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May 21, 2013
1.Body image is the way that someone perceives their body and assumes others perceive them. This image is often affected by family, friends, social pressure, and the media.
2.Approximately 91 percent of women are unhappy with their bodies and resort to dieting to achieve their ideal body shape. Unfortunately, only 5 percent of women naturally possess the body type often portrayed by Americans in the media.
3.58 percent of college-aged girls feel pressured to be a certain weight.
4.Students, especially women, who consume more mainstream media, place a greater importance on sexiness and overall appearance than those who do not consume as much.
5. Body image is closely linked to self-esteem. Low self-esteem in adolescents can lead to eating disorders, early sexual activity, substance use, and suicidal thoughts.
Media has such great power over most of our lives, we allow it to dictate what we do. We allow media to tell us how we must dress, what clothes to wear, how to walk, how to talk and how to look.
“Being our own kind of beautiful consists of being who we are from the inside first, and then translating that onto the outside of our bodies secondly.” -J. Johnson
So no matter what BE YOUR OWN BEAUTIFUL!
May 18, 2013
Respect. I think the word that best describes what I’m trying to get at with this blog. I feel like there’s this notion in society today that a women’s self-respect and self-worth lie completely between her legs, and because of this notion a lot of other social issues arise. I can’t even begin to count how many times I’ve heard some variation of the phrase have some respect for yourself ladies and keep your legs closed. Statements like this pigeonhole women and keep society in that outdated mindset that all a woman is good for is sex and childbearing. Self-respect, to me, has to do with self-love and standing up for yourself and what you believe in. It’s like a reverse golden rule, “treat others how you would like to be treated” treating yourself that way too. Self-respect has nothing to do with how much sex you have or how revealing your clothes are.
So, “slut-shaming” is what I’m getting at now. “Slut-shaming” is the shaming or acting of woman, making her feel inferior or guilty for engaging in certain sexual behaviors that deviate from traditional norms or expectations. Girls do it, calling each other sluts with no self-respect because they make sexual decisions that are simply different from their own. And by doing this, they open a door for men and the rest of society to disrespect women and look down on women who simply have different viewpoints than their own. This just adds to the inequality of women and double standards, because you less often see anyone calling a man a slut with no self-respect.
So all of this serves to contribute to another, bigger societal problem which is “victim blaming.” It’s the mindset that women are responsible for being raped, or “they were asking for it,” because of the way they were dressed, the way they were acting or the amount of drugs or alcohol in their system. This culture in society emphasizes and teaches victims not to get raped, or not to do things that would promote getting raped, rather than punishing perpetrators and teaching not to rape. No matter what the person is wearing or how they may be acting, forced sex without consent is rape. Keeping in mind that consent cannot be obtained if the person is passed out drunk. So where did “rape culture” and “victim blaming” come from? Well if we’re allowing society to look down on women as “sluts,” then we can’t be surprised when that same society isn’t sympathetic towards them when they are raped.
Back to respect. Respect is essential to stopping “slut-shaming” and the problems that emerge from it. Having respect is having an open mind towards understanding that not everyone’s opinion on sex and how and when to have it is going to be same as yours. Rather than resorting to calling each other names, we should open our minds and our hearts towards understanding people who are simply different than ourselves.
May 17, 2013
May 17, 2013
May 15, 2013
May 14, 2013
Today when I heard that Angelina Jolie had recently undergone a double masectomy, I just KNEW that somewhere on teh interwebs, there were some really dumb men completely missing the point and making ignorant comments about her.
Angelina made her decision after doctors told her she had an 87% chance of developing breast cancer, and a 50% chance of developing ovarian cancer. Her mother died of cancer at 56 and she decided she would rather begin to minimize the risk than have her children have to deal with her death from cancer.
She did a really great thing. She personalized the issue and has hopefully inspired women everywhere to begin to take the appropriate measures to safeguard against cancers. Many people, myself included, applaud her decision, especially in light of the possible damage to her career as sex symbol extraordinaire.
But what are some other people doing? They are making fun of her and saying she’s only seeking attention.
Look at these idiots, fetishizing her like all she ever was, was a pair of boobs. Like the fact that she could have died from cancer means absolutely nothing. Look at #2, a proper quack-salver he is. Are you a doctor sir? A specialist? And #6, who knew that he was going to sound like an asshole but forged ahead nonetheless, charging into the abyss of stupidity.
Next time someone calls you a misandrist or states that feminism isn’t needed, or that feminism is merely a political agenda, show them this post.
Apr 28, 2013
Women are the most beautiful creation of God and by default they are expected to take care of their beauty. This quest for ultimate beauty has given rise to various cultural practices that have victimized women since centuries. One of these customs is the ‘Chinese Foot Binding’ practice.
The process of foot binding is started for the young girls anywhere from the age of four to six. The daughters’ feet was first soaked in warm water or animal blood and herbs with a special potion that caused any dead flesh to fall off. Then her toe nails were cut as short as possible therefore not allowing them to grow into the foot. After she received a foot massage, the four smallest toes on each foot were broken. Then the mother soaked silk or cotton bandages(10 feet long and 2 inches wide) in the same liquid the girl’s feet were soaked in then the bandages were wrapped around the smallest toes and pulled tightly to the heel. Every two days, the binding was removed and rebound. This part of the process went on for two years. To assure that the feet stayed small, the ritual continued for at least ten more years.
Even the description of the process sounds awfully painful but besides just the pain of the process, there were many after affects that were detrimental to the young girls’ health. The most common consequence was infection caused by the folding of the ball of the foot directly into the heel. A second was that the toenails continued to grow, eventually curling into the skin. These led to the rotting off of flesh and sometimes even a toe. The worst part of the process was that the feet would practically die after three years causing a terrible smell that the girl carried with her everywhere.
Foot binding not just affected young girls, but several severe long terms consequences were also seen in old women. The women who had their feet bound were more likely to fall, less able to squat and less able to rise from a sitting position in their older years. The combination of the lower hip bone density, along with the fact that women with bound feet were more likely to fall, put these women at an extremely high risk for hip fractures.
Despite the pain, the deformities and the health risk, foot binding was widely popular and an integral part of Chinese culture. Well, the persistence of this painful culture cannot be attributed only to the ‘desire to be beautiful’. Various social and cultural constraints played a significant role in its continuation. Men in China in that era would not marry a woman who did not have bound feet. Foot binding kept women weak, out of power, and dominated by her husband. When women bound their feet, men could dominate more easily and not worry about women taking their power. Also, women were seen as an object to the men, to be observed and look pretty, therefore appealing to men mattered more to the girls than their health.
Foot binding was not just considered a fashion statement but had rather become the way of life of Chinese women. It had integrated itself so much in their culture that the Chinese were indifferent towards its detrimental effects. Thus, it took more than laws , rules and protests to bring the Foot binding custom to an end. Despite various attempts to discourage ‘foot binding’ in the mid 1600s, the practice was far from discontinuation. It was only in 1911 after the revolution of Sun Yat –Sen that foot binding officially ended for good, aside from a few group of women living in the country side.
The elimination of ‘foot binding’ is an epic achievement considering its long history of more than 1000 years. The ideas used to eradicate such deeply rooted cultural practice can also be applied to act against various other similar customs such as Female Genital Mutilation in Africa, Chaupadi Pratha in Nepal, Neck ring in Myanmar etc.
The foot binding reformers worked in three key ways. Firstly, they used an education campaign which explained that other countries did not bind feet and that China was ‘losing face’ and being internationally ridiculed. Secondly, the advantages of ‘natural’ feet were explained, alongside the disadvantages of binding. Thirdly, natural foot societies were formed, with members pledging not to bind and only allowing sons to marry unbound girl. Three groups were involved in the campaigns against foot binding: a group of Western missionaries focused on Chinese Christians, another group focused on Westerners and the elite, and a group of Chinese reformers campaigned with the non-Christian Chinese elite. A London Missionary Society (LMS) member founded the ﬁrst anti-foot binding society in 1874, and in 1875 Mrs Little founded the ﬁrst Natural Foot Society. Chinese groups followed and were the ﬁrst to succeed in moves to eradicate the practice in 1897 (Hong 1997).Each group took different approaches against foot binding practice. The missionaries gave scholarships to unbound girls, later educating only unbound elite pupils under unbound Christian elite teachers. The anti-foot binding societies provided marriage partners for members, registering ages of children for convenient match-making. Mrs Little focused on powerful ofﬁcials and wealthy elite women.
Thus, multi-sectoral and integrated interventions designed by keeping in mind the cultural background, to overcome the social constraints, can be a useful strategy to help eliminate the various cultural taboos that has been restraining women all over the world.
Apr 22, 2013
By April Grayce Dunlop for The Black Sheep Journal
To not have children and act thoughtfully towards the Earth are perfectly valid life decisions on their own, but claiming that not having kids is the best thing we can do for the health of the planet threatens reproductive rights and climate justice. This misled moralistic approach to denouncing procreation is exactly the platform of an emerging group of women who self-identify as GINKs- Green Inclinations, No Kids. Their main stated motivation in being “child-free by choice” is to reduce their “carbon footprint.” An article shared and widely “liked” on the GINK Facebook page states that, “To insure that the reduction of emissions in the developed countries is not cancelled by increases from the developing world, we must slow the growth rate of our human family.”
Drawing this connection between population control and environmental health encourages reproductive rights policies aimed at low birth rates instead of bodily autonomy. Blaming climate change on large families and “overpopulation” distracts us from the people responsible for massive environmental destruction – such as oil companies, polluting factories, and militaries to name a few. To lessen one’s harmful impact on the environment is an admirable goal, but the individualist frame of GINKs hugely limits their potential for change.
Often, the financial burden of raising kids ($234,000 for each child’s lifetime according to the GINK article) is posed as the most urgent reason not to have any. The cost of feeding, clothing, and housing children undeniably takes a chunk of parents’ paychecks. A GINK WordPress blogger says household clutter is an eyesore of families with kids – “stuff” increases 30% when you have a toddler. But how much of that financial drain and “stuff” is necessary and how much of it is the result of rampant consumerism? Families who make more money spend more money on their children. A 2008 USDA study found that “total family expenses on a child through age 17 would be $210,340 for households in the lowest income group, $291,570 for those in the middle, and $483,750 for those in the highest income group.” Not spending money and resources on children leaves you with more for yourself, sure, but how many of the child-free by choice are living lavish lives and how many get by with the bare minimum?
In addition to the environmental motivations, paradoxically, many material benefits are cited as reasons to be childless. The dream life depicted as an alternative to child-rearing includes luxurious vacations, all the sleep you could want, and a fancy house free of fingerprints on the glass. This presumes, of course, that everyone’s life could be like this if they didn’t reproduce. It is telling that the photo on the GINK manifesto on greenprophets.com is a flat, white stomach with a bit of long blond hair hanging at the side. Beyond the obvious fat-shaming implications of this, it makes me wonder how many women “choosing to be child-free” are white, upper-middle class, and/or college-educated. All types of people decide not to have kids, but it’s hard to imagine GINKs are representative of diverse backgrounds and socioeconomic status when “traveling the world, running my business, getting massages, getting pedicures and manicures, working out with my trainer, enjoying great dining experiences and enjoying life to the fullest” is depicted as the non-parenting life.
Perhaps childrearing wouldn’t be “too expensive” if our economic structures and public spaces accommodated raising children in families that didn’t fit the mold of a couple with one high-income-earing parent and a full-time caregiver. To encourage people to forgo having children due to the cost reinforces it as a privilege for middle to upper class people – and an irresponsible choice for lower class folks. Instead of examining our buying practices, inadequate wages, price inflation, and the need for publicly supported childcare, the GINK approach relies on individual choices as the solution to systemic problems.
Many people choosing not to have children for the benefit of the planet do not identify (openly, on the internet) as GINKs, but the rhetoric is similar and equally precarious. A Seattle Times columnist, Sharon Pian Chan, voiced her support for not having kids as “the most important thing [she] could do to reduce [her] carbon footprint.” She cites a 2009 study by Oregon State University that calculated the emissions impact of each new child in the United States to be 9441 metric tons of carbon dioxide – which is five times the emissions of a child born in China. It is important to acknowledge the national differences in pollution, but fearing non-U.S. countries’ rapidly increasing emission rates should signal us to take a critical look at our own country’s policies and practices. Instead of interpreting high individual emissions rates in the context of a larger pattern of production and consumption, the GINK framework shifts the focus to a micro level. From that vantage point, it is easy to overlook the magnitude of change needed on corporate and institutional levels to halt environmental damage soon enough to be meaningful.
No matter how many light switches we turn off when we leave the room, pounds of food scraps we dutifully compost, and hours spent on public transit instead of driving an SUV, the Earth will still be under violent attack. The GINK ideology may be well intentioned, but evades the root causes of climate change and unintentionally humiliates mothers who are less than totally enthusiastic and prepared to have kids. Reproductive freedom must necessarily include the freedom to have – or not have – children. Encouraging women to sacrifice their right to do what they want with their body for the “greater good” stirs up guilt in individuals that is widely disproportionate to their personal impact. We need collective action- not individual shaming- to effectively address the global environmental crisis.
Apr 5, 2013
In the past few weeks, both online and “in real life”, I have experienced a number of events that have puzzled me, angered me, and led me to consciously confront the question “Why do we care what other people look like?”.
In the past, I have confronted the question “Why do we care what other people think of us?” and the conclusion I have come to is simple. It has to do with our desire for connection. Connection is an important part of the human experience and possibly the most important part of the human experience, aside from basic survival necessities. Our desire for connection and our fear of loss of connection are the reason we care about how others view us. Naturally, it takes time and a conscious effort to overcome this fear and the shame that is often associated with it. While I have resolved this question, another related one has surfaced for me and I am beginning to believe that the answer may be quite similar.
Why do we care what other people look like? And in association, why do we feel the need to tell people what they SHOULD look like?
From a simple biological standpoint, the answer is simple. Naturally, the appearance of others is important to us because of things like reproduction and natural selection and blah blah blah. To be frank, I don’t buy it. I don’t believe that the pheromone explanation cuts it. Isn’t what separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom our innate ability to distinguish right from wrong? Mean from kind? Why is our moral compass thrown out the window when it comes to physical looks?
A few weeks ago, on facebook, a “friend” of mine posted a picture of a girl in his class bending over to pick up her books. She was larger and was wearing a long, lightweight sweater. The caption was “For those of you that remember my statuses about the Michigan loving girl that makes me hate English classes, I present to you IT.”
First of all, as if the caption, which degraded her to something less than human with the pronoun “it”, wasn’t bad enough, the photo got a total of 55 likes and over 20 comments. While some people defended the woman in the picture and criticized the boy who posted it, many of the comments were offensive, degrading, and directed at her weight.
“I just wanna play with dem titties”, said one boy.
“Is she wearing a curtain?”, said a girl.
I was enraged. I couldn’t believe that people, including some of my own friends, were gathering around a photo to make a spectacle of a person that most of them did not even know because her looks did not fit their social ideal of beauty.
Another incident that stuck out to me was a facebook post by a boy that said “Ladies, once your estrogen levels start decreasing and you start to grow a mustache, SHAVE IT!”. For some reason, this post struck a part of me and it hurt. Similarly, I heard a boy on the bus talking to his friend about how women who don’t have a “nice ass” should not be allowed to wear yoga pants. I understand that everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion, but to make comments like these, that personally attack certain groups of people are just NOT ok and should not be ignored.
My question is: what gives a person the authority to make these defining statements regarding what everyone should look like? Why are we so obsessed with telling people what would make them look better? Why do I hear something like “You would look so much better if ________ ” directed at someone every day? Why can’t we grasp the fact that maybe, for some, looks are NOT important. That maybe life is too brief to worry about something as temporal as looks. That maybe they DO feel beautiful? That maybe they don’t NEED anyone’s approval?
I started off this post talking about our desire for connection, which leads us to care about what others think of us. However, the criticism of the way that people around us look provides nothing to the experience of human connection. This hatred and bullying only aids in DISconnection and perhaps even comes from a place of our own self-hatred. The more we project our own self-loathing onto other people, the more alienated we will all feel.
To judge someone’s appearance, or to offer someone unwanted advice about how to look more “acceptable”, is to posit the belief that you, yourself, are flawless. Flawlessness doesn’t even exist. So let’s all draw our attention AWAY from telling people what we dislike about their appearance and direct our attention toward supporting positive body image and appreciating people for who they are.
Apr 3, 2013
Thanks to Advocates For Youth, I had the privilege and pleasure of attending the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health’s National Advocacy Weekend for 5 days this past March. As I packed my bags and boarded the plane that would take me from Ithaca, NY to Washington DC, I had no clue as to the intense intellectual, emotional, and passionate environment I was about to step into.
This year’s Advocacy Weekend was focused on the inclusion of immigrant women’s health care in immigration reform. Immigration policy directly affects an immigrant woman’s access to health care. According to the NLIRH website, the majority of female immigrants do not have healthcare coverage. State legislatures continue to introduce legislation that would restrict non-citizens’ access to basic public health programs, including prenatal care. Immigrant women are less likely to receive adequate reproductive health care, including cervical and breast cancer screening and treatment, family planning services, HIV/AIDS testing and treatment, accurate sex education and culturally and linguistically competent services.
Reproductive Justice tells us that these services are essential for women to have the basic human rights to dignity and self determination. It was under this belief that over 50 activists from across the country joined together. We represented the full spectrum of american latina identity- some of us were undocumented, others were second and third generation citizens. Our command of English and Spanish differed, but we were united in our conviction, and most of all in our support of one another.
Yo te apoyo. This is one of NLIRH’s campaign slogans, and it was this sentiment that was most felt throughout the weekend. As we learned about the intricacies of immigration reform and of it’s intersections with Reproductive Justice, we were free to voice our personal experiences and frustrations. People spoke of very personal obstacles- young motherhood, the pain of familial disruption by deportation, the inability to be seen by a doctor for a cyst in the breast- openly and honestly, and were always received with respect and the assurance that they had in their power the ability to create change.
At the rally for Immigrant Women on Sunday, speakers shouted, “We are on the right side of history!” to a church full of applause. I clapped and shouted right along. It was only later that I questioned the assurance I felt that this is true. I suppose I feel that I am “on the right side of history” when I am working with people who sound least like a history textbook.. People who choose not to simplify and sterilize an issue, because they are not afraid to admit to and confront the complexity and diversity of it. People who gain collective power through their willingness to admit to vulnerability, to the need to support and be supported in their struggle.
For more information about the issue of Immigrant women’s access to healthcare, and how it is affected by immigration policy, check out:
Apr 1, 2013
Mar 26, 2013
I have seen this post circulate on Facebook and loved its message. I apologizing for not crediting it since I am not sure who put it together. There is absolutely no way to sugar coat the rape stories that are happening today and we should keep doing our great work loud and proud until we no longer hear about these savage crimes happening in our world. It is about time we teach our fellow humans NOT TO RAPE. Full Stop.
Mar 17, 2013
Technology has become more integral to our daily lives, so it’s no surprise that millions use online dating websites and social apps in search of friendships, romance, and sex. This reality continues to bring individuals closer while removing personal communication as well as creating controversial news headlines.
For many LGBTQ youth, using their internet devices to interact with others is both convenient and comfortable, especially for those who are in the closet about their sexual or gender identity. While most of these youths are skilled at using electronics and social media networks, they are also unaware of the potential risks that come with meeting strangers and sharing extremely personal information.
Just recently, a 16-year-old Broward County student contracted HIV after having unprotected sex with two older men he met through a social app. Stories like this as well as rapes, abductions, and murders have been in the news, where young teens meet unknown persons through websites as popular as Myspace and Facebook, yet end in tragedy.
More than ever, it’s become a necessity for teens and adults to become informed about bullying, privacy, and sexuality so they can actively defend themselves from cyberbullying, predators, and sexually transmitted diseases.
As a young queer male, I’ve studied the habits of friends and pop culture trends. While South Florida has a rich network of resources for the LGBTQ population, a large portion prefer to join websites like Craigslist, Manhunt, Plenty Of Fish, BGCLive or download apps like Adam4Adam, Grindr, and Jack’d seeking a new friend, love, or a one night stand.
These websites and apps (especially those catering to LGBTQ persons) emphasize shallowness (you can filter users based their physical appearance, age, and ethnicity) and reinforce unrealistic social standards (many profiles will write phrases like “No Fats, No Fems, No Blacks, No Old”).
I don’t suffer from social anxiety or instant gratification and declare myself an online dating skeptic. In the past, I browsed these websites to understand the psychology of online dating and was shocked at how the members had no hesitation in revealing their partially or fully nude bodies and used explicit or unintelligent language in messages.
When I downloaded an app 2 weeks ago, I revisited the same behaviors I encountered on those sites, except it’s more invasive: you can see how many miles each user is from you. I was messaged daily from users aged 18 to 45, of various racial groups, hobbies, and intentions.
Not only did these last 2 weeks teach me that we’re too dependent on technology, but that it’s important to maintain meaningful and personal contact with each other. Online dating has its upside, but with the increasing lack of privacy and dangers associated with chatting to strangers, you never know who is on the other side of that laptop or iPhone.
We may be more connected than ever, but we must be more safe and protected than ever.
Mar 4, 2013
Refusing to learn how to pronounce Quvenzhané’s name says, pointedly, you are not worth the effort. The problem is not that she has an unpronounceable name, because she doesn’t. The problem is that white Hollywood, from Ryan Seacrest and his homies to the AP reporter who decided to call her “Annie” rather than her real name, doesn’t deem her as important as, say, Renee Zellweger, or Zach Galifianakis, or Arnold Schwarzenegger, all of whom have names that are difficult to pronounce–but they manage. The message sent is this: you, young, black, female child, are not worth the time and energy it will take me to learn to spell and pronounce your name. You will be who and what I want you to be; you be be who and what makes me more comfortable. I will allow you to exist and acknowledge that existence, but only on my terms.
“After being a part of The Real L Word, I learned of many other young LGBTQ people of color who were also in need of LGBTQ role models, a role I certainly couldn’t take on alone. So I wanted to create BlackOUT as a space were LGBTQ individuals can see themselves, people like them, experiences like theirs.”
“…But would it really be horror, Shayla? It’s 2013 in allegedly post racial America. Your president is Black for crying out loud. Wouldn’t that word just roll right off your back?
Quite the contrary. All that is precisely the reason why it doesn’t. A complete stranger has the ability to come along and remind you that, still, after all this time and all the progress you think you’ve made, people still hate you just because your skin is brown. And in an instance, with little more effort than it takes to breathe, can reduce you to absolutely nothing…”
No, really. It did.
Colleen Clark is an Illustrator and she made this awesome comic about body image. It’s short but it highlights the frustrating scale by which a person’s worth is measured. You’ve gotta be something, but not too much.
“When I introduce the concept of reproductive justice to new audiences, at lectures or workshops, I always frame it in the same way. I use a really simple exercise, where I draw a stick figure on a piece of butcher paper, or an easel, or a chalkboard. Then I ask the question: “What things in this person’s life will impact their ability to create the family they want to create?” Usually it takes a few minutes for the audience to get going, but within five or ten minutes the result is a stick figure with many, many issues written in bubbles around them. Things like religion, money, environment, language, race, gender, sexuality, laws, incarceration end up surrounding the person.
This activity is a pretty decent illustration of my definition of reproductive justice—it’s working to build a world where everyone has what they need to create the family they want to create. And that work requires incorporating and taking into account all of those items written in bubbles on the diagram, as well as many we probably leave out. Almost always this exercise results in “ah ha” moments, and it’s had a striking universality—from using it with college students to using it in Latina immigrant communities on the border. Reproductive justice is an easier concept to explain in ten minutes than in a two-word soundbite, like pro-choice, but that additional context also allows for so many more of the issues and challenges or our every day lives to be made visible and explicitly included in our work.”
“I suspect it’s difficult for men to imagine a world in which their bodies have long been inextricably linked to their value as an individual, and that no matter how encouraging your parents were or how many positive female role models you had or how self-confident you feel, there is an ever-present pressure that creeps in from all sides, whispering in your ear that you are your body and your body defines you. A world where, from the time of pubescence on, you can feel the constant and palpable weight of the male gaze, and not just from your male peers but from teachers and sports coaches and the fathers of the children you baby-sit, people you’re supposed to respect and trust and look up to, and that first realization that you are being looked at in that way is the beginning of a self-consciousness that you will be unable to shake for the rest of your life. Even if they are never verbalized, the rules of bodily conduct for females become clear early on: when school administrators reprimand you for the inch of midriff that shows when you lift your hands straight in the air or youth group leaders tell you that the sight of your unintentional cleavage is what causes godly young men to fall, you learn that your body is dangerous and shameful and that it’s your responsibility to cloister it in a way that is acceptable to everyone else. You learn that your body is a topic of public debate that everyone is entitled to weigh in on, from a male classmate telling you that those jeans make your ass look huge to the male-dominated United States Congress dictating the parameters that rape must fall within to be considered legitimate. To be a woman, and to live life in a woman’s body, is to be held to a set of comically paradoxical standards that make you constantly second-guess yourself and jump through a million hoops in pursuit of an impossible perfection.”
Feb 24, 2013
“Lasting beauty, never fades, embrace your body by using *****”
Advertisements are created with the purpose to convince people that the product is good for use to them. This point must be quick and direct, therefore in most cases these advertisement appeals or sends a sexual connection to an individual. This is done deliberately as humans react easily to sexual details as we are considered to be sexual beings.
The tag line in the first stanza highlights a section in a well known advertisement on television. Within this advertisement, much emphasis is place on the physic of the female body. Thus, in this advertisement it is easy to get a man’s attention to it as the using of women’s bodies and associate getting the woman if he buys the product. It is playing on his instinctive rather than intellectual view of the world. The advertisement spends no time discussing her qualifications for sexual desire — her mere existence is enough. No wonder, why so many of our young man in our society bleaches the skin. The advertisement promises a lighter skin hue and with its high level of sexual connection to the male gender they turn to the product. Then we say as a nation the young men have not found their identity thus they are not comfortable with their sexuality.
“Four men sit alone at the beach. Three beautiful women in bikinis walk by and ignore the men’s invitation to join them. The drink arrives. Immediately, those same women join the men, sitting on their laps or hugging them. Obviously, it was the drink that convinced the women that these men were desirable.”
After a male view this advertisement they are convinced that this drink is definitely going to give them that sexual appeal to woman that they so desire. Thus this advertisement would prove to be effective to the company that is advertising the product. Even though it is sending a false connotation to the male some males may not detect it that easily, as it arouses their sexual senses. No wonder you hear the popular saying “sex sells” in advertising ones business. These advertisers might play on an individual feelings; the desire to be sexually attractive; strong beautiful or healthy; to be a perfect example of masculinity or femininity.
IYSO Council Member
Feb 12, 2013
Feb 11, 2013
Hey ladies! Valentine’s Day is upon us, the day when those of us who choose to celebrate get beautified for our Valentines.
But are the products you’re using to express your beauty harming you in the long run? Many of the products we use on our face, hair, and even in the bedroom may contain toxic chemicals that can accumulate in our bodies and cause adverse health effects.
We all know that long, luxurious locks are coveted by women all over the world, but at what cost? Hair straighteners, such as relaxers and Brazilian keratin treatments, contain toxic chemicals such as formaldehyde. Yes, the embalming agent is used to straighten your hair. Ever wonder what that funny smell was and why it lingers even after you wash?
I’ve always despised the smell but I just wrote it off as the price of beauty (because beauty is pain, right? But it shouldn’t have to be dangerous!). Formaldehyde is still in your hair when you get under the dryer and also when the hair stylist runs the flat iron through it. All that heat releases the formaldehyde gas into the air to be inhaled, which can cause allergic reactions and in some instances, asthma.
But that’s not all. Top makeup brands and fragrances, like perfume and cologne, have heavy metals and hidden chemicals in them which have been associated with cancer and reproductive health issues. Many women don’t leave the house without their makeup and their “smell good” as I like to call it, myself being one of them.
The scary part is that these chemicals are not required to be listed in the ingredients. The same companies that are making these products are the ones that regulate them. There are no definitions for what “herbal” or “organic” means on our cosmetics. Some products claiming to be herbal contain components of crude oil. The FDA is not authorized to test these chemicals and the government is often not aware of the chemicals being used.
So how do we protect ourselves?
There are various websites that allow you to search for the cosmetics you use every day and rate their safety. One way that I cut down on my chemical intake is by “stretching” my perms. I will go up to twelve weeks without a perm. This means I only get about four perms a year. I do this by being sure to moisturize my hair every night and choosing hair styles that call for a lot of volume or curl.
Another way is that I only wash or “co-wash” my hair every week or so. For Black women, our hair does not produce an overload of oils to where it is necessary to wash every day. When we do, it is actually stripping our hair’s precious oils and adding toxic chemicals instead.
If you have a date in the bedroom this Valentine’s Day, there are many personal lubricants that are safe for use. However, be weary of scented and warming lubricants. They often contain chemicals that negatively affect your immune and reproductive systems.
On this Valentine’s Day, be mindful of what you’re doing to your body. In order to look your best you have to feel your best and the best way to do that is to keep it toxin free.
If you’re interested in learning more and taking action on this issue, check out the Toxic Zombie education and activism toolkit. And make sure to email my co-worker, Sara Alcid at email@example.com if you’d like to get more involved in the campaign!
Feb 8, 2013
Flex your femininity with a colour collection that’s fearless, elegant and strong. Strike a powerful pose, stand out, redefine the notion of beauty – and do it with strength too irresistible to ignore.
Kudos to M.A.C for its Strength campaign, a statement against the conventional, stereotypical definitions of beauty and feminity. The model is Jelena Abbou, a Serbian bodybuilder. Compared to all the images we see of “beautiful” women in the media, this is refreshing. Usually, women as fit as she is are considered mannish and not at all attractive. I remember flipping through a magazine and seeing one of those celebitchy spreads commenting on the “mannish” and “too muscular” arms of Jennifer Garner and Cameron Diaz.
It’s like women can never win. We’re either fat, or sluts, mannish, or too dumb to know what’s best for us. All I can say is, society is threatened by the notion of strong women and so, finds ways to dismiss whatever kind of power we have. I hope that this campaign will pave the way for less body policing and a re-definition of what it means to be a woman/feminine.
Now excuse me while I stand up in this crowded Starbucks and give a standing ovation.
Feb 3, 2013
It was my first year in the University of Abuja, and I must say, I wasn’t impressed. The student hostels were an abomination, and goodness knows that I still don’t know how I got the resolve to stay there during the entire course of my studies at the University. That was 5 years to long. The hostels were filthy and badly maintained. It also didn’t help that the spaces we were all crammed into had the breathing space of a can of sardines, or less, to be honest.
I’ll never forget the day that a neighbour of mine in the hostel recalled the time she caught “something” from the public bathrooms. That was just…NASTY!!!
When she first started living in the hostels, she was a good girl. I mean a very good girl. The porters and hall administrators absolutely adored her. But then, something terrible happened…she caught what people around here like to refer to as “thrush” or more aptly “the vaginal scourge.” It itched, it shed, it was irritated by almost every single movement you made, and worse of all, it was humiliating.
Now thrush isn’t that much of a big deal, really. But then again, those who say stuff like that are:
1. Those who probably will never get infected the way girls do. That includes the entire male population of the world who will probably never itch and smell himself in that way.
2. Those disgustingly lucky women who the rest of us secretly hate. All I can say is, their time will come…
Thrush is an infection caused by a yeast fungus called Candida spp. Small numbers of Candida spp. commonly live on the skin and around the vaginal area and are usually harmless. The immune system and the harmless bacteria that also normally live on the skin and in the vagina usually stop Candida spp. from thriving. However, when conditions are good for Candida spp., numbers multiply and may invade the vagina and cause symptoms. Conditions like dirty pit toilets without an adequately closed off base that stops hot air rising from the clogged pits…I forgot to mention that some school are still archaic in this decade.
My dear, sweet friend caught this pretty embarrassing issue and went home to get treated, away from the sniggers of girls and the indiscreet school doctor whose credentials were more than a little doubtful.
Now, the traditional treatment was not fun. First of all, it was believed, and maybe still is, that in order to stop thrush from occurring at the infected area, that is, the vulva and the skin around it had to be scrapped with a razor. When infected that area of the skin is already weak and peeling and incredibly painful. Ouch isn’t enough to quantify the pain a razor would cause.
Secondly, that newly scrapped area had to be submerged into a basin of hot, anti-septic water for a period of days at least twice a day. I wish I could swear on this blog, but I’ve been warned in writing and over the phone that the F word and the S word aren’t words I’m allowed to use. But by all means, feel free.
Thirdly, and thankfully, less brutally painful, she underwent a series of medication where pessaries (vaginally inserted pills) and orally taken drugs were used.
I guess what I’ve been trying to say through this very sad and painful post is that, all that stress and pain and humiliation she had to go through for what?
I was brought up to think that women who have thrush are to be laughed at. I never got any form of sex education or any real information that referred to “the talk” in high school (where I was told by my biology teacher that if I sat on a toilet seat that had sperm on it that I could get pregnant) or by my parent (who till this day still refuses to recognise that their kids may probably have sex before they get married in the catholic church).
I’ve known young ladies who have suffered in silence for months at a time because they were embarrassed to confide in anyone, or even go to a hospital or gynaecologist to seek treatment. What’s even sad is that thrush isn’t even a sexually transmitted disease. And it does make you wonder – if people react so negatively to a vaginal infection that has nothing to do with sex, what else are they hiding under there?
If educational institutions can’t even get the courage or initiative to discuss feminine hygiene that goes beyond washing “that” area properly without using the appropriate words, then when are we going to have the courage to discuss other important issues like HIV, gonorrhoea or even contraception? They believe that ignorance is key to reducing the rate at which young people have pre-marital sex. But then, they fail to realise that with hormones, anything can happen.
Instead of holding vital information back that could potentially save someone’s life, why not give them the information and trust that as responsible individuals that young people will be able to make their own choices? Why not help, instead of laughing at a girl who has trouble with an issue she’s embarrassed about?
When we give young people access to relevant information, we give them the power of choice, the power to make their decisions knowing that whatever they pick, whatever the outcome gives them the confidence to be responsible members of the society, to be empowered young men and women around the world that could contribute their views, to the development and advancement of their communities and the world to a larger extent.
Information and the use of said information is key to ensuring innovative solutions to issues concerned with sexual and reproductive health.
Jan 28, 2013
Call me crazy, call me backward and repressed due to my education and culture because I was born and breed in a highly religious yet corrupt nation like Nigeria. Call me stupid and call me unsophisticated…call me what you will.
But whoever called parents irresponsible, unknowledgeable, unconcerned for the welfare and self esteem of their daughters at Abercrombie and Fitch must have a very crappy relationship with their daughters.
Whoever heard of push up bikinis for & year olds? Why would someone think up of a ridiculous thing like that? It’s bad enough that seven and eight year olds are given bikinis to where, but then create one that’s supposed to attract male attention and make them feel insecure because they don’t have anything to push up? Now that’s just terrible!
I know it’s an old story, but it also calls to attention to this day that companies who target sex and sexuality at young kids should be sanctioned. Why would anyone even consider a product like that? Talk about pushing the boundaries of offering your kid to the pedophile who hangs around the beach on a silver platter.
Jan 28, 2013
Let the record show that this U-DGurl is in absolute LOVE with Laci Greene!
I am literally watching her video on “A is for Abstinence” and I think it’s such a great thing to do for those who need (and may not need) to be informed about abstinence and making the choice
She’s funny and so real…did I mention funny, too?
I do wish there was a Laci Greene symbol back in my high school days. So many girls grew up, confused about the changes in their bodies, confused about their desires and the world they lived in that seemed to change after they discovered two weird things growing on their chests. And what towhere telling you was worse, the “grown ups” we turned to made it their duty to give developing girls and growing boys the most untrue and confusing information possible. Either that, or they made you feel guilty about know what was happening to your body. It’s Yours! It’s your duty and privilege to know as much as possible about your body, your likes and so on without anyone, anywhere telling you that it’s wrong and sinful to.
Dec 17, 2012
Talking about young people in the part of the world where I come is already a sensitive issue and adding ‘rights’ which is another very explosive issue to this makes advocacy for the placing of youth rights at the heart of development a very difficult but not an impossible task. Behind these words lies the fears, doubts, and optimism of a participant at the just ended International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD)-Beyond 2014 Global youth Forum (GYF) which held from the 4th to the 6th December 2012.They are also the words that come to my mind whenever I think about this forum and the impact its outcomes will have on the future of young people and therefore our world as a whole. The fruits of the optimism raised and the hopes re-enkindled by the ICPD-Beyond 2014 GYF not only in the young persons that attended this event but above all in the lives of the millions of young persons that are marginalized, down trodden, and persecuted because of their gender, age, political choices, and sexual orientation, will no doubt become reality as youths irrespective of their social status, religious beliefs, and gender have been empowered and energized by this forum. With most of the recommendations from the ICPD-Beyond 2014 GYF urging governments, international bodies, and civil societies to recognize the rights of all young persons especially the marginalized, suffering and persecuted(the girl child, sexual minorities, rural dwellers, the uneducated) and establish an enabling environment for the potentials of every young person to be unleashed and his/her dreams fulfilled, the forum is ended but has opened an avenue for youths to claim what is theirs and take their places in decision making cycles in their various countries. Enlightened, empowered, and inspired by the passion and enthusiasm I witnessed in Bali, the following words came to my mind in the evening of the 6th of December as the forum ended: ‘What happens when it comes time to part? Well you know how when you’re listening to music from another room and you’re singing along, because it’s a tune you really love, when the door closes, or a train passes, and you can’t hear the music anymore, but you sing along anyway?’ Just like the song described in this scene from the movie, ‘Music from Another Room’, the journey towards achieving youths rights might have begun long ago, Bali marked a new beginning in this fight for the rights of young people in all their diversity to be recognized and respected in the society where they live.
Dec 7, 2012
With the holidays coming up, that means the home cooked meals are rolling in. This gives us a reason to stuff our faces with our favorite foods and worry about packing on the pounds later. But after all the craze of the holidays die down, we may be stuck with a few pounds that we want to shed. “Lose thirty pounds in thirty days!” or “I can eat whatever I want and lose weight!” is what we hear as we watch the infomercials on television. These ads can make it more difficult to choose a weight loss program that is healthy
You should consult your doctor or health care provider before tackling those extra pounds. A few tips to consider are:
Being happy and comfortable with your body is always important. People who care about themselves and their bodies usually take the necessary precautions to also protect it from STIs and unintended pregnancies. So besides eating healthy and exercising, remember to practice SAFE SEX also!
For sources or more information check out Choosing a Safe and Successful Weight Loss Program, Weight Loss and Nutrition Myths or Finding Your Way to a Healthier You.
Dec 5, 2012
Another day has come and gone over Bali ICPD Beyond 2014 Global Youth Forum.But as days come and go, the discussion intensifies and young people are more demanding to their governments, religious and traditional authorities, parents, and society at large.
Universal access to education,inclusive education, relevant education, quality education ,financing and partnerships, as well as ccomprehensive sexuality education were identified by participants at the ICPD beyond 2014 Global Youth Forum participants as being vital for comprehensive education to become a reality in our world and were thus recommended in that other for discussion by the United Nations and possible inclusion in its post-2015 international development agenda.
Transitions to decent work, and famiies,youth Rights and well being are the themes which were on the discussion table today.These being of course issues which are relevant to every young person irrespective of where he/she hails, the debate in the plenary was so intense and continued into the various work groups.
During the plenary on transitions to decent employment, it was revealed by the International Labour Organisation’s representative that we now have the highest number of unemployed youths that the world has ever. Also, during this plenary it was disclosed that 1 in 9 young workers in Africa are in the informal sector, 4 out of 10 young workers are working on a temporary basis, and 5 in 10 low paid persons are youths.
Productivity, fairness, and rewarding are the major characteristics of a decent job as defined by the International Labour Organisation(ILO). If one is to go by this definition, one will have no choice but agree with the above statistics. One other area in which there was total agree is on the fact that stronger families, respect of youth rights, and the well being of youths are the basis for any society and so for a world at peace with itself, there was need for these issues to be tackled with maximum care.
According to Mr.Anatole Makosso, the president to the conference of African youth ministers and youth minister of Congo Brazzaville, there exist three reasons for governments to carefully consider the above mentioned issues and ensure that the needs of youths are met: They are the majority, they are the future, they will not identify with any decisions taken without them.
Another day is come and gone, and the desire for action by youths on the part of their governments has not faultered Youths want to make the Bali declaration not only a declaration but a platform for action. Hear our voices!
Dec 4, 2012
What a long awaited and historic day for mankind has today being. The ICPD Beyond 2014 Global Youth Forum was officially opened today. In the presence of close to a thousand participants, Indonesian officials, and representatives of governments the world over, Dr Babatunde Osotimehin, UNFPA’s executive Director , in his speech decried the situation in which so many young people, especially those in the global south, live in before pointing out the importance of this event, and then inviting representatives of governments and those he termed “Seniors” to look at the young people around them and challenge how they relate to them, and then think of how they can release the potentials of these young people.
Further setting the context of the Bali ICPD Beyond 2014 Global Youth Forum, the Indonesian minister for people’s welfare, declared that: we believe that a meaningful dialogue is necessary on the means and ways of engaging young people to release their potential. He further emphasized that , young people need to understand the values of life that will make them stay healthy, be educated, foster family life, actively participate in building the world they have always dreamed of.
Staying healthy, comprehensive education, transition to decent work for youth, Families, youth rights and well being, leadership and meaningful youth participation, and realizing youth rights are the themes which will be discussed and recommendations made by the over 650 participants for discussion and adoption by the UN member states as one of its post-2015 agenda.
Staying healthy and comprehensive education were tackled today in discussion groups (world Cafés) and recommendations made on the former. Access to data, putting in place of an enabling environment for youths by governments, religious and traditional authorities, access to quality, affordable, and comprehensive health services, and finally the abolition of laws and policies that that hinder youth empowerment are the recommendations that came out from the 15 sort of work groups that brainstormed on this topic. The recommendations on the comprehensive education will be presented tomorrow, Wednesday December 5th 2012.
It should be noted that the above recommendations were arrived at by participants including representatives of governments, UN agencies, and civil society in a very interactive, safe, and open environment after attending the plenary session that addressed the issue of staying healthy for a young person. At this plenary Advocate for Youth’s Meredith Waters acting in her capacity as young person commentator for this theme, declared amid thunderous applause from the audience that: the Global Youth Forum is a great way to start but not enough. Dr Nafsia Mboi, Indonesian minister of health, answering to questions from the participants declared to conclude the plenary that: Every person, I repeat every person including young people has the right to health.
Good as the speeches may be, world leaders should be conscious that young people are tired of speeches and want to see concrete actions being taken solve the pile of problems in which young people from all part of our beloved world are drowning. World leaders! Take action now or be fired! We are ready for the fight and I assure you we will always out power you; for we are the majority.
Dec 3, 2012
Fighting HIV/AIDS and other diseases like malaria is one the Millennium Development Goals(MDGs) voted by the United Nation’s in the year 2000. Given that this fight seems to be slowing down and that more than 5% of Cameroonians are living with HIV/AIDS-60% of which are women and 40% falling in the youths category-there is a cause for concern on the strategy to be used for the achievement of MDGs.
Conscious that handicapped persons are also celebrated in December and given that living with HIV/AIDS is more and more considered a handicapped. This article is going to dwell on the inclusion of the handicapped in the achievement of MDGs.
Concerning the non-achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by most countries of the global south, much has been said and so much more left unsaid. But if there is one thing that has so often been ignored by policy makers, politicians and all those in charge of implementing policies that will lead to a timely achievement of MDGs, it the absence of human rights in these goals. The non-inclusion of human rights in the MDGs means the exclusion of handicapped persons, indigenous people, and other minority groups in their achievement.
Given that handicapped persons constitute 10% of Cameroon’s population and are among the poorest people in the country, it is evident that talking of poverty, the fight against hunger, improvement of maternal health care and reduction of infant mortality child is pretentious if nothing is done to the more than 85% of these handicapped persons aged14-64 years who are jobless and the other 15% of them who are confined to shoe mending, shoe shinning and other informal sector activities.
Also, talking about achieving universal access to education without paying particular attention to the fact that less than 5% of handicapped children in Cameroon can afford to
go to school with only 2% of these handicapped children completing secondary school, is wishful thinking. What about the ever increasing number of albino children who because of their sight defect and the inability of their parents to buy them glasses drop out daily from school?
The government of Cameroon recruited 25000 certificate holders in 2011 under a special recruitment scheme. But none of them was an handicapped person and as if this was not enough, a good number of handicapped persons were sent away from public schools because they could not afford to pay the required fees. This despite the fact that they are officially exempt from the payment of school fees in public schools in Cameroon. To protest against the above acts, the handicapped organized a protest march in front of the prime minister’s office in October 2011 but were violently dispersed by the police and military forces.
Can we say of a country whose government carries out such horrible acts against its own very population, even if it achieves all the MDGs, that it is developed? Can MDGs be achieved if the strategy to achieve them is not inclusive? Can the achievement of MDGs, as they are now, lead to sustainable development?
My answer to the above questions is ‘NO’. Because I am intimately convinced that, unless inclusive and people-centered, no development plan can produce any sustainable results. It is high time for our government and civil society to listen to and amplify the voices of the handicapped so that they are heard and acted upon by policy making and implementing structures because like all poor people, “they long to belong to, and participate in their communities on equal footing with others. Most of all, they do not want charity. They want opportunity”, as former world bank President James Wolfehnson once put it. Anything short of this will make the achievement of MDGs in Cameroon, even by 2035, a far-fetched dream.
How can one expect a country like Cameroon to achieve the MDGs related to literacy, health, and economic empowerment when it does not take the handicapped into consideration when designing and constructing public buildings and other infrastructure like roads, hospitals, universities, and schools?
How can one expect Cameroon to be democratic, united, and emerging by 2025,as exposed in its vision 2035,when more 10% of its population(handicapped persons) are disenfranchised due to their non-consideration when designing and producing electoral material(especially ballots) and situating polling stations(Most being inaccessible to the handicapped)?
Realizing that the above is impossible without respect for human rights, we, at the Education 4Development (E4D) have made human rights the 9th MDG and therefore one of the elements of our advocacy and awareness creation campaign on a participative, timely, and inclusive achievement of MDGs in our community. Through our MDGs participative achievement programme, we reached out to more than 1000 pupils and students in 2011 and look forward to reaching out to a greater number in 2012.
Dec 2, 2012
Editor Virgie Tovar is celebrating the release of her book Hot & Heavy: Fierce Fat Girls on Life, Love and Fashion by giving her readers a glimpse of what they can expect. For her internet followers, it means we get to gush over all of the fun, radical, body positivity!
The List of 50 “fat and ferocious” femmes came in day installments, though the whole list is now viewable here. Among the ranks we can find Nobel Peace Prize winner Rigoberta Menchu, Missy Piggy and Honey Boo Boo. The list of course includes a number of smart, fat, femmes who are transgressing boundaries and confronting patriarchy and rigid beauty standards. Get it, grrrls!
Nov 29, 2012
In the awesome section today of nerd news today, here is a post I found on Tumblr, critiquing the less than realistic posing on the cover issue of Amazing Spider-Man #601 by J Scott Campbell. I’ve seen a lot of threads discussing the rampant sexualization of female comic characters and superheroes through posing and costuming, but I really like this one because there are men joining in on the conversation. My Spider senses are tingling and I can sense some people telling me to go natter about something else. But you know what? This is a “Stripperiffic trope”, tropes are an important thing to notice and counter when standing against misogyny and sexism, and it’s important to me so, BOOM!
Nov 28, 2012
World Ball 2012 // Welcome to the North Pole
Join Metro TeenAIDS, RealTalkDC, STIGMA, SMYAL, Sasha Bruce, and the Latin American Youth Center for a night of competition, prizes, and voguing. This is your chance to compete in 15 categories, win a prize, and snatch a trophy!
The event will be hosted at the Eastern Market North Hall
Open to ALL YOUTH aged 13-24 years old.
DJ Tony Playboy
ENTRANCE TO THE BALL IS FREE IF TESTED FOR HIV OR $5
To gain a FREE entrance pass to the Ball, you will need to get tested at the following locations:
651 Pennsylvania Ave, SE
Testing Times: 12-8pm (Mon-Fri)
410 7th Street, SE
Testing Times: 3-5pm (Mon-Thurs), 3-6pm (Fri)
701B Maryland Ave NE
Testing Times: 11-8pm (Mon-Fri)
1419 Columbia Road, NW
Testing Times: 3-6pm (Mon – Thurs)
Youth can get tested between now and December 7th or at the actual event. We recommend getting tested prior to the event to skip the lines! Youth who chose to not get tested for HIV can enter the event for just $5.
All youth who are tested for HIV will receive a FREE entrance pass and be entered into a raffle for a $25 gift card (10 winners total!)
DON’T FORGET TO GET TESTED!
WORLD BALL 2012 CATEGORIES
Runway- Green and White effect
Vogues- Red and White effect
2. Realness (OTA)
Bring it in a North Pole effect
European- Jack Frost
All American- Nutcracker
Female Figure- Ice Queen
5. Hand Performance (OTA):
Blue or White gloves
6. Performance (OTA):
Female Figure – All White effect
Butch Queen: Santa’s Elves vs. Realness with a Twist: Reindeers
7. Tag Team:
Runway of 2 (1 Female Figure & 1 All American)
Female Figure- Snow Angels
All American- Snowman
PERFORMANCE (1 female figure & 1 BQ/ RWT)
Female figure- Ms. Claus
Butch Queen or Twister- Mr. Claus
The winner of each category will receive a $25 gift card and a World Ball 2012 trophy!
Nov 27, 2012
Education is one of the cornerstones on which any development worth the name is built. The growing acknowledgement of this fact has led to the emergence of many nations in our world today. But the fact that education has become an item at the top of the agenda of major international bodies and policy formulation processes is not enough. The efficiency of the educational system is an important aspect of quality education that is most often neglected by educational authorities and policy makers in Cameroon. In fact, many now believe that our educational system more than any other thing is the cause of our problems.
If the educational system in Cameroon is as inefficient as it is, more inefficient even has been sex education in primary and secondary schools. Sex education in schools in Cameroon has been so inefficient that the government had no choice but to acknowledge this and take necessary measures to correct the failings of sex education in Cameroon.
Introduced by Cameroon’s government through a ministerial decree on the 18th of January 2007, Education on Family life, Population Issues, HIV/AIDs has been implemented in Cameroon’s schools only since September 2012. To build the capacity of teachers and correct the failings of the abandoned approach to sex education, a series of Radio programs have been organized by ministries in charge of education and health in Cameroon alongside UNAIDs. Through active and collective listening of these programs by teachers in the 350 centers selected across the country, teachers of secondary, primary, and teachers training colleges are enlightened and given the opportunity to ask questions to clear their doubts and deepen their understanding on the new approach of imparting knowledge on family life, population issues, and HIV/AIDs to pupils and students.
The new approach to sex education in schools in Cameroon is aimed at developing positive, protective, and safe behaviors among students for their present and future lives as grown-ups and thereby fully understand and take the reproductive health rights agenda at heart. Despite the fact that this new approach has been developed with the support of international bodies like UNAIDs, my greatest fear is that, like the abandoned approach to sex education, this new approach will fail in achieving the laudable goals for which it has been created.
Lack of monitoring and evaluation is one of those things which could easily lead to the failure of the new approach to sex education in Cameroon’s schools. The government and its donors must therefore ensure that there be a constant monitoring and periodic evaluation of the efficiency and effectiveness of this approach.
Coupled with the above, resistance by a cross-section of society of the new, realistic, and down- to-earth manner of the approach to sex education in Cameroon’s schools could further complicate the implementation of this laudable reform in Cameroon’s educational system.
This reform to Cameroon’s educational system in itself is one that should be considered in countries whose approaches to sex education have over the years not produced the desired results. The use of radio will enable a huge number of teachers to improve their knowledge of sex education increased and thereby bring about a revolution in the teaching of Sex, Population Issues, HIV/ AIDs in Cameroon.
This reform is proof of the fact that, Youth and reproductive health rights are slowly but surely taking their place at the heart of the development policy agenda in Cameroon. Though full of obstacles and challenges, the path chosen by the thousands of young Cameroonians who day-in, day-out advocate for the inclusion of youths in the formulation and implementation of youth-focused policies is the right path. We shall overcome!
Nov 7, 2012
by Deb Hauser
President, Advocates for Youth
Advocates for Youth congratulates President Barack Obama on his historic reelection. We also celebrate the amazing role that young people played within his administration and his reelection, and we recognize the growing power of youth to drive social and cultural change for a better world. Young people represented approximately 19 percent of the electorate yesterday—a larger percentage even than in 2008!
In the years ahead, we call on President Obama to stand with us in recognition of every young person’s right to honest sexual health education, safe and affordable sexual health services, and an equity of social, educational, and economic opportunity – the type of opportunity that builds healthy lives and strong communities.
Oct 25, 2012
Oct 25, 2012
It was the last day in our Urban retreat 2012. The next morning we would all pack our stuff and head back home. Walking into the main room we saw everyone one last time. Sarah from Advocates for Youth started talking about having a conference crush. I wondered why a presenter was speaking about crushes. Sarah told us the story of how she met Sonya Renee, her movement crush. Before Sarah had even gotten on stage we all already knew she was referring about Sonya. Julia from Advocates had been sending out emails explaining what we would be doing in the conference, and she had sent one whole email talking about Sonya. Sonya Renee is the founder of the loving your body revolution called ” the body is not an apology”. She is a poet, an activist, spoken word performer, movement builder. After you read about her work, you build up in your mind expectations around what she would be like. But when she walked into the room she blew everyone away. She was sooo stunning. Her presence in the room was breathtaking. She was wearing very high (impossible to walk in) black stilettos, a black and white polka dots dress and a zebra head scarf. Her energy came to life when she got on stage. Once you heard her speak, you knew that you were in the presence of something divine, something powerful, something greater than all of us. She shared poems and impromptu spoken word, and her solid powerful voice resonated across a room filled with hundreds of us. She spoke about self love, she spoke about having joy in life, about realizing where the joy thieves are and deleting those from our lives. She spoke from her soul. Her poems relayed different messages, some of hope: a less racist society where her dad was the president of the United States. They also spoke about emptiness, numbness and death; she told the story of an abortion she had and how that felt. One of them was funny and sarcastic; it was about being a full bodied women in Europe and going shopping for dresses. Her voice, her words, and her fierceness spoke to everyone’s hearts. She brought it all home to the self. Loving ourselves is the most radical act we can ever engage in.
Aug 1, 2012
1Flesh is a new online organization promoting the message that condoms and hormonal contraception are ineffective at preventing STDs/STIs and unintended pregnancy as well as being harmful to the health and relationship of a couple. They believe that people should not have sex before they are married, and then should use a method of “birth control” called the Creighton Model, which is really just a suped-up version of the Rhythm Method (despite how much they tried to convince me otherwise).
This is part three of an in-depth interview I conducted by e-mail with Anna Buckley of 1Flesh, from July 15- 19. All of their responses are printed in full and unedited. My response and criticism can be found below.
1) What kind of government involvement, if any, is appropriate when it comes to sex education?
Tough question. The government has recently become involved with what for all time has been considered an intensely familial matter.
We imagine that a daughter told by her mother that she is beautiful, loved, of infinite value, worth a man who will cherish her as such, and that sex is a positive good and a total gift of self oriented in its nature and chemistry towards "forever," would be more likely to make holistic sexual choices and achieve inner happiness than if by watching a Planned Parenthood employee put a condom on a banana.
Similarly, we believe that a father telling his son that he is proud of him, that he loves him, that sex is a positive good and a total gift of self oriented in its nature and chemistry towards "forever," that it is no manliness to use women for pleasure, but it’s epically manly to sacrifice your desires for the good of your beloved, and to seek the woman who you will promise to be with forever, and once that promise is made, then fulfill that promise with your entire body in the act of sex — We believe this would be — in the long run — far more effective than being shown a slideshow of diseased penises and getting free rubbers from your gym teacher.
However, we’ve created a culture of awkwardness between parents and their kids, to the point where this discussion has become a far scarier one to have than it should be. We are inundated with the culture’s idea of sex from a young age, and thus parents feel like they’re competing with everything cool in a kid’s life. Want to talk to your son about this when he turns 12? 11 is the average age a boy is exposed to hardcore pornography. Want to tell your daughter her body is valuable and beautiful? She’s already seen the female body used to sell cars on TV.
So if the government is to be involved in sex education, we believe it should be finding people who can effectively speak against the current sexual culture that’s making everyone miserable. Maybe Obama could help us out. After all, he speaks very effectively on the importance of families staying together, and of fathers resisting the easy route of divorce and instead being present for their wife and children, to which we tip our hats.
2) Do you believe sex education courses belong in schools? If so, and if you were able to write the curriculum, what would you include?
See previous question. Add to it teaching the Creighton MODEL to girls.
3) As part of sex education classes, you would recommend the Creighton Model be taught to girls. If the boys in the class will presumably one day be married to women, isn’t it important for them to be familiar with the Creighton Model as well?
Absolutely. You’ve got fantastic ideas: Teach it to boys and girls — perhaps not together, as there could be a maturity gap in the discussion of things like luteal phases and mucus patterns — and watch the male respect of the intricacy and beauty of the female body soar.
4) You refer to girls as having "infinite value." How do you define this phrase? And is the same true for boys?
The value of the human person is immeasurable, priceless, and infinite. We hold this truth to be self-evident, that the value of all else pales and bows before the value of a single human life. And yes, the same is true for boys.
5) In your ideal conversation of how mothers talk to their daughters about sexuality, you say that girls are "worth a man who will cherish her as [having infinite value]." To me, this phrase suggests that her value is her virginity and her ability to become pregnant. I agree that every person deserves to have a partner (if they want one) that loves and cherishes them, and treats them well. But I don’t believe that virginity or fertility are the reasons someone deserves to be valued and treated well.
We had no intention of suggesting that a girl’s value is her virginity and her ability to become pregnant. That’s ridiculous. Girls are worth men who will cherish them as having infinite value for the simple reason that they are girls. That they are human persons. Dignity and infinite worth are products of being a human person, and girls — who are so often bombarded with the idea that their worth depends on being "hot", being productive, having sex, making children, being popular, being rich, etc. — need to be affirmed by their lovers in this manner: "You are of infinite value to me because you are."
6) Do you think it’s important for religion to be included in sexuality education?
No. Then again, we’re a little confused why it’s so important for the government to be involved with sex education, but whatever.
7) How does information of and access to condoms increase the chance of someone -who wants to remain abstinent- having sex?
There’s folks way more qualified to answer that question, so we’d again refer you to the following study.
Response and Criticism
1) The Federal Government has been involved with funding sex education programs, unfortunately giving hundreds of millions of dollars to abstinence-only programs that are proven failures. But there’s been no federal law about what is taught in these classes. Some states don’t require sex ed be taught at all. And the curriculum for sex education programs are decided largely by the school districts with consideration for community input.
Also, were you serious when you said that telling your child they’re loved is more effective at achieving a positive, health sexual outlook and practice than learning how to prevent STDs and pregnancy? I agree that the female body is often objectified in media, but, if anything, wouldn’t that make it easier to talk to your child about body image and sexual autonomy since you have so many accessible, cultural examples to make your point?
2) Much more on the Creighton Model later!
3) Since I don’t think you’re suggesting that the Creighton Model should start being taught in 5th or 6th grade (where they wouldn’t understand it anyway) or in jr. high (see how far you get talking about cervical music to a room of 13 year olds), I don’t think that a maturity gap is what you should be worried about.
4) If the term “infinite value” has the same meaning for boys as it does for girls, why have both times you said it, you’ve applied it to girls, especially considering that you made the choice to use different language for boys?
5) It’s a nice thought, but there’s no denying that girls are held to a much higher standard of “purity” than boys.
7) This link is to the Duke study, described above. If 1Flesh doesn’t feel they’re qualified to answer this basic question, I guess I’ll jump in. Knowing how to use a condom will not magically make a person who has chosen to be abstinent change their mind and make sex a “habit.” Sex is a personal and consensual choice. Just because I have a life-jacket doesn’t mean I’m going to go water skiing.
Next Up, in pt. 4: Sex
May 28, 2012
1) I’ve been reading books about body image; learning about how social, cultural, and historical influences have subtly (and explicitly) demanded that bodies look a certain way. I cannot ignore the world around me and the messages I receive from it, but I believe that I should be the one who decides when my body looks good and what I do to feel good about the way I look.
2) More and more, I’m noticing how certain people in my life are effected by a number on the scale. Whether it’s over-exercising, under-eating, or fretting about they way they look in outfits, it hurts me to see people I care about manipulating their bodies (and risking their health) to feel like they “fit” a certain mold. This especially bothers me because it seems as if they have no control over what that mold looks or feels like, yet they strive to become it.
3) Girls today physically develop earlier than they did 100 years ago. This change, largely due to better nutrition, means that at a younger age, girls start to compare their changing bodies to their peers. As advertising and pop culture media have increasingly focused on these younger girls, the image of a developed 11 year old starts to look more like a developed 17 year old. Although their bodies do start to mature earlier, the difference between an 11 year old body and a 17 year old body is not just physical. When the mental and sexual maturity of older teens is superimposed onto grade-school girls, it seems they are purposely set up to feel dissatisfied with their bodies. I don’t want to reinforce this message.
4) I don’t want a number on the scale to determine how I feel about my body. I want the opportunity to feel good about how I look based on how I look, rather than a number. If I look in the mirror and think “Yes, I like this!,” only to have that feeling diminished by stepping on the scale and seeing a number 10 or 20 pounds above what I’d prefer it to be, my body image is no longer based on the image of my body. I think I darn well deserve to use my own eyes to look at my body and decide for myself how I feel about what I see. It’s about rejecting a number chock-full of socially imposed meaning and judgment, and instead looking at my body as it is and appreciating the way it looks.
What is your relationship with the scale like? Do you feel pressured to constantly know how much you weigh? Do you think more about the number itself than what the number means? Who decides what it means or if it matters?
Mar 29, 2012
Public school sex education is a huge deal. I don’t think most of the parents or teachers realize how huge of a deal it is. They might perk up and pay attention, but then again, maybe not. May be if they knew exactly what curriculum in what ways is being taught? Then they might would ask it to be more of a comprehensive and an age appropriate one.
I still remember my past clinging. When I use to be in my school days, all of us mates use to be timid when the teacher entered the class to give us lecture on “sex education”. The term itself was enough for us to behave peculiarly. Though the topic is intriguing still the culture that we follow makes it nebulous. And the most interesting fact is that the teacher himself would hesitate in front of us. As a result the chapter would be left untaught or half taught. Yes, that’s exactly what happens and I am sure every one of us might have same or a different story. So on with my question since this issue is fundamental why is it still neglected? It’s something that’s debatable and owes an answer. This issue might also turn into a blame game- “one blaming upon other”. But I think I have my own counter to this. I was wondering what people’s views are on the age children should start sex education in school. I personally don’t think my age group got any sex education at the appropriate age and the government seems to be putting off the idea by not revising the curriculum according to the altering requirements of the children. In my opinion, sex education should start as soon as puberty starts. Most important hormonal changes in our sexual lives start at puberty. Puberty starts somewhere between 8 and 13 for girls and 9 and 14 for boys. And prominently having being born in a Nepalese society it’s hard for us to approach to our parents in case of any queries that pops in to our mind regarding sexuality. That results psychological tribulations, cerebral tensions and depression. The earlier the better and the more comprehensive even more better. These days most teens lack sex education because parents feel shy to talk about sex and teachers think it is inappropriate to start sex education at a younger age. These days children as young as 12 are having sex because they think sex are fun! Not knowing the consequences. The curriculums that are taught here start as early as 4th grade teaching children about HIV. I am stunned and appalled. I have a 5th grader brother and I don’t think that children this young need to be taught about sex as explicitly as these curriculum teach them, and I certainly don’t think they have a need for HIV info either. Tell them about puberty and teach them from a scientific and medical standpoint about the changes that will occur in their bodies, but HIV . . .? I also find it very strange that in these curriculums the STD and HIV lessons are at the bottom. After they have talked to the kids about “touching,” “sexual exploitation,” “gender identification” and “sexual health and hygiene” then they will tell them, well you could get a disease. This is beyond ridiculous. I am so shocked by these curriculums, that I am just doing a little critique of them here.
Comprehensive Sexuality Education is a program that starts in kindergarten and continues through high school. It brings up age appropriate sexuality topics and covers the broad spectrum of sex education, including safe sex, STDs, contraceptives, masturbation, body image, and more. If this is the type of sex education your teen is receiving at school there may be times that you need to buffer some of the information, as it may have come sooner than your teenager needed it. Typically, most schools fall in the middle of the two types of programs. Either way, you will need to know what your teenager is being – or is not being – taught about sex and their sexuality. Then you can be prepared for their questions with the correct answers, and not leave it to their friends or the media to educate them and importantly not leaving them with psychological traumas.
Youth Activist Leadership Council
Mar 27, 2012
Ads that sexualize women are nothing particularly surprising these days, but ads that play to the same ideas about men aren’t as common. It’s important, though, to recognize objectification of either sex. It is just as necessary to push back against misogyny as it is to understand that while sexualizing men isn’t as prevalent (or, isn’t recognized for what it is because of the absence of a concept of a male version of misogyny) objectifying men is harmful for men for the same reasons it’s harmful for women. It’s well known that things like negative body image and eating disorders disproportionately affect women, but it would be negligent to overlook how these issues affect men. If in discussions about body/weight/ability issues men are left out, it enhances the notion that these are not issues for men, which alienates the men who are struggling with their bodies.
Edge shaving gel has two new ads that oddly address their male audience not with the usual chiseled cheekbones and jaw lines but with allusions to penis size. While advertising has shown its ability reduce every possible product to sex, shaving gel has nothing to do with penis size. You can’t even really make a “man-scaping” argument. The association with products being advertised to men being linked to what makes them “a real man,” is almost as universal as the association of “manhood” with the penis. If we can agree that women being reduced to sexualized body parts or their ability to be sexual, we should also agree that placing a man’s worth in his pants is wrong for the same reasons.
These ads from Edge, promoting a $10,00 sweepstakes, claim that “You can spot an Edge man by what’s in his pants,” and “Edge men are better endowed,” both referring to finances, but clearly associating a man’s penis to something that is worth cash. Imagine if this ad featured a woman, claiming, “You can spot an Edge woman by what’s in her pants.” It’s completely inappropriate. Yet we recognize this more quickly in the female example because female sexuality has long been thought of as something of monetary value, able to be owned or sold. But selling male sexuality is just as problematic as selling female sexuality.
As we argue that a woman is more than what’s between her legs, we have not been as adamant about defending men from the same attacks. Maybe this is because, generally speaking, we have accepted that men understand their male identity based on their physical body and what they can physically do with their body. Part of the way we broadly define men is as bigger, taller, broader, and stronger than women. Aside from the problematic language of women being, by default, smaller and weaker, this language and perception messages to men that the “real male body” should look a certain way, have a certain muscle mass, be able to manipulate the environment to a certain level, all encompassed, for some illogical reason, in the penis.
Advertising like the Edge prints, similar to ads objectifying women, have an overtly sexual message yet their impact is more subtle. On the surface, these bawdy ads are often viewed as humorous, which usually makes them appear harmless. But as we have come to understand the harm inherent in the regularity of sexualized female images, we’ve largely overlooked the fact that sexualized images and messages are not exclusively female. Men are affected by the subtle power of advertising too, and disregarding this impact means that we ignore the effects of those influences.
Mar 17, 2012
On Tv, in magazines, even in Disney movies, the image of skinny girls is everywhere. In order to fit in, you have to be skinny. This stereotype is unfortunatly reality for so many people with careers that require them to be a certain weight. Ballerinas, gymnists, wrestlers, jokeys and models all have to go to extremes to fit in. Luckly, there has been some improvment, and more and more plus size women are becomming role models. But, it’s not enough. If your not toothpick thin, you are ok. If you are thin, you are ok. Your body was ment to be the way it is. Don’t go and change it because someone says so. Do what your body tells you. Everyone’s is different, so why are we all trying to be the same?
Mar 14, 2012
Wisconsin’s state legislature has passed a "sex education" bill that undoes many of the tenets in the more progressive 2010 bill, and it now moves on to Governor Scott Walker, who is likely to sign it. The new sex education law:
1) Transforms sex education "requirements" into "recommendations"
2) Removes the following topics from sex ed curriculum recommendations
"pregnancy; parenting; body image; gender stereotypes; and the health benefits, side effects, and proper use of contraceptives and barrier methods approved by the federal Food and Drug
Administration (FDA) to prevent pregnancy and barrier methods approved by the
FDA to prevent sexually transmitted infections"
3) Requires that students be taught that abstinence is the "preferred choice of behavior for unmarried pupils" and "the only reliable way to present pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections."
4) Requires the promotion of the socioeconomic benefits of marriage and the connection between marriage and good parenting.
In short, the bill takes Wisconsin’s requirement that sex education programs teach about contraception, and turns it into a requirement that they teach about abstinence.
Conservatives in Wisconsin have never liked 2010′s Healthy Youth Act. In fact, one county’s district attorney sent a letter to teachers of the district threatening to prosecute them if they taught comprehensive sex ed.
But while the new law isn’t a surprise, it’s certainly a disappointment. The removal of instruction about contraception is bad. But calling abstinence "the only reliable" means of prevention is simply a lie. Firstly, many methods of protection work and work well. The IUD is over 99% effective at preventing pregnancy, while condoms are "highly effective" at preventing the transmission of HIV, according to the CDC.
Secondly, reliability is largely dependent on the user. The user must RELIABLY USE a method. Abstinence is very reliable if you remain abstinent. Condoms are very reliable if you use them consistently and correctly. By removing information about other methods, and by implying that they are unreliable, the legislators are doing young people a severe disservice: they are endangering young people’s health and violating their rights.
Further, as we tried to communicate in this video, abstinence-only-until-marriage lessons at best exclude LGBT youth and at worst vilify them. Wisconsin has a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, yet students will be taught that abstinence is the "preferred behavior" for unmarried students. Just….forever, Wisconsin? So it’s basically just a program of shaming for LGBT students - "stay abstinent" or "do wrong." That seems contrary to the section of the bill that cautions against bias against students on the basis of sexual orientation. And not to mention, almost half of high school students have already had sex, so it’s a program of shame for them too.
Finally, a "promotion of marriage" tenet is profoundly offensive and presumptuous. Why should that value be forced on students? In a nation where 50% of marriages fail and 50% of pregnancies are unplanned, how many of Wisconsin’s students will be taught that their families are subpar, inferior to the married-heterosexual parents their sex education teacher is so keen on? And why is promoting a particular type of relationship even an aspect of learning about sex and sexuality?
Students shouldn’t be misled, lied to, and stigmatized. They shouldn’t be denied information that could save their lives. This shame-based bill is shameful.
Feb 16, 2012
Everywhere we turn there are images of these skinny women plastered on magazine covers, billboards, music videos and the internet of what we should aspire to look like. Fake hair, fake, faces, implants and eating disorders, its no wonder a small percentage of women in the world actually look like the images we see. With technology, it leaves one to wonder whether or not the images we see are actually real.
These images affect the way that people view themselves. Body image is the way that people see themselves when they look in the mirror or how they perceive themselves. There are both negative and positive body images. A person with a negative body image has a distorted perception of their body and they see their body in a way that it is not. They are convinced that everyone else has an attractive body and they feel uncomfortable, awkward, ashamed and self conscious. They are more likely to suffer from eating disorders, feelings of depression, isolation and low self esteem. They take risks with their sexual health, cut people off socially and stop engaging in activities that require them to show their bodies.
A positive body image is when you perceive your body as it is. You celebrate and appreciate your body and feel proud of it. You are comfortable and confident in your own skin. It can be hard sometimes, even with a positive body image, to keep positive ideas. Having a positive body image is important because people with positive body images tend to take great of their body and treat it with respect. This can play a role in one’s sexual health because they will not won’t to take risks that put themselves and their health in danger.
Always remember to love your traits and treat your body with respect. Remember that YOU are the one that lives in your body and only YOU need to be comfortable with it and that is what matters. Being aware of your options to practice safe sexual health is important. Keep your body healthy and happy!
Jan 23, 2012
After watching “Toddlers & Tiaras” (again) last week, I was writing about it in my journal, getting dispirited about how much emphasis is placed on such a limited idea of female beauty and how these marketable expectations are being placed on the shoulders of younger and younger girls. Before going to bed, I finished by writing: “I wish the world was different. I wish more women were better respected. I wish that most of the comments made about women weren’t about the way they look.” But as I tried to fall asleep, I just kept wondering, “How often are comments about women based on their looks?” Was it as high as I thought? Or was I exaggerating the problem in my head because I’d just watched a show about 3 year old beauty queens?
After a few minutes, I got up, turned the light back on, and grabbed my notebook. I knew I wouldn’t be able to sleep with this thought running through my head, so I made a list of 32 well-known people, 16 women and 16 men. I decided that I would survey my friends and family, asking them to give me a short comment about each person. Then, I would keep track of whether or not the comment was about their physical appearance. I ended up getting 8 men and 10 women to respond to my survey. Admittedly, this is not a large group and I am not suggesting that the results would be the same among a broader spectrum, but they were surprising.
Women commented on a physical aspect 15% of the time.
1/3 of these comments were about other women.
2/3 of these comments were about men.
Men commented on a physical aspect 8% of the time.
1/3 of these comments were about other men.
2/3 of these comments were about women.
When I started this, I thought the percentage of physical comments would be much higher, so I was pleased to see people commenting on a variety of other aspects (whether positive or negative) that these people had. I was also encouraged that women were not overly judgmental physically about their fellow women. Women are thought to have a bad habit of basing their own body image on other women. It’s said that we either try to emulate other women who we’re told are attractive, or we criticize other women for not looking more like us.
I was also pleased to see that the number of physical comments men made was so low. I think men are often stereotyped by the assumption that all they’re interested in is looks. This devalues the emotional and intellectual attachments and relationships that men are capable of having. Further, the stereotype reinforces the idea that all a woman is good for is her looks. As I saw with my survey, some of the perceptions/ stereotypes/ common knowledge we have about the opposite sex just aren’t true. Or, they’re not as true as we’re led to believe.
If we don’t like our bodies, and we’re told that the main thing that attracts people to us is our bodies, then…what? We buy more make-up, get a gym membership, set up a consultation for cosmetic surgery, starve ourselves? No. We realize that people see and value a lot more about us than our appearance. Between 85 and 92% more, according to the people I talked to.
I’m glad I did this survey. It was really interesting to hear everyone’s comments, and it definitely made me feel better about the way we see, interpret, and respond to each other. Thank you to everyone who helped me with this! I greatly appreciate you being a part of this research.
Jan 20, 2012
Ya know, children are our future, and it is best that tolerance is taught early. I remember when I was at home for Christmas, my 11-year old cousin came to my parents house unexpectedly, and had not been previously briefed on my gender transition. She handled it just fine, which of course, gives me hope for the younger generation.
Of course, it makes me sad that some girl in California has decided to let bigotry stand in the way.
TRIGGER ALERT FOR FOLLOWING VIDEO:
Apparently, one girl scout, angry that the Girl Scouts decided to let in seven year old Bobby Montoya, a transgender child (note that we do not yet have a preferred name for Bobby, she is male assigned at birth who is transitioning to female), decides that she should go on a campaign to boycott girl scout cookies, simply because all girls are allowed.
Now, it is true that the Girl Scouts are a all-girls organization. However, Bobby Montoya and other transfeminine children ARE NOT BOYS!!! We are not talking about allowing boys in, indeed, if Bobby was a boy, identified as a boy, presented as a boy, and was proud to be a boy, Bobby would not have been allowed in, and rightfully so. But Bobby is a GIRL, and thus, she needs to be in the GIRL SCOUTS. Now, everyone thinks that allowing transfeminine children into the girl scouts will create problems, however, as stated before, children are an adaptable bunch, and my 11 and 13 year old cousins have been able to accept me as a girl.
Also, one of my biggest pet peeves is bullying. This hateful screed may not necessarily be overt bullying, harassment, or intimidation, but almost a third of all trans youth have attempted suicide at one point in their lives. This girl from California is just stoking the fires, and if Bobby or any other trans* child killed themselves just because one person cannot stand the concept of gender self-determination, she would have blood on her hands she could never wash off.
But of course, around the same time as this video, a website went up called "Honest Girl Scouts", which is basically trying to turn the Girl Scouts Into The Boy Scouts. Among other things, they:
-Rip people who are considered role models to the Girl Scouts, such as Houston mayor Annise Parker, singer Sara Bareilles, and TV anchor Katie Couric, all because they are pro-choice and pro-queer. But lets forget about their politics for a moment and remember, these are all powerful women who have made something of themselves. Hell, there are major cities in America that have never even had a female mayor (my home, Philadelphia, is one of them), and when the Today Show, which launched Katie Couric’s career began, it was a total boy’s club (including the monkey). In fact, I am mature enough to say that Susan B. Anthony, an anti-choice woman who gave us the right to vote, is an empowering woman, even if I’m not a fan of her views on reproductive health.
-In an image of a broken girl scout cookie, HGS claims that Girl Scouts "Support United Nations Anti-Population Goals". Because apparently, this group thinks that world overpopulation is a good thing, and that women should remain barefooted breeders.
-Repeatedly claiming throughout the site that Girl Scouts are connected with Planned Parenthood, a meme that has been circulating throughout the internet:
It was hard to find any article linking the two that was not from some pro-life, "pro-family", mouthpiece, but on page two of my search results, I find this article by Amanda Marcotte from Slate.com
The realities behind the Girl Scouts-U.N.-Planned Parenthood myth perfectly illustrate the moderately feminist approach the organization takes toward scouting. Almost the moment the myth began to spread last year, the Girl Scouts’ national organization circulated a statement debunking it. According to this statement, in March 2010, the Girl Scouts held a meeting at the 54th Commission on the Status of Women at the United Nations, gathering 30 to 35 teenage girls and encouraging them to "take action on global issues concerning women and girls." The International Planned Parenthood Federation brochure that the right-wing blogosphere accused the Girl Scouts of having passed around ("Healthy, Happy and Hot: A young person’s guide to their rights, sexuality, and living with HIV") was not distributed at the meeting. None of the girls in attendance or their chaperones ever saw the brochure until after it started circulating on the Internet, according to a Girl Scouts of the USA press spokesperson.
The article also contrasts the Boy Scouts focus on traditionalist viewpoints, with no change for the times, with the Girl Scouts, who have addressed many current issues, from body image to bullying, and sexual health, in which sex before maturity is discouraged. This is just another example of the double standards that exist in society, where women (of all stripes) calling for their empowerment is looked upon as unholy and somehow something to be shamed.
And even if there is more of a connection between the two groups, please remember that Planned Parenthood does a lot more than just abortions. They deal with a lot of women’s health issues, including breast cancer screenings (a special concern for women, and yes, that includes transwomen) and, *gasp*, even men’s health too. Believe me, the male opponents of reproductive choice could benefit heavily from regular testicular cancer screenings.
Oh, and as a bonus, here’s another interesting faux outrage concerning the Girl Scouts, which was picked up by religiously conservative media:
The incident involved Renise Rodriguez, a 21-year-old Girl Experience Associate for the Girl Scouts of Southern Arizona in Tuscon. She was wearing a “Pray to End Abortion” shirt when she went into the office during off-duty hours to prepare materials for a meeting. It was there that she was told twice by a supervisor to turn her shirt inside out if she planned to stay in the office or attend a troop meeting, according to Priests for Life
But then, they manage to cover this part of the story:
The leaders had decided that all employees, volunteers and troop members should be in professional business attire, Girl Scout attire or plain shirts without any social, political or commercial messages when present in the council offices.
So, if she was wearing a pro-choice t-shirt, she would have been told to change also, and I doubt that somebody who was in that position would be unreasonable enough to say "boo" over it, nor would Planned Parenthood be calling for an inquisition.
The moral of this story is, while the Girl Scouts, as well as the pro-choice, pro-queer movement handles their points of view in a mostly mature manner and back up their assertions with facts, the anti-choice movement continues to run with simple lies, straw person arguments, and scare tactics.
In conclusion, I would like to say to Bobby Montoya and all transfeminine children who wish to join the Girl Scouts: You go girl, don’t ever let anyone get in the way of your dreams. You were always a girl, and nobody can ever take that away from you.
-Jordan Gwendolyn Davis
Dec 2, 2011
Yesterday just happened to be World AIDS Day and I happened to be handing out condoms at SFSU. Most of them were distributed in my "Sexuality, Ethnicity, and Health" class. Some classmates and I did a presentation on Representations of Women in Media. We discussed sexuality and body image, bringing up the stigma and double standards attached to female sexuality (we also showed clips from Let’s Talk About Sex and from interviews we did with peers on campus). Lots of condoms were handed out, classmates were stoked!
Oct 21, 2011
Written for NOW’s annual "Love Your Body Day" blog carnival.
Poor body image has become something that many people now almost assume that nearly all girls and women have. Why? It’s true that there are a lot of people dealing with a less-than-accepting view of their physical form, but what is the consequence of assuming that most or all women and girls want to change something about the way their body looks or moves? I think when the idea of being dissatisfied with your body saturates our media, marketing, and discourse, it makes disliking your body seem normal.
Being constantly surrounded by advertisers offering people ways to improve the look and function of their body, they begin to believe there’s something about them that needs changing. And when someone enjoys their body the way it is, they shouldn’t feel pressured to find a feature that isn’t someone else’s definition of perfect. We need to change the mentality of looking for what’s wrong with our body to loving what’s right with it. It’s about taking ownership of our body and valuing it as it is more so than the opinions of those who only see its value in its ability to be manipulated.
When we think our body isn’t perfect, we have to stop and ask ourselves whose standards we are judging ourselves by and what the intentions are of those who are trying to change us. We are the ones who have ownership of our body, and when we know that we look good we have the right to take pride and pleasure in it. All of us deserve to assume that when we look in the mirror we will like the person smiling back.
Jul 6, 2011
Note that I am not one who likes to perseverate on these high profile cases, but now that Casey Anthony has been found not guilty by a jury of her peers; I think it is appropriate to pose these questions:
1 – If Casey Anthony’s body image did not conform to society’s view of what beautiful is, would she still have gotten off?
2 – If Casey Anthony was a lesbian and/or looked butch, would she have still gotten off?
3 – If Casey Anthony was a transgender woman, would she have still gotten off?
The answers are: No, no, and double no
A sad day for justice indeed!!!!
-Jordan Gwendolyn Davis
Jun 9, 2011
Tomorrow I defend my graduate project on sexual health education. I have read about the history and current status of sexual health education, and the factors that impact it.
One common belief for a long time was that you couldn’t increase condom use and delay the initiation of sex at the same time. Current research has shown programs are capable to positively impact both behaviors – abstiencing form sex, and condom use, concurrently.
This post isn’t actually about sex ed, but it is about respecting our bodies.
In the current public health discourse there is an obsession with obesity. Many in the medical and public health community forget we come from a society that holds prejudices against people based on the size and shape of their body. The healthy living community – may it be medical professional, public health officials, fitness and nutrition experts, and individuals promoting healthy living, claim their main goal is to improve the health, but in their approach they further oppress and shame people, telling them their bodies are wrong – they are wrong.
Here is my question then – can we positively impact body image and size acceptance, but also promote healthy living? If we tell people to accept their bodies, they will never actively do something to change their bodies they may ask. Well I ask, how can you get someone to make real positive changes to their health – eating who foods, being physical activity (not marathons, just 30 minutes cleaning your house, walking your talk, taking the stairs), drinking enough water and so on if they are constantly told to hate their bodies?
Personally, I don’t treat things I hate very well. Therefore, fi I hate my body, I see no reason to take care of it. I think you can promote body acceptance and healthy behaviors at the same time, I think that is the only way we will see real change in holistic health – mind, body and spirit.
I have many more thoughts on this topic, but that graduate project I mentioned still isn’t done. Consider this a to be continued kind of things …
Apr 16, 2011
This article covers the coping difficulty that a young woman, struggling with an eating disorder, had when she entered the college social scene. After all, food is a huge part of the social culture of America and if you’re not that into food, it could put some obstacles in your social life. I realized how true this was when I too when to college. I can’t claim that I have the cleanest slate when it comes to a healthy body image and healthy eating habits, just like the young woman in this article. However, I will say that I think if you’re in our shoes, there is hope for coping, a social life and maybe even the chance for working through your problems in college if you so choose. And this does not nessecerily entail the sort of counceling services or health services mentioned in the article. The truth is (I found at least) that there are a lot of people out there that share the same problems. Sometime it is our problems that will lead us to meet these people (for me, over-exercising and joing a running club). But, if we open up and start to talk about, compare our problems, it can be one of the biggest steps to overcoming them.
Below, you will find a link to Laura Yochelson’s take on facing the college social scene with an eating disorder. Seeking counceling and support groups as recommended in this article are definitely one big step in over-coming a problem. But, I’ll also say that being open with friends and having a discussion about our difficulties can be useful step that college has to offer.
Feb 11, 2011
Written by Michelle Cohen, MPH, CHES who is a Health Educator at the Georgia Institute of Technology
As a health educator who has worked at two major institutions in the Southeast, I have seen many students who have not received comprehensive sex education before college. This lack of education can negatively impact college students’ reproductive health and body image. I define body image as a concept which includes our perceptions, attitudes, and behaviors about our bodies (not only how we look, but what our bodies do for us). Young people must have the skills to evaluate the messages they give to and receive from their peers, friends, and family regarding body image. They need to be able to critically analyze how the media positively and negatively influences body image and their health behaviors. Science-based, comprehensive sex education programs offered from kindergarten through 12th grade can help prepare students for all the challenges, decisions, and opportunities that they will face in the future.
A committee at Georgia Tech (GT) is helping college students explore the many influences on body image and health behaviors. The mission of the GT Body Image Committee is to encourage GT students of all genders to examine their perceptions of body image and to generate discussion of body image issues on-campus.
See what GT students have to say:
What does body image mean to you?
Dec 10, 2010
Victim Blaming, its not just for sexual assault anymore!!!! It seems that there is also a victim blaming problem when it comes to dealing with bullying. These tropes are along the lines of "You shouldn’t be so fat", "You should act more like a boy/girl", "You shouldn’t be autistic", and the list goes on. If you ever wonder why I’ve taken a lot of time to create a baseline for an Anti-Bullying Bill Of Rights in PA, now you know?
Consider my last Sunday at that wretched boarding school in Madison, CT!!! I wake up in my dorm and discover that fishing line is ran throughout the bathroom to prevent me from going in. I bring it to the attention of the administrator, and he blows me off and blames me for something inconsequential. Then later that night, the same dormmate who perpetrated the fishing line incident hucked a water bottle at me with a fishing gaffe. I try to tell a staff member, but…well, he doesn’t take it seriously….and his actions leave me having even worse post-traumatic stress disorder than I already would have had.
Victim blaming was par for the course at that place. When I was 16, I was in the boy’s health class and as a class assignment, we were split up into three teams and we had a contest to see which team could come up with the most sexual slang terms for female anatomy. We had been beaten by another team during the male anatomy part, and we made a comment. When the teacher declared we won, I made a comment that only a 16 year old hormone drenched boy would say in front of other hormone drenched boys. This one student who was totally an asshole to me, said something to the effect of, "the only reason you know so much about pussy is because you go into your little sister’s room at night" (note: my little sister has microencephaly and is, for lack of better terms, in a vegetative state). The two gym instructor’s response, silence.
This past Saturday…was the 10 year anniversary of being admitted to that school. And tonight, is the anniversary of a really bad night. You see, I was living in the only 4 person bedroom on that campus, and one of my roommates (who was on the bottom of the bunk I was on) was coming back from a trip to Long Island. He had gotten into trouble for something, and he decided to just plain go crazy. He then made me go "bunk surfing" (the mechanics of which are too complicated to explain here). When the dorm staff came in, he didn’t take any action.
In most cases, silence to these events indicates that the person in charge is blaming the victim and doesn’t want to say it. But you know, even in the case of private schools, they need to have anti-bullying policies too.
We need to foster a culture of respecting all body images, not fat camp, a respect for all colors of the rainbow, not "straight eye for the queer guy".
Please remember that victim blaming is a trigger of post-trauma, not just for rape, but other types of atrocities as well, and that it can KILL!!!
If you stand up FOR a bully, you are just as much a victim blamer as someone who says "if you hadn’t worn that skirt, then you wouldn’t have been raped"
Nov 8, 2010
Katy Perry has an interesting history with the gay community. While many of her songs have undoubtedly been blasted away at gay clubs across America, her lyrics and songs have at times stigmatized and stereotyped gay and gender non-conforming men. Her first single, “You’re So Gay,” describes a young teenager’s ex-boyfriend, as the speaker lists off his traits that aligned with stereotypes of gay men.
I hope you hang yourself with your H&M scarf
While jacking off listening to mozart
You bitch and moan about LA
Wishing you were in the rain reading Hemingway
The implication in the song is that no straight man could like Hemingway, wear makeup, or be a vegetarian. The song reinforces notions of what it means to be a straight man. Many may claim that the song is satirical, and shouldn’t be taken seriously. Perry herself has commented that the song was not intended to be homophobic, but instead “it’s not, ‘you’re so gay,’ like, ‘you’re so lame,’ but the fact of the matter is that this boy should’ve been gay. I totally understand how it could be misconstrued or whatever … It wasn’t stereotyping anyone in particular, I was talking about ex-boyfriends." The song is arguably an interesting piece of social commentary while simultaneously reinforcing current gender norms.
In the last couple of weeks, Perry has released the new music video to her song “Firework”. In contrast to “You’re So Gay”, “Firework” features a more positive portrayal and discussion of gender and sexuality. The message of the song is very positive, with lyrics that support individual’s diverse identities.
“You’re original, cannot be replaced…”
The music video features images and stories of individuals dealing with difficult situations. We see a young woman grappling with body image issues, a young person sick at a hospital, and a young boy dealing with arguing parents. In addition, at the start of the music video we see a teenager at a raging party, sitting alone by himself. As the song goes one, we see his interest peaked by a young man across the room. He goes over, kissing him as digital fireworks go off around the two of them.
What is so important about this video is the way it deals with homosexuality in a manner that is both non-judgmental, and similar to others around him. He is not called out as “more unique” than the other characters in the video. This young man, be he gay, closeted, bi-sexual, or simply interested in men, is portrayed in a matter of fact way similar to the other characters in the video.
Recently the New York Times published a piece discussing the new prevalence of singers singing about and featuring gay characters in their works. The author writes that many gay and lesbians have been disappointed in Perry’s works in the past, but that maybe with this song Perry is signaling her new maturity.
“Many in the gay community felt used by her,” said Barry Walters, a music critic for Spin and Rolling Stone who is writing a book titled “100 Albums Every Gay Person Should Hear.” He added, though, that maybe the new records “are these artists telling us they’re growing up — and emblematic of an entire generation growing up with them.”
Jul 29, 2010
Dear Sister, for survivors of sexual violence on the path towards hope, and Occupied Bodies, for women of color to speak on self-image. I’m going to submit…you should too!
Dear Sister is an anthology of letters and other works created for survivors of sexual violence from other survivors and allies. It is a collection of hope and strength through words and art.
The pathway for a survivor of rape and sexual violence is an unlit road of pain, isolation, and doubt. In the weeks, months, and oftentimes, years following, the healing process can be difficult to navigate without a community surrounding her. Imagine a compilation of literary arms bound together to offer words of understanding, solidarity, and love. Dear Sister is an accessible and inclusive offering of hope, voice, and courage; seeking writers and artists who wish to light a piece of that road and lift up other women in her healing.
It is an impossible task to write a letter to every survivor of rape, to every woman who lives with an invisible scar. Instead of thinking of the face of the person you are writing to, reflect on the image of an unlit path, a road with no clear footing. Your offering will be one light, among many, to make visible what was previously unseen, to illuminate what was hidden. You are providing a few more steps for someone to walk steadily toward their own recovery. Your words can be an anchor, a meditation, a prayer, a strong embrace or a gentle touch. The purpose of this anthology is not to retell stories of assault, but to help others regain a sense of balance and wholeness.
Mindfully move beyond what is commonly said and reflect upon radical companionship. Write what you wish for her to know and never forget. And if you lose focus, look deep into a mirror and reflect: What would you want to be told if you were in the darkness?
Dear Sister primarily seeks letters but will accept poems, prose, essay, and drawn art that can be scanned for entry. Maximum word count is 1000.
Deadline for submission is November 1, 2010.
Women and transpeople of any race, creed, background, citizenship or non-citizen, ability, and identity are encouraged to submit their words and work to uplift others in the healing stages of post trauma and violence. Both English and Spanish are accepted. All questions can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org
Submission can be emailed as an attachment with “Dear Sister Entry” in the subject email@example.com.
Hand written letters can addressed and mailed to
Dear Sister Anthology
P.O. Box 202468
Cleveland, Oh 44120
Note from the Editor
Rape and sexual violence thrive in the silence of our homes and communities. Outreach must be wide and intentional if we are seek to hear from those who are silenced. Please forward this to as many individuals, groups, organizations, listserves, websites, and agencies that come to mind.
I am soliciting essays for an anthology on women of color’s self-image/body image as shaped by family, friends, media, society, history, lived experiences, etc. I’m looking for smart, accessible, and snappy personal narratives that also offer nuanced analysis of the underlying constructs that affect how we perceive ourselves. Exploring intersectionality of identities is extremely important. I particularly want the voices of women of color that are not often heard to be represented, such as trans* WOC, disabled WOC, queer WOC, WOC outside the U.S., WOC with eating disorders, working class/poor WOC and fat WOC. Of course, all the varied perspectives any woman of color can offer are welcome. This is an exciting project, as this topic has not been explored in depth and including such a diverse collection of viewpoints before. The final manuscript will be submitted to relevant independent publishers. —— Some possible jumping off points include, but are not limited to:
* What images of yourself were instilled in you by your parents/guardians/other family members when you were a young child? What positive or negative encounters with adults as a child helped shape that image?
* If you were born in a country other than the U.S. and then immigrated to the U.S., how did the society in which you were born play a role in your developing self-image, and what contrasts did you find difficult to navigate between the two societies?
* How did the media you consumed as a child/teen shape your body/self image today? How does it complicate it? How does the media you consume NOW affect your body/self image?
* How did pressure from family and friends affect the way you perceived yourself after you were old enough to take care of yourself?
* How did you feel about societal beauty and body standards as a teen? Did you rebel, or conform by any means necessary to avoid confrontation?
* How has the globalization and dissemination of the Western beauty ideal affected you and women of color worldwide?
* Debunk this: “in some cultures they ______,” – deconstructing a commonly held belief about an ethnic group’s relation to body (such as the black community supposedly being OK with fat).
* If you’re queer, how has being a queer woman of color affected your self-image and how you desire your partner to look? If you’ve had partners who were also women of color, did/do you gaze upon them with the same critical eye you reserve for yourself? Why or why not?
* If you’re a trans* WOC, how was your perception of your gender identity shaped? How has your self/body image changed over the years and have there been any other shifts in your thinking about your self/body image? How does being a WOC interact with your trans* identity? How does it affect how other people perceive you and your gender?
* How has being a disabled WOC affected your body/self image? Do you feel it’s a detriment or a positive part of your person? How did you come to terms with your disability, or has it never been problematic for you?
* As a fat WOC, has weight shaped your self/body image your whole life? Have you developed an eating disorder? Was it exacerbated by there being virtually no resources for women of color, especially for fat WOC?
* Are you a sexual assault/rape survivor? How did that trauma affect your view of yourself?
——- If your experiences overlap on any of the suggested jumping off points, PLEASE feel free to explore that. Guidelines:
* Deadline for submissions is October 15, 2010;
* Submissions should be saved in Word format or Rich Text, double spaced, size 12 Arial or Times New Roman;
* 500 to 5,000 words;
* Include RELIABLE contact information and a brief biography;
* Only e-mail submissions will be accepted, however, if you can’t arrange that please contact me and we’ll work something out.
* Send submissions to: firstname.lastname@example.org;
* Again, the deadline for submissions is October 15, 2010.
Who I Am: The woman spearheading this project is Tasha Fierce, a freelance writer who also happens to be a fat, queer, disabled woman of color. I’ve written about race politics, fat acceptance, disability and feminism in several zines, including Evolution of a Race Riot and the zine I edited from 1998-2001, Bitchcore. I have contributed to Jezebel several times, the fat acceptance blog Shapely Prose, the race & pop culture blog Racialicious, and the feminist disability activism blog FWD/Forward. My work has also been featured in The Huffington Post. I live, love and write in Los Angeles, California. You can regularly read me at my own blog, Red Vinyl Shoes (http://redvinylshoes.com/blog) and on Twitter as @redvinylshoes.
For updates, visit http://redvinylshoes.com/blog/occupied-bodies.
Jul 5, 2010
I live in a conservative county in New Jersey, and at a Wal-Mart down the road from me, one will see a tea party protest from time to time. Although their main target is the substandard and pro-corporate Obamacare, its safe to say that any mention of a true single payer system would send these people into a tizzy of bloviating about "Kanadian Kommie Kare" and wait times, etc.
Is any healthcare system perfect? The answer is no; anything as large as the NHS or Health Canada is bound to unfortunately screw up from time to time. I had an aunt die from cancer due to wrongful reading of an X-ray as well as accusations of gold-bricking by the hospital that she worked at. However, the preponderance of evidence states that countries which have universal healthcare have greatly benefitted. (You can read about a Canadian’s perspective on their healthcare system here and here). Whenever I see these people express their bootstrap fetishism and "Don’t Tread on Me" tropes, it hearkens back to "Segregation Today, Segregation Tommorrow, Segregation Forever".
Healthcare equality is a civil rights issue, both for class and ability, and they are trying to erase this struggle in the most insidious way possible; case in point, Sarah Palin who tries to scare PWDs and their allies with the death panel lies, as well as carrying her Down Syndrome child (another name for Down Syndrome, Tri(somy) G) around, as Andrea Fay Friedman puts it, like a loaf of bread, and trying to use her child for political gain and to erase a civil rights struggle for people with all types of disabilities by creating imaginary death panels while supporting the real death panels, which is the health insurance industry.
All Americans will benefit from something such as HR 676. However, universal healthcare would most benefit those with disabilities such as myself (mental/neurological). Medicaid, which is the public healthcare system for the poor and disabled, has a reputation for being substandard. I have to travel to Newark to fix my dental issues due to a 5-year wait time at Jersey Shore Medical Center, and a private dentist declined my Medicaid due to me also having third party insurance (even though it was allowed). Not to mention the steep learning curve of healthcare bureaucracy (which in and of itself is ableist for those with learning differences), the payback provision (what country with SPHC seizes ones assets upon death to pay back the government), and the exclusion of the working poor (this does not encourage people with disabilities to go back to work. We’ve learned to have a "free appropriate public education" for those with disabilities, how about "free appropriate public healthcare" for all.
But as a transgender person who is low-income and disabled, services are hard to come by.
Its safe to say that those who are transgender and want services and are poor are, in many cases out of luck, even though
I. Key Statutory Provision: States participating in the Medicaid program must provide "necessary medical services" to qualified state residents. 42 U.S.C. § 1396 II. Supporting Regulation: In furtherance of a Medicaid Agency’s obligation to provide necessary medical services, Section 440.230(c) of Title 42 of the Code of Federal Regulations provides that a Medicaid Agency may not arbitrarily deny or reduce the amount, duration, or scope of a required service to an otherwise eligible recipient solely because of the recipient’s diagnosis, type of illness, or condition.
So, why would one think that transition related services fall under "necessary medical services". Well, our well-being depends on it. Many transgender people contemplate, attempt, or actually commit suicide because of "Body Image Distress or disgust", not to mention that over a five year period, a transgender suicide hotline has handled over 78,000 calls. Also from "Laura’s Playground":
There is no question that Transgender suicide rates are real. Even without these numbers we know the reality as the spectre of suicide picks us of one by one. Transgender people are no strangers to death. Instead of following the WPATH Standards of Care many die from thrombosis from unsupervised illegal hormone use. Some die from injections at "Silicone pumping parties". All this is done to become their "True Selves"
This is a valid health issue and is comparable to women who used coathangers before Roe v. Wade to terminate an unwanted pregnancy. Not to mention that both the World Health Organization and the National Institute of Health recognize it as a legitimate health issue. Now, I do not agree with the concept of "gender identity disorder" as a disability to be corrected, however, many of the effects of peer shunning, underemployment, and dissatisfaction with body can lead to valid health issues. This is why it is imperative that all transgender/gender variant people, regardless of class. be able to access counseling, hormones, and SRS, and also may I throw in permanent hair removal, facial feminization surgery, and vocal chord adjustment for us transwomyn.
While I must commend the courts in Minnesota, California, and Massachusetts for ruling in favour of trans recipients, and recognize the PERSAD Center in Pittsburgh for honoring Medicaid for transition, apparently the courts in Iowa and Georgia refuse to recognize the health issues related to being gender variant.
Also, Planned Parenthood, a non-profit organization, constantly faces the chopping block, such as a recent attempt by NJ governor Chris Christie, even though THIS IS NOT ABOUT ABORTION:
Some would argue that what is behind the proposed cuts is the governor’s opposition to abortion access. Indeed, those who oppose abortion have applauded these cuts because they mistakenly assume they end state funding for abortion. But abortion services would not be affected. What would be affected, however, are routine gynecological exams, contraception, blood pressure, anemia and diabetes screening, breast and cervical cancer screening and education, STD and HIV counseling, screening and treatment, pregnancy testing, prenatal care and more.
About a third of these women have incomes of less than 250 percent of the federal poverty level — that is, for a family of four, an income of about $56,000 per year. Anyone reading this who is part of such a family knows how many demands there are on that money. Nine percent of these women are actually below the poverty line (about $22,500 for a family of four), and 7 percent are on Medicaid. Twenty percent have no insurance at all.
The bottom line is, not being able to afford such services is the antithesis of feminism, since it takes away women’s bodily autonomy and trivializes issues which are important to women.
The link between universal healthcare and feminism has been linked by Kathie Sarachild of the Redstockings of the Women’s Liberation Movement
KS: Well let’s see, this is Kathie, I’m going to leap into this because, actually, in my case I’m beginning to realize the ways that national health care would be of great benefit for me personally, including for me as a woman and a feminist woman who has been trying all my life to have the kind of independence and work interests that men can have, is what began to open me up to learning the things I needed to learn to get behind national health insurance for myself. You talk about the WBAI audience already being for national health insurance or universal health care, well I actually fell into this category of people, this was back in the 1980s. I thought, well, I was for it morally. Sure I believed in universal health care. But I didn’t really. I wasn’t sure, I think I was like a lot of mid-level income people who say they are for public education, and are for public education, but they aren’t sure they want their kids to go there. I wasn’t sure that national health care meant good health care and I wasn’t sure I wanted it for myself. And it was really in the mid 80s, when I began to reach the age at which I really had to decide to have a child. Plus the costs of health insurance were skyrocketing, and I worked as a freelance film editor, so the work had an irregular nature to it. Not to mention the experience of male unreliability, whether you were married or unmarried, in terms of being there with childcare, helping with housework. It seemed like a huge plunge to take, a big risk to take, to go ahead and have a child. And I thought of all these things that stood in the way and with the cost of health insurance somehow looming in a new way. Oh, by the way, another thing too, I had been very familiar with a lot of the data. It turns out in retrospect that I had been reading the data about how the United States has a lower life expectancy than 17 other countries. Actually, I realized I had been reading that data for a long time. But as long as I thought that and got all this other stuff from the media, much more from the media than an occasional article with data like that, I couldn’t absorb it. It was only at this kind of crisis period in my life, when I had to decide whether to have a child-and go ahead and take that huge risk-that I began to (and the costs again, as I mentioned, were rising) I began to suddenly notice that data about how United States health care isn’t really any good. And not only that, but it has gotten more expensive than every other country. And, it was at that point that I realized this myth about the United States, that is was a myth. And that we had to have national health insurance, and that it would be one thing to help with the childcare. It was one thing, I thought it was something we could win. And it definitely had a childcare component. It would have, perhaps, put me over the edge in deciding [to have a child]. I felt that it would, actually, that it was sort of a last straw-if only we had that. When I realized that we didn’t even have national health insurance and that I was totally at the mercy of irregular jobs, unreliable men-I guess I kind of decided that I would basically have to not have a kid, and I almost saw it as a sense of being on strike, on strike for better conditions. If we had had better conditions, I would have had a child because I wanted one. I wanted one but not at the terrible cost. So that is sort of how I came to it, I saw it as a childcare issue.
Well my husband is in the military so we have a form of national health insurance, don’t we? Anyway, a friend of mine in Sweden has also had a baby; she had her baby in December. She gets, and her husband both, both parents, get a year of paid parental leave to be with their new baby. I, on the other hand, had to turn down an offer of work because they were not going to give me maternity leave, and my husband got no parental leave offered through the Army. So I think that’s a very good example. Here I sit, a radical Redstockings feminist, a stay at home mom-not really by choice, I’m job hunting right now-in part because of the lack of these types of social programs whereas my friend is enjoying her maternity leave, knowing when she goes back, there will be a job there for her. And also knowing that her husband can take time off as well and share in raising their child.
Some may think of maternity leave as ancillary, but I believe that it is important for the mother’s overall health as well as autonomy.
In conclusion, there are many more oppressions out there which can be linked to the lack of access to healthcare resources. It is wrongheaded of us to believe that we can correct these wrongs by depending on the free market. Only a free and appropriate healthcare system will be able to truly correct the ableism, cissexism, and sexism in our society, and this is only if we fight for the inclusion of such in our single payer system.
-Jordan Gwendolyn Davis
Jun 22, 2010
Glee wrapped up its huge first season on Wednesday with a lot of awesome music, a somewhat too-neat plot resolution… and a peek at the night Quinn’s baby was conceived.
Some folks were disturbed by this clip, in which Puck pressures Quinn to say yes to sex, dismissing their loyalty to (her boyfriend and his best friend) Finn, telling her she’s not fat, and encouraging her to have another drink. It certainly isn’t the picture of healthy sexuality. But is it rape, like some fans are claiming?
I went back and rewatched the scene and I just don’t see it that way. Sure, Quinn hesitates. But her objections don’t seem to be about her lack of desire – to the contrary, they’re arguments about why she shouldn’t give in to her desire. She’s president of the Chastity Club, she took an oath, she has a rep to protect, she’s worried about hurting her boyfriend, Finn – none of these are the same as "I don’t desire you, I’m not enthusiastic about having sex with you."
As for the wine coolers, well, we really don’t have any evidence of how drunk Quinn was – we only have her appearance, which is perfectly alert and responsive.
I don’t know, maybe I’m off-base here, but it just doesn’t seem like enough evidence to call it rape. Was he putting pressure on her? Sure. Did he take advantage of her body image issues? Unfortunately yeah. Realistic? Yep. Is that cool? No, it’s really not. But that doesn’t mean it’s rape. There are lots of not-cool things people can do to other people, sexually, which don’t rise to that level. It’s important not to get confused. Quinn could quite easily have been enthusiastic in her desire to sleep with him, even if it was for less-than-healthy reasons.
Glee’s real woman problem is becoming clearer and clearer to me as I rewatch the earlier episodes. When this show started out, it was really progressive about sex. I’ll never forget how my heart skipped a beat when Rachel made her speech to the Chastity Club about how girls want sex just as much as guys do, or even, in the same episode, how boldly Rachel tells Finn, "You can kiss me if you want to." Talk about enthusiastic consent!
But a funny thing happened in the back nine episodes – the ones that were produced after the show had become a megahit. Suddenly, as if they’ve decided that because there are so many of us, we must all be 9-year-olds, Glee has been backsliding into afterschool special territory in ways that are not really so special. In the Madonna episode, three characters consider having sex for the first time, and the only one who goes through with it is the dude. The two female characters are just "not ready," even though they’re contemplating doing the deed with guys they love and who ostensibly love them, and Finn, our now-deflowered hero, is sleeping with Santana pretty much just for the heck of it.
Coincidence? I wish. They’ve also declawed Jane Lynch’s genius villain Sue, making her a grouch with a heart of gold instead of the hilariously dangerous egomaniac we all fell in love with. The unabashedly slutty competing choir director played by Idina Menzel goes from macking on Mr. Schue to settling down with a baby in no time flat – leaving Santana & Brittany, who get about two lines each per episode if they’re lucky, the only females on the show who actively pursue sex. And if I have to sit through one more lecture by Will about how the boys need to learn to treat the girls more delicately, I’m going to be singing my own version of Papa Don’t Preach, for real.
So, no, I’m not troubled by the complex, real interaction between Quinn & Puck. I’m not interested in being black-and-white about them. I just wish the show would return the favor.
Jun 21, 2010
Each week, I’ll be posting a list of the most news-worthy and/or inspirational, informative, well-written, thought-provoking, and/or unique posts of the week. While every post and every contributor is valuable to our community, these are the blogs that I feel are must-reads.
(Again, sorry this is a day late. I had a busy Father’s Day!)
June 13- June 19
Why I chose this post:
Most of the time when we write about anti-abortion bills on this site, it’s bad news. But, alas! This time, the bill was vetoed by Florida’s Governor Crist. This doesn’t happen that often, so let’s enjoy it while it lasts.
FDA retains gay blood ban- by AFY_Viviana
Why I chose this post:
Last week,drs0043 told us that the FDA was looking into ending the ban on gay and bisexual men donating blood. Now, Viviana gives us the unfortunate update. The part that pisses me off the most…
FDA policy allows heterosexual men and women who have had sexual contact with an HIV-positive partner to give blood after a one-year deferral period.
This ban is perpetuating a damaging stereotype. If the government can discriminate against a man just for being gay or bisexual, then they’re saying it’s okay for citizens to discriminate against them as well, because they “might be a threat/risk.” It is things like this that keep homophobia alive and well in this country.
Why I chose this post:
An anti choice group led by Dr. Alveda King, the niece of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., is planning to embark on a new kind of ‘freedom rides’ that seek to limit a woman’s right to choose.
Specifically targeting the black community, she proclaims that abortion is a “tool of genocide against …black people.”
If we don’t raise our voices to speak out against actions such as this, then the only rhetoric people will hear is that belonging to groups that oppose what we believe in. We have to join the fight because if we don’t, our rights will be further compromised. If you live in Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, or DC, you can take direct action against these “freedom rides.”
The Power of Our Jiggle: Jiggly Boo Dance Crew- by Media_Justice
Why I chose this post:
Bianca writes about her amazing experience with the Jiggly Boo Dance Crew, whose aim/goal was:
Within this framework, Jiggly Boo Dance Crew (founded by Alice Fu and Kantara Souffrant) will run a series of workshops which will culminate in a performance. These workshops will create a space in which other self-identified female “fat” dancers, movers, and performers, can dialogue about the following questions: What is a "fat dancing body"? How are fat bodies read, understood, felt (emotively and viscerally) and represented? What does it mean to identify oneself as a “fat dancing body” and what are the political implications of identifying oneself as such?
She speaks passionately about how fulfilling and rewarding the experience was for her, and says:
I share my time with my Jiggly Boos because I think we are media makers. We are using our bodies in ways we have been told we should not. In ways that we are told nobody wants to see; that challenges and redefines movement, as we know it today in this country. There are multiple ways of creating media and being media makers.
Why I chose this post:
When Dan saw a group of protestors outside his local mall, he wanted to find out why. What he found was that the popular clothing store Urban Outfitters had been selling a shirt that said “Eat Less.”
This T-shirt, which has been removed from the Urban Outfitters website, is promoting a message that young women are only attractive if they are super thin, and that they should eat less to fit this unrealistic model of body size.
Thank you to everyone who posted a blog this week! You are part of what makes this community great!
Jun 17, 2010
I was intrigued to see protesters at the local mall here in Durham, NC outside of an Urban Outfitters. What were they protesting? This shirt, and the lifestyle it promotes:
The protest at Southpoint mall was led by Amy Lambert:
It wasn’t unusual for Lambert, who had an eating disorder for more than eight years, to consume little more than one 80-calorie container of yogurt in a day. Now recovering, Lambert led a protest last week outside of Urban Outfitters at Southpoint mall in Durham. (via The Independent)
Protestors at Southpoint Mall
PHOTO BY REBEKAH L. COWELL/Indy WEEK
While some say this shirt is encouraging youth who are obese to become healthier and eat less, I see something much more misguided and sad going on. This T-shirt, which has been removed from the Urban Outfitters website, is promoting a message that young women are only attractive if they are super thin, and that they should eat less to fit this unrealistic model of body size.
This makes me really angry. At least 24% of Americans have an eating disorder, which has the highest mortality rate of any mental disease. Stores like Urban Outfitters should be doing everything they can to promote healthy body image, but instead they are doing the opposite:
Telling an individual with an eating disorder to "eat less" aggravates emotional, psychological and physical issues. And for those still stuck in dangerous patterns, it is a message of validation, says Chase Bannister, clinical director for Carolina House.
The banner-statement ‘Eat Less’ can be a stinging trigger for women and men with anorexia, bulimia or binge-eating disorder," Bannister added, "ultimately providing reinforcement for the distorted belief our patients work so hard to stamp out: ‘I will never be okay unless I’m thin.’
Urban Outfitters is promoting a lifestyle that is killing young men and women, when as a clothing store I argue that they have a duty to do everything they can to promote realistic, healthy body images. When countless people are suffering, oftentimes alone, Urban Outfitters should promote the message that it is Ok to eat, and that one can be sexy and fun and beautiful while also being healthy and safe.
Be sure to check out Amplify’s issues page on body image.
Jun 10, 2010
It’s not often that we celebrate what goes on in Hip Hop. Speaking solely for myself (and maybe for some of my homies) watching the BET Awards is really about who can have the more witty commentary about how to diss the show. As someone who used to identify as a “Hip-Hop feminist,” and still identifies as a “Hip-Hop activist” I still understand the importance and need of the community and its cultural practices and artifacts. For that reason, I’d like to focus on and celebrate some amazing songs that really do connect for me and that I use in my classroom when discussing sexuality and sex.
One of the first songs I began to really use in my classroom was by the group Dead Prez. This song was only one I enjoyed in my personal life and when I introduced it to my students when I began to teach their response was extremely favorable. The next time the song came back into my working-professional life was when I was doing interviews with Puerto Rican men living in the US between the ages of 18-30 and asked them what cultural images, artifacts, songs, poems, narratives, etc. One of them shared that the way they learned about intimate sexual relationships that they defined as “healthy” was through the Dead Prez song “Mind Sex.” If you are not familiar with the song take some time to check it out below. I’d suggest you listen to the song first then watch the video to see the difference:
This video gives a different impression versus just listening to the song. In the video there is more of a “why would I not have sex with you on a regular basis? Oh because I’m incarcerated.” However, I can still find ways to use this video and song as a way to teach abstinence in the classroom. I really adore the line: “for me making love is just as much mental. I like to know what I’m gettin’ into.”
Needless to say, when I heard that Dead Prez has a new single out that was released just in time for Mother’s Day I had to check it out. The song “The Beauty Within” is along the same lines of affirming and supportive lyrical content and delivery, yet the focus is on body image and beauty. Although this is another heterosexist example where a Black man is speaking just to Black women, I find it extremely affirming. The line: “real Black girl I salute your existence” alone gives me chills. I mean when was the last time someone, anyone, saluted your existence? Check out the song below:
I’m also loving all over again Blackalicious’ (they existed BEFORE Beyonce and her “Bootylicious” song) song “Purest Love.” I like the entire Blazing Arrow album, yet these lyrics really bring it home for me: “The two realest cats I know? My two older brothers/The most beautiful woman in the galaxy? My mother/The strongest black women raising kids alone? My sisters/The best part of my future is my present love interest/The most important time? Right now and ever after/The greatest expression is love, happiness, and laughter.”
Then there are the amazing forms of media and music surrounding “safer” sexual activities by young men of Color. My homegirl and sister sexologist Mariotta Gary-Smith , whom I’ve mentioned before, shared a video early this week. Mariotta wrote:
My co-worker, Solamon Ibe, works with young men around safe sex, responsibility and decision making skills. Here’s their video. Good work, Solamon!
The video synopsis reads: “A6 (African American Aids Awareness Action Alliance) and The Jefferson Young Men’s Academy along with 503tv brings you a fun yet educational video about the importance of safe sex.” Check the video out below.
One of the things I love about this video is that it centers boys of Color. Far too often people think they are working with young men of Color, but really they are not. It is actually pretty scary what some men think they know about sexuality, birth control, contraception, and sex in general. This is a fabulous video of using Hip Hop and creating social change among young people of Color around sexuality and sexual health.
What other examples can you think of to add to the list?
May 27, 2010
May 15, 2010
For Mother’s Day, I decided to interview my mom and share her answers with the Amplify community. I was very glad that she agreed to do this. Part one focused on her experience as a mother. Now, part two will cover other topics that are often written about here on Amplify.
1) How do you find where to draw the line between guiding your child’s actions and letting them make mistakes?
Dependant on the situation, I feel neglecting to draw the line and knowingly letting a young child make a mistake is bad parenting. I feel the difference between drawing the line and letting your child make a mistake should be apparent in the pre-teen and teenage years. The guidelines I use in making that decision are safety factors, moral issues, and house rules. At this age, the big issues you step in, and the small issues you back off.
2) How do you think a parent can instill a positive body image for their children?
A positive body image is something we all deal with at some point in our lives. Parents can help foster positive body image by steering away from all critical comments. A child’s interpretation of a critical comment, even not directed toward body image, can easily become just that to them. Complementing your child on what they have chosen to wear, mentioning a particular color is flattering on them, telling them the way they did their hair looks good today is so beneficial to body image. Don’t go overboard though; otherwise your child may not believe your comment is genuine.
3) What do you want your children to know about healthy relationships, whether they be friendships or romantic?
A healthy relationship is a two-way street. If you give and do not receive or vice versa in any aspect of the relationship, the cornerstone is compromised. If the cornerstone is not stabilized, the relationship will surely turn unhealthy. My advice- be aware a relationship is a two-way street.
4) At what age do you think parents should start talking to their kids about sex?
I think that parents should answer in an age-appropriate way, any question about sex that a child asks. When having “the sex talk” with a child, I think it is a good idea to have the talk just before the school starts teaching sex education, which generally is around the 4th grade.
5) Were you nervous about having “the sex talk” with your kids? Looking back, would you have done it differently?
I was not nervous about having “the sex talk” with my children. I believe it is a necessary conversation between parent and child that fosters open communication. Looking back, I don’t believe I would have done it differently.
6) Why do you think comprehensive sex education is important?
Unlike it is today, when I was younger, comprehensive sex education was not part of the program in grammar school and only minimal information was given in high school. I think the change to begin teaching sex education starting in the fourth grade is a valuable part of the education process. Children are much more prepared today for understanding the changes that happen to their bodies and since they receive reliable sex information they are able to make better educated decisions regarding sex.
7) What characteristics would you like your children to look for in a significant other?
Characteristics to look for in a partner are: do they make you feel good about yourself, do they have focus, and do you see they have potential.
8) How do you think that social acceptance of interracial relationships has changed since you were a teenager?
I think the acceptance of interracial relationships has changed greatly since I was a teenager. At that time, it was totally unacceptable to even consider introducing a boy of another race to your parents even as a new friend. If you saw an interracial couple, the common thought was: what is wrong with him/her? Was there something about them that made them that made them unattractive to someone of their own race that they had to choose this other person? Today, I feel it’s refreshing to see an interracial couple. I think it takes a special person to look prejudice in the eye and know that their love for each other will sustain them.
9) What would you want your children to consider when deciding to have sex?
I would like my children to responsibly consider their choice in deciding to have sex. Do they really want to have sex with this person, and have they taken the precautions necessary to protect themselves as well as their partner from disease and pregnancy.
10) What can parents do to help prevent unintended teenage pregnancy?
A previous establishment of open communication is one of the most beneficial things you can give your child to help them as they navigate the world. If an older child feels comfortable talking to you, they will surely ask sex related questions. The best way to guide a teenager is through communication. Answer their question, but also listen to how they ask the question. Take a moment to think beyond the question, and ask a few yourself. There is no way a parent can prevent their teenager from an unintended pregnancy. What they can do is communicate to them in a respectful manner your expectations. In the end, whatever happens, happens. If you become faced with your child having an unintended pregnancy, your child already knows they made a mistake. Don’t as a parent also make a mistake by not letting them know you love them no matter what.
11) What would you want your children to consider when deciding to be parents?
In deciding to be parents I would want my children to consider their relationship with their spouse. Raising a child should be a two parent job. If their spouse is reluctant to have children because they are unsure if they want the commitment, they should be aware having a baby won’t necessarily make their spouse come around or deepen their relationship. I would advise not to have a child if they know they don’t have a solid relationship.
12) How do you define feminism? Do you consider yourself a feminist? Why or why not?
I believe feminism is the belief that all women were created equal to men. I believe being a feminist includes this belief along with action to support it. An activist I am not, but I will take action in any affair if spurred.
13) Having a daughter who is an activist for equal rights for LGBTQ people and a daughter who has had several gay friends, how do you feel your views on gay and lesbian people have changed over time?
I have never had prejudice views. Having one daughter who is an activist for LGBTQ rights and another who has several gay friends has made me more aware of the inequality these people are faced with. And it’s an outrage that discrimination on this level can lead to violence. I applaud my daughters involvement as an advocate. I believe legal rights should not be denied to anyone. Although I do believe religious rights should stand as they are.
Thanks again, Mom, for being willing to share your answers!! <3
Mar 31, 2010
I was pleased to listen to an NPR series called "The Hidden World Of Girls" where they explored adolesence and emerging womanhood in different contexts aroudn the world. The first story was about Jamaica and the body standards there.
As I have been recently struggling with a GI disorder, body image has become an important issue in my life right now. The pressure on young people like my self to fit a certain body ideal is difficult and is something I think may resonate with several people in the Amplify community.
The focus of the story was the different paradigms of beauty that many young Jamaican girls are pursuing from the anorexic European standard of thinness, skin bleaching and most unique the chicken pill phenomenon. The chicken pill is what is used by the agricultural industry to make chickens grow faster, but young Jamaican girls are looking for a way to grow fuller breasts and hips.
The explanation for this desire for a voluptuous body is explained in the interview NPR did with several Jamaican academics and young women:
"Most males, they love to see women with big bottoms. The whole idea of Coca-Cola bottle shape" Carol says. " ‘I don’t want a meager woman,’ that’s how the men would speak. … They’re figuring if you look meager, you look poor, in the sense that you’re not being taken care of.
Women take the chicken pills to get broader hips and bigger bottoms," says Carol’s son Jason. "In our Jamaican culture, we love a girl that has a lot of shape."
According to Carolyn Cooper, professor of literary and cultural studies at the University of the West Indies, "big bottoms" reveal power — but there are competing norms of beauty in Jamaica.
The NPR article is titled "Taking Surprising Risks for the Ideal Body" which I think is a bit misleading. Young girls here in the United States take numerous risks for the ideal body with everything from dieting, eating disorders and over-exercising. Although it is true that the chicken pills are especially harmful because they contain arsenic and can have a wide variety of ill effects, there are also evident harms from eating disorders and the desire to be thin. I think what suprised the NPR journalists the most is the idea that these young women would take so many risks to become curvy which is an idea that runs so counter to our cultural milleu.
I analysis I found at the F-Word blog was particularly compelling to me because I think it really gets to the heart of the issue here. It is not so much that women are stuffing themselves or starving themselves to fit an ideal but instead the fact that they are facing so much pressure and that the same sort of pressure does not seem to be present (to the same extent) across gender lines:
Fat bottoms. Chicken pills. Bleaching powders. It all may seem strange and bizarre to the rest of us, but the whole discourse of dissatisfaction and anxiety about the body is a common thread among most, if not all, cultures. In Jamaica, women take chicken pills. In America, we down Fen-phen and diet pills. If women have anything in common with our sisters worldwide, it’s that the natural body is never enough
I hope that people can recognize that although this is a distinct cultural pattern, that it also represents this widespread trend of pressure for females to fit an ideal body. And that is what I appreciate about this peice because I think they are trying to show that despite our differences and variations, we all share a common humanity and common human experiences. Unfortuantely the subtext of gender inequality is not covered in as much detail as I would like but that is a different matter.
Mar 18, 2010
I have spent a large portion of the last year working to help others see the beauty that they posess, both inside and out, through poetry, discussions, blog posts, performance art, and so on.
This mission comes after years and years of struggling with my own demons; in fact, I’ve been fighting to feel pretty and worthwhile for so long that I think, maybe, I have lost sight of the bigger picture. In my quest to help myself & others feel beautiful, I’ve stopped asking questions. Questions like…
What is beauty, anyway? How can EVERYONE be beautiful?
Why do I even want to be pretty? Why are beauty and self worth so intertwined in our culture?
Why does it feel more important to be beautiful than nice, or smart, or interesting, or funny… or any of the other awesome traits people have?
Now, I’m not saying that all of the work that I (and so many others) have done is worthless by any means, but at the same time I have to ask…
Just for a few minutes, at least, can we try thinking of something even more radical? Namely, why can’t we just say F*** YOU to beauty?
Out of all of the things there are to find admirable and valuable in a person, why is it that beauty so often seems to win out over intelligence, strength, compassion, athleticism, creativity, bravery, honesty, and so on? Rarely do we see people wasting countless hours fretting over their lack of compassion for others, or their cowardice. Rarely do we compliment others on their kindness, or their strength… for whatever reason it all seems to come down to beauty, at least it does in my life.
Its funny that until now, I just accepted that unquestioningly, asking myself over and over again how can I feel beautiful? when I should have been asking WHY.
Let’s think about this logically: what does me or you being beautiful do to improve the lives of others?
Nothing, really. Certainly it does not do as much as passion, or kindness, or empathy, or bravery… these are the attributes that change the world… not beauty. And, even better, these are the attributes that have nothing to do with genetics. We can CHOOSE to go out of our way to be kind, to be brave, to passionately chase dreams, to harness our talents to change the world. At any moment, each and every one of us has the power to be a strong, compassionate, brave, and make a difference in the world.
You can’t wake up one morning and just decide to change your apperance to fit whatever mold beautiful takes on in your society (at least, not without a lot of money and pain)… either you fit the mold of beuatiful or you don’t. We all know this and yet, we all seem to spend so much more time obsessing over beauty than we do over all of those other wonderful and useful qualities.
So again, I say fuck beauty. Beauty is passive, either you have it naturally or you waste endless amounts of time on primping and preening until you look as beautiful as possible. BEAUTY IS DISEMPOWERING!
Even the concept of "inner beauty" to a degree bothers me. Why not inner strength? Inner kindness? Inner AWESOMENESS? Why does it always come down to beauty?
Now, don’t get me wrong, I am NOT trying to belittle the struggles of those who wrestle with body image issues. How could I be, when I am just as entrenched in this as anyone else? All I am trying to do is shed some light, shake things up, and get us to question just WHY it is that we feel so much pressure to look a certain way; to be beautiful.
Instead of trying to change perceptions of beauty, maybe we should just run with it… embrace the title of ugly and use it to force others to see the value in the rest of us; our thoughts, our hopes, our dreams… because at the end of the day, that’s where the real value lies.
The Ugly Manifesto
I’d rather be courageous than beautiful. I will not be demure, quiet and pretty… instead I will be loud, I will get into the face of those who try to oppress others and I will confront them. I will be that loud, "ugly" feminist.
I’d rather be unique than beautiful. I will wear the clothes that make me feel happiest in whatever manner I desire. I will wear as much or as little makeup as I feel comfortable with each day. I will shave as much or as little as I see fit. If I happen to fit some standard of beauty one day, fine; I will not care one way or another because my confidence does not depend on anyone’s approval but my own.
I’d rather be happy than beautiful. I will not waste a moment of my life worrying about how I look to others. I’d rather spend my time concerned with how I am trating others, and interacting with them!
I’D RATHER BE UGLY THAN BEAUTIFUL. Being ugly means saying fuck you to the beauty norms and embracing the person I am, not the person that the world is trying to tell me to be; being ugly means being totally happy with the person I am and never hiding that girl from the world, no matter what.
Mar 3, 2010
According Adfreak.com, "The ad, in which Pamela Anderson and another lady pour milk all over each other in the fantasy of a male co-worker, was tagged by Down Under’s Advertising Standards Bureau after fielding "hundreds" of complaints."
Wach the Video:
The managing director of Crazy Domains, Gavin Collins has blamed “feminist bloggers” for stirring up the controversy and is fighting the ban, the Daily Hearld reports.
The Bureau President has these words to say concerning the ad:
“It’s meant to be a cheeky, over-the-top depiction, but in the bureau’s view it did cross the line,” says Bureau president Fiona Jolly said.
While the ad has caused controversy, many believe it shouldn’t have been pulled from television.
What are your thoughts?
Is the ad to Raunchy? What does it say for Women, Media, and Body Image?
Feb 28, 2010
(I decided to keep posting body image-related stuff from my past today — since I am so busy with this play project that I mentioned on my other blog post. I can’t wait until it is over and I can reflect here on Amplify and hopefully even share some video clips!)
A recent class discussion on body image really got me thinking. The professor shared a very apt analogy about pants and how they can make or break someone’s whole day. She asked us to think about our skinny pants; the pair that most people have, the pair of pants that make you elated when you can fit into them and miserable when you can’t… for some people those pants spell out the climate of their whole day. She likened life to those pants; some days, they fit, everything goes right and you love yourself; other days, you can hardly you’ll them over your hips, you feel defeated and huge…you wonder why anyone would even want to look at you. Its scary how easily I could relate to this metaphor.
This is when I began to wonder why it had to be this way. In the last few months I have made great strides in feeling better about my body, loving every inch of it… but even I still had that size-too-small pair of skinny jeans just sitting and taunting me in the drawer.
I decided to throw out the jeans, and with them throw out my negative attitudes about shopping for my body as well.
I have compiled here a list of common thought-traps that drag us down to that place where we feel as if we cannot fit into anything, not the pants, the fashion, or society in general… I compiled that list and then replaced those sentiments with positive ones; an army of affirmations to pack along with your credit card next time you head into the mall.
Feb 26, 2010
I’m posting a body positive piece today because (hopefully) this week I’m going to be premiering a monologue show about body image that a bunch of students at my school helped to produce! It’s a project I have been working on for almost a year now and I am really excited to see it become a reality The show is part of an Eating Disorder Awareness Campaign that we’re doing at my school – I’ll try to blog more about it later in the week! But for now, here’s part of one of the monologues I wrote:
I remember coming home in tears, hating myself over the fact that I’d been made fun of on the bus in middle school for my hairy legs. I remember wearing jeans even in the summer because my “thunder thighs” embarrassed me more than I was willing to expose. I remember purposely buying tight tank tops to wear underneath clothing to suck in my “gut.” I remember counting calories in a little blue notebook to the point of obsession, the point where I finally just had to say STOP, I’d rather keep the ten pounds then lose my sanity along with them. I remember wondering if boys wouldn’t date me, girls wouldn’t befriend me, because I was too heavy, too hairy, too ugly. Like millions of other people of all ages and sizes, I keep these thoughts locked deep within my heart; luckily for me, unlike many others, these thoughts are only memories.
Transitioning to college was a strange and exciting experience, however, the biggest change for me wasn’t sharing a room, spending so much time on out-of-class work, eating in a dining hall, or even being away from home… the biggest change for me was a mirror. At first it was funny: why would someone ever place a full length mirror in the bathroom, directly in line with our toilet? Then it was a bit annoying: why do I have to watch myself pee? Eventually, it became enlightening.
Every time I used the bathroom; to go to the toilet, to shower, to change… every single time I had to look at myself. At first, oddly enough, I was shy around myself. It seems silly but I spent those first few weeks focusing a lot of energy on avoiding the mirror, turning my back so I wouldn’t have to see the pounds of my body unclothed and unrestrained. Like a new relationship, slowly, I began to avoid eye-contact less, began to observe myself more and feel comfortable with the person staring back, become familiar with my unclothed, unhidden body; exactly as it was.
Over the next few months I began to see the pounds that some people in my life may feel are holding me back from being as “beautiful” as I could be, the weight that keeps me out of even size eight jeans. The funny thing was though, I didn’t have the animosity for that weight that they did. The more I looked the less I was even able to imagine myself thinner, let alone wish it. Yes my stomach may jiggle a little, my boobs may be highly uneven (as are my feet, my hands, and my eyes), my thighs may not be toned and tanned, but I’m perfectly the person I am supposed to be.
In my dresses, my jeans, my tee shirts, my pajamas… even without clothes to flatter and conceal; I feel pretty, I feel confident and I feel powerful. My body lets me take Jazz Dance Classes, walk to the dining hall or to meet friends, it lets me taste food when I’m hungry and drink chai, it lets me hug the people I love, it lets me write, it lets me take up space and get noticed, it lets me volunteer…. my body may not be the most coordinated, the strongest or the fastest but it’s mine and with it I can live a beautiful life.
In the end, I believe that accepting yourself has to be less about working towards that “perfect” body (in terms of weight, ability, or any other factor) and more about realizing how fantastic what you have already is. It’s about knowing you’re beautiful at any size and yes, there is nothing wrong with making lifestyle changes in order to be healthy and take care of your body in the way it deserves. However, these changes should not be made in the hopes of shedding pounds; they should be made in the hopes of shedding the things that hold us back from performing at our peak.
Society may hold this tanned and thin concept of beauty for centuries still to come, I don’t know, what I do know is that I no longer care what society wants me to see, what other people see. When I look in the mirror I see me, and I think I’m pretty damn awesome. I found my confidence, it’s time for you to find yours so look into that mirror and tell us: who do you see? If the answer isn’t someone beautiful, someone powerful… it’s time to look again, and again, and again until you can find that confidence, wheverver it may be hiding, and bring it right up front to where it belongs.
Feb 17, 2010
Every week our body positivity discussion groups gets together to plan our on-campus activism. We also advertise for our weekly discussion group by cutting out ads and commenting on them – it’s both cathartic and illuminating.
Although the discussion group is for everyon, we generally have significantly more women come. So we have been trying to make an effort to have ads targeting male bodies. Although it has required us to look through a Maxim and a lot of groaning about the depiction of women in it, we now have some ads to put up in men’s bathrooms and make sure that people know all bodies are welcome!
Feb 16, 2010
As for the body question, she’ll answer it when asked, but mostly it bores her. "It just leaves a bad taste in my mouth," she says. "Back when I was modeling, if someone said ‘I’m fasting,’ I would say, ‘Can’t we talk about something else?’"
As of this year, many full-figured women are showing their bodies to promote self-acceptance and "being comfortable" in your skin.
What makes mainstream media think they determine who is beautiful?
Many young girls are starving themselves and going to enormous lengths to be considered "skinny" and "beautiful". I think as a country we should promote healthy not "skinny" .
What is beautiful anyways? Does it require you to have a perfect BMI? or "Does it require you to be a size 6?"
What are your thoughts?
It’s always refreshing to see someone on the cover of a magazine that does not look anorexic and malnourished. She looks like she is happy in her own skin, and who are we to judge.
To read more, check out Huffington Post, click here.
Jan 28, 2010
Following my encounter last weekend with MTV’s Jersey Shore, I woke up on Sunday surprisingly early and without anything to do for several hours. Reaching for the remote, I began flipping through the channels looking for something to hold my attention while my body struggled to wake up.
Enter Oxygen’s Bad Girls Club.
I cannot even begin to describe what this show is about as I couldn’t quite figure it out. As far as I can tell, the producers stick a dozen or so girls in a house and pump them full of booze night after night, hoping that drama will ensue. I’m not sure if the women are competing for something or simply just enjoying the free ride, but throughout the course of two episodes I saw two separate fistfights among the housemates. I suppose the series is like Jersey Shore but with an all female cast.
What surprised me most was not the show itself but the network it’s on: Oxygen.
In the same vein as Lifetime or WE tv, Oxygen bills itself as a television network for women. But while Lifetime’s programming alternates between empowering movies-of-the-week and soapy melodramas, Oxygen seems to have made a name for itself with over the top shows highlighting women with low self esteem.
In the past I have turned to Oxygen for its day-long America’s Next Top Model marathons, easing into the comfort that comes from watching Tyra Banks play puppet master as she puts 13 naive girls through the supposed trials and tribulations of the modeling industry. And frankly, although I recognize that show’s flaws and its perpetuation of unrealistic body types, the fact that it was shown nonstop on a “women’s” television network never phased me. But looking at Bad Girls Club, as well as the rest of Oxygen’s lineup (which includes Addicted to Beauty, a reality show about plastic surgery mania), it seems that Oxygen preys on an audience that is obsessed with body image while simultaneously ridiculing those women who mirror the image Oxygen reflects.
This kind of targeted networking is a tricky thing to navigate. Heterosexual men can tune into Spike TV to learn how to express “acceptable” forms of masculinity. LGBTQ folks turn to Logo (or Bravo) for queer programming with low production value. And the African American community has BET. Interestingly, all of these networks have been decried by members of their targeted communities for perpetuating stereotypes. However, with the exception of Spike TV, most of these networks seem to legitimately want to provide a service (and turn a profit) to their respective communities.
So what service is Oxygen providing?
I suppose singling out Oxygen among the women-oriented networks is a little unfair. Lifetime continues to use melodrama to draw in middle-aged housewives; while WE tv reinforces marriage as the cornerstone of every heterosexual woman’s life. But I suppose Oxygen troubles me the most since its target audience has clearly evolved to focus on young women and issues surrounding body image, sexuality, and self esteem. America’s Next Top Model and Addicted to Beauty reinforce what it means to be beautiful, while Bad Girls Club ridicules those who seemingly use their beauty as currency. And these are the best shows for women that Oxygen can come up with?
The network does attempt to balance these superficial reality shows with series like Snapped, which every week presents true stories of women who go off the deep end and try to murder someone. The lesson Oxygen ends up presenting is: if you’re not young and beautiful, you’re going to end up a deranged housewife. But I guess it’s a lesson every woman needs to learn at some time or another.
Jan 21, 2010
I wrote earlier this week about a body positivity group I run on campus, and people said they were interested in hearing more, so here’s what we’re up to! Every week the happy bodies team gets together to plan our on-campus activism. We also advertise for our weekly discussion group by cutting out ads and commenting on them – it’s both cathartic and illuminating. Here are some of our favorite ads from this week:
Our discussion topic for this week is Bodies in Relationships: How does your body relate to other bodies? Does your self image change when you’re in a relationship? How does body image impact relationships? Feel free to comment with your thoughts!
Jan 15, 2010
On New Year’s Eve, I usually have a tradition of talking about what I am thankful for. I did not get to post about this, but I did want to mention the fact that Amplify has been a huge positive force for me. There is something so powerful and uplifting to be able to talk seriously about issues and intersections between issues as diverse as sex education, lgbtq rights, race and ethnicity, gender, size, ability and a whole host of other issues with all of you. Its been extremely empowering to feel as though I can come here and listen to the other youth activists or not speak on these issues as well as share my own perspectives.
Beyond that, I have also been moved and touched by how people here on Amplify have opened up their lives and hearts in their posts. Posts such as " I am an Adiposer" by Media Justice, "GenderQueer in the Midwest" by MidwestGenderQueer or even "Beauty May Be in the Eye of the Beholder but health is NOT" by Jill show that some of us are not content to just present our views on a particular topic or situation, instead we connect it back to our own lives and how it affects us. This then makes the post so much more powerful because you are able to find that human connection to the story and takes it out of the realm of theory, politics and lofty ideas and brings it down to the level of day to day life.
However I have to admit that although I admire this aspect of the community I do not always put it forth in my own life and posts. So I thought that would be one place to start about teen sex through my own experience.
So I had sex for the first time when I was a few months out of high school. Unfortunately like many students in the US I did not have the benefit of comprehensive sex education. My high school offered parents the option to opt their children out of sex education, and my scared parent quickly opted me out. Her motives were good because she had me at an early age and she did not want me to go thru that same path. However unfortuantely she did not have the education to properly teach me so I just never learned. I sat in on the class during the healthy eating, body image and drug portion, but I was not allowed back in the class during the sexual education portion. Although I know that it would be hard to evade parental consent in sex education legislation, it really would be nice for students to have a say or at least be pointed to alternative resources.
Not even a year later when I became sexually active, I had not only done it for all the wrong reasons, there were so many issues to deal with! From trying to get contraceptives without parental consent to even knowing about my body and how it worked, there were just so many things I was ignorant of. I mean I know that there is no one fact that you can give to young people to help them decide whether or not sex is right for them, I think if I had more information I may have been able to make better decisions.
And of course a shout out to planned parenthood! Its funny now looking back but at the time there was actually nothing funny about trying to sneak into planned parenthood to pick up emergency contraception or condoms. That was the only place I could get them at the time because everything else would have gotten me in dire situation. But I can only imagine what other consequences I would have had to deal with if I did not have that resource.
And so yeah that is one of the reasons why I joined Amplify and became so heavily involved in the reproductive rights and population movement in general. People should have access to information about their bodies, how they work and be able to do what is in their own best interests.
However if there is one thing I could add to the discussion about this it would be the need for some aspect of emotional/mental health, domestic violence and healthy relationships information in the realm of sexual health education and the reproductive health movement.
And yes domestic violence does occur in young people. Although I have been in an abusive relationship in the past, I never even recognized it as such because there was really no resources for youth and domestic violence. And I think this is so important to include in discussions about sexual health because one way that abusers can assert power over someone else is through sex or it can be another way for the victim to surrender power as well. Not to mention that verbal abuse and physical abuse can extend to pressuring the other partner into sex or making demeaning or degrading comments about one partner’s body.
Some sort of resources for young people about healthy relationships is so important when it comes to sexual health. Youth relationships are not immune to gender inequities. Although youth are generally deemed to be the progressives and generations of change, we still grow up within the larger context and inherit the existing social order. So it should be no surprise that gender inequities can creep into youth relationships with young women being victims of domestic violence or forced into submissive or excessively permissive roles in the bed and out. This is where sex postivitiy, self-esteem empowerment comes in and I think it would be a great addition to any sexual education curriculum. That way you wont get situations such as "Oral Sex is the New Goodnight Kiss" where the sexual rights of recirporcality and non-exploitation of young girls will not be so blatantly ignored. And after all, if we can not get to youth with positive images of sexual health and relationships the media is always ready to offer excessive and sensational material and the extreme religious right is ready to banish us all to hell for even thinking about what is between our legs! There has to be some sort of middle ground for youth that can candidly talk about safe casual sex and masturbation as easily as it can talk about respect and dignitity in partner sex.
I believe in the World Health Organization definition of health as well-being and not just the absence of disease. Teach youth about healthy relationships, setting boundaries, social factors, health disparities and inequities. That way sex education can be more holistic and actually more effective.
Jan 14, 2010
I’ve been fat all my life. Add to that my height (6 ft), my fierce hair, and my love of fashion and makeup and I’m basically a Glamazon. As many of you may already be aware, being a large woman of Color living in the US and the daughter of working-class immigrant parents was/is difficult. Everything from anti-immigration rhetoric, racism, sexism, classism, elitism, and fatphobia has followed me my entire life, even from within and among family and friends. Somehow, I wish I could pinpoint specifically, regardless of how I was socialized to hate and be ashamed of my body, when I found peace and calm in my body, enjoyed it and how it moved and felt. Yet I enjoyed it in private, shared it with my partners, but I also started to design my own clothing. I didn’t realize it at the time, but making my own clothes was a form of making media. I shared a bit about this in my column debut. In my mid-to-late 20s I began to learn more about the size acceptance movement and the health at any size communities/ideologies. From these spaces I found The Adipositivity Project, a photography series of fat women (some images contain nudity and may not be safe for work). Prior to that I had only seen images via photography by Laura Aguilar, a Mexican lesbian photographer who photographs herself, nude, and in nature. Since I found her I have used her in my classes that focus on women, art and culture.
The Adipositivity Project’s goal is to:
promote size acceptance, not by listing the merits of big people, or detailing examples of excellence (these things are easily seen all around us), but rather, through a visual display of fat physicality. The sort that’s normally unseen. The hope is to widen definitions of physical beauty. Literally.
As I looked at images on Adipositivity, I noticed a few things. First, many of the bodies presented were ones I had never seen before aside from my own. It was not until about a decade ago that models of size were seen wearing clothing that may interest me. Often (and even today) the people who are “modeling” clothing that can fit me are often still at least 10 sizes smaller than me (that’s smaller than a size 10) and I could never be sure how something would fit me unless I bought it and tried it on. Through Adipositivity I saw other people with similar bodies to mine that were wearing some clothing that I had always wondered what it would look like on my body. It was like looking in a mirror. The second thing I noticed was that there were many images of people clothed and unclothed. I greatly appreciated this feature because, growing up with hippie parents who did not always wear clothing in our home (which may be one reason why I am so comfortable with nudity today) I loved knowing there were other people who enjoyed being in this state as much as I did. You know the whole “you are not alone” thing really does have an impact. Finally, I noticed there were not many women of Color participating in The Project. This was one of the issues that stood out to me the most and that propelled me to write to photographer Substantia Jones. Although images of bodies similar to mine were present, they were mostly bodies that I racialized as White. I thought it was important for people to see a woman of Color, like myself in the nude and in clothing that she loved. I thought it was also important to have people see how our bodies differ but are no less valuable. For example, I have skin tags, which I’ve inherited from my father and they are all over my body. They give a different shadow on my body that I did not see in the images, and that I needed to see (I went through a time when I was ashamed of them, then I got tattoos around some of them to honor them). I also am darker in certain parts of my body than in others (basically everywhere I bend I’m darker) and that’s normal. I grew up being told I “looked dirty” because of this, but that is the way my body is colored and absorbs sunlight. Because my skin color is different from everyone else in my family, who are racially White, they did not know this was the way my skin was and thus I was targeted. In addition, my stretch marks are differently placed and colored a beautiful iridescent shade that captures light; my body hair (which I don’t often remove) was present and there were no images I saw with hairy body parts. Finally, I wanted to see my body. I wanted others to see my body. I take pride in it. I emailed Substantia and she quickly emailed me back. We set a date for a time in Winter in 2008 in NYC. She told me to pick some outfits that I’d like to wear, some shoes, especially heels if I had any, and asked if I had any tattoos. I had all three and we were both excited for the photo shoot. I brought with me my favorite bathing suit at the time (which I’m wearing in the above foto), opera gloves, an orange shawl my homegirl Jenny had given me as a gift, 3 inch knee high boots, and a few other items that I didn’t really wear. What people may not know is that modeling is hard work! I’ve modeled in the past, but more catalog-type shoots that are not the same level of physical work as my shoot with Substantia was. Holding a pose for a certain amount of time, standing still, waiting for any markings from tight clothing (such as panties and socks) to go away so they don’t show up in the photograph. Plus, remembering to relax your butt makes a big difference in the image but also in your knowledge that you have to breath as you hold the pose. It’s a lot of work. But it was amazingly fun. I was very comfortable with Substantia, and after our first shots with me in my bathing suit I put on my opera gloves and then just my shawl. Most of my images are of me nude and I really have to say that I adore them. Since my photo shoot with her I’ve had six images appear on the site: December 12th 2008, January 19th, 2009, April 2, 2009, and September 3, 2009, and my two favorites – January 1, 2009, and December 3, 2009. Each time a foto of me is published I usually link to it on my blog and facebook account. The reactions from my friends and family have all been very supportive, encouraging, and what I did not expect: comments of thanks. Many of my friends who thanked me were other women of Color who also don’t see themselves represented in ways that The Adipositivity Project offer. However, not all of the comments have been positive. Ironically, people who don’t know me at all and who identify as “feminist” are the harshest critics even other fat women are disappointed. Yet, I know that it is easier to critique someone/thing that is degrees away from us because there really is no risk in losing (or gaining) much. Many of the critiques of The Project is because of Substantia’s use of her art, her camera. Substantia writes:
The photographs here are close details of the fat female form, without the inclusion of faces. One reason for this is to coax observers into imagining they’re looking at the fat women in their own lives, ideally then accepting them as having aesthetic appeal which, for better or worse, often translates into more complete forms of acceptance. The women you see in these images are educators, executives, mothers, musicians, professionals, performers, artists, activists, clerks, and writers. They are perhaps even the women you’ve clucked at on the subway, rolled your eyes at in the market, or joked about with your friends.This is what they look like with their clothes off.
You see, there is this argument about objectification and omitting our heads from the images (i.e. disembodiment and dehumanizing), and I think this is exactly this approach that Substantia is using to challenge viewers. So many of us have heard the “you have such a pretty face” phrase. Ironically people think this is supposed to help us, find hope in our lives because clearly we can’t be hopeful if we are outside any standard of beauty, or ridged beliefs of “health.” In her approach, Substantia is offering artwork that allows people, including the AdiPosers, to recognize that our entire bodies are beautiful, not just our faces. I’m not going to argue for or against this approach beyond this. It was my choice to pose for Substantia. I knew what I was getting myself into, I support her project, and I support her goals. She asked me if it was all right to include my face in my fotos and I consented, thus you see my face. I am also the daughter of an artist, and one of the most valuable lessons my parents ever taught me was that art, in all its forms, is powerful and valid. Art produces and challenges knowledge, in my opinion. Not all of us enjoys being challenged or are ready to have new forms of knowledge production begin. It takes time. Sometimes it may never happen. When I hear folks critique The Project, I remember the artists whose work I struggle with, the many amazing friends of mine who also struggle with artists (the I’m not alone thing). One specific artist that comes to immediately mind is Kara Walker. Many of my radical women of Color and “womanist” friends love and hate her art for various reasons and at the same time! There is room for critique and there is room for vision. When people tell me that my participation in The Project is reinforcing objectification of women’s bodies, they take away my agency to make a conscious decision to share my body through art and in ways that are consensual and healing. Who gets to tell me that my healing is wrong? That the ways I choose to heal, that the ways my community heals, is problematic because they disagree with it, I find disappointing. Then there are the critics who believe The Project is promoting obesity or “unhealthy” body images. You can read more about what I think about that thought process (or at least those terms) in the comment I left here. I’m a supporter and lover of the arts. I am a product of art. I am also a media maker and The Adipositivity Project is one of my forms of media. If you are interested in working with The Project I encourage you to email Substantia, and tell her I sent you. I also encourage you to consider purchasing the 2010 calendar or poster. *I do not know if there are intersex or transgender women who participated in The Project, so I am using the term “women” to include people who identify as women regardless of sex assigned at birth.
**All fotos are copyright of Substantia Jones
Jan 6, 2010
Model Jennifer Hawkins, who was also Miss Universe in 2004, poses nude and un-airbrushed in the February Australian issue of Marie Claire. The purpose of this move is to empower women and generate awareness around body image issues, but it’s receiving a lot of criticism and backlast.
An article on the Huffington Post has more details:
Editor Jackie Frank told The Australian that the images were inspired by a survey of 5500 readers, which showed that only 12 percent of women were truly happy with their bodies. Marie Claire put Hawkins on the cover to make a positive statement about body image and the photographs of Hawkins will be auctioned later this month, with the proceeds donated to the Butterfly Foundation, an eating disorders support group.
In the interview, Hawkins says, “I’m not a stick figure–I thought it would be great to tell women to just be themselves and be confident.”
Sounds good right? Not to everyone…
But the cover sparked an outcry from Marie Claire readers such as “She wants to make [women] feel more comfortable about how they look, gee thanks, I now feel worse! I’m a size 10 and I still have more rolls than her!” and “If anything is going to have me running to the toilet with my finger down my throat it’s a picture of Jennifer Hawkins naked.”
Here’s what was said in response to the negative criticism:
The Butterfly Foundation’s general manager Julie Parker pointed out Hawkins flaws, including her dimpled thigh, creased waist and skin-tone changes. Parker told The Age that photographing an average Australian woman wouldn’t have worked.
“The thing is unfortunately it doesn’t make the same point, because Jennifer sells magazines and she creates awareness. If ‘Marie Claire’ had chosen to put on their cover an ordinary women, say myself or a friend of yours, it would not have created the awareness it does.”
I tend to agree with Parker on this one. If it were an “ordinary” woman, it wouldn’t raise the same amount of awareness because people wouldn’t care as much. I wish that’s not how it was, but I do think that’s the lame reality. Here’s another question… would the cover raise awareness if it were a woman of color instead of a white woman? Actually, will this cover even raise awareness or make women feel more positive about themselves, or not?
What do you think?
Jan 1, 2010
The following comment (made by user kellieherson) on this Jezebel article really got to me when I spotted it a few months ago, because I feel like it sums up almost exactly what I was going for with Self-Esteem Awareness Month:
I can only speak to my own experience, but I think it’s a pretty common one regardless of body type: I’ve always felt like my body belonged more to everyone else than it did to me. They were clearly thinking about it more, and they seemed to think they were the authority on it. Luckily, I realized early in puberty that the best I can do is just say "fuck that" and take care of my body the best I can– feed it, clean it, clothe it, whatever. That’s all. (Having blissfully un-body-conscious parents helped.)
I bookmarked this quote to use over three months ago and promptly forgot about it, yet when I unearthed it again today it still rang true, possibly even more so than when I first discovered it. To put it quite frankly: my self esteem has been fairly low in the last few days. You’d think putting together a play about body image (more on that later) as well as blogging constantly about body acceptance would leave me feeling pretty damn good, but, I suppose you’d be wrong.
I blame my jeans: I’ve had two pair rip in the last month due to age. That’s about 1/2 of my jeans collection (at least the ones that still fit) which meant, you guessed it… a shopping trip was in order. Now, its no secret that I love clothes. I have an embarrassingly large collection of skirts, dresses, and shirts and I spend way too much of my limited down time making up no outfits for fun, I guess its my guilty pleasure. That said, I hate shopping for pants. I carry most of my weight in my stomach, meaning that pants are the one thing that always need to be at least one size bigger than my typical dress size, add in the fact that almost every pair of pants I buy is too long and the fact that women’s pants sizes vary based on brand and cut… is it any wonder I hate this?
Long story short: I went up a pants size (or two, depending on what store I was in) since I last bought jeans.
I’ve been beating myself up over this for the last week or so feeling like crap about my body, myself, everything… that is, until I unearthed this post again and read it.
Up until today I had been looking outward: to my boyfriend, my parents, my friends, my grandparents… looking for validation, reassurance that I wasn’t this gross, ever-expanding failure of a person like I felt. From this mindset every time my friend was complimented on her weight loss, or someone made a well-meaning comment about how I ought to exercise a bit more, every time I stepped on a scale, every time a pair of pants didn’t fit I felt like crap.
I stopped owning my body; I started giving that ownership up to other people and thus, I started backsliding down past all of the progress that I had made in the last year all over a stupid pants size.
Well, no more.
My new year’s resolution is to stop giving everyone else control over my self esteem; I am going to treat my body right (eat as healthfully as I can for both my mental and physical well-being – this includes indulgences in moderation – and make a renewed effort to fit exercise into my schedule. I am going to stop weighing myself again and start loving my body regardless of its size & shape.
(Also, Amplify I need your help! If you were producing a play that brings together a series of student monologues about body image, what would you call it to get people in the door?!)
Dec 18, 2009
A new study (via) on bulimia comes to a conclusion that may seem obvious but in fact defies common wisdom: treat blacks. Researchers from University of Maryland and the Autonomous University of Barcelona found that African American girls are 50% more likely than white girls to suffer from bulimia. Girls from low-income families are also more likely than girls from middle and high-income families to suffer. I find it really upsetting that its taken so long for bulimia in low-income and African American communities to be recognized much less understood. These conclusions surprised even the researchers who held the belief, like many do, that bulimia is more common among white girls from middle and high-income families. Researcher Michelle Goeree have some theories as to why this conception of bulimia has stuck:
We were less surprised after we realized that insurance may not cover the expensive doctor visit where a girl with an eating disorder gets diagnosed. If two girls both suffer from bulimia nervosa, but one is from a low-income family and the other from a high-income family, which girl is most likely to be diagnosed if it requires a visit to the expensive psychiatrist?
The results of this situation are that girls who are African American and/or come from low-income families are much less likely to be diagnosed. Judging from the shock of the researchers themselves, the African American experience of body image, addiction, and food is an area that needs a lot more understanding. How have these experiences gone silent for so long? Although 10 million Americans intimately experience eating disorders, we’re just now recognizing the breadth of suffering in African American and low-income communities? Here is a case where privilege in regards to class, race and gender has intersected to marginalize young black women and allow their experiences to be silenced. The experience of eating disorders is so much more than low self-esteem, it’s a really important health issue that needs to be recognized and treated. Women’s negative relationships with their bodies can hold them back mentally, socially and can have serious effects on their health. The fact that prevalence is higher in African American and low-income communities is both an indicator of and contributor to a system of marginalization.
While I don’t believe that eating disorders are caused by depictions of beauty in the media, I think the unattainable beauty norms that are shown is the reason that issues of depression, anxiety, control, etc. are expressed through the way people eat. And it’s a particularly damaging and unhealthy way to express it. NEDA reports that research about eating disorders is remarkably underfunded. Clearly one of the areas that needs more research is body image for women of color. As Jill has reminded us before, white beauty norms are not problematic for white women only. And it’s not that women are not speaking out about their experiences with eating disorders, it’s that somehow we aren’t listening.
Dec 10, 2009
Nearly half of the 3- to 6-year-old girls in a study by University of Central Florida psychology professor Stacey Tantleff-Dunn and doctoral student Sharon Hayes said they worry about being fat. About one-third would change a physical attribute, such as their weight or hair color.
Thirty-one percent indicated they almost always worry about being fat, while another 18 percent said they sometimes worry about it.
While the researchers emphasize that subjects’ responses were not related to whether they watched films that emphasized beauty (“such as Gaston telling Belle in Beauty and the Beast that she is ‘the most beautiful girl in town, and that makes her the best.’”) or films without such explicit messages about body expectations, Sadie at Jezebel hits the nail on the head: messages about the goodness of thinness and beauty, and about the pathologization of being fat or average-looking are so ubiquitous in our culture that there’s no escaping them.
Furthermore, even though we tend to believe that children this young are living in their own little fantasy universe in which the actions of adults are only momentarily relevant, this study makes clear that children live in the adult world as well, where diet-talk, body-bashing, and constant, constant hand-wringing about what we look like affects them, and quite deeply, too.
It’s important to recognize the difference between saying “It’s good to be as healthy as you can be,” and “It’s bad to be fat.” Narratives about obesity trend quite overwhelmingly to the latter, and then morph into “If you are fat, you are bad.” This is a harmful attitude to persuade anyone to incorporate about themselves, but we should also remember that we give kids very, very few opportunities to discover arguments to the contrary. Three-year-olds don’t have body positive blogs. They also don’t–in general–have adults in their lives who take them seriously enough to consider (and discuss!) the body image they’re developing. There are no benefits in growing up hating your body.
Originally posted on happybodies.wordpress.com/2009/11/30/the-real-obesity-crisis/
Nov 7, 2009
I got my condoms today!
My first plan of action is to update the group i made on facebook and let everyone know that the condoms are here and to remind them of where they can get them.
my second plan is to go out tonight and distribute at least 50 condoms, with notes attached about the campaign.
at the end of november i am putting on my first presentation, on body image, to my peers that live in my dorm. i am going to encourage them to bring friends to the events!
i also have a giant banana. it is bigger than i am and it’s now known as the "safe sex banana"
my roommate and i are going to make a giant condom and take it to all the activities/functions.
i wil be sure to keep updating my blog and add pictures to this account as well the facebook group.
if you go to ball state and would like to learn more or get information on the schedule of activities please join my group. The Great American Condom Campaign – Ball State Edition
and good luck
Sep 19, 2009
Earlier this week I caught a episode of the Tyra Show that honestly, just horrified me. The episode, called Does Size Matter: Women’s Edition, confronted this "important" question in regards to women’s butts and boobs under the guise of building positive body image. In the first half of the show Tyra had five women line up in a series of stalls that were blocked off both on top and on bottom so that the only part of these women that could be seen were their butts.
Tyra then had a panel of five men, sitting just off to the side, comment on the women’s butts one at a time.
Some of the comments made were positive – for instance woman number one was told that she had a nice butt because she was "standing there like an action hero" and it was "even all out."
Some of them were mean – like when woman number four was told that she needs to "do a couple of squats because [...] [her booty] has some spread to it" but he didn’t like the way it was "going up into her back."
Some were creepy – like when woman number two was complemented on the space between her upper thighs legs which he called a "gap" and was told to "open that up" when she reflexively pressed her legs together more.
Finally, some of them were just plain weird – like when number five was told that her booty was a "Mufasa ass" (which I gather is a good thing?) The man who coined the term claimed to have used it because she had a "very healthy booty, that is a booty that says I am booty hear me roar." He later added that he knows several guys who would like to "roar" with her booty.
Now I know Tyra isn’t considered a paragon of good taste (or even sanity), which is why I debated for a long while as to whether or not I should even write about this, but I still think something has to be said. Tyra has been putting herself out there for awhile now as an advocate for body acceptance and self esteem in women and girls. She even tried to frame this exercise as something that would be positive to these women’s body image – claiming that it would help women to understand once and for all what men want – is it boobs, booties, or the "skinny minnie bodies" that the media tries to sell us. Tyra’s heart may have been in the right place, but her message is all wrong. Here’s why…
Breaking Women Down to Booties and Boobs (Objectification)
The way in which these women were literally broken down into body parts (butts to be specific) by the enclosure that Tyra set up honestly left me aghast for a good few hours. I just kept asking my boyfriend how Tyra, a woman who claims to be against objectification, could so openly and obviously objectify a group of women on her own show. How did she not realize what she was doing?
I understand this was an exercise meant to focus on the women’s butts; but by blocking out every other parts of these women Tyra is making a strong symbolic statement, one that I am not comfortable with. People are more than just a hodgepodge of body parts and exercises like this, that focus critique only on a fragment of a whole person, do damage to that whole person.
Objectification is wrong when it happens in real life (and it does all of the time) but there is something even more wrong, in my mind, with it happening on purpose as part of an exercise on national television. By blocking these women off in the way that she did Tyra sent the message that it is okay to judge women based on their butts (or breasts, or faces, etc…) alone. That’s a message I can’t get behind.
Encouraging the Male Gaze & Heteronormative Thinking
Tyra’s next HUGE mistake was the way that this panel was set up. By putting together a panel of guys to discuss these women’s body parts she is subscribing to the ideal that women exist, primarily, to satisfy the male gaze. I mean, think about it: its one thing to feed into the obsession with how other perceive us by putting together a panel of people to discuss how our body parts appear. Its another thing entirely to build a panel solely of men. That sends a message, a very specific message. That says: women, you are here to please men. Your body is only acceptable if these men (representing all men) find it appealing.
Whats worst about this portion of the exercise is that its not so unbelievable – we see it in the real world all of the time. Most women have stories about times when they were out in public, maybe shopping, maybe walking down the street, maybe sitting and eating a meal… and a man who happened to be nearby felt the need to comment on an aspect of their appearance. We even have a word for it: catcalling. [See this post on Jezebel for examples if you need evidence!] The male gaze exists in the real world – and it is demoralizing.
In the real world the male gaze has the power to reduce a powerful woman to nothing more than a body to be used as men vocally cast their opinions – either I’d bang that or not good enough. It can be paralyzing, as a young woman, to try and stand above this and be given the respect you deserve, all the while knowing you’re being judged (silently and not so silently) for the way you look first, and the content of your message second (if at all.)
Furthermore, by only involving men in this discussion Tyra ignored all of the lesbian and bisexual women who also find women’s bodies attractive. If we’re interested in finding out what female bodies are considered the most attractive (putting aside the fact that this goal is flawed for a moment) shouldn’t we be interested in getting the opinions of all the different types of people who are attracted to women?
The Racial Thing
At one point, immediately after the "booty girls" (as Tyra called them) were revealed, one of the panelists uttered this troubling line: "I didn’t even realize [women number three] was a white girl… I was so busy looking at the booty."
This comment contributes to the way of thinking we seem to have in America, one that racializes body parts (specifically, black women are expected to have big booties, while white women are more typically associated with breasts) in a disturbing way. The truth is women come in an assortment of colors and sizes, and no woman should feel pressured to look a certain way based simply on her ethnic background.
Perhaps the only good thing this segment did was to highlight the effects that these race-based assumptions have as we saw one black women speak about her insecurities over having a "flat" booty – insecurities that lead her to buy and wear a "prosthetic booty" only after ruling butt-plumping injections out as too expensive. This is wrong, this woman should be allowed to feel comfortable with her body as it is.
[Side note: This article, which I hope to talk more about sometime in the future, casts an interesting light on race and what is considered desirable/attractive in society.]
Critiquing Bodies at All
I think what horrified me most was the way in which the people who I was watching this with so quickly jumped into critiquing the butts on screen, right along with the men. There were places where my friends where horrified, don’t get me wrong , like when one of the panelists, during the boob portion of the show, likened women with small breasts to men; but there were also places in the show where I listened to my (female) friends join in on the conversation – pointing out flaws that they perceived in these women’s bodies.
This is wrong.
Its one thing to find someone attractive, obviously I am not saying we should start pretending that we are not attracted to certain bodies. What I am saying, though, is that we should stop tearing other peoples bodies apart, just because we don’t personally find them attractive. Just as there are all different types of bodies in this world there are also all different types of attractions – some people get turned on by bigger butts, or smaller boobs, or wider hips, or flatter tummies, or rounder tummies, or broad shoulders… whatever. Its cheesy but its true: beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and every body is beautiful to some beholder. Its fine to focus on the bodies you find beautiful, but why not just leave the ones you don’t find beautiful alone instead of tearing them down?
There’s something else about this that bothers me too… with all that our bodies can do, why is the focus always on how they look? Our bodies are for running, and dancing, and creating, and hugging, and writing, and so much more… but how often do we celebrate that? Why does the conversation always seem to come back down to the way our bodies look?
It doesn’t have to be this way; lets focus on how our bodies, and all that they do, help to create the whole of who we are… we’ll leave Tyra to discuss the bits and pieces.
Sep 9, 2009
Do you remember your first school dance?
It was probably in your sweaty middle/high school auditorium/gym with awkward romantic encounters, blasting music and tons of pubsecent kids trying just trying to have fun. Of course there was probably some dancing, maybe the Cotton-eye Joe song was played a few times, or the funky chicken, electric slide or even Macarena. Does that bring up any memories now?
Yeah… you also may done your fair share of grinding, which is the popular, sexualized dance that is seen in pop and hip-hop videos. You may have gotten broken up during one of these grinding sessions by a roaming parent, chaperone or teacher… (or if you were really unlucky the principal). They may have told you that this type of dancing was indecent and if you went to a religious school they may have even told you to that there should always be distance between the two dancing partners so that the "holy spirit" could dance with you.
I would like to take a part and deconstruct some of these messages about grinding. I want to explore some of the underlying cultural background to this "dance" as well as some of the messages surronding it.This is a complicated topic because I think it touches upon so many areas: gender roles, sexual expression, teen sex, our rape culture, our abstinence/virgin until marriage culture and the influence of the media. Thanks to Leah for bringing up grinding in her post: "My Beef with Grinding".
Media and Culture
First of all there is an undeniable influence of the music video era on the dancing that you see at parties, in clubs and at school dances and proms. Everyone wants to learn the latest dance moves and of course everyone wants to emulate the dancing of their favorite singers, rappers, stars, etc. It just so happens that in this time and age there is quite alot of sexuality in the music industry especially in the music video industry. Sex sells. That is the bottom line. Producers, artists and the music video industry keep putting this level of sex into music videos, advertisements and TV shows because they are making profit from it, and yes people do tune in and watch it. I think that if there is a oversexualization of dancing, its because it is coming from the larger culture. I do not think the blame should simply be put on hip-hop or rap for this sexualization nor do I think that these two music genres are 100% responsible for the "grinding" that we see on the dance floor. I sometimes feel that hip-hop and rap take the blame for all kinds of societal ills that they are not responsible for. That is not to say that I do not think hip-hop contributes to the problem but I look at it more in terms of a cycle where society breeds these ills, music feeds off what society gives it and then feeds society some more and it just becomes a vicious cycle. I also think that there is a subtle racist component to this as well. People associate hip-hop, rap, reggaton and the dancing that goes along with the minority communities that these musical forms originated in. This leads people to jump to quick conclusions about these art forms and the dancing that goes along with them. For example, some think that grinding is just another manifestation of the moral degradation and hypersexuality of minorities, and I think this view may subtly enters in sometimes when in the arguments against grinding.
Second, I think that part of being sex positive is to understand a bit more about gender roles especially about the mesages that we send teens about their bodies. Teens who identify as girls are told by the media and society, two conflicting messages- they should be a hot, accessible, sexual being while also being virignal and saving themselves for marriage. They are told that they have two options either be a virginal submissive or be a flaming hot sexpot? I mean given those two options I don’t blame the girls for choosing the latter. At the same time, teens that identify as boys are told that they are extremely horny and are seeking sex at all times and should try to lose their virginity as soon as possible. This leads to a really weird situation of sexual frustration and unachievable gender roles for many people going through puberty and their teen years. I mean hey these years are hard enough with out unrealistic expectations to live up to. And plus can we give young people a bit more credit here? How are they supposed to express the sexuality that is a universal part of the majority of the human experience (although there are some exceptions in people who are more asexual)? How are they supposed to express thier sexuality in a culture where we simultaneously tell them they can and that they cant?
Consent and Misogyny
Third there are the issues of consent and misogyny and how they are involved in sexualized dancing. Should both partners consent before dancing? Of course! Are girls sometimes being forced into submissive roles or objectification by grinding? Sometimes. I think that these are seperate issues however and I do not think that they are explicitly part of the grinding experience nor do they have to be. Just because some of the people that choose to grind may take on misogynistic attitudes and just because the music being played has misogynistic overtones does not necessarily mean that the dancing it self is somehow inherently bad. I think that we should make sure to detangle those two issues. I mean is your beef really with grinding or is it with other factors? Are those factors really attributable to grinding its self?
Fourth going back to the issues of safety. Again I will reiterate that I do not think that grinding necessarily has to occur in a climate of subjugation and objectification nor does it have to occur in a climate that feels forced, coerced or peer-pressured. I have been in plenty of situations where people were dancing, having fun and expressing themselves. However, that is not to say that bad things do not happen. There have also been instances where people who have found themselves in a situation with a partner feeling that they "owe" them sexual favors or sex for arousing them with a good grinding session, of course there is no such "debt" and these people should be abruptly turned down. There have also been instances where people have found themselves being groped or otherwise assualted by a dancing partner, this should of course be reported. The point I am trying to make here is that safety and comfort should always be the top concern- after all the dancing should be enjoyable and anyone feeling unsafe on the dance floor should get help as soon as possible. But again in consideration of these bad things lets ask our selves, is the fault of the grinding dance or is it other factors that are leading to people feeling unsafe?
So what now? What does this all mean?
With all that being said where does it leave us? Well my position is that there are good and bad components to grinding. I think that judgement of a social phenomena such as grinding should be made on a case by case basis and in recognizing that like most things there is a spectrum to grinding. I would wholeheartedly disavow any grinding that takes place that is nonconsensual, coerced or puts either partner in a subjugated position. At the same time, I think that grinding can also be a safe expression of sexuality and even more simply just another dance! This is especially true given that some people consider grinding to be provacative dancing , where as other people consider it dry sex. These viewpoints clearly vary with the type of grinding being done and the person’s views on grinding. I also think that grinding can be a safe expression of sexuality that is STI free and pregnancy free. I think that youth, adolescents and college students should all be empowered with enough information to make informed decisions about their sexual health and choices, self-respect and body image. We should respect each other and treat each other well on and off the dance floor. More importantly we should just have fun and enjoy this fleeting and beautiful thing called life while we still can. Plus, how are we going to learn how to make responsible sexual choices and decisions about our lives and our futures if we are never allowed to make any of them and instead have all these choices made for us?
Perspectives on grinding from Lowell High school students.
New York Times Editorial: "Middle School girls Gone Wild"
Feministing Commentary on "Middle school girls gone wild"
Perspectives on Grinding from a woman who works with adolescent girls
Grinding Banned from Texas High School Prom
Feministing Commentary on Banning Grinding in School Dances
Jul 30, 2009
AB537, the California Student Safety and Violence Prevention Act of 2000, changed California’s Education Code by adding actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity to the existing nondiscrimination policy. State law says that “‘gender’ means sex, and includes a person’s gender identity and gender related appearance and behavior whether or not stereotypically associated with the person’s assigned sex at birth.” The nondiscrimination policy also prohibits harassment and discrimination on the basis of sex, ethnic group identification, race, ancestry, national origin, religion, color, or mental or physical disability.
SB 71, the California Comprehensive Sexual Health and HIV/AIDS Prevention Act of 2004, replaced a patchwork of confusing and often contradictory statutes on sex education with one clear and comprehensive new law. The law was authored by Senator Sheila Kuehl and sponsored by the California affiliates of the ACLU and Planned Parenthood. It went into effect on January 1, 2004. The new law has two purposes: “1) To provide a pupil with the knowledge and skills necessary to protect his or her sexual and reproductive health from unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases; 2) To encourage a pupil to develop healthy attitudes concerning adolescent growth and development, body image, gender roles, sexual orientation, dating, marriage, and family.”
The Safe Place to Learn Act requires the California Department of Education to regularly monitor school districts regarding what steps have been taken to ensure compliance with the California Student Safety and Violence Prevention Act of 2000, AB 537. This legislation will help to ensure that current school safety standards regarding harassment and discrimination are fully and properly implemented.
(I’m the one with the fro and green shirt. We were working on our "Queer People of Color History" project.)
Jul 23, 2009
Back in my wee early days as a blogger, I wrote some thoughts on billboards and sex. Consider this, some more thoughts on billboards and sex:
For those of us who do not live in New York City (or maybe even dread Times Square more than abstinence-only sex education…), we luckily have the Huffington Post keeping us up on all the latest billboards. So we don’t have to go another day without a little Sex In The Sky: Most Scandalous Billboards in NY.
Here’s the thing. I don’t really know what to make of all of this. But I guess I’ll give it a shot.
An important fact: fourteen photos of billboards were posted on the Huffington Post, and they have been ranked according to a user poll (that is on-going). ‘Double Black’ is currently ranked #1 for ‘skin overload’.
Out of the top 5, four are Calvin Klein adds. This was very informative for me because I had no idea that CK was so racy. Maybe I’ll need to go shopping…
‘Double Black’ (above) is ranked above another CK add where one woman, wearing only jeans, is surrounded by three men – one who is holding her, another who is kissing her, and a third who is presumably re-building his strength to get back in the game. For some reason, I find this ranking suprising. Is ‘Double Black’ number one because out of all the photos, it’s the only that shows a man’s skin below the waist? (Some of the other billboards have women with plenty more skin showing, but they’re not number one…) Or is it because these models are interacting in a way that isn’t the typical, heteronormative-missionary-style-reminiscent-supposedly-sexy positions? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
All in all though, most of these billboards don’t bother me too much beyond the usual problematic things (objectifying women, promoting unhealthy body image, etc.). With one exception. One of the only images of a man of color has him posed in such a way (as if he’s trying to escape…) that it sickenly reminds me of Saartjie "Sarah" Baartman, a Khoikhoi woman who was kidnapped from Africa and exhibited as a sideshow throughout 19th century Europe. (She was offensively labeled "The Venus Hottentot".) For some reason, the frame of the photo just looks like a cage.
Beyond that though, I don’t have a problem with sexy-time in public. I think it’s pretty sweet to see people sweet on each other. In some ways, maybe I’m glad that fashion designers are pushing people to admit that they do have sex (and maybe like it). I could use a little less misogyny and throw out all of the racism, but I also really don’t want to move to New York.
Jul 15, 2009
As a follow up to yesterday’s post about a time when I didn’t manage to stick up for whats right and educate those around me I’d like to talk about a time when I did.A few weeks ago I was sitting behind the desk at work when I overheard several of my co-workers making some comments that really saddened me.
A copy of that year’s yearbook had been left out on the desk and the conversation began with a rousing session of mocking aimed at individual senior head-shots contained within. I began to grow uncomfortable here as several fat-phobic and generally mean comments were made, sometimes even about people I knew. This alone, however, was not enough to spur me into action as the people involved were my supervisors and I worried about how the would respond.
(The rest is under the cut due to the presence of triggering and hurtful language.)
Then, they moved on to the section of the yearbook that detailed campus events over the course of the year: specifically, the section with pictures from Walk a Mile in Her Shoes. "So much f*aggy sh*t goes on here," one of my superiors exclaimed, "look at this one; men actually put on women’s shoes and walk around like f*ags."
This is where I started to really get angry… btu again, what could I say? Every time I opened my mouth I found myself at a loss for words. I was at that event conveyed part of my anger, but left out the real issue: the slurs being used; that word makes me uncomfortable didn’t seem like a strong enough statement; shut up was not nearly eloquent enough; and so it went until way too much time had passed for me to actually say something.
In the meantime the conversation had gone on to discuss another event I had been at, a positive body-image event set up directly outside a Bikini Competition held at my school – part protest, part safe-space, part speak out… it had been an awesome night. Yet, according to my supervisor, "those crazy b*itches just can’t let anyone have any fun. Look at these ugly c*nts, they’re obviously just jealous."
Again I was left reeling, with a million responses running through my head all at the same time. Again, I remained silent.
Walking out of work later that day I decided to shrug it off, but resolved to speak up if anything like this happened again. That decision lasted about five minutes until, as I got into my car, I realized: I have the privilege to just let this go.
Her words made me uncomfortable, yes, but I could just let them go because I wasn’t gay and I she wasn’t aware of my presence at the body image event; in short, she wasn’t aiming her hatred at me. If I spoke up, however, she would know who I was: a feminist, an ally to the TLGBIQ* movement, a Size-Acceptance Advocate… she would know who I was, and then, the attacks could be aimed at me.
I had the privilege to walk away feeling as if I had escaped a personal attack. I had the responsibility the give that privilege up and speak up.
Since this situation involved my supervisor I needed advice, so I sent an e-mail to the Women’s Center’s director asking for guidance. She advised me to speak to my other supervisor who would handle the situation for me so that the complaint would come from a place of authority and would not be as easily ignored.
Quite anti-climatically I did what was advised, and dealt with the situation via e-mail. I’m glad I said something and, as a result, f*g is much better understood as an unacceptable word in my place of work. At the same time, however, I’m mad at myself: for not speaking up when I had the chance.
By ducking the responsibility of immediate reaction I managed to confirm that the word was taboo at work, but I didn’t manage to change anyone’s mind. Had I spoken up immediately a dialogue could have started and, who knows, perhaps an understanding could have been reached that would lead to the elimination of that word from one (or more) people’s vocabularies permanently, instead of for eight-hours a day, five days a week.
Unfortunately I’ll never know.
What I do know, however, is that the next time a situation like this comes up I will say something right away, increasing my chance of making a positive impact. Hopefully, in reading this, some of you can learn from my mistakes as well and speak out more effectively against hate-speak in your communities.
Tips for Speaking Out in Spite of any Fear:
~ Don’t second guess yourself, say the first thing that pops into your head. Any of the things I had originally considered saying (I was at that event; that word makes me uncomfortable; even shut up**) would have been much better than the silence I wound up with… any one had, at least, the potential to start a better dialogue.
~ Don’t be afraid of what others will think of you. The people who like you as a person will like you despite your politics, by making your voice heard you are offering the speaker with a different perspective.
~ Don’t be confrontational when it can be helped. Think of yourself as an educator and explain why the words being used/ideas being expressed are harmful and hurtful instead of getting angry… it could be that the speaker doesn’t even realize the damage they’ve done.
~ If all else fails look around you; think about how the words spoken might be hurting someone else in the room who overhears them, even if they are not hurting you. Wouldn’t you want someone to come to your defense in the same situation? Use this as motivation.
* I’ve seen a few blogs around the internet scramble up the order of the acronym whenever possible in order to avoid showing preference to one identity – this makes sense to me, so I’m doing it.
** Shut up really should be a last resort as it is more a silencing tactic that a dialouge starter.
May 18, 2009
On the Colbert Report tonight (5/18) Megan McCain declared herself both pro-sex and pro-gay marriage.*
I have to say that the more I hear Megan McCain speak, the more I like and agree with her.** In her interview with Stephen Colbert she may not have been as witty as many of his guests, but she shared a strong conviction about both championing gay rights issues (including repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and legalizing gay marriages) and the need for comprehensive sex education.
My only problem with the interview was the way in which her policial agenda was sold. At times the interview felt like a bad infomercial as Megan assured Colbert and the audience over and over again that the Republican party could be a good thing for both youth voters and gay voters. While I have no problem with this message, the way in which it was presented (so bluntly alongside her beliefs) caused the resulting conversation to feel a little bit fake to me – it seems to much like a move just to get voter’s goodwill and loyalty, without really trying to understand or support the issues.
I felt this way when Sarah Palin was named Vice Presidential nominee as well – it was almost as if McCain (John, that is) had simply chosen a woman, any woman, because he saw it working for the Democratic Party with Hillary Clinton. My fear now is that the Republican Party is using Megan McCain to support a "liberal" issue – any issue – to gain the youth vote.
However, this may not be the case as Megan has been blogging about these issues on The Daily Beast for some time now. For instance, earlier this month she wrote:
Here’s what I’ve never understood about the party: its resistance to discussing better access to birth control. As a Republican, I am pro-life. But using birth control and having an abortion are not the same at all. Actually, the best way to prevent abortions is to educate people about birth control and make it widely and easily accessible. True, abstinence is the only way to fully prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. Still, the problem with abstinence-only education is that it does not make teenagers and young adults more knowledgeable about all the issues they face if or when they have sex—physically and emotionally.
In the end I suppose any support is better than none – and I think it is fantastic that a conservative woman is speaking out in support of comprehensive sex education and gay rights, I just hope these beliefs stick regardless of any backlash Megan might recieve from the conservative voting public – I suppose only time will tell!
May 11, 2009
I just got home from a drawing class. No, I have not touched my sketchpad in years. I have been a model for an art school for the past two years- a nude model. I love it, and I credit my relationship with my body to it. Now, as someone who has wrestled with her fair share of feminist media and art theory, this is a complex issue for me.
My parents had been art models to make extra cash in college and when I heard of an opportunity to do the same I went ahead without much thought. At the interview, she asked my height and weight- not because the school cared, she reassured me, but so that they could give thier classes a variety of body types to work with.
When it actually came down to my first nude class I was terrified. I had just gotten back from a trip where I had gained a bit of weight, and my already ambivalent body image was trending towards negative. But when I dropped my robe, it was exhilirating. Not because I looked particularly gorgeous under the harsh lighting and air of clay dust, or because anyone in the room had a memorable reaction (I’m not exactly sure what I’d been expecting- applause?). In fact, nothing changed really. It was precisely because nothing happened that I knew I liked art modelling.
Since then, I have been in classes where I chat with the artists as I pose nude and I have been in classes where the instructor loudly admonishes a student for painting my thigh as he wants to see it and not as it was: "thick" with "ripples". I have joked with other models how we avoid seeing finished products if possible, because artists often have a habit of exaggerating our lumps and bumps. I have seen myself distorted beyond recognition, painted blue and turned into a tree. I have almost had panic attacks trying to hold still for so long.
As I became familiar with ideas of objectification and subjectification, I also became worried about my job. Was I upholding norms of objectification of women in western art? Was I assisting in an art education that would reaffirm ideas of a passive object (whatever the race, gender, etc.) for future artists? Why did I like doing this? Was my newfound appreciation for my body anti-feminist because it had come from being objectified and dehumanized?
The answer to these questions, I believe, is yes- and no. I was indeed allowing myself to be objectified and dehumanized and participating in a problematic system in art education. However there is more to my work than that, and it does not take away what I have gained from my work.
I guess appreciation for my body isn’t necessarily the words I should use when I discuss what I have gained. Instead, I have gained an understanding with my body. That first class, I was liberated to realize that nakedness and the human body does not have to be treated as a big deal, or as inherently sexual. Since that first class, attempts at different poses and time limits I have taught me what I can make my body do and what I cannot. I begun to be able to see it as separate from myself and yet integral to how I relate to the world. From looking at the art made using my body, I can see how different one body can look to every person, and how little my pants size actually says about my body. I also learned that body appears to most others just about as "fat" as had always thought it was- but that this was not the end of the world or even really noteworthy and that I was still captured in just as sensual ways by many students.
The art school I work for has cisgendered female models representing most body types and races. They struggle to find other models who are not cisgendered male and look like dancers or body builders, but they try. No one is allowed to take photographs of us, and we are the ones that make decisions on time limits and poses (with instructor guidance). The doors are kept closed and we are given heaters, water, etc. on demand.
I am not saying this to argue that it what I do is different than other forms of using one’s body for money, or that it is not participating in further objectification of women or bodies. It most certainly is both of those things. I am sharing my story as an example of how oftentimes one’s experiences with one’s body and with the world are pretty complex. Having a healthy relationship with one’s body will not mean the same thing for everyone, and what is important is making sure that everyone feels supported and safe enough to work on that relationship in thier own way.
May 6, 2009
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3-The Issues page- Want learns about important issues abstinence-only programs, condoms, body image, GLBTQ rights, HIV, sexual violence, etc? Some of the best written, easiest to understand information on topics like these is right here on Amplify. Check out the incredible issues page, and you’ll be amazed at what you learn in just a few minutes.
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May 4, 2009
As a guy (who may never set foot inside a forever 21 store), I can say with complete certainty that our culture is obsessed with weight and body size. Almost every girl I know struggles in some way with their weight and is usually disappointed in how they look. This is one of the biggest problems that teens face, and its about time that the fashion industry steps up begins to change their attitudes about what is and is not beautiful. I would rather be with a girl that accepts herself and has confidence in the way she looks rather then a girl who worries all the time about being super skinny. I hope that this is not just a PR gimmick for forever 21, and that they feature realistic looking models rather then super skinny, unrealistic women that have extremely negative effects on people.
We NEED to fix and change this in a comprhensive way, i am sick of having girlfriends that cant stand being realistic looking and friends who complain and worry constantly about their weight. Lets find a new asthetic and a new look that WORKS in REALITY
May 4, 2009
"If you’re squishing yourself into clothes that are a couple sizes too small or you’re wearing men’s clothes, how are you going to go out on a date? How are you going to go to parties with your friends and feel like you fit in? That all has to do with self-esteem and body image. Could you imagine taking away all of the clothes for thinner women and saying, ‘Sorry, you’re too thin. You can’t have that.’ It doesn’t make sense."
- Plus-Sized Supermodel Emme
I’ve admitted to guilty pleasures before, and believe me I have many. One of them (that I am reluctant to admit because it gives away what a total feminine-stereotype I am!) happens to be shopping.
Shopping, for me, is something that goes beyond frivolous girly style… it hits to the core of my self esteem. See, for most of my middle and high school years I hated getting dressed, to the point where I actually decided to switch to a school that had uniforms for my freshman year* so as to avoid hours of self-conciousness and agonizing over a closet full of clothing that I hated… because I hated my body.
Somewhere in there, along with a few pounds, I gained a sense of self-confidence (and some new friends) that allowed me to go out and truly enjoy getting dressed for once, because I had reached a place where I could truly embrace my body and the way I looked!
I believe that the way a person dresses themselves can really have a major impact on their own inner confidence – partially because of my own experiences. This is why I was so excited to hear that Forever 21 was integrating a plus-sized line into their current offerings.
Although I, personally, tend to fit into straight-sized clothing I recognize the difficulties that larger women have to go through in order to find clothes that fit and flatter them due to the closed-minded nature of many retailers – thus, I was excited that the fashion tides seemed to be turning towards inclusivity.
(Image from the Forever21 Website – First Week of May 2009)
Unfortunately I, along with many other women who were excited for Forever 21′s new line, were left disappointed with its unveiling earlier this week; both due to the line itself, and the media’s reaction to the line, called Faith21.
“Yeah, as capitalists they have the right to address a growing marketplace and it’s a smart business decision,” said MeMe Roth, president of the organization National Action Against Obesity. “However, when you look at the human cost, what we’re doing is we’re on the Titanic and rather than forcing our children into the lifeboat, we’re telling them to join the band. Worrying about fashion rather than worrying about the food is a horrible message that we’re sending these kids,” Roth said.
No. Just, no. First of all this statement ignores the fact that it is perfectly possible to be healthy and fat – in fact, not only is it possible its common. Denying fashionable clothing choices to heavier women and men is simply the grown-up equivalent of taunting someone on the schoolyard – its not encouraging anyone to do anything other than feel bad about themselves. We live in a society that is constantly bombarding people with the idea that thin is good and fat is bad – this is why myths (like you can’t be fat and healthy) are so easily accepted by most people… however, its this precise mindset that really does harm, not the fat itself.
Recently I caught about a half-hour of True Life: I Can’t Get Thin on MTV. The show focused on a young man who, in an effort to lose weight, had quit school and his job and isolated himself from family and friends, all so that he could devote his time to eating just 200-400 calories a day and watching weight-loss videos. This young man reached his goal weight and when he did everyone celebrated with him. I was horrified: isolation, obsession, highly limited food intake… these are all signs of serious disordered eating and yet… no one, not his friends, not his family said a thing to him about his problem. This is the culture we live in, so long as you’re thin or trying to get thin people will (generally) approve of whatever it is you are doing to "achieve" that weight.
It goes beyond this extreme though – the thin culture hurts almost everyone. For instance did you know that constant dieting is unhealthy? I’m not talking about healthy lifestyle changes – balanced eating and regular exercise are good for you… but that’s not what most people do. Most people diet (Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers, Atkins, etc.), get to their target weight, celebrate, stop dieting (because who would want to follow those plans forever?), gain the weight back, and then start again! This constant cycle can put a lot of strain on one’s body and do serious damage to one’s metabolism, psychological well-being, and even their heart! Many people yo-yo diet like this because, even with regular exercise and healthy eating, they are still larger than the social ideal… perfectly healthy people putting themselves through physical and psychological stress to fit a sociological ideal that most people are not genetically meant to achieve!
When did weight become a marker of worth? Why has weight become a marker of worth? In a society where over 95% of women do not fit that cultural ideal it seems insane that we would judge those for not being thin enough… and yet we do, constantly. We judge ourselves and others, usually without question… I say its time to stop.
Be healthy, yes, but above all else love yourself the way you are now because beauty comes in all sizes (and its time fashion retailers start to realize that!)
Not to mention, all of this drama? Over a line that is underwhelming at best, hideously insulting at worst. The clothing seems to be a caricature of what plus sized offerings usually are – from the cuts to the onslaught of animal and floral prints. Not to mention, the size chart is a joke. Yes, I know that Forever21 is a junior’s store but to end at a size 16 is hardly inclusive**!
What began as a potentially awesome expansion and inclusion on Forever21′s part, a chance to chip away at societal norms of thinness and style, ended simply as a barely plus-sized flop.
(The model’s face really says it all – I haven’t spoken with a single woman who was happy with Forever21′s plus sized venture yet.)
* There were, of course, other appeals as well but the uniforms were a huge part.
** Another quote from the article about really hit home for me in terms of the size chart: "These brands don’t want the consumer to aspire to be a plus-size," Cohen said, "they want them to aspire to be that mini-consumer, that slim model that walks down the runway, that’s a size 0." Forever21 might have expanded a little but they’re still not giving "approval" to plus sized women on the larger end of the spectrum by expanding into a real plus-sized line. For instance, compare with Target’s new Pure Energy line that has gone up to a size 30.
Apr 13, 2009
Actress Scarlett Johansson, of "Lost in Translation" fame, has come out swinging on the Huffington Post today in response to recent rumors that she’s been crash dieting and exercising to the point of exhaustion to lose 14 pounds to slither into a latex catsuit in the forthcoming "Iron Man 2" film.
She squashes the rumors plainly, saying:
If I were to lose 14 pounds, I’d have to part with both arms. And a foot.
But more than simply clearing up misinformation about herself, she goes after the magazines that make a profit selling unhealthy body standards to American women, 10 million of whom, she notes, are battling anorexia or bulimia:
I believe it’s reckless and dangerous for these publications to sell the story that these are acceptable ways to looking like a "movie star." …The press should be held accountable for the false ideals they sell to their readers regarding body image — that’s the real weight of the issue.
Johansson, 24, seems to know exactly who the magazines target and affect the most. That’s why she’s responding:
I would be absolutely mortified to discover that some 15-year-old girl in Kansas City read one of these "articles" and decided she wasn’t going to eat for a couple of weeks so she too could "crash diet" and look like Scarlett Johansson.
I often get really annoyed at the celebrities of our generation (you know who I’m talking about) for their various unhealthy antics, stupid comments, and general apathy – so it’s really awesome that she’s speaking out for women this way, especially since she’ll probably face retribution from the rags in the form of unflattering pictures or other slanderous nonsense. Go Scarlett!
Mar 25, 2009
I along with another mysistah Eileen attended the Sex Tech conference March 22-23rd. This conference was GREAT! There were many sessions to choose from. However, the one that intrigued me the most was a presentation given by Executive Director of the non-profit HOTGIRLS. HOTGIRLS is based out of Atlanta, Ga and seeks to empower/uplift adolescent girls. HOTGIRLS educates young women and girls in the Atlanta metropolitan area about sexuality, dating violence, body image, media literacy, and other health and social justice issues through a variety of formats. Carla Stokes (executive director) talked about the sexualization of our women in today’s society and how HOTGIRLS combates against these negative images/stereotypes. HOTGIRLS is one more program that is much needed to uplift our women and pushes away the stereotypes that tend to haunt us. I loved every moment of being in San Francisco and I always enjoy engaging with other passionate individuals.
Mar 17, 2009
I love KISS 95.7 Connecticut’s Hit Music. As a resident of Western Massachusetts, I’ve become pretty skilled at knowing exactly where my car will pick up my beloved radio station. I mean, the options are pretty limited for hearing Beyonce’s Single Ladies blasting from my car dial. This is all to say that this morning I was saddened and upset and ultimately infuriated by what I heard being broadcasted to my RJ ears this morning.
It was – guess what? - a poll. And what did they ask? Would you rather be called a slut or fat.
You may have already guessed the results. And to tell you the truth, they didn’t surprise me either, but here is why I’m upset that most women (because only women were polled) say they’d rather be called a slut.
Don’t mistake me. I’m totally into sex positivity. The fact that many women are claiming the word slut as empowering – in and of itself – makes me think, "awesome!" Why shouldn’t we grab a hold of our sexualities and say, "Yep. I enjoy sex. I enjoy sex with who I want it with, when I want it, and if that’s the definition of slut – GREAT! I’m a slut."
BUT! The fact that our f@#$ing media and so-called scientists and health teachers and doctors and parents and friends tell us that ‘fat’ is bad makes me want to S C R E A M.
What is inherently wrong with being fat? You may be thinking, come on love-and-organizing, everyone knows that fat means unhealthy. It means diabetes and heart disease and all kinds of other things. But here’s one of the best kept secrets: you can be healthy at all sizes. Ever met someone at least 50 lbs heavier than you and has run a marathon? I can think of 2 people and I have trouble running down my block.
How about how our society’s obsession with weight has turned countless people to live lives full of unhealthy diets, unhealthy eating patterns, unhealthy body image, unhealthy self-esteem, unhealthy, unhealthy, unhealthy?
This is just the beginning of fat activism. If you want to know, for instance, how the revolution just got bigger, you should check out NOLOSE. Or maybe you think I’m making up this whole health thing. Well, then you should check out the Council on Size and Weight Discrimination.
In the end, what is so infuriating to me about this poll is the intention behind it. These suposed pollsters wanted to know which purported evil women would choose: slut or fat.
My dream is that someday this poll can be asked but turned on it’s head. I want it to be hard for me to choose between loving my body and loving my sexuality. Not which one I hate more.
Feb 16, 2009
Throughout our entire lives, we have been shown exactly what we should look like in the media. Men are shown what they are supposed to desire, while women dedicate precious time and energy into trying to live up to unrealistic standards perpetuated by our media. Everyday we see thousands of ads- commercials on TV’s, logos on clothing, posters in the coffeeshop, ads in magazines, newspapers, etc.- and these ads dramatically increase our personal lives. Ads tell us how to look, what to wear, what to eat, what pills we need to lose weight, who to have sex with, the list goes on! Some people try to ignore ads claiming the ads "do not affect me". What we need to realize is the marketing and advertising industries are aware of this and are capable of getting through to us subconsciously. You might be wonder, what does this have to do with self image?
In a fabulous book called The Cult of Thinness women’s obsession with body image is compared to the dedication of a cult. It is a sick frenzy we have been forced into by society and the images that surround us everywhere. Girls start dieting at extremely low ages to look like Hannah Montana or Britney Spears. The role models for young girls do not live up to the standards we want of our young women. Their lives become revolved around physical appearance and they are never happy with results. Women, of all ages, suffer from eating disorders, depression, etc. because of the women portrayed in the media. We have these sexist images pushed down our throats and it is almost impossible for a woman to not worry about her weight.
This tragedy of women feeling they need to change their bodies, live unhealthy lifestyles, and be "Barbie", is very serious and it is not going away; it is getting worse everytime I turn on my television or take a trip to the mall. There needs to be more advocacy for real beauty; the beauty that exists in each one of our souls; the beauty that is our essence and personality; the beauty that shines through when we are allowed to be ourselves.
How can we help young women become more aware of the plastic images the media shows us? Do you agree that the media is corrupting our youth and causing women unnecessary pain and money to achieve an unhealthy, unrealistic body? I would love to hear how you all feel about this issue and elaborate if you want! I see this as a huge issue in our society and it is something that needs to be changed desperately.
Sep 28, 2008
And yet, I’m ashamed to say, I was intrigued by one this past week.
The most recent edition of Us Weekly sports a cover with images of two actresses from this season’s new series Beverly Hills, 90210, Jessica Stroup and Shenae Grimes, with a headline that reads "Too Thin for TV." The breaking news is that they are "trying to hard to be skinny" and their co-stars have planned an intervention. But it’s not like this is the first time this has happened in Hollywood. And this is certainly not the first time it’s happened in this country.
The article speaks to the pressures to be thin as the stars of a hit TV show and features quotes from worried co-stars. But when you go to the preview of the piece online one of the embedded links is "See photos of more scary skinny stars" followed by another which reads "Check out Us’ weight winners of the year." This is where the magazine celebrates other Hollywood stars for the weight they’ve lost. Does anyone else find this severly messed up?
The media, and especially magazines like Us Weekly, constantly tell us that skinny is beautlful, that losing weight is a good thing, and that being fat is very very bad. And it’s not just the famous actresses who end up on magazine covers who are suffering from these pressures in our society. Whether or not these two specific stars have legitimate eating disorders, eating disorders are a reality in this country and they are far more common than we would all like to admit.
Research shows that 1 in 100 young women aged 10-20 suffer from anorexia and 4 in 100 college-aged women suffer from bulimia. Even in the all girls high school I attended, which sought to reinforce young women’s confidence and self-assurance in the face of outside pressures, at least two of my own friends there suffered from anorexia or bulemia to varying degrees as teenagers.
Less severe, but equally significant, the limiting societal standards of beauty perpetuated by the media contirbute to poor body image throughout this country. I shouldn’t feel like shit every time I flip through a magazine at the grocery store and it shouldn’t make me want to put my snack food back on the shelf. As much as we might know that Hollywood does not reflect reality and as much as we may want to fight the standards society and the media set for all of us, they do still effect us.
If only these magazines would start taking responsibility for the standards of beauty they propogate and the way they effect young women. Really, it’s not like it’s a secret.
To read more on body image and the media visit the Media Awareness Network… or google it. There are some very interesting stats to be found…