Archive for July, 2008
In Warren, a crowd of girls ages 8-13 runs a 5-kilometer course with race bibs proudly pinned to their lavender shirts. Every bib has the same number: 1.
In Dundee, girls line up at the start of a summer 5K in funny hats they decorated themselves, with prizes going to the largest, the smallest, the silliest.
In Holland, hundreds of girls in bubblegum-colored shirts pour into the Wondergirl 5K, creating a wave of pink that splashes across the starting line.
Across Michigan, young girls are discovering athletic talents they never thought they had — and learning a lot about how to handle schoolyard pressures along the way. They’re part of Girls on the Run… More…
So begins an article by Heather Newman in the Detroit Free Press that I just came across about Girls on the Run and the impact it is having on girls in Michigan. Girls on the Run is a non-profit prevention program that works with girls (from 8 to 13) to encourage them to build healthy lifestyles fueled with self-respect. Participants come together twice a week for 75 minutes for 10 weeks to train for a 5k and to discuss issues like body image, self-esteem, relationships, and being in community. It was founded by a fabulous woman, Molly Barker.
When Hijas Americanas was released, it was important to me to use the opportunities I had to talk about body image, beauty perception, and ethnic identity to support an organization that was championing those ideals. Girls on the Run was a natural fit and a dear friend came up with the design of the byoo-tee tee. All of the proceeds go to benefit Girls on the Run.
Across North America, Girls on the Run will start another semester of programming this fall, and I would love for them to start with all the funds possible from the sale of the byoo-tee tees. The t-shirts cost $20 (this include shipping and handling) and are fair trade, sweat-shop free tees. The fitted natural ones are made of organic cotton. Three fits remain (while quanities last). In the natural, fitted style, there are 4 small, 7 medium, 3 extra large tees available. In the natural loose style, there is 1 xxxl tee remaining. In the grey vneck, there are one medium, 9 large, and 9 extra large tees remaining. Want to place an order? Send me an e-mail letting me know which shirt and how many you want to email@example.com with BYOO-TEE ORDER in the subject line, and we’ll work out the details.
I’ve given the tees for birthday and holiday gifts, and my friends have really loved them. The fit is great. The cotton is really soft. And the message is spunky and positive. A school teacher told me this past week that she and one of her best teaching friends wear their t-shirts on Fridays (dress down days) to send their students a message. I loved that story! Let’s get the message to redefine beauty out everywhere while helping a great effort that is doing exactly that!
Hot damn. You know how I have been on a bit of a sabbatical with my summer, trying to slowly proceed so that I can make sure that I am not just impulsively doing work just to do it (as opposed to doing what I do because I must, because to not do it is more painful than doing it). Well, I made that declaration for the beginning of June. And, finally, at the end of July, I am seeing the fruits of that effort. It took a while because there were a couple unexpected trips that had to be made which meant that I had to work a wee bit more intensely then I had planned to during the time that I was home. But, now, everything that I had committed to pre-sabbatical is in, and there is a lovely blank slate before me. I realized that I was stepping into that clearing last week and so I thought about what I wanted to do with my days, what work I wanted to concentrate on and what work would be like my brain candy. And then I had another little epiphany that is on par with my realization that I should never leave my house for anything in the morning unless I am prepared for the fact that I really won’t get any writing done that afternoon (other than my workout which will only get done if it’s done first thing. Stay with me; I know I am quirky) , I realized that I should be working in blocks of time. Before, I tried to do a little bit of all of my gigs everyday. I’d break things into 60 or 90 minute chunks and so I’d work on book stuff, article stuff, teaching stuff, non-profit stuff, and speaking engagement stuff all in the same day. But this past Friday, I remembered this notion that I had when I decided to write full-time. I had thought that I could have designated days: two days for magazine writing, 2 days for teaching writing and other workshops, and 1 day for volunteering- each week a routine. But, instantly, as assignments started coming in, I let the idea of that go and everything just happened on any day. And now, I am circling back around to that ide– wondering if I had something back then when I was thinking about compartmentalizing my days. So, I decided to try it this week. Monday was books/blogs day. My to do list was filled with items that really only had to do with those two items. And walla!– turns out I had enough time to complete two enormous book tasks that have been hanging over my head. Item # 1: getting a book proposal out to a publisher. Done by 10 am. Then # 2: create notecards for all of my ideas for each chapter of said book then organize those notecards into a file box divided by chapter. It took me until 4 in the afternoon (I did have a long lunch break to see a friend from college who was passing through town), but it’s a thing of beauty and it just felt so satisfying to get it done. Tuesday was a little less productive because I had a dental cleaning in the morning (no cavities!)– clearly I scheduled that appointment 6 months ago before I made my rule of no morning meetings- but it was freelancing day, and I got a big assignment in pretty ahead of deadline and then worked on scheduling interviews and doing research for 3 other articles. And, finally, I had the moment of extreme gratitude for moving more deliberately with my work when two offers came through in the afternoon to write essays for two different publications– a hip magazine that I love, love, love and a book project that is just so cool and in line with my values and priorities as a person (more on those when they are closer to being published, I’m sure). I could say yes to both of them because I had made the room for them– unknowingly and yet hopefully- over the last two months. Wednesday is a half and half day. The morning is to be spent working on my freelance stuff and the afternoon will be spent on Circle de Luz stuff. Thursday is a freelancing morning and a planning my body image class afternoon (ie: write lesson plans for at least 1 seminar, if not two). Friday is back to book writing. I plan to start work on a different book proposal and do a couple writing samples for it. I am not certain, because it hasn’t been that long, but I sure do feel like I am entering the zone.
I just came across a write-up on a new documentary, America the Beautiful, and it looks incredible. When Darryl Roberts, a former entertainment reporter in Chicago, approached 200 women on the streets of Chicago and asked them if they felt attractive, only 2 of them said yes. “It’s not all that complicated. I started doing the math, and if 198 women are saying ‘no,’ that means 99% of women feel unattractive. More than that, they blamed those feelings about themselves on all the magazines they read,” he says in S. James Snyder’s New York Sun artcile of the impetus to create the movie which he describes as an effort “to link pop culture to the way it makes kids and adults feel, and then draws a line between that and the resulting fallout.”
Check out the trailer and article by S. James Snyder in the New York Sun and then look for it at a theater near you. Upcoming dates include New York City on August 1, Los Angeles on August 22, Portland on August 29 and Minneapolis, Denver, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Washington DC, Seattle, Atlanta, St. Louis, Miami, and Dallas.
Nancy Bruno is an award winning documentary photographer who captures thirty-five women of all ages in a moment that shows what makes them beautiful in their present moment in Beautiful Women: Celebrating Beauty in Stories and Stills.
What women must know: That your physical body is such a small part of your overall beauty and what defines you as a woman. Beauty shines from within – it is how you meet your challenges and carry your life experiences that make you beautiful.
This opening sentence to a new report grabbed my attention this weekend-
Adolescent girls who had a serious school failure by the 12th grade — being expelled, suspended or dropping out — were significantly more likely to have suffered a serious bout of depression at the age of 21 than girls who did not have these problems.
-and reminded me how important the effort is that we are making with Circle de Luz. By rewarding girls in the seventh grade because of the promise we see in them and letting them know that our belief in them comes with emotional and resource support and a minimum of a $5000 scholarship when they graduate from high school and pursue further education, we believe that we can positively affect their futures. We can help them avoid poverty, increase their likelihood for job stability, and, as this study indicates, decrease their likelihood of depression (33% of girls who drop out experience depression as compared to 19% of girls who do not drop out).
As of today, 42 women have committed $29,540 to support the Class of 2014′s scholarship recipients. The 42 female donors, called M’ijas, commit to donate at least $90 a year (their contributions are due in two equally divided payments each year– one on September 15 and one on March 15) for six years to go towards the scholarship funds. The contributions of all donors for an individual class are combined to create the scholarship fund. For every $5000 contributed, we select one scholarship recipient. Over the six years of the program, the funds sit in interest baring accounts until they are divided among the scholarship recipeints upon their high school graduation and enrollment into the next educational program of their choice. We are just 1 donor away from selecting 6 scholarship recipients this fall that we will then work with until their high school graduation. Want to be a part of the movement? Visit the Circle de Luz how to join page to learn more.
The Bikini Team is a group of women in my town, who are now over 50, who have been friends for decades and meet throughout the summer at the local swimming hole (which is really the town pool) to visit, tan, and champion each other. They wrote Bikini is a State of Mind a few years ago and the concept is now being considered for a television sitcom. Check out their story.
Talk to me long enough about life, and I’ll recommend Anne Lamott’s non-fiction to you. Got a new baby that you don’t know what to do with it (and think that you are only person who ever felt this way), pick up Operating Instructions. Need some coaching on a writing life? Try Bird by Bird. Got some spiritural journeying going on, try Traveling Mercies, Plan B or Grace (Eventually).
I am in the midst of reading Grace (Eventually) and just had to stop and write about the essay I just finished. A Field Theory of Beauty starts with Anne’s little boy, Sam, holding her face and saying, “I love that little face.” Oh, to see ourselves as children do with all that kindness and ungilted eyes. I want you to take your cheeks in your hands next time you are saying unkind things to your self in the mirror and just say, “I love that little face” to your self. I think we’d all be a lot kinder to ourselves if we made a habit of saying that daily.
Anyway, you would have thought I was at church the way I was reacting to the essay. When she wrote, “This culture’s pursuit of beauty is a crazy, sick, losing game, for women, men, teenagers, and with the need to increase advertising revenues, now for pre-adolescents, too,” I thought “Amen!” And when she wrote, “if you cannot see that you’re okay now, you won’t be able to see it if you lose twenty pounds. It’s an inside job,” I thought, “preach it, sister!”
There are other essays that I have been marking up with my Bic # 2 Mechanical Pencil that I’m sure I’ll share with you later. In the meantime, if you want more scoop now, check out this review of Grace (Eventually).
I met a dynamic photographer last month who is working on an interesting project in our area. Consider it an artsy, local version of learning how to look good naked! Here is what Ginger originally told me about her project: These are fully nude sessions with women who don’t like aspects of their bodies, and we collaborate on a session that helps them focus on how beautiful their bodies really are. One of my favorite comments after a session (before she’d even seen her images) was a woman who told me “That process was worth 1,000 spa treatments! It made me appreciate my body in a whole new way!”
Interested in taking part? Here’s the scoop from Ginger:
I’m looking for women ages 18-110 with interesting bodies, REAL bodies, natural bodies! Different ethnic backgrounds, etc. Models will be paid $15/hr (sessions typically run 2 hours) or may opt for 3 8×10 photographer’s choice portraits from their session (a $225 value!) All models will need to sign a model release. I’m having the hardest time especially finding older models (50+) and models with darker skin…
Anyone who is interested in participating can email/mail me the following:
- ONE photo only (must’ve been taken within the past year)
- contact information
- indicate if they are willing to have their face in the finished art piece
- a paragraph about what she LOVES about her body and anything she struggles with or doesn’t like… I don’t just mean “my thighs” … I want to hear WHY you don’t like your thighs and what do your likes and dislikes about your body represent? Spiritually, emotionally, philosophically, socially… this may take a few minutes, but it will REALLY help us make an incredibly meaningful experience for the photograph and contribute to an incredibly powerful exhibit also!!!
firstname.lastname@example.org or Ginger Wagoner, Photosynthesis, Inc., 1117 Harding Place, Charlotte NC 28204
than when you are talking to your daughter.
I spoke yesterday at the Alpha Delta Kappa Southeastern Region Conference in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Alpha Delta Kappa is an organization for women educators. The talk was on how to consciously develop sisterhood and understanding, and this dynamic, fun group of women was just the perfect audience for a conversation like that. After the talk, a woman shared with me that one of her friends had recently had a baby and was lamenting that she wasn’t already back to her pre-pregnancy size. She said she looked at her, incredulously, and said, “You have never been more beautiful than when you are talking to your daughter.” What a beautiful thing to notice and what a powerful compliment to share with a friend.
More soon, I have to go undig my desk…
* the photo is of my dear friend (and former roommate) Heather and her husband, Ron, on the day their daughter, Anna, was born