Wisdom for the New Year from a philosopher!

Ruth Chang argues that many choices we make should be seen as decisions about the sort of person we want to be:

Many of the choices we face in the new year will be between alternatives that are on a par. Our task then is to reflect on what kind of person we can commit to being when making those choices. Can we commit to forgoing a much-needed new car and give the money to charity instead? Can we commit to staying in a secure 9-to-5 job rather than starting the business we’ve always dreamed of? Can we commit to having a parent with Alzheimer’s move in with us, rather than paying to put her in a nursing home?

So in this new year, let’s not do the same old, same old; let’s not resolve to work harder at being the selves that we already are. Instead, let’s resolve to make ourselves into the selves that we can commit to being.

‘They cannot change me’

This video is a nice commentary on beauty expectations for women in the entertainment industry. From Jezebel:

Here’s a striking video from Hungarian singer Boggie, in which her moving image is being retouched and “corrected” throughout the entire video. Directed by Nándor Lőrincz and Bálint Nagy, the three-minute video shows Boggie’s transformating from a lovely woman in dim lighting to a lovely, flawlessly made-up woman who has, judging by her glowing surroundings, been abducted by aliens and forced to sing for them.


A Beautiful Body

Go check out this HuffPo article on photographer Jade Beall’s project documenting the beautiful, un-photo-shopped bodies of mothers (there’s a slideshow at the end with some photographs from her series–it’s stunning).

“We are facing an epidemic of women who feel unworthy of being called beautiful,” Beall told HuffPost, describing a world in which “nearly all of us struggle to feel beautiful in our own skin.” And the expectations faced by women who have given birth are particularly harsh. “Shaming mothers for not ‘bouncing back’ after childbirth can cause feelings of failure when being a mother is challenging enough and when a big number of us have already lived a life of feeling un-beautiful prior to giving birth,” she says.

It’s also worth watching her video on the Kickstarter page for the project.

Liposuction and student health (!!$%@&?)

Here’s an ad that ran in the most recent issue of “The Bucknellian” — the college newspaper at Bucknell University.  It invites college students to “get rid of the areas that make [them] crazy” at Geisinger Hospital.  What’s worse? Geisinger runs Bucknell University’s student health services.  So, as one of our readers puts it, “this is a case of a hospital charged with guarding the health of students promoting to those same students liposuction.”  Faculty, staff, and some students are outraged.  Isn’t anybody in Geisinger’s marketing department thinking?  How about the student staff at the Bucknellian?  Or whomever oversees the staff, assuming some faculty or staff member(s) does?  If you’re moved to speak out: Bucknellian at (570) 577-1085;  Geisinger Center for Aesthetics and Cosmetic Surgery at (855) 872-0448. (Thanks, G!)

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I’m not expert in comics and/or superheroes and I know there ARE female superheroes, or better, superheroines, such as Firestar, Black Widow, Aquagirl, and Batwoman.  (A wiki list can be found here.) Where are the mainstream superheroines geared towards kids lately?  It’s not that they never existed, but they have been written out of the newest iterations of the mainstream kid shows.  My son and daughter are into the superhero scene, which has led to my 7 year old daughter being mocked for liking Spiderman.  (She seemed bemused and dismissed the mocking and the mocker pretty quickly.)  We went with a Marvel comic theme in my son’s room and it wasn’t difficult to find many superheroines in posters and such for his room.  But when it comes to current kids TV shows, kids movies, and most kids merchandise today, the superhero seen is virtually all male. For girls, as we know the toy market is virtually all pink and princesses.

This predicament did lead to a fun activity with my kids.  They made up their own superheroines, including No Weakness, Scary Girl, Tool Girl, Hide Girl, and Loud Woman.

Where have all the mainstream superheroines for kids gone and how can we bring them back?

Complete and Beautiful

Check out Complete and Beautiful, a new website celebrating “every girl and woman, of every shape, size, ability, skin tone, age, and uniqueness.”  Here is a letter of invitation from Jessi Lax, the site’s founder.

To the girls and women of the world,

Let me introduce myself. My name is Jessica. I graduated from college in May 2011.  I have a labradoodle service dog, Darby, who means the world to me.   I’m 5’0” on a good day. I’ve never been one to sit on the sidelines.  One of my nicknames is Cinderella because my shoes are constantly falling off of my feet.  And, like Ellen DeGeneres, I believe in dance.

I am in the process of starting a beauty campaign: Complete and Beautiful. The mission of Complete and Beautiful is to celebrate all girls and women, inside and out. The beauty campaign is not just about your appearance; it is about how you see yourself as a person, and how other people see you as well. Complete and Beautiful is a website that, I hope, will evolve into something much bigger. But first, let me explain where I’m coming from.

I have a mild case of Cerebral Palsy.  It affects my legs and my left hand. I did not even realize that I was differently-abled until I was ten. I did not begin to deal with my circumstances until my senior year of high school.  My ability status, along with other societal preferences regarding appearance, fueled my troubles with body image.

My body is not representative of the standard ideal. For years I thought I was ugly. For years society has told me directly and indirectly that I am not valuable, not worthy, not desirable, and not complete.  In our society, people, especially girls and women, are inundated by messages that they are unattractive or deficient in some way, making women self-conscious and insecure.  Women worry and fuss, almost constantly, about things like their weight, skin tone, and  age.  All girls and women, even those judged to be classically beautiful, struggle as they try to reach and sustain an impossible perfection. Looking beautiful is unfortunately no guarantee of feeling beautiful. All of these factors and more contribute to possibly one of the most damaging messages of all: “You cannot be loved.”

I was one of those girls. I had that pain; I felt unlovable. But I refuse to keep the cycle going. I’m asking you to help me change lives; perhaps even save them.  I am miles ahead of where I was a few years ago. Admittedly, I still have my share of bad days. However, more often than not, I find myself smiling at my reflection. Why? How? I started to make a concerted effort to believe in and see my own beauty.  It was extremely difficult, and at times it still is, but I did it.

This is for every girl and woman, of every shape, size, ability, skin tone, age, and uniqueness. This is for you–because you are complete and you are beautiful.

Go to:  www.completeandbeautiful.com and share your story today.


Jessica Lax