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1. Mirror Mirror On The Wall

“I’m too skinny.” ”I’m too fat.” “My hips aren’t as big as I want.” “I’m too tall.” These are typical thoughts that race through the minds of some women. Society has made women believe the idea that there is only one “perfect female body”. Models, celebrities, advertisements, social media, and movies are just some of the ways that the “perfect body image” is reinforced. Society creates enormous pressure on young girls and women to have the “perfect body” which negatively affects their self-esteem, lifestyle, and health.

There are many ways to be influenced in a modern, technologically saturated world. For example, “People see thin or in-shape women all the time in magazines, on TV, and throughout social media. Young women start to think that this is how they should look. What they don’t understand is that magazines and TV programs use editing to make models and actresses look flawless.” (Recovery). The media presents an unrealistic edited body. This is pressure that affects young women the most. Most girls think what they see is natural and then, when they look at themselves, they see things that these images don’t show. Normal things we all have like acne, stretch marks, body hair, and cellulite are considered “flaws” that are edited out of social media. 

But the truth is that these aren’t flaws or things that shouldn’t be shown. They are normal things on bodies that should be appreciated and loved. In addition, the media models also have a huge effect on body image, an average woman is 5’4” weigh 140 pounds, but an average model is 5′ 11” weighs 117 pounds. This is a shocking comparison. The fact that an average woman weighs 140 pounds, but a model who is generally taller and weighs 23 pounds less is not an realistic “ideal.” We can’t make ourselves taller and the image we see when we look in the mirror is never airbrushed. Models have a huge influence in fashion and entertainment and with their image in mind, girls look at their own bodies and attack who and what they see. 

It is also well-known that on average models are not a healthy weight, they deal with pressure too.  About “40% of models may currently be suffering from some kind of eating disorder.”(Nordqvist. So, especially for girls and young women who aren’t mature enough to understand that what they are seeing in magazines and movies is maintained in an unhealthy way or is fiction, or can’t differentiate between marketing and reality, there shouldn’t be a comparison. ”Up to 70 percent of girls say they would take a pill to lose five pounds . . . It’s really sad that adolescent girls look at airbrushed images in the media that aren’t even real. They’re killing themselves for something that isn’t real.” (Ball).Even though thin models may not be the cause of the issues that come with negative body image, there is plenty of evidence to show connection between the two.

The unhealthy effects don’t just start when girls are young, the psychological impressions continue to affect women as they get older.  “At ages 14 to 16, 51% of girls are unhappy with their appearance, and even after that age, 52% are still unhappy (Meikle).” Self esteem is something that is essential for life. How we feel about our appearance makes a difference in our relationships and careers. It makes you happier about yourself which makes you a happier person. “A recent survey found that only 2% of women in the world would describe themselves as “beautiful”.”(Center). This is a sad statistic to hear. The fact that society has made it difficult for most women to consider themselves beautiful shows how much pressure is put on women.

 The pressure put on women to look a certain way leads to self-esteem issues which makes having relationships very hard. “Dealing with negative body image can trigger a number of toxic emotions and behaviors in your partner that will start to affect the quality of your relationship. Whether they start communicating less, avoid you or express their frustration on you, this will gradually damage your relationship.”(Uncustomary). This will affect your happiness in your relationships which makes life a lot harder. This will lead to feeling the need to isolate yourself from your partner. The relationship will eventually fall apart from you pushing them away.

The pressure of having a certain look for your body can take a toll on you mentally. Even though we know that everyone posts their best looks and their photoshopped images, we are still affected by comparing our bodies and our lives to the best in others.  In a study done in the UK, “The Mental Health Foundation study found that 50 percent of 18-24 year olds and 20 percent of all respondents said they worried about their body image after seeing images on social media. And, shockingly, one in eight British adults aged 18 and over stated that they had been so distressed about their body image they had experienced suicidal thoughts or feelings.”(Mental). The fact that people have felt suicidal feelings and thoughts because they were comparing themselves to images on social media demonstrates there is too much pressure. Feeling this way because of how your body looks shouldn’t be normal but it is normalized because women with bodies that aren’t what society and the media idolizes as beautiful are shamed for the way they look.

One thing that people automatically think about when talking about body image is eating disorders. In an article  titled Social Pressure of Being Thin it states “Women more committed to maintaining and improving their physical appearance and more committed to pursuing a slim body and/or romantic ideal, will be more likely to manifest eating behaviors of food restriction, bulimic habits, among others. Many of them are very normalized among the female population.”(Ljradmin). There are 10,200 deaths a year from eating disorders.  This is because of the pressure from society on being skinny. This can lead to really negative eating habits like bulimia, anorexia, and binge eating. Eating disorders are very normalized. This is because so many women see unrealistic bodies and think they need to be a certain way, which makes them not want to eat right and can even kill them.

There are solutions to the issue of body image in society. Making sure the images of women on social media and in advertisements are real and more exclusive to multiple body types would be a great help. Another thing would be to raise awareness in school about the rising issue. This would help people see how they can help fellow classmates with issues  about body image. School discussions could also help girls appreciate their bodies for the way they are. 

Society puts too much pressure on women to have a “perfect body” and it affects mental and physical health, relationships, and self esteem. This is an issue that can be addressed through education, realistic expectations, focusing on being healthy rather than looking a certain way, and helping to change from an image to reality.

2. Without a voice “Sin Palabra”

Hostotipaquillo Jalisco, is a town located central western Mexico. As of 2005 the total population was about 8220. One of the main sources of income are the surrounding Opal mines, and agriculture, though both are extremely limited, involve countless hours of labor, and provide little income.  After struggling for years many people from this town, as from all over the country, emigrate to United States looking for better opportunities and better futures. In 1994, I graduated from La Secundaria (Junior High) Ricardo Flores Magon in Hostotipaquillo Jalisco, my hometown. I was 15 years old. My parents made the decision to send me to United States to live with my two older brothers and a chance for better opportunity, continuing with school, and a chance at a better life.  For many from my hometown, that is the “The American Dream”.  I illegally crossed the border.  Unlike many I was lucky enough have my brothers who took care of me from day one.  They registered me to start high school as soon as I arrived in California. There was never a day I did not know I was illegal.  Even if I wanted to forget I was reminded often enough. I was an immigrant, and I was embarrassed to say that to my friends in high school. I lived in a world of “don’t ask don’t tell”. Graduation year came and everyone was asking me where I was going to college. I could not answer that question, because to go to college I would need scholarship money.  For scholarship money I would need a social security card. Money and legal status were two things I did not have. College tuition was expensive for international students and my brothers could not effort it. My parents were still living in Mexico, and their struggle was to put food on the table, not to send me to college.  After I graduated from high school, without college as an option, I decided to join another brother in Seattle. A few years after I moved to Seattle, I got pregnant.  While I had begun the process, my older daughter was born while my immigration case was in progress.  The process takes years – even decades. I was single mother with no legal status in United States. I was adding one more to the stats of undocumented parents by having a little girl born in United States. I was an undocumented person, not a criminal (Trump 2016). I still have never gotten a traffic ticket. I always paid my taxes even before my first daughter born. I made the decision of giving birth to my beautiful daughter who made my life whole. I understood the law. I broke the law of living in this country illegally for many years. But who is more American? A person who follows the law, taking parents away from their children while they are working, walking to the store, or dropping of their kids to school? Or the person who trying to give a better life to their own children since their birth country does not have the opportunities to provide them? Immigration law towards families living in United States needs to be revised so nobody has to live the years of fear I lived and the gaps that exist need to be fixed to keep families together.

Unfortunately, the separation of families is discussed as a political issue, not a moral issue. What does that mean? One of former president Donald Trump focuses during his campaign (2016) was immigration. His focus on people crossing the border and immigrants already here created fear and stress on those families who were living in United States. Three months after his election he signed an executive order; Zero-Tolerance.  This executive order was one of the most inhumane orders and many families were affected. Even though this order was in place only six months the damaged that he caused many families was catastrophic. Many families in United States with a mixed legal status were living in fear of being detained and deported. One serious question that needed to be answered was what about the children? They are US citizen; they have the rights of any US citizen. Pediatricians like Dr. Lanre Omojokun Falusi from Children’s National Health System talked about how these children are constantly living with fear and stress. Included in these symptoms are not being able to sleep, crying for no reason, anxiety, stomach pain, and those are causing lives full of Toxic Stress. Toxic Stress is a reason that many diseases can be developed and as these children gets older their life expectancy is 20 years shorter than others (Dr. Nadine Burke Harris). Besides attention care to their patients, Dr. Falusi said, her organization, Children National Health, offers, social workers services, and as well legal delegates that can assist these families related to immigration.

Undocumented parents do not have the knowledge of what is their rights are and what they can do to help their children. I do remember when my legal paperwork was in progress the lawyer who was working on my case told me not to get any federal assistance for my daughter because the fact that I was without a legal status it could be a reason to be declined for my US Permanent Resident Card also known as a Green Card.  Apparently, it was going to be showing in my record as what is called a public charge. This is not true, but many immigrants believe it is the case and do not realize no law was ever signed.  In my case I had enough family support that fortunately for me it was not necessary to apply for any federal assistance. But, what about those parents that they really need help? According with Pew Research Center, about 7 million children living in United States with at least one undocumented parent, they suffered from poverty, parental stress, and unhappiness. Undocumented parents have the right to get the same public assistance for their US citizen children as any other kids, things such as medical insurance, federal/state program such as Women, Infant and Children (WIC) which provides the proper nutrition for the mother and the child, food stamps and financial assistance are offered to low-income families by DSHS. In addition, some locations like YMCA a nonprofit organization offered daycare or after school programs for free for underprivilege families. All these resources are available, but many families do not apply for these services because they are afraid that their information could get disclosed to any immigration agency.  

In my situation, as a single parent, the main support that I received was from my mother who moved to United States after my father passed away.  My older brothers and my mother had legal residency (and in the case of one brother citizenship) While I was working my mother was the person taking care of my daughter. I knew my daughter was safe, I knew if anything would happen to me, my mother will be the person of raising my daughter. My situation was not unique. Many families have the support of grandparents who are babysitting their grandkids, especially in the case when these family do not receive any public assistance from any organization. According with Teresa Wiltz said, one in five immigrant children are being raised by extended families. If the parents face a deportation the grandparents or extended family become the guardians for the minors. Fortunately, in my case it never happened. Wiltz says, the separation of the family becomes a huge struggle for the grandparents.  They are not prepared to raise children in a foreign country.  Some of them do not speak the language, do not know how to use the system, and do not have the financial resources for help. They have traumatized children and they can not receive any public assistance because they do not have the proper documents, like foster care parents who are licensed and aware of the rules. If parents get detained and deported and they do not have a guardian assigned, their kids can end up in a foster home.

At this point it has been proven the effects than can cause the separation of any families in children. For many of us we can just ignored the problem and move on or be concerned about the negative effect in a long term of these children living with trauma. The environment of these families is affecting the whole community. Don’t we want to have a better world for our children? Do we want to have a lost generation of children of immigrants? A generation that grew up with trauma? Our children are the future of this beautiful nation. Just because this may not be happening in your community does not mean it is not affecting us. We need to make the change and give a voice to the ones who do not have it. Immigration is a hard topic to discuss because there is not an easy solution. We can’t forget these children have the same rights as any US citizen. It is not their debt to pay, and they are not capable of making changes to immigration laws that can take them away from their parents and keep them living in the shadows. Pediatricians, social workers, schools, the parents of these children and the whole community, need to work together and help these, most vulnerable, victims of immigration and immigration policy.

3. Guns Are Not the Issue, People Are

What is your opinion on gun ownership? Do you think that owning a gun is a positive or negative thing? Years ago, guns were categorized as dangerous, and threatening, but as the years went on some people started to see them as a tool to keep them safe. Many people have their own opinions as to whether individuals should be allowed to own guns. In the United States, gun control is a universal topic, that is constantly being talked about, and even brought up in schools. When you hear the word gun, what pops up into your head? Is it danger? Safety? Worry? Many people have their own opinions as to whether guns should be allowed to be in one’s possession. Some individuals believe that guns are very dangerous and should not be in a person’s possession unless they are a type of authority, while others believe that guns spread safety, and even lower the rates of gun violence. I believe that guns should not be taken away from individuals, instead if a person does not have a criminal record, they should be able to own a gun, and should be tested to prove that they can be trusted and won’t do any harm to innocent people before being able to own one. I believe that this will help reduce crime rates, and save individuals in case of emergency, which helps build a safe community for not only adults, but also for children as well.

In our society guns are symbolized as dangerous, and threatening weapons that everyone should stay away from. We are all used to avoiding them at all costs and blaming them for the many violent acts that individuals make. The media is always categorizing guns as the problem, but shouldn’t we be blaming the person behind the gun? The person in control? The media always looks at the downside of guns, and how they affect the safety of the citizens controlling the words point-of-view, keeping us all from seeing the positive side of how guns save, and protect lives. For example, In the article “American gun ownership: A look at its positive impact” it explained how there are many positive impacts of gun ownership that the media never talks about. In this article, “the media” was constantly being brought up, and specifically discussing how firearms are beneficial to the world, and how the internet constantly makes firearms always sound very hazardous and dangerous, fooling the world into thinking that guns only hurt, but never protect. The article stated, “Concerning public safety, the media often portrays guns as the primary problem – stating things like, “Guns kill people” or “Guns are not the answer.” But gun control and restrictions are also not the answer.

Whenever a community, city, state, or country has imposed a ban on guns, regardless of whether it was all guns or simply handguns, it has experienced an increase in murder rates. In 1997, Wales and England (Links to an external site.) saw a nearly 50 percent increase (Links to an external site.) in homicides immediately after implementing a ban on handgun.” This quote illustrates the many different point-of-view’s on guns and explains to us that guns are not the problem. It also shows us that we shouldn’t be addressing only the gun, and how the gun is somewhat the problem, but we should be entirely blaming the person that is holding the gun, and what they chose to do with there gun. In another article called “Gun owners of America: Guns save lives every day” by Erich Pratt, it explained how guns are almost never talked about in a positive way. In the article, Pratt states “A father uses his concealed handgun to stop a mass shooting in a McDonald’s (Links to an external site.) in Alabama. A man uses his gun to stop a racist gunman outside a Kentucky Kroger (Links to an external site.). Guns are being used to save lives every day. But sadly, the only time the national news media want to spend several days covering a firearms story is when the guns are used in a negative way…We know, because of research directed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, that guns are used 16 to 100 times more often to protect life (Links to an external site.) than to take life. That means there are a whole lot more “guns save lives stories” not being reported by USA TODAY.” This quote illustrates and tries to explain to us that guns have saved more lives than harmed them. Society labels them as dangerous weapons, while for others, these “weapons” the internet talks about negatively have saved their lives.

This quote also explains that guns protect many individuals from the violence and danger that they are in. Many people say that they would never use a gun, but let’s say you or your loved one were in danger, but you didn’t have a gun or any type of weapon near you, wouldn’t you wish you had something like a gun to help you? Wouldn’t you wish you had something to defend and protect yourself or your loved ones with? Society needs to see that there are many benefits to guns that no one ever talks about, but just because no one talks about the benefits of them, doesn’t mean that there aren’t any benefits. We need to introduce a new, and different point of view towards our society showing the positive side to having a gun in your possession. Therefore, from this paragraph we can conclude that guns are not the issue, and that they shouldn’t be blamed for the individual’s actions, instead the person should take responsibilities for their actions.

            Even though most of the time social media doesn’t spread positive information about guns, people don’t notice the positive affects guns have had on many people’s lives. Most of the time guns have saved more lives than endangered them. For example, In the article “Guns prevent thousands of crimes every Day” by Lawrene Reed, he talked about how gun free zones are more likely going to attract crime, than if there weren’t gun free zones. In the article Reed points out a book by John Lott, who gives evidence to his readers proving to us that gun free zones attract crime. In the article Reed states, “John Lott, author of the book, “More Guns, Less Crime,” is president of the Crime Prevention Research Center (Links to an external site.), another outstanding source for info on this subject. He writes (Links to an external site.): By 66 percent to 32 percent, economists and criminologists answer that gun-free zones are “more likely to attract criminals than they are to deter them.” A 60 percent to 40 percent margin thinks that guns (Links to an external site.) in the home do not increase suicides. And a 62 percent to 35 percent spread says that guns are used in self-defense to stop crime more often than in the commission of crime.” I was very surprised after reading this quote, because it explained to us that even if there are gun free zones, it won’t help reduce the crime, but in act it will raise crime rates.

Another quote I found very interesting from this reading is where Reed addressed a website he found talking about guns. He states, “Guns prevent an estimated 2.5 million crimes a year, or 6,849 every day. Most often, the gun is never fired, and no blood (including the criminal’s) is shed. Every year, 400,000 life-threatening violent crimes are prevented using firearms. 60 percent of convicted felons admitted that they avoided committing crimes when they knew the victim was armed. Forty percent of convicted felons admitted that they avoided committing crimes when they thought the victim might be armed” This quote explains to us and illustrates a way that saves us all from harm when being in a dangerous, life threatening situation. This quote explained that many felons who thought or knew that their victim had a type of weapon to defend themselves with, tried to avoid committing the crime, and getting away from the person they have targeted.

In another article called “Do guns work as a crime deterrent?” by Ben Garret, it talked about how many individuals who get attacked, and become victims are often not able to defend themselves. Garret then points out and talks about a study conducted showing how many people use a firearm (gun) for self-defense, and how it helped them. In the article Garret says “According to the U.S. Department of Justice report, Firearm Violence, 1993-2011 (Links to an external site.), about 1% of nonfatal violent crime victims nationwide used a firearm in self-defense. From 2007 to 2011, there were 235,700 confrontations in which the victim used a firearm to threaten or attack an offender. This amounted to approximately 1% of all nonfatal violent victimizations in the 5-year period.” This article illustrates that many individuals who are being attacked use firearms to threaten the person that is attacking them, to help protect their own lives, and hopefully scare of the person that is trying to attack the victim. I also see that this quote goes in depth and explains that many times when people defend themselves, the violence that is happening becomes nonfatal violence. The evidence that I gathered from this article proves that guns do not increase crime but do in fact decrease it. Therefore, as you can see, based on my evidence, this article gives us a new, and great perspective, helping us explain and prove that many people and communities who are known to have a gun, or a weapon to defend themselves with are less likely going to be targeted, and attacked, as for communities who are not known to have guns.

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