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Lesbian, Latina and large-bodied Laura Aguilar reclaims her body and journey headline-grabbing exhibition

Lesbian, Latina and large-bodied, Laura Aguilar fearlessly reclaims her body and her journey with headline-grabbing exhibition Show and Tell at the Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum FIU in Miami, Florida.

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"At Home with the Nortes" (1990). Courtesy of Laura Aguilar and the UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center

Lesbian, Latina and large-bodied, Laura Aguilar fearlessly reclaims her body and her journey with headline-grabbing exhibition Show and Tell at the Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum FIU (located on the campus of Florida International University) in Miami in the US East Coast in Miami until May 27.

The first comprehensive retrospective of the American photographer’s work assembles more than 100 photographs and video spanning three decades. A rebellious and groundbreaking Chicana, Aguilar’s retrospective has been heralded for establishing the artist as a powerful voice for diverse “invisible” communities, and for disrupting repressive stereotypes of beauty and body representation. Often political as well as personal, the bold portraits cut across performative, feminist and queer art genres.

Laura Aguilar, Grounded #111, 2006. Inkjet print.
Courtesy of the artist and the UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center. © Laura Aguilar

The images captured through her lens reflect Aguilar’s struggles with depression, obesity, self-acceptance, prejudice and misogyny.

Challenged by auditory dyslexia, she struggled with words and turned to her camera to penetrate the underground LGBT world around her in the East Los Angeles of the 1980s and 90s. Her later works cross into never-before-seen territory: Aguilar’s daring self-portraits juxtapose her over-sized, naked body alongside desolate terrains, hulking boulders and stark bodies of water.

“Laura Aguilar’s works express raw honesty without demanding a singular response, and we are seeing how her exhibition is providing transformative experiences for those who are open to it,” said Jordana Pomeroy, director of the Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum FIU. “Exhibited outside of its native Southern California context, Aguilar’s exhibition resounds strongly to our East Coast, Latin American and Caribbean audiences ─ with universal truths about the ways we view others who may not look like ourselves or share our backgrounds.”

The exhibition was curated by Sybil Venegas, and was organized by the Vincent Price Art Museum (where it was originally presented as part of PST: LA/LA), in collaboration with the UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center.

Laura Aguilar, Day of The Dead, East L.A., 1981. Cyanotype
Courtesy of the artist and the UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center. © Laura Aguilar

Laura Aguilar, Plush Pony #2, 1992. Gelatin silver print.
Courtesy of the artist and the UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center. © Laura Aguilar

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L.A. Pride rediscovers political roots, to hold march in solidarity with Black community

At least for L.A. Pride, a rediscovery of its more political roots has happened, as it now eyes to hold a peaceful assembly to support the Black community. The event is slated on June 14.

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Photo by @lgnwvr from Unsplash.com

None of us is free until all of us are free.

At least for L.A. Pride, a rediscovery of its more political roots has happened, as it now eyes to hold a peaceful assembly to support the Black community.

An uprising has been happening in the US now, in protest of America’s long history of systemic racial injustice. This was again highlighted by the May 25 death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man who – after being suspected of passing a fake $20 bill – died in Minneapolis, Minnesota after a white police officer, Derek Chauvin, kneeled on his neck for over eight minutes. Three other officers were involved; and none of them revived Floyd even when he was already motionless and had no pulse. Floyd was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital.

L.A. Pride – which was started right after the Stonewall uprising in New York City in 1969 – is, nowadays, more known for its festivals/parties than for being very political.

Earlier, Christopher Street West (CSW), the organizer of the annual LA Pride Parade and Festival, canceled all in-person events due to Covid-19. But on June 1, its board of directors voted to “peacefully assemble a protest in solidarity with the Black community.”

“Fifty years ago Christopher Street West took to the streets of Hollywood Blvd in order to peacefully protest against police brutality and oppression,” said Estevan Montemayor, president of CSW’s board of directors. “It is our moral imperative to honor the legacy of Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, who bravely led the Stonewall uprising, by standing in solidarity with the Black community against systemic racism and joining the fight for meaningful and long-lasting reform.”

Because Covid-19 remains a big issue in the US, the California Department of Public Health recommends that participants engaging in the seeming re-awakening of the political roots of L.A. Pride to wear face coverings at all times.

The event is slated on June 14.

Photo by @lgnwvr from Unsplash.com

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Health & Wellness

Bullying is common factor in LGBTQ youth suicides, Yale study finds

Death records of LGBTQ youth who died by suicide were substantially more likely to mention bullying as a factor than their non-LGBTQ peers.

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Researchers at the Yale School of Public Health have found that death records of LGBTQ youth who died by suicide were substantially more likely to mention bullying as a factor than their non-LGBTQ peers. The researchers reviewed nearly 10,000 death records of youth ages 10 to 19 who died by suicide in the United States from 2003 to 2017.

The findings are published in the current issue of JAMA Pediatrics.

While LGBTQ youth are more likely to be bullied and to report suicidal thoughts and behaviors than non-LGBTQ youth, this is believed to be the first study showing that bullying is a more common precursor to suicide among LGBTQ youth than among their peers.

“We expected that bullying might be a more common factor, but we were surprised by the size of the disparity,” said lead author Kirsty Clark, a postdoctoral fellow at Yale School of Public Health. “These findings strongly suggest that additional steps need to be taken to protect LGBTQ youth — and others — against the insidious threat of bullying.”

Death records from LGBTQ youths were about five times more likely to mention bullying than non-LGBTQ youths’ death records, the study found. Among 10- to 13-year-olds, over two-thirds of LGBTQ youths’ death records mentioned that they had been bullied.

Bullying is a major public health problem among youth, and it is especially pronounced among LGBTQ youth, said the researchers. Clark and her co-authors used data from the National Violent Death Reporting System, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)-led database that collects information on violent deaths, including suicides, from death certificates, law enforcement reports, and medical examiner and coroner records.

Death records in the database include narrative summaries from law enforcement reports and medical examiner and coroner records regarding the details of the youth’s suicide as reported by family or friends, the youth’s diary, social media posts, and text or email messages, as well as any suicide note. Clark and her team searched these narratives for words and phrases that suggested whether the individual was LGBTQ. They followed a similar process to identify death records mentioning bullying.

“Bullies attack the core foundation of adolescent well-being,” said John Pachankis, the Susan Dwight Bliss Associate Professor of Public Health at the Yale School of Public Health and study co-author. “By showing that bullying is also associated with life itself for LGBTQ youth, this study urgently calls for interventions that foster safety, belonging and esteem for all young people.”

Other authors on the study include Anthony J. Maiolatesi, doctoral student at Yale School of Public Health, and Susan Cochran, professor at UCLA Fielding School of Public Health.

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Health & Wellness

Gender affirmation linked with trans, gender nonbinary youth mental health improvement

Having accessed multiple steps of gender affirmation (social, legal, and medical/surgical) was associated with fewer symptoms of depression and less anxiety. Furthermore, engaging in gender affirmation processes helped youth to develop a sense of pride and positivity about their gender identity and a feeling of being socially accepted.

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Enabling transgender and gender nonbinary youth to access gender affirmation processes is good.

This is according to a study – “Gender Affirmation Is Associated with Transgender and Gender Nonbinary Youth Mental Health Improvement” – done by Anna Martha Vaitses Fontanari, Felipe Vilanova, Maiko Abel Schneider, Itala Chinazzo, Bianca Machado Soll, Karine Schwarz, Maria Inês Rodrigues Lobato, and Angelo Brandelli Costa; and which appeared in LGBT Health.

The study aimed to evaluate the impact of each domain of gender affirmation (social, legal, and medical/surgical) on the mental health of transgender and gender nonbinary youth. To do this, 350 transgender boys, transgender girls, and gender nonbinary Brazilian youth, aged from 16 to 24 years old, were asked to answer an online survey.

Among the 350 participants, a total of 149 (42.64%) youth identified as transgender boys, 85 (24.28%) identified as transgender girls, and 116 (33.14%) identified as gender nonbinary youth. The mean age was 18.61 (95% confidence interval 18.34–18.88) years. Having accessed multiple steps of gender affirmation (social, legal, and medical/surgical) was associated with fewer symptoms of depression and less anxiety. Furthermore, engaging in gender affirmation processes helped youth to develop a sense of pride and positivity about their gender identity and a feeling of being socially accepted.

“Enabling transgender and gender nonbinary youth to access gender affirmation processes more easily should be considered as a strategy to reduce depression and anxiety symptoms, as well as to improve gender positivity,” the researchers stated.

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Health & Wellness

Impact of children’s loneliness today could manifest in depression for years to come

Young people who are lonely might be as much as three times more likely to develop depression in the future, and that the impact of loneliness on mental health could last for at least 9 years.

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Photo by @natural from Unsplash.com

Children and adolescents are likely to experience high rates of depression and anxiety long after current lockdown and social isolation ends and clinical services need to be prepared for a future spike in demand, according to the authors of a new rapid review into the long-term mental health effects of lockdown.

The research, which draws on over 60 pre-existing, peer-reviewed studies into topics spanning isolation, loneliness and mental health for young people aged 4 – 21, is published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

According to the review, young people who are lonely might be as much as three times more likely to develop depression in the future, and that the impact of loneliness on mental health could last for at least 9 years.

The studies highlight an association between loneliness and an increased risk of mental health problems for young people. There is also evidence that duration of loneliness may be more important than the intensity of loneliness in increasing the risk of future depression among young people.

This, say the authors, should act as a warning to policymakers of the expected rise in demand for mental health services from young people and young adults in the years to come – both here in the UK and around the world.

Dr Maria Loades, clinical psychologist from the Department of Psychology at the University of Bath who led the work, explained: “From our analysis, it is clear there are strong associations between loneliness and depression in young people, both in the immediate and the longer-term. We know this effect can sometimes be lagged, meaning it can take up to 10 years to really understand the scale of the mental health impact the covid-19 crisis has created.”

For teachers and policymakers currently preparing for a phased re-start of schools in the UK, scheduled from today, Monday 1 June, Dr Loades suggests the research could have important implications for how this process is managed too.

She adds: “There is evidence that it’s the duration of loneliness as opposed to the intensity which seems to have the biggest impact on depression rates in young people. This means that returning to some degree of normality as soon as possible is of course important. However, how this process is managed matters when it comes to shaping young people’s feelings and experiences about this period.

“For our youngest and their return to school from this week, we need to prioritise the importance of play in helping them to reconnect with friends and adjust following this intense period of isolation.”

Members of the review team were also involved in a recent open letter to UK Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson MP, focusing on support for children’s social and emotional wellbeing during and after lockdown.

In their letter they suggested that:

  • The easing of lockdown restrictions should be done in a way that provides all children with the time and opportunity to play with peers, in and outside of school, and even while social distancing measures remain in place;
  • Schools should be appropriately resourced and given clear guidance on how to support children’s emotional wellbeing during the transition period as schools reopen and that play – rather than academic progress – should be the priority during this time;
  • The social and emotional benefits of play and interaction with peers must be clearly communicated, alongside guidance on the objective risks to children.

Acknowledging the trade-offs that need to be struck in terms of restarting the economy and reducing educational disparities, their letter to the Education Secretary concludes: ‘Poor emotional health in children leads to long term mental health problems, poorer educational attainment and has a considerable economic burden.’

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Lifestyle & Culture

Why personalization is important in business

Here are a few reasons why personalization is so important, and how you can use it to massively improve your working conditions.

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In the world of work, people are too often seen as numbers. You probably recognize the feeling – you’re working in an environment with lots of other people, and you feel like the company doesn’t care about you or your life. You are just a cog in their machine, one of thousands, and your individual personality, the spark that makes you you, doesn’t matter to them at all. This atmosphere can be horrible to work in. If you are an employee it makes you demotivated and likely to quit – if you’re an employer, it can lead to high turnover and low energy levels amongst your staff.

As we can see from blogging, the best way to run any sort of business is with a personal touch. This extends to you, your employees, and your customers.

IMAGE SOURCE: Pexels.com

Here are a few reasons why personalization is so important, and how you can use it to massively improve your working conditions.

Making People Feel Valued

The most important effect of personalization is simply to make people feel valued. The world of business – and any workplace – can be a cold and stressful place. In a recent report, a huge 40% of workers said their work was ‘very or extremely stressful’, and this has massive repercussions for people’s mental and physical health. Feeling like you are working hard in a vacuum with no recognition of your value as both a worker and a human being can be incredibly demotivating. Personalizing interactions can help with this. If you are a boss, it can be as simple as learning everyone’s names and asking after their family. Allowing employees to decorate and adapt an office space for their individual needs is also a massive help.

Finally, creating links between employees and customers and giving everyone the freedom to work at their best rather than following strict scripts and guidelines can help personalize your work and increase engagement.

Personalized Uniforms

If you work in an industry that requires uniforms, the ability to personalize these uniforms (within health and safety guidelines, of course) can have a massive effect. It stops people from feeling dehumanized and allows them to take more pride in their appearance and their work. If it’s important for your uniforms to be standardized, there are other ways you can introduce personalized elements, including bespoke name tags.

There are some great companies out there that offer personalized services on anything from nurse badges to restaurant name tags. These will not only help customers to identify your employees but help them to feel valued as individuals, not just as part of a larger workforce.

Genuine Engagement

Promoting genuine engagement between yourself, your business, your employees, and your customers can be easier said than done. However, if done right, it can create a great atmosphere and strengthen the bonds between you as people, as well as helping your business grow. Real communication is important here – enabling an open dialogue with your employees, and with your consumers.

Let employees know that if they have suggestions they can feel free to come forward with them. Social media is a great way to interact with customers and get feedback on your services which you can use to improve what you are offering.

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Technology

How much protection does your business really need?

But just how risky are things out there? Do you need a tremendous amount of security? Or will you be okay if you avoid the cost?

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Business owners not only have to worry about their finances and customers, but also protecting their assets from criminals. 

But just how risky are things out there? Do you need a tremendous amount of security? Or will you be okay if you avoid the cost? 

Answering these questions depends very much on your location. Some companies can get away with minimal security apparatus because they occupy distant places or don’t store any valuables on-site. Others need to be much more careful. 

IMAGE SOURCE: Pixabay.com

In the digital world, it is an entirely different matter. Distance is no defense. And practically every company owns sensitive data that hackers can exploit in some way if they choose to do so. 

The level of protection your company needs, therefore, depends on the following factors: 

The Value And Sensitivity Of Your Data

If you own a cupcake business that sells packaged cakes for delivery in your local community, then criminals probably won’t go to great lengths to steal your data. It might have value, but it will be relatively low down on their list of target priorities. 

If, however, your data is the source of your competitive advantage, you need to start paying attention to its integrity. If you need the information to develop new products, connect with customers, or advertise effectively, you’re a high-value target. You’re also valuable to criminals if you collect and store personally-identifiable information about your customers. 

Audit the value of your personal data and try to figure out what it is worth. If you’re not sure, call in IT cybersecurity professionals and get them to give you a rundown. 

The Value Of Your On-Site Assets

The majority of modern businesses are capital-light, meaning that they don’t need a vast amount of plant and equipment to make them run. Nobody is going to risk years in prison to raid the offices of an accountant. 

With that said, many companies store vast quantities of expensive machinery and inventory on their premises, immediately putting them at risk. If you have a substantial number of goods lying around, you’re a high-value target and at risk. 

Don’t assume that criminals are oblivious to your activities because you’re a small player. Professional thieves are skilled at what they do and often make a fortune by plying their trade. 

First, you’ll need to put up plenty of security around your premises and outbuildings. An 80W wall pack light, for instance, can act as a deterrent for anybody coming onto your property. You’ll also want to fit a security system with motion sensors and integrated cameras connected to your smartphone via WiFi. Doing this will immediately tell you whether somebody is on your premises. 

Finally, you’ll want to make extensive use of shutters and physical barriers without being too obvious. Criminals know that significant investments in physical defenses signals high-value contents. And so it can sometimes make them more determined to break in and steal your possessions. 

Thus, the amount of protection your business needs scales with the value of its assets, both physical and digital. 

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