Liara's Campaign | Beauty in its True Form

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UNITED KINGDOM - In a dialogue between acid burn activist, Liara, and the photographer, Julian Holtom, an amazing and inspirational synergy occurred and resulted in a series of portraits which are breathtaking. Liara's story, her bravery, and her passion are self-evident, but best summed up in her own words.

"As an artist my aim is to portray beauty in its imperfect form that can evoke new meaning to the beholder’s eyes. My work is dedicated to the Burn survivor community around the world; not only to represent all other burn survivors but to encourage and inspire greater self-esteem. To prove scars are not something to be ashamed of but they can become one’s identity, they should never obscure a person’s perception of themselves nor hinder them from living life to the full.

It is possible to overcome the emotional turmoil that comes with scars and that is our aim. There are organisations in support of burn survivors; such as the Katie Piper foundation, Phoenix Burns Society , Burn Victim Survivors group on Facebook and Burn survivors through the world whom I represent for example.

I approached Julian with whom I was able to work on the concept of portraying the scars as part of character and personality, with the aim to achieve something genuine yet beautiful in its true form. To prove that scars do not change a person, they make that person who they become.

Julian, thank you so much. I have not only had a relaxing and fun shoot but for first time as a model have felt confident with my body" ~ Liara

"Liara's closing comment pretty much sums up my desire to shoot her. She approached me via a modelling site where she will have faced relentless prejudice from photographers only wanting to shoot pneumatic breasted orange sex dolls. We met and talked, instantly I wanted to help her through this medium. Boy does she light up the room with her inner spirit when she's smiling. Which with her giggling most of the afternoon was very often. Really enjoyed shooting her, and have some really great shots for the time we spent together. More to come..." ~ Julian Holtom

Copyright Julian Holtom Photography ©2012. All rights reserved.

 

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AcroYoga - A Language of Perfect Union

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Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 13:43 p.m. EDT, 3 February 2014

Acro Yoga, Partner Yoga, Photo by Greg RobertsThe mission and focus of this website informs the presentation and dialogue about stories on gender relations with a particular emphasis on women’s’ rights. Consequently, we report on stories from around the world in which women are not allowed to realize their full potential either through force or circumstance.

Unfortunately, most of this aberrant and abusive behavior is perpetrated at the hands of men, though in some cases, like Female Genital Mutilation (FMG) or Leblouh, women also participate in abusing their daughters in an effort to make them conform to inhuman societal norms.

But, not every man is bad, nor every woman abused. In fact, the state of mankind is not as dire as it seems despite all our bad behavior, and millions of men and women across the globe experience healthy and loving relationships.

Balance in reporting is as important as it is in life, and the video below featuring a husband and wife practicing AcroYoga or partner yoga is a beautiful illustration of the best in us as humans. Though this is demonstrated through yoga, one need not be a practitioner to achieve the highest ideals of harmony and peace between all people as there are many paths to this destination.

[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nL4kfGpa5E8] For some people, the path toward peace and enlightenment is achieved through religious observance and a belief in a higher power. For others it is meditation or actively living consciously by being aware of our impact on the world and other people so that we don’t accumulate negative Karma.

For others, it is a combination of all of the above and yoga. I fall into this category as I regularly practice yoga. In Western societies, most practitioners use yoga as a form of health and fitness similar to pilates which is an exercise created by Joseph Pilates to strengthen and stretch the body to achieve a strong core.

However "the traditional purpose of Yoga, has always been to bring about a profound transformation in the person through the transcendence of the ego," (Feuerstein, Georg. The Deeper Dimension of Yoga: Theory and Practice. Boston: Shambhala, 2003)

According to the Levy, “Yoga in Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism means "spiritual discipline”…..It is an activity that has been practiced for thousands of years, and it is something that has evolved and changed overtime…..the exact history and origins of yoga is uncertain; however……the earliest signs of yoga appear in ancient Shamanism. Evidence of yoga postures were found on artifacts that date back to 3000 B.C.

Evidence of Yoga is found in the oldest-existing text, Rig-Veda. Rig-Veda is a composition of hymns. Topics of the Rig-Veda include prayer, divine harmony, and greater being. Yoga originally focused on applying and understanding the world. Its focus later changed to the self. Self-enlightenment became the ultimate goal.”

Though many may take umbrage, at the end of the day “When all's said and done, all roads lead to the same end. So it's not so much which road you take, as how you take it.” ~ Charles de Lint

[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xECiTdgy9nE#t=93]

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Kiss Me, Kiss Me. Kiss Me Not!

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Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 02:17 a.m. DST, 22 January 2014

Indigo Lips, Photo by Florry One When I came back to the States from Africa in the late 70's, I was thrown into a school system and culture with which, like many people from different cultures and backgrounds, I was quite unfamiliar.

There was the usual lack of cultural sensitivity that routinely resulted in children asking me if I saw tigers walking down the middle of the street, or if I "put a glass up under all those naked, exposed breast, to get my milk."

It was offensive, but not necessarily hurtful. What did become painful were the taunts about my physical appearance. All children face ridicule at some point in their school careers. For some, the taunting, the desire to fit into whatever standard of 'cool' or 'beauty' of the day, and the incessant bullying, causes them to resort to harmful and often tragic measures in search of relief.

I made it through, but not unscathed, as nearly 30-years later, I still recall how hurtful it was when classmates would point out that my lips were 'liver lips', 'big, ugly gorilla lips,' and that my mouth, like the vacuum cleaning brand Hoover, was a dangerous weapon capable of rearranging the face of any boy foolish enough to kiss me.

So, with the recent trend in the entertainment industry, and in America as a whole, to achieve a mythical standard of beauty that now includes large lips, I bemusedly thought back to my childhood days and wondered if any of the girls who once taunted me, were now through some strange karmic leading, pumping, plumping, and outlining their lips to achieve an industry contrived standard of 'today's perfection.'

We all have things that we would like to change about ourselves. I have mine. However, I have come to appreciate my lips, but even more than this, I have come to appreciate my healthy lips, body, mind, and spirit. That said, this post does not pass judgement on those who desire to change something about themselves, but only seeks to encourage due diligence, introspection, and self-awareness before embarking on a journey that can result in Don Quixote's madness of chasing down enemies that do not exist.

We begin aging the moment we take our first breath, to do so with dignity is the greatest testament to a well-lived life. The video below should serve as a cautionary tale.

[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hL0CClIzgEU]

 
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Emotional Health – Surviving the Maelstrom

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Julie Rowley, Contributing AuthorLast Modified: 00:10 a.m. EDT, 15 August 2013

Being healthy is about more than just keeping physically fit and maintaining a good work/life ratio. With all that life throws at us: the small troubles we encounter and have to resolve each day; the monumental tribulations that arrive on our doorsteps unannounced; and the vagaries of our bodies, we ride an emotional roller-coaster that can take its toll on us.

Our Bodies

From the time we hit our menses, we are subject to the ever fluctuating chemical balance of our bodies. We may experience anxiety about our menstruation, both anticipating it and dreading its arrival. For some women their monthly cycle is a time of intense pain, with cramps which can affect not just the abdomen, but circle around to the back as well.

For women with heavy menstrual flow there is the additional concern throughout this time of keeping clean and the fear that the telltale signs will appear on our clothing. Another common fear that women face is the absence of their menses, which may indicate an unwanted pregnancy. With the best will in the world and the use of birth control, slips can sometimes occur. At the other end of this scale are the women for whom the appearance of their menses means the conception they are trying to attain has not happened – yet again.

This comes with the corresponding disappointment and when this becomes a long term occurrence, depression and anxiety, as well as feelings of failure can set in.

Pregnancy is for most women a strange mixture of joy and misery: from the morning sickness (who ever coined that phrase has a lot to answer for…), through the dizzy spells; water retention; and cravings for foods we would normally not look at once, let alone twice; to the discomfort of the baby taking up so much room that all our normal body functions are disrupted. This is seasoned liberally with the awe and wonder of this little being growing inside us; the swelling abdomen; the first noticeable flutter of movement and we become completely and compellingly absorbed in this process.

Our hormones are wildly out of control during this time and although usually rational and reasonable people, we become emotional and volatile. Things which normally we would shrug off hurt or anger us instead. Some women find that their desire for a normal, intimate relationship with their partner dwindles or vanishes altogether during their pregnancy. This can be frustrating for the partner and a source of concern that the relationship is not as close as it was beforehand.

The diminution or complete loss of desire during pregnancy may come as a surprise, but in actual fact it is quite common and a normal feature of pregnancy. Nonetheless it can cause tension and stress between partners. Added to this already complex bundle of changing needs and emotions is the ongoing concern about the baby: the fear of miscarriage during the first 16 weeks; the waiting for the first movement and worrying if it does not happen at what we are told is the “right time”, even though it varies from one pregnancy to another; then dealing with all the odd twinges and aches which occur through the later part of pregnancy.

The birth itself can be a source of anxiety and fear, particularly if it is the first; and this is mingled with a sense of anticipation and excitement that the moment has finally arrived and very soon the “bump” will be gone and we will be able to hold our son or daughter.

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Published: 15 August 2013 (Page 2 of 2)

Further along the line, when we reach the end of our childbearing years, we have the looming specter of menopause. Not only do we have to deal with the regrets and feelings of loss as we leave behind the prospect of fertility and release our past identity to embrace the new phase we are entering, which in itself can be difficult and prolonged; but we have to deal with any physical symptoms which can accompany menopause.

Some women are lucky enough to sail through, while at the other end of the spectrum are those who experience every unpleasant physical side effect in the book, having to deal with the embarrassment of: sweats; mood swings; sleeping problems; and palpitations; to name but a few.  We may have to deal with depression, anxiety and feelings of loss of identity or alienation as we struggle to find new meaning to our lives.

Dealing with the Emotional Fallout

The emotional and mental experiences of these phases of our lives would be enough by themselves to live through and come out the other side in one piece. However, this is only, as women know only too well, a small part of the picture. We can add to this the many milestones and events, both large and small, in our life which can cause stress, anxiety and depression; the negatives can often seem to outweigh the positive, especially when we are dealing with bereavement and loss.

We now recognize that grief follows a natural cycle, whether that grief is related to losing a job or perhaps a divorce; anything which takes something out of our lives will trigger the grief cycle. This is composed of around 5 different stages, although there are different interpretations and some include 7 stages.

The first stage is of shock and denial, when it is difficult to grasp or to accept what has happened. As the reality of our loss becomes more real, the initial shock can turn to anger, which can be directed inwards at us or outwards at the world.

Following this we may enter a stage of trying to change the situation by altering our position in relation to it, by bargaining for the return of what or who we have lost.This passes and we then enter a phase of deep sorrow and depression, where life can lose its meaning for us and everything becomes a struggle. Finally we reach a level of acceptance of what has happened and our lives start to move forward again. It can take several years on average to work through this process, although everyone re-adjusts at their own pace and may take longer to pass through some stages than others.

Occasionally our own internal emotional processes become unable to complete the grief cycle and we can become stuck in one of the stages. At times like this, where our own resources and inner strength are not enough to find resolution to our problems, we depend on those close to us to understand and be there for us.

Sometimes though they are unable to give us the help we need to move on through the grieving process and it is at times like this where counseling can be invaluable; to be able to release our thoughts and emotions around our loss to someone who can understand and empathize, as well as helping us to see things from a different perspective and facilitate our moving forward once more.

When we think of the toll that a lifetime of such emotions can take on us, it is truly amazing that not only do we manage to survive this wild ride, but is a tribute to women everywhere that we emerge as such profound and inspiring human beings.

Follow Julie Rowley on Twitter Twitter: @nahmias_report

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Women’s Health – Healthy isn’t Hard Work

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Julie Rowley, Contributing AuthorLast Modified: 12:47  p.m. EDT, 30 July 2013

YogaWith so much in the media written about health generally and women’s health in particular, it is hard to know where to start with ensuring that we have a diet which supports a healthy body. The almost emaciated archetype which has been portrayed as the ideal woman for many years is not helpful as it encourages poor diet, which in turn can lead to eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia or EDNOS.

Once we have waded through the advertising, the newspaper and magazine articles, the websites and realized that we are surrounded by conflicting information and advice on every side, we eventually come to the conclusion that to have a balanced and healthy diet means going back to basics. We need to start at the beginning with understanding the nutrients that women need to sustain health through all the vagaries of our body’s chemical seesaw; with the fluctuations throughout puberty and adulthood, into menopause and beyond.

Balancing Finances and Diet

It is difficult for those with restricted incomes to ensure that they eat a healthily balanced diet which contains all the nutrition the body needs to maintain it. It often seems easier to just go with the flow of pre-packaged, processed convenience foods. But it is these very foods which are the basis of society’s obesity problems today. Even making room in our lives for some fresh produce is better than none at all. For those who can’t afford to buy all local organic meat and produce, there are still some things in our diet which we can change for the better. Weight for weight, fresh food contains more nutrition than convenience foods and far less in the way of chemicals that our bodies consider toxic.

Saffron Chicken

Looking at the elements which go to make up a balanced diet, it's clear that we need to eat grains (including some wholegrain whenever possible); fresh fruit and vegetables; lean red meat; poultry (preferably without the skin); eggs; dairy (preferably low fat); fish; and nuts. We should use poly- or mono-unsaturated fats, such as olive oil for cooking and try to grill or bake rather than roast or fry (either shallow or deep).

The key ingredients for a well balanced diet are essential in providing women with sustainable weight control, abundant energy and remaining healthy throughout life.

What do these foods contain that we need?

High on the list of essential ingredients that our bodies need are vitamins. Fresh foods contain an abundance of natural vitamins, while many packaged foods contain laboratory produced vitamins. Natural vitamins are carbon-based organic compounds which are essential to our health. Some of these vitamins our bodies are able to produce in small amounts; while others we need to take in from external sources as these are the only way we can obtain them.

Trace minerals are necessary to help our bodies function properly. Found in many of the fresh foods that we should eat daily: zinc; iron; manganese; copper; chromium; selenium; these are some that our body needs in the right quantities to support good health.

Aside from vitamins and minerals, the foods we eat should contain fiber, a little fat, carbohydrates and protein. Fiber is invaluable in helping our body systems process the foods that we eat and maintain digestive health; it also works to reduce cholesterol in the body and to regulate blood sugar; as well as being known to significantly reduce the risk of colorectal cancers. The fat we eat is used by the body for heating and insulation and for energy production (in tandem with protein). It acts as a regulator for Vitamins A, D, E and K (fat soluble vitamins) and is a source of Vitamin F (essential fatty acids).

Carbohydrates are needed by the body to provide energy and to support good brain function. Our bodies break down carbohydrates into simple sugars, which are either used by our cells as energy or stored by the liver as glycogen when the body has more than it needs. There are both simple and complex carbohydrates, although complex carbohydrates are more beneficial as they have less effect on our blood sugar and insulin levels and support better weight control.

Protein is a very important part of our diet. We get proteins from a number of sources, such as lean meat or eggs; even vegetables and grains can contribute towards the steady supply of protein our body needs for the healthy function of every organ, including the skin. The body takes proteins from food and breaks them down into the amino acids it needs. Without protein our bodies cannot function properly.

Calcium Supplements with Vitamin D

Supplementing our Nutrition

There are times or circumstances in our lives that supplementing our nutrition is advisable or necessary. This might be during pregnancy when our doctor prescribes iron for us; later in life when we need additional calcium to help guard against health issues such as osteoporosis; perhaps we are in a position where our immune system is depressed, through stress or illness, and we need a good multivitamin product to help us get back on track. Many women use products such as evening primrose oil for arthritis; or for pre-menstrual or menopausal symptom control. In cases where for some reason our body is not manufacturing or processing nutrients properly, it can help to give ourselves a boost using reputable and high quality supplements. Supplements are readily available in many supermarkets and health stores and it is a matter of personal choice whether we prefer to take healthy supplements in powder form; or perhaps in capsules, tablets or liquid.

Food for Thought

All too often we sacrifice what we know to be good nutrition and a balanced diet in favor of family members with their personal likes and dislikes. When this happens, we can find ourselves missing out on foods that we really do need to help keep our sensitive body systems in kilter. This leads to health problems down the line which we can avoid by periodically re-assessing our own dietary needs and adjusting our eating habits as necessary.

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