At Lilypads we cannot believe we are at September already! Where does the time go?! We are a team that loves reflecting and so we thought we would share some of the things we have been up to.
‘Time of the Week’ Lilypads Podcast Launch
We just launched our podcast! The ‘Time of the ‘Week’ Podcast launched in mid-September and we love it already! We wanted to launch a podcast because we love engaging in the topics we care about and sharing our thoughts with our Lilypads community! The idea behind the podcast is each week, Mhairi and Alison will sit down (usually with a cuppa) and have a chat. They pick apart a topic or a question which has been sent in by the lovely listeners themselves sharing their own thoughts, experiences and any tips they might have. If you haven’t already, give our podcast a listen on Spotify, Apple Podcasts or Buzzsprout.
Our pads are on their way!
Our crowdfunder ended in August. This was a huge success thanks to all of your support. The crowdfunder allowed us to start manufacturing our reusable period pads! Over the next 2 weeks we will be packaging these up and sending them to everyone who purchased pads through the campaign! We are so excited to hear your thoughts.
Lilypads have a new international partnership…
The Lilypads team are so excited to announce a new international partnership. Embrace Ability are an incredible charity committed to improving the lives of disabled children and their families in Cambodia.
Covid-19 has had a huge impact on communities around the world, including Koh Dach Island, where Embrace Ability are based. Part of their response to the pandemic was ensuring the families on the island were still able to access essential supplies. Embrace Ability has implemented this through a “cash transfer programme that grants agency and choice to their beneficiaries”. This aims to “stimulate the markets and economy of Koh Dach Island. It was through this amazing initiative that Embrace Ability recognised the need for access to period products. Lilypads are excited to start working with Embrace Ability providing access to products and setting up our microfinance model enabling local women to sell products flexibly around other commitments. Stay tuned for updates on all our international work here.
Today, we have picked just 3 updates to share with you. We are so excited to keep working hard to ensure no one is limited by their period. Stay tuned with what we get up to on our Instagram, Facebookand LinkedIN pages.
The side effects of periods are not as commonly known as they should be. Period education in schools can vary dramatically and as a consequence our understandings of periods can also be lacking. The education we get in school can also be a little abstract, focusing more on the biology side of periods rather than the social experience of them. Today, we are going to outline some of the side effects of periods and symptoms linked to periods which are rarely discussed in school and tips on how to cope with them!
Bloating is a common side effect of periods and it is estimated that 70% of women and people who menstruate experience this during their period. Bloating is caused by fluctuation is hormone levels and can be pretty annoying an uncomfortable. Bloating is nothing to be ashamed of and going about your regular day with confidence is highly encouraged! However, if you are looking for methods to try and ease the uncomfortableness, drinking herbal teas, avoiding sugary and fizzy drinks and getting some rest or going for a light walk can help.
Period poop is a real thing! A change in the smell, consistency and frequency of your poop during your period is completely normal. Putting it simply, this happens because prior to your period, your uterus begins to produce chemical which smooth the muscles of the uterus helping it to contract and shed the lining (menstrual blood) every month. If there are left over chemicals or the body has produced too many, they will enter your bloodstream and will smooth other muscles in the body such as your bowels! Being constipated on your period is also very common as low levels of these chemicals can prevent or slow down digestion.
Feeling exhausted during or prior to your period is also completely normal. Menstrual bleeding can lead to exhaustion or tiredness as oestrogen levels drop resulting in your energy levels decreasing. They will increase again after your period. It is important to stick to a healthy sleep pattern and remain hydrated to look after your body, but there is nothing wrong with having a chill shay or an afternoon nap to increase your energy levels! (Chocolate can also help of course!)
To learn more about our education programme and how we aim to discuss the social side of periods in the classroom click here.
In our previous post we talked about the Pain Gap – the way pain is treated and understood differently between men and women. Women’s pain is often dismissed or downplayed by medical professionals, with dangerous consequences for women. It’s a super important topic, but it’s also a massive bummer. So today we wanted to give you five different ideas for how to fight that pain gap.
1. Be your own advocate
As women, we are socialised to be less willing to challenge authority and question their opinion. That’s a tricky behaviour to unlearn but it’s important to remember that even if you’re not a medical expert, you are an expert on your own body. It’s okay to be pushy to get the right treatment for you or make sure your concerns or experience is listened to.
A good place to start can be knowing the often multiple ways the game can be stacked against you. Fat women (and men) are frequently told that their illnesses or issues are all because of their weight, regardless of how healthy they are otherwise. Black women are five times more likely than white women to die in childbirth in the UK, at least in part because they are less likely to be listened to by their doctor. It obviously shouldn’t be your burden to fight for systemic change, but knowing the ways you might get dismissed can help you to navigate your care more effectively and have confidence that it’s not a problem with you – it’s a problem with the system, and you deserve to be heard.
2. Hack their biases
Biases exist, and if you can’t stop them happening, you might as well see if you can get them to work for you. One study found that doctors seem to respond better to the ways men typically describe pain. Women tend to talk more about the context of their pain, for example how it is impacting their ability to socialise or the way they look after their children. Men tend to use more clinical terms and physical descriptions and emphasise how it’s impacting their work, so if you feel like you’re not getting through, as frustrating as it may seem, maybe try changing the language you’re using to get your message across.
Another study found that doctors take the pain of women they find attractive less seriously than women they find unattractive. Personally, I would have thought that me talking at length about the weird pus coming from my eye would make me pretty unattractive regardless of my other features, but hey ho, I guess everyone’s got their kink. I’m not sure there’s much in terms of practical steps to take from this one, but maybe if you feel you aren’t being listened to by your doctor, take the opportunity to lean across the desk and say “Look, I know I’m pretty stunning, but seriously I’m in a lot of pain and need a solution.”
3. If you need to, change your GP
Much like with boyfriends (or significant others generally), there’s no point sticking with a GP who isn’t giving you what you need. Dump. Their. Ass. Don’t be afraid to play the field, until you find one who’s right for you. Of course, having a good GP doesn’t mean one who’s a total pushover – but you deserve to feel like your’re really being listened to and that you can tell them your concerns and ask questions.
4. Get the word out
The more people know about the pain gap, the more of us who can push for fair treatment, and there’s so many ways you can spread the word. Share one of our instagram posts about the pain gap! Send a friend a friend a link to one of our blogs, or one of these great articles from the BBC, Guardian, Vox or Marie Claire! Send an email to your MP or MSP telling them how mad you are about this and asking what they are doing about it! Write to your local medical school and ask how they are trying to train the next generation of nurses and doctors to be less susceptible to these biases than the last!
It’s also important to think about your own privilege and whether there are stories you could be helping share of women who are less likely to listened to, because of their race, body-shape, sexuality or any other reason.
5. Learn about your body and talk about your body
The education we get about our bodies in school is super limited, but there are so many great resources now, whether books, podcasts, influencers or YouTubers. Find ones that work for you! Our friends can also be a fantastic resource and it can be really helpful to normalise talking openly and honestly about your body with your friends. Sharing your experiences, your worries, as well as what you love and cherish about your body can be a massive help in gaining confidence in your own body and what a healthy body looks and feels like. Knowledge is power.
In recent weeks, the usual steady background noise of body-shaming and fatphobia has seen an uptick. A higher mortality of Covid-19 among people deemed obese led to a range of Government proposals, including calories to be displayed on restaurant menus and a public campaign to encourage people to lose weight. Soon after, a leading figure in the National Obesity Forum also suggested that children be regularly weighed at school after lockdown, despite concerns that this would be incredibly anxiety inducing for many children. These are all proposals presented as having our best interests at heart, but they embody a far darker part of our society.
The individual parts of these proposals can be picked apart. For examples, calories calculated by restaurants are often inaccurate but, even if they were right, calorie counting has long been discredited as an effective way to lose weight or improve how healthy your diet is. Unsurprisingly, your body is more complicated than a calorie-in, calorie-out machine.
But what’s more concerning is not that these proposals won’t help people – it’s that they’ll be actively damaging. Adding to a culture of fat shaming is not likely to make people thinner – somewhere around 95 to 98% of all diets fail. Instead, it just makes people hate their bodies more.
A lot of people already have a very negative image of their own body: nearly a third of teenagers are ashamed of their bodies, and one in eight adults in the UK say they have experienced suicidal thoughts because of their negative body image. And this isn’t just an issue which affects women – the rate of boys hospitalised for eating disorders is actually increasing faster than among girls.
Part of the cause in this increasing rise is to do with social media presenting us constantly with so many seemingly perfect bodies, but it’s also to do with a far wider societal disgust at fatness. How often have you seen a fat person in a film or TV show portrayed as sexy? It’s probably nowhere near as often as the amount of times fat people are shown as disgusting, gluttonous or lacking in self-control. (In contrast, the rise of super humanly ripped heroes in blockbuster films has also been linked to worsening body image among men).
As a society we are obsessed with weight loss. It only took till July for the Daily Mail, to run an article on a diet that “will help shed your quarantine pounds” – even living through a global pandemic is no longer an acceptable excuse for weight gain. When we’re constantly bombarded with all this messaging about how if we were only willing to put in a little work to change we could have the body of our dreams, it’s no wonder that so many of us are ashamed of our less than perfect bodies.
None of this is to say that we couldn’t be healthier as a society, but focussing on obesity probably isn’t a very helpful place to start. For one thing weight or BMI is a really bad metric to predict if someone is actually healthy.
We could focus on making healthy food more affordable on accessible, or change PE classes in schools so that they’re a place where kids actually have a fun time, rather than, as many do, feeling like this is not a space where they feel safe.
But we also need to normalise different bodies. You can start this for yourself by diversifying the people you follow on Instagram! There’s some incredible activists working on body positivity and fat activism, including ones based in Scotland like Danni Gordon and Scottee – so go give them a follow!
There’s also great advice out there on how to develop a healthier body image for yourself, and how that can feed into a positive relationship with your mental health more broadly. It’s also really helpful to read up on the ways our culture influences how we think about differently sized bodies. We particularly recommend Sofie Hagen’s book Happy Fat – it’s funny and often very personal, but will also make you want to start a revolution. Michael Hobbes’s article on the “obesity epidemic” also offers a lot of insight into the struggles and discrimination that many fat people face in their personal relationships and interactions with doctors as a result of fatphobia.
We talk a lot about the “obesity crisis”, but the way many of our politicians and media are talking about bodies and health is so counterproductive that it’s damaging how many of us see our own body and our mental health along with it, while not making us any physically healthier. For all our sakes, it’s time we start having a more productive conversation around health and bodies, and started recognising beautiful bodies in all their different shapes and sizes.
Lockdown hit hard and fast -our normal everyday lives suddenly looked very different. It can be incredibly hard to cope with such extreme changes and actually it is perfectly natural to feel a range of feelings and emotions. Lockdown was difficult enough without being bombarded with advertisements from fitness companies and a constant stream of ‘ Stay Fit’ and ‘ How to avoid lockdown weight gain’ on many social media sites. The pressure that was put on many of us to stay active during such a difficult time was immense.
We were being told by the government to stay indoors as much as possible in order to keep ourselves and others safe yet social media reflected a very different message -one that often felt like it was making people feel guilty or lazy for not going to the gym or exercising as usual. While the messages were mixed it was very easy to fall under the spell of such toxic messages relating to weight gain during lockdown.
You are worthy
Lilypads are here to tell you – Your body is beautiful just the way it is! It doesn’t matter if you put on a few pounds during lockdown or that your body feels different. We are all surviving an incredibly stressful event- a pandemic. Our bodies can go into survival mode and its actually a normal response to want to eat more. However we also understand it can be incredibly triggering if you have suffered with issues surrounding food or weight gain in the past. But just know that your body is powerful and there is help out there. We have signposted at the end of this blog some fantastic organisations out there who can help if you are feeling like you are in a tough spot right now.
So what about post lockdown?
Now we are out of lockdown and beginning to branch out into the world we want you to do one thing- Ask yourself how am I feeling? Checking in with yourself is so important. Its your body and yours alone so making friends with it is half the battle. Don’t beat yourself up for the fact you ate more during a lifechanging pandemic or that you missed the gym for a few months. You survived, you got through it and are hopefully coming out the other side of it. Having some coping strategies is key to dealing with whatever the world throws at you next. Start by doing what makes you feel good – if that is hitting the gym then do it but if its going for cake with friends then do that too! Do what makes you feel best and happy!
Humans we love
Its also key to note there is some amazing things happening on social media right now in particular Instagram. Body activists are providing a safe space for us to accept and love our bodies. Here at lilypads we have a few favorite accounts we love to follow for their inspiring and inspirational content. Check out @chachipowerprojectwho is advocate of body confidence and self love, @em_clarksonfor uplifting and empowering content on body acceptance and lastly @curvynyome for body love and mental health content.
If you are having a tough time loving your body that’s ok-don’t beat yourself up about it- but even looking at some real and authentic bodies that come in all shapes and sizes on Instagram can make you feel empowered and inspired. Instagram can be such a supportive space but equally it can be a destructive one at times. If there’s accounts you follow for fitness or health inspiration just make sure you are indeed following them for that reason. If for whatever reason you start to feel pressured or anxious take a break from Instagram or even mute the accounts who might be triggering you- this is a powerful step you can take yourself to feel better.
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