Tag Archives: girls

VOD: Stop Buying Your Daughters Dolls and Get Them Into Science

There’s a new girl power anthem, and Beyonce isn’t singing it – it’s your daughter. They are telling you they are tired of being cast as “Princess Maids.” They like colors that aren’t pink or purple. They are telling you they are tired of being typecast by the toys that are marketed to them, and it is time for you to listen.

The commercial is for GoldieBlox, a toy company out to show the world that girls deserve more choices than dolls and princesses. GoldieBlox was founded by Stanford engineer Debbie Sterling who saw a need for girls to have creative toy options outside “the pink aisle” of the toy store. GoldieBlox is a combined book series and construction set starring Goldie – the girl inventor. The idea is to show girls that they aren’t limited to playing house or Disney Princess – they have just as much ability and opportunity to build things and invent like toys geared mainly for boys encourage. When you consider that less than 3 out of 10 graduating science majors are girls or that only 1 in 10 engineers are females – it’s time to start looking at the messages we are sending our daughters, sisters, nieces and friends about what they can achieve in math and science.

The video recruited Brett Doar, who created the epic Rube Goldberg machine for an OKGO music video. Together with three young actresses they recreated a Rube Goldberg using various girly toys and household implements to show just how awesome it is for girls to stop trying on dresses and start using their hands.

Take a look, and please send it along to any possible future inventor who could use some empowerment.

VOD: Malala Yousafzai Interview on The Daily Show

She risked her life to stand up for girl’s education in Pakistan. She survived a gun-shot to the head for those beliefs. She is a best-selling author. And now, at only 16 years old, Malala Yousafzai is the youngest person ever to be nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.

The incredibly courageous teenager gave an exclusive interview to Jon Stewart and The Daily Show on Tuesday night where she talked about her homeland, the rise of the Taliban and why she thinks that education is too important to stop fighting for. Stewart himself even asks if he can adopt her when Malala explains her thought process after finding out the Taliban were threatening her. This is a must watch interview for anyone that has been following Malala, believes in equal education rights, or just needs a few pointers on how to be a better human being. This girl has a lot to teach all of us.


You can watch the extended interview on The Daily Show website.

Are you inspired by Malala’s story and interview? Or do you have a video you’d like us to share in our Video of the Day column? Tell us in the comments below! 

#OccupyYouAreBeautiful: Why I’m Camped Out On A Rooftop Yoga Mat

Right now I’m sitting on a yoga mat on the rooftop of 2309 Main Street in Santa Monica, California. Just below me is a giant red wall painted with the words “YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL,” and there are two ten-foot tall inflatable dancing man balloons blowing in the wind beside me. There are men and women walking by on the sidewalk below, a beautiful community garden across the street. The ocean is just visible in the distance. This is #OccupyYouAreBeautiful.

Between today and Wednesday, September 18, this yoga mat will be my home. I will stay here all day and all night — I will eat here, sleep here, and I will be joined by yoga teachers, musicians, speakers, and other members of the community.

#OccupyYouAreBeautiful is a public demonstration of solidarity with people who struggle with food and body image issues on all ends of the spectrum. Together, we are taking a stand – for life, for happiness, and for the right for all people to feel beautiful in the bodies they inhabit.

The statistics around eating disorders in this country are discouraging. Nearly 24 million Americans suffer from eating disorders, and millions of others struggle with food and body image issues at a sub-clinical level. This disease kills nearly half a million people every year – daughters, sisters, brothers, friends, and spouses. That’s not okay. 32-year-olds shouldn’t be dying of starvation. 8-year-olds shouldn’t be vomiting to lose weight. This is not the kind of society I want to raise my kids in.

Over the past several years, I’ve built my life and career around helping others recover from this illness. I believe yoga can be a game-changer in the fight against eating disorders, and more importantly, I believe it can help shift the sociocultural dynamics that contribute to eating disorders to begin with. Yoga teaches critical skills for developing a healthy relationship with food and one’s body (which many of us never learn as children), and it can equip those who struggle with these issues with skills that pharmaceuticals, talk therapy, and other traditional forms of treatment simply do not provide.

That’s why I developed Yoga for Eating Disorders — to teach people who struggle with eating disorders practical tools for using yoga in their recovery. Specifically, the program teaches yoga-derived exercises for tuning into hunger and fullness signals, coping with difficult emotions, and learning to relate to the body as an ally rather than an enemy. The average cost of eating disorder treatment is $1,250 per day, and even at that rate over half of patients relapse after discharge. Eating disorders — from anorexia to binge eating — take a huge toll on our healthcare system. Yoga is a cost-effective way to teach those who struggle with these issues skills for long term recovery, potentially shortening treatment, reducing relapse, and ultimately saving lives.

On July 30th (my 24th birthday), I launched a crowd-funding campaign with the ambitious goal of raising $50K to take Yoga for Eating Disorders to treatment centers around the country at no charge, collect data for an evidence based study on its effectiveness in treatment, and offer pro-bono talks about eating disorder prevention at local schools in each city where the program is offered. We’ve raised almost $30K so far, but with only 4 days left in the campaign it’s time for something a little more drastic. It’s time to Occupy.

Inspired by my friend Will Baxter of the Don’t Let Will Die campaign, I am demonstrating my solidarity with eating disorder sufferers around the world by taking a stand. I invite you to take a stand with me – for life, for freedom, and for the belief that all people have the right to feel beautiful in the bodies they inhabit.

With less than 100 hours left in our campaign, I need your help. I will not let this campaign fail. This yoga mat saved my life once, and I’m not getting off it until other have the same opportunity.

Stand with me by donating today!

You can stand in solidarity with Chelsea and #OccupyYouAreBeautiful by making a donation, sharing this campaign with your friends and family, commenting on this page and visiting her at 2309 Main Street in Santa Monica, California. There is no reason this has to be the only #OccupyYouAreBeautiful. Host one in your own community!

“HelloFlo”: The Viral Ad That Empowers Girls to Embrace Their Periods

“For these campers, I’m their Joan of Arc. It’s like I’m Joan, and their vag is the arc.”

These words come from the mouth of a young girl in a recent ad for HelloFlo, a new company that specializes in making menstruation as painless as possible. You can help but do a double take (did that girl seriously just say “vag”?), and that is perhaps exactly what the ad creators intended.

But neither the company nor the controversial ad were rooted in any “feminist agenda,” says HelloFlo founder Naama Bloom. The company functions by sending boxes of tampons, pads, and candy to women in alignment with their personal cycles, all for $14-18 a month.

As Bloom said in an interview with CNN, “I just wanted to talk the way women talked and the way I talk and talk the way I am teaching my daughter to talk.” But even that is remarkable. After all, how many girls really feel this way about their periods? For that matter, how many moms, teaching their daughters about menstruation, feel this way?

The onset of puberty is happening earlier and earlier for girls in the United States, a trend that does not bode well for future generations’ rates of ovarian and breast cancer. Poor diet, lack of exercise, and exposure to toxic chemicals can all affect the timing of puberty, and the increase in all three in this country has obviously contributed to an earlier onset of menstruation.

On top of that, menstruation has been a consistent point of embarrassment for girls and women, and this has unfortunately perpetuated a culture of body shame. Whenever menstruation begins, it is not something to be ashamed of nor fight against. Girls need all the information they can get to be prepared, both physically and emotionally, for this powerful rite of passage. In a way, periods are what makes the world go ’round. Right?

What’s your relationship with menstruation like? Tell us your stories in the comments section below!

11-Year-Old Nada Al-Ahdal Narrowly Escaped Child Marriage – Here’s What She Has to Say

Nada Al-Ahdal is an 11-year-old Yemeni girl who recently risked everything to run away from home and seek refuge with her uncle after learning about her parents’ intentions to marry her off to a much older man. Nada knew that her teenage aunt, trapped in an arranged marriage and abused by her husband, had committed suicide to escape her fate. Nada did not want to be forced down the same path.

“I would have had no life, no education. Don’t they have any compassion?” Nada says in a video posted on YouTube. “I’m better off dead. I’d rather die.”

Thank goodness Nada has an older relative there to take her in and stand up for her, but many girls her age are not as lucky. The World Health Organization reports that 39,000 girls around the world are forced into child marriage every day. “Child marriage” is defined as marriage before 18 years of age, but many are even younger when they are forced into matrimony. The many dangers girls face in early marriages include premature pregnancy, maternal mortality (girls under 15 are five times more likely to die from pregnancy or childbirth than older women), infant mortality, poverty, illiteracy, abuse, and more.

The best defense against practices like this, which endanger women and make our global community weaker, is education. We must raise our voices and empower women to change their communities.

Here are several resources working against child marriage and in support of women and children everywhere:

Happy Malala Day! Honoring the Young Activist the Taliban Couldn’t Kill

Malala-Yousafzai-05Last fall, Malala Yousafzai was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman who apprehended her on a school bus in Pakistan’s Swat Valley. She was 15 years old.

Miraculously, Malala survived the attack, and today, she turns 16. The United Nations has named July 12 “Malala Day” in honor of the young activist’s astounding courage in the face of violent forces that would try to silence her. What, you might ask, is the teenager’s cause and why would the Taliban feel threatened enough to prey on one so young?

Malala is not your typical high schooler. She has inspired the Taliban’s rage by publicly advocating girls’ education and generating a mass petition calling for fully-funded, compulsory education for all children in her country and around the world. Because of her efforts, Malala was included in Time magazine’s list of the most influential people in 2013, and today she gave a speech at the UN reaffirming her cause.

Watch Malala’s inspiring speech here:

Are you inspired by Malala’s words? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below!

Photo credit: Rizwan Khatik

5 Quotes From Dr. Christiane Northrup That Will Make You Proud to Be a Woman

 

christiane_prodPeriods, PMS, menopause, morning sickness… Is there any aspect of the body’s cycles women can be proud of? According to the media and mainstream Western culture, women have more to feel ashamed and plagued by than proud of when it comes to their bodies. With messages of body positivity only barely making a dent in women’s overwhelmingly conflicted relationships with their bodies, something has got to give.

Enter, Dr. Christiane Northrup, the women’s health expert shaking every belief we’ve held about the female body for decades. Northrup’s reality check: Menstruation is a sacred experience that demands rest and self-regeneration. So-called “PMS” is really a flourishing of creative energy that surges through the female brain at certain points in her cycle. Menopause is a process of transformation, during and after which women can experience the best sex of their lives.

If any of the above statements contradict your own feeling about your body, then read on. In these 5 soul-shaking quotes from an interview featured in the latest issue of Spirituality & Health Magazine, Northrup offers a rallying cry for women to embrace the powerful bodies they inhabit:

1. The key is to understand that every woman has the keys to the kingdom inside herself, and those keys are found in doing those things that she loves to do.

~

2. You [women] have a cycle where you bleed in tune with the moon. It is the cycle responsible for all human life on earth. It is the cycle that connects you to your creativity and to the very essence of the tide coming in, the tide going out, the seasons, the sap going into the roots and then rising up, and we have been taught for 5,000 years to be ashamed of that cycle.

~

3. Did you know that we have as much erectile tissue inside our pelvis as men have? only, theirs is on the outside. What we have is the clitoris, which is the only organ in the human body whose sole function is pleasure.

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4. Menopause is when you really move into your goddess energy in a big way. You’re no longer losing your blood, so you move into this phase now where your FSH and LH hormones in the pituitary gland are at the same levels as when you’re ovulating. and for many women that is their peak time
of sexual desire.

~

5. What we women are sure of is that there’s a man out there who will complete us. That’s what every movie tells us. But what it’s really about is doing that inner work of completing oneself.

Only as complete, proud, self-loving individuals can women experience the fullness of life that they deserve. Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below!

*****

 

SH_JulyAug_CVR_lrgSpirituality & Health is a magazine for people who want to explore the spiritual journey and wake up to our capacity for self-healing, vitality, and resiliency. Read the entire conversation with Christine Northrup in the July-August edition of Spirituality & Health, on newsstands now! Get your first issue FREE here.

Would you like to win a FREE year-long subscription to Spirituality & Health magazine?

This month, Intent is giving away 5 year-long subscriptions to Spirituality & Health magazine. To enter, simply comment below with your favorite empowering quote. Be sure to include your name and email so we can contact you if you win.

 

Wordplay Wednesday: Glass Like Me

bubble
My mother said to me once
When I was a little girl
“It’s a blessing and a curse
The way you think”
Because I’m glass
I’m the crystal
From which you drink champagne
And I know that you’re using me
But I’ll aid you just the same
I’m glass
I’ll be your windshield
To protect you from the storm
Rocks fly at me
But I don’t break
I’ll take the hit
So you stay warm
I’m glass
Sometimes transparent
If you care to look inside
And see past your reflection
I know it’s hard
But you should try
To see
I’m glass
And I’ve been stained
By good and bad things
In my past
I’ll never claim to be an angel
I hope you
Can deal with that
I’m glass
Like a chandelier
That shatters when it falls
Into a thousand pieces
And you’ll never find them all
I’m glass
Unlike so many girls
Who just turn out to be
Plastic imitations
Cause they’re too scared to be
Glass like me

I wrote this poem in 2001, when I was 25 years old …and trying to find the silver lining in being so sensitive:)

I’m Not Your B****, Yo. (And Neither is Beyonce. Or Any Woman Ever)

beyonce-breastplate-nipple-costume-1This article references a previous blog I wrote, entitled: An Open Letter to Michelle Obama: Beyonce is Not a Role Model

Two months, an estimated 300,000+ readers, and over 30,000 actual Facebook likes after I wrote the Beyonce piece, I’ve gotten a piece – a piece of everyone and the world’s mind.

(As  precursor here I should say that in this article I am not singling out any one person who sent me messages in ‘conversation’ no matter how strong their position because I don’t think that’s fair. But, for those writers who published reply articles (that I know about) and who actually wanted readers, I am citing those here with links attached for people to visit and read.)

Through that lovely vehicle of social media, the #Beyhive came out, appropriately in droves: warm, fuzzy and stinging. They told me I should ‘watch my back’, that my ‘very life was in danger’, that I was ‘a ho’, that I had a ‘double chin’, and rather directly that I needed ‘more dick’ in my life. Aah. I see – #girlsruntheworld.

Others were less clever, if more labored in noting their contempt: In a departure from its title, a website called The Moderate Voice wrote a reply article with the clearly immoderate title ‘The Dumbest Thing I’ve Read This Week‘. Elsewhere someone studying for an MPhil in Linguistics at Oxford penned an essay in reply on ‘The Complexity of Beyonce“. One person in total commented on this essay, saying that they ‘think Beyonce and Jay-Z are poor role models based on their sick infatuation with wearing the murdered bodies of innocent animals as coats, garish shoes and other gruesome garments’. When I read this, I couldn’t help thinking that often times for many of us, it’s just not a very complex world at all.

Some people thought Beyonce’s costume was a celebration of the primal goddesses of ancient cultures. It was an emancipated return of the divine feminine rising, they wrote to me: ‘Can’t you see? You with your spirituality blog. Ha!’ I asked myself how could I have been blind to this? Where was my awareness of the divine feminine when it showed up and shimmied in my face? Inspired, I looked into it and found out the dress designers who produced the piece said their inspiration for the costume was to create ‘one of  the most glamorous and provocative looks she’s ever worn…(to) give the illusion of being covered in crystalized honey…’

Oh. Sweet.

They also said the costume was a collaboration between Beyonce and her mom. Such a nice mom and daughter project – perhaps all the women who wrote and said they had just had baby girls and would love to see their daughter grow into a Beyonce will want to try this for a first grade Halloween. Why wait till she’s a multi-million $ earner who has no material need to ‘earn’ her money like this. Ladies, you already know that I ‘just don’t get it.’ You’ve written to tell me so. But you know what – if it works for you – go ahead, make it happen: Objectify Her Now. Perhaps if you mobilize the power of the #Beyhive in support of this, Beyonce will issue a home-costume-design-kit for this one.

I’ll still be scratching my head at the hashtag, that’s all:

#honeygirlsruntheworldbysingingsongslookingliketheyarenakedcoveredinhoney

Elsewhere, others were impassioned to write that my feminism was not theirs (I agree completely) although they mistakenly decided I have zero education in the practices, and circumstances that lead to sex trafficking (especially urban USA), and also decided I conflated voluntary sex work with trafficking. They also confused an essay about the dangers of presenting the notion of feminine success as being dependent on sexualizing the self to very young girls, with the idea that I as its author wanted grown women to suppress their sexuality because it was shameful. They wrote about the rights of women to choose sex work, they wanted to ‘call me out’ for my own lack of liberation.

I never wrote it in my piece because it was so unrelated, but for what it’s worth let me say it here: women who are adults engaged in consensual, safe, sex or erotic work that you enjoy, and find personally fulfilling and that you do by your own independent choice: more power to you. What you do as adult women is your business. Literally. The question in the original piece was never about an adult woman’s freedom to make her own choices in an adult environment. The question was about the packaging to very young girls a message that ultimate feminine success for them comes with the necessity to sexualize themselves.

Lastly, sometimes I saw some things about some people talking – shouting mostly, actually – about ‘slut shaming’. I read my piece again when I got these comments just to check if I’d lost my mind and written something irresponsible but I hadn’t: I did NOT write a piece that supported the idea that women or young girls are ever responsible for the prejudices imposed on them by society. I did write a piece that said that women who present themselves as recording artists targeting young girls as their audience, who then present themselves to those young audiences in overtly sexualized terms – are not role models for our young girls.

Once that was set aside, the feelings of being unwilling to engage in a conversation about ‘slut shaming’ set in and here, after some reflection, I can finally articulate why:

When I was little, the part of the world where I come from, they called me a Paki. But you know what – I don’t care how ubiquitous the term, I never was and never will be anyone’s Paki. No British Asian ever was or ever will be anyone’s Paki. We are individuals of separate and sometimes collective origins: human beings commanding the same human right to live in peace, freedom, and dignity as anyone else on earth.

Re-appropriating an offensive slur is not a route I am prepared to go down in order to claim my empowerment – or to stand for the the empowerment of anyone else. I may not stand with popular culture in saying this, but I say no.

Beyonce – just like every woman on this planet – can never be called a ‘slut’.

Just like I am never going to be anyone’s – not Jay-Z’s nor even #QueenBey’s – ‘bitch’.

Just like Jay-Z – like every other black man on earth – can never be called anyone’s ‘nigga’.

The brutality of the language we choose in addressing the other is deliberate.

If we want to address issues about the inequality suffered by some of us because of social values that judge us, then – no matter what the mood, or how strong the sway of popular culture – let’s exercise some awareness in the words we use. Let’s not start the conversation by framing those whose interests we stand for in a language that is inherently demeaning. Let’s begin the conversation instead with a language that acknowledges each person’s innate right to equality, respect, and dignity. Let’s not close off our hearts in an effort to make a point.

All points made with a closed heart are lost. Let’s keep our hearts open and meet one another, differences and all – especially differences and all – with respect, dignity, with Love.

And speaking of Love: someone tell me, where is it in the just released: ‘Turnt’ by The Dream featuring Beyonce and 2 Chainz?

Far more than the views I received above, tens of thousands of people weighed in on this subject with support for what I wrote. They’ve also messaged me, and I think in essence they’re asking the same questions I did in my piece.

For anyone still wondering why it’s time to move beyond rampant music industry misogyny that recruits female superstars as proponents of a toxic ideology, take a look at the video for this track featuring Beyonce’s vocals. Let me know if this is kind of partnership one should expect of our complex, feminist heroes of the twenty first century.

For my part, when I saw this video I stopped to think about what makes a person successful. And I came back to saying that the Buddha said:

The way is not in the sky. The way is in the heart.
Originally published on my website, The Modern Girl’s Guide to Spirituality

Dustin Hoffman Breaks Into Tears Discussing Society’s Pressures on Women

Screen Shot 2013-07-09 at 10.22.16 AMThe notion of ‘beauty’ in our culture tends to be more limiting and shame-inducing than cathartic. What should be a soul-expanding experience of aesthetic pleasure gets confined to a manufactured pill box, forced down our throats by television, magazines, advertisements, the porn industry – you name it. We all suffer from this together as a society, but women, most of all, bear the brunt of the abuse.

In preparing to make the 1982 film Tootsie, Dustin Hoffman was determined to look as much like a woman as possible. If the audience had to suspend disbelief to follow the story, Hoffman explains in an interview with AFI, then it wasn’t going to work. It wasn’t until he looked at himself in the mirror, fully costumed as a female, that he realized the reality women live with every day. If Hoffman saw his female self at a party, he confesses, he wouldn’t give her the time of day. The realization brings him to tears. Take a look:

This might seem overly tidy. “Hey, Dustin Hoffman, try being a real woman for even a day and you’ll experience some truly gnarly things. And before you whine about not making an attractive woman, let’s think about what beauty really is.”

But his emotional response is more nuanced than that. Hoffman bemoans the socialized notions of beauty that kept him from approaching women who might have otherwise added to his life with wit, intellect, and grace. How many women, he wonders, did he miss the opportunity of knowing, just out of prejudice?

The question we would add to that is: Why do we as a society continue to let anything but our own hearts dictate what we find beautiful?

What do you think? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below!

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