Here’s a great tip to inoculate your daughter against internalizing the barrage of criticism about her appearance. If that critical voice gets trapped and trained in your kid’s head and wiring, it becomes a bad habit that, like any addiction, is difficult to break. I got this tip from Melissa Wardy of Pigtail Pals, and so far, it works really well. I can see my kids using it.
Tell your daughter that you use a mirror to see if you have food on your face or something like that. You don’t look in the mirror to see if you are beautiful. Beauty is a feeling that comes from within you, and a mirror can’t give you that. Let your daughter see you use a mirror this way as well.
Repeat this lesson as often as necessary. It’s basic but effective.
Extra tip: If your daughter protests or seems confused, which she may not, explain that the correct way to use a mirror is the exact opposite of how the wicked queen relied on it in “Snow White,” asking “Who is the fairest of all?” Explain how the Queen’s misuse of the mirror, her dependence on its voice instead of her own, sapped her power and helped to cause her downfall.
I am so grateful that both of these women have the courage and access to tell the truth about their lives publicly. When women can speak out and tell their own stories, that helps all women. Both of you are making sure that a “woman’s issue” gets on the front pages and into the forefront of national discussion. Hopefully, we’ll come out of this more educated than we were. THANK YOU.
Update: Here goes the nat’l public discussion: Did u know corporations can own genes? Tweet from Peggy, check out the link:
Myriad genetics OWNS BRCA gene. OWNS it. That’s a block to research & better options for someone like Angelina Jolie http://ow.ly/l1XTX
I guess Disney was right to be so terrified of creating a strong, BRAVE, female protagonist (along with Pixar studios which hadn’t had ANY female protags before “Brave.”) It looks like Merida could be turning Disney’s franchise on it’s head. That’s pretty damn heroic.
Another mistake Disney made with “Brave?” They hired a female director. They fired her, but it was too late. Brenda Chapman wrote “Brave” based on her daughter. She was furious with the character’s transformation and wrote publicly about Disney’s terrible mistake.
That’s right: Although Merida was created by a woman as a role model for girls, the male-dominated consumer product division at Disney has ignored the character’s intended benefits for young girls, sexualizing her for profit. Compared with her film counterpart, this new Merida is slimmer and bustier. She wears makeup, and her hair’s characteristic wildness is gone: It has been volumized and restyled with a texture more traditionally “pretty.” Furthermore, she is missing her signature bow, arrow, and quiver; instead, she wears a fashionable sash around her sparkly, off-the-shoulder gown. (As Peggy Orenstein noted when she broke the news of the redesign, “Moms tell me all the time that their preschool daughters are pitching fits and destroying their t-shirts because ‘princesses don’t cover their shoulders.’” I’ve heard the same from parents, as well.)
Is the sexualized image of Merida gone for good? Has Disney learned a lesson? Or will that lesson be: No more strong female characters leading a film! No more female directors writing about their daughters! Keep the females weak and quiet!
Objectifying and sexualizing girls is dangerous. A first step to abuse is always dehumanizing the victim. Propaganda, in the form of images and narratives, effectively dehumanizes on a mass scale.
Images/ narratives of Jews circa 1938
Africans circa 1931
Females circa 2013
It’s easy to look back on history and wonder: How did people ever put up with that? I’d never buy into it, not to mention expose my child to it. But what are you participating in right now that is completely accepted, not to mention celebrated, by our culture?
Be part of the solution. Demand narratives with strong female characters for your kids.
Update: New Merida may be off Disney’s site but she’s showing up all over the place including Target. Below is Target’s web page.
The only way to stop the epidemic of violence against women in America is to empower them financially, physically, socially, culturally. Charging Castro with murder of fetuses does the opposite. If Castro can be charged with murdering fetuses, than a woman getting an abortion, even if that woman was raped Michelle Knight herself, she, too, would be “murdering” fetuses. Castro tortured, raped, and assaulted these women in multiple, horrific ways. Keep the focus on the women, not the fetuses, and bring Ariel Castro to justice for his evil crimes.
I still think, though, that there would be something very strange about executing Castro for the harm he did to fetuses, as opposed to the harm he did to three living and breathing women.
And what if Castro had allowed the fetuses to live? What if Michelle Knight had been forced to give birth 5 times in captivity to babies fathered by a rapist? That would have been its own hell. But would that use, manipulation, and violation of Knight’s body be recognized by our legal system beyond rape charges?
A regime, whether enforced by a government or a madman, that forces women to have abortions is the same regime that can force them to give birth. Reproductive rights are human rights, and violating them ought to carry the severest of penalties. But when will violating the human rights of women be recognized by the U.S. legal system as the heinous crime it truly is?
In 2005, Grimilda Figueroa, the ex-wife of Ariel Castro, the man who imprisoned, beat, and sexually abused three women for ten years, brought domestic violence charges against him. Court documents state that Figueroa suffered two broken noses, broken ribs, a knocked-out tooth, two dislocated shoulders, and a blood clot on the brain.
However, nothing could be done to protect Figueroa and her children as her lawyer didn’t show up for the court hearing, and the case was dropped. Apparently her counsel cautioned her against speaking for herself, and she didn’t make any objection to the judge’s decision to dismiss the protection order. Both Figueroa and Castro were judged to have “waived their right to any further hearing”, the case’s final document stated. Tragically, Figueroa died last year.
How did the judge decide to dismiss such a case for something so simple as a lawyer not showing up? Why don’t we have better legal resources for victims of domestic violence? How ill-equipped, poorly run, understaffed, and overworked must our legal system be to let a case like that slide? It’s infuriating and heartbreaking to yet again witness the ease with which such cases are dismissed.
America is failing half of its citizens. This violent man, Ariel Castro, was more protected by our legal system than the women he abused. In 2013, there is slavery in America’s backyard and we look the other way and just let it happen. Here are the stats one more time from National Coalition Against Domestic Violence):
One in four women (25%) has experienced domestic violence in her lifetime.
85% of domestic violence victims are women.
Women ages 20-24 are at the greatest risk of nonfatal intimate partner violence.
Nearly three out of four (74%) of Americans personally know someone who is or has been a victim of domestic violence.
On average, more than three women are murdered by their intimate partners in this country every day.
Domestic violence is one of the most chronically under reported crimes.
Only approximately one-quarter of all physical assaults, one-fifth of all rapes, and one-half of all stalkings perpetuated against females by intimate partners are reported to the police.
A new study on violence against women conducted over four decades and in 70 countries reveals the mobilization of feminist movements is more important for change than the wealth of nations, left-wing political parties, or the number of women politicians.
The study in the latest issue of American Political Science Review (APSR), published by Cambridge University Press for the American Political Science Association (APSA), found that in feminist movements that were autonomous from political parties and the state, women were able to articulate and organize around their top priorities as women, without having to answer to broader organizational concerns or mens’ needs. Mobilizing across countries, feminist movements urged governments to approve global and regional norms and agreements on violence.
The scope of data for the study is unprecedented. The study includes every region of the world, varying degrees of democracy, rich and poor countries, and a variety of world religions – it encompasses 85 per cent of the world’s population. Analyzing the data took five years, which is why the most recent year covered is 2005.
2005 also happens to be the year that Ariel Castro’s wife brought the charges against him and her lawyer didn’t care enough to show up in court.
Last night, I was glued to the television as Amanda Berry’s chilling, horrific story unfolded, watching the details of how she was able to get help and rescue her six year old daughter, along with two other prisoners, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight. The three of them were held captive, most likely as sex slaves, possibly by three brothers, for ten years.
Amazed by the courage and resilience of these women, I am baffled and disgusted that people ever dare to claim that we live in some kind of post-feminist wold. In 2013, 90% of violence worldwide is perpetuated against women. There is sex slavery and human trafficking in America’s backyard. And still, stopping this violence couldn’t be lower on the U.S. priority list. We actually had to fight to pass the Violence Against Women act.
Today, the pentagon is supposed to release a report that states there are more than 70 sexual assaults involving military personnel every day. Every day. The U.S. military. Where do you think this report is going to be in today’s news cycle? How long will it stay in the news? Who is going to keep it there? Which politicians are going keep bringing attention to the crimes against women? Who is going to lead the action to finally stop it?
The violence that happened to Amanda Berry, GIna DeJesus and Michelle Knight is all of our responsibility. These sex crimes and gender crimes are not perpetuated by the Taliban or some another foreign government but are happening right here in the USA.
Violence against women is an epidemic in this country: One in four women (25%) has experienced domestic violence in her lifetime and on average, more than three women are murdered by their intimate partners in this country every day. Every day.
Smart said she “felt so dirty and so filthy” after she was raped by her captor, and she understands why someone wouldn’t run “because of that alone.”
Smart spoke at a Johns Hopkins human trafficking forum, saying she was raised in a religious household and recalled a school teacher who spoke once about abstinence and compared sex to chewing gum.
“I thought, ‘Oh, my gosh, I’m that chewed up piece of gum, nobody re-chews a piece of gum, you throw it away.’ And that’s how easy it is to feel like you know longer have worth, you know longer have value,” Smart said. “Why would it even be worth screaming out? Why would it even make a difference if you are rescued? Your life still has no value.”
Thank God Elizabeth Smart has the courage to speak publicly about what happened to her. Thank God Amanda Berry had the courage to scream yesterday. It’s time for the United States to stop pointing the finger at everyone else and get a clue. Be the leader of the free world that you claim to be. Set an example. Stopping violence against women should be this country’s highest priority.
Eve Ensler is the founder of V-Day and One Billion Rising, movements to end violence against women. End it. That’s exactly how Ensler thinks, and that’s why she is one of my heroes.
Here’s info about One Billion Rising:
ONE IN THREE WOMEN ON THE PLANET WILL BE RAPED OR BEATEN IN HER LIFETIME.
ONE BILLION WOMEN VIOLATED IS AN ATROCITY
ONE BILLION WOMEN DANCING IS A REVOLUTION
On V-Day’s 15th Anniversary, 14 February 2013, we are inviting ONE BILLION women and those who love them to WALK OUT, DANCE, RISE UP, and DEMAND an end to this violence. ONE BILLION RISING will move the earth, activating women and men across every country. V-Day wants the world to see our collective strength, our numbers, our solidarity across borders.
What does ONE BILLION look like? On 14 February 2013, it will look like a REVOLUTION.
Driving my three daughters to school this morning, I heard Ensler on the radio talkingabout her journeys around the world to record stories from women about the invisible but widespread violence that so many people continue to ignore. Ensler said that in the U.S., people always ask her if she gets overwhelmed. She said (paraphrasing here to the best of my memory): “Of course I get overwhelmed. You should get overwhelmed! Are we so fragile, that we are afraid to feel? If you can’t feel, you cant act, and you can’t change.”
It reminded me of something I read recently, that humans are designed to experience emotions. Our bodies– without the controlling interferences so many of us use like drugs, food, or staying stuck in our heads– are designed to experience emotions in waves. They crest and then they recede. It’s what our anatomy is set up for. They don’t kill us, we survive. What would happen if we stopped being so afraid to feel? How do you think our world would change?
Here’s an excerpt from Ensler’s latest book, I Am an Emotional Creature.
I AM AN EMOTIONAL CREATURE
“I love being a girl.
I can feel what you’re feeling
as you’re feeling it inside
I am an emotional creature.
Things do not come to me
as intellectual theories or hard-shaped ideas.
They pulse through my organs and legs
and burn up my ears.
I know when your girlfriend’s really pissed off
even though she appears to give you what
I know when a storm is coming.
I can feel the invisible stirrings in the air.
I can tell you he won’t call back.
It’s a vibe I share.
I am an emotional creature.
I love that I do not take things lightly.
Everything is intense to me.
The way I walk in the street.
The way my mother wakes me up.
The way I hear bad news.
The way it’s unbearable when I lose.
I am an emotional creature.
I am connected to everything and everyone.
I was born like that.
Don’t you dare say all negative that it’s a
or it’s only only because I’m a girl.
These feelings make me better.
They make me ready.
They make me present.
They make me strong.
I am an emotional creature.
There is a particular way of knowing.
It’s like the older women somehow forgot.
I rejoice that it’s still in my body.
I know when the coconut’s about to fall.
I know that we’ve pushed the earth too far.
I know my father isn’t coming back.
That no one’s prepared for the fire.
I know that lipstick means
more than show.
I know that boys feel super-insecure
and so-called terrorists are made, not born.
I know that one kiss can take
away all my decision-making ability
and sometimes, you know, it should.
This is not extreme.
It’s a girl thing.
What we would all be
if the big door inside us flew open.
Don’t tell me not to cry.
To calm it down
Not to be so extreme
To be reasonable.
I am an emotional creature.
It’s how the earth got made.
How the wind continues to pollinate.
You don’t tell the Atlantic ocean
I am an emotional creature.
Why would you want to shut me down
or turn me off?
I am your remaining memory.
I am connecting you to your source.
Nothing’s been diluted.
Nothing’s leaked out.
I can take you back.
I love that I can feel the inside
of the feelings in you,
even if it stops my life
even if it hurts too much
or takes me off track
even if it breaks my heart.
It makes me responsible.
I am an emotional
I am an emotional, devotional,
And I love, hear me,
love love love
being a girl.”
Helping your child develop a resilient spirit is one of the best things you can do as a parent. The ability to bounce back from failures and adapt to unpredictable situations will help your kids reach their full potential and live happier lives as adults. And an easy way to help boost your kids’ resilience is to put them in a gentle headlock and give them a noogie.
Roughhousing requires your child to adapt quickly to unpredictable situations. One minute they might be riding you like a horse and the next they could be swinging upside-down. According to evolutionary biologist Marc Bekoff in his book Wild Justice, the unpredictable nature of roughhousing actually rewires a child’s brain by increasing the connections between neurons in the cerebral cortex, which in turn contributes to behavioral flexibility. Learning how to cope with sudden changes while roughhousing trains your kiddos to cope with unexpected bumps in the road when they’re out in the real world.
This theory resonated with me because if I could define health in one word it would be “resilience” and sickness would be “stuck.”
Roughhousing as a positive influence for kids seems consistent with what Po Bronson wrote about years ago in Nurture Shock: New Thinking About Children. According to Bronson’s research, you don’t compliment the kid on the finished task, but on the effort. The most important skill for success and happiness is learning to tolerate frustration and learning to work through it. Rewarding the process, not the end goal. (Artists, are you listening?)
Art of Manliness describes roughhousing as just that:
Additionally, roughhousing helps develop your children’s grit and stick-to-itiveness. You shouldn’t just let your kids “win” every time when you roughhouse with them. Whether they’re trying to escape from your hold or run past you in the hallway, make them work for it. Playtime is a fun and safe place to teach your kids that failure is often just a temporary state and that victory goes to the person who keeps at it and learns from his mistakes.
Remarkably, back to testing:
Psychologist Anthony Pellegrini has found that the amount of roughhousing children engage in predicts their achievement in first grade better than their kindergarten test scores do. What is it about rough and tumble play that makes kids smarter? Well, a couple things.
First, as we discussed above, roughhousing makes your kid more resilient and resilience is a key in developing children’s intelligence. Resilient kids tend to see failure more as a challenge to overcome rather than an event that defines them. This sort of intellectual resilience helps ensure your children bounce back from bad grades and gives them the grit to keep trying until they’ve mastered a topic.
In addition to making students more resilient, roughhousing actually rewires the brain for learning. Neuroscientists studying animal and human brains have found that bouts of rough-and-tumble play increase the brain’s level of a chemical called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). BDNF helps increase neuron growth in the parts of the brain responsible for memory, logic, and higher learning–skills necessary for academic success.
I love this theory from a feminist perspective as well. I am so sick of hearing about “boy energy.” As I’ve written about extensively on this blog, girls are not intrisically quieter than boys. Boys’s roughhousing is tolerated, but girls are told to settle down and be quiet. They are rewarded when they do. I see this all the time, and I’m sure you do too. Not to mention ridiculous generalizations like girls are “artsy” and literary, quiet activities. Girls are “artsy” when its about construction paper and Elmers’ glue. If we’re talking great artists, paintings that sell for the most money, or shows at the MOMA, all of a sudden, it’s boys who are artsy. The same is true with “great” writers; wow, men are verbal! Who knew? Not to mention “cooking” becomes masculine when we’re talking about great chefs and who gets the most cooking shows and awards. “Masculine” and “feminine” qualities have everything to do with stereotypes and status.
Today, when my fourth grade daughter brought home her weekly Scholastic News, which she has to read weekly for homework, I was horrified to see a full page article endorsing the new “The Biggest Loser” episodes with kids.
Kids don’t belong on reality TV at all, not to mention on a fat-shaming show that stereotypes and stigmatizes children based on their current body type.
At one point in last week’s season premiere, Jillian Michaels talks to the three kids about bullying, and tells them she’s here to help. While Michaels may have the best of intentions, her brand of helping means changing the kids to conform to the bullies’ standards, not challenging the norms that make the bullying okay in the first place. It’s fine if teens want to eat healthy and get in shape—go for it you healthy teens!—but exploiting fat kids on national television in an environment that is known to be unrealistic and risky just so NBC can get more ratings is all kinds of wrong. And the more research we see, the more we learn that fat and health aren’t as closely related as we thought—which makes The Biggest Loser: Chubby Kid Edition even worse.
this odious piece of programming’s definition of mentoring means exposure to fat shaming, intensely restrictive diets, and excessive exercise.The Biggest Loser is synonymous with fueling a national environment that promotes fat phobia, body shaming, and unhealthy means of weight loss…But attempting to integrate youth into the most fat-shaming, weight loss glorifying TV show in America just to expand the target audience is horrifying. Our society is already massively confused about the relationship between size and health and riddled with misconceptions that one is an indicator of the other.
There’s certainly an argument to be made that reality TV has no business putting kids in the limelight. There is just no telling how it might impact young lives 20 years from now.
At the very least, the idea of putting kids on this program to improve their health is highly debatable. In fact, when my daughter told me that there was an article that made her uncomfortable, I assumed she was talking about the debate section of the mag, where one kid supports something and another kid is against it. But, no. “The Biggest Loser” piece is on page 2, presented with zero controversy. My daughter told me that she felt sorry for the boy, because people were making him feel bad for being fat. She said, “This is horrible. Why would they do that?” Am I supposed to tell her NBC just cares about his health?
Thank you! I decided to be and stay childfree for the following reason: I’m asexual. The very thought of getting so close to a person repulses me. Also, I don’t like kids that much. But when people ask you this when you get a new job then that’s just horrible and a bit sad that they focus their attention towards this (you can’t get fired where I live if you get pregnant so that’s not a problem). Btw, I’m not outet do anyone but my closest friends so I guess even my parents might start asking questions…
I was intrigued by this comment, because I hadn’t heard anyone identify themselves as asexual before. I was also interested her phraseology, that she wasn’t “out” to anyone but her closest friends. That sounds like how people talk about being gay. I wondered: is asexuality is an orientation? And if so, how come I’ve never heard of it? If I thought asexuality existed at all, I imagined it was a phase, a result of some kind of trauma, something to be healed.
Because this is 2013, all I needed was Google to tell me how biased and ignorant I am.
Asexuality has 833,000 Google matches, not much compared to homosexuality at almost 27 million, but nothing to sneeze at.
An asexual person is defined as someone who does not experience sexual attraction. Asexuality differs from celibacy in that it is not a choice. Everything I found on the internet reports that asexuality is an orientation, not a defect. Asexual people have the same emotional needs as anyone else. They also can find people aesthetically attractive but still are not sexually attracted to them. They often have a romantic orientation. Emotional and romantic attraction are not the same as sexual attraction.Here is how the Asexuality Visibility Network describes it:
Many asexual people experience attraction, but we feel no need to act out that attraction sexually. Instead we feel a desire to get to know someone, to get close to them in whatever way works best for us. Asexual people who experience attraction will often be attracted to a particular gender, and will identify as lesbian, gay, bi, or straight.
Most asexual people have been asexual for their entire lives. It is not something that develops. It can be isolating and lonely to be asexual, but it doesn’t have to be. The key, as with everything, seems to be self-acceptance. Asexual people are often happy with who they are and many of them are also in long term, intimate but asexual relationships. Some are with sexual partners, but from what I’ve read so far, I don’t really get how that works. It seems to be a pretty individual thing.
After I read about asexuality, I was at a party and asked some people there about what I learned. No one I talked to had heard anything about asexuality. This group, by the way, included academics well versed in jargon like “heteronormative.”
To me, it seems like asexuality is further evidence that identity is far more complex and varied than we make it out to me. The way that many of us have one, rigid lens of looking at asexual people (as dysfunctional) that is so inaccurate, makes me think of the limited way people look at gender roles, so certain of ridiculous assumptions.
My guess is that we will be hearing more about asexuality in the future.