TIME feminism

Female Perfect Imperfections Shine Through in Photographer’s New Project

perfectly imperfect ker fox photography
Ker-Fox Photography

Beautiful portraits of 16 women of all body types make up the first part of the ongoing project

In her new project Perfect Imperfections photographer Neely Ker-Fox goes out of her way to highlight the beauty in women of all sizes, shapes, ages and backgrounds. Inspired by other popular postpartum series by the likes of Jade Beall and January Harshe, Ker-Fox took photos of 16 women for the first series of her project and has made plans to shoot 10 more.

“I wanted to represent everybody,” Ker-Fox told People this week. “I didn’t want there to be anybody that saw this project and felt left out.”

The project came out of Ker-Fox’s own struggles with her body image. “For the last 9 months I have struggled with my postpartum body,” she wrote on her website, saying she “barely recognizes” her postbaby frame and has struggled with stretch marks, sciatic nerve pain and even an umbilical hernia. Acknowledging that “we as humans all have insecurities and we are all scarred, imperfect and flawed in some way physically and emotionally,” Ker-Fox said she hoped to show the deeper beauty that shines through in women.

See some of her photos at People

TIME women

Why I Don’t Want to Have Children

Pacifier
Getty Images

I’ve spent years carefully crafting the most amazing life I can

What I want is to be happy.

I’m often told that I’d make a good mother. Depending on my relationship with the person making this wildly incorrect statement, I have one of two reactions: either a small, insincere smile and a “mmmm” response that does not invite further discussion or a hearty laugh followed by a firm “No.”

Don’t get me wrong: I love kids. They’re hilarious, they’re adorable, and I (mostly) enjoy spending time with them. But without a doubt, I do not want them. And here’s why.

I don’t want to worry about diaper rash and “tummy time” and I don’t want to know what colic is.

I don’t want to put a kid on a kindergarten waiting list and I don’t want to decide between public and private education. I don’t want to coordinate basketball practice drop-off with ballet lessons pick-up, I don’t want to help with trigonometry and darling, I will not deal with your teenage angst because you best believe I invented that. I’d rather have bamboo shoots shoved under my fingernails than try to figure out how to pay for my child’s college while I still owe roughly twelve kajillion dollars for my own degree. I’ve more than once done something “just to tell the grandkids about it,” but I never actually planned on there being any grandkids.

It amuses me to tell people I don’t want children because no one ever quite knows how to respond. I’ve gotten “Well, when you meet the right guy, you’ll change your mind,” which is basically suggesting I’m incapable of making decisions regarding my own life without consulting a nameless, faceless FutureMan and is, by the way, astonishingly offensive. Others immediately ask what I do for a living, as though my employer holds the key to my womb and has locked it up until I retire. I don’t really consider myself a career-minded kind of girl; I’ve always worked to live, not lived to work.

Two mothers have actually said to me, “I didn’t know what love was before having a baby. You should reconsider.” I’m happy they’re happy now but “not knowing love before kids” is one of the most acutely sad things I’ve ever heard. Occasionally, I get a hearty “yeah!” from like-minded women, some of whom will eventually become mothers and some of whom will not. I appreciate the support.

But at this point, it doesn’t matter how much anyone tries to change my mind because the decision’s been made — permanently.

Last October, I spent a wonderful morning with my doctor, during which he performed a tubal ligation on me.

Yep, I got my tubes tied at 28.

I admit that once my doctor agreed to perform the surgery, I had a moment of panic. It immediately crossed my mind that maybe everyone was right and I was wrong and I would wake up at 30 and want a baby more than anything in the world or that maybe my “hard pass” on kids was a rebellion against expectations simply for the sake of a rebellion.

Maybe I would love the complete upheaval of my priorities and schedule and life in general. Shortly after these hysterical thoughts raced through my mind, though, I regained my sanity. I picked a date for the surgery. Done. Tubes tied.

Here’s the thing: I’ve spent years carefully crafting the most amazing life I can.

I’m surrounded by people I love very much, who love me in return. I’m well-educated and well-traveled. I have endless time to learn about things that interest me and to see wonderful things and to meet the greatest people on earth. I leave piles of library books all over my bedroom and plan fabulous trips all over the world. I stay up until 6 a.m. watching Sons of Anarchy because I know no small person is relying on me to feed them in a few short hours. I occasionally eat chips and salsa for breakfast and drink beer for dinner and feel no guilt that I’m teaching anyone horrific eating habits. I spend my days finding my bliss, like all the inspirational posters beg of me.

All this being said, I can’t wait to be an auntie. Whenever my friends start popping out kids, I’ll be there with inappropriately loud and expensive presents. I’ll be the aunt who slips them a vodka martini on their 16th birthday and I’ll rant and rail with the best of them whenever they feel slighted by other kids.

And when I’m off for six months teaching scuba in Venezuela, I promise to send lovely postcards.

I get the reasons people want kids. I do. I’m not such a heartless, selfish monster that I’m incapable of understanding the appeal of a small person who loves you unconditionally and relies on you to guide them safely through a scary world. Parents are brave and strong and incredible people. But so are astronauts and brain surgeons and I don’t want to be those things, either.

What I want is to be happy.

And I’m doing that. I’m there, I’m living that dream. I’m happiest not being a mom, but hey… Call me if you need a babysitter. I’m great in a pinch.

This article originally appeared on YourTango.

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Read next: What I Learned Living in a Tiny House With Two Children

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TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Soccer

See the History of the Women’s World Cup in 8 Extraordinary Moments

The FIFA tournament kicked off on June 6, with Team USA hoping for a record third title. Here are images of golden moments in the tournament's 24-year history

  • 1991: Michelle Akers leads the U.S. to victory in the first ever Women’s World Cup

    Michelle Akers-Stahl us womens world cup 1991
    Tommy Cheng—AFP/Getty Images

    On Nov. 30, 1991 Michelle Akers, center, scored two goals for the U.S. to win the first FIFA World Championship for Women’s Football. She is seen here holding the trophy together with teammates Julie Foudy, left, and Carin Jennings, right.

  • 1999: Brandi Chastain scores goal in penalty shootout to beat China

    Brandi Chastain US china 1999 world cup
    Roberto Schmidt—AFP/Getty Images

    On July 10, 1999 Brandi Chastain scored the fifth and final goal in a penalty shootout to lead the U.S. to victory over China. Her famous celebration made the moment one of the most iconic in sports history.

  • 2003: Nia Kunzer scores a 98th-minute goal to defeat Sweden in the final

    womens world cup 2003 germany sweden
    Steve Grayson—WireImage/Getty Images

    On Oct. 12, 2003, Nia Kuenzer of Germany scored the winning goal against Kristin Bengtsson of Sweden during overtime in the final. She became the first woman to win the German title “Goal of the Year” for her late-game shot.

  • 2007: Brazil’s Marta scores to defeat the U.S.

    brazil us womens world cup 2007
    Feng Li—Getty Images

    On Sept. 27, 2007 Marta of Brazil scored one of the most memorable game winners in the history of the Women’s World Cup. The goal won Brazil the semi-final match against the U.S.

  • 2007: English forward Kelly Smith kisses her boot after scoring back-to-back goals against Japan

    womens world cup 2007 japan england kelly smith
    Paul Gilham—Getty Images

    It wasn’t just through her skills that England’s Kelly Smith captured the world’s attention. Her famous celebration after scoring against Japan on Sept. 11, 2007 cemented her as a Women’s World Cup celebrity.

  • 2007: Germany beats Brazil in the final

    2007 womens world cup brazil germany
    Guang Niu—Getty Images

    The Sept. 30, 2007 final was truly a contest between an unstoppable force (Brazil had 17 goals the way to the final) and an immovable object (Germany had not given up a single goal). In the end Germany prevailed, holding onto their perfect defensive run, winning the game 2-0 and becoming the first team to win back-to-back Women’s World Cups.

  • 2011: Team USA beats Brazil in the quarterfinal

    brazil us women's world cup soccer
    Alexandra Beier—FIFA/Getty Images

    After 120 minutes of regular time and extra time, the U.S. and Brazil were locked in a 2-2 standoff in the quarterfinals on July 10, 2011. Abby Wambach scored a late-game equalizer to push the game to a penalty shootout where Hope Solo made two diving saves to bring the U.S. to victory.

  • 2011: Japan defeats the U.S. to win the World Cup

    japan us women's world cup final 2011
    Christof Stache—AFP/Getty Images

    Only months after the devastating earthquake off the coast of Japan, the Japanese clenched their first Women’s World Cup victory on July 17, 2011. After a close match that ended tied 2-2, the game was decided in a penalty shootout, 3-1 in favor of Japan.

TIME Viagra

A Female Viagra is One Step Closer to Reality

A tablet of flibanserin sits on a brochure for Sprout Pharmaceuticals in the company's Raleigh, N.C., headquarters.
Allen Breed—AP A tablet of flibanserin sits on a brochure for Sprout Pharmaceuticals in the company's Raleigh, N.C., headquarters.

FDA advisory group gives its go ahead to the drug for women with low sex drives

A U.S. Food and Drug Administration advisory panel gave its stamp of approval to a first-of-its-kind drug to treat lagging sexual desire in women–albeit with some warnings.

The advisory committee voted 18 to 6 to approve the drug, flibanserin, as long as steps are taken to minimize the risk of side effects.

The little pink pill–a fitting companion to Viagra’s memorable blue hue– would be taken every evening and would be approved for use in premenopausal women with what’s known as hypoactive sexual desire disorder. It’s a condition said to affect 7% of premenopausal women that results in an unusually low sex drive that’s not being caused by any disease or other condition, according to Sprout Pharmaceuticals, which owns the drug.

It’s unclear exactly how big the market would be for the drug. But, if Viagra is any benchmark, it could be a cash cow. Viagra brought in annual sales of more than $2 billion for Pfizer at the drug’s height.

MORE: Read about Pfizer on the new Fortune 500.

The FDA has already rejected flibanserin twice to date, arguing that its side effects don’t outweigh the risks. Some women’s groups claimed gender bias give that the governmental agency has approved drugs like Viagra for men but left half the population without an option.

However, the FDA countered in its previous reviews that the benefits were “numerically small but statistically significant” and not enough to counter the resulting low blood pressure, fainting, sleepiness, nausea and dizziness.

TIME sexism

8 Sad Truths About Women in Media

Diane Sawyer signs off on her last broadcast as anchor of World News on August 24, 2014..
Ida Mae Astute—ABC/Getty Images Diane Sawyer signs off on her last broadcast as anchor of World News on August 24, 2014..

A new report shows how far women must go in order to achieve real gender parity

The Women’s Media Center’s annual report is out, and the status of women in news and entertainment is as bleak as ever. Little progress has been made in most areas, and there are some places—like sports journalism—where women have actually lost ground. Representation of women in sports journalism dropped from 17% to 10% last year.

And some of the media news in 2014 was particularly discouraging for women. “Two high-profile roles previously held by women — Diane Sawyer of ABC News and Jill Abramson of The New York Times—were changed in 2014,” said Julie Burton, president of the Women’s Media Center. “These veteran journalists were in positions of power at media giants, shaping, directing and delivering news. Both women were replaced by men.’’ The Status of Women in U.S. Media report, released Thursday, shows how far women still have to go in order to achieve real gender parity.

Here’s a list of some of the most depressing insights from the report, which draws on 49 studies of women across media platforms. (This is why some of the numbers are from 2012-2013, even though this is the report on 2014 and 2015).

1. The news industry still hasn’t achieved anything that resembles gender equality. Women are on camera only 32% of the time in evening broadcast news, and write 37% of print stories news stories. Between 2013 and 2014, female bylines and other credits increased just a little more than 1%. At the New York Times, more than 67% of bylines are male.

2. Men still dominate “hard news.” Even though the 2016 election could be the first time a woman presidential candidate gets a major party nomination, men report 65% of political stories. Men also dominate science coverage (63%), world politics coverage (64%) and criminal justice news (67%). Women have lost traction in sports journalism, with only 10% of sports coverage produced by women (last year, it was 17%). Education and lifestyle coverage were the only areas that demonstrated any real parity.

3. Opinions are apparently a male thing. Newspaper editorial boards are on average made up of seven men and four women. And the overall commentators on Sunday morning talk-shows are more than 70% male.

4. Hollywood executives are still overwhelmingly white and male. Studio senior management is 92% white and 83% male.

5. There’s bad news for actresses and minorities. Women accounted for only 12% of on-screen protagonists in 2014, and 30% of characters with speaking parts. There are also persistent racial disparities: White people are cast in lead roles more than twice as often as people of color, and white film writers outnumber minority writers 3 to 1. In 17% of films, no black people had speaking parts.

6. Women are losing traction behind the scenes. Women accounted for 25% of writers in 2013-2014, down from 34% the previous year. Women make up only 23% of executive producers (down from 27%) and 20% of show creators (down from 24%). For the 250 most profitable films made in 2014, 83% of the directors, producers, writers, cinematographers and editors are guys.

7. The stereotypes persist even in love. Black men are the most likely to be shown in relationships (68% of male characters in relationships are black) while Asian men are the least likely to have girlfriends on screen (29%). Latino characters of both genders were the most likely to be hyper-sexualized on-screen.

8. Latino characters are particularly under-represented. Latinos are 17% of the U.S. population and buy 25% of movie tickets, but have less than 5% of speaking roles in films. There are no Latino studio or network presidents, and from 2012 to 2013, 69% of all maids were played by Latina actresses.

But it’s not all bad news! There’s been some progress made. For example, at the New York Times Book Review, 52% of reviews in 2014 were written by women. At the Chicago Sun-Times, 54% of the bylines were female, and 53% of contributors to the Huffington Post are women. And in the top grossing films of 2013, the number of movies in which teen girls were hyper-sexualized dropped from around 31% to less than 19%.

Read next: See 13 Great American Woman Suffragists

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TIME Heart Disease

Cancer Is Now the Number 1 Killer of Men in the UK

TIME.com stock photos Health First Aid Kit Gloves
Elizabeth Renstrom for TIME

Women are still more likely to die of heart disease than cancer

A new report shows that in the U.K., cancer has surpassed cardiovascular disease as the most common cause of death, but only among men.

The research published in The BMJ looked at the national data on both cancer and heart disease in countries in the U.K. from 2012 to 2013. Among men, fewer were dying of heart-related disease like high blood pressure and stroke than they have been in the past. Thirty-two percent of deaths among men were cancer-related and 29% were from heart disease. For women, 27% of deaths were from cancer and 28% from heart disease.

Overall, in 2012 the researchers reported that the proportion of deaths from cancer was 29% and cardiovascular disease related-deaths came out to 28%. England had the lowest rate of heart conditions and Scotland had the highest.

It’s unclear what precisely is responsible for the drop in heart-related disease, but it’s known that in some cases, heart disease is preventable with lifestyle changes.

MONEY Tax

More States Tax Tampons Than Candy in America

tampon-tax-more-states-candy-soda
Image Source—Getty Images/Image Source

Feminine hygiene products are taxed more often than soda too.

Forty states tax tampons and other feminine hygiene products, a new report from Fusion finds.

That’s odd given the fact that the 45 states with sales taxes typically allow exemptions for “necessities” like groceries—and, well, menstrual products are a necessity for about half the U.S. population.

Only five states with sales tax—Maryland, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Minnesota and New Jersey—have explicitly eliminated sales tax on tampons and pads, the report found.

That compares with 15 states (plus D.C.) that treat candy as sales tax-exempt groceries, according to recent data from the Tax Foundation. Eleven states don’t tax soda or candy, but 10 of those 11 do tax tampons.

The offenders?

1. Arizona
2. Georgia
3. Louisiana
4. Michigan
5. Nebraska
6. Nevada
7. New Mexico
8. South Carolina
9. Vermont
10. Wyoming

And it’s not just about candy and soda: Plenty of states tax feminine hygiene products but allow exemptions for much more seemingly frivolous purchases.

New York, for example, taxes tampons but apparently not dry cleaning, newspapers, American flags, admissions to live circus performances, or “wine furnished at a wine tasting.”

Perhaps we should take a cue from our northern neighbors: Canada’s government just announced that it will stop taxing feminine hygiene products this summer.

 

TIME Sex

‘Women’s Viagra’ to Seek FDA Approval, Again

A pill for female sexual desire goes back to the FDA for a third time

An FDA advisory committee is meeting on Thursday to discuss whether flibanserin — a drug sometimes nicknamed ‘women’s viagra’ — should be approved to treat low libido in women.

If approved, the drug would be marketed as treatment for hypoactive sexual desire disorder, which is said to cause a low sex drive in women. Some supporters argue the drug has a role in gender equality and that women do not have the same resources as men to deal with various degrees of sexual dysfunction.

The drug, owned by Sprout Pharmaceuticals, has been rejected by the agency two times already. The argument being that its benefit is not notable enough to outweigh its side effects which can include dizziness and nausea.

Other pharmaceutical companies including Pfizer and Procter & Gamble have made attempts at drugs to treat lack of libido among women. So far they have not been successful.

The FDA’s Thursday meeting on flibanserin is open to the public.

TIME Literature

Books About Women Don’t Win Top Literary Prizes and That’s a Problem

Woman reading book in bed
Gary John Norman —Getty Images

Instead, books by men about men or boys tend to get the glory

When it comes to top literary prizes in the English language, books about women or girls, regardless of whether they are written by a man or a woman, rarely win.

Novelist Nicola Griffith (Hild, Ammonite) sought to find out exactly how underrepresented women and girls were in prize-winning books, and trawled through 15 years worth of data from six big literary prizes.

Take the prestigious Pulitzer Prize: between 2000 and 2015, there were no prize-winning books written wholly from a women’s point of view, from either a male or female author, out of the 15 winners.

Male novelists writing about men or boys (8 out of 15 winners) seem to be the Pulitzer’s cup of tea.

Other top awards including the Man Booker Prize, the National Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Hugo garnered similar results, with fiction written by men, about men, coming out on top.

The exception was the Newbery Medal that honors writers of children’s literature and is considered to be the least prestigious of the bunch.

“When it comes to literary prizes, the more prestigious, influential and financially remunerative the award, the less likely the winner is to write about grown women,” Griffith wrote on her blog last week.

And according to Griffith, the underrepresentation of women in literature is a big problem, as she says women’s voices are not being heard.

“Women are more than half our culture, if half the adults in our culture have no voice, half the world’s experience is not being attended to, learned from, or built upon,” she wrote.

TIME advice

Words of Wisdom From Maya Angelou

Poet and novelist Maya Angelou at a Sickle Cell Disease Association of America program in Mobile, Ala. on Sept 12, 2006.
John David Mercer—AP Poet and novelist Maya Angelou at a Sickle Cell Disease Association of America program in Mobile, Ala. on Sept 12, 2006.

"Be a rainbow in someone else's cloud"

Dr. Maya Angelou may be gone, but her legacy lives on. She has been immortalized on a U.S. postage stamp, and now, her iconic autobiography I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is being re-released, complete with a foreword by her “daughter-friend” Oprah Winfrey. The re-release ensures that her vast wisdom will live on, touching millions of lives and countless generations to come.

  • “I am a Woman Phenomenally. Phenomenal Women, that’s me.”
  • “One isn’t necessarily born with courage, but one is born with potential. Without courage, we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can’t be kind, true, merciful, generous, or honest.”
  • “Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.”
  • “The first time someone shows you who they are, believe them.”
  • “You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.”
  • “Be a rainbow in someone else’s cloud.”
  • I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels. Life’s a b—-. You’ve got to go out and kick a–.”
  • “You may write me down in history with your bitter, twisted lies. You may tread me in the very dirt, but still, like dust, I’ll rise.”
  • “Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.”
  • “My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.”
  • “I believe that each of us comes from the creator trailing wisps of glory.”
  • “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

This article originally appeared on Essence.com.

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