/diaper which is pretty good for not having to do coupon clipping, deal searching and not having to leave my home. I also subscribe to Pampers SoftCare Wipes (720 Count) (.02/wipe) every 2-3 months (I switch it up as needed). We're Pampers fans around here!

Some current deals:

Not baby related.... but a good deal.
$2.07 Free Shipping HDMI Cable 2M (6 Feet)


I also have Swagbucks that I convert to Amazon.com gift cards and use those.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Formula

My son is 11 months old and he had never had formula. Until yesterday. I've been working part-time and doing school full-time since a few weeks after his birth. I always wanted to breastfeed for a number of reasons. My motivation hasn't always been pure, but I'm stubborn and when I set out to do something, I will do it. Even if I'm miserable and unhealthy.

My milk supply has been a bit low lately and instead of putting him through minor starvation, yesterday, I went to the store and bought a can of formula. That little can cost me a whopping $15. Wowza!

But, he drank it just fine. All 2 ounces that he still wanted after I had breastfed him. He was then full and went right down for a nap! It was wonderful!

I'll be honest. It's a huge relief to be able to do formula. Last night, I wanted to go the gym and didn't have anything pumped so my husband just said "Go ahead. The formula's super easy to mix. We'll be fine."

Why didn't I do this sooner?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The More People Can Wonder

I think she made this comment a few years ago in an interview, but this quote is circulating quite a bit. I love it!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Watch Your Step

http://youtu.be/gWQ5dPeixdw



This is a great video by the LDS Church showing the slippery slope of addiction. I think the message can still be applied to variety of struggles and addictions- not just pornography. What demons are you fighting and what's been helpful for you?

When we face such temptations in our time, we must declare, as young Nephi did in his, “[I will] give place no more for the enemy of my soul." I promise you that the light of His everlasting gospel can and will again shine brightly where you feared life had gone hopelessly, helplessly dark.


See CombatingPornography.org to find resources to help prevent or overcome pornography addiction.
Also, you can read, watch, or listen to Elder Jeffrey R. Holland’s April 2010 general conference address, “Place No More for the Enemy of My Soul,” which is excerpted in this video.

Photo-shopping

See the full album at Beauty Redefined's facebook page or blog 
http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.193230777374742.45179.193209467376873










Mormon Women: The Weight of a Soul

The Weight of A Soul
This was such a powerful interview.
Go read about Beth and her battle with body image and eating.
http://www.mormonwomen.com/2011/07/13/the-weight-of-a-soul/

The really hard thing about eating disorders is that you have to eat. You can’t separate yourself from food.

Pediatricians Turn Away Children who aren't Vaccinated

http://shine.yahoo.com/channel/parenting/pediatricians-turn-away-kids-who-arent-vaccinated-2509592

Pointing to a strong scientific record supporting vaccinations, Goldstein said his practice's policy serves the most vulnerable children -- like infants and those with critical illnesses who are not able to be immunized  -- by protecting them from diseases. All of those children could be in the waiting room together, some pediatricians note, and the unvaccinated ones could be putting the more vulnerable ones at risk.


"Vaccines are safe and have been studied for a long time and continue to be studied," Dr. Goldstein told Shine. "Vaccines are responsible for saving millions of lives and keeping millions of other children safe and healthy."


This stand might seem harsh but the wording and the strictness varies among pediatricians. One Massachusetts-based practice puts it bluntly in the policy that takes up a full page of their website: "Parents who refuse to vaccinate their children are not a good fit for our practice and will be referred elsewhere."


"I know the AAP has cautioned against these policies. If I was the only doctor around, I certainly wouldn't want to throw these families to the wind. In our case, in a neighborhood and city with many pediatricians and options for families, we are choosing to protect kids' health," Goldstein said. "We are not making them sick. We are not forcing them. We are not neglecting them."

Relationship Communication

From The Parents Corner



If you are like the average couple you are only getting 2 hours 20 minutes of meaningful connection with your partner. Try the following exercises to increase the time you connect with your partner.


  • Partings: Do not part in the morning without knowing one interesting thing that will happen in your partner's day. (2 minutes per day X 5 working days = 10 minutes).
  • Reunions: Take 10 minutes to talk about your day (a stress relieving conversation). Partners alternate in actively listening to each other. Support and understanding of your partners experiences must precede any advice giving. (20 minutes per day X 5 working days = 40 minutes).
  • Admiration and Appreciation: Find some way every day to genuinely communicate affection and appreciation toward your partner. (5 minutes per day X 7 days = 35 minutes).
  • Affection: Kiss, hold, touch, hug each other. Make sure to kiss and hug in front of your kids. This lets them know that Mom and Dad are still in love. (5 minutes per day X 7 days = 35 minutes).
  • Dating: Take at least three hours a week for a marital date. During this day conversations about kids, school, work, etc. are off limits. Find out more about your partner, try to understand what motivates them and how you can help them when needed. 

Monday, July 18, 2011

FREE Amazon Prime to college students for one year





Once again, Amazon is offering FREE AMAZON PRIME  to college students for one year! To qualify for this offer, you must have an .edu email address.
Note: If you have already paid for an Amazon Prime membership this last year, you will receive a partial refund when you join Amazon Student.
Amazon Prime gives you FREE 2-day shipping on any order on anything from Amazon.com, so you can see what a fantastic offer this is!

Making Decisions

"In my quiet moments, I think of the future with all of its wonderful possibilities and with all of its terrible temptations. I wonder what will happen to you in the next 10 years. Where will you be? What will you be doing? 
That will depend on the choices you make, some of which may seem unimportant at the time but which will have tremendous consequences.
"Someone has said, 'It may make a difference to all eternity whether we do right or wrong today' (James Freeman Clarke, in Elbert Hubbard's Scrap Book [1923], 95).
"You have the potential to become anything to which you set your mind. You have a mind and a body and a spirit. With these three working together, you can walk the high road that leads to achievement and happiness. But this will require effort andsacrifice and faith."

Follow the First Presidency

Our bishop sent this to the ward about a week ago.

The following is from an address given by Elder Neal A. Maxwell at BYU in 1978. It might even ring a little truer today than when it was given. Please give it your earnest consideration.

"Make no mistake about it, brothers and sisters, in the months and years ahead, events are likely to require each member to decide whether or not he will follow the First Presidency. Members will find it more difficult to halt longer between two opinions. President Marion G. Romney said, many years ago, that he had 'never hesitated to follow the counsel of the Authorities of the Church even though it crossed my social, professional or political life..'

"This is hard doctrine, but it is particularly vital doctrine in a society which is becoming more wicked. In short, brothers and sisters, not being ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ includes not being ashamed of the prophets of Jesus Christ. . . . Your discipleship may see the time when such religious convictions are discounted. . . . This new irreligious imperialism seeks to disallow certain opinions simply because those opinions grow out of religious convictions.

"Resistance to abortion will be seen as primitive. Concern over the institution of the family will be viewed as untrendy and unenlightened....

Before the ultimate victory of the forces of righteousness, some skirmishes will be lost. Even in these, however, let us leave a record so that the choices are clear, letting others do as they will in the face of prophetic counsel.

"There will also be times, happily, when a minor defeat seems probable, but others will step forward, having been rallied to rightness by what we do. We will know the joy, on occasion, of having awakened a slumbering majority of the decent people of all races and creeds which was, till then, unconscious of itself.

"Jesus said that when the fig trees put forth their leaves, 'summer is nigh.' Thus warned that summer is upon us, let us not then complain of the heat."

From "A More Determined Discipleship" by Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Presidency of the First Quorum of the Seventy. An address delivered at Brigham Young University, 10 October 1978.

Becoming Great Women

"...You cannot do everything well at the same time. You cannot be a 100 percent wife, a 100 percent mother, a 100 percent church worker, a 100 percent career person, and a 100 percent public-service person at the same time. How can all of these roles be coordinated? Says Sarah Davidson: “The only answer I come up with is that you can have it sequentially. At one stage you may emphasize career, and at another marriage and nurturing young children, and at any point you will be aware of what is missing. If you are lucky, you will be able to fit everything in.” (Ibid.)
Doing things sequentially—filling roles one at a time at different times—is not always possible, as we know, but it gives a woman the opportunity to do each thing well in its time and to fill a variety of roles in her life. A woman does not necessarily have to track a career like a man does. She may fit more than one career into the various seasons of life. She need not try to sing all of the verses of her song at the same time.
The Book of Ecclesiastes says: “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.” (Eccl. 3:1.)
The various roles of women have not decreased a woman’s responsibility. While these roles are challenging, the central roles of wife and mother remain in the soul and cry out to be satisfied. It is in the soul to want to love and be loved by a good man and to be able to respond to the God-given, deepest feelings of womanhood—those of being a mother and nurturer.
Now, I wish to note clearly that what I am saying is in the spirit of general counsel—that is, it applies generally. But there are exceptions in its application...I join Brigham Young in saying, “Daughter(s), use all your gifts to build up righteousness in the earth.”

A Message to My Granddaughters: Becoming Great Women. Ensign, Sept. 1986, 16

How is Beauty Defined?








  • The average woman sees 400-600 ads per day.
  • By the time she is 17 years old, a woman has received over 250,000 commercial messages through the media
  • 4 out of 5 girls at age 10 admit that their biggest fear is being fat 
  • Each year Americans spend:
    $40 billion for diet products
    $20 billion for cosmetics
    $300 million for cosmetic surgery
    In 1994 total retail sales for the American fashion and footwear industries were estimated at $246.5 billion
The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen nor touched . . . But are felt in the heart.
-- Helen Keller
 

Raising a Child

These numbers are a little daunting, but I'm not going to let that get in my way. Nice to know that our parents would take care of us and spend so much money on us. I think the worth of a child is far more than this estimated cost.


By ALICE MAGGIN and SADIE BASS
Aug. 4, 2009

The Department of Agriculture released a report today that says middle-income families with a child born in 2008 will spend $221,190 to raise that child through high school.

That's $291,570 when the cost is adjusted for inflation. The report, "Expenditures in Children by Families," said parents can expect to spend $11,610 to $13,480 each year, depending on the age of the child. So, what's so expensive? The largest cost is housing, which averages $69,660 -- that's 32 percent of the total cost over the child's lifetime. Next up is food and child care/education, which average 16 percent each. Add in the price of transportation, health care and clothing and you've got one expensive child.
There are some variables that can affect how much a family spends. Not surprisingly, parents with a higher annual income end up spending more on child costs, the report said.
Specifically, a family earning less than $56,870 annually will spend $159,870 over their child's lifetime, according to the report. Families earning between $56,870 and $98,470 will spend $221,190 and families that earn more than $98,470 can expect to spend $366,660, the report said.
The number of kids in a family also influences a family's spending habits. Only children get more of their parents' money than kids with siblings. Parents with one child spend 26 percent of their income, but that amount increases to 39 percent if there are two children, and 48 percent if there are three, the USDA report said.
Region is another factor -- costs are highest in the urban Northeast, followed by cities in the West and Midwest.
"Families living in the urban South and rural areas have the lowest child-rearing expenses," the study said.
And finally, the older the child, the higher the cost. As kids get older, their needs become more expensive.

Today's Numbers Compared to 1960

The USDA first released its report on child costs in 1960, when it estimated that a child would cost his or her parents $25,230 (that's $183,509 in 2008 dollars).
Since then, the largest change has been the cost of child care. With more families with two working parents, child care has become a "significant" expense for many families
The USDA plans to release a 2008 version of its Cost of Raising a Child Calculator. The online calculator is designed to help families easily estimate their costs, and makes the figures from the report easier to understand.
The calculator takes into account the ages and number of children in a family, the number of parents in the home, where the family lives and the overall household income.
Today's report does not factor in the cost of college, which can reach into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
As Raaben Andrews of St. Louis told The Associated Press, "Well, that's not the half of it. I still have to put the little buggers through college."

Marriage & Divorce

As a Marriage & Family Therapist in training, I work with some men and women struggling with really difficult decisions. Sometimes, it's really hard for me. Amazing men, women, and children go through really hard situations. I really enjoy the talk by Elder Oaks given a few years ago about the topic of Divorce.

"Whatever the outcome and no matter how difficult your experiences, you have the promise that you will not be denied the blessings of eternal family relationships if you love the Lord, keep His commandments, and just do the best you can."

Media Bodies

Jennifer Loch used these pictures in her presentation at the Dating Conference. I thought these pictures were stunning and awesome and thought I'd share.

Sometimes, I catch myself wondering why I don't look like models. But this made me realize that even models don't look like models. See if you can tell the difference. She had them in powerpoint and it was awesome to flip back and forth and watch the waistline, hips, shoulders, face etc all change.









The average American woman is 5'4", 163 pounds and wears a size 14.
The "ideal" woman portrayed by Barbie, models etc is 100 pounds, 5'7" and wears a size 8.
Many woman are now starving themselves into osteoporosis because they think dairy products will make them fat.

I'm really a huge fan of Intuitive Eating. Basically, eat when you're hungry and stop when you're full.

President Monson's Ear Wiggle


I love this story :-) And it has a good lesson too.

Remember Lot's Wife

I attended this devotional at BYU in January 2009 and it really changed my outlook on life, my work as a therapist and my marriage.

I've put some excerpts here, but go watch it if you have the time. It's about 30 minutes long.

Remember Lot's Wife
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland
As a scriptural theme for this discussion I have chosen the second shortest verse in all of Holy Scripture...It is Luke 17:32, where the Savior cautions, "Remember Lot's wife."

The original story, of course, comes to us out of the days of Sodom and Gomorrah when the Lord, having had as much as He could stand of the worst that men and women could do, told Lot and his family to flee because those cities were about to be destroyed. "Escape for thy life," the Lord said, "look not behind thee . . . ; escape to the mountain, lest thou be consumed" (Genesis 19:17).

Surely with the Lord's counsel "look not behind thee" ringing clearly in her ears, Lot's wife, the record says, "looked back," and she was turned to a pillar of salt.

So, if history is this important ‐‐ and it surely is ‐‐ what did Lot's wife do that was so wrong?

Apparently what was wrong with Lot's wife is that she wasn't just looking back, but that in her heart she wanted to go back. It would appear that even before they were past the city limits, she was already missing what Sodom and Gomorrah had offered her. As Elder Maxwell once said, such people know they should have their primary residence in Zion but they still hope to keep a
summer cottage in Babylon. It is possible that Lot's wife looked back with resentment toward the Lord for what He was asking her to leave behind. We know that Laman and Lemuel did when Lehi and his family were commanded to leave Jerusalem. So it isn't just that she looked
back; she looked back longingly. In short, her attachment to the past outweighed her confidence in the future. That, apparently, was at least part of her sin.

The past is to be learned from but not lived in.

There is something in us, at least in too many of us, that particularly fails to forgive and forget earlier mistakes in life ‐‐ either mistakes we ourselves have made or the mistakes of others. That is not good. It is not Christian. It stands in terrible opposition to the grandeur and majesty of the
Atonement of Christ. To be tied to earlier mistakes ‐‐ our own or other people's ‐‐ is the worst kind of wallowing in the past from which we are called to cease and desist.

That happens in marriages, too, and in the other relationships we have. I can't tell you the number of couples I have counseled who, when they are deeply hurt or even just deeply stressed, reach farther and farther into the past to find yet a bigger brick to throw through
the window "pain" of their marriage. When something is over and done with, when it has been repented of as fully as it can be repented of, when life has moved on as it should and a lot of other
wonderfully good things have happened since then, it is not right to go back and open up some ancient wound which the Son of God Himself died trying to heal.

Let people repent. Let people grow. Believe that people can change, and improve. Is that faith? Yes! Is it hope? Yes! Is it charity? Yes! Above all it is charity, the pure love of Christ. If something is buried in the past, leave it buried. Don't keep going back with your little sand pail and beach shovel to dig it up, wave it around, and then throw it at someone saying, "Hey! Do you remember this?" Splat! Well, guess what? That is probably going to result in some ugly morsel being dug up out of your landfill with the reply, "Yeah, I remember it. Do you remember this?" Splat. And everyone comes out of that exchange dirty and muddy and unhappy and hurt, when what our Father in Heaven pleads for is cleanliness and kindness and happiness and healing.

Such dwelling on past lives, including past mistakes, is not right! It is not the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

In these cases of marriage and family, and wards and apartments and neighborhoods we can end up destroying so many, many others.

"Behold, he who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more" (D&C 58:42).

We can be so hard on ourselves, often much more so than with others! Like the Anti‐ Nephi‐Lehies of the Book of Mormon, bury your weapons of war, and leave them buried. Forgive, and do that which is harder than to forgive. Forget. And when it comes to mind, forget it again. You can remember just enough to avoid repeating the mistake, but put the rest of it on the dung heap Paul spoke of to those Philippians.

Dismiss the destructive and keep dismissing it, until the beauty of the Atonement of Christ has revealed to you your bright future, and the bright future of your family and your friends and your neighbors.

To all such of every generation I call out, "Remember Lot's wife." Faith is for the future. Faith builds on the past but never longs to stay there. Faith trusts that God has great things in store for each of us and that Christ is the "high priest of good things to come."

Keep your eyes on your dreams, however distant, and live to see the miracles of repentance and
forgiveness, trust and divine love transform your life today, tomorrow and forever."

Self-Injury

I read this article for one of my classes and really, really enjoyed the point of view of this article. I thought I'd share. I hope you take the time to at least skim it. Don't I have an awesome job?!


A Look at the Increase in Body Focused Behaviors
by Wendy Lader, Ph.D.
Wherever one looks today, it is difficult to escape the increasing focus on the body. We starve it, exercise it, tattoo it, pierce it, self-mutilate and modify it through plastic surgery.
For the past 20 years, my colleagues and I at SAFE Alternatives® have focused on trying to understand and treat those that physically self-injure their bodies. We view self-injury, not as a meaningless habit, but rather a behavior that can serve a number of purposes and hold a myriad of different meanings. It can, at once, soothe, punish, numb, repulse and cleanse. It can represent an expression of anger, loneliness, invisibility, fear, self-loathing and even strength.

Throughout the years, I have often been asked whether I believed there is a relationship between self-injury and “body art.” When I first started pondering this question, I thought they were very different acts with different meanings and purposes. After all, self-injury is usually a private act inflicted by the individual, whereas body art is often a social act designed to have one fit in or impress a particular peer group. In addition, it is usually performed by someone other than the individual.

However, I came to realize that I was focusing on the differences and missing the more salient similarities. The more thought I gave to this issue the more I have come to believe that there is often only a thin line between those that self-injure and many of those that modify their bodies for the sake of beauty and or art. Is it purely coincidental that people in our society are turning to more permanent avenues of self-expression with their bodies serving as the canvas?

The younger generation seems to be finding a variety of ways to alter their bodies ranging from the mundane to the alarming and even bizarre. One pierced ear has now given way to 10 piercing, the placement of which seems to be limited only by the amount of skin one possesses. “Nose jobs” have now morphed into “body jobs”, and women (as well as an increasing number of men) can transform their bodies into the look of the day. Women are not only dying their hair or piercing their ears, but increasing or decreasing their breasts, sucking fat out and then injecting it back in and even putting implants in heretofore unimagined places in an effort to look more like JLo.

Are these modifications actually visible proclamations of one’s true identity? Many people who get tattoos, for example, think long and hard about what they want imprinted on their body to best represent to the world what is important to them. Some people have their whole life story tattooed across their arms, legs and torsos. Self-injurers often state that their scars tell their history as well, even if only to them. Do these various body alterations or designs actually represent one’s sense of self, and if so, why are people now experiencing a need to display their internal views of themselves on their bodies?

Every generation has behaviors chosen specifically to shock and if lucky appall the generation that went before; it is, after all, the task of adolescence to individuate and separate. In order to have the confidence to move forward into adulthood, teenagers must believe that they understand the ways of the world far better than their parents. Past examples of individuating behaviors include techniques such as swallowing goldfish, doing the “twist”, growing one’s hair long, fashioning it into an afro, dying it pink, wearing poodle skirts, tie die, or worse yet grunge outfits. All choices, thankfully, could be easily discarded once they had served their purpose of declaring to the older generation that their bearers are far wiser, and “hipper” than their parents ever were. Body modification can, on the other hand, be permanent, or at the very least leave permanent damage. In addition, all forms of body modification involve some degree of pain. Is this just an unfortunate by product of the process, or perhaps part of its allure? Could it be that the pain is the point, or as my clients so frequently state, “It’s easier to deal with physical rather than emotional pain?”

Overcoming physical pain or transcending one’s body is considered, in many religions to be a path towards reaching a “higher plane”, or religious rapture. Although a number of our clients are highly religious, they do not generally indicate religious rapture as an end goal for their self-injurious behavior. However, many do state that they would like to overcome their bodies, which have been considered a source of hurt, frustration and disappointment. Those that have been physically or sexually abused, for example, often believe that if they can master pain then no one will ever be able to hurt them again.

Is the increase in body modification an indication, similar to Columbine that this generation is having a more difficult time moving into adulthood, “finding themselves” as it were than past generations? Or perhaps I am just getting old.

I postulate that rather than finding one’s self through these various body alterations, people are losing themselves. Rather than getting in touch with their feelings, they are numbing. Rather than bringing them closer to their identity, they serve to alienate. Thus youth often spiral out of control as they engage in more and more of these behaviors with less and less sense of self satisfaction.

The body represents the individual to the outside world. It is how people are recognized from one another. The skin serves as the boundary between “me” and “other” (the rest of the world). It therefore makes sense that the body can represent a personal bulletin board to express to others things about oneself. Is there a fear that if one does not make their body more eye catching then no one will bother to look any further; to spice up the cover, so to speak, in hopes that someone might take an interest in reading the book? Or perhaps the natural body has become so distasteful (or boring) that one needs to find ways to embellish, disguise or disfigure it? And if so, from where does this sense of intense dissatisfaction or boredom originate?

For centuries, and in a variety of cultures, the skin has been utilized as a parchment on which to communicate any number of messages. Tattooing, piercing, branding, and scarification have been utilized to indicate tribal belonging, rank, religious affiliation, personal interests and even to frighten one’s enemies or make woman less attractive so as to protect them from being stolen (Favazza). The disenfranchised in many societies, such as bikers, gang members, prison inmates and servicemen away from home, have often chosen to “get ink”(tattoos) for perhaps similar reasons.

As a psychologist, I frequently consider and ask the question, “Why now?” So, I put forth the query, “Why are these behaviors seeping into the mainstream and fabric of our society at this point in time?” Should we just accept it as another cultural fad, or is there more meaning to the choice of this particular set of behaviors?

I believe that we are seeing an increase in body-focused behaviors for a myriad of cultural reasons, and that they are not merely a pointless fad. We live in a society that is becoming increasingly disenfranchised. Company loyalty is a thing of the past. Job changes are often accompanied by geographic moves. On top of this, divorce is on the rise as is the phenomena of “blended” families. Kids might not only move across the country with a parent, but also might need to live between two households. Whereas extended families used to live within easy distance of one another, now grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles can be scattered and live hundreds, if not thousands, of miles from one another. We no longer have a “village” raising our children, nor do adults have the support that closer communities used to provide.

In a world in which kids have more material goods than ever, why do they feel so deprived? Is it possible that the rapid introduction of technology has served to increasingly isolate people from one another? There was a time not so long ago when neighbors sat out on their front porches and knew each other well. The streets would be filled with active kids riding bicycles, playing pick up basketball or just “hanging together” talking about their lives and sharing their dreams. They used to play cards and board games with live people. Now kids go into their homes, bury
themselves in their PC’s (Personal Computers) and chat or play online games with total faceless strangers. Even when outside amongst other people, they are so absorbed with listening to their I-pods, or cell phone conversations, that they barely notice, much less acknowledge those that pass by. In addition, our society has become more dangerous, and younger people have been indoctrinated with the “stranger danger” philosophy of safety. They are taught not to make eye contact or speak with strangers. They can no longer ride their bikes or walk to school alone. Is it a wonder that our kids often experience themselves as alienated and alone? My friends in AA often remind me, “The mind is a dangerous neighborhood to be walking around in by oneself.”

Paradoxically, kids today are shielded from very little. It is almost impossible to watch TV or view the Internet without being exposed to explicit sexual and violent scenes. In this politically correct baby boomer world, kids have been treated as mini adults. They call adults (and even sometimes their parents) by their first name, and are often encouraged to challenge rather than respect authority. Tolerance for frustration seems to be plummeting in an overindulgent society, which seems to have a difficult time setting limits on adolescent behavior or their demands. The result is often an over inflated estimation of one’s own power which can deflate quickly when presented with the realities and challenges of everyday life. The more children are allowed to act “as if” they are adults without having earned the privileges that accompany adult status, then the more empty and confused they become.

Today’s youth are being exposed to much more and at earlier ages than they ever before. Current exposure is a long way from looking at nude pictures in National Geographic; children are provided with less structure, limits and opportunity to process what they are exposed to in society. In a world that often seems out of control, the body remains ours to do with what we will. Modifying one’s body might therefore provide one with a sense of control, albeit temporary, that might seem too elusive to otherwise attain. I often hear from my self-injuring clients, “It’s my body; I can do what I want to it.” Changing one’s body is often designed to get the attention of others in an effort to decrease one’s sense of invisibility, or to gain power over one’s enemies by appearing dangerous — such as the vampire look or choosing tattoos designed to intimidate. Samoan fisherman believed that if they could survive their intricate and extensive tattooing process, then they could survive the elements.

Of course most things in life operate on a continuum. Is a butterfly tattoo on one’s shoulder, a diet to fit into a pair of size 8 jeans, or a bellybutton piercing indicative of a deeper problem, or merely normal adolescent rebelliousness and a desire to fit in with peers? The behavior is not truly the problem; rather it is the drive and intensity behind the behavior to which clinicians should attend. These body-altering behaviors can serve as a coping strategy, an effort to control the out of control, to distract from the elusive and painful emotional to the tangible and palliative physical.

I believe that many of these body modifying behaviors are an example of “smoke and mirrors,” designed to have clinicians look in one direction, in an effort to keep them from looking in another. It keeps clinicians, as well as the person engaging in the behavior, focused on the physical, rather than the emotional, or stated in another way, focused on the physical at the expense of the emotional.

Symbols and behaviors, while forms of communication, are inexact at best often leaving much open for interpretation. That is why societies have moved from pictures on cave walls to written and verbal language. In order to be heard and understood, and therefore seen one needs to learn to communicate in ways that others can understand. A baby for example will cry when in need, but in need of what? It is up to the parent to determine whether the baby is sick, hungry, cold, hot, wet, wants to be held or is in pain. Unfortunately, not all parents are “good enough” or patient enough to determine what the baby is attempting to communicate. As children age into
teenagers and young adults, their lives and feeling states become increasingly complicated. The parent’s task of helping their teenager communicate his or her experiences also becomes more complicated as teenagers push their parents away in an effort to individuate. Parenting during this tumultuous time in their child’s life becomes a task that takes considerable time, patience and skill.

The less one is able to identify, label and express thoughts and feelings, the more overwhelmed one is likely to be. The less one knows about their internal life and emotional cues, then the more vulnerable one is likely to feel. Moreover, the less one is able to communicate thoughts and feelings to others, the more likely one is to experience oneself as invisible. How can youth communicate these internal experiences to others, to feel connected and understood if they do not have the language of thoughts and feelings? What happens when those internal experiences build to uncomfortably intense, amorphous states? Perhaps, they discharge through action using their bodies, their bulletin boards to “turn up the volume” so that someone might attend and help.

In summary, I believe that the increase in addictions, like body focused behaviors, can be attributed to the increase in the fragmentation of our society, as well as our families, where individuals experience themselves as just that, individual, separate, alienated people without a sense of structure, acceptance, love and belonging. Physical actions are utilized in an attempt to either control, get noticed, or frighten, but generally fail to communicate to either themselves or others in a meaningful way, thus once again, confirming to themselves that they are alone, misunderstood and vulnerable.

In the search for one’s identity through modification of the body, one is building a “false self,” a mask that at best may make an approximation of the person underneath, but in fact serves to hide and bury the “true self”. Many of my clients recite the mantra, “If people really knew me they would not like me.” They present a face to the world that is created to defend against the fear of alienation and rejection. However, by failing to identify and accept their true selves, by never taking the risk to allow others to see them with all of their thoughts, feelings and vulnerabilities, they are creating a self-fulfilling prophesy, one that will forever alienate them from both themselves and others.