Tag Archives: Emotional Wellbeing

Mind, Health, Vulnerability & Me

When I was a child, I learnt to be many things. Strong was one of them. My life wasn’t easy, and it didn’t get much better as I grew up. I had to develop a thick skin to survive in a country in where people like me weren’t accepted or/and were always singled out, because of our skin colour. While racial attacks were uncommon for me in school, not being feminine, not being conventionally pretty and being overweight caused me trouble to fit in girls groups. Still, I was never considered “one of the boys”: I just didn’t have many friends.

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Defining Development: Aid, Sustainable Development Goals, Colonisation, Well-Being & Participation

“International Development”, I say while I observe how my relative’s face shows sudden confusion. This follows whenever I mention the course I am studying in university. Nobody knows what it means. I even struggle to explain or define it. I throw around words like “poverty” or “human rights”, hoping people will understand.  Fortunately, many get the general idea quickly. Still, they assume the word is just linked to the aid organisations. And I’m not surprised. That’s how development is advertised in The West.

save-the-children-ad-series-thing-of-the-past-water

(Example of a charity marketing “poverty” by using the stereotypical image of a black African child in a muddy and dirty environment looking for clean water.)

However, for me, development is not about “saving the poor”. It is about environmental sustainability and improving people’s lives. Nevertheless, nothing is perfect. Development can be a problematic term for many, including myself sometimes, although I can still see the positive side of it.

On the one hand, professors like Gilbert Rist argue that development is a just a vague “buzzword” that needs to redefined from “wishful thinking” to “actual practices”(Rist, 2007). I partly agree with him. I’m sure many of you have heard about the UN Sustainable Development Goals set for 2030, available below.

Global-Goals-for-Sustainable-Development

(The 17 Sustainable Development Goals set for 20303.)

In my opinion, this is a clear example of “wishful thinking”. I’m apprehensive of how honest is the commitment. I find ironic how the same world promising to meet these goals is being harsh with refugees and migrants drowning in the Mediterranean. Or how some politicians promising to achieve these targets have been cutting funding for welfare in their own countries.

Moreover, I can’t ignore how many development policies by multilateral organisations remind me of colonialism: Western countries imposing ideas and capitalistic models in poorer Southern countries, ignoring culture and erasing identities. The activist Gustavo Esteva said it better: “Today, for two-thirds of the people of the world, (under)development is a threat that has already been carried out; a life of subordination and of being led astray, of discrimination and subjugation4.” (Esteva, 2010: 6, The Development Dictionary)

On the other hand, professors like Robert Chambers have an optimistic view of development, which I share too. Chambers said, “The objective of development is well-being for all”, and “well-being and ill-being differ from wealth and poverty”5  (Chambers, 1997).

cc

“The web of responsible well-being according to Chambers5”.

For too long the term “development” has been associated exclusively with economic growth. But as Chamber illustrates in the picture above, it is not just about money matters. In addition, I believe “rich” countries shouldn’t be a models for “poor” countries. For instance, United Kingdom has the 6th largest economy in the world, yet 1 in 5 residents live below the poverty line6. Besides, the lifestyle in “rich” countries isn’t sustainable.  Sociologists like Otto Ullrich claim that, “If one were to extend this [USA’s] industrial mode of production and lifestyle to all people of the earth, five or six further planets like the earth would be required for resource plundering and waste disposal4(Ullrich, 2010. 313, The Development Dictionary). And I agree.

Another reason why I support Chamber’s definition of development is the participatory approach to it: the focus on what locals want over the thoughts of Westerns. Not having a good understanding of locals’ lives can lead to misinterpretations, such as the false deforestation narrative encountered by anthropologists James Fairhead and Melissa Leach in West Africa years ago7.

On conclusion: there isn’t a definition for “development”. What is clear is that it is not as positive as it seems: there needs to be a profound redefinition of the ambitions behind it. And we must remember that almost certainly, no country is “fully developed”. Sustainability, equality and justice, livelihood security, and human rights, the main objectives in development, are issues that no country in the world has addressed 100%.

Sharing my thoughts on academic matters,

Emilie

References

  1. Funny Commercials World. 2009. Save The Children ad series: Thing Of The Past. http://www.funnycommercialsworld.com/save-the-children-ad-series-thing-of-the-past-2790.html. Last Accessed: 04/10/2015
  2. Rist, Gilbert (2007) ‘Development’, Development in Practice17(4-5):485-491.
  3. Blue and Green Tomorrow. 2015. The Global Goals for Sustainable Development. http://blueandgreentomorrow.com/2015/09/24/the-global-goals-for-sustainable-development/Last Accessed: 04/10/2015.
  4. Sachs, Wolfgang. 2010. The Development Dictionary. 2nd New York, USA: Zed Books.
  5. Chambers, Robert. 1997. ‘Responsible Well-being: A Personal Agenda for Development’,World Development25(11):1743-1754.
  6. 2015. Poverty in the UK. http://policy-practice.oxfam.org.uk/our-work/poverty-in-the-uk. Last Accessed: 04/10/2015.
  7. Fairhead, J. and M. Leach. 1995. ‘False forest history, complicit social analysis: rethinking some West African environmental narratives’. World Development23 (6): 1023-1036.

[Word Count: 584 (without references and picture captions)]

Embrace Your Body Because

1) As far as I am aware, we all have collar bones and hip bones, so saying “I want hip bones and collar bones” is ridiculous. If we didn’t that those body structures, we wouldn’t be able to be move or keep a straight posture, to start with.

2) If your collar bones and hip bones notice naturally, it is fine, because that is your composition determined by your genes. Same with thigh gap. Some people are naturally thin, or really thin, and they can’t really get fatter even if they eat a lot.

3) Just because you don’t have a thigh gap, or your bones don’t notice, doesn’t mean you are overweight. I repeat, each person’s body composition is different and doctors are who determine if you need to lose weight or not.

4) Starving yourself for a “perfect” body is not the answer, and it can have long term bad effects on your health.

5) If you want to tone up your body, increase your exercise amounts. Depending on which part of the body you want to tone up, there are different workouts which could help, and you don’t need a gym most of the times.

6) Some people are naturally thick. For instance, I don’t eat a lot of bad food, but my metabolism is very slowly, so I accumulate fat easily. I exercise to tackle this. Therefore, not everyone who is thick or fat or overweight is like that due to unhealthy habits.

7) There is not a perfect body shape. You are tall? Good. You are short? Good. You have curves? Good. You don’t have? Good. Your butt is big? Good. Your butt is small? Good. You boobs are big? Good. Your boobs are small? Good. Your legs are thin? Good. Your legs are thick? Good. You have a flat belly? Good. You don’t have a flat belly? Good. You muscles are very marked? Good. Your muscles aren’t very marked? Good. Plain or Curvy. Thin or Thick. Your bones show, your bones don’t show. It doesn’t matters. As humans, we are different, we have different body shapes. 

8) I’m not saying being fat is the best. The problem is people call fat to what it isn’t fat. There is nothing cool in being overweight and there is nothing cool in being underweight. We should all aim for our ideal weight, determined by the doctor. But that doesn’t mean you have the right to call someone “skeleton” or “whale”. You should never! You don’t know the reason why that person is like that, so don’t even.

9) Fat is not an insult. Thin is not an insult. These two things are different body types, and shouldn’t be used to offend someone.

10) If your aim in life is a “sexy body” to get a boy/girl, sorry but you need to evaluate again some of your values, because it doesn’t works like that. You should do things for YOU, not for others! And image attracts, but is personality what makes people fall in love for you.

And 11) As I always say, I will never stop saying, beauty is subjective. Some people find attractive curvy bodies, others plain bodies. Others prefer big butts, others don’t. Don’t worry. You will always be attractive to someone, don’t force yourself to a body shape to impress others. As long as you are healthy, don’t put pressure on yourself to lose weight. It is ok if you want to tone up, I understand. But being underweight is as bad as being overweight. And please, society can shut up. Also remember that you are society, so you may shut up when thinking about insulting others due to their body shape.

Rant about Body Shapes

Okay, I’m going to rant about a topic which makes me mad and insane whenever I hear about it. “I want a thigh gap, I want collar bones, I want hip bones, I want flat stomach etc etc.” Guys, please!

1) As far as I am aware, we all have collar bones and hip bones. If not, we wouldn’t be able to be straight, nor even walk.

2) If your collar bones and hip bones notice naturally, it is fine, because that is your composition determined by your genes. Same with thigh gap. Some people are naturally thin, or really thin, and they can’t really get fatter even if they eat a lot.

3) Just because you don’t have a thigh gap, or your bones don’t notice, doesn’t mean you are overweight. I repeat, each person’s body composition is different and doctors are who determine if you need to lose weight or not.

4) Starving yourself for a “perfect” body is not the answer, and it can have long term bad effects on your health.

5) If you want to tone up your body, increase your exercise amounts. Depending on which part of the body you want to tone up, there are different workouts which could help, and you don’t need a gym most of the times.

6) Some people are naturally thick. For instance, I don’t eat a lot of bad food, but my metabolism is very slowly, so I accumulate fat easily. I exercise to tackle this. Therefore, not everyone who is thick or fat or overweight is like that due to unhealthy habits.

7) There is not a perfect body shape. You are tall? Good. You are short? Good. You have curves? Good. You don’t have? Good. Your butt is big? Good. Your butt is small? Good. You boobs are big? Good. Your boobs are small? Good. Your legs are thin? Good. Your legs are thick? Good. You have a flat belly? Good. You don’t have a flat belly? Good. You muscles are very marked? Good. Your muscles aren’t very marked? Good. Plain or Curvy. Thin or Thick. Your bones show, your bones don’t show. It doesn’t matters. As humans, we are different, we have different body shapes. 

8) I’m not saying being fat is the best. The problem is people call fat to what it isn’t fat. There is nothing cool in being overweight and there is nothing cool in being underweight. We should all aim for our ideal weight, determined by the doctor. But that doesn’t mean you have the right to call someone “skeleton” or “whale”. You should never! You don’t know the reason why that person is like that, so don’t even.

9) Fat is not an insult. Thin is not an insult. These two things are different body types, and shouldn’t be used to offend someone.

10) If your aim in life is a “sexy body” to get a boy/girl, sorry but you need to evaluate again some of your values, because it doesn’t works like that. You should do things for YOU, not for others! And image attracts, but is personality what makes people fall in love for you.

And 11) As I always say, I will never stop saying, beauty is subjective. Some people find attractive curvy bodies, others plain bodies. Others prefer big butts, others don’t. Don’t worry. You will always be attractive to someone, don’t force yourself to a body shape to impress others. As long as you are healthy, don’t put pressure on yourself to lose weight. It is ok if you want to tone up, I understand. But being underweight is as bad as being overweight. And please, society can shut up. Also remember that you are society, so you may shut up when thinking about insulting others due to their body shape.

End of rant.

Emilie H. Featherington