Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The best thing I saw online today...2nd Edition

"This isn’t a post where I tell you that I have cast off my thigh insecurity and that this year I will wear my summer skirts fearlessly. We all know it’s not that easy. But I have realized that my shame is sickness. And that it is undeserved. And that I feel a certain power just saying: I have big thighs."


Friday, March 25, 2011

Say No to Fat Talk!

I'm not cool with 'Fat Talk'.

So when I saw this post on the About-Face blog about the Australian Cosmopolitan campaign to shut Fat Talk up, I was all ears.

Now, About-Face has a point in this article. What business does Cosmo have preaching to young women about their body image? Indeed, are they not part of the problem? The main culprits? The reason that women think they should be taller, thinner, more toned, more tanned, more...perfect?

I think they should probably shoulder some of the responsibility for sure - after all, they sell an image of perfection and try their hardest to convince us we need the over-priced clothes, products and procedures to achieve that perfection.

Is the Cosmo campaign hugely ironic and hypocritical or should we give them kudos for taking a baby step in the right direction? I'm and eternal optimist, so I think I'm going with the latter.

I won't listen to Fat Talk, and I think this is a great campaign. I think we could use this over here, in North America. Cosmo - are you listening?

So girls, just to clarify...I don't care how many calories or grams of fat were in your lunch. I care less about how many pounds you've lost this week or month or since your last 'weigh-in'. I tune out when you tell me about your (normal) cellulite, or your (imaginary) love handles or your (exaggerated) four-chins. I don't think you butt/thighs/tummy/arms or face look fat in what you're wearing, and I sure as hell don't want a piece of your celery/carrot/cardboard-flavour, low-fat cereal bar. I don't do Fat Talk. And for the record, I don't think having cake/dessert/chocolate is naughty/bad/sinful.

Don't get me wrong, I'm all about 'healthy' talk. Tell me about your running class, or your soccer team, or even what you saw on TMZ while you were on the treadmill. Give me a great new recipe for the whole family, full of veggies and good stuff, but for the last time I don't want a piece of your Fagel (fake-bagel) and I'm not going to tell you how great and skinny you look, because you probably looked pretty great before.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Another awesome online find...

Here is the best thing I saw online today.
Mash up your favorite kid's toy commercials and defy the gendered advertising

The designer of the application says "The project’s goal is to help empower youth of all genders to better understand, deconstruct and creatively re-frame the highly gendered messages emanating from their television sets."

So many combinations!!! I love it : )

Friday, March 11, 2011


I *heart* Emma Thompson. I might actually love her.
Here she is, eloquently saying what it is that I want to say to so many girls and women in my life...every day.

The best thing I saw online today...

This is an American link, posted in reaction to the recent budget attacks on Planned Parenthood. It's politically charged and speaks to Americans.

But I like the overall message though, so I'm re-posting. Enjoy.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Beauty is the Beast...

More than a third of Canadian households own at least three television sets. Canadian kids watch an average of 16.8 hours of television a week on them and studies suggest that preschoolers inparticular watch an average of 2.6 hours a day.
Combine that with the fact that young children cannot distinguish between fantasy and reality, and you're left with young children exposed to hours of cartoons depicting exaggerated stereotyped behaviour, who recognize both the story and the characters as reality.

I have a 4 year old boy, so we have a Superhero thing in my house. My kid pretends to have superhuman powers everyday. He pretends he has super fighting skills, or super rescue abilities or super flying powers. This is great fun, but I can't help but wonder which Superhero games we'd be playing if my 4 year old was a girl instead. After all, two thirds (65 %) of all animated superheroes are male and for the few female superheroes that do exist, their storylines overwhelmingly consist of a mentor character that they refer to for advice and guidance. Female superheroes are usually part of a team; rarely acting alone or as leaders, and of course they're usually represented physically with distorted and unrealistic body shapes and revealing clothing. Female superhero characters seem to be scripted as more emotional, excitable and concerned with appearance, and female cartoon characters who display extraordinary power and strength appear to compensate for the ‘atypical and boyish’ behaviour with over-emphasized stereotypical female traits such as eyelashes and excitability.

It's hyper-feminization, and it's everywhere. The Disney conglomerate and their numerous animated princesses have a lot to answer for in this regard. The ultra-feminine appearance of the princesses and their incessant quests to attain the attention and love of their respective ‘Prince Charmings’ is teaching nothing short of sex appeal to young viewers. Princesses are generally shown in sexually suggestive ways, and in fact some research has shown that females in animated contexts are more likely to be shown in more sexually revealing attire than live action females.

Jasmine from the Disney ‘Aladdin’ movie dresses in seductive ‘harem’ attire, while Ariel, from ‘A Little Mermaid’ sports a scant bikini throughout the film and the protagonist in ‘Pocahontas’ displays unwarranted cleavage throughout the cartoon film. This unhealthy emphasis on clothing, appearance and body, encourages young girls to view themselves through a lens of physical and sexual attractiveness; a trend that leads to a miserable and unhealthy relationship with our bodies. Aside from blatantly sexualizing young girls through the focus on beauty and heterosexual relationships, it also sends the wrong message to our little boys.

The hugely popular animated series ‘Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends’ sends further subtle messages to many young boys and girls. Consider that female characters account for less than 10% of the recurring characters in Thomas the Tank Engine shows. The Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends Website, describes one female train, ‘Mavis’, as a “feisty young diesel engine”, and informs viewers that a male character ‘Toby’ frequently has to keep her in line and help her to be better-behaved. Another female character, ‘Henrietta’ rarely carries a full load of passengers; and is described on the website as “quite content with her life on the Island”. ‘Elizabeth’ is described as “a beautifully restored vintage steam wagon”, while ‘Emily’ is a “beautiful engine with shiny paintwork and gleaming brass fittings”. ‘Daisy’, along with most of the other female characters in the show feature excessive eye- make up and lipstick as part of their animated face... they're trains for Christ's it really necessary? Anyway, the female characters are consistently described in terms of their appearance, and portrayed as passive, unimportant or incompetent around the rail-yard.

As harmless and innocent as they may seem to an uncritical eye, both short cartoons and feature length animated movies both send powerful, compelling messages to their young viewers about socially acceptable roles for males and females. I have a critical eye. I carefully control what my kid watches and when...and most importantly we talk about the stories and characters on the screen. So when he came home from nursery school the other day and told me that they watched "Beauty and the Beast", we had a chat about what that story was about.

He told me about the part where Belle and her horse come across some wolves and the Beast comes to save her. When I asked him why the Beast had to come and save Belle, my son said 5 words. "Because she is a girl."

I'm not a neurotic feminist, blasting Disney and other kid's programming for no reason. Those 5 words are a pretty damn good reason. I can't control everything my kid watches, or everything he is taught, but we'll keep talking...I'll keep encouraging him to question what he sees and hears...and I can only hope that eventually some of it rubs off.