Tag Archives: puberty

Let’s Have Some Links

Debbie says:

The last few times I’ve sat down to do links, I’ve ended up with themed posts, but this time I have a wider range.

You might think Serena Williams wouldn’t be expected to smile when she had just defeated her sister and close friend, but no. Anita Little at Sociological Images defends Williams.


… during a post-match press conference on Tuesday, a reporter had the gall to ask why she wasn’t smiling.

Williams looked down and gave an exasperated sigh before shelling out the best response an athlete has given in an interview since football player Marshawn Lynch’s “I’m just here so I won’t get fined” trademark phrase.

It’s 11:30. To be perfectly honest with you, I don’t want to be here. I just want to be in bed right now and I have to wake up early to practice and I don’t want to answer any of these questions. And you keep asking me the same questions. It’s not really … you’re not making it super enjoyable.

no matter how insanely accomplished or famous you become, you will still be subjected to the innocuous-sounding but ever-so-pernicious “why don’t you smile?” interjection from those who feel entitled to make demands of women. Williams’ retort was her attempt at dismantling that sense of entitlement. For those who say the reporter’s question was a harmless jest, they should ask themselves if Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal would ever be expected to defend their stern or tired expressions.

Williams is being honored, along with eleven other inspiring women, in a huge sea change in the famous Pirelli calendar.

Usually known for featuring the most beautiful models of the day, the famed Pirelli calendar is taking 2016’s issue in a whole new direction by featuring some of the world’s most inspiring women – from artists to athletes and even to bloggers.

In a preview clip aired on the New York Magazine website, the likes of Serena Williams, Patti Smith and Yoko Ono are spotted posing for legendary photographer Annie Leibovitz.

Perhaps Pirelli has been paying attention to Rosie Nelson, crusading inside the modeling industry for ditching the skin-and-bones look. Liz Dwyer at TakePart reports:

“When I walked into one of the UK’s biggest model agencies last year they told me I ticked all the boxes except one—I needed to lose weight. So I did,” wrote 23-year-old Rosie Nelson on the Change.org petition she launched. “Four months later I lost nearly [14 pounds and] 2 inches off my hips. When I returned to the same agency they told me to lose more weight, they wanted me ‘down to the bone.’”

“When I look in the mirror I see someone that is healthy and comfortable in their skin. That’s because I had the guts to carve out my own path and refuse to let people pressure me into losing more and more weight,” wrote Nelson. “But… the reminders are everywhere that we need a law to protect young girls, and boys, who are put under pressure to be dangerously thin.”

Being healthy and comfortable in your skin is something so many of us are looking for. Sydnee Thompson at Black Girl Dangerous reminds us that “Defining Your Gender As A Black Queer Femme Is Revolutionary“:

Growing up, I knew three things: One, I was a girl. Two, I didn’t like it. And three, there was nothing I could do about either of them.

But how could I trust my feelings? As a Black femme, I already had the deck stacked against me. No matter what we feel, society tells us from the beginning it doesn’t matter. We face misogynoir that deems us unworthy of femininity and womanhood by default while simultaneously being objectified and fetishized, not to mention femmephobia that forces us to adhere to standards of presentation and then punishes us for it.

From childhood, we’re objects for the consumption of others, lacking agency or inherent value. All of that baggage muddies the waters when you realize you’re different and start trying to figure out why. Is it the internalized oppression talking, something else, or both?

Read the rest: Thompson is a clear, powerful, angry writer.

Jennifer Swann at TakePart talks about advances in transgender health care–and one trans woman behind a lot of the positive change.

Though [Tommilynn] Travis now lives in California, one of 16 states that have banned health care discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation, she has nonetheless faced insurance-related delays and outright denials for transition-related health care.

But Travis now knows that such denials can be illegal, and she is at the forefront of a movement to get all trans people access to health care and force health insurance companies to pay for hormone therapy and gender reassignment surgery. …

All the hours Travis has spent “calling, fussing, trying to figure out who’s in charge, who’s holding things back—it’s going to pay off for all these other people who were too scared to say anything,” she says. She’s no longer alone in the fight for transgender health care, as she sometimes felt she was in New Mexico. Now she’s surrounded by a community of transgender men and women with urgent medical needs. “Rather than just be an advocate for myself,” she says, she now has “these 400, 500 other girls” to fight for. “It’s not just me. That’s the way I always try to look at it—as not just helping me but helping everybody where I can.”

And just in case you thought — as I kind of did — that you were versed in the complexities of gender, here’s an amazing gender variation story from Diane Kelly at Throb.

In an article for the BBC Magazine, Michael Mosely talks to families [in the Dominican Republic] with children that were brought up as girls because they lacked obvious testes or a penis at birth, but grew penises and had their testicles descend when they neared puberty. The local name for these children is “guevedoces”, or “penis at twelve.” But the change they go through isn’t magic–it’s an example of how multi-layered and complex human sexual development really is.

Here’s how it works.

The condition is the result of an enzyme deficiency. Guevedoces are genetically male, and have Y chromosomes in all of their cells. Their earliest sexual development is also normal: a gene on the Y chromosome turns the undeveloped gonads of the 7 week old embryo into testes, which soon start pumping out male hormones. Two of those hormones–testosterone and Mullerian-inhibiting substance–are critical for the development of the internal male reproductive system. …

When guevedoces are born, their external genitalia look female even though their internal reproductive structures are male. They’re raised as girls. But at puberty, the testes inside their abdomens start producing large amounts of testosterone. The effect is startling.

During puberty, testosterone makes the penis and testes grow into their larger adult form. The same thing happens to the guevedoces: but since their penis starts closer to the size of a clitoris, there’s a lot more growing to do.

I would have liked Kelly to acknowledge that there is no such thing as “the size of a clitoris,” (some are bigger than some penises). but basically I’m just fascinated by the story.

As always, I harvest my links from my usual reading around the web. Laurie found the Pirelli calendar story, and I thank Lizzy for pointing out the guevedoces story; I had already found it, but you never know — I might have missed it.

Links, Links, Links

Debbie says:

I wanted to post last night, but I had a cascade of computer and life issues, so you had to wait for today.

Laurie and I have seen a bunch of things floating around the blogosphere that we wanted to share. Read to the bottom; I’m saving a treat for last, but I’ll start with the infuriating:

I personally haven’t seen many claims that America under President Obama is “post-racial,” but I know people who have, and I sure understand how that kind of asininity can make a person hot under the collar. Here’s just one horrible example, as eviscerated by Sandy Szwarc at Junk Food Science.

A new experimental program at a nonconventional “lifestyle medicine” center is targeting pregnant women who are Black and Hispanic minority, poor and fat. These women are being enrolled into a free health program which tells them it will benefit them and their unborn babies and make their babies healthier.

No mention is made in the patient literature that, by the soundest clinical evidence to date, compared to the standard of care, the program’s alternative interventions have been shown to lead to poorer chances of survival for babies, higher rates of spontaneous preterm births, and to put babies at greater risk for serious physical and neurological health problems and learning disabilities. There is no indication that these underprivileged minority women are giving their informed consent or are aware they are participants in human experiments that could endanger their unborn babies.

Dr. Alan Peaceman, M.D., co-director of the program, told the media that “obesity in pregnancy may be contributing to the epidemic of childhood obesity and diabetes that we are seeing today.” An appropriate weight gain for some women who are overweight is no weight gain at all, he said.

In 1989, I was pregnant (and fat). With no weight gain, I can’t even imagine how I could have gotten through the pregnancy. This would be nonsense if it wasn’t costing babies health, and lives. Read the rest if you can stand it. Am I the only person who thinks “Tuskegee” when I read this shit?

Not only are we continuing to exploit poor black people in the name of “science,” apparently someone in Massachusetts has decided that the age of consent ends at 60 (and never starts if you’re disabled). (If I stay able-bodied, I could be three years away from losing my rights. Or it could happen tomorrow.)

The law (in Massachusetts) would make it a very serious crime — tantamount to child pornography — to make, and distribute “with lascivious intent,” “any visual material that contains a representation or reproduction of any posture or exhibition in a state of nudity” involving anyone age 60 or over, or anyone who has “a permanent or long-term physical or mental impairment that prevents or restricts the individual’s ability to provide for his or her own care or protection.”

The law is not limited to people who are mentally handicapped and thus unable to consent, or who are photographed against their will by their caretakers (the justification discussed in this story). The operative provisions cover people over 60 and the disabled whether or not they are incompetent.

Likewise, the law is not limited to hard-core pornography that would constitute unprotected “obscenity.” It would apply to any pictures of nudes, so long as the defendant is acting with lascivious intent.” Hard to see how this would be constitutional, or why it would make much sense.

In other words, if you are (like the co-owner of this blog) a photographer who takes nude photographs of older and disabled people, you’re in danger of being in jail or worse. Laurie’s photographs are not taken with lascivious intent, but … prove it. What’s more, if you happen to be interested in photographs like that, you’re participating in criminality and, worst of all, if you’re a member of a targeted group and you want to pose naked, or reclaim your body: how would you know what’s good for you?

Frankly, it makes me want to pass a law forbidding legislators in Massachusetts to pass laws.

We don’t usually blog it when people say nice things about us, but this is such a beautiful post about learning to love your body that I wanted to share:

Something really interesting happens when you clear away an immediate problem: you find things underneath it that you didn’t know were related. I discovered that some of my shame around being big was actually a fear of taking up space and having a voice. This was also related to my mom — being bigger than her actually made me physically intimidating to her in a way, and her body language expressed a quiet and subtle discomfort about it, which I absorbed. This was also something we could talk about eventually, and once it was visible it was a lot easier to heal. When I finally rearranged my self-image to include more confidence and leadership (see also: breaking gender boundaries), my size felt a whole lot more comfortable.

That post also has a link to Stacy Bias’s site, a place where I could instantly fall in love. I’m not sure how I managed to miss Bias for so long. Although the site has not been recently updated, here’s a taste of who she is:

Stacy Bias is an activist, college speaker and entrepreneur located in the Pacific Northwest. Stacy is a queer activist and a fat activist, though lately she prefers the term “Anti-Shame Advocate.”

At the heart of Stacy’s activism is the idea that all beings are worthy of love, from self and others, and that shame is a sinister and lucrative tool employed to ensure a steady stream of faithful and desperate consumers.

Finally, these are possibly the best body image cartoon videos for young teenagers that I could ever imagine!

Sadly, they aren’t YouTube-type videos and I can’t embed them. In fact, they’re from the BBC of all places. Let’s just say that the five for girls are called: Funny Flaps, Hairy Mary, First Blood, Breast Friends, and Zit Happens. The five for “lads” are Willy Wonky, Hard Times, Virgin Record, Rank Frank, and Stubble Trouble. I think I like Funny Flaps best, but I change my mind every time I watch them. Turn your sound on.

Junk Food Science is regular reading material around here; Stef found the piece on Massachusetts law; Sarah sent us a link to her post; and Laurie’s daughter Shayin found the BBC videos.