Luena Maillard is a junior who is passionate about holistic health and education. In high school, she was employed by Planned Parenthood as a Peer Health Educator to teach sex ed classes to high school health classes. She is currently working as a PHE here on campus, and you can find her during her office hours at Tiernan Field House for one-on-one conversations!
How do you tell a friend that you’re worried about the way they use sex without slut shaming?
Hey No Judgement!
This is definitely a sensitive topic that can be very difficult to approach, but I have two ideas that might help you to have a conversation with your friend. First, ask yourself what it is exactly you are worried about. When it comes to sexual health, it’s fair to be worried if you know someone does not practice safer sex or does not discuss STI risks with partners. It may also be warranted to worry if their actions seem at odds with what they say they want. An example of this could be if they say they only feel comfortable with sex in relationships, yet have hookups on the weekend. It is also important to remember that there is no way to know intent without asking your friend directly. Whatever it is that is worrying you about your friend, start the conversation by asking them how they’re doing and how they’re feeling about their relationships. Try not to have an opinion or a judgement one way or the other, really just try to listen to what they are saying about how they feel. I hope this helps make the situation more approachable!
How does the way your parents love each other shape the way you love your partners in the future?
Hey Oedipal Arrangements!
What a name you have.. And very interesting question! So far, research has shown a bit of an obvious trend, that if the parents have a good relationship, their children will likely have healthy relationships too. This is not always the rule the other way around though. Children from parents with unhealthy relationships are not guaranteed a life of unhealthy relationships themselves by any means. However, they might have to pay extra attention to their feelings and behaviors. Take the example of a person whose mother left the family when they were two years old: this person might go through life with an underlying belief that their partner will inevitably leave you. Clearly, this could affect their future relationships. Being in tune with these potential sore spots from the past and talking through them with a therapist or a friend can help. We must remember that the people a child lives with are the first example of relationships, romantic relationships, and cohabitation that a child is exposed to. One study in 2009 (Miga, Erin M et al.) suggested that while hostile interactions between parents have shown to have negative effects on how those kids deal with conflict, if parents engaged in constructive conflict resolution in front of the child it is associated with a decrease in aggressive behavior and with the child feeling more stable and able to learn how to work things out. This shows the value of good non-violent communication and problem-solving in a childhood, and whether or not we got to see that as children, we can all work to practice nonviolent communication with the people around us.
This isn’t about sexual health, but it is about body positivity! I’d love to hear your thoughts on body positivity in the context of those who need to gain weight to be healthy (like those with anorexia). I feel like I understand the fat-shaming side of body positivity and how that is TERRIBLE to tell only a fraction of the population to love their bodies. But, what about people who have taken that to heart and feel like they need to be “unhealthily thin”? Can you ask them to love their bodies enough to be healthy (gain weight)? Or, is that another form of body shaming?
– Trying to be Body Positive
Dear Trying to be Body Positive,
I think I hear you asking as a person who is trying to be body positive whether the message should be to say that people who have an eating disorder like anorexia need to ‘love their bodies enough to be healthy/gain weight’ or to say that people who have an eating disorder like anorexia should love their bodies as they are, while that is ‘unhealthily thin’. I think one problem is that eating disorders, while many are tied to body image, are also a form of mental illness. Eating disorders are often extremely associated with control and other illnesses such as anxiety disorders, including obsessive-compulsive disorder and social phobia, mood disorders, and substance abuse disorders. In short, eating disorders are complex, and we still do not know as much about them as we’d like. A person with an eating disorder may not be able to recover solely by ‘loving their bodies enough to be healthy/gain weight’ since there are often many variables. However, having a better body image has never made things worse. Yet it’s not enough to just love your body: you have to be understanding of your body, have empathy for your body, because your body is where you live. And for a lot of people, saying ‘I love my body’ is hard, but it’s a process.
If you can’t say, “I love my body!” try saying, “my body is my home and where I live and it does a good job of that.” Or if you can’t say “I’m beautiful,” start by shutting down the “I’m ugly” thoughts and say “I’m a person.” Most often that is where people need to start, and the most important message we should be spreading in the body positive community.
SUBMIT QUESTIONS TO LUE: