gender

The surprising connection between posture, confidence and happiness, and why girls need to take a cue.

Now, I know this post deviates from my usual content, but I think this is something that girls need to hear. So listen up ladies!

I want you to think back to the last self defense class you took. What was the first and often times, most important piece of advice they gave you? To walk like you own the place.

tumblr_m9qu14w2Z21qi0ofuo1_500

Tyra Banks style. (Don’t worry, you can do so in full clothing.)

Why is that? Well, it’s because when you walk with purpose which includes standing straight, you give out the vibe that you’re confident, happy and in control. Therefore, you’re not an easy target to any predator. But it’s not only about giving out that vibe to other people. When you stand up straight, your body is more open and you take up more room which unconsciously tells your mind that you are worth the space.

Just think about it. We spend so much of our day slumped over in a chair, inevitably working on something that really isn’t that important, all while jeopardizing our happiness. When you’re slumped in a chair, your body naturally feels more enclosed, small and overall less happy. According to Amy Cuddy  (check out her wildly interesting TED Talk here), when you change your position from one of shame (low power) to one of pride (high power), you are actually changing the hormones in your body. Testosterone, which is considered the power hormone, is released when you simply open yourself up and take up more space.

Screen-Shot-2013-04-17-at-4.50.28-PM  Screen-Shot-2013-04-17-at-4.50.09-PM  Screen-Shot-2013-04-17-at-4.49.49-PM  
It’s all in how you present yourself. 

Posture is one of those things that people ignore so often, but it can offer great insight to tapping further into someone. For example, I’m a shorty, and so when I tell people that I’m really only 5’2, they’re always surprised. It’s usually followed by, “but you don’t look like a short person.” What does that even mean? How does someone “look” short? What I think they are trying to get at is that I carry myself with pride and confidence. I take up the space around me, because I know I am worth it. I walk the streets as if they are a runway, because they are. They’re the runway of my life. Because of that, I look taller and my presence seems larger than it actually is… all because I stand up straight.

Just think about it. Why would you go around being slumped over, putting out negative energy to the world if you could walk around owning it?

As women, we tend to revert to these demure and restricted poses. We hide our bodies and don’t like the attention put on us, so we slouch to try and become less noticeable. It’s instinct and it’s hard to escape. But it’s important to recognize that standing tall is important because it affects the way others perceive you. Men are more likely to take up the space they know they deserve and I think it’s about time that women start doing the same.

The benefits much outweigh the costs. Increased posture leads to increased confidence, power and happiness (not to mention it’s great for your spine). So, walk heart forward, head up, confidently into the direction of your greatest dreams.

Make sure and keep this in mind while reading my next post. Predators don’t prey on those who look like they will give a fight. #confidence 

Violence Against Women: Why Should Men Care?

April is sexual assault awareness month. It’s sad to think that I didn’t know that until this year, but hey, it’s never too late to learn (after all, at least one more person is aware!). The reason I now know this is because I had the pleasure of listening to Jackson Katz, who is recognized as one of America’s leading anti-sexist male activists, talk about how violence against women is also a men’s issue. His talk that he gave to various members of the student body here at AU was loosely based off of his TED Talk, Jackson Katz: Violence against women—it’s a men’s issue and provided a unique viewpoint on violence against women- one that I had never heard or pondered.

If there was one main thing that he wanted to get across to those who attended his talk, it was that it enrages him that violence against women has, “been seen as a women’s issue that some good men help out with” because he believes that, “calling gender violence a women’s issue is part of the problem”. By calling sexual assault and violence against women a women’s issue solely, he believes that it gives men an excuse to not pay attention. Even here at AU, his belief was held true. When you look at who attended his talk, the majority were women. Not only that, but even though all Greek organizations were required to have at least 70% of their organization in attendance or else they would be faced with a fine, only two fraternities of thirteen on campus met the requirement, while almost every sorority did. (I guess now I know which frats to avoid). This is part of the issue: gender violence is a problem that affects both men and women, yet it is viewed as “unmanly” to actively support women in the effort to alleviate said violence. Every man has a mother and grandmother. Some have sisters. Eventually, most will have wives. We can’t coexist on this planet without members of the opposite sex, so it baffles me that in 2014, there is still gender inequality and patriarchal dominance that reigns superior in our society.

Image

April is sexual assault awareness month.

But what can we do? There’s still work to be done and it all starts with taking action instead of only taking interest, so I’ll leave you with this idea from Katz.

“There’s so many men who care deeply about these issues, but caring deeply is not enough. We need more men with the guts, with the courage, with the strength, with the moral integrity to break our complicit silence and challenge each other and stand with women and not against them.”

What do you think about this topic? Should more men be challenged to stand up for women or is it too ingrained in their minds to put women down? How can we begin to make positive changes to help the genders become more equal? Is this even possible?

*If this interests you, make sure and check out my post about AU and EI and how sexual assault plays a part in the whole debacle.

Why the Selfie Revolution Has Actually Helped Women

To selfie or not to selfie, that is always the question.

So, you might have heard. Selfie was the Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year for 2013. However, it’s been around longer than you may think. It all started with MySpace back in the early 2000’s, when you needed a profile picture of you, and only you, so that your “friends” could find you easily. Early 2000 selfies can include but are not limited to awkward early teenage years, bathroom mirrors (don’t forget about the flash reflected in the mirror) and ancient looking cell phones (a Razr or Chocolate if you were cool). However, when Facebook came into the mix and wiped out MySpace, selfies nearly vanished as well. On Facebook, the informal idea was to post photos of yourself, taken by someone else, or to post photos of you and your friends. But with the introduction and popularization of Instagram in late 2010, selfies returned and have evolved to be even bigger than ever anticipated.

Image 

Ellen’s famous Oscar selfie

In today’s world, we are bombarded by pictures. We float between checking our Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat (selfie city right there) and are constantly stimulated by an exciting, yet deceiving online world. With the introduction of Instagram and Snapchat, selfies became an everyday activity, both privately and publicly.

So, my question is: Is the rise of the selfie into everyday life positively or negatively impacting our culture, specifically for women?

Common arguments like to suggest that taking selfies come from our culture becoming more narcissistic. An article from the Associated Press, for example, points out that, “Beverly Hills, Calif., psychiatrist Carole Lieberman sees narcissism with a capital N. ‘The rise of the selfie is a perfect metaphor for our increasingly narcissistic culture. We’re desperately crying out: Look at me!’” But I don’t see it that way.

Image

Kim Kardashian: AKA selfie Queen

Taking a cue from Starbucks, the way I see it is that people are using selfies to document the everyday things that happen in life instead of only taking photos at parties, vacations or other “special events”. I mean, when I look back to the pictures of my first year of college, I can honestly say that about 80% are saved snapchats. Of those snapchats, 90% are selfies either of me or my friends. But how special is that? Now, because taking selfies has become so commonplace, it’s socially acceptable to snap a picture of yourself, well, anywhere. We now have recorded evidence of everything: from that run (okay, it was more of a walk, but we can call it a run) that you took yesterday to the scrumptious milkshake you inhaled after said run, we have selfie proof that it happened. But even better than that, another important thing has happened in the selfie revolution, and that is that the emphasis has moved from girls posting pictures of their bodies to posting pictures of their faces. Instead of posting photos of our bodies, sexualizing ourselves for men to ogle us and women to envy us, we are posting our beautiful faces. Who cares if we are duck lipping it (a personal fave) or if we put a filter on it? We are reclaiming the idea that we hold more beauty in our faces than our bodies. Our faces tell a story of where we’ve been and who we are, whether that’s through the dimple in your cheek or the lines on your forehead from when you frown.

Image 

Even Mona Lisa takes selfies 

So, I say take all the selfies you want! We have the power each and everyday to choose how we view the world. You can view selfies as a self centered thing saying, “look at me” or you can choose to understand that there’s more to a selfie than what meets the eye. Take Cancer Research UK for example, who took the selfie fad as an excuse to promote cancer research and inner beauty by having women post selfies with the hashtag #nomakeupselfie. By promoting selfies and teaching young girls that it’s okay to be confident in themselves and take selfies and be proud of the people they are, then we are helping to raise a generation of women who believe that they are enough. We are teaching them that they are not their bodies and that by controlling the way in which the picture is taken, everyone can feel confident and happy with having their picture taken. When we have a generation of women who gravitate towards cameras instead of shying away from them, that’s when I will know that we’ve done our job in creating a generation of women who are happy, confident and understand their worth, both in front of and behind the camera. Until then, keep taking those selfies.

Of course, I couldn’t write this without including my own selfie. So alas, here you go.

Image

Me at the top of the Empire State building in NYC… couldn’t pass up the opportunity! 

How do you view selfies? Are they empowering, a fad, or just downright ridiculous? I’d love to know what you think! 

UPDATE: This post was featured on Feminspire, so check it out here!

How Girls View the World

Remember in this post when I said that there’s still work to be done in regard to the evolution of the word sexy? Well, what I mean by that is that unfortunately, we are still living in a world that begins sexualizing girls from a young age. With girls, we tend to idolize their appearance as the first, and often, only thing to value about them. Think about the last interaction you had with a young girl. I too am guilty of commenting on how cute they look or how I like their outfit, and it wouldn’t shock me if you do too. The issue with this though, is that when you flip it around and remember your last encounter with a little boy, I’d be willing to bet that their appearance didn’t come up as a topic of conversation.

Lisa Bloom’s article titled, How to Talk to Little Girls is really what called this to my attention. She suggests that, “teaching girls that their appearance is the first thing you notice tells them that looks are more important than anything.” And it’s true. This happens every day, where unconsciously, we are creating a generation of girls whose self worth is wrapped up in their appearance. The world is a changing place, and is even vastly different than when I was in the midst of developing the first stage of my self worth around ten years ago. But with the introduction and widespread phenomena of social media and the yearning to constantly be connected, parents now have less control over the images and messages their children are seeing. This is especially important to think about in regard to what young girls are seeing in today’s media. But as I briefly touched on in this post, sex sells everything. So undoubtedly, the idea of what is sexy, hot, and attractive to men is ingrained in the minds of young children, specifically girls, practically since birth. And what’s worse? Since these are the only images they’ve seen, they don’t see anything wrong with them. They aren’t taught to believe that intelligence is sexy because all they see are women being used for their bodies.

aa-racy-shoe-ad-1

Women of all different shapes, sizes and ethnicities are rarely celebrated, instead we usually get a very thin, white woman.

images

What this does is creates a false reality of what beauty and sexiness is. It urges young girls to feel the need to fit a certain mold, and when they don’t, it perpetuates unhealthy attitudes toward themselves. Our outlook on what is “normal” is totally skewed, and the problem lies in the fact that even if we are willing to acknowledge that, we still unconsciously feel the pressure to conform. And it’s not just an issue that young girls face. Women who are 12, 20 and all the way up to 50 (I’m talking three or four generations within a family) are all striving to look like the woman who is in the ad. And you know what the problem with that is? Even the woman in the ad doesn’t look like the woman in the ad. Madonna and Britney come to mind here, specifically.

screen-shot-2010-10-11-at-22-11-41

screen-shot-2010-10-11-at-22-14-43

It’s difficult to change on a macro scale, so for now, all I’m suggesting is to become aware, because that’s always the first step in change. Understand that how you interpret and display your own sense of sexy may be, but doesn’t have to be different than what’s advertised. And I’m not saying that what’s being advertised isn’t a reality for a select few or that if that’s how you choose to interpret sexy for yourself that that’s a bad thing. All I want is for you to come to that conclusion on your own. I want you to feel liberated by the power you hold within yourself, and I don’t want that to be torn down by the images that are so common today.