Archive for the 'Girls rule' Category

Girls’ Bathing Suits That Don’t Suck

It’s 2 degrees today in the Chicago burbs, but there’s an overnighter at a water park on my family’s horizon. We cannot wait!

D needs a new swimsuit. I struggled with how to present the utter disappointment I felt searching for one online. I have to assume if you like my blog, you would agree it’s not OK clothing designers sell string bikinis, high-cut bottoms, halter tops and so forth FOR BABIES. But that’s what I kept seeing over and over again online. Grrr.

For people who are curious as to how real this issue is – thinking maybe I’m exaggerating – google-image search “toddler girl bathing suit.”

I take solace in the fact that many of you parents with girls have crossed this horrifying bridge before – probably at least once a year. It just doesn’t seem right.

Well, instead of focusing on my icky feelings, show you some shocking examples and proceed to rant (I think I’ve done enough of that), I’d wanted to create a resource for parents seeking baby and toddler girl swimsuits that are age-appropriate, closer to the middle on the gender spectrum, affordable and cute as hell. And I have to say, putting this together demonstrated to me, to my relief, that there so many good options  that fall under one or more of those categories, I had trouble narrowing them down. Focusing on the good!

 Here we go:

One Piece 

Suit5

One Piece with Sarong 

suit3

Two Piece/Tankini

suit6

Suit with Rashguard

Suit2

Suit with Swim Brief

suit1

Learning to Hate Our Bodies, Part One: The Media

girlreadingmagazineThis is the first part in a series of personal stories about how I learned to hate my body, little by little, from as far back as I can remember. I’m seriously now just beginning to not pick on myself throughout the day. I am 35. Thirty five!

It’s not just me. I have friends of all shapes and sizes and ages who are still dealing with this, too. What we have in common is that we are all women who essentially came of age in the ’80s and ’90s in suburban America with its white girl mall culture and expectation of flawlessness. Ads, the media, peers, relatives, teachers, boys – their message has always been clear to us: You are imperfect and you need to be fixed.

How does this relate to my blog? Well, if I do nothing else as a person, I want to raise children with positive body images who respect their own bodies and other peoples’. I want confident kids. And that starts with being comfortable in your own body despite the mixed messages that are sent all day long. And that starts at home. So yeah. Totally relevant stuff here.

So here goes.

The media and its advertisers are EVER SO EAGER to help you be the image of feminine perfection. It’s a business model. There is money to be made off of your intrinsic desire to not be disgusting. I have been a member of the media since senior year in high school when I got my first newspaper clip. Despite my passion for journalism and fierce support for the First Amendment, pop media largely grosses me out. It editorializes stories like Angelina Jolie’s mastectomies, the “chunky” cheerleader and that pathetic Abercrombie & Fitch CEO who hates fat girls. At the same time, I’m so guilty of watching, reading and reposting.

The relentlessness of the media when it comes to telling you about your crappy body is alarming. You think it’s going to get better when you get older, wiser, get married, get a job, have kids. But, oh no. IT NEVER GOES AWAY. It just changes a little. When you become a mom, for example, suddenly you’re being marketed to as a new demographic: the ideal mother. Wholesome, nurturing and impossibly SKINNY with flawless skin. This same illusion of a mother always does the right thing when it comes to child-rearing, but that’s another post.

When exactly does the media begin digging in? For me, who knows, maybe it was the first time I saw a Barbie commercial. The first time I remember it really resonating was when I was a teenager pouring over Delia’s catalogs and YM and Seventeen magazines. Trust me, I hold all those teen glossies near and dear to my heart because they are synonymous with the best parts of adolescence: Sitting around in my friend’s bedroom, gossiping and prank calling randoms while listening to Weezer, Green Day, Mazzy Star and Milla Jovovich CDs on repeat. Outside of that otherwise joyful context, though, teen magazines are toxic.

They were and continue to be a huge contributor to our very specific self loathing be it our faces, hair, bodies,  odor, biology, clothes, friendships, boyfriends – pretty much EVERY aspect of our lives and specifically those that make us uniquely women. You know, stuff we should embrace, but were taught to HATE till they go away or are fixed. That’s why we starve. That’s why we cover up our bodies. They’re why we are still chasing some ghost of an ideal woman. At 30, 40, 50 …

Through being bombarded by self-help, diet, exercise, dating, beauty and fashion advice in teen mags, we’re basically led to think we are physically inferior, un-dateable and need improvement. And we by no means can do ANY of this by ourselves. We need help.

Teen mags are chock-full of pictures of pretty, skinny girls with good clothes and TONS of advice on how to fix your ugly self.

And forget about when we graduated to Cosmo (basically within the same year – we could not wait to check out this scandalous women’s magazine! It was our version of Playboy!).

Cosmo had fashion spreads of unachievable womanliness, Victoria’s Secret ads and hordes of graphic information about how to do sex right FOR YOUR MAN. I will never forget the how-to B.J. story that had us giggling for an hour. My friend read it out loud in a haughty professor voice. It was hilarious. But you know what? It essentially informed us how to be an object of pleasure for someone else.

My older sister had Sassy around the house – for skinny, alternative girls of all colors. It was a start. I didn’t see BUST till I flipped through it at a comic store in Chicago. It wasn’t love at first sight. BUST was so boldly sex-positive it scared me off at first. Not because I’m a prude, but because it went against everything I thought I knew about being a woman. The beauty tips featured normal-looking people. Normal people can’t be pretty! The sex guides were for, um, the reader (What? What a concept). It was only really when I bought my first issue of BUST that things began changing for me. Christ, I was in my 20s. Riot Grrrl and women’s studies classes were another big part of the change. I guess that sounds like a cliché feminist coming-of-age story, but it’s true, and studying women’s sociology, reading women’s lit and listening to angry lyrics about social injustices still happening IN OUR COUNTRY, IN 1998 certainly improved upon how I looked at myself and other women.

Then in my 30s, I began discovering intelligent and funny bloggers like Emily McCombs who writes through her body and addiction issues. The Internet has allowed me to totally hone in on writing that I care about by smart writers who are not interested in cashing in on making people feel bad all the time. Pretty sure Rookie, an incredible e-zine by Chicago teenager Tavi Gevinson, would have been my jam if we had the Internet as we know it in 1995.

I still subscribe to BUST – now in its 20th year and still writing intelligently for women (I even had the pleasure of interviewing its owners for a story and freelancing for them for a while). BUST is still helping all of us women like our bodies, right now, not in some fake future when we lose all the weight and buy all of the designer cosmetics. They’re still publishing awesome DIY guides and sharing information that actually matters.

Still, not a day goes by that most of TV, magazines, the Internet and all those ads in-between slam us with images of skinny, pretty, clean, smart, nice-smelling, unachievable womanhood.

I LOVE Pinterest, but between pictures of unreachable beauty standards, and “inspirational” quotes about what you’re doing wrong and how to do it right, plus endless tips and tricks to “live your best life,” sometimes I feel like I’m flipping through the absolute worst of those teen magazines.

True, I should really get off the Internet.

So tell me, did you grow up with teen magazines? Do you think they impacted how you feel about yourself today or were they just a girl’s rite-of-passage/get over it? 

If you’ve ever felt like the media’s influence has harmed your body image, do you still feel that way or are you moving past it? What’s helped? 

How are you ensuring your kids aren’t being beat over the head with the media’s seemingly never-ending Perfect Body Image Campaign? 

Illustration: pamf.org

The Past Two Weeks Like Whoa!

 

I have so much I want to cover in my “catch-up” post, but in the interest of not burying the lead, our beautiful baby girl Delilah Jane was born on November 2 (Scorpio – fearless, intuitive, strong-willed. We’re in trouble!).

She’s so sweet with a little round head, rosebud lips, big blue eyes and I’d be a liar if I said even her little old man scowls aren’t endearing.

C-Section No. 2

I knew she was coming – a schedule c-section. But unlike being induced and going through labor like I did with Ollie, the whole experience having Delilah was quick and surreal. I was wheeled into OR and within 30 minutes, Miss Delilah emerged. “We have a head” … “We have a limb” … “IT’S A GIRL!” someone shouted. I say “someone” because there’s a horde of people in the OR from the anesthesiologist to nurses to my OBGYN and the assistant surgeon (what a racket!). I was shielded from them (and my surgery) by a big curtain.

The anesthesiologist kept me distracted from the pressure and tugging going on behind the curtain with small talk about the marathons he’s run and there was some ongoing joke in the OR about a chocolate 5K or something. On the other side of me, my husband J, bless him, let me squeeze the life out of his hand. Man, I was so tired and pilled up by the time we had Ollie, I don’t remember any of that realness. Am I a huge wuss or are c-sections sort of freaky? If you or your partner had one, how did it go?

Nocturnal, Hopefully Not Eternal

This is my first week home with just Delilah. We’re doing really well. She’s a night owl, which means I’m a night owl – I’m trying to figure out how to get her to sleep for longer lengths at night and to sleep in her bassinet on her back. Right now, she loves sleeping on the Boppy and in the swing, but the goal is to get her to sleep in her bed like a big girl (snap, I have her napping on her back right now!). J reminds me that she’s still adjusting. She’s only a week and a half old after all. Did you have this problem in the first few weeks or months?

I Must Have Some Secret Energy Reserve

I worked up till my due date feeling energetic and motivated and bounced back very quickly after surgery. I feel great even though my schedule is so messed up. I don’t even seem to need my morning coffee anymore – I suppose because my morning starts and stops a lot overnight. I don’t even know where the energy is coming from. Necessity, I suppose. One thing about the second child, you are still chasing after your first. The laundry needs to get done. People need to eat. Life goes on. There isn’t a lot of down time (for now, at least).

I’m pretty sure I won’t need three years to kick my baby weight to the curb like last time, either, because so much has dropped so fast already. Don’t worry, I’m totally eating (for two again … I’m nursing). No diets, man, just a lot of up and down stairs, feeding, running around and the occasional nap. I’m even already working from home, which I intend to do as long as possible. So far, so good. I gave myself two weeks off, but I didn’t last a week without checking work email. Truth is, I love being home with my new baby and being able to “do it all.” Anyone else experience these burst of energy and motivation (or weight loss?) as soon as you were settled in back at home with baby? What’s up with that? It’s kind of awesome.

Oh, the Tears

I have to admit something not so awesome, though: Holy hormones. My emotions were very positive during my pregnancy, but I’m pretty sure they’re to blame for my dull sense of smell and taste that started after a bad cold in October. Bummer. From what I’ve read on Dr. Google, my senses should return in these postpartum weeks. Please be true!

Also, whoa, I totally got the baby blues my first week home. Tears. Tears. Tears. Tears of joy for Delilah. Tears of pride for Ollie (talk about an amazing big brother). Tears of fear for myself and my ability to “do it all.” Tears of pain from nursing (it’s not like riding a bike, it turns out). And tears from being largely overwhelmed by this huge new responsibility and life in general. I think lots of moms are embarrassed to admit they have the baby blues because they’re afraid they’ll be judged. I’m over the tears phase, but I thought it was important to mention it for all the moms out there who experienced it or might experience it in the future. It’s totally normal. Anything beyond a few sobbing episodes the week or two after the baby’s born, though, I’d talk to someone about how you feel. Postpartum depression is the extreme, longer-term version of the baby blues and can be treated. Did you have the baby blues? I don’t remember them with Ollie. I thinks sometimes we block out certain moments during life-changers, don’t you?

Nickel and Dimed

Hmm. What else? I’m budgeting. Another positive side effect of baby-having, I guess (they are expensive little buggers). Once I outlined all of our incoming and outgoing expenses, I took a hard look at myself – reviewing some of the things I spend money on that are not necessities and don’t really add to the quality of my life or my family’s life. I think about random online purchases I make. Dining out too much. Impulse buys. Going into Target without a list (lol). Going to the grocery store multiple times a week for miscellaneous stuff vs. regularly with a solid list to get us through a few weeks. We all need indulgences and should be allowed a few fun things here and there, but for now, I’m forcing myself to think before I buy. One good thing about this postpartum time is that I have a whole wardrobe at my disposal! Although, I’m totally due for winter boots. Necessity in the Midwest, so it’s a justified purchase, right? How do you budget? Tips, advice, etc. are super appreciated!

Pink!

We’ve received so much pink clothing and accessories for Delilah. The outfits are hella adorable and our little girl is lucky to have so many people around spoiling her with cute duds.

But she won’t be wearing them just because I’m afraid people will mistake her for a boy out in public. And I won’t be offended when it happens. Because it probably will. She’s a baby. She looks like a baby. Ollie was asked if he was s girl or boy just the other week when he was trick or treating. And not by some jerk kid, it was an old, well-meaning guy. Ollie answered “boy” and moved on. I don’t get hung up on gender roles and I certainly don’t want my children to become obsessed with gender identity. I am a total girlie girl at heart and adore ruffly dresses, tights, mary janes, pigtails, etc., but there is nothing more precious than a confident girl who walk tall in a pair of sneakers all busted from playing in the dirt. What are your thoughts on gender identity and children? Should I just accept the fact that she’s going to want to be a pink princess at some point? How do you raise a balanced, confident girl from the get-go? So many of us adult women are STILL working on it! I know I am.

Last but not least, peep this awesome custom, crafty greeting card my friend Nikki sent us! Check out her blog for more crafty goodness!

 

 

April Charity of the Month: Girls Rock! Chicago

Girls rock. Just stating a fact. But here’s an unfortunate reality: young girls are rarely encouraged to explore self-expressive creative outlets and are less likely to be given access to musical and technical instruction or equipment. That ain’t cool. Girls rock camps, which started popping up in Portland and New York about a decade ago, have thankfully spread like wildfire – finally bucking that trend.

Girls Rock! Chicago (GRC) is one such camp in the Midwest – not merely a place girls can mess around with gear, but a real deal learning environment. Through this non-profit program, girls ages 8 through 16 are educated about the musical, technical and creative aspects involved in musicianship.

“Our week-long summer camp program is organized around motivating girls  through instrument instruction, music composition coaching, recording workshops, song-writing workshops, hands-on activities, technical equipment workshops, guest speakers, team-building activities and band performances,” the organization explains. “We seek to provide positive and supportive role models for campers though interaction and participation by volunteers who will share their experiences as women involved in some form of making music.”

Ensure this important self-esteem building (and future rock star-generating) organization rolls along into the future by donating here.

And, calling all ladies! Ladies Rock Camp is a fundraiser for GRC that also benefits us big girls. “At this intensive weekend-long workshop, women ages 19-99 will follow a program similar to what the girls do at our summer camp: learn an instrument, form a band, write a song and perform it – in just three days,” according to GRC. Oh man. My dream band The Lavender Wigs could finally come true! Who’s ready to jam?

Did you know …

  • Chicago rock journalist, musician and all-around awesome sauce Jessica Hopper published Girls’ Guide to Rocking? Consider it a book companion to girl rock camps.
  • In Sweden, the government funds its girls-only music school dubbed Ella Rock?
  • The greatest female musicians (and other lady artists) of our time have been chronicled in Venus Zine for the past 16 years?

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