Category Archives: parenting

It’s July! Let’s Have Some Links

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Debbie says:

In 1998 when Camryn Manheim was up for an Emmy, which she won. Designers lined up to make her dress, like they do (or did?) for Emmy nominees. Manheim, ever the fat activist, refused to take an offer from any designer who didn’t otherwise make plus-size clothes.

leslie-jones-768Leslie Jones, star of the upcoming Ghostbusters remake, complained on Twitter and found a designer, Christian Siriano, to make a gown for her. At least some of the fashion press thinks this is Jones’ fault. Kara Brown reports from Jezebel:

Pret-a-Reporter talked to Hollywood stylists who perfectly exemplified the stereotypes of the thin-obsessed, catty, narcissistic fashion industry.

 In addition to arguing that designers who have complete control over what sizes they make and still only produce the smallest sizes available do not have a size bias, stylist Jeanne Yang suggests that it would be a financial burden to create a new dress for a woman starring in what will likely be one of the biggest movies of the summer and who will soon be snapped thousands of times on the red carpet. …
It sucks that Jones had to complain on Twitter to get a nice dress to wear and that Christian Siriano was the only designer to step up, but hopefully he will do her right and she’ll show up on the carpet looking like a queen and making those fools wish they weren’t such brats.

All I can say is “Still? After all these years?”


In the class of “how was this ever not true?” towards the end of June New York City passed a law providing tampons and pads to all women in public schools, shelters, and correctional facilities.  As Mattie Kahn said at Elle:

New York City is leading the crusade to free women from shelling out for a public health imperative. No one is forcing high schoolers to pay for toilet paper, dudes! 

“Tampon taxes” are going away, but seriously: how did anyone ever think that supplying menstrual products was not a necessary thing?


Medium went to Samantha Bee’s Full Frontal to show us a biting overview of how female firsts are covered, from Amelia Earhart to Hillary Clinton. Hint:  the woman’s accomplishments are often not given any credit. Here’s just one of my favorites:

December, 1903, OSLO, Norway — “Ignoring voice vote, rigged Nobel Prize committee hands award to Marie Curie.”

Bee also cites reports about Billie Jean King, Sally Ride, and … Joan of Arc! Sadly not surprising, but well worth the two-minute read.


I really liked B.A. Beasley’s essay at The Toast on genderqueer parenting:

You see, there’s no such thing as a parent. We only have mothers and fathers.

Here’s what I don’t mean: I don’t mean that women and men are hardwired to parent differently. I don’t even mean that the social construction of gender is so overpowering that overcoming motherhood or fatherhood is difficult for individual parents. I mean the social category of parent just doesn’t seem to exist.

I say this despite the fact that my social world is filled with people who are deeply invested in egalitarian parenthood. I personally know inspirations in the realm of splitting reproductive labor. They are not doing it wrong.

But all the good people in the world making all the right decisions about sharing, pitching in, and helping each other out can’t fix the fact that every form you complete, every book you read, every law you face, every policy you confront has two categories: mothers and fathers.

There’s a lot more: very thoughtful and some of it very personal. If the topic interests you, read the whole thing.


Discussing a different aspect of families, social circles, and social expectations, Amalthea Aelwyn at Queen of the Chaos Circle wrote a long, detailed advice column for the families and friends of people with autoimmune diseases. Her piece has over twenty bullet points of things to think about and do: here’s just one that struck me.

  • She will already be her own worst critic. In her head, she will most likely be struggling to avoid chewing herself out regularly.   Nothing you can say will possibly be as harsh as she is on herself.  So she needs you to be especially careful of the things you say to her, and how you say them.  It’s okay to have your own feelings, and to express feelings, but you always have a choice in how you say something. There is a big difference between grumpily demanding “why do I have to stop eating wheat (candy or whatever else), just because you’re sick all the time!?” and saying “I wish there was a way to make you better, so we wouldn’t both have to skip candy and soda.” The first statement becomes an attack on a person who can’t help that she has this problem. The second statement is a way to express your frustration in a way that shows you care about her, and know that she misses those things too. It is even okay to be mad at her disease, but it’s not okay to take that mad out on her. Tell her that you are mad at her disease, too, if you want. But don’t yell at her for it. She can’t help it.

I have both family and several friends with autoimmune diseases. I found this a hard read, the kind I sometimes push against saying either, “That’s not fair to me!” or “But I already do that!” in my head, which usually means it’s things I need to hear. I’ll come back to it again and again when I need it.


Finally, Casey Chan at Sploid features an adults-only video by SuperDeluxe that takes those of us who want to go there (not for everyone) through a sex-doll factory:

Being inside a sex doll factory and watching all that plastic nakedness get shaped is much more haunting than it is titillating. It gets unsettling, like if you were trapped inside a scene from a horror movie and couldn’t get out. But it’s also somewhat intriguing, just to see the mixture of products and body parts that they put together in a puzzle to shape a doll.

The queer parenting link is from zulu. Otherwise, links are from my regular reading, which includes Feministe, Shakesville, Sociological Images, Feministing, io9, and TakePart, along with other sources.

Growing Up in Body Image Hell, And How to Fight Back

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Debbie says:

Little African Asian girl drawing, lying down on the floor

In the past week or so, I’ve run across a whole spate of articles about how our obsession with perfect bodies affects young people.

Gabby C at fBomb writes about the effect of social media imagery on young girls:

… the addition of these body positive images has done little to eliminate the longstanding, media-created image of the “perfect” female body. This “perfect” body is essentially a skeleton covered in thin, fair skin and is an image that has transitioned from traditional media to social media. Tumblr blogs, harassing comments, and glamorized mental illness posts — like those on “pro-ana” (pro-anorexia) and “pro-mia” (pro-bulimia) websites — that bolster this image have existed for years.

I experienced this firsthand.

I started to post my own half-naked pictures and the swift approval (and disapproval) of online strangers began to fuel a dangerous disorder. The power of manipulation, misinformed comments, and a stream of  “perfect” body images acted as triggers and I began to calculate my 900-calorie, low-fat daily food intake. Over the course of a few months, I gained approval from other bloggers — I, too, became “enviable,” and traveled down a dangerous road to an eating disorder.

Gabby goes on to talk about “pro-mia” sites and the ways some platforms (like Instagram) are starting to make active choices to combat the dangers of anorexia and bulimia, as encouraged by peers and others on the net.

Seth Matlins at TakePart is more concerned with advertising imagery than social media per se.  Writing from his split viewpoint as a parent and a marketing professional, he says:

The truth is, we don’t parent our children alone. …

Children can’t help but absorb and internalize the images of beauty and “perfection”—often altered so significantly that even the models and actors no longer resemble or recognize themselves—screaming at them from store windows, magazine covers, and billboards. An innocuous drive to school, a walk in the park, a playdate, a trip to the mall for socks—these all become exercises in media literacy, as their tender minds are prodded and poked by images, ideas, and so-called ideals that parent alongside mothers and fathers, with no regard for what we want and think.

They see what’s false, think it’s true, compare themselves to fiction, and take to dieting, hating, and hurting themselves when they fall inevitably short of the manufactured fantasy.

Matlins also quotes a fantastic 2014 speech by Lupita Nyong’o which I somehow missed:

I remember a time when I too felt unbeautiful. I put on the TV and only saw pale skin. I got teased and taunted about my night-shaded skin. And my one prayer to God, the miracle worker, was that I would wake up lighter-skinned. The morning would come and I would be so excited about seeing my new skin that I would refuse to look down at myself until I was in front of a mirror because I wanted to see my fair face first. And every day I experienced the same disappointment of being just as dark as I had been the day before. I tried to negotiate with God: I told him I would stop stealing sugar cubes at night if he gave me what I wanted; I would listen to my mother’s every word and never lose my school sweater again if he just made me a little lighter. But I guess God was unimpressed with my bargaining chips because He never listened. 

Just as I was putting this post together in my head, the Women’s Media Center pointed me at a newer Gabby C post, also at fBomb:

I was 10 years old the first time someone commented on my appearance in public. I was walking with a boy in my class down the narrow, dark street of East 86th street in New York City. As we reached the end of the street, the boy looked at me and said, “You’re going to be sexy when you’re older.” …

I had only paid a tiny amount of attention to my appearance up until that point — only enough to replicate the hairstyles and fashion trends of celebrities dancing in MTV music videos. I was aware that “sexy” was a good thing, however, so when this boy validated that I had potential, it felt mollifying.

By 12, my looks were the first thing on my mind each day.

All three authors offer ways forward: Seth Matlins is putting his energy behind the Truth in Advertising Act, cosponsored by The Representation Project and I Am That Girl.  This act would limit Photoshopped and manipulated images, so what children see would be more like what they might actually grow up to become. I feel certain Gabby C and Lupita Nyong’o would support him, since both are concerned with the role of the media, whom Nyong’o calls “the far away gatekeepers of beauty.”

Gabby urges taking care with every single social media comment and post: “I speak from experience when I say even just a simple comment, a single post, can make all the difference.” Thanks to this advice, I chose a positive image for the top of this post, rather than one of the hundreds of sexualized choices open to me. (Most of the positive images I found came from political/nonprofit/feminist sites, while the vast majority are from advertising sites.)

Lupita Nyong’o offers her own success as one model for struggling black girls.

In the end, it’s simple: either we honor our children as they are, and teach them to be themselves, or we continue to worship at the altar of commercialized, sexualized, unreal and unattainable beauty, and destroy countless lives in the process. I wish I didn’t live in a world where anyone thinks that’s a difficult choice.