Media and Magazines suck!

Belly dance students come in all shapes, sizes and ages. Research shows that belly dancers have fewer hang-ups about their bodies.

Belly dance students come in all shapes, sizes and ages. Research shows that belly dancers have fewer hang-ups about their bodies.

Rant alert! I am SICK to DEATH of seeing nothing but photoshopped images in the media! I know, I know, nothing radical or new about this rant, but as my daughter gets older, I find myself more and more protective of what she sees. Currently, she is very secure in the knowledge that has “a really cute bottom” (she says) and likes it when her bathers show it off (which in itself can be worrisome except she is soooo very proud that I am seeing it as a good thing). Now while she knows that she is also intelligent, kind, generous, a good problem solver and a confident reader, I am worried that in a few years when we move from cartoon based TV and movie viewing to “real” looking actors that she is going to change her view of herself. Growing up, I always looked for any signs of curves on female actors, wanting to feel “normal” as I always felt as if my thighs were enormous. And no matter how hard I looked, actresses didn’t seem to have wobbly bits or cellulite. Why the heck not?

I came across a very disturbing set of statistics from Raderprograms:

Women Are Dying to be Thin - Media Influence on Eating Disorders
Infographic provided by Rader Programs

Recently, Meaghan Kausman, went public about her outrage over an underwater photo in which she was wearing Fella Swim bathers, was used by Fella Swim on their own website, after photoshopping her body (and without permission). She was outraged and says she is a size 8 not a 4. Considering a size 8 is already quite petite, why would they feel the need to photoshop?

Meaghan is the daughter of body image campaigner Dr Rick Kausman, who advocates a ‘non-diet’ approach to health, and it’s refreshing his views seem to have been instilled in his daughter.

She told Cosmopolitan magazine: “Because of who my Dad is and the way I’ve been brought up, I’ve never felt any pressure to look a certain way. And if people can take one thing away from all of this it should be to love who you are, which I know can be hard, but it’s so important for people to feel comfortable in themselves and not to strive for something that doesn’t exist.

“That photo wasn’t me, and the reality is no one looks like that. It’s so important for people to realise how heavily photoshopped these kinds of images are.”

Here are the two photos see what you think:

Meaghan Kausman was photoshopped by the bikini makers without her permission.

Meaghan Kausman was photoshopped by the bikini makers without her permission.

You would have read my recent blog about the Feelings of a Plus Sized Bellydancer, why can’t our perceptions of beauty change? Yesterday, I found myself in a Facebook “discussion” about what constitutes “beauty”. One narrow-minded (yes that is a judgmental opinion!) person said that no-one over 40 who does not have tight skin and a thin physique should dance in public. You can imagine the hurt and outrage that ensued. The commenter actually honestly did not realise that she was being so hurtful until I sent her a personal message asking her to stop. She used the old “I’m just expressing my opinion” stance in defence. As I turn 40 next year, and am always advocating positive body-image, I found it extra offensive!

So this leads to the fact that my daughter is into Princesses (sigh) so, first, I showed her pictures of “real” Princesses without their finery on (Princess Eugene and Beatrice etc), and she was quite disappointed, but just said she preferred the “beautiful ones”. So when I steered her towards Merida in Brave, she says she likes Cinderella best (a doormat for a role modal NOOOOOO! Mind you, she hasn’t even seen the movie lol) Maybe I could stick these versions of the Disney Princesses into her books? Like this one of Jasmine:

Jasmine from the Disney movie Aladdin is much too tiny.

Jasmine from the Disney movie Aladdin is much too tiny.


This version of Jasmine from Aladdin shows a still slim, but less unhealthy looking Princess for our young girls.

This version of Jasmine from Aladdin shows a still slim, but less unhealthy looking Princess for our young girls.

And don’t get me started on female superheros costumes!

Lammily is a doll who has healthy proportions, and looks like she could do anything!

Lammily is a doll who has healthy proportions, and looks like she could do anything!

So what can I do to protect the self-esteem of my daughter? I guess the only things I can

do is read her empowering stories of Princesses rescuing themselves (A great list of Independent Princesses can be found on A Mighty Girl website), receive the realistically shaped Lammily Doll I ordered (see what kids think of her) praise her for attributes that are not to do with looks, but rather her ability to resolve situations and make good choices, and live as an example in showing pride in my curves. (And cross my fingers!)

Raising a confident introverted child

Charni is raising her introverted daughter to be socially confident with acceptance and understanding.

Charni is raising her introverted daughter to be socially confident with acceptance and understanding.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I am an introvert (see previous post for the true meaning of the term). In writing about it, I realised that my daughter is also an introvert, and my son an extrovert. He always wanted my attention, company or for me to sit and watch what he was doing and comment. My daughter has always been happy in her own space, could entertain herself for ages, she was fine as long as she knew I was around.

In social situations this came across differently. I have always gotten cross when people labelled my daughter as shy. When meeting a strange adult that I knew but she didn’t, she would stand next to me, look down and not say a word. People would smile at me and say “oh she’s shy” I would say clearly, “No, she is not shy, she is choosing not to speak until she knows you and feels comfortable”. I got quite a few shocked faces at that! I personally think “shy” is a damaging label, especially, as in this case, it wasn’t true. Why do I think it is a damaging label? Well, if a child is told often enough they are shy, they will view themselves as that and behave to confirm that label. It also gives them a reason not to engage in public, as they can say to themselves “I can’t talk to that person, I am shy”. It would be better to work on getting a child to feel confident in public, regardless of whether they are an introvert or extrovert.

Susan Cain, acclaimed author and expert on introverts, agrees that introverted children have their own quiet strength. My daughter just didn’t like talking to people if she didn’t know them. She also used to be hesitant to speak up in front of a group, but one-on-one she talked non-stop.

She is now quite confident socially, and in front of a group, and I aim to have that continue.

How have we achieved this?

This is what worked/is working for us and is not intended to fit all kids, as my daughter has a few characteristics that are also commonly found in kids on the autism spectrum, such as: she does not make eye contact if she is not interested, can’t see the point in social niceties and has to make a real effort to remember to say hello or reply when spoken to, has certain routines that need to be completed before she can go on with the next etc. (By the way, I had her assessed for social skills, spectrum behaviours and school readiness, and the result confirmed what I thought – she is fine, just an introvert and a unique quirky person.)

1. Understand how they think and what motivates them.

I know that my daughter needs time to be by herself to recharge. I also understand that her priorities are not the same as mine. I think it is important to put your shoes on and leave the house to get somewhere on time, she thinks it is important to finish colouring in her picture. Me telling her why she has to stop and do what I am asking does not work, as she doesn’t see what it has to do with her (the “why”). So if I put it in a way that she can see the benefit, she is much more likely to cooperate. “By leaving the house on time, you be in time to do *insert fun thing here*”. Plus I can give her plenty of warning of when a change is about to take place. “In 5 minutes, it will be time to finish colouring and put your shoes on”, “Last minute before it’s time to put your pencil down” or “what part of the picture are you going to stop, and come back and do later?” On the flip side, this means she is very focused and tenacious in achieving a goal.

2. No pressure to socialise

Instead of foisting her into a large group of people and expecting her to just “get used to it”, I found a place where she felt there were fun things to do, which also had a group of kids. We had a fantastic Kindergarten, and she had seen her brother go there for two years before it was her turn for 3-year-old Kinder, so she was confident to start 4 year-old Kinder. The teachers understood her, and didn’t pressure to join the other kids, simply praised her for any interaction or cooperative play with others. After 6 months, she was starting to do activities where other kids were, and by the end of the year she was fully interacting in social and creative play situations.

3. Acceptance for who she is and her strengths, teach others how to treat her.

She did not speak up in mat time at Kindergarten, and while the teachers gave her opportunities, they quickly moved on if she did not participate. On starting school, I gave a detailed behaviour description with strategies to the Prep teacher. At first she was very hesitant, played by herself on the playground or only with a couple of the girls she knew from Kindergarten, or looked for her brother. She was the target for some bullying, which was quickly addressed and the whole class taught about what was acceptable behavior. Once she became familiar with the routine and learnt what the expectations were, she started speaking more. By the middle of the year she was speaking up in front of the class and regularly played with all the kids.

4. Give her time away from others to recharge.

My introverted daughter has her own "recharge space"

My introverted daughter has her own “recharge space”

When she comes from school, or on a weekend and especially at the beginning of school holidays, she does not really want to socialise. Arranging a play-date at the beginning of the holidays does not go down well, or if we do, it needs to be with people who know she sometimes likes to play by herself until she is ready to interact.

5. Give her a space to do alone activities

I recently repainted and rearranged her room, and set up a craft/drawing table just her size, just for her, with all her pencils and colouring books in reach. She loves it and it gives her a needed “head-space” place.

So, as the years pass, I watch my daughter blossom and become more and more socially confident. She is now confident enough now to get up in front of the school to accept an award. And at dinner last week she asked if I could belly dance at assembly, with the proviso that she can come up with me, in a nice costume and do the moves she knows too. Shy? I don’t think so!



You run like a girl? Good for you!

Wonder Woman knew how to punch, run and kick like a girl!

Wonder Woman knew how to punch, run and kick like a girl!

I am the first to admit that I am not the most sporty of people. Throw a ball my way and I’m more likely to duck than catch it. I am not a fan of violence, so I wouldn’t know how to throw a punch. Yet, when I think about it, I took self-defence classes as a teenager, and it got me out of a potentially dangerous situation of assault, leading to the successful conviction of someone who would have been likely to repeat an attack on someone who looked vulnerable. So just because I don’t condone violence, doesn’t mean I will passively accept it.

I came across a video done by “Always”, a feminine hygiene company (why do they always have the good ones?) and it got me thinking. The topic is #likeagirl

I loved this idea. Because, yes, doing something “like a girl” normally has negative connotations. Why? I love how the young girls were the ones who didn’t buy into the social expectation, and how the older women, once they realised, were able to change their behaviour to reflect reality. My favourite? How the boy said he wasn’t talking about his sister, he was talking about girls, and the look on his face when he realised it.

Go on - run like a girl! I dare you!

Go on – run like a girl! I dare you!

Like Santa for your vagina!

Charni would like to have celebrated her first period!

Charni would like to have celebrated her first period!

I have often lamented that I didn’t find belly dance until I was at the end of my teens rather than the beginning. Hips widening, and those lovely little cherrry-sized lumps that bulge behind your nipples are not the only signs of womanhood. As a woman, we think back all misty eyed to that very momentous occasion in a young girl’s life, when she becomes a woman. Yes, that very special moment that says she has flowered, can be looked back upon fondly….. NOT! I don’t know about you, but my “special” moment happened on holidays, with extended family, at my Grandparent’s place on the Gold Coast. And I discovered the onset of this momentous occasion at…Dreamworld! I spent the whole day trying to get my Mum to one side to tell her, and kept visiting the toilets every hour to see if the toilet paper pad was holding up. I ended up telling her when we got back. It was not a moment of celebration. She was annoyed as she only had tampons, so had to go around all the aunts and cousins asking if anyone had supplies. Just a tad embarrassing for a 12-year-old. I had read books (one of which was “Are you there, God? It’s me, Margaret” by Judy Blume) and pamphlets, but nothing prepared me for this public “coming out” of my womanhood!! Aaarrgh!

How was it for you?

Well I have just discovered the most marvellous, empowering and hilarious videos made by a company called HelloFlo. I introduce you the “Camp Gyno” who gets her Red Badge of Courage!

Classic!! THis had me in stitches! “LIke Santa for your vagina”!!!!

Here’s another funny video from HelloFlo about what happens if you jump the gun and announce the event too soon…

Well my point is, that it doesn’t need to be something dreaded or embarrassed about. It happens, so let’s find the fun and embrace these girls who are now joining the “Red Sisters” Club.