Posts tagged with "Movement"

Meet the woman who created ‘Skinstagrams’ and #free the pimple

January 13, 2021

Lou Northcote spent most of her childhood in Dubai flipping through glossy magazines and dreaming of becoming a cover girl. With a tall, thin frame; a beautiful face; and a modeling career that started when she was just ten years old, her fantasy seemed perfectly within reach.

“Modeling was my whole life, and I thought I would always do it,” Lou says. But when she was 16 and began getting acne, she was mercilessly dropped by her agency and pushed out of the industry, told not to return until she had cleared her skin, Women’s Health Magazine reports.

After moving to England for boarding school a year later, Lou’s breakouts went from bad to worse, and she soon found herself wearing makeup around the clock to cover up her cysts. “

Indeed, it wasn’t until six years ago that she felt comfortable going makeup-free. With the help of dermatologists, good skincare products, and some antibiotics, Lou’s acne started to clear up. And in 2017, a return to modeling seemed in sight. She was offered a place as a contestant on Britain’s Next Top Model, which she eagerly accepted. But as soon as she arrived on set, the breakouts reappeared.

“The first challenge was to take all of your makeup off and go bare-faced,” she says. “I just remember I kept apologizing for my acne, as though it were something to be sorry for.” Lou’s time on the show eventually came to an end, and she had to battle her acne all over again—and an entire country’s worth of television viewers had seen her pimpled skin.

When the first episode aired in the fall, the then-20-year-old was worried she’d receive hate and criticism from those watching, so she decided to take things into her own hands. “I thought, ‘I’m just going to post a photo of my acne and talk about my struggle with it and see if there’s anyone else out there like me,’” Lou says. Wearing a sweatshirt that had “Free the Pimple” emblazoned on the front, she snapped a selfie that showcased her acne-ridden face and shared it on Instagram alongside a lengthy caption detailing her fight against acne.

“I have heard it all before: pizza face, crater face, I’m ugly because of my skin, wash ur face, ur dirty, ur disgusting, ur greasy, etc., the list goes on and on,” Lou wrote—fully expecting the post to be met with mean or negative comments. Instead, the response was quite the opposite. Not only did she not receive any hate, but her bold move actually encouraged others to do the same, and pretty soon, dozens of others were taking to Instagram and Twitter to share their own experiences with acne.

In the following months, Lou continued posting about acne, taking her followers along on her personal journey and offering general acne awareness. But it wasn’t until she wrote the story, This model wants to #free the pimple, for i-D Magazine, published in April 2018,  that she started to see some real opportunity in so-called Skinstagrams.

With a goal of not just sharing her own acne battle but instead providing a forum for anyone to tell their story, Lou created the @freethepimple_ page and #freethepimple hashtag in August 2018. “It was important to differentiate it from my own personal Instagram because it wasn’t only about me and my struggles,” she notes. “It was an entire movement.”

Nearly two years and thousands of posts later, Women’s Health reports, Lou’s vision has indeed become a movement. “Social media is such an amazing tool, and I feel so lucky to have this platform,” she says. “If I’d tried to do something like this back in the day, I probably would have had to go petition parliament or something.” But rather than shout, “Free the Pimple” in the House of Commons, the model-turned-activist and her more than 43,000 followers, between the @freethepimple_ page and her personal account, have shared raw, unedited photos of their blemishes and embraced what’s long been treated like a plague for exactly what it is: just a part of life.

While Lou’s efforts have been instrumental in shaping the Skinstagram movement, she is now joined by a host of other activists and influencers, who are similarly using social media to bring acne into the mainstream. There’s Kali Kushner, the 24-year old behind @myfacestory, blogger Em Ford of @mypaleskinblog, and Costanza Concha of @skinnoshame, alongside thousands of others sharing their breakouts and acne journeys with the world. The acne-positivity movement has also been embraced by celebrities like Kendall JennerLili Reinhart, and Bella Thorne.

As Lou’s #freethepimple campaign has grown, so too has its purpose. She now seeks not only to normalize and destigmatize acne among her following but also to provide useful and accurate information in a sector where truth is often hard to find. “I really try to use my platform to educate people,” she says. “I’m lucky to have had access to all these dermatologists and all this different skincare, so I try to share that.”

That being said, she never tries to push any products on her followers or insist that they use one thing over another. Rather, Lou uses her accounts to identify various ingredients and explain their benefits, to discuss the lesser-known side effects of acne—like the excruciating physical pain it can cause—and even to determine which makeup won’t irritate acne-prone skin. After posting a recent series on foundation that can be used with acne, the #freethepimple creator heard from one appreciative follower, who for years had tried and failed to find a foundation that worked for her breakouts—but thanks to Lou’s reviews, finally had an answer. “It’s really amazing to think that I’m actually changing people’s lives,” she says.

Research contact: WomensHealthMag

A change of heart? Tiny wearable sensors will help expectant moms track fetuses’ heartbeat, movements

August 23, 2019

About 2.6 million women and their loved ones experience the pain and loss of a stillbirth each year, according to The World Health Organization. Now, researchers have developed a device that will give expectant mothers more “control” over and knowledge about their pregnancies—in real-time, with a tiny, non-invasive fetal heartrate monitor, which they claim is more accurate than anything else yet on the market.

The thump, thump of a baby’s heartbeat is a milestone in any pregnancy. Researchers at the Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, New Jersey,  have conducted a pilot study in which a sensor—worn on the mother’s abdomen—records vibrations when her baby’s heart beats or when the fetus squirms and kicks. 

. “Almost a third of stillbirths occur in the absence of complicating factors,” said Negar Tavassolian, director of the Stevens Bio-Electromagnetics Laboratory.”Our device could let a pregnant woman know if her fetus is compromised and she needs to go to the doctor.”

Many stillbirths are preceded by variations in fetal movement and heartrate, so affordable, lightweight monitors that detect vibrations generated from a heartbeat could be worn continuously in the final weeks of pregnancy to ensure that distressed fetuses receive prompt medical attention. The work is reported in the early access issue of IEEE Sensors Journal.

Tavassolian and first author Chenxi Yang, a graduate student at Stevens, teamed up with Bruce Young and Clarel Antoine, two OB-GYNs at New York University-Langone Medical Center to test their sensors. In experiments on 10 pregnant women, they found the device could detect fetal heartrate with about the same accuracy as fetal cardiotocograms (f-CTG), which measure the baby’s heart electrical activity (ECG) together with mother’s uterine contractions—and is considered the current standard for fetal monitoring.

A vibration monitor offers important advantages over existing tools based on ECG or Doppler ultrasound technology, which require specialized knowledge to use, and can be bulky and expensive. One leading monitor system currently on the market weighs more than 11 pounds and has a battery life of four hours; by contrast, the Stevens team’s sensors are barely a fifth-of-an-inch long, weigh next to nothing, and can run off a 3-volt battery for more than 24 hours.

The new monitor poses no risk to the fetus—a concern with ultrasound monitors, which can heat tissue if used continuously for long periods. The Stevens team’s monitor simply detects existing vibrations, like a doctor listening with a stethoscope. “Our monitors are completely passive, so there’s no health concern,” Tavassolian said.

Vibration monitors can also offer an objective measure of fetal movement, which is currently assessed simply by asking moms to count the times their baby kicks. Combining heart-rate and movement data could provide vital insights into fetal health, surpassing anything that’s currently available, Yang explained. “That’s the big plan — to fuse these different modalities into a single device,” he said.

The current device uses commercially available sensors, but the long-term goal is to patent and market a custom-built device.

Research contact: @FollowStevens

Can you boost your memory by walking backward?

May 9, 2019

Lost your car keys? Trying to remember exactly where you saved the instructions your boss gave to you this morning? Instead of retracing your steps, you might want to try literally try backtracking—walking backward to jog your memory, according to a report by Harvard Women’s Health Watch.

A study published in the January issue of Cognition found that people who walked backward—or imagined they were walking backward, or even watched a video simulating backward motion—had better recall of past events than those who walked forward or sat still.

Why? That’s still something of a mystery, says Dr. Daniel Schacter, the William R. Kenan, Jr., Professor of Psychology in the Department of Psychology at Harvard University. But he thinks it is possible that people associate going backward with the past and this somehow triggers a memory response.

“We know it can’t have anything to do with how they’ve encoded the information,” says Dr. Schacter. After all, people weren’t walking backward when they stored the memories tested in this study. It may take future studies to shed additional light on the issue. “But I found the results intriguing,” he says.

Researchers decided to test the effect of backward movement on memory because numerous past studies have found links between motion and memory. They recruited 114 people to take part in six different memory experiments. In the experiments, they showed participants a video of a staged crime, a word list, or a group of images. They then asked the participants to walk forward, walk backward, sit still, watch a video that simulated forward or backward motion, or imagine walking forward or backward. The participants then answered questions related to the information they saw earlier.

In all cases, people who were moving backward, thought about moving backward, or saw a video depicting reverse motion were better able to recall the information they had been shown earlier, compared with those sitting still. In five of the six experiments, memory was better when people moved backward than when they moved forward. On average, the boost in memory lasted for ten minutes after people stopped moving.

In the staged crime experiment, for example, participants watched a video of a woman, sitting in a park, who has her bag stolen. Researchers tested how well people could answer 20 questions about the simulated crime, depending on the direction they moved or if they sat still. They found that people who walked backward were significantly more likely to answer more questions correctly, regardless of how old they were or other factors.

The findings suggest that this motion strategy might be a means of helping people better recall past events.

Dr. Schacter says backward motion could one day be added to existing techniques already in use to boost memory. One such method is called a cognitive interview. The interviewing technique helps people to recall details of a recent event, for example, if they witnessed a crime. “What interviewers are trying to do is get as much accurate information as they can without inducing a false memory,” says Dr. Schacter. They do this by metaphorically walking the person through the event forward and backward. It’s possible that literally walking backward may do something similar in the brain, he says.

Using backward motion could potentially augment the cognitive interview or be used as a separate technique, he says. One key question that remains to be answered, however, is whether the technique would promote accurate recall of everyday events, says Dr. Schacter. “It’s really too early to say whether there would be practical applications,” he says.

The study authors said that future research will look to uncover not only why this technique seems to improve memory recall, but also whether motion-based memory aids could help elderly adults or people with dementia.

In the meantime, will walking backward help boost your short-term memory? “This study would suggest that there are some circumstances where this might be the case,” says Dr. Schacter. “It may be worth trying.”

Research contact: @HarvardHealth