#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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#SelfCare17: Stretch

Every time I stretch my body it always feels SO good. But I rarely do it. I just don’t think about it.

 

But we need to stretch to push our bodies, minds, and attitudes.

 

When we lean into the moments of discomfort, we can become more flexible on the other side.

 

Same is true for making social change. If we want to see the world differently, we have to stretch our own world view. So choose one thing this week that makes you stretch and go for it. Stepping out of our comfort zone keeps us curious.

 

And curiosity is a key tool for living a life well examined.

 

What will you stretch this week?

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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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Self-Care 2017: A Year Long Plan to Love, Fight, and Make Change

Whew.

It’s 2017.

Now what?

Congrats, we made it.

Still looking around a shit show of a government transition coming up.

And a year-long adventure of learning how to take care of ourselves while still fighting for civil and reproductive rights. You know, stuff you didn’t think you had to fight for in 2017!

But lest we fall into a slump of despair (that was SO last year) here is my pledge to you:

 

Let’s focus on Self-Care in 2017. In order to be good world changers, we have to start locally.

And I mean, super local…ourselves first. If we aren’t full of hope, anger, action, and community we just won’t get this world-changing work done. And as any good rule breaker, rebel maker, world changer knows…we have to fill up our gas tanks regularly in order to have the energy to SHAKE. SHIT. UP.

 

So here we go…each week I’m going to post one tip to help us focus on self-care while we also focus on making sure we America’s democracy doesn’t slip away while we are sleeping (or on our phones).  

 

I know it can get overwhelming. And we’ll want to numb out (again: phones) but try not to. Know that we are in this together. And please: if you have any self-care tips to add to this vibrant list – please send them our way on any of my social platforms (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn) and help a sister out!

 

For this very beautiful first week of the year, my first #SelfCare17 tip is to: Release

 

Whenever you are close to releasing something negative in your life (a relationship, a habit, a belief system) it’s normal that your old patterns will come up? They are usually there for you to see how far you’ve come or to gauge how far you are willing to go to change your life. Don’t get stuck in the past. Focus on releasing that which does not serve you anymore. You will create a space for what is to come. And it’s going to be so good, I feel it!

 

Remember, release is a verb – practice it daily. Don’t hold on to stuff that isn’t yours. And make that space.

 

More soon!

Jess

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National Day of Listening

Most days when I sit down to write these posts, I have no idea where to start.

 

I think about writing something witty, snarky, silly.

 

I think about using the time to uplift, inspire, educate.

 

I feel pressure to speak about my work, the business, stuff that makes money.

 

But if I’m silent enough. And still enough. What comes to me is this…

 

Sometimes I don’t want to write anything. I want to be in gestation, growing new ideas and thoughts. I don’t always want to produce for production sake, and I don’t want to worry about whether or not it gets a response.

 

Today is our National Day of Listening, and that’s exactly what I decided to do.

 

In the silence, I can hear a smaller voice emerge, one that says to take a step back not forward. To sit not pace. To listen, not talk. And if I do listen, I can hear the tiny sounds of new ideas rushing to be formed and my patience rising up like a swell.

 

I sit and I listen.

 

And I always end up writing.

 

But it’s never what I thought it would be.

 

If you’re looking for something to listen to that will spark your inspiration and help you explore your inner thoughts, tune-in to our Talk To Jess podcast today or sometime this weekend.

 

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Post-Election Emotions: 5 Ways to Feel Angry and Take Action

In the aftermath of the election results, so many people I speak to are still reeling in disbelief. Fatigued by the 24-hour spin cycle from cable news dissecting the results and trying to find various statistics to blame. Some people have taken social media breaks. Others have unfriended family and folks who just don’t share the same views. And still, others shout for us to calm down and “give him a chance.”

 

Well, sorry, but nope on that last one.

 

In the first week since becoming president-elect, Donald Trump has proven to be pretty good at making really bad choices for our country and the name of inclusivity and progress. An anti-Semite as your chief strategist, check. A man who couldn’t get approved as a Federal judge in the 90’s because he was SO racist as your State Attorney General, check. And honestly, the list continues, but I just can’t.

 

So here are 5 few things we can do to make sure we are staying woke, staying curious, and staying active.

 

 

  1. Never normalize.  Do you remember the first few days after the election when it didn’t seem real? That uneasy feeling you had about the direction of our country and what this could mean for the future? Hold on to that. This election was not only historically unprecedented, but it also was and continues to be a threat to the values our country is supposed to protect.  A fact that might provide a small piece of consolation is that Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by enormous margins. It sometimes helps to remember the majority of Americans did not vote for racism, sexism, and xenophobia.  As the news cycle continues to spin the hateful and bigoted acts of the president-elect into ordinary political rhetoric, #Resist. Don’t turn a blind eye or rationalize that “it could be worse.” There is no gray scale for hate. Don’t tolerate any of it.
  2. Poke and Probe.  You know when children are young and are full of endless questions about everything? It’s exhausting, but it’s the best way for them to engage with the world around them. We need to take a lesson from kids on this one and not stop asking questions. Tough questions, obvious questions, genuine questions— everything is fair game because we are invested in the world around us and we deserve answers. It’s tiring, but important for democracy. Ask the questions enough and governing bodies will be forced to answer. We deserve transparency. Oh, and for everyone saying we are being “sore losers” for asking questions and feeling angry…check out #3.
  3. Drop the Good Girl Act. Sometimes telling women they are “too angry” is really code for “Be a good girl and be nice.” Well, it’s not nice to paint a swastika on a park bench or tag “Heil Trump” on inclusive churches. It’s not nice to openly mock a disabled person or grab a woman by her “p***y”. So you know what, I’m dropping the good girl act and I’m feeling angry. It’s an emotion like any other and it has the power to drive us to action. I am not skirting this emotion because it makes others uncomfortable. Being oppressed but well-liked shouldn’t be the measure of any woman. Be vocal and make your point no matter who is in the room.
  4. Honor the Self. We spend so much time working on ourselves. We learn to let go of the negative. We say we want to accept positive vibes only. But recognize that you can still practice self-care and self-love while expressing opposition. It is my love for humanity right now that fuels my righteous anger right now. When you see an injustice done, you should allow yourself to feel that rage because it comes from a place of love and compassion for others. You can also transmute that energy by taking action. Let the feeling bring you into a place of momentum – which brings us to #5.
  5. Put Your Money Where Your Passion Is:If you want to mobilize the areas of social justice you care about, consider making a financial contribution (of any size). These organizations need your support now more than ever. And if you can’t financially donate, call and ask how you can give some time to volunteer. There are petitions galore circling around (and quite frankly I sign most of them) and lots of articles on calling your reps (which I’ve also done). But I also need to feel like I am aligning my emotions with action right now and so the organizations below are just a few that I’ll be making donations to this holiday season!

Southern Poverty Law Center

Planned Parenthood

ACLU

National Resources Defense Council

Everytown for Gun Safety

Trevor Project

Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund

Black Lives Matter

Stand with Standing Rock

 

Yours in Anger and Action,

Jess

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10 Free Ways To Pay-It-Forward

Kindness is a universal language and November 13th is World Kindness Day. Take the time to celebrate an entire day dedicated to inspiring individuals to be kind to each other. It costs little-to-nothing for us to pay it forward and small free acts of kindness can lead us to even bigger ones. Here are 10 ways to start

 

  1.  Share a smile – The simplest, least-expensive way to give kindness to a stranger. Also, check out one of my favorite Instagram blogs, @SmileADay. Smile a Day is filled with beautiful smiles and stories about happiness.

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  1. Give a compliment – this can be given as an addition to the shared smile. Compliments truly can brighten a person’s day. And I don’t know one person who doesn’t get a boost of energy from giving or receiving an exchange of compliments.  giphy
  2. Go volunteer at your local shelter – There’s never a shortage of volunteer work! And there are many options for volunteering: homeless shelter, animal shelter, children’s hospital, and more. If you’re already volunteering somewhere, invite a friend to join you.tumblr_myphfi5ufk1s4a7cao1_500
  3. Instead of forgetting about them and eventually tossing in the trash, take leftover food from your fridge and offer it to your neighbors or community.image08
  4. Help someone carry bags to their car – We all struggle with this when grocery shopping alone. Spend 2 minutes to lend a helping hand.man-groceries
  5. Let someone cut you in line – Especially if you’re not in a rush. That’s a sure way to make someone feel like a VIP (just remember to show courtesy to anyone waiting behind you).  e9db06cfa0af849839fdccda97761f79018cc2b9
  6. Share your extra coupons with the person behind you in the checkout line.image00
  7. If you’re running errands, offer to pick up a few things for your neighbor.image02
  8. Offer to write a letter of recommendation for someone – Tap into your network and see if anyone is in need of a recommendation. It can even be as simple as writing one on their LinkedIn profile. image07
  9. On crowded public transit, give up your seat to someone in need. This should be a regular act, but if it’s not make it a point to be considerate today.image03

BONUS: Pray for someone or send them good intentions. This is one of my favorites. I believe there is power in prayer and good intentions and even more power when intent is sent in numbers. Join someone in manifesting their wishes.image10

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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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5 Ways To Survive This Election Season

This election season has shown us sexism on a national scale and at its absolute worst. The vitriolic and toxic words of Trump are not only jarring but terrifying. Especially for women. This candidate holds no respect for women or anyone else who is different from him.

 

During this entire campaign, we’ve yet to hear a single statement from Donald regarding his actual plans for policies, but we’ve heard more than enough.

 

More than enough to know that in this election, there’s no such thing as NOT voting for Hillary Clinton.

 

With today being the last day to register in California (make sure you’re registered) and voting day only a few weeks away on Nov. 8th, one of the most important things we can do (besides voting) is maximize our self-care until we’ve awakened from this nightmare. Let’s protect our well-being so we continue to be inspired and create solutions that progress our society forward.

 

As someone who has spent 22 years fighting to give women’s voices more of a platform on a national and global stage – it is important for me that when we usher in our first Female president (and definitely most qualified candidate running!) that we are also in a good head space to continue the fight. Because fight on we will have to.

 

But first, let’s reset our energy!

 

Here are 5 tactics to help you survive the stress-inducing 2016 Presidential Election:

  1.  Turn off the news and go outside. Yes, this does include closing out of our social media feeds and timelines. Unplug from the digital world cluttered with things beyond our immediate control. Put your feet in the grass and remember that the world (and America) are already wonderful.
  2.  Turn on satire. Watch shows like “The Daily Show” and “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee” to stay informed of news stories, but also soften the punch with a little humor. Honestly, laughing has been a tremendous help to balance the “WTF” moments I’ve been having.
  3.  Pet your puppies & kittens. Seriously. Pets rule. Give them some extra love. They have a peaceful, calming effect.
  4.  Change your media focus. Be sure to balance the inevitable, negative news stories with more positive and inspiring content. Cue more puppy/kitty videos.
  5.  Have meaningful conversations with loved ones. Leave the politics out of the convo and just make sure you are telling the people you really love how you feel about them. By giving and having love and connection with your true community you can counter any negativity with positive real-life one on one.
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