Build Your Confidence!

I have often wondered why there seems to be a difference in how confident men and women are in themselves. In a New York Times article by Suzanne Daley a survey was done in 1991, with 3,000 children, and at the age of nine both girls and boys felt confident, assertive, and pleased with themselves. Later when the same girls were in high school, less than a third of them still felt confident. Why do girls lose that self-esteem? Women and young girls face a lot of societal pressure. They must have the perfect body, the perfect face, and the perfect personality. For a long time America’s ideal woman was someone who was thin with long hair, and blue eyes. It was like the pressure was on to become the next human Barbie, and it was a goal that was unfair. When a goal is unreachable we tend to feel like a disappointment.

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Growing up I didn’t have much self-esteem. For three years I swam on my high school swim team and after graduating I joined martial arts. The feeling of achieving something is remarkable, in swimming I would always try to beat my personal record and when I did it was one goal reached. Then in martial arts it was something I didn’t know anything about which made it more interesting. I remember having to remember the word of the belt (for white belt), each belt had a phrase that was memorized, and coincidently the word of the belt was “Positive Self- Esteem” right off the bat I had to work with who I am. Just like Maslow’s hierarchy of needs you can’t move to self-actualization without your self-esteem, but in this case self- esteem was the first thing I needed to continue on.

Fast forward to today I know that my self-confidence has grown tremendously and I am confident with who I am as a person. Sports have helped me understand who I am and they have also made be become at peace with who I am.

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Involvement in sports might be one way to improve the confidence of young women. In his article Sports: Building Confidence: Part I he has four sections: Walk the Walk, Talk the Talk, Balance the Scales, and Thought-stopping. In the articles Dr. Jim Taylor emphasizes that positive thoughts will be the goal to achieving confidence. In sports you must think of the positive, you’re not going to go into a game thinking you are bound to lose, if so it will happen. While in a sport with other people it also helps because your teammates are your support system and they help cheer you on so you do think positively.

Sometimes to have that complete confidence you have to find that right activity. For some it is running, hiking, gymnastics, soccer, swimming, karate, or tennis. Think about some of the women out there that have found their passion. Serena Williams, American professional tennis player, carries herself with so much passion for the game and you can see that ooze out of her. Natalie Coughlin, an American competitive swimmer, loves to spend more time in the water than on land. Just because these women have given their life for what they do doesn’t mean they have more or less confidence then anyone. Their self-confidence grew, by feeding off the accomplishments they achieved in sports. They had set new personal bests, surviving the setbacks of injuries, and work through particularly difficult skills. Their competition in sports, as in life, was not with someone else, it was with themselves.

Confidence is a skill and it needs to be practice like any other skill, so join a sports club, join a jogging team, or join a dance team. Becoming active will help with confidence building and encourage others to do the same, you never know who’s confidence needs a boost.

KEY BISCAYNE, FL - MARCH 29:  Serena Williams celebrates a point against Li Na of China during the final of the Sony Open at the Crandon Park Tennis Center on March 29, 2014 in Key Biscayne, Florida.  (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

KEY BISCAYNE, FL – MARCH 29: Serena Williams celebrates a point against Li Na of China during the final of the Sony Open at the Crandon Park Tennis Center on March 29, 2014 in Key Biscayne, Florida. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty 

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Walter White: A Victim of American Healthcare

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Future generations might view Breaking Bad as one long ad for the Affordable Care Act (ACA), but at its inception, the issue of healthcare was the root of anxiety for millions of Americans.

Most critics and viewers alike are hailing Breaking Bad as one of the greatest television shows of all time, and for good reason. Like a million other viewers, I was watching the season finale with abated breath this past Sunday night. It was not until this episode that I realized something about the show that I hadn’t really thought about.

In case you’ve been living under a rock, Breaking Bad stars Bryan Cranston as Walter White, high school chemistry teacher turned drug dealer and eventually, powerful drug lord.  The reason for this extreme transformation stems from Mr. White discovering he has lung cancer, and realizing that he may not have long to live. Desperate for money for his family in case he dies, Mr. White uses his knowledge of chemistry to cook crystal meth and, with his partner, distribute it across the Albuquerque area.

Obviously, this is an American television show, but it wasn’t until this last episode that I realized why only American audiences would connect to Mr. White’s money problems. Could it be this show is really a commentary on the American healthcare system?

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Well, duh.

There are several other countries who would look at this show and probably think it ridiculous, ludicrous even that a man faced with cancer would have to worry about something like paying for his medical care- France, Canada, and Australia just to name a few.

Before becoming a meth cook, White is working two jobs, one as a high school chemistry teacher, and the other a cashier at a car wash. As some would have you believe, teachers are very well compensated when it comes to their healthcare, but as Barbara Freidland points out, “Often they, teachers-police-fire fighters- are forced into HMO’s. HMO’s do not usually like paying for expensive medical expertise and treatments. And what if White gets fired because he is too sick to continue to work? There goes the heath coverage… So let’s pay teachers more and hedge fund managers less.”

In this time of great confusion and anxiety over what will or won’t happen concerning healthcare in this country, Breaking Bad is a wonderful indictment on our present system, one that the show points out is broken. Not only does Walt long for money, but he also longs for control; control over his health, how he recovers, how he lives, and how he dies. The system we have had in place robs Walter White of these choices, compelling him to do unspeakable things.

Just two days after the season finale, the ACA went online providing millions of Americans with health insurance purchased through regulated exchanges. If the series had started in 2014, the year Obamacare will be fully implemented, White would have had very few financial worries and his life would have made for extremely boring television. The ACA bans annual limits on insurance coverage and it also puts a limit on out-of-pocket expenses both for families and individuals. According to the Daily Beast, “ the White family would have had to pay $12,700 for Walt’s care. A large sum, but not so much that it makes sense to go into the meth-dealing business.”

This shows examines several important themes: family, loyalty, love, power, gender roles, and the meaning of being “good.” I definitely recommend coming out from under that rock and checking it out. In the meantime, enjoy these graphics that pretty much sum up the connection Breaking Bad shares with our healthcare system.

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Majority of Americans Agree with Obama’s Birth Control Mandate

Politico reports that the majority– 59%– of voters agree with Obama’s recently proposed birth control mandate. The mandate would require that religiously affiliated employers (such as a Catholic hospital) include contraceptives in the health insurance for employees. The rule would not apply to religious institutions, such as churches. While you’ve probably heard much of the backlash from religious institutions, the fact stands that most Americans agree with the new rule.

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It’s important to remember why this subject is so important, today and always. Contraceptives aren’t cheap but are very necessary for women’s reproductive health. Beyond preventing pregnancy, women may take the birth control pill for reasons such as: irregular or absent menstrual periods, menstrual cramps, acne, PMS, endometriosis, and for Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. The birth control pill could mean the difference between getting up in the morning or staying in bed in excruciating pain. In this regard, as well as the more common use of pregnancy prevention, it must be covered by health insurance! Asking women to pay for it out of pocket is oppressive.

Why Black Gay and Transgender Americans Need More Than Marriage Equality

“Liberty and justice for all is not yet a reality in America. Despite the election of our nation’s first African American president, black Americans continue to trail behind their white counterparts in education, employment, and overall health and wellbeing. And while some states and the federal government continue to expand protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, more than half of all states still deny them basic civil rights. Such systemic inequities render people of color who are also gay and transgender among the most vulnerable in our society.”

So begins an article by the Center of American Progress in response to a new report on the state of black gay and transgendered people in America. The article discusses the inequalities discovered in the report, as well as the proposed policy initiatives to make change. Read the whole report here.

Happy Anniversary Roe v. Wade!

This past Sunday, January 22nd, marked the 39th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision. Learn more about the controversial Supreme Court ruling here.

UCD Research Shows Connection Between Birth Weight and Armed Conflict

According to a recent study by UC Denver professors, pregnant women exposed to armed conflict have a higher risk of giving birth to a child weighing less than 5.5lbs, which could change the way aid is distributed to countries in conflict:

Ensure a Safe Birth for Mothers in the West Bank

“Our results provide another reason why pregnant women deserve special attention when armed conflict breaks out.” said Hani Mansour, Ph.D., assistant professor of economics at the University of Colorado Denver who conducted the study with Daniel Rees, Ph.D., a CU Denver professor of economics.

“We find that an additional conflict-related fatality nine to six months before birth is associated with an increase in the probability of having a low-birth weight child,” Mansour said.  “Psychological stress is a plausible explanation for this relationship, although we cannot rule out malnutrition.”

The professors examined a sample of 1,224 births to women living in the West Bank.  Conflict exposure in utero was measured by the number of Palestinians killed by Israeli security forces in the district where the mother lived.

These findings present implications that go well beyond the West Bank. Thankfully, there are groups around the world working to reduce this low birth weight trend. Maybe policymakers should invest in groups like Midwives for Peace, a grassroots group of Palestinian and Israeli midwives who are working to save mother’s and children in regions of conflict.

Do you follow organizations that promote maternal and children’s health? Tell us what you think!

Don’t Rewind Roe

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Tonight Planned Parenthood and Protect Families, Protect Choice presents “Don’t Rewind Roe,” a celebration of the 39th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. The event will feature an “inter-generational dialogue on abortion in popular media.”

Doors are at 6; the program begins at 6:30.

The event is free but an RSVP is required. Click here for more information.

We hope to see you there!