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Archive for March, 2011

Women Worry Worst

Worry. 

I hate that word.  I feel like it is such a constant in my life.  I am definitely a worry wort.  Constantly worried.  Worried about my job, my husband and his job, family and their jobs, my health, their health what I eat and how I exercise, my savings account (or lack there of), whether or not this blog will ever help anyone, my dog’s allergies, the mess in my house, the environment/economy/country/world/blah blah blah blah.

Exhausting!!

Tully worries about everything. She is always terrified.

This may come as a complete shock to you (not) but women are actually twice as likely to suffer from worry-driven anxiety than men, according to the Anxiety Disorders Association of America.  Some studies say it’s in our DNA (thanks, hormones).  Others say it’s societal.  I think it’s a bit of both.

What’s sad is that it shows up even in young girls.  According to a Girl Scout Research Institute study, girls are generally more concerned than boys about issues such as getting along with friends, doing well in school and of course, how they look.  I hate this study: nearly half of the 3- to 6- year old girls worried about being fat.  (I also hate the title of the study: Too Fat to be a Princess.  As if being a princess is something we hope our girls are aiming for.  But that’s a post for another time.) 

Our society definitely plays a role.  The stakes are higher these days.  Women are expected to do more and to do it well.  The line between work and personal life is completely blown (thanks, Droid) and we continue to focus our goals on material things: money, houses, clothes, etc.  We’ve gotten away from the basics that used to keep us grounded. 

Of course we worry.

Nova never worries. She keeps it real. All she ever wants is to play fetch.

The good thing is, worry is controllable.  There are plenty of coping mechanisms out there.  First off, you have to start with taking care of yourself.  That means an appropriate amount of exercise and healthy, whole foods.  That means taking time out for yourself, even if it’s just 10 minutes, to reconnect to what really matters to you.  Say a prayer.  Take a walk.  Do some yoga (which I HIGHLY suggest you try if you haven’t). Read a book.  Sit outside.  Watch a marathon of Real Housewives or whatever mindless TV you like.  Whatever makes you happy and calm. 

During really difficult times, it might mean reaching out for help, whether that be talking to a loved one or even seeking professional therapy.  I think therapy is the greatest thing ever invented and I will never understand why it’s so taboo.  People who go to therapy are not the crazy ones.  They are, in fact, the smart ones.

So take a deep breath.  Count to 10.  And go to your happy place (as my mom would say).

My happy place.

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This has been quite the week and I just haven’t had time to post yesterday.  Trying to be okay with this blog being far less than “perfect”!  So here’s a little something I stumbled upon this morning and wanted to share.

When I saw this video posted on 7Wonderlicious, a great blog by the way, I just had to repost it here.  I’ve seen this before and really admire Jean Kilbourne for her work in raising awareness about the way advertising portrays women.  Her series Killing Us Softly brings light to the sexualization and objectification of women’s bodies in advertising.  Once you become aware of how widespread this issue is, you will never look at ads the same way again.

Here’s one of her Killing Us Softly pieces.  You can find others on YouTube.

This is just another reason why we have to talk to kids and get their attention early, before the advertisers do.

What do you think of this negative use of advertising space?  Do you think it’s an issue?

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The Barbie Effect

Barbie and Ken are really getting up there in age.  Last week, Barbie turned 52 and this Friday, Ken will earn his AARP card as he turns the big 5-0.  For half a century, the iconic dolls have made an impact on the lives of our little girls and perhaps even our little boys.  But has that impact been a positive one?

People call it the “Barbie Effect.”  Her impossibly tiny frame creates an unrealistic expectation of what the woman’s body could ever be.  At a 1/6 scale, Barbie in real life would be 5 foot 9 and have measurements of 36 (chest), 18 (waist) and 33 (hips).  The average American is 39-34-42 and even the classic derogatory songs claim that 36-24-36 is perfection.  But an 18 inch waist on a 5 foot 9 woman?  I don’t think so.

 The most disturbing thing I found about Barbie was the 1965 Slumber Party doll.  She came with several accessories including a scale permanently set to 110 (which by the way would give her a BMI of 16.2) and a book entitled How to Lose Weight which suggested, “Don’t eat!”  Just what every 8 year old needs to know! 

By the way, the matching Slumber Party Ken got milk and cookies for his accessories.  There was also a Barbie who proclaimed both “I love shopping!” but also “Math class is tough.”  And then there’s also the issue of the lack of Barbie dolls of different races.  Sure there are a few, but in the past they have had their issues as well.

All of this information can certainly get the blood boiling but at the end of the day, can be blame the lack of self-esteem and poor body image our girls have on Barbie dolls?!?  Are Barbie dolls really toxic to young girls growing up?  Some people say yes.  What do you think?

I had a really hard time with this because I had Barbie dolls and I LOVED them.  I had a whole collection of them with outfits, houses and even a Barbie limo.  (Gosh I loved that thing!)  So my first reaction to this was, “I loved Barbie dolls and I turned out okay!”

And then I realized, “Oh wait.  Except for that whole eating disorder/poor body image thing.”  Right.  Forgot about that.

But there’s no way I could blame all of those issues on the fact that I played with Barbie dolls when I was young.  In my mind, the Barbie Effect is similar to the way media affects all of us today.  You cannot say eating disorders are caused by the media (or by Barbies).  However, I do think they play a role.  If someone is predisposed to eating disorders to begin with, these negative messages can push them into those unhealthy behaviors or can make it that much harder for them to recover. 

I feel like conscious consumerism is important here.  You can’t shelter yourself (or your daughter/sister/niece/cousin) from Barbies or the media but you can be aware of their possible negative effects.  When you’re conscious of this, you can balance them out by being a positive role model yourself and not being afraid to start conversations about why those expectations are so unrealistic.  You can focus on the real things that matter such as education (math class doesn’t have to be “tough”), giving back (community service is the best confidence booster) and of course, positive body image (we’re all different and our imperfections make us beautiful).

So what do you think?  Are Barbie dolls toxic to little girls?

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In the wake of International Women’s Day, I wanted to talk about a few of the major successes we’ve had as women.  I think it’s easy to get carried away with our demands for more everything and we forget to stop and take a look at how far we’ve come, particularly in this country.   

Let’s be real.  In America, we are insanely lucky.  We have so many rights and freedoms, accessible health care (I know…the level of health care might be debatable but there are doctors on every street corner…that’s more than most African nations can say), opportunities for quality education and so much more.  American women seem to have it all.

We are able, in this wonderful country, to push as hard as we need to push to get that top position in the company.  We might only be paid 80 cents the man’s dollar, but we are getting paid.  We can start our own companies and be our own boss.  We can be the boss of hundreds of others – including men.  We can express ourselves freely through blogs, through books, through magazines, through speech.  We can vote on who will lead our country and, more importantly, one day, one of us will take that seat in the Oval Office.  It’s only a matter of time. 

Of course, all of that privilege does take its toll.  It creates the demand for the Superwoman and puts unrealistic pressures on women to look perfect, work their butts off to climb the ladder to the top and still maintain their dainty, pleasant female personalities

But at least we have those opportunities.  And most importantly, we have the power and the brains to make the changes that still need to be made.  We have the power to help our sisters in countries around the world who are not nearly as blessed as we are.  We have the power to be the women we want to be and to help lead the country, and the world, towards equality.

And on that note, I leave with this awesome video released yesterday.  James Bond for equality?

It’s only a matter of time, ladies.

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(Just a small programming note – I’ve decided to post every Wednesday.  I wanted to do it more often but having two jobs that involve extensive writing, I think I need to push it to once a week.  I hope you’ll still visit!  Now – back to your regularly scheduled program.)

Advertising is ridiculous.  On average, Americans see up to 5000 ads per day (up from about 500 in the ’70s).  Per DAY!  Internet, television, magazine, billboards.  It’s exhausting!  And those ads are taking a toll on our mental health.

Have you ever seen this video?  I love the Dove Self-Esteem Fund for all it does with the Girl Scouts and just in general.  This video speaks for itself.



Think about it.  There is someone (not to go all feminist on ya’ll, but probably a man) behind the scenes at these magazines/advertising agencies who takes a look at a picture and says, “Her neck needs to be longer, her face slimmer, her arms more toned, her tummy flatter, her hair shinier, her skin clearer, blah blah blah…”  The NERVE!  We should all be up in arms about this.  What would you do if someone said that to your face?  In a way, they’re saying it to us all indirectly.  And it makes me sick.

Some ads are not so tricky with their messaging some, at least to me, are flat-out ridiculous.  I have got to vent about the 3D Crest Whitestrip commercials out today.  They drive me nuts! 

Exhibit A:

http://bcove.me/djv2d3b3  (Sorry I couldn’t embed it.  I’m still learning WordPress.)

Attention ladies!  You had better have white teeth if you want to get a man.  Or else you are unlovable!  (Umm, excuse me, did everyone see her teeth?   And did anyone see anything wrong with them?  They were PERFECT!)

There’s another one out now two where the girl gets a call from her friend who wants her to go to a movie premiere with her in 2 hours.  The girl takes a look at her teeth in the mirror and whips out the Crest Whitestrips.  But yet again – her teeth were PERFECTLY white!!!

The thing with these advertisers (many of which are men – I’m sorry, it’s just true!) is that they try to prey on our weaknesses and insecurities.  We all have them and many of the have deep roots. 

That’s why, the key to fighting back against these advertisers is confidence.

If we’re confident enough to know that our teeth are just fine the way they are and that we are beautiful without airbrushing, then there will be no need for all these ridiculous things people are trying to sell us. 

There are so many advertisements that drive me nuts.  Which ads are bothering you these days?

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