Ok, here’s the thing

I love blogging but I simply don’t seem to have the time right now for in-depth posts! That’s why I’ve joined Tumblr, where I can share interesting things in a faster and more low-key manner. 

Follow me if you so wish! http://rachelari.tumblr.com/


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Back with a vengeance: Mad Men!

Both women grapple with the same question in “The Other Woman” — just how much am I worth? — but they come up with completely different answers. This may be the saddest thing in one of the saddest episodes of “Mad Men” I can recall: Despite their shared experiences, there’s a gulf between Peggy and Joan that can never quite be bridged.

Yes, I’ve been MIA for several months. In addition to getting more hours at work I have been spending a lot of time playing roller derby with Santa Cruz Derby Girls. Since February I have been a member of the Seabright Sirens (undefeated in 2012 thank you very much) and am serving as the point for the PR committee….so it’s safe to say I’ve had my hands full!

I do miss blogging though, and will try to post more often from now on. Today I want to link to a recap of last night’s Mad Men episode from the LA Times Blog:

Mad Men’ recap: A woman’s worth

Breaking down the emotional roller coaster that was Season 5, Episode 11 (whoa! we’re already on episode 11?!), author Meredith Blake delves headfirst into the overwhelming misogyny central to “The Other Woman.” To be sure, the episode was mainly concerned with exploring the  show’s main female characters; two very different but smart and savvy females in a non-female friendly business. From a dirty deal that will both confuse and sicken Man Men fans, to the rebirth and renewed assertion of the show’s heroine, last night’s episode proved that one of the running themes of the show is that not everything is what it seems. Show creator Matthew Weiner clearly has no qualms about allowing his characters to act unexpectedly and do things that seem uncharacteristic; in fact, this is perhaps what makes the show so compelling.

“The Other Woman” was equal parts sentimental, rage-inducing, powerful, and smart. I suggest reading Meredith Blake’s recap to explore some of the more complex themes of working women at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce.  Oh, and spoiler alert.

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What I Have Been Up To

Well, it’s been officially two months since my last blog post. Well done, Rachel!

I’ve been a bit preoccupied with other stuff lately, specifically my new job at Girls For A Change. Girls For A Change is a non-profit organization run out of Silicon Valley that that empowers girls to create social change. Over the course of the fourteen week program, groups of middle school and high school-age girls meet with GFC coaches (female volunteers) to talk about the issues that effect their community and implement a group-designed social change project to target a specific issue. It’s an absolutely incredible organization, with “Girl Action Teams” in California, Virginia, Arizona, Texas, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Washington, DC, and internationally in El Salvador, India, Nicaragua, Rwanda, and Uganda.

In addition to being a coach here in Santa Cruz County, I also run the social media aspects of the organization. Another big part of Girls for A Change that I am involved with is our partnership with Jennifer Siebel-Newsom and her incredible film MissRepresentation, for which I help run the Social Action component. Check out the trailer for the film here: 

We encourage people to sign up to become Social Action Representatives for the film – kind of like being an intern – and twice a month Action Reps receive an Action Alert email that gives them a special assignment, such as using the hashtag #NotBuyingIt on Twitter to call attention to sexist, misogynistic, or anti-female advertisements and products.  We provide a handy tool kit (designed by Girls For A Change) that has all the tools reps need to take their inspiration and move it into action. I work with the folks at MissRepresentation to create the Action Alerts, so much of my creative thought goes into that rather than this blog nowadays!

If you haven’t yet seen the film, I highly encourage you to do so.  MissRepresentation “exposes how mainstream media contribute to the under-representation of women in positions of power and influence in America. The film challenges the media’s limited and often disparaging portrayals of women and girls, which make it difficult for women to achieve leadership positions and for the average woman to feel powerful herself.” The alarming facts, raw interviews with scholars and celebrities alike, and Siebel-Newsom’s emotional narrative have made this film completely eye-opening and extremely important.

So, that’s what’s been going on. There’s a lot of terrible stuff going on in the world, and I suppose it’s just too aggravating to actually sit down and write about it. Maybe in another two months!

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Right. Ok. NOW Parents are concerned with the message that Barbie sends?

A new collectors edition Barbie doll has tattoos. Her name is Tokidoki and she has short pink hair and tattoos all over her body.

Tokidoki, a new collectible Barbie doll from Mattel

Parents are not on board with this.


Says one mom, “I don’t think it’s appropriate for little girls to be having Barbies with tattoos all over.” Another says, “I think it sends all the wrong signals for young girls.” Doesn’t anyone see the absurdity here? A popular doll that boasts completely unrealistic and unattainable body proportions and influences the young girls who play with them everyday is all of a sudden inappropriate now that she has tattoos?

Oh bother. I’ve written about this before (here’s the link) but I’ll repeat it here. Activists and feminists have time and time again pointed out how damaging the Barbie doll can be to little girls who are developing ideas about what roles girls and women play in society. They are constantly bombarded with messages in the media showing them how girls are “supposed” to look and act, and Barbies, which are directly marketed to them, are certainly part of the problem. In 2007 a high school student named Galia Slayen created a life-size Barbie to show how terrible of an influence she is to young girls — many of whom already struggle with poor self-image and eating disorders. Galia produced the true-to-size doll for her school’s participation in National Eating Disorder Awareness Week:

She stands about six feet tall with a 39″ bust, 18″ waist, and 33″ hips. These are the supposed measurements of Barbie if she were a real person…

My Barbie’s role is simple. She grabs the attention of apathetic onlookers and makes them think and talk about an issue that thrives in silence. In the last four years, Barbie has surpassed my expectations, attracting attention and sparking conversation among listeners and readers across the nation…

During NEDAW, she reminds people that eating disorders and body image issues are serious and prevalent. Holding an awareness week in high school or college is just one way to get students to discuss these important issues. However, constant discussion and education is key to dealing with and overcoming eating disorders.

Despite her bizarre appearance, Barbie provides something that many advocacy efforts lack. She reminds of something we once loved, while showing us the absurdity of our obsession with perfection.


Galia with her life-size Barbie


Says parent Latifa Zyne in an article on CBS Local’s NYC site, “Maybe if a little girl sees that she also wants a tattoo and I think it’s not good.” She’s right. If a little girl plays with a doll with tattoos she might grow up thinking tattoos are cool and that she wants some one day. That same little girl, however, could also grow up thinking that her Barbie’s tiny waist, large chest, absurdly long legs and lack of rib cage are how a woman is supposed to look. And that’s a real problem. Because, see, tattoos you can get, and tattoos you can remove. But body image issues are life long struggles for girls that are exacerbated by images of impossible perfection pumped out by magazines, movies and commercials.

So, no. A Barbie with tattoos is not going to fuck up your daughter for life. And let’s get real: if you’re considering spending $50 on a plastic doll for your daughter, a few tattoos are the least of your problems.

Let’s get this straightened out: a doll with a ridiculous and unrealistic body is just as dangerous as a doll with a ridiculous and unrealistic body and tattoos.

And on that note, Miss Representation airs TONIGHT on OWN Network (Oprah’s new channel)! It’s a powerful documentary by Jennifer Siebel-Newsom that exposes the damage that popular media is doing to girls, and explores the limited roles that are available to women in the public eye. It features people like Margaret Cho, Geena Davis, Condoleezza Rice, Katie Couric, Gloria Steinem, and Rachel Maddow, as well as young girls who are greatly effected by these images. Check your local listings for air time, and visit http://www.missrepresentation.org to learn more about the film!





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Homecoming Queen Football Heroes, Marathon Rules, and Suzy Hotrod, AKA What’s New in the World of Women’s Professional Sports (Part 4)

This is part four in an ongoing series about women athletes. See part one here, part two here, and part three here

I’ll keep this short and sweet. Here are some awesome, and painfully disturbing (I’m looking at you International Association of Athletics Federations) articles about female athletes and athleticism.

Reebok is in trouble over it’s misleading ad campaign for their EasyTone shoes. Apparently, wearing special shoes with “balance pods” will not magically make your ass look great. Also, if your campaign is about toning and athleticizing (just made that word up) a woman’s body, you might want to think about not creating such a “sexist and objectifying ad campaign based on this faulty claim that promises the shoes will, among other things, ‘make your boobs jealous of your ass.'”

Suzy Hotrod, who plays for Gotham Girls Roller Derby and is Co-captain of Team USA Roller Derby, is a featured athlete in ESPN Magazine’s annual Body Issue hitting stores Friday, October 7th! Alongside world-famous Olympian Apolo Ohno, soccer hero Hope Solo,  baseball’s Jose Reyes, and gold medal gymnast Alicia Sacramone is a freakin’ ROLLER DERBY player! Man alive that feels good! It is a huge boost to the roller derby community that one of the sport’s top athletes is being recognized by THE magazine of sport authority. Read Suzy’s blogpost about what a huge honor it is to be recognized along with some of the world’s greatest athletes! And don’t forget to pick up a copy of the Body Issue tomorrow…..incredible photos of incredible bodies….and naked athletes….yep.

Suzy Hotrod in ESPN Mag's The Body Issue

On a bummer note, according to a Jezebel piece, a new law has been passed to ensure that women who run marathons alongside men can no longer set world records. Yes, you heard right: “…as of January 1 of next year, [runner Paula Radcliffe’s record marathon time in the London Marathon] will be wiped from the annals of marathon world records. Why? Because the London Marathon allows women to run alongside male pacemakers, and officials from the International Association of Athletics Federations have decided that running alongside these men makes women artificially faster.” As the SF Gate points out, this new rule is offensive, impractical and confusing. Not to mention incredible sexist, unfair, and just ridiculous.

I’ll leave you with this awesome story:

“Brianna Amat, a senior at Pickney Community High School near Ann Arbor, Mich…became the first girl on Pickney’s varsity football squad this year after her soccer coach suggested she try out for the kicker’s spot, according to the New York Times…At halftime during Friday’s game, Amat and another teammate were told to head from the locker room to the field because they had been picked for the homecoming court. So wearing her football gear, Amat headed to homecoming festivities and discovered she had actually been voted queen.”

After she won Homecoming Queen, she finished up the football game by kicking a 31-yard field goal, earning her team a 9-7 win. Victory.

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The Girl Effect – Blogging Together!

This post is part of the 2011 Girl Effect Blogging Campaign.

Girls all over the world today face major challenges that prevent them from being educated, becoming financially independent, and receiving proper health care. The Girl Effect is a new movement “driven by girl champions around the globe” that seeks to combat these challenges. The Girl Effect is based on the idea that girls are the “world’s greatest untapped solution to poverty,” and that investing in girls creates a ripple effect that can change the world and improve conditions for both men and women in communities everywhere.

Why girls? Well, today more than 600 million girls live in the developing world, and approximately one-quarter of girls in developing countries are not in school.* That’s a problem, and we know that lack of education continues the cycle of poverty and makes a girl more vulnerable to disease and poor health. However, research shows that given the right resources and opportunity, these very same girls can help themselves, their families, and their economy. Improving the lives of those 600 millions girls will undeniably impact millions more in a positive way.

What exactly those of us in the developed world can do to help is up for discussion. I think talking about the challenges that girls face is an important first step. Blogging campaigns like this one allows lots of people to write about their feelings on the issues. Twitter and Facebook are also wonderful tools to spread the message  quickly and let people know what kinds of problems girls all over the world face.

One of the most frightening challenges that girls in both the developing world and right here in the US (see: Warren Jeffs and the FLDS) face is child marriage and child prostitution. Early marriage means early pregnancy which means no more education, and it very much prevents her from establishing herself as an independent force in her community, earning her own money, and achieving any goals she may have.

Education seems to be one of the strongest tools to prevent child marriage, pregnancy and poverty and should, in my opinion, be the focus of our efforts. Not only building schools, but following up and making sure that girls are actually going to school is one way we can invest. Supporting social businesses like AFRIpads – which sells locally manufactured, low-cost, reusable menstrual pads to girls in Uganda – is another small gesture that can actually make a huge difference. Think about it: girls without proper menstrual products stay home from school during their periods. That’s one week a month. That’s TWELVE weeks a year. That’s a lot of school missed. Give a girl menstrual pads that are cheap, effective and reusable and you just improved her chance of getting an education!

One of the best things we can do for girls is ensure that they have opportunities to create a future of their own, and that starts with going to school. What are some other ways we can make sure girls are getting educated? Let me know in the comments section!

In the end, helping girls in developing countries is all of our concern, because as the movement’s website points out, the Girl Effect is about girls and boys and moms and dads and villages and towns and countries. And the ripple effect starts with all of us.  
Get involved in this campaign and write a post of your own this week!  Go here to see other Girl Effect posts and add your own.

*Population Reference Bureau, DataFinder database, http://www.prb.org/datafinder.aspx [accessed December 20, 2007], Cynthia B. Lloyd, ed., Growing Up Global: The Changing Transitions to Adulthood in Developing Countries [Washington, D.C.: National Academies Press, 2005].

For more facts, check out The Girl Effect website!

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Nightline feature with Andrej Pejic

I’ve written about Andrej Pejic before, and this week the transgender model was featured on ABC’s Nightline. From his interview with ABC’s Juju Chang:

Chang: When you see yourself in the mirrow, do you think of yourself more as a man or as a woman?

Pejic:  I like to keep my options open.

Chang: What does that mean?

Pejic:  I see myself.

Chang: So you don’t see a gender.

Pejic:  It’s not that important.

Why is it so hard for people to grasp this?

Watch the segment here, and read about how Pejic’s family fled to Australia when he was 8 years old to escape the ethnic war in Yugoslavia.

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