Negative Body Talk: 97% of Young Women Are Victims. Daily.

According to a recent study by Glamour, young women will have 13 negative thoughts about their bodies per day. This study of 300 women of varying sizes and shapes asked participants to record all thoughts about their body over the course of one day. The results were shocking to Glamour, but not to me. 97% of the participants had at least one negative comment within the day. Of the respondents, 63% said they weren’t shocked by their number of negative comments/thoughts. 

At first, I was really not sure if I wanted to read this study I saw mentioned in my Facebook news feed. You see, I am the 97 percent. In December 2008, I gave up my monthly readership of Glamour and Cosmo.  It has been 62 months since I’ve so much as held an issue. I’m so thankful for the decision I made, and the faith in it to never go back. However, I clicked, promising to close the window at the first red flag. What I found was pretty interesting, yet hypocritical. Throughout they offer a rally cry, reworded, but always saying the thing, “Come on, girls, we’re better than this. Love yourself!” Yet, the pages of their publication are full of computer altered images for women to view as perfect and desirable. Their article suggests young women should be more accepting of their bodies, yet when you put this in context, the entire article is dripping with disdain. 

But back to the big picture. This week is National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, which is why this article was particularly hard for me to ignore. The average woman says 13 negative things about their bodies a day? Well, today, in honor of the many women I know who have suffered through their eating disorders, and struggled daily through the hardest days of recovery, I fight back. Here are 13 things I love about my body. 

1. If looks could kill, my eyes would be wanted by the United Nations and INTERPOL. 

2. My hair is actually pretty great. It’s thick and curly, so I can do almost anything with it — with enough time and patience. 

3. I have great balance. 

4. I’m very flexible, and have been at a variety of sizes. 

5. Sure, they are a sign of skin damage, but I really like my freckles. 

6. My body can produce another human being, if I want to. That’s insane! 

7. This body is mine and only mine. I am the only person with control over it. No bully, boyfriend, or politician can take my bodily autonomy from me. Not now, not ever. 

8. 

9. 

10. 

11. 

12. 

13. 

Well, I couldn’t do it. But, I think this is still a great starting point. It took me over an hour to come up with seven. Maybe this time next year I’ll be able to have all thirteen. The important thing is that I made this list, instead of compiling a tally of the negative things. I hope everyone reading this is able to come up with 13 positive things about themselves. Hey, if you can’t, that’s okay! I couldn’t, and I bet many of us can’t. All we can do is try. Let me know if you can, and what you think about this study in the comments. I’d be very interested to hear. 

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A President’s Day Look at the Most Influential First Ladies

It is said that behind every great man is a great woman. In the case of our nation’s history, sometimes there is an even greater woman behind the scenes. Today is President’s Day, a day in which Americans flock to department stores and online retailers for big discounts celebrate all the American Presidents, past and present. While I do not even want to think about the sporadic amount of presidential history that is actually taught in American public schools today, I know there is little to no focus on first ladies. So, we here  at Feminism & Football (and by that I mean me), want to celebrate four exemplary First Ladies of the United States.

1. Eleanor Roosevelt (March 4, 1933 – April 12, 1945), wife to Franklin D. Roosevelt, was our longest serving first lady. While that may seem like an advantage in accomplishing things, America faced her darkest years. The Great Depression. World War II. Eleanor Roosevelt was quite controversial, but well behaved women rarely make history, and history she made. Outspoken on many issues, from civil rights for African Americans and Asian Americans, the rights of World War II refugees, and expanded workplace opportunities for women, many feared Roosevelt would lead women astray. Moreover, some saw her advocacy as detrimental to the war effort. She knew otherwise, and was the first FLOTUS to hold her own press conference. She maintained a syndicated newspaper column, and spoke at national conventions. What stands out to me as a feminist and historian is her public rejection of several of her husband’s policies. On the day of the Pearl Harbor attack, she advised Americans against any, “great hysteria against minority groups.” She was also openly critical of her husband and others who were opposed to allowing refugees of Nazism into the United States. These are just some of her many accomplishments in the White House. For more on Eleanor Roosevelt, consider this monograph.

2. Betty Ford (August 9, 1974 – January 20, 1977), wife to Gerald Ford, became FLOTUS suddenly, after the resignation of Nixon. Dubbed “No Lady” by many conservatives, Ford was outspoken on many hot button issues, including drugs, sex, the ERA, equal pay, and abortion. In an interview with McCall’s Ford recalled she was asked everything except for how often she and President Ford had sex. Famously she continued, “And if they’d asked me that I would have told them,” she said, adding that her response would be, “As often as possible.” The mother of four, she openly spoke about the benefits of psychiatric treatment, marijuana use, and premarital sex. Ford strongly supported the Equal Rights Amendment, and went as far as personally lobbying state legislatures to ratify the amendment. Similarly, she was vocal about women’s abortion rights. Just weeks after becoming the FLOTUS, Ford underwent a mastectomy. Unsurprisingly, she was very open about her diagnosis and treatment, stating “There had been so much cover-up during Watergate that we wanted to be sure there would be no cover-up in the Ford administration.” Her unwavering strength and openness raised the visibility of breast cancer nationally. Ford told Time, “When other women have this same operation, it doesn’t make any headlines.But the fact that I was the wife of the President put it in headlines and brought before the public this particular experience I was going through. It made a lot of women realize that it could happen to them. I’m sure I’ve saved at least one person — maybe more.”  Her openness only continued after her time in the White House, as she sought treatment for alcohol and prescription addiction. Later, she opened the Betty Ford Center for the treatment of chemical dependency to continue to help others.

3. Lady Bird Johnson (November 22, 1963 – January 20, 1969), wife of (my favorite president of the second half of the twentieth century} Lyndon Baines Johnson, rose to become FLOTUS after the assassination of President Kennedy, and her husband’s assumption of the presidency. She was the first to have her own press secretary, chief of staff, and a congressional liaison. During the 1964 presidential campaign, Lady Bird traveled throughout the South, giving 45 speeches in 4 days, promoting the Civil Rights Act. This marked the first solo campaign trip for any first lady. She was a proud supporter of the Head Start Program, and served as an honorary chairperson for the National Head Start Program. Above all else, Lady Bird was an environmentalist. From her vast Society for a More Beautiful Capital, that planted trees and flowers throughout Washington, D.C., to her active lobbying for the passage of the Highway Beautification Act of 1965, she sought to make the United States a more beautiful place. As she put it, “where flowers bloom, so does hope.”

4. Dolley Madison (March 4, 1809 – March 4, 1817) was our nation’s fourth FLOTUS, wife of James Madison. As a historian, I really appreciate Madison’s decision to pack and preserve many White House furnishings as Washington, D.C. was attacked during the War of 1812. Now, granted, this wouldn’t have happened if her husband were better at his job. Yet, her foresight in making sure some of these American treasures survived earns her a spot in my heart. Moreover, she served as a ceremonial First Lady for Thomas Jefferson, whose wife, Martha, had died prior to his term. A warm, welcoming hostess, and saver of timeless White House decor (including a classic portrait of George Washington), Dolley Madison may not have been as politically outspoken as the three previous first ladies, but for her time she was involved in two administrations and helped saved invaluable artifacts which always earns an A in my book.

This is EVERYTHING I have to say about Michael Sam

This is a video of Dale Hansen, a Dallas sportscaster. In just over two minutes, he explains why there are no excuses for homophobia in the NFL (or in the world). And he ends with a quote from Audre Lorde. This is everything I thought it could be and more.

For every front office, every GM, saying, “Well, I won’t draft him, because I just don’t know about the locker room,” is not only homophobic, but doesn’t trust that his players are adults. This is an elite sports league, the locker room should reflect professionalism. Michael Sam’s sexual orientation does not matter. His ability to excel in this sport matters, and his future is greater than any of the hate and negativity any front office can offer.

Someone End This Nightmare: Super Bowl XLVIII Part II

You know that uneasy feeling when you’re watching an awkward exchange, on tv or in real life? It’s just so terrible you can’t look? That’s how I felt throughout the second half of this game. After having the best season of any quarterback in the history of the NFL, Peyton Manning and the Broncos absolutely face-planted. As I mentioned in Part I, I knew coming into tonight it was going to be a showdown between the best offense (Denver) and the best defense (Seattle). Unfortunately for the hundreds of millions of people watching, only Seattle showed up to win. Never in my life as a football fan have I ever seen Peyton Manning so stunted. His arm is mechanical, and tonight he had to try too hard.

I don’t know if the season’s best team won, but the only team that showed up to win certainly did. Seattle, congratulations on your organization’s first title. Seattle’s offense and defense were just superior. I hope that the win is not downplayed because of Denver’s level of play. 

2014 Season, see  you soon!

Super Bowl XLVIII, Part I

Coming into tonight, I thought this would be a game of a very strong offense (Denver) vs. a very strong defense (Seattle) and whichever was stronger would win the game. Tonight, the world has only seen one offense and defense, and its both been Seattle. I have to be honest: today I wanted nothing more than to see Peyton not win. Here’s another truth: I didn’t want it to happen like this. I was born into the mess that is New England sports fandom. Since the rise of the Manning/Brady rivalry, a Manning loss was a Brady win. But that first quarter was not what I wanted. I wanted to see a game with two teams that wanted to win, not one so stunted it could barely perform. The Seahawks absolutely steamrolled Manning and the Broncos. I have hope for the second half, however. Of all the quarterbacks in the league right now, the two that can absolutely come back and win, facing a 25+ deficit, are Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. I think this second half, if they get their heads square on their shoulders, can make up for abysmal first half. That way, they can be down by a few, Manning can throw a hail Mary to Welker twice, and he can drop both throws, ruining it for the Broncos, too. 

Nope. I’m not still bitter.