Study: 55% of men are ashamed of their body hair

July 22, 2019

It’s masculine, it’s sexy … it’s embarrassing. While women may like a little chest hair, back hair, or facial hair on their partners’ bodies, over half of men admit to feeling flustered by their body hair, new research has found.

The fascinating statistic emerged in a survey of 2,000 men—conducted by OnePoll on behalf of BAKblade and posted by SWNS Digital— which found that 55% of all respondents said they felt ashamed of their body hair, with 20% saying they feel this way “often.”

Indeed, OnePoll found, many men are chagrined by their chest hair (40%) and back hair (35%). And this feeling of embarrassment may stop them from participating in certain activities. For example, nearly one-third of men surveyed (31%) said they’ve avoided swimming, while another one in four (27%) said they’ve avoided the gym.

Even worse, about 20% believe that their body hair has had a negative impact on their sex lives.

But, even with all of this humiliation, fully 44% of men aren’t doing anything about it, because they consider it “unmanly” for men to practice good grooming habits.

“When most men think of having better ‘grooming habits’ they often think of going into a salon and waiting for their name to be called for their waxing session. Who wants that? BAKblade strives to ‘keep it in the bathroom’ and allow men to manage the issues themselves,” said Matt Dryfhout, CEO and founder of BAKblade, in Chicago. “Our back and body shavers allow men to continue to feel ‘manly’ and keep their dignity while managing the problem in the privacy of their homes.”

The survey also found that men also aren’t too keen on shaving anything but their face, with 62% saying they’ve never shaved their back, and 53% saying they’ve never shaved their legs. Over half of men (56%) also agree that men should only shave their face.

However, the study found that men are definitely curious, as 43% of those surveyed said they’ve secretly used a partner’s grooming product, whether it’s a moisturizer, or a face wash.

 “While men, overall, are getting more curious in the area of grooming, it is the Millennials [who] are showing the most curiosity,” continued Dryfhout. “The biggest hurdle has been showing men options available to them while at the same time letting them know how easy it can be. ”

Research contact: @BaKbladeshaver

Fat cats: America’s felines are no longer lean, mean purring machines

July 19, 2019

If the members of your family are overweight, there is more than  a “fat chance” that your cat is chubby, too.

A 2017 study conducted by the University of Washington-Seattle found that about 5% of all children worldwide and 12% of adults are obese. But what about the pets—specifically, the cats—that live in these households?

Now, a first-of-its-kind study—conducted by researchers at the University of Guelph’s Ontario Veterinary College— has found that, just as people in the United States and Canada have been overeating for years, they also have been over-feeding their feline pets.

In fact, the researchers say, the average weight of a spayed female cat went up 24% between 1995 and 2005, while the increase was around 19% for male cats, according to a report by Flipboard. 

Until recently, the problem had gone largely unnoticed because cats visit the vet less frequently than dogs and are less likely to be weighed. It is also harder to judge weight gain in a cat by eye.

“As humans we know we need to strive to maintain a healthy weight, but for cats there has not been a clear definition of what that is, we simply didn’t have the data,” said Theresa Bernardo, professor of Population Health at the college.

Her colleague, Dr Adam Campigotto, who led the research, added: “We do have concerns with obesity in middle age, because we know that can lead to diseases for cats, such as diabetes, heart disease, osteoarthritis and cancer.”

The team analyzed 45 million weight measurements on 19 million cats taken at vets across North America. The data showed that most cats steadily increase their weight up until the age of eight.

“Cats tend to be overlooked, because they hide their health problems and they don’t see a vet as often as dogs do, so one of our goals is to understand this so that we can see if there are interventions that can provide more years of healthy life to cats,” said Professor Bernardo.

The research team now plans to turn its attention to the development of automated feeders in a bid to cut down on cat obesity. They suggested the technology could be combined with built-in scales.

Dr. Campigotto warned cat owners to weigh their pets more often: “If your cat is gaining or losing weight, it may be an indicator of an underlying problem,” he said.

The new research is published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (JAVMA).

Research contact: @OntVetCollege

So far, so good: Nearly 60% of long-distance relationships are successful

July 18, 2019

Nearly 60% of relationships involving people who live far-removed from each other will “go the distance,” according to the findings of a recent study, posted by StudyFinds.

It may take a lot of work, a lot of faith, and a heck of a commitment to make a long-distance relationship work, but the new findings should give couples who are separated by geography hope that there will no love lost between them.

The study, commissioned by Amsterdam-based interactive sex toy company KIIROO, also helped define what a long-distance relationship truly means. Averaging the responses from 1,000 U.S. adult participants who, themselves, have been in a long-distance union, they calculated that “long-distance” require one to live at least 132 miles from his or her significant other.

While most partners are optimistic at the outset of the long-distance relationship, the four-month mark is when the distance becomes challenging, the survey showed. But hang in there: After eight months, the lifestyle becomes a piece of cake.

Interestingly enough, about 50% of the respondents said they had met their partner online,  while 27% said they never lived close to them to begin with.

So what’s the key to success? Cellphones, for one thing. The couples in the survey reported that they sent their significant others 343 texts per week on average — or 49 per day — and spent about eight hours a week talking to each other on the phone or via video chat.

Still, these modes of communication don’t replace physical presence. Two-thirds of the respondents agreed that the long-distance travel was the most challenging aspect of their relationship. Three in 10 said they missed the sex the most.

Toon Timmermans, CEO of KIIROO, remarked in a formal release, “We forge new relationships online more now, than ever before. From the results of this study, we see that technology in any shape or form is being used by long-distance relationships to feel closer, to feel loved—and to attempt help ease sexual tensions that may arise due to the distance.”

There were some other positives to living far from a partner. Fifty-five percent said the time apart from one another made them feel closer, and 81% agreed that it actually made the moments together more intimate.

Perhaps the biggest surprise finding of all: About 70% of respondents admitted said they actually talked to their significant other more while they lived apart.

The survey was conducted by research firm OnePoll in October 2018.

Research contact: @StudyFinds 

Just you wait: Women who give birth in their 30s may stay healthier, live longer

July 17, 2019

Thirty is fast becoming the new 20 for American moms. In fact, more U.S. women than ever before are having children in their 30s, according to a report by Business Insider. And somewhat counter-intuitively they are, overall, healthier later in life than those who had babies in their 20s; and they may live longer and earn a higher income. They also are more likely to have twins.

The tables turned in 2016, Business Insider says, when more American women had babies in their early 30s than in their 20s.  Whether because of career or other life goals, women are now 25% older when they give birth compared to 50 years ago.

But the news outlet reports, they are taking chances with their fertility: Between the ages of 20 and 24, women have an 86% chance of conceiving after trying for a year. But that chance falls to around 50% when women reach their late 30s.

What’s more, women in their 20s have a much higher chance of getting pregnant without miscarrying—and a lower risk of conditions such as gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, and high blood pressure.

But when it comes to health later in life, waiting until your 30s to give birth is better. Research shows that moms who first gave birth in their early 30s report higher energy, better fitness, and fewer aches and pains compared to moms who first gave birth in their early 20s.

And that might help explain another scientific finding. Women who have kids in their 30s might also live longer. According to a paper published in 2015, women who had their last child after age 33 were twice as likely to live past 95, compared to women who had their last child before their 30th birthday.

But what about the kids? If their moms gave birth in their 30s instead of their 20s, those kids might be safer, smarter, or even taller.

On top of that, there might be more of them. That’s right, because if you wait until your 30s, you’re more likely to have twins. Older women have higher levels of a hormone called FSH, which stimulates the ovaries. Normally, women release just enough FSH to ovulate or release one egg, but near menopause, they produce a ton of it, which can cause two eggs to ovulate and ultimately result in twins.

So if you want to have a large, healthy family, the good news is, the cutoff date is getting later all the time.

Research contact: @businessinsider

Trump, Clinton ‘walk back’ friendships with Epstein in episode of Showtime’s ‘Our Cartoon President’

July 16, 2019

In a caustic cold open for the July 14 episode of the Showtime original series, “Our Cartoon President,” current and former U.S. Presidents Donald Trump and Bill Clinton, respectively, came together to deny that they did anything wrong when they partied and flew with the alleged pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, The Daily Beast reported on July 12.

Trump and President Bill Clinton each have had very little to say about their own connections to alleged sex trafficker and registered sex offender Jeffrey Epstein—except to say that neither one of them now has a friendship with the supposed billionaire financier and neither has flown recently on his plane, fittingly nicknamed the Lolita Express.

Which is not to say they have never boarded the jet. Both men acknowledge that they may have been passengers on Epstein’s infamous flights. “But so was [actor] Kevin Spacey,” Trump says.

“The only reason I was on that jet 26, I mean, four times, was it was the best deal on [travel app] Kayak.com,” Clinton adds in the cartoon.

In the hastily assembled cold open clip from the latest episode, Trump begins by addressing the nation about his ties to Epstein. “Sure, I told New York Magazine in 2002 that Epstein is a ‘terrific guy,’” Trump says, citing a real quote. “But that was before I found out that I said, later in the same sentence, that ‘he likes beautiful women … on the younger side.”

Then, cartoon Bill Clinton joins him. “Hey, everybody it’s me, America’s cold sore,” he says. “Every few years I pop up to remind you of your bad choices in the ‘90s.”

“You know, Bill and I may disagree on health care and criminal justice,” Trump says—as Clinton chimes in with “barely”—“but we are unified against these all but undeniable accusations.”

“In the end, aren’t we all just Americans accused of the most ghastly crime imaginable?” Clinton asks before the two presidents embrace in solidarity.

“I can’t believe we almost let Hillary tear us apart,” Trump concludes.

Research contact: @CartoonPres

Into the unknown: 400,000 UFO enthusiasts who met on Facebook intend to invade Area 51

July 15, 2019

On Friday, September 20, from 3 a.m. to 6 a.m. (PDT), a huge group of alien enthusiasts—close to half a million—who found each other on a Facebook fan site has agreed to “meet up at the [U.S. government’s off-limits, fiercely guarded] Area 51 … and coordinate our entry.

“If we Naruto run, we can move faster than their bullets. Lets see them aliens,” one of the members of the Facebook site resolves.

Located 80 miles outside north of Las Vegas, Area 51 is one of the most famous military installations in the world—known more for its cloak of absolute secrecy than for the flight testing that the government insists happens at the base.

Conspiracy theorists and UFO spotters believe that the government hid an alien spacecraft, as well as the alien pilot who did not survive the flight, at the high-security superstructure over 50 years ago—and has gone to great lengths to protect its plunder.

For the uninitiated, “Naruto running” refers to the unique running style of the Naruto Uzmaki, the lead character in the Japanese anime series of the same name. He often is depicted sprinting with his head forward and his arms stretched behind him.

The Facebook-spawned event—called “Storm Area 51, They Can’t Stop All of Us—may not end well for those who signed the petition and actually show up, according to writer Michael Grothaus of Fast Company magazine.

It may be more dangerous than they participants think, he says. Indeed, some believe the United States uses the site to develop such technology as sci-fi energy weapons, weather control options, and even time travel..

“Since 2013 the U.S. government has acknowledged that Area 51 is a military site, but has never revealed what types of operations go on there,” Grothaus comments. “Still, even if you have 400,000 people who are supposedly willing to overrun a U.S. military installation, it’s probably not a good idea to pre-announce your attack. And man, if they really do have those secret sci-fi energy weapons there, you guys are screwed.”

Research contact: @FastCompany

Mirror, mirror: Going to bed with your makeup on will age your face much faster

July 12, 2019

Face it: We’re not getting any younger. But there are some things we can do that will put “much less mileage on” our features and complexions as the years go by.

On Instagram this week, dermatologist Kavita Mariwalla, MD, who practices in Stony Brook, New York, cautioned patients and followers, alike, “Did you know that going to bed with makeup on can age skin up to 7x faster?”

It’s true, MSN reports, following an interview with the good doctor.

If you “sometimes” skip your before-bed rinse, it might be time to sound the alarm. Sure, you can get breakouts if you leave the war paint on, but even those with poreless, perfect complexions can suffer by ignoring basic hygiene.

To help us understand why, Dr. Mariwalla explained to MSN that night is a time for skin renewal; however, when makeup lays over pores— trapping dead epidermis and bacteria—it stops the cells from shedding normally.

In addition, she warns, skin-destroying free radicals can cling to makeup. “We know that these cause photoaging and can lead to the formation of wrinkles,” she explains. “By not allowing your skin to recover from oxidative stress that occurs during the day, you can wind up with prematurely aged skin.” Free radicals, she adds, also lead to collagen degradation.

While Dr. Mariwalla concedes that thick foundations and oil-based makeup are worse for the skin than lighter formulations, she says makeup, in general, occludes the pores, which is the first step to trouble. “And remember that even if you wear no makeup, washing your face before bed is important just to rinse off the accumulation of oil and dirt that occurs naturally during the day,” she says.

 A half-wash doesn’t count, by the way. Even if you don’t have full makeup on, Dr. Mariwalla says that mascara and eyeliner left on the lashes and lids can still lead to skin irritation. And while makeup wipes aren’t ideal, she told MSN that they are better than nothing. “Try to do two passes instead of one,” she advises.

Research contact: @MSN

So you think he can dance?

July 11, 2019

Can’t stop those toes from tapping? Just want to boogie down? You have company: A Harvard study of YouTube sensation Snowball, the dancing cockatoo, spotlights the surprising variety and creativity of his moves and suggests that he, and some other vocal-learning animals, may be capable of some of the kind of sophisticated brain function thought to be exclusively human.

The white bird with the yellow-crested head became an Internet sensation in 2009 when videos of him grooving in perfect time to Another One Bites the Dust” by the British rock band Queen went viral. To date, 7.3 million people have clicked on the three-and-a-half-minute clip and millions more have watched videos of the bird bouncing and bobbing to chart-toppers by Michael Jackson and the Back Street Boys.

But was he really dancing in time to the beat of the music, or just imitating his owner? Or did someone edit in music over his moves to make it look like he could dance? The questions fascinated Ani Patel, a cognitivie neuroscientist..

It was unbelievable when I first saw that video,” said Patel, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University. He is is working on a book about the evolution of music cognition based in part on his cross-species research. “I still remember it. I was staring at the screen and my jaw just hit the floor. I thought, ‘Is this real? Could this actually be happening?’ Within minutes I’d written Snowball’s owner.”

To test his theory, Patel and a team of researchers filmed Snowball while they alternately slowed down or sped up some of the bird’s favorite dance tracks. They watched as the parrot repeatedly synchronized his steps to the varied tempos.

“He predicted the timing of the beat, and he did this spontaneously without having been trained,” said Patel, whose 2009 findings were similar to those reported by Harvard researchers that same year involving the African grey parrot Alex and his ability to match his movements to the beats of novel songs.

Now, thanks to Patel’s new paper, “Spontaneity and diversity of movement to music are not uniquely human,” Snowball’s legion of fans have another video gem, a compilation piece featuring the parrot’s 14 different dance moves, some of which Patel and his collaborators suspect the bird came up with on his own.

In the paper, Patel and his team list the five traits they believe are required for an animal to be able to spontaneously dance to music: vocal learning; the ability to imitate; a propensity to form long-term social bonds; the ability to learn a complex sequence of movement; and an attentiveness to communicative movements. Humans and parrots share all five.

“We think these five together in an animal brain lay the foundation for an impulse to dance to music with diverse movements,” said Patel, who noted other animals can do some of the five things but not others. Monkeys, for example, can imitate movements but have very limited vocal learning capacity, he said, and thus can’t move rhythmically to music. “It’s unusual for all five things to come together, and when they do it means a brain is primed to develop dancing behavior if it’s given exposure to music with rhythm and beat.”

The study, published in Current Biology, lists the more than a dozen separate movements Snowball liked to break out back in 2009 when dancing to Cyndi Lauper’s Girls Just Want to Have Fun and the 1980 Queen hit.

The researchers filmed Snowball dancing to the songs, then coded his individual movements. In order to qualify as a distinct move, the parrot had to repeat it at least two times at different points in the study.

The report’s lead author, R. Joanne Jao Keehn, a cognitive neuroscientist and a trained dancer, analyzed the videos frame by frame and labeled Snowball’s different motions. She found that among the bird’s favorite steps are the “Vogue,” the movement of his head from one side of his lifted foot to another; the “Headbang with Lifted Foot,” when he lifts his foot and bangs his head simultaneously; and the “Head-Foot Sync,” during which he moves his head and foot in unison.

In addition to being wildly entertaining, the bird’s variety of movements point to a type of cerebral flexibility that suggests his creative choreography is not simply “a brainstem reflex to sound,” said Patel. “It’s actually a complex cognitive act that involves choosing among different types of possible movement options. It’s exactly how we think of human dancing.”

Research contact: @Harvard

Shocker: The racial observation, ‘You all look alike to me,’ is hard-wired into our brains at birth

July 10, 2019

It’s a phenomenon that occurs when a member of one race looks at an individual of another color. You often hear it framed as a joke—“You all look alike to me”–although it’s really nothing to laugh at, since it’s a form of stereotyping, and even prejudice.

Indeed, scientists at the University of California-Riverside recently discovered that we are hard-wired to process—or not to process—facial differences, based on race. And that tendency occurs in the earliest filters of our thought processes.

The one stipulation: Those of the majority race experience the most pronounced difficulties individuating those of other races. The scientists hypothesize that minorities are exposed more frequently to the features of the majority race—and, therefore, may be able to individuate more easily.

The research, published this week in the journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States (PNAS), was led by UC-Riverside psychologist Brent Hughes. The overriding question posited in the paper: When we observe members of another racial group, are their actual physical features indistinct?

The study participants were 17 white people studying white and black faces on a monitor while lying inside a functional MRI scanner, which identifies changes in brain activity, according to a report by Science Daily. Some experiments were also conducted outside of the MRI.

Hughes and his team looked at the white participants’ high-level visual cortex to see whether it was more tuned in to differences in white faces than black ones. The visual cortex is the first stop for processing impulses from the eyes; the high-level visual cortex specializing in processing faces.

Their findings affirmed previous studies, determining that participants showed a greater tendency to individuate— recognize differences in—the faces of individuals of their own race, and were less able to recognize the differences in persons of other colors. But Hughes’ study went further, demonstrating how deep this tendency runs: as far as our earliest sensory processes.

“Our results suggest that biases for other-race faces emerge at some of the earliest stages of sensory perception,” Hughes wrote in the paper, entitled “Neural Adaptation to faces reveals racial outgroup homogeneity effects in early perception.”

Hughes wrote that the fallout from noticing the differences in members of one own’s race but not others is profound. These early perceptions can cascade, affecting downstream beliefs and behaviors. The implications can range from embarrassing to life-changing: Think of when the wrong suspect in a crime is selected from a lineup.

“We are much more likely to generalize negative experiences if we see individuals as similar or interchangeable parts of a broad social group,” Hughes said.

“Members of minority groups wind up being exposed to more members of majority groups than majority members get exposed to minority members,” he said. “It could be that exposure to individuals of different groups may help the visual system develop expertise that reduces this effect.”

The study shouldn’t be interpreted as a pass for “you all look the same to me,” Hughes said.

“These effects are not uncontrollable,” he said. “These race biases in perception are malleable and subject to individual motivations and goals. In this sense, attitudes, motives and goals can be shaping visual perceptual processes.”

Research contact: brent.hughes@ucr.edu

Hungry for approval: ‘Eating activism’ surfaces on Instagram

July 9, 2019

Honor your hunger,” proclaims one post on Instagram—and it represents only the leading edge of a new food movement powered by one of the only demographic groups that it still seems to be okay to mock.

 “I’m Katie, I’m fat, I love food and my life,” says the bio at the top of the Instagram account @fat.girl.eats.

And the images on the site are a testament to not only to her appetite—what 35-year-old office worker Katie Przybl describes as “Photos of me enjoying food while fat”—but also a cry for empathy and acceptance.

“My Instagram is all happy fat people living their lives,” Przybyl recently told The Daily Beast. 

And she has plenty of company, as a member of a growing online community of women who “are done fighting their weight.” Quite simply, they “are over” the whole shaming ethic and just want to live their lives authentically.

These armchair activists hope exposure to their pictures over time will do the quiet work of normalizing fat people. “If I manage to convince one fat person that they have a right to live a decent life, then I consider that a form of activism,” says Przybyl.

According to The Daily Beast, some 45 million Americans go on diets every year. Over half of those dieters are women—which is no surprise since research shows that many women have a relationship to food that is characterized by fear, loathing, and anxiety.

Just ask any fat woman about eating a burger in public and you’ll probably get a lengthy sigh. But in a world where we shop, date, and make friends virtually, what happens when fat women post pictures of themselves eating online?

Intuitive eating coach Alissa Rumsey created the Instagram hashtag #womeneatingfood along with fellow diet counselor Linda Tucker, The New Daily reports. The concept is simple. Women are invited to take photos of themselves eating and then post them online with the hashtag, which has grown from three pictures to over 1,100 in just three months.

On Instagram, where feeds are perpetually flooded with well-lit food tableaux and the pressure for perfection is immense, it’s rare to see ordinary, fat women eating food in all its caloric glory. Tucker says she regularly receives messages from people saying they want to post pictures but don’t feel ready.

The photos are sparking a discussion about who gets to eat in public, and why. Rumsey searched women eating food online and found a bounty of stock photos—all of thin, mostly white women delicately nibbling on salads. Rumsey searched “women eating food” and a couple of variations of that on Instagram and found a scant three photos. (#womeneatingbananas came up with hundreds of posts, though.)

“I wanted a place where you could see real women eating without apology, without talking about how good or bad they were being,” Rumsey told The Daily Beast.

And the movement has gone worldwide: The language of the captions changes from English to Finnish to Portuguese. Lots of the captions are long, with statements about who inspired them to post the pictures. One woman grins, a pile of ramen cascading from her mouth. #sorrynotsorry, her hashtag reads.

The comments often include applause emojis. The women are often thanked for posting. Lots of people write ‘yum!’ It’s surprisingly wholesome, with not a troll in sight.

“You guys! I ate a donut! And I don’t feel bad about it all!” posted one woman. “So happy for you,” responded another.

Research contact: @thedailybeast