I’m very interested in the role of TV-watching in our happiness. After all, after sleeping and work, it’s the biggest consumer of the world’s time.
So I was interested to see that new research suggests that for couples who don’t have lots of mutual friends, watching the same TV show (or reading the same book or going to the same movie) can help both people feel that they inhabit in the same social world.
It turns out that couples who have lots of mutual friends tend to have the strongest bonds, and for those who don’t have a lot of mutual friends, having “shared media experiences” helps them to feel connected.Continue reading →
“Today is National Women’s Day!” That’s how MeLissa greeted me this morning. “Hooray!!” was my first thought but as the idea began to process I wondered, what does that even mean? We should do something to celebrate, of course, but how? Intent has always included messages of feminism and sisterhood on the blog and via intents, but a lot of places don’t.
Males outnumber females 3 to 1 in family films. In contrast, females comprise just over 50% of the population in the United States. Even more staggering is the fact that this ratio, as seen in family films, is the same as it was in 1946.
Crowd scenes in film and television are 17% female on average, despite women representing 51% of the world population.
Females are almost four times as likely as males to be shown in sexy attire. Further, females are nearly twice as likely as males to be shown with a diminutive waistline. Generally unrealistic figures are more likely to be seen on females than males.
Females are also underrepresented behind the camera. Across 1,565 content creators, only 7% of directors, 13% of writers, and 20% of producers are female. This translates to 4.8 males working behind-the-scenes to every one female.
From 2006 to 2009, not one female character was depicted in G-rated family films in the field of medical science, as a business leader, in law, or politics. In these films, 80.5% of all working characters are male and 19.5% are female, which is a contrast to real world statistics, where women comprise 50% of the workforce.
No wonder women need a day to be celebrated. Part of the reason feminism is still a thing is because of statistics like this. When the images our children and the general public are confronted with are women in secondary roles or as sexual objects it becomes ingrained for women to aspire to these positions and for society to treat them as such. To start seeing a change we have to start portraying the change. It’s as simple as screenwriters adding “must be half-female” into their scripts when writing a crowd scene. Last year the number one selling movie worldwide was The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, and it was the first time in more than 40 years that a movie with a female lead topped the annual box office.
Luckily, there are many women leading the fight to change the way media portrays (or fails to portray) women in film and television. Last weekend Cate Blanchett won the Academy Award for her portrayal of a depressed woman trying to stay afloat in her own life in Blue Jasmine. When accepting the award she said this, “To the few in this industry that are still clinging to the idea that films with women at the center are niche – they are not. People want to see them and they make money. The world is round, people.” Case in point: Blue Jasmine, Bridesmaids, The Heat. When Lupita Nyong’o gave her speech for her Best Supporting Actress award she also said, “When I look down at this golden statue, may it remind me and every child that your dreams are valid!” On the surface it is such an inspiring statement, but what it really depicts is the sad truth that there are many children whose dreams are diminished by mainstream media’s backward policies on gender, race and sexuality.
Emma Thompson has also announced that she’ll be spending 2014 making a documentary about women in film because she’s disgusted with the way things currently are.
While it’s inspiring to know there are so many professional women fighting to make a difference in women’s opportunities both on screen and behind the lens – these numbers are scary. Not only to myself and MeLissa who are aspiring screenwriters but to the world in general. Do I want my future daughters to watch cartoons where all the girl characters are still sex objects? I want to be able to name pop culture examples of women that have been in charge because of a combination of their intellect, compassion and beauty rather than how great she looks in a pencil skirt. I want my daughter to inherit a media landscape where Kathryn Bigelow isn’t the only woman to ever win an Academy Award for directing.
The numbers are changing, so we’re being told, but it isn’t happening soon enough – especially if some of them haven’t changed since the 40s. Today is National Women’s Day but every day should be cause for us to stand up and support each other and create a more viable place for women in media and film. Our stories deserve to be told, to be validated as much as our male counterparts. We have to keep up the good fight so can stop differentiating between “men” and “women” stories and instead train ourselves and the world to see them all as what they really are – human stories.
Why are you here? What is the message you are trying to put out into the world? I’ve talked a lot about spreading your personal message in the past but now I want to go more in-depth. In this latest vlog I share my practical and spiritual tools for manifesting media for your message. I believe that it is our responsibility to share our great work with the world. Learn how to release your fears, be unapologetic about your message and share it with pride.
These days when you see Kanye West‘s name in the headlines you automatically expect a story about him throwing a temper tantrum at paparazzi, saying something politically incorrect in an interview or tabloid gossip about his girlfriend/reality star Kim Khardashian. It’s true that Kanye West’s antics often detract from the power of the things he is saying, but rest assured he’s saying something you should listen to.
This week he stopped by Jimmy Kimmel Live! to talk about their “Twitter beef.” Kanye began to explain why his emotions get the best of him and the mission he is on to change the world. Kanye’s ambition often gets confused for a lack of gratitude for the opportunities he’s been given, but during the interview he dropped some serious knowledge and advice about what it takes to succeed in today’s world. Regardless of your personal opinion of Kanye, these six lessons are important to take note of for any artist, minority, or person trying to overcome the odds and make a difference.
Don’t sell yourself short – “If I didn’t call myself a genius, I’d be lying to all of you and myself,” Kanye says in an earlier part of the interview. At first listen that is possibly the most arrogant statement, but it proves that Kanye has the utmost faith himself. Take note. If you know you have an ability or a gift to offer the world, don’t wait for someone else to acknowledge it before you embrace it for yourself. You don’t have that kind of time. Embrace your gift and work at it. “I spent 10,000 hours at this, I’ve been working at it my whole life,” Kanye explains. When you put that much effort into something, you don’t have to be humble about it. When you take notice of yourself, everyone else takes notice too.
Don’t limit yourself to one label or category – As human beings we naturally contain multitudes of passions and talents. Don’t force yourself into one small labeled box. If you love art and music, don’t think that you only have to pursue one – that your ideas only can come from one place. Kanye’s battle comes from his frustration of trying to break into couture fashion but not getting the respect he wants as a designer because he became famous as a rapper. His message here is clear: people are going to try and tell you that you can’t do something simply because you come from a different world. They’re wrong. If the passion and the work is there, your ideas are valid no matter what your primary “occupation” or “title” is. Don’t be afraid to go after everything if that’s what you want.
Protect your dreams – The world is full of naysayers, unfortunately. We are not advocating that you attack those naysayers with curse words and violence as Kanye has been known to do, but we do advocate not allowing someone to make you shelve something you believe in. You have to build a wall around those dreams, around your heart that protects it from people saying you can’t do something. Don’t believe people who tell you that your idea is stupid or you should do something else. Use your voice and speak up, even if everyone around you is telling you to be quiet. That’s how you are heard.
Don’t try to fit the mold – This is similar to the last lesson but Kanye nails it a few minutes in when he says, “I refuse to follow those rules where society is set up to control people with low self-esteem – through improper information, with branding and marketing.” We are bombarded by images every day that tell us the “right” way to look and to act and we compare ourselves to these mainstream images. We get conned into thinking that if we don’t fit into that mold that we are doing something wrong, and by allowing ourselves to feel low we are allowing the projectors of those images to climb higher on our backs. Stop the cycle. Get the right information you need to empower yourself. You don’t have to stay down there – there’s enough sun for everyone. You just have to be bold enough to stand up and see for yourself.
Have heroes to aspire to – Kanye quotes Steve Jobs, Michaelangelo and Jesus as a few of his heroes. He honestly, deep in his bones, believes he has the power to make the same impact as these legends. You should too. Find people who inspire you to be better. Look up to them and make a conscious effort to climb to their level, otherwise what’s the point? We may not reach the level of the pedestal we put them on but Heroes inspire us to reach and push farther than we could on our own.
Set the expectation for mutual respect – Once you’ve convinced yourself that you are a person with a voice and something worth saying, then you have to convince everyone else as well. You do that through respect – you set the expectation that as a person of value (ie, a person period) you deserve a certain level of respect. This means you stand up for yourself when someone falls below that line of respect, but it also means that you treat others with the level of respect you expect them to give you (admittedly, Kanye has some work to do on this last part, at least in public).
What do you think of Kanye’s interview? Is there anything you can take from it? Tell us in the comments below!
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 Showon 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.
The 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!
Motherhood brings love, joy, and children into women’s lives. It also brings responsibility, body changes, and considerable sleepless nights – these are parts of the bargain. One thing it should not entail, but often does, is body shame and low self-esteem. In pregnancy and motherhood, women’s bodies become vessels of life. They are the sites of ultimate creativity and abundance, and there is no shame in that.
But then come the stretch marks and scars, the loose skin and soft breasts, and it’s hard not to look at yourself and feel alienated from the image of beauty our culture promotes. This phenomenon has inspired photographer Jade Beall to reclaim women’s natural beauty in her series “A Beautiful Body.” The project began when Beall entered into the world of motherhood and, as way of coping with the changes her body was experiencing, began posting photos of her post-pregnancy body to Facebook. The response was overwhelming, Beall writes on her website. There was clearly a deep longing for and desperate lack of widespread representations of real mom bodies, in all their beauty and life-giving power.
Thus Beall began photographing women in all stages of pregnancy and motherhood, some with big baby bellies, some with newborns, some with grown kids and years-old stretch marks kissing their soft tummies. The degree of enthusiasm for this project led Beall to embark on publishing a book by the same title, now available for pre-order. The book will contain photographs of mothers (like the ones above) along with each woman’s personal story of finding beauty and strength in spite of media-enforced stereotypes.
It speaks to the world we live in to see so many women crippled by feelings of shame and inadequacy. The materialist, superficial culture we live in outlines a narrow box with the label “Beauty,” and anything that doesn’t fit into it gets brushed aside. This leaves us feeling responsible for our own lack. But the reality is that these labels and values are 100% arbitrary, empty, and meaningless. Thus the task for all of us, as Beall’s series demonstrates, is to reframe our lens; to reclaim our bodies, as well as our aesthetic values, which have been co-opted for so many years by a media culture that has no real interest in our well-being.
What do you think? Are you inspired by Beall’s photo series? Please share your own photos and stories in the comments below and on social media!
Russell Brand, comedian and star of such hits as Get Him to the Greek and Forgetting Sarah Marshall, has been the brunt of many tasteless jokes since he rose to fame. Let’s face it: he’s an attractive guy, with a raunchy sense of humor, and a history of escapades. What many don’t realize, though, is that Brand is also a committed yogi, meditator, writer, activist, and more. His real interests and intents, though, are apparently too “serious” for this group of MSNBC news anchors to explore. So they decide to comment, instead, on his appearance, his accent, and what they see as his inherent silliness. Expecting Brand to dance and sing for them like a good celebrity puppet, the anchors get quite a shock when he turns the joke on them and gives them a piece of his mind.
The confrontation is subtle and never fully explodes, but there does appear to be some tension around that table. After Brand’s lengthy explanation of the examples and global situations informing his upcoming stand-up tour, “Messiah Complex,” one of the anchors can do nothing more than comment on the thickness of the comedian’s accent. More than once Brand has to remind the anchors that he is sitting right there and would prefer not to be referred to as “he” and “him.” Basic manners, people. In the final climactic moments, Brand shows them what real, relevant news-casting might look like, taking over reporting duties altogether.
Sex, drugs, and celebrity aside, there are some basic courtesies we would expect professional news-casters to show their guests. We’re glad Brand had the presence of mind to stand up to them, especially as playfully and endearingly as he did.
What do you think? Does Brand’s response seem reasonable to you?
This is amazing. They’re called NSJ Crew (for their school, Nellie Stone Johnson Community School), and they are a group of elementary kids with a love a music and serious talent for rhyming. In this incredible, catchy music video for their song “Khaki Pants,” NSJ Crew raps playfully about their school uniforms and invites everyone to “do the khaki dance.” Our only question is, how come no girls did any rapping? Regardless, it’ll be hard to keep yourself from joining in the fun!
NSJ Crew is part of a larger initiative called Beats & Rhymes, which aims to inspire school-age children through the process of creating and recording music. Students have to complete their homework first in order to participate, the intent of which is to promote youth development, career planning, and academic responsibility along with the larger focus on creative expression. The program is currently run through the YMCA in Minneapolis, Minnesota, but their intention is to expand to communities around the country. Click here for more information on how to get involved, and click here for more of their music!
Pretty inspiring, huh? Initiatives like this hint at the real power music can have as a force of positivity and community growth. These students have an amazing opportunity to explore the world of music-making and express themselves creatively as opposed to just consuming the supposed “youth culture” handed down to kids by big media agencies. So give it up for the youth and for the ageless, eternal spirit of creativity!
Do women see themselves less accurately than strangers do?
According to a study commissioned by Dove, only 4% of women around the world would describe themselves as beautiful. 72% of young girls included in the survey say they feel “tremendous pressure to be beautiful,” and more than half (54%) agree that when it comes to how they look, they are their own worst critic.* Another study found that 97% of women have negative body thoughts each day, on average every 15 minutes.
That’s a lot of time to spend castigating yourself.
These are no doubt alarming statistics, but it’s difficult to understand the emotional impact of these beliefs from cold numbers alone. Perhaps that’s why the team at Dove decided to perform a social experiment to test whether women’s perceptions of their bodies differ from those of a stranger’s. And they went about it in a way that might surprise you: by enlisting the help of a forensic sketch artist.
Dove recruited seven women of varying ages and backgrounds and asked an FBI-trained forensic artist to create composite sketches based on each woman’s description of her face. In the video, it quickly becomes apparent just how much the messages each woman has received about her physical appearance over the course of her life — often from family, the media, etc — shape the way she sees herself. And often, unsurprisingly, her underlying body hatred shines through.
“My mom told me I had a big jaw,” one woman says. And another: “I kind of have a fat, rounder face.”
The experiment was part of Dove’s larger Campaign for Real Beauty,and in my opinion this video is moving in part because it sheds light on just how far our beliefs about what we look like can stray from reality. I can’t help but think back to the days when, in the heat of my own battle with anorexia, I would gaze at this emaciated skeleton in the mirror and see only a “pooch belly” and “flabby arms.” It didn’t matter how skinny I got, my body was never “good enough.” Fixing/controlling/hating my body had become a way of trying to work through emotions I didn’t have the skills to communicate at the time. I needed to hate my body, because it was too hard to express what I really hated… myself.
Looking back, it’s nearly unbelievable to me now that I was so unaware of how distorted my view of my body had become. I honestly believed I was fat, no matter how many times the people around me or numbers on a scale suggested otherwise.
I think it’s important to acknowledge here that you don’t have to have a clinical eating disorder to have distorted body image. Many of us are taught from an early age to loathe and fix and control our bodies, and these early experiences lay the groundwork for the seemingly mild distortions shown in this video, as well as more serious problems, like obesity and eating disorders. We learn to starve away anger and anxiety — or, similarly, eat until sorrow and loneliness disappear. We let our body speak the messages we can’t give voice to. We come to hate our bodies, often because we hate ourselves.
Often, we hear obesity talked about as “an epidemic” and anorexia as “an eating disorder.” While they may seem like contradictory and unrelated diseases, I would argue that they likely stem from the same source: a fundamental problem with our relationship with food and our bodies. Research shows that both obesity and eating disorders are driven in part by depression, dieting behaviors, excessive weight concern, and what scientists call “loss of control eating.” It seems to me Americans are not suffering from two distinct health problems — anorexia, obesity, and the body hatred depicted in the Dove video are all symptoms of the same dis-ease.
I applaud Dove for challenging viewers to reflect on their own body image beliefs, but I would encourage viewers to take it one step further… to investigate the roots of those beliefs, and to explore what drives distorted body image to begin with (if you’re interested, I’m teaching a retreat on this topic at the Omega Institute this June). As far as I can tell, the women in the video are not visually impaired, so if their perception of their bodies is different from that of strangers… the distortions are coming from somewhere else. I would argue that they are psychological in nature, and that an integrative solution to both obesity and eating disorders must help people foster healthier relationships with food and their bodies. This begins with teaching people emotional coping skills, encouraging them to listen to their bodies’ internal cues, and promoting positive lifestyle changes for the sake of being healthy, not just attractive.
Finally, while Dove has been widely criticized for disguising ads behind the banner of a women’s empowerment campaign, I still find myself at a loss for why it’s “bad” for a company to combine positive sociocultural campaigns with profit-generating initiatives. If Dove sells more soap as a result of their Campaign for Real Beauty, I say all the more power to them.
Watch the video for yourself, and I would love to hear your thoughts on the ideas I’ve expressed in this article in the comments below:
Join Chelsea for her upcoming retreat – Yoga, Food, & Body Image: Fall in Love With Your Body Through Yoga – at the Omega Institute June 21-23, 2013. This program covers how to use the practice of yoga to support developing a healthier relationship to food, body image, and of course, yourself. The program covers how life experiences like dieting, eating disorders, pregnancy, and menopause impact us both physically and emotionally, and how yoga can be a tool for learning to navigate those life transitions with grace. A limited number of scholarships are available – contact Chelsea to inquire.
*Source: Dove Research: The Real Truth About Beauty: Revisited
Image 1: Unknown (please contact us if you know where it came from so we can give appropriate credit)
Image 2 & 3: Dove Real Beauty Campaign (screenshots)