February 24, 2014


Have you ever seen one of those slutty advertisements with a woman sprawled across the hood of a car selling a burger? Or a glossy magazine that claims to be a trusted friend, but its actual intent is to guilt you into buying the newest craze you may not need or want simply because society is expecting you to stay impossibly young and dewy?  If you said yes to either, you need to read on.

You may have recently heard about a website that has attracted the attention of many.  Think back to Super Bowl 2013 when Go Daddy pushed the ick factor beyond our palatable limits.  Well, you may have also noticed that this year's commercials were far more benign.  The jury's still out, but word on the street is that a hashtag might be the underlying factor, causing our advertisers to sit up and take notice.  What?  We, as consumers, might actually have a voice?  The answer to that seems to be a resounding yep!

Over the course of the last few years, a Bay Area website has exploded after a documentary geared to our young women and girls wowed The Sundance Film Festival.  Oprah was so impressed she nabbed the rights to the film, ironically titled Miss Representation, adding it to her collection on the OWN Network.  If you are unfamiliar, the theme of the movie basically addresses the issue of media, and the way our young women and men are being influenced by the subtext of visuals, words, and implications.  While our technology sources claim to be making us smarter and more competitive, it is not surprising that the barrage of 24 hour a day media is actually a slippery slope when it comes to the unrealistic expectations our boys and girls have of themselves and others.

The film was so successful that the counterpart to the idea is soon to be released, making the star of the movie our young boys and men.  The title of the film is The Mask You Live In, and will explore our society's fascination with the issue of masculinity.  Posing the questions that we have removed from our country's vernacular.  Like the suggestion that emotion makes men lesser or the assumption that men and boys are void of the need to navigate their way through life dependant upon personal relationships.  Somehow, the term "man up" has caused our young men and boys to read between the lines, believing somehow that they would appear weaker if their outward persona wasn't anything but strong and formidable.   

The Representation Project, headed up by Jennifer Siebel-Newsom, is gaining a great deal of momentum by producing these important films.  On the heels of their success with Miss Representation, a website and a grassroots movement began, and has picked up steam internationally. They developed a hashtag last year as a response to anything and everything that falls within the parameters of nope, not accepting that!  It's cleverly called #NotBuyingIt.  You may have seen it on Twitter, and possibly on CNN, as news reports were generated following a public pushback before and during this year's Super Bowl.  There's even a new #NotBuyingIt App where you can post and vote against media absurdities, giving consumers the latitude to publicly call out especially ridiculous perpetrators.  Turns out Americans are not sitting back and swallowing the bitter pill of blatant sexism and disrespectful gender stereotypes that our powerful media moguls and advertisers once pummelled us with simply because they could. With the advancement of social media, we are actually discovering that we have the opportunity to bust the doors wide open on things that we find offensive.

In the course of the last year, I have been especially mindful of the way in which women and men are so differently portrayed.  I have written blogs on the difference between Vogue and GQ, made comments on the way in which our society ignores the issue of embracing age, and made it known that health and wellness should take precedence over skinny and perfect.  Honestly, the more I have become cognizant of these issues, the more I realize how pervasive the problem is.  And it's a sneaky one.  Because things will have the appearance of clever and cheeky, yet really be a bullshit way of yanking women down even further.  As a perfect example, I have included a photo from Vanity Fair Magazine.  I am the first one to say I am a regular viewer of MSNBC's Morning Joe. They greet me every morning as I nurse my first cup of coffee, always enlightening me with their smart banter while covering both sides of the proverbial aisle.  So, here's my question.  Why isn't Mika sitting in a chair wearing a fantastic tailored suit and Joe sitting on a table in short shorts kicking his right leg above his head?  The answer is clear. We wouldn't have it.  It would blow up the Twittersphere, make the front page of every newspaper, Kelly and Michael would carry on about it for the first ten minutes of their show, and Hoda and Kathie Lee would critique the shocking pic with a glass of Chardonnay.  So why, after working tirelessly for 25 years, and climbing to a place of professional respect, would she allow it?  A perfect example of #NotBuyingIt.


Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough

February 17, 2014

Cameron Diaz Has Released A Book That Is A Head To Toe Home Run...

For the better part of my adult years, Cameron Diaz has been one of those celebs, who continues to be loved by both men and women.  This adorable, perky, girl next door, who was introduced to us in My Best Friend's Wedding, has grown into an impressive, hardworking, student of health and wellness.

Diaz recently published a book titled The Body Book.  She did the expected tour through all the relevant talk shows, snippets of the book were featured in all kinds of publications, and of course the beautiful cover was the main attraction if you follow her on Instagram.  Normally, I bypass the newest must do craze that our beloved celebs peddle, but this one seemed different.  So much so that I downloaded it onto my iPad halfway through her interview on GMA.  The insight she was sharing was a virtual plethora of information that this country has managed to kick to the proverbial curb.  It is so comprehensive and simple for anyone to assimilate, I have found myself telling anyone who will listen that they should read this book.

The chapters are laid out well and the information is presented by the writer in such a way that you can clearly hear her voice as you move through the text.  It is by no means a self-help book.  It is a back to basics, here's the deal, open your eyes kind of book if getting healthy is the goal of 2014.  Let me repeat that.  GETTING HEALTHY!  Not getting fit, not getting thin, not a diet book.  It is a nonjudgemental book about learning how the body works, and the uber important habits that we must incorporate into our lives to be as healthy as we possibly can.

So, thank you Ms. Diaz.  This writer thinks you hit it out of the park!

February 10, 2014

It's The Face Behind The Gun That Shakes Me To The Core...

Since the horrific Sandy Hook shooting, we have sadly seen too many incidents of gun related violence.  Occasionally, I receive a ping from CNN on my phone, and my heart sinks when I read that another school is in lockdown or shots started ringing out in a local mall, causing shoppers to run for cover.

Over a year ago, I read an article that chronicled a man, who suffers from mental illness.  Honestly, the vacant look in his eyes and lack of human compassion in his words shook me to the core.  As a result, I am eliminating his name and the state where he resides.  Frankly, it doesn't matter, and I don't want to inadvertently encourage the subject of the article to see himself as a glorified celebrity.

He was asked by a local reporter about his preoccupation with guns.  To that, he was quoted as saying,"Honestly, I'm just not feeling up to running into some public area and massacring dozens of innocent people with an assault weapon right now, but it's nice that the option is technically always there in case I change my mind."

There are clearly a whole host of problems.  The first being a common sense solution to possessing a gun that everyone can agree on.  I honestly don't understand the ideology of viciously fighting for the rights of an unborn life, yet abandon that argument altogether when it comes to our right to life as a citizens, who simply want to safely reside in our communities, and send our kiddos to school without worry.

The next issue is obviously the need for this country to identify and provide medical care for those who suffer from mental illness.  Our pediatricians and family care physicians need to incorporate mental health evaluations, and we as a country have got to accept the fact that battling a mental illness is no different than a physical challenge.

The Sandy Hook Promise has spent the better part of a year developing a grassroots movement to put an end to senseless gun violence. The members have testified before Congress, vowing to find an amicable resolution to a problem that is becoming all to commonplace.  If you want to support their cause, you can join me by taking the Sandy Hook Promise.  Simply click on the link below.



February 3, 2014

The Shriver Report Should Be a Must Read For All Americans...

The Shriver Report was released a few weeks ago, and it's receiving a lot of well-deserved attention. You may have recently heard an increased discussion on what our country is doing and not doing for women.  I was especially pleased to hear President Obama incorporate the issue of equal pay for equal work in the State of the Union address last week, cleverly calling out "workplace policies that belong on a Mad Men episode."

So, here's a recap of the Shriver Report as it relates to women.  One in three American women live at or below the poverty level.  One third ultimately correlates to 42 million women and 28 million children.  While women have generally moved ahead with each decade, a female employee will still only make 77 cents on the dollar compared to her male counterpart.  Additionally, two thirds of minimum wage workers are women, who are working in jobs that come without additional benefits.  Take, for instance, the birth of a child or missing work due to a sick kiddo.  For millions of hardworking women, missed days are taken without the compensation that much of America has grown to rely on as an expected benefit.  Sadly, missing work due to family medical obligations oftentimes means a termination slip if the worker is deemed dispensable by her employer.  When polled, 54% believe the harder they work, the more they fall behind.  Simply said, a third of American women are navigating their way through each day on a proverbial tightrope, without a net to catch them if their car needs tires, if their child has health issues, or an unexpected winter brings an exorbitant heating bill.

So, what is the answer?  The main recommendations are what you would expect. Education is one of the main tickets to having a chance at moving beyond a minimum wage job, and finding financial and professional security.   Family planning is right up there, too.  In other words, having a child before you have completed your education and are financially stable, is a gigantic determining factor in the path you will likely follow.

The report also contains several chapters written by well known celebs.  Some write about personal experiences, and others pen heartfelt articles on issues that they have passionately embraced.  Such as the sexual abuse of women in our military and human trafficking. I was pleased to see both of these issues included in the recent report, as they are subjects I too feel passionate, and have written about on several occasions.

It is a valuable collection of data, and insight that we should not turn away from because it is difficult to digest.  The positive take away is that from those polled, over 60% of  struggling Americans feel optimistic about their future, and believe their situation will eventually improve.

Congress is currently debating the issue of raising the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour.  While it may seem nominal to you, it will make a significant difference to millions of hardworking Americans.  If this issue resonates with you, call or email your legislators and voice your opinion.