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When I was 12 and again when I was 18, in the process of losing a significant amount of weight, I’d hear it a lot. “Wow, you’re so thin!” – “Your belly is so flat.” – “Your thighs got so much slimmer!” I’d beam upon hearing those words, but I didn’t know how to respond. I wondered how the person delivering the “compliment” expected me to respond. But I would quickly translate the comment to mean, “You look better / prettier / hotter / more worthy of my attention or affection.” Given that, the only way I could think to reply was with a genuine “Thank you so much!!!”

Every day, interactions like these have young girls and women on the fast-track to associating their weight with their worth. But at least now, there’s a growing conversation about the problem … specifically in Good Girls Don’t Get Fat by Robyn J.A. Silverman, Ph.D. Based on the dissertation she did at Tufts University, the book looks at the various forces that chip away at girls’ body image and explains to adults how they can best influence daughters, nieces, sisters, cousins, students to embrace varied body types and “thrive at any size.” While the book seems to primarily focus on the body image challenges facing adolescent girls and young women aged 16 to 21, I bet — for better or for worse — women of all ages can relate to the “Good Girls Don’t Get Fat” myth.

Below, a powerful trailer for the book that really drives that message home …

I love that Dr. Silverman doesn’t seem to think it’s fair to place the blame solely on anorexic actresses on primetime teen soaps and reality shows; damaging “Be/look/act skinny!” cover lines on magazine covers; Hollywood or even the fashion industry.  As she notes, we’re also to blame for our daughters’ and our mothers’, friends’, our sisters’, our daughter-in-laws’ poor body image and low self-esteem. So what can we do?

Today, tell a woman you love why she’s beautiful … inside. Tell her that she’s witty, she’s brave, she’s charming, she’s brilliant. She might just start to feel like a rock star.

“Girls who see themselves in terms of strengths, who feel supported by those they love and have come to a place of acceptance about their bodies, are the ones who flourish,” writes Dr. Silverman.

Are you flourishing?

 

 

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Image via Public Domain Photos/Flickr

 

Just now, I glimpsed over at the wax paper that just 5 minutes ago wrapped around half of a turkey on rosemary foccacia sandwich from Whole Foods. All that remains now is a sliver of avocado and some lone sprouts. I think I’ll eat it … OK, I just did. Mmmm. That was delicious.

I’m a little bit obsessed with avocados right now — more than I think I’ve ever been in my whole life. I refused to eat guacamole as kid. (I called it “Green Slime,” after the gunk that kids would get doused in on Nickelodeon’s You Can’t Do That On Television.)  Although I love it now, I’ve always kept it — and its plain counterpart — at an arm’s length.

Why? It has been pounded into my brain since I started “dieting” at the ripe old age of say, 10 or 11 years old, that it’s a big, fat no-no. You want to fit into your jeans? Pass on that nutty trail mix. Not a fan of cellulite? Skip the avocado in your salad. When you’re playing the straight-up, old-school diet numbers game — fat equals fat.

But I’m not playing that game anymore. I’ve learned that I have to focus now on eating healthy foods that mainly promote satiety. The best way to do this is by focusing on eating lean proteins, good fats and complex carbs with all of my meals and snacks.

Unsaturated fats do a particularly good job at increasing satiety, reducing hunger and minimally impacting blood sugar. In turn, eating them will stave off an awful feeling I know all too well: the blood sugar crash. It turns me into a wild-eyed, sugar-craving, brain foggy, eventually overeating and incredibly fatigued freak.

While it doesn’t mean that I’m slathering goat cheese and mayo on all my noshes now, I’ve had to quickly get over some of my fat fears. For instance, I’ve started to become less afraid of that avocado I love so much. Less afraid of a shmear of organic peanut butter on my super-duper healthy wheat and flaxseed toast in the morning. Or the handful of almonds as a snack.

Bonus: These once “scary” foods are actually dense in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats can actually lower your cholesterol and risk of heart disease.

 

Image via Maggie Hoffman/Flickr

 

I’ve also tended to steer clear of full-fat cheese until now. (Not that I would substitute it for the flavorless, un-meltable fat free kind. Yuck.) That left me in cheese-less limbo … until I realized that a little full-fat or slightly reduced fat cheese in my diet could help my health overall. The truth is, full-fat dairy goes a long way in keeping hunger at bay and even helping with muscle building, thanks to casein protein. Awesome. So, while I won’t be ordering Panera’s Signature Mac ‘n’ Cheese anytime soon (as tempting as it looks), I will throw a slice of sharp cheddar on my turkey sandwich.

Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if this diet change feels foreign to me for awhile. A little piece of me wonders if I’m going to regret pairing my apple with a slice of cheese. I’m trying not to wince when I see 17 grams of fat in 2 Tbsp. of almond butter. I know — crazy, right? But I’m also learning to trust myself more and know that I can handle these foods in small, waistline-friendly portions that can speed up my metabolism while keeping me satisfied. For those reasons — and not to mention the taste bud-related benefits — I’m slowly, but gladly devoted to getting over my fear of fat.

What about you — are you afraid of fat?

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Dan and I got back from vacation in San Francisco on Saturday. In addition to the amazing photographs, delicious food (Humphry Slocombe ice cream = nommm), scenic landscapes and unforgettable wine (Gundlach Bundschu = mmm), the trip also delivered serious peace of mind. One reason: I went to the Owning Pink Center as a patient of Dr. Lissa Rankin’s, who you may also know as the author of the book that comes out today (and which you should own ASAP!) What’s Up Down There? Questions You’d Only Ask Your Gynecologist If She Was Your Best Friend (St. Martin’s). See, the thing is, she actually is my very good friend. That’s just one reason why I wanted her to also be my doctor, because last month, I realized that I’ve been grappling with hormone-related symptoms for far too long…

Rewind to two days after my 27th birthday. My regular OB/GYN—who had ben a piece of cake to deal with when I was on the dreaded Pill—began to strike me as standoff-ish. Her in-and-out in 5 minutes flat attitude wasn’t going to cut it. I decided that I needed to sit down with someone wise, compassionate and interested in treating me holistically—as a whole person, not just a handful of acute symptoms. Enter Lissa.

This is one doctor who doesn’t wear a white coat and stand and preach while you sit and listen. On Thursday, Lissa wore a purple dress while we sat in her cozy office’s plush chairs and discussed my sex life, my stress level, my blood work and my fertility. It’s definitely easier to open up about all of these topics when your doctor is your friend. But even if she isn’t, you’d probably feel immediately at ease simply because her office is a warm, welcoming place.

We weren’t more than 20 minutes into our session—Lissa devotes an hour to each patient—when she looked at my labs that I had done in March with my NJ endocrinologist. “Wow, your TSH level!”

I said, “Wait, what?”

In the moment, I was so focused on Nonclassical Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia as the epicenter of all of my ailments that I couldn’t remember what TSH was. Lissa explained that it’s Thyroid-Stimulating Hormone, which the pituitary gland overproduces when the thyroid is sluggish in producing thyroxine, a metabolism-stimulating hormone. And while my levels are in the realm of what clinicians consider “normal,” Lissa noted that most people at my level tend to not feel very well.

Fatigue = not OK. (Image via obo-bobolina/Flickr)

Then, she asked me some follow-ups… How is my quality of sleep? I heard myself say, “Bad.” (Whoa, I thought to myself! I never really said that out loud before, but I guess my sleep isn’t really what I want it to be… I want to be able to fall asleep and stay asleep better. I told her this.) How is my skin? Combo/itchy sometimes, too. How is my energy level? Poor. I never met a nap I didn’t want to take. Just about any time of the day. I’m especially tired around 3 p.m. daily. And by the time I get home from work, I just want to throw myself on the couch. I’ve always chalked that up to stress, sitting all day at work, the wrong or nonexistent snacks perhaps. But, no, it’s more than that. Do I wake up feeling energized? Rarely. Have I had a ridiculously hard time trying to lose a small amount of weight? YES! Does anyone in my family have a history of thyroid problems? (It can be genetic.) Yes, yes, YES. My Grandma E, who I am pretty sure I take after biologically, was diagnosed with hypothyroidism at…get this…age 27!

Soon, Lissa concluded that yep, I’m symptomatic of hypothyroidism, or a sluggish, underactive thyroid. Treatment could get the gland chugging like it should, in turn, bolstering my energy. Not to mention the other symptoms… The thyroid and metabolism influence so many other body processes. In fact, hypothyroidism can prevent effective weight loss, cause weight gain, cause thinning of the hair, increased sensitivity to cold, muscle aches, dry skin, etc. I’d been wondering why I had been dealing with various symptoms – I had been wishing and hoping for answers. But none came, until I saw Lissa as a patient.

I read later that many people with thyroid problems don’t have any stand-out symptoms other than feeling “off” overall. So why isn’t it something that most doctors regularly look at or take into consideration more frequently? Why do numbers on lab work have to be astronomically high or deliriously low for them to do anything for us? Lissa explained that “normal” hormone levels are based on a given healthy population; most docs won’t treat you unless you’re in the lower 5th percentile or upper 95th percentile. But she’s found that patients may not feel very well when they’re on one side of the extreme (say, 60th-90th percentile). And they do fantastically with treatment.

Image via Son of Groucho/Flickr

I’m the opposite of Rx happy, but when Lissa suggested treating me with bioidentical (meaning the body can actually recognize the drug as identical to what the body produces) thyroid hormones, I could have shouted, “Sign me up!” It was like she found a missing puzzle piece, and I was stepping back to look at the completed masterpiece…

…Well, not quite. There’s still the NCAH, which I plan to work on with Lissa’s naturopath/partner, Lisa Brent, N.D. And other puzzle pieces that are floating out there. But I am confident now that I’ll find them, and that I have the support I need now to feel fully vital.

I’ve said it before, but I feel more strongly than ever now that we all deserve doctors who will will treat us as whole people, not just numbers on a chart. We deserve to be heard and to have our concerns validated. We deserve doctors who will look out for us as if they were our best friend. If that doesn’t describe your doctor, and you have concerns about any aspect of well-being … I strongly encourage you not to settle and to keep searching until you find the right doctor. She or he may help you find answers to questions that you didn’t know you’ve been asking all along.

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Nomm. Who needs Doritos?!

A few months ago, I tried making my own kale chips. Because my friend Lisa, who is an actress/health industry pro in L.A. and a fellow healthy foodie, swore up and down that they were absolutely delicious. And I’m always game to try a recipe that is delicious and healthy. But, lo and behold, I burned the heck out of my kale chips. I think I left them in the oven too long, or our oven just plain stinks.

But now, it doesn’t matter! I discovered that I can BUY kale chips that are really delicious! (See, they’re so awesome that I pretty much polished off this here bag to the left. All that remains are kale crumbs.) They’re made from kale and fresh dressing and that’s it. The Rhythm people say that they use a process called “air-crisping” to turn 16 oz. of leafy greens into a 2 oz. bag of kale chips.

As you can see, you can have your kale and eat it, too in “Kool Ranch,” as well as “Zesty Nacho” and “Bombay Curry.” Really, truly I am not joking when I say that the Zesty Nacho flavor is on par with Nacho Cheese Doritos and the Kool Ranch is close to its corny junk food cousin — but of course, minus the fried part and extreme MSGThe only thing is that if you’re hankering for a solidly triangular crunchy chip, these might not be for you. But if you can stand for crispy…well, then you’re in luck! FYI, the Rhythm chips are a wee bit fragile and may turn into crispy crumbs in transit. But then you can just dump the rest of the bag down your gullet. :) They’re only 100-120 cal,  5 g. of fat and hey – 5 whole grams of protein – per 1 oz. serving (2 servings per bag). Not to mention that they also boast the following descriptors: raw, vegan, gluten-free and filled with lutein, which is proven to be great for your peepers and your skin!

For $4.99/bag, you can buy them online here and in Whole Foods locations in the Southwest. They should be popping up in WF locations nationwide by the end of the year.

Do you think you’d try Rhythm Kale Chips?

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On Monday night, I watched supertrainer Jackie Warner‘s new Bravo TV show Thintervention. One thing that particularly resonated with me was the situation of 23 year-old client Stacy. She could be me. I kind of was her. Like Stacy, I would chalk up my problematic relationship with food to being Jewish. Like Stacy, I would smirk and think to myself, “Wow, I’m the Queen of Camouflaging my chub!” And like Stacy, I have a hormonal issue that makes it easier for me to gain weight and harder for me to lose.

Jackie scolds Stacy on Bravo's 'Thintervention' (photo via Bravotv.com)

In the first episode of Thintervention, Stacy discusses one of her major health setbacks with the doc on (casting) call. He says, “You have PCOS, which can make you put on weight… But you can’t let it be an excuse.” For those of you who aren’t familiar, PCOS is Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, an endocrine disorder caused by lifestyle and/or genetic factors and typically marked by resistance to insulin (a hormone that governs carbohydrate metabolism). Interestingly, 1 in 27 Ashkenazi Jews (myself included) have an adrenal disorder called Non-Classical Adrenal Hyperplasia, which mimics PCOS. I’d be interested to see if Stacy has been tested for NCAH, since she, like me, is a young Jewish woman.

Either way, PCOS affects as many as 30% of women total. And it clearly has a detrimental effect on weight. From what I can gather from the doctors I’ve seen and the info I’ve read on my own, research on the matter right now is kind of a chicken or the egg situation. Do lifestyle factors make you gain weight and in turn, worsen symptoms of PCOS (or NCAH)? Or does living with these conditions cause you to not as effectively store/burn calories? Based on my own struggles, I tend to think it’s more of the latter.

That’s not to say that women who suffer from either problem can’t lose and keep off excess weight. It’s just incredibly difficult. There are a couple of nutritionists who advocate a low GI diet, which is pretty much just a high fiber/low-fat/lower-carb and limited sugar diet. And some experts recommend women with PCOS work out for at least an hour a day, at least 5x a week. Sure, if you’re being trained by Jackie Warner on a Bravo reality TV show, that time commitment is nothing. But for most mere mortals, that’s a serious chunk of time.

I’m just saying I feel like there’s really not much research and health information/guidance out there for women living with PCOS and especially those with NCAH. Especially when it comes to weight management. And that’s definitely frustrating.

But it was great to see someone on TV come out as dealing with it in her effort to shed pounds, and I can only hope that might drive some awareness about the problem. That way, hopefully more women start asking questions and getting answers about how they can follow a weight-loss program that fits their specific health needs—instead of being told they should just suck it up and struggle to succeed on a One Size Fits All plan.

What do you think?

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Alright, I’ve had it! It is time to take a stand on what’s what in the world of lady health, and I need you with me. We have to make sure that we’re not buying into, parroting or perpetuating even more BS about what’s best for our sex lives, boobs, genitalia or hygiene. So without further ado, let’s get a few things straight.

-Douching is a no-no. There has been a lot of hullabaloo about a new Summer’s Eve ad that is titled, “Confidence at Work: How to Ask For a Raise” (see left). They claim they know what can really help you smash that glass ceiling: Manmade contraptions and chemicals used to wash your cooch, of course! …But, no. No, it isn’t. Don’t we all know that? When I heard about it, I thought, “Um, what? Why does that product even exist anymore? Who out there still thinks it is a good idea to douche?” I thought we all knew this by now—douching is generally not recommended, as it can adversely affect the body’s natural balance of bacteria, leading to vaginal infection and other problems. So, yes, this ad is totally ridiculous, but even more wild and crazy to me that there’s even a market for Summer’s Eve. Hey you, Mary Sue! The 21st century called—it wants you to walk away from the douche bag…

-Big mouths speaking out on breastfeeding. Please shut up, Gisele, and anyone else who thinks they know what is best for every single woman. Just stick to what works for you, mm’k?

The Kardashian girls may have a lot of sisterly love—but apparently not the correct vocab for their vajayjays.

-Vulva, vulva, vulva! OK, I don’t care if you think it’s school marmy. I’m a writer, so right there, you know why I’m a bit of a stickler for correct grammar, punctuation, spelling, etc. Also, I heart me some correct terminology. And I’m personally super-annoyed when women refer to their own gorgeous genitalia with the wrong name. A perfect example in the news: Kim Kardashian was quoted as saying, “I don’t know, I never looked at [sister Khloe’s] vagina. I thought it was, like, a shaved rashy vagina.” Ehhh! Sorry, Kim. You’d need a speculum to really see your sister’s vagina. It’s her red, bumpy bikini line that you must be referring to…or if she gets Brazilians, maybe it’s her vulva. That’s the outer part. I really hope it’s not her vagina. (Ooouchhh.) Bottom-line: If you’re not going to call it by it’s correct name, at least use something fun—like “honey pot” or “lady business.”

-Myths or missing info about birth control. This is a huge umbrella under there is one really nasty storm is going on. One golfball-sized piece of hail… The idea that the Withdrawal Method or “pulling out” is hands-down, no questions asked an express ticket to being called Ma-ma. The reality of it is that coitus interruptus is nearly as effective as condoms. That’s good news for many responsible, monogamous couples who trust one another and are in tune with their bodies. Then there is the missing info (and sometimes straight-up lies) about ParaGard, the copper-T, nonhormonal IUD. Some resources won’t mention it to you if you’re young and unmarried. Some dishonest practitioners will shoo you out of their examining room if you tell them you’re interested in using it instead of the Pill. (Really, you ask? Stay tuned. My sister will report on a personal experience in a future post…) The truth is that the IUD can be inserted in younger women who haven’t had a baby, and it is safe, 99% effective, good for up to 10 years and a stellar choice for birth control especially if you’re in a monogamous relationship.

Ok, now it’s your turn. What totally un-sexy trend would you like to blow the whistle on?

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Last night, my boyfriend turned to me as we were falling asleep and said, “I think I’m going to pass a stone tonight.” Not your average pillow talk, right? I asked, “How do you know?” He alluded to the fact that not only could he could feel it physically, but he also sensed it—he knew it.

Dan suffers from a condition called Cystinuria, which is marked by an genetic abnormality that causes him to produce too much of an amino acid called cystine. The cystine builds up and forms chronic kidney stones. What we know right now is that one of the best ways to keep the stones at bay is to hydrate like crazy. But given a particularly difficult season of high temperatures and exhaustive outdoor work (he’s a movie electrician), that hasn’t been easy. In turn, stone incidences have become frequent. But as a result of this, Dan has become adept at reading his body’s signals and I think, without really meaning to, more intuitive about his health. And by extension, I think he’s on his way to being a proactive, empowered and self-aware patient.

Until recently, our first line of defense against a health concern was a visit to the doctor, who we hoped would offer us a diagnosis and treatment. Now, we’re all leaning more on WebMD and self-care. Only sometimes, after an Internet-induced hypochondriac rampage, will we (if we’re lucky enough to have health insurance) consult a real MD for a fix. In either case, we’re often leaving out a crucial step: tapping into health intuition. In fact, we can usually get some of the most accurate preliminary info about our problem just by stepping back and tuning into what our body is telling us.

(Book art via Karen Grace Kassy)

I became familiar with the term health intuition when I wrote a short piece for my job on the subject. I interviewed Karen Grace Kassy, a life and health intuitive who wrote the book Health Intuition: A Simple Guide to Greater Well-Being (Hazelden). She explained how intuition can offer vital clues and serve as a great jumping off point for patients to discuss their concerns with their health practitioners.

So, you want to know why you’re exhausted all of the time or why your head feels like its pounding every day around 11 a.m.? Ask an open-ended question, in your mind or aloud to yourself. Try something like, How can I stop these chronic headaches? Kassy says that the answer can come in many ways—you could visualize it (maybe it’s that they’re actually hunger headaches, so you see an apple) or you could just sense it (a feeling that the answer lies in the kitchen).

She also noted that there are various “hallmarks” of an intuitive message:

First impressions are usually right.

Go with your gut. When I first started experiencing back problems, I had a feeling that the root cause wasn’t just something superficial—like a pulled muscle from an overambitious yoga workout. When I saw a general practitioner, he shrugged it off as “tweaking something,” and he sent me home with ibuprofen and a worksheet of stretches. Weeks later, an MRI showed that I had a severely herniated disc in my lumbar spine. In a way, I had known the source of my pain was something like that all along.

It keeps knocking on your door.

Sure, your lethargy could be tied to lack of sleep. Or it could be something else. If you have a recurring thought, like, “Huh, that article I once read in a women’s magazine about hypothyroidism causing tiredness, weight gain and mood swings seemed really spot on” or “I’ve been so stressed and tense while I’m falling asleep,” don’t brush it aside. That nagging little voice in the back of your head is likely your intuition clueing you in to the problem.

(photo via soulfulcoach.com)

- It comes out of the blue.

Even when you’re not consciously seeking a response, intuitive information can suddenly float into your consciousness—for example, in the form of a thought that cautions, All that sugar is making you sick. Or you could have a meaningful dream. “I’ve worked with women who went for mammograms after having a ‘breast dream’ and received a life-saving diagnosis of early breast cancer,” says Kassy.

When honing intuition, it’s also possible—and likely—that you’ll get in your own way. “What can interfere is not being really comfortable with the truth,” says Kassy. “You can choose to block out the truth and not listen to your intuition, because you want something else so badly.” The solution? Make sure you really want to know the answer to your question. Feel at peace with it, even if it isn’t what you want to hear. Stay open-minded.

Think about it: Who knows more about your body and your health than you do? By tapping into that knowledge, we can be empowered to heal whatever ails us. “If intuition works for you, it can have life-enhancing qualities,” says Kassy.

Get this—Albert Einstein agreed. As spiritual as he was scientifically-gifted, the physicist/philosopher found great value in intuition. He once said, “The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.” For the sake of our own well-being, we should all try to remember.

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By Carey Purcell, Special Guest Blogger to The Body Logic

The new mom shows off her post-partum bikini bod, which apparently she attains by "eating nothing." (Photo via Life & Style)

In our culture of instant gratification and crash diets, it’s not surprising that reality TV star Bethany Frankel’s post-baby diet secret is to “Taste everything, eat nothing.”

My response can be summed up quite concisely: Ugh.

First, I’d like to address how ridiculous these “post-baby body” stories are. They’re everywhere, and they’re infuriating. Average women shouldn’t hold themselves to these insane standards. They’re just not realistic. And what’s more, they’re not healthy. These movie stars who drop 30 pounds in three weeks have personal chefs, personal trainers, and hours of free time every day to exercise. Who in real life has that luxury? I am not married, have no children and yet, I struggle work an hour of exercise into my life every day. If you don’t have the same resources as these wealthy celebrities, don’t have the same expectations as them.

Second, is it just me, or does Frankel’s advise sound, um, awful, to anyone else? The idea of eating nothing is not my idea of an enjoyable, healthy life, even if it would mean I’d be photographed in a “teeny turquoise two-piece” bathing suit for a trashy tabloid magazine. Why do celebrities, if you consider Frankel to be one, consider food the enemy? Why is it something that has to be avoided at all costs?

Food is not the enemy. As a former Weight Watcher, I struggled with my relationship with food for years and maybe I would have tried Frankel’s method myself. But now, after achieving a healthy weight and maintaining it for six years, I find Frankel’s mantra to be disturbing and dangerous. Food should not avoided and feared. The sensual and nutritional benefits of food should not be hampered by the PhotoShopped covers of grocery store shopping lane tabloids. (Another reason why I love Trader Joe’s! No magazines there!)

One of the crucial lessons I learned while losing weight was that food should be a pleasurable part of life. Food should be enjoyed. Food should be savored. If you want a treat, you can have a treat. You don’t have to run screaming from a piece of chocolate cake. Just work it into your healthy eating plan for the day or even the week by eating a healthy, vegetable-filled meal or add a bit of extra cardio to your workout the next morning. And if you’re going to have that treat, enjoy every bite of it! Don’t feel guilty. Don’t think, “I shouldn’t be eating this.” Take small bites, chew slowly. Savor it. These are “Naturally Thin” rules to live by. It makes me think … if she really wanted to stay true to her healthy living agenda, Bethenny would have been better off saying, “Don’t eat EVERYTHING; just enjoy everything you eat.”

Carey Purcell is self-confessed health junkie with an intense sweet tooth that she satisfies with small pieces of organic dark chocolate and large amounts of fresh fruit. Her workouts vary between yoga, Cuerpaso and simply commuting from the Upper East Side to Tribeca every day. She is the editor of MindBodySanctuary.com and a frequent contributor to the Health and Wellness section of Alternet.org. You can read her writing or contact her at CareyPurcell.com.


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(Photo via menstruationresearch.org)

On Friday afternoon/evening, I got swept up in what can only be described as a brilliant, bold, Twitterific takeover of Midtown Manhattan by over 2,000 lady bloggers aka BlogHer ’10. My friend and associate (I edit her magazine column at First for Women), Lissa Rankin was one of the keynote speakers at the Voices of the Year Community Keynote, and she graciously invited me as one of her guests to see the speech and party afterward at the BlogHer Gala.

Although Lissa and I hadn’t discussed any of the details of what she would be presenting in her keynote, I nodded knowingly when she began reading her Op/Ed post, “What? We Can’t Say ‘Vagina‘?” If you don’t recall, this past spring, there was controversy regarding a Kotex tampon commercial that featured the word for the body part that tampons are for. The company had two choices: Give up the “vagina” or bury the spot. In her post, Lissa wisely weighs in and calls out the irony and insanity of our squirminess as a society to verbalize the female genitalia—especially in the Kotex context. The response? She had a blogger-filled ballroom literally standing up to those lame-o TV execs by chorusing, “Vagina! Vagina! Vagina!”

You can check out a video of Lissa reading her post at BlogHer here.

I’m always talking about loving your body. And for the most part, when talking about body confidence, we tend to think of curves, muffin-tops, jiggly thighs and maybe breasts. But what about the part of our body that TV networks would prefer to shroud in secrecy? The part of our body, which as Lissa points out, is where all human life comes from! After Friday night, I started to think … Maybe it’s about time we start cultivating our vagina confidence! We could have a soap company sponsor a “Campaign for Real Vaginies” and Jessica Simpson could have a show on cable called “The Price of Pretty Coochies.” :)

But in all seriousness, we need to take more pride in our “private” parts. I know, I know, it all stems from this backasswards Puritanical idea that we perpetuate as Americans that boobies and vulvas are to be bleeped out, covered up, blocked out with black boxes when shown on TV and slapped with an X rating (whereas blood, guts and guns—that’s just PG). And I’m not advocating that we start throwing “bottom-less” parties a la Harold and Kumar. But we should really listen to what Lissa’s saying and work toward being comfortable and confident as women with saying “vagina,” “vulva” or even a euphemism when naming our own normal, perfectly beautiful genitalia. Communication breeds empowerment, and no one else is going to own your health, your sexuality and your well-being like you can. So, let’s do like Lissa and start a vagina confidence revolution. One defiant chant of “Vagina! Vagina! Vagina!” at a time.

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Although I only considered being a Brownie for about a minute and a half in third grade, I always admired The Girl Scouts of the USA. (And not just because I grew up watching Troop Beverly Hills. Oh, how I wished I could have had an awesome ’80s perm and done “The Freddie.”) But twenty years earlier, my mom earned her badges. Whenever one of us kids would need a random object (think a granola bar on a long car ride or a Swiss army knife to cut off itchy clothing tags), Mom would whip it out and say, “See, I’m a good girl scout!” That she is. And so are these ladies representing the organization by raising awareness about girls and body image. Below, the org’s new PSA, featuring Beverly Johnson‘s daughter.

A few more facts for thought, from the GS.org site:

-Although about two-thirds (65%) correctly identify themselves as being either normal weight or overweight, one-third of all girls have a distorted idea about their weight. (Girl Scout Research Institute)

-59% of girls report dissatisfaction with their body shape, and 66% express the desire to lose weight. (American Academy of Pediatrics)

Clearly, we have a problem on our hands. But, it’s awesome to see that the Girl Scouts are applying their masterful problem-solving skills to do something about it! They’re also using their mad marketing genius to sell us lots and lots of cookies, which I argue also contribute to overall happiness. Mmm, frozen Thin Mints…

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