I was in the fitting room at Nordstrom Rack trying on a random assortment of clothing, and in the quiet of that space on a Monday evening, a young girl’s running commentary in the room two doors down was clearly audible.
I’d seen her regarding herself in a full length mirror as I walked to my own room–door ajar, her mom standing with an appraising air over her as she wriggled into a swimsuit. What struck me was the tone of pure delight and body positivity that wafted from this young girl’s room as she tried on swimsuits. A task most American women speak and think of with something approaching dread, if not total dread outright. At what point did we change, focusing less on the promise of cool summer swimming and bright summer sun, and more on our perceived flaws and the inability of any piece of synthetic fabric to deliver us from them? Continue reading →
My mom and I were kicking back in the grass of Sheep Meadow in Central Park last summer when it hit me–we needed to write the manual on positive body image in the context of the mother-daughter relationship. We are exceptional in that we share a positive image of our respective bodies. I learned it from her, and she learns it from me. We understand we are lucky, and we are grateful. We talk a lot about what holds women back in society, and we’re convinced that struggle with body image is one of the major culprits. The pressure comes from the culture, it comes from the family, from friend groups, the media, ourselves. Disliking, hating, and shaming our bodies, our desperation to change them to an unattainable ideal all take valuable energy we could be using for gender-advancement purposes. We have to do something. Continue reading →
Why is it that any time I take a photo, or see a photo in which I’ve been tagged, my first move is to blow up my face for personal scrutiny. In the old days I would have to be satisfied with holding the physical photo closer to my face, but with the dawn of digital cameras, I had the ability to isolate my image and zoom in. With social media and cell phone cameras, it’s even easier. Even easier to capture what may have been a lovely moment in time and turn it into a moment of intense self-criticism. Continue reading →
She approached me to ask if I wanted to do a follow-up to last year’s interview, where we delved into her struggle to stay true to her Christian value of no premarital sex, while navigating her first romantic relationship. A twenty-three year-old virgin who had been opted out of sex ed in school by her religious parents, she was facing an experiential chasm in her relationship with her thirty-five year-old, father of two, divorced boyfriend. I’d handed her my copy of “Our Bodies, Ourselves” and a three-pack of condoms at the conclusion of our first conversation.
She was working to come to terms with her identity as a Christian virgin and the fierce sexual desire this man had awoken in her. Flash forward one year and that man has fallen away, unmasked as a lying, cheating, manipulative bastard and she’s moved in with a new man. In between her sexual awakening and cohabitation was a year of heartbreak, a thorough exploration of Tinder, an examination of her religious beliefs and her first time having a penis inside her vagina. Continue reading →
I have a feeling that in this day and age we’ve all done it, taken a picture in public of someone without their knowledge or consent. Even before the cell phone camera age, I know I used to troll around Seattle with my mom’s manual Minolta, snapping shots of scenes and people I deemed interesting. Truly, some of the most fascinating photographs are candids. I’ll not deny that fact. I can remember in a high school photography class a kid raising her hand and asking our teacher if it was ethical to take candids of strangers, or whether we needed to confirm consent first. Our teacher paused, clearly having never posed the question to herself and decreed there to be no rules. Continue reading →
So what do you guys think of the new Barbie Mattel has rolled out this week? That’s right, after about, oh, thirty or so years of pressure from feminist groups, Mattel has designed three new dolls to better and more accurately represent women. Joining the classically, completely unrealistically-proportioned original are tall, curvy and petite models. It’s almost good, except that tall and petite retain the mini-waist, massive thigh gap, and big tits. Only curvy has an (unnaturally) pointed toe dipped in reality. Are we getting somewhere, though? Continue reading →
The “SexEdFail” series Candid Uprising featured in December and January (a progression of posts about my experience of working at Planned Parenthood) were the most-read content on the site yet, peaking with “Sex Ed Fail: The Interview“. I found myself wanting to trace sexual attitudes through the generations, to talk to a parent about their perception of responsibility for educating their child about sex, and how that may have been shaped by their parent. Out of the woodwork came a woman in her mid-forties, a mother of two, open to filling in the picture for me.
As a kid she moved a lot, never settling in one place long enough to make a close group of girlfriends. Later, she would point out that a lack of girlfriends made her vulnerable, often times sexually. She grew up in a family that was comfortable with nudity around the house, parents who were honest and forthcoming with her about sex and sexuality. Her earliest memories of learning about sex involve a conversation between her and her mom when she was eight. “I asked my mom about kissing, and she told me it was something that people did with each other when they loved each other.” Any question she had, her mom answered with medically accurate information. What seems to have made the strongest impression was her mom’s ability to talk to her on her level, in a developmentally appropriate way. It increased her comfort level so that asking her mom questions about sex felt natural as she grew up. In lieu of girlfriends (or “the playground” where so many of us learn backwards mis-information, legends, really about sex), she had her welcoming mom. Continue reading →
“I was one of those kids you wrote about,” she commented, after reading about the pregnant virgin I counseled at Planned Parenthood, “and you probably want to interview me for your blog.” I leapt at the opportunity she was offering to capture a first-person narrative about the experience of being opted out of school sex ed and how it affects adult sexuality. Continue reading →
I was sitting on a bench over in the weights area doing biceps curls when I heard a man say, “so this guy proposed on camera at a game and his girlfriend said no. Later, she explained to him it was because his dick was too small!” I sensed my next voyeuristic “Overheard” post was taking shape at the squats rack adjacent to me, and subtly moved closer, to hear better. “It’s this documentary called Unhung Hero and it’s about this guy’s search to find out if size really does matter,” he continued, his buddies (and I) hanging on his every word. I studied them in the mirror that covers the entire back wall of the building, three men in their late twenties, all white, all of average height, barrel chested, pecs and biceps defined. “So, like, what did he do?” one of them asked. “She dumped him and he went around the world to check out the myths, to find out if the stereotypes are true, and what men do to get bigger.” Earlier that morning, I had been lamenting to myself that it had been ages since I’d overheard anything worth blogging about, and realizing I was going to have to try harder (read: be creepier) if I wanted to keep the “Overheard” series alive on Candid Uprising. Jackpot. Three jocks talking dick size at the gym. I couldn’t have asked for a more compelling conversation, and in such timely fashion! Continue reading →
A colleague handed me a sheet of paper on which she’d scribbled notes to herself, turning it over to expose a “fashion citation” card. She suggested I blog about it and I’ve accepted her challenge. It’s a checklist of potential fashion faux pas, which would be funny if it didn’t sit under the heading “Did You Dress In The Dark?” followed by a short paragraph about how fashion infractions are a crime, “remember that the rest of us have to look at you.” I am so over this lookist, women-on-women social violence, that I’m entirely unwilling to have a sense of humor or irony about this small slip of paper. It’s emblematic of the ills facing our society in the current moment, and I want this adult mean girl phenomenon (see: you can’t sit with us) to stop immediately. Women need to be putting other women up, treating each other as teammates, and looking deeper than the surface. Our survival and quality of life depend on it.
Let’s take this negative, filthy little piece of paper line by line and blast it to bits, shall we? Not interested? Pick up an US Weekly or head directly to gofugyourself.com. Continue reading →