Send Senator Warren a Postcard (Because She Persisted)

"She was warned, she was given an explanation, nevertheless, she persisted."

I dunno about you, but I want this on my headstone. Because, yes.

A good friend of mine suggested sending Senator Elizabeth Warren postcard for Valentine's Day, Then she messaged me to make sure I actually did it. So I did.

This is what's on the shop now, thanks to Janel.

She Persisted, Postcard # 1

She Persisted, Postcard # 1

Show her you support her and appreciate every time she has refused to back down. 

Each card is $8.00, and will be stamped and mailed with your personal message handwritten by yours truly. No novels, please. Yours isn't the only Valentine I'm writing for the Senator. 

Option # 2, Because, obviously. 

Option # 2, Because, obviously. 

 

For every postcard sold, I will donate $1 to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change; a nod to Warren's silencing by Republicans  while reading a letter written by Coretta Scott King, criticizing Senator Jeff Sessions, the nominee for attorney general. Donations will be made at the end of the calendar month. 
 

I should point out that I almost went with notecards, but Janel is predicting I'll be making a rather nice donation to The King Center, which means postcards are faster to open and no paper is wasted on the envelopes that get thrown away.

Clicl on the images to order. I'll get to writing and stamping and mailing as soon as the order I just placed is my mailbox.

Thank you, and thank you, Senator Warren. 

 


ORGANIZATIONS & CAUSES NOT BENEFITTING A CONVICTED RAPIST NAMED BROCK TURNER

Dan Turner, the father of convicted rapist and former Standford University student, Brock Turner, has started a legal defense fund on behalf of his son. According to the Dayton Daily News, the account created at a local credit union is still active.

The younger Turner was convicted of three felony charges last week after sexually assaulting an unconscious woman after a fraternity party in January 2015. He was then sentenced to six months   in county jail, but is expected to serve no more than three with good behavior

Oh, and a female friend blames Brock Turner's conviction on campus drinking and political correctness and his father cried to the internet about how his sweet little convicted rapist of a golden boy can't enjoy his rib-eye steaks anymore because dealing with consequences is probably a new thing, maybe. And there is a petition to remove Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky, who also is receiving support from the a gay, feminist defense lawyer. Also, I don't care what his father says but "twenty minutes of action" amounts to a third-party admission of guilt because if he's referring to drinking, 20 straight minutes of drinking anything without a break is actually called drowning.

Are we all caught up now? Good, because we are done with this bullshit. The Turner family and their little legal defense fund for their son is all the motivation we need to do good where it is needed most (and that would be anywhere but Brock Turner's legal defense fund.) I asked blog readers to share their favorite causes and charities and I am sharing them with you because anger is a wonderful motivator to stand up and speak out. I did. Pissed off at this whole situation? Use that energy to make a difference to a cause that speaks to you.

 

ORGANIZATIONS & CAUSES NOT BENEFITTING A CONVICTED RAPIST NAMED BROCK TURNER

 

  • Cleveland Rape Crisis Center - Founded in 1974, the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center provided necessary services to the victims of sexual assault.
  • Black Mamaba Anti-Poaching Unit - The Black Mamba APU is the first all women anti-poaching unit, who operate within Balule Nature Reserve.
  • WomensLaw.org - Provides direct links to various nonprofit organizations benefitting both female and male victims of domestic and sexual crimes.
  • Take Back the Night - The foundation seeks to end all forms of sexual violence.
  • EndExtinction,org -  San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy Program empowers people to help save species from extinction in a number of ways.
  • Boston Area Rape Crisis Center - Offers free and comprehensive services to survivors.
  • Arachnoid Tumor Surgery Fund for Gracia Hinojosa - A Houston mother raising money for her own brain surgery.
  • RAINN - The Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network is the nation's largest anti-sexual violence network.
  • DoD Safe Help Line - Operated by RAINN, the Safe Help Line is dedicated to providing services to military members that have been victimized. 
  • Kidney Transplant Fundraiser for Victoria Bright - A North Carolina woman is raising money for her own kidney transplant.
  • Art for Change - The organization uses art as a catalyst to encourage the advancement of progressive social change.
  • Gofundme for a Family in Need - A Tennessee couple is fundraising to cover costs related to medical issues.
  • Zac Brewer FTM Transgender Surgery - NYT Best-selling author, Zac Brewer, is raising funds for female to male top transgender surgery. There are T-Shirts. 
  • Meagan's Medical Expenses - A medical fundraiser for a single mom who has been unable to work for a year.
  • #20MinutesofAction - Twenty minutes can change rape culture and stop an assault.
  • Climb Out of the Darkness (Team Massachusetts-Concord) - The world's largest event raising awareness for maternal mental illnesses like Postpartum Depression, OCD, and Psychosis. The first link is a general donation and the second helps raise our team numbers but directly benefits the nonprofit.
  • Save Sarah - Family & friends of 17-yr-old Sarah are raising funds to legally win her freedom from the Christian boarding facility where her parents sent her to "pray away the gay."
  • Cheer Season Fundraiser: $1 raffle tickets to help a young girl and her team for the coming cheer season
  • Friends of Maddie - Assists families that are suffering financial hardship after losing a child by providing them with monetary grant. 

That's what I've got. Thank you to those who submitted your causes. Please feel free to add your own in the comments. 

 

Man V. Food Star, Adam Richman, Tells Woman to Kill Herself

This would be the first domino to fall. 'Maybe he just didn't know." The Husband said to me. "No one can blame him for... Oh wait. Never mind."

As soon as he got home from work, I told The Husband to go online and Google the name of one of our favorite Travel Channel hosts. We're kind of on the crazy-strict side of what television shows we allow Eliana to watch, what with all the crap on TV these days, but we seem to have hit a consensus on our TV-happy place with many shows on the Travel Channel, including host Adam Richman and his show, Man V. Food. While we can't eat most of the food he consumed on the air (we are gluten-free due to Celiac and allergies), we still watch. Richman's energy is infectious, making him a natural in front of the camera.

Very recently, I saw Richman featured in a commercial and stopped dead in my tracks. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. Richman, who had filled out during his time traveling the country in search of various restaurant food challenges, looked a different person entirely, having shed some 60-pounds. A Men's Health article describes the weight loss as "taking control over his own body." I don't know Richman, but I was proud of him, and I told The Husband as much. I couldn't wait for his new show to air.

"This is bad," The Husband said, glancing away from the computer monitor. "He didn't just burn a bridge here. He blew the damned thing up."

I nodded. I can't see anything good coming when a television personality tells a woman to kill herself in response to her comments regarding the #thinspiration hash-tag used by Richman in a post celebrating a too-big suit. Richman was understandably unaware of the dangerous connotations associated with the tag. It seems harmless enough -- take inspiration and add the "th" at the front of the word and show the world that eating right and getting active does, in fact, work. (I'll save the Thinness and Health conversation for another day). I get why he used it, honestly, I do. But the fact remains that the term is laden with dangerous undertones; it's the tag used by the eating disordered in pro-anorexia ad bulimia forums to cheer each other on. So an instagram follower commented on the post and asked him to please refrain from using again. If I'd seen it, I admit I would have done the same.

Remember, this is cute and cheerful, seemingly lovable Adam Richman we're talking about here. Who knew he was a Complete and Total Asshole?

Richman's responses (which have since been deleted) , however, may have been his undoing, already resulting in his new show being pulled "indefinitely" by the Travel Channel.

 

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 Cunt. Go draw a bath and grab a razor blade. I doubt anyone will miss you.

And suddenly I'm inside my own head. I'm a college sophomore student home for the Christmas break holiday. I haven't told my parents I'm on the brink of failing out. My friend and sorority sisters are tired of my drama and antics and if they haven't already was hands of me, they are about to. I know this because of the letter I'm holding in my hands. My mother said it arrived with the mail earlier that same day, which mean it was sent from campus and intended for me to read alone and without  chance to respond. The words on the paper are blurry because I'm crying too hard to focus, and yet, I've somehow managed to keep the letter from getting wet as I sit in the tub, cocooned up to my neck by the weight of the piping hot water.

I had been hell-bent on destroying myself for a bit. I was promiscuous. I was bulimic, anorexic, extremely depressed and was up all night and slept through almost all of my classes for an entire semester. My friends tried to help, but I hadn't hit bottom yet in my emotional well. Until I did. With an entire bottle of Advil or Tylenol or whatever it was sitting on the desk in my dorm room. But then I got scared because sleeping and ignoring the sun is not the same as never having the chance to try again. Death is permanent. And I got scared.

"If you really wanted to kill yourself you'd be dead and if you really had an eating disorder, you'd be a hell of a lot smaller than you are right now. All you are is a drama queen looking for attention."

Luckily, my boyfriend at the time was a nursing student and he got me to the ER, I drank charcoal, lied when I was asked if I was still feeling like hurting myself (because wanting to and following through are two different things), and was sent home. Not too much time passed before I found myself with a letter sent to me by a "friend" and "sister" from the sorority I used to belong to.

With the letter in one hand, I kept reading those words over and over. I had the razor in my other. Maybe she was right. Maybe I didn't try hard enough. Maybe I was still eating to much. How many calories did one apple have? And one slice of cheese? That's all I allowed myself every day. Anything over that, I punished myself by purging until my throat was raw and I was empty again. Maybe I shouldn't have gone to the hospital and just waited to disappear.

Or maybe not.

Maybe she's wrong, I thought. Maybe I'm here right now because I got pissed off about being labeled and misjudged and knew I had to put the razor down if I was going to do any good in writing, sharing all of my experiences, and showing this bitch just exactly who she was dealing with.

I survived because I was told I wouldn't. I kept going because someone told me to stop living. Anger and stubbornness are what set the razor back where it belonged in the tub. Growth and the desire to help those who are currently where I've been are why I'm writing the words you see here. Fuck Adam Richman and his close-minded vitriol. Fuck suicide and eating disorders and self-hate. Fuck all of it and Richman's "apology." Because words can't be taken back, especially once they've been given shape and weight after having been written.

Cunt. Go draw a bath and grab a razor blade. I doubt anyone will miss you.

Richman showed his true colors in this exchange and may have ended his television career in one fell swoop. I wonder if he's even begun to grasp the severity of the situation or if he's still convinced he did no wrong here. But then, I guess it doesn't really matter, does it? What does is speaking up and speaking out in an effort to reach those depressed enough to harm themselves and letting them know that someone gets it. That someone understands. That someone cares and will, without a doubt, miss them -- sopleasestayalive.

Maybe Richman just didn't know. Maybe he just didn't care. Either way, the rest of us who do care are going to keep trying to pick up the broken pieces left  in Richman's wake. I'm not fooling myself into thinking anything written on the subject at hand is going to change his mind, nor do I believe any and all apologies on his part are actually sincere. Instead, it's time to focus on the silver lining.

#eyesontheprize #victory #anythingispossible.

Yes, Mr Richman, anything is possible. There are those of us who will continue to speak up in the hopes of helping the eating disordered recover and remind the suicidal that they do matter to those who need and love them. Feel free to sit this one out, Richman. We're doing just fine without you.

Find out the warning signs of suicide and how to get help:

If you're thinking about suicide or know someone who is, get help now. Not sure what signs to look for if you're concerned about a friend? Here's a list of warning signs from the You Matter Lifeline website:

  • Talking about wanting to die or to kill oneself.
  • Looking for a way to kill oneself, such as searching online or buying a gun.
  • Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live.
  • Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain.
  • Talking about being a burden to others.
  • Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs.
  • Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly.
  • Sleeping too little or too much.
  • Withdrawing or feeling isolated.
  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge.
  • Displaying extreme mood swings.

Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255), a free, 24-hour hotline. Dial

1-800-799-4TTY (4889) for those with hearing or speech impaired with TTY equipment.

NEDA Awareness Week: Let's Talk Ideas

It's National Eating Disorder Awareness Week and because I'm on a roll this week with the Not Funny Words on the Blog theme (trigger warning on that one, y'all) I'm back and I'm here to tell more stories. Maybe they are new to you. Maybe they aren't. If you have been reading Aspiring Mama for more than, say, the last four weeks, (or following me on twitter, instagram, Facebook, or google +) chances are you've seen at least one update pertaining to body image or self image. Trust me when I say that every time I talk up self-worth, the motivation stems from my own internal dialogue and the constant effort it takes to talk myself down from the very slippery slope that separates a bad day from a full-fledged bulimic slide. I'm including the full text of one post and links to previous posts relating to eating disorder issues here, here, here that may speak to you or to someone you know.

This year's NEDA theme for the week is I Had No Idea.

Well, now you do. So let's keep the conversation going, shall we?

 

 On Random Thoughts & Raising Girls

Because raising girls is hard, y'all. Consider your own childhood the prequel.

 

* I once worked in a strip club as a (fully clothed) waitress. While there, I learned that most of the dancers making the big bucks only pretended to get drunk on the $12 mocktail containing only cranberry & orange juice because it made the guys paying for the drink feel like he was going to get somewhere, that the two-and-a-half minute average pole dance on stage was just the right amount of time to scan the crowd for the sucker who would be an easy mark for the $20 lap dance, and that lap dance time was exactly when they composed their grocery lists in their heads because doing the same old thing gets tedious, ya know?

Other highlights included the realization that I could make $300 in tips just from charging $12 for a cup of fruit juice with a tiny umbrella in it and that sometimes the naked girls dancing got pissy if the clothed ones serving drinks got more attention than they did. But the best lesson of all was that sometimes it’s the stereotype exploiting itself that has the upper hand. No one expects to be outwitted by the chick shaking her boobs in the face of a man who isn’t aware he was marked as prey the moment he handed his baseball cap to the bodyguard. It isn’t, after all, just about shaking what your mama gave you. It’s about knowing how to use it.

* I’m Catholic with an asterix, thereby indicating a footnote in tiny print at the bottom of the page. In the interest of time, I’ll just get to the point and tell you that I have always described myself as Mexican-Catholic because it’s exactly not the same as Catholic Catholic. Most Mexican-Catholics that I know are first and second-generation Americans, believe in God and make the sign of the cross whenever an ambulance passes by or they drive by a cemetery, and only go to church for Easter, weddings, funerals, baptisms, and First Communions. We grew up saying the Our Father in Spanish but have probably forgotten most of it by now, truly believe in God and Heaven and that our deceased loved ones will come to watch over us even if we don’t celebrate El Dia de los Muertos, and roll our eyes skyward while forcing ourselves to remain silent when our elder Tias and Tios start going on about things like gays and black people and how white people don’t know how to raise their children while they themselves are preparing a bottle of Pepsi for the four-year-old sitting in the stroller in nothing but a diaper.

We drive past a church on the way to school every day. We’ve only been inside four time in the four years we have been in Tucson. And without being told, Buttercup knows that the day we go to church is the day she gets to wear a pretty dress and hunt for Easter eggs in the courtyard.

* I cried when the ultrasound tech told me I was having a girl. This is not an exaggeration. I had been hoping and praying for a boy and not because of the reasons you might think. Cultural chauvinism and machismo had nothing to do with my tears. Instead, I was bawling while The Husband tried not to laugh too loud and the tech holding the wand on the goop on my bump stood there, silent and utterly confused. But she’s perfectly healthy, she eventually managed to say because It’s a Girl wasn’t usually followed by tears cried by a nearly hysterical pregnant woman who seemed perfectly sane when she had walked in for her ultrasound.

It’s not that, I sobbed. It’s just that…she’s going to eventually turn into a bitchy teenager who hates me and drives me to the closest wine bottle with a bendy straw. I barely made it through my teens the first time.

That’s when The Husband jumped in with The Mother’s Curse and Payback’s a bitch and I just nodded, wondering if maybe God was, in His own Divine Way, giving me the finger.

* I am a body image/healthy self-image/happiness activist who is and most likely always will be broken. I am not standing here looking down from my soapbox telling you that the three keys to happiness and life’s successes are (insert bullshit here). Instead, I am a mostly no-longer-practicing-eating-disordered-behavior-mother-to-a-five-year-old-daughter and I love her with all of my soul. I am imperfect and vain about my eyes, my lips, my curves. I am self-conscious about the size of my ass and always sucking in the muffin top. I tell my daughter that we eat and exercise to be healthy and strong and that our bodies perfect and made exactly as they are meant to be and that what other people think isn’t of any importance, not now and not ever. I am the mother who corrects strangers when they call her big because she stands taller than most kids her age because I stood taller than most kids my age because that word got stuck in my head and manifested itself into bulimia, and I’ll be damned if history is going to repeat itself. So I am the mother who smiles and says Why yes, she is tall for her age, isn’t she? And then I change the subject and wonder how much good I’m actually doing.

That’s when I remind myself that I’m trying. And all I can do is to put the oxygen mask on myself first before taking the time to assist any children or elderly people who may need help with their own. To make a difference for her and anyone else on this analogical airplane inside of my head, I need to take care of me first.

Learning to Shout: In Which We Discuss The Triggers

I need to stop you before you start because if I don't, I'm leading you into a landmine without warning. What you are about to read (or quietly click away from should you decide that is best) is written in response to a news story about two kindergartners caught "having sex" in a school bathroom. If that sentence alone was triggering for you, please be kind to yourself and don't read any further. What I share was difficult to write if I stop to take into consideration the years it took to get to the point where just writing it seemed normal. I'm sure it's as difficult to read.

Just do me a favor, will ya? If we meet at a conference or speaking engagement and you want to thank me for the words you see, please know that my 6-year-old travels with me. We can talk and hug and sing Kumbaya, but just make sure it's just me first, okay?

 

I’m five. At last I think I am. A little boy I know is my hide-and-seek partner and we run off for one of our usual hiding spots. Our families are close, but it's the kind of closeness that makes grown-ups realize that it's our friends we get to choose. So we rationalize that the lack of actual blood relation makes it less bad to touch each other just because it feels good. We’re too young to feel guilty about it and we never talk about the fact that we both somehow know it’s supposed to be a secret because I’m not sure we understand why.

Sometimes I wonder how we learned this game. Today I just wonder how we are supposed to explain where are hands are when we are caught. Later I wonder only briefly about the twin bed being pushed against the wall, eliminating the hiding place. Much later, I wonder how much may have been avoided had therapy been an accepted part of dealing with obviously oversexed children who couldn’t explain how they got that way.

I'm terrified. I want nothing more than to fix the misstep before this one and the one before that until I can breathe again after having wiped the slate clean of any reason to be ashamed. I want to feel the relief I felt knowing that nothing more would come of the moment my mother and doctor stopped whispering about why I had jumped on to the exam table, laid on my back and spread my legs wide open for a rash he needed to look at on my bottom. I wasn't supposed to have done that, you know. I don't remember why but I do remember the slowing of my heartbeat and the sudden ability to breathe normally after overcompensating on the kindergarten antics to distract the doctor as I flipped onto my tummy. I giggled. I made jokes. I felt the doctor let the question in his mind sweep itself away.

And then I felt safe.

I never ask if my parents were told and they never bring it up if they were. I don’t connect the less frequent joint weekends because I'm a kid and I'm not ready to give up my presents from Santa yet. We see each other at birthday parties for friends and cousins and cousins of friends and here we are at another one.

I am wearing a blue dress that I love but itches my skin on the inside and white tights and a pair of shiny, black Mary Janes. My kinky hair, which falls midway down my back when wet, has been arranged into two braids, each hanging down from above my ears. There are balloons to sit on and pop for a prize and piñatas and cake and an the boy I now and and older boy I don't. We walk to an upstairs bedroom where I somehow understand I am to lie back on a table and let them do things I can’t remember exactly except for the older boy being on top of me because my mind learned to disconnect from my body long before I learned my ABC’s.

Magically, we are downstairs again and no one asks any of us where we were or what we were doing because there is no reason to. Nor is there any reason to blame any of the adults present for missing what isn't obvious at all no matter how so it may seem to the opinionated outsider. Every adult and every child present was on familiar territory and no one ever had to ask where the bathroom was because we already knew. Another day. Another boy. A cousin, I think, maybe just a bit older than I am. It's hot outside so we are inside, playing in the cool dark of the basement while my mother does housework upstairs and plays with my little sisters. My memory is choppy and I only recall the cold feeling of the concrete floor on my back and him on top and just as quickly, we are pulling up our shorts and my mother is calling our names and it's time for peanut butter sandwiches. He never comes over to play with me again. 

My daughter -- she's six -- and she's the Because to my Why. When she was born I was reviewing car seats and blinged-out pacifiers on a blog I don't bother including on my resume. The words I share for me I share because of her. Because she thinks horses have to get married to have babies together and because she thinks little boys and girls used to be wishes sitting on stars until their moms and dads wished them true. When a little boy she is friends with was kicked in the crotch by his sister, she told me with all the certainty in the world that her friend -- the boy -- had just been kicked in the vagina. It's because of my daughter and her innocence that I came to realize how truly fucked up my own childhood was. I simply should not have known the things I did at her age. And neither should the boys I was with. But we did, and we aren't the only ones.

It's not a pretty topic, is it? Hypersexual children and peer sexual abuse  are words laced with implied guilt on the part of the adult who was supposed to be in charge. They point the finger away from the problem instead of directing us to it. There's shame for the children and shame for the adults and sometimes it's just easier to hope the kids forget and sweep that nasty little set of memories under the rug. It's easy enough when these things happen amongst family and friends.

But what happens if two five-year-olds are caught "having sex" in the class bathroom by their kindergarten teacher? And what happens if the teacher, Kathy Mascio, reports it, not stopping to think of how doing so will reflect on her own abilities as a teacher? It's easier and more comfortable for us to point the blame and shift the focus than it is to think about a little boy and a little girl with at least a general understanding of how sex actually works.

None of us know exactly what the children were doing at the time their teacher found them, but we do know that the teacher immediately went to her principal who then contacted authorities because we all know that was the right thing to do. Now she's in danger of losing her job and that seems to be the focus of almost every news story I've read since yesterday  (and that includes the comments). It's all What she didn't do and should have done are what the media focuses on because we are not emotionally ready to think about our children as sexual beings because they shouldn't be  -- not yet.

While experts are weighing in on the situation with their thoughts, no one can provide anything more educated than a guess about what actually happened in that bathroom. All anyone knows for sure is that the naked kindergartners told their teacher they had been having sex when they were discovered. Whether that means they simply looked at each other or if physical contact occurred, we don't know, but we'd sure as hell like to know what exactly in these children's' lives that sparked the classroom incident. Somewhere, somehow, these children were exposed. Why isn't that the focus?

Information is not going to move quickly. The two children involved are very obviously minors and are most likely in individual therapy to figure out what did happen, and how to help them heal. Hyper-sexual children and peer sexual abuse are not topics we often see in the headlines, and uncomfortable or not, it's time we stop whispering when we should be shouting.

#365FeministSelfie: Validation Has Nothing to Do With It

I love me a good hashtag. It took a bit of convincing to get me on board for the #365feministselfie movement, but my friend Galit Breen as a way with words. The eye-rolls have been replaced, every day that has passed since the first one, with just the tiniest bit less bullshit and slightly more unapologeticness. Because that's a word, right?

The ringleader of this little Love it Or Hate it project is Veronica Arreola and I'm thinking we're gonna be hanging out lots at BlogHer14 in California this year. I happen to think anyone who can convince a bunch of random women -- who for the most part don't know each other --  to plaster the selves our significant others don't get to see until at least one good round of crazy sex has to be made of magic. Especially when you stop to consider how much work we put into getting naked to begin with, what with the perfectly applied makeup, hair that took hours to curl, and  lingerie that cost way too much for the amount of time we actually spent wearing it before it got tossed to the floor ... hell, you guys! I think it was six months of dating The Husband before I was comfortable enough to fart.

All this to say that I have issues and we all tend to keep up whatever appearances during our little courting periods before we stop trying so hard.

Maybe we start out with the bells and whistles. In my case, I wasn't about to turn the camera on myself unless I didn't look like shit. And by "look like shit", I mean no bra, no make-up, no clever Instagram filters or photo editing...

 

I've seen some chatter here and there referring to the #365feministselfie as self-serving and a sad reality for feminism. Now, I want to make it clear that until very recently, I hadn't even stopped to consider myself a feminist. But I guess writing columns about raising a self-respecting Chingona automatically got me in the club. And I'm okay with that. I figure I have to be if I'm announcing to the world my intention to encourage my little girl's hell-raising ways.

I also want to make it crystal clear that there is nothing self-serving about this. I'm not posting selfies so you can tell me I'm pretty. Every one of us is taking our own journey throughout the coming year. We each came to it with a predetermined level of individual comfort and we will each have the comfort level challenged as we progress. There's no way I'd have started off with a no-make-up-full-face-allergic-reaction, even if I instinctively knew my friends and readers would come to my ego's rescue and tell me how brave and beautiful I am for sharing because that's not the point.

 It's about dropping the facade, digging deep, letting go of our own self-judgement, and that defining moment when we hit that share button after taking one last big breath. After we pin it and hit publish and share and send on the singular images that, when when combined, reflect who we really are.

You can tell me I'm pretty. You can tell me I'm not.

I'm more interested in what I tell myself as I share that which I would normally hide.

Oversexualization & Our Daughters: Refusing to Feed the Demand

What do you see here? I'd love to know, because I see a problem.

This rather adorable outfit is from Jelly the Pug and, last week, was available on Zulily. I'm fine with the outfit. It's cute and perfectly age-appropriate, so don't think I fell off the deep end. It's the decidedly "adult" pose that prompted me to pull out the soapbox, y'all. This one, and the images like it, caught my attention and suddenly, the word "oversecualization" begin chanting itself in a loop inside my head.

When I images like this one, I see little girls and headlines about the dangers of over-sexualization and body image issues and

eating disorders and, sadly enough, I see complacency. We can't be shocked if we expect it now, can we?

When Suri Cruise stepped out in high heels for the first time in 2009, the world brought out the voice of judgement. And we judged. We are so very good at that, aren't we? (Don't try to argue with me on this one because I'm sure the 7,200,000 results that popped up for Katie judged Suri in heels" will prove otherwise). In fact, I'm judging right now.

Not surprisingly, sales for high heels for little girls jumped and designers scrambled to provide more for the masses. A quick search shows this pair by Michael Kors.

 

The black pumps and that teeny tiny heel make me nervous just thinking about my daughter breaking an ankle while trying to walk in them. But when compared to the snazzy little number available recently on Zulily, the first shoe is downright tame.

I should point out that I'm not out to vilify Zulily -- or any other singular source -- for promoting the sexualization of young children, but I am now wondering if I should allow my 6-year-old to browse the site with me. She's more apt to wear clothing she helps to pick out, but I don't feel like having to explain why there is no way in hell I'm ordering her a pair of hot pink stilettos that look like they belong to a very tiny stripper No offense to the stripper, mind you. Maybe I can't stop the world from playing strip-tease with our kids, but I can limit what my own daughter is exposed to.

I realize there are people who will think I'm overreacting. That my daughter will "see it anyway" on television or in movies or in magazines and I'm wasting my time trying to shield her from all I think she doesn't need to see right now. They will say it's not that big a deal and that little girls just want to dress like their moms and gush about how cute their kids look strutting their stuff in hot pink stilettos and say I'm too strict and need to lighten up. They will tell me that they may have had their own misgivings about buying their 8-year-old that string bikini for the neighbor's pool party because all the other girls have them and not wanting them to feel left out, so they did it anyway.

I also am aware that the constant finger pointing is how we deal as a society instead of taking a moment to consider our own responsibility when controversies become headlines and we see our daughters adopting our body image issues as their own. We would rather blame Hollywood, the magazines with emaciated and photo-shopped models,  the fancy designers who tell us why Unrealistic Ideals are the new black, and the retailers for providing us with yet another choice we are aware we would have been better off without then admit we contributed to the demand for the supply.

All of this is okay with me. You will either agree with me or feel sorry for my kid. This is entirely your prerogative. You can buy the take your preschooler to see The 300 at the movie theater and tell them to just shut up when they ask you why that lady has her boobies out and that man just got his head chopped off loud enough for the rest of us to hear. This is your right and I'm not going to tell you how to parent your children. I am, however, going to do what I feel is right for my own daughter and her well-being.

I'm going to continue to say no. Whether or not retailers like Zulily or designers like Michael Kors bother to take responsibility for their part in the oversexualization of our little girls, I still have that power. The rest of her friends can jump off that bridge my own mother always talked about while mine has the biggest I Hate You Mom! meltdown known to man. She can tell me that I am ruining her life and all her friends get to do wear bikinis and listen to Justin Bieber and don't have to wait for their parents to pre-screen movies before they can watch them, and I will wait for her to stop screaming at me before I tell her the answer is still no because I can't undo today when tomorrow gets here. The damage would already be done.

This is not an exaggeration. In 2007, the American Psychological Association's Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls released a report suggesting that young girls are are affected in many areas of development as a result.

 

Sexualization has a broad array of devastating effects on youth, both male and female, and ramifications that extend throughout our society. Exposure to sexual images of girls has been linked to multiple mental health problems including girls’ low self-esteem, symptoms of depression, and eating disorders. Sexualization is also linked to girls’ increasing engagement in risky sexual behavior such as having unprotected sex and using drugs and alcohol, which impairs decision-making (APA, 2007).

 

This is what Suri Cruise in her high heels and shows like Toddlers & Tiaras and sexily-posed little girls modeling clothes for little girls have done (and continue to do) to us and our children. What we say to them - and what we let them see onscreen - will stay with them. Do we want that? Are we happy where we are?

I have already spoken with quite a few mothers who had the same knee-jerk reaction to the too-sexy child models as I did. I know you aren't happy with any of this. Maybe we make noise and spark a discussion or three. The important thing is that we show our daughters that we are here when they need us and again when they don't.  And that's a start.

Supply & Demand: Return of Kings, Dating Girls with Eating Disorders, & My Response

Warning: This post -- and the links contained within -- contain possible triggers for those with eating disorders and body image issues. For that reason, I am purposefully placing the image associated with the original piece I'm commenting on below the fold. It's been 48 hours since I first learned about the much-talked about Return of Kings post entitled Five Reasons to Date a Girl with an Eating Disorder. Highlights include nuggets of wisdom like She's a Cheap Date and She's Fragile and Vulnerable. I won't lie; I read it three times. Not because I wanted to, mind you, but because the first two reads were almost blind. Like a gawker driving by a bad car accident, I couldn't take my eyes away from that they had just seen. My eyes had kept locking on the image of a woman in a little read dress and stilettos, hunched over a toilet with her fingers in her mouth, ready to force a purge.

Since it's publication last week, the site's publisher has issued a response to the resulting backlash. I'll give you a spoiler here and tell you now that the non-apology is almost worse than the original post, but (sadly) that is to be expected. ROK does not endorse eating disorders, they say. Rather (and this is the part where ROK pats themselves on their collective backs for their good graces) they proudly boasts their encouragement of America's single men not to "pass" on eating disordered women just because they have an illness.

Well, shit. Why didn't they say so in the first place? Silly people...we over-reacted!  Stigma = bad. Seeking out and preying upon the fragile emotional state of a woman in crisis = good!

I call bullshit.

But before anyone assumes I'm calling out the ROK site for piss-poor justifying the publishing of 5 Reasons to Date a Girl with an Eating Disorder, let me make one thing perfectly clear: Every single one of you 134k who liked this piece on Facebook get an equal share of the blame for providing the market.

Just like the media can't take the all of the blame for causing eating disorders, ROK cannot (and should not) be the sole focus of your outrage for trivializing them. While every one of the 5 reasons makes me cringe for fear of their impact on actively eating disordered women (and men) reading them, we must remember that without the demand, the supply eventually fades away.

Let me put it this way:

* Glossy magazines and emaciated models, headlines shaming celebs for gaining weight and praising them for their unrealistic thinness, and Hollywood approved diet pills and crazy fad diets...all of these topics (and more) are on a never-ending loop that keeps being re-written because we keep buying them.

Conclusion? We are part of the problem.

* ROK and 5 Reasons to Date a Girl with an Eating Disorder is disturbing (at best) and triggering (at worst). And while ROK's very existence makes me wish the internet came with a giant mute button, the site is incredibly popular with a loyal fan base that has given them the platform to continue publishing pro-fat shaming writings and stories like the one we all happen to be talking about now.

Conclusion: We are part of the problem.

People like this, y'all. And I don't just mean those who may have liked or otherwise shared the post in order to share in the outrage. I mean LIKED as in By Golly, That's Brilliant! That, my friends, is a very sad commentary reflecting right back on today's society. Then again, so is the fact that ROK received death threats because of 5 Reasons and its publication. To those of you who thought that little gem was the way to go, don't help. Just sit down, shut up, and let the rest of us finish this fight because you're not doing us any favors.

I'll be honest; when I sat down to write this my intention had been to list all the ways 5 Reasons is hurtful, harmful, and even dangerous. I was going to tell you about my failed attempts at anorexia (except for that one time I made it 4 months on just one apple and a single slice of cheese every day), but Rita Arens did an incredible job discussing anorexia and why ROK crossed the line in this BlogHer piece. As a woman who would most likely be singled out by ROK as a Fatty with No Self Control should they see this post, I was prepared to speak about Bulimia, binging and purging, and the emotional ship-wreck I was during that time period that guys I was dating hadn't realized was part of the package.

That's what I was going to do, but then I sat down to write and this is what happened.

If you've suffered through or are currently dealing with an eating disorder, the world is not made up entirely of assholes. There are plenty of us good-hearted souls who are here to help. Rita listed her email in her BlogHer post encouraging readers to reach out should the need help.

I'm here, too.

Aspiringmama@gmail.com.

 

 

Trick or...Complex???

The internet is the greatest time suck ever invented. Yes, it's where I make my living. But I'd probably get a hell of  lot more sleep if I stopped reading Things Written by Other People. Like this story on CBS News about the judgmental asshat getting ready to present giddy little kids decked out in their vampire costumes with candy....if your kid passes the visual once-over for not being too fat, that is. No, I'm dead fucking serious. My friend Deb over at Truthful Mommy already wrote about it here. Normally, I'd be happy to just pretend I don't have an opinion (which, frankly, I suck at) but this is important. Mainly because What The Hell?

As a mother, I can't imagine the effect on a child's body image, self-esteem, self-image (and quite obviously) a letter like this one will have...

As a life-long recovering bulimic, I can tell you what this letter would have done to me as a young girl; it would have crushed me, broken my very spirit, and sent me into a frenzied sugar-filled binge/purge cycle because the mean lady called me fat. Obesity rates and BMIs go right out the window on all levels when you're dealing with an eating-disordered child or adult. We can be so rail thin that our fragile bones can barely hold us upright to so severely overweight that we cheer ourselves for successfully masking our inner-turmoil behind the fat society won't bother to look beyond. Giving anybody, child to adult, the once-over and making a judgement-based call on perceived health is not only irresponsible, it's stupid.

What if the kid has a bum thyroid, y'all? What if it's that cute pudgy stage a lot of kids go through before hitting another growth spurt before they lean out again? And what if they are actually fat? I'll tell you what...when they knock on that door or ring that bell and you look out into that sea of happy faces who still believe strangers are nice people from whom we can still take candy? It's time to smile back, drop the Preachy Judgy Bullshit and just had out the fucking chocolate. Not your child. Not your job.

It takes a village to raise a child, she says? Let me tell you what I say in The Letter For the Lady with the Fat Letters:

Happy Halloween and Happy Holidays, Neighbor!

*Insert Unimaginative Photo Shopped Pumpkin Here*

You are probably wondering why I'm writing up this note. Have you ever heard the saying It takes a village to raise a child? Oh, you have? Interesting... seeing as how you're note to our children indicates you have no fucking clue where the village holds its monthly meeting. Turns out only Those Who's Homes My Kid has Defiled With Peed Carpets While Potty Training have voting rights and even they know I'll kick their ass for even broaching the topic of weight in front of said child. That shit is best saved for when the kids are running off the sugar high and me and the Village are kicked back with a nice bottle of wine. I might not like or agree with what they have to say, but at least their words won't be the reason my kid ends up in therapy in five years because they said TREAT and you said COMPLEX!

My child is moderately obese, you say? I'm sorry but I didn't catch your name...Doctor...???

They shouldn't be consuming candy like The Other Children, you say? I'll bet you are a hoot at the office Christmas party after a few paper cups of boxed wine.

You hope I Step Up as a Parent, you say? You got it. I've already alerted the village and I'm sorry to inform you that you've been voted off the island. Cease and desist all contact with our children immediately.

Thank You.

P.S.: If you didn't want to pass out candy, just fucking say so like the rest of us.

Sincerely,

The Head Villager

 

Hashtag: #LatinoProblems

 

While at Latism13, I had the chance to speak to a roomful of 100 influential Latina powerhouses on my transition from blogger to columnist. The transition is actually more like Newspaper Reporter to Freelancer Who Couldn't Remember to Invoice Clients to Didn't Go Back to Work After Baby to Stir-Crazy to Blogging is a Thing? to Columnist, but who's keeping track, anyway?

Writers are a unique lot, I told the Top Blogueras. We are the most vain about the words we share (or we wouldn't share them to begin with) and the most insecure about the words we share (because validation is always a necessity).

And I saw quite a few heads nodding in a agreement. They know.

The longer I'm at it, the less insecure I am about new words written about old topics already discussed. Give me a new topic and I might hesitate (Ok, I will hesitate) a bit, but I'm still hitting publish because at the end of the day it's the voice expressed in the written word that I am most confident in. That's exactly why it took me until after 11 p.m. last night to listen to my debut radio segment (in partnership with Latina Magazine) on Latino USA.

At least, I think that was the reason. Maybe I was just afraid I'd sound like a man?

Either way, I listened and I loved it. Loved the questions and the experience replaying itself in my head as I translated the editing into the full recording session in the halls of the Waldorf Astoria. I smiled because I know my 6-year-old was sitting right next to me for at least one of those questions, snuggling in quietly while I dispensed advice to conference-goers because it was Friday and after five days of non-stop craziness, she was ready to go home.

Take a listen. I've been told I sound Awesome by People Who's Opinions I Respect so it must be true.

Did you listen yet?

On Censorship of Reality: The 4th Trimester Bodies Project

 

Does this image offend you?

It shouldn't. But for some inexplicable reason, it seems that Facebook, instagram, and related social media outlets don't like images depicting the beauty and reality of motherhood. Facebook has been censoring the project page and even has gone so far as to remove images and lock photographer Ashlee Wells Jackson and her team out of their page and personal accounts. It's worth noting that not a single image violates Facebook's terms of service.

So, what is the 4th Trimester Bodies Project?  The following is a brief description taken from their website:

The  4th Trimester Bodies Project is an ongoing photo documentary created by photographer and mother Ashlee Wells Jackson. This project is dedicated to embracing the beauty inherent in the changes brought to our bodies by motherhood, childbirth and breastfeeding.

Sounds harmless enough. Sounds downright liberating, to be honest. I'm a champion of body image issues because my eating disordered past is not a future I wish for my own daughter. With that realization, I founded Girl Body Pride and work daily to change how I see myself and my own body, always conscious of the fact that what I say and what I do will be internalized. So when I find others working to bring greater awareness to the reality and beauty of our bodies as they are --- as opposed to the photoshopped and over-sexed images commonly found in mainstream media -- I'm all about celebrating and supporting.

In this case, I'm also dusting off my soapbox, standing tall and proud, and asking Facebook what the hell their justification is for censoring reality. Jenni Chiu first brought the controversy and her post is a brilliant commentary on the extreme double standard in Facebook's censorship of this particular project when images of sexy half-naked women in tiny bikinis don't seem to be an issue. Click the link. I'll wait for you to come back.

Read it yet? Good. Are you as mad as I am?

Make some noise. Write about it. Share the story on your Facebook stream. Sign the 4th Trimester Bodies Project petition on Change.org. I just did. My complex feels smaller already.

Cantando con Orgullo: Singing with Pride

I know....I speak Spanish kind-of-sort-of-fluently and the Spanish word for Pride has always thrown me for a loop. But that's not why I'm here today.

I'm here to sing. Sing badly and with pride.

You see, there's been a lot of flack being thrown at Latinos singing a pretty little song called God Bless America. I wrote about that here in my weekly online Dimelo column on Latina magazine's website. One company, Bebe Lanugo, has decided to make some noise by encouraging American Latinos and their families to join in on their Cantando con Orgullo initiative and I happen to love the idea. I wrote about that one here, too.

Now, it seems I may have missed the boat on submitting my contribution to Bebe Lanugo for inclusion in the final video so I'm going with plan B and embarrassing myself (proudly, thank you very much) right here.

Eliana loved learning the words to God Bless America. And I'll explain to her a little later why being Patriotic with a Tan caused a public uproar to begin with. For now, we focus on being proud to be American because that's all that really matters.

Outspoken

I am many things. A mother. A writer. A Wife and lover of all things Dr. Who.

I'm ADHD and I'm anxiety and I'm really, really bad at putting the forks back in the same spot every time I unload the dishwasher.

I'm allergic to the world, infertile, and at 35, I'm dealing with major hormonal imbalances that are a total pain in my ass. I'm an insomniac and a tennis player and a paleo-eating, homeschooling accidental hippie. I'm the Mexican living in Maine.

I'm in love with possibility and a master of procrastination. I can't tell you how many spectacular things I want to accomplish but maybe after I pin this one last thing.

Butterflies. I'm a lover of those, too. Especially when they are fluttering about in my gardens. Not so much when they've taken up residence in my stomach. Like now.

I'm a life-long recovering bulimic on a mission. I'm a founder and self-image activist and Weight Loss Industry survivor.

I'm in therapy. Or at least I would be more often if my therapist read my blog every now and then, because in the time that passes between writing something I need to talk about more and showing up 15 minutes late for my appointment, I've written about four more and the clock is ticking  so I talk about my kid and her anxiety instead.

I'm a contradiction in terms; outspoken and afraid to speak. So I say what I can when the time comes to say it with words that appear letter by letter on a screen.

Right now, I have something to say.

I want to apologize to Cherice Morales on behalf of all that is decent and right in this world. I want to tell her mother that I am so very sorry her daughter's bravery in reporting being raped by her teacher when she was 14 was pushed away like that bravery meant nothing. Twice. I want to hug the friends and family left behind after Cherice took her own life while her case was still pending and tell them how I want to be like Cherice when I grow up.

I want to ask that judge exactly what the fuck he was thinking when he sentenced ex-teacher Stacey Rambold to serve just 30 days of a 15-year prison sentence. I want to know how he'd feel if it had been his 14-year-old granddaughter who was said to be"as much in control of the situation" as the authority figure who admitted to raping her. Would he still blame the victim? Would he be angry if someone said the rapist deserved a break because the victim looked older than she actually was?

I want to tell that judge that his 81-word apology is bullshit and that I don't believe him. I do believe he is sorry to be the center of a public outcry for his resignation. He's sorry he got caught. No more. No less.

I want to ask the Washington Post who thought publishing the op-ed piece arguing for the legal acceptance of consensual sexual relationships between teachers and their underage students was a good idea. I want to ask the writer if she used Cherice Morales as her example because she legitimately thought there was a valid reason to do so and why, considering the small fact that both Cherice and the rapist teacher both stated their sexual relationship was not consensual. I want to ask the writer, an artist and former lawyer, to look me in the eye when she answers. I want to see if she's got the balls to admit that the shit storm that hit after her piece was published was the end goal.

No one ever looks at the byline unless the reporter pisses them off.

I want to ask all these things and know I won't be happy with the answers. I want to thank Cherice Moralez for being strong enough to open up to her family and press charges because so many victims never do. I want to tell her that assholes -- like that judge and the Washington Post and that lawyer painter writer who thinks teachers having consensual sex with their students is a phenomenal idea -- will always exist. And that for every unsympathetic idiot in a position of authority who thinks like they do, there are so many more willing to listen so that girls like Cherice feel safe in revealing their abuse.

Because that matters.

I am many things. I'm sarcastic and say bad words a lot. But usually for good reasons. I'm full of good intentions that are, more often than not, completely misplaced. I'm a mother raising a daughter to know that she can always come to me if the unthinkable happens. That I will support her. And that even after recent events, it will always be okay to speak out.

Because I never did.

 

Housekeeping! (A List in Accented English)

* Yes, I did in fact say that in my head with an exaggerated Spanish-accented English voice. * Because I can.

* If you don't laugh, you're actually hurting my feelings.

* Things are insane.

* Hence, the list.

* Turns out you guys are all Made of Awesome.

* Why, you ask?

* Because 418 of you signed my Change.org petition to get Disney to drop the sex kitten crap with Merida.

* It's too late.

* Maybe.

* She's been crowned & the new image is available on a variety of Crap We'll Buy Our Kids Because We're Giant Suckers.

* And because even if she's been sexed up, the movie is still amazing.

* Oh right.

* Because if we tell our children it's the message that matters and not the size of her waistline, we done good.

* We have no choice, really, since Disney contradicted the very message behind Brave with this whole debacle.

* You know, the one about family, independence, and finding the strength to find out own fates within us?

* Yeah, that one.

* The happy asides?

* A Mighty Girl has a petition with over 18,000 signatures.

* Brave's director is a bit pissed off about the animated plastic surgery job, too.

* So high five on that, y'all.

* New subject.

* Keep up with me, will you?

* I've got an updated version of my Mind Over Medicine review on Girl Body Pride.

* You'll want to stop by.

* Gigi Ross from Kludgey Mom needs some love.

* And Lissa Rankin has written a book I promise you'll want to read.

* Trust me on this one.

* Also? I've got a winner for the Aspiring Mama giveaway of Mind Over Medicine.

* Tanessa Knoll? Buttercup just said Comment Number Two is my winner.

* So ... you're welcome.

* Email me your address, will ya?

* Twitter works, too.

* New subject.

* Yes.

* AGAIN.

* Buttercup is about to follow in Mama's footsteps.

* Little girl has been granted permission by The Mama (me) & The Daddy (The Husband) for a pretty cool gig.

* Girlfriend is going to be a regular contributor to Holly Fulger's Speaking of Beauty blogging team.

* Which also happens to include me.

* I know, right?

* The girl can read at a fourth grade level but has the typing skills of a 5-year-old.

* Probably because she is five.

* So I can't knock her for that.

* Instead, I'll be transcribing my baby's words and views on what beauty means to her.

* I promise not to edit what she says.

* I hope like hell I've done right by her and taught her that beauty is everywhere.

* That the only size that matters when it comes to beauty is the size of our hearts.

* And that society is full of assholes who will try & knock her down a peg or two but that they don't matter.

* I'll know I've succeeded in about 10 years.

* If the child is self-assured enough to wear this when she's 15 because it makes her happy without giving a damn what you think?

 

* I win at motherhood.

* Whiplash warning.

* New subject.

* I really need to take my Xanax.

* That wasn't the subject change.

* Just proof that I need the fucking Xanax.

* This is the subject change...

* Dammit.

* I forgot.

* No, wait.

* GOT IT!

* Girl Body Pride has new team members!

* Congrats to Heidi Zalamar and Margaret Elysia Garcia.

* You guys kick major ass.

* I promise to add your bios to the writer page sometime before 2014 hits.

* Was that all?

* No, seriously.

* I was asking you if I needed to cover anything else before I chase that Xanax with an instant espresso.

* Shut up.

* It works for me.

* Last subject.

* I'm still sitting in a secret.

* And it's a Big One.

* Oh...

* And The Husband just warned me to be on the lookout for the family of moose in the area when I let the dogs out.

* Drops Mic & Saunters Offstage.

 

Do You Believe in Mind Over Medicine? (You Should...)

Mind over Matter.

Is the glass half-full or half-empty?

Do you focus on the cellulite and stretch marks or celebrate your body and the blessings it has brought you?

Will you look for the silver lining or just bitch about the rain pouring down from the clouds above?

It isn't easy. Too often, we overlook the fact that how our perceptions have a very real effect on our realities. If you're convinced you can't do something, chances are you won't. Change the perception and shift to the positive, and suddenly we find ourselves making like The Little Engine that Could. We stop self-defeating and start self-motivating and suddenly the glass is half-full, we love ourselves as we are, and find ourselves dancing in the rain. Because we opened our minds to the power of positivity.

Not many question our ability to choose happiness. We tell our children they need only believe to achieve and then marvel as we watch them learn to ride a bike, blossoming as their confidence grows. That's how powerful our minds are.

Or maybe that's just the beginning. What if our minds hold not only the power to change our perceptions, but also heal our bodies? It might sound like Crazy Talk, but you can't argue the conclusive research presented by my friend Lissa Rankin in her new book, Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof That You Can Heal Yourself. Lissa's book launches on May 7 with Hay House, and it's an incredible read already making major waves. Major waves, people. As in PBS is Producing a Special on Lissa's Work major.

Mind over Medicine is the culmination of three year's of research in which Lissa shows us how our thoughts, beliefs, and feelings get translated into the physiology of the cells of every organ in the body. Diet, exercise, adequate sleep, and vitamins are all important, but they play a small role when compared to the physiological effects of health poisons like fear, loneliness, work stress, anxiety, and depression. Our bodies can and do heal themselves every day. The problem is that the current health care model in place, accepted both by mainstream medicine and patients alike, flat out ignores anything that can't be fixed with a pill.

In Mind over Medicine, Lissa shows us that our minds can heal our bodies simply by turning on our relaxation responses with mediation, creative expression, having lots of sex, being optimistic, and having lots of sex. Which I probably already mentioned, but it seems like a pretty important point.

Lissa is on a mission to change our own thinking, help us become empowered self-advocates of change and healing while encouraging healthcare practitioners to embrace what what our bodies already know.

It's Mind over Medicine. We have the power to heal ourselves. We only need to be open to the possibility.

Because I truly believe Lissa is a change-agent who has created a book you need to read, I'm doing everything I can to support her in the Mind Over Medicine launch. I've pre-ordered a few copies of the book, available tomorrow on all major retailers, for giveaways here and on Girl Body Pride. I've got three copies coming my way, people. That's three chances to win a free copy of Mind Over Medicine. Bonus? Buy your own copy of Lissa's book and I'll throw in a free download coupon for Girl Body Pride's Strong Life Butterflyanthology (which happens to feature one of Lissa's essays!). Simply email me a copy of your receipt!

To enter to win ONE COPY of Mind Over Medicine here on Aspiring Mama, simply leave a comment on this post.

For an extra entry, copy and paste the following and tweet, tweet, y'all:

Do you believe in Mind Over Medicine? Win 1 copy of 's  from  here!

Entries will be accepted until midnight, EST, on Monday, May 13.

Brave, Defined Waistlines, & Pauline's Soap Box

Listed under: Good News! Disney is officially welcoming Merida from Brave as the 11th princess!

Listed under: What the HELL, Mickey?

Disney has also decided that Merida needed lipo, a facelift, and a "come hither" look to look just right for her coronation!

For serious, people. Let's take a look at the Before and Afters, shall we?

 

I'm not ready to explain to my little girl that Disney didn't think her hero was acceptable as she is. I don't want to tell her that a defined waistline is valued more than strength of character. I won't tell her that sex sells more merchandise.

Maybe there isn't enough time. Maybe Merida gets her animated Nip/Tuck, anyway. I accept that. I also know that I'll have done the right thing by at least trying when I tell my daughter that sometimes, Other People are narrow-minded, judgmental idiots who think what we look like matters more than who we are and that Other People don't matter when she's looking at her own reflection in the mirror.

Because she is her own source of self-worth.

Your daughters...they are, too.

That's why I started a petition on Change.org. asking Disney to drop the sex-kitten and crown Merida as she appears in the movie that inspired our girls and celebrated the bond between mother and daughter.

Read it.

Sign it.

Even if we don't change Disney's mind, at least show our daughters we accept them just the way they are.

 

So * This* Happened While My Blog Was Broken

I've got a lot to catch up on and not enough time to do that catching. Mostly because I'm still sitting on some major news I can't share yet, am in the middle of a move from one rental to another  and spending most of my waking hours driving one truckload at a time, and alternating homeschooling with searching for my last nerve. Because I was locked out of admin after that nasty spam attack on Wordpress blogs, my favorite Canadian goldfish saved the day. Funny thing is, I don't even know the woman's real name and yet we've had these day long text message fests in which we argue my point that Tim Horton's is actually Canadian for I Wish I was a Starbucks Inside of a Target Store. Ms. Peach Flambee seems to take offense to that, but I figure it's just because she also happens to think she's a goldfish. Either way, the fish lady is the only reason I'm actually blogging and not sending out smoke signals.

Which is good, because this happened while my blog was broken...

 

 

That's my byline.

On Latina.com. The subject matter is seriously un-funny and was difficult to write, but I'm prouder than hell to see my words where they are.

Also? I can now actually justify all the time I've spent tweeting, blogging, facebooking, instagramming, pinning, Blogher-ing, Google + -ing, and word-whoring myself out in the name of Building My Platform as actual work. My CPA said so. I have never been so thrilled at the prospect of paying taxes.

The best part is that The Husband turns 40 in July.

DO YOU KNOW WHAT THIS MEANS?

For the first time in the six years since I left journalism to raise Buttercup, he won't be paying for his own birthday gift.

I'd like my finger monkey now, please.

Does the Media Get the Blame for Eating Disorders?

A friend recently sent me a link to an article on Ed Bites regarding the author’s thoughts on the media and eating disorders. The article, to be published in Emirates Woman magazine, is well-written, thought-provoking, and importantly (to me, anyway) written from personal experience.

The author, Carrie Arnold, recounts her own experience as an anorexic in treatment. When handed a sheet of stickers and a stack of magazines as a project for a body image group. The stickers were to be used by the patients to label the images of models and celebrities either with a smiley face promoting a healthy body image or a frowny face pointing the finger of blame at the image (and by default, the media as a whole), for promoting eating disorders.

Says Arnold on her blog, Ed Bites: {the latest tasty tidbits in eating disorder science}:

“I was no stranger to advertising. No one really is. But I knew that most ads were digitally altered and that bodies – real bodies – didn’t look a thing like what was portrayed on the pages of glossy magazines. Weighing roughly half of what I currently do, what I did know was that I was terrified of food and eating. Consuming more than the bare minimum of calories left me feeling dirty, and I felt oddly compelled to purge the extra calories via exercise or other methods. 

“Although I couldn’t see it in the mirror, I knew, on some level, that I had long since passed even the most whacked-out culture’s definition of ‘thin’. I didn’t want to look like a model – I’m a geek, not a fashionista. I wasn’t attractive, all sallow-skinned and bony, and I didn’t care. Starving myself was the only way that I could turn down the cacophony in my head. The less I ate and the less I weighed, the quieter my anxious thoughts got. Fashion never crossed my mind.”

And I get that. I’m a self-described life-long recovering bulimic. I was hiding in my parents’ pantry at the age of seven binge eating long before I knew the term and condition was one recognized by medical professionals and at the age of 15, took a news special on a woman treating teens with eating disorders as a “how to”. I was home alone and had been eating mindlessly all evening. At 5’6”, I was curvy but athletically built, wore a size 10, played varsity tennis, and thought I was fat. Random attempts to “become” anorexic had failed horribly and only proved to my warped sense of thinking that I had no self control. Binging, I learned that night, was what I had been doing most of my life, which only served to stuff down and quiet the chaos in my mind.

The answer I had been looking for

Purging was the release I had been looking for. As a first generation Mexican-American, I grew up observing the fine art of Not Acknowledging the Obvious like brides pregnant months before their wedding dates were to take place and family happily ignoring the fact that the premature baby born healthy and adorably chubby. Alcoholics weren’t alcoholics if they didn’t go to meetings and as long as I remembered to not throw up oranges in the shower, I didn’t have to avoid eye contact with my parents after they found the evidence i had forgotten about on the drain.

As Arnold points out in her article, it is very easy to see how the media and the models and celebrities portrayed take the brunt of the blame for “causing” eating disorders. Everything is photo-shopped. Headlines boast the Secrets to a Perfect Body and tell us How to Lose 20 Pounds by Labor Day in issues released just weeks before the actual holiday. And every Hollywood mom seems to either be under contract to drop the baby weight in six weeks, pose in a bikini, and show us how we can do it, too, or become the newest spokesperson for whichever major weight loss program hands them the biggest contract to sign. The message seems loud and clear: Perfection is at the finish line and you better work your ass off to get there before you have the right to feel good about yourself.
This video on YouTube by Aceygirl17 serves as a perfect example.

 

But is the media at fault?

Yes.

And No.

As Arnold says, compliments from strangers on how skinny she was may have given her a temporary boost, but they didn’t fuel the need to continue with her disordered behavior. I can relate to that, too. I never once looked at a magazine or a celebrity and thought myself less. My mindset was obviously disordered to begin with. If the media did cause eating disorders, every single person watching the same news special I did would suddenly have jumped off the deep end and embraced anorexia and/or bulimia just like I did.

“So what’s the big deal? Why does it matter what causes eating disorders? For one, it affects who we think are at risk and how quickly they are diagnosed… If we think eating disorders are the preserve of vain women, we are less likely to view them as requiring treatment and more likely to blame the victim. No, we can’t just snap out of it and, although normalising nutrition is crucial, eating a cheeseburger won’t cure us.”— Ann Arnold, Ed Bites. 

Changing our focus

No, we can’t snap out of it. Eating a cheeseburger won’t cure an anorexic and learning the definition of self control won’t suddenly help a bulimic figure out how to diet. Similarly, a society hell-bent on proving a market exists for glossy magazine covers of photo-shopped and over-sexed female celebrities and models is doing nothing more than giving the media reason to continue on the current path. If this shit sells, you can bet your ass it’s going to be printed. And while I firmly believe that the media is at least responsible for fueling body image issues in both susceptible children, teens, women and men, I can’t say the media has the power to turn a non-disordered person into an eating disordered mess.

Yes, the media plays a role in how we as a society have come to define beauty in ourselves and others. And as Arnold notes, printing celebrities and their own eating disordered struggles in the “style” section of their publications only trivialize the issue and reinforce the myth that eating disorders are a choice. That, my friends, is complete and utter bullshit.

So who do we blame?

No one, Everyone. Ourselves. Our mothers. The doctor who sent in a nutritionist with a pamphlet on the food pyramid when I was 16 and settled on telling her I couldn’t stick to a diet because I choked on the word “bulimia.”

“The girl thinks she has an eating disorder because she can’t stick to a diet,” I heard her say to the nutritionist in the hallway. “Send her home with this. I’ve got to get back to work.”

Okay, fine. That doctor I actually do blame for choosing to dismiss a cry for help. But is blaming her, or The Biggest Loser, going to help those already suffering? No. It’s not.

Does that mean the media is off the hook?

Not by any means. The media might not be the reason those of us unfortunate enough to have our brains wired in such a way that disordered eating behaviors actually make sense, but there have been plenty of times I have been written about my own good days being ruined by checkout lane headlines telling me I have no right to feel good about myself until I’ve managed to get my ass into the same bikini I wore before I got pregnant almost six years ago.

I’ll give The Powers that Be a pass on my disorder. But I’m holding the media responsible for perpetuating a false ideal of perfection, creating an environment in which our daughters (and sons) are learning to hate their bodies while they should still be playing with their imaginary friends, and reinforcing the belief that self-worth is based on a number on a scale. Eating disordered or not, that line of bullshit is the reason so many of us think happiness isn’t a right we deserve, but one we earn when the scale, the salesgirl, and Other People say we have.

I’m not good with that. I truly believe that until we learn to accept and love ourselves as just the way we are right now, none of us is going to find anything other than a skinner version of ourselves who happens to still hate who we are and what we see in the mirror.

Your job begins now

This is where you take responsibility, my friends.

If you felt good until you picked up that copy of whatever glossy magazine it was that gave you a complex and suddenly had you reaching for a bag of chips out of despair, stop buying, reading, or watching what is obviously a trigger for you. The stories might still sell. The stars might still be selling weight loss programs post-baby because we have turned yesterday’s A-listers into today’s headline just so we can talk about what they’ve gained and how quickly they’ve lost it. Turn your focus inward and focus on changing what you can (how you feel about and perceive your self and body image) and just ignore the rest because it’s not going away anytime soon. We live in a body-conscious time where numbers are given more value than self-perception and worth.

If you need help for an eating disorder or body image issues, seek it out. NOW. If you feel comfortable, share your story and let others know it's okay to do the same. I applaud Arnold for doing so.

So where does that leave us?

Shut out the noise. Fix the mess inside your head. Then let the rest fall into place.