Join In Her Image on Facebook!

Julia Barry's Facebook profile

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...

Monday, March 16, 2009

Obese Barbie?

In an effort to raise awareness about obesity, a company called Active Life made ads with obese toys and dolls--including Barbie. While I agree that true obesity is a health problem that people should be aware of, and I fully believe kids should eat healthy food and have an active lifestyle (as should we all!), I'm not sure I love the common public understanding this ad campaign relies on: that Barbie is ugly and not cool when she's fat. That obese Barbie is lazy and sits around eating food out of cartons while surfing the web and watching TV.

This visual reinforces mean stereotypes about people who aren't skinny, and again re-entangles beauty and health motivations. While obesity may contribute to heart problems and diabetes, our culture is obsessed with labeling it as a (social) disease because we are obsessed with appearances and have such a limited standard of attractiveness. Unfortunately, this to me, is what this ad series is all about. And promoting an insecure body image to children certainly does nothing to boost their health.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Female Force comic books

From Jill Zimon at"Female Force" comic books.

I have to say, I feel unsure what they're about. Is the idea that real women's lives are heroic? That any woman's story can end in success? Maybe it just irks me that when seen together, the fact that all "powerful" women are one step behind a man, becomes crystal clear. And that's certainly not the fault of the comic books, but just another reason why feminism still needs to be going strong. But then, my "media watchdog" kicks in and I start to wonder if creating comic book versions of real people turns them into fantasy characters where hardship and adversity don't exist or can't affect them. ...And now I sound like I want a comic book about "Joe the Plumber" (which would truly be propaganda). Sigh. I clearly need to mull this one over more with your help!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Obama Creates a White House Council on Women and Girls

Way to create something new, Obama! I'm curious to see how this will actually work. No matter what, the existence of a White House Council on Women and Girls is immense. And I like the fact that I randomly happened to be wearing my Obama shirt today when I got wind of this news. (Yeah, ok, so it's time to do laundry, but still.)

Chris Brown Withdraws from KCAs

Following up the post I made the other day...Chris Brown withdraws from the KCAs. Citizen Mom writes more and links.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Interview with Liz Funk, author of Supergirls!

Liz Funk, author of the new book, Supergirls Speak Out: Inside the Crisis of Overachieving Girls, is on a virtual book tour--and a mission to widen everyone's tolerance and respect for being the imperfect, interesting, great people we all are.

In this interview with yours truly, Liz talks about how girls today feel they need to be perfect, gives insight into why trying to be
perfect diminishes quality of life and relationships, and shares some tips on how to cherish being genuine. Enjoy!

JB: You’ve done a lot of research and interviewing for your book, Supergirls Speak Out, where you indicate that many girls and women today feel they have to be perfect, or “supergirls” who can do and be everything. Why do they have this feeling? What is particularly going on in our society that makes women feel so pressured?

LF: Girls today want to be a perfect 10. They want to excel at everything they attempt; in short, they’re perfect. Sadly, I think many young women get the message from the media, from their peer groups, and most notably, from themselves, that they have to be perfect if they want to be loved. It’s largely caused by sexism in society (especially in high schools and teen youth culture), the media, and our fast-pasted culture that doesn’t really encourage young people to spend much solitary time alone with their thoughts—they’re too busy blogging, and tweeting, and Facebooking!

JB: Is this an issue unique to the current female generation? Or, how does it tie in with past generations’ struggles for gender equality?

LF: The first draft of my book actually had a chapter about how the Supergirl dilemma is nothing new; it’s just the new century’s version of “the feminine mystique” that plagued women in the 1950’s! However, the tone of the chapter didn’t quite work, so I cut it (my initial major in college was women’s studies, so sometimes I have a tendency to write in a very academic way and bring up Friedan and Dworkin when it’s not the right place to do it. Haha…). Anyway, I think that what we are seeing here with the Supergirl dilemma is actually the exact same problem as “the feminine mystique” with symptoms that are the exact opposite. In the 1950’s; women were told that there was one way to be a woman—to be a loving homemaker mother who kept herself extremely busy with being pretty, having the latest swirling skirts and washing machine, and jetting off to PTA meetings and social committees, all in an effort to distract herself from the fact that society’s prescribed role for women was very limiting. Today, girls are told that there’s one way to be a girl: be a good daughter who keeps herself extremely busy with being pretty, having the latest season’s miniskirt and sweaters from American Eagle and the Gap, and keeping extremely busy with school and work and extracurricular activities, all in an effort to distract herself from the fact that society’s prescribed role for women is very limiting. There is the obvious difference that in the 1950’s, young women weren’t encouraged to be smart or intellectual or leaders, and today, young women are required to be intellectual and leaders, but at the end of the day, I would argue that the Supergirl dilemma is the second major crisis for young women since “the feminine mystique” that mostly arose because feminism’s work hasn’t been finished yet. We need to teach young women that it’s good to be a girl, and that they don’t need to feel confined to adhering to a very limiting female ideal in exchange for their community or their peer group’s approval.

JB: In your opinion, how does today’s media play into how women feel about themselves? What particular sources have what effects?

LF: I think the biggest problem in today’s media is that the women in the media look perfect. Female celebrities have never been thinner—Lindsay Lohan, Hilary Duff, Nicole Richie, etc. etc.—but also, we’ve never had celebrities all conforming to one limiting female ideal before: long hair, charming and giggly, and not particularly rebellious, like Kate Hudson, Anne Hathaway, and Jennifer Aniston (although I do love all three of these actresses). I don’t think that Angelina Jolie could have ever gotten famous today in her punk-rebel stage, because every female celebrity we see is well-groomed and nice and extroverted. Also, there are a lot of fictional Supergirls that influence how the girls at home feel about themselves: Elle Woods in Legally Blonde, the girls of Gossip Girl, and even Hannah Montana—although these are lovable characters, they give even the youngest girls the idea that beauty and success are simultaneous requirements and that you should make it look as though both come easily.

JB: What role do you feel women have in contributing to each other’s self-esteem or lack of confidence?

LF: Once young women observe perfect women in the media, they emulate having a perfect exterior, and then that model of perfection starts to take off in peer groups. I think that once one girl in a social circle—whether we’re talking in high school, in college, or among twentysomethings—starts to appear effortlessly perfect, her friends and her peers try to imitate that, and it snowballs from there.

JB: What are the consequences of trying to be perfect for individual women, their relationships, and even society or the world?

LF: Statistically, more young women than ever before are considering suicide, and I think it’s no coincidence that this is happening simultaneously with the rise of Supergirls. There are other mental health repercussions that I observed amongst girls, like anxiety, eating disorders, OCD, and depression. And I think the broadest problem is not having a sense of self; not having an identity outside of being a Supergirl or a hard worker.

JB: What are some tips you have for girls and women to positively feel they can be and do whatever they want, without feeling they must be perfect?

LF: First and foremost, girls should get some hobbies. Find things that you enjoy and that you feel passionate about that have nothing to do with work. For example, I just took up the oboe, I love to paint, I love to go to art museums, I love to read novels, and I love stupid movies (like Grandma’s Boy, Superbad, and Little Nicky). Make collages with pictures of random things that you find intriguing. Turn off the lights in your room and listen to music with your eyes closed. Meditate. Find your center! And the most revolutionary thing women can do is look in mirror and say aloud, “I love you. I appreciate you. You matter.” Say it enough, and I think the Supergirls will start to mean it, and see their Supergirl selves fading away.

Young women need to find their sense of intrinsic worth—why they matter regardless of what they look like, what other people think of them, how they make others feel, and what they’ve accomplished. Everyone has worth and everyone has value, and girls need to realize that when they are sitting on their couch in their jammies at 3pm on Saturday afternoon with their hair greasy and their nail polish chipping, they are just as special and just as important as when their hair is blown-dry and they are in a minidress and leggings out on the town for the night with a cute date! What I recommend is that young women spend as much time as possible embracing their creativity, developing their tastes and their personality, and finding themselves! Young women need to find their value, and I think the best way to do that is to be alone with one’s thoughts, spend time alone with oneself, and start to enjoy spending time alone and enjoy listening to one’s internal monologue.

JB: You mentioned that, under the pressure to be perfect, girls and women are oftentimes afraid to be themselves. What are some ways girls and women can feel comfortable exploring and being who they are?

LF: I absolutely love the movie Juno. Casting aside the movie’s puzzling treatment of abortion, I love the character Juno and how unafraid she was to be herself; she liked guitars and punk music and sarcasm and funky clothes. And I think that if more girls could embrace their inner-Juno, and be exactly who they want to be, regardless of whether it would affect how others see them or their place on the social totem pole, we’d be in great shape.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Excessive Drinking is Apparently a Turn-Off to Guys

Brought to you by Australian Yahoo news: "Young women who think drinking to excess makes them more sexually attractive to men are mistaken, a new international study shows." Read on.

I love studies that show men are humane and have brains too. Gender equality both ways, folks.

And a quote from the article that seems relevant to much more than just who's drinking how much and for whom: " 'I don't want to portray that women are always out to do what men want ... but there is some confusion with equality being seen as having to act in the same way'." Concise and thought-provoking. In my opinion, feminism should not be about imitating men, but it can be an easy trap to fall into when there seems no other way to express female power.

And the Worst Choice Award Goes to Nickelodeon

Chris Brown is up for a Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Award, even though his abusive behavior toward Rihanna (who's also up for an award) makes him a hurtful role model for kids. ...Check out the release at PRNewswire.

NYT Video: Sex, Lies, and Photoshop

This New York Times article and video says we ought to give credit where credit is due: Magazines should credit their photo retouchers. Why? Because their craft is an art that takes talent and effort, and after all, results in graphic creations that bear no relationship to how real bodies do and should look.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Barbie's 50, and never

Check out this article from the BBC, What Would a Real Life Barbie Look Like?

The line that makes me the most sad is from Sarah Burge, a woman who has tried to become a real-life Barbie through plastic surgery: "At the end of the day you don't see a personality from across a room do you." Honestly, I would disagree.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Save Dora the Explorer from a Tween Makeover by Mattel!

I've just heard from Hardy Girls Healthy Women that Mattel plans to give Dora the Explorer a "tween" makeover--please sign this petition to help keep Dora as the adventuresome, independent role model that she's been!

Dear Friends,

We need your help to save Dora the Explorer from a 'tween makeover' by Mattel!

You know the original Dora - she is beloved by little girls and boys everywhere for her adventuresome spirit, curiosity, and bravery. But if Mattel and Nickelodeon have their way, Dora's getting a makeover. There are already too many dolls out there that limit the potential of girls. Find out more and sign our petition.

Thanks for your help!
Hardy Girls

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Theater for Social Change

I'm passing along a message from Dori Robinson, who is committed to the power of theater to make change in the world. Here's Dori's note followed by the deets. Hope you can make it!

As many of you know, I am directing and producing a V-Day event.

V-Day is a global movement to end violence against women and girls that raises funds and awareness through benefit productions of Playwright/Founder Eve Ensler’s award winning play The Vagina Monologues and other artistic works. In 2008, over 4000 V-Day benefit events took place produced by volunteer activists in the U.S. and around the world, educating millions of people about the reality of violence against women and girls. To date, the V-Day movement has raised over $60 million and educated millions about the issue of violence against women and the efforts to end it, crafted international educational, media and PSA campaigns, launched the Karama program in the Middle East, reopened shelters, and funded over 6000 community-based anti-violence programs and safe houses in Democratic Republic Of Congo, Haiti, Kenya, South Dakota, Egypt and Iraq.

Next weekend, on March 6th and 7th, will be facilitating a reading of the play A Memory, a Monologue, a Rant and a Prayer - the only piece which includes men in the performance. This is a project I am deeply passionate about, as I feel it aligns with my goals towards being a theatre practitioner for social action and change.

Attached please find the press release and the flyer for the event. Please spread the word to individuals/list serves you think would be interested.
Thanks, and I hope to see you there!



Who: Members of NYU Steinhardt Graduate School, Nan Smithner (Faculty Advisor)

What: V-Day New York 2009 presents a benefit reading of Eve Ensler and Mollie Doyle’s
“A Memory, a Monologue, a Rant, and a Prayer.” This year, 10% of proceeds of every V-day event go to “Stop Raping our Greatest Resource: Power to Women and Girls of DRC.” For this event we are giving the rest of our proceeds to Day One - an educational outreach program for the New York City youth -

Where: Small Pond Entertainment-38 2nd Ave New York, NY

When: March 6th 7:30pm, March 7th 2:00pm and 7:30pm

Tickets: $12 (NYU students with valid ID), $15 (General Admission)

Contact: To reserve tickets e-mail (Tickets are cash only)

Check us out on Facebook:

Goal: To raise awareness and funds in order to stop violence against women and girls.

Proceeds benefit Day One and Stop Raping our Resource: Power to the women and girls of the DRC.