Posts Tagged "women"


What are fibroids? Here’s what women need to know – National

by BBG Hub

You can think of a fibroid as a hard ball of muscle.

Dr. Yolanda Kirkham, obstetrician gynecologist at Women’s College Hospital in Toronto, told Global News that fibroids are common, and more than 50 per cent of women have them.

“It’s very unusual for someone under 30, for example, to have many or large fibroids,” she explained. “By menopause, or age 50 to 70, sometimes up to 80 per cent of people may have fibroids by that time.”

Fibroids — also called leiomyomas or myomas — are types of growth that can be found in or on a woman’s uterus. They can also grow over time.

“It usually just starts from one type of smooth muscle cell that just keeps proliferating,” Kirkham said.

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A fibroid is different than cysts or polyps, Kirkham added, but there’s often confusion among the three. A cyst is a soft balloon of either fluid or blood.

“[Cysts] don’t grow in or on the uterus,” Kirkham explained. “Cysts usually grow on an ovary or sometimes on our skin.”

A polyp, meanwhile, is a soft, fleshy tissue that grows on the inside of the uterus.

But fibroids aren’t necessarily dangerous — more than 99 per cent are benign. Sometimes, women can have them with no symptoms; other times, they may have to be removed.

“It may not be clinically significant, meaning that it may not impact their life,” she said.

There is no one cause of fibroids, but Kirkham added they have been linked to genetics, race (Black women are more likely to have fibroids), hormones, environmental factors and other causes.

“There is nothing you can do to prevent that.”

Where do they grow?

There are three main types of uterine fibroids.

Subserosal fibroids are found on the outside of your uterus. Fibroids found within the wall of the uterus are called intramural fibroids.

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And those balls of muscle that grow in the cavity of the uterus are called submucosal fibroids.

Credit: Getty Images

“Symptoms depend on where the fibroids are located,” she continued. “For example, if you have a little one-centimeter or two-centimeter muscle ball in the wall, that doesn’t really cause any problems at all.”

Subserosal fibroids can get quite big (up to 10 to 15 cm) which can cause pressure on your bladder.

“Same with the intramural and submucosal,” Kirkham explained. “Anything in the wall that big would cause pressure.”

Your period can also be affected

One of the biggest symptoms of fibroids is a heavy period for women in their 40s and women who are pre-menopausal.

“Fibroids on the outside of the uterus would not affect a period, but the ones in the lining can cause period problems.”

These fibroids “impeded contractions,” meaning it becomes difficult for your period to stop flowing. Submucosal fibroids can also change your bleeding patterns.

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A heavy period, she added, is using more than three to five pads or tampons a day, leaking through your clothing or changing your pad or tampon overnight multiple times.

They may be overflowing or their flow may be going on for a week and even months,” Kirkham said.

Treatment options

Fibroids only become an issue if they are symptomatic (and this is often the case for women over the age 40), but for others, treatment is not required.

Kirkham said treatment is often managing heavy bleeding or any type of cramping. This can be done with off-the-counter medicine. There is also now medication that can reduce the size of a fibroid.

“Because some people are bleeding for months on end and they’re becoming quite anemic (low blood and iron) so they can become anemic, this [medication] can help improve their anemia.”

Speak with your doctor to figure out which medication is right for you.

A heavy period isn’t always normal — it could be a sign of a bleeding disorder

Kirkham said doctors often start with oral medication or an injection, but for others, surgery may be required.

“This can be done either by laparoscopy which is minimally invasive with a telescope through the belly button,” she explained. “Or can be done by an open incision on the abdomen to shell out all of the fibroids from the uterus.”

She added some people may never need surgery, but it all comes down to the size of fibroid.

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Submucosal fibroids can even sometimes come out of the uterus and make its way into the vagina. This surgery is often more urgent. added endometrial ablation “involves inserting a special instrument into your uterus to destroy the uterine lining using heat, electric current, or hot water.”

There are also treatments where the fibroids are shrunk with a laser or frozen.

“We also have a hysterectomy which removes the entire uterus with the fibroids together.”

She added they also shrink on their own during menopause.

If you are ever concerned or experience any of these symptoms, talk to your doctor right away, she added. The most important thing women can do is be clear of what fibroids are and where they live.

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© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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What women need to know about getting their tubes tied – National

by BBG Hub

Tubal ligation, or getting your “tubes tied,” is a common surgical procedure that women have done for a variety of reasons.

Dr. Elin Raymond, staff obstetrician and gynecologist at Michael Garron Hospital in Toronto, told Global News the procedure is done under a general anesthetic and is a laparoscopic procedure, meaning an incision is made in the abdominal area.

“It’s a minimally invasive keyhole surgery,” she said. “Usually, [the incision is] at the belly button, and then we have one or two smaller incisions on the other side.”

What does the procedure entail?

Doctors take a look at the fallopian tubes and assess which method is the best way to close the tubes. Raymond said one method involves clipping them, while another involves cutting the tube and burning it and still another method involves removing the tube altogether.

Dr. Jonathon Solnik, site chief of obstetrics and gynecology at Women’s College Hospital in Toronto, said that currently, the most common method used is to completely remove the tube.

“In recent years, we have learned that a percentage of ovarian cancers may actually begin within the fallopian tube so choosing to remove them to prevent pregnancy may, theoretically, have some additional benefit,” he said.

HealthLink BC notes that, sometimes, the procedure is also done after women give birth.

“The fallopian tubes are higher in the abdomen right after pregnancy so the incision is made below the belly button (navel). The procedure is often done within 24 to 36 hours after the baby is delivered,” says the non-emergency health information service.

There is also an implant option, which is done at a doctor’s office without surgery or anesthesia.

Why women do the procedure

Women can have the procedure for several reasons — such as not wanting children anymore (or at all) or due to a medical condition — but Raymond added that it often comes down to contraception.

“Some women are finished childbearing, or they don’t like the IUD or take the pill,” she explained. “[Or] they’ve had pregnancy failures on other forms of contraception.”

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The procedure itself is covered in Canada, and most women will return to daily activities and work within a week, Solnik added.

“Only women and couples who are very certain of their decision to not conceive should consider tubal ligation. Notwithstanding, a very small percentage of women will conceive after this procedure — meaning, it is not 100 per cent effective in every situation,” Solnik explained.

“While pregnancy following tubal ligation is very rare, those who do conceive have a much higher probability of experiencing an ectopic pregnancy — or a pregnancy outside of the uterus. If a woman suspects she may be pregnant, such as a missed period, which should not happen after a tubal ligation, then she should seek immediate medical advice.”

Barriers some women face

In a recent post for, writer Meghan Holohan talked about wanting the procedure for years after she knew she didn’t want children. The 27-year-old first asked her OB-GYN for the surgery when she was 18.

“She said I was too young and it was a procedure reserved for women in their 30s or 40s who had at least two children and knew they were done having children,” she wrote. “I realize I was ambitious in approaching my doctor at only 18 but I was certain that I did not want to have any children.”

Years later, in Nashville, Holohan found a doctor who would perform the procedure — but not before asking her husband for “permission” first.

“After securing my husband’s permission, sharing my list of pros and cons and agreeing to adoption, I underwent the outpatient, minimally invasive procedure, where my doctor clipped my tubes to permanently prevent pregnancy,” she wrote.

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Stories like these have also been seen in Canada. In 2017, an article published in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Canada found doctors were hesitant to provide the procedure to women under 30, the National Post reported.

The reported noted that Canadian guidelines suggest any woman who understands how permanent the option can be is eligible for the procedure.

“Often, these women have other role models in their life who are also child-free,” Dr. Dustin Costescu, a professor at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ont., told the paper.

“They may be aunts or people in senior positions in their workplace — role models who demonstrate they can meet all of their other life goals without having children.”

Solnik added the scenario is not uncommon for women under 30.

“Earlier research showed that women under the age of 30 years had a much higher chance of regretting undergoing the procedure,” he said.

“This is because it is irreversible, and since life events sometimes change, wanting to have children in the future may be of interest to some patients. Having said that, if a woman is certain she does not want to have children and is younger than 30 years, tubal ligation should be an option.”

Can you reverse it?

According to the Mayo Clinic, there is a reversal procedure for tubal ligation, but only if the tube wasn’t fully removed. During the reversal procedure, blocked tubes are reconnected to the remainder of the tube.

“This may allow eggs to again move through the tubes and sperm to travel up the fallopian tubes to join an egg,” the site noted.

However, this doesn’t mean there is a guarantee that women can get pregnant after the reversal procedure.

“Pregnancy rates following reversal of tubal ligation vary greatly depending on a woman’s age and other factors,” the Mayo Clinic added.

READ MORE:  Indigenous woman alleges coerced sterilization in Saskatchewan in December

MyHealth Alberta noted the reversal surgery can cost more than $10,000 and is not covered by major plans across the country,

Doctors can also refuse to do the procedure if they believe there is a low chance of it being successful.

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© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Period pain can make women lose nearly 9 days of productivity a year: study – National

by BBG Hub

For any woman who has felt less productive during her period, new research suggests you’re not alone.

According to a recent Dutch study published in the BMJ on Thursday, period pain is linked to losing almost nine days of productivity at school and work per year.

The study, which surveyed 32,748 women between the ages of 15 and 45, measured absenteeism (how much time was taken away from work or school) and presenteeism (how much productivity was lost in those two places).

“Menstruation-related symptoms cause a great deal of lost productivity, and presenteeism is a bigger contributor to this than absenteeism,” the study’s authors wrote.

“There is an urgent need for more focus on the impact of these symptoms, especially in women aged under 21 years, for discussions of treatment options with women of all ages and, ideally, more flexibility for women who work or go to school.”

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The research suggested 13.8 per cent of all women reported absenteeism during their periods and 3.4 per cent reported taking time off from school or work almost every time they were on their period. This was about 1.3 days a year on average.

Authors also noted that 80.7 per cent of all women reported presenteeism and, overall, lost 23.2 days of productivity in the year. As an average, this was about nine days per year.

“Women under 21 years were more likely to report absenteeism due to menstruation-related symptoms,” the authors continued. “When women called in sick due to their periods, only 20.1 per cent told their employer or school that their absence was due to menstrual complaints.”

Experiencing period pain

Previously speaking with Global News, Dr. Catherine Allaire, medical director of B.C. Women’s Hospital Centre for Pelvic Pain and Endometriosis, said discomfort during your period is normal — however, not everyone experiences pain.

She added that pain of any kind can be treated with over-the-counter pain medications like ibuprofen or naproxen. Allaire also said period pain should not interfere with your daily life and that if it does, women should seek medical help.

READ MORE: All about your period — what’s normal and when you should see a doctor

“If you’re planning your life around your period — it’s interfering with your activities and things like Advil are not sufficient to manage your cramps — then that would be something that should be alerting you to seek attention from a physician,” Allaire said.

But excessive period pain can be a sign of endometriosis.

“It’s time to stop normalizing women’s pain,” she said.

“I’ve heard this story too much: that it’s normal, it’s to be expected that you will have this pain as a woman. And the type and severity of pain that women have suffered with in silence and not sought help for is quite staggering, at times, when I listen to the stories.”

Types of pain

According to the Cleveland Clinic, dysmenorrhea is the medical term for period cramps, which are caused by contractions. The site notes there are two types of dysmenorrhea.

Primary dysmenorrhea involves cramps that are regular and not caused by other diseases.

“Pain usually begins one or two days before or when menstrual bleeding starts and is felt in the lower abdomen, back or thighs,” the clinic noted.

“Pain can range from mild to severe, can typically last 12 to 72 hours and can be accompanied by nausea and vomiting, fatigue and even diarrhea. Common menstrual cramps usually become less painful as a woman ages and may stop entirely if the woman has a baby.”

READ MORE: 5 reasons why you keep missing your period (other than pregnancy)

The second type of dysmenorrhea is secondary dysmenorrhea, and it is caused by a disorder in a woman’s reproductive organs such as endometriosis, adenomyosis, uterine fibroids or an infection.

“Pain from secondary dysmenorrhea usually begins earlier in the menstrual cycle and lasts longer than common menstrual cramps. The pain is not typically accompanied by nausea, vomiting, fatigue or diarrhea,” the clinic noted.

Besides medicine, Everyday Health reported that some other ways to treat period pain include changing your diet (low-fat diets have been linked to fighting inflammation in the body), drinking herbal tea and using a heating pad to ease cramps.

—With files from Leslie Young

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© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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‘We must fight’: Muslim women protest burkini ban at French pool – National

by BBG Hub

A group of Muslim women in France has defied their city’s burkini laws by sporting the swimwear at a public pool — a protest they say was inspired by U.S. civil rights activist Rosa Parks.

On Sunday, several women in the city of Grenoble headed to the Jean Bron swimming pool wearing suits that covered their entire bodies apart from their face, hands and feet.

The pool is one of many in France that forbids burkinis. Some French politicians argue that burkinis, as well as face-covering veils, do not reflect the country’s secularism and should be banned for security purposes.

The protest was organized by the group Citizen Alliance of the Greater Grenoble Area, which says seven women and 30 others acting in solidarity disobeyed the pool’s ban to advocate for the civil rights of Muslims.

The group began protesting the swimwear ban in May 2018, it wrote on Facebook, when it started a petition asking Grenoble’s mayor to reform the city’s burkini rules.

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“To defend the freedom of religion and the freedom of women to cover or uncover their bodies, they are inspired by Rosa Parks and decided to continue their campaign of civil disobedience during an assembly… last Sunday,” the alliance wrote in French.

French outlet France Bleu reports the women were told by staff that they were not allowed to wear burkinis at the pool and that that type of bathing suit was prohibited.

The outlet says that pool staff did not physically prevent the women from getting into the water but called police. The women were reportedly fined 35 euros each.

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As reported by the BBC, two of the Muslim women involved in the burkini protest told the outlet they should have the same rights as other citizens.

“We have a dream: to have fun in public swimming pools like all other citizens, to accompany our children whenever they want to have a swim while it is very hot in the summer here in Grenoble,” they told the BBC.

“We must fight against discriminatory policies and prejudice in France, as we are actually deprived of our civil rights of access to public services and city-owned infrastructures.”

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France was the first country in western Europe to ban face-covering attire in public, including the burqa and niqab, in 2011.

In 2016, after multiple French towns banned burkinis, the UN human rights office denounced the local bans and said they amounted to “a grave and illegal breach of fundamental freedoms.” The UN also called them a “stupid reaction” to extremist attacks.

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UN spokesperson Rupert Colville said such bans “fuel religious intolerance and the stigmatization of Muslims.”

Many officials, including former prime minister Manuel Valls, have argued that burkinis oppress women and are not symbolic of France’s cultural and societal beliefs.

In 2016, France’s top court overturned a ban on burkinis in the Riviera town of Villeneuve-Loubet, yet many municipalities still forbid the swimwear.

—With a file from the Associated Press

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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More millennial women say they feel lonely — despite having friends

by BBG Hub

Loneliness is often thought of as an issue for the elderly, but a new report says millennials — especially women — are also struggling.

According to a recent poll conducted by the Angus Reid Institute, women under 35 tend to express greater feelings of loneliness than other age groups, despite having social lives.

The poll, which surveyed more than 2,000 Canadians, found that six in 10 young women sometimes or often wish they had someone to talk to, but don’t. This is a jump from men of the same age, as four in 10 report similar feelings.

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What’s important to note is the poll found that young women are also much more likely to feel alone — even when they’re with other people.

This is something that 25-year-old Coryl, who asked Global News to keep her last name private, understands.

Coryl says she doesn’t feel lonely around her closest friends, but in social situations with friends or acquaintances, she doesn’t feel like herself.

“I feel lonely around them because of how I censor myself and my mental illnesses,” Coryl said, explaining she has post-traumatic stress disorder and bipolar disorder.

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“It’s quite isolating to keep everyone in the dark about it, but has also been incredibly isolating when it’s brought up.”

For 34-year-old Nikki Swerhun, moving to a new city put geographical distance between her and her best friends. She has felt the effects of not having her network nearby.

“I moved to Toronto two years ago and all my close friends are still on the West Coast,” she told Global News.

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“It’s hard because I rarely get to see them, and with the time difference, it can be hard to text or chat, so I do get lonely quite often.”

Swerhun’s husband travels a lot for work, so he’s out of town “50 per cent of the time.”

“I find I can get depressed or sad after three days alone,” she said. “It doesn’t help that I now work from home so no longer have a social network at work.”

Why are young women more lonely?

In Joshua Peters’s opinion, social media is partly to blame. He works as a psychotherapist at the Centre for Interpersonal Relationships.

“We’re more connected than we’ve ever been, but people are feeling more lonely than they ever have,” he told Global News.

“A lot of people are obsessing over social media and filtering their life in a way that’s not allowing them to actually have a lot of vulnerability in the connections they do have.”

Peters says vulnerability is the “bedrock” necessary to create strong, intimate and comforting relationships.

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As the Angus Reid data highlights, one of the key elements of loneliness is a person’s desired social life compared to their actual circumstances.

This means that even if you have several close friends, you may be craving a different type of connection, or a more fulfilling social life.

Dr. Jon Callegher, a professor at George Brown College who specializes in millennial sociology, says that an entire generation has largely grown up with the internet, which has changed the way humans interact.

A 2017 report found that Instagram is the worst app for mental health, as it can lead to anxiety, depression, loneliness, and issues with sleep, body image and bullying.

Callegher says social media affects our well-being, and people who are connected online may feel lonely or isolated in real life.

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“[This] means you don’t rely on other people to help you, and other people don’t rely on you,” he explained. “And when other people don’t rely on you, you have a little less sense of meaning and less sense of purpose.”

For 30-year-old Elizabeth, finding friends to spend time with is difficult, she says. She calls herself an introvert, but says that she craves in-person interactions — off her phone.

“I feel like I’m lacking in the deep, meaningful, close connections that I really seek with people,” she said. “Friendships and social connections, they really impact your quality of life.”

Both Peters and Callegher say relationships that are fostered in-person are especially important. Without them, we suffer.

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Peters will often hear from his patients that they’ve shared mental health-related memes online, hoping that a follower reaches out to them and validates their experience.

“In reality, it’s best to reach out to a friend and talk about the struggles that you’re having in a way that isn’t easy,” he said.

“You might fumble over your words and you may not look great as you do it, but the truth is that a lot of life doesn’t look great.”

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This drive for perfectionism online and in real life is a major barrier to having close friendships — something everyone needs to thrive.

A study by researchers at Harvard found that more than cholesterol levels or physical activity, having strong personal connections with other people is the strongest predictor of overall happiness and better health.

The largest of its kind, the Harvard Study of Adult Development, has been providing data on the same group of 268 men for more than 80 years.

“It’s a lot different to connect with people in words and pictures versus actually giving them a hug… or really engaging in a dynamic conversation,” Callegher said.

The difference between loneliness and isolation

As the Angus Reid poll points out, feeling lonely and being isolated are often connected, but not the same.

For both men and women between the ages of 18 and 34, more than four in 10 said they were lonely, but not isolated.

“The core experience of [loneliness] is feeling disconnected from others,” said Peters, adding that it happens even when surrounded by others.

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“I think we’ve all experienced… going on Instagram and there’s that post [of] a friend drinking champagne on the shores of Hawaii. It’s hard to connect in those moments. We feel lonely because we’re not good enough.”

Loneliness could also be a side effect of more millennial women moving into traditionally male-dominated spaces, like the corporate world.

“The idea of being emotional and connecting with vulnerability is sometimes shamed in those environments,” Peters said.

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“There’s a loss that happens… when you start showing vulnerability or emotion and you’re [seen as] falling into stereotypes of what it is to be a woman, when in truth, it’s a healthy manner of connecting.”

Peters posits that patriarchal spaces, such as corporate business, discourage both men and women from expressing emotion — a vulnerability required to create new friendships.

“Maybe, as traditionally male spheres absorb more women (thankfully), being emotional is shamed more frequently,” he said.

How to make ‘good’ friends

According to the Angus Reid data, 35 per cent of Canadians say they wish they had more “good” friends.

Sometimes, says Peters, all it takes is lowering your expectations of others. We may feel like our friends aren’t “good” enough because we hold them to unrealistic standards.

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When a friend isn’t able to be there for support, it’s important to remember that they’re only human.

“I think the first step to being able to create healthier relationships is compassion for our friends when they don’t show up for us,” said Peters.

“There’s a repercussion of putting that [pressure] on our friendships; if our friends can’t be there in all those times in which we need them, they’re somehow ‘failing.’”

Peters acknowledges that friendships aren’t easy. Creating and maintaining friendships take work, but perseverance is key.

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“If you want that connection, you have to work at it,” Peters said. “At times, it will be uncomfortable… but ultimately, the payoff will be good.”

Peters also encourages young women to get off the phone and have face-to-face interactions.

While it can certainly be hard to meet people in real life, spending quality time doing an activity or having a meaningful conversation is a more intimate experience than even texting.

“It won’t allow you to totally filter everything that you’re going to say,” he said.

“We try to make [interactions] neat and tidy, but a state of vulnerability is induced when you’re faced with the fact that you’re going to make mistakes.”

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© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Women need twice as many public washrooms as men, new report says – National

by BBG Hub

If you’ve ever anxiously waited in line for a women’s washroom while watching men filter in and out of their respective stalls, you’re not alone.

A new U.K. report argued there should be two female toilets to every male one, adding the lack of public toilets is a threat to a woman’s health and equality.

The Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) report said women need more toilets because “of time-consuming factors related to clothing, menstruation and anatomical differences.”

The report’s authors pointed to “potty parity” — which is defined as equal speed of access to public restrooms — legislation that exists in certain places in the U.S. that recommends a 2:1 toilet ratio in favour of women.

Currently, in the U.K., the standard is 1:1.

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“Equality of access to toilets is an important factor, particularly for women who take longer and cannot use urinals,” the authors wrote. “This leads to the long queues familiar in many public toilets.”

The report, titled Taking the P***, also calls for more gender-neutral washrooms to ensure “equality of access” and to address the needs of transgender individuals.

“Public toilets are no luxury,” Shirley Cramer, the chief executive of the RSPH, said in a statement. “It’s high time we begin to see them as basic and essential parts of the community — just like pavements and street lights — that enable people to benefit from and engage with their surroundings.”

Why women need more public washrooms

Recent research out of the University of British Columbia on potty parity found that because female bathrooms typically have longer wait times than male ones, women do not have equal access.

The researchers wrote that current bathroom codes and designs in business facilities, like restaurants and concert venues, “are not based on objective analyses” and are instead influenced by male bias.

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Other research on potty parity found that “most public restrooms still remain woefully inadequate for women’s special needs” which include menstruation, pregnancy and breastfeeding.

But it’s not just women who need more washrooms.

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The U.K. report also states that a lack of toilets also hurts those who are ill or living with a disability, the elderly, outdoor workers and people experiencing homelessness.

Researchers also concluded that there’s simply not enough public toilets — period. The report found that 74 per cent of people surveyed agreed there are not enough public washrooms in places like parks, tourist areas, public transit stations and shopping malls.

Repercussions of not having enough washrooms

When there’s not enough toilets available, people are deterred from leaving their homes or venturing far away from a known bathroom, meaning they are on a “loo leash,” the report said.

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“Most of us need a public toilet occasionally, but this is a more urgent problem for those with medications or medical conditions causing increased frequency of the need for a toilet (such as diabetes, or bladder, bowel or prostate conditions),” the report said.

“In addition to diagnosed conditions, advancing age increases the need, as does the requirement for [diaper] changing and young children who can’t wait.”

The report found that 20 per cent of people did not leave their homes as often as they would like because of bathroom access. For those with medical conditions requiring frequent toilet use, 43 per cent said they stayed close to home to be near a washroom.

READ MORE: All about your period: what’s normal, and when you should see a doctor

What’s more, authors found that 56 per cent of respondents deliberately restrict their fluid intake in case they can’t find a bathroom. This can lead to dehydration, the authors noted, which can harm health and make existing medical conditions worse.

Does Canada have enough public washrooms?

The lack of public washrooms is an issue in Canada, too, as advocates say we still have a long way to go.

In Winnipeg, “pop-up” public toilets opened in an effort to address the city’s lack of free washrooms.

Edmonton Mayer Don Iveson said in April that the city needs to partner with businesses, the hospitality industry in particular, to find a sustainable solution to the demand for public bathrooms.

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In an attempt to combat sanitation issues in Montreal, the city invested $3 million to install 12 high-tech, self-cleaning, free-to-use public bathrooms.

While public free-standing bathrooms are common in Europe, advocates say most Canadian cities lag behind when it comes to meeting a basic human need.

Toronto has three automated self-cleaning toilets, while Vancouver does slightly better with 11, according to an online map produced by the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association.

Other cities, including Edmonton, publish a map of the bathrooms that are available in parks, libraries, and train stations, but many don’t operate year-round or at night.

— With a file from Karen Bartko and files from the Canadian Press 

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© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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The sexist expectations of professional emails for women: ‘There’s no winning’ – National

by BBG Hub

Carlee Barackman was working at a tech startup in Detroit, Michigan, when her email writing style — which she calls “short and to the point” — became an issue.

In the two years that Barackman had been working there, the company had grown from just three people to a large group.

As a result of the growth, more of the team-wide communication moved off Slack and into email, which Barackman considered the right place for a more formal messaging style.

“Slack brings out the casual in anyone… so on the occasions we would email, I would flip a switch to come off as professional as possible,” she told Global News.

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“I was trying to communicate… efficiently and directly, which means I cut out extra adjectives and some extra exclamation points, for example.”

Barackman thought she was emailing like everyone else — until her CEO pulled her aside to talk about her “harsh” language.

“[He] pointed to an instance when I didn’t show ‘enough appreciation’ for a co-worker’s performance,” Barackman told Global News.

While he didn’t explicitly ask her to soften her writing style, Barackman said it was implied, and she decided against it.

“I had work to do and I didn’t want to spend extra time trying to convey my bubbly personality in an email,” she said.

Sometime later, Barackman replied to an email with “okay, thanks,” — no punctuation, no emojis — and her CEO called her out.

READ MORE: ‘The battle starts at the top’: How Canadian companies can close the gender pay gap

“He addressed this specific email and asked that I include something to lighten it up, such as an exclamation point, so that the recipient knew I was happy about the work done,” she said.

Barackman agreed to try and “lighten it up,” but she didn’t really know what that meant.

It was salt on the wound when Barackman saw an email thread between her male colleagues with writing nearly identical to the style that got her in trouble.

“I remember sitting down at my desk and having no idea who to ask about how to email like a woman. Is emailing like a woman even a thing?” she said.

“I felt stuck. [I was] worried that, by adding extra fluff to an email, I would appear unprofessional and [I was] also worried that, if I kept my replies short and direct, everyone would assume I was angry,” she said.

“The rest of the time at the company, I avoided emailing. I would get up and talk to people directly or just not reply.”

Barackman isn’t the only woman who has had an experience like this.

(Editor’s note: When we asked Twitter users if they’ve ever felt this way, the response was overwhelming. Read some of their stories below.)

According to Megan Boler, a professor in the department of social justice education at the University of Toronto, this experience is likely common because the workplace is a traditionally masculine environment.

“Language is one aspect of our broader culture… and certainly within language and culture, are embedded all sorts of expectations and norms around gender,” she said.

For women in the workplace, the expectations are contradictory.

“On the one hand, women are culturally expected to be emotional caretakers and nurturers, and… all of those roles have historically been understood as appropriate in the private sphere, taking care of children in the home,” Boler said.

In contrast, men have traditionally occupied the public sphere.

“When women buck tradition and move into the public sphere, there’s this double standard… where [they aren’t] emotional enough, and yet, when [they do] express emotion, they’re penalized,” she said.

“In essence, for women in the public sphere, there’s no winning.”

Boler sees this double standard every day in her email correspondence with students, and she says the impact is twofold if your name is associated with another race.

“If the name is perceived as ‘ethnically coded’ in some way, there’s… a much greater chance of discrimination,” said Boler.

READ MORE: ‘It’s not one size fits all’: Why open office plans don’t work for everyone

Etiquette expert Lisa Orr agrees.

“I wish I could say that gender didn’t play a role in communication, but, in reality, there is extensive research to show that men and women communicate differently, and those differences can really impact the way we understand each other in the workplace,” she said.

However, in her experience working with professionals, Orr recommends a different way of seeing these gendered differences.

“Regardless of gender, the key is to understand your own communication style and that of your email recipient so that you can try to communicate in a way that will make the recipient respond positively to your communication.”

This advice is similar to that of Boler.

In her view, the only way to move past this contradiction is for women to learn the importance of not taking things personally.

READ MORE: What to do if you’re touched inappropriately at work

“It’s trying to understand that there is this kind of no-win setup for women… and so, perhaps [you] shouldn’t spend as much time as [you do] worrying about tone,” she said.

In her experience, Boler has found that women in the workplace more often suffer from imposter syndrome, which she describes as having “an incredible amount of experience… [but] constantly experiencing a kind of doubt about [your] choices and decisions.”

She believes this is not the fault of women but of the system within which they exist.

“It’s because… we’re constantly getting feedback that we’re doing things wrong, and in fact, there’s nothing wrong,” said Boler.

“So, I think there’s an aspect of just not taking it personally and knowing that it isn’t about me… You have to see that there is a structural problem.” 

WATCH BELOW: Salaries of women CEOs are double-pane glass ceiling

That’s exactly what Janu Y. — a 28-year-old communications professional in Toronto — has done. She refers to herself as a “former message softener.”

“I always felt like I needed to be softer or kinder in my approach because I was so afraid as coming off bitchy,” Janu told Global News.

It wasn’t until she became a full-time freelancer that Janu realized it was acceptable (and, in some cases, necessary) to cut the fluff out of her emails.

“A lot of what I was saying was being lost in translation,” she said. “I would be taken advantage of, or not taken seriously.”

Now, as a marketing co-ordinator in the technology industry, Janu is concentrating on “commanding her ship.”

READ MORE: What to do if you’re touched inappropriately at work

I stopped softening my emails because I didn’t need to shrink myself for the comfort of others. If someone is uncomfortable with me, and I haven’t personally done or said anything to them, they need to take that up with themselves,” she said. 

“At the end of the day, I say what needs to be said and I get my job done.”

In Janu’s view, this shift in perspective has brought her a lot closer to her career goals.

“Why is it that when a woman says it like it is, in the most professional way possible, that she’s still seen as a bitch but when a man does, he’s a boss? And that’s really it — I’m trying to be a boss,” she said.

“I’m trying to grow in my career so I can truly make space for people that look and sound like me: people of colour, people that were raised in low-income areas, people that didn’t always have the work experience, refugees, immigrants… we are extremely valuable and our world view is as well.”

Ultimately, the change has been empowering for Janu.

“Through being vulnerable enough to command my space both in real life and online, [I] better understand the value I bring to the table. Hell, sometimes I am the table.”

READ MORE: You can still get a job you’re not qualified for. Here’s how

In Orr’s view, there are surefire tips for writing a professional email — regardless of your gender.

“Professional emails should always be specific, concise and forwardable,” Orr told Global News.

Be specific

Make sure the topic of your email is immediately obvious.

“Your subject line should highlight the purpose of your email… [and] in the body of the email, make it clear what you’re asking for,” she said.

Orr recommends using bullet points as a clear way to get your point across.

Be concise

“Keep your emails to five sentences or less — three if you can,” Orr said.

Keeping it brief will allow for your reader to get your message quickly, and it will improve the chances of your entire message being read.

“Should you need more than five sentences, attach a memo or document to provide a more thorough explanation.”

Assume it will be forwarded

“That means no gossip, and use appropriate language,” said Orr.

In collaborative work environments, email communication is never really private.

“The last thing you want is some embarrassing inside joke making its way around the office and coming back to bite you.”

[email protected]

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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C-sections: 5 things women need to know – National

by BBG Hub

Caesarean deliveries, or C-sections, can either be planned or the result of complications during labour. Either way, experts say women should know what this type of birth entails.

In April 2018, the Canadian Institute for Health Information found that more than 103,000 C-sections were performed in Canada between 2016 and 2017, resulting in a rate of 28.2 per cent of all births in Canada. Experts say today, that rate is about 30 to 33 per cent.

Dr. Michael Sved of the obstetrics and gynecology department at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto told Global News there is also a movement around the world of women planning C-sections ahead of time.

In São Paulo, Brazil, for example, the rate of C-sections is about 90 to 98 per cent of all births, and Sved believes this has to do with the “Hollywood” notion of giving birth — many women want to be able to schedule when and how they deliver their child. He added that some celebrities have gone down this route as well, inspiring others to do the same.

READ MORE: C-section births nearly doubled worldwide over 15 years

While the procedure is common and generally safe, there are still misconceptions, he added.

Below, experts help us break down what women can expect from a C-section. If you have any questions or concerns about C-sections, speak with your doctor.

The procedure

Sved said the procedure is usually done by an obstetrician who is a surgeon. There are two types of C-sections: one is elective, where women choose to have a planned procedure, and the second is an urgent or emergency C-section, which is often unplanned. Sved added that in some cases, women may need a C-section due to complications with the birth (the baby’s positioning, for example) or if she is giving birth to more than two children.

If a C-section is planned, patients usually arrive two hours before their appointment to get admitted, go through the risks, take medication and sign a consent form.

Next, patients are given anesthesia (generally via the spine) and are taken to the operating room.

“Before we begin the procedure, we get a sterile solution on the abdomen to decrease the risk of infection and then appropriate drapes are put up as well,” said Sved. This way, the patient can’t see the surgery. There are, however, options at some hospitals to set up cameras that allow mothers and their family to see the birth.

READ MORE: Home births are safe for normal, healthy pregnancies, this midwife says

“We review the exact nature of why we’re doing the C-section (and) if there any possible complications, verify that she’s gotten the antibiotics that we requested,” Sved continued, adding that at other times, some patients have stem cells collected as well.

During the procedure, hospitals often allow one or two people to be present during the surgery.

The incision is made in the abdomen, and doctors go into the uterus to deliver the child.

“We stitch everything back up, which takes about 20 minutes… the whole thing probably takes about 40 to 45 minutes,” he said.

Sved said one of the benefits of having a C-section is protecting the perineum (the area between the anus and the vulva). He added that there is a decreased risk of any trauma to the vagina and vulva as well.

What are the risks?

Dr. Robert Gagnon of the McGill University Health Centre’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology told Global News that C-sections are major surgeries and that, like any surgery, there are potential risks. Before a woman gets the procedure, she is told about all the risks.

Some of these risks include post-partum hemorrhage, infection (in the uterus or around the wound) and a possible risk of requiring a blood transfusion.

WATCH: C-section deliveries rising in Canada, birth rate declining

According to the Mayo Clinic, a C-section can also increase the risk of developing a blood clot inside a deep vein — specifically in the legs or pelvic organs.

“If a blood clot travels to your lungs and blocks blood flow (pulmonary embolism), the damage can be life-threatening,” the site noted.

But even with risks, Sved added, there are very few complications with C-sections, and for the most part, they are safe.

While this may not be included as medical risk, one thing Gagnon noted is skin-to-skin contact after the baby is born is not done right away when you have a C-section.

“That is delayed by five to 10 minutes and sometimes more,” he said.

The recovery period

Gagnon said the recovery period is between four and six weeks, but this can vary depending on the woman. This is typically a longer recovery period than a vaginal birth.

Women are often told to rest, avoid lifting heavy objects and take over-the-counter medication for pain relief. Doctors will also keep an eye out for infections.

READ MORE: Study suggests increase in C-section births is preventing female evolution

The Mayo Clinic added that vaginal discharge, contractions and tender breasts can also be expected after the procedure. Post-partum depression can happen as well.

“If you experience severe mood swings, loss of appetite, overwhelming fatigue and lack of joy in life shortly after childbirth, you might have post-partum depression,” the site noted.

“Contact your health-care provider if you think you might be depressed, especially if your signs and symptoms don’t fade on their own, you have trouble caring for your baby or completing daily tasks or you have thoughts of harming yourself or your baby.”

What are the misconceptions?

Sved added that many women believe C-sections are “invasive” operations. He said that in the past, obstetricians would have to get a second opinion from another obstetrician before performing the procedure, adding more stress and fear to the women giving birth. These rules are no longer required, and patients can have elective C-sections.

Self magazine previously pointed out that some women may believe if they have a C-section with their first child, they will not be able to have a vaginal birth with the second. Both experts added that this is not the case.

“If you tried the first time around and found out after hours of labour that giving birth vaginally was just not in the cards for you, that’s something to discuss with your OB-GYN. He or she should ultimately respect your wishes,” the magazine noted.

Yes, a C-section is still a “real birth”

Similar to breastfeeding, experts pointed out that some women may feel pressure to give vaginal birth. Vaginal births are often seen as more “natural,” but Sved said you should never feel pressured to give birth this way.

“Everything comes down to information and education,” he said. “There is a segment of people that are fanatical about labour and delivery and their impression around what labour and delivery is. For me, the most important outcome is healthy babies and a healthy mom with the least interventions.”

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© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Cysts can sound scary — here’s what women need to know – National

by BBG Hub

Cysts can pop up anywhere on the body, but for many women, they appear in the ovaries or breasts or on the skin.

Dr. Caitlin Dunne, an infertility and egg-freezing specialist at the Pacific Centre for Reproductive Medicine in Vancouver, told Global News the word “cyst” itself can be confusing to some and is often viewed as a scary diagnosis.

“As doctors, when we refer to a ‘cyst,’ we mean a collection of fluid. I think many patients hear ‘cyst’ and automatically equate that with cancer,” Dunne said.

But cysts can be harmless: some of them go away, and others can be treated. Below, health experts help to break down three areas where women can get cysts.

Ovarian cysts

Dunne said the most common type of cyst is the one that happens every single month to reproductive-aged women as they ovulate.

“When a woman grows an egg, it forms in a sac called an ‘ovarian follicle,’ two centimetres in size, and is filled with clear fluid,” she explained. “Eventually, this cyst breaks open, and the egg is released; that’s called ovulation. The leftover cyst makes an important hormone called progesterone, which is essential to maintain a pregnancy and/or cause a period.”

But sometimes, the fluid from an ovarian follicle might hang around an extra month or two and eventually go away on its own.

“These cysts would be called physiological or ‘functional’ cysts because they are related to the normal function of the ovary,” Dunne said.

READ MORE: Parents of 2-year-old diagnosed with rare ovarian cancer focus on raising awareness

Other types of cysts are less “normal” but still not cancerous, she added.

Endometriosis cysts (or chocolate cysts) contain old blood that looks like liquid chocolate. Dermoid cysts come from the cells of the ovary and can make any type of tissue in the body. Dunne said these cysts can contain mucus, hair and even teeth. The last type of cyst is mucinous cysts, which are mucus-filled cysts.

“In older women, malignant (cancerous) cysts are more common but still rare overall,” she explained. “Ovarian cancers account for about four per cent of cancers among all women. However, ovarian cancer accounts for more deaths than all other gynecological cancers put together.”

WATCH: Removing a brain cyst

Because cancerous cysts are rare, the majority of ovarian cysts can be left alone and carefully observed over time, she added.

“That means getting a pelvic ultrasound or MRI scan every six months or so to check if the cyst is growing,” said Dunne.

If a woman is feeling pain from a cyst, however, surgery is another option.

“Laparoscopic surgery is a minimally invasive technique, sometimes called ‘keyhole’ surgery, because it requires only tiny (one-centimetre) incisions on the abdomen,” Dunne said. “Whenever possible, the gynecologist would try this approach because it is more comfortable for the patient and requires a lot less recovery time than a traditional long cut on the belly.”

Epidermal cysts

These types of cysts are noncancerous and can appear anywhere on the skin.

“Epidermal cysts are sacks of old skin cells under the top layer of the skin,” said Dr. Julia Carroll of Compass Dermatology in Toronto. “Sometimes, they drain out of the skin like a giant blackhead.”

However, sometimes, the dead skin cells collect under the skin with no way out, she added.

“The contents of the cyst can be quite foul-smelling,” Carroll said.

READ MORE: ‘Girls’ star Lena Dunham undergoing surgery after ovarian cyst rupture

But because of recent online movements in the beauty world involving people popping pimples, Carroll said sometimes people mistake cysts for giant zits.

“The best way to remove them is to see a doctor for surgical excision,” she explained.

The Mayo Clinic adds that cysts are slow-growing and often painless and can appear on the face, neck or trunk.

“The surface of your skin (epidermis) is made up of a thin, protective layer of cells that your body continuously sheds. Most epidermoid cysts form when these cells move deeper into your skin and multiply rather than slough off. Sometimes, the cysts form due to irritation or injury of the skin or the most superficial portion of a hair follicle,” the site noted.

Breast cysts

Breast cysts appear in the breast tissue.

“They are the most common non-cancerous (benign) breast lumps in women between the ages of 35 and 50. Breast cysts are rarely cancerous, and they do not increase your risk for developing breast cancer,” the Canadian Cancer Society noted.

Dr. Paula Gordon, radiologist at B.C. Women’s Hospital + Health Centre, told Global News that women need to be aware of any changes in their breasts. Breasts cysts appear as a result of aging breast tissue so they can be more common as women age.

“What we want women to be aware of is what their normal breast texture is,” she said. “And if they feel any change… we want them to pay attention to it and potentially bring it to the attention of their doctor.”

She added that if a woman notices changes in breast texture before a period, she ought to wait till after the period before visiting a doctor.

“Most women’s breasts get lumpier before a period and that can be just transient,” she explained.

“(A) lump is a broad category of stuff that you can feel,” she continued. “Within that category, there are cysts, which are fluid-filled lumps, and then there are the opposite of cysts, (which) is solid, meaning they (are) made out of tissue rather than fluid. A solid lump can be benign non-cancerous, or it can be cancer.”

READ MORE: Canadian fertility clinic reports 180% increase in elective egg freezing

The important thing to note, she added, is that you can’t tell by simply feeling your breast what type of lump you have — you need to get checked.

Cysts can come and go, Gordon said, but sometimes they can grow and get large. If a cyst becomes large and sore, doctors can use freezing medicines or thin needles to drain out the fluid.

“Not all cysts need to be drained — most don’t,” she explained. “We would only do it if it was really uncomfortable for the patient.”

Gordon stressed cysts can appear in various organs, and they are all different, depending on where they appear. Having a cyst on your liver and feeling a lump on your breast does not mean you have a cyst in your breast tissue.

“Never self-diagnose,” she said. “If you feel a lump in your breast, get it checked.”

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© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Fat-shaming celebrities makes women more critical of their own bodies: study – National

by BBG Hub

According to a new study at McGill University, psychologists have determined that instances of celebrity fat-shaming are “associated with an increase in women’s implicit negative weight-related attitudes.”

In essence, seeing female celebrities shamed for their weight in popular media reinforces a long-held belief that “thin” is good and “fat” is bad.

Researchers compared 20 instances of celebrity fat-shaming with women’s implicit attitudes about weight before and afterwards.

READ MORE: How to respond to body-shaming relatives

To do that, researchers obtained data from Project Implicit’s online Weight Implicit Association Test between the years of 2004 and 2015.

The team selected 20 celebrity fat-shaming events widely reported by popular media, and then analyzed the implicit anti-fat attitudes reported by women two weeks before and two weeks after each event.

WATCH BELOW: Diet not working? Brain may be to blame

Such instances include Tyra Banks being shamed for her body while wearing a bathing suit on vacation in 2007, and Kourtney Kardashian being fat-shamed by husband Scott Disick for not losing her pregnancy weight quickly enough in 2014.

According to researchers, the fat-shaming events led to a spike in women’s implicit anti-fat attitudes.

The study also found a rise in negative implicit weight bias in women more generally, year over year.

READ MORE: ‘It was a trifecta of hate’: Body image activist recalls moment she was accosted by a man over her weight, race

Jennifer Bartz, one of the authors of the study, said they analyzed implicit bias because it can influence behaviour in a way unbeknownst to us.

“The thing about explicit attitudes… is that they’re vulnerable to self-censorship; they’re vulnerable to defensive processes,” said Bartz. “If we want to present ourselves in a particular light, we can kind of modulate those attitudes.”

But this isn’t the case for implicit attitudes, which inform “your evaluation of [an] object in terms of whether that object is basically good or bad,” Bartz said.

WATCH BELOW: Intermittent fasting rising in popularity as weight loss plan

So even if it seems like there’s a push for body positivity in popular media, it’s more likely that those ideals only exist on an explicit level, while implicit negative biases about weight remain.

According to Amanda Ravary, lead author of the study, social media may be helping to inflame this discrepancy.

“Now, [media] is at your fingertips all the time,” said Ravary. “We [can speculate that] the general increase [in negative implicit weight bias] is a result of these cumulative effects of increased media exposure.”

READ MORE: Mom’s bikini selfie with daughter goes viral for all the right reasons

For Christine Logel, a social psychologist and professor at Renison University College, cases of celebrity fat-shaming are unique because celebrities often have bodies that are emblematic of the social ideal.

“We’re already bombarded by messages indicating that there’s a very narrow range of body types that will be embraced and accepted,” said Logel.

“We [also] pay attention not only to what people say directly to us about our bodies but what people are saying to each other and to other people. So when we see people who are already so close to this very narrow ideal… being exposed to criticism and shaming, we think, ‘what does that leave us?’”

WATCH BELOW: ‘It was a trifecta of hate’: Body image activist recalls moment she was accosted for her weight, race

It’s still considered socially acceptable to comment on someone’s weight because it’s assumed to be within that person’s control — but that’s not the case.

“It’s not people’s fault if they fall somewhere on the weight spectrum that right now… the [wider] culture thinks isn’t acceptable,” said Logel.

Logel also believes the prevalence of social media is partly responsible for exacerbating the impacts of fat-shaming on individual body image.

“On social media, you can see that hundreds or thousands of people have weighed in… this can really feel like it’s widespread,” said Logel.

“That means that, no matter what we do, we’re going to be criticized. One way or another, we’re going to face that kind of shaming.”

READ MORE: Here’s why fat-shaming only makes things worse, according to scientists

Catherine Sabiston, a professor at the University of Toronto, agrees — social media can make it much more difficult to maintain a positive attitude towards one’s own body.

“[There’s] this contradiction between what we are trying to do as a society in terms of embracing bodies at every size and these accounts,” said Sabiston.

There are differences between what the captions say and what the images show, and this can produce mixed messages about body ideals, according to Sabiston. 

WATCH BELOW: Lectin-free diet: What is the ‘controversial’ program that led to Kelly Clarkson’s weight loss

Social media “perpetuates this idealized body that individuals want to achieve,” said Sabiston.

“We obviously will never be able to reduce the imagery and what is presented… in social media, but we can limit the way that we interact with it,” Sabiston said.

“…On an individual level, it’s really about addressing it on [your] own accord. That means being protective of yourself in this social media landscape.”

Here are some ways to cultivate a positive attitude about weight and body image.

Avoid ‘upward social comparison’

It’s an individual’s responsibility to avoid comparing themselves to others on social media.

“As you’re looking at imagery, it’s about being positive about yourself and telling yourself… ‘this isn’t real,’ or ‘that’s great, but it’s not me,’” said Sabiston.

READ MORE: ‘Insatiable’ on Netflix: More than 100K sign petition to cancel ‘fat-shaming’ series

“It’s about being aware of one’s surroundings and celebrating other people’s successes, but knowing it’s not for everyone.”

In Sabiston’s view, the less you engage in upward social comparison, the less harmful social media will be.

Practice self-compassion

“Self-compassion is a true kindness and mindfulness of oneself,” said Sabiston. “[It’s] being aware of yourself and of your emotions, but not being negative or down on yourself.”

This could manifest in many different ways: talking about yourself using positive language, giving yourself a hug or creating time in your day when you can practice mindfulness.

WATCH BELOW: How dieting can potentially lead to eating disorders

It’s also about realizing a common humanity, Sabiston told Global News.

“You’re not so different from everybody else. For every emotion you feel, many others feel the same way,” said Sabiston. This understanding which can ultimately contribute to a more positive body image.

Focus on performance, not appearance

For Sabiston, it’s crucial that individuals struggling with body image focus on what their body can do — instead of how it looks. 

“We need to remove the emphasis of appearance on every level. The emphasis… on the way we feel about ourselves and the way we engage with social media… cannot be about appearance,” said Sabiston.

“It has to be about things that are in our control… and that’s the real challenge. We tend to put the emphasis on appearance rather than function. It’s about how the body functions and what you can contribute without this emphasis on appearance.”

[email protected]

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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