Living Online as a Stripper

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Shop pants, shop jumper

Hello, I’m a stripper. I talk about this online a lot. I often receive unbelievably lovely comments from men and women alike online, offering empathy and understanding. On the flip side, I also sometimes receive comments that describe me as a ‘whore’, or ‘goldigger’ – even though in reality, a rich old dude dying and leaving me all of his money would probably negate both my need and desire to continue dancing.

Trolls occur just as often in strip clubs as they do online, working in clubs and documenting my journey online has led me to experience both. Many people view my videos, and I meet many people in the club. They all have one thing in common – they all talk. Language is a funny thing, it often reveals more about a person than they realise. The words we choose are symbiotic of our past experiences.

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Shop jumper, shop pants

 

People take their anger and insecurities, their own confusion and jealousy out on strippers. It happens in and out of the club. Most women in the adult industry, become perceptive as to what someone means, despite what they say. We understand that the old adage denoting jealousy as a reason for cruelty might not be true – but insecurity certainly is.

Insecurity in one’s self, and adaptation to change, all play a role in the reasoning behind a persons spitefulness. This is how and why we dancers bounce back from rejection in the ten seconds it takes to receive a ‘no’, and spy another person open in the club. When men tell us we don’t respect ourselves as dancers, , it is because our line of work (and lack of fucks) represents an ego threat. It changes their view of themselves, it removes their trust in their self-identified alpha presence, so they pretend that we must have been destroyed to ‘end up’ here.

In a sense it is true – we have destroyed the part of ourselves brought up by society to be whorephobic, ashamed, virginal and ‘demure’. Femininity as viewed through the male lens has been destroyed by the dancer, she becomes self-defined, pulling on the strings of femininity to create sales, puppeting those traits into a fantasy for sale – as every ad for every product ever invented has been doing since the dawn of time.

My self-perception has not changed as a dancer, only those things (such as my body shape, or level of social confidence) that would change daily regardless of my choice to work in this industry have. I am still myself, with the same hobbies and interests, I eat the same foods, I read the same books, and I gravitate toward the films, photographs, music and art I did prior to dancing. I vote for the same political parties in elections (those who work with empathy) and I defend the same core philosophies I have for the entirety of my adult life. The fact is, regardless of whether I’m dancing or not, whether I had ever slipped $50 into a set of rubber bands on stage  – someone somewhere will still find something about me offensive and will take out that same Jungian shadow on me.

I understand my worth, though. It comes from a Eudaemonic self-created source, and has always done so. That is the place my confidence to become a dancer came from.

These comments that come my way, this societal perception at large: It’s not about me. It’s not about my job. It’s about the story and beliefs that person tells themselves regarding women, dancers, sex, money and ethics. It’s their choice to not divert and unpack those beliefs, and expose their own demons, their own Madonna/Whore complex. Their own inability to admit that the story is not true. It is the pity of all of us, when we close ourselves in from uncertainty, to accept safe stories and comfort over progress, and rebirth.

When we shroud ourselves, we reject what new opportunities we could rope into our lives, to humble ourselves from the pretense of ‘knowledge’ and accept that there are things, ideas, circumstance, larger than us that we do not know. We have not experienced.

My best example of my doing this is when I work in a club, and there are few customers, or I think I’m unable to make money. I shrink, pretending to ‘know’ this – and I reduce my presence. I don’t try to hustle, to work harder, or to approach more people. I say, ‘fine, this is what I’ve made tonight.’ I pretend that I do not have the links available to further myself, I pretend that I don’t have the confidence or skill. That’s the real story behind a lot of my ‘bad’ nights in the club.

As for online, and the tall tales we tell to make ourselves feel better than someone else: I choose to remain vulnerable, no matter how many people choose to disown me, because it’s important, as humans, to share our stories. Humans are narrative beings, and it is through story and perspective that every law has changed, movement been created, and barrier been either lifted or built. Our stories are our tools through which we can change greater perceptions. For every Instagram story a dancer posts about disrespectful customers, or working out their tax return – the perspective of the public body is – even in the smallest way – changed. Vulnerability is a quiet revolution, gaining momentum as it influences others.

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Crop top & sunglasses from eBay, jumper available here

The Motivating Power of Fantasy

Years before I ever knew what the Law of Attraction was, when I was a child I used to dream of living in a castle. It would be in England, or France, the main part of my castle was my dream library tower/office. In my mind this was a circular room with a loft-style balcony office at the top. A small spiral staircase would lead up toward it and the walls would be stuffed with an enormous book collection, wheeled ladders would help me whizz through my extensively organised and indexed library so that I could look up whatever I needed, author, myth, scientific theory, for whatever writing project I was working on at the time.

 

Strange that as a child I dreamed so often of a workspace, but then I was absolutely obsessed with writing. I knew by the age of six that I wanted to write books. I was determined.

My fantasy office would often motivate me, and I was so often motivated to write my way through shitty situations. Living in a small town, going to an unkind primary school and even less kind high-school, I would write. A lot. I had written and attempted to shop two manuscripts by the age of seventeen. One got through to having the full manuscript read by a literary agent in New York. At seventeen! Like I said, I was determined. I was consumed. Writing was the thing that was always there for me. I was completely adamant that it would become my career. That passion for writing and literature sparked my love of academia and creativity, which got me into university because trust me, though I was a smart kid I did not apply myself to traditional schooling very well.

 

When I left home for university I lived in an apartment with a group of people far too different to me, we didn’t get along. So I wrote. I wrote another manuscript. I’m still editing that one today, aged twenty-three. Though that manifestation of effort didn’t result in a grand, multi-million dollar book deal with an international publisher like I fantasised in my wildest dreams, the experience of that writing however, and the paid freelance journalism that I took up to express myself in the way I found I couldn’t through my university work or campus, gave me the ticket to move states and universities. I then moved to Melbourne and attended RMIT University.

What fantasies can offer us is much like what Neil Gaiman said fiction can offer us – an escape, and in that escape tools to arm us for what we need in order to get through the real world and motivate us to hone our craft. Fantasies of the day where we can live in an apartment with a French bulldog, or castle in the wilderness, and make enough money to live off the thing that makes us happy, might seem self-indulgent or ‘wrong’, but these are the things that help us build our careers and find meaningful work and activities. 

 

Fantasies can motivate us so well. They can help us take an activity we love and show us paths that can mold that activity into something that works for us, for more than just a therapeutic benefit. Fantasies can be creative, risk-free exercises that allow us to experiment with our lives, and offer visuals of the pro’s and con’s of certain choices, and an idea of what we want to do with ourselves before we’ve quite figured it out for sure. 

Weight Gain and Working in the Adult Industry

‘Christ,’ I said turning to my boyfriend the morning after my third or fourth weekend as a stripper. ‘How does anyone manage to gain weight stripping?’ My thigh muscles were burning and I was already starving upon waking up. When I stood up to walk my legs shook.

‘I think you need some carbs and protein,’ he prescribed. We immediately took a trip to the supermarket to purchase some mushrooms and pasta.

I used to work at one of the most ‘instagram famous’ strip clubs in the world. I’ve written before about working in the adult industry, the business end, the great and trashy shoes, and the highs and lows of it all.

Before I became a dancer I was in the best shape of my life. I had quit my dumpster-diving lifestyle of being a crust-punk street rat, and traded it in for a 9-5 office job designing university degrees. I woke up at 5am every morning and I did yoga and pilates in my living room for 45 minutes, then I ate a chia seed pudding with Papaya before hopping on the train for my morning commute. I was an AU4-6 and I had the flattest stomach and tautest thighs I had ever seen protrude from below my hips. I loved the way I looked, this kind of workout and lifestyle is me to my core – I adore fitness when it comes from a mindful, educated manner. This was in 2016 – my food philosophy was on point, and every single leg circle, or downward dog, reinforced in a physical sense my life philosophy of loving the act of putting effort into something.

Fast forward to 2017 and I fell a bit off-track. I’m not too sure where the psychology of it began, I’m still trying to figure that out. I do know that my rent went up and my chronic hip pain became worse, and I ended up in a bit of a terrible cycle of not stretching because I was in too much pain, and then being in more pain, and not being able to stretch or in some cases even walk properly.

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I made it through my first weekend of dancing with a wobbly ankle, and fell back into my bed with $1400 crumpled up in the sheets around me. I fell asleep with a smile on my face thinking that I’d figured it out! I’d figured out a way for me to pay my rent, eat, and not have to be in excruciating pain every day. I could write for me again if I was dancing. I could rest my wrists, and stretch my back, and only be in pain for two days out of the week. It seemed like the perfect trade-off.

Granted dancing did give me that. I still suffered pain, but not having to sit at a desk for hours typing proved to feel incredible. My shoulders relaxed and I took up compound lifts at my local gym to improve the stability in my hips. It also improved my ass – greatly.

Unfortunately when I worked I drank. I don’t really like drinking, but even a small amount of alcohol, mixed with sleepless nights is an easy set up for a poor self-care routine. I quickly gained roughly seven kilograms, moving from 45.6kg to 52. By the end of my time as a dancing I weighed around 57 kilograms and wore an AU8. I could still zip up my size 6 clothing, but it didn’t exactly look right.

Now, at a size eight I’m still small. I do have a tiny frame though, and I do prefer myself to look a bit fitter, but even just a few extra wobbly bits in a strip club filled with legitimates Instagram fitness babes with millions (no joke) of followers it was easy to feel enormous. It was like going to the Playboy Mansion every weekend. I’m not going to lie, I have legitimately called in ‘fat’ to work. Of course at the time I said I needed a self-care day, which wasn’t a lie.

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I’ve never suffered an eating disorder, but I have often had a very unhealthy relationship with my weight. I was chubby for two years in high school, and then again for two years at university. When I left my old University for RMIT in 2012 I was the heaviest I had ever been, and it took roughly a year for me to go from an AU12 to an AU6.

My weight gain almost always follows the same pattern – or at least it did when I was a teenager/young adult. I would become depressed, and I would lose my sense of mindfulness and will to self care.  The reality is, self-care doesn’t mean being the fittest you can be: It means exactly what it sounds like, to care for yourself. As a human gentle exercise and trying to make healthy choices, physically, mentally and emotionally is a form of self care. Self care was not intended as a memo to buy the most expensive face mask on the planet.

You can still make an absolutely incredible amount of money at a strip club even when you personally think you’ve gained weight. It really depends on hustle. When you’re in a private room giving a dance, or doing a stage dance, and the customer loves it, you don’t think about how “fat” you feel. You think about the next move, you go with the flow, and you vibe with the client. However sometimes, when you’re on the floor it can creep up on you.

Some clubs employ a ‘fat watch’ policy, weigh dancers, bully them into getting surgery – all of which is used as a psychological tactic by club managers (who are notorious pieces of shit) to keep women beholden to their club or the industry. I’ve never understood the idea of breaking people down as a sales tactic – it has never worked on me. Except maybe by Instagram models to force me to pay a $70 per month gym membership (joking).

With all of this in mind it’s easy to see where a dancer can lose it when it comes to body image. There were many times I nearly did. My clientele changed with my body as well , it changed my hustle, it changed how I photographed, what lingerie suited me. I also, at twenty-fucking-four felt the first pangs of ageism. Even though there were women in the club who were much older, and making much more money than me because they were smarter and more confident with men.

The thing is, for me my body image is so ingrained into my whole being – going to the gym to make myself more conventionally attractive for men I didn’t care about, and a strip club manager who didn’t even know my name seemed so entirely useless. It didn’t feel right to me. I started to reduce my body image to something that other people saw.  I wanted to work out and eat better sure, but the very thought of creating change in my life for a group of male counterparts who – no matter how ‘good’ I looked according to white male standards – would still charge me to work, and put me on Fat Watch if I gained a pound, just didn’t fly with me.

My body started to feel out of alignment. This has less to do with  sex work, and more to do with not having a peer group within the industry to snap me out of the exact mentality that I’ve just written up. The way I treated my body  was derived from being sick to death of a club dictating my appearance in return for extremely poor treatment and bullying tactics. However, I was also failing to align the worship that occurred surrounding my body within the club from clients, and from myself and the other women around me. I found my struggle to stay mentally afloat as a dancer too difficult at that time. Clearly, this is why I’m sitting here on my couch on a Wednesday night typing this instead of hauling my ass onto a stage somewhere in lingerie worth half a months rent.

What followed my body feeling out of alignment was my entire hustle, my personality, even my work ethic falling out of alignment. In any image based industry, feeling that you’ve let yourself go, that you’re suddenly not deserving because you have allowed yourself to slip (especially as a self-confessed perfectionist) this far, created a massive block monetarily for me. My motivation was as shot as my waistline, of course this particular thought let me slip even further in that old chestnut of – ‘well I may as well get fat now!’  Despite having lost the weight a million times before.

I’m a total girly girl – I love heels, make-up, clothing. I always have. So it might come as a slight shock that I also have an extreme derision for the way societal pressures can enforce certain beauty standards, and the way looks can denote financial standing and status (I come from a working class background after all). In the club it’s how we make money: A nice, bespoke suit on a man in his forties usually means a typical interaction with a good client – he has money, he’s intelligent, he’s well read and socially apt enough to not treat you like total dirt. On the other hand, a suit on a twenty-one year old? Forget it, he spent all his cash on the suit so he could try to Pick Up Artist a baby stripper.

I can’t pinpoint every part of body image and the adult industry in one blog post. When it comes to women living in a patriarchal society, body image is a nuanced struggle, spurred and scorned by so many diet plans, Marie Windsor downloads, and fashion magazines. Add in the pressures of an appearance/confidence based job, and you’ve got a recipe for a whole lot of body dysmorphic tendencies and weird underlying issues on everything from self-doubt to guilt, to financial blocks and then some.

Sometimes knowing what your standard – your personal attainable standard – was for your body image, having felt the best and most fit you ever have and then attaching actual monetary worth to that can be horrific – because you might not be able to keep it up, and you don’t know what psychological impacts that storied attachment might have on you in the long term. In other cases, it can be incredibly empowering, making you feel on top of the world. Making you realise flat abs don’t matter. Every stage set still eleaves you feeling like you’re on a cocaine high, and in cases like mine it can cause financial blocks, or blocks in self-worth.

At the end of the day in a strip club it’s all about confidence, the weight gain or ageing you might experience can change your hustle, but the real thing that changes it is your mentality. You can feel more confident at a size twelve than you did at a six, if you truly feel more aligned in mind, body and soul. If what you’re doing makes you feel connected to yourself and your purpose. For me this wasn’t the case, my weight was too intrinsically linked to my feelings of self-worth. If I wasn’t the perfect ab-cracked, thigh-gapped, twerk-queen dancer – I wasn’t able to pull myself together. Of course I still made money, but it prevented me heavily from certain hustles, and feeling as though I shouldn’t try. This is of course a ridiculous mentality – because women don’t spend thousands on butt implants for no reason, and one-pieces can cover a stomach that has expanded with time. I was able to follow this latter mentality – pull my shit together and have some of the best nights of my life, but there was a serious connection I had found between my body image and my sense of self-worth – and of course that sense of self-worth trickled down into my finances and into my world outside the club.

 

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Our Weak Ties | Using Weak Ties Theory

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It’s not always the people closest to you who will support your business ventures. That’s true, and often a little bit heartbreaking.

It’s not their fault. Family and friends often warn and discourage us from striking out on our own due to fear – fear of us failing, fear of our own sadness, fear of our disappointment. It hurts to see a loved one in upset. When our ideas don’t work, we can feel so much shame, anxiety and regret.

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About a year ago (before changing my name) I wrote an article for The Cusp  about how a more diverse friendship group can help us grow in our careers. At the time it was definitely a psychological unpacking – I was growing apart from old groups of friends, and finding more in common with the PHDs I worked with at my office job than the people I had been dumpster diving with for food (not kidding) as a uni student.

Part of the article discusses Meg Jay’s incredible Ted X Talk ‘Why Thirty is not the New Twenty’ and how new experiences often come from what are known as our ‘weak ties’.

In her talk Jay, author of The Defining Decade, urges young adults to experience new things, and reach new levels, by reaching out to those who are their weak ties. In my professional past I have utilized this advice in a sense – by reaching out to brands that liked my content, and editors, to create new work for myself as a blogger, and brand journalist.

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Most recently I struck out on my own, creating a clothing line aimed at both women in the adult industry, and our allies, a podcast and a Patreon account, to effect a business designed to reduce the stigma surrounding women in the adult industry, and help those of us in the industry to transmute the skills we learn into other areas of business and life. The first people to follow the Instagram, or pledge to the Patreon were not, in fact, my close friends, or my family – they were readers and viewers of my channel, Twitter followers and bloggers or women in the adult industry with large-scale followings that like my work without a personal preoccupation.

They were people I do not know personally, but people who had found my accounts through a mutual respect and enjoyment of each others work and creative direction. They were my weak ties.

According to Social Media Today, ‘These ties encourage sharing of information across different groups.’ Our weak ties can peak interest from their group to ours. Therefore a connection with one person in a particular demographic can prove invaluable to a job opportunity or business.

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In fact, my interest in the adult industry came from weak ties – women who I wasn’t great friends with, but who knew each other through mutual connections, and who opened my own eyes to the shades of grey within that industry. Showing me what it really was, and who the women in the industry truly are. My entering the industry came from a place of survival, once I was a part of the industry, the different issues faced by women of the industry according to their circumstances came from more weak ties, acquaintances, conversations in bathrooms and over Instagram DM. My recognising of my own privileges within the industry, based on these conversations, and the information many women did not have, also helped me find a niche for my social media channels – to create a space for information on business skills within the industry. Not all women in the adult industry need this information, but many do.

“Weak ties might bring you the crucial information about a new job opportunity, a new start up business or new connections into other areas of your peripheral business. Your relationship with your weak ties should be maintained and cultivated, knitting your networks together to encourage information free flow between the different parts of your networks. This information flow could be information you need to get ahead in your own work, or it might be recommendations and information about your skills and abilities to get you the job / contract / opportunity you’ve been looking for.”

Weak Ties can also keep us aware – aware about circumstances that don’t affect us, social constructs that we are not a part of, ideas that are outside of our grasp that are important to keeping an impartial view on different demographics and understanding the struggles people within our varied communities are facing. Often when conversations and shared stories move through different groups of people, ground can be broken to finesse a new idea into something tangible.

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Jay warns us that those who stay in the same groups don’t open themselves to new experiences, ways of learning, speech and more. One of the easiest ways to change your life is by reaching out to new people – and seeing what happens.

There is more than one psychological theory that expresses this phenomena – from six degrees of separation, to the butterfly effect – in their own way these theories, that can often feel more like myth or magic than science, express the reality that small changes have big impact. Movements that at first felt weak, possess undeniable strength.

Cali

The Truth Behind Failure: How to Focus

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Shirt: My Store, Blazer: Lee Denim, Jeans: Revolve, Boots: Boohoo

Focus can be difficult to maintain. Particularly for the creative types who, like myself, fit into the jack-of-all trades, master of none category. Sometimes we go off track when it comes to focus: whether it’s a business, job, blog, or workout plan. We’ve all had those experiences where we kind of lose it. Sometimes it’s for a few days, sometimes for months on end. We find ourselves back where we began, it’s frustrating – like Sisyphus pushing that fucking rock up that fucking mountain.
There are reasons we go off track when manifesting our desires (by the way, for me manifestation means focus and concrete steps.)
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Shirt: My Store, Blazer: Lee Denim, Jeans: Revolve, Boots: Boohoo

 
The first issue we need to overcome is obviously distraction and desperation – like me right now, I’m currently in the process of creating a clothing company .  I want my focus to be on that and my YouTube and Patreon so they can grow into the business I want to create for change. But money is tight and even though I am making ends meet, and I have my beautiful patrons – it’s not the money I’m used to from working full time and dancing. I get down, distracted and I start looking for other jobs rather than promoting my company more, and reaching out to more people to help it grow.
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Shirt: My Store, Blazer: Lee Denim, Jeans: Revolve, Boots: Boohoo

How to combat it: For me, the best way to combat distraction is to get focused. Instead of just thinking about what you want, what the future plan is – write it down. Write down a vision and a business plan draft, work out what you need and who you need to contact and do it. Write a PR list, or contact people for a mailing list to keep everyone updated about what you’re doing. Research the steps you need to take and knock one out, or write a to-do list. It brings your focus back to the long game. Reach out even if you feel like it’s a long shot. There are so many incredibly supportive people out there willing to help. Understand that as a person starting a business you do have something to offer. You’re a brand, you have a website, you’re a company director and no matter how subjectively successful your work is, you can still provide something to others – opportunities for them to expand that can in turn help you.
I listen to a lot of Abraham Hicks, if you know anything about the Hicks philosophy one of the teachings of Esther is to focus on abundance and not lack. To focus on Abundance we focus on what we want – not what we don’t have, or don’t want. Therefore to actively change my distracted focus of looking for another job I should change my focus from, ‘I’m so broke’ to, ‘I want to create a company that empowers women socially and financially, I want to research this and make it the best thing possible’ – and to spend all my spare hours,  after I’ve reached my expenses quota, working on this. I want it to expand and become incredible.
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Shirt: My Store, Blazer: Lee Denim, Jeans: Revolve, Boots: Boohoo

The second issue might be that it’s taking longer than we thought, leading us to increasingly become more desperate.
The solution: Try a different approach: If you need to be more methodical, become so. There’s so much freedom in throwing things at the wall in a creative manner, but it’s not always worthwhile if you’re trying to live off your creation. A friend of mine created a Youtube channel years ago that had no direction. She wasn’t passionate about the subject matter, so she just made whatever videos came to mind. She later disbanded it because she felt like it was worthless – but it led her to create a new one late last year. She began a shared travel channel that focused on teaching international students about Australia – the niche category blew up and was shared throughout many international students Facebook groups. In three months they have gained over 2000 subscribers and even though the company is small, they’ve methodically researched and listened to their subscriber base to produce high-quality videos designed to teach prospective international students how to apply for visas, write resumes, and find places to live in Australia while they study. Her previous efforts showed her how to produce videos so their company didn’t have to learn that in the beginning. They’ve even hired an intern!
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Shirt: My Store, Blazer: Lee Denim, Jeans: Revolve, Boots: Boohoo

The third issue: We’re viewing ‘failure’ wrong, and not bouncing back from it.
How to fix it: Develop a growth mindset. I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve thought “I’ve failed at my goals” when in reality they’re just taking longer to come to fruition. I adapted a ‘growth’ mindset in 2016 after reading Carol S Dweck’s book on the topic and it has changed my entire outlook on life. I’ve always been moderately good with rejection – I started shopping manuscripts at the age of 16 to literary agents, and each rejection always excited me: To me the rejection meant they had read my work. My first half manuscript was read by Catherine Drayton – the same woman who represented The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak – to me, at sixteen, that felt like a massive win. She didn’t decide to represent my manuscript, but it taught me that I had the chops to write professionally – from there it was only a matter of writing something I wanted to put out into the world, and making sure it was good enough for a literary agent to want to represent. Every ‘failure’ is a lesson – it’s a note to move forward with our approach, our education, to try the next method.  I am beginning to place everything I’ve learned together into a habitual formula that works for me.
You have to bounce back from failure as quickly as you can in order to maintain focus, otherwise you’ll keep flipping from one project to the next. It’s fine to quit, but it’s important to focus on something, and educate yourself in the field so you work out exactly how you can best achieve what you want. First drafts are always shit. That’s the rule of writing, and of most projects and businesses. You often need to return to the drawing board to isolate the issues and solve them.
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Shirt: My Store, Blazer: Lee Denim, Jeans: Revolve, Boots: Boohoo

xo,
Cali

 

Why I Decided to Stop Taking the Contraceptive Pill

*This article was originally published by http://www.thecusp.com.au and has been republished here under first publishing rights, owned by the author**

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Photos by Dylan Starzcak

I was sitting in my ex-boyfriend’s bedroom when I decided to stop taking the birth control pill. For six months, I had taken a pill every morning, and, for six months I had sunk deeper into a depression I thought there was no possible way out of. Despite my misfiring neurons, I came to the conclusion that slipping that piece of pressed white powder behind my teeth everyday had been the moment the crooked maw of depression had plucked me from a place of tolerable anxiety. Six months before I had still been a nervous wreck of a twenty-three-year-old. But I hadn’t been this ashen-faced, un-showered mess; watching the shadows grow longer and the whites of walls open up brighter as though someone was messing around with an aperture switch in my head.

A study conducted in Denmark and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that women on the combined pill were 23% more likely than others to be treated for depression, and for those on the progestin-only pill there was a 34% increase. Similar results were recorded regarding IUDs and intrauterine contraceptives. Teenage girls were found to have the highest risk overall, with those taking birth control pills 80% more likely to be treated for depression. Considering the look of confusion on the face of the last GP I spoke to when I went to ask him if the pill could have been causing the upswing of anxiety and depression I was experiencing, this finding has been a blessing for myself and my female peers.

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Mood swings:

A study published by Reproductive Health reported that while 100 million women worldwide use oral contraceptives, 50% of these women discontinue use within the first year, citing changes in mood as the number one reason. A report published by the Guttmacher Institute stated that 10.7% of U.S. women used no contraceptives at all. Research by Dr. Annie Dude suggested that many of the women relying on unreliable withdrawal methods of contraception were between the ages of 15 and 24 – however Dude still cited the IUD as the most effective method of contraception for Gen Y. In many cases hormonal birth control does not afford the freedom it has been marketed as for the modern woman. The dysfunction that comes with depressive symptoms can be life-altering.

“MY SEXUAL EDUCATION WAS TYPICAL FOR MOST GEN Y TEENS – I WAS TAUGHT ABOUT THE PILL AND INTRAUTERINE CONTRACEPTIVES BECAUSE THESE WERE CONSIDERED THE MOST EFFECTIVE”

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Research in the field of endocrinology suggests that the chemicals we consume can carry serious health implications, mental and physical. Much of the commentary surrounding young women foregoing their usual contraceptives stems from the fact that so many women have been taking the pill since their early teen years, often going off the pill is an experiment to see what kind of person they are without these synthetic hormones in their system, how they will act and react.

We know contraceptives are necessary – they reduce the rates of unwanted pregnancy, and abortion – but current methods rarely align with what our lifestyles ask of us. That said, there has been some positive research into alternative methods of contraception. The male contraceptive injection known as vasalgel is currently in the process of being trialled and the World Health Organisation has also published a report raising the idea of testing traditional, complementary and alternative (holistic) methods – known as TCAM – to modern scientific standards.

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Considering options:

I’m personally choosing to stay off the pill. My sexual education was typical for most Gen Y teens – I was taught about the pill and intrauterine contraceptives because these were considered the most effective and, as Dr. Dude suggests, the safest for teenagers. As I seek out my own information with the critical thinking skills adulthood affords me however, I’m choosing to consider my options in a broader sense.

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How we can change our abilities and achieve more

 

In the following Ted x Talk Eduardo Briceno draws on the work of psychologist and author of Mindset, Carol S Dweck explaining the theory of the fixed versus growth mindset. Briceno teaches us demonstrable ways to change a fixed mindset into a growth mindset. The major factor here being changing our self talk, in order to achieve more. He does this by telling us to talk back to our fixed mindset voices, especially when learning new tasks. He implores us, ‘When we hear ourselves say, “I can’t do it” Please, add “yet”.’

‘When we have a growth mindset we bring our game to new levels’

For those with a growth mindset the brain becomes most active when recieving information about how to improve. A growth mindset views a goal and success as how much was learned during the process. A fixed mindset views a goal as the social outcome (grade, score). According to Dweck’s research this attitude toward learning and achieving is often gleaned from our childhood teachers, mentors, and most of all our parents. However, changing the shortcomings of a fixed mindset may be, as Briceno theorizes, as simple as retraining our brains’ way of speaking to us. In short, becoming our own parent and unlearning the attitude decreeing that a valuable achievement is something related to those entitlement factors of brains, talent or luck as opposed to effort.

If your parents did not focus on process-related feedback and instead focused on telling you how smart you were, or talented, begin attempting to train your inner voice to commend your efforts as opposed to talents. Think about how much you learned the last time you put an enormous amount of effort into a new skill, and how many doors that opened up for you. How did you go about putting effort into your task, what did you gain from this? It may not have been worldwide acclaim, but it may have been the learning of a new skill, something to make your mind sharper, or a new way of looking at objects or the world around you.

It may seem silly to some, but changing our inner self talk and by extension, our deepest beliefs about ourselves can heavily impact our day-to-day activities, ability to learn new skills and levels of motivation. Self-talk is a regulatory mechanism that can have an enormous impact on our moods and thus motivation.

The results of a study published by the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology: Self Talk as a Regulatory Mechanism: How You Do It Matters surmised as much. Psychologists used five different studies and subject groups to assess what happened when the subjects reviewed themselves after a social interaction. Some groups were asked to distance their reviewing self from their past self (the reviewed) by changing the wording in their inner monologue. Certain groups made up of similar or diverse individuals reviewed themselves in the third person. This distancing had an immense impact upon the individuals ability to process and let go of certain emotional memories and social interactions. While focused specifically on the idea of speaking to oneself in the third person, the findings showed undoubtedly what the title of the study suggested: How we talk to ourselves matters.

“Small shifts in the language people use to refer to the self during introspection
consequentially influence their ability to regulate their thoughts, feelings, and behavior under social stress.”

“The language people use to refer to the self during introspection influences self-regulation.”

In a study  published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity the habits of overweight individuals attempting to create physical changes and re-train their eating and exercise habits were monitored. Findings suggested that self-regulation and a monitored change in how they tailored their self-talk was seen to be invaluable in creating the mental change they needed to overcome their habitual self-defeating internal monologue.

“Combining skill development with underlying, intrinsic motivation and reason, is believed essential for lasting change. Intrinsic motivation does not rely on external pressure, like rewards/approval or punishment/disapproval from peers or health professionals. It exists within the individual, and is driven by interest or enjoyment in the task itself. This is the basis of the self-determination theory.”

These results could be tailored to other situations that require motivation and higher levels of productivity. Many of our habits begin with our self-talk, which reflect our beliefs. Many of our habits which reflect our tendency to give up on a goal, like learning a new skill, can be tied back to a fixed mindset which can also breed a victim mentality. It’s important to distance ourselves from our ‘fixed’ or ‘victim’ mindset and be mindful of changing that particular inner voice when we catch it. One way of doing this is to literally stop when we have a fixed or negative thought, or a thought/idea that enables a habit we are trying to step away from, and completely change the sentence. Briceno says, ‘say I can’t…yet’. Here we suggest looking at the sentence you have just declared in your mind and, internally, saying back,

‘No. I can do this. I want to [insert goal here] because it will help me reach this larger goal and increase my productivity for today. [Activity] will set in motion the domino effect of creating good life habits that will allow me to reach my goals, large and small.’

Creating this different mode of self-talk is an actionable CBT response.

“CBT is a treatment for emotional and behavioural problems that aims to help individuals identify and modify dysfunctional thoughts, assumptions and patterns of behaviour. It explores the range of factors that influence one’s behaviour, both external (e.g. environmental stimuli and reinforcement) and internal (e.g. thoughts).” 

 Using CBT can aid in actively changing a mindset and creating a new pattern of cognitive behaviour – i.e. New ways to think about the self and activity. This can aid in the completion of tasks we want to perform, but often talk ourselves out of due to factors of instant gratification.

 

“Self-talk is a ubiquitous human phenomenon. We all have an internal monologue that we engage in from time to time. The current research demonstrates that small shifts in the language people use to refer to the self as they engage in this process consequentially influences their ability to regulate their thoughts.”

As humans our mental health and internal monologue appear to have the deciding say in our lifestyles. The findings above suggest the change to a more productive, efficient lifestyle comes when we train ourselves through various modes of CBT into a growth-oriented mindset that thrives on challenge, evolution and the self-discovery we make through our internal and personal experiments – especially when these experiments lead us to learn new skills, reach new goals and gain greater heights of self-mastery.

 

– SOURCES:

Journal of Personality and Social Psychology: Self Talk as A Regulatory Mechanism: How You Do It Matters:

AUTHORS:

Ethan Kross University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

Emma Bruehlman-Senecal

University of California, Berkeley

Jiyoung Park, Aleah Burson, Adrienne Dougherty,
Holly Shablack, and Ryan Bremner
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

Jason Moser
Michigan State University

 SOURCE PROVIDED HERE

International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity: A Randomized Controlled Trial to Evaluate Self-Determination Theory for Exercise Adherence and Weight Control: Rationale and Intervention Description.

AUTHORS:

Marlene N Silva

David Markland

Claudia S Minderico

Paulo N Vieira

Margarida M Castro

Silvia R Coutinho

Teresa C Santos

Margarida G Matos

Luis B Sardinha

Pedro J Teixeira