wait a moment

Apparently, only white people can get depression

2015-01-14-PaigeNelsonPop quiz: What does a person with anorexia look like?

If you’re like most Americans, you probably imagined a young, frail white woman with low self-esteem, obsessed with looking like a Victoria’s Secret model. And who could blame you? Pop culture and news media are abound with images of white girls obsessively dieting in pursuit of a “Kate Moss” body.

Now, answer this: Have you ever seen a black woman with bulimia on TV?

Even though the numbers clearly indicate that eating disorders can affect people of any identity, many people still associate eating disorders solely with young white women. And it’s not just eating disorders; when it comes to mental health, identity-based myths and misinformation are overflowing.  Here’s a breakdown of the 3 most common identity-based mental illness myths—and the statistics that bust them.

1. Anxiety/Depression

Anxiety and depression are separate illnesses, but they are often comorbid, meaning that people are diagnosed with both illnesses at the same time. Together, they are one of the most common mental health diagnoses. Both anxiety and depression can be debilitating illnesses, especially when they occur together.

Unfortunately, social and cultural biases about depression and anxiety can often keep suffering people from seeking treatment. There is a dangerous myth that black women can’t have depression or anxiety, and experiencing mental illness is a sign of weakness. There are similar cultural beliefs in other communities, especially immigrant communities, communities of color, and other marginalized groups that have internalized their shared history of trauma.

But this myth is simply not true. You don’t have to be a white person to suffer from anxiety or depression, and it is certainly not a sign of weakness to seek mental health resources—especially when you consider the astonishingly high suicide rate among black queer youth, the truly tragic prevalence of depression among women of color, and the fact thatblack Americans are at significantly higher risk for major depression and related illnesses. It’s a sad irony: People from marginalized communities are among the most likely to face discrimination and hardship contributing to mental illness, but least likely to seek, receive, or even have access to medical care.

2. Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

Almost every mass media representation of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder is the same: A young, war-weary white man, prone to violent outbursts and subject to horrific nightmares. While PTSD and the fight for access to mental health services is a serious concern among veterans, this representation of PTSD leaves huge swaths of the population out of the picture by erasing high-impact, non-combat trauma, such as sexual violence and abuse.

First and foremost, the visibility of male combat veterans with PTSD comes at the expense of military and civilian women who suffer from the same condition—at twice the rate. Yes, you read that correctly. According to the US Department of Veteran Affairs, women are more than twice as likely than men to develop PTSD in their lifetime, and the discrepancy holds true for female combat veterans, too.

You’ve probably seen movies about male Vietnam veterans with PTSD, and for good reason— a whopping 30% of returning male Vietnam veterans were diagnosed with PTSD.But so were 27% of returning women. Outside of war, civilian women are more likely than civilian men to experience the kind of high-impact trauma (like sexual violence, intimate partner violence, and childhood abuse) that lead to PTSD. Think about it: if 1 in every 6 American women experience rape or attempted rape, and less than .5% of Americans have seen active duty, of course there are more civilian women with PTSD than military men. It’s simple mathematics.

3. Eating Disorders

As mentioned in the intro, eating disorders are disproportionately associated with white women seeking to control their weight. You’ve probably heard tasteless jokes about starving models, or seen public service announcements in which sad, skeletal white teenagers admit that they haven’t eaten in days. What you probably haven’t seen are representations of men or women of color living with eating disorders. Have you ever wondered why?

The answer is not that men and women of color are immune to the societal pressure to be thin. For starters, not all eating disorders are caused by the pressure to conform to beauty standards. There are also genetic factors to anorexia and bulimia nervosa, the most common eating disorders, as well as eating disorders that do not revolve around the restriction of food, such as binge eating disorder. Furthermore, men can struggle with negative body image, just like women. And, of course, there is no scientific reason why men and women of color would be unaffected by this class of diseases.

Misrepresentations of mental illness aren’t just inaccurate—they’re also dangerous. Studies show that people are more likely to believe that a woman has an eating disorder if she is white—even if she has the exact same symptoms as a woman of color. That’s a direct result of the overrepresentation of white women among people with eating disorders. Without balanced representations of mental illness, people are unlikely to seek help, unlikely to be diagnosed, and unlikely to get the care they need.

So, what can you do? First, recognize your own biases. What stereotypes do you believe about what kind of people have certain mental illnesses? Seek out information and educate yourself on the reality of mental illness, then share that information with friends, family, and loved ones. You never know who might be secretly suffering.

And if you are a person from a misrepresented group suffering from mental illness, don’t worry: You’re not alone. Find the support, medical care, and community that you need–and if you can, speak up. Remember, just because the media isn’t telling your story, that doesn’t mean you can’t. By making ourselves more visible, we can show the world that all people can get sick… and all people deserve help.

1538922_10153375506270871_6256702644263159950_n (1)Haylin Belay is a freelancer, sex educator, and witch living in New York City. Her writing is informed by her background as an anthropologist and health advocate, exploring the intersection between identity, sexuality, and health outcomes. She’s a recent graduate of Columbia University, where she was known for her distinguished health promotion work, strong commitment to social justice, and twerking in the splits.

I’m never having children

“Won’t you feel alone when you get older?” they ask.

Jinan Deena’s previous work for Coming of Faith can be found here.

vkVYHJ9S_400x400I don’t want kids.

Yup, you heard me. I, an adult woman in this society, do not want to have children. Not just now. Never.

I’ve been through this conversation with so many people. Ever since I was a teenager, marriage and children has always been a difficult subject to discuss. No, I don’t have any physical deformities or health issues, as everyone always assumes. I just personally do not want my own children. Sure, I’m happy to hold your child while you pay for something, or play with them for a few minutes when I visit you. I don’t hate children – I just don’t want any of my own.

Let me tell you why.

I feel that my life is meant for more than having children. And don’t get offended – I don’t mean your life isn’t worth much if you do have kids. However, for myself, I feel that I am meant to do more. I want to change the world, I want to help others. I have such a passion for humanity and changing all that is wrong in this world, and I want to be able to dedicate my time fully to that cause. Having children will force me to choose between the two.

I know I will not be able to balance my work and family. A woman always has to sacrifice part of her career or family life to give focus to one or the other. Maybe you can handle it, but I know that if I’m succeeding in my career, my family life will suffer. Same goes if I focus more on my family – my career will suffer.

Some call me selfish for not wanting kids. I think it’s selfish to have kids that you don’t really want, just so you can please society. And for those who tell me, “What if your future husband wants kids?” Well, it’s quite simple, actually. I won’t marry someone who does not have the same views that I do. The man who will be my partner for life must share the same vision and passion as I do for wanting to help those in need.

My friends and family call me crazy. “Won’t you feel alone when you get older?” they ask. So I should have kids I don’t want because I might feel alone later? Do you hear yourselves? That’s the most idiotic reason to have kids!

If my life turns out the way I hope it does, and I am doing the work I love, I will not feel alone. I will feel fulfilled and accomplished. I will have my sisters’ kids and my friends’ kids to visit. I will have my partner to spend my time with.

It is 100 percent okay for women to not want children. And that does not make us flawed or abnormal. Just because the majority of women in society want kids, it doesn’t mean that those of us who don’t want them are wrong.

You’re living your life the way you want without my interference, so why do you feel you have the right to tell me how to live mine? I don’t go around telling my friends to not have kids. Hey, if that’s what will make you happy, go ahead. I’m doing what will make me happy, too.

We need to stop assuming that all women will be mothers. Not only for those of us who choose not to have kids; but also for the ones who are unable to. It is a very sensitive subject to discuss, and for those who do want kids but cannot have any, talking about why someone does not have kids yet is a sore spot.

So be a little bit more respectful of all women who are childless, whether by choice or not.

–Jinan Deena is a Palestinian American who has used writing as a tool to express herself. Through her writing, she was allowed to create a safe space for expression and dialogue. You can find Jinan on Facebook, Instagram@jdeena and Twitter @j_deena.


Hey, white feminists – listen up

White feminists’ top priorities are fixing the wage gap, growing out their body hair, and freeing the nipple. 

Feminism has, slowly but surely, become a prominent part of our society. Feminist women and men have come together to form a bond to push for progress. The problem is that too many of these feminists don’t focus on all the issues. They don’t focus on everyone.

And I think it’s important that they start to – with a little help from intersectionalism.

Popular feminism in America began by focusing on middle- and upper-class white women. Women of color were, and are still, rarely discussed or worried about. Society has always put white women on a pedestal, which has led to the concept of ‘white feminism.’

White feminism is a so-called feminism that only concerns a group of women, particularly white, who are so focused on themselves that they neither see nor care about the needs of others. Whether they realize it or not, white feminists’ top priorities are fixing the wage gap, growing out their body hair, and freeing the nipple.

Which is fine, except that true feminism is much more involved than that. And white feminists push down feminists of color in their climb to the top.

White feminism ignores the issues of racism because white feminists rarely don’t think or worry about race. They exclude transwomen because many of them they don’t consider them to be “real women.” And they completely often disregard the pressing issues women and young girls face in countries outside America.

White feminists also ignore that they are the beauty standard, and are often seen using other people’s cultures for their personal gain. For example, white women styling their hair in cornrows, dreads and afros, or wearing Native American headdresses, hijabs, bindis and henna tattoos. When people of color say, “Hey, stop using my culture for fashion! You’re making a mockery of it,” white feminists are like, “WHY CAN’T WE JUST SHARE?”

Ummm. So let me get this straight, you don’t want to include us in your feminist movement but you want to use our culture? The same culture you don’t really care about? I don’t think so. And what about transgender and agender people, and even men? I know a lot of you may not want to hear it, they’re vital to effective discussions on feminism. How can you be a feminist and want equality for everyone if you continuously leave out a large portion of people? The answer is, you can’t. Feminism is and should be for all types of people, not just for one type. The only way you can do that is with intersectional feminism.

Intersectional feminism is the concept of describing how privileged, discriminated, and oppressed people are connected regardless of race or gender. Intersectional feminism focuses on those that society has a habit of leaving behind. Black women, women of color, LGBTQ+ people, and many men all mostly want the same things that white feminists want. But it seems like white feminists don’t want to come together to discuss these issues. That’s why intersectional feminism is so important – it gives everyone a voice, and doesn’t allow white women to talk on a loudspeaker above the rest of the room’s discussions.

When talking about feminism, we should be talking about EVERYONE’S rights regardless of their age, race, size, sexuality, and what they were born as. Because that’s the only way feminism can work and it’s the only way we can be equal. Being a white feminist doesn’t mean you’re a bad person, it just means that you should be more open minded.

The best thing for white feminists do is to shut up, listen, and help shed light on other problems that others face that are constantly being neglected. When you really think about it, it’s not that hard to do.

Feminism, the final wave

Feminism needs its final wave after the previous three waves in the last 200 years. The final wave should be focused to transcend the gender and bring about a balance in the feminine and masculine principles of nature in the evolutionary cycle of humanity. Time has come for the rise of womanhood and the feminine for the creation of a matriarchal society which is based on creative and generative action. Such a society will be guided by the forces of love, compassion, nurturing and a unifying and inclusive model of growth as opposed to reductionism.

The feminist movement should now address issues which are broader and which cover the role of women in the society and the world in a holistic manner. It should now become a movement which is inclusive in nature and which should readdress the relationship between man and woman in every sphere of life. The feminist movement should ask questions regarding an alternative model of society where social and economic development takes into consideration the balance that has to be achieved with nature. Progress and development should not be at the cost of destruction of the nature or at the cost of marginalization and deprivation of certain sections of the society.

Women are still marginalized and exploited in many ways around the world and feminism should address these issues aggressively. The feminist movement should advocate and work for the breaking of glass ceiling for women in the existing social, economic, religious and political structures.

But more than that, the feminist movement should show a new path of creative, generative and constructive freedom. The new wave of the feminist movement should transcend the gender and should focus on creating new structures in the society whether it is in the social, economic, religious or political spheres of life. This can be achieved based on the practice of balance between the feminine and masculine principles of nature.

Such structures created should be path-breaking, innovative and revolutionary in nature and they should aim towards creation of a new order based on matriarchy. Here the structures created should usher in a new way of thinking and doing things and they should strive for the forward movement of humanity in a holistic manner. Therefore the final wave of the feminist movement should give birth to a new age where humanity progresses towards understanding and opening up of the many mysteries of nature.

To make a giant leap in this direction it is also important for us to understand what is feminism, what has been the history of the feminist movement, what is the definition of feminism as applicable in different parts of the world, how is religion and the feminist movement associated, what is the rationale of the feminist theory, feminist philosophy and feminist theology and how is the modern, liberal and global feminist movements taking shape?

An in-depth study of the above questions and a re-synthesis based on the practice of balance between the feminine and masculine forces of nature will give genesis to the final wave of feminism. The final wave will revolutionize human thinking and way of doing things.

Feminization Hypnosis

Feminization Hypnosis – Bringing The Woman Within To Life
His thoughts, his feelings, his desires weren’t those of the body he was trapped in. He felt like a woman, wanted the world to accept him as one, but it felt wrong. His life felt wrong…

It wasn’t fair, he hadn’t asked for it, but here he was living a life of frustration. A life where he felt guilty, even ashamed of who he was. He wasn’t normal, the world had made sure he believed that, but he didn’t want to.

The protagonist of this little story won’t be named, but there are many who’d see their own faces or their own names here. It’s a story common to many.

But one powerful technique is changing this tale—it’s called Feminization Hypnosis. This is a form of hypnosis that helps an individual embrace his feminine side fully and find inner peace.

The technique goes beyond the physiological changes that a surgery can achieve. Feminization hypnosis can perhaps best be described as a non-invasive surgery for the mind and soul, thus helping an individual feel like a woman and live freely as one.

How does feminization hypnosis work?
Unlike surgery, Feminization hypnosis focuses on the mind of the individual and tries to bring out the woman trapped within.

It works by breaking down any conflicts that may act as psychological barriers preventing an individual from getting in touch with his feminine side.

Feminization hypnosis relies on the power of the subconscious mind. It’s within the deeper recesses of our subconscious that our biggest fears and insecurities are hidden.

Feminization hypnosis works by delving into an individual’s subconscious, releasing the limiting beliefs therein and implanting new and positive ideas with the power of hypnotic suggestion.

During feminization hypnosis sessions, a trained therapist uses visualization and guided meditation techniques to help the subject get into a deep trance like state. It is during this state that we can communicate with our subconscious and reveal what we hold within, without any inhibitions or fears.

The therapist then uses various hypnotic suggestions to help an individual release all the negative beliefs about being the way they are. This is followed by a technique called re-programming the mind with visualizations and positive suggestions, to enable an individual to embrace his feminine side and draw confidence from it.

Is Feminization Hypnosis Safe?
Feminization hypnosis works entirely on the mind, and hence, is a far safer and more comprehensive method to embrace the feminine side than surgical procedures.

The focus here is on coming to terms with the conflict one has experienced, thereby ensuring that the transition is far more acceptable.

Through feminization hypnosis, individuals are encouraged to make peace with their pasts and have a confident and more positive approach towards living as a woman.

Since, this process involves conditioning the mind to behave in a more feminine manner, its effects can even be reversed if the individual chooses to do so, making it one of the safest methods to transition to the feminine side.

Does Hypnosis Enjoy Any Medical Validity?
Hypnosis is used as an effective method in various areas of medical practice. Its efficacy has been proved by several research studies conducted since the 1890s. A report commissioned by the British Psychological society has established hypnosis as a valid therapeutic medium.1

In addition to its use in psychiatry, hypnosis is also used in surgical and dental procedures.2

Hypnosis in fact has also been used by medical practitioners to ease labor pain in women and reduce the pain of childbirth.3

Forms Of Hypnosis Therapies
One can choose to experience the power of hypnosis through any one of the following mediums:

By visiting a hypnotherapist
Using self-hypnosis scripts
Listening to pre-recorded Cds, Mp3s, etc.
Each of these can prove to be effective, however, for someone who has never practiced or experienced hypnosis, visiting a hypnotherapist will prove to be the most effective method.

Having said that, whatever course you may choose, you must keep the following steps in mind:

Keep the mind relaxed and stress-free: Hypnosis will work only if you are relaxed and open to suggestions.
Let go of any mental blocks: To live in two different states without knowing which way to go can be quite traumatic. But, once an individual has decided to undergo feminization hypnosis to embrace his feminine side, it is crucial for him to dismiss any apprehensions or fears from his mind.
Realize the extent of desire for feminization: Transgender and cross-dressing individuals who are considering feminine hypnosis, need to come to terms with the extent of their desire to embrace their feminine side. This is especially useful to counter any potential anti-feminization feelings that could emerge during the process.
Accept the physical aspect of being feminine: There are certain physiological differences between men and women. When undergoing feminization hypnosis, one would have to learn the natural feminine traits such as gait, softness of touch, etc.
Make the transition: This is the actual process when the individual actually crosses over from being a male to becoming a female.
Keep a clear conscience: Once the transition has happened, one may face inner conflict within his conscience. It’s therefore important to learn how to reconcile with the previous male conscience and then embrace one’s feminine conscience in its entirety.
Benefits and Advantages of Feminization Self-Hypnosis Programs
Living two lives is like lying to yourself and the world everyday. While one may still be able to live with lying to others, deceiving yourself on a daily basis can be both exhausting and frustrating. Add to that the weight of guilt, shame and confusion and you get a life from which even the smallest hint of joy has been sapped out.

Feminization hypnosis helps bring the lost joy back to many lives. It helps individuals living dual lives choose the one they really want to and start living on their own terms.

The best part of feminization hypnosis is that it’s risk free. Unlike surgery, feminization hypnosis can be reversed.

Is Feminization Hypnosis Effective?
The mind is the most powerful organ of the human body. If we can convince the mind, we can achieve anything we want. Emotions and feelings, both negative and positive, all reside in the mind; whether it’s shame, guilt, frustration, anger, confidence, or acceptance.

Once an individual embraces and accepts his real identity at a mental level, half the battle is won. Surgical procedures too are only done when one is mentally ready to become a woman. Even then a surgery can only change the outer appearance. For an individual to truly face the society as a confident woman, or to even be comfortable with who they are, it takes complete transformation of the mental outlook. That’s exactly what feminization hypnosis does.

The therapy can be as effective as you want it to be. The success of hypnosis on any individual depends on their receptiveness to suggestions and willingness to embrace change. So, open your mind to a new experience, the woman within will thank you for bringing her to life.

A woman’s guide to tapping into her creative self

How did we, as women, lose our belief in “Yes, I can?” Lose the belief in “I can be, do, and have whatever I choose in my life!” Manifesting abundant health, wealth and happiness is not for only a few; it’s for all of us. What is stopping us from creating incredible, unimaginable success? Suppression of our feelings and impulses has become commonplace and the volcanic, explosive power of unleashing this force within us scares not only society but many women as well. Tapping into our creative selves and reclaiming our passionate nature is an ongoing practice of learning self appreciation, self acceptance, self empowerment and unconditional love.

Whose life is this anyway?

As a woman, you have many titles attached to you: mother, daughter, employee, entrepreneur, healer, nurturer, event planner and/or educator. Do you feel fragmented? Are there pieces of you floating around tending to other peoples’ needs and not your own? Whose voice is whispering in your head saying ‘no to this and no to that,’ undermining the breath taking gifts you carry within you. Honoring your intuitive genius means listening to the whispers of your soul and then trusting in your innate spiritual wisdom.

Reclaiming Who You Really Are

Ultimately, you are 100 per cent responsible for the life you are living. It doesn’t matter about the choices you made in the past. What does matter is today and how you create new beginnings, new choices to improve the quality of your life that reflect your authentic self. What do you want your life to look like? What quiet, secret dream hides deep within your heart? Dare to dream ‘big dreams’ that touch the very essence of you. What makes you smile?

Making a decision

Procrastination is often a sign of conflicting belief systems you have bought into over your lifetime. Continuing to repeat old patterns of motivation and behavior and expecting different results, creates confusion and ultimately interferes with your dreams and also your performance. Old memories, conflicts and insecurities flare up creating a pendulum swing that dances with new ideas until they drift away into a sea of confusion.
Take one action, one step, one decision to create positive change in your life. Just one positive change will begin to affect other areas in your life as well.

Integrating Change

What happens if my life changes? What will it look like? Many fears and worries will creep up as you take hold of your life and decide to grow. Change is inevitable. Change happens daily. Change is the very nature of your creative life. Blocking change, because of fear, inhibits your capacity to live authentically. Initiating new ways of being is much easier when you hold the highest good for yourself and for others, trust in your intuitive guidance and know deep inside of you, that you are expressing the very best part of you.

The Magnetic Factor

Have you closed off a wounded heart to protect yourself? Abuse, guilt, shame, abandonment, and criticism from your past color the view of the present. But it is the very opening of your heart and your expressions of love that will create the magnetism and radiance you seek in your life. You will attract the things you think about and feel. You can remain a victim of circumstance or you can choose another road to travel. You are the only one who can make that choice.

As a woman, you have such a wealth of intuitive insight within you. Your challenge is to trust your inner voice and then choose to make the changes in your life that will attract people and events that honor and support your highest good. You are not defined by your past. With each breath you take, you can create new beginnings. You can embrace your sacred journey, express yourself authentically and experience the genius and positive potential of your unique, special self.