Image and Identity




#lifestagesISO: Housemate and Advice

1 response | December 29th, 2011

chestist sad

(story submitted by Sara, a 20 yo Chestist)

Have you ever been hesitant to do the right thing - because you think it's the wrong thing for you?  She ias and here's her story:

My friends and I are looking for an extra housemate for next year. A girl we all know has asked if she can live with us. We have always been good friends, but she has taken this year out to have therapy. She had depression and has a personality disorder. She says she is doing much better, and is taking medication etc, but I am cautious about living with her.

I really want to help her out, I'm just wondering whether it is a good idea. We all like her a lot, so it may well be better than if we had to live with a stranger, but if it turns out that coming back to study is too much for her, I don't want to have to deal with it too much. I have also suffered from stress and anxiety related problems, although not to the same extent, and I know ...

#lifestagesMy Image of Me Looks A lot Like You

3 comments | December 22nd, 2011

cloudy talk burst

(story submitted anonymously, by a Chestist)

Sometimes our story titles are almost as long as the stories themselves.  This is a reminder that we should be more brief, and that some stories don't need a lot of words to hit you right between the eyes.  Here's one of them, shared by one of you:

Because I didn't know who I was, I let you tell me who I should be.  {end story}

Do you know who you are?  What about who you want to be?  Yes, deep thoughts and questions for this time of year...But could there be a better day to figure it out?  Party on and #discuss.  XO, OOC

#lifestagesFriends, a Love/Hate Relationship

1 response | December 16th, 2011

Chestist grunge

(story submitted anonymously, by a Chestist)

One of you wrote us with this:

I hate and love my friends. I love them because they are always there for me. I hate them because they don't quite understand why I need them so much, and sometimes they think that maybe I'm just being a bit dramatic.

I have an anxiety disorder, ADD and a bunch of health issues. They all compound each other. When I'm stressed, everything is worse. My friends are so good at making sure I eat with them before an exam, knowing I won't eat otherwise. But they don't get that when I'm left alone with my anxieties, they shake me too much to consider eating. My stomach is in my throat and I feel ill.

My friends are always willing to put something on hold to take me to a counselor for the first time or something like that, but they don't get that I'm terrified of going because I'm terrified of being dismissed. Or that the reason I need someone to convince me that my dreams aren't over because of one bad exam is ...

#bodiesNipple Envy

9 comments | December 7th, 2011

chestist swirl

(story submitted by Wendy Colbert, a Chestist)

I miss my nipples.  Sure, there are benefits to being a 44-year-old nipple-free woman.  I can wear skimpy tops now without a bra.  No matter how cold the breeze is, my chest remains smooth and unstimulated.  And of course, those pesky cancer cells that had nested just behind my right nipple are gone, along with all the tissue that made up my breasts.

I miss my breast tissue, and the sensation of my chest skin.  I'm mostly numb now.  But I miss my nipples the most.  I wish I heard more women value and grieve their loss of sexual sensation after mastectomy and breast reconstruction, so that I would have had a better understanding before diving into the process myself.

Before breast cancer, I never thought much about my nipples.  You could say I took them for granted.

Now, I wonder, where did my nipples end up?  Were they chucked into some hospital waste dumpster, along with other spare parts - tumors, cysts, and cellulite?   My nipples were special.  Shouldn't they have been properly grieved for and more ceremoniously disposed of?

My nipples represented ...

#bodiesThe Self-Esteem Act is Dumb

26 comments | December 2nd, 2011


(submitted by lailainthecity)

We're all about diversity of opinions here @ Camp OOC...even the ones we don't agree with.  Imagine!  That said, there's a lot in Laialinthecity's comments we do agree with.  The first paragraph pretty much entirely.  As for the rest, well, for us, not so much.  But you decide for you, and let us and Laila know what you think. Here's what she does:

The "Self-Esteem Act"? Why do we have to keep lowering the bar for everything, and making it law no less? When I see someone svelte walking down the street, I don't ask them if they're wearing Spanx. When I see someone with a smile that lights up the room, I don't ask them if they're caps. When I see someone with waist length full bodied curly hair, I don't ask if it's a lace-front wig. Because the truth about what they look like when they get up in the morning, doesn't belong to me, it belongs to them. There's plenty of artifice in world, it starts with lip gloss when you're a teenager. So what?

Nobody is perfect, that should be common sense, ...

#bodiesHow Much Do I Weigh Now

8 comments | December 1st, 2011

ona scale

(by OOC via TheGirlProject)

We first bumped into these amazing images of teenaged girls a few months back, all of which can be found in Please Read (If At All Possible): The Girl Project, by Kate Engelbrecht.

Since we both like a good cliche and happen to believe that a picture can actually be worth 1000 words, we'll be featuring a handful of images from the book over the next week.  We're hoping you'll share with us what words (even if not 1000 of them) come to mind...what they make you think of, and how they make you feel.

Our first reactions here @OOC HQ, will serve as the titles for these posts.

To check out more of The Girl Project and Kate's work,

please also check out:

#bodiesIs Fat a Disease?

7 comments | November 12th, 2011

dude, wtf

(story submitted anonymously, by a Chestist)

I'm so frustrated!

I hate that there are so many people, who like me, are overweight. And so many people, not like me but just like me, who are underweight. Obese. Fat. Underweight. Skinny. A disease. Imagine defining the way someone looks as a disease.

Imagine your respected doctor or health professional telling you your appearance is a disease. How is that legal? Why do we allow that?

My diet might be a problem. My activity might be a problem. Maybe I'm not doing healthy things, maybe I have an eating disorder, but the way I look is not the actual issue. The issue is that my body image is terrible because airbrushed magazines give other people and myself unreasonable goals and doctors like you validate them by telling me I look like a disease and that's the problem.  {end story.}

You ever had a doctor - or some professional - say something to you where you were all WTF?!  When?  What'd you do or say back? 

Love & SexDon’t Call Me A Party Girl

5 comments | November 10th, 2011

party girl

(story submitted by 20SomethingWannabe, a Chestist)

The term "party girl" is basically the new socially acceptable way to say drunken slut.

It sounds casual and colloquial, but make no mistake, this is now a derogatory character description. But what exactly is a party girl? Is a party girl someone that goes out with their friends? Is a party girl the girl that becomes the sloppy mess falling down at the club? Is a party girl the girl that goes out to look for a hook up? Or can the party girl just be a girl who doesn't want to sit at home on the weekends?

Listen, all of the above can describe any girl. Some girls are just better about keeping their activities surreptitious. A guy is basically asking to figure out whether or not he will be able to fuck you the same night that he meets you.

But just because you go out doesn't mean that you are a "party girl" in the inebriated whore way. I hate it when people ask me "are you a party girl?" Do you mean do I like to be social? Or do ...

#bodiesThe Vagina is Becoming Big Business

5 comments | November 10th, 2011

no one would know

This article's a bit old, a month or so, but we've been busy.  It's so good, we're just reprinting it here.  You can find the original here.

By MAE ANDERSON, AP Retail Writer

NEW YORK (AP) — Celebrities are gabbing about it openly. A growing number of grooming products cater to it. And a recent TV commercial hails it as "the cradle of life" and "the center of civilization."

The vagina is becoming big business.

A generation that grew up with more graphic language and sexual images in the media is forgoing the decades-old practice of tiptoeing around female genitalia in favor of more open dialogue about it. To reach digital-age 20- and 30-somethings, who also have shortened attention spans, marketers are using ads that are edgier, more frank and sometimes downright shocking.

"Gen Y people are more relaxed about their bodies, so there's more attention to products that people would have been embarrassed to talk about before," says Deborah Mitchell, executive director for the Center for Brand and Product Management at the University of Wisconsin School of Business. "It's part of this trend of women saying, 'Hey, we're not ...

#bodies…A Stupid Waste of Time

17 comments | November 9th, 2011

stupid waste

(By OOC and via

So you might have heard about The Self-Esteem Act we've proposed, requiring "Truth in Advertising" labeling be attached to any ad or editorial that meaningfully changes the human form through digital manipulation, like photoshopping.  It's our hope that the Act might help contribute to stemming the epidemic cirsis of confidence affecting girls and women.  Not everyone agrees with us.

We bumped into the story below (reposted here with the author's permission) at  We love their site, their vision and mission, and everything they're trying to do.  We also love that they disagree with us so openly and productively and allowed us to disagree with them, equally. 

A large part of what we're hoping to accomplish with and through The Self-Esteem Act is to help mainstream a conversation about the aforementioned epidemic  - because no matter what the right answers are, they'll happen faster and with greater scale if the problems come to be understood and recognized at a mainstream level. Dissent (productive dissent) helps do this. 

And, we don't pretent to suggest that the act is the final answer or ...

#lifestagesBehind a Mask

14 comments | November 1st, 2011


(story by Mir, from Woulda Coulda

Happy day-after-Halloween! I trust everyone is nursing a fun-size sugar hangover, as is practically mandated by law. I remember the first year I realized that parenthood meant I could sneak my kid's candy. Bonus!

Of course, Halloween got me thinking back to my own childhood, back before all costumes were either too slutty or too scary. When I was a kid---back in the 70s, you know, when dinosaurs roamed the earth---costumes were purchased from places like KMart and consisted of one flimsy plastic smock and a matching thin plastic mask that covered the entire face and secured around the back of your head with a piece of elastic. If you didn't want a costume of the plastic-smock-and-mask variety, you could of course put together your own version of a witch, hobo, etc., if you were inclined to make your own.

I loved the plastic masks. I have a vivid memory of the year I went as Raggedy Ann. Nowadays, if you want to buy a Raggedy Ann costume (notice how I'm skipping right over how probably no one even knows who she is, anymore), ...

#lifestagesToday, brought to you by the word: Embarrassed

13 comments | August 31st, 2011


We've all been there, haven't we?  Um, it's not just it?  That would be so embarrassing.


Ok, you get it (even if it wasn't very funny).  Let's talk embarrassment.  When were you, where were you, what happened?  Does it still hate on your happy and make you cringe or are you over it and can laugh like everyone else did?


Us, there was this one time at band camp....

#bodiesSay Cheese

50 comments | August 30th, 2011


(story by the amazing @MIr from Woulda Coulda

A few years back, my mother gave me my baby book. Inside I found twelve years of school pictures, and with them I could make a virtual flip book to page through my formative years. I could watch my hair go from short to long and back again. I could watch my wide, happy smile go from baby teeth to a jumbled mixture of permanent and temporary teeth and then... my smile disappeared for a while. It returns---post-orthodontia---at the end of high school. But even then, it's different.

It's not just that my teeth are straight in the later photos, either. You can see that I don't smile as widely or easily as I used to. The unselfconscious glee from my early days is just gone.

There's an argument to be made that very few of us retain our happy-go-lucky "oh yay, a camera! LOOK AT ME!" joy past kindergarten. Age and maturity mellow and dilute our enthusiasm, of course. But for me it wasn't just a getting-older thing. It was a growing awareness of my teeth and how prominent they were.

"Don't ...

Happy HatingThat Was MY Thing.

9 comments | May 22nd, 2011


(submitted by OOC reader Sara)

This reader's story is really intense on a Iot of levels.  We're all in this together, so please let her know if you can relate:.."I am so angry at my little sister for cutting herself. I spent five years telling her not to, telling her from long and painful experience that she didn't know what she was getting herself into, that it could become an addiction like mine. But the secret I keep is that I'm even more angry at her for copying me. That was MY thing. I never, ever, ever did it for attention, but eventually people did know, and then my stupid little sister copied me. I'm ashamed of how I feel, but I can't stop feeling it."

Pretty intense, right?  What parts of her story can you connect to, or not?  Any advice or words you can share?  We'd love to hear them.


#bodiesTeenage Nightmare

16 comments | May 5th, 2011

Emma Roberts Covers 'Seventeen' May 2011

(submitted by OOC; photo provided by

Hey Seventeen, really?  Do you feel no accountability for the way young girls think of themselves? We're asking because on your cover, right below the parts where you tell young girls how they can LOOK HOT IN A BIKINI and GET FLAT ABS & A CUTE BUTT (really?!), you put THIS HEADLINE: EXCLUSIVE! Demi Lovato's Road To Recovery quoting her: "I basically had a nervous breakdown."  We're just wondering what role you think you and your cute butt tips for young girls might have played in that breakdown.  Any?