Empowering Women Through Stock Photos


It is important to give people images like themselves that they can look up to, and identify with. It’s why dolls have been created in all skin, hair color, and eye shade combinations (hello American Girl!). It’s why there is constant pressure in the media for magazines and ads to use “real” looking women. It’s why people fight for diversity of lead roles in movies. And now, the new frontier is those stock photos that you see popping up all over corporate PowerPoints, and that are often mined to accompany blog posts much like this one. You may have noticed that all of the “working women” photos are weirdly homogeneous (just google working women and click over to the images tab). All of the ladies are wearing navy or black suits, have perfectly done hair and makeup, and most often are sitting by a computer. While it’s great to see women associated with technology, these images just don’t realistically reflect most working ladies of today. I mean, Hillary can sure pull off a pants suit, but when is the last time you saw the average Jane dressed like that for the office? And are you sure she even works in an office?

Now LeanIn.org and Getty images are out to change all that. The two powerhouses have teamed up to push out images of working women in a variety of environments that actively break out of the stereotypes of traditionally female work. They will showcase female soldiers, bakers, hunters, and surgeons. You can view the collection, and purchase images here. The goal is to tell women and girls that they can be the things they can’t typically find images of, and additionally the LeanIn.org has created two new grants that will focus on creating visual campaigns and photographs covering news about women. Huzzah for opening minds and doors to women’s work.

Repackaging Feminism for Sexy Women

sexy feminism


There has been a lot of press lately about the new feminism. Journalists revealed that many women (and celebs) of this generation feel distanced from the old feminist movement, which was labeled as, or associated with bra-burning man haters. Women of today don’t identify with this outdated  trope, and often shun feminism on principle as a result. New feminists want to bring the ladies back into the fold by creating new labels and associations with feminism, effectively re-branding the movement to draw in more support. Enter SexyFeminist. It started as a blog, and has morphed into a new book, Sexy Feminism: A Girl’s Guide to Love, Success and Style, by Jennifer Keishin Armstrong and Health Wood Rudolph that draws on the precepts of previous feminist leaders. It seeks to appeal to women who think being feminist isn’t sexy, cool, attractive, or fun. Their audience is women who already align with feminist values, but may not realize they are feminist. They hope to change the way women think of feminism, and transform how younger ladies identify with the movement.

Women Play Video Games Almost as Much as Men


I have always liked to play video games. I grew up playing Zelda with my Gram, and have had every Nintendo gaming system since the classic. My friends have always gently made fun of me for it, telling me I was like a 7-year old boy on the inside. But, it turns out I have a lot of company among the adult, female gender. As survey reported in USA Today (that I read about on The Daily Beast) found that 45% of all video game players are women. However, besides Zelda – who sits in a castle waiting to be rescued by Link- (and my favorite, Princess Peach who actually gets to save the day sometimes), there are not very many female characters and even fewer female protagonists in the actual games. This is a fact that is often attributed to males being a larger proportion of the overall gaming population, but in actuality is due to a lower budget delivered to games featuring women leads. Though, there is hope that the female heroines of The Hunger Games and Game of Thrones will translate into women dominating the fantasy worlds of the video game screen.

Guinea-Pigs in Costumes

guinea pig


Who doesn’t love a little animal dressed up as a person? They’re adorable! Now, Japanese designer Makie Yamada is designing a whole LINE of clothes for Guinea-pigs (for realsy) that includes mini kimonos, dresses, and SANTA CLAUS suits just in case your little pet likes to celebrate Christmas. The accessories go as far as wedding dresses and faux hair extensions attached to hats. Go buy some immediately for your furry friend here (or at least check out all of the pictures of Guinea-pigs modeling the clothes)!

Crafty Ladies and New Businesses


In college I took a class called Sociology of the Arts. After a semester’s worth of learning how sociological trends influence art, it led me to write a final paper on knitting and it’s renewed popularity among young women (and sometimes-though less frequently– young men). It was a novelty back in 2007 that hip ladies in their 20’s and 30’s were starting to knit again when it was still largely considered something grandmas did when they were expecting new additions to the family. This was way before the advent of the crafty hipster, and maybe the beginnings of the movement towards its creation. After reading the (somewhat surprisingly) substantial body of literature available on the subject, I came up with three main established theories about why knitting  and crafts of that kind were becoming more popular. Number 1, in a post-911 world of danger and instability, people turn back to traditional activities as comfort from the threats of modernity. You could sub in unstable economy, or the current event of your choice, and this argument is still applicable. The second linked body of theory supposed that in the face of this instability, there is a return to the traditional roles of the past (including gender roles) in which women care for the home and family. Third, it was a taking charge of a traditionally female thing, and making it subversive and edgy instead of tame and ladylike. This was in response to the sudden abundance of skull crochet patterns and kits for making your own knitted bikini tops rather than the typical baby clothes and pastel shawls of yore.

Then finally another group of researchers supposed that modern post-feminism allowed young ladies the freedom to engage in activities traditionally associated with female roles without fear of being labeled anti-women. Simply put, after the feminist movement, women didn’t have to prove they were equal to men by entering into traditionally male spheres like the upper echelons of the workplace. They could instead follow their interests and do what makes them happy (even if it was a traditionally feminine activity). While some will always say any activity that reinforces traditional gender expectations is bad, I just don’t see the same scrutiny applied to men who enter traditionally gendered occupations or hobbies because they like them (hello professional athletes?).

This article on The Daily Beast got me thinking about these sociological trends all over again in the context of small businesses popping up pedaling handmade goods. While some will always say it’s due to women’s preference to be in the home, and love of homemaking activities to me, it looks more like enterprising people who choose to take a difficult road to do what they love when the alternative isn’t making them happy. If this happens to coincide with a craft that gives them more time for their families, and may be a gendered activity, so what?

What do you think about the crafty hipster trend?

p.s. if you happen to be a crafty hipster, the cross stitch pattern pictured is available for purchase here!

American Girl Retires the Classic Dolls

kirstenWhen I was growing up, I owned a Kirsten doll and her accompanying stories about the trials the Swedish immigrant girl faced living on a farm after many of her friends died during the voyage to America. She made me actually care about tensions between Native Americans and settlers through her friendship with Singing Bird (a feat I can’t say that history class ever accomplished). My sister owned a Samantha doll, and we both read the series for most of the American Girls that addressed issues was wide ranging as living in the American Revolution (Felicity), and learning through her friends about poverty and class struggle while living in an affluent childhood (Samantha). While the dolls and all of their matching outfits were a fun complement to the novels, the books were the real stars, taking me through different historical periods, and embedding life lessons into the back stories that went along with my toys. Sadly, American Girl has decided to “archive” the classic dolls in favor of a new line.

Anndddd the new line comes with new story lines. The fresh “Girl of the Year,” and “My American Girl” dolls are designed to be more relatable to modern children. They are modeled after their images and the characters, living in present day, face challenges like not making the gymnastics team rather than navigating the complex social landscape of cross-class friendships during the industrial period. Additionally, the brand has cut back from the previous 6 books for each character to a measly 2, suggesting that these American girls? Well, they just don’t read as much. While it’s always sad to see a classic toy from your childhood retired, I’m not the only one who was saddened by the changes in the brand. Check out the opinions on The Daily Beast, NY Mag The Cut, and The Atlantic.

What do you think about the changes America Girl is making?

At Least You’re Not Pregnant?


I can’t even tell you how many times I went to the health center on my college campus for a cold and a cough, and ended up being questioned about my sex life. Their go-to diagnosis was, “Well, she’s probably pregnant (or if not, maybe she has an std).” I always assumed it was because I attended a Jesuit university that the nurses were a little paranoid about sex outside of marriage, and wanted to discourage it at all costs–even when it was not medically implied.  Yet, this article on Women In The World of The Daily Beast and a more recent health care experience made me realize that maybe it’s a phenomenon other than that. For me, in college this line of questioning was nothing more than a minor annoyance/funny story to tell in the caf about the health center’s continued incompetence.  Both of my parents are medical professionals, so I learned about your more basic illnesses and how they should be treated at a fairly young age. With that knowledge, I was able to bring the nurses around to medicating my true illness (usually a sinus infection) without a lot of unnecessary pregnancy tests.

But for some, it isn’t that simple. When doctors jump to the conclusion that all young women are, to quote the author of the article, “reckless harlots,” it can jeopardize their health by ignoring the real problem, create unnecessary stress, fear and shame, and subject women to needless (and often costly) medical procedures. What is going on in medicine today that leads practitioners to lean towards sexual shaming when ladies visit the doctor’s for unrelated ailments? And are men being subjected to the same line of questioning when they visit a doctor for the sniffles?

Catherine Schurz contacted 20 hospitals and urgent care facilities on the East Coast, and found that many organizations agreed with this line of questioning for women of menstruation age. They admitted there is no standard policy for testing women for pregnancy or STIs, and many said they would test for pregnancy without permission, and without even asking if the women was sexually active first, if they had any inkling the women could possibly be pregnant and withholding the information. And while I thought I had left this type of sentiment behind with college and university health centers, I experienced the same type of treatment in a Manhattan ER after I fainted and hit my head pretty hard. After hours of waiting and wondering when they’d check to see if I had a concussion, a doctor swung by, confirmed that my pregnancy test was negative, and discharged me with the advice that I should take some advil and see my primary care. Though many questions and a whopper of a head ache remained, at least I wasn’t pregnant? It makes me wonder what leads doctors to doubt the information that women are providing them is true, and what contributes to their inklings that a woman is withholding potentially telling medical information.

Have you run into this experience with doctors?