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SANGHA Retreat by OCTAVE Institute Announces 21 New Wellness Programs – Benzinga

SANGHA Retreat by OCTAVE Institute announces 21 new wellness programs to help guide guests on their personal journeys of awakening to achieve mind, body and spiritual wellness.

SUZHOU, China (PRWEB) November 12, 2019

SANGHA Retreat by OCTAVE Institute announces 21 new wellness programs* to help guide guests on their personal journeys of awakening to achieve mind, body and spiritual wellness. Ranging from two to seven nights, each program includes:

The themes of the programs are:

Ancient Chinese Wisdom

(4 days/3 nights or 7 days/6 nights): Experience deep healing through acupuncture, traditional Chinese medicine, and seasonal nutrition, incorporating more than 2000 years of Chinese medical wisdom combined with Western science.

Traditional Spinal Alignment

(4 days/3 nights or 7 days/6 nights): Customized vertebral therapy corrects stress, tension, poor posture and inflammation in conjunction with rehab coaches.

Seasonal Gut Management

(4 days/3 nights or 7 days/6 nights): Significantly improve health--including your immune system, allergies, fatigue -- through the ancient Chinese practice of eating seasonally.

Relax and Reconnect

(4 days/3 nights or 7 days/6 nights): Destress, reconnect with your self and your life path, and learn to be at one with your environment.

Age Renewal

(4 days/3 nights or 7 days/6 nights): Our anti-aging doctor teaches how to promote inner health for outer beauty, to look and feel younger.

Sleep Recovery

(7 days/6 nights): Discover the roots of sleep disruption through traditional Chinese medicine, Sleep Lab study, and massage.

Welcome to Wellbeing

(2 days/1 night or 4 days/3 nights): The perfect add-on to an Asian trip, this health awareness program helps you to unwind and restore positive energy to welcome abundance.

Cleanse and Reset

(7 days/6 nights): Improve the digestive system through traditional Chinese medicine and scientific testing, combined with a cleansing diet.

Fearless Fitness

(7 days/6 nights): Gain mental strength and understand the exercises that best suit you in this active retreat for optimal fitness performance.

Mindful Weight Management

(7 days/6 nights): Break unhealthy habits with food and learn to eat mindfully with the help of a nutritionist and life coach.

Heart to Heart

(7 days/6 nights): Designed to enhance cardiology health.

Men 360

(7 days/6 nights): A medical-focused retreat to improve overall health through traditional medicine, bioenergetic science, and naturopathy.

Women 360

(7 days/6 nights): A medical-focused retreat designed for a woman's unique physical and emotional wellbeing.

Ayurvedic Healing Journey

(4 days/3 nights or 7 days/6 nights): Instill lifestyle changes through the ancient practice of Ayurveda and Yoga to reboot and prevent future health conditions.

*For additional information or to book a program, please visit the link below (first select dates, then click check availability' to view programs:

SANGHA Retreat by OCTAVE Institute

Located west of Shanghai on the outskirts of Suzhou, China, SANGHA Retreat combines Eastern philosophies backed by Western science to help people awaken to a life of greater purpose and personal wellbeing. With a focus on raising consciousness, it has been created for the need of our time by visionary Frederick Chavalit Tsao, fourth-generation steward of a family business that started in The Shanghai Bund before 1906.

The 47-acre retreat, designed by Tsao & McKown Architects, includes AT ONE guest suites; AT ONE Clinic, offering comprehensive wellness assessments and wellbeing programs; AT ONE Healing Spa with extensive spa treatment menu and hydrotherapy circuit; THOUGHT FOR FOOD restaurant; the Meditation Dome; and a seasonal schedule of fitness activities and mindfulness classes designed around the body's circadian rhythm.

For more information and reservations, visit Reservations can also be made through Hidden Doorways Travel or a preferred travel agent.

OCTAVE Institute

More than a school of life, OCTAVE Institute is a platform to help people find clarity, harmony and a new level of consciousness and freedom. It is comprised of SANGHA Retreat, THE VILLAGE, and AITIA in Suzhou; and THE LIVING ROOM, an urban support center in Shanghai. THE VILLAGE is a live-work-learn community for personal and communal learning, executive retreats, conferences, summits and festivals including the AT ONE International Festival, an annual, international festival that brings together thought leaders and holistic practitioners to address current issues. AITIA powers the communal programs at OCTAVE Institute. Together they create the foundation for growth towards a purposeful life, mindfully lived.

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SANGHA Retreat by OCTAVE Institute Announces 21 New Wellness Programs - Benzinga

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45 Wellness Products That Have a Cult Following – Yahoo Lifestyle

In the wellness space, we are truly hashtag blessed with atreasure trove of products to choose from. Thinksupplements, self-care essentials, workout gear, activewear, and more. I don't know about you, but the amount of inventory out there can be downright overwhelming at times. It'sour job to help you figure out what's the best of the best,so we decided to create a master list of the trendiest products out there with a cult-like following, sourced from you, our audience, and our editors.

Take a look at our roundup below.Keep it handy, try some of them out for yourself, put some on your wish list, or consider them as good gifting options. And if you think we missed something, let us know by sending us a DM on our Instagram at @thethirty.

Our editors are big fans of the Moon Juice brandWho What Wear'sassistant editor, Anna LaPlaca, usesBrain Dust to jump-start her mornings. But if you're just starting off with the brand, might we suggest SuperYou? It's the number one best seller. The supplement is a blend of four adaptogenic herbs to help you manage your stress and enhance your mood, focus, and energy.

Hum Nutrition's supplements are another favorite in our office. The brand has a variety of offerings with so many different health benefits, fromdebloating supplements tosuperfood powders to skin-hydrating gummies. My personal favorite is the Hair Sweet Hair gummies, which have really worked wonders on my hair growth. After a few months of taking them every day, I have much thicker, healthier hair.

Sun Potion Ashwagandha Powder ($47)

Sun Potion is always a best seller on THE/THIRTY. Its supplements and powders are sourced from plants and are supposed to boost mental health and immunity. This particular product contains ashwagandha, which is an adaptogen that is said to reduce stress and anxietyand help with focus.

Sakara Life Metabolism Super Powder ($90)

Who What Wear's Beauty Editor, Erin Jahns, recently reviewed Sakara Life's latest offering, its Metabolism Super Powder, and noticed a lot of improvements when it came to her digestion, energy levels, and bloat. But in general, Sakara Life has a cult following for all of its products, particularly its popular meal programs.

Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides Powder Supplement ($25)

A lot of people have made Vital Proteins part of their daily rituals, mixing it into their favorite beverages for abeneficial boost. The supplement helps support hair, skin, nails, ligaments, tendons, bones, and joints.

Bulletproof Brain Octane Oil ($22)

This one's another must-domorning ritual for many wellness obsessives. Bulletproof'sBrain Octane Oil provides instant brain energy, promotes digestion, and immune function.

Ritual Essential for Women ($30)

Ritual vitaminsare one of the buzziest supplements out there. The Essential for Women multivitamin contains nine ingredients: boron, folate, iron, magnesium, omega-3, vitamin B12, vitamin D3, vitamin E, and vitamin K12. Each capsule is vegan, gluten- and allergy-free, non-GMO, and contains no colorants or synthetic filters. The brand has a monthly subscription service, so you'll never run out, but you can cancel at any time for whatever reason.

Care/of Vitamin Packs ($5)

Care/of's personalized approach has garnered the company plenty of devotees. To start, you can take a quiz that will ask you health questions and give you recommendations for personalized vitamin packs that will be delivered to you monthly. And don't worry about waste, the packets are compostable. Pricing depends on vitamins recommended, but most start at $5 each per month (for vitamin B12, C, and D, and B-Complex).

The Nue Co. Debloat+ ($60)

The Nue Co. has a lot of editor-approved supplements (Jahns uses Nootro Focus to help her productivity and mood). The latest addition to the roster is its Debloat+ supplement that can help reduce bloating, upper abdominal pain, gas, and heartburn.

Beauty Chef Glow Inner Beauty Powder ($70)

The Beauty Chef's products are another trendy, popular find among the wellness-focused. You can say one ofits classic items is the Glow Inner Beauty Powder, which contains antioxidants, superfoods, prebiotics, and probiotics to aid ingut health and improved skin.

Cha Cha Matcha Ceremonial Grade Matcha Powder ($50)

Matcha is having a moment, and for good reason because it has some great benefitsone being that it contains L-theanine, an amino acid that calms and boosts mood and performance. When it comes to popular matcha products out there, Cha Cha Matcha really tops the list. The ceremonial grade powder is perfect if you don't live or work by a store.

Four Sigmatic Mushroom Coffee Mix ($12)

For a boost of energy and other benefits, many turn to Four Sigmatic when they're trying to reduce their caffeine intake. The Mushroom Coffee Mix in particular contains lion's mane mushroom tosupport memory and focus, and chaga mushroom powder, which has antioxidant properties.

Dirty Lemon All Natural Daily Detox with Activated Charcoal (6 Bottles) ($65)

Dirty Lemon drinks are a favorite. There are different flavors with various benefits, like charcoal for detox, collagen for skin health, and turmeric for an immunity boost. Each "elixir" contains lemon juice, ocean minerals, and natural electrolytes, which doesn't seem that appetizing, but trust me, it's actually pretty refreshing.

Health-Ade Kombucha, Pink Lady Apple (12-Pack) ($48)

There's a lot of kombuchas out there, but Health-Ade is a buzzy one.And it has some ofthe most interesting flavor offerings like Pink Lady Apple (a personal favorite), Jalapeno-Kiwi-Cucumber, and Blood Orange Carrot Ginger. Getting your dose of probiotics never felt so exciting.

Olipop Strawberry Vanilla Sparkling Tonic (12-Pack) ($45)

Olipop's a new sparkling beverage that's aimed at supporting gut health. Some ingredients include marshmallow root, ginger, chicory root, kudzu root, and Nopal cactus. LaPlaca is a big fan of theseand the rest of our office, too. When we last had them at Who What Wear HQ, they went pretty quickly! Currently there are three flavors: strawberry vanilla, cinnamon cola, and ginger lemon.

Bragg Organic Apple Cider Vinegar with the "Mother" ($4)

Bragg's Apple Cider Vinegar has been a wellness staple for YEARS. WhileACV's weight loss benefits are iffy, studies show that it may help reduce blood glucose and improve insulin sensitivity for people with type 2 diabetes. It's also just great to mix in with dressings and marinades.

Recess Sparkling Water, Pomegranate Hibiscus (12 Drinks) ($55)

Recess takes sparkling water to the next level: It's infused with hemp extract and adaptogens. Drinking a can could help reduce stress and boost energy. Plus, doesn't the packaging (of very cool, modern colors) scream "trendy"?

Vitruvi Porcelain Essential Oil Diffuser ($119)

The benefits of essential oils seem endless, and one of the best ways to take advantage of them is through a diffuser. The Vitruvi one can be found in many a cool fashion girl's spaces.

Mount Lai Gua Sha Facial Lifting Tool ($28)

You could consider the Gua Sha tool a cousin of the jade roller. TheInstagram-famous massager can help lift and smooth the skin. Make it a part of your skincare ritual.

YnM Weighted Blanket ($65)

While there aren't a ton of scientific studies on the benefits of weighted blankets, many believe they can help with anxiety and sleep. Either way, it's a product that keeps growing in popularity.

Dr Teal's Epsom Salt Bath Soaking Solution, Eucalyptus and Lavender, 2 Count ($17)

Soaking in Epsom salts is not a new phenomenon, and many people swear by it to soothe their aches and pains. Dr. Teal's salts are some of the best out there because they're also paired with natural essential oilsthe lavender one can be used to soothe muscles and help with sleep.

Vie Healing 24K Gold Ear Seeds ($34)

You might be thinking What?! which is what I thought when my colleagues suggested these to me as a cult wellness product. But I can definitely see the appeal hereplace these cool-looking seeds on your ear and let it ease your anxiety, boost your mood, and reduce your pain.

Urban Outfitters Himalayan Salt Lamp ($34)

You'll might find thesein a lot of homes these days, and even some offices.They're believed to clean the air an also lift your mood. Whether you believe that or not, you can't really argue that they make some cool-looking dcor.

Goop "The Martini" Emotional Detox Bath Soak ($35)

Again,taking a bath isn't a relatively new form of self-care, but with the focus on treating yourself a little better, more and more people are interested in taking advantage of the soothing benefits of bath salts. Goop's bath salts are a favorite with some of our editors"The Martini" blend contains Himalayan pink salt and chia seed oil for stress relief and a rejuvenating experience.

Lord Jones High CBD Formula Body Lotion ($60)

CBDhas been a buzzy topic for the past couple of yearsmany use it to take the edge off after a long, stressful day. Particularly, Lord Jones products have a big fanbaseWho What Wear'sEditor in Chief Kat Collings likes to use the body lotion to reset and de-stress.

Le Labo Santal 26 Classic Candle ($128)

Much like the Vitruvi diffuser, you'd be hard-pressed to find a fashion girl's home that doesn't have a Le Labo candle. Does reading this make you immediately think ofthe brand's familiar scents? Yeah, we thought so.

Slip for Beauty Sleep Slipsilk Pure Silk Pillowcase ($85)

For the ultimate good night's sleep, beauty insiders swear by a silk pillowcase. Unlike normal pillowcases, the silk versions are supposed to be anti-aging, anti-bedhead, and anti-sleep creases. Slip's pillowcasesare the trendiest of them all.

Sagely Naturals Relief & Recovery Headache CBD Roll-On ($30)

Another popular CBD brand, Sagely Naturals have a whole suite of wellness and self-care products. Personally, I use the headache roll-on when I need some quick relief and don't want to take pills (and it may or may not work wonders if you have a wine hangover, but you didn't hear it from me).

Quip Metal Electric Toothbrush ($40)

What a time we live in where eventoothbrushes can be trendy (who knew you could ever own a gold version?!). Quip toothbrushes were one of the first of the next wave in modern toothbrushesand with its sleek, minimal design and high-tech features (sonic vibrations to brush better and a built-in timer), it's not hard to understandthe brand's popularity.

Cocolab Cocofloss (3 Pack) ($25)

And while we're talking about trendy toothbrushes, what aboutluxury floss? Yes, it's like we're in the golden age of stylish (yet actually effective) dental care. Cocofloss is vegan- and gluten-free and is constructed to catch all the plaque on your teeth. It also smells like coconut, so what more could you ask for?

MasterMedi 100% Stainless Steel Tongue Scraper ($8)

Okay, and hear us out with one more dental "trend": the tongue scraper. As a dental hygiene tool, it's used for plaque removal and bad breath. As a wellness tool,traditional Chinese medicine practitioners believe your tongue health can inform your general well-being.

LoveFresh Super Strength Deodorant ($24)

Making the switch to natural deodorant is a priority for a lot of wellness devotees. With the natural stuff, you're saying goodbye to a lot of chemicals. The drawback is that a lot of natural ones that don't work as well in the sweat and smell department. LoveFresh's versionsactuallywork and are free of parabens, petroleum, sulfates, and phthalates.

Lena Menstrual Cup ($25)

We already discussed next-level dental products, but what about period products? Now that more and more people are looking for natural options, many women have turned tomenstrual cups instead of tampons and pads. There are so many great ones out there, but Lena has7000-plus ratings and 4.5 stars on Amazon.

Thinx Super Hiphugger ($39)

When Thinx first launched, a lot of women were wary about going tampon- or pad-less during their heavy menstruation days. But now, the brand has plenty of fans, and it's even expanded its product offerings to activewear, too.

Theragun G3PRO Percussive Therapy Device ($599)

The Theragun has plenty of devotees, and that's because it provides a deep muscle massage that's perfectfor recovery after an intense workout. You've probably seen it touted on Instagram, heck, we've even done giveaways before, so we can tell you it really works.

Peloton Bike (Basics Package) ($2245)

The cult of Peloton is real. From celebrities to maybe even your neighbor, it seems like everyone is jumping on an at-home bike these days. The bike itself is high-tech with a built-in screen so you can watch and participate in different classes. While it's not cheap ($2245 with free delivery and $39 per month for an unlimited subscription to classes), being able to work out from the comfort of your own home might make it all worth it.

Hydro Flask Wide Mouth Water Bottle ($45)

While the Hydro Flask has gained a cult following amongst the VSCO Gen-Zers, it doesn't age-discriminate. There are fans of the insulated water bottle all over. It stays cold or hot for so long and it's super durable. What more can you ask for?

Manduka PRO Yoga Mat ($102)

Yogis love Manduka's mats because they're slip-free, thick, and dependable. They're definitely not the cheapestyoga mats out there, but they come highly ratedif you practice regularly, it might be worth the investment.

TriggerPoint GRID Foam Roller ($34)

If you foam roll, you know. The act of foam rolling canrelieve muscle and joint point, improve circulation, and help with flexibility, too. There are a lot of options out there, but Trigger Point's GRID design is one of the best because it allows you to control the intensity level.

Glacce Crystal Elixir Water Bottle ($80)

Who knew water bottles (like the Hydro Flask above) could gain cult followings? It's good to see people taking their hydration seriously.If you believe in crystal therapy, then Glacce's water bottles are for you. Each one has a raw crystal embedded inside for an energizing effect. Choose from clear quartz, rose quartz, amethyst, and smoky quartzeach has its own benefits.

Outdoor Voices TechSweat Zip Bra ($75)

Does it seem like whenever you step into a fitness studio about half the women are dressed in matching Outdoor Voices tops and bottoms?We're not complaining, though. The brand's followers have the right ideaits stuff really supports you through even the most grueling workouts.

JoyLab Sherpa Full Zip Jacket ($40)

I'm calling a new trend in activewear: sherpa jackets. In the past couple of weeks, I have seen so many of our favorite activewear brands come out with their version of the cuddly, warm jacket. (Full disclosure: I am the owner of two).

Zella Live In High Waist Leggings ($59)

Zella leggings are one of the best-selling activewear finds on THE/THIRTY. They're all at once stretchy, supportive, and moisture-wickingeverything you need for any type of workout.

Alo High Waist Moto Leggings ($78)

Alo is another yoga brand with a big fanbaseyou might have seen their gear all over Instagram (oreven on celebs like Gigi Hadid and Kendall Jenner). And if we had to choose one classic Alo look, it would beits Moto leggings, which could, in theory, take you from the yoga studio to the club.

Lululemon Timeless Classic Tank ($48)

Wecan't talk about activewear devotees without mentioning Lululemon. One of the OGs in the modern workout-wear space, you can spot the familiar label on waistbands and tank tops from a mile away. Whileits leggings are a go-to for many, you shouldn't sleep on the tanks either. They're breathable and oh so comfortable.

Next up: 17 Wellness Hotspots Fashion Girls Love

This article originally appeared on The Thirty

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The Trump Administration Is Giving Family Planning Funds to a Network of Anti-Abortion Clinics – Mother Jones

When I walked into the Obria clinic in Whittier, California, one evening in July, a woman in a modest floral-print dress organizing bundles of diapers in a back room greeted me hopefully. She thought Id come for a class. Instead, I asked if I had come to the right place for birth control. Furrowing her brow, she walked around a couch and through a cozy waiting room full of baby toys to the front desk. What sort of services were you looking for? she inquired. I asked if they dispensed the morning-after pill, the emergency contraception often called Plan B. She told me curtly, We dont provide that or refer for any birth control here.

I wasnt surprised. For most of its existence, this clinic has been known as the Whittier Pregnancy Care Clinic, a religious ministry that offers free pregnancy tests and ultrasounds in the hopes of dissuading women facing an unplanned pregnancy from having an abortion. The clinic provides lots of things: free diapers and baby supplies, and post-abortion Bible-based counseling. What the clinic has never provided is birth control.

When the Whittier clinic was strictly saving babies for the Lord, its refusal to dispense even a single condom was a private religious matter in the eyes of its funders. But today, the clinic is part of Obria, a Southern Californiabased chain of Christian pregnancy centers that in March won a $5.1 million Title X grant to provide contraception and family planning services to low-income women over three years. Created in 1970, Title X is the only federal program solely devoted to providing family planning services across the country. Congress created the program to fulfill President Richard Nixons promise that no American woman should be denied access to family planning assistance because of her economic condition. It serves 4 million low-income people nationwide annually on a budget of about $286 million and is estimated to prevent more than 800,000 unintended pregnancies every year.

Historically, federal regulations required that any organization receiving Title X funding provide a broad range of acceptable and effective medically approved family planning methods. But as I discovered during my visit to Whittier and other Obria clinics last summer, the organizations clinics refuse to provide contraception. Nor do they refer patients to other providers for birth control.

Obrias founder is opposed to all FDA-approved forms of birth control and has privately reassured anti-abortion donors that Obria will never dispense contraception, even as she has aggressively sought federal funding that requires exactly those services. Were an abstinence-only organization. It always works, Kathleen Eaton Bravo told the Catholic World Report in 2011. And for those single women who have had sex before marriage, we encourage them to embrace a second virginity.

Mara Gandal-Powers, director of birth control access at the nonprofit National Womens Law Center, does not think Bravos stance is in line with the intent of the Title X family planning program, but obviously they see it differently.

Should the Trump administration survive another four years, Obria may represent the future of the Title X program. In 2019, the Department of Health and Human Services instituted a gag rule that banned clinics getting Title X money from providing patients with referrals for abortions. (Federal law prohibits the program from funding abortions.) Seven state governments and Planned Parenthood, which served 40 percent of Title X patients, decided to drop out of the program rather than comply.

But even before Planned Parenthood was squeezed out, the White House had been pushing to redirect Title X and other federal funds to anti-abortion organizations like the Whittier clinic, which juggles its mandates of health care and family planning with pushing abstinence-only sex education, dissuading women from having abortions, and introducing them to the love of Christ, as its website says. In July, HHS awarded Obria nearly $500,000 from its teen pregnancy prevention program to provide sexual risk avoidance classes.

The Obria grant suggests that the Trump administrations assault on Title X is not just about reducing abortion access. Its part of the broader, if largely futile, culture war still waged by evangelical and other Christian conservatives heaven-bent on making America chaste again. Abstinence-only activists now control key posts at HHS and are driving policies that force their views about contraception onto the vast majority of Americans, who dont agree with them. While Americans opinions on abortion are mixed, only 4 percent think contraception is immoral, and 99 percent of women who have had sex have used it. Which raises a big question: Now that Obria has won millions in taxpayer dollars to provide anti-abortion family planning services, will anyone use what they are offering?

A screenshot of the Obria website

Obria is the brainchild of Kathleen Eaton Bravo, a devout Catholic who set out to build a pro-life alternative to Planned Parenthood. I wanted to create a comprehensive medical clinic model that could compete nose-to-nose with the large abortion providers, she wrote on the Obria Group website. Bravo may seek to emulate Planned Parenthoods organizational model, but she holds a dim view of it otherwise. In a 2015 interview with Catholic World Report, she claimed Planned Parenthood promoted a hook-up, contraceptive mentality among our young people. They teach children as young as 12 that they can have sex without consequences. She went on: Today, Planned Parenthood promotes oral sex, anal sex, and S&M sex.

Bravo did not respond to repeated requests for an interview. But she has said elsewhere that her involvement with the anti-abortion movement began after having an abortion in California in 1980 amid the collapse of a first marriage. Afterward, she remarried, moved to Oklahoma, rediscovered her Catholic faith, and started volunteering at a pregnancy center that tried to convince women to carry unplanned pregnancies to term. Bravo has described driving to Kansas to pray in front of the clinic of Dr. George Tiller, who would be murdered in 2009 by an anti-abortion extremist.

In Bravos public statements, there are echoes of the great replacement theory of abortion thats become popular among white supremacists. Abortion, she told Catholic World Report, threatens our cultures survival. Take the example of Europe. When its nations accepted contraception and abortion, they stopped replacing their population. Christianity began to die out. And, with Europeans having no children, immigrant Muslims came in to replace them, and now the culture of Europe is changing. The US faces a similar future.

After moving back to Southern California in the mid-1980s, Bravo took over a crisis pregnancy center in Mission Viejo called Birthright, whose name she later changed to Birth Choice. Crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) have been an integral part of the anti-abortion movement for more than 50 years. The founder of the first known American CPC, Robert Pearson, pioneered the deceptive practices that would come to characterize their services to this day. He published a training manual that coached activists to set up CPCs to look like abortion clinics and use misleading ads to trick pregnant women into thinking they could get an abortion there. CPCs have a long, well-documented record of using high-pressure tactics on unsuspecting women and peddling misinformation like the myths that abortion causes breast cancer, infertility, and suicide.

Over the past three decades, pro-choice organizations, Democratic members of Congress, and state attorneys general have tried to expose and rein in some of the CPCs worst abuses. In 2015, California enacted the Reproductive Freedom, Accountability, Comprehensive Care, and Transparency (FACT) Act, which required unlicensed CPCs to prominently disclose that they dont provide medical care (including abortions), and licensed ones to inform clients that the state offers free or low-cost family planning and abortion services. The CPC industry sued, and the Supreme Court struck down the law in 2018.

Obrias clinics dont appear to have ever been sanctioned by any government agencies for deceptive practices, but its Whittier clinic was one of many Los Angeles CPCs that a local public radio station found openly flouting the fact Act before the act was overturned. And Obrias RealOptions, a Northern California CPC chain thats a recipient of its Title X grant, was caught using mobile surveillance technology to target ads at women inside family planning clinics.

In 2015, the company hired a Massachusetts-based ad firm to set up virtual fences around family planning clinics to target abortion-minded women, according to the Massachusetts attorney general. When women entered the clinics, their smartphones would trip the fence, triggering a barrage of online RealOptions ads that said things like Pregnant? Its your choice. You have timeBe informed. The ads, which steered women to the pregnancy centers site, would continue to appear on their devices for a month after their clinic visit. The Massachusetts attorney general secured a settlement with the ad firm to end the practice in 2017 after alleging that it violated consumer protection laws.

Bravos vision for an anti-abortion rival to Planned Parenthood is deeply rooted in the crisis pregnancy center world. Bravo has said she wants to transform CPCs from Pampers and a prayer ministries into a network of life-affirming clinics that provide many of the services Planned Parenthood doesSTI testing, ultrasounds, and cervical cancer screenings, but without the birth control, abortion, or abortion referrals. I would close my doors before I do that, she told the Heritage Foundations Daily Signal in 2015.

By the middle of 2006, Bravo had expanded Birth Choice to include four CPCs. She got the centers licensed and accredited as community clinics and installed ultrasound machines to increase their conversion rate by convincing abortion-minded women to stay pregnant. Grants from the evangelical Christian advocacy group Focus on the Family and the Catholic Knights of Columbus paid for the machines. In 2014, she rebranded the nonprofit chain as Obria (a vaguely medicalized name made up by a marketing firm, ostensibly based on the Spanish word obra, meaning work) and announced an aggressive expansion plan. Bravo became the CEO of a new nonprofit umbrella organization called the Obria Group and essentially turned the operation into a franchise.

The Obria Group doesnt provide any medical services or even start new clinics. Rather, its a marketing arm that recruits existing CPCs to join the Obria network. Affiliated clinics pay a licensing fee to use the Obria name, but they remain separate legal entities with their own nonprofit status. (Bravos Birth Choice clinics are now a separate nonprofit called Obria Medical Clinics of Southern California, and she is no longer employed there or on its board.)

Bravo is politically well connected. On the Obria website, she brags that she has built a network of high-powered supporters over the decades to include former U.S. presidents, Washington lawmakers, senators, prominent mega-churches, spiritual leaders and thousands of behind-the-scene players who move mountains to get things done. Catholic World Report ran a prominent photo of her with President George W. Bush in 2010, when a Catholic business group presented them each with a Cardinal John J. OConnor pro-life award. Obrias advisory board was a whos who of the pro-life movement, including Jim Daly, president of Focus on the Family; Kristan Hawkins, a former official in Bushs Department of Health and Human Services who worked on Trumps pro-life advisory council during the 2016 campaign; and David Daleiden, CEO of the Center for Medical Progress, who was criminally charged in San Francisco for making undercover videos purporting to show Planned Parenthood selling tissue from aborted fetuses.

The Catholic Church and wealthy Catholic donors have provided much of Obrias funding, including a $2.5 million grant from the US Conference of Catholic Bishops for Obrias expansion plans. But Bravo has also secured public funding. In 2005, Birth Choice nabbed a $148,800 congressional earmark to fund three pregnancy centers. Between 2009 and 2016, the Orange County Board of Supervisors gave the Obria Medical Clinics of Southern California more than $700,000 for abstinence-only sex-ed programming, money that had previously gone to Planned Parenthood. Obria has even scored help from Google, which in 2015 gave Obria $120,000 worth of free ads through its nonprofit grant program.

This funding supports limited clinical offerings such as pregnancy testing, ultrasounds, and some STI testing and cervical cancer screening. A few clinics offer abortion pill reversal, the practice of giving women large doses of progesterone to try to halt a medically induced abortion in progress. (The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says the treatment is not supported by science.)

Obrias medical director, Peter Anzaldo, is an Orange County OB-GYN and cosmetic surgeon who offers mommy makeovers in his private practice, using lasers to rejuvenate aging vaginasa controversial procedure the FDA has warned against as unapproved and potentially unsafe. While he provides many forms of contraception, including sterilization, at his office, Obrias contraception offerings consist of educational lectures about its various dangers, with a focus on abstinence until marriage. Despite providing STI testing and treatment, Obria wont dispense condoms, even now that its received Title X money thats supposed to go toward combating STIs.

However, Obria will help women learn the Catholic Church-approved natural family planning, a more complicated version of the rhythm method. Natural family planning requires women to regularly monitor their vaginal mucus and chart their temperature to avoid sex during ovulation. Obria claims on its website that the natural family planning success rate ranges from 75 to nearly 90 percent. The CDC cites a study showing that 24 percent of women became unintentionally pregnant within a year of using natural family planning, making this method one of the least effective forms of birth control.

For years, in speeches and fundraising pitches, Bravo has tried to sell Obria as a health care operation, not just a ministry, and its clinics seem to take great pains to downplay any outward evidence of its religious mission. The California clinics resemble doctors offices, and thats by design. Obrias affiliate application asks CPCs whether their staff is taught not to force religious beliefs or practices on patients, and it checks to make sure they dont have any crosses or bloody fetus photos displayed in their facilities. In a nod to the bad actors of the crisis pregnancy world, it also asks whether the applicant has ever been accused of false advertising. But Obrias implicit religious mission still seems to seep into its medical practice.

In 2018, after taking a home pregnancy test, a 27-year-old woman who asked to be identified as Huong visited the Obria affiliate in San Jose, California, which is part of the RealOptions CPC network. Shed recently been diagnosed with endometriosis with a procedure she hadnt known would temporarily increase her fertility. She was shocked to learn she was pregnant. It was a very difficult time in my life, Huong recalled. I was confused, scared. I just felt like I was 14 again. She was in an on-and-off relationship and strapped for cash. She looked online and found Obria.

Most crisis pregnancy centers appear to be conventional medical offices and are usually located near abortion facilities.

Mother Jones illustration; Google

At first, Huong thought Obria was an ordinary medical clinic. But when she told a clinic worker she was considering an abortion, the woman visibly looked appalled, Huong said. She said, I see here that youre 27. Why dont you just get married? When Huong said she didnt believe in marriage, she recalled that the woman asked, Why dont you just give it up for adoption?

I just felt like the scum of the earth, Huong said. I walked into this clinic thinking they were going to help me, and they were telling me to keep the baby and that Im a piece of trash for even considering abortion.

During an ultrasound, the nurse told Huong that she had friends with endometriosis who had become infertileand that this might be her last chance to conceive, an assessment she later learned was false. The nurse also said that if Huongs boyfriend was unsure about having a baby, the clinic would do the ultrasound again for free so he could see the fetusa practice that CPCs sometimes use to convince women to continue an unplanned pregnancy. Huong ended up having an abortion at Planned Parenthood. She said her experience at Obria was far more traumatic than the abortion itself. I remember feeling the worst Ive ever felt in my life, she said. It just messed me up.

The Obria medical clinic in Long Beach sits in a busy, low-rent strip mall, nestled between a Hong Kong Express and a Rent-a-Center. The clinics tiny waiting room has space for three or four people, but that wasnt a problem when I visited one morning in July. No one was waiting when I asked the woman at the front desk for the morning-after pill. No, we dont do the morning-after pill or any sort of birth control, she said. When I asked if she knew where I might find it, she said no. The morning-after pill is available at most pharmacies without a prescription. And like most crisis pregnancy centers, this one has set up shop near an abortion clinictwo of them, in fact. Its a three-minute walk from one of the states oldest abortion and family planning clinics and a six-minute walk from a Planned Parenthood.

I waited outside the clinic for an hour or so, hoping to find some patients to interview. But none came in. Out of curiosity, I crossed the Metro tracks to FPA Womens Health, which offers a full range of contraception. It isnt a Title X clinic, but it takes Medi-Cal, the state insurance for low-income Californians that Obria also accepts. I counted 16 people in its expansive waiting room. A woman in line was complaining because appointments were running behind schedule. I also paid a visit to the Planned Parenthood nearby. Its waiting room was full.

I wasnt just catching Obria on an off day. As a licensed community clinic, Obria is required to provide the state with annual data about services and clients. In 2018, its Long Beach clinic reported seeing 628 patients, fewer than two per day. The clinic didnt report conducting a single Pap smear or HIV test, and brought in just a little more than $10,000 in net revenue from patients. By contrast, in 2018, Planned Parenthoods Long Beach clinic reported seeing more than 9,400 patients. It performed 562 Pap smears. At both clinics, most patients whose income was recorded were on Medi-Cal, and almost half were poor, paying out of pocket for services on a sliding scale. The state insurance plan accounted for a big chunk of Planned Parenthoods more than $3 million in net revenue from patients. (As a private practice, FPA Womens Health isnt required to report its client data to the state.) In fact, Planned Parenthoods Long Beach clinic saw twice as many patients than all of Obrias licensed California clinics combined, which reported serving fewer than 4,500 patients in 2018. Not one of those clinics reported conducting a single Pap smear or HIV test.

Women with choices perhaps arent all that interested in what Obria is selling. Thats no surprise; according to the federal Office of Population Affairs, just 1 in 200 patients in the Title X program use natural family planning as their primary form of contraception. Even if Obria was offering the full range of contraceptive services, which from what Im able to tell they are not, they dont have experience doing family planning and serving these populations, said Gandal-Powers of the National Womens Law Center. Theres something to be said for serving the people who the grants are supposed to help.

Even if the Trump administration showered Obria with more federal funds, its not clear that many more women would use its clinics. In 2013, Texas kicked Planned Parenthood out of its state family planning program, and in 2016, to fill the void, the state funneled millions of dollars to an anti-abortion organization called the Heidi Group. The Heidi Group had promised it would serve 70,000 patients a year through a network of CPCs and other providers. But in 2017, the organization served just over 3,300 people, according to the Texas Observer. The Heidi Groups performance was so bad that in 2018 the state pulled the plug on its contract and began investigating its spending. The group then partnered with Obria to apply unsuccessfully for a Title X grant in Texas. This month, a state inspector general found that the Heidi Group should reimburse the state $1.5 million in misspent contract funds it received for inflated payments and prohibited expenses for things like food, clothing and gift cards.

Despite the lack of demand for her organizations services, Kathleen Bravo has repeatedly claimed that the network is making massive expansion plans. In 2014, she announced a new infusion of funds from the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, and said that Obria would grow to 200 clinics by 2020. Obria did not respond to a request for a full list of its locations, but at a September 2019 anti-abortion conference, Bravo put the number of Obria clinics at just 48. Using California state data, Obrias website, and documents the group provided to HHS as part of Obrias three Title X grant applications, Mother Jones could identify even feweronly 18 brick-and-mortar clinics, plus four mobile clinics.

In 2017, Obria hired Abby Johnson, a former Planned Parenthood clinic director turned pro-life activist, to manage its expansion. Distressed by what she saw on the inside, she ended up quitting Obria after about a year. She has since become one of the networks most outspoken anti-abortion critics in part because she believes Obria is misleading the anti-choice movement about its operations, including how many clinics it actually has. For instance, she said, Obria would tell donors it had five or six clinics in Oregon, when in fact it had one brick-and-mortar clinic in the state, plus a mobile van that would park in a different location every day.

Bravo had convinced the US Conference of Catholic Bishops that they were going to be saving all these babies from abortion, and here they were four years later and none of that [expansion] happened, Johnson said. In fact, the clinics in California were bleeding money. One of the reasons is that Obria was thousands of dollars behind in its Medi-Cal billing. They didnt know what they were doing, she said. They didnt know how to bill.

State data and IRS forms support her account. One of Obrias California clinics closed in 2017 after serving only 45 patients that year. Obrias tax forms show that its Southern California nonprofit was running a deficit and that grants and donations had fallen sharply, from $2.8 million in 2016 to $1.7 million in 2017. While the Southern California clinics were losing money, contributions to the Obria Group jumped from almost zero in 2014 and 2015 to more than $800,000 in the fiscal year ending in September 2017. The Obria Group doesnt provide any health care services or run any clinics, but it does pay Bravo $192,000 a year in salary and benefits, almost a quarter of the $800,000 it raised in 2017.

When she worked at Obria, Johnson said she had argued against applying for Title X funding because she believed it would require the organization to provide referrals for contraception, which would conflict with its values and upset its anti-abortion benefactors. Officials at HHS made it very clear to me that yes, Title X requires a contraceptive referral, she said. There is absolutely no way to get around that. But Obria went after the federal funding anyway.

If we get funded through Title X, we can advance our technology, we can advance our reach, we can serve more patients, we can expand our services, Bravo said in a Facebook video posted by Students for Life. Yet Obrias grant proposal indicates that if it received all the money it was asking forabout $6 million over three yearsthe Obria affiliate clinics in California would still serve only 5,500 patients, about 1,000 more than in 2018. The Title X grant was absolutely a cash grab for them, Johnson said, because they are sinking.

Anti-abortion activist Abby Johnson joined Obria in 2017, but she quit after about a year. She has since become one of the networks most outspoken anti-abortion critics.

Bastiaan Slabbers/NurPhoto/Getty

Over the past few years, the Trump administration has waged war on Title X as part of its larger mission to defund Planned Parenthood. In 2017, HHS forced all organizations receiving multiyear Title X grants to reapply for the funds on short notice. In February 2018, under the leadership of Valerie Huber, an abstinence-only sex-ed activist who was then the acting assistant secretary for population affairs, HHS rewrote the grants rules. The new funding announcement contained no mention of contraception and gave preference to poorly funded faith-based organizations that focused on natural family planning and abstinence.

Historically, an independent review committee evaluated Title X grant applications, and regional HHS career administrators would make the final awards. The process, created in the 1980s to keep politics out of grant-making, has been undone by the Trump administration. In 2018, it announced that the deputy assistant secretary for population affairs, a political appointee, would make final Title X decisions. Since May 2018, that role has been filled by Diane Foley, a pediatrician who through 2016 ran a Colorado Christian anti-abortion group with ties to Focus on the Family and who has promoted abstinence-only sex-ed programs. (She has said that teaching kids to use condoms by, say, putting them on bananas could be sexually harassing.)

Even with the playing field tilted in Obrias favor, Politico reported that HHS rejected the groups 2018 funding application because it refused to offer contraception. So Obria tried a different tack: It reapplied, this time focusing solely on California and promising to provide a broad range of birth control through a partnership with two federally qualified health centers that already offer contraception and sterilization services. Those two subcontractors would serve more than 40 percent of the 12,000 clients Obria promised to handle through the Title X grant. The application angered many in the anti-abortion movement. Other anti-choice organizations that had initially sought Title X funds from the Trump administration eventually withdrew from the process after HHS told them theyd have to provide contraception or refer clients to partner groups that did. These organizations didnt see how Obria could do this without violating their anti-abortion values.

If Obria did find a way to avoid providing or referring for contraception, it would be impressive, and we would applaud them, Christine Accurso, executive director of a consortium of anti-abortion health care centers, told the National Catholic Register not long after HHS announced Obrias Title X award. However, we have confirmed multiple times from HHS leadership that a sub-grantee is required to refer for contraceptives if they do not provide them.

Bravo had privately reassured donors in January 2019 that Obria would never dispense contraception or refer for it. Obrias clinic model is committed to never provide hormonal contraception nor abortions! Obria promotes abstinence-based sexual risk avoidance educationthe most effective public health model for promoting healthy behaviors, Bravo wrote in an email obtained by the Campaign for Accountability, a liberal watchdog group that has sued HHS to get public records about the Obria grant.

In March, HHS awarded $1.7 million for Obrias California proposal, with the potential for a total of more than $5 million over the next three years. Title X was created to help low-income women control their reproductive futures by providing them access to birth control, said Alice Huling, counsel for the Campaign for Accountability. Yet HHS gave these funds to a group that is fundamentally opposed to birth control. It just doesnt make sense.

Many things about the Obria grant make no sense, including where the money is going. In the October 2019 directory of Title X service sites published by HHS, Obria is listed as a grantee, with seven California services sites plus a mobile van. There is no mention of the federally qualified health centers that were supposed to provide the forms of contraception required under the grant. HHS declined to provide any information about the services Obria offered and wouldnt say whether the group is required to provide birth control referrals at its clinics. Obria did not respond to multiple requests for a full list of where its Title X family planning services will be provided, or by whom.

Obrias California proposal did indicate that a community health organization called Culture of Life Family Services would provide Title X services at two sites to at least 750 patients a year. The organizations medical director is George Delgado, a family medicine doctor known for pioneering the bogus abortion pill reversal. Culture of Life doesnt provide contraception and it also wont make referrals for it. Johnson, the former Obria expansion director, said Obria included Culture of Life in its grant application without Delgados permission. She said Delgado only learned about it after Obria submitted the application, and that he had to inform HHS that his pro-life clinic could not participate in Title X. Neither Obria nor Delgado responded to questions about the grant. Obrias grant application doesnt contain a letter of commitment from Culture of Life, as it does for its other partners, and Obrias PR firm told the Guardian in July 2019 that Delgados clinic was not on its final list of subgrantees.

At least one other clinic that was part of Obrias California grant application doesnt appear in the October 2019 Title X provider directory. Horizon Pregnancy Clinic, a CPC in Huntington Beach, was supposed to handle 500 of the 12,000 clients Obria promised to serve annually. Debra Tous, Horizons executive director, said in an email in August that she did not know the details of Obrias Title X grant, which started on April 1. We are still in beginning stages of discussing what is involved, she said before referring further questions to Obria.

The address listed on Obrias website for its Anaheim location is not a clinic but the St. Boniface Catholic Church. When I pulled up there one day in July, I couldnt find any sign of an Obria outpost until a man watering the garden pointed me around back to a nearly empty parking lot, where I found an RVObrias mobile clinic, parked within view of Anaheim High School, a prime target for its services, once students return in the fall.

After a long walk across the lot, I found Keith Cotton, the church and community outreach manager for Obrias Southern California operation, and nurse Judy Parker sitting at a small card table under the RVs awning. They were excited to see me. In its application for Title X funding, Obria said this mobile clinic would serve 500 low-income patients a year. Cotton and Parker clearly hadnt had many, if any, patients that day.

Cotton, who I later learned got his start in activism working at evangelical minister Rick Warrens Saddleback megachurch in Orange County, asked cheerily if Id like an STI test. STIs are on the rise in California and elsewhere, and Obria is supposed to be combating them with its Title X grant. I chickened out at the prospect of having blood drawn. Instead, I asked if they could check me for a yeast infection. Its the sort of ordinary, uncontroversial womens health problem that should be treatable in a bona fide medical practice or at any Planned Parenthood, and fell under the heading of the well-woman care that Obria had promised in its federal grant application. Plus, I had some symptoms, so it was an honest request.

Cotton said Obria could help, but I would have to go to its free-standing clinic in nearby Orange. He and Parker walked me through the costs, explained the sliding-scale fee, and made me an appointment, which involved answering awkward personal questions about my health history and symptoms. Cotton and Parker were nice, but I couldnt imagine a teenager having a conversation about STIs in the middle of this parking lot. Before I left, the pair kindly offered me recommendations for lunch, but not a single condomamong the best defenses against STIs, and a hallmark of legitimate public health prevention programs.

That afternoon, I dropped in at the Orange clinic. The only person in the waiting room was a Latina woman too old to need family planning services. I paid my $69 fee and filled out forms that asked surprisingly invasive questions Id never seen on an OB-GYN or Planned Parenthood intake form, including Who usually initiates your sexual activities? Others, more standard, were about my abortion history, including how I would deal with a positive pregnancy test. And then there was this one: If considering abortion, would you like Chlamydia/Gonorrhea testing today? which seemed like a weird non sequitur. The form also asked patients to specify their religion. I signed a Limitation of Services that read: Obria medical clinics does [sic] not perform or refer for abortions. It didnt mention contraception.

While I was filling out the paperwork, a smiling young Latino couple walked out of the exam area. They seemed excited to be having a baby. After a short wait, a nurse took my vitals and directed me into an exam room. Inside, the young womans sonogram still appeared on an ultrasound screen. On the wall, a scary chart claimed to show how sexual exposure goes up exponentially with every additional partner. If youve had 10 sexual partners, it indicated, youve really had sex with more than 1,000 people! I discovered later that the chart is a staple of Christian abstinence-until-marriage sex-ed programs like the one Obria runs.

Eventually I had to put my feet in the stirrups for an exam by Carol Gardner, a longtime Obria doctor and vocal anti-abortion advocate. There was no lab on-site, so Gardner gave me a prescription for an anti-fungal pill and said the clinic would call in a few days with my results. (A few days later, I found out I tested negative.) The staff and volunteers treated me kindly and with respect. Based on my one visit, I had to conclude that Obrias Orange clinic was not fake, as the groups critics have frequently alleged.

But good intentions are really beside the point. No one is suggesting that Obria shouldnt be able to offer these kinds of limited health services to women who want them. The issue is whether its legal for Obria to take federal money for family planning and STI prevention but refuse to provide contraception and condoms or referrals for them. I couldnt find a single public policy, academic, or legal expert who could answer that question, and HHS declined to comment. Theres also a much broader public policy question in play: Are Obrias scant offerings, however thoughtfully theyre delivered, really the best use of limited taxpayer dollars dedicated to essential family planning services?

The 2019 grant to Obria provided funding that previously went to Californias primary Title X recipient, Essential Access Health. In 2018, Essential Access Health received about $23 million in Title X funds, which it distributed to more than 200 family planning clinics across the state, including city and county health departments and Planned Parenthood. In 2019, that budget was cut to $21 million; the other $1.7 million went to Obria. We are very concerned that this will lead to low-income women facing more delays in access to the care they want and need to effectively reduce their risk of experiencing an unintended pregnancy, said Essential Access Health CEO Julie Rabinovitz. The changes this administration has made to the Title X program have been implemented to advance a political agenda, not public health.

The entire annual Title X budget is a measly $286 million. To fill the unmet need of family planning services among low-income women, the Title X budget would need to more than double, to about $700 million a year, according to a 2016 study in the American Journal of Public Health. Reducing access to programs that provide more effective forms of contraception like IUDs or birth control pills all but guarantees more unplanned pregnancies and abortions.

Bravo insists that Obria clinics should get some of that federal funding because women want life-affirming choices for family planning. And some low-income women probably do want to learn natural family planning or find abstinence coaching, or what Bravo describes as a second virginity. But the Trump administrations efforts to shift funding to Obria and groups like it arent just about religious freedom or broadening womens choices under Title X. The conservative Christians in Trumps administration would like to push low-income women to use places like Obria for family planning or reproductive health care. And ultimately, thats no choice at all.

The Trump Administration Is Giving Family Planning Funds to a Network of Anti-Abortion Clinics - Mother Jones

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23 Bestselling Sustainable Beauty Products From Sephora, Because We Only Have One Earth – POPSUGAR

Not all natural, organic, or green beauty items are also sustainable. (Confusing, right?) While even some experts disagree on what clean beauty really means, sustainability is a bit more specific.

Sustainable practices include putting the environment first and working with natural products and resources (and renewable energy) whenever possible. That means beauty (and any other) products that are sustainable were made under conditions that consider and meet the needs of the present environment without compromising future generations.

So, while clean products aim to be free of harsh chemicals and synthetic ingredients, companies making sustainable products are concerned with those things . . . but they're also considering the environment and process in which their products are made. To break it down a bit further, companies can create huge amounts of waste and deplete natural resources, so sustainable production includes sourcing ingredients in ways that won't destroy ecosystems and don't use too much of one resource without replenishing it. For example, when Korres uses flowers as an ingredient in a serum, its sustainable operation means the unused parts go back in the soil as organic fertilizer for the next harvest.

From Guerlain partnering with a bee conservatory to sustainably source honey and royal jelly, to L'Occitane and its long-standing, fair-trade partnership with women in Burkina Faso to ethnically process shea butter, all these products have a sustainable story to tell. And you're not the only one showing you care by checking them out these goodies are already bestsellers at Sephora. Check them out ahead.

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What Does It Mean for Women to Look Their Age? – The Swaddle

When artist Alexandra Grant, 46, sported naturally gray hair while accompanying actor Keanu Reeves on the red carpet last week, it took the world by storm. Tweets expressed agog-ery. Articles marveled that the actor was with a woman his own age. (Grant is nine years younger than Reeves.) Major news outlets upheld the artist for her authenticity in looking her age.

But what does it mean to look ones age?

At face value, looking ones age is inevitable you are the age you are and you look the age you look. Within society, however, its a consensus on the average. If we observe most people of a certain age around us looking a certain way, then that is our interpretation of how an age should look.

The problem is, this interpretation of should is almost always punishing to women because its driven by a global, US$50.2 billion anti-aging industry that trains women to see any sign of aging as a personal failing. This industry, of course, has its roots in a human history that prizes women for their youthful beauty more than anything else. Outside of the modern era, its difficult to find female historical figures who were valued for something other than physical beauty.

Little wonder, then, how anti-aging desperation has been deeply inculcated in so many women. And nowhere is the fight to keep wrinkles and gray hair at bay fiercer than on the red carpet. Celebrity women, well aware that roles and opportunities dry up after age 35 (incisively skewered by Amy Schumers Last Fuckable Day), invest heavily in retaining the youthful appearance upon which their career was originally built. In a social media world that gives us as much exposure to celebrities as to our nearest and dearest, this skews our understanding of the average. No longer are we determining how women of any given age should look like by observing the people around us; were determining how women of any given age should look by overexposure to women who are forced to invest, in order to maintain their careers and livelihoods, in maintaining an ever-younger appearance.

Which is what makes Alexandra Grant such a standout. Its not because she looks her age. (At 46, Grant has a fully gray head of hair; roughly only 50% of people by age 50 have a half-gray head of hair, according to Dr. Michael Eidelman, medical director of Chelsea Skin & Laser and an assistant professor of dermatology at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai). Its because Grant has unabashedly owned signs of aging signs of aging associated with people much older than herself, even in a context where most women do everything to hide them.

And more importantly, while doing so, a man appeared at her side, affectionately holding her hand, suggesting to a society hardwired to devalue women beyond a certain age that she might just might be fuckable after all.

Related on The Swaddle:

Keanu Reevess Lady Friend Has Given Me the Courage to Turn 40, ran a headline on The Cut not long after Grants appearance as if turning 40 is something women can avoid if were fearful enough (and buy enough products and services). As if turning 40 means we change in some fundamental, fatal way.

But the thing is, we do. A recent analysis of the barriers women face in the workplace identified age as a bigger inhibition to success than gender. While research is split as to whether biases against older workers affect women more than men, theres no denying outside of the office, the forces of ageism hit women harder especially women who work on the red carpet.

Since turning 40, Dr. Sheetal Desai has routinely been mistaken by both men and women for being 10 years younger than she is. The 47-year-old, who splits her time between Mumbai and Vapi, Gujarat, credits her good genes; her grandmother at age 96 had few wrinkles, she says, and her 78-year-old mother also looks young for her age.

But she also credits her outlook on life. Im living my life. Im happier [than ever]. I do whatever I want. I travel whenever I want. I follow my passions. Im a doctor, but I always wanted to be an actor, so I started my acting career three years back, at age 44, she says.

In a patriarchal society, this kind of independence and self-fulfillment is unusual for women, who are conditioned to devote themselves to family life at the expense of everything else. Women suppress themselves in quite a lot of contexts and that also shows on their faces, Desai says. Often, when female peers tell her she looks younger than her age, its said wistfully. Sometimes they have this feeling we wish we could do what youre doing, she says.

The reaction from men, however, is different. Her youthful appearance helps her get dates, says Desai, who is single. But when I tell them my real age because I dont want to hide anything then they withdraw. They wont go for serious relationships if youre 40-plus, because they think youre too old. Even if the guy is only two or three years younger.

Men dont take you seriously, when they find out your real age, she says.

The ability to be taken seriously seems to be a narrow window for women. Bangalore-based Devika Tripathi, 29, is five-foot-two-and-a-half. All her life shes been told she looks much younger than her age. As a college student at age 18, she would routinely hear that she looked 12 or be denied services like eyebrow threading. At 25, she would still be carded to get into pubs. At 26, she started a new job, and her new coworkers refused to believe she was older than 18.

Over the years, Tripathi has changed hairstyles and discarded clothes she thought make her look younger. Until recently, she took these comments to heart and worried shed never be considered a credible professional.

It doesnt look like a compliment to me when people would say that, she says. Its sort of demeaning. You want to be taken seriously.

And that, perhaps, is what Alexandra Grant in the full glory of her gray hair and natural beauty sweeping through a context where artificial youth is prized and female aging, punished represents most: not a woman who looks her age, but a woman taken seriously by the man holding her hand, by the public taking and marveling at her photo, but perhaps most of all, by herself.

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4 Skincare Ingredients A Top Derm Wants You To Use Daily – Women’s Health

Most people would agree that beautiful, healthy skin is #goals. But youd be hard-pressed to find two people who agree on the best way to achieve it. And that kinda makes sense: There are countless skincare products on the market, and it's tricky to know which actually live up to their claims.

So how can you cut through the clutter and find the products that will actually give you the complexion you want? According to Lily Talakoub, M.D. of McLean Dermatology, the key is to look for formulas that contain proven ingredients, like the four superstars below. According to Dr. Talakoub, theyre all worth adding into your daily routine.

What it is: Glycolic acid, which is derived from sugar cane, is the alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) with the smallest molecules. Like all AHAs, its a chemical (rather than a physical) exfoliant. Where physical exfoliants remove the build-up of dead skin through scrubbing, chemical exfoliants like AHAs do so by dissolving, making them gentler on the skin. And since glycolic acid is the tiniest AHA, it's able to penetrate the skin to deliver the best possible results.

Revitalift Derm Intensives 10% Pure Glycolic Acid Serum


The benefits: Using glycolic acid will leave your skin feeling soft and looking radiant and more youthful, says Dr. Talakoub. Plus, it loosens clogged pores, so it helps with any blackheads and deeper cystic acne. It can also diminish the appearance of acne scars and reduce hyperpigmentation and photo-aging, according to a Clinical, Cosmetic, and Investigational Dermatology study.

When and how to use it: While most in-office peels contain a 20 to 70 percent concentration of glycolic acid, you can add glycolic acid into your daily routine with low-dose products like LOral Paris Revitalift Derm Intensives 10% Pure Glycolic Acid Serum.

I use glycolic acid every single day, Dr. Talakoub says. You can apply it any time of day, following your cleansing routine and before applying a moisturizer. If you use it in the morning, follow up with SPF since glycolic acid can make skin more sensitive to the sun.

What it is: Vitamin C isn't just found in your morning glass of OJ. This free radical-neutralizing pro is one of the most effective topical antioxidant out there, according to Dr. Talakoub.

The benefits: Not only can it treat and prevent hyperpigmentation, photo-aging, and inflammation, according to UK researchers, applying it daily can also boost collagen production. Another perk: If you live in a metropolitan area where pollution wreaks havoc on your complexion, Vitamin C can help stave off damage, keeping your skin looking radiant.

When and how to use it: Apply it in the morning post-cleansing and follow up with SPF. Slathering on an antioxidant can make your skin slightly more sensitive to UV rays, so protecting yourself is a must!

What it is: Retinol is a derivative of vitamin A thats known for its anti-aging benefits.

The benefits: Unlike other anti-aging ingredients that may only target the top-most layer of skin, topical retinol improves the elasticity of the top, middle, and deepest layers of skin by stimulating collagen and elastin formation. Simply put: It will give you amazing results.

Retinol is the best anti-aging medicine because it speeds up the desquamationread: dead-cell-sheddingprocess and helps skin cells turn over faster, which regenerates the skin for a fresher complexion with less dullness and fine lines," Dr. Talakoub says.

When and how to use it: Retinol can be bought over the counter or with a prescription, however, prescription formulas work best, Dr. Talakoub says. There are many different retinol percentages on the market depending on your specific complexion goals. As a rule of thumb, cosmetic scientists recommend 0.4% concentrations for basic anti-aging benefits.

Once you find your ideal formula (either from your derm or OTC), add it into your nighttime routine. If its a serum, apply it after cleansing and before moisturizing; if its a moisturizer, use it as the last step of your evening regimen.

What it is: Ceramides are naturally occurring lipids in the skin that help form the skins moisture barrier. When you layer on synthetic ceramides (which are designed to mimic those natural ones) in the form of moisturizers and creams, you help strengthen and support your moisture barrier.

The benefits: While people with clear, healthy skin have over 340 ceramide species within their moisture barrier, those living with skin conditions like psoriasis, atopic dermatitis, acne, and dandruff have lower ceramide levels, which impact how well they can retain moisture, Dr. Talakoub explains. Applying a ceramide-rich skincare product can help combat that.

Other people can benefit from using the ingredient on the daily, too. Ceramides hold water in the skin, which leads to a more hydrated complexion, Dr. Talakoub says.

When and how to use it: Ceramides are almost always in moisturizers, as opposed to cleansers or toners, Dr. Talakoub says. So adding the superstar ingredient into your routine is as simple as finding a ceramide-rich moisturizer (like this one) and using it morning and night after cleansing and applying any essences, serums, or toners.

When adding these dermatologist-recommended ingredients into your routine, remember to take it slow. While they can absolutely be used daily, Dr. Talakoub points out that since glycolic acid and retinol increase the sloughing of the skin, theres a chance that they could lead to sensitivity. Ease them into your new routine, applying the ingredients every other day for the first three weeks, before upgrading to daily use.

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4 Skincare Ingredients A Top Derm Wants You To Use Daily - Women's Health

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