My Body Image Post Up on HuffPost + More

Thank you to Huffington Post for publishing my story about Sienna getting pressured about her body and marriage on Halloween when kids should just be having fun dressing up and getting candy!

And on the heels of that, please check out this terrific post from Mike Reynolds of Puzzling Posts who also talks about body image issues, both male and female.

Stop Pressuring Girls/Women About Their Bodies And Marriage Already!

October 31, 2014. Halloween. Sienna dressed as Snow White. Yellow skirt. Blue top. Red bow in her hair. A plastic jack o’lantern in her hand waiting to be filled with candy. She’s 2 1/2 years old. She still doesn’t quite get the trick or treating concept. But that’s ok. Mommy and Daddy are proud. So proud. Mommy missed trick or treating last year and she’s super excited. And then we knock on the door. The man opens. He’s 50-ish. Salt and pepper hair. Taller than me. He hands Sienna 3 mini Reeses Peanut Butter Cups. And then he says it:

“Don’t eat all of that tonight or you’re gonna get sick and fat and you’ll never get married.”

Excuse me? Seriously, excuse me???

My wife and eye exchange a glance of anger, surprise. I grit my teeth through a smile.

“Don’t worry,” I say. “She’s not eating any of it. That’s our job for now.”

My head swirls. My daughter, my little Snow White just experienced the first crush of societal pressure heaped on girls and women about body image and marriage. I’m just so thankful she didn’t have a clue as to the negative and destructive power behind this man’s words.

But I did. My wife did. And I wanted to throw this man against the wall and scream at him:

“How dare you???” YOU are what’s wrong with this world! YOU are the cause of eating disorders and depression, of mental illness and suicide!! YOU and people like you!! Do you work in advertising, perhaps? Film? Television?? Do you enjoy spreading this propaganda?? This societal sickness that steals female empowerment, wrecks self-esteem and replaces them with a desperate need to compare themselves bodily and matrimonially, to starve themselves to death, to sit in therapists’ offices bemoaning that they’re 30 and not yet married. WHAT THE EFF IS WRONG WITH YOU??? Here’s an idea…read something about female body image disorders. Jean-paul Sarte wrote that ‘words are loaded pistols’ and you just pointed one right at my beautiful little girl. HOW DARE YOU???”

Instead I made a joke and my wife laughed, but as we left his door for the next, anger bubbled in us and the joyful playfulness of Halloween felt tainted. Our innocent Snow White just experienced the evils of the world even if she didn’t realize it.


Does this little girl look like she needs to be worrying about body image and marriage

Sienna’s still too young to feel the backhanded sting of slings and arrows, still too young to study herself in the mirror, tearing herself to shreds because her 12-year-old waist is thicker than Mary’s or her belly’s too flabby so she needs to diet, diet, diet. Or she’s 28 and crying that no one will marry her because she’s too ugly, too fat despite her being positively gorgeous. Right now it’s just “green day” at school and she needs to wear a green shirt and bring in a green toy. Right now the world is an abundance of wonders.

“I want to touch the moon! I’m taking my flying carpet to China! Leaves are falling! Leaves are turning yellow!”

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And that’s what it should be. That’s what it should be for everyone. This society has a deep-rooted, systemic sickness, a hatred towards girls and women with even an inch of extra meat on their bones, a brutal “tsk-tsk” for unmarried women. Society, thanks to unrealistic portrayals on magazine covers, in commercials, print ads, media of all forms, causes females to turn on and rip each other and themselves apart rather than band together as the beautiful people they are, and it causes men to objectify them. Sienna’s gonna face it. There’s nothing I can do to stop it except educate her as best I can, but what is one voice against the relentless, insidiousness media, the never necessary taunts in school, the comparisons, the scale, the mirror. How much can I do?

2 1/2 years old and already the pressure starts.

That’s why we need sites like A Mighty Girl. That’s why we need female superheroes. That’s why we need podcasts such as this one by City Dads Group in which Jeff Bogle of Out With The Kids and Mike Reynolds of Puzzling Posts discuss “the uphill climb our daughters still face in the 21st century and the role that we as dads can play in challenging the long-held beliefs and stereotypes that are foisted upon women and girls.” That’s why we need people like Christopher Persley’s column, Advice for my Daughter in which successful women provide advice for his 3-yr-old girl as well as the world at large.

I will educate my daughter as best as I can. I will raise her to avoid the societal pressure pitfalls that have led to my own battles with depression and anxiety (different pitfalls, of course). I will raise her to be strong, to fight back, to be herself and be proud of who she is. I will raise her to realize how ignorant a 50-ish man with salt and pepper hair can be.

Who’s with me?

Latest Ep of “Whose Line is it Anyway?” Sends a Terrible Message To Young Girls

When I learned that “Whose Line is it Anyway?” was returning to TV after a 6 1/2-year hiatus with Aisha Tyler replacing Drew Carey as host, I was elated, especially since hilarious U.S. mainstays (the show originated in the U.K.), Wayne Brady, Colin Mochrie and Ryan Stiles would all be back, and I wasn’t disappointed. Brady, Mochrie and Stiles remain as hysterical as always and Tyler is a definite upgrade over Carey who during his run would place himself in each show’s final game; Carey was never great at improv. I do I have one tiny problem, though – each new episode has featured a special guest(s) such as Lauren Cohan from “The Walking Dead” and Kevin McHale from “Glee.” Normally it doesn’t bother me that much (though I would have preferred the show stick with audience participation instead), but last night’s episode’s special guest “stars” were two scantily clad women from something called the “Legends Football League.”

Neither Elaine nor I had any clue such a thing as the Legends Football League (LFL) existed, so we looked it up online. Apparently, it’s exactly as it seems – football played by hot women in lingerie (in fact, according to their website, it was formerly called the “Lingerie Football League”); there’s even a team called the L.A. Temptation! Curious, Elaine and I watched a short clip about one of the league’s elite quarterbacks in which she proclaimed that the LFL is a step forward for female athletics. Seriously? I’d call it a huge leap back. And this was a step back for “Whose Line.”

Legends Football League

Whose Line is it Anyway — “Legends Football League” – Image WL103B_0071 — Pictured (L-R): Chloe Butler, Monique Gaxiola, Wayne Brady and Jonathan Mangum — Photo: Patrick Wymore /The CW — © 2013 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved

As you’d expect, the two improv games in which the women appeared were highly sexualized because really, what else could they be about? These are half naked female football players which is probably a fantasy for about a zillion guys.

Now, I’m no prude, but if “Whose Line” is going to showcase female athletes, I’d rather them be guests such as former WNBA star, Lisa Leslie, and boxer, Laila Ali, both of whom appeared in previous episodes this season. Unlike these LFL players, Leslie and Ali are real steps forward for female athletics, the types of women I’d want my daughter to one day emulate. I hope Sienna loves sports, both to watch and play. I hope she loves to watch baseball and football with me. I’d love for her to play soccer or Little League or go out for track or gymnastics or whatever. But I do not want her to think that she needs to look a certain way or dress revealingly to be an athlete.

The producers of “Whose Line” (which airs at 8 pm on the CW network) should know better. They should know how many young, impressionable girls must tune in for some often gut-busting improv comedy, and they should know what type of awful message they’re sending to such viewers by having guests like these Legends Football League players appear on their show. Girls already are forced to deal with tremendous body image issues thanks to advertising and, well, basically most media. Why screw up their thoughts on what it takes to be an athlete?

This dad’s advice, “Whose Line”: is if you really want to promote female athletics, just stick with the Lisa Leslies and Laila Alis of the world, admirable sports stars anyone, but particularly girls and young women can look up to.