Tag Archives: Ways

Seven ways … to prevent skin cancer

Know your moles

Moles are clusters of pigment-containing cells (melanocytes) and are usually harmless. Melanomas – the least common, but most dangerous type of skin cancer – can arise in pre-existing moles. Things to look out for include rapid growth, a change in colour, shape or border, and a previously flat mole becoming raised. Bleeding, itching, scaling or ulceration, also warrant urgent medical attention. It is useful to know what is normal, too; new, harmless moles often appear up to the age of 25, they tend to fade with age but often get darker in pregnancy. Dermatologist Howard Stevens says melanomas can look like innocent moles (“a wolf in sheep’s clothing”), so if you notice a single large mole (greater than 6mm in diameter) that is growing or changing, ask to see a dermatologist.

Spotting the changes

If you have lots of moles, it can be hard to keep an eye on them. Programmes that monitor your moles (mole mapping) use computer-assisted technology to photograph, analyse and store images of your moles over regular intervals. But you can do it yourself by looking out for the ABCDE of moles; asymmetry, border irregularity, colour change, diameter increase and enlargement or elevation.

Watch your ears and eyes

Take special care of areas of skin that are often exposed to sun, burn easily and don’t heal well – such as the tips of your ears and areas around the eyes. Basal cell cancers – the commonest and least destructive type of skin cancer – often arise near the eyes and sides of the nose. Squamous cell cancers – less common, but occasionally aggressive cancers – can arise on the tops of your ears and lips, often starting as a roughened patch that won’t heal. Melanomas can arise anywhere on the body, either in an existing mole or as a new raised nodule or spot that looks like a mole.

Know your risk

Anyone can get skin cancers, but, as with most cancers, they are much more common as you get older. People most at risk of a melanoma have fair skin and hair, blue eyes, more than 20 moles, have been exposed to severe sunburn (especially in childhood) and have a close family member who has had a melanoma. Once you have had a melanoma, you are at greatly increased risk of another.

Be UV-aware

Exposure to high levels of ultraviolet (UV) radiation from sunlight or sunbeds increases the risk of all types of skin cancer. UVA rays cause skin damage such as wrinkles and play a part in some skin cancers. UVB causes sunburn and direct damage to skin cells and increases the risk of most skin cancers. UV levels can be high even on cloudy days. Rays are strongest from 10am to 4pm, at high altitude and the nearer you are to the equator. The Met Office publishes a UV index forecast for 417 world cities, giving a level of risk from 1-11 and advising about suitable precautions.

What are ‘suitable precautions’?

Look after babies and children; later development of skin cancer is linked to childhood sunburn. Babies should be kept out of direct sun and kids should never be allowed to burn. When the UV index is 1-2 (a typical UK winter day), no protection is needed; UV 3-7 means you should wear a shirt, sunscreen, a hat and sunglasses. For UV 8-11, the advice is to seek shade, stay indoors during midday hours and wear a shirt, hat, shades and sunscreen at all times when outside. A hot summer day in the UK may well reach 7 or even 8.

What sort of sunscreen is best?

You need a broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with a sun-protection factor (SPF) of 30-plus if the UV index is above 3. For an adult, you need two tablespoons (about the amount you can fit in your palm) of sunscreen for your entire body, including ears, neck, face, hands and feet. Put it on while still indoors because it takes about 15 minutes to be absorbed into the skin and start doing its job. Reapply every two hours or immediately after swimming or heavy sweating. Use a lip balm SPF 15-plus to protect lips.

Seven ways … to prevent bowel cancer

Be vigilant

Be aware of early warning signs (blood in stool, frequent/loose stools, abdominal pain/bloating after eating, or weight loss) and see your GP if you are concerned. But don’t panic. Colorectal (bowel) cancer is the third leading cause of deaths from cancer in the developed world, but only 5.4% of us will develop it. The good news is that colorectal cancer deaths have decreased by 30% in the past 20 years – partly because of screening, earlier detection and better treatment.

Especially if you’re over 60

Age is the greatest risk factor: 99% of cases occur in people over 40 and 85% in people over 60. Most people diagnosed are in their 70s. Unfortunately, it’s often older people who are most reluctant to report abnormal bowel symptoms.

Know your family history

It’s important to know your family’s medical history, with the proviso that most people who get bowel cancer don’t have any particular inherited tendency and their children won’t be at increased risk compared with the general population. But in 5-6% of cases there is a genetic predisposition and there are likely to have been other cases in the family. If you have a single first-degree relative with bowel cancer, your risk is two to three times higher than average (or higher if that relative was under 45 years old when they developed the cancer). If you have two affected first-degree relatives, your risk may be as high as four times the average. The most common inherited conditions that cause bowel cancer are familial adenomatous polyposis and Lynch syndrome.

Stay slim and active

Obesity increases the risk of developing and dying from bowel cancer by 1.5 times. The association is stronger for men than women. If you are obese, try to stay active; physical activity seems to offset some of the increased risk of being overweight. Most studies suggest that eating lots of fibre reduces the risk, but that may be partly because people who are a healthy weight tend to have a high-fibre diet.

Easy on the meat

Processed, smoked and cured meats can increase the risk of bowel cancer because they contain chemicals called nitrosamines. People who eat the most processed meat have about a 17% higher risk of developing bowel cancer, compared with those who eat the least. That means 56 out of 1,000 people may get bowel cancer among people who never eat processed meat, 61 out of 1,000 average meat eaters and 66 out of 1,000 among those who eat the most processed meat. The NHS advice is that red meat (pork, beef and lamb) is a good source of protein, but that eating more than 90g a day is associated with an increased risk of bowel cancer. One lamb chop is 70g, so if you have a couple of chops, you may want to give red meat a miss the following day.

An aspirin a day?

Taking a low dose (75mg) of aspirin a day for five years may reduce your risk of bowel cancer, but the risk of gastric bleeding is thought to outweigh the potential benefits. The jury is still out on this one. Likewise, there is no robust evidence yet that statins or hormone replacement therapy prevent bowel cancer.

Get screened

Anyone at greater than average risk of bowel cancer (positive family history, ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease) will be advised about whether and when to have screening with colonoscopy. For the rest of us, the national screening programme in England kicks in aged 55, with a one-off bowel scope screening test in some areas (this is the test Andrew Lansley – the former health secretary who now has bowel cancer – wants rolled out more widely, as it’s currently only available to 50% of eligible people). Those between 60 and 74 years old get sent a home-testing kit once every two years to detect blood in the stool with further investigation if positive. If you want to carry on doing the home test every two years over the age of 75, you can phone the bowel cancer screening helpline on 0800 707 60 60 to request a kit. In Scotland, the programme starts at 50 and broadcaster George Alagiah, who also has bowel cancer, is campaigning for the same service to be provided across the UK.

Eight feminist ways to love your body (without even leaving the house) | Van Badham

“I always end up feeling like shit when I look at Instagram,” said Selena Gomez, who has 133 million Instagram followers, when she was interviewed by Vogue last year.

Selena. Freakin’. Gomez.

Of course, she’s not the only one. In 2017, the UK’s Royal Society for Public Health released a survey of 1,479 young people analysed on their attitudes to social media and found that Instagram, where personal photos take centre stage, received the worst scores for body image and anxiety.

“Instagram easily makes girls and women feel as if their bodies aren’t good enough,” admitted a respondent.

But blaming social media for women’s poor body image is easy. Harder to face is that Instagram is just the latest platform for the insidious syndrome of relentless body-hating our culture encourages in women. On this subject, a Glosswitch piece in the New Statesman exhorted feminists to remember the analysis in older tracts like Susie Orbach’s Fat is a Feminist Issue and Naomi Wolf’s The Beauty Myth, that “oppression was structural and bodies were real.”

“Once upon a time, we may have been angry about this,” she despaired.

Is feminism failing in the fight for the female body? The $ 160bn global beauty industry is growing at up to 7% a year, more than twice the rate of the developed world’s GDP.

My own belief is that it’s hard to escape a cage with a shape that keeps changing. Feminism may have accepted Naomi Wolf’s 1990 dictum that “dieting is the most potent political sedative in women’s history” but in 2018 #cleaneating” and #fitspo don’t admit to being diet cults, even 37m or 54m Instagram posts later. In her latest book, Natural Causes, Barbara Ehrenrich criticises the recent paradigm shift in which “now, health is indistinguishable from virtue”. The last decade has witnessed the emergence of orthorexia – an eating disorder in which a fixation for “healthy eating” is what causes one harm.

However the propaganda message redesigns itself, we can’t – we must not – abandon a feminist imperative to own our bodies as sites of our unconditional love.

It’s an activist mission that’s inspired Grace Ritter to declare “Weigh Free May”. The 24-year-old student from Perth is now in recovery from an eating disorder that dominated her life for 10 years. She’s created a website and Facebook group, encouraging others to let go of obsessive, aesthetic self-assessment for just one month.

Her campaign requires no donation, there are no events beyond your own commitment: “I just wanted to start up a way to get people talking and thinking about ways they could be valuable and things they could do,” she says, “that weren’t about shrinking themselves.”

Grace, I am so in. And in the belief that bodily comfort is a feminist act, I’d thought I’d share my own super scientific recommendations for simple ways to celebrate your body in a weigh-free May.

A poster from Grace Ritter’s Weigh Free May campaign.
A poster from Grace Ritter’s Weigh Free May campaign. Photograph: https://www.weighfreemay.com/

My eight feminist ways to love your body again

Take an Epsom salt bath. You can buy box of magnesium crystals for about five bucks (£2.50) in the supermarket, and poured into a bathtub of warm water they make a sound like fairy magic. The Epsom Salt Council claims the magical properties of a long soak include relaxing muscles, nursing bruises, softening skin and relieving irritations like sunburn. At the very least, you can relax in the tub safe in the knowledge that somewhere in the world there’s an Epsom Salt Council.

Wear comfy slippers. A fancy pair of slippers not only make your feet feel like kissed princesses, they also decrease your risk of catching colds and flu by keeping you warm. Changing into slippers stops you from traipsing gross germs from outside to inside, keeps your carpets cleaner, reduces risk of foot infections, prolongs the life of your socks, prevents floorbound slips, and makes you more productive. Relaxed workers – as it turns out – get more work done.

Cuddle a puppy. Puppies are fluffy bombs of love and adoration that keep you warm and cosy and live for your physical presence. They’re also powerful chemical weapons that activate oxytocin in the brain, reducing bodily stress, improving the immune system and lessening the impact of pain.

Enjoy casual sex. Researchers from NYU and Cornell University concluded that “if you want to have casual sex, you definitely should” as doing so lowers stress and raises overall emotional wellbeing. Only when people bring their hangups to hookups do they become problematic. And there’s a really easy way not to get emotionally hung up on a sex partner. Have a shower and leave, deleting their number on the way out. What you experienced can live on forever in your own smug smile.

Share a cake. Cake is delicious. And according to researcher Penny Wilson from ANU, the consumption of cake also connects us to its social role as “a symbol of joy and celebration; the conveyor of history, culture and tradition; as a token of love, belonging and social occasion”. These are lovely feelings to share with another person. So get someone over and have another piece.

Get around in bamboo underpants. They’re so soft! They’re made from sustainable material! They hug your bum like a baby blanket all day and – even better – discourage the proliferation of vaginal thrush. No, they do not resemble any costume of a Vegas showgirl but, girls, anyone who kicks you out of bed for being comfortable is not gonna provide you much comfort in bed.

Have a cup of tea. Sure, tea reduces risk of heart attack and stroke, may help protect your bones, can alleviate depressive symptoms and studies suggest it can diminish cancer-risk, but the main reason to have a tea is that it’s tasty. Its dreamy flavours and perfumes are transportive. If you brew a quality teabag of black tea in boiling water for no less than three minutes, no more than five, remove the bag and add milk to taste, take a deep sniff and sip … hating anything is really hard.

And, remember, Celeste Barber is good for you. If ever there was an antidote for the body hating blues, it would have to be the Australian comedian. Her legendary Instagram account doesn’t only mock the falsity of Instaperfection, but inspires a vision of female experience in every way superior for a failure to live up to it.

Because we can starve ourselves, measure our pieces, work ourselves into the metal of the gym-machines, suck in our cheeks and become obsessed with our own shame for doing so.

But maybe May is a good month to put on our slippers, get comfortable, watch Celeste and observe that eating chips off the floor, dancing around in your pants and spraying yourself in the face with a hose really does look a lot more like fun.

  • Van Badham is a Guardian Australia columnist

Eight feminist ways to love your body (without even leaving the house) | Van Badham

“I always end up feeling like shit when I look at Instagram,” said Selena Gomez, who has 133 million Instagram followers, when she was interviewed by Vogue last year.

Selena. Freakin’. Gomez.

Of course, she’s not the only one. In 2017, the UK’s Royal Society for Public Health released a survey of 1,479 young people analysed on their attitudes to social media and found that Instagram, where personal photos take centre stage, received the worst scores for body image and anxiety.

“Instagram easily makes girls and women feel as if their bodies aren’t good enough,” admitted a respondent.

But blaming social media for women’s poor body image is easy. Harder to face is that Instagram is just the latest platform for the insidious syndrome of relentless body-hating our culture encourages in women. On this subject, a Glosswitch piece in the New Statesman exhorted feminists to remember the analysis in older tracts like Susie Orbach’s Fat is a Feminist Issue and Naomi Wolf’s The Beauty Myth, that “oppression was structural and bodies were real.”

“Once upon a time, we may have been angry about this,” she despaired.

Is feminism failing in the fight for the female body? The $ 160bn global beauty industry is growing at up to 7% a year, more than twice the rate of the developed world’s GDP.

My own belief is that it’s hard to escape a cage with a shape that keeps changing. Feminism may have accepted Naomi Wolf’s 1990 dictum that “dieting is the most potent political sedative in women’s history” but in 2018 #cleaneating” and #fitspo don’t admit to being diet cults, even 37m or 54m Instagram posts later. In her latest book, Natural Causes, Barbara Ehrenrich criticises the recent paradigm shift in which “now, health is indistinguishable from virtue”. The last decade has witnessed the emergence of orthorexia – an eating disorder in which a fixation for “healthy eating” is what causes one harm.

However the propaganda message redesigns itself, we can’t – we must not – abandon a feminist imperative to own our bodies as sites of our unconditional love.

It’s an activist mission that’s inspired Grace Ritter to declare “Weigh Free May”. The 24-year-old student from Perth is now in recovery from an eating disorder that dominated her life for 10 years. She’s created a website and Facebook group, encouraging others to let go of obsessive, aesthetic self-assessment for just one month.

Her campaign requires no donation, there are no events beyond your own commitment: “I just wanted to start up a way to get people talking and thinking about ways they could be valuable and things they could do,” she says, “that weren’t about shrinking themselves.”

Grace, I am so in. And in the belief that bodily comfort is a feminist act, I’d thought I’d share my own super scientific recommendations for simple ways to celebrate your body in a weigh-free May.

A poster from Grace Ritter’s Weigh Free May campaign.
A poster from Grace Ritter’s Weigh Free May campaign. Photograph: https://www.weighfreemay.com/

My eight feminist ways to love your body again

Take an Epsom salt bath. You can buy box of magnesium crystals for about five bucks (£2.50) in the supermarket, and poured into a bathtub of warm water they make a sound like fairy magic. The Epsom Salt Council claims the magical properties of a long soak include relaxing muscles, nursing bruises, softening skin and relieving irritations like sunburn. At the very least, you can relax in the tub safe in the knowledge that somewhere in the world there’s an Epsom Salt Council.

Wear comfy slippers. A fancy pair of slippers not only make your feet feel like kissed princesses, they also decrease your risk of catching colds and flu by keeping you warm. Changing into slippers stops you from traipsing gross germs from outside to inside, keeps your carpets cleaner, reduces risk of foot infections, prolongs the life of your socks, prevents floorbound slips, and makes you more productive. Relaxed workers – as it turns out – get more work done.

Cuddle a puppy. Puppies are fluffy bombs of love and adoration that keep you warm and cosy and live for your physical presence. They’re also powerful chemical weapons that activate oxytocin in the brain, reducing bodily stress, improving the immune system and lessening the impact of pain.

Enjoy casual sex. Researchers from NYU and Cornell University concluded that “if you want to have casual sex, you definitely should” as doing so lowers stress and raises overall emotional wellbeing. Only when people bring their hangups to hookups do they become problematic. And there’s a really easy way not to get emotionally hung up on a sex partner. Have a shower and leave, deleting their number on the way out. What you experienced can live on forever in your own smug smile.

Share a cake. Cake is delicious. And according to researcher Penny Wilson from ANU, the consumption of cake also connects us to its social role as “a symbol of joy and celebration; the conveyor of history, culture and tradition; as a token of love, belonging and social occasion”. These are lovely feelings to share with another person. So get someone over and have another piece.

Get around in bamboo underpants. They’re so soft! They’re made from sustainable material! They hug your bum like a baby blanket all day and – even better – discourage the proliferation of vaginal thrush. No, they do not resemble any costume of a Vegas showgirl but, girls, anyone who kicks you out of bed for being comfortable is not gonna provide you much comfort in bed.

Have a cup of tea. Sure, tea reduces risk of heart attack and stroke, may help protect your bones, can alleviate depressive symptoms and studies suggest it can diminish cancer-risk, but the main reason to have a tea is that it’s tasty. Its dreamy flavours and perfumes are transportive. If you brew a quality teabag of black tea in boiling water for no less than three minutes, no more than five, remove the bag and add milk to taste, take a deep sniff and sip … hating anything is really hard.

And, remember, Celeste Barber is good for you. If ever there was an antidote for the body hating blues, it would have to be the Australian comedian. Her legendary Instagram account doesn’t only mock the falsity of Instaperfection, but inspires a vision of female experience in every way superior for a failure to live up to it.

Because we can starve ourselves, measure our pieces, work ourselves into the metal of the gym-machines, suck in our cheeks and become obsessed with our own shame for doing so.

But maybe May is a good month to put on our slippers, get comfortable, watch Celeste and observe that eating chips off the floor, dancing around in your pants and spraying yourself in the face with a hose really does look a lot more like fun.

  • Van Badham is a Guardian Australia columnist

Eight feminist ways to love your body (without even leaving the house) | Van Badham

“I always end up feeling like shit when I look at Instagram,” said Selena Gomez, who has 133 million Instagram followers, when she was interviewed by Vogue last year.

Selena. Freakin’. Gomez.

Of course, she’s not the only one. In 2017, the UK’s Royal Society for Public Health released a survey of 1,479 young people analysed on their attitudes to social media and found that Instagram, where personal photos take centre stage, received the worst scores for body image and anxiety.

“Instagram easily makes girls and women feel as if their bodies aren’t good enough,” admitted a respondent.

But blaming social media for women’s poor body image is easy. Harder to face is that Instagram is just the latest platform for the insidious syndrome of relentless body-hating our culture encourages in women. On this subject, a Glosswitch piece in the New Statesman exhorted feminists to remember the analysis in older tracts like Susie Orbach’s Fat is a Feminist Issue and Naomi Wolf’s The Beauty Myth, that “oppression was structural and bodies were real.”

“Once upon a time, we may have been angry about this,” she despaired.

Is feminism failing in the fight for the female body? The $ 160bn global beauty industry is growing at up to 7% a year, more than twice the rate of the developed world’s GDP.

My own belief is that it’s hard to escape a cage with a shape that keeps changing. Feminism may have accepted Naomi Wolf’s 1990 dictum that “dieting is the most potent political sedative in women’s history” but in 2018 #cleaneating” and #fitspo don’t admit to being diet cults, even 37m or 54m Instagram posts later. In her latest book, Natural Causes, Barbara Ehrenrich criticises the recent paradigm shift in which “now, health is indistinguishable from virtue”. The last decade has witnessed the emergence of orthorexia – an eating disorder in which a fixation for “healthy eating” is what causes one harm.

However the propaganda message redesigns itself, we can’t – we must not – abandon a feminist imperative to own our bodies as sites of our unconditional love.

It’s an activist mission that’s inspired Grace Ritter to declare “Weigh Free May”. The 24-year-old student from Perth is now in recovery from an eating disorder that dominated her life for 10 years. She’s created a website and Facebook group, encouraging others to let go of obsessive, aesthetic self-assessment for just one month.

Her campaign requires no donation, there are no events beyond your own commitment: “I just wanted to start up a way to get people talking and thinking about ways they could be valuable and things they could do,” she says, “that weren’t about shrinking themselves.”

Grace, I am so in. And in the belief that bodily comfort is a feminist act, I’d thought I’d share my own super scientific recommendations for simple ways to celebrate your body in a weigh-free May.

A poster from Grace Ritter’s Weigh Free May campaign.
A poster from Grace Ritter’s Weigh Free May campaign. Photograph: https://www.weighfreemay.com/

My eight feminist ways to love your body again

Take an Epsom salt bath. You can buy box of magnesium crystals for about five bucks (£2.50) in the supermarket, and poured into a bathtub of warm water they make a sound like fairy magic. The Epsom Salt Council claims the magical properties of a long soak include relaxing muscles, nursing bruises, softening skin and relieving irritations like sunburn. At the very least, you can relax in the tub safe in the knowledge that somewhere in the world there’s an Epsom Salt Council.

Wear comfy slippers. A fancy pair of slippers not only make your feet feel like kissed princesses, they also decrease your risk of catching colds and flu by keeping you warm. Changing into slippers stops you from traipsing gross germs from outside to inside, keeps your carpets cleaner, reduces risk of foot infections, prolongs the life of your socks, prevents floorbound slips, and makes you more productive. Relaxed workers – as it turns out – get more work done.

Cuddle a puppy. Puppies are fluffy bombs of love and adoration that keep you warm and cosy and live for your physical presence. They’re also powerful chemical weapons that activate oxytocin in the brain, reducing bodily stress, improving the immune system and lessening the impact of pain.

Enjoy casual sex. Researchers from NYU and Cornell University concluded that “if you want to have casual sex, you definitely should” as doing so lowers stress and raises overall emotional wellbeing. Only when people bring their hangups to hookups do they become problematic. And there’s a really easy way not to get emotionally hung up on a sex partner. Have a shower and leave, deleting their number on the way out. What you experienced can live on forever in your own smug smile.

Share a cake. Cake is delicious. And according to researcher Penny Wilson from ANU, the consumption of cake also connects us to its social role as “a symbol of joy and celebration; the conveyor of history, culture and tradition; as a token of love, belonging and social occasion”. These are lovely feelings to share with another person. So get someone over and have another piece.

Get around in bamboo underpants. They’re so soft! They’re made from sustainable material! They hug your bum like a baby blanket all day and – even better – discourage the proliferation of vaginal thrush. No, they do not resemble any costume of a Vegas showgirl but, girls, anyone who kicks you out of bed for being comfortable is not gonna provide you much comfort in bed.

Have a cup of tea. Sure, tea reduces risk of heart attack and stroke, may help protect your bones, can alleviate depressive symptoms and studies suggest it can diminish cancer-risk, but the main reason to have a tea is that it’s tasty. Its dreamy flavours and perfumes are transportive. If you brew a quality teabag of black tea in boiling water for no less than three minutes, no more than five, remove the bag and add milk to taste, take a deep sniff and sip … hating anything is really hard.

And, remember, Celeste Barber is good for you. If ever there was an antidote for the body hating blues, it would have to be the Australian comedian. Her legendary Instagram account doesn’t only mock the falsity of Instaperfection, but inspires a vision of female experience in every way superior for a failure to live up to it.

Because we can starve ourselves, measure our pieces, work ourselves into the metal of the gym-machines, suck in our cheeks and become obsessed with our own shame for doing so.

But maybe May is a good month to put on our slippers, get comfortable, watch Celeste and observe that eating chips off the floor, dancing around in your pants and spraying yourself in the face with a hose really does look a lot more like fun.

  • Van Badham is a Guardian Australia columnist

Eight feminist ways to love your body (without even leaving the house) | Van Badham

“I always end up feeling like shit when I look at Instagram,” said Selena Gomez, who has 133 million Instagram followers, when she was interviewed by Vogue last year.

Selena. Freakin’. Gomez.

Of course, she’s not the only one. In 2017, the UK’s Royal Society for Public Health released a survey of 1,479 young people analysed on their attitudes to social media and found that Instagram, where personal photos take centre stage, received the worst scores for body image and anxiety.

“Instagram easily makes girls and women feel as if their bodies aren’t good enough,” admitted a respondent.

But blaming social media for women’s poor body image is easy. Harder to face is that Instagram is just the latest platform for the insidious syndrome of relentless body-hating our culture encourages in women. On this subject, a Glosswitch piece in the New Statesman exhorted feminists to remember the analysis in older tracts like Susie Orbach’s Fat is a Feminist Issue and Naomi Wolf’s The Beauty Myth, that “oppression was structural and bodies were real.”

“Once upon a time, we may have been angry about this,” she despaired.

Is feminism failing in the fight for the female body? The $ 160bn global beauty industry is growing at up to 7% a year, more than twice the rate of the developed world’s GDP.

My own belief is that it’s hard to escape a cage with a shape that keeps changing. Feminism may have accepted Naomi Wolf’s 1990 dictum that “dieting is the most potent political sedative in women’s history” but in 2018 #cleaneating” and #fitspo don’t admit to being diet cults, even 37m or 54m Instagram posts later. In her latest book, Natural Causes, Barbara Ehrenrich criticises the recent paradigm shift in which “now, health is indistinguishable from virtue”. The last decade has witnessed the emergence of orthorexia – an eating disorder in which a fixation for “healthy eating” is what causes one harm.

However the propaganda message redesigns itself, we can’t – we must not – abandon a feminist imperative to own our bodies as sites of our unconditional love.

It’s an activist mission that’s inspired Grace Ritter to declare “Weigh Free May”. The 24-year-old student from Perth is now in recovery from an eating disorder that dominated her life for 10 years. She’s created a website and Facebook group, encouraging others to let go of obsessive, aesthetic self-assessment for just one month.

Her campaign requires no donation, there are no events beyond your own commitment: “I just wanted to start up a way to get people talking and thinking about ways they could be valuable and things they could do,” she says, “that weren’t about shrinking themselves.”

Grace, I am so in. And in the belief that bodily comfort is a feminist act, I’d thought I’d share my own super scientific recommendations for simple ways to celebrate your body in a weigh-free May.

A poster from Grace Ritter’s Weigh Free May campaign.
A poster from Grace Ritter’s Weigh Free May campaign. Photograph: https://www.weighfreemay.com/

My eight feminist ways to love your body again

Take an Epsom salt bath. You can buy box of magnesium crystals for about five bucks (£2.50) in the supermarket, and poured into a bathtub of warm water they make a sound like fairy magic. The Epsom Salt Council claims the magical properties of a long soak include relaxing muscles, nursing bruises, softening skin and relieving irritations like sunburn. At the very least, you can relax in the tub safe in the knowledge that somewhere in the world there’s an Epsom Salt Council.

Wear comfy slippers. A fancy pair of slippers not only make your feet feel like kissed princesses, they also decrease your risk of catching colds and flu by keeping you warm. Changing into slippers stops you from traipsing gross germs from outside to inside, keeps your carpets cleaner, reduces risk of foot infections, prolongs the life of your socks, prevents floorbound slips, and makes you more productive. Relaxed workers – as it turns out – get more work done.

Cuddle a puppy. Puppies are fluffy bombs of love and adoration that keep you warm and cosy and live for your physical presence. They’re also powerful chemical weapons that activate oxytocin in the brain, reducing bodily stress, improving the immune system and lessening the impact of pain.

Enjoy casual sex. Researchers from NYU and Cornell University concluded that “if you want to have casual sex, you definitely should” as doing so lowers stress and raises overall emotional wellbeing. Only when people bring their hangups to hookups do they become problematic. And there’s a really easy way not to get emotionally hung up on a sex partner. Have a shower and leave, deleting their number on the way out. What you experienced can live on forever in your own smug smile.

Share a cake. Cake is delicious. And according to researcher Penny Wilson from ANU, the consumption of cake also connects us to its social role as “a symbol of joy and celebration; the conveyor of history, culture and tradition; as a token of love, belonging and social occasion”. These are lovely feelings to share with another person. So get someone over and have another piece.

Get around in bamboo underpants. They’re so soft! They’re made from sustainable material! They hug your bum like a baby blanket all day and – even better – discourage the proliferation of vaginal thrush. No, they do not resemble any costume of a Vegas showgirl but, girls, anyone who kicks you out of bed for being comfortable is not gonna provide you much comfort in bed.

Have a cup of tea. Sure, tea reduces risk of heart attack and stroke, may help protect your bones, can alleviate depressive symptoms and studies suggest it can diminish cancer-risk, but the main reason to have a tea is that it’s tasty. Its dreamy flavours and perfumes are transportive. If you brew a quality teabag of black tea in boiling water for no less than three minutes, no more than five, remove the bag and add milk to taste, take a deep sniff and sip … hating anything is really hard.

And, remember, Celeste Barber is good for you. If ever there was an antidote for the body hating blues, it would have to be the Australian comedian. Her legendary Instagram account doesn’t only mock the falsity of Instaperfection, but inspires a vision of female experience in every way superior for a failure to live up to it.

Because we can starve ourselves, measure our pieces, work ourselves into the metal of the gym-machines, suck in our cheeks and become obsessed with our own shame for doing so.

But maybe May is a good month to put on our slippers, get comfortable, watch Celeste and observe that eating chips off the floor, dancing around in your pants and spraying yourself in the face with a hose really does look a lot more like fun.

  • Van Badham is a Guardian Australia columnist

Eight feminist ways to love your body (without even leaving the house) | Van Badham

“I always end up feeling like shit when I look at Instagram,” said Selena Gomez, who has 133 million Instagram followers, when she was interviewed by Vogue last year.

Selena. Freakin’. Gomez.

Of course, she’s not the only one. In 2017, the UK’s Royal Society for Public Health released a survey of 1,479 young people analysed on their attitudes to social media and found that Instagram, where personal photos take centre stage, received the worst scores for body image and anxiety.

“Instagram easily makes girls and women feel as if their bodies aren’t good enough,” admitted a respondent.

But blaming social media for women’s poor body image is easy. Harder to face is that Instagram is just the latest platform for the insidious syndrome of relentless body-hating our culture encourages in women. On this subject, a Glosswitch piece in the New Statesman exhorted feminists to remember the analysis in older tracts like Susie Orbach’s Fat is a Feminist Issue and Naomi Wolf’s The Beauty Myth, that “oppression was structural and bodies were real.”

“Once upon a time, we may have been angry about this,” she despaired.

Is feminism failing in the fight for the female body? The $ 160bn global beauty industry is growing at up to 7% a year, more than twice the rate of the developed world’s GDP.

My own belief is that it’s hard to escape a cage with a shape that keeps changing. Feminism may have accepted Naomi Wolf’s 1990 dictum that “dieting is the most potent political sedative in women’s history” but in 2018 #cleaneating” and #fitspo don’t admit to being diet cults, even 37m or 54m Instagram posts later. In her latest book, Natural Causes, Barbara Ehrenrich criticises the recent paradigm shift in which “now, health is indistinguishable from virtue”. The last decade has witnessed the emergence of orthorexia – an eating disorder in which a fixation for “healthy eating” is what causes one harm.

However the propaganda message redesigns itself, we can’t – we must not – abandon a feminist imperative to own our bodies as sites of our unconditional love.

It’s an activist mission that’s inspired Grace Ritter to declare “Weigh Free May”. The 24-year-old student from Perth is now in recovery from an eating disorder that dominated her life for 10 years. She’s created a website and Facebook group, encouraging others to let go of obsessive, aesthetic self-assessment for just one month.

Her campaign requires no donation, there are no events beyond your own commitment: “I just wanted to start up a way to get people talking and thinking about ways they could be valuable and things they could do,” she says, “that weren’t about shrinking themselves.”

Grace, I am so in. And in the belief that bodily comfort is a feminist act, I’d thought I’d share my own super scientific recommendations for simple ways to celebrate your body in a weigh-free May.

A poster from Grace Ritter’s Weigh Free May campaign.
A poster from Grace Ritter’s Weigh Free May campaign. Photograph: https://www.weighfreemay.com/

My eight feminist ways to love your body again

Take an Epsom salt bath. You can buy box of magnesium crystals for about five bucks (£2.50) in the supermarket, and poured into a bathtub of warm water they make a sound like fairy magic. The Epsom Salt Council claims the magical properties of a long soak include relaxing muscles, nursing bruises, softening skin and relieving irritations like sunburn. At the very least, you can relax in the tub safe in the knowledge that somewhere in the world there’s an Epsom Salt Council.

Wear comfy slippers. A fancy pair of slippers not only make your feet feel like kissed princesses, they also decrease your risk of catching colds and flu by keeping you warm. Changing into slippers stops you from traipsing gross germs from outside to inside, keeps your carpets cleaner, reduces risk of foot infections, prolongs the life of your socks, prevents floorbound slips, and makes you more productive. Relaxed workers – as it turns out – get more work done.

Cuddle a puppy. Puppies are fluffy bombs of love and adoration that keep you warm and cosy and live for your physical presence. They’re also powerful chemical weapons that activate oxytocin in the brain, reducing bodily stress, improving the immune system and lessening the impact of pain.

Enjoy casual sex. Researchers from NYU and Cornell University concluded that “if you want to have casual sex, you definitely should” as doing so lowers stress and raises overall emotional wellbeing. Only when people bring their hangups to hookups do they become problematic. And there’s a really easy way not to get emotionally hung up on a sex partner. Have a shower and leave, deleting their number on the way out. What you experienced can live on forever in your own smug smile.

Share a cake. Cake is delicious. And according to researcher Penny Wilson from ANU, the consumption of cake also connects us to its social role as “a symbol of joy and celebration; the conveyor of history, culture and tradition; as a token of love, belonging and social occasion”. These are lovely feelings to share with another person. So get someone over and have another piece.

Get around in bamboo underpants. They’re so soft! They’re made from sustainable material! They hug your bum like a baby blanket all day and – even better – discourage the proliferation of vaginal thrush. No, they do not resemble any costume of a Vegas showgirl but, girls, anyone who kicks you out of bed for being comfortable is not gonna provide you much comfort in bed.

Have a cup of tea. Sure, tea reduces risk of heart attack and stroke, may help protect your bones, can alleviate depressive symptoms and studies suggest it can diminish cancer-risk, but the main reason to have a tea is that it’s tasty. Its dreamy flavours and perfumes are transportive. If you brew a quality teabag of black tea in boiling water for no less than three minutes, no more than five, remove the bag and add milk to taste, take a deep sniff and sip … hating anything is really hard.

And, remember, Celeste Barber is good for you. If ever there was an antidote for the body hating blues, it would have to be the Australian comedian. Her legendary Instagram account doesn’t only mock the falsity of Instaperfection, but inspires a vision of female experience in every way superior for a failure to live up to it.

Because we can starve ourselves, measure our pieces, work ourselves into the metal of the gym-machines, suck in our cheeks and become obsessed with our own shame for doing so.

But maybe May is a good month to put on our slippers, get comfortable, watch Celeste and observe that eating chips off the floor, dancing around in your pants and spraying yourself in the face with a hose really does look a lot more like fun.

  • Van Badham is a Guardian Australia columnist

Ways to step up the fight against global antimicrobial resistance | Letters

With drug-resistant infections now causing the deaths of half a million people a year, access to clean water and decent sanitation has never been more vital in the race to prevent a global antimicrobial resistance catastrophe. As Dame Sally Davies poignantly highlighted in your report (Experts issue new warning on overuse of antibiotics, 27 March), “the importance of clean water, sanitation and vaccination must not be forgotten to avoid infections occurring in the first place”. This point, alongside the critical role of hygiene, is absolutely key.

This is already a global health emergency, with 844 million people lacking access to clean water and 2.3 billion without safe, private toilets. In developing nations almost 40% of healthcare facilities do not have a water supply, 19% do not provide adequate sanitation and 35% do not have soap and water to sustain good hygiene practices. Without these basics in place, infection prevention and control in healthcare settings becomes almost impossible. So it is no surprise that hospital-acquired infections are the third major driver of antimicrobial resistance globally.

Diarrhoea, pneumonia and cholera are often preventable through basic improvements in water, sanitation and hygiene. When they strike, the pathogens that cause these infections are commonly treated with antibiotics, and are becoming increasingly resistant to available drugs.

Antibiotic use to prevent diarrhoea could be cut by 60% in India, Nigeria, Indonesia and Brazil simply by improving people’s access to water and sanitation, and improving hygiene behaviours. Disease outbreaks are harder to control when sanitation is poor and there is no clean water.

Yet progress on delivering water, sanitation and hygiene is too slow, and not sufficiently threaded throughout the efforts to tackle this looming antibiotic crisis. World decision-makers must acknowledge the pivotal role that water, sanitation and hygiene play in preventing infection and reducing the spread of resistant pathogens, before the next global health crisis hits. Investment in all three elements of water, sanitation and hygiene must be prioritised, and coordinated with other efforts to address the rise of antimicrobial resistance, globally, nationally and locally.

As the old adage goes, prevention is better than cure. Never have those words been more true and more urgent.
Margaret Batty
Director of global policy and campaigns, WaterAid

Your report makes a strong case for concern about the rise of antibiotic-resistant superbugs. But it ignores the elephant in the room – or rather, the pig and the chicken. The developed world still uses a lot more antibiotics than developing countries, and the vast majority of these are fed to animals on factory farms. Though not taking antibiotics for a sore throat can help extend the usefulness of current antibiotics, changing the way we produce meat is much more important.

Plant-based meat from new cutting-edge companies like Beyond Meat and Moving Mountains is both delicious and sustainable, and doesn’t require any antibiotics. And clean meat – actual animal meat grown outside of the animal, with no antibiotics necessary – is rapidly approaching price competitiveness, thanks to the efforts of companies like Memphis Meats.

Moving quickly to plant-based and clean meat is the best thing we can do to avoid pandemics of antibiotic-resistant superbugs.
Matt Ball
The Good Food Institute

Join the debate – email guardian.letters@theguardian.com

Read more Guardian letters – click here to visit gu.com/letters

Ways to step up the fight against global antimicrobial resistance | Letters

With drug-resistant infections now causing the deaths of half a million people a year, access to clean water and decent sanitation has never been more vital in the race to prevent a global antimicrobial resistance catastrophe. As Dame Sally Davies poignantly highlighted in your report (Experts issue new warning on overuse of antibiotics, 27 March), “the importance of clean water, sanitation and vaccination must not be forgotten to avoid infections occurring in the first place”. This point, alongside the critical role of hygiene, is absolutely key.

This is already a global health emergency, with 844 million people lacking access to clean water and 2.3 billion without safe, private toilets. In developing nations almost 40% of healthcare facilities do not have a water supply, 19% do not provide adequate sanitation and 35% do not have soap and water to sustain good hygiene practices. Without these basics in place, infection prevention and control in healthcare settings becomes almost impossible. So it is no surprise that hospital-acquired infections are the third major driver of antimicrobial resistance globally.

Diarrhoea, pneumonia and cholera are often preventable through basic improvements in water, sanitation and hygiene. When they strike, the pathogens that cause these infections are commonly treated with antibiotics, and are becoming increasingly resistant to available drugs.

Antibiotic use to prevent diarrhoea could be cut by 60% in India, Nigeria, Indonesia and Brazil simply by improving people’s access to water and sanitation, and improving hygiene behaviours. Disease outbreaks are harder to control when sanitation is poor and there is no clean water.

Yet progress on delivering water, sanitation and hygiene is too slow, and not sufficiently threaded throughout the efforts to tackle this looming antibiotic crisis. World decision-makers must acknowledge the pivotal role that water, sanitation and hygiene play in preventing infection and reducing the spread of resistant pathogens, before the next global health crisis hits. Investment in all three elements of water, sanitation and hygiene must be prioritised, and coordinated with other efforts to address the rise of antimicrobial resistance, globally, nationally and locally.

As the old adage goes, prevention is better than cure. Never have those words been more true and more urgent.
Margaret Batty
Director of global policy and campaigns, WaterAid

Your report makes a strong case for concern about the rise of antibiotic-resistant superbugs. But it ignores the elephant in the room – or rather, the pig and the chicken. The developed world still uses a lot more antibiotics than developing countries, and the vast majority of these are fed to animals on factory farms. Though not taking antibiotics for a sore throat can help extend the usefulness of current antibiotics, changing the way we produce meat is much more important.

Plant-based meat from new cutting-edge companies like Beyond Meat and Moving Mountains is both delicious and sustainable, and doesn’t require any antibiotics. And clean meat – actual animal meat grown outside of the animal, with no antibiotics necessary – is rapidly approaching price competitiveness, thanks to the efforts of companies like Memphis Meats.

Moving quickly to plant-based and clean meat is the best thing we can do to avoid pandemics of antibiotic-resistant superbugs.
Matt Ball
The Good Food Institute

Join the debate – email guardian.letters@theguardian.com

Read more Guardian letters – click here to visit gu.com/letters

Ways to step up the fight against global antimicrobial resistance | Letters

With drug-resistant infections now causing the deaths of half a million people a year, access to clean water and decent sanitation has never been more vital in the race to prevent a global antimicrobial resistance catastrophe. As Dame Sally Davies poignantly highlighted in your report (Experts issue new warning on overuse of antibiotics, 27 March), “the importance of clean water, sanitation and vaccination must not be forgotten to avoid infections occurring in the first place”. This point, alongside the critical role of hygiene, is absolutely key.

This is already a global health emergency, with 844 million people lacking access to clean water and 2.3 billion without safe, private toilets. In developing nations almost 40% of healthcare facilities do not have a water supply, 19% do not provide adequate sanitation and 35% do not have soap and water to sustain good hygiene practices. Without these basics in place, infection prevention and control in healthcare settings becomes almost impossible. So it is no surprise that hospital-acquired infections are the third major driver of antimicrobial resistance globally.

Diarrhoea, pneumonia and cholera are often preventable through basic improvements in water, sanitation and hygiene. When they strike, the pathogens that cause these infections are commonly treated with antibiotics, and are becoming increasingly resistant to available drugs.

Antibiotic use to prevent diarrhoea could be cut by 60% in India, Nigeria, Indonesia and Brazil simply by improving people’s access to water and sanitation, and improving hygiene behaviours. Disease outbreaks are harder to control when sanitation is poor and there is no clean water.

Yet progress on delivering water, sanitation and hygiene is too slow, and not sufficiently threaded throughout the efforts to tackle this looming antibiotic crisis. World decision-makers must acknowledge the pivotal role that water, sanitation and hygiene play in preventing infection and reducing the spread of resistant pathogens, before the next global health crisis hits. Investment in all three elements of water, sanitation and hygiene must be prioritised, and coordinated with other efforts to address the rise of antimicrobial resistance, globally, nationally and locally.

As the old adage goes, prevention is better than cure. Never have those words been more true and more urgent.
Margaret Batty
Director of global policy and campaigns, WaterAid

Your report makes a strong case for concern about the rise of antibiotic-resistant superbugs. But it ignores the elephant in the room – or rather, the pig and the chicken. The developed world still uses a lot more antibiotics than developing countries, and the vast majority of these are fed to animals on factory farms. Though not taking antibiotics for a sore throat can help extend the usefulness of current antibiotics, changing the way we produce meat is much more important.

Plant-based meat from new cutting-edge companies like Beyond Meat and Moving Mountains is both delicious and sustainable, and doesn’t require any antibiotics. And clean meat – actual animal meat grown outside of the animal, with no antibiotics necessary – is rapidly approaching price competitiveness, thanks to the efforts of companies like Memphis Meats.

Moving quickly to plant-based and clean meat is the best thing we can do to avoid pandemics of antibiotic-resistant superbugs.
Matt Ball
The Good Food Institute

Join the debate – email guardian.letters@theguardian.com

Read more Guardian letters – click here to visit gu.com/letters