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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The (Female) Cost of Living

It sounds almost silly: A survey of drug store goods, in the January issue of Consumer Reports, found that items aimed at women tend to cost more—sometimes 50% or 60% more.
What's disturbing is how pervasive and financially poisonous the so-called gender price bias is—especially when you consider that, on average, women earn about 23% less than men with comparable credentials...

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Holiday gifts that do good

Sick of supporting consumer values every holiday season?  Check out these gift guides that help you truly get into the spirit of giving.

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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

More good news: Finally, a UN Women's Agency with Muscle

Finally, a UN Women's Agency with Muscle
By Colette Tamko

Recently the UN announced approval of a new agency for women-an event that followed years of complex organizing by individuals and advocacy groups around the world. Here, one of the principle coordinators of that ongoing effort explains what it means for women, and the work that still remains to ensure its success.

Click here to read the article.

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Monday, November 9, 2009

CBS "Plus Size Models Take Charge"

Another drop in the bucket...but again, I find myself saying--why, if the average woman is considered "plus size," don't we just call it "regular"?

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Coke to give health advice - can we say conflict of interest?

Coke to Bring You Advice About Health and Soft Drinks

Family doctors group loses members over Coke deal

by Lindsey Tanner

CHICAGO - Advice about soft drinks and health from one of the nation's largest doctors groups will soon be brought to you by Coke.

The American Academy of Family Physicians has prompted outcry and lost members over its new six-figure alliance with the Coca-Cola Co. The deal will fund educational materials about soft drinks for the academy's consumer health and wellness Web site,

Read on.

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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Help save New Moon - 3 easy options!

Just got word from the fantastic girls' media company that despite tightening their belts, they will go out of business in December unless everyone can take a second to help!  Here are 3 really easy things you can do:

* Sponsoring memberships for libraries, schools and programs serving low-income girls. It's quick and easy to sponsor one, ten or 100 girls - every dollar matters!
* Buying memberships for all girls 8-14 that you know. Our holiday special saves you 50% after the first order.
* Telling everyone what you value about New Moon. Link to us, and follow us on Facebook and Twitter and share with your FB friends and Tweeps.

I urge you to act now so the media universe for girls won't be totally dominated by, Seventeen magazine, and worse.  There really is nothing more important than nurturing a creative, confident next generation of girls, so please do anything and everything you can to help New Moon survive! 

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Sunday, October 25, 2009

Mixed messages from Victoria's Secret get customers coming and going

Glad to see that Victoria's Secret has picked up on the fact that women should love their bodies...but not glad that their skinny, super-sexualized models help set impossible beauty standards that make women feel like crap about their bodies.  When a company that objectifies women's bodies to sell their product comes out with a "love your body" contest, I'm highly skeptical.  Appearing socially conscious is a great marketing move, is it not?

Saturday, October 24, 2009

CCFC Victory: Baby Einstein video refund

Just got a great announcement from the Campaign for Commercial Free Childhood (CCFC): 

"CCFC's ongoing campaign to stop the false and deceptive marketing of baby videos has had a stunning success.  We've persuaded the Walt Disney Company to offer a full refund to anyone who purchased a Baby Einstein DVD in the last five years...Recent research shows that screen time is not educational for babies [and The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no screen time for children under two].  Now parents who purchased Baby Einstein DVDs, mistakenly believing the videos would make their babies smarter, can recoup their money."

The refund is only available for a limited time, so make sure to act now!  Also, share this fact sheet from the CCFC with parents you know.

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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Cancer Society, in Shift, Has Concerns on Screenings

The American Cancer Society has changed its tune a bit on the importance of cancer screenings.  Check out this NY Times articles for more.

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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Today (and every day I hope) is Love Your Body Day

Today is Love Your Body Day!  Here's the deal (official press release from NOW):
NOW logo

For Immediate Release
Contact: Mai Shiozaki, 202-628-8669, ext. 116; cell 202-641-1906

Unrealistic Images of Women Make Love Your Body Day More Important Than Ever
October 15, 2009

For years now, advertisers and fashion magazines have airbrushed photos to turn models into the latest beauty ideal. Women and girls are constantly bombarded with these artificial images -- fantasies they can't possibly live up to in real life.

This Photoshopping of models and celebrities has really gotten out of hand lately. Self magazine felt the need to digitally slenderize singer Kelly Clarkson before putting her on the cover of its "total body confidence" issue, even though Clarkson has said that she is comfortable with herself just the way she is. Model Filippa Hamilton recently revealed that she was fired by Ralph Lauren for being too big, despite being a size four. Hamilton is the same model who appeared in a Ralph Lauren ad that was so aggressively retouched that she appeared emaciated and completely out of proportion.

If models can't catch a break, how can the rest of us hope to have a healthy self-image? Starting at younger and younger ages, eating disorders, low self-esteem, and a preoccupation with appearance plague women and girls, sometimes with disastrous results. "In my teenage years, I was hospitalized for anorexia," said eating disorder survivor and NOW Action Vice President Erin Matson. "I remember a fellow patient winning a modeling contest while she was on a pass from the hospital. The only way to end the glorification of unhealthy beauty stereotypes is to stand up proudly for real women's bodies."

That's why the NOW Foundation is celebrating its 12th annual Love Your Body Day on Oct. 21. This campaign is a giant shout out to the fashion, beauty, diet and advertising industries: No more fake images! Show us real women, diverse women, strong women, bold women. And to the women and girls who are targeted by messages telling them that the key to success and happiness is manufactured beauty, we say: It's okay to "Be You" -- the true you is beautiful.

Many different kinds of Love Your Body events will be held across the country on Oct. 21. Contact the NOW Foundation to learn more.

More Information:
Kelly Clarkson Photo Retouched to Make Her 'Look Her Best', Janet Mock People Magazine
Size 4 model: I was fired for being too fat -- Former Ralph Lauren model Filippa Hamilton is 5' 10" and 120 pounds, Today MSNBC

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Fat Talk Free Week

What are you doing for Fat Talk Free Week?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Girls Write Now wins 2009 Youth Thrive Award!

Check it out.

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Operation Beautiful

Eliza wrote, “The other day at work, I put a note in the bathroom that said "YOU are BEAUTIFUL!" The next week later, I used the bathroom and was standing at the sink washing my hands...

More at

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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Sick of Pink

Boston Globe Sunday Magazine
The Health Issue

This month, like every October, a sea of pink ribbons washes over products from sneakers to snacks. While the effort raises research dollars, it leaves some breast cancer survivors feeling that companies are profiting from their pain...


Hottest Hip Hop Glorifies Pimping

Hip hop is commercially hot, culturally influential and replete with references to pimping and prostitution. Critics say this not only sends teens a pro-pimp message, it puts some girls even more at risk for becoming prostitutes.

Keith Olbermann, Misogyny Is Not A Progressive Value

Air America article on Keith Olbermann's misogynistic treatment of blogger Michelle Malkin.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Tweens convene for learning, support on body image

WASHINGTON — When 12-year-old Chloe Harris sees a large-screen image of a stick-thin model in a new ad campaign, the seventh-grader from Alexandria, Va., says the picture makes her "feel sick" because the model looks so "unnormal."

Read on...

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Friday, October 9, 2009

Plus Size Models Get Naked for Glamour Magazine

Today's Examiner has an article about Glamour's plus-size model spread.

Interesting step...and maybe one day we can stop calling "50% of women in this country wearing a size 14 (the average size of a plus size model)," plus size.

Friends Don't Let Friends Fat Talk

Fat Talk Free Week starts early at Lululemon Athletica in San Antonio.  (Fat Talk Free Week is a five-day effort to draw attention to the damaging impact of fat talk and the “thin ideal” on women, starting  October 19.)

What will you do for Fat Talk Free Week?

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Wednesday, October 7, 2009

It's time to challenge casual sexism

Check out this article from the Times UK about challenging the casual culture of sexism that we all accept.

I love the author's point that we all stay silent because eh, what's the big deal--we want to be cool, not uptight.  And when we do speak out, we get the response, "Geez, why can't women take a joke?"  We can take a joke, but sexism isn't funny.

Now go read this really articulate, awesome article!

Addendum:  I was just reading Lucinda Marshall's blogpost on "Objectifying and Belittling Women In The Name Of Breast Cancer Awareness," when I got to her line, "At the risk of being called a humorless feminist [this campaign is] sophomoric and deeply insulting to both men and women."  There it is folks.  The humorless feminist is a total stereotype, a dirty joke.  Our aversion to standing up for everyone's right to act as a full human being (yup, that's my definition of feminism) is our own obstacle. 

And in the meantime, this cancer awareness campaign is a perfect example of casual sexism, where the physicality of boobs as objects is used as the attention-grabbing aspect of their ads.  But what else are companies to do than concoct a sexy message to garner support and awareness?  Perhaps if the general public were to make some noise and let them know we don't need ads like this to care about the *people* we're losing to breast cancer, companies wouldn't need to rely on sashaying body parts to get the word out.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

German women's magazine to ban professional models via Feministing

Lately, Europe seems to be eons ahead of us regarding their recognition that the fashion and media having a significantly unhealthy effect on women's body image. The latest is Germany's most popular women's magazine's announcement of their intention to omit professional models from their pages in an effort to combat unrealistic social beauty standards:
The editor-in-chief of Germany's bimonthly Brigitte told reporters that, starting next year, the magazine will feature a mix of prominent women and regular readers in photo spreads for everything from beauty to fashion to fitness.
Andreas Lebert said the move is a response to readers increasingly saying that they are tired of seeing "protruding bones" from models who weigh far less than the average woman.
"We will show women who have an identity -- the 18-year-old student, the head of the board, the musician, the football player," Andreas Leberts said in Hamburg, where the magazine, published by Gruner+Jahr, is based.
I like this sentiment; we should humanize models not just as "more realistic" subjects of voyeurism. I just worry these kinds of efforts (cough, Dove, cough) often end up having some contradicting issues to contend with - like if the new magazine's campaign consists of shaming underweight women, that's not very productive either.
Either way, it's interesting to see how fast the efforts to combat body image issues and eating disorders are spreading among the fashion and media industries on one continent, while others (ahem) seem to be at a standstill.

Posted by Vanessa - October 06, 2009, at 10:14AM | in Body Image , International
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Egypt: 'Artificial Virginity Kit' Opposed


INTERNATIONAL / MIDDLE EAST   | October 06, 2009
World Briefing | Middle East:  Egypt: 'Artificial Virginity' Kit Opposed
Conservative lawmakers have called for a ban on imports of a Chinese-made kit meant to help women fake their virginity.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Why does this "Anna Rexia" Halloween Costume even exist?

Why on earth does this Halloween costume have to refer to anorexia? It just looks like a skeleton to me. X-Rays, Zombies, bones--all that is ghoulish enough to fit with Halloween.

The description for this costume is the worst part: "If Anna Rexia doesn't want to put it in her mouth there is nothing you can say to change her mind. You can stop trying to sell her on the point that there aren't any carbs and it's all protein because Anna Rexia just doesn't want anything to do with it. Make no bones about it this girl is as disciplined as they can get. Anna Rexia costume is anything but bare bones! Costume includes headband, choker neckband, removable "Anna Rexia" badge and ribbon tie belt. If you're starving for attention, this costume will be sure to put you on top of the world."

It seems that the prevalence of anorexia has turned it into a common cultural fact, so part of our collective consciousness that, as with ads, we're almost immune to how serious (and unnecessary) it is.

Gross. And not in that fun Halloween way.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Fat Talk Free Week

Passing on word from the AED:

"Join AED and Delta Delta Delta in supporting Fat Talk Free˙ Week (FTFW), a five-day awareness campaign to challenge and begin to reverse the prevalent and damaging pursuit of the "thin ideal" by women of all ages.

The goal of FTFW, October 19-23, 2009, is to shed light on an underground and pervasive thought cycle practiced by many women by demonstrating how "fat talk" can damage self-esteem and set strong patterns of unproductive behavior.

The approach and interventions promoted during FTFW are based on the Reflections: Sorority Body Image program, a peer-led body image program developed through the joint efforts of AED members Carolyn Becker and Eric Stice and the Delta Delta Delta organization. The AED has endorsed this program as a model for community-based collaboration and the effective integration of research and practice. Reflections is active on 34 college campuses nationwide.

Interested in hosting your own FTFW event? Click here for details. 

Visit the Reflections Web site for much more, including tips for promoting positive body image, and more details on Fat Talk Free Week.

Academy for Eating Disorders
111 Deer Lake Road, Suite 100
Deerfield, IL 60015 USA

Thursday, October 1, 2009

New book out -- Does This Pregnancy Make Me Look Fat? The Essential Guide to Loving Your Body Before and After Baby

Claire Mysko and Magali Amadei's new book, Does This Pregnancy Make Me Look Fat? The Essential Guide to Loving Your Body Before and After Baby is now out!  They do amazing work.  Check it out.

Other things you can do to help:
1. Spread the word to the moms and moms-to-be you know.
2. Sign the Healthy Beauty Pledge and add a badge to your blog or website.
3. Know of a moms group, birth education class, retail store or book club that would be interested in a signing or workshop? Contact them at
4. Join the discussion on Facebook and/or follow on Twitter

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Friday, September 25, 2009

Vanity iPhone app

Seems like so much effort to "find out" if someone's beautiful by some inane mathematical standard... I mean, won't I just know if I find someone particularly striking?  And do we really need to spend more time making ourselves feel not-good-enough?  Aren't there so many better things to do with one's time, even *on* the iPhone itself?!

At least this app doesn't pretend to be about anything other than what it's about (it's not a Photoshopped ad that pretends to be real beauty), but rating oneself about *anything* on a scale of 1-10 seems really shallow and hurtful to me.  People are beautiful and amazing to be friends with because they're complicated, interesting, ever-changing, alive.  Calcifying human beauty with a score doesn't represent anything real or truthful, yet that human want to please and be at the top drives our curiosity to see what score we "are."

The score is meaningless anyway!  Go get an app where you can note all the great things about yourself, keep track of your talents, get loving messages from your friends--oh wait, I think that's called Facebook.

France Mulls "Health Warning" for Fashion Photos

...and more fashion and health intersection...  France mulls over the idea of slapping "health warning" labels on digitally-altered photos of models.

London Fashion Week stylist resigns over designer's decision to use size 14 models in show

My reactions:
1. Hooray, someone used normal sized women to display fashion!
2. Ick, women on the runway still look like mannequins. Who cares what size we are when we're still objectified and obsessed with looks?
3. Who is this dude who resigned and what is *that* about?!
4. Why isn't the headline "Fashion Designer Uses Normal Sized Models"? Is the fact that that's *not* news, good news? Have teeny steps actually been made in an altered public consciousness? Or is there no attention being paid because nothing has changed and no on cares about a drop in the bucket?
Lots of mixed feelings here, folks. Help me out.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

New affiliation with New Moon!

I'm excited to announce my new affiliation with New Moon, a great ad-free magazine and web community where girls 8-12 can truly be themselves! Sign up for a free trial today!!
New Moon Girls is an online community and print magazine where girls create and share poetry, artwork, videos, and more; chat together; and learn. All in a fully moderated, educational environment designed to build self-esteem and positive body image. Membership is just $29.95 for 12 months unlimited online access + 6 bimonthly issues of New Moon Girls print magazine.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Donate to help Women, Action & the Media transition into its new organization!

Women, Action & the Media



The Center for New Words is transforming into WAM! (Women, Action, & the Media), which will now be an independent national organization.

Jaclyn Friedman, co-founder and director of WAM!, will head the effort to move WAM! into its new role as an autonomous organization. In its first five years, as a program of CNW, WAM! has already grown from a small-but-spirited gathering of 100 women to an influential national force that this year convened more than 600 activists and media-makers from 29 states and 9 countries, and recently forced the Washington Post to revise its editorial policy after WAM!mers publicly protested yet another sexist slur aimed at Hillary Clinton.
There is some bad news: in order to focus on the strategic planning, leadership development and fundraising required to launch an independent WAM!, we have postponed the next WAM! conference until 2011.
We won’t lie — it’s not going to be easy. In order for the new WAM! to succeed, we have to find brand-new sources of funding at a time when many funders are having a hard time even fulfilling their existing commitments. But we have one thing most organizations don’t have: YOU.
If you’ve ever considered yourself a part of the CNW or WAM! community, this is the moment to be counted. What you do right now will determine WAM’s future.
Yes, we are asking you for a donation. One that means something to you. We are trying to raise $30,000 by October 20. These crucial funds will not only be the seed money from which we can begin to grow the new, independent WAM!, they will also demonstrate to potential large-capacity funders that WAM! has the broad grassroots support to be a national force to be reckoned with.
But we’re not going to make that goal without everyone pitching in. Can you donate to WAM! right now?
With your support and Jaclyn’s leadership, WAM! is now poised to take another great leap in power and influence.
In the next two years, we can launch thriving local WAM! chapters in major cities across the country, which will foster on the grassroots level the kind of cutting-edge thought and action WAM! already inspires nationally. We can build an engaged online WAM! community through monthly webinars on timely topics, a brand-new WAM! website designed to foster action, and of course, our ever-flourishing listserv. And we can ensure that the next WAM! conference — now planned for Chicago in March 2011 — is the largest and most influential yet, creating an unstoppable force for gender justice that will change the media landscape for good.
New Words has a 36-year history of responding creatively to changing times. In 1974, we opened New Words Bookstore. Thirty-two years later, we evolved into the Center for New Words, where our events and programs have galvanized feminist voices and ideas. Our evolution reflects larger changes in the publishing industry, the women’s movement, technology, and the economy.
Every day, WAM!mers help each other place op-eds and articles, get powerful media jobs, leverage new technology, hold the media accountable, produce and promote books, films, and other projects, get stories told about our lives and work, and change the very structure of the media itself. You can continue your support for New Words’ legacy and join this growing movement by making a contribution today. Please donate now to join the WAM! movement. Once you do, you’ll receive regular updates on our progress and ongoing opportunities to shape our new direction.
With your help, we can ensure that everyone will be hearing the loud, wise “new words” of women for many years to come.
Jaclyn Friedman, Director, Women, Action & the Media
Tina Brand, CNW Board President

P.S. Here’s that button again. Please donate today.

We use Google’s secure server to receive donations. Your donation will go directly to CNW and will be used to support and grow the new WAM!.
I just donated and you should too--If you have $5, 5 cents, or 5 pieces of pocket lint, give them to WAM!. This is one of the most important, helpful, and sisterhood-focused group of becoming an organization. Reach into those pockets--even a little help will really make a difference!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Safe cosmetics

Support EWG
Skin Deep is a safety guide to cosmetics and personal care products brought to you by researchers at the Environmental Working Group.
Trying out Posterous for the first time with this link to Skin Deep safe cosmetics (which is definitely worth checking out...scary what's in our daily products).

Friday, August 28, 2009

Contest for women 18-24

Similar to The REAL Hot 100, this contest is looking for an "It Girl"--who's "It" based on her passions and work, rather than looks. (Different than the REAL Hot 100 which is a grassroots effort, this content is corporate sponsored by Ortho Women's Health & Urology™, makers of birth control pills.) Jennifer Kohanim is promoting this contest and writes:

"The “It Girl” Essentials contest –which has a deadline of August 31st– is a search for confident and reliable women who have a passion for changing the world through the arts. The contest calls on participants to tell their story, either by submitting a video (1-2 minutes) or essay (500 words or less) via"

More positive talk from Glamour

The buzz from Glamour magazine's photo of a "real" woman continues... The model herself as well as Glamour's Editor-in-Chief talk about their reactions and hopes for women on the Today Show:

Friday, August 21, 2009

Women Love Real Body Photo in Glamour Magazine

Women recently responded with thrill, relief, joy, and love upon seeing a photo of a real woman--with a stomach, ooh aah--in Glamour Magazine.  While you all know that I have my qualms about the mixed messages fashion mags send out ("love yourself"/"you're not good enough"), I am very happy to see this reaction.

If real women expect themselves and other women to look like, well, real women, our problems with hating our bodies and feeling physically inadequate would literally be over. (That would leave so much more time for enjoying and taking part in, well, real life!)

It's refreshing to me that Glamour readers didn't respond with "Ew, yuck!" to a photo of a real human body, but rather, "That's beautiful! We want more of that!" And I'm also excited that this photo was outside of something organized like the Dove Campaign for Beauty...perhaps our efforts to expand into healthier, more realistic notions of beauty are seeping into popular culture. (Albeit slowly, but still--I'm an optimist!)

Please give more positive feedback to Glamour editor, Cindy Lieve, who blogged about this positive outpouring. After all, editors publish what sells, and if the public demands more un-photoshopped images, we just maybe could get them.

Gold Awarded Amid Dispute Over Runner’s Sex


From the NY Times:

BERLIN — As an 18-year-old runner from a village in South Africa received her gold medal in Olympic Stadium on Thursday night, activity away from the track had put her at the center of an international dispute: doctors here and in her home country were examining test results to determine whether she has too many male characteristics to compete as a woman....

Read more

Monday, August 3, 2009

Vote to help fund In Her Image!

Ok folks, I need one second of your time to help fund In Her Image!

For the past five years, I have been lucky enough to present my media literacy/body image program and facilitate accompanying workshops nationwide at schools, conferences, clinics, and universities. Now, to continue this work toward social change, I need some funding!

So a few days ago, I applied to the Nau Collective’s Grant for Change. This grant is exciting because it’s partly decided by public vote — which is where you come in! Please help fund "In Her Image" by logging in and giving 5 stars on the "rate/share" tab!

In Her Image workshop

Thanks so much for taking a second to vote by August 31st. There’s also a “share” feature — if you want to help spread the word about voting that would be amazing too. I'd also love if you want to stick this post on your blog, Facebook profile, dorm-room bathroom wall, wherever you think will help get the word out!

Sign TODAY: Stop Hollywood from marketing violence to young kids

The Campaign for Commercial Free Childhood continues to fight the good fight... Please sign this petition TODAY to stop Hollywood from marketing violence to young kids.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Power of the arts toward social change

So we all know what a big fan I am of using creativity and the arts for social change efforts. Creative endeavors help people to think through ideas, be honest with themselves, grow, and open up to each other. And this isn't made-up malarkey.

On Wed. night, I was lucky enough to attend HBO's Latino Film Festival for the premiere of "Stages," a documentary about a theater program for senior citizens and at-risk youth. This amazing piece details the true story of how people of all ages and backgrounds are brought together and transformed through performing and speaking out.

Beautifully shot and beautifully told, the film was made by the Meerkat Media Arts Collective, a very talented group of artists who produce films collaboratively--and in this case, who meaningfully mirrored the collective theater process they were documenting.

In the film, the seniors and youth were equally surprised at how much the other group had to offer and how much they learned from each other, and together they created a community based on trust and discovery. Doesn't that sound like a great basis for the kind of thoughtful, peaceful, vibrant world we'd all like to live in?

Post Script: Just tonight, "Stages" took home the Audience Favorite and Best Documentary awards at the HBO Latino Film Festival awards ceremony! Hopefully this will just be the first stop as wider and wider audiences are moved and changed by "Stages."

My even greater hope is that our culture as a whole will value the power of the arts, and put more of our nation's wealth and respect into its support. The MetLife Foundation only gave money for one year of the Evolve Theater Project that "Stages" followed. What progress could be happening right now if they or someone else would renew this funding?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Women in politics get discredited over appearances yet again. Disgusting.

Regina Benjamin, Obama's pick for Surgeon General, is getting slammed as a bad choice for this position because of her body weight. This seriously pisses me off. Her job would be to assist the *public health* of our country, and in general, a person's individual health is separate from her job description.

Besides--we've had overweight Surgeon Generals before, drug czar's who couldn't quit smoking, and so on, yet no one ever found their personal states important to their professional capabilities...but they were male. I am thoroughly sick of women in politics being attacked for what they look like. This distraction tactic is not only demeaning to women on the whole, but it undermines the incredible contributions the bullied individuals can make to our government, country, and world.

Why on earth do we find a woman's weight, thigh size, pant-suit taste, or other looks- and fashion-based information newsworthy?! I'm disgusted that our media has sunk below the realm of reality TV, and I'm sad at the sexism, discrimination, and twisted sense of health this infuses into our culture.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Mixed messages don't get more confusing than this

I just came across a Fox newsflash about a Shape Magazine article, called "Country's Leading Ladies Discuss Body Image, Confidence and Jessica Simpson!"

In this piece, Martina McBride, Julianne Hough, and LeAnn Rimes talk about their concern for young women who base their beauty ideals and self-esteem on "what they see in TV or in magazines." They also talk about how hard it is to maintain self-confidence and be a star under scrutiny.

But wait, yup, their photo on the cover of the magazine shows them in bikinis, looking teeny and flawless (next to other cover article headlines about losing weight and looking good). These women are famous because they are *musicians,* yet their appearance is just as important to their success as a model's. While they recognize that being ostracized over appearances can be really hurtful, they also contribute to the social norm that being worried about 'being beautiful' is important: “I’m 26 and I’m still a little self-conscious about my looks," Rimes admitted. "When I was a kid, I had psoriasis over 80 percent of my body. Luckily, I’ve found a medicine that helps control it, but I never know when it will stop working or if I’ll have to deal with it again. It’s still a struggle, but as you get older, I think your perspective changes."

So while the stars try to be candid and encourage women to feel confident, they are simultaneously icons on the front of a magazine who fall into the same shape and size as the prescribed ideal.

Is there any way for celebrities to break out of this mixed messaging? Is there any way for everyone else to stop our collective obsession with looks?

L'Oreal's hiring practices found to be racist

The cosmetics giant, L'Oreal, was found guilty of racist hiring tactics in their French market. Their fear that French customers wouldn't buy products sold by diverse models reflects the French cultural climate where anti-semitic acts seem to be increasing, a burqa ban is being debated, and so on. Beauty is definitely in the eye of the [social and cultural] beholder.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Sex just keeps on selling...augh

Check out this "Social Media Roundup: Sex and Drama" by Allyson Kapin... Interesting as always to note who owns what and what goes on behind the scenes because of it.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Poor response to rape on cruise ships

Wow. I have to say, even after years of thinking about women's issues, the issue of rape in the trapped space of cruise ships had never crossed my mind 'til I read this article: Melissa McEwan of Shakesville writes about the fact that cruise lines should step up their no-tolerance to rape aboard their ships.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Self care and respect: S.T.O.P.

Check out RespectRx's personal and truly helpful blogpost on self-care using the S.T.O.P. acronym.

I love that the author, Courtney Macavinta, points out that often we think self-care is about filling life with something fruity smelling or whacking down that credit card, but then we wonder why we still feel incredibly stressed and in need of quality alone time. S.T.O.P. stands for Savor, Talk it out, Opt-Out, and Pause, and the post really gets down to it about what respect means and looks like.

I love that Courtney is honest about how S.T.O.P. applies to her life, and that really has some meat to it; her post is neither a too-shallow advice column nor is it a too-deep pedantic "method" that makes for an ill-fitting overlay in real life.

Check it out. Really.

Women Rule in Business

Gee, turns out women running businesses is actually, well, great for business.

NYT article: "Women Will Rule Business"

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Well said

Katha Pollitt writes on the inaccuracies and "house-dividing" consequences of the feminist wave labels. Right on, well-said, thank you for putting it out there!

To society at large, feminist in-fighting and blaming only serves to highlight women's demands as disorganized at best and hysterical at worst. As a relative young'un who has instinctively resisted the wave label (yes, Katha, I *don't* think pole-dancing is "empowering"), I'm finding many young women who, like me, are turning to collaboration and understanding as the way to change.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Bingeing on Celebrity Weight Battles

From the NYT Fashion & Style section...
The tagline is: "The dieting sagas of the stars might be more frustrating than inspiring to overweight women"--and I'd add, to everyone, regardless of size. These stories are meant to inspire health but they promote self-loathing and an unhealthy obsession with appearance. How can we encourage a healthy weight for heart care, diabetes, etc. separate from unhealthy cultural standards of beauty?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Selling Chips to Chicks

Frito-Lay's latest ad campaign is based on women's guilt about eating--and sadly, it was designed with women in mind, in order to appeal to women.

Advertising generally plays on our insecurities (and tells us to buy things to fill those holes or shortcomings), and the usual "guilt-free" commercial tactic often used for yogurts and snack foods is plaguing enough. But making a cutesy website of gabby cartoon women with men-focused personalities and back-stories seems to me to show just how far off-track we've gotten.

Who knew that eating junk food could bring such little fun? I mean, if we're not eating for the enjoyment of salty, crunchy, bad-for-you-ness, can someone tell me why we'd be eating chips at all? Revamped health-food-colored packaging and accompanying cartoons about women waxing their bikini lines does *not* make me want to buy or eat chips.

Frito-Lay tried to max out on demeaning stereotypes of women and our culture's guilty obsession with food and appearance--so not cute. At all. Hmph.

Friday, May 8, 2009

From the Feminist Daily Newswire, two gay rights items of note:

California Supreme Court Will Not Hear Appeal in Sexual Orientation Expulsion Case

The California Supreme Court ruled last week that they will not hear an appeal in a case where a private Lutheran high school in the state expelled two students in 2005 based on suspicions that the students were lesbians. The 4th District Court of Appeals ruled in January that the school legally expelled the students. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Justice Kathryn Mickle Werdegar dissented.

According to an ACLU filing with the California Supreme Court, "The opinion could be construed, to contain a wholesale exemption for any private school that in its mission statement claims to 'inculcate [its students] with a specific set of values." The ACLU also wrote that the ruling confuses "when the Unruh act applies in the private school context" and also challenges "one of the express reasons Unruh applies to 'business establishments' -- the refusal of a private school to make its facilities available to African-American students," The Recorder reported.

The lower court's ruling PDF argues that although the California Lutheran High School accepts tuition, "it is not a business establishment within the meaning of the Unruh Act; hence it [can] legally discriminate based on perceived sexual orientation." The ruling relied heavily on a 1998 CA Supreme Court ruling that allows the Boy Scouts of America to legally exclude individuals on the basis of sexual orientation because the Boy Scouts are "not a business establishment within the meaning of the Unruh Civil Rights Act."

Maine Legalizes Same Sex Marriage

Governor John Baldacci signed a bill yesterday that legalizes same sex marriage in Maine. The state Senate voted 21 to 13 in favor of the bill in a final vote yesterday. The state House voted 89 to 58 earlier this week in favor of the bill.

Baldacci told reporters "In the past, I opposed gay marriage while supporting the idea of civil unions….I have come to believe that this is a question of fairness and of equal protection under the law, and that a civil union is not equal to civil marriage.", according to the Morning Sentinel. Prior to final passage of the bill by the state Senate, it had been unclear whether Governor Baldacci would sign the bill.

The law will go into effect in September, 91 days after the state legislature adjourns. However, under Maine state law, a people's veto effort can delay the law from going into effect. According to the Bangor Daily News, more than 55,000 valid signatures are needed to place a repeal of the law on the state ballot. A recent poll showed 47.3 percent of Maine residents support the same sex marriage bill and that 49.5 percent oppose the legislation, reported the Associated Press.

Maine is the fifth state to permit same sex marriage in the United States after Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, and Vermont. Similar legislation is currently under consideration in New York and New Hampshire.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

While Tony Snow Fights Cancer, Dana Perino Takes Over the Press 'Gaggle' ...with her "Big Girl Panties" on?

According to the Washington Post, Dana Perino, deputy press secretary who's stepping in for Tony Snow, was told by Education Secretary Margaret Spellings to "Put your big-girl panties on." In the same 'tough panties' vein, PoliticsDaily has a sub-site called Woman Up. The motto: "Woman Up: Where Big-Girl Panties Are Always a Fit."

There's been some debate amongst feminist circles lately whether phrases like "woman up" and "put your big girl panties on" really do women any favors. I'm especially intrigued with the panty reference. Are we saying that being a larger, more mature woman is where the power is at? Or are we yet again just talking about something kind of petty and taboo (mature women's sexuality), and hindering women's real power?

I do like the "big girl panties" phrase because in it female power is cleaved from sex/beauty and put in a legitimate arena (i.e. gaining a political job takes qualifications and hard work, not thong underwear and blowjobs).

But, it bothers me that when a woman takes a powerful position, this news is often accompanied by media queries or jokes regarding if she's tough enough (the second sentence in the Washington Post article talks about Dana Perino sobbing), as well as references to her appearance and sexuality or asexuality that distract--and detract!--from her validity (the third sentence is, "Three hours later, her face freshly powdered and every strand of her neat bob in place, Perino crisply fielded questions at a televised briefing").

Hillary Clinton's media treatment during her presidential campaign was a case in point: She was picked on for showing weakness when she cried at the same time as she was put down for being too tough (the infamous "b*tch" label). Criticisms (and reactions to criticisms) of her "ugly" pantsuits and the size of her thighs garnered more attention than the content of her campaign speeches.

Repeatedly, women are depicted as emotional roller-coasters who vacillate between complete hysteria and total dictatorship, while the importance of their looks is played up. Doesn't all this negative and contradictory focus on gender maintain levels of sexism and prevent women from concentrating on the work they want to do? (Nobody was quoting cutesy lines in major newspaper articles--at least to my knowledge--about Obama putting his big boy undies on...) I'd say that in this climate, references to big-girl panties probably don't help to put the spotlight back on women's legitimacy and brilliance.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Marketing Earth Day (and Other Stuff) to Children

Another great point from the Campaign for Commercial Free Childhood:

Marketing Earth Day (and Other Stuff) to Children

By Susan Linn and Josh Golin

Have you done your Earth Day shopping yet? Between greeting cards, jewelry, mugs, and teddy bears commemorating the day, its roots in environmental activism have all but been forgotten. Now corporations use Earth Day to sell us on the belief that we can buy our way into ecological sustainability. We can't.

Reducing consumption is essential to preserving the earth's resources and preventing its degradation. The same companies that are painting themselves green depend on the profits they earn convincing us to buy more than we need.

Nowhere is this more obvious, and more troubling, than in the world of children's media and marketing, where companies like Disney, Sesame Workshop, and Nickelodeon are eco-marketing as never before.

Read on at the Huffington Post

Saturday, April 18, 2009

SpongeBob isn't sexy

Lots of hullabaloo about Burger Kind's latest commercial that mixes SpongeBob and a bit too much booty. The CCFC offers a way to speak out against it and take action against sexualized marketing to kids:

"Our campaign to get the infamous SpongeBob SquareButts commercial off the air is gaining momentum. More than 7,000 of you have told Nickelodeon and Burger King that SpongeBob and sexualization don't mix and our campaign has been featured in newspapers, blogs, and on television -- including this morning's Today Show.

We've already cast an important spotlight on this reprehensible ad and the depths that marketers will sink to in order to interest children in their brands. Advertisers will now understand that they risk a significant backlash from parents if they include sexualization in their child-directed marketing. Burger King and Nickelodeon are clearly on the defensive, and are now disingenuously claiming the ad - which is for Kids Meals and features perhaps the most popular children's television character - was aimed at adults.

But the ad continues to run and, according to reports, aired this week on American Idol, a top-rated show for children under twelve. So let's keep the pressure on by signing this petition of disapproval to Burger King and Nickelodeon. Please let others know about our campaign by using this tell-a-friend page or by writing directly to friends and family and urging them to visit send their messages too. And please, keep spreading the word on blogs, social networking sites, and Twitter.

The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood"

Friday, April 10, 2009

Women and Major Magazines Cover Stories Monitor

According to Beverly Wettenstein at the Huffington Post, "The year 2008 was considered to be transformational for women in politics and the broader perception of women in the media and society." Check out her article, Second Annual "Women and Major Magazines Cover Stories Monitor." What's your take on the coverage?

Marketing to Youth (Culture)

This article geared toward photographers (and somewhat toward advertisers) spells out the do's and don't's of marketing to youth. Thinking from the angle of a photographer, the photos used in ads would, alone, be beautiful portraits of unique people and relationships. (There are some gorgeous examples in this article.) But, when incorporated into ads with taglines and messages, photos become props to spark whatever feelings and connections marketers want us to buy their product.

Marketing to youth and about youth culture particularly irks me because advertisers are cashing in on a stage in people's lives where they figure out their identity--which means they try many things and are open to change and suggestion. Exploring yourself and the world around you sound like such a magical, great thing (and it can be!), but many teens and young adults feel immense pressure from an intangible source to be all at once sexy, perfect, smart, rich, and in command. These pressures are part of our larger culture and of course not created solely by marketing, but the wiley way marketing reflects and tweaks who we want to be seems to head many people down a bad road.

I'm posting this article because I think it's valuable to continually point out just how planned the images around us are. If we are aware of this manipulation, perhaps we can start appreciating ads for what they are, and peel them away from of our definitions of beauty, meaningfulness, and success.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Better late than never

I've also been meaning to post about SWAN Day, a new holiday celebrating women artists around the globe on March 28th of every year. Check out the amazing stories about how people celebrated, what projects women are working on, and the inspiring video of Sandra Oh interviewed about her favorite woman artist.

Film Clip: "Beauty Mark"

Brought to you by the Media Education Foundation, this film clip of the month is from "Beauty Mark," a movie that "explores the harmful factors that can lead to athletic bulimia and distorted body images."

*Note: Hit the small "play" button at the bottom left hand corner (not the big one in the middle of the image) to get the video to play.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Let's Stick to the Topic

I have to hand it to Meghan McCain (Senator McCain's daughter) for writing so eloquently on weight criticism--especially in the media--as "one of the last frontiers in socially accepted prejudice." She points to the fact that women from Hillary Clinton to Oprah are "victim[s] to...image-oriented bullying," and that women in power can be publicly discredited if they are the "wrong" size or wear the "wrong" outfit.

This article was written in response to conservative radio host Laura Ingraham's dig about McCain's weight. And why did she want to insult McCain? Because she didn't agree with some political statements McCain made in an online column and an interview with talk show host Rachel Maddow.

I think political debate is fantastic--but let's stick to the topic, please. At the least, women can show respect for themselves and their gender by responding to ideas, not appearances. (And if one doesn't have a response, let's not go back to the middle school solution of making fun.)

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Good to see coverage of girls' safety--but not in the *Style* section!

In light of the Rihanna/Chris Brown coverage, Jan Hoffman authored a great New York Times article about why teenage girls stand by their men, even when they're abusive. The thing is, the NYT published the article in the--wait for it--STYLE section. I feel like a broken record with all the times I've been chagrined about which section the NYT deems appropriate for articles involving women. Tristin Aaron at the Women's Media Center posts on this diminishing categorization eloquently.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Camel aims nicotine at kids...again.

From Shaping Youth - Like Taking Candy From A Baby: Camel Trots Out Nicotine Tricks (Again)

If only Camel could put their marketing genius toward health and self-esteem programming, windmill energy, or homeless shelters...