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Ashley Solomon, Psy.D is a psychologist who specializes in the treatment of eating disorders, body image, trauma, and serious mental illness.

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18 Nov

Hunger

Advocacy No Comments by Ashley @ Nourishing the Soul

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As we look toward the season of abundance to come, there are 47 million Americans who will be faced with some extraordinary challenges. They will lay down at night, in beds or elsewhere, wondering how they will afford to feed their families. The children, 22 million of them, will wonder how much they’ll get to eat tomorrow, and if it will be enough.

Food insecurity is a challenge that more Americans that we realize – or want to realize – face each day. And it’s a challenge that will only become even more acute assome benefits of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, a federally funded effort, loses five billion dollars in support this November.

The support initially came from the 2009 stimulus package and was intended to assist as so many more of our citizens were faced with food insecurity following the financial crisis. Now, those benefits are ending, but the number of Americans in this situation remains too high.

Hunger plagues them.

Another number that’s far too high: eleven million Americans who struggle with eating disorders. They face challenges this season too: navigating tense family gatherings centered around food, battling a life-threatening illness, and fighting for the treatment that they desperately need.

Many dread the merriment that surrounds the season, knowing that it brings for them more stress and strain. It’s like someone with alcoholism being forced to spend Thanksgiving in bar. If they escape, they face isolation that can be equally painful. And so they stay, surrounded by the thing that tortures them.

And those that want to seek help during the holidays face wait lists for treatment that are far too long. They face insurance companies that deny them the coverage to treat their illness, despite being mandated to do so by law. They face family members and a society who think they need to just “eat a donut” or join Weight Watchers.

Hunger plagues them.

I’ve said before that the issue in this country is not an obesity epidemic but a hunger crisis. And the holiday season can shine a bright light on its many manifestations.

When sitting down to a holiday meal this season, I don’t want you to feel guilt for having food that others don’t or being able to eat it when others can’t. What I do want you to do is to take a moment to reflect upon the ways in which hunger takes root in our country.

Food insecurity and eating disorders share more in common than is obvious at first look. They are endemic issues that are often pushed under the rug because they are less than pleasant to consider. We’d rather ignore them than to face their harsh realities. They both deserve our thoughtful awareness and attention. They people who battle with them deserve our respect and support.

Confronting the truth and facing the stigmas alone goes a long way in creating solutions. If the food insecure and those with eating issues are treated as second-class citizens, we’ll never be able to develop effective ways to make things better.

As we glide into this season, let’s also take time to talk about these hunger crises. Maybe some of the answers to them aren’t as different as we think.

04 Jun

It’s hard to break the glass ceiling when you don’t like to make a mess.

Book Review 2 Comments by Ashley @ Nourishing the Soul

I just started reading Facebook CEO Sheryl Sandberg’s new political commentary/memior/feminist manifesto Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to LeadAnd by started, I mean I read the introduction. But it’s already got me thinking and eager to delve into the rest of the book. So that’s a good thing.

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Unlike a lot of the conversation out there, Sandberg focuses less on the institutional barriers out there (damn men keeping us down! rarrrr!) and more on the internal barriers that prevent women from rising to the top. As a psychologist and someone with lots of internal barriers, this really resonates with me. Or at least I think it will, once I read more.

Sandberg points to some of the statistics out there — like the fact that only 14% of business executives are women and just over 4% of Fortune 500 CEOs are female. What’s most interesting about these numbers is that they start out looking much different. Entry-level business jobs are pretty evenly dispersed among men and women. But as time marches on, women fail to climb the ladder as quickly as men. Or they jump off.

As I was thinking about this, I recognized that there are a myriad of factors contributing to it. There’s the self-confidence and self-determination that are required to move ahead — qualities that are not always made priority in raising girls and women. There’s the fact that new motherhood often occurs at a pivotal point in the career trajectory, leaving many women who try to balance multiple roles in the dust.

But there’s also something else. And that’s the fact that as women, we’re acculturated to make other people happy. I don’t want to paint the female sex with such broad strokes, but I feel pretty safe in stating that most women don’t like to be the bad guy. We are often raised to consider the needs and wants of others, and, in some cases, to be a primary caretaker of those needs and wants. We are taught to keep things tidy and in order. We are taught to make others feel gooooood about themselves. In fact, not doing so can have damaging effects on our careers, relationships, and sense of self, says some research.

I’m going to even go out on a limb here and say that it’s not just a matter of acculturation and gender stereotyping, but maybe… even… evolutionary biology? Since the dawn of (wo)man, we have been relied upon to keep families and communities together. We do this in multiple more modern ways — organizing playdates, preparing meals, and championing safer communities — but the fact remains that part of our biological legacy is in fostering connection. It’s that connection that has kept our world thriving, in my humble opinion.

Business isn’t necessarily anti-community, but it requires some mess-making. It requires being willing to rock the boat and upset Dave in accounts. It sometimes requires laying people off and doing arguably ruthless things to move a company ahead. Okay, so maybe they’re not ruthless things. Perhaps just unpopular. But still.

I’m not for a moment arguing that women are not designed to get ahead in business. Rather, I would argue that: women have to recognize and consider thoughtfully their perhaps instinctual nature. I believe whole-heartedly that women have the capacity to make tough, unpopular decisions. I just think that it’s worth considering that it may be tough, given our biology and acculturation. Women do tough stuff all the time (hello, childbirth!), so I have no doubt that we can (and do, all the time!) this.

The other factor is that perhaps it’s not that women’s psyches struggle to mesh with business, but that business is somehow fundamentally flawed in its philosophy. If we had more women in leadership positions, I venture to say that the nature of business would change dramatically. Companies — and the world — might be run more from a place of cooperation than competition. You know how this line of thinking goes — less war, less famine, more unicorns dancing in the skies. But I think it’s true. Women have an important place at the table — the dinner one and the conference one.

I’ll have to give this all some more thought. And getting past the introduction of Sandberg’s book might be wise too. But for now, I have a load of laundry to finish and 46 emails to read.

What do you think? Have you ever experienced the impact of your sex on your work or career? 

27 Mar

You Should Know :: MissRepresentation’s #NotBuyingIt App

Current Events, Media Literacy, You Should Know No Comments by Ashley @ Nourishing the Soul

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In the category with white chocolate M&Ms for things that I wish I had thought of first, MissRepresentation’s #NotBuyingIt app is one of the coolest things I’ve heard of recently. It joins the ranks of other apps I just love.

From the same folks that brought us that eye-opening film a couple years ago comes an app that brings media literacy to your finger tips.

The #NotBuyingIt idea was first made popular as simply a hashtag on Twitter. PolicyMic reports that the hashtag accompanied over 10,000 tweets during this year’s Super Bowl and reached almost four million people. The app takes that kind of grassroots consumer power to the next level.

The app combines the power of social media (Twitter, namely) as a higher tech “complaint department.” Users of the app can slap “#NotBuyingIt” onto an ad that they find offensive or degrading and let the company using the ad know how they feel. The app also allows mapping of where the most offensive ads are originating and which communities are taking the biggest stand.

The app is still in development and the creators are working to raise money to make it available. If it’s something you want to support, check out the fundraising page.

05 Nov

Announcing… the 2012 Nourishing Body Image Award Winners!

Current Events 4 Comments by Ashley @ Nourishing the Soul

Organizing the 2012 Nourishing Body Image Awards has been such a blessing. Each year I’ve hosted the awards, I’ve been introduced to so many amazing people, organizations, movements, and websites, which in turn has truly enriched my work and life. From inspirational posts that moved me in profound ways to organizations who inspired me to share, donate, and stand up, the work of the award nominees is truly amazing. I feel honored to get to recognize the incredible efforts.

The truth is, body image advocacy is not easy work. It’s not popular work, and it’s not always rewarding in the same ways as other work. But it’s important work. Vital work. And I’m so grateful to the individuals behind the nominations. Day in and day out, they go against the grain of society by standing up for radical ideas — like the fact that our worth should not be determined by the size of our waist or that beauty is something inherent in all human beings

I also humbled by those of you who took time to post, comment, email, and send messenger pigeons (okay, that was just one of you…) with your nominations. Thank you for taking an active part in recognizing how amazing this work is as well.

Without further ado, I’d like to share the nominations and winners of the 2012 Nourishing Body Image Awards.

 

Best Body Image Blogger

Nominees:

Arielle Lee Blair at Actively Arielle

Margarita Tartakovsky at Weightless

Sydney Bell at Body Respect

WINNER: Arianna Merritt at Arianna’s Random Thoughts

 

Best Body Image Website

Nominees:

The Kissy Project

My Purple Dreams

Voice in Recovery 

WINNER: Adios Barbie

Most Body Positive Magazine or Book

Seventeen

Vogue 

Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

WINNER: Operation Beautiful by Caitlin Boyle

 

Best Body Image Post or Article

Nominees:

Good Food vs. Bad Food on Baby Dust Diaries

The Art of Listening to Your Body on Weightless 

The Body Love Timeline on Already Pretty

The Power in Imperfection on Medicinal Marzipan

WINNER:  You Only Think the Bullies Are Helpful on Eat the Damn Cake

Best Body Image Boosting Organization

Nominees: 

Rewrite Beautiful

Endangered Bodies NY

Healthy At Every Size

Hungry for Change

Girls On The Run

Proud 2 B Me

WINNER: BE ME Foundation

Most Body Loving Company

Nominees: 

American Girl

Lane Bryant

Jean-Paul Gaultier

WINNER: Curvy Yoga

 

Best Body Positive Photo, Video, or Image

Nominees:

Be Weird, Be Random, Be You

Be Proud of

Media Spin

Some Thoughts on Confidence

WINNER: Self Esteem

 

Most Body Positive Celebrity

Nominees:

Demi Lovato

Lady Gaga

Christina Hendricks

WINNER: Ellen DeGeneres

I invite all of the nominees and winners to proudly display their recognition via the badges below. Thank you for all that you do. Because of you, I have confidence that my friends, family, patients, and self will live in a world more accepting and nurturing tomorrow than we do today.
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