social media

I’m No Angel, But Is Plus Equal?

I’m sure by now you’ve all seen the Lane Bryant ad circulating on social media.

#ImNoAngel

#PlusIsEqual

And while the message of plus acceptance is something I have rallied behind for the past decade, this morning I had a hard time associating myself as one of these women.

I watch the glamazons in the Plus Is Equal campaign and admire both their bravery and beauty as they strut their stuff in national ad campaign for the largest plus-size retailer, Lane Bryant. They are each gorgeous, flawless and idols to women of a larger size like myself.

So this morning when my boyfriend complimented my body, I had a knee-jerk reaction of shrugging him off. It’s especially fitting since today I’m dressed from head to toe in Lane Bryant fashion items. From my bra and boyshorts by Cacique to my Lane Bryant-branded pencil skirt, tank and half-sleeve jacket, I’m a walking billboard. Today, I’m feeling casually elegant, super confident and a bit naughty.

So why shrug him off?

Good question.

Why is it so hard for me to take a compliment?

I’m sure all women have this issue. We become obsessed by parts of our body that we don’t feel are adequate enough, and we project all our negativity toward ourselves. For me, size has always been my concern. I target hate toward my arms and my stomach. So I was instantaneously forced to look and ask myself why I couldn’t see my own body in the same light that I saw the “Plus Is Equal” campaign woman.

For all we want to post on social media about self-acceptance, it’s easy to fall back into centuries old body shaming practices. We’ve been raised to sit up straight, project our chest, whittle down our waists, plump our lips, shave our unwanted hair, grown our head hair long and luxurious, wear heels to elongate our legs…and blah, blah, blah. There are so many expectations on our appearance that it’s easy to fall into self-sabotage comparing ourselves to these widely accepted, often contradicting, standards.

No matter how many memes we post, no matter how many compliments we get, no matter what our level of self-confidence seems to be…the one thing we can count on is that ALL women harbor the same kinds of doubts about themselves. It’s an unspoken rule.

So what are the rules to accepting ourselves with so many lingering self-doubts?

According to NEMA (National Eating Disorders Association), there are 10 tips for body acceptance.

  1. Appreciate all that your body can do.  Every day your body carries you closer to your dreams.  Celebrate all of the amazing things your body does for you—running, dancing, breathing, laughing, dreaming, etc.
  2. Keep a top-ten list of things you like about yourself—things that aren’t related to how much you weigh or what you look like.  Read your list often.  Add to it as you become aware of more things to like about yourself.
  3. Remind yourself that “true beauty” is not simply skin deep.  When you feel good about yourself and who you are, you carry yourself with a sense of confidence, self-acceptance, and openness that makes you beautiful regardless of whether you physically look like a supermodel.  Beauty is a state of mind, not a state of your body.
  4. Look at yourself as a whole person.  When you see yourself in a mirror or in your mind, choose not to focus on specific body parts.  See yourself as you want others to see you–as a whole person.
  5. Surround yourself with positive people.  It is easier to feel good about yourself and your body when you are around others who are supportive and who recognize the importance of liking yourself just as you naturally are.
  6. Shut down those voices in your head that tell you your body is not “right” or that you are a “bad” person.  You can overpower those negative thoughts with positive ones.  The next time you start to tear yourself down, build yourself back up with a few quick affirmations that work for you.
  7. Wear clothes that are comfortable and that make you feel good about your body.  Work with your body, not against it.
  8. Become a critical viewer of social and media messages.  Pay attention to images, slogans, or attitudes that make you feel bad about yourself or your body.  Protest these messages:  write a letter to the advertiser or talk back to the image or message
  9. Do something nice for yourself–something that lets your body know you appreciate it.  Take a bubble bath, make time for a nap, find a peaceful place outside to relax.
  10. Use the time and energy that you might have spent worrying about food, calories, and your weight to do something to help others.  Sometimes reaching out to other people can help you feel better about yourself and can make a positive change in our world.

And while these all seem well and good, they are each a monsoon of emotional baggage for most women. Today I battled with #4 but any given day…

Which of these do you battle with most on a daily basis?

CAUGHT: You Just Got Facebook Analyzed!

Cracked-Facebook-Logoby Kristie LeVangie

The big news today comes from Facebook, and some people are outraged.  Others of us realize, shit like this happens ALL the time.

News broke this weekend that the social media giant manipulated almost 700,000 users’ news feeds in 2012 in an attempt to study whether emotion can be influenced by social media.

The catch is no one was told about it until results were released this weekend.

While the company was in legal compliance to do so, some users feel as if their privacy was violated.  By accepting the Terms & Conditions of the social media site upon enrollment, you signed over your right to be forewarned.

So what exactly did Facebook do?  “The experiment involved reducing the number of positive news feeds for some and reducing the number of negative news feed for others. The study found that the more positive the news feeds a user received, the more positive their postings became, and vice versa,” says Yahoo’s The Daily Ticker.

Needless to say, Facebookers tend to get a bit raw when their Facebook is messed with.

The study’s lead researcher, Adam Kramer, took to his own Facebook page to apologize:

“Having written and designed this experiment myself, I can tell you that our goal was never to upset anyone. I can understand why some people have concerns about it, and my coauthors and I are very sorry for the way the paper described the research and any anxiety it caused. In hindsight, the research benefits of the paper may not have justified all of this anxiety.”

This paragraph was embedded in a post offering some additional explanation on the study:

Adam Kramer - Facebook

For the study details, click here.

8-Milgram-ExperimentFor the rest of us social psychologists, non-consensual experimentation is nothing new.  Wikipedia shows a laundry list of non-consensual experiments, including the famous Milgram Experiment from 1961.

The advertising world is a consistent arena for non-consensual social psychology experimentation.  Every time they change a package, a message, a color, a situation…be warned that they are measuring your reaction to the change in brand awareness measures or cost-volume measurements.

The easiest thing to do if you don’t like it?  Shut down your social profile and then, and only then, will Facebook likely take the hint.

For now, Facebook apologizes for the communication regarding the experiment, but not for the experiment itself.  They say they will use what they learned on this study to adjust their communication to users in the future.

Do you feel violated?  What’s your take?

 

 

“Filling In” Social Media and Your Other Online Profiles

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by Kristie LeVangie

It never ceases to amaze me about the assumptions I get from people based on who I am and what I do.

“I heard you are a lesbian.”

“You have sex all day.  What do you think?”

“Ask Kristie what that is.  She knows all about that freaky sex shit.”

“So how do you successfully juggle multiple men?”

It took me some time to uncover where these assumptions were coming from.  How did these assumptions get attributed to me? And what do I do about setting these people straight?

I’m a straight (but gay supporting) monogamous woman, who has the same relationship challenges and woes as other women.  I may be more promiscuous than your average woman, but I’m not running amuck humping everything in sight.

Then…Like a grand epiphany, it dawned on me what was REALLY going on here.

Mind_the_gap_2

There’s a theory in psychology called “filling in.”  “The brain uses our surroundings to literally make up what we cannot see, covering the holes with its best guess as to what’s there,” explains The Weekly Show’s website.  (If you follow the link to the website, there are some great visual exercises to help explain the phenomenon.)

I propose that this process of “filling in” is the same process we use  in regards to social profiles.

Bear with me for a minute here…I’m about to get all psychological, philosophical and logical all up in this bitch.

Most of us have two “personas”: our true life one and our online/virtual one.

In most cases, it isn’t our intent to set up our online personas falsely.  We pick the best or most interesting attributes about ourselves and publish them for the world to see.  It would be impossible for us to include each and every detail about ourselves, and in an effort to make ourselves appear more happy, more confident, more secure with the public aspect of it, we omit our worst parts and craft a careful virtual image of ourselves for everyone to see.

It will never reflect our “true life” self, but in our eyes, it crafts the gist of “who” we are.

This part we can control.

What we can’t control is the “filling in” of our virtual friends, potential partners and, sometimes, as in my case, fans.

Perusers of our online profiles will have a natural inclination to take what they do know about us (the things we put out there in our profiles) and fill in the remaining details based on their assumptions, experiences or expectations of what information is missing.

For example, I post a lot of sexually-based news posts about freaky shit going on out there in the world.  (Like this one.)

Now, I may not participate in any type of Looner play, but because I posted this article and even went so far as to research it, I’m automatically attributed an “expert” of fetish because that is what is filled in by my readers.  Or for some, I’m just a downright freak.

This phenomenon especially plays out in the dating world when it comes to online profiles.  The judgment is higher and acceptability among peers is more sensitive.  This could explain the consistent disappointments of “they were nothing like their profile” so often reported by online daters.  Perhaps the tendency to “fill in” based on our previous dating experience is even stronger, so we dupe ourselves by creating an even more distorted view of potential suitors.

(I will note that there are genuine liars and scammers out there.  I am not addressing the deliberate misleading profiles here.  Let’s assume I’m talking about the average Joe or Josephine.)

I haven’t seen any research on this phenomenon being applied to social media profiles, so this is really just my hypothesis.  But I think it makes sense.

Does it to you?

 

 

Before We Get Too Serious, Could You Please John Hancock This Social Media Prenup???

me

 

 

by Kristie LeVangie

As if relationships weren’t complicated enough, enter social media.

8716178557_dd5fee6f9dSure, it’s all great when you are fresh and in love.  You share lovie-dovie status updates and cutesy pics.  You sext one another or even go as far as sending nudie videos.

And then, it all goes to hell in a handbasket.

The least of your worries is the embarrassing status updates proving your love detector is completely fucking broken.  He now has those pics of your boobs and that drunken night of uninhibited passion saved to his smartphone.

Sure.  You can unfollow him on Twitter.  You can block or unfriend him on Facebook, but it’s a small virtual world and we live in an era of being “ex”-obsessed!

In a survey done by YourTango about love and relationships, 76% of women and 70% of men admitted to looking up their exes on the internet.   With all the “ex” stalking, there are bound to be some temptations to cultivate a “revengenda.”

According to another study, the 2013 Love, Relationships, and Technology survey, 50% of people have shared personal or intimate images and/or videos with loved ones or friends.  28% of whom have regretted sending such content post-relationship, and 32% have gone as far as asking their ex-partner to delete the material.  This same study found that 1 in 10 people have been threatened by their ex that their risqué images would be posted online with nearly 60% of these threats being carried out.

So how does one protect oneself in an age of social media oversharing?

Prenup.

That’s right.  They aren’t just for marriages anymore.

Social Media prenups are on the rise according to both Time magazine and ABC News.   ABC even notes that 80% of divorce attorneys say they are finding the issue more common in current divorce proceedings.

So how does it work?  Most of them are actually pretty simple.  You both agree to a set of terms (i.e., like not posting suggestive pictures online after the break-up), and should one of you violate the terms, you pay up.  Sometimes to the tune of $50,000!!!

Each prenup seems to be unique to each couple and attempts to cover their esteem issues with online posting.  For example, some may restrict unflattering photos while others will restrict contact with ex-girlfriends.  It’s really all subjective, but ultimately meant to protect both parties from unfair social media practices after you have split paths.

Luckily there are laws in place to prevent jealous exes from spreading your captured carnal moments all over the web, but only if you live in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia, Maryland, New Jersey, Idaho, Utah, Virginia or Wisconsin.  These are the 9 states with statutes against Revenge Porn or the posting of “identifiable nude pictures of someone else online without permission with the intent to cause emotional distress or humiliation.”   Granted this offense is only a misdemeanor carrying a punishment of up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.

There is clearly more work to be done.

And while I couldn’t find any examples of an actual contract, I pondered to myself what might appear on my own (should I ever decide I need one…that’s another blog entirely):

1.  No posting pictures without my explicit consent.

2.  No exchanging of romantic gestures or deeply intimate details about our relationship with members of any gender.

3.  No hiding of your social media profiles from my view. I might think you are hiding something.  I’m not asking for your passwords– only the ability to view your profile without restriction.

4.  You must fly your Facebook relationship flag high, complete with a tag to my profile so I can mark my territory.  And no “It’s complicated” bullshit.

5.  No public complaints about the relationship or my participation in such…unless it’s in a cleverly disguised blog under an assumed name.

6.  After the break-up, you can stalk my pages as much as you want, but don’t attempt to contact me in any form or fashion.  You cannot “like” my statuses or respond to my blogs.

7.  After the break-up, you should delete all pictures of an intimate nature, all sexting strings, all digital homemade porn, and any provocative emails sent to you throughout the relationship.

8.  After the break-up, you should post one last blog declaring your un-dying appreciation for me and how I made you a better person just by knowing me.  Oh!  And how the sex was the best sex of your life and something you will never find with another.

Hey!  It’s my list.

 

What would YOUR social media prenup include?  Have a horror story about a previous break-up?  Share your thoughts below.

 

EDITOR’S NOTE: NPR also did a story on All Things Considered about social media prenups.  If you are interested in listening to the story, you can click here.

Dick Repellent

by Kristie LeVangie

An acquaintance on FB messaged me shortly after I posted the following status update:

I place too much hope in non-deserving people…mostly men.

He wanted to know why I was STILL having problems and after a few message exchanges came back with this:

The men you keep having relationships with don’t have libidicoria. They’re just run of the mill horny men. It takes something special, a discipline, to control your irrational fears and accept the nature of a dick magnet, to trust that when it comes down to it, she will repel all other dicks except your own. To be honest, it really just takes character. But character isn’t sexy or “bad boy” hot.

He has a point.   I AM a dick magnet.  lol

Okay, kidding aside.  It DOES boil down to character and an ability to separate perception from reality.

This is the recurring theme with me.  Assumptions are made about me without proof.  Assumptions that I sleep with every man I meet.  That my life and enjoyment is all about sex and sex alone.

In fact, for example, here’s an interesting partial review from Barnes & Noble’s site on my book (Libidacoria: In a Plain Brown Wrapper) from some Anonymous reader:

Honestly, from the authors website I was expecting a porn book,she doesn’t come off as a writer by her pictures,instead she comes off to want to be the object of men’s desire and obsession but you can’t judge a book by its cover or the author by some pictures.

The reviewer goes on to change his tone after reading the book:

Libidacoria seems to me, when you get past the language and subject matter, that the author is taking you on a journey to find real love the only way she can think of. There is a sad darkness laced with hope and dreams, along with the bitterness from not finding what she truly desires. It isn’t porn at all, the tag on her web site is true, it is Mature Literature for the sexual intellectual. It makes me sad to think she won’t find what she is looking for. I hope she does.

It’s still odd to me, the assumptions made about “my person”. I suppose it’s because it’s so contrary to how I, myself, think.  I reserve judgment until I feel I’ve gotten enough evidence to support a conclusion.  I try to keep an open mind always and want everyone to feel welcome around me despite their eccentricities.

Perhaps the more interesting feedback from my facebook message is: “It takes something special, a discipline, to control your irrational fears and accept the nature of a dick magnet, to trust that when it comes down to it, she will repel all other dicks except your own. To be honest, it really just takes character.”

Are we facing an era where men are no longer disciplined to control their fear of female sexuality?  Have they ever been disciplined or has the growing aggression of female sexual behavior throwing men for a loop?  They have often been the ones to go out and spread their seed with willing participants.  Are we now in an era where women are no longer afraid to go after sexual experiences alone with little to no regard for a “relationship”?   What does this changing social power exchange do to those of us women out there looking for relationships?

Does it truly boil down to character?  Are we losing it?