What does an Author of a book about teen dating violence know about a HUGE life?
Plenty more than you might guess. But the old saying goes? A picture tells a thousand words.
This photo of me was taken roughly one year after the relationship that is the subject of my memoir, Tornado Warning, had ended.
At the end of my relationship I was just over 100 pounds. One year later I was approaching 170.
During that time of self-discovery many years ago, I can safely say there were ZERO shows on TV that I could relate to physically or emotionally, and absolutely no magazines that helped me process my changing body or the pain I had suffered. As I remember it? That was a lonely time.
As a member of the Actionist Network® a community of professionals committed to creating a nation of confident women and girls, I am dedicated to, among other things, finding media sources that represent life…
REAL life that is. What’s a “Pseudo Life?” you may be thinking. Of course all lives are real.
But more times than not what is depicted for us as viewers of Television and Big Screen is a small view. Kind of like looking into a telescope backward? Things get narrow and really far away.
Now we all know Hollywood is the Entertainment Capital, (key word ‘entertainment’) do the producers of TV shows and Movies have a responsibility to bring us true to life story lines? And if they do…Will we watch?
A number of months ago I was at a meeting where the keynote speaker (and my wonderful friend,) Jess Weiner, asked the following question to a group of kids:
“If we can get a producer to bring you the REAL deal…will you watch?” As I looked around the room all the heads were bobbing “YES.”
So here we go…ready or not? Here it comes!!!
will make its series premiere on Monday, June 28 at 9/8c, on ABC
“ABC FAMILY is proud to announce “Huge,” a new one-hour drama premiering this year. Here’s the scoop. “Huge” is a new drama about one life changing experience at a weight-loss camp for teens. Funny, heartbreaking and provocative, “Huge” follows the lives of both the campers and the staff, as they look beneath the surface to discover their true selves and the truth about each other. It’s funny, heartbreaking, and provocative — just like life.”
Perspective from a Teen! Listen to what Emily-Anne thinks about HUGE…
AS for me? I think Emily-Anne is AMAZING!
I welcome you to join the conversation too.
What do you think of a show with a focus on over weight kids discovering who they are?
Do you plan to watch?
If you could write a real story for a TV show, what would it be about?
Sisterhood, when experienced in its purest and truest form, is beautiful. When I came across the following post written by my new friend Melanie I felt a sense of kindred spirit. I knew I truly wanted to share her story and hope it will resonate with anyone who visits. Please read more from her at Feminist Fatale
Friendships are sacred. Time is short. Cherish the richness this life offers by gathering together in friendship. -Enjoy, Elin
Sisterhood is (Still) Powerful
written by Melanie Klein
Originally posted at Elephant Journal
Sisterhood, the Divine Feminine and Magic Making…in the Joshua Tree Highlands.
What do you get when you take 12 women of different ages, races, sizes and socioeconomic classes and place them in a large dome in the desert? No, this isn’t a pitch for yet another reality show or a tabloid headline. But if it was, the answer would be “catfight!”
After all, according to the most prolific genre of television today and the looming tabloids that greet us at every check-out counter, girls and women are competitive, back-stabbing, smack-talking “mean girls.” You know, those bitchy girls who don’t have friends but have plenty of “frenemies” that they keep under close scrutiny as they vie for the same prize, namely male attention…as a barometer of self-worth.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not just the toxic pop culture environment that we’re all swimming in (whether we like it or not) that unfairly portrays girls and women in this superficial way. Truth be told, I’ve had my fair share of bad experiences with women over the years. Those experiences left enough of a bad taste in my mouth that I’d proudly proclaim in my snarky Valley girl way, “I’m not friends with girls. All girls are bitches. I’m just friends with guys.”
I felt privileged and cool to be part of the “boys club.”
And then I stepped into a Women’s Studies class and learned a few things about patriarchy, misogyny and the consistent devaluing of the feminine. I had to ask myself, “what it does it mean to unfairly judge and ultimately hold disdain for other women as a woman myself?” Upon closer inspection, I recognized my own internalized oppression and the ways in which I had come to believe and play out the divisive script. With this realization, I opened myself up to authentic female friendships, friendships that could transcend shopping dates and conversations about men. Through the course of my twenties, those women found me and I found them.
While these friendships nourished me (and continue to do so), I needed more to heal the psychic wounds that taught me to criticize women and view the feminine as less valuable than masculinity and membership in the boy’s club.
In 1994, I discovered the work of Rianne Eisler and Marija Gimbutas, women who influenced feminist spirituality and neopaganism with their examination of pre-Christian goddess cultures. Discovering these authors and their examination of the sacred feminine reaffirmed by own value and worth in a deep and profound way. While my blossoming yoga practice was transformative and healing on multiple levels, the spiritual lineage was, and is, male-dominated—leaving me (and many other women) to wonder “where are the women?” Do we have to match mainstream standards of perfection to garner recognition and visibility?
Eventually my journey led me to Nita Rubio, a teacher that integrates a critical examination of patriarchy, feminist spirituality and the divine feminine in a movement modality. I had finally found the forum that addressed all my points of concern and inquiry for the previous decade. I’ve studied with Nita for five years, and it has been the sacred female-only space that she cultivates and nurtures that has allowed me to continue to extract patriarchy’s hold on my mind, body, spirit—and female relationships.
And so last Thursday I left Los Angeles and sped through the smoggy Inland Empire to reach my destination, a dome house on five acres in the Joshua Tree Highlands to commune with 11 other women for the next four days. What ensued was not a reality show in the making, replete with mean girl battles and cat fights. Led by Nita, we basked in one another and the land with intention and devotion.
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This is the written text from my video response “Why did you stay?”
It has taken me years to get to the point where I could openly address the violence I endured as a late teen. Of course people within my inner circle learned after my life careened off the road like an out of control speeding car, my family, my friends they were my 911 call. They learned that for years I had been cloaked in a veil of silence. They learned that in reality I had been a victim of an out of control situation, and they learned that I had been powerless against the fast moving dynamic called the cycle of violence. That is what it is like, abuse, the never ending wreck; twisted metal, dented emotions, broken glass.
Have you ever been in a car accident? If you have and were fortunate enough to be conscious after or better yet-walk away, then you know what it is like standing on the side of the road like a doll propped in a display case for all the passerby’s to stare at? You see it on their faces as their own metal box with wheels drifts past… “What happened?” Their expressions ask “Was she speeding?” their hooded eyes question. “Ew check out the upside down car…” their fingers point. As the parade of on-lookers disappears you can almost hear the relief “thank goodness it wasn’t me.” Yet there you are standing on the side of a road, a victim of an event where all control was lost feeling as if droplets of blame were showered on you by passersby.
A situation that in the beginning gave you a false sense of security, after all there you are in your cocoon of safety, but miles down the road later you are rendered trapped, helpless, seat-belted, hands on the wheel, no traction under your feet swerving from one side of the road to the other and within moments, in a flash…you are upside down suspended in a moment of paralyzing fear. But then you wonder-will the car explode if I remain here? Better get moving and somehow against all odds you manage to get free of the harness, then on hands and knees navigate despite the trembling that takes over, unroll the window and crawl through to safety only to discover the contents of your very life, quite literally, scattered all over the parkway.
“How did I get here…” you hear yourself ask.
I am asked it over and over again like a broken record; “Why didn’t you just leave him? What made you stay? Seriously, the first time he laid a finger on you…why did you not just pick up your stuff and GO?”
Every time I am asked that question it resonates with blame, do you know that I am rarely asked why he beat me? What drove him to strangle me, swing an ax at me, come within inches of driving over me, attempt to stab me, beat me, rape me, and emotionally snuff me out…most people don’t ask “why did he do that to you.”
Of course it is important to understand why I did not leave the first time, the second time, the third, or the thousandth time, or what to me felt like the millionth time…so I will tell you: I was afraid. He told me he would kill me, kill himself, kill my family, and kill our dog. And I believed him.
I believed him until I really realized I was hanging upside down from that harness called a seatbelt and somehow I was lucky to be alive. Until that time I realized that if I didn’t try to crawl to safety I quite possibly would be killed. That if I did not even try to push the button to release myself I would never know. So I did, and I am eternally grateful that I started by crawling, lifted myself to walking, found the strength to run. And ultimately stopped running and faced my demons beginning with him. I will not let you do this to me ever again. I lived, women have died, girls have died…I know I am fortunate.
So the next time you meet a survivor of abuse try it—ask them; “Why did he beat you?” I guarantee you that person standing in front of you will for perhaps the first time hear no blame in the question, no finger pointing at the victim. We need a shift in how we look at this syndrome called domestic violence and in my estimation that shift is to look at why a batterer is violent—and second, get them the help they so desperately need. I have forgiven him, I have forgiven myself, and in that forgiveness the desire to make a difference was born.
In Maureen Dowd’s Op-Ed Column at The NY Times titled Their Dangerous Swagger she brings to light the abhorrent behavior of a group of boys who all attend an elite private school in Maryland called Landon. The reader will learn that collectively the boys gathered together and formed a “Fantasy Football Style Draft” in what turns out to be a predatory game targeting entering high school freshman girls.
Girls ages 14 and 15 targets of a predatory game? Has the world gone mad? The purpose of the game was to select girls that fit a particular description, draft them to a fantasy team, and later invite them to a party where the individual boys would manipulate them emotionally in order to have their way sexually-which depending on what they managed sexually-would earn them points.
Based on the article it is clear that these boys spent time mapping out the details of this highly offensive game. Details from how many points for each base they landed to “schmoozing” with the parents. From where I sit that is pre-meditated sexual assault of the worst kind.
Let’s look at the school. Landon is an elite school for boys whose “ABOUT US” tab on their website states the following:
“Landon School is an independent, non-sectarian day school for boys in Grades 3-12, that prepares talented boys for productive lives as accomplished, responsible and caring men whose actions are guided by the principles of perseverance, teamwork, honor and fair play.”
“Actions,” interesting choice of words given the age old axiom; “Actions Speak Louder than Words.” Apparently the actions of these boys are not fostered by the “honor” and “fair play” portions of the description but they certainly have the “teamwork” component down. Their team that is, which leads me to the murky waters of the “Good Old Boys Club”
The good old boys club, we have all heard of it, many of us have experienced it… that houseless fraternity and yuck it up bond that exists between certain men. The “I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine” sort of behavior that for years has run boardrooms, governments, and homes. It is high time that the men who do not subscribe to this reprehensible mentality stand up and say, “ I do not belong to your macho culture.” The only way we can begin to stop horrific acts of violence against women, is to spotlight men and boys who are wedded to a different perspective. An outlook that embraces women as equals and looks to collaborate rather than tear down.
There are plenty of them out there too…we need to begin highlighting boys who truly understand ethics and character. We need to spotlight men who are disgusted by this macho mentality that only serves small mindedness. And for goodness sake we have got to start saying as a society that people may not hide behind a code of silence that is spurred on by gender based cardinal rules. Rules whose actions lead to a silence is golden mentality.
The Landon school has words all over their website that claim they are feeding the minds of boys to “work together to eliminate all forms of disrespect.” Really? The world is watching and candidly the cop-out response of the administration to protect their elite class of boys and fall back on their curriculum which boasts of “an extensive ethics and character education program which includes as its key tenets respect and honesty.,“ is a joke. Furthermore when Jean Erstling, the director of communications at Landon, is quoted in Maureen Dowd’s article she states; “Civility toward women is definitely part of that education program.”
Well Ms. Erstling I’d say your school is failing because what these boys did is anything but civil. If the consequences for the boys who created their fantasy game did not include expulsion then one could surmise that Landon is harboring the opposite of what you claim.
Hats off to Maureen Dowd who closes with “Young men everywhere must be taught, beyond platitudes, that young women are not prey.”
What a sad testimony that something as basic as a girls right to be seen as a human being worthy of respect, needs to be taught.
Lines…there are picket lines, fence lines, lines to wait in, lines to pull, lines to cross and lines to walk. And yes there are also…lines of age. Age lines are covered with foundation, soaked with moisturizer, erased via injection, surgeries, and in short are the recipients of countless dollars spent. Preserving youth…preserving is in fact a way of halting time…what really does it look like when time halts?
The images of my husband Jimmy’s parents flash before my eyes. His dad was 48 when he died of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease.) We never met, I’m guessing he’d cash in a few wrinkles to have skipped ALS and a life cut short. He missed all his kids graduate from college, get married, and have their children. He will forever be 48 therefore ageless in the many photographs that capture his incredible joy. Jimmy’s mom, died in a car accident, she was 56…I guarantee she would take a face like Georgia O’Keefe for the privilege of loving her many grandchildren, her own children, their spouses, the sweet man she married years after Jimmy’s dad died, and her many friends. Halting time means it is stopped, over, done.
My birthday month is in the rear view mirror… forty seven…like a little kid I count the years out-loud and yell “47!” to the empty house.
Before my birthday a friend asked me was I bugged by my birthday…
“How does it feel? I mean really 50 is in the headlights…does it bug you just a little?”
“Oh come on…it must bug you somewhat…”
“You know…when I turned 40 it was a bit surreal but now with 50 out there I feel really OK with it. I actually just feel like embracing the whole journey.”
“Right.” I knew he really didn’t believe me…(mental note to self: remind Jimmy how he is the best most loving man in the entire world and I am grateful daily that we bumped into each other, fell in love, and are now married for 15 plus years!)
But what I said to my friend was:
“Seriously? Consider the alternative, no birthdays?”
I won’t suffer in my aging, I just plain refuse. Don’t want to go there. I have had my years of self loathing over body image. I already fought that war…there were battles lost, but in more ways battles won. Age 47 has been fully celebrated, mint-chocolate-chip-ice-cream-cake eaten, presents opened and utilized, hugs and kisses happily received, cards read, phone messages heard, Facebook messages read,…I say thank you and bring it on.
The lines on my face mark the time…the fissures of these lines harbor the story of my living…the journey is quite thankfully still afoot and is made more complete by my messy past that, like a rainbow, stretches over my temporarily un-hunched shoulders.
I will take my friends the “crows’ feet” that share with the world the joie de vivre, and I will make peace with the lines caused from pursing my lips, even though they remain admittedly much less attractive then the lips of my youth. I am now way more forgiving of myself, and as I head toward the second semester of my life I simply feel grateful.
I will celebrate that I have a child that just turned 23 alongside my own 47, I will celebrate that his brother and sister are 14 and 12, I will celebrate that I married my best friend, I will celebrate family and friends, and I will celebrate the health we share today.
I am armed with great family, friends, and community. Of course there are also; moisturizers, tweezers, tubes of sun block, hair cuts with color, and great wines. With open arms I have stepped over the aging line and I’ll take every single birthday I can get…