Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Life-sized Barbie...I don't think so.

Today's post goes along with some of the previous posts. I'm putting a news article below for your review. And, please, check out the accompanying picture. The article is from April 2011 and examines the reality of Barbie's dimensions in the real world.


CBS) For generations of young women, Barbie has been larger than life. But when Galia Slayen, a Hamilton College student who once battled an eating disorder, tried to make an actual life-size Barbie, she was shocked at the result - a freakish woman with pencil-thin legs, breasts that threatened to topple her over, and a body mass index (BMI) that would put her squarely in the anorexia camp.
"If Barbie were an actual woman, she would be 5'9" tall, have a 39" bust, an 18" waist, 33" hips and a size 3 shoe," Slayen wrote in the Huffington Post. "She likely would not menstruate... she'd have to walk on all fours due to her proportions."
Slayen estimates Barbie would weigh 110 pounds and have a BMI of 16.24. She based her numbers on the book "Body Wars" by Dr. Margo Maine, and readily admits the doll's head, hands and some other features are not to scale.
"The goal of Barbie is to get just get people's attention," Slayen told CBS News. Eating disorders are "very prevalent and not talked about. It's sensationalized in the media every time a star loses weight, but this is a very internal struggle."
Slayen's own struggle started when she was 15 in Portland, Ore. She battled pressures at school to look and act a certain way and her relationship with her parents was so troubled that she obtained legal separation (emancipation) from them.
"I was living on my own and trying to figure out how I was going to survive," she said. "My life was completely out of control and it was the one thing I was able to control - the hours at the gym, the calories I was in-taking. It's a means to control your life."
"This is a young woman who has fought through this disorder and now has a voice to fight for other women," says Marisa Sherry, a registered dietitian in New York who specializes in eating disorders. 
Sherry says the proportions of Slayen's life-size Barbie are cause for concern.
"A BMI of under 17 is considered underweight or anorexic," she tells CBS News. "That puts you at high risk for negative side effects like osteoporosis, amenorrhea (not being able to menstruate) and low heart rate."
As many as 10 million Americans are now struggling with eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia, according to the National Eating Disorder Association. A recent study found that teens are hit hard - as many as 500,000 have had an eating disorder. People with eating disorders are at high risk for depression, suicide and substance abuse. The condition can lead to sudden death.
"There are so many misconceptions," says Slayen. "Eating disorders are are not a choice. They are not a thing of vanity. They are disease and they are really serious."
Slayen says she's not mad at Barbie, which she played with as a child, but wasn't "obsessed" over. She says she first built the life-size Barbie as part of National Eating Disorder Awareness Week when she was in high school and is now showing her off at college where she is studying China and government. Slays says she recently raised more than $10,000 for the cause and wants insurance companies and the federal government to take notice. 
"A lot of insurance companies don't cover eating disorders," she says. "They don't see this is not a choice."

 I think the above picture demonstrates the effect media, our environment, the expectations humans try to meet around body size. As a friend so eloquently said in one of her comments to my previous post, issues around eating are significant to most people. While those with "disordered eating" have taken those norms, expectations, etc to another level, I think the Yoplait ad I previously posted and some of the toys, television shows, and the like reinforce similar belief systems, especially in young girls and women.

Importantly, I do believe men have expectations as well (some of the toys we provide them I believe are equally harmful).

On an opposing hand, I am a big supporter of the below types of advertisements. Why don't we see more of them?

And, many of you have likely seen this, but I appreciate the reality of the situation coming out in the below advertisement.  Let's get real--the end product doesn't exist. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Update: Domestic Violence Law REPEALED in Topeka

It's official, facing budget cuts, the misdemeanor domestic violence law in Topeka, Kansas has been repealed.

We all can do something about this. We need to take a stand. Calling is most effective, fax is next, then email.

There was a small protest at the courthouse during which one individual threw dice at the podium stating that the government was playing roulette with the lives of survivors.

They need our help!

Rita Smith, E.D. of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence
William W. Bunten, Mayor of Topeka, 785-368-3895, voice 785-368-3850 fax
City Council Office. 707-368-3710 (phone). 785-368-3909 (fax)
As soon as I get names, I will let you know.
Shawnee County District Attorney Chad Taylor
785-268-3710 (phone)
Dan Stanley, Interim City Manager, the City Council delegated power to him to take action.
Phone: 785-368-3724

'Anna Rexia': The Minimization of Eating Disorders

Recently my attention has been drawn to eating disorders and the entertainment value that has been placed on them. Specifically, I found the below Halloween costume:

The costume is not only sexualizing an eating disorder, but even more, the name of the costume is "Anna Rexia". Wow!

And recently I found out about an ad that Yoplait yogurt pulled after receiving criticism based on its promotion of eating disorders.

Minimizing such a serious issue is troublesome for me. The constant notion that women should be concerned about their bodies has led many to take extreme measures in order to meet societal norms of thinness. In both of these cases, eating disorders are made unimportant and insignificant. Particularly, with the costume, the matter becomes laughable--which it clearly is not.  And, let's not forget, that as with many halloween costumes for women, the sex appeal remains. So, not only are we minimizing a serious health condition, but we're making it sexy and funny.  What in the world?

I did a quick google search of pro-ana (anorexia) and pro-mia (bulimia) websites. A plethora of things were brought up including the term "thinspiration".  Essentially, these sites reject the idea of Anorexia Nervosa or Bulimia as eating disorders. And thinspiration signifies a term referring to role models individuals, typically with eating disorders, use to inspire themselves to lose weight.

Eating disorders are not something, in my opinion, to be sexualized or humorized.  If you, or someone you know, is struggling with body image or an eating disorder, there are websites and organizations that you can check out.

National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA)
Eating Disorder Center of Denver (EDC-D)
Eating Disorder Organization List

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Domestic Violence Awareness Month--Events in Longmont, CO

I know some people who read this blog aren't living in Colorado. With that said, though you may be unable to attend this film series, I highly recommend the films being shown as part of Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

For those in Colorado, perhaps you want to take part in this film series.

L.E.V.I. and Safe Shelter of St. Vrain Valley are putting on a Domestic Violence Film Series. There are three movies. The dates are below:

Tuesday, October 11, 2011 @ the Longmont Public Library showing Telling Amy's Story
     This film is hosted by actress and activist Mariska Hargitay, and told by detective Deirdri Fishel. Telling Amy's Story follows the timeline of a domestic violence homicide that occurred on November 8, 2011 in Pennsylvania.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011 @ the Longmont Senior Center showing Dear Zachary
     Shortly after his best friend, Dr. Andrew Bagby, was slain by his jealous ex-girlfriend, Dr. Shirley Turner, filmmaker Kurt Kuenne was shocked to learn that Turner ws pregnant with Bagby's unborn child. Hoping to create a film that would serve as both a memorial to Bagby and an introduction to the father the boy would never know, Kuenne quickly began production on a film celebrating the life of his late friend.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011 @ the Longmont Public Library showing We Thought They Were Sleeping
     More than three million children in the United States witness domestic violence each year. These young people literally grow up in a "climate of fear." Tragically, many hold themselves responsible for the violence. The final evening of this film series will help viewers see domestic violence through the eyes of our youngest victims, children. We'll be showing two short films on the impact of domestic violence on children.

All three evenings will have a moderated discussion following the movies and each film showing will be from 7:00-8:30pm.

For more information visit OR call 303-774-4534

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Ridiculous! Topeka, Kansas Considers Decriminalizing Domestic Violence

A couple of days ago the Topeka, Kansas City Council debated whether or not to decriminalize domestic violence. I know, I know. Just ridiculous. I'm so angry.

On Sept. 8, facing a 10% budget cut, Shawnee County District Attorney Chad Taylor announced he would no longer prosecute misdemeanor cases, including domestic battery (what?!?), at the county level.  At the City Council meeting recently, a proposed change has been made that would repeal the part of code that bans domestic battery (what?!?).

The problem? No one can decide who should be prosecuting the cases of domestic battery--whether it should be taken to municipal court or district court, and who pays for it? The thought process by the city is that by NOT repealing the ban the county won't let DV go unpunished in Topeka and will be forced to pick up the cases.

So, what message is being sent? Domestic violence is unimportant and insignificant. Great. Just great.  Here we have a county which stopped prosecuting DV crimes a month ago and a city which is seriously considering legalizing the crime.  The major issue: everyone professes to supporting punishment for DV, but they all want someone else to pay for it. It has been reported that the county DA has offered to continue prosecuting DVcases, for a one-time payment by the city.

And don't even think that this won't really have an impact. Domestic violence advocates in Topeka have already seen vulnerable people impacted. Since Sept. 8 when the county stopped prosecuting, more than 30 DVcases have been ignored. After being arrested and taken to jail, 16 people have been released when charges weren't filed.

Notably, during the City Council meeting, the public was urged to contact the city governing body and the district attorney’s office to share ideas on how to resolve the matter amicably. The City Council is expected to make a decision next week.

I simply can't believe this situation. Do people really think decriminalizing DV is a solution? I don't even think it should be an option. The fact that this is proposed as an option and so many cases have already been ignored/rejected is abominable. I seriously fear for the citizens of Topeka and the many individuals living with DV. Once again we allow money to impede work to stop a serious social problem. Money.

Check these out for more:

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Images to Consider

Last week I posted some advertisements demonstrating violence against women. This week, I'm posting some images/words I find inspirational and very often true.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Cell Phone Donations for Abuse Victims

Need another way to get involved this month...year around? It's easy. When you get a new phone (because so many of us want the newest, best, smartest phones) don't just throw away your old phone. It's okay to want a new phone--not a problem at all. But, help make change and improve the lives of others as you upgrade your plan.

Verizon does a couple of things to help end domestic violence. For example, they have what is called HopeLine. HopeLine is a project in which Verizon has teamed up with the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) on a listening tour. They're stopping in 8 different cities nationwide.

Additionally, HopeLine is Verizon's arm that collects no-longer-used phones and turns these into support for victims of abuse. Since HopeLine was launched in 2001, more than 8 million phones have been collected! Awesome! And, the Verizon Foundation also has a grant program which has given over $10 million cash grants to domestic violence organizations throughout the country.

The Journey of Hope occurring this month through Verizon has a Facebook page. Check it out, like it, and learn more about it.

Now, while I've focused on Verizon because I know it is actively involved in ending domestic violence, the other phone companies are also doing things to be active participants in our communities. Check out this website for a full listing of companies doing things. For example, AT&T has a program supporting the Troops. They've built a number of towers and provided pre-paid phone car services for soldiers abroad. The website talks about programs by Sprint, Virgin Mobile, Best Buy, Cricket, Phones for Food and more. All of these companies do things with cell phones that you no longer want.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Marchers Rally Against Domestic Violence

In honor of domestic violence awareness month, an article from the Detroit Free Press:

      They walked for a Shelby Township woman killed by her husband. A Detroit woman killed by her boyfriend. For a Grand Rapids police officer shot while breaking up an argument that turned violent. About 100 people marched in the streets of Detroit on Saturday, calling for an end to domestic violence. Some carried poster board silhouettes bearing the names and stories of victims.
      The goal, said organizers, was to remind Detroit that the epidemic of violence, especially against women, needs to be stopped. In 2009, there were 68,113 reported cases of domestic violence in Detroit, said Jaycee Memminger, a survivor of abuse and coordinator of the women's Flip the Script turnaround program at Goodwill Industries in Detroit. She said those are just the ones police know about."We know that most women don't call to report that it's going on in their houses," said Memminger.
      The walk, led by Detroit Police Chief Ralph Godbee Jr. during October's national Domestic Violence Awareness Month, went from New Center to Wayne State University and back."We don't want young people to think this is normal behavior," Godbee said. "Young people see that, and it becomes normal to them."
      Among the marchers were Marquise Alston, 21, and Shantonae Ellis, 18. The Detroiters said they sometimes see family violence in their neighborhood, and Alston said it's infuriating. He said it's hard to talk about it with the women in his life who may be victims of abuse because they get offended and defensive."It makes my blood boil, these fools out there doing this to women," Alston said. "It's a sensitive subject." 
Memminger said the key to turning domestic violence victims into empowered people is getting them away from their abusers and helping them develop their personal skills, be it managing money, learning computers or going back to school. 
      Eight women in one of her programs are in college, including Linda Conley, 56, who was abused by an older man she was in a relationship with when she was 14. Now, she's studying to be an addiction counselor. Conley said drug addiction fueled her lack of self-esteem, which made her vulnerable to an abusive man. She was beaten and sexually assaulted over the long-term relationship. She said she isn't seeing anyone now, but if she did, she'd have her boundaries set firm. "If we're in a relationship and you have to put your hands on me, we don't need to be together," she said.
A couple of awesome things going on here. First, its fantastic to see members of law enforcement on the front line of standing against crime and violence. They're not just there when on the job, but also as citizens of the community. Additionally, I love that young people, many who are directly impacted by crime and violence, are taking a stand and getting involved.  

The Detroit 300 is an organization dedicated to ending crime and violence. Check it out. This organization was heavily involved in the march.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Domestic Violence Awareness Month...It's Here!

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM)! Time to get involved! There are so many different things YOU can do to make a difference.  For example, for those of you in the Boulder, CO area, Safehouse Progressive Alliance for Nonviolence (SPAN) has a number of things going on throughout the month of October. Let me tell you about some of the different ways you can get involved with SPAN and truly work toward ending violence against women and girls.

1) SPAN Purple Ribbon Discount
    Reduced rates at local businesses through the month of October including 10% off at Thunderbird Burgers & BBQ, Absinthe House, and more!
    Ribbons are $10 each or 5 for $40. All you have to do to get your ribbon is contact:
call 303.449.8623
Super easy and not only do you help those in great need, but you get a discount on yummy food, too!

2) Dining to End Domestic Violence
A number of generous restaurants around Boulder have offered a percentage of their proceeds throughout the month of October. How cool is that? Please go on out to some of these places! Treat yourself and have a good time while simultaneously uniting with the Boulder county community to end domestic violence. The list of places and the days to visit them are below:  :

Double D's Sourdough Pizza, Oct 4
Giovanni's Pizza, Oct 11
Pica's Mexican Taqueria, Oct 12
Zamparelli's Italian Bistro, Oct 18
Foolish Craig's Cafe, Oct 19
Ben & Jerry's, Oct 19
Murphy's, Oct 24
Chili's, Oct 24

Look at all of these fabulous restaurants! I mean, really. I personally suggest double-dipping and going to Foolish Craig's for brunch followed by a short jaunt down to Ben & Jerry's on Pearl. So tasty! What a good Wednesday that would be, right?  Really, all of these restaurants are fantastic. If you haven't been to some of them, this month is a great time to try them out!

3) Make a Donation
If you'd like to contribute directly to SPAN there are 2 ways to go about it. First, you can write a check and mail it to them. Please make checks payable to:
SPAN (Safehouse Progressive Alliance for Nonviolence)
Mail your checks to:
835 North Street
Boulder, CO 80304
The second way you can make a donation is online. In the high-tech world we live in, I'm positive almost everyone reading this is super savvy and all you'll need to do is go through SPAN's website, here to make your donation. It involves a drop down menu and some fill-ins and you're good to go!

And, for those of you who are internet savvy check out the Colorado Coalition against Domestic Violence. They've got a number of things going on this month--and it's all virtual!

For those of you in Colorado Springs, check out the events TESSA has going on this month. There's tons!

Now, if you're not in Colorado, you still should become involved. It's still October where you are, right? That means Domestic Violence Awareness month for everyone.  Do a quick google search for domestic violence awareness month + your state and I'm sure you'll find events. Or, if you're near a university, see if there are any events being held there. Again, a google search for domestic violence awareness month + the university might bring up options.

I really encourage each of you, no matter where you are, to check out the Domestic Violence Awareness Project (DVAP) is fantastic!

Finally, a super easy way to make a difference is to pass on the word. If nothing else, send this blog post to others in your email list. Or, if you're in/around Boulder or Colorado, tell your friends and family about the restaurants around donating to end domestic violence.

It's so easy. Why not make a difference?

Let me know if you hear about other events this month. I'd love to post them (with thanks to you, of course!). And, if you participate in any of the above mentioned events or others that you find, let me know how they go!