stories of empowered girls and women | January, 2012
Waris Dirie: liberating girls from deadly rites of passage
Empowerment + fashion = â€œi Rock the Teeâ€?
Breeanna DeGrove: standing up to bullying
Dr. Hugo Schwyzer: on men & feminism
In This Issue
pg 3 - Waris Dirie fights to save girls around the world from the horrors of female genital mutilation
pg 7 - Liza Rodewald and her T-shirts are on a mission to empower young girls
12 - Breeanna DeGrove and friends gang up on bullying
pg 14 - Hugo Schwyzer is standing up for women
pg 10 - Shara Krogh gives us a Heads Up on politics and combatting political apathy in women pg 18 - A+ Ads: Praise for Positive Marketing pg 20 - The Goods: Our roundup of good stuff to inspire and empower girls and women
Columnist Shara Krogh is an attorney and mother of two young children. Born in New York, Shara attended law school in Los Angeles and served in the United States Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps. She is also a former prosecutor in Sex Crimes Special Victims.
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is Editorial Advisor, friend and mother to Lori. Born and raised in Manhattan, migrated to Brooklyn and eventually Staten Island, NY. Loves to read and dabble in writing while holding an addiction to television, theater and movies. Presently retired and loving it.
Editorial Advisor Melissa Algaze is a native Angelino with deep family roots in NY (which is why she and Lori get along like a house on fire). After graduating from Syracuse University, she moved back to sunny LA and works in Advertising and Publishing fields. Her life motto is “when the heart speaks, the mind finds it indecent to object” and she is vastly inspired by Lori’s vision and dedication to See Magazine.
Hello and welcome to the premiere issue of See Magazine! The idea for this magazine came in a flash, fully crystallized within the single moment that it crossed my mind. I saw everything - my goals for it as a project, the positive impact I hoped it would have on those who read it, even dreams around is that are too big to divulge just yet. Oprah Winfrey Network had begun airing “Oprah’s Lifeclass” - and I was hooked. One night, after Lifeclass, a documentary aired. “Miss Representation” detailed how negative media portrayals of girls and women are holding us back, in increasingly damaging ways. I sat, watching with anger, heartbreaking sadness and an overwhelming sense of helplessness rising inside me, spilling out of my eyes and down my cheeks. About halfway through the film, a quote from Marian Wright Edelman appeared onscreen:
“You can’t be what you can’t see.” That’s when the figurative bolt of lightning hit me, leaving me infused with a mission. By the time the film ended that night, See Magazine had been born in my mind, heart - and online - and I had the renewed sense of purpose and passion I had long been seeking. It’s been just over two months since that night, and as I proudly publish the first issue, I feel just as I did the night the idea first struck me (though decidedly more tired!). It is my life’s deepest desire that even one girl or woman feel heartened by what she reads in See Magazine, that it gives her something she needs, right when she needs it, and she comes away from its pages better for it - stronger, with more of a sense of herself and her worth. If that happens, any degree of thought, effort and passion put into these pages will be so very worth it. At just 23 pages, the maiden issue represents a small but very hopeful start which over time will grow in size. scope and variety of voices. These future issues are merely sparkles in my eye, mind and heart right now, but I cannot wait to share them with all of you. I hope that my wildest dreams for what See Magazine can be and do are shattered by the enormity of what it ultimately becomes - and I hope the same for all of YOU as well - that the life you grow to lead will be bigger than you ever dared imagine.
With love always, Lori Lewis Founder/Editor, See Magazine
Photo Credits Cover, (clockwise from upper right): Liza Rodewald photo courtesy of i Rock The Tee; Hugo Schwyzer photo courtesy of Hugo Schwyzer; Breeanna DeGrove photo courtesy of Jennifer Macioci DeGrove; Portrait of Waris Dirie / Copyright Desert Flower Foundation. Table of contents, (left to right): Waris Dirie portrait by Karl Holzhauser/ Copyright Desert Flower Foundation, 2007; Liza Rodewald photo courtesy of i Rock The Tee; Breeanna DeGrove photo courtesy of Jennifer Macioci DeGrove; Hugo Schwyzer photo courtesy of Hugo Schwyzer. Back cover: “I Dream” design by Halee Janes of i Rock the Tee. Courtesy of i Rock The Tee.
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By Lori Lewis
She turned a barefoot trek across the deserts of Africa into a stiletto strut down high fashion runways - but Waris Dirie’s greatest journey is in pursuit of a world without the horrors of female genital mutilation. Young Waris Dirie had no idea that the eagerly awaited “special time”, the ritual that she - and virtually every other young girl in Somalia - so wanted to experience would leave her deeply scarred, both physically and emotionally. How could she know that years later she would be plagued by excruciating pain and discomfort, simply because of this centuries-old tradition that she and other young girls looked forward to with excitement and anticipation? She couldn’t possibly know, because a veil of silence cloaked others from telling her the truth about what was about to happen to her. And so Waris begged her mother to let the gypsy woman who had come to perform the rite of passage ritual on her sister, Aman, to do it to her as well. When she was refused, Waris stealthily followed her mother and big sister deeper into the bush to see what she could see. What she saw terrified her: her sister, pinned down with the gypsy woman working between her legs,
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fought her way loose and ran, blood streaming, leaving a trail behind her. When Aman collapsed, the gypsy woman caught up with her, rolled her over on the spot where she’d fallen, and finished her work. Sickened, Waris ran home, now terrified at the idea of what she too would someday undergo as her entree to womanhood.
Waris Dirie. Portrait by Karl Holzhauser/ Copyright Desert Flower Foundation, 2007
This was but one of the horrors young Waris would have to endure as she grew into the striking young woman who would grace runways and magazine covers far and wide and then leave it all behind to change the world. Raped by a family friend at just four years old, Waris underwent the brutal “circumcision” process at the age of five, wherein her genitals were butchered with a dull, broken razor blade - and without any anesthetic (or antiseptic) whatsoever. As she lay in her mother’s arms, overwhelmed with pain, she was then primitively sewn closed using acacia tree thorns to bore the holes through which strong white thread was then drawn to sew her up - ensuring her future husband a virgin bride. As a result of her female genital mutilation (FGM) she was now only able to urinate one drop at a time a process which took an agonizing 10 minutes. When she began to menstruate years later, the pain so was bad that she would dig a deep hole
in the ground and get in up to her waist, packing in the cool dirt around her to numb her agony. The day came when Waris was to be introduced to her future husband. She was shocked to see that the man she was promised to was considerably older than her own father - 61 years old, white haired, wrinkled. Feeling certain that her life was meant for more than marriage to this old man, the 13-year-old made the decision to run away rather than accept her fate. In the dim of the earliest morning light, she set off with literally nothing but the clothing on her back. Her nine day journey, on foot, was fraught with danger - a face-to-face standoff with a lion, another sexual assault, hunger, thirst, fear and unfamiliarity with anything outside the desert plains that had been her world for her entire life. Ultimately she found herself in London, by way of the homes of several relatives in Mogadishu, including an aunt and uncle who were moving to the U.K. for her uncle’s new job as Below: Waris Dirie appointed as UN Special Ambassador by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, 1997 / Copyright Desert Flower Foundation
an Ambassador. While living with and working for them she discovered a love for fashion and decided she wanted to be a model. She met a photographer who was interested in taking pictures of her. Previous experiences with men having left her distrustful, she simply took his card and tucked it away. It wasn’t until after her relatives went back to Africa, leaving her in London, that W aris ran into him again while working in a McDonald’s. Along with a friend, she called him and went to
Above: Waris Dirie is awarded with the highest French recognition “Le Chevalier de la Legion D`Honneur” by the French president Nicolas Sarkozy, 2007 / Copyright Desert Flower Foundation
his studio for a photo shoot. That day he shot the photo of her which launched her modeling career. As her career was taking off, her unfathomably painful monthly periods drove her to seek medical help. A doctor reversed as much of the damage of her circumcision as was possible and assured her that she was not alone. He frequently treated women with FGM, reversing their brutal injuries to help ensure a safe and healthy delivery for them and their future children. Since that time, Waris has traveled the world, modeling for the top names in fashion and appearing in a James Bond film, “The Living Daylights”. She was joyfully reunited with her mother during a BBC shoot for a documentary about her life. Since that time her family has slowly come to accept her fight to end their culture’s deadly tradition of FGM. She has fallen in love, married, and became a mother. She www.seemagazine.org | pg 4
also wrote three books about her life and experiences, which, after being translated into 65 languages, became international bestsellers. In 2008, the story of her life was made into a major motion picture, “Desert Flower”. Quite a distinguished gallery of accomplishments for a woman who began as a girl who set out across the African desert alone, with nothing but a burning desire to live a better life. What got her through all of her trials? “Persistence, probably” says Waris. “I went through a lot as a child and I am a very strong person if I have to be. I think it’s a quality I inherited from my mother, who still lives in the Somali desert and is an incredibly strong person.” Waris’ life was still to take another turn. In 1997 she quit modeling and decided to become an activist and spokesperon against FGM, the very ritual she suffered as a child. She was appointed United Nations Special Ambassador by United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan in 1997. The girl who had once been a servant in an ambassador’s home was now an Ambassador herself! Now, through her work at The Desert Flower Foundation, which she founded in 2002, Waris and her team fight to liberate girls and women from the horrific bonds of the brutal tradition of FGM. In 2007, Waris was awarded with one of he highest honors in France, “Le Chevalier de la Legion D`Honneur” by the French president Nicolas Sarkozy, Bringing about change in a land so steeped in traditions such as FGM isn’t easy - particularly when the victims themselves do not feel empowered to even speak out about the practice amongst themselves. But Waris persists despite any frustration or discouragement, saying, “I believe that every woman who went through FGM in her inner soul understands and supports my fight against this pg 5 | www.seemagazine.org
Quickfacts: Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) According to the World Health Organization (as of Feburary, 2010): •
approximately 8,000 girls around the world are butchered in circumcision rituals each day
between 100 and 140 million women worldwide are living with the effects of FGM
it is performed on girls between infancy and 15 years of age
particularly in Africa, it is done without anesthesia and under extremely unhygienic conditions
there is an increasing and alarming trend of health care professionals carrying out FGM procedures, all over the world
Approximately 227,000 girls are at risk for FGM in the United States*
*2002 data from the Desert Flower Foundation website
Desert Flower movie premiere in Addis Ababa in June 2010. Waris Dirie, her mother and children on the red carpet / Copyright Desert Flower Foundation
practice, even if she is not in a position to speak out against it.” Her work, along with that of other activists fighting FGM has resulted in some positive change. “Many countries have adopted laws that prohibit FGM, and even through there are still very few convictions, these laws are important statements against the practice,” Waris states. However, there’s still a long road to travel. “Laws alone will never eradicate FGM. In many societies, women are still looked at and treated like goods. They are traded for marriage. They have no rights without their fathers or husbands. They are bluntly disregarded as human beings. In such a social structure, it will not be possible to protect women from violence such as FGM,” Waris says. She continues, “What needs to
many societies, women are still looked at and treated like goods. They are traded for marriage. They have no rights without their fathers or husbands. They are bluntly disregarded as human beings. In such a social structure, it will not be possible to protect women from violence such as female genital mutilation.” change is their position. Empower women to take decisions for themselves and they WILL start taking different decisions for their daughters!” When asked what singular thing she wanted people to know about FGM, she replied, “There is no benefit to FGM. It’s nothing but the most cruel attempt to suppress a woman’s sexuality and thereby to control her. Men and women all over the world need to understand this and move beyond their fears of a different society, to a different way of living
Waris (right) with Soraja Omar-Scego (left), who plays her as a child and her “filmmother” (center) at the set in Djibouti, 2008 / Copyright Desert Flower Foundation
together and respecting each other.” Indeed, an end to FGM is but one dream which would be realized if we could achieve that. Having led such an amazing life and overcome countless adversities, Waris Dirie represents what is possible with a strong belief in oneself and a refusal to give up. Her advice to girls and young women: “Get out there and do what you want to do, fight for the things you want to achieve and speak out against the things that are going wrong in your world!” •
How You Can Help Support the work of the The Desert Flower Foundation by learning more and spreading the word about the horrors of FGM through these resources: •
Desert Flower Foundation Website
Desert Flower Foundation on Facebook
@Waris_Dirie on Twitter
Books by Waris Dirie on Amazon.com
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These “t-shirts on a mission” aim to teach young girls some of life’s most important lessons - the easy way.
by Lori Lewis
It was around 2am when Liza Rodewald woke from a dead sleep, with a vision. Groggy, she grabbed a
pad of paper and a pen from her bedside, sketched and scribbled, and then went back to sleep. The next morning she awoke, observed the notes on the pad and wondered, “What is this? This is silly, no one’s going to want a shirt with “I Rock” across the front of it.” What she had not yet realized was that as she slept, Liza had seen what would become her passion. Ask, and Receive “I had gone to bed that night and just asked God, ‘I want something that will change my life and have an impact. Give me something different,’” says Liza. “Creating a t-shirt was the furthest thing from my mind. It was so far removed from anything I’d ever done or had experience with, that I knew it didn’t come from me.” “I kind of dismissed it at the beginning, but then I was like, ‘no, Liza, you asked for something different, and this is something different.” So, Liza decided to spend a bit of time trying to unravel the mystery that had begun in her sleep. “As soon as I sat
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down at my computer, everything just poured out as to what it meant...it was almost like I was watching a movie in front of me. It was like, ‘the words I Rock are for self-empowerment and for the values that you lost along the way...’” And so i Rock the Tee was born. Her Own Inspiration Her 10-year-marriage to a drug addict, and subsequent divorce had left Liza with a shattered self-image which took a great deal of time and work to piece back together. That experience created a passion in her to help young girls avoid the types of mistakes and choices which had led her down the wrong path. “It really breaks my heart when I see young women who are selling themselves out and overexposing themselves and doing things that are just bad for them in general. You can almost always trace it down to a lack of self-value and selfrespect. If they can understand that they are whole and they’re loved and they’re valued at an early age, and not to look outside themselves for this selfvalidation - if they’d just love themselves first - everything else would fall into place for them.”
Liza Rodewald, founder of “i Rock the Tee”.
She continues, “I want to pass this message down and teach girls at a young age, you know, when you’re 10, turn around to that 7 year old and give her an encouraging word, make sure she’s not sitting by herself at school, reach out and be aware. If we can teach our young girls to turn around and do that for the [younger] girls behind them, we’re going to spread the message and get the change that I want to see, so much faster.”
Photos courtesy of “i Rock the Tee”.
Artist Halee Janes brought i Rock The Tee’s mission and message to a vibrant and free-spirited form. Liza says, “When she showed me the first design, I was just blown away, it was just so inspiring. One of the main elements of the shirts is that we put the words on the shirt, somewhere in the design, upside down so that you can read them to yourself. Because the idea is for people to see the shirt but its mainly for you, when you put on the shirt that you embody the message. When I saw it, I just knew instantly that it was the right thing, it was the right connection.”
One Rockin’ Wish
In the spirit of being a continuing example to young girls and women, Liza recently shared, via a Facebook photo post, one of her personal dreams for i Rock the Tee. “I feel that Taylor Swift embodies the values that I’m trying to get across to young women: she’s very confident, she’s very well put together, she puts out a good message and is a positive role model to young women. That’s why I want to create a shirt which would have her hand-drawn portrait on it. I haven’t been in contact with her about it but it’s definitely one of my personal goals, I guess, for i Rock the Tee, to get that in front of her. She has a large platform with the target age range that I’m trying to reach. I it’s a perfect match - what she does and what I do - and it would be such a help to spread that positive message.” www.seemagazine.org | pg 8
Young models (including Liza’s five-year-old daughter, far right) show off another trademark design element of iRock the Tee’s shirts - an angel’s wing on the back right shoulder.
Un-Fashionably Great Although Liza feels that her company is more about that positive message - that mission - than it is about a clothing line, she is mindful of the negative messages that the fashion industry sends to girls and women. She works hard to mitigate that by running i Rock the Tee in a way that’s consistent with her values and goals for herself and her customers. “It’s disturbing when I don’t see normal looking girls, normal sized women in our magazines, in media. I definitely feel an obligation to stay true to the mission and to take photographs of normal looking people in my shirts.” Using a varied selection of local high school and college girls, Liza also interviews all of her models to ensure that she is presenting people
who will not only showcase the shirts, but would also be a good role model or influence for younger girls. Making a difference Her plan seems to be working - Liza regularly receives Facebook messages, emails, even talks with young girls via phone and Skype and listens to their stories about how i Rock the Tee has positively impacted their lives. “It’s gratifying and it keeps me going whenever I think things are getting hard - because things have been a struggle - and sometimes when I get down, I go back and read these messages or I get a message from a new young women and I think ‘you know, that’s what it’s about - if I can make an impact even on one girl, if
I can change one girl, and have her really understand it and grab hold of it, then I’ve been a success.” Rocking the Future Liza continues to build big plans for her company, which is driven by her “shirts on a mission”. Her web presence is about to grow with the launch of forums and discussion groups, which will include a professional psychologist who will take and answer questions from girls and young women in the i Rock the Tee community. She is also planning on expanding her product line down for an even younger audience, hoping to infuse very little girls with her message of selflove and empowerment. “Whether it’s giving a young girl a shirt and then talking about it, or giving an encouraging word, I want them to carry the message that they are valuable and they are loved and they deserve to be respected - and to expect nothing less than the best for themselves. If I can change one course of direction for just one young woman - and save her some of the heartache I’ve been though - it will all be worth it.”• Visit i Rock the Tee online at: www.irockthetee.com
“Whether it’s giving a young girl a shirt and then talking about it, or giving an encouraging word, I want them to carry the message that they are valuable and they are loved and they deserve to be respected - and to expect nothing less than the best for themselves. If I can change one course of direction for just one young woman - and save her some of the heartache I’ve been though - it will all be worth it.” Photos courtesy of “i Rock the Tee”.
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Heads Up: Politics You Say You Don’t Know Anything About Politics? by Shara Krogh One of the most common phrases uttered by many women is, “I don’t know anything about politics.” Yes. You. Do! Or at least you will, after reading this article. American politics is more than just a ruthless game played by men in power positions. It is a sacred process that affects our everyday lives. As women, we “know” a lot more than many of us give ourselves credit for. Females of all ages make up over 50% of the population in the United States. That’s over 150 million of us! Although women regularly assume leadership roles and take on a multitude of responsibilities with respect to their families, their academic lives and/or their jobs, many remain apathetic when it comes to politics, government and basic civics. Where does such apathy stem from? How do we combat it? Why should we combat it? Apathy, or lack of interest, often stems from lack of understanding. Hence, women who believe that they do not understand politics tend to detach themselves from the very system of government that provides them with a voice. The first step in combating apathy is realizing that we ARE capable of understanding, our opinions DO matter and that collectively, we possess the POWER to effectuate change. Now if we would only exercise it. Understanding politics begins with civics. That is, the responsibilities and rights of citizens. Our American system of government is based on a few foundational principles, as outlined in the following portion of our Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” The Declaration was adopted by our Continental Congress on July 4, 1776. It was aimed at informing the British King that we no longer regarded ourselves as being under his reign. Early Americans sought what many of us take for granted today: independence and freedom. After America fiercely battled for and won its independence, our Founding Fathers attempted to create a system of government whereby individual citizens would have the most freedom possible to pursue their ambitions and passions. One goal was to create a safe and secure environment in which citizens could live. Hence, our military was intended to provide the “necessary forces” to support America’s defense and national security.
Many of us run our households and our lives in a similar way, by creating a safe environment where we, our families and our friends can flourish. Similarly, it is our government’s top priority to keep America, and its citizens, protected and secure. For this, we should be grateful to the men and women who serve in our military. One of the worst predicaments for any nation is when its citizens become indifferent. Since women comprise over half the population in America, it is our responsibility to combat apathy and remain engaged. We must take the time to understand the United States Constitution and how it relates to policy decisions which influence our everyday lives. Each month, this column will assist women with analyzing and understanding pertinent issues in the context of the Constitution, current legislation and Supreme Court precedent. If more women develop an understanding of our Constitution and laws, they will naturally maintain an interest in government and ultimately have greater influence over political outcomes.
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Our Constitution sets forth the “rules” by which our government must operate, just as we set forth the rules for our lives and our households. One goal of politics is to find solutions while working within the context of the rules. The Constitution created three branches of government: the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary. All 3 branches operate separately, but in conjunction with one another to create laws and ensure that our government runs smoothly. It is important that we comprehend the specific purpose behind each branch of government. With comprehension comes power. With power comes the ability to create change. Our Executive Branch consists of the President and his Cabinet. The President is the Commander in Chief of our Armed Forces. He (or perhaps someday “she”) takes an oath to “preserve, protect and defend” our Constitution. The Cabinet’s role is to advise the President on specific subject matters. Cabinet members are appointed by the President and may be removed by the President at will. Cabinet member positions include the Secretary of State, Treasury, Defense, Commerce, Energy, Education, Labor, Health & Human Services, Veteran’s Affairs, Homeland Security and the Attorney General, among others. Currently there are four women serving in the President’s Cabinet, in addition to two female Cabinet-level officers. Our Legislature (“Congress”) consists of elected officials whose role it is to write our laws in accordance with the wishes
of the populace. Our Supreme Court consists of 9 Justices, appointed for life by the Executive Branch. It is their job to interpret and apply the laws passed by Congress. Congress is also assigned the task of balancing our federal budget. Without proper balancing, current and future needs of citizens will not be met. Do you set the rules for your household? Do you attempt to keep your personal environment safe? Do you balance your checkbook and make tough financial decisions that affect you and your family? If so, you have a good basis for understanding politics! Now imagine what would happen if you were apathetic in all of these areas, or if you relied on others to make important decisions for you, without offering any input. Your household would not run smoothly, it might not be safe and you couldn’t possibly meet your needs or the needs of yourself or your family. Consider making a New Year’s resolution to combat apathy in politics by expanding your own understanding of government and staying involved. Here are some simple steps that will leave you feeling empowered and ready to tackle any political issue: 1) Recognize that you already possess the tools to understand politics and our American system of government. 2) Listen to opposing sides of issues within the context of the rules of our nation. 3) Form an opinion! 4) Share your opinion with others. Discuss and debate if there are disagreements 5) Stay open-minded and flexible. Your opinions may change according to your personal life experiences. Don’t lock yourself into one particular viewpoint, but rather, remain open to new perspectives. 6) Vote for political candidates that best represent your core values. Do you know who your Congressional Representatives are and what they stand for? Visit http://www.govtrack.us/ congress/findyourreps.xpd and enter your zip code to find out. • Next month we’ll undertake a legal review of “nontraditional” marriage, analyzed in the context of the Constitution, current legislation and Supreme Court precedent.
United States Capitol Buidling; Photo by Damian Brandon pg 11 | www.seemagazine.org
Bree BUSTS It Up
After being bullied by schoolmates for years, a brave 10-year-old girl rises above her own pain to create a haven for other victims - and healing for her own bully.
by Lori Lewis
Breeanna DeGrove says she’s “just a regular girl”. The 10 year old student at San Mateo Middle School lives in Jacksonville, Florida, participates on a local cheer team, enjoys hip hop dancing, loves to read fiction and listens to Sugarland and Taylor Swift But the truth is, she’s rather extraordinary. Bree (as she likes to be called) is incredibly bright, articulate, and sweet. She’s revealing herself to be
a natural leader who is genuinely interested in helping others - even though at one point, she was hesitant to reach out for help herself. For the past few years, Bree has been bullied at school. In addition to being physically bullied, she was called “Queen of Fat & Nasty” (among other cruel names), and was excluded by classmates who wouldn’t eat lunch with her, partner up with her for classwork or even be her friend.
Above: Bree poses with a trophy presented to her by the Mental Health Association of Jacksonville, who helped plan the Bully Buster’s Club kickoff event. Lower left: anti-bullying banners adorn San Mateo Elementary school grounds. All photos courtesy of Jennifer Macioci DeGrove.
One day last year, the boy who was her chief tormentor told her to “go home and kill yourself because nobody loves you”. This spurred Bree to finally open up to her mother, Jennifer, telling her she felt “the world would be better without me in it” and asking to go to counseling. The single mother of two put her daughter into counseling immediately. “It had gotten to the point where Bree felt she would be burdening everybody with it, so to have a third party available to listen, she could just share how she felt and was very good for her,” says Jennifer. Over time, and with the help of counseling, Bree began to heal and learn that the bullying against her actually had very little to do with her. In an amazing show of compassion and understanding, she made peace with her bully, who apologized and told her he needed help in dealing with stress and anger caused by his parents’ impending divorce. Through that exhange, a www.seemagazine.org | pg 12
Clockwise, from above: Bree is presented an award plaque (detail at left) at a Bully Busters Club meeting; Bree surrounded by club members; A sign created by members of the club; The “Student Power Award”, given to Bree by the National Association of School Psychologists; Bree signs the club’s anti-bullying pledge. All photos courtesy of Jennifer Macioci DeGrove.
seed was planted in Bree’s young mind - one that would grow to positively impact more than just her and her bully. She wrote her principal several letters (complete with a full implementation plan) detailing a club to stem bullying in their school. The principal agreed it was a good idea and pledged to support Bree’s efforts. As word about the club spread, local media caught the story and covered the club’s kickoff event, which was attended by over 400 people. Students signed an antibullying pledge and wore purple to show their solidarity against bullying. Later, over 100 people attended the club’s first meeting including Bree’s bully, who was an active participant in the meeting. Today, Bree’s “Bully Busters” club meets monthly and has almost 90 members, with more joining daily. During their meetings, members talk about their experiences with bullying and other social issues they deal with, they role play “I care” statements to improve their communication skills, and pg 13 | www.seemagazine.org
they’ve read and discussed a book on bullying. Bree hopes to see the program spread to other schools in the area. “I was happy and amazed to see this little idea turn into a big deal,” says Bree. “But it’s not about me, it’s about helping other people.” More committed than ever toward helping people deal with difficulties around school and bullying, Bree plans to be become a guidance counselor when she grows up. Bree’s story is significant because she made a different and better choice for herself, which will now also benefit countless others. Rather than suffer in silence, or turn her pain onto herself (as two ten year old victims of bullying recently, tragically did) - or become a bully herself, she found the courage to reach out for help, and later to offer help to others in need. Despite these efforts, the bullying at Bree’s school - though much better - has not stopped altogether. Still, the impact of Bree’s work with Bully Busters has been significant - several students have recently observed and spoken out against bullying. At the club’s kickoff event, a fellow student
approached Bree and thanked her for starting the club, because “I didn’t want to tell anyone I was being bullied, but now I can talk about it and I can feel better about it.” If a student’s being bullied at school, Bree’s advice to them is “Tell a teacher, tell a parent. You’re not alone. It’ll be OK, you’ll get help trust me.” And her message for those who are bullying others? “Please stop! I’m not sure if you’re aware, but it can turn into a habit and then you’ll pass it on [to your own kids]. Talk to anyone you trust to help you work out what’s got you so upset.” • Visit our blog: •
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For further reading on the epidemic of bullying and tips on what you can do to reach for or offer help
You The Man Dr. Hugo Schywzer is many things to many people:
Portraits of men who stand up for women interview by Lori Lewis
Man, husband, father, teacher, author, speaker, advocate, ally, and feminist - just to touch the tip of the iceberg. As a professor at California’s Pasadena City College and co-founder of the Healthy is the new Skinny and the Perfectly Unperfected Program, he is instrumental in influencing young minds about issues around gender history, women’s studies and body image. As a speaker and author his work tackles those topics as well as sexuality, masculinity, sexual violence, gay and lesbian issues and gender justice. From his personal blog to media outlets such as Jezebel, The Good Men Project* (see sidebar below), The Huffington Post, CNN News and many others, Hugo spreads messages of empowerment to women and men of all ages and walks of life. How does a boy grow up to become a male feminist? What are some of the more challenging issues facing women and men of all ages today? What are some of Hugo’s fears for his own young daughter - and for all girls and women? And what do we stand to gain if there were more men out there who held both genders accountable for co-creating an environment where everyone can live sure and strong in their own understanding of who they are? We posed these, and more questions to Hugo.
See Magazine: Can you briefly describe your childhood, including anything significant that may have influenced the work you grew up to pursue? Hugo Schwyzer: “I think in many ways I was a classic first born son of a single mom. I was both conscientious and rebellious. Trying to be the support that she needed and at the same time rebelling against all of that pressure that I felt to grow up too fast. I was very close to my mother and also close to a lot of the other women in my family...as a result, I felt much more comfortable growing up in the company of women. Not that I necessarily presented myself as a feminine person. I didn’t want to be a woman, I knew I was a guy. But simply to talk to….I could relate to them more. And I realized early for example, talking about some of the stuff that we did, that I was really interested in things like fashion. We have this stereotype that ‘Oh young boy, single mom growing up, interested in fashion, clearly he’s going to end up gay or he is gay’. Certainly, from the time I hit puberty I knew I was very into girls and so I was not gay. But this was the 70’s, we didn’t talk about metrosexuality, we didn’t have a vocabulary for any of that. There was only one standard of masculinity you had to live up to and it was a pretty rigid one growing up in small town America in the late 70’s.”
Dr. Hugo Schwyzer. Photo by Stephen M. C.
One Good Thing Comes To An End
Just two weeks before this issue was published, Hugo Schwyzer resigned from his role as Editor and Contributing Writer for The Good Men Project as the result of unreasonable editorial restrictions put upon him after he stood against the editors of the site during a heated public Twitter debate involving Good Men Project Founder Tom Matlock, feminist and media literary expert Jennifer Pozner, and feminist and political blogger Amanda Marcotte, among others. In the blog post explaining his resignation, Hugo states, “I am a most imperfect feminist. But feminism and gender justice are central to my writing and my work. It was not ethically possible for me to remain silent while the site with which I am now best associated took an increasingly anti-feminist stance. To be fair, it wasn’t tenable for that site to have one of its editors and staff writers be so publicly at odds with and critical of its founder. The only viable option was to step down....I wish the Good Men Project great success..”
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SM: You’re involved with so many initiatives and issues which do you feel is most important in terms of making a positive impact among youth where needed? And which of them do you feel is most fulfilling on a personal basis? HS: “I think that they’re all equally important and equally fulfilling as long as I’m doing what I really love to be doing and I think I’m called to do...which is, connecting with young people and giving them tools to think differently about their lives. You know that’s something that all of these different venues, these different platforms do, which is give me an opportunity to write or to speak around what are essentially the same issues, that are of critical importance to me...gender, sexuality, body image, self esteem. For example, my most important issue in so many ways is this idea of what I call ‘the myth of male weakness’. This idea that men because of their biology or their acculturation are incapable of being as empathetic, as sensitive, as capable of self control as women are. And also relating that to the way in which we pressure young women to pursue perfection. So the myth of male weakness and perfectionism are sort of like, core issues that I keep returning to again and again in different ways and in different venues. Obviously the Perfectly Imperfect Project is designed to reach high school audiences, college audiences, junior high audiences, young people. Whereas the Good Men Project our readership skews significantly older. When I write for Jezebel, for example that’s an audience that skews 20’s and 30’s. The Good Men Project, most of the people reading it are male. Jezebel overwhelmingly female. So we mix it up a little bit.”
Hugo Schwyzer marching with the team at the front of SlutWalk, West Hollywood, June 4 2011. SlutWalk rallies began in early 2011 and became an internationl movement protesting assignment of blame for rape & sexual assault to a woman’s appearance or manner of dress. Photo by L.A. Indy News.
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SM: What do you think is the most threatening problem facing young girls and women today? HS: “I think it’s the overwhelming sense that one mistake will ruin your life. This idea that thanks to the economy, thanks to the good man shortage, thanks to any number of things, that opportunities for happiness are incredibly elusive. This isn’t true, but a lot of women believe it. If you listen to the media it talks over and over again about how ‘oh you’re running out of time to have a baby’, or ‘oh, all the good men are dropping out of college’ or ‘oh, jobs are getting harder to get’ and you look at images in magazines and you see models of course who are skinnier and skinnier and skinnier, etc. It sets up this dynamic where you have to be twice as good as any man and twice as good as your mothers were just to feel okay. You see that perfectionism, that exhausting pursuit of an impossible ideal showing up – not just in terms of bodies, that’s a huge part of it - but showing up in terms of volunteer work and extra credit and chasing good grades and everything else. This is an incredibly anxious generation of young women. That’s the biggest problem – anxiety, perfectionism, the sense that you can’t afford to fuck up because everything will come down all around you if you do.” SM: How do we mitigate that, and help them change that way of thinking? HS: “You start by giving them counter images and counter stories. Obviously one of the things that we’re doing with ‘Healthy Is The New Skinny’ and a lot of the work I’ve done in and around the fashion and modeling industries is to diversify the images of what beauty is. To see that beauty happens across a spectrum of size, across a spectrum of age, across all ethnicities - so that beauty is no longer defined by one narrow ideal. You do that with the body, but you also have to do that in other ways, too. You have to broaden the definition of success - and that’s really important and this is harder than simply encouraging the plus size industry. And you have to give girls images of women who are successful in a wide variety of different ways. Not just because they graduated from Harvard at 23 with an MBA, made a million dollars and then had a handsome husband with a square jaw and they have 3 children, and a house in the Hamptons. You need to show real stories of real women who find genuine happiness and fulfillment sometimes by being alone. That it’s OK to be alone – and no one’s really alone. But meaning - OK to be outside of a monogamous relationship with a man.”
“You need to show stories of women who did undergo setbacks, who did drop out of college, who did change careers, who did get a divorce, who were teenage moms and did all the things that were going to ruin their lives in the eyes of other people. But who instead are having wonderful lives. So it’s about giving counter stories, counter images. Say - ‘you’ve heard that this is what a good girl should do, well let me show you this woman’. Then you go WOW. It’s about giving body and social and career and sexual and emotional diversity. You showing those images, telling those stories and ratcheting down the pressure. You don’t have to make everybody happy. You don’t have to be the straight A student. You don’t have to be 110 lbs. You don’t have to have all these things by the time you’re 25. Stop making your goddamn lists.”
SM: There are some negative articles/blog posts about you out there- many authored by folks who seem to feel that having a pro-feminine perspective is some sort of threat to men or masculinity. Is that sort of reaction typical among men who learn that you’re feminist? HS: “When you have a feminist man or any man who
pushes back in any way, you know, against the traditional masculine ideal, then there’s going to be a tremendous amount of rage. Because it’s as if we’re tattling on the other guys or breaking the first rule of fight club - you don’t talk about fight club. The first rule of masculinity is you don’t talk about male vulnerability in front of other people, particularly in front of women. I think that there is a lot of hostility to what I’m saying because I don’t buy into the myth of male weakness. I hold men accountable - and you know if there’s one theme over and over again in my writing, it’s that men can do better. And I am harder on men than I am on women a lot in my writing not because I think men are better or worse. It’s because I think that as a
“It’s about giving body and social and career and sexual and emotional diversity... showing those images, telling those stories and ratcheting down the pressure. You don’t have to make everybody happy. You don’t have to be the straight A student. You don’t have to be 110 lbs. You don’t have to have all these things by the time you’re 25. Stop making your goddamn lists.”
Hugo Schwyzer at Love Your Body Day Discussion Panel , October 2011, Los Angeles
man, it’s important for me to call out other men.”
SM: What do you think men can gain, and offer others, by opening themselves up to a more pro-female perspective? HS: “We gain some relief from the enormous pressure to live up to an unattainable ideal. It is hard work ‘being a man’s man’ all of the time. It is hard work living in a culture where everyone is afraid of you. Where no one trusts you, because...we raise our daughters to fear men as potential predators, and those who aren’t predators...will break their hearts. Not because necessarily all men are evil, but because men are weak. They’ll cheat, they’ll get distracted, they’ll get addicted, they’ll get stuck in front of the television, they’ll forget to do this whatever it is. We teach women to lower their expectations for men to protect themselves from getting hurt. This concept of men as really capable, responsible, self regulating, articulate creatures… we don’t see that.” SM: Aside from perhaps the obvious, what do you think are the most damaging ways that each of the genders thinks about the opposite sex? HS: “There’s this idea that men are simple and women are impossibly complicated. This idea that women are so difficult to understand and so contradictory that men shouldn’t even bother. So if a man completely blows it in terms of his relationship, if he fails to display empathy or www.seemagazine.org | pg 16
intuition about what a woman - his mother, his wife, his sister, his girlfriend, a female friend - wants or feels.... he can throw up his hands and say …. ‘well look, women are complicated. Who can understand them?’ And so men have this myth that women are complicated. I think that is oversold. All human beings are complicated. But they’re not so complicated that we can’t in fact empathize with them and anticipate their basic needs. By the same token, I think men are more complicated than we give them credit for. The idea that what we really want is sex, food and football and a little bit of ego validation, and if we’re given orgasms and hot dogs and a few hours on the couch to watch a ball game or to play X-Box that we will somehow be totally fulfilled. That all we are is sort of these big lumbering hunks of meat looking for gratification. I think that that totally sells us short too. Men have a much richer and more complicated inner terrain than women realize or that men themselves will admit. And by the same token women are certainly as complicated as men - they’re not less complicated - but they’re not so complicated that we can’t understand them. We’re people…and our biology - the external difference does not signify significant internal difference. We vastly,
Hugo Schwyzer poses with a painting by Estee Kessler. Photo by Ilias Fiakka
wildly over-estimate how different we really are. It doesn’t mean that there aren’t some differences that are real, and obviously some of those differences are very attractive and compelling. We don’t have to be totally desexualized and androgynous in order to lead productive lives. But we do have to recognize that underneath the maleness and the femaleness you choose to perform, that underneath that we’re all people - equally complex, equally pg 17 | www.seemagazine.org
needy, equally capable of giving love. And equally hungry for it.”
SM: What’s your greatest fear and your greatest hope for your own daughter? And for all of the young girls and women out there? HS: “I worry that she’s going to struggle as so many women that I have known in my life have struggled around issues of self image. I worry that she’s going to be overwhelmed by anxiety and doubt. We’re doing everything we can to inoculate her against that. I want her to grow up knowing that what matters is her happiness and that she doesn’t owe us or anyone else anything more than that. We want to give her every possible opportunity but the opportunities we give her are not her obligations. That’s what I want for her, that’s what I want for all of the young women I’ve worked for in my life. Maximum opportunities without the enormous pressure. The enormous burden to live up to our hopes. I want my daughter to be happy, but I don’t sit there - and it’s hard as a parent, any parent will tell you - that you look at your kid and they’re smart and they’re doing this and you start thinking and fantasizing – ‘my daughter the doctor’, ‘my daughter the ballet dancer’, ‘my daughter the lawyer’, ‘my daughter the actress’, ‘my daughter the engineer’, whatever it is. You know, I still have those fantasies ‘cause those are OK. Parents should dream like that, and I want to give her the options. But you know what, if she becomes ‘my daughter the waitress who takes night classes, and does a little of this and a little of that’, if she’s happy – genuinely happy - I’d rather her be in that position than driving herself crazy with anxiety and pain, trying to live up to some expectation we have for her. I want that for all of the young women I’ve worked with in my life. And for those I’m privileged to work with as a teacher and a mentor.” • Learn more about Hugo Schwyzer online at: http://www.hugoschwyzer.net
Praise For Positive Marketing by Lori Lewis
It’s no secret that advertising is a significant force in driving how girls and women see themselves. A major component of media in general, advertising, with its specific goal of generating sales is particularly pervasive. On the website GenderAds.com, founder Scott Lukas archives and categorizes nearly four thousand ads, demonstrating the specific manner in which each ad offends both genders - particularly women. His site also features an interesting and useful guide on How To Read the advertising, encouraging degrees of critical thought in evaluating each ad. This tool would be helpful to anyone beginning to explore media literacy All that being said, all ads are not negative in nature. Each month we’ll evaluate two ads which at least on the surface seem to attempt to empower women. This month we’ll be looking at a print ad from Nike and two television spots from Fruit of the Loom. Nike: A Woman Is Not Measured
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Naturally, Nike’s attempts at integrating empowering into their ad campaigns (particularly toward women) are not without detractors who argue that the company is merely posturing to make sales. However, when we concern ourselves with the specific issue around how ads make women feel, it’s important to consider one’s own initial reaction to having seen the ad - so that is what the heart of this column will be - how I (who, as an overweight woman, have struggled with body image my entire life) reacted to it. Nike’s “Marilyn” ad ran in 1991. I first saw it while I was in college and was locked in a fierce war with my body, which I constantly and cruelly compared to virtually every woman I saw on campus (recipe for self-esteem disaster). So when I came across this ad, it stopped me dead in my tracks, and gave me chills. I had never seen an add that affirmed an imperfect woman’s body before. I recall furtively pulling the text page out of the magazine (I was reading it in the student health center waiting room) and carefully pressing it between the pages of my notebook. That night, I cut it out and pasted it inside the front cover of the journal I was using at the time - it remains there today. The copy reads: “A WOMAN IS OFTEN MEASURED by the things she cannot control. She is measured by the way her body curves or doesn’t curve, by where she is flat or straight or round. By 36-34-36 and inches and age and numbers, by all the outside things that don’t ever add up to what she is on the inside. And so if a woman is to be measured, let her be meaured by the things we can control, by who she is and who she’s trying to become, www.seemagazine.org | pg 18
because as every woman knows, measurements are only statistics and STATISTICS LIE. It made me feel significantly better about myself to simply read that ad copy. I actually remember observing in that moment a feeling of empowerment rising in me - it was strong enough that I vandalized school property so that I wouldn’t forget it. Although it utilizes one of the most iconic faces of feminine beauty, Marilyn Monroe, the emphasis is on her face vs. her body. Also, it’s important to note that Marilyn was, by today’s modeling standards, “plus sized” at her peak dress size: 10. So this ad, despite inclusion of a legendary symbol of female physical beauty and sexuality, doesn’t feel like a push of the unattainable beauty ideal. Particularly since the empowering text occupies an equal amount of real estate as does the imagery - and is afforded a page of its own on the 2 page spread.
And of course, it behooves them to invoke flattery toward their intended audience. Fruit of the Loom’s ads go further, though, extolling the virtues of various body parts at any size (“I can’t imagine how your embrace, would be any warmer on a 20-inch waist”), and even calling out media (“beauty magazines offer their tricks tell me, what are they trying to fix?”). The ad ends with one of the Fruit Guys crooning “Don’t you know, you’re flawless?” It definitely gave me a boost, seeing that ad for the first time. As did their Date Night ad:
Fruit of the Loom: “Flawless” and “Date Night” Television Commercials
Click image to view video A more recent offering comes from Fruit of the Loom for their plus-sized “Fit For Me” line of bras and underwear. Similarly, it had a strong positive effect on me when I first viewed it. I liked it so much I ran it back a couple of times, ultimately recording it on my DVR and telling friends about it. Naturally any company that is marketing to plus sized women must ensure they in no way market their product as some sort of solution for being overweight. pg 19 | www.seemagazine.org
Click image to view video So refreshing to see larger women portrayed as sexual, desirable people! This may seem like a no-brainer, but widespread perception of overweight people is largely that they simply don’t have (or want, by virtue of body shame that they clearly must be suffering from) romantic or sexual relationships. Both Nike and Fruit of the Loom have, in my own opinion and analysis, succeeded in creating campaigns/ ads which build women up as opposed to bringing them down in the name of generating sales. Bravo! •
Spotted an ad that you feel is praiseworthy? Help us share positive advertising images with other girls & women! Tell us about it and we may feature it in an upcoming “A+ Ads” column. Email us at email@example.com
The Goods Feel-Good Treasures From The Bounty of the World Wide Web by Lori Lewis
“The Goods” is our monthly roundup of good stuff we want to share with you - music, articles, videos, books, art - anything that can inspire and empower you. Power Play
Each month we’ll feature a playlist of great music to make you feel GOOD. This month’s Power Play is general feelgood music that lifts you up when you’re feeling down. Artists on this mix include: Heather Small, Chantal Kreviazuk, Janet Jackson, Newton Falkner and more. You can listen to this Power Play mix for free on the 8tracks.com also has great iPhone and Android apps. Enjoy! Want to suggest your favorite song for an upcoming Power Play? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know about it.
There is so much good stuff out there to read to help educate, empower and inspire us. This month we wanted to share what we’re reading now as well as some poetry that inspired us over ten years ago - and still does today! Reality Bites Back: The Troubling Truth About Guilty Pleasure TV by Jennifer Pozner What may seem like harmless fun is really an insidious and carefully orchestrated proliferation of extremely damaging gender stereotypes that are truly harmful in terms of the perception of women and their worth
in modern American culture (and it’s not doing much for our image around the world, either). We’ll be reviewing this insightful (and infuriating - rightfully so!) work in an upcoming issue - but don’t wait on us, check it out now - it’s a VERY worthwhile read for anyone interested in women’s issues and media literacy. The Real Women Project - Poetry of River Malcolm Years ago, while running a body/size acceptance website called Bella Online Magazine, I learned of The Real Women Project - a collection of bronze sculptures of women of various age and body types, exquisite in their realities and imperfections. In beautiful concert with the sculptures is the poetry of River Malcolm. The main poem for the project, which stuck in my head for the better part of a decade, begins: “I want to tell you how beautiful you are in such a true and unforgettable way that you will never doubt it again...” Gotta love THAT! You can read all of River’s poetry for The Real Women Project here.
Here are some of our favorite contributions in the field of visual arts: painting, sculpture, film and more. Miss Representation First and foremost in this area must be the film that “started it all” for See Magazine: the insightful and often shocking documentary file, Miss Representation. Directed by Jennifer Siebel Newsom, the film takes an unflinching look at how girls and women are
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unrelentingly negatively portrayed by mass media in our culture, and the high cost this levies against advancement in areas of political representation and power for women. Truly an eye opener, you will never look at television, magazines and news in quite the same way again (which is a GOOD thing!). The Miss Representation movement has gone far beyond the film, with a robust and engaging website, consumer and social activism, and more. Find a screening near you or purchase the Miss Reprentation Educational Curriculum to view and share in your own home. Alterations Art Project Artist Birgit Gehrt was commissioned by The Body Positive to create an art installation that would explore the relationship between clothing, fashion and body image. The outcome was a collection of fascinating wearable and/ or sculptural garments and accessories which comment on clothing’s roles in our lives and how it serves as a messenger in society. You can view some of the lovely works and learn more about the Alterations project here. Lyssandra Designs Vibrant, wonderfully creative and centered in imagery around the divine feminine and goddesses, artist Pegi Eyers describes her work as “a joyful celebration of HER!”. Her website features an incredibly diverse and extensive selection of prints, journals for purchase. Pegi’s work, which can be viewed/purchased on her website, is an inspirational must-see. The Real Women Project Sculptures These gorgeous sculptures, and the accompanying poems (mentioned above) are testaments to the beauty found in our unique and glorious forms and their imperfections. No two alike, the thirteen sculptures capture a spectrum of women at various life stages (From Lily at 14 to Elsie, at 73), sizes, and shapes. Seeing women so lovingly exalted - just as they are - is liberating and empowering. You can view them on The Real Women Project Website. Women Written/Directed Films In theaters now, these films represent opportunities to support women in cinematic arts - and be well entertained while doing it! Land of Blood & Honey, - Written & Directed by Angelina Jolie
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Pariah - Written & Directed by Dee Rees The website BINSIDE TV features a helpful weekly roundup of women’s film openings. TIP: If you wish to support women-created film, it’s best to attend during opening weekend - partcularly on Friday - as that first weekend’s box office receipts are what are widely reported and seen as an early indicator of a film’s success.
Woman Worthy Web
Here are some fantastic websites to help inform, inspire and empower. AdiosBarbie.com This website is a bastion for fabulous “body lovin’” content including articles, campaigns and events to help foster a body and self-loving world. Visiting this site often will help keep you in the right frame of mind to recognize just how awesome you are - JUST as you are. AmazingWomenRock.com An “online oasis for amazing women - and those who appreciate them”, this website is chock full of articles, profiles, resources, blogs, videos, causes - anything you want to learn about incredible women and their work, art, and lives. A great site! “Love Your Body” Articles Holiday indulgences and the dawn of the new year make this the perfect time to reaffirm healthy habits. Start with loving and accepting yourself just as you are - these articles offer terrific tips of improving your body image. -Want A Better Body Image? Write A New Story -10 Things To Do Tomorrow To Boost Your Body Image •
Want to share some good stuff of your own? Email us at: email@example.com
Thank you so much for reading! I hope this gorgeous design by i Rock the Teeâ€™s Halee Janes will remind you to never stop dreaming. Dreams give our lives wings and let us soar. You deserve to dream, and dream BIG! Love,
January, 2012 - Premiere issue of See Magazine | Stories of Empowered Girls and Women