Monday, December 22, 2008

And the winner is...

Thanks to all of you who entered to to win an advance reader's copy of Does This Book Make Me Look Fat? The winner (chosen randomly) is Just_Kelly! Congrats, Kelly. Look for an email from us and we'll get the book out to you soon.

Happy holidays, everyone! We'll be back with more fun and games in 2009.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Win It: Does This Book Make Me Look Fat?

We're giving away an advance reader's copy of Does This Book Make Me Look Fat? Edited by Marissa Walsh, this collection features stories, poems, and essays about body image by Wendy McClure (creator of the hilarious Pound and Candyboots blogs), Coe Booth, Megan McCafferty, and many others.

To enter, become one of our followers (not in a creepy cult way, just in a Blogger way) and/or join our Facebook group. Then leave us a comment and let us know. If you've already done one or both, you're still eligible. Just tell us in the comments. The winner will be announced on December 22nd. Good luck!

Bonus! Claire is also offering free autographed bookplates (aka a sticker for the inside of your book) for anyone who wants to give a copy of You're Amazing! as a gift this holiday season. Email her with the name of the person you want your book autographed to and your mailing address.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Moms-to-Be and New Moms: Guess Who Thinks You're a Bunch of Fatsos?

Via Glossed Over comes this gem. According to Glamour, JLo's "new" body is smokin' hot. The old one? Well, clearly carrying twins packs on the pounds.

Wow--giving birth makes you skinnier! It's the biggest diet scoop of the century! But before you get too excited, we must warn you that childbirth alone will not do the trick. Nor will a chef, a personal trainer or the nanny who watches your newborn while you work out for two hours a day. You'll need some retouching, too.

Despite her best efforts, Jessica Alba's real-life post-baby body was just not trim enough for this new Campari campaign. Digital makeover, activate! Form of Sexy Mom!
Let's review:
1. Pregnancy now counts as a weight loss "before"
2. Even Hollywood's slimmest moms can't achieve an "after" that meets advertising standards.

There is just no way to win this game, is there? We call foul. What's your take on all the pregnancy fat talk and the post-baby body fakery?

[Glossed Over] and [Jezebel]

Monday, November 24, 2008

Contribute to our book!

We've been hard at work on our book, which explores body image, pregnancy, and new motherhood. Do you have something to say about this topic? We want to hear from you. If you haven't already, please take a few minutes to fill out one of our surveys. Thanks!

Survey for mothers

Survey for women who are currently pregnant

Survey for women who not have children yet or do not plan to have children

Survey for partners

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Harsh Truth About Election Comedown

Obama Win Causes Obsessive Supporters To Realize How Empty Their Lives Are

Gotta love The Onion. There's nothing like a little comic relief to help our fellow Obama supporters pass the time until inauguration day.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Today's the Day! Cast Your Vote.

It's time to make our voices heard. No one can afford to sit this one out. Get to the polls TODAY and cast your vote. Your country needs you!

Related: Take Our Daughters to the Polls

Friday, October 24, 2008

Are People Finally Fed Up With Model Shows? MTV Pulls the Plug on "Model Makers"

MTV began casting for a new show called Model Makers, but it appears the show will never see the light of day. That's good news, because it looked all kinds of horrible. Contestants on the show would have been forced to "endure twelve weeks of intensive physical fitness training to help them get down to their ideal size...With weekly eliminations looming, models must put their best foot forward at all times while staying focused on losing weight."

In truth, the premise of Model Makers sounds a lot closer to reality than most other model "reality" TV shows. Yes, a segment of the population of today's working models is naturally and effortlessly skinny. The rest are perpetually and sometimes dangerously focused on losing weight (remember Ali Michael?). The show's teaser line sums up exactly what's wrong with the fashion industry: "Women come in all shapes and sizes, but models don't." Actually, you could modify that line to read "Women come in all shapes, sizes, and colors, but models don't" and you would have a pretty accurate picture of what the runways at Fashion Week look like these days.

So why did Model Makers get the ax? Darryl Roberts, director of the documentary America the Beautiful, credits a massive letter writing campaign. Roberts wrote an open letter to MTV on HuffPo earlier this month. He published the casting email address and encouraged outraged readers to protest the show. We love to think of that inbox being flooded. And if MTV really did come to its senses as a result of the groundswell, that is a huge victory for woman and girlkind.

But while we're on the topic of model reality shows, we'd like to pose a question. Will audiences ever grow weary? Of course America's Next Top Model keeps on trucking into it's 200th season or something. We've also seen Model.Live, Models NYC, The Agency, She's Got the Look, 8th & Ocean, The Janice Dickinson Modeling Agency, and our personal favorite, America's Most Smartest Model. Even Project Runway insists on incorporating a model elimination within a show that's supposed to be about the designers (insert Tim Gunn inflection here). We're not exactly crying a river, or a puddle, when Heidi aufs one of them each week. Is there anyone out there shedding a tear?

We suppose there is a core audience of the model-obsessed who will watch anything and everything related to those pretty moddles. As for the rest of us, it's fun to laugh along for a while, and sometimes those shows can even be edumacational! But when does it start to get old? Is there a saturation point for eye smiling and fierceness?

[Huffington Post via Ypulse]

Friday, October 17, 2008

You're Amazing! in Brooklyn Tomorrow

If you're in the New York area, bring your daughters, nieces, little sisters, friends, and neighbors to Blue Ribbon General Store on Saturday, October 18th. I'll be reading from my book, You're Amazing! A No-Pressure Guide to Being Your Best Self, and conducting self-esteem activities for girls from 12-1:30 p.m. You'll be free in time for some Brooklyn brunching. All the details are here.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Hot Mama Curse and Love Your Body (Every) Day

Our upcoming book just got a nice mention on Redbook editor-in-chief Stacy Morrison's blog. She writes:
"It’s true that pregnancy creates a lot of strange conversations in your head about your relationship to your body...I’m excited to say that two women are going to be taking on this issue in an upcoming book, to capture the many different ways we women go through this stage of life called pregnancy and what it makes us think and feel about our bodies."
You can read Stacy's full post here.

On another note, we somehow spaced and forgot to post about Love Your Body Day yesterday. So we're celebrating today. And every day. What do you love about your body?

Image: Love Your Body Day 2008 poster winner Shanti Rittgers, high school category.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Voices of Eating Disorders

The New York Times is running a "Patient Voices: Eating Disorders" feature today, which includes interviews with female and male sufferers at different points of recovery. A mother of one of the sufferers is also interviewed.

Patrick Bergstrom talks about the connection between perfectionism and eating disorders, and how he struggled to recover in a treatment center that catered mostly to women. Emily Hertz, a recovering anorexic, remembers a comment her grandfather made to her when she was just nine years old: "If you keep eating those Skittles, you're going to get fat." Kirsten Haglund, Miss America 2008, reflects on how her eating disorder isolated her from the people she cared about. Disappointingly, there is not much ethnic diversity here, which doesn't do much to dispel the myth that eating disorders are a white issue. That said, the piece is definitely worth checking out.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Friends Don't Let Friends Fat Talk

October 13-17 is Fat Talk Free Week, an initiative launched by Delta Delta Delta to get women to think about how our body bashing talk can keep us from the meaningful conversations and actions we really need in our lives.

Sign the promise to end fat talk
Vocab Rehab: Pregnancy and New Mom Edition
Vocab Rehab: Change Your Body Talk for the Better

Monday, October 6, 2008

Women Who Diet Before Pregnancy Gain More Weight During Pregnancy

Women who count calories, cut carbs, and measure fat grams before pregnancy are more likely to overeat during pregnancy. UNC researchers asked 1,223 women who had just become pregnant about their previous dietary habits. Regardless of how they did it, all normal-weight, overweight, or obese women who had tried to restrict their diets gained more weight during pregnancy than did women who did not diet before pregnancy.

This is one of those studies that confirms what we've heard from many of the women we're interviewing for our book--and it's common sense if you think about it. At every point in our lives, we're told to watch our weight. But during pregnancy, women are suddenly handed a free pass to "eat for two." Of course there are still plenty of celebrity magazines that bash stars who dare to show up in public with anything other than a cute little baby bump. But generally friends, family, and colleagues are more likely to encourage us to relax rigid eating habits for the sake of the baby. For women who have been restricting to the extent that they have little sense of their natural appetites, that permission to finally eat without guilt can be equivalent to opening the floodgates. In fact, another study shows that pregnancy can lead to binge eating disorder in some women who have never been binge eaters before.

Culturally sanctioned pregnancy feasting is time-limited, make no mistake. The pressure is on the minute after delivery. That's when the "indulge your cravings" allowances come to a screeching halt and the "get your pre-baby back" alarms are sounded. Ah, mixed messages.

Millions of women suffer from eating disorders, disordered eating, and poor body image before getting pregnant. Why would we expect that these issues would magically disappear during and post-pregnancy (two of the most stressful and body-transforming times of a woman's life)? Unfortunately, obstetricians are woefully untrained to deal with these issues.

"It would be important to have a nutritionist meet with these patients, because most obstetricians -- including me -- don't have the training to know what specifically to recommend," says obstetrician J. Christopher Glantz, MD, MPH, director of the perinatal outreach program at the University of Rochester Medical Center.

What are your experiences with these issues? We invite you to fill out one of our surveys.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Fabricating Beauty--It's More Than Just Retouching

I attended a Dove self-esteem workshop for teens last night featuring the amazing Jess Weiner and Courtney Martin. They showed this video, which was developed by the UK eating disorders organization, beat. What I love about it (besides the cute British boy who gets a goth makeover) is that it addresses the many different ways fashion and beauty images are manipulated. Of course retouching is in the mix, but they also break down other tricks of the trade. Watch for a model's clothes being pinned and lighting changes that produce entirely different effects.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Book News: We're Writing One! Help Us By Sharing Your Input.

We're excited to announce that we have signed a deal with HCI to write a book about body image, pregnancy, and new motherhood.

It's no secret that we are pretty frustrated with all the appearance-related pressures facing pregnant women and new moms. Our book will explore those pressures, dispel some myths, and provide practical advice to help women cope with all the "lose the baby weight" messages without losing their minds. And that's where you come in.

We're calling on our network of readers, friends, and colleagues to share your experiences and opinions. Would you take a few minutes and fill out one of our surveys? Please add your comments within the surveys if our questions don't get to everything you want say on the topic!

Take this survey if you are a woman who does not have children yet or you do not plan to have children

Take this survey if you are currently pregnant

Take this survey if you are a mother who has given birth and you are not currently pregnant

Take this survey if your partner has given birth or she is currently pregnant

Three more ways you can be part of this project:

1. Contact us if you are willing to be interviewed for the book.
2. Forward this link to others who might be interested.
3. Publish this link on your blogs and websites and in your newsletters.

Thanks a million, people! As always, we appreciate your support and encouragement. We'll keep you updated on our progress as we move closer to the release date, which will be sometime in Fall 2009.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Is Christina Ricci in Training to Become an Eating Disorders Counselor?

Yes, we know we've been MIA. We have a big announcement coming soon that will explain the absence. But we're popping in for a quickie today because this little item grabbed our attention: There is word coming through the Hollywood gossip grapevine that Christina Ricci is in training to become an eating disorder counselor.

According to one source, "Christina went through hell and back growing up. For years she struggled with her self-esteem, so she knows how hard it is for young girls. [She hopes] to learn how she can help them get better without having to go through all the pain she did as a child."

The item states that Christina has "registered for online classes." Not exactly the road to a Ph.D., but there might be some level of certification she can obtain online. We're very curious indeed.

We both know that many, many individuals who work in the eating disorders treatment, prevention, and advocacy fields have personal experience with eating disorders. Our past suffering led us to this work, and helping others has allowed us to find purpose and meaning in the years of our lives that we once believed were wasted on our obsessions with food and weight. If Christina has truly gotten herself to a healthy place where she feels like she's ready to to reach out to those who need some hope and understanding, we say kudos. [Courier Mail]

Monday, August 18, 2008

Dear World: What Would YOUR Letter Say?

dear world

Dear World,

It's me, a girl.

What is it like growing up as a girl today? What was life like for YOU as a girl? The new "Dear World" campaign from Girls Inc. invites girls and women everywhere to write their own original letters and join together in asking for all the support and empowerment that the world has to offer.

Join the campaign:

Watch the "Dear World" ads and find out what messages girls are sending.

Submit your letter, or call 888-DEAR-WRLD to record your message to the world.

What I love most about this idea is that it challenges us to use the power of our voices to build connections and make positive changes. Think about what you want to tell the world. Share your letter here, and ask the girls in your life to share their letters with you. Let's make sure the world hears us loud and clear!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Beauty Road Trip

Just heard about this very cool project: Beauty Road Trip. The idea is that two multi-media artists will travel across the country interviewing women about their ideas on beauty. We can't wait to see what they come up with.

Oh, and Martha? I hear ya on the Burt's Bees Orange Essence Facial Cleanser. So much so that I had a complete freakout a couple of years ago when I couldn't find it in any stores for some mysterious reason. I started believing that there was some crazy orange essence shortage/conspiracy going on and why, for the love of God, wasn't anyone in the mainstream media talking about it? Then I calmed down and found some BB cleanser on the internets. And all was right in the world again. Well, not exactly. But at least my face was clean and smelled fruity. [Beauty Road Trip]

What The Family Guy Can Teach Us About Jennifer Love Hewitt

After posting yesterday's rant, I sat down to watch Family Guy for some comic relief. Fittingly, the episode was called "He's Too Sexy for His Fat." Peter decides to trim down and get plastic surgery. Hilarity ensues, including this tidbit featuring a family of Eskimos saying farewell to their son as he paddles off to chase his destiny:

"My son, your place is here in the ice village. You know nothing of Hollywood and its ways."

"But Father, I have dreams and courage, and the name of an excellent cosmetic surgeon. Fear not, one day word will reach you of the success of me, the great Eskimo actor, Jennifer Love Hewitt."

Funny, Jennifer's true roots got completely left out of that Us Weekly miracle weight loss article.

Note: Newspaper Rock pointed out how this scene portrays Indians in a stereotypical light. The igloo, the ice floe. Yes, he has a point. And apparently this isn't the only episode with that problem.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Jennifer Love Hewitt: Oh, the Hypocrisy

This is Jennifer Love Hewitt on the cover of Us Weekly, talking about her 18-pound weight loss. But let's rewind for a sec. Remember back in December when she was sooo fired up about how the tabloids were calling her "fat" because people, a SIZE TWO is not fat? At the time I took issue with her insistence on broadcasting her size, but otherwise her quote was pretty positive: "To set the record straight, I'm not upset for me, but for all of the girls out there that are struggling with their body image...A size 2 is not fat! Nor will it ever be. And being a size 0 doesn't make you beautiful."

So if she was a size 2 in December and then she lost eighteen pounds, I wonder what size she is now? I'm guessing that number is revealed in the article along with her her "exact diet plan," but I just can't bring myself to read it. It's depressing, quite frankly.

Look, the girl is allowed to lose weight. That's her choice. And I do sympathize with the intense appearance-related pressures that actresses face. But anyone who gets up on a soapbox to talk about how beauty isn't about being a size 0 and then turns around and sells her weight loss story to a tabloid also loses more than a few sizes of credibility in my book.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Back to School: The Brands, The Labels, and The Pressure to Have the “Right” Look

It's that time of year when girls start stressing about what to wear because they don't want to be teased and tormented at school. A new poll conducted by the British Association of Teachers and Lecturers reveals that advertising's increasing influence on kids is partly to blame for this pressure, which makes a certain set of Wal-Mart commercials I saw this weekend that much more offensive. Today I'm over at Shine talking about the ads, and offering some tips on how to help girls deal with all the brand mania. See you there.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Pregorexia: What Happens When Moms-to-Be Aren't Eating Enough?

We have written before about the insane amount of pressure pregnant women and new moms face in our "get your pre-baby body back" culture. We've also talked about the fact that we now need a new dictionary to define all the terms that are popping up to describe disordered eating behavior, a surefire sign that our collective attitudes about food and weight have gone off the deep end. Now we've officially arrived at the intersection of these two observations: Pregorexia.

"Pregorexia" is another media-coined term used to refer to mothers who are so terrified of gaining weight during their pregnancies that they diet and put their own health and the babies health at risk. Those health risks include anemia, low birth weight, heart palpitations, and rickets. Of course, women are warned not to gain too much weight either, because that comes with a whole other set of health risks. No pressure or anything. Just get it perfect, okay?

We're hearing a lot of accusations of women putting vanity before the health of their babies. We'd like to slow down the judgment train for a second. It's a pretty widely accepted fact that many women have serious body image issues, weight concerns (and yes, eating disorders) before they get pregnant, right? So why are we all so quick to assume that those issues will magically melt away as soon as women decide to become moms? What resources are available to help us cope with the body changes and body pressures that come with pregnancy and motherhood? The fact is that we're surrounded by "Celebrity Moms' Diet Tricks!" magazine covers (sometimes in the OB/GYN's office, thanks very much), but the voices of reason are few and far between.

Our recommendations? Women need doctors who are sensitive to and knowledgeable about body image issues, and we need to talk honestly with each other about how we're coping with these pressures instead of quizzing each other on how much weight we've gained or lost during and after pregnancy. What do you think? [Daily Mail] via [Shine]

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Eating Disorders and The Olympics: Is the IOC Doing Enough?

It's almost time to let the games begin, but as controversy swirls around the hot topics of performance-enhancing drug use and gender testing at the Olympics, another major issue gets less attention from the officials: eating disorders.

According to a study published last year in the Psychology of Sport and Exercise journal, almost one in five of Britain's leading female distance runners has an eating disorder or has suffered in the past. We would venture to guess that the U.S. numbers match up pretty closely. Does anyone remember Dying to Be Perfect: The Ellen Hart Pena Story (Yep, Lifetime movie)? And it's not just runners, of course. Little Girls in Pretty Boxes highlighted the struggles of figure skaters and gymnasts (Uh, yeah, Lifetime again. Although to be fair, it was a book first). Gymnast Jennifer Sey just chronicled her own experience with eating disorders and depression in Chalked Up: Inside Elite Gymnastics' Merciless Coaching, Overzealous Parents, and Elusive Olympic Dreams and American swimmer Dara Torres just inked a deal (sub required) to write her memoir, which includes a discussion of her battle with bulimia.

We talk about how the world of modeling is a breeding ground for disordered eating. Models get into the business when they are young and impressionable. They are often completely isolated from their support systems and they're thrown into a highly competitive environment where their success depends largely on their bodies. Take those factors off the runway and put them on a track or an ice rink or in a swimming pool and the risk for eating disorders is still sky high.

Many have questioned whether the fashion industry is doing enough to protect the health of models, but there has certainly been plenty of discussion and enough movement to develop some basic guidelines. The International Olympic Committee issued its own guidelines in 2005--in the form a 46-page position on the Female Athlete Triad (Disordered Eating, Osteoporosis, and Amenorrhea). While comprehensive, this paper is far from user friendly. The IOC also states that "International and National Federations and National Olympic Committees are encouraged to develop coach and team physician Female Athlete Triad education programmes, and where possible modify rules to reduce the incidence of the drive for thinness and subsequent unhealthy eating behaviours." Is that happening? If you know about any such programs or rule modifications, please let us know. Our search came up with nada.

Monday, August 4, 2008

You're Amazing! Events This Week

Are you in NYC? Hope you can make it to one (or both!) of these events:

cupcakeI'm on the bill for Great Teen Reads Night at Books of Wonder, Wednesday August 6th, 6:00-7:30 p.m. Books of Wonder is one of my favorite spots in New York, and not just because it happens to be attached to The Cupcake Cafe!

This super deluxe reading and signing also includes Melissa Walker (Violet on the Runway, Violet by Design and her brand new release, Violet in Private); New York Times bestselling author Lisa McMann (Wake); Linda Gerber (Death by Bikini, P.S. Did you enter Linda's giveaway-to-end-all-giveaways yet?); Katie Davis (The Curse of Addy McMahon); and Jenny Davidson (The Explosionist).

brooklyn fleaBrooklyn Flea, Sunday, August 10th, 10 a.m. until I can't take the heat (literally).

I'll be selling and signing books at the flea this Sunday! I'm sharing a table with photographer extraordinaire Kate Glicksberg. She's the one who made me look all reflective and professional in my author pic. Come on by and see us. I'll be the one in the sun hat and slathered in SPF 45. Yeah, I'm a delicate flower.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Keira Knightley: "Don't (Re)Touch My Breasts!"

Keira Knightley has had her share of boob controversy. First there was the digitally enhanced King Arthur poster, followed by speculation over whether she really had enough up top to fill that hat she was holding in the recent Chanel ads. Now Keira is taking a stand, refusing any cleavage alterations on the publicity photos for her new film, "The Duchess."

"She has insisted that her figure stay in its natural state," an insider said. "She is proud of her body and doesn't want it altered."

Not so surprisingly, the creepy commenters have been out in full force responding to this news over at HuffPo. "She has no breasts because she's anorexic" is just one of a couple hundred thoughtful gems offered up in the last 24 hours. Keira has already publicly squashed the anorexia accusation. In fact, last year she sued over it, won, and donated the money from the lawsuit to a British eating disorders organization.

We throw around the "unrealistic beauty ideals" phrase, and while it's true that Keira's body type is not realistic for most of the female population, it's her body and she deserves to feel good about herself--just as people of all shapes and sizes deserve to feel good about themselves, too. The ultimate goal is body diversity, isn't it? When an actress tries to make a point about self-acceptance by calling out the practice of retouching, it really doesn't help the cause to call her a "freak of nature" or tell her to "eat a cheeseburger." [Huffington Post]

Sunday, July 27, 2008

BlogHer Highlights: Beautiful Blogging and Postive Posting

Yes, it has been a week since I returned from San Francisco. I will be the first to admit it has taken me longer to recover from the two-conferences-in-a-row experience than I anticipated. Hence the crickets chirping over here. Seeing Kara Jesella's piece on the BlogHer conference in the New York Times today reminded me that there is still a lot more I want to say about my experience.

One session in particular has been on my mind since I returned: "Beautiful Blogging and Positive Posting." The title initially set off my snark alarm, but I forged ahead because I knew Alyssa Royse from Just Cause It and Off the Rocks (a new blog she's writing with her husband, following his arrest for a DUI--"because we're not pathetic and destitute, we're just dealing with the worst f*ing situation of our lives") would be speaking, and I think she's doing some amazing work. Also on the bill were Lucrecer Braxton from Art Slam, Krystyn Heide from HopeRevo, Jen of oneplustwo, and Kyran Pittman of Notes to Self.

Alyssa mentioned that her young daughter recently came to her and asked, "Mommy, is there any good news in the world?" Ouch. The short answer to that question is yes, there is. And that's ultimately what positive posting is all about. As many of the panelists pointed out, the topics we post about don't have to fluffy and cute (although I personally enjoy some fluffy cuteness here and there). We don't have to ignore that injustice, suffering, and media b.s. exist--and we don't have to hold back our anger about it either. The point is that we need to start talking about the difference between a snark-filled rant and a post that inspires something positive in our readers. Here are a few key tenets of "positive posting" that came up:

Positive: A blog or post that serves as a catalyst for social change in the real world
Positive: A blog or post that aims to break through a taboo topic and overcome social stigma
Positive: A blog or post that builds connections through honesty

Magali and I try our best to make 5 Resolutions a combination of all three of these. We started talking publicly about our eating disorders and body image issues because we wanted to break through the silence and misconceptions surrounding these issues. We launched a blog and a network to build connections and bring about change. At the end of the day, positive posting isn't so much a particular approach to blogging as it is what naturally happens when you have a hopeful approach to life. That said, I think it's important to remind ourselves of what makes a positive post as we're writing (and reading other blogs for that matter). We might not hit the mark every time, but we think it's important to try.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Two Quick Ones

In honor of "Love Yourself Up" week, Claire did an interview over at U.K. teen queen author Lisa Clark's blog, Pink World. Check it out.

We are all over Facebook these days. You can become a fan of 5 Resolutions, Claire's book, and join our group if you haven't already. Okay, okay, we promise not to challenge you to Scrabulous.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Good times and good people in San Francisco

I got into NYC early this morning from a crazy fun week in San Francisco. And when I say "early morning," I mean 4 a.m. Thanks to some hurricane action on the east coast, my flight was delayed over two hours. Then I had to wait another hour plus some change for a cab, but I will refrain from the full Wendy Whiner spiel here. The good news is that the hellish travel experience was somewhat alleviated by the incredible in-flight entertainment options on Virgin America. A Kathy Griffin: Life on the D-List marathon followed by a Dave Eggers TED lecture on 826 Valencia? Yes, please. I'll touch that screen.

This is all to say that I am still decompressing from meeting about 500 people in the span of 5 days at Ypulse and BlogHer--all of whom are doing some pretty kick-ass work. I'll name check a few highlights now and I promise to do more detailed commentaries (after I get a proper night's sleep).

YA superstars:
Justina Chen Headley is not only an amazing author (Nothing But the Truth (and a Few White Lies) and Girl Overboard), she's also the co-founder of readergirlz. Justina makes it a point to create a social change project that ties into the themes of each of her books. And she takes a lovely photo, too!

Melissa Walker (author of the Violet series, which I reviewed last month) was all kinds of awesome. David Levithan should consider stand-up, and Lisa McMann deserves big credit for sharing her "mortifying" high school picture from her Dutch dancing days.

Girl Advocates:
I worked with Allison Keiley for years at Girls Inc., but I gained a whole new appreciation watching her in action on the "Are Girls the New Geeks?" panel at Ypulse, moderated by my girl Courtney Macavinta over at Respect Rx.

Have you seen The Midwest Teen Sex Show yet? Have you experienced the incredible-ness that is Nikol Hasler? No? Get thee to the website right now.

BlogHer Heroines:
Stephanie Quilao from Back in Skinny Jeans (who I interviewed for my book) gives new meaning to the term "authenticity." Alyssa Royse at Just Cause It was cooler than I could have imagined (and I imagined her to be pretty freakin' cool). I'm a new fan of Hope Revolution, Art Slam, and many, many other blogs that I will be adding to our list of links very soon.

Oh, and Stacy Morrison of Redbook won me over in a big way. More on that tomorrow.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Live Blogging Blogher: Political Commentary

Greetings from San Francisco and the BlogHer '08 conference! My first session today is on political commentary with Jennifer Pozner of Women in Media and News and Catherine Orenstein of the Op-Ed Project.

Jennifer opened the session with this question: How many of you have engaged with media outside of your blogs? Most people in the room raised their hands, but those who didn't said they haven't engaged because they are nervous about putting themselves "out there" and exposing themselves in their communities especially when it comes to politics. Jennifer made the point that as women, we must be willing to engage in a competitive landscape. The media landscape does not look the way we want it to. Women are marginalized and "hard news" is still seen as the realm of men (white, privileged men for the most part).

Jennifer gets tons of hate mail after her TV commentary. Perhaps not so surprising (but still pretty depressing), most of those comments are usually about her physical appearance and almost never about what she actually said.

The more popular your blog is, the more likely it is that mainstream media outlets will come to you. When you get that call, you have to be prepared. Jennifer mentioned the brother-in-law test. If you can get your brother-in-law to understand your point and frame your argument in a way that he gets it, you'll know that you are better prepared to address a broad audience beyond your niche.

Catherine Orenstein posed five questions:
1. what is credibility?
2. how do you create an argument that is a contribution?
3. What is the difference between being right and being effective?
4. how can you see what you care about as part of a bigger picture?
5. how can you see your knowledge and experience in terms of its value to others?

Some stats: 85% percent of op-eds are dominated by men, 84% of political pundits are men, 84% of Hollywood producers are male, 84% of Congress are male. Get the picture?

Plenty of women are blogging, but not in the places where it has the most influence. One out of 20 political bloggers are women. Sadly, these numbers convey the idea that women's voices don't matter and that women aren't leaders.

Three things happened when Catherine published her first op-ed: She got a book deal, she was went on national television, and she was invited to speak with a Clinton adviser. In other words, there are incredible opportunities presented to those who do put themselves out there. If you're not writing your own story, someone else will. And probably not in the way you would tell it.

Public conversations are happening in an echo chamber. Catherine compares this to what happens in the movie Being John Malkovich when John Malkovich goes through the John Malkovich tunnel. That's what public debate looks like these days.

Women don't submit op-eds. Shouldn't we all be projecting our opinions into the prominent forums? So here are Catherine's thoughts on some of those questions.

What is credibility: Accountability to knowledge. What are you an expert in and why?
Creating contribution: What would be valuable? What's the evidence (statistics, quotes, news information, research).
What's the difference between being right and being effective: She shared a letter she received after she wrote an ope-ed that was critical of Sex & the City. "It's Sex & the City, not Jobs & the City," the writer pointed out. "Your version: Boring." Catherine realized that she had alienated a large portion of the audience she wanted to reach. What she learned is that before she concludes an argument, she needs to put herself in the shoes of someone who disagrees with her. Remember two words: empathy and respect. Assume that the other party is both intelligent and moral.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Ypulse and BlogHer Bound!

I'm heading to San Francisco for two conferences next week...

First up: I'll be signing copies of You're Amazing! at the Ypulse Mashup on Monday, July 14th from 9:45-10:15 a.m. and then during the afternoon break from 3:20-4:00 p.m. I'm also moderating a lunch roundtable discussion on "Girls, Self-Esteem & Media." If you're registered for the conference, you can sign up for the lunch session when you check in. Hope to see you there!

Next: BlogHer! I'm doing a book signing for conference attendees on Friday, July 18th from 12:15-12:45.

I'm especially excited to finally meet Stephanie Quilao from Back in Skinny Jeans. She'll be discussing how she "came out" about her bulimia relapse on her blog earlier this year. I was so impressed with how she handled this very personal issue, and I can't wait to hear from her.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

My Brush With Barack and Hillary

See all those people holding their cameras in the air? I bet they got pictures that look about the same as this one. Our cell phone masterpiece was taken right after Barack Obama finished his speech this a.m. in New York. He and Hillary were up there shaking hands while some country tune (which I just learned is called "Only in America" by Brooks & Dunn. Thanks, internets!) blasted the rest of us out of the ballroom.

It was quite impressive to see a couple thousand people lined up inside the Hilton at an hour I would officially call "ungodly" (FYI: Walking in heels before coffee? Not recommended).
Barack Obama's half sister Maya Soetoro-Ng got the party started by introducing Hillary, who informed the crowd that Barack had just told her that she looked "kind of rested." And good news! Hillary says she's started exercising, too. She joked that while Barack got up early every morning on the campaign trail to work out, she got up every morning to have her hair done. Oh, did I mention this was a "women's breakfast"?

The hairdo line was a hit, as was Barack's candor when it came to talking about how he's seen the women in his life juggle work and family life--struggling to find balance and sometimes even questioning their own abilities. He acknowledged his own "complicity" in this unfair structure, and pledged his support for paid family leave and equal pay for equal work. He also made it clear that he desperately needs Hillary Clinton and Bill, too (although I think I might have seen him wince a little when mentioning Bill's name).

Of course the not-so-subtle subtext here is that he's asking supporters to help relieve Hillary's campaign debt. But money talk aside, I admit I got a little misty-eyed when he talked about the precedent she has set for girls: "Because of what Hillary accomplished, my daughters and yours look at themselves a little differently today. They’re dreaming a little bigger and setting their sights a little higher today.”

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Rachael Ray Employee Sues Over Anorexia-Related Bias

A former employee of Rachael Ray's company is now suing, claiming that his supervisor repeatedly exhibited "hostile behavior" and made "vile," discriminatory and hurtful comments about his eating disorder.

According to court papers, accountant Aaron Ferguson was subjected to comments including, "Anorexics are sick in the head," and, "Anorexics should not be able to work." Rachael Ray is not named in the suit.

Dealing with an eating disordered colleague can be challenging. But you know what else is tough? Having an eating disorder and going to work knowing that people are probably talking about you and making judgments. Either way, blatant harassment doesn't really seem like a good solution for anyone.

Oh, and to add insult to injury, E! Online posted this headline: "Former Rachael Ray Employee Trims Fat, Loses Job." Note to E!: We're all for wordplay, but mocking a life-threatening illness is beyond tacky. [AP]

Monday, July 7, 2008

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

You're Amazing! A No-Pressure Guide to Being Your Best Self

On the off chance that you haven't already heard me shouting it from the rooftops, I would like to formally announce that my book for girls is out this week!

You're Amazing! A No-Pressure Guide to Being Your Best Self is based on the Girls Inc. "Supergirl Dilemma" study, which shows that girls are feeling increasing pressures to be perfect and please everyone. Perfectionism is a major source of girls' stress (60% of girls in the study reported that they often feel stressed), low self-esteem, and poor body image. That's the bad news. The good news is that with the right tools and support systems, girls can learn to give up the quest to be "super" and start celebrating what makes them amazing. My hope is that this book will help to kick off that celebration.

I would like to say a big, big thanks to you, dear readers! Your support and kind words have meant so much to me. Speaking of all fit the bill.

Related links:

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Rest in Peace, Ruslana Korshunova

We were saddened to hear of the suicide of model Ruslana Korshunova this Saturday. Korshunova, 20, was featured in ads for DKNY, Vera Wang and Christian Dior. She had just returned from a modeling job in Paris.

Suicide leaves loved ones to grapple with the most painful unanswered question: why? Friends and colleagues have expressed their shock, one of them saying that Korshunova had appeared to be "on top of the world." Other reports have pointed to the model's online social networking pages as a possible clue to her emotional suffering.

Our thoughts are with Korshunova's friends and family as they deal with this tragic loss of such a young and vibrant life.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Review My Surgery Skillz on YouTube and Get One Free Botox Injection!

Did you hear? Doctors are now offering rebates on procedures for patients who post videos of their prior surgeries (supplied by the doctors, of course) and write glowing accounts of how happy they are with the results. I know we're a Consumer Reports/Amazon Book Reviews kinda culture, but this seems extreme.

First of all, are people actually shopping for surgeons on YouTube? Don't answer that. Every other ad on television and the worldwide interwebs is for some drug to make you happier, thinner, sleepier, etc., so I guess it makes sense that plastic surgeons are jumping on the advertising and viral marketing money train.

Sometimes I stay awake to watch The Golden Girls on Lifetime at 1 a.m. (yes, I know a second episode is on at 1:30, and sometimes I watch that one, too). Let me tell you, there are some super scary commercials that air in that time slot. Last night I was treated to the Ped Egg foot exfoliator ad, in which a parade of satisfied customers slough the nasty dead skin off their feet and dump the shavings into (Unlined! My eyes!) trash cans. But the one that really haunts my dreams is for a local plastic surgeon who offers financing for plastic surgery. "Bad credit or no credit? No problem! We'll still suck out your fat, and we'll charge you loan shark interest rates to boot!" Okay, I'm paraphrasing a little.

Maybe this is what was bound to happen as capitalism, medical advances, beauty obsessions, and a crappy health care system collide. But I really don't like the looks of it.

"Coming Soon to YouTube: My Facelift" New York Times

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Brittany Snow Swears Off Hollywood Trainers and Diets

Brittany Snow, star of Prom Night and the super creepy-looking On the Doll, told People magazine that she is done with dieting and training. After being diagnosed with anorexia, depression, exercise bulimia and body dysmorphic disorder as a teenager, the 22-year-old says she's now focused on doing what she wants to do, not what Hollywood dictates.

"Done with the trainer, I cancelled my trainer...I refuse to do the whole diet, fitness, style thing anymore," Snow says. "I know what I like, I know what makes me feel good, and that's just what I do. I think more than anything, the thing I've learned in being here is that everything else doesn't matter as long as you're taking care of yourself and you're having fun." [People] via [The-F-Word]

Monday, June 23, 2008

You Can Also Find Me Here

Magali and I are still 100% dedicated to 5 Resolutions, but I wanted to let readers know that I'll also be blogging semi-regularly over here. My focus will be girls' issues--leadership, body image, activism, and all things related to girls and young women shaking things up and getting things done. So if you have any tips, send them my way:

Violet on the Runway: Truth in Fiction

Melissa Walker's YA book series about a teen who makes it big in the modeling world has been on my to-read list for way too long. I finally got around to checking out Violet on the Runway and Violet By Design this month (the third in the series, Violet in Private, comes out in August), and I found them entertaining and insightful. Walker taps into the America's Next Top Model fantasies of young readers, but she delivers a lot more than just jet-setting fluff.

Despite her rising star status, Violet is a down-to-earth character struggling to find her own voice and develop meaningful relationships and friendships. Meanwhile, everyone in her life seems to have their opinions about what she should do and how she should act. Most real girls aren't showered with designer swag and ushered through VIP entrances like Violet is, but I think most readers will relate to Violet's quest to be true to herself.

One of my favorite plot lines (spoiler alert!) is in Violet By Design, when Violet talks to the press about the insane pressures models face to be thin (her quotes sounded strikingly similar to what real-life top model Coco Rocha had to say earlier this month at the CFDA Health Initiative discussion). As a result of her candor, she is chosen to be the face of fictional designer-of-the-moment Mirabella's campaign. "Violet believes that all girls should have a positive body image, and that we in the fashion industry have a responsibility to our young fans. Our fall campaign will embrace the mission of self confidence, health, and 'keeping it real,'" Mirabella announces to a crowd of reporters at a press conference. Behind the scenes, she tells Violet's agent that Violet needs to lose five pounds.

Does this kind of hypocrisy exist in the fashion industry? Yep, absolutely. In the universe of YA fiction, Violet is the perfect candidate to expose it. In the real world, I can think of a few dedicated power players who could do the job well.

Related: NPR: Three Books for Teens Who Hate to Read

Friday, June 20, 2008

Guest Post: Moments of Body Zen, Part II

Welcome to the second installment of our guest posts by Allison Keiley. If you missed yesterday's Body Zen essay, you can find it here.

Moments of Body Zen, Part II: A Hamster off its Wheel

I was pretty sure my legs were going to explode when I pulled my ski boots off at the end of my second day on skis last season back in December—it was only my second day on skis in more than four years. The first had been two days prior, when I had made my way through a heavy, slushy, slow snow. I found myself tired but exhilarated; sweaty but, oddly enough, in shape.

When I got home a few hours later on that second day, I didn’t crawl crying up to bed at 8 p.m. as I thought I might. I was out until midnight having margaritas with friends, telling them that I’d just had the best couple of days ever. My cheeks were scarlet and still warm from the wind, my legs were somehow in tact, and the adrenaline rush I got from hurtling my body down a mountain was wearing off nicely.

I felt like a hamster that had finally been let off its wheel. All of the hours on the boring elliptical machine, the thousands of sit-ups and crunches, the grueling spinning classes I put myself through, the countless runs around the park…here was the payoff. In my mind, no longer did all those hours just add up and go around and around; instead, I envisioned how they had built my muscles, made my lungs stronger, and propelled me down the mountain to catch the last chair for one last run.

Listen, these words look really strange to me as I type them. I was that girl in gym class who’d fake sick on the day of the mile-long run. I was active as a kid, but I was more likely to win MVP of riding my bike around my neighborhood (pretending it was the horse I so wanted, no lie) than of the soccer field or basketball court. Organized sports terrified me—what if, on the day of the big game, I just didn’t feel like playing? I finally gave in and joined a gym four years ago because I left my illustrious waitressing career for my first desk job and all the pent up energy left me unable to sleep at night.

Mostly, though, I started working out because I had the time and common sense. Okay, I started sleeping again, I had more energy during the day, and I felt a lot better about my body, even though I didn’t notice it changing much. Also, my New England-bred, Puritanical sense of productivity and accomplishment was satisfied a bit more than back when I was napping three hours a day.

I wish that everyone would have something that makes them feel the way I do when I ski: wholly grateful that my body is well enough to comply with my demands. I’m also seeking out more things that give me that same sense of gratefulness I experienced skiing—I felt it a little recently when I was bodysurfing at the beach. Until then, when I’m feeling lazy and tired and one spin class away from the edge of reason, I just think snow.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Guest Post: Moments of Body Zen, Part I

This week we're bringing you two personal essays from Allison Keiley, who writes about eye-opening moments when her relationship with her body came into focus. Read today's body zen installment and check back tomorrow for part two.

Allison Keiley is a web producer and sometimes-writer living in Brooklyn, New York. She blogs (more infrequently than she’d like) at

Moments of Body Zen, Part I: My Thyroid, Myself

After my yearly check up last February, my blood work came back indicating that my thyroid levels were borderline low. I went back to the doctor to have more blood drawn for further testing that would show whether I had an officially lazy thyroid.

The early symptoms associated with an under active thyroid, my doctor explained as the nurse prepared the needle and vials, run the gamut from brittle nails to fatigue to depression to weight issues. Basically, a lazy thyroid makes it super easy to gain weight and super hard to lose it.

Despite the possibility that I was potentially facing a lifelong health issue that can only be battled with seriously scary drugs and could even affect my ability to have babies, this was music to my ears. I find it super easy to gain weight. I find it super hard to lose it.

Might I actually be a skinny person, hidden underneath this body?

“Wow,” I thought, “Skinny.” As in truly, meant to be, eat whatever the hell I want, forgo the gym membership, buy a whole new wardrobe skinny. I was excited. It would be a whole new me. And so easy, right? Go to the doctor, discover chronic condition, get some drugs, get skinny, live the life I always knew I was meant to live...

Whoa. Here’s where the crazy train of those thoughts screeched to a halt before, as Ozzy sings, going off the rails.

I’ve worked really hard to learn to love my body, as skinny as it’s not and will never be. At many points in my life I’ve been unhappy about my body and have felt like a hulk whose woman-ness is just so very on display among a sea of beautifully androgynous, skinny girls. People who are kind would describe me as voluptuous, people who think they’re kind would say “big-boned,” and people who have their own issues would call me fat. I’m really lucky because my friends and family just call me smart and beautiful.

Back in the doctor’s office, I was scaring myself, growing woozy from the blood loss as visions of string bikinis danced through my head.

Everyone, of course, fantasizes about what it might be like to lead a different life. But the leaps in my fantasies were scary—from a new dress size to a new life in so few steps. The obvious link in my mind between thinness and happiness made me feel like the years I spent learning to appreciate my body had been erased.

Here’s the thing—I already have this life that revolves around those amazing friends and family members, where I do work I love, and find myself laughing and feeling really lucky like, all the time. Things can get really crappy and stressful, and I’m finally realizing that my pants size has nothing to do with it.

The doctor finished up my blood test and I bent over to put my head between my knees. The blood rushed back to my head and I thought—finally, with some clarity—about the things that I never want to be easy anyway, like eating well and exercising, but more on that later.

A few weeks later, I found out that my thyroid is perfectly normal, adding another check in my mental tally of reasons to appreciate my body. Besides, now I won’t have to worry so much about putting these child-bearing hips to good use.

Have you experienced a moment of body zen? Care to share?

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Miley Cyrus: Good for Girls' Body Image

Despite the whole "stripped down naked in a blanket" Vanity Fair incident, Miley Cyrus and her after-school tween TV peers appear to be setting a positive example for girls--at least when it comes to body image. According to a new study, children's shows like Hannah Montana and That's So Raven do a better job at showing a range of body types than shows for adults do.

The study found that almost half (47 percent) of the major and minor characters on these shows were of average weight, 38 percent were below average, and 15 percent above. And while this isn't a completely accurate reflection of reality, we are talking about TV here--and it's whole lot more body diversity than what we see in prime time.

The bad news is that while kids' shows are doing a better job at getting away from the stick-thin ideal, there are still plenty of tired old stereotypes about weight. The study showed that 25% of overweight characters on these shows had no friends, and black characters were three times more likely than white characters to be depicted as overweight. []

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Vacation... All I Ever Wanted

We're taking a few days off. See you next week!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

CFDA Health Initiative Discussion: "We've Been Drinking the Kool-Aid"

I attended a CFDA Health Initiative discussion last night focusing on "The Beauty of Health: How the Fashion Industry Can Make a Difference." [Usually this is a team effort, but Magali is on vacation with her family. She was sorry to miss it.] This was the third health initiative event they've hosted since releasing their guidelines in 2007.

Some highlights:

Nian Fish
of KCD (whose Q & A was our very first blog post almost a year ago) is sick of the ultra-thin look. "Size zero. What is that?" she asked the audience, which included Anna Wintour and Donna Karan. "A size zero means you're invisible. I think we have brainwashed ourselves into believing that is beautiful. It's time to admit that we've all been drinking the Kool-Aid."

James Scully
has been an outspoken advocate for reform in fashion, so I was happy to see him step up to the microphone. As one of the most sought-after casting agents in the industry, he knows that he and his colleagues have a responsibility to understand the power of their words and the tremendous influence they can have in young models' lives. "Magali talks about how her life would have taken a different turn if she had received caring support instead of harsh words about her weight," he said. "I think about that every day. Let's stop treating models like greyhounds we plan to shoot after a race. We have to remember we are dealing with real people who have real feelings."

Michael Kors
also reminded everyone to treat models as humans, not mannequins. He challenged designers to "stay away from child-size clothes unless you're designing for children,"
pointing out that fashion influences the Hollywood aesthetic--and when celebrities starve themselves to fit into sample sizes, it has a dangerous and far-reaching influence on girls and women everywhere.

Model Coco Rocha did not hold back. She said that a day in the life of most models involves an obsession with staying thin, a constant hunger, and cutting remarks like "We don't want you to be anorexic. We just want you to look like you are." She admitted that an agent once advised her to throw up after meals. Last year she gave in to the pressure and took diuretics--a decision she seriously regrets. After consulting other models, she offered four recommendations:
1. To designers: make your fit models bigger (i.e. make your clothes bigger). When zippers don't zip up at castings, models suffer unbearable humiliation.
2. Keep working to raise awareness about the long-term effects of eating disordered behavior. If young models knew the permanent damage they were causing to their bodies, they might think twice.
3. Agencies need to be closely linked with medical professionals, including nutritionists and eating disorder specialists.
4. Provide healthier food at shows.

I left the discussion with a hopeful outlook. Go ahead, call me the eternal optimist. Magali and I have been working to raise awareness about eating disorders and body image issues in the fashion industry since 1999. For many, it might seem as though change is happening at a snail's pace. But in the span of our work together, the last two years have felt like giant leaps forward. More and more people are finally speaking the truth. We need that kind of honesty. We can't get to a healthier place without it.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Fitness Model Loses Contract After Exposing His Steroid Use in 'Bigger, Stronger, Faster'

The New York Times reports that a fitness model who appeared in Bigger, Stronger, Faster has been fired for telling the truth about his own steroid use.

For the last nine years, Christian Boeving has been a model for over-the-counter dietary supplements in Iovate’s MuscleTech division. Now the company is refusing to renew his contract after Boeving admitted on camera that his insanely toned body is not just the result of powders and potions--it might also have something to do with the steroids he's been injecting since the age of sixteen.

As the film's director, Christopher Bell, points out (and demonstrates himself), the dietary supplement industry is full of Photoshop trickery and extreme behind-the-scenes behavior. Everyone knows it happens, but no one is supposed to talk about it. Boeving just learned that lesson the hard way. Take heart, big guy. After all, Kate Moss got fired when her coke habit was exposed. That rebuke only lasted a minute, though. Now she's earning more than ever before. [New York Times]

Related: Bigger, Stronger, Faster: The Side Effects of Being an American

Bigger, Stronger, Faster: The Side Effects of Being an American

Meet Christopher Bell. That's him in the before and after photos. In one of the most compelling scenes of his movie, Bigger, Stronger, Faster, Bell shows the audience just how easy it is to manufacture and market a dietary supplement in the United States. He orders the ingredients, mixes them up in his kitchen, pours them into capsules, and works with a photographer to create an ad.

"Look as sad and depressed as you can," says the photographer as he snaps the first photo. Then Bell gets waxed and Photoshopped. Suddenly, he's "shredded." No need for FDA approval. No restrictions on his completely manipulated advertisement. It's all 100% legal.

While Bigger, Stronger, Faster focuses primarily on steroid use in America, it is ultimately an exploration of our culture's confusing messages about being the best. Our bodies and our spending habits are certainly evidence of our desperation to be extraordinary. Women are on a quest for thinness and eternal youth. Men feel more and more pressure to have rock hard muscles and six-pack abs. Some of Bell's subjects are extreme examples (Gregg Valentino's enormous biceps are disturbing, to put it mildly), but this is no freak show. It's a film about how our supermodel, supercelebrity, and superathlete worship is making it increasingly difficult to accept--and be happy--with ourselves.

Bigger, Stronger, Faster is open in these theaters.