#SelfCare17: Speak Up

The only thing worse than not being able to think of a perfect comeback in the moment is when you know exactly what you want to say but don’t. With generations of women being taught to be seen and not heard, it’s easy to fall into silence even when you have something valid to say. Part of self-care is recognizing that what’s within you is of value, and that includes your words. It may take practice to get out what you want to say, but don’t let that stop you. Sometimes I have to rehearse so that the words are really mine and I believe them. Your words are important. Don’t let them go unspoken. 

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10 Awesome Women to Follow on Instagram

Before I get into my list, I want to say that my ENTIRE social media community is worthy of a loving shoutout (and a zillion fist-bump emojis!). The daily messages we create and share about empowerment, equality and inclusion would be nothing without an awesome community to exchange with.

In honor of Women’s History Month, I wanted to share 13 of my favorite Instagram accounts owned and operated by women. These women create inspirational, educational, and empowering content that I could spend hours scrolling through (and do). If you don’t already know them, check them out and give them a follow.

  1. In the Insta-world of fitness models, we tend to see little size diversity. Enter @louisegreen_bigfitgirl who uses her platform to represent and showcase fit bodies of all sizes. She’s also got a great new book coming out that I (ahem, ahem) wrote the foreword for. No big deal. Get it now!!
  2. @usowomen…Obviously! The work that the United State of Women do everyday is shaping the culture that our next generation of girls will experience. The work we’ve done together (hello 2016 summit anyone??) will always be one of my most valued experiences. They have their work cut out for them in 2017, but look to them on great, tangible ways to join the #Resistance!
  3. This is my OG girl crush for all things empowerment: @amypoehlersmartgirls. Without a doubt, one of the best pages to turn to for global girl power and smart, cutting-edge leadership. Special squeezes to @puzzlesmom who leads this awesome parade!
  4. @euniquejg is my new girl crush. She’s the real deal, full of heart and fire, and has created a vital account with @becauseofthem. They had a beautiful Black History Month campaign (you can still go check it out) and their content is important to share with everyone (especially your kids!).
  5. @Amani speaks truth and power and her her Insta-platform for @muslimgirl is no different. She’s created the most popular digital platform for Muslim women and they have phenomenally talented writers who pen their perspectives on current news and experiences; a definite must-share for everyone!
  6. @laflowers has created the most incredible Latina blogger community of almost 20k strong over at @weallgrowlatina. You can count on them for funny, poignant, and powerful content – te adoro!
  7. My senator @kamalaharris has one of the best political Instagram accounts I’ve seen. Even after her campaign, she continues to be a trailblazer for change through the informative content she shares everyday. 2020 anyone?
  8. The girl crushes continue with @senduckworth. She frequently posts updates on what’s happening in government and is such a superstar bad ass that you will wish that a zillion more Tammy Duckworth’s were in government. (Psst… see #9 for help with this!)
  9. Since the election, over 6,000 women have enrolled in an incubator program to help them run for office. And who’s behind this incredible program? One of my favorite organizations @sheshouldrun. If you have ever thought about running for office or know someone who should, definitely check them out!
  10. Another one of my favorite nonprofits out there is @shesthefirst. They are literally changing the game for girls (and therefore the world) with their vision to help women around the globe become the 1st in their families to receive education.
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#SelfCare17: Connect with a Higher Power / Greater Good

Sometimes self-care can feel like self-indulgence. But it doesn’t have to be! Anytime I’m struggling in my practice or questioning why it’s important, I remind myself that I am connected to a higher power and a greater good. When I remember that the causes I’m fighting for are far bigger than me but that I am still an integral part of the fight, I am strengthened. It’s a great reminder that you must take care of yourself so you can be at your best for the collective.

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#YesWeCan Change The Way Media Portrays Women and Girls

My entire career as a social entrepreneur and advocate has been dedicated to widening the images we see of women and girls in the media. I’ve seen first hand how a young woman’s life can change when she feels reflected in the media or entertainment she consumes. It’s not trivial. In fact, it’s vital that we, the world’s largest exporter of media images, lead that business with full inclusivity and recognition of what the world truly looks like.

 

When President Obama took office he talked about opening up the White House to everyone.

I have always been inspired by the Obamas’ commitment to using their platform as a power for good. I am still in awe of the variety of artists, academics, humanitarians, engineers, and change makers they have invited in. I mean even the musical Hamilton was workshopped there! I feel incredibly grateful and proud to have been one of the voices they included. I worked with the White House Council on Women and Girls over the last eight years convening on and exploring the state of affairs for girls in tech, education, and media. Last April, we were able to bring together the forces I work with in my world to host one of the most comprehensive gatherings of industry, parent advocacy groups, and academic researchers focusing on gender stereotypes in toys and media.

 

The White House Council on Women and Girls, The Department of Education and USC’s “Media, Diversity, and Social Change Initiative” held a summit on how gender stereotypes impact our children’s ability to dream. The day’s agenda covered the influencing forces in boys’ and girls’ lives, the effects that gender stereotypes can have on their perceptions, and the steps people and businesses are taking to eradicate stereotypes. Our goal was to ensure that children can grow to reach their full potential in life, not stifled by norms or stereotypes that could inhibit their self-actualization. As someone who has spent 22 years studying and working in this field, that summit felt like a cumulating moment. I was so proud and humbled to see the key stakeholders, decision makers, and leaders in that space come together and engage in honest dialogue.

 

Before this administration, we were all having conversations in private or separate spheres, but in April we were all together sharing our research, thoughts, and brave steps forward. Major businesses, including Disney, Mattel, LEGO, and Warner Brothers, shared their compassion and understanding toward parents’ demands for better representation, and demonstrated how they are stepping up to the plate. Other up-and-coming companies, such as littleBits, showed us that there are still countless avenues for ingenuity in toys and media to help kids grow. Researchers and academics presented their latest findings on the challenges and opportunities in boys’ and girls’ lives as well as the importance of media so we could make informed decisions. Activists and parents brought their irreplaceable voices to the forefront sharing their experiences and the demand for more. All of these different perspectives are essential to spur future action. Most importantly, every group, regardless of differences, came to the table to have an open and authentic discussion in order to drive change.

 

Now, more than ever, we need camaraderie and openness to build a future path that will advance gender equality. No person or group can achieve such a lofty goal alone. Divisiveness will only hinder progress. This important meeting of both private and public sector stakeholders fueled a lot of change that we will be seeing in our retail spaces for years to come. Sharing information, finding allies, and building networks will help manifest positive change.

 

We all need to feel inspired by #YesWeCan moments that create positive momentum in our lives, instead of focusing on when we feel defeated. The summit has been a motivating force in my life because it was an agent of significant positive change.

 

#YesWeCan create media that is an inclusive representation of our multifaceted society.
This post was written by Jess Weiner and Elizabeth Hedge, who shared the badass experience of planning and executing the Summit on Gender Stereotypes in Toys and Media together in partnership with the White House Council of Women & Girls in Washington D.C.

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Why You Need to See “Hidden Figures”

If you haven’t seen Hidden Figures yet, do not wait any longer! The story of Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Dorothy Vaughan, three African-American women who provided NASA the mathematical data to launch one of our country’s first successful space missions, is one that has never been told in Hollywood.

 

This is why representation matters. How often do we see a Hollywood film where women, especially women of color, are being brilliant human computers? Not often. And this story is real American history! Right now, I urge everyone in this country to see this film and bring a little girl in your life along with you. Our girls need to see this inspiration. We all do!

 

Fun fact to add motivation, Hidden Figures became the #1 movie in America at the box office after opening weekend! Let’s keep it going! Let’s prove that these are the stories and films that Hollywood should spend millions of dollars in producing.

 

This story is one of the most important stories that could be told in the current state of our society. We need to continue to encourage the Katherine’s, Mary’s, and Dorothy’s of tomorrow. Let’s start by sharing the truth today. Go see #HiddenFigures!

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Meijer Eliminates Plus-Size Section

The fashion industry has a history of making Plus-Size women feel more like the “other.” Go shop in the “other” section. Select from these “other” styles and designs, and pay these “other” prices.

From my own experience (and the 200+ comments on my Facebook post), treating plus-sized women like the “other” can make something as ordinary as shopping a real self-esteem downer. It comes with many inconveniences and, if you LOVE fashion like I do, it can make you feel unworthy of being stylish in your own skin.

When one of my favorite actresses, Leslie Jones, couldn’t find a designer to make something for her to wear to her “Ghostbusters” premiere, she took to social media to express her frustration.

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You are not alone @lesdoggg!

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Anyone who has ever had to separate from friends at the mall while on a shopping trip knows how frustrating it is. You just want to shop for the same cute styles as the next girl—in YOUR size. Yet, we have to part ways and enter the section of over-priced and under-fashioned clothing (and why on earth is the Plus-Size section always by the appliances anyway?).

 

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Did you know that the average American woman now wears between a size 16 and a size 18? The industry calls us “plus-size women,” a term that fashion consultant and television personality Tim Gunn would like to erase. He says the fashion industry needs a makeover “because plus-size women deserve fashion – and we deserve the same amount choices offered to straight sizes.”

I couldn’t agree more, and Meijer agrees too.

 

Meijer recently announced that by 2017, they’ll have eliminated the “plus-size department” — combining all sizes on the same rack across 230 stores in the Midwest. Finally, an open-door invitation for all people who love fashion to enjoy a positive shopping experience — and that’s good for business!

 

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This will completely change the shopping experience at Meijer, creating a space that allows all women shop together based on fashion trend, not size. They are also selling all clothing in all sizes at same price — THANK YOU!!! 🙏🏼


Check out this video from Meijer’s “Plus-Size” elimination and inclusion announcement.
You can really feel the happiness and joy in JoElla’s heart in this video – I feel it too! This is a great example of what brands can do to make consumers feel connected, included and SEEN.  Love it! More please!

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How to Cut and Paste your Dreams into Reality

In my recent podcast with the fabulous Damone Roberts, we talked about the power of manifestation.

 

We all have personal and professional goals, plenty of new project ideas, and dreams that seem larger than life. One technique that helps to bring my ideas to fruition is to create a vision board. Vision boards can bring clarity to your intentions by helping you hone in on what you want to create.

 

Everyone’s process is different – here’s what I do to get ready to cut and paste my dreams into reality!

 

  1. Get in the Right Head Space

I usually make a vision board when I’m at a starting point – like around the New Year and on my birthday; it helps me get aligned with a new goal or a way to celebrate a trip around the sun.

 

I try to stay positive when I sit down to create because it is with that frame of mind that I will bring my dreams into focus.

 

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  1. Gather The Materials That You Love!

There are no rules about what you make your vision board with. If you are an artist who likes to paint it out – do it! I am a writer – so I love to cut out words from magazines or doodle my own. My husband loves to make 3-D vision boards by putting pieces of twine, cloth or fabric together to bring his vision to life.

 

 

 

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  1. Let Yourself Enjoy The Journey

Vision boards aren’t always completed works of art. They can be a great exercise to understand a true value you hold or a desire that needs to be surfaced. Don’t judge (“Oh, I couldn’t possibly manifest that!”) Instead – learn from what comes forth while you create.

 

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  1. Place It Where You See it Often!

In the daily hustle of life, it’s important to remind ourselves of our inner visions. Our big dreams and small goals. So put this vision board where you can see it. I put mine in my office (above the computer) or in my closet, (where I see it while I’m getting dressed) this way I am surrounded by the vision I am bringing into form.

 

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United State Of Women Photo Recap

This past Tuesday, I was honored to both attend and speak at The United State of Women Summit!

 

The Summit brought together thought leaders and community members passionate about gender equality, served to celebrate the progress we’ve made throughout the Obama administration and to discuss solutions to continue the work we are doing.

 

But for me, this event also served as a gorgeous coming together of my career tribe. I’ve been working in the women and girls empowerment space for over 20 years. You meet A LOT of incredible people over the course of two decades, and it was fulfilling and energizing to see hundreds of those people all together at this momentous event.

 

USOW2On Monday night, we kicked off this incredible event with my partners at Mattel and She Should Run. Our welcome dinner brought together leaders from all areas of women’s empowerment from bloggers to entrepreneurs, educators, public servants, and brand executives. I believe Change is a we thing, and this photo only touches the surface on how excited I get when all of the amazing people I know are in the same room!

 

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Lisa McKnight, SVP, Marketing, North America at Mattel
(check out Erin Cutraro trying to photobomb us! 😉 )

 

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Oh, there she is! Erin Cutraro, Co-Founder & CEO of She Should Run

 

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The next morning we headed out to The United State of Women Summit. Over 5,000 leaders were in attendance making so as you can imagine, the energy that filled the space was exhilarating!

 

The day opened with an address from Vice President Joe Biden. He addressed sexual assault and violence against women, leaving everyone with a very clear message: it’s on us to change the culture for survivors.

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From L to R: Juliana Chugg, Ana Flores, Jill Biden Owens, Jess Weiner, Jamia Wilson, Amy Poehler, Meredith Walker, Dr. Stacy Smith

After the VP’s speech I had the pleasure of hosting a panel on Revolutionizing Gender Norms. We had an AH-MAZING group of women including Meredith Walker and Amy Poehler – Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls at the Party, Jamia Wilson, Executive Director of Women Action Media, Ana Flores, Founder of Latina Bloggers Connect, Juliana Chugg, the EVP and Chief Brand Officer at Mattel, and my colleague Dr. Stacy Smith of the University of Southern California Media, Diversity, & Social Change Initiative.

 

Together this panel explored solutions around how to increase diverse representation in the media, deconstruct gender norms, and own our voices and stories.

 

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Two of my favorite Smart Girls!

 

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After the panel – we raced downstairs to get a good seat to hear The PRESIDENT of the United States, Barack Obama, who gave one of the best speeches of his career.

 

Best line of the President’s speech which was chock-full of amazing sentiment about women’s empowerment was: “I may be a little greyer than I was 8 years ago, but this is what a FEMINIST looks like”. Boom.

 

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And then this happened. I was invited to meet THE FIRST LADY!

 

I could barely speak but I did manage to utter, “I love you” about a zillion times. I’ve been fortunate to work with The First Lady’s office on important issues like gender stereotypes.

 

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As if all of this excitement wasn’t enough for one day – I had a chance to do a West Wing tour with my friends from Starfish. Starfish is a spectacular organization that is dedicated to unlocking and maximizing the potential of young women in Guatemala to lead transformational change. The two lovely women featured here are leaders in their community and are fighting for education reform in their country.

 

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The next day I definitely had a happiness hangover. I then headed over to the National Academy of Sciences to speak to other thought-leaders about explicit and implicit bias in media and how it impacts our families and children.

 

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In her closing remarks, Michelle Obama spoke about how important it was to open the doors of the White House for people who normally wouldn’t have access. I feel lucky to have been one of those people and they have allowed advocates (or advo-consultants) to use their powerful platform to raise the important issues impacting our women and girls.

 

It’s events like this, moments in history really, that make me take a step back and reflect on all that has happened over the course of my career. I can hardly believe all of the change I’ve been fortunate enough to be a part of throughout my time in this space, and I can hardly wait to see all that’s yet to come!

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Mom 2.0 Photo Recap

 

One of my favorite things about being Dove’s Global Self-Esteem Ambassador is the opportunity to reach different audiences with messages about confidence and the beauty of being you. Last week, I was at the Mom 2.0 Summit, which connects parent bloggers, content creators, and marketers around conversations that help shape how we see and think about today’s families.

 

The summit kicked off with an amazing conversation about the power of our words online with none other than the award-winning journalist (and my eternal #WCW) Soledad O’Brien.

 

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Soledad is such a genuine, open, and captivating person. We went from strangers (although I have to admit, I had a HUGE professional crush on her!) to chatting like old friends, taking selfies, and having her adjust the microphone on my bra strap!

 

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During the keynote address, Soledad and I discussed the power of words, parents’ roles in how their children create and consume social media, and Dove’s recently launched #SpeakBeautiful Effect on Twitter that helps you identify the power of our online words and their impact.

 

With the rise of social media, everyone has the power and platform to share their stories and use their voices. It’s so important that we are intentional about the messages we send out and use those platforms to lift others up, rather than tearing one another down.

 

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Don’t think I won’t frame this!

 

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As if things couldn’t get any better – on day two – I hosted our famous Dove Self-Esteem workshops with the fabulous Hollis Heath, a fellow Dove Self-Esteem Educator who also works in New York City to help young people find their strength through education and creative arts.

 

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Our workshops also focused on the power of our words and how to rewrite our beauty story. We were joined by the amazing women from Mom 2.0, who not only participated in their own workshop, but then came back to mentor girls in another workshop.

 

I’m always moved by how open, brave, and willing participants are, and these women and girls were no exception. Seeing groups of passionate people engage with their journeys of self-discovery, regardless of where they may be on their paths, inspires me time and time again.

 

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We were joined by the Girl Scouts of Orange County who were so incredibly outspoken and creative in their answers about beauty and body image. Clearly these were girls who have been thinking about and talking about how to develop their confidence. Their answers would blow you away!

 

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We had everyone write their beauty story using just one sentence. And the catch? That sentence had to have just 6 words. Think of it as a mini-mini tweet. The girls were supposed to sum up the story they’d like to tell the world about their relationship and understanding to their own beauty and confidence. Here are just a few:

 

L: “Finding out that everyone is different.”

R: “Finding and expressing my inner creativity.”

 

I mean… 🙂

 

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Did a workshop really happen if we don’t take a picture??

Trick to getting a good smile – have everyone yell “1, 2, 3… Self-Esteem!!!”

 

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Mom 2.0 was an uplifting experience reminding me that, as long as we open ourselves up to seeing it, exploring it, and embracing it for what it is, #BeautyIs found in everyone around us.

 

If you want to learn more about the power of YOUR words and what you can do to leave a more positive digital footprint, check out Dove’s #SpeakBeautiful Effect on Twitter. It’s as easy as clicking “retweet” (literally).

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5 Comedians Who Made Us Laugh and Stood For Something

 

In honor of Humor Month – here are some funny ladies with a serious passion for making change.

 

Moms Mabley

 

Jackie Moms Mabley was an African American, arguably genderqueer stand up comedian. Using her Moms persona, Mabley was able to touch on taboo topics like sex, politics, and racism. Mabley frequently visited prisons to perform and was considered a notable Civil Rights Activist.

 

Gilda Radner

 

Gilda Radner, an original cast member of Saturday Night Live, is best known for her outrageous characters, like Roseanne Roseannadanna and Baba Wawa. Radner’s boldness, fearlessness, and resistance to the status quo in her comedy and acting paved the way for women to step out of the roles that male-driven comedy traditionally forced them into.

 

Whoopi Goldberg

 

In her 1985 stand-up performance Direct from Broadway, Whoopi Goldberg uses five distinct characters to make valuable social commentary about racial stereotypes, reproductive rights, racist standards of beauty, immigration, and devaluation of people living with a disability.

 

Margaret Cho

 

Margaret Cho created and starred in the first show prominently featuring an East Asian family, All American Girl. Using radical commentary, personal stories, infamous accents, and body as art, Cho tackles sexuality, racism, body image, and rape culture all through her comedy.

 

Jessica Williams

 

The young Daily Show correspondent is already making huge waves in her role. From attacking race issues and police brutality head on to addressing violence against women and rape culture, Jessica Williams is making a name for herself as a comedian actively using her voice to incite cultural shifts.

 

Who would you add to the list? Who is your favorite funny change-maker??

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