Over the years, my father has melded his love of exploring with his excellent memory and professional expertise (he’s an attorney in New York City who has litigated high profile cases for clients from the US, Europe, Africa and South America). The result: timely, often provocative, essays and opinion pieces that have been published both in America and overseas by outlets including The Litchfield County Times and The Country & Abroad, Scrisul Romanesc(Romania), Britić (Great Britain), and Pećat (Serbia).
As some of you might know, I have two kids.
One badgers us constantly for Indian takeout and sushi and chili and burgers. He likes feeling adult and included in our our family's culinary adventures and decisions. Whenever we get to a new city or destination, he wants to plan our days around the delicious-sounding restaurants and markets I look up in advance.
My other child does none of this.
Last weekend, my husband and I celebrated Valentine's Day by not talking to eachother.
See, there’s this outdoor spa about a two-hour drive from us, set up in the mountains. It’s got this wood-burning sauna, steaming soaking pools and a eucalyptus steam room. There’s also icy plunge pools and toasty fire pit. The idea is that you warm up your body, then cool it down and relax—all while remaining totally silent.
Mmm hmmm. You read that right.
And here’s how I know it's true:
See, I’m the author of a book on celebrity culture and how the beauty ideals it helped create impact girls and women. (It's called All Made Up: A Girl's Guide to Seeing Through Celebrity Hype and Celebrating Real Beauty). And on November 20th, I’m speaking at an important forum called Children and Hypersexaulization, which is being hosted by the Canadian Federation of University Women. So I’m updating my presentation (which incidentally is called “Don’t Believe the Hype: The Impact of Celebrity Culture on Girls, Women...and Everybody”).
Did you know that more than 80% of women worldwide will face gender-based street harassment at some point in their lives? They—or rather we—will be approached (or accosted) on the street, subjected to unwanted whistles, cat calls, sexual comments and lewd gestures in which men “assert the right to intrude on women’s attention, defining her as a sexual object and forcing her to interact with them." Charming
THIS is the cultural beauty standard that Vogue claims it's out to change. Really? Okay then. GO!In In this month’s Letter from the Editor, Vogue’s Anna Wintour expounds on her magazine’s recent promise to stop using underage (meaning under 16 years old) and ultra thin models. She calls Vogue’s partnership with the Council of Fashion Designers of America an example of their “renewed efforts to make our ideal of beauty a healthy one,” and everyone’s on board from Tyra Banks to Sarah Ziff, founder of the Model Alliance a not-for-profit group that provides a platform for models in the American fashion industry to organize for better workplace standards
Last week, I was home in New York City attending the awesome annual conference of the American Society of Journalists and Authors. Not only was it great to meet other ultra-talented writers like Crai Bower (a most awesome travel expert. Check out his stuff. Seriously), Molly Blake, and Jen Reeder....I also got to meet a handful of inspiring girls from Raleigh, North Carolina who had come to New York to participate in a Model UN. Which I think is great, because I loved me some Model Congress back when I was in high school, and I adore hearing about girls who are following their passions instead of getting caught up in celebrity hype.
You must (must, I say!) watch this send-up that presents photoshop as a new beauty product. (It's by Adobé ("a-do-bay," which makes it sound so euro and effective, no?).
Let's work hard to get this in front of young women who need to realize that the women we see in mainstream media images are not real, but rather digitized to perfection.
My favorite line: "Maybe she's born with it." "Uh, no, I'm pretty sure it's Photoshop."
Hi, Elite Models?
This is Audrey calling.
In regards to what, you ask?
Oh, just the fact that you’re all COMPLETELY INSANE and clearly out of touch with the groundswell of support demanding that the media feature models and celebrities who look more like real women than emaciated skeletons.
I'm sorry, but do you not recall how Spanish fashion week made news a few years back when it banned extremely skinny models from its catwalks?
Nearly every girl I spoke to while researching my book expressed a wish to be a model/celebrity in some way. Even the girls who excel in school, sports and activities. *That's* how strong the cultural messages are about the importance and benefits of having the right look.Over the course of my career, I have interned/worked/edited/freelanced at and for teen magazines like Sassy, YM, Jump, Teen People, Seventeen, Elle Girl, Cosmo Girl, Girls Life and others...and I can't tell you how many emails and letters I've seen asking the same question:
"Do you think I could model?"
There's a new book out called The Art of Roughhousing, in which two fathers (one an MD and the other a PhD) offer advice and diagrams on how to roughhouse the right way. They believe that it's "crucial to kids' self esteem and physical development that parents unplug the family, loosen up and let fly." Today's obsession with safety and technology, they argue, has changed the way we play. And not for the better.
Let me start off here by saying I AGREE. Who wouldn't? I don't like the idea that today's kids no longer roam free and explore on their own any more than the next mother. And there's nothing better than the bond (and the giggles) that comes from them messing around with their father on the kitchen floor.
But as I said in this Associated Press article, as much as I WANT my children to enjoy the benefits of roughhousing (a close physical connection to us as parents, a sense of their own physical power and free play) there's a lot at stake when the roughhousing starts.
First, Gwyneth was all “Every woman can make time to exercise." And you can even do it “with your baby in the room” ! (Cause there’s nothing that my 2 and 4 year old boys would liike more than hanging out in the TV room on a sunny day watching me do the Tracy Anderson Method.)
This may be old news, but a January 3, 2011 copy of Life & Style featuring Heidi's confessions has been sitting on my desk for over a month...and I've got a few related thoughts I need to get off my (non-surgically enhanced chest).
Why is no one talking about Heidi's recantations? As a culture, we couldn't shut up last year about the number of surgeries she elected to have, her cup size, her relationship with her mother, the shade of her bleached blonde hair, her failed pop album, her PR seeking stunts etc etc.
And now she's admitted that we were right. That "surgery made her look worse." That she regrets having gone under the knife. That there have been major repercussions (she can't jog due to the size of her G-cup breasts; she can't wash her face because she's afraid to bump her fragile nose; she has visible dimpling and scars on the back of her legs).