Wentworth Miller Expands the Body Conversation

Actor Wentworth Miller recently turned a painful moment into an opportunity to shed light on the ways body shaming affects men, and reading his story really resonated with me.


Miller addresses how the not-so-funny meme made about his weight brought him back to a really dark moment in his life when he was struggling with depression and suicidal thoughts.


Miller’s bravery in sharing his story helps to break down the stigmas around mental health and body image. This benefits everyone, but, more specifically, it’s a huge support move for other men.


Gender expectations don’t only affect women, they hurt men, too.


Men are affected by beauty standards and body shaming.


Men struggle and live with mental illness.


Men feel pressure to live up to society’s expectations of what is “masculine.”


Our culture perpetuates the idea that men aren’t “supposed” to talk about these sensitive issues, but ignoring the ways gender expectations affect men does not make them go away.


Sharing personal stories, as Miller did, expands conversations, opening them up for more men to share their struggles.


Telling your story is the first step in creating change.


Women Inspiring Women

I’m spotlighting my SHEROES in honor of Women’s History Month to celebrate the wonderful people we know in real life, and make them the true celebrities!


Erin Loos Cutraro is the Co-founder and CEO of She Should Run — an organization inspiring more women to consider running for public office.


I asked Erin: In this last year, what has represented the biggest step forward for women in our country?


Here’s what she said:

It’s increasingly likely that this year we’ll have a woman as a major party nominee for President of the United States for the first time in US history.

And by showing that no path is off limits for women, we inspire more women and girls to envision themselves making a difference by stepping up to lead.


Why Creativity Is Essential to My Well Being

Even when we love what we do, we can still feel jaded, weighed down, or in a rut.

When I’m feeling like this — a bit burnt-out that the day-to-day tasks at hand, I know just what I need to do… I need to create something.


Creativity helps me to engage with the extraordinary things that lie in the midst of this ordinary day-to-day world.


By creating something — anything (a blog post, a journal entry, a vision board, a great chopped salad (no, seriously) I can tap into methods of self-expression that I often put on the backburner when answering emails and returning missed phone calls.


When I can generate something completely original, something beautifully and inherently unique to myself, I feel vulnerable and challenged and find that it’s an incredible way to push myself to grow.


The Power of Your Voice

I’m spotlighting my SHEROES in honor of Women’s History Month to celebrate the wonderful people we know in real life, and make them the true celebrities!


I asked Denene Millner — New York Times best-selling author and national parenting expert: Why is it important for women to create and produce their own work? What is your vision for your imprint?


Here’s what she said:


We women have such incredible voice — voice flavored with experiences that are all-at-once unique and interesting, intelligent and colorful. Beautiful. Necessary. When we lean into that voice, when we show that perspective in our art, we touch and teach — show that there is great value in diversity of thought. Great value in being exactly who we are, without apology. What’s the use in trying to fit the grandness of us into a sliver of what a patriarchal society thinks is appropriate and right? We should have absolutely no interest in playing ourselves small. When we create, produce and tell our own stories, we harvest truth. Creating and producing our own work, then, is about the pursuit of truth. Our truth. It gives us wings.


This is certainly the impetus behind why I founded Denene Millner Books, my children’s book imprint. I want children of all races and cultures to crack open these books and see the humanity of African American children — to understand that their stories are so much more colorful and interesting and beautiful and normal than those narratives that consistently find their way into our spaces. Black children — and, by extension, our families — are largely ignored in the children’s book space, and in mainstream media, they are made to be either pariahs or victims. My intent is to give us the proper airing we deserve. These books will be a love letter to the beauty and humanity of us.


6 Ways To Become Your Own Best Friend

True friendships offer a wonderful reflection of ideal self-care — you have someone by your side that treats you in a way you often don’t treat yourself — with reverence, respect, and the right dose of silly.


Wouldn’t it be incredible to show ourselves that same type of love?


Is it possible to see ourselves through fresher, kinder eyes and ditch the critical in favor of the compassionate? I think so.


Here are six ways to become your own best friend:


1. Take time for TLC. When we get busy, we drop off our own to-do lists. We stop taking care of crucial things like rest, nutrition, and soulful exchange. Don’t skimp on the self-love, instead make a date with nurturing yourself like you would schedule a catch up with a friend. It’s that important.


2. Feel everything. One of the best parts of friendship is that you have someone who validates everything you feel (yep, even the crazy stuff). So remember to do the same and allow yourself to feel a full range of feelings. Put away the judgment and trust that your emotions are healthy, and even the painful feelings will eventually pass.


3. Ask: “Do you need help with anything?” How many times have you said that to a friend?! Check in and ask yourself the same thing and then seek out the people who can help you. One of the bravest acts of self-love we can practice is knowing when to ask for assistance.


4. Learn to trust yourself. The trust within friendships is built over time through experience, the same can be said of trusting ourselves. Learn to root for you. Learn to believe that you have what it takes to be loyal, loving, and kind to yourself. Building that self-trust will guide you through decisions and dilemmas with confidence.


5. Celebrate victories. We LOVE to celebrate our friends when they have moments of success. So make sure you do the same for yourself! Acknowledging what is worth celebrating in your life is not only healthy my necessary. It builds up a reservoir of good experiences to enjoy. And life is sweeter when we can enjoy those moments with the people we love.


6. Continue to Learn About Yourself. All friendships grow stronger as we learn more about the other person. That is the foundational element of real friendship — a growing together through things. While getting to know our friends deeply can highlight some of the not-so-great aspects of them, we choose to appreciate them for all of the brilliant ways they add to our lives, instead of honing in their imperfections. In learning about yourself, focus on celebrating who you are, rather than bemoaning who you aren’t.


How Has Being A Woman Changed in the Last 30 Years?

This March, I’m spotlighting my SHEROES in honor of Women’s History Month! Let’s celebrate the wonderful people we know in real life, and make them the true celebrities!


I asked Rosie Molinary – an incredible woman in my community and author of Beautiful You: A Radical Guide To Self-Acceptance: How has being a woman changed from the time you were a child to now?


Here’s what she said:


I came of age in the 1980s and 1990s. What felt most urgent for girls at that time was the need to be good. Title IX hadn’t yet taken effect where I lived so I was the manager/ trainer for the men’s soccer team rather than being on the soccer team.


There were assumptions about who I could be and what I could access – not just because I was a woman, but because I was a Latina.


Technology has given us the ability to be even more intersectional, and women are gaining greater access (albeit slowly) on their own merits (as opposed to because we followed petty rules set to limit us).


But in many ways, technology has proved to be a valuable tool that comes at a price. Perhaps as a species, we are wired to fear lack. We can be so scared that there is not enough in the world for all of us – so when someone else is ‘getting ahead’, sometimes we’re scared they took a piece of the pie that was being saved for us.


When we come up with answers like, “That woman took it from me,” or more specifically, “that Latina/Lesbian/Black/immigrant woman took it from me,” that sentiment, born from fear, creates a bigger chasm.


When I was young, the doubters in my life had to say it to my face. It took a special sort of gumption to do that. Today, doubters can say anything to anyone in any number of ways. It creates a collective wound, in some ways, but if there is anything I learned growing up and being told that my abilities were not worthy – it is that scars show and build character.


With every great macro-progress comes micro-reaction as the world adjusts. The important thing is to douse ourselves in self-care, to support one another through it, and to keep going – because struggle is the journey that creates headway.


How Inspirational Women Shape Our Lives

This March, I’m spotlighting my SHEROES in honor of Women’s History Month! Let’s celebrate the wonderful people we know in real life, and make them the true celebrities!


I asked Julie Ann Crommett – force for change and Google’s Program Manager for Computer Science Education in Media: Who is the most inspirational woman in your life?


Here’s what she said:


Without a doubt, it is my namesake. Both my mother and abuela (“Abuita”). I am named after both of them and am a combo of their biggest personality traits.


My abuita Julie left Cuba with my abuelo, mom and godfather with only the clothes on their backs and what they could carry in some duffle bags. By the time she was my age, she had left her home country, moved multiple times with two kids, resettled in a new country and was holding down a steady job. That kind of courage and grace is at once astounding and inspiring.


At almost 82 years young, she is still going as President of the Southeast Regional Catholic Women’s Association where she is driving a campaign to stop human trafficking locally. She has modeled to me resilience, maintaining faith and hope at the center of one’s life and to believe that anything is possible no matter your age, circumstance or set-backs.


My mother, Ana, is a remarkable woman. Coming of age during the feminist movement, she attended Tufts undergrad and Harvard Graduate School of Education and has single handedly changed the lives of thousands of children as a tireless teacher, school principal and educational strategist. For her, the kids come first and that those who can not speak for themselves always need champions.


I watch her in awe as she’s reinvented the second half of her life learning non-profit management, working in corporate America and marking new paths to make a difference including working jointly with my abuela to stop human trafficking. It is from her that I learned my voice mattered, to never quiet down even when others demand, to follow my biggest dreams, that empathy is the key and that teaching / serving others is the greatest reward.