Image and Identity




#bodiesCan We?

3 comments | February 2nd, 2012

chestist threads

(story submitted by Amey, a Chestist)

Amey offered what follows as a comment to this story.  We loved you go:

It seems as women we will always be drawn to the mirror and pick apart what we don't like and remember how we liked ourselves better when...What if we start a revolutionary change...when I look into the mirror everyday I will choose one thing I like, smile at myself, and then walk away from the mirror?  Could I actually do that?  Could you? Could we as women?  One day at a time...make this change? To like what we see? {end story}

What do you think, can you make this change?  What (or who) could stop you?  (NO ONE should). 

#bodiesRenaming The Self-Esteem Act

comment | February 1st, 2012


What's in a name, anyway?  We'll find out.  We're renaming The Self Esteem Act, and from now on it will be known as the Media and Public Health Act.  What?!  Yes, that's right, the Media and Public Health Act.  Catchy, no?  Everything about its intent, its focus, and our call for Truth-in-Advertising labeling remains exactly the same.

So why change the name?  A few reasons.  One, along with the amazing people at the National Eating Disorder Association who are joining with us as co-sponsors of the Media and Public Health Act, we wanted to make crystal clear the cause and effect relationship between the media (and media industries) and public health (ie how people feel and don't, and the consequences of same, based on the images we're served up - and not).

Two, since we first announced it, there have been some who have stood with us and supported the Act's intent but who felt "self-esteem" was not the right articulation of the problem nor the psychological consequence. 

Three, after looking at 1 and 2 together, we took a look at the grassroots support we'd captured so far - and ...

#lifestagesCan You Fail at Growing Up?

comment | January 31st, 2012

chestist enthralled

(story submitted by Casey, a 16 yo Chestist)

We talk a lot about expectations here @OOC.  They can motivate us and they can smack our happy around like nobody's business.  Here's Casey's story, and all we want to do is give her a big digital hug (so we are). 

I feel I'm not pretty enough, not skinny enough, not popular enough, not funny enough, not smart enough.

I guess everyone in high school feels like this, but I guess I thought on the edge of sixteen I'd have something going for me. Instead I feel like a failure. I remember being in kindergarten and dreaming about being sixteen. I remember thinking that I'd be beautiful, top of my class academically, popular, and everyone's best friend. When I was really young, I was a beautiful kid. I was told that on a regular basis. I even tried modeling. When I hit puberty, that changed. I wasn't perfect anymore - and I've never gotten over that.

When I was a little kid, I figured that I'd always be beautiful and popular like I was in kindergarten. I forgot to take ...

#lifestagesStop Comparing Yourself

2 comments | January 30th, 2012

chestist swirl

(story submitted anonymously, by a Chestist)

It seems to be an unforunate part of the human condition that we compare ourselves to others - sometimes to make oursleves feel better, but often to make oursleves feel less than and worse.  Buzzkill.  Here's one younger reader's story - and advice:

We're always comparing ourselves with others. I don't know why we girls do this, maybe it's just the way it is. We never really believe it when people say were pretty or smart or something. When my friends or other girls complain about how fat they are I look at them and I look at me. A lot of times they're skinnier than me and I think - wow if they're fat then what am I? There is the first step of self conciousness.

Then when others bag on how ugly they are I look again and compare and think - well they're prettier than me so what am I? Everytime someone says something bad about themselves I ask myself if they're better or worse than me.  Eventually you stop believing what good things others say about you ...

#bodiesYou Be You and I’ll Be Me

4 comments | January 26th, 2012

compared to what

(story submitted anonymously, by a Chestist)

You ever have a good-friend who's everything you want to be, and who just by being themselves makes you feel worse about some part of you?  Buzzkill.  She does, and here's her story (with a happy ending).

I'm going to Hawaii with my best friend who is stick skinny and 6'. I am 5' and have an hourglass figure. My thighs touch when I walk. My stomach isn't perfectly flat. I hated my body. But all of this changed when someone came along and refused to leave my house until they were absolutely certain I loved myself. {end story}

Now, of course, we'd love to know what this wonderful someone said and did to help our writer love herself...but we're so glad she does.  Let's get back to the beginning though.  You ever have a good-friend who's everything you want to be, and who just by being themselves makes you feel worse about some part of you?  Share the who, when, wheres, hows and whys they made you feel less than.  Get it off your chest and let ...

#lifestagesSo Ugly

6 comments | January 24th, 2012

black explosion chestist

(story submitted anonymously, by a Chestist)

Quick...if you had to pick one, would you rather think you look good or have others think you look good?  This reader writes us with a (very) short story about how she feels. 

I just feel soooooooo ugly.  Whenever anyone says "you look beautiful", i just can not accept it. {end story}

Can you accept the compliments of others?  How about their criticisms - or just the observations that are less than flattering.  You know, like that blouse maybe doesn't go so well with your complexion?  Why do you think so many of us are quick to take critique as gospel and compliment as false?  Hmmm.  Let's #discuss.  

#bodiesPuberty, Part 2

3 comments | January 18th, 2012


(submitted anonymously, by an 18yo Chestist)

You know that line from the Godfather..."just when you thought you were out, they suck you back in again"?  Seems this reader's finding herself in a similar position...

They're growing. Shit. Just when I became comfortable with my B cups and realized that they were in absolute perfect proportion with the rest of my body, they started growing. Holy shit. I'm 18. This is not supposed to happen.  {end story}

Hers isnt the first story we've heard like this, but let's consider it more broadly, whaddaya say?  Have you ever gotten comfortable with something and BAM it (or you) changes again?  When was it, what was it, how'd you deal with it?

#lifestagesThe Happiest Girls Are the Prettiest Ones

7 comments | January 18th, 2012

party girl

(Story submitted anonymously, by a Chestist)

We're betting not everyone will agree with the short story that follows.  We don't.  But we do get it.  Here it is, from one of you:

Somedays you feel like the prettiest girl in the world and other days, you look at other girls and feel ugly in comparison.  And what i've learned in the great words of Audrey Hepburn is that "...the happiest girls are the prettiest girls."   And I think it's true. {end story}

Heidi Klum does seem to have it pretty good, right?  But who knows if she's really happy, and what we here @OOC HQ do think is that like having money, being pretty, is probably better than not...but in and of itself it's no guarantee of anything.  But that's just us, what about you?  Do you think Adurey and our writer are right?  Are the prettiest girls (and boys) the happiest?  What's that mean for those amongst us who aren't "pretty"?  Let's talk pretty.  Go.  


9 comments | January 14th, 2012

chestist enthralled

(submitted anonymously by a Chestist.  oringinally in May, again today)

To start with, let's get this out of the way. I am a college age girl (I do consider myself a girl because, let's face it, I am far from a woman when I spend my favourite Thursday nights colouring with my friends) with ADD and Anxiety Disorder NOS. I feel so incredibly trapped by these conditions. I want to scream every time I want to focus, but can't, or can't tear myself away from something distracting. I want to, and frequently do cry when something that I see my friends brush off makes me so uncertain of my own ability to get through. Anything unknown in my life sends fear and panic right through me. There are so many negative things bubbling up in me, threatening to burst. Am I alone in this? I feel it so often, I'm more surprised when it's gone than when the fear is there. And yet, it feels a bit better to talk about, even though that talking hurts.  {end story}


#bodiesBody Image is Hating on Men’s Happy

5 comments | January 11th, 2012


(submitted by OOC via

Here's a bit of gender equality that can't make anyone happy - even if misery does love company.  Men are increasingly and rapidly becoming ever more dissatisfied with their own bodies and body image.  The original article points to this most recent data out of the U.K. based on a survey of 400 men:

80.7% of men use language that promotes anxiety about their body image (i.e. referring to physical flaws), compared with 75% of women. 38% of men would sacrifice at least a year of their life in exchange for a perfect body. 80.7% talked about their own or others’ appearance in ways that draw attention to weight, lack of hair or slim frame. 23% said concerns about their appearance had deterred them from going to the gym.

The author of the piece (read it here) offers the following thoughts: "the study is fairly narrow, so to be honest, I wouldn’t take most of those numbers at face value. But the study just confirms something we’ve known for awhile: That both men and women are increasingly unhappy with their bodies, in part because, well, everyone’s getting ...

#bodiesOh, The Things I Would Do

8 comments | January 9th, 2012

chestist threads

(story submitted anonymously, by a Chestist)

I'm a gemini, and my rising sign is leo. You'd think I'd be the most narcisistic person ever and very very sociable. Well... I wish.

I'm not sociable at all. I do have some friends, people who know the real me, but that's all. I rarely make any new friends, I'm shy. I don't post my pictures on the Internet. I don't flirt with boys I like. Ah, and I LOVE anonymity.

Three or four years ago I realized what was holding me back. Guess what? I don't think I'm pretty and I wanted to please people's eyes.  Oh, the things I would do if I was pretty... I mean, if I FELT pretty.  Actually I don't really care what others think. I know that nobody is demanding prettiness from me, I AM. But I don't know how to change my mind... I don't even know if I want to.  {end story}

Anyone have any advice for our writer?  Any of you ever think what you would do if only you were other than who and how you are now?  What would you ...

#thecumulativeeffectEinstein and The Secret to Happiness

4 comments | January 5th, 2012

enjoy your life

(by OOC via and originally by Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.)

We've spent a lot of the past year focused on and talking about how to make the world a happier place for women and girls, and an easier place for women and girls to be happier.  Like the article below, we come across the tension between "success" and "happiness" a lot.  We've seen it here, on OOC, and it's fundamentally the exact tension that lead us to start OOC to begin with.  Check this out:

"It seems like an increasing phenomenon that a number of individuals are finding themselves with a psychic emptiness at some point in life. There is some kind of dissatisfaction, an uncertainty as to why they feel so unhappy and what will help them feel more complete. This runs rampant with people who have acquired some kind of success in life and find their minds saying, now what?

Albert Einstein once said 'Try not to become a man of success but rather a man of value.'

Today we’re driving our kids more than ever ...

#thecumulativeeffectIs She Doing Feminism Right?

6 comments | January 5th, 2012

Chestist grunge

(story submitted by "FeministGamer", a 25 yo Chestist)

Oh, the expectations and judgments of others...and havoc they can play with our sense of self.  Here's FeminsitGamer's story:

I've been told several times in just the last few months that I'm making things about gender that aren't (about gender), or that I'm, well, being too much of a feminist (they won't SAY "feminazi", but yeah).

I felt bad. I felt that I should just never mention gender issues anymore. I felt the universe was telling me I was doing feminism wrong. And then I realized that all these people telling me this were men. Maybe I'm doing it right? Or am I being "too gendered" yet again? {end story}

How much do gender considerations/conversations come into your life?  Can you do feminism wrong (we suspect that there are folks on many sides of this who would say yes)?  What have you got to offer FeministGamer as she tries to figure it out?  Let's play...    

#lifestagesBullied and a Lingering, Unshakeable Shame

3 comments | January 1st, 2012

chestist black scratch

(story submitted by Leah, a 22 yo Chestist)

Leah's story was actually submitted as a comment to this story.  We thought hers worthy of bringing to everyone's attention too.  We hope you'll get why we chose New Year's Day as the day for this less-than-feel-good tale when you get to the end.  This is her story shared:

The memories are too hazy to tell if there was a pattern of bullying, but that's what I assume happened. That's what my Mom says happened. There was always this one girl with whom I had some conflict from the very first days of elementary school. I remember sitting with two girls reading a book on the school bus. The one who owned the book pushed my five-year old face into a window and told me I wasn't allowed to read with them. Why? Who knows? Maybe I did something. Maybe I was the bully (probably not). I became a silent, insecure child who had a anxious Hell of a time trying to socialize. I was a loose cannon, ready to lash out at the slightest perceived insult, and ...

#chestismsAdele Has Insecurities…

2 comments | December 31st, 2011


...which makes her oh-so-human, no?  Maybe even super-human for speaking them outloud (you know how we feel about that here.)

In this little sinppet found somewhere in our travels across the interwebs, she says this about the pressures to be perfect while living in the public eye:

“I’ve seen people where it rules their lives, who want to be thinner or have bigger boobs, and how it wears them down. And I don’t want that in my life. I have insecurities, of course, but I don’t hang out with anyone who points them out to me.”

What do you say, let's do like Adele does and inthe new year, resolve to spend time only with those who build us up, and don't tear us down.  That means ourselves too, of course.  'Tis human to be insecure.  'Tis self-defeating and punishing to to spend undo time with those who make us feel worse not better. 

Happy 012, Chestists.