March 31, 2010

Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , , , at 6:31 pm by Gina

When I first walked in to the theater I was surprised by how many people already filled the limited amount of seats, evidence that there is a hunger to hear about these issues and perhaps an excitement to get rid of them. I’ve come to hear a presentation from Courtney Martin about her book, Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters, and how “the quest for perfection is harming young women.”

Courtney, a young writer and graduate from Barnard as well as NYU has a personality so friendly and relatable it is easy to feel comfortable around her, as if she is a close friend. Characteristics that, to me, make her all the more qualified to write a book on the struggles of young women.

She says outright, “I am not an expert on eating disorders, nutrition, health, or psychology, but I do have expertise in quiet desperation…In this book, I act as an observer, an outraged idealist, a story teller, a bleeding heart, an eavesdropper, and an ordinary young woman.”

Courtney begins by asking us to close our eyes and imagine our morning.

“One minute debating whether to have a bagel and be “bad” or a protein shake and be “good”; two minutes chastising yourself for choosing the bagel: two minutes contemplating how fattening the cream cheese was. Three minutes poking your face in the mirror, feeling bad about the dark circles under your eyes. Four minutes reading that Lindsay Lohan lost a bunch of weight; another minute chastising yourself for being so vulnerable to the media; five minutes thinking about how crazy it is that woman as smart as you spend so much of their days obsessing about food and fitness…”

The list goes on to include contemplating decisions such as chicken sandwich vs. salad, gym vs. nap and dinner eating plans. Think about your own day, how much of it is spent chastising yourself? Everyone wants to be healthy, but it is not healthy if it comes with a side of hatred, discouragement and obsession. All told, women spend about 100 minutes a day scrutinizing instead of loving their bodies. These are ambitious, driven, impatient women who have settled on wasting this time and energy obsessing over their bodies.

What fascinates me most about her book is the focus not just on eating and body image disorders, but also on the perfectionism that seems to have taken over our generation. We were raised by parents of a feminist, rebellious generation who taught us “we can do anything” and yet we heard “we must do everything.” It is this complex that is also represented in the title of Martin’s book—Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters.

I am positive that everyone knows the perfect girl. They have struggled with it themselves and seen their peers/relatives/friends struggle as well. Perfect girls are the captains of our sports teams, honor roll students, winners of scholarships, peacemakers, do-gooders, socially conscious and involved. We have 5-year plans and must be thin, beautiful and effortlessly perfect.

On the other hand, the starving daughters are dying for attention, recognition, a hug. They are constantly being pushed away by the perfect girl who only wants to show the world her beauty, strength and willpower, not her doubt, fears and cravings. The starving daughters are tired of trying so hard all the time and constantly being at war with the perfect girl.

I am not trying to blame the media, our parents or our friends. I am not trying to say that every person you know has an eating disorder, and I don’t think Courtney is either. Instead, this book brings to attention the harm that destructive thoughts and attitudes can have to one’s well-being, which, in a world where two-thirds of females ages 18-35 would rather be mean or stupid than fat, is something every single person has to conquer to some degree.

A few weekends ago I came home from school stressed and emotionally drained from trying to support a friend I know who struggles with some of these same problems. Collapsing on the couch I looked at both of my parents and genuinely thanked them for never making me feel like I had to be perfect, I did that to myself more than enough.

Don’t wait until you are 50 to love yourself, life is too short and perfect is far too boring. 🙂

With love,
Gina

~If you are interested in hearing Courtney speak and read excerpts from her book click here

~Much of this post was paraphrased from Courtney’s book. I encourage you to check it out!

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March 18, 2010

Lonely Glasses!

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , at 10:35 am by Gina

Hi all!

Well, finals week is nearly over, thank goodness!! And in my brain-is-fried, just-want-to-be-home, procrastinating state of mind I stumbled over something pleasant and unique! They are “lonely glasses” from Jess Atkinson, a designer based in Toronto, Canada.

In the words of the designer they are, “a pair of non-prescription glasses that function as an anti-lonely device, giving the user the feeling of being surrounded by people when worn.”

I love the simplicity and goofiness! Anytime you’re feeling lonely just put them on and your loved ones will surround you 🙂

Have you ever stumbled across anything that is simply “feel good” stuff? We would love it if you shared!! Websites, stories, random-everyday things, anything! My personal list includes picture texts of my nephew, finding great new music, chocolate milk and pennies on heads, among others.

Here’s to finding joy in the little things!

~Gina

February 18, 2010

“I follow lyrics”…BHM Part Two!

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 2:10 am by Gina

Ladies,

Part 2 of my Black History Month tribute= VIDEOS!!

Three powerful singers, leaders and career women!

First:
You all know her, the “Queen of Soul” and multiple Grammy Winner-Aretha Franklin! You may have seen her more recently celebrating the Inauguration of President Obama last year:

Respect

Second:
This artist may not be as popular as the other two, but her amazing voice and insightful lyrics have always made me pay attention. This song not only reminds us of all the things we do for “beauty,” but also the quest to find our individual beauty and own it- all from a black woman’s perspective. As women we know that something as “simple” as your hair is not simple at all- I think this song shows that! 🙂

I Am Not My Hair

You might remember Arie’s particular haircut around the production of this song:

LASTLY:
BEYONCE!! Of course ladies, I mean come on, how could I not put a video of Beyonce here? She is the most powerful black female singer of our generation…or at least I think so.

Listen

This song is the perfect girl anthem. For yourself, for your family, for the man in your life, whoever! Remember to follow YOUR dreams. “Listen to the song here in my heart/ A melody I start but I will complete”

So listen to the songs, take in the message, dance in your room (or office, it can be done!) and Happy BHM!
~Gina Marie

February 11, 2010

Black History Month

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , at 7:20 pm by Gina

Readers!

Can you believe its February 11th and I haven’t done a post about Black History Month yet? Well get ready because I’m about to go Black History Post CRAZY! ha, that sentence barely made sense.

I want to begin with one of my favorite speeches/poems of all times- “Ain’t I a Woman?” This not only focuses on African-Americans (I say that because many people affected by this speech were Africans) it also focuses on Women.

Isabella Baumfree, known to most as Sojourner Truth was a powerful Woman’s Rights Activist, Abolitionist, Minister and Ex-Slave. This speech was given in 1851 at a women’s rights convention in Ohio (my home!) I encourage you to read the speech in its entirety, it really is worth it! (via)

Ain’t I a Woman?

“Well, children, where there is so much racket there must be something out of kilter. I think that ‘twixt the negroes of the South and the women at the North, all talking about rights, the white men will be in a fix pretty soon. But what’s all this here talking about?

That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain’t I a woman? Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain’t I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man – when I could get it – and bear the lash as well! And ain’t I a woman? I have borne thirteen children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother’s grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain’t I a woman?

Then they talk about this thing in the head; what’s this they call it? [member of audience whispers, “intellect”] That’s it, honey. What’s that got to do with women’s rights or negroes’ rights? If my cup won’t hold but a pint, and yours holds a quart, wouldn’t you be mean not to let me have my little half measure full?

Then that little man in black there, he says women can’t have as much rights as men, ’cause Christ wasn’t a woman! Where did your Christ come from? Where did your Christ come from? From God and a woman! Man had nothing to do with Him.

If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back, and get it right side up again! And now they is asking to do it, the men better let them.

Obliged to you for hearing me, and now old Sojourner ain’t got nothing more to say.”

Wow. Now imagine yourself there. Imagine the volatility of the time. Imagine what a scene this powerful speech would cause!

For now, in 2010, lets focus on the last paragraph: “These women together ought to be able to turn it [the world] back and get it right side up again!” I believe that this is true. We all know the power of a woman’s will- imagine it combined!!

Happy BHM!!
~Gina Marie

February 4, 2010

First Female Black Prisoner of War

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 1:37 am by Gina

Hey everyone,
I assume you are all familiar with Jessica Lynch? She was the 19-year old female soldier who was captured and became a prisoner of war in the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq. She became extremely popular in the media, but what you probably didn’t hear about was her fellow POW Shoshana Johnson, who was another soldier captured at the same time.

Johnson is the first female black prisoner of war- something pretty historic if you think about it. She is releasing a book in time for Black History Month called “I’m Still Standing,” talking about her experiences as a POW as well as what happened when she returned home. Johnson feels that the media ignored her story because of her race, or chose to portray her as greedy when she challenged a mental disability label she was given for her post traumatic stress disorder. Read more about Johnson and stories of her time captured here.
I am so surprised that I haven’t heard about Johnson’s story sooner, or saw more coverage of it at the time. It saddens me to think that media outlets purposeful ignored Johnson because of her race, but I am glad that she is now getting to tell her story.
Do you think the media made a huge judgement error in not giving Johnson more publicity?

Have a good day!
Jess

February 1, 2010

10 Things I’d Love To Tell My Younger Self

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , at 7:46 pm by Gina

Hello readers!

I saw this article from another blog I follow and immediately followed the link to read on. From Patricia Volonakis Davis, founder and editor-in-chief of Harlots’ Sauce Radio and e-magazine and author of her own memoir, we get a list of things learned. I’m just going to repeat exactly what she posted (boys you can get something out of this as well):

“I’ve learned some valuable things about life, love and being female over the past half-century. Here is the advice I try to pass on to younger women in my life (family and friends) in the hope that it will save them some precious time:

1) You are at least ten times prettier than you think you are.
That holds true no matter how pretty you already think you are! Don’t believe me? Ask your mother/auntie/grannie if she thought she was pretty when she was twenty. She’ll say, “no.” Then find a photo of her at that age. See what I mean?

2) The only thing you should be faking is confidence.
If you don’t have it yet, pretend you do. In every new situation, pretend you’re not nervous, pretend you’re not afraid. After a few times doing this, the pretend part disappears.

3) Want to try something new, like painting, skiing, running your own business? Go to the library and borrow ten different books on the subject.
Skim through them all, find the ones that have the most vital information and study them. Then see number 2.

4) No matter how old you get, remember what it was like to be a nine-year old girl.
Remember the feeling of freedom. If you’ve already forgotten, do a cartwheel. You can so still do one. Savour that feeling. Wake up with it every day. You’ll stay young until the day you die.

5)In the same vein, cut or potted flowers are never a waste of money.
Because every time we glance at them, they remind us how much beauty there can be in the world.

6) Speaking of money, starting right this moment, whether you’re twenty or sixty, you can change your finances around.
Don’t leave someone else completely in charge,whether it’s your husband, partner, parents or banker. Become financially saavy. Financial independence gives you the freedom to walk away from many bad situations. How do you know you’re in bad situation? See number seven.

7) If your stomach hurts and you haven’t got a virus, you’re in a bad situation.
Before you know what it is, your stomach always does. Give yourself some time to ponder what it might be that’s making your stomach hurt. Chances are you already do know, you just don’t want to believe it, for some reason. You can ignore advice from your friends, even your own brain, but you can’t ignore your stomach, because the stomach never lies. Oh, and by the way? – Drowning your stomach in alcohol won’t make it stop telling you the truth, either.

8 ) When meeting someone new and he or she seems to be behaving like an assh*le, show compassion first.
If after you display your sincere compassion, they are still acting like an assh*le, walk away. If they follow you, call the police.

9) Wear sunscreen on your face, neck and hands every day, winter and summer.
I don’t care how dark your skin naturally is. Wear it. You’ll remember me when you look in the mirror at age fifty. Always keep in mind that Your body is directly connected to your spirit. Look after your body. Exercise, floss and brush your teeth. Put nothing in your body that can permanently harm your spirit, including the wrong man.

10) And if you are in bed with a man and he’s the right man:
…meaning your stomach doesn’t hurt, he’s smiling at you, he knows your name, he’s not drunk and neither are you–for godsakes–enjoy yourself. He is not at all thinking about how fat your thighs look.

What warm, positive words on a cold day! So here is the challenge, make your own list! It can be 20, 10, 5, even 3 things (it is YOUR list after all) that you would love to tell yourself. Don’t list regrets, life is too short for that, rather, list the things you have the wisdom to see now, that you didn’t at a younger age and

    let us hear them!!

To encourage you all to share I’ll post my list:
1) Trust, love, and count on yourself, or else you’ll never be able to do those things for somebody else.
2) You really are prettier than you believe
3) Read and constantly educate yourself
4) Brush your teeth more often and wear your retainer!
5) Forgive and Forget a few more times, in the end love is better than resentment.
6) Talk to your grandparents more, you can’t imagine how much you’ll miss them when they’re gone.
7) On that note, don’t fight with your parents as much. Sure they are crazy, but to them so are you!
8 ) Never let other’s thoughts change the path you want to take
9) STOP worrying about money so much
10) STOP worrying so much in general, it’s hard but possible.

Love yourself!
~Gina Marie

January 21, 2010

Dumb Generals, Irresponsible Presidents

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 6:56 pm by Gina

“It may be his prerogative to be dumb, but that’s really not a very good idea.”
-Terry O’Neill, President of the National Organization for Women.

This quote completely caught my attention while flipping through an issue of TIME magazine. O’Neill is referring to a US Army general in Iraq, Anthony Cucolo III, who directed that female soldiers who become pregnant, as well as the male soldiers who impregnate them, be punished.

Ok, I know what you are thinking- “oh here come the wrath of the feminists.” Which, it seems isn’t so inaccurate, but that is not why I am posting this quote. There are many sides to this argument and many more points than would immediately come to mind. For one, you can’t punish someone for conceiving a child! On the other hand, taking an oath as a soldier means to fulfill extraordinary duties that span the length of your deployment- getting pregnant and unavoidably being sent home shatter that oath.

A Post commentary article that takes a slightly opposite side of O’Neill quotes Cucolo as saying,

“I appreciate the inflamed – I got it. Here’s the deal. I’m the one responsible and I mean this sincerely and I mean this with – I hope I’m not sounding – it doesn’t matter. I am the one responsible and accountable for these 22,000 soldiers. The National Organization for Women is not. Critics are not. I appreciate – I will listen to critics, and they add thought. But they actually don’t have to do anything. I have to accomplish a very complex mission, very complex.”

Apparently he doesn’t care how he sounds, and he means what he says. The author of the article mentioned above also points out that Cucolo’s order is equal for both men and women and does not punish women who are impregnated as a result of rape.

What do you think? Do you think it is a “dumb” idea as NOW does or do you find it brilliant? In-between? Terry O’Neill was criticized as the president of the “National Organization of Irresponsible Women” after exclaiming this about general Cucolo- do you agree? Tell me your thoughts!

~Gina

January 13, 2010

Kseniya’s Talent. What’s Yours?

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 2:50 am by Gina

Saw this video on another super blog and ended up watching all 8 minutes of it! Couldn’t help but admire Kseniya Simonova, the winner of ‘Ukraine’s Got Talent,’ and the amazing images she creates out of sand.

Makes me think, everyone has their thing. That one thing that you are good at, that no one else can do, that you do better. That thing that is quirky, positive, or just enjoyable to you. What is yours? Mine has changed over the years, first reading then swimming and now it’s…I don’t know what. I would love it if my thing was being optimistic, motivated, or what I’d like to think- making people laugh. What I CAN do is bend my pointer finger enough to touch the nail of that finger to the back of my hand… you?

To each his own,

Gina

December 22, 2009

Video Series: Part IV, Half The Sky

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , at 8:50 pm by Gina

Good Afternoon Ladies and welcome to Part Four of our video series!

This is about a book that many of you may have already heard of titled “Half the Sky” by Nicholas Kristof and his wife, Sheryl WuDunn.

With interviews on CARE, a segment on The Oprah Winfrey Show and a panel discussion in the United Nations among others it has caused quite a sensation! Adequately named off of a Chinese phrase that women hold up “half of the sky,” this book tries to lead women out of oppression and into opportunity. As its website says “The best way to fight poverty and extremism is to educate and empower women and girls.”

This clip from Oprah delves a little deeper into the importance of Kristof’s and WuDunn’s work:

An article by the two Pulitzer Prize winning authors titled “3 Things You Can Do to Empower Women” gives great suggestions on where to start:
1) Make Girls Smarter
-through proper vitamins and care during pregnancy and early years
2) Support a Woman’s Business
– With a microloan a woman is able to start her own business, in return supporting her family with more income.
3) Keep a Girl in School
– “A girl who gets an education will have fewer children, earn more money, and be able to help her younger siblings.”
Read the rest of the article here

Just think about this, if it was your mother or your daughter- you wouldn’t let it happen.

~Gina Marie

December 19, 2009

Video Series: Part 1, Odanadi Cycle

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , , at 3:16 pm by Gina

Hi all!

Everyone seemed to love the video I included in the CARE post, which is great because I loved it too! I have found a ton of informative, interesting, and awareness-bringing (yes I made that a word with a hyphen) videos celebrating and encouraging women!

This video I found on another fun blog was practically made to be seen by me! Traveling is my obsession, yoga is my hobby and volunteering is what makes me happy. Not to mention that India is on my list of dream places to visit and study. It is about 12 minutes long, but I promise it is worth it. Play it in the background while getting ready in the morning! Or with a cup of pumpkin spice coffee like I did 🙂

The only problem is, I can’t seem to figure out how to embed it in the post, but take a second to check out this beautiful video here: http://www.vimeo.com/8104963

“For 19 years Odanadi has been providing a safe haven for victims of human trafficking. They are committed to the rescue, rehabilitation and reintegration of enslaved women and children.”

Bye sisters,
Gina

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