Externalizing stuff

So I’m just going to put this out there – I think I am on the cusp of developing an eating disorder. Or suffering from some body image disorder. Or maybe, instead of labeling it a disorder and trying to self-diagnose, I am just going to say this – when I realized I had gained a significant amount of weight in the last few months, I instantly felt intense disgust with food and any thought of eating.

I was able to catalogue the reasons why I knew this was “wrong”:

  • academically, I wrote pages and pages of essays about body image and the media
  • socially, I surround myself with intelligent humans who are unashamedly feminist
  • rationally, I know I have recently switched birth control and also suffered an injury that makes me less mobile; both reasons for why I could have easily gained this weight
  • emotionally (and maybe egotistically), I like how I look (most of the time) and I know that I am more than my weight and appearance
  • and so on, and so on…

Going through these reasons, I became even more ashamed of myself – not just of my weight, but the concern over it. I don’t think words like “fat” or “plump” are bad words, or bad physical qualities. Despite all this, the thought of eating anything made me feel sick. I had no appetite and I could not rationalize my body into feeling hungry.

It made me feel like shit and I wanted to cry. As much as I wanted to talk to someone, I also felt guilty. I didn’t want my friends to know I was feeling sorry for myself. I didn’t want them to feel the need to compliment me and tell me I’m beautiful the way I am. It felt very much like an insignificant first world problem. I am very open speaking about my depression and anxiety, but for whatever reason, this made me feel ashamed.

Mom and Dad, if you are reading this – I know I can talk to you guys anytime. I love you both. This was just one of those moments I knew there were specific friends I needed to speak to. And I’m glad I did. They reached back with love and support but knew to skip the compliments and go straight to the practical and emotional advice I needed.

Paraphrasing the advice that I’ve been finding useful:

  • eating small snacks and choosing foods that have positive effects on my body and mind
  • buying a few new clothes for the moment, so that I don’t feel hatred every morning towards my body for not fitting into clothes I could wear last year
  • reaching out and externalizing my “low points”
  • developing a routine or habits rather than expecting to change eating habits overnight
  • focusing on exercise as means to improve my mental health and just general well-being, rather than a means to lose weight
  • accepting my low days and crappier feelings, but also thinking of my body as a friend (I wouldn’t be friends with anyone I dislike or find disgusting)
  • eating as an experiment (rather than focusing on hunger and health as abstract thoughts, focus on how foods make me feel or how they taste)

Just like depression and anxiety, I don’t believe I have found an absolute cure for this feeling, but I do at least have some tools at my disposal for coping with these emotions and concerns. Me posting about this is one of those tools. I didn’t want to post this whole thing on Facebook, and my end goal isn’t to attract followers or readers, I just wanted this out in the public in some form or another.

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Canadian Political Parties on Israel, Hamas, and the Gaza Strip

I’ve tried to find the official statements by the main Canadian parties on each of their websites. For the Conservatives, I’ve linked to articles that include Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird’s public statements.

Conservative Party of Canada

CBC News, July 17:

On Sunday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper accused Hamas of using civilians as human shields to defend against the Israeli bombardment.

Harper called on allies of Israel to show their support, saying that “failure by the international community to condemn these reprehensible actions would encourage these terrorists to continue their appalling actions.”

CBC News, July 15:

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird has condemned a decision by Hamas to reject an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire with Israel.

Baird said the situation should not be characterized as a battle between Israel and the Palestinian Authority or the Palestinian people, but rather between Hamas, which Canada sees as a terrorist organization, and the Jewish state.

“The buck stops with Hamas,” Baird told reporters in Ottawa. “Hamas started this bloodshed. Hamas can end it.

“The scourge of terrorism must be rejected by all peace-loving peoples around the world,” he said…

Baird added that credit should go to President Mahmoud Abbas, head of the Palestinian Authority, and noted that no rockets had come from areas under Abbas’s control.

And he repeated Canada’s support for Israel.

“We believe Israel has the right to defend itself by itself.”


NDP Foreign Affairs Critic Paul Dewar, July 14:

New Democrats are very concerned by the escalation of tensions in Gaza and Israel. We call on the Canadian government to support a ceasefire and urge all parties to exercise restraint and avoid actions that could further destabilize the situation.

On behalf of Canada’s Official Opposition, we have written to Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird and called for Canada to work in support of restraint, de-escalation and civilian protection within a framework of international humanitarian law. To date, neither his comments nor the Prime Minister’s statements get us closer to these important goals.

Since the start of the most recent tensions, we have spoken with Israeli and Palestinian representatives in Ottawa. We have reiterated that Hamas’ continued rocket attacks are unacceptable. We have also voiced our deep concern regarding the escalating violence and reports of civilian deaths.

We will continue to monitor the situation closely and maintain our diplomatic engagement with Israeli and Palestinian officials. The Canadian government must work diplomatically, together with our allies, to help de-escalate the situation, work towards an immediate ceasefire and support a negotiated settlement to the conflict.

Liberal Party of Canada

Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, Justin Trudeau, July 15:

The Liberal Party of Canada strongly condemns Hamas’ rejection of the Egyptian ceasefire proposal and its rocket attacks on civilians.

Israel should be commended for having accepted the ceasefire proposal, and demonstrating its commitment to peace. The Liberal Party of Canada, and many in the international community including the United States, the U.N. Security Council, and the Palestinian Authority, had urged a ceasefire that could have ended the tragic civilian loss of life in Gaza and the suffering of Israelis under terrorist attack.

Israel has the right to defend itself and its people. Hamas is a terrorist organization and must cease its rocket attacks immediately.

Green Party of Canada

Leader of the Green Party of Canada, Elizabeth May, July 11:

We need to immediately put a stop to this terrible cycle of violence which is killing innocent Israeli and Palestinian children…

What history has repeatedly shown us is that the only way to end this violence and come to a long-term, peaceful and equitable solution is through meaningful dialogue… Revenge is never a substitute or a solution to ending violence.  I call on both Israeli and Palestinian leaders to step back and immediately end any further escalation of military action before we witness the inevitable and horrific loss of many more lives.

EDIT (07/18/2014):

As reported by the Huffington Post today, the Conservative Party has released “a dramatic new ad that highlights the party’s staunch support for Israel.” Although apparently first marked as “unlisted,” both PM Harper and Baird have tweeted a link to the video, and it has been shared on the Conservative Party’s Twitter and Facebook accounts. The article and video can be found here.

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Let’s try this again…

So clearly, my plan to blog regularly from South Korea failed. I hope to better maintain this blog with a variety of posts in the upcoming weeks and months. Without making this a LiveJournal entry and exploration of my deepest, darkest thoughts – I’ve made quite a few changes in my life (and my outlooks on it) in the past year. While my interests in critical media literacy and feminist issues have continued and grown, I’ve also developed interests in a variety of topics and fields that I hope to explore here.

A quick (but nowhere near complete) list of interests I hope to write about in the near future:

  • Scottish independence and the Yes and No campaigns
  • the debate about laws and opinions surrounding sex work
  • current strategies (local, national, and international) to end human trafficking
  • gluten-free alternatives (waiting in panic over results of a celiacs test)
  • data journalism in general (and how it’s developing in Canada vs. the progress it has made in the UK)
  • Oscar Wilde (as always)
  • branding of Canadian political parties
  • explaining Twitter and social media to parents

That’s it for now. Figured I should write something rather than just think about it.


Flying to Korea

I am writing this on the plane from San Francisco to Incheon but, as there is no internet on the plane, I will be posting this as soon as I find wifi in South Korea. I had posted over this summer about career intentions in PR and about my plans to attend Humber in September. Clearly, there has been a change in plans.

I will be teaching English to children in a private Korean school in Songdo in a few days for the next year. This happened for a variety of reasons, which I do not feel the need to get into on a public blog. At the same time, I still am very interested in a career in the field of PR and communications down the road but am going to enjoy further developing my teaching skills. I have received nothing but support from friends, family, and coworkers for this decision and I am not sure they are all aware how much I appreciate this. I am excited for a new experience and looking forward to this new job. 

I am hoping to keep this blog going and possibly write more often than I have this summer. Working 9-8:30 everyday may make this goal difficult, but I will try.

Adding to the conversation about rape culture and jokes

Most people by now have probably heard about and discussed Daniel Tosh’s comments in response to an audience member speaking out against a rape joke Tosh had just made. If you haven’t, Tosh made “jokes” about rape and a woman spoke out and said she did not find rape jokes funny. According to the media and multiple accounts he responded with a comment along the lines of, “Wouldn’t it be funny if that girl got raped by like, 5 guys right now? Like right now? What if a bunch of guys just raped her…” The blog I have just linked to, Cookies for Breakfast, has a written account of the event by a friend of the woman who spoke out.

Since then, there have been several good blog posts and articles published explaining (as if it actually has to be explained) why rape is never funny. Underneath these posts there are, of course, the regular comments of people trying to justify why his jokes actually were funny and how people need to stop worrying about being “politically correct.”Other comedians have both spoken up in support of and against Tosh for these comments.

Stand-up comedian Phoebe Robinson has voiced her sympathy for Tosh in a blog and on CBC Radio’s The Current. She maintains that a joke simply being about rape does not make it funny, but argues that just because a joke is about rape does not mean it can’t be funny. In her post, “Newsflash: Any Joke Can Be Funny,” Robinson writes, “The attempt to be funny is key here in the Tosh situation. The fact is we don’t know if the rape joke he was attempting to do was going to be good or not because he was interrupted. It might have been hilarious. Or it might have been horrible. But thems the rules when you decide to do comedy/attend a comedy show.”

I’m not buying that argument. And luckily, neither are many others. One of my favourite and probably best articulated arguments in this conversation comes from Ivor Tossell, in his article for the Globe and Mail, “It’s time to raise the bar on tolerable humour.” He moves the discussion away from protests about freedom of speech and focuses, instead, on the audience. He argues that it is not simply being “offended” that is at issue here: ‎”Offensiveness is not the problem here. It’s a red herring. The problem is using it as a fig leaf that gives succour to trolls and exempts people from taking any responsibility for their words.”

Tossell writes, “Nobody’s talking about censorship here. What we’re talking about is raising the bar on what we’re willing to tolerate as an audience.”

Rape is not an opinion. It is not a joke. It is not a “freedom of speech” issue. It is violence and hate. It is oppression. There is nothing about it that can or should be defended.

I could write a lot more about this topic even though so many already have. Instead, I hope you take a look at Tossell’s article. Although the article is great, I will warn everyone that the comments underneath can be triggering.

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Mad Men and Jaguar PR

WARNING: Spoiler Alert

I have followed all 5 seasons of AMC’s Mad Men since 2007 and even written a few academic papers on the show. For a Media Studies graduate class I focused primarily on the questions that are raised when audiences watch a fictional show for a non-fictional understanding of a past decade. Specifically, I wrote about conclusions that are drawn about gender roles from this show, as well as the problems which arise from fictional nostalgia. Examples of this nostalgia include Banana Republic’s Mad Men fashion collection. I call it “fictional” because the feeling of nostalgia arises from fictional plots and characters. Banana Republic has introduced several “Mad Men collections,” based on fashion styles of the 1960s. The success of these collections rely on the success of Mad Men but the company is never mentioned in the show despite its present day ties to it.

Recently, however, this nostalgia and blurring of fiction and reality has taken an interesting turn. On June 5, 2012, The Globe and Mail’s Ivor Tossell wrote about Jaguar’s developing ties to the show. The plot of Mad Men’s  most recent season has centred on the advertising agency Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce (SCDP) and the characters’ attempt to sign Jaguar as a client. The PR and Marketing team at Jaguar claim that they had no prior knowledge of the direction AMC would take with the Jaguar storyline but did assist with details for historical accuracy. In the build up of this plot, Don Draper, one of the main characters of SCDP, takes another coworker, Joan, to check out Jaguar for himself before agreeing to work for them. They take a car for a test drive and he decides his agency should work for the account.

At this point in the plot, @JaguarUSA tweeted “RT if taking a ride with Joan Holloway in a Jaguar would make you#FeelAlive#MadMen” Tossell writes that this coincided with Jaguar’s slogan, “Feel alive.” Jaguar did not pay for this seemingly great advertising – Joan at one point says, “I want one” – and attempted to use social media and its connections to a popular television show without knowing the direction Mad Men would take the plot. Jaguar’s portrayal quickly turned away from this positive light when the fictional head of Jaguar states that the only way he will sign with SCDP if he can have sex with Joan. The heads of SCDP actually take a vote on this to determine if this is an acceptable course of action. Joan agrees to do this for 5% ownership of SCDP.

Adding to these ties of prostitution, another head of SCDP then tries to commit suicide in his new Jaguar. After trying to blur the lines between present day reality and Mad Men’s fictional past, Jaguar’s PR team quickly returned to Twitter to try to make light of the situation and make clear their lack of control over the plot. Following the trade of sex with Joan for Jaguar’s business, @JaguarUSA tweeted, “Loved the pitch, didn’t love the process. We applaud Peggy leaving SCDP. #MadMen #MadJag” This pitch, however, made by the men at SCDP, positioned the car as the woman all men can finally possess and control. Therefore, while @JaguarUSA disapproved of treating Joan as a commodity, it “loved” the pitch of wishing to possess a woman.

With my background in media studies and women’s studies I find the questions raised from this past season really interesting.

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PETA: “Fur is a drag”

PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) has a long history of sacrificing basic human respect for drawing attention to violence against animals. Adland (among many other blogs and websites) has written about this and put together a list of what they consider PETA’s most sexist advertising campaigns. These include placing an almost naked woman in plastic wrap covered in what appears to be blood, with the label of “Human Meat,” as well as placing a naked pregnant model in a cage in Covent Garden. Recently, Bitch Media brought attention to PETA’s shock tactics, including comparing the treatment of animals to the atrocities of the Holocaust. Bitch Media focused primarily on PETA’s “My boyfriend went vegan” campaign. In a commercial for this campaign we see a girl walking around with a neck brace and are informed that she is suffering from “my boyfriend went vegan and knocked the bottom out of me.” She appears unhappy and in pain. The commercial continues to show that, by going vegan, her boyfriend “can suddenly bring it like a tantric porn star,” resulting in sex that is “painful” (in their own words). We are informed that for her, “it is too late,” and they advocate for the audience to research how to go vegan “safely.” Intimate partner violence is a serious issue and PETA makes light of this violence with the sad music and serious voice over.

Another PETA campaign I have recently discovered online mocks trans people for the sake of animal rights. This one is titled “Fur is a drag” and shows individuals in drag protesting fur coats. Let me be clear: dressing in drag or employing trans individuals for a campaign is not inherently wrong or offensive. Dressing in drag in this context, however, with the implication that “drag” is something bad, mocks trans individuals. PETA wishes fur coats to be seen as despicable and violation of basic rights and they equate this with dressing in drag, playing on connotations of the word “drag.”

Comments below the article confirm such interpretations. For instance, “Hanne” writes, “Hahaha brilliant! I mean it shows how stupid it is to wear fur and that I’t looks pathetic too wear it.” “Hanne” has interpreted this campaign to show how “pathetic” it looks to wear fur because the individuals in drag are intended to be viewed as “stupid” and looking “pathetic.” This campaign confirms gender norms implying that cis males and cis women should dress in corresponding gender clothing and anyone who lives outside of these social expectations are “foolish,” just like those who wear animal fur coats.

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