Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Donald Trump and "Sexism"

Thank you, Dean Obeidallah of CNN, for writing Donald Trump doesn't understand what 'sexism' is.

He gives a ton of examples where Trump displays his ignorance. And this is the man that a whole bunch of Americans would like to see run our country.
Trump about fellow GOP presidential candidate Carly Fiorina: "Carly -- look at that face. Would anybody vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next president?! I mean, she's a woman, and I'm not s'posedta say bad things, but really, folks, come on. Are we serious?" Conversely, saying a women isn't qualified for a job because she isn't pretty enough is again textbook sexism.
I guess I shouldn't be surprised that there are people out there who hear statements like this and think he would make good presidential material.

I keep waiting to get pinched, wake up and realize it's all a big joke.

Go on...somebody pinch me.

Thursday, November 19, 2015


Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Looking to the Individual

A hospital in Italy that would not accept a stripper's blood donation illustrates how strongly the belief is embedded that strippers are prostitutes.

Martin Whitmore Image
Even after explaining her monogamous situation to the hospital, they refused her donation because they still believed she posed an STI risk.
“It is not clear in this case what risk the woman posed. She was in a formal and stable relationship," Agitalia was reported as saying in Corriere della Sera. "Even if her job could be seen as 'immoral' or 'unorthodox', it cannot be seen as an STI risk.” 
We are so quick to judge people based on the cultural beliefs about groups of people.

In no situation is it correct to stereotype people, whether it be because of race, gender, sexual preference, or occupation.

We need to base our opinions of people on the individual. On the person standing in front of us.

No one person is an ethnicity, color, job, or anything.

We are all individuals.

Let's start treating each other with the assumption of uniqueness and goodness.

Friday, October 02, 2015

Grace Jones In Your Face

Recently, Grace Jones got a bit peeved that the father of her child, photographer Jean-Paul Goude, recreated her infamous champagne glass on booty photo with Kim Kardashian.

Well, to show the world that she's still the original, the almost 70 year-old flashed what her Mama gave her at a book event for her new autobiography, I'll Never Write My Memoirs.

Jones has been vocal about being the original rabble-rouser and that most current pop female artists are mere copycats of her outrageousness.

I suppose the magazine cover of Kardashian really does illustrate how she is being copied, but when the art in question is as apparent a copy as this, does it not then become a sort of tribute to the original?

Perhaps Jones could see her imitators as carrying the torch that she first carried?

And come to think of it, was Jones actually the original bearer of the exhibitionist flame? Perhaps she, too, had inspiration of those who shed before her?

 Isn't much art or creative expression a reflection or an amping up of what came before?

Friday, September 25, 2015

Female Writers Needed

It's all about stripping down and revealing truth.

Every day we see more people feeling courageous enough to step out of the shadows and explore their own truths for others to witness.

Actress Liv Tyler spoke out about how the great roles have dried up now that she is 38.

When you have well-known actors revealing the difficulty, imagine how hard it is for the unknowns in their thirties and forties.

The answer?

More female writers creating scripts with middle-aged women protagonists.

Life doesn't stop for women at 30, 40 or 50.

Yes, we may stop living just as arm candy for men. Yes, we may be living our own stories with ourselves as the star. Yes, we may no longer be the ingenue.

But that doesn't have to be a bad thing.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Body Positive and Proud

Big Gal Yoga shows that anyone, any size, can practice yoga and even be flexible.

Valerie discovered yoga the same way I did, in a college class.

She was hooked.

And now, she shares photos of herself and her body positive message to encourage everyone to practice yoga, no matter what body type they may have.

She exudes a serene vibe and I feel like she really believes her message.

Another woman encouraging us with her body positive and breaking expectations style is Molly Soda, an artist sharing photos of what she looks like in what some might say are unflattering circumstances.

Soda is shattering the selfie expectation, which is usually of women trying to look their very best, by showing the parts of her that many women try to hide, like body hair and an unmade-up face.

The more women who share their “truths,” the more we will all feel more comfortable to embrace and share our own realities without distortion.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Plastic Surgery as the Golden Ticket

In certain circles, it's totally normal to get lip-fillers and Botox even before one has graduated out of one's teens.

I remember meeting a young woman in her early twenties who was flabbergasted that I had not had anything done, what with me being in my forties and all.

She explained that everyone, everyone, she knew had at least Botox done.

Granted, she was a stylist's daughter and lived in New York City and worked in the fashion industry, but still...everyone.

Jezebel points us to Kylie Jenner's website today, but saves us from having to pay to receive the information promised by this title: My feelings on plastic surgery: The Whole Truth.

The gist of it--yup, she'd done lip fillers before she was eighteen.

And now, the whole truth part about how she feels about the possibility of plastic surgery: "Never say never."

So basically, she hasn't gone under the knife yet, but she's self-aware enough to recognize the world she lives in and the person she is and that, hey, you know, "Never say never."

Oh, and her website, is going to teach us how to look good without plastic surgery, but, you know...never say never.

My brain hurts a little bit.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Those are some #thighbrows you have there

No more #thighgaps or #bikinibridges or #thighbrows, please.

In case you're wondering, the photo above demonstrates the "thighbrow." See that little crease where the thigh kind of folds and makes a...brow?

You're welcome.

It's amazing the ridiculousness of some of these body fads or trends or stupid photos that have been appearing as "thinspiration" or even some of them as "body positive."

We do not need anymore; thank you very much.

Unless you can think up something even sillier than #thighbrow.

Monday, September 14, 2015

A Much Needed Public Apology for Vanessa Williams

A sign of the times for the Miss America pageant.

Miss America CEO Sam Haskell made a public apology to Vanessa Williams at this year's Miss America pageant.
I want to apologize for anything that was said or done that made you feel any less than the Miss America you are and the Miss America you always will be.
This public apology goes to show that the times they are changing.

A positive step forward that an organization like Miss America can clear the name of Williams for the record.

Let's see if the good vibes spread through other organizations and people that have judged women for their past actions having to do with their own bodies.

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Is Rape Ever Not Rape?

Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders ruffled feathers talking about her autobiography on BBC’s Woman’s Hour with Jenni Murray.

Murray spoke of the controversy caused by Hynde talking about her “rape,” which Hynde denied naming the experience. Hynde feels responsible for the event because she put herself into the situation.

Of course, this goes against everything we as women tend to say about rape—it is never a woman’s fault.

Hynde was trying to point out there’s a difference between getting dragged into the bushes in a park and being high, reckless and in a dangerous situation.

I totally get what she’s saying. It’s kind of like what I think I’ll teach my daughter—you’re never at fault for rape, but please do protect yourself as much as possible. Don’t put yourself in situations that compromise you.

I wish that were not the case, but I do think we need to deal with the real world.

I want my daughter to know the risks out there and how to protect herself.

Friday, September 04, 2015

Ode to Margaret Cho

I’ve always liked comedian Margaret Cho. I saw her perform in Fairfield, CT, a few years ago. After reading the interview by Danielle Bacher, Margaret Cho Gets Deep About Past Sexual Abuse: 'All I Have Is Ownership of My Own Suffering,’ for Billboard, I like her even more.

Jessica Chou from Billboard
There is such an honesty in her art and performance. She is someone who it seems is truly being real and being herself. She has found a way to express herself through different media—comedy, song and prose—as she needs them.

I see her as a role model: she says what she thinks and feels and experiences without a filter and then finds ways to express and heal through her art.

This piece is inspired by hearing Cho talk about her childhood abuse. She helps me feel like I don’t have to censor myself so much. She makes me feel empowered to express what’s real.


The rope he used to tie
my thin white arms
behind my back.
He leads me into small cold bedroom,
pushes me down onto dirty sheets—
ones his mother gave him with little yellow flowers.

It’s dark except for slants of light
crossing in from living room.
I’m on my stomach,
choking on flying feather balls.
Tears are soaking the pillow.
He ties my ankles together;   
it hurts, it cuts into my skin.

He opens the left side door of his closet
takes out his brown leather belt

it was hanging there

he’s making sniffling sounds
I can smell his Marlboro
I am crying and I am saying
do it do it do it whatever it takes
whip me whip me
the words pathetic, clichéd,
but that is what I said
he is he is he is he is he is he is whipping me  
honestly and it makes this slapping sound
this cutting feeling on my back
on my buttocks
I didn’t know he’d do it
so hard and he keeps it on going
now I’m saying      
please stop I love you oh god oh please oh stop  you’re high you don’t know when to stop

then just like that I hear the belt’s buckle
clink on the tile floor and he walks
out of the room and I smell his cigarette
smoke again.  I peer back over my shoulder
but it’s too dark to see the welts
then there he is his face
pink red and his blonde hair spiky
he stares at me with cold marble eyes
takes his belt off, pants off
I’m crying and he comes
over to me and fucks
me from behind
while I’m crying lying there

This is what rape feels like.  

Thursday, September 03, 2015

Her Body is Not Your Business

It’s understandable why someone might actually be concerned for another human being’s health when they see someone extremely skinny or obese.

But regardless if a person falls into either of these categories, there’s never an excuse to chastise them or make rude comments.

We’re extremely familiar with fat-shaming, but there’s also skinny-shaming, as model Genevieve Barker would have us be aware of.

It’s never okay to say “Eat a burger” or call someone a derogatory name based on their body size.
Genevieve also argued against the notion that skinny-shaming is considered "empowering," since those that do so believe they are "speaking out for 'real women.'" 
"I am thin, I am a real woman!" she added.
Keep in mind that you don’t know if that person you are looking at does have an eating disorder or not. An eating disorder can affect any body, any age, any size, any gender.

If they do have an eating problem, then being ridiculed about their body may in fact trigger or worsen that issue.

The best thing to do when you see someone that you feel the urge to say something to about their size is ask yourself if it’s your place.

If it’s a friend or family member whom you are concerned about, you’re certainly not going to make snide remarks, you’re going to show concern and love.

If it’s a photo you saw on Instagram, it’s probably best to follow the age-old adage: If you don’t have anything nice to say…

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Ditch the Corsets, Ladies!

My waist doesn’t want or need to be trained.

But all the celebs are doing it!

I’m no doctor, but do you really need to be one to say, ugh?

I mean, do we really want to encourage women to  head back to the Victorian era?

In a time when every other essay you read celebrates positive body image, how can celebrities seriously be endorsing such a barbaric practice meant to forcefully change one’s body shape?

But endorse them they do.

I don’t even care if not all the health risks are true; how can anyone want to encourage women to alter their normal body shape?

 We are an anti-corset generation!

We are all about empowerment and being who we are and being proud!

Or is all this positive body-image talk just a bunch of bull slung by marketing teams?

We get to decide.

Step one: ditch the corsets, ladies, and breathe.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Clothes that Send a Message

Blac Chyna and Amber Rose wore some attention-getting outfits to the 2015 MTV Music Video Awards.

Brittany DeShields and Iris Barbee Bonner of These Pink Lips are the designers of the clothes.

The body-hugging outfits are adorned with insults that women receive, like stripper, slut, whore, and hoe.

I like the idea of oppressed people taking back words used against them and finding new and improved meaning.

Do you think these loud and in-your-face expressions on clothes can have a positive effect on language and power?

Or do you think the messages might have an opposite effect and just make some people think it’s OK to continue to use these words against others?

Monday, August 31, 2015

Miley Cyrus, Yawn, Hosts the MTV Video Awards

Is it just me? Or is scandalous just so last year?

I don’t know. Maybe it’s just me, but Miley Cyrus and her MTV Video Awards outfits were kind of boring.

It was almost like if someone had to imagine what Cyrus would wear before the event, these were the outfits they would laughingly suggest.

For someone who likes to push the envelope and surprise and shock, wouldn’t it have been more shocking to actually wear clothes with, you know, material?

Or maybe I’m just getting old.

But it feels like Cyrus is actually becoming a parody of herself.

Or maybe shocking is just so overdone that she would have actually had to come out naked to make me say, oh, that’s a little different…

Friday, August 28, 2015

An Open Letter to Danica Dillon, the stripper and porn star who had sex with Josh Duggar:

I will admit I had mixed feelings when I saw your story splashed all over the news. Everywhere I turned, there was some variation of the headline: Josh Duggar Cheated With Me!”: Woman Tells All About Their Two Sexual Encounters.

At once, I understood and felt compassion toward you, but I also felt revulsion and anger.
But I know you are only reflecting back to me something I recognize in myself.

I was once a sex worker.

Once upon a time…I was stripper and a nude model. I made my money off of men and their desires.

And I was in utter denial for a lot of my time in the business.

I did dangerous things.

And while many assume that I had an amazing amount of courage to stand onstage naked and an extremely high level of self-esteem and confidence, it was quite the opposite.

When I read that you had sex for money with Josh Duggar and were now sharing the details, I did not blame you for sharing your experience, for wanting to cash in on your story. I applaud you for coming forward. I applaud you for telling your story.

I don’t even care if it was all done purely for profit and not to raise the consciousness of the problems women in the industry face, or if you are only hoping for your fifteen minutes of fame.

None of that matters after I read the small details that broke my heart and that I hope can save some other women from walking down your path—my path.

You said, “He was manhandling me, basically tossing me around like I was a rag doll. It was very traumatic. I’ve had rough sex before, but this was terrifying.”

It was that word that I fixated on.


And then after this terrifying experience, he shorted you $500 of the agreed upon price of $1,500.

And then you met him again. And you have sex with him again. With a man whom with you had had an experience that was terrifying. With a man that could not be trusted.

If the story is true (you did pass a polygraph test), I feel so bad for you.

Again, this is because I recognize myself and the times I did things I felt I had no choice in, the times I put myself in danger because I thought this was the only way I could make money, the times I felt terrified, but did the things anyway.

And I was not even as hardcore as you; I was not a porn star or a prostitute. I was simply a stripper and nude model.

When I think of you walking back into a room with a man who terrified you, who didn’t even pay you what he said he would, I am reminded of my own vulnerability, my own stupidity, my own depression, my own lack of value.

I feel so sad for you, me and all women who have walked into terrifying experiences because we did not know our own value, because we thought we could not ask or expect more, because it felt like our only choice, because we loathed ourselves that much, because we were that scared that we were inconsequential in every other way, because we thought we were only valued for our bodies and our sexiness, because we did not know or feel our inherent value as human beings.

I was there, in similar ways, and while maybe no one else is expressing it, while everyone else is focusing on you being the bad one and while you will say you are empowered by what you do, I just want to say, you are valuable.

You are valuable and valued. I sit here in my office, miles away from you now in so many ways, but I know this and I want you and every young woman thinking fame and fortune and value is to be found in our sexiness to hear it—I see you. I really see you. And I am here for you if you ever need someone to talk to.

There are other choices that you can make.

You do not have to, nor should you (or any woman), ever have to be terrified again.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

What Does a Feminist Look Like?

Yesterday was all about kids rocking gender-neutral clothes, so today I thought I’d give a shout out to a fashion company that features shirts with messages that are anti-everything that sucks, FCKH8.

The company has a new anti-sexism video that promotes their “This is what a feminist looks like” tee shirt.

And while they do use the “Real Woman” message in the video, which some women complain about, they are not saying that a real woman can’t be a thin model either, they are saying a real woman is just whatever she is!

FCKH8 has gotten some bad press recently with an accusation that sometimes their business practices are not respectful to some of the very people they claim to support. Also, some people find it offensive the way the company is making profits over serious issues.

I can understand both sides of the issue. It’s true that the tee shirts are great little billboards that spread positive messages, but it’s also true that it’s a for-profit company.

Do you have a problem with a business making profits off of promoting important messages about controversial subjects?

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Girls Like Dinosaurs, Too

Bravo to the mompreneurs highlighted in CNN’s #ClothesWithoutLimits: Fed-up moms create their own clothing for girls.

These moms, whose daughters were not into the typical Justice pink, purple and sparkle clothing, created their own clothing lines that include shirts for girls with what most would describe as “typical boy” imagery: dinosaurs, soccer balls, tools.

Because not all girls want to be princesses—or look like them.

How fabulous that in the future girls might be able to go to their local shop and find clothing that suits everybody.

Speaking of suits, one of the moms is even trying to create a line of suits for girls, Suit Her.

While it may be awhile before we start seeing clothing lines like Princess Free Zone or Girls Will Be in our local stores, thanks to the Internet, girls are being given more options in how they can see themselves and present themselves to the world.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Donald Trump Gets Away With More Female Bashing

Just a few days ago, I was pointing out how I am so good at seeing both sides of an issue. I was explaining how people get so heated up by an issue.

Now here I am today getting all riled up about a news story.
I want to say, How can we seriously be entertaining this dude as a presidential candidate?

I want to say, Oh my God, why is there any tolerance for what this guy is shoveling out?

I want to say, What the bleeping bleep?

But the fact that I am not surprised that he is still being taken seriously shows a lot about the state of women in our country.

If a female candidate were to say the sort of bs stuff Trump is spouting about him—there would be an uproar.

But Trump can seriously send out tweets like this and not cause a national uproar:
@mstanish53: @realDonaldTrump @megynkelly The bimbo back in town . I hope not for long
@bigpaulfla: @realDonaldTrump She has come back looking like Nancy Grace
If one of my English 101 students wrote something like this argument in a paper, they would get an “F” for an ad hominem attack.

How is this man getting away with this misogynistic attitude?

Again, I catch myself, this is the state of our Union…

Monday, August 24, 2015

Changing the Face of Advertising

Advertising is catching up with reality and providing consumers with what they want to see—diversity.

Not only are we witnessing more fashion companies sharing models of varying body sizes, but we’re also seeing more inclusion of models with disabilities in advertising.

While the fashion industry is unlikely to change completely, any steps toward inclusion are a good thing.

What do you think? Is there anyone still being left out of the big picture?

Do you think campaigns that tag photos with hashtags like #changingthefaceofbeauty and #ImGoingBackToSchoolToo are making a difference in the level of acceptance in the general population of those with disabilities or is it just the latest trend in marketing?

Friday, August 21, 2015

Thank You Sports Illustrated For Getting Rid of Those Pesky Models' Heads!

If you click on Sports Illustrated right now, you’ll be treated to an eye-full—a preview of the annual swimsuit edition, which comes out in February.

Oh! But they’ve made it fun and interesting for you!

They’ve chopped off the models’ heads, so you can guess who they might be.

And because, hey—it doesn’t really matter what face is attached to those bodies.

Chop them off, so you can have more control over your fantasies. Now you can imagine any beautiful woman’s face appearing there atop that body.

They’ve pre-dehumanized their models for your enjoyment.

Now, she is a sex object, but one that is not allowed to use her sexuality for power because when she doesn’t have a face, guess what else she doesn’t have?

She doesn’t have a bothersome mind to get in the way!

And even better—no mouth to speak with!

I am so excited to live in a world where men expect women to be willing to turn their face aside and let men take control. 

I am so thrilled to see women become objects placed on display.

I suppose it’s not surprising that we as women allow ourselves to be seen like this, because in fact this is how we see and treat ourselves. We are always aware of how we look and are usually presenting ourselves to the world in a way that assumes the ideal spectator of us is male, therefore our image is purposely designed to flatter the male species.

Why is it really that her face is not visible to us? 

She is not only de-humanized, but also depersonalized. We don’t get to see who she is as an individual; it’s like it doesn’t matter who she is, without her face in view she could be anyone.

For women seeing these faceless bodies, we also get to look and imagine our face there! We get to imagine what we could have been, but weren’t. We get to see what we should aspire to, what we should reach towards. 

As a society, must really be invested in what this image shows. If we weren’t, we would take a stand against corporations so blatantly fragmenting this whole image from our female history. Who cares what women have fought for, instead let’s laugh at our small voices asking for equality. 

Could it be that a sexist concept like this could be used as a wake-up call to us as a gender, or hopefully as a nation? Corporations assume this is how we want to be treated because we don’t speak loudly enough against it, otherwise these publicity stunts could not exist.

I may be accused of being a man-hater or a prude because of my stance, but that is not the case. I may be called a hypocrite for having been a part of the actual problem, and I will not deny those who say it, in fact—I will agree. 

I will agree that I was raised in a society where the only women I saw fighting the issues were those labeled as “feminists” in a demeaning voice. The only admired female icons were supermodels in bathing suits adorning sports magazine covers in grocery stores. 

Is it a surprise that I grew up to be a woman who saw female power as equivalent to how good she looks in a bikini? Is it any shock that so many women suffer from a desire to be perfect, which has resulted in many self-image problems and more dangerous physical diseases like anorexia and bulimia?

I am a woman. I feel anger at the stereotyping that we as women have learned to accept.

We are still being represented as a “faceless” gender, which Yves Sports Illustrated quite unabashedly points out to us. Until we stand up and say there’s something backwards going on, until we cry out at the inequality…nothing will change. I want things to change.  I want the next generation of women to not be confused by the double, fragmented, world they live in.

I want everyone to have face.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

A Three Baby Belly Looks Like This

Lena Dunham, actress, writer and director extraordinaire, has created a hashtag for people to share their “beautiful lonesome photos”: #beautifullylonesome.

She has long been a positive body image supporter and has no fear of exposing herself through her art.

Dunham is also beginning a newsletter called Lenny, which will include stories from a feminist slant.

Tag @lennyletter & me in YOUR beautifully lonesome pics please and we'll share some standouts on @lennyletter's insta...#beautifullylonesome

What does #beautifullylonesome mean exactly?

It could be so many different things—even for those of us surrounded by loving family and friends, we all feel lonely sometimes.


To be able to find the beauty within that loneliness, within a sadness that can strip us away from the things we love, can be a challenge on most days. But we need to keep trying.

To be able to look at ourselves boldly, naked and without regrets or apologies, is freedom.

We can strip down, see others’ beauty, and hopefully, eventually, see ours as well.

I’m still trying to come to terms with my three-baby belly. I feel ashamed of its wonkiness on my bad days, guilty for not loving myself more completely on my better days.

I know that I should celebrate my “stripes” that I have earned, and I know that my body brought three little humans into this world, but I still can’t help feeling the way I do.

I can simply keep trying, everyday, to accept and love myself a little more.

Make the Sandwich or Don't! We Know What She Was Saying...

I love reading news online. I really do.

It’s so much fun to see how out-of-proportion people can blow stories.

I’d say a talent I have is being able to really see both sides of a story. It’s so easy to spin some stupid comment someone makes on television into either a) a feminist statement or b) a call for a hearty “Get-over-yourselves-people!” argument.

Case in point: according to Raw Story, “Fox News host and former reality TV star Rachel Campos-Duffy asserted on Tuesday that conservatives had happier and longer marriages because liberal women refused to make sandwiches for their husbands.”

First of all, anybody who has to be introduced by “Fox News host and former reality TV star,” we know what we’re getting into by continuing to read.

*Small aside: Why and how can everybody who was ever on a reality TV show be called a reality TV star? I have no idea who this Campos-Duffy person is. Can we just say reality TV actress? Just being on a reality TV show does not make one a star

Anyway, so Campos-Duffy made this statement about how if women would just, you know, get up and make a sandwich for their husband after sex that more marriages would not end in divorce.

OK! Cue the Oh my gawd, I cannot believe she just said that! What does she want?! Women in the kitchen?! Women subservient?!

But do not forget the Oh, please, she just means be nice to your husband! She’s not saying that the men shouldn’t do nice things for their wives either! She’s just saying take care of each other and make those little things matter!

OK, so there you have it.

Two ways to “read” the news. And now, everybody can bicker back and forth in the comments section of all the websites reporting the story from one of these perspectives.

Isn’t online news fun?

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Hmm...You're a 7--Now Put on Some Pants!

It seems what we have here in the news today are a few fine examples of what women must put up with on a daily basis.

Heidi Klum quite rightly wondered what she possibly has to do with the election and why Donald Trump should be bringing her name up.

Klum first humorously responded to Trump’s declaration that she was no longer a “10” by making a mocking video.

Next she came out with understandable anger:
But really, the whole entire situation about women is not really funny, you know to put a number on a woman, especially women. We juggle so many things and I feel that women who support their families, who have children, who make their lunches, drive them all over the place, work at the same time—I mean, we do so many things. So in my book, every woman is a 10.
Just the fact that Trump believes that women should be “rated” in any way and that it’s OK to say it out loud makes me throw up a little.

And in Missouri, lawmakers are having their own problems with women.

Unable to stop themselves from sexually harassing women, they believe the solution is to blame the victims. Make them wear different clothes. Because you know, it’s not fair that they should look good, that’s too tempting.

I’m seeing a trend here—insecure men who are grasping for a way to build themselves up. It’s a shame they can’t do it on their own, but need to take down a few women on their way.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Supermodels Have Troubled Body Images, Too

What are mere humans supposed to feel when even supermodels have body image issues?

According to Elle, model Cara Delevingne has left the fashion building!

Getty via Elle
Now, if the modeling business is making a supermodel (who makes millions and can pick and choose her jobs and be waited on hand and foot) rethink her occupation because of how it makes her feel, the public should maybe question how damaging modeling can be.
Modeling just made me feel a bit hollow after a while. It didn't make me grow at all as a human being. And I kind of forgot how young I was…I felt so old.
So it’s great that Delvingne is moving on and speaking out about the issue.

People magazine quotes Delvingne, "It is a mental thing as well because if you hate yourself and your body and the way you look, it just gets worse and worse.” 

Do you think she is sincere in speaking about these body image issues? Or is she just saying what the media likes to hear for a good soundbite?

Friday, August 14, 2015

Miley Cyrus as Body Image Advocate?

In a world full of politically correct celebrities all trying to say the right thing for the right press, you have to admire Miley Cyrus for being true to who she is today.

Photo by Mark Seliger via Marie Claire
In her interview with Marie Claire, she speaks about the difficulties of “being” Hannah Montana.
From the time I was 11, it was, 'You're a pop star! That means you have to be blonde, and you have to have long hair, and you have to put on some glittery tight thing.' Meanwhile, I'm this fragile little girl playing a 16-year-old in a wig and a ton of makeup. 
While we are quick to judge celebrities who dare complain about their seemingly charmed lives, it’s good to be reminded that even those in the spotlight struggle with the same issues as those of us in the shadows.
I was told for so long what a girl is supposed to be from being on that show. I was made to look like someone that I wasn't, which probably caused some body dysmorphia because I had been made pretty every day for so long, and then when I wasn't on that show, it was like, Who the fuck am I?
I can relate to what she says. Who amongst us has not ever presented ourselves to the world one way and then wondered who we really are when we step off the stage (literal or metaphorical).

What do we do this information? Can we change ourselves by not changing ourselves to be who we think others want us to be?

Perhaps if we have role models stepping up to those pressures for us, we can.

Strippers' Rights

In her New York Times Op-Ed, Stop Stealing From Strippers, Antonia Crane explains well the injustices done to strippers and defends strippers' rights.

Lauren Kolesinskas via NYTimes.com

She’s one of the only other stripper/writers I’ve seen address the pay-discrepancy between what people think strippers make and what they actually do. Her main point for this essay is to point out how unfair it is for strippers to have to give away so much of their income.
Strip clubs have provided me and many other dancers with steady income for our entire adult lives. I’m thankful to have enjoyed decades as a paid entertainer. But we deserve the same protections and respect given to any employee in any other work force. We are night laborers who have found a way to offer fantasy, entertainment, intrigue and human contact in an impersonal culture. We want to see a safe and sexy dance floor in every strip club in America. And we deserve to keep our tips.
I’ve fallen prey to all of the pay-outs that Crane describes: the percentage of our earnings that have to be given to the club, to the manager on duty, to the DJ and even to the “house mom.”

That these payouts are accepted practice in clubs all across America is truly unfair and exploitive. While many may disagree with the stripping profession, exotic dancers still deserve to have workplace protections just like any other profession.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Pregnant and Naked? How About Pregnant and Dressed in Walmart Clothes?

I’m Pregnant…See?

No, I’m not pregnant, but these celebrities are. Guess how I know? Yeah, because they’re naked.

Naya Rivera, of Glee fame, posed for Yahoo! Style according to Celebrity Baby Scoop.

And Kim Kardashian took a selfie to quiet her naysayers who said she was faking her pregnancy.

Vogue writer Patricia Garcia thinks Kardashian is now a “Role Model for Pregnant Women Everywhere.”

Although from the comments section, I would say that most readers disagree heartily with that term being applied to a naked pregnant woman.

Look, I’m all for women posing nude, pregnant or not, if it makes them feel good and empowered. I’ve been known to do it myself (although not while pregnant, which I actually kind of regret).

But at this point, when it’s been done to death, and we’ve already seen the aforementioned celebrities nude or all glammed up, it’s not like it’s really such a shock anymore.

I’d really actually rather see a pregnant celebrity pose in some clothes from Walmart or something along those lines.

Photo of pregnant Sheila Hageman wearing cheap maternity clothes
Now that would be different! We would see them in a different light. They would be taking a risk.

As viewers, we would have the opportunity to feel like they were really trying to relate to the “real” woman (and by that, I don’t mean that they aren’t real, I just mean it in the terms of them having different photographic experiences possible to them than the majority of pregnant women).

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

BuzzFeed Staffers Face Their Body Fears Head On

A lot of women have browsed through a Victoria’s Secret catalog and felt less than stellar about themselves.

We know. We talk about it. We write about it.

We don’t often talk about how men feel when seeing a Calvin Klein ad though.

Leave it to the BuzzFeed staff to face these issues square in the body.

While reading the comments the ladies made, I really felt the women were being honest and I felt they were really looking at the experience.

Nina said:
Honestly, I wish we could go back to wearing old-timey full-coverage swimsuits. I also have fairly large boobs and it’s really hard to find a suit that lets me move around and NOT flash people. I assumed these models just got made up, put on the swimsuit, struck a pose and got the shot. Easy. But it wasn’t easy. The sand was really hard and hurt my knees. It was freaking cold that day and I did not want to wet my hair in the ice water of the Pacific. I struggled to make my body even somewhat resemble the model’s, no matter how much I sucked in. 
Looking at these models was just a constant reminder that never in my adult life have I been that skinny or white, so I can’t pretend that I relate. It sucks because there are different ways to represent “bikini bodies” and beauty in general, but we’re force-fed one image. I wish I could see someone like me in a magazine, but I’m still waiting.
While I want to believe the men are speaking honestly, there was more of a level of snark like this was all just a big joke.

Logan said: 
Almost every single male underwear model looks like he was sculpted by someone trying to create the ideal man. The funny thing is, when I look at these ads, I don’t even notice the underwear. It’s just more like, damn. How do you get that ripped? 
The confidence behind my pose was certainly tough to fake. I had a fairly “natural” pose, but a thousand questions popped into my head while I was doing it: How do my arms look? Do I have that line in my stomach? Can you see my flat butt from this angle? How’s my package lookin’? WHAT DO I DO WITH MY FACE? I was really afraid that my arms would look scrawny, my legs would look really white, and my stomach would be…awkward. 
A great way to feel insecure is to compare your body to that of an underwear model. Or to anyone else, for that matter. You just have to learn to appreciate your own body, which is tough, but necessary. I’m not there yet, but I’m on my way.
But, of course, for the women, the Victoria’s Secret brand is much more of a presence in their lives than the Calvin Klein ads are for the men.

Because it’s not just VS that can seemingly taunt women with high expectations of what it means to look like a woman—it’s every magazine on the grocery store stands, it’s every newsstand, it’s every billboard. It’s the culture.

For men, it’s much more—once in a blue moon. So it’s more of a joke. It’s more of a humorous exercise in imagining what it would feel like to really feel the need to look like one of those men.

But they know at the end of the day, it’s all just a joke. Men have not been ingrained to compute their value or their worth based on their looks.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Boy/Girl. Blue/Pink. Yawn! Let's Get Real!

My kids are constantly surprising me in opposing directions.

When I suggested to my son that he play with dolls with his sister, he was quick to point out “Dolls are for girls!”

He certainly didn’t get that from me. (And yo, those superhero action figures are dolls!)

Then the other day, he reached for a pink version of something (I honestly don’t remember what it was; I’m lucky I remember their names), and my daughter shouted, “You can’t pick that one! It’s pink!”

And he stepped up to the plate and announced, “I can like pink!”

And I was like, “Yeah!”

Now we’re talking! I’ve always told my three children that just because society labels everything boy—blue and everything girl—pink, doesn’t mean that has to be the way we see it.

The big box store Target agrees. They are going to move forward with phasing out gender-based signage in both the toys and bedding section.

The majority of people are happy, proclaiming this a step forward in the fight to remove gender-specified items from our consciousness.

Some people argue that Target is just giving into the latest politically correct fad.

Come on! We all know it’s silly to label certain toys “girl” or “boy.”

Why would we want to box kids into being what the world expects?

I want my kids breaking molds and being whomever they wish to be—whether it be in pink or blue (or purple or green, etc. you get the point…)!

Monday, August 10, 2015

Can We Have Positive Body Image Even With Surgery?

What’s even more complicated is how we can be positive role models for an issue that we ourselves feel so complicated about.

Let’s break it down into simple terms: Iggy Azalea is a controversial Australian rapper who said, “I don’t think positive body image means always having to be 100 per cent natural.”

She’s had a breast augmentation and a nose job.

After she was already famous.

So, it’s not like she was trying to make herself fit some stereotype in order to be seen and celebrated. And there was certainly no way of her fans not noticing the changes. So, she didn’t try to hide her surgeries.

The question becomes, why?

If one has already become successful (looking the way one looks naturally), why would one want to change that look?

“I try to be body-positive, whether you’re just loving your natural self or you want to make changes…It’s important we have that conversation, because we have this Photoshop conversation a lot of the time, but it’s a bit more invasive or taboo for people to talk about the surgical ways we sometimes enhance ourselves. That’s very relevant to girls who are looking to you, or aspiring to you. As much as people should know you’re Photoshopped, they should know if you’re surgically enhanced. It’s too unfair [otherwise].”

I applaud Azalea’s honesty. And I get that people do see this whole beauty ideal as some sort of competition in a way.

Who can be thinnest? Who can be most beautiful?

But is the answer to give in to the pressures? Whether of society’s or our own making?

For young girls, knowing the truth does not always equal an ability to rationalize that they do not need to meet those beauty standards.

They may intellectually understand a photo is photoshopped or a model has had work done, but what they see is the finished product.

They see what they want to be, and they’ll do anything to get there.

The Beauty Race is a dangerous game indeed.

Friday, August 07, 2015

When Stripping Feels Like Your Only Option

“Kim” wrote an opinion piece for The Guardian, I work at the US Senate. I shouldn't have to dance at strip clubs to feed my son.

This is a powerful story that highlights how and why some women who wouldn’t normally strip find themselves in situations where stripping becomes the best option they see available.

Kim details her very rough childhood and her amazing struggle to stand on her own two feet as a young woman. Being a single mother, she cannot afford to pay her bills every month unless she strips.
I’m a single mother and I struggle to support my son on the $10.33 an hour I make at one of the most exclusive clubs in America – the US Senate. I’m a cashier employed by the British-owned contractor that runs the cafeterias in the Senate office buildings. But even though I serve some of the wealthiest and most powerful people in the world, I can’t afford to buy my son school supplies or clothes…
When I realized that I couldn’t survive on what I was making at the Senate, I made a difficult decision. Faced with eviction notices and unpaid bills, I decided to dance at a strip club a few nights a week to earn extra money. It was the only job I could find that let me work a flexible schedule and earn a living wage.
I was not in such a desperate situation when I began stripping at 18, but in my naïve mind at the time, I felt a sense of there being no other avenues for me to turn to.

Obviously, that wasn’t true for me, but I believed it and so it became my reality for awhile..

Kim sounds as though stripping really is one of her only viable options to make the money she needs, working the hours she needs.
I don’t want to be a stripper: it can be demeaning to dance for men who show no respect for women. I only do it out of necessity, because I have to support my son…when [the senators] sit down with the primary voters and listen to their problems, I hope they’ll be thinking about my story too – and the tough decisions the workers who serve them every day have to make for the people they love.
I wish I had an answer for Kim and other women like her who feel stripping is their only saving grace.

Right now, all I have to offer are words of encouragement and support that it does get better and will get better.

You are doing what you need to for yourself and your family. Hold your head high and know that you are valuable and valued.

Thank you for sharing your story, Kim.

Photography Projects Embrace Diverse Bodies and Truths

Bodies have always been seen as artful and beautiful. They have also been seen as canvasses for the stories we have to tell. And now, with such amazing technology available to many, we are seeing and hearing stories that we didn’t hear before.

For example, I am loving the abundance of photographers taking photographs of mothers pre and post baby.

There will never be too many.

Let these photos of moms celebrating their bodies become as commonplace as models in bikinis on magazine covers in supermarkets.

The latest project I learned about is Divine Mothering by photographer Liliana Taboas Cruz.

Cruz’s photos of mothers on her blog also include interviews with her models, which allow the viewer to put a personality and story to the images.

Two other photographers, Paula Akpan and Harriet Evans, use models of differing body types, genders and race to express the different ideas and stereotypes that people are tired of hearing in the "I'm Tired" project.

The mission of this project is “to highlight the significance and lasting impact of everyday micro-aggressions and stereotypes.”

Art is all around us now. Images and stories flood our virtual lives.

Artists are taking advantage of the possibilities to address social issues and reach audiences all over the world.

Each project spawns the artist in others. Each celebration of diversity allows the next generation to feel more vocal and capable of telling their own truths and stories.