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Showing posts with label body image. Show all posts
Showing posts with label body image. Show all posts

30 April 2019

Marvel-ing at Grief

Spoilers Ahead

Spoilers head for Spider-Man into the Spider-Verse and Avengers: Endgame.

When Stan Lee died many fans were quick to point out that his legacy is much more than just comic book characters, but the messages that those characters endear to us. He spent years reinforcing those messages on his Soap Box. It is with his words about the power of love in mind that I outline that Avengers: Endgame is a film about grief masquerading as an action flick. Grief is everywhere in the film - appropriately since it takes place in a post-snap, post-apocalyptic universe. The grief of Thor is central to this lesson, but is the one most undercut by humor.

Avengers: Endgame begins with Hawkeye losing his family to Thanos' snap. And this snaps something in him causing him to become a vigilante. Rhodey reports to Nat of his slaughter of Mexican gang members. Nat finds him in Tokyo after his latest slaughter. We first see Thor upset because he did not go for Thanos' head, allowing Thanos to complete the snap. He makes sure not to repeat that mistake by beheading Thanos to stop his holier-than-thou speech about why the snap was good, blah, blah. After Tony is saved, he is so upset about the snap (most likely because of Peter Parker) that he collapses. Of course Tony is always upset about something, so grief or Tony? Your guess.

Five years after the snap, Steve Rogers runs a grief support program encouraging others to move on. Then he remarks to Nat that they can't move on. When it is time to get the band back together, Bruce/Hulk and Rocket find Thor in a deep depression - he is heavily drinking, staying in his home, and gaining weight, presumably due to over eating (the fact he is a god is to be ignored). Whereas Steve & Nat identify that they are stuck in grief and regret, Thor's grief is played off as a joke.

The first time I saw Avengers: Endgame the entire theater gasped at Thor's beer & pizza belly. I know I did. It was shocking especially compared to the scene in Infinity War where Thor's perfect body is compared to Peter Quill's non-Godlike body. And it should be noted that while his body was perfect, Mantis does say Thor is filled with grief. Back to Endgame...On my second watch, I paid attention to how Thor's belly is framed and lit to highlight it as a gag instead of a manifestation of his grief.

Later on when Thor is discussing the Reality stone and how he needs to time travel back to Asgard, he starts to mourn the loss of Jane as a girlfriend, his mother, and ends before getting to losing his father, brother, Loki, and Asgard itself. But when he gets to Asgard he is overcome with emotion at the sight of his mother on her deathday.

Rocket rightfully does some truth telling - how he is not the only one who lost something from The Snap. That they have a job to do and if they do it, they can put things right. I even accept the slap! But what I don't accept is how the slap played as humor. Rocket dug deep into his own trash-filled soul to give some tough love. Maybe the humor was there to take the edge off the heavy moment. We'll return to this idea later. 

As mothers are apt to do, Frigga can see his pain in his face. She counsels him that even he is like everyone else in terms of failing, but that doesn't mean he stops trying. Frigga even gives him direction by telling him to be who he is, not what he is expected to be. That's some real mom truth-telling there! To cap off the scene Thor summons Mjolnir and when it arrives he exclaims, "I'm still worthy!"

Thor's journey through grief and embodiment as a pot belly is played off as a joke. Compare this to how Spider-Man into the Spider-Verse handled Peter B. Parker's grief and depression. Yes, it was played off as a joke at first, but Peter B. offers up some hard truths to Miles about #ThatSuperheroLife, marriage, and how sometimes heroes don't get the happy ending we assume they do. His longing for a second or third chance with Mary Jane is palpable. Which is why I bawled when he showed up at her door at the end.

Given that the target audience for superhero movies is still young men and boys, Marvel has an enormous opportunity to normalize grief for a population that is obviously struggling with their emotions. When men experience mental health issues, including grief and depression, they are more apt to lash out than women. In fact they often lash out at the women in their lives.

Violence by men and boys is a national epidemic. Gun violence. Intimate partner violence. Sexual violence. All are disproportionately inflicted by boys and men. I for one do not believe that it is because men and boys are somehow inherently terrible human beings, but our society warps them into ignoring their feelings AND tells them that they way to get things out is to lash out at others. This is royally fucked up.

What if Rocket had hugged (I know, hard for our fave trash panda to hug our fave Norse god) instead of slapping him, or after slapping him, much like the hug that Tony gets to give to his father and Peter Parker? We get a taste of this empathy when Bruce/Hulk talks to Thor in New Asgard.

Can you imagine the impact on the young men and boys sitting in theaters around the country and the world if Thor's depression and grief had been given the same weight as Tony's death? Grief makes us all feel weird. We don't like to talk about grief. After my mom died, I had a few people in my life tell me to get over it so I could move on with my life. We don't know how to deal with grief, so we tell people to get over it or make awkward jokes. I don't think we needed Thor to end up with a grief counselor, but more acknowledgement of his losses and less jokes and body-shaming would had been awesome. Especially in light of the overwhelming sense of grief everyone was carrying throughout the movie.

If Stan Lee's legacy is a catalog of superheros that inspire us to be our best selves, why not include being inspired to talk about our grief and understanding that eating a salad will not resolve our depression-weight-gain.

24 February 2014

#365FeministSelfie inspiring others

The thing about being creative, especially on the internet, is that once you put an idea out into the world, it grows in ways you may not have conceived or dreamed. I mean, the #365FeministSelfie project grew from the #FeministSelfie hashtag, as well as the countless posts about selfies being empowering.

A few selfie projects have come to my attention over the past month, including one inspired by #365FeministSelfie:

Katia wrote to tell me that this project was being applied to the glut of red carpet conversations about designers. She called it "Who Are You Wearing?" and asked moms to respond. And thanks to her project, #365FeministSelfie made it to Redbook!

Mensen is taking a really different direction on the selfie path. Hand drawn selfies! It grew out of her experiences with online dating.

And of course the Today Show is jumping on the empowered selfie train with their #LoveYourSelfie series this week. They are connecting the series to "a new TODAY/AOL Ideal to Real Body Image Survey, to be released [today], [showing that] 67 percent of adult women worry about their appearance regularly—more often than finances, health, relationships or professional success." Just ugh. I guess I feel like I worry more about bills and my career than what I look like.

Although I will admit that my appearance is a top 5 daily worry. I know in college I pretty much gave up trying to look "nice." I was living with my boyfriend, who is now my husband, and super focused on classes and my research. Then when I got my first real job after graduation, I started to worry about what I wore at work. What could be fun enough for a 24-year-old, but professional enough to be taken seriously? I feel like I'm back at a similar moment. Still working at a college campus, still look fairly young, but 40 is around the corner! Which is why I love curvy fashion blogs!

Still, I wonder what else we can do to help us realize that a lot of who we feel about ourselves is a good amount of attitude? And how to get that attitude with and without that perfect pair of jeans, high heels or lipstick?

31 December 2013

#365FeministSelfie -- Are you in?

2015 UPDATE: This challenge will continue on into 2015. I started something that can't go back into the bottle, so let's do this! Read more at my EOY post. 

When Jezebel posted a ridiculous piece about selfies being a "call for help," I was well aware that the selfie was under attack from other parts to society. A few days ago the amazing Nina Garcia, of Marie Claire & Project Runway, shared an infographic over Twitter about selfies making us more narcissistic. President Obama looked like he got in trouble over a selfie. Selfie is the word of the year. The funeral selfie apparently is the worst we can get. 

But what about positive selfies?

Yesterday I saw a mom and her maybe-5yo-daughter taking a selfie. They were making silly faces and snapping pics. Those were memories being made, moments of love that both will likely remember forever. I take those with Ella for the same reason - we are marking a moment in time.

Then there are the countless pieces that claimed some selfies as feminist - WOC rarely see themselves reflected in media, people over a size 4 are told to hide themselves, transgender persons want to be seen...hell, a lot of people responded to anti-selfie moments by saying, "I do not see myself represented in the media, so I'm making my own!" Also Jamie Nesbitt Golden (@thewayoftheid) and Kate Averett (@convergecollide) started the #feministselfie hash tag that this project builds on.

And if you had told me that I'd be quoting James Franco, I would had laughed, but I am...His NYTimes op-ed on selfies is full of gems:
Attention is power.

Of course, the self-portrait is an easy target for charges of self-involvement, but, in a visual culture, the selfie quickly and easily shows, not tells, how you’re feeling, where you are, what you’re doing.

In our age of social networking, the selfie is the new way to look someone right in the eye and say, “Hello, this is me.”
All of this ruminating on selfies came at not only the end of the year, but my birthday was on the 28th. In 2008 I participated in a 365 project. That was something I needed to; I just didn't know it then. The hardest part of being in the media is dealing with your own image. I use to hate how I sounded, then I did a lot of radio and I listened to it. I hated how I looked on TV, but I did that and felt more comfortable. And the same for photos. After that 365 project, I don't love how I look, but I am far more comfortable saying, "I look good today. I look good in this outfit." This has helped immensely as I have gained a lot of weight during the stress of graduate school.

For 2014, I started a #365FeministSelfie group on Flickr and am inviting you to join. And if you aren't on Flickr, just use the hashtag #365FeministSelfie every day on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

So are you in? I hope so.

Edited to add: I am getting feedback that a daily selfie is too overwhelming for many to even imagine, so I am suggesting you go with weeklies. Maybe you'll get hooked and go for dailies! Do what you can, but remember the photos are about the real you. They aren't supposed to be the glam-you (although those are welcomed). I say more below...

Edited to add: Fear. When I mentioned this to one of my besties, she mentioned fear as one reason she's never tried to tackle a 365 challenge. And yes, that's the foundation of this challenge. Conquer that fear of seeing yourself every.single.day. We might look at ourselves to put our contacts in, even make-up on, but taking a selfie and posting it means REALLY looking at yourself. And hopefully at the end (or much sooner!) you will find it less painful and more enjoyable. I don't want to turn us into Paris Hiltons, but rather individuals who don't cringe when we need to take a photo.

Jeni at Joy and Woe is finishing up her own 365 challenge and has a list of tips on how to get through your own. Thanks, Jeni!

Libby at Moments in my Head has some excellent points about posting photos of ones self as an expression of self-love. She asks us why shouldn't we share photos of us as we experience happiness?

I get asked how I do it all...a lot. I hope that sharing photos when I am exhausted and crying will help shatter any myth that I do it all...or at least gracefully.

21 October 2010

Book Review: Beautiful You by Rosie Molinary

Beautiful You: A Daily Guide to Radical Self-Acceptance by Rosie Molinary is a self-help guide for those of us who don't like self-help guides. Beautiful You is a book of 365 daily life prompts that not just asks you to reconsider how you see yourself, but to push you to try new things (stop apologizing: ever notice how many times you start things with "I'm sorry but...") that help you readjust how you view yourself, the world and how you connect to the world.

I did not read every page of this book as I hope to incorporate it into my gallionth attempt to keep a journal with pen & paper. But by randomly reading days and flipping to pages where the titles spoke to me, I liked the book.

I really liked how Molinary lets readers peek into her life (not that she's shy about that as her blog readers already know) such as her tale of how family members made big assumptions about how and if she would add children to her family. This really helped me identify with her and what the book is trying to get us to do.

Whether or not you think this book is radical in any sense is fine with me. Self-acceptance is quite a radical theory in my book. The fact that Molinary is Latina is hugely important to me enjoying this book. She was honest about how being a Latina impacts how she has viewed and continues to view her body in her last book. I am quite sure that she'll bring that same grounding to this book. I plan to start "using" this book after this semester ends. There's no way I can start a new project right now.

To get your own copy please purchase from an indie bookstore or Powells.com.

Disclaimer: The only payment I received was the copy of the book.

* Book links are affiliate links. If you buy your book here I could make a very small amount of money that goes towards this blog. 

25 February 2010

"Mini-Marketeers" Need Media Literacy, Not Junk Food

This was originally posted at the AWEARNESS blog.

It was just a matter of time until marketers got their hands on their real desired recruits -- kids. In some social media circles, there's no need to woo mom bloggers with free samples of the latest snack chip, instead kids are doing it on their own:
In some cases children as young as seven have been offered the chance to become "mini-marketeers" to plug brands by casually dropping them into postings and conversations on social networking sites.
They can earn the equivalent of £25 a week for their online banter -- sometimes promoting things that they may not even like. Among the products being pushed are soft drinks, including Sprite and Dr Pepper, Cheestrings and a Barbie-themed MP3 player. Record labels are also using the marketing technique to promote performers such as Lady Gaga.

In a time when First Lady Michelle Obama is campaigning to help our children get healthier, this targeting of kids should make us sit up and notice. It should also demonstrate that we can rid our schools of brand-name clothes and junk food and it just doesn't doesn't seem to matter. As we continue to debate the benefits of milk, our children are online being paid to talk up junk food. And I think we know that our kids don't need to be talked into the latest concoction from a chip company.

While I don't like that FLOTUS Obama is touting BMI as a way to keep track of our children's pot bellies, I do hope that within her campaign to keep our children healthy she pushes for every school to include media literacy as a part of their curriculum. I know that each time my daughter has a project that asks for her to flip through magazines for pictures to cut out, I hover over her like a hawk due to the images that live in between the covers.

It's not enough to talk about how chubby someone is or isn't, what their BMI (I call it a bullsh!t mass index, as evidenced by Kate Harding's BMI project) is or to restrict kids from the yumminess of peanut butter cups. Instead we need a wholesale reorganization of how school lunches are funded and to teach our kids how to sniff out the B.S. in marketing and commercials. We need to stop seeing physical education and recess as something only good, wealthy and/or smart kids get to engage in.

For the record, parents should keep all their "chubby" comments in their head, and marketers should keep kids out of their chip-pushing strategies.

Now let's get moving!

08 February 2010

Erica Watson Surfs into NYC on a New Wave of Black Comedy

This was originally posted on the AWEARNESS blog

Erica Watson is fat and she isn't afraid to tell you either. In fact, her one-woman show is called "Fat Bitch" and if you attend you'll learn a lot more than just how big she is. You'll learn about her 21st birthday party with a major stripper fail and how she thinks that being a cute fat chick is just too much pressure. "People are always telling me that if I just lost weight, I'd be sooo much prettier." I could see the eye roll from a dozen rows back when I saw the show in November.

Watson and other "new wave" black comics don't "relentlessly rip audience members who sit too close to the stage" the way one might see comedians do on Comedy Central. Now don't read that wrong: if you do sit close to Watson, she just might put you on the spot to ask if you like to date fatties. Her destruction of our fat/size-obsessed society is the foundation for the show, but she goes further...much further.

What I loved most about Watson's show was how feminist the show was, even without uttering the F-word. One segment was about how she had penis envy and the whipsmart conclusion is straight out of hundreds of women's studies dissertations. I laughed and chuckled my way through that bit and almost died laughing at how funny and spot-on her analysis was.

Her race analysis through a character "Super Mammy" was just as brilliant. I want to tell you everything funny about "Super Mammy" but it'll ruin your trip to her show. And if you are in New York, you're lucky because "Fat Bitch" is opening on February 11th.

Watson is brilliant and brilliantly funny. Not bad for a woman who flunked out of her first college. Yes, her analysis is amazing, but don't think that makes the show dull or academic - the attendees at the sold out preview show were hooting and hollering like nobody's business. She is one funny woman.

footnote: The best part of this review is that Erica loved it!

28 November 2009

Fat Bitch

I promise a much better review when I get time to write it up, but for Chicagoans, TONIGHT is the last night to catch Erica Watson and you had better not miss her. 

Last night I got to watch an amazing show. Watson is genius at critiquing our weight & beauty-obsessed society (as she says, ugly fat bitches who lose weight just turn into ugly skinny bitches) as well as patriarchy. OK, she doesn't use the word patriarchy and that is where her genius lies. 

Watson is able to do what PhD students do in an entire thesis, but she makes you laugh the entire time and without academic speak. For someone who flunked out of UIUC with Ds and Fs, she should type up that routine and get handed the PhD. Dr. Fat Bitch!

And her use of the word bitch is partially empowering, partially not so much. But it's used well. 

While the audience was overwhelmingly African-American, us lighter skinned peeps were laughing just as loud with the jokes. She critiques race issues without resorting to stereotypes like other comics. 

TONIGHT's show has many specials attached:

1. Two for one tickets at the box office. That's two people for $15. Can't beat that deal in Chicago!
2. There will be a raffle for a pair of Bulls tickets versus the Charlotte Bobcats - 6 tickets for $5 was last night's prices. 
3. The after-party is at Funky Buddha!

Seriously, if you can make this show, do it. 

I got to see if on a media pass after Watson's agent contacted me after a friend in NYC sent her to me. But if I didn't almost pee my pants from laughing so hard, I would NOT tell you to go. 

I do have to warn you that the Chicago Center for the Performing Arts had some major heating problems last night. Wear an extra sweater if you want to take off your coat. It was COLD in there last night.

Erica Watson's Fat Bitch is playing at: 
Chicago Center for the Performing Arts, 777 N. Green St., Chicago (handicapped access)
Some street parking one block west of Halsted (off Chicago Ave.)
$8 parking lot directly across Green Street next to Thalia restaurant
CTA Buses - #66 Chicago and #8 Halsted. CTA El - Red Line Chicago/State; Brown Line
Chicago/Franklin; Blue Line Chicago/Milwaukee/Ogden

08 August 2009

Another magazine another photoshopped woman

Seriously, why do magazines think that we won't notice? Or are they truly going with the "a photo is just the beginning of our art project" theory? Because if photos are just an art project for them, then just fucking say it.

This time around Kelly Clarkson is the winner of the photoshop diet.


We've seen this done to plenty of other women in Hollywood, including my favorite America Ferrera. Kelly Clarkson's weight has been an issue since her "American Idol" days and she seems to have weathered all the talk very well and with all the confidence most of us wish we had when it came to our bodies. That must be why "Self" wanted to feature her in their magazine. But why then would they photoshop her multiple sizes down? Even looking at the ' you can see that Kelly's arms are larger in real life. " that, "Our picture shows her confidence and beauty," which reveals to me that they admit that they photoshopped the hell out of her, but hey she still oozes confidence!

Instead of pining over what corporate America wants us to look like, even when we love our bodies, I want to mention a new blog that I learned about at Blogher 2009: we are the REAL deal. It's a body image blog whose core bloggers include the amazing Claire Mysko, Kate Harding, and Roni of RoniWeigh. It looks like a great site to gather to discuss how we came to hate our bodies, what some of us are doing to love ourselves, how we can get to be healthy and all that body loving stuff.

This is cross-posted at Feministe

20 May 2009

Book Review: You'd Be So Pretty If... by Dara Chadwick

When I was pregnant I dreamed about having a daughter. And I kinda freaked. How could I possibly raise a strong women-child in this body obsessed world when most days I loathe my body? How long could I fake it so she doesn't pick up on my body hate? Well the Goddess did send me a woman-child who not only looks JUST like me but her favorite thing to do with me is to squeeze my belly fat. OK she likes to do that with everyone, but she also adds in "Mommy's the squishiest!"

You'd Be So Pretty If...Teaching Our Daughters to Love Their Bodies - Even When We Don't Love Our Own by Dara Chadwick tackles just this issue. This was a painful book to read but I loved it. I'm also mailing my copy to Amy. She was over when I got the copy and looked at me, "I want that!"

This was one pseudo-academic book that really used the personal memoir aspect perfectly. Chadwick grounds her book in exploring how women learn to criticize our bodies from media, but especially from our own moms. Chadwick's mom had a saying, "If you think you're fat, you probably are." By the end of the book Chadwick reinterrprets that saying to mean that we are in control of how we feel about our body.

The journey thou is hard, but one that I believe all moms of daughters should take. There's a chapter in there for dads and brothers as well. Chadwick starts us off with the idea that as moms we create a "body image blueprint" for our grrls. "As mothers, how we feel about and relate to our own bodies - and the conscious or unconscious expression of that relationship - creates a "body image blueprint" for our daughters (pg 8)." It's pretty obvious once we start to think about it, isn't it? Stop and think about what you learned about your body from your mom.

I learned that it was something that had to be controlled, reigned in and would eventually fail you. I remember my mom weighing her food. I can now see that my mom used "fatness" for talking me into covering up more of my body. I look at pics of myself back in middle and high school and think, "Seriously? I thought I was fat?!" When in fact she was trying to hide my very developed body.

And I love that Chadwick included "the talk" in her book. She links our developing bodies to our sexuality or perceived sexuality because grrls bodies are going thru puberty, evolving to our eventual woman form and with that adding weight.

Chadwick writes a lot about how we interact with our daughters. Not just how we comment on their body, or how we comment on our own, but also how we accept or decline compliments in front of them or from them. Chadwick quotes professionals that say we shouldn't use the word fat in front of kids. A few months ago I would had been all "Hell yeah!" but Dawn's recent musings on our fat tummies has me rethinking that stance. I'm trying to get my mind wrapped around how to allow the use of the word fat, teach the kid not to use it for others - at least in a negative sense - and all that.

The issue of media education comes up and as board member of WIMN, I totally agree that we need to teach all kids how to see thru media. But even those of us with all the media savvy still fall prey to media messages. I know all the photos are photoshopped, but I'm still pissed when I can't get my hair to look "just like hers!" I also think that Chadwick takes her daughter's very privileged experience of seeing behind the scenes of a magazine as too representative of how all girls could be and thus minimizes the harmful effects of our photoshopped world.

I also have to add that I felt Chadwick minimized her own eating disorder. I can sense that she is still coming to terms with it and I get that. At one point she says she flirted with an eating disorder, later admits to losing thirty pounts in high school from an eating disorder and near the end dismisses her eating disorder past as an "adolescent mentality." From all the things I've read on eating disorders, it is a mentality, but not just for adolescents. And she does mention this, I was just floored by the wording.

Despite the slight issues I had with the book, I can't say enough how I hope that every mom out there reads this book. You might even find a way to love your body more, forgive your mom for how she programmed you or just know that you really are impacting your daughter with jokes about your body. Chadwick also gives you some good points on how to talk to the men in your lives (Dads & brothers) on how their boy behavior is not going over as "just a joke" to your 13-year-old daughter and to cut it the fuck out.

Oh and Amy, I want my copy back when you're done.

Grab a copy for yourself at an indie bookstore or Powells.com.

Disclaimer: I received this book for review after I requested it from the publisher.

15 October 2008

Happy Love Your Body Day!

To celebrate I will attempt 24 hours of not hating on my own body:
  • I will enjoy the moment when the kid wraps her arms around my belly and says, "I love you mommy because you are squishy!"
  • I will have a good hair day, no matter what.
  • I will enjoy using my body to garden (project at work!).
  • I will sit up straight.
  • I will smile because I'm happy not because someone tells me to.
  • I will eat without guilt, even if I watch my portions.
What will you do for yourself today?

07 October 2008

Love Your Body Day

October 15th is Love Your Body Day. It's a day of action sponsored by the NOW Foundation and many other organizations. Rosie of Hijas Americanas has a pledge & contest up on her site for those brave souls who take her pledge:

The Body Warrior Pledge

Because I understand that my love and respect for my body are metaphors of my love and respect for my self and soul, I pledge to do the following:

To stop berating my body and to begin celebrating the vessel that I have been given. I will remember the amazing things my body has given me: the ability to experience the world with a breadth of senses, the ability to perceive and express love, the ability to comfort and soothe, and the ability to fight, provide, and care for humanity.

To understand that my body is an opportunity not a scapegoat.

So jump on over to her site, read the rest, comment and love yourself.

It's not too late for you plan your own LYB event either!

And lastly, don't forget that VLF is participating in the DonorsChoose Blogger Challenge. We already have one class funded, let's get that second one funded!

22 July 2008

Book Review: You’re Amazing!

If you could be 13 again, would you?

I would if I could bring
Amazing! A No-Pressure Guide to Being Your Best Self
by Claire Mysko with me. I'm not exaggerating or sucking up to Claire, whom I met at WAM!. I don't think high school would had been too much different, but I would had felt far less lonely.

Mysko discusses body image, stress and stereotypes with the sensitivity of a loving big sister or that cool older cousin. She opens each chapter with data from the Girls Inc. The Supergirl Dilemma report (Girls Inc produced this book). While it is a source of many depressing moments (e.g. 84% of girls said that girls are under a lot of pressure to dress the right way.), it does set a starting point. Mysko goes on to discuss strategies for the girls in order to overcome obstacles and meet challenges. She also includes conversation starters for approaching trusted adults. The book is frank and doesn't talk down to the girls. Like any good "self-help" book it has activities to reach out adults and include BFFs in the discussion.

The only qualm I had with the book was within the discussion on bullying. One example of being bullied included being called "gay". While this is a top slam on the playground, I fear that a questioning girl may wonder if it really is the ultimate put down. Thankfully there is a listing for the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network in the resource section.

If you are a parent and thinking of buying this for your daughter – DO IT. I would suggest either reading it first or buying yourself a copy. Mysko suggests ways for the girls to start conversations with you – Be Prepared. The questions may be as simple as "What did you want to be when you were my age?" or as difficult as "How did you handle peer pressure?" I will advocate for using honesty and not to dodge the conversation because that's what I am for with my daughter. Yet I also know sometimes we do a little of both – some truth, some dodging. Do your best and treat her with respect.

I know raising girls is a tough guy, hopefully You're Amazing will make the uncharted territory a bit less scary.

You can purchase You're Amazing through an indy bookseller, , or Amazon.

Disclaimer: The only payment I received for this review was the review copy of the book.

Girls Incorporated is a national nonprofit youth organization dedicated to inspiring all girls to be strong, smart, and bold. With roots dating to 1864, Girls Inc has provided vital educational programs to millions of American girls, particularly those in high-risk, underserved areas. Today, innovative programs help girls confront subtle societal messages about their value and potential, and prepare them to lead successful, independent, and fulfilling lives.
This post was scheduled to post on the 17th, but somehow didn't...so it's being reposted now.

28 May 2008

Book Review - Hijas Americanas

First off, the only negative for this book is that it is from Seal Press, so I know right off some WOC will not buy this book. I bought this book last summer. That said, I really did love this book, so if at all, go pick it up from your local library. Read it in Borders and reshelve it. I don't care, just get your hands on this book. That said, let's get into the review.

The back of Hijas Americanas [WCF, Powells, Amazon] by Rosie Molinary sets up the entire book by asking - How Latina Are You?

This of course forces you to come up with a definition of what is a Latina. Does she speak Spanish? With an accent? Have tan skin? Molinary delves into these questions and much more.

This is another entry into what I'm calling pseudo-academic books. It's not a slam, but an acknowledgment that a book chock full of research and data is wrapped up in a memoir. Unlike other pseudo-academic books, this book is about the research first. Molinary surveyed Latinas from around the country as well as some in-depth interviews. Her memoir is secondary to the story she is weaving. We still learn a lot about her including that the essential question is often asked of her, "I've also been told plenty of times that I wasn't Puerto Rican enough, or even Puerto Rican at all." - page 6.

The opening chapter, "Turning Gringa" gives us Latinas the ultimate bottom line:

Ultimately, I learned that the way people labeled me was often more about their own perconceived notions than about what I did or said. I slowly began to understand that the one thing I did have control over was how I saw myself. Page 20

It really should be that easy and leaving us with a great booklet. But it's not, it's only the beginning.

It's not all happy fiestas in the book though. Molinary spends a good chunk of time going over the hardships that Latinas face including being raised to please everyone but yourself (page 67) that may leave many unable to negotiate sexual relationships. Not to mention having to negotiate the way society and our families frame Latina sexuality (page 94).

that Hijas Americanas is a true self-help book and it is. Molinary goes through many of the stereotypes of being Latina - our sexuality, fashion sense, education - and proves them AND dispells them. Essentially she proves to us that being Latina is not a prescription but a spectrum.

Disclaimer: I received no payment for this review as I bought this book myself.

Technorati tags:
latinas, Hijas Americanas, Rosie Molinary, book review

05 March 2008

Yeah, but my [body part] is so [adj]

The hardest part about raising a daughter has been watching my mouth. I swear a lot. I use the F-word A LOT. I also take almost any opening I get to say something negative about my body.

"Oh these chicken breasts are huge!" I bet they could at least button their shirt.

As women, I think we all do this. As a woman who isn't a size 8 much less a size 2, I do this constantly. I work in an all-woman environment and at least once a week we find ourselves in some sort of "My body is worse" pissing match. So when I read my heart broke and I teared up at its brutal honesty:

One of the things that I often talk about is the need for us to modify our own language– what we project about ourselves– and the language of others. That instead of saying “I hate my cellulite” when someone else says she hates her nose in order to be in companionship with that person, we should say, “I can’t imagine why you would hate your nose, and you have a smile that lights up the world” (or whatever else might be the case)...After my talk at Amherst College, I met some roommates who told me about the Self Deprecation Jar they had in their suite. Anyone who says anything bad about him or herself has to deposit some cash in the jar. When it all adds up to a quality loaf of bread, they hit the bakery. I just loved it.

And so did I. Go ahead, click on the link to read the entire post, it's totally worth it.

I've assumed that we'd end up with a swear jar at some point at home, but a self deprecation jar? I never would have thought that up. But now it's out there. About six months ago my daughter asked her daddy if her legs were fat. She was just past her 4th birthday. Fat? *sigh* Thankfully it was a one-time occurrence, but it still lingers in the air.

The Gods created my daughter in my image and this is a blessing and a curse.

It is a curse because I really don't like my body. I treat it poorly. I don't take care of it the way I know I should. I scold it, poke it, and jiggle the flab. Yet I have read memoir after memoir essay about women growing up with mom's who diet and hated their bodies. Some of the women wrote about how others who comment that they were a "little Susan" at the same time they saw their mother's weighing chicken breasts to ensure a "correct dinner." I don't want that to be what my daughter remembers of me when she's grown and I'm dead.

It is a blessing because each morning I wake her up and see how freaking beautiful she is. I see how much she looks just like me when I was her age and it scares me. Some days I think something triggered the ugly gene...maybe around the same time I got curly hair aka puberty. But most of the time, I have to swallow my self-hate and realize that if she is this gosh darn beautiful (and it's been verified by many an outsider) then there must be some of that in me too.

And here I thought I needed a therapist, when all I needed was my daughter.

cross-posted at Chicago Parent

Technorati tags: body image, feminism, latina, Hijas Americanas

19 February 2008

I'm a Body Warrior!

Head on over to Hijas Americanas today because I'm the featured Body Warrior. Leave me some love if you want.

Technorati tags: Hijas Americanas, body warrior, body image, Latina

12 February 2008

Body Warriors Unite!

This week is full of deadlines at work, so I give you some homework and this one is a tough one.

I want you, the women who read this blog, to consider becoming a Body Warrior. What is a Body Warrior?

Author Rosie Molinary features Body Warriors on her blog each Tuesday:

...women of all ages and backgrounds celebrating their body, beauty, and identity. Would you like to be A Body Warrior to Meet?

You don't have to be 100% happy with your body or yourself to be a warrior...some of us like me are constantly working on our love-hate relationship with our bodies.

The questions Rosie asks of the warriors are hard ones to answer...at least for me they were. My answers were short and hopefully sweet. I'll let you know if I'm featured.

Technorati tags: body image, Hijas Americanas, Rosie Molinary


This blog is my personal blog and is not reflective of my employer or what I do for them.
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